It’s hard to stay behind in a house where love has gone sour. There are so many memories. A new place is a clean canvas but an old place is a constant reminder of the past and all that was.

I’m sitting outside on the deck my husband built, looking at the angel sculpture he gave me three years ago on Valentine’s Day. Beyond are the raised beds of my garden which we fashioned our first summer, and farther still the well-crafted picnic table he built from discarded lumber. When I look at the hammock, I think of us in it. The tennis balls he gave the dog still hide in tall grass along the driveway, while the forest swing he climbed so high to rope waits down the hill.

Each sight is full of remembered stories, laughter and times of budding promise. I successfully maneuver around these emotional landmines by focusing on other things, but have no defense against the yellow plum tree. That one is unavoidable and goes straight to the heart. It’s a scraggly little thing that sits along the drive. I pass it when I walk up the hill. Most days I stroll past with only a gentle tug near my heart but not today.

Today it stopped me in my tracks, because it’s just now ripening and beginning to display its sun born fruit in radiant shades of delicious. Those plums defined his appetite and the hunger we had for one another. He could not walk past them without plucking great handfuls of over-ripe fruit. His was a balancing act as he made his way to the house loaded with a computer bag, files and tennis gear, topped with as many plums as he could manage – juice already dripping from the corner of his mouth. The plums seemed to define our sensuality and the ripe fullness of that first year when we found such comfort and solace in the body and spirit of one another.

My heart aches at his absence, as I sit trying not to think of him, trying not to dream about him each time I let go of the day and journey into night.

I saw him a few weeks ago and he looked great, much happier and more himself than ever before. Damn! Shouldn’t he be suffering just a little?

In the end incompatibility is no ones fault. It is just there, huge and sad, a reminder that life does not stop giving us endings.

Short but powerful

motor-dogThere is sun coming through my window. Amazing! Real honest-to-goodness sunlight is spilling all over the living room in eye-squinting excess. Oregonians don’t know what to make of sunlight. We are stunned into silent disbelief, while our brain cells race around trying to remember if we stored our sunglasses near the fleece blankets or under wool socks.

This is February’s gift, that little tough orphaned month that reminds us that winter really will end. It stimulates memories of open windows, screen doors that bang closed, bright colored cottons, and skin that gets darker than a bed sheet.

What is not to like about February? 

It doesn’t have Novembers tryptophan-induced naps near the Thanksgiving table.

It doesn’t require pine bough sacrifice, or homage laid at its feet in lights, ribbons and bows like December.

It doesn’t freeze you to the bone, and require the fault-finding resolutions of January.

No, February is short but powerful. If it were a punctuation mark, it would be a dash, separating the worst of winter from the promise of spring. It steps on the world stage saying, I won’t stay long. I don’t take up as much room as the others. I’m just here to give you a glimpse of hope when you least expect it, and to make sure that January and March don’t slam up against each other, causing grief for professional astrologers. The only thing I’ll ask of you, is to think about who you love, and how you want to let them know.

A complement I’d like to give myself

I love your strength, your no non-sense shit-kicking side.

I love your gentle core of light and the way they sit next to each other on the bench.

 Your spirit is free; a tether broken

Go ahead and find adventure.

Don’t limit yourself.

Break wide open and embrace it all.

Why Not?

 I appreciate your truth-telling honesty and your ability to see into this world and the next.

It’s okay to own those shiny slippers.

You don’t need to hide them under the bed.

Put them on, walk around and well…why not?..dance a little.

 written on valentines day, 2008