And the writing clips along…

I’ve been so busy dedicating myself to the task of the NaNoWriMo November Challenge, that I have neglected writing here, on WordPress.   I am so caught up in the whirl of the contest that I can hardly stand it.  I am having a blast with this new adventure and while I recognize that this may not be a successful endeavor, somehow it just doesn’t matter.   This is a first attempt at an actual story, and that in and of itself is an amazing feat for me.

I have a couple of teaser paragraphs to share today.  This novel began as potentially a historical piece of fiction – creative non-fiction if you will.  Here is my synopsis:
Historical fiction with a backdrop in Norway during the years leading up to and through WWII; people’s lives are affected by forces outside the country and within their own families which pull and sway them in varying directions. Relationships are tested between parent and child, best friends and lovers. Consequences result and families are divided. The novel explores various facets of life in Norway during the war, the occupation, victims who fear the outcome, fighters who take up the cause, individuals who turn to religion to cope, instigators who float from simple politics to becoming traitors. Relationships and war. A messy business.

Then somehow- I found myself writing a little entry piece that looked like this:
The unforgiving wind whipped her cheeks and slashed her arms as she lay bare skinned under the chill of a February sky.  Her dark mocha curls had long lost their spring since soaked from the waves lapping up onto her on the shore.  It could still be quite a while until someone happened upon her in this isolated bay in the middle of winter.  Perhaps a hardcore fisherman who ignores the harshness of the season.  This abandonment had been well planned to give plenty of time for the elements to do their thing.  There would be little left of her by the time the authorities became involved.  

Ok that was sombre… and, then a description of an encounter with strong tinges of romance:

Vidar played in the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra that had been scheduled to accompany the school choir at the yearly spring concert.  Nina met him for the first time for her solo performance practice session the evening before the concert.   Nina had been practicing for months with her own choir but this was the first time she would actually experience accompaniment by a professional violinist.  Vidar was six years her senior, towered above her with his viking features of thick and wavy flaxen hair and green eyes.  She, with her azure blue eyes and ivory skin offset by her silky dark chocolate waves that cascaded down past her shoulders.  She was breathtaking to him.  He found himself completely and utterly in love with her at first sight and sound.  Her soft and pure soprano voice mesmerized anyone in ear shot, and when she sung the first stanza of “Solveig’s Song by Edvard Grieg” he was completely captured.  When her voice rose up into the higher octaves, the entire orchestra which was paused for the solo performance as well as anyone that might have been busy in the wings of the stage preparing for concert night, came to a complete stop.  Afterwards, he could think of nothing else but her until the next day when they met once again for the actual concert performance.  That night, when she performed, he was transfixed by her beauty.  He had never seen any woman as delicate and pure; she wore a simple white strapless gown and a fresh garland of white daisies mixed with baby’s breath which adorned her crown.  Soft tendrils of wavy brown hair caressed her tiny shoulders.  Her blue eyes sparkled as she seemed on top of the world.  You could sense that she truly in her element, where she was meant to be – on this stage, in front of this audience and with him by her side.  Her gentle demeanor was almost timid and she exuded humility in her talents.  She was not haughty but blessed with this voice that reached into the soul and brought peace and joy all at the same time. This physical and musical beauty created such a passion within him that he found himself playing the violin as if the violin itself was Nina cradled in his arms.   It was a challenge for him since she was under age.   She only had four months left until her eighteenth birthday.  They had only a few exchanges before and after the concert, but he sensed that the attraction was mutual.  As the concert had come to an end, he then committed to writing to her regularly in order to nurture this flame that he knew existed between them both and which he had never experienced before.  He felt this mutual attraction was still very immature and knew he would have his work cut out for him since she lived down south of Stavanger and she was busy with her school work as well as the farm chores.   Somehow, he would do everything in his power to make a lifetime commitment to this amazing young woman- a reality.
So what is this?   Where am I headed?   I have no idea – well, ok- I sort of have an idea, a general game plan but most of it is unfolding before my eyes and it is so much fun!!    Maybe one day, this deep urge to write and write and writes will produce something worthwhile.   For now, I am not worrying myself too much about form or style or content.  I am not concerned that I am doing this right or wrong.  Rather, I am just getting to know a few people on the page – and so far, these people are interesting to me and fun to be around.

Just find someone nice.

As a child, I don’t ever recall having any kind of in depth conversation with my father. I have no memory of rushing to the front door on his return at the end of the day, nor do I remember him sweeping me up into his arms to greet him. I have no memory of sitting on his lap as he told me a story or his involvement in any way of vetting a boyfriend and making sure whatever boy was in my life would keep me safe and bring me home before an appointed time. Dad was attentive to Mom but I don’t think he had any idea on how to be a father in the way that I see depicted or conveyed in the general media. But then, whose father matches up to those images? Perhaps there are some that do.
I am not complaining about my father, merely stating facts. I have very little recollection of closeness nor bond with my father. And the truth is, he was not that close to my brother either- when my brother was still alive. He tried with my brother; they attended father/son activities occasionally. He was present in the evenings when he wasn’t out of town on business. When he came home from work, it was understood that he had likely had a long and hard day so we were not to disturb him. Mom prepared him a cocktail- likely some sort of whisky neat- just one. And he sat in the den watching the news, having a cigarette- while the final dinner preparations were being taken care of by Mom. I don’t really fault him for his version of fatherhood. My understanding is that his Dad was the same way- very little involvement with the children, that was the mother’s role.
Only recently has Mom expressed that Dad regrets those years. He wishes he had been more involved- she even shared quite recently that he felt he might have been to blame, in part, for my failed marriages… for my lack of discernment on good vs. bad men. This reveal from Mom was a bit of a shock to me, as I didn’t think he ever thought about those things. Mind you, I have not asked him this question myself. Our conversations and connections are fairly neutral.
Still, these days, Dad and I have a closer connection while still holding ourselves at a bit of a distance. We do share some common ground with politics and religion – so in some ways we can discuss these topics. But when those run out of fodder, we turn our attentions to other things. We really don’t dig deep- mostly, because he doesn’t want to. He has never liked any focus on negative anything. This means we don’t discuss anything that could cause a damper on the mood. Everything in our lives surrounding Dad must be positive. He hails the book: Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale- in his view one of the best preachers in recent history.
While I don’t necessarily agree with Dad about his blame in my lack of success with relationships, I admit there is a possible sliver of truth there. As a girl, I am sure that I longed for someone of the male persuasion to notice me. Dad didn’t seem to really notice me. In some ways I may have developed a lack of confidence in who I am- what I have to offer, as a result of not feeling special in my Dad’s eyes. So I went outside the home seeking this attention while being afraid of admiration- all at the same time. I bumbled along hoping for a glimmer of love to be tossed my way. As they say- give me a bone. Drop me some scraps. Pathetic when I write that down, but this canvas for my soul has led me to this exploration- so here I go.
In high school, I was generally the side kick of some girl who got the attention and affection of cute guys. When school dances came around, I would be paired up with one of my friend’s boyfriend’s friends that did not have a date. I was basically a back up plan for certain guys. I still prepared myself carefully for the date, buying the requisite dress and dutifully applying the war paint. And then when picked up, I would beam as if this guy even cared one iota for my beauty and personality and simply- me. Off we went to join the group for dinner. On the occasional lady’s room breaks when we would all head off to powder our noses, I would glance at myself in the mirror wondering- what is wrong with me? Why do guys not like me in general? I didn’t feel ugly or fat or undesirable but for some reason, the guys just were not interested. They would joke with me and we would have fun in general as a group but it was obvious that there was no romance. Even my efforts in beautification did not turn their heads nor make them smile at me in a revelation moment that wow- you are pretty, amazing, worth my time. During my senior year in high school, I was head over heels in love with a guy that to me emitted toughness, rugged good looks and was a kind of model of safety. Somehow he knew of my affection and he asked me to Prom. I could hardly believe it – someone actually asking me out of a possible romantic motivation. Our prom picture shows the two of us in white- me in a white taffeta prom dress which had two short layers of pale green and lilac at the very top collar that went off the shoulder; him in matching white tux and matching soft lilac bow tie and cummerbund. We both look into the camera. He is holding my hand, his head cocked just right towards my head – as if to rest on my temple. His hand gently landing on my waist, he shows a tenderness towards me. I was on top of the world in that picture, taken earlier in the evening. It shows great hope and potential for a romantic evening ahead. What the picture misses is the drama midway through the evening as I exited the restroom, having reapplied a fresh coat of lipstick and powder, only to find him on the dance floor with an ex-girlfriend, lip locked. My breathing quickened, my face flushed and I could feel dampness on my upper lip. I retreat to the ladies room and I panic. I don’t know what to do. He had not seen me. But others had seen me and it would soon get back to him what I had encountered. I had to get myself together and face the world outside. I walked back out onto the floor and now they had parted, and I join him. He knew by my face that I knew. And the rest of the evening was simply tense and long. Nevertheless, this was our last date.
I look back on my dating life and see a repeat of this disappointment, picking the wrong guys. Not filtering for the good ones, the kind ones, the generous ones.

Mom’s advice to me a few years back, when we were discussing the stream of bombs in my past love life: “they don’t have to be so good looking you know”. She shared with me a piece she read about Jane Fonda not too long ago. Evidently Jane’s own revelation was that no one had ever told her to look for someone nice. Ok, that is simple. Just find someone nice.  I’ll get right on that.

Unconditional Love

It is said that one of the reasons that a person enjoys a canine companion is the aspect of unconditional love.  A dog’s nature seems to be one that throws all cares away and just drills down to excitement, contentment and sheer joy at the human’s return after having been abandoned for most of the day.  There is no grudge.  Rather, there is a body swaying back and forth with such vigor and a tail that spins around with sheer abandon.   For the human, any stress or tension that may have existed on the commute home melts away at the greeting and display of such pure affection.

Why can’t humans behave this way with one another?  Why does our experience with romantic partnerships as well as relationships in general not include such joy in greeting one another at the end of an extended absence?  Of course our response is likely that we are more complex beings.  But is that true?  And if it is, is this a benefit?

Certainly, we humans have a basic need for community in some fashion.  Being completely isolated and having merely a dog for companionship might not satisfy nor be prudent over the long term.  However, even now after all these years, I find myself yearning for a place of solitude.  Once there, I am not sure that I will be truly content.  There are no guarantees.  But as I reflect on my youth and position memories next to more recent feelings, I realize that my longing for a solitary place of my own has been at the forefront for most of my life.   I understand the draw to the hermitage.

There are memories of a time when the movie Jeremiah Johnson was at the top of my list of favorites, along with Harold and Maude.  I watched those movies alone – over and over again.  The appeal of the first one was living away from demands of society- living alone, and fending for myself.  Being in nature, limited expectations from others.  For a high school graduation present, my parents took me to a summer resort on a lake in Wisconsin.  I recall taking a row boat out on the lake with them and we coasted and rowed around the lake.  Mom was entranced by the majestic homes that dotted the shoreline.  I remember sitting in that row boat dreaming of living in one of the tiny boat houses, small quarters that would offer just enough room for a bed, maybe a table and a view.   And in those visions, I imagined myself living there with my dog.  My vision did not include sharing the space with another human.


Much later in life, I recall describing Iceland to an interested party.  The rugged landscape for some is considered the Wild West.   For me, it is a terrain filled with raw resources and  potential for hours of reflection.  I imagine myself living in a small cottage on the cliffs, a tiny garden and a dog.   Recently, watching a show on Netflix which hails from Wales called Hinterland- the lead detective’s mobile home accommodation on the coast, isolated from the masses with the wind whipping through and the waves crashing below, seems the perfect setting for writing, hiking and having a cup of tea.  And of course, a loyal canine nearby.

Throughout my life, I have had canine love and it has never disappointed.  Fairly regularly, I receive advice from well meaning people that I will find someone special.  A gentle soul that will provide a safe and enjoyable life in partnership.  Mom hopes that he can play the guitar so that I can sing and enjoy beautiful moments of music with my true love.  A teddy bear she says, someone warm and huggable.

Until then, I have accepted and become satisfied with the life of solitude that is paired with the unconditional love I receive from my canine friend, and for now, that time is with Sofie.   Maybe when I am old and grey, it will be in a cottage by the sea with my faithful friend nearby.  I imagine this space with books, tea, a writing desk, a window looking out at nature, a warm bed, a small village not too far away for basic provisions.   This for me would be my ideal final chapter.

A Romantic Beach Escape- Anyone?


Perhaps the best place to start today is with the feeling I have as a single woman participating in a four day workshop in Jamaica at a couples only resort. As a travel consultant, my role is to be knowledgeable about every aspect of travel. I have specialized for quite awhile in travel arrangements to Scandinavia and Europe. Several years ago, I took a path away from mass market travel where I represented every corner of the globe and every possible travel product. During this hiatus, I enjoyed a time away from selling everything from Vegas to Timbuktu, and instead focused my energy primarily on soft adventure and cultural travel to places like the raw appeal of Iceland, the fjords and coast of Norway, the charm of countryside Sweden and Denmark and the cultural richness of Russia. While this still meant I was working in many cases with couples and families, the primary focus has not been on creating a romantic paradise for honeymooners, destination wedding couples and romance driven clients. This past year, I circled back and am once again digging into mainstream cruises, beach vacations to all corners of the earth and my boss has asked me to join the destination wedding team. I had specialized in weddings in the past and have a strong knowledge base and so I rekindle this area of my expertise. I am in Jamaica for a refresher course on a specific collection of properties that focus entirely on a couples vacation experience.

Becoming a specialist in the “Travel for Romance” niche means delving into every aspect of making a couples trip highly memorable and enjoyable. My goal as a dedicated travel specialist has always been to create a vacation that will have clients thinking back fondly to their time together, away from the stress and daily grind. I can’t help think of my own life experiences having lacked any luster in this department. And the truth is I am sure that many couples heading for a romantic get-away likely encounter a reality less glimmering than the glossy brochure pages of an adult-only all inclusive in the Caribbean, with its perfectly bodied models lounging on beaches and taking in that couples massage in little huts with the white flowing sheets wafting in the breeze. The reality is likely a bit less gilded.
My last travel memory with my ex-husband included shouts at me across a crowded gate area in our connecting airport city. His rage at me was embroidered with explitives because I had dialed my cell phone to check on the house and dog sitter since she had not appeared at the house before we headed to the airport. I was nervous that she might have forgotten her arrangement with us for some reason, and we had not been able to reach her by phone prior to our departure. I was merely calling to make absolutely sure that the dogs had not been abandoned by us and that someone was with them by now, and if not I would call my plan B option. The problem was that I had not asked his permission. This phone call was going to cost money and he was trying to figure out a way to avoid the phone call in order to save money. The fact was that we only had so much time before the next flight, and the dogs were our babies… and we had to get down to business and make sure all was ok. Mama was checking on her brood, after all. The good news is we did reach her and all was fine. This miserly behavior on his part followed us throughout the trip. Since I had coffee with my breakfast in the morning, later in the day when I wanted a coffee- he refused me. This sounds minor, but it was this tension over every decision that made the trip dreadful for me. A heaviness hung around my shoulders which made my chest feel heavy, as if I was pressing against a hurricane force wind gust most of the time.  I couldn’t seem to get my footing. Everything about that trip was an effort, there were not any moments of tenderness. Our time in London, the Lakes District and Cornwall were fairly rigid and mechanical, moving from one place to the next to take that next thing in and mark it off our list. During this final trip that led to our last months together before I would finally leave him, I recall having this urge to flee, all the time. I wanted to get away from him and find a quiet spot, somewhere to sit down with a coffee, pull out a journal and write, or read a good book. I wanted privacy.
This longing for my own space where I could breathe and live more fully has been with me ever since I left him more than eleven years ago. I have remained single by choice because the idea of getting entangled in another lie, another hidden monster behind the initial facade of love and tenderness, frightens me. And it is that feeling of being caged by an impossible and ornery person that keeps me single. One day, perhaps, those love songs I hear streaming through the public areas of this couples only paradise might once again apply to me. Maybe I will get caught by the bug again and feel the surge of joy and awe at being part of a world built for two. Still, my memories feel fresh and I lived through two cautionary tales. With my second husband, I left him because he was mean more than he was nice. We tried counseling, which did not work well because he felt that the counselor was stupid. The minute we would leave the office, he would launch into a diatribe on all the reasons this was a complete waste of time. In hindsight, I agree with him on that point because there was no way that counseling was going to work since he did not feel we had an issue- or rather, that he had an issue. The issue was all me. My “love” partner was the kind of person that put a wet blanket on any kind of notion of lavishing the spouse with messages of affection. Mind you I am not high maintenance. I don’t require much. But a little indicator of having any kind of fondness for me would have gone a long way. There were never any efforts made for birthdays, nor for Christmas – not because he would forget, but because no one was going to tell him when to offer up gifts to someone else. No Valentines’ Day special expressions- and back then, I worked in a major department store (still as a travel agent) that would deck itself out each season- to the gills. For Valentines Day one would encounter dangling hearts and bursts of flowers on every floor – weeks before the romantic date, to entice consumers to buy that special treasure for their lover or spouse. Every department had their announcements that this was the place you could find that personal gift which would convey the deepest love and appreciation you carried for your beloved. In the end, with my spouse, the final expression I received on the final Valentine’s Day of our marriage was “Don’t Expect Anything!!! Because, if you expect something from me on this Hallmark driven day- you can expect to be disappointed”. There- in case I was not clear on his intentions. For New Year’s Eve that year, I reached out to a friend of his- asked him to call my husband to go out on the town… a sort of boys night out. My husband was more than delighted at the prospect of having some bar hopping fun with the boys. It did not occur to him that he should want to spend New Year’s with me. So off he went, and I packed my bag to head up to my parents for the night with sumptuous Lobster, Filet Mignon with Bernaise sauce and sautéed mushroom caps and, of course, some bubbly. I took one of our dogs with me, my Skye Terrier whom I had in my life long before the marriage. I wasn’t planning to actually leave him that night permanently, that was not my intention. But after the New Year celebrations and no phone calls from him to wish me well or find out how my evening went (I could have called him of course, but something in me prevented me from calling), I felt an exhaustion overcome me that blanketed me like one of those old dental visit X-Ray blankets they would lay across your chest to protect you. I just couldn’t go back to him. So, I looked at my parents over breakfast, and said: “I can’t go back”- simple. Dad immediately had my back: “Ok sweetheart, you got it”. They were so supportive because they had witnessed so many moments of my spouse’s narcissism over the years, his rudeness to them, his lack of care for me. Dad was only too willing to help make an exit from him a reality. They had been sitting in the wings for a couple of years just waiting for an indicator that I was finally ready.
Ah, so romance and the supportive role I play in making it happen for others? Well, I take the plunge and detach myself from my own reality and offer bursts of joy and excitement for the couple, after all- they are blessed and the fact that they are now taking their own dive into a partnership gives one hope that love can and does exist. So how about that Beachfront Walk-Out with private plunge pool only steps away from Azure Blue Caribbean Waters with a romantic beach dinner by candlelight to get things going? Tomorrow, shall we schedule your private couples massage combined with a soak in the tranquility tub with champagne service and chocolate covered strawberries? In a couple of days, we set you up with a private catamaran dive excursion with your own captain. Sound enticing? Let’s help you celebrate this once in a lifetime opportunity to kick off your lives together as a married couple. Salut!

Universal Love Dashed

Recently, Mom and I were talking about the past and about faithfulness to one’s spouse.

Mom has some family history with relatives that for her reinforced how sacred marriage is and that for her laid the foundation of how, as a young girl in the midst of these stories, she would promise to always be true to her spouse once she married. Mom told me about how sad she was about one of the stories..  This one relating to one of her many uncles and his wife in Norway. As a child, Mom had been deeply fond of her aunt. And it made her so sad to hear about what happened between her aunt and uncle. Up until that revelation, all she had thought about her aunt was how beautiful she was and what an amazing smile she had. She was always smiling.
Mom pulls out an old photo album that is filled with these tiny black and white photos mostly faded and some hard to make out. They are all tainted with the sepia tone of time passing, the glue from the pages no longer holds the images as they lie there somewhat scattered on the page under a flimsy cellophane sleeve. A turn of the page and holding the album at a slight angle brings some of them tumbling to the floor. “I have a couple of pictures of her in here somewhere, a nice large one of her” she says.   As she turns the pages slowly, pausing on each page to examine faces and ancient places of her childhood, she comments on various characters from her past. “Who’s that Mom?” I ask pointing at a picture that shows Mor Far facing another man, his arm is wrapped around this man’s shoulder and they are smiling at each other like a couple of brothers. “That’s my father and his best friend”. Strange, I think, that Mor Far (Mother’s Father), had a best friend other than the one I knew in later years- Erling. “He just passed away not too long ago”. I don’t ask why we never met this best friend… I just sit there silently watching her take in her past. “Here she is” she exclaims. The picture shows a girl with ivory skin and thick wavy shoulder length black hair, her chin and head are tilted just slightly giving a coquettish glance at the camera.    Mom repeats that she always loved her aunt’s smile.  This young woman has the tiniest shoulders,  her head of hair billowing above her emphasizes her petit frame.  One can make out that she is wearing a particularly dark lipstick, typical of the fifties.

Mom  moves on to other pictures “There, look- Røseim, we spent so much time up there” she is looking at a photo of the black timbered exterior of a mountain cabin with a porch occupied by several twenty something women and men, some with arms wrapped around each other, all beaming at the camera, marking a ski vacation spent with friends. “Wasn’t she beautiful?” she whispers as she lifts the cellophane cover to a different photo that she retrieves to get a closer look.  It is a picture of her mother standing in light culotte shorts with a white blouse while holding Mom’s hand.  Mom must be about four or five years old in this picture.   Mor Mor sure was a beauty, and so skinny back then. I don’t think I have ever seen a picture of her that slender; not that she was ever large.  But in my memory, she was soft to squeeze, not bony.  “I understand based on this picture, why you have said he didn’t want her to take you to church alone..  I can better understand his jealousy”.   Mom just nods, she is deep in thought as she gazes at the picture. “Yes, he was very jealous” she whispers. Mor Far had forbidden Mor Mor to take my mom to church.  He didn’t want anyone having access to Mor Mor without him being present, and he was unwilling to go to church himself. So, mom stopped going to church as a young girl.
Still, she had received enough of a dose and spiritual guidance by then to have fallen head over heels in love with Jesus.  She was hooked, and her love for God would never leave her.  And as a grandchild, I recall Mor Mor often in her own world in the kitchen, singing Norwegian hymns and love songs to Jesus while cooking or washing up.


Fortunately many years later, almost a year into her overseas life in America, Mom would meet a man named Jack who had a dashing smile, the most kind eyes she had ever seen, and a love for Jesus. Jack did not wear his love or awe for God on his sleeve, he didn’t really speak of it.  His beliefs have always been close to his heart and in his view, not to be talked of, but rather to be lived out.   However, with Mom  he did share what his upbringing had been like.  And, Mom knew that Jack’s mother had been a dedicated woman for Christ, involved with many outreach organizations,  and that generosity of spirit had transferred to her son.
Jack was a genuinely kind and gentle man. And in short order Mom knew she could never leave him. Over fifty years later, she still talks about how she can’t believe she did it- she left her country for him. Her beautiful country. Back then she offers, she had no idea how incredibly beautiful Norway was until it was gone. At least, gone for her in terms of daily life- a future only of stolen moments – visits to relatives. And her parents over the years, especially Mor Mor – would say to her that she couldn’t believe her sweet Karin had left her for America. This would be a repeated conversation each time we visited them.

But back to her aunt. This aunt had tortured her husband with a torrid affair that had started when she went on a trip to Russia without him. She had met someone on that trip and on return to Norway, she had continued the romance and even got ready for dates with this lover in front of her husband. And mom shares how shocked she had been on learning of her aunts behavior, because she had really liked this aunt and loved her uncle and she couldn’t imagine what might have gone wrong to cause her to behave in such a way.

In my own life, I have endured pain through two broken marriages. I know what can go on behind closed doors that might cause a once passionate love flame to blow out. What others see from the outside is very rarely the truth of what is going on within the privacy of the home. I know how a fervor of not getting to the presence of your lover quickly enough can turn into wanting to be as far away from that same soul as possible. Often it has to do with expectations. Unreasonable and unfounded expectations. And, it can have a lot to do with blinders, like those worn by a horse. Thoses blinders force you to look straight ahead and prevents you from seeing distractions along the side that could take you off course. When one is in love, one welcomes the blinders because we want to believe in the romance and the fairytale. We want to be a part of the great symphony called love. We want our part of the miracle of connecting with another soul. And maybe we put on those so called “Rose Colored Glasses”. Those glasses exist and many a lover has put them on and kept them on right up through to the alter and the vows and perhaps even through to the first weeks and months- I daresay, even the first few years of a marriage. And, then the glasses come off. And somehow, life isn’t the romance ending within which we had imagined ourselves.
For my mother’s aunt, something along the way went wrong enough for her to consider the option of setting herself up with an affair. You see this is not an option for most people who are in love with their spouses. I do not believe that someone who loves, truly loves their spouse- can be unfaithful. Some might disagree with me but it is my view that the vast majority of people do honor the sacred vows of marriage until they have reached a tipping point. Something happens that breaks the soul a bit, creates a wound that needs a bandaid and perhaps some ointment. And then, that wound properly tended to needs time to heal. Most people don’t allow the healing part to take place after having been emotionally wounded by another person.
For me, my wound kept getting picked at so that a scab couldn’t even really form. Oh don’t worry, I never did have that affair. I never let it get that far because I planned my escape early on- at least that is the case with husband number one. I stayed faithful until I just couldn’t take it anymore and until I figured out how I would exit stage left. Then I acted on my plan and I left. In each case, not going back. My first marriage was fairly short lived. I was smart enough and had enough self preservation in me to know that the slowly escalating acts of violence would one day mean a very bad ending.

The control nature of my first husband with his reprimands for how I incorrectly transferred the eggs from carton to egg holder in the fridge door, and how I didn’t remove them from the fridge properly- from right to left – never randomly as I did… there was an order on how one was meant to take the eggs out of their holder. Or the way that my cans were not turned properly to show their labels from the cupboard. After my marriage was over, I recall being in shock watching that movie “Sleeping with the Enemy” with Julia Roberts- because some of the behaviors of her character’s husband mirrored my ex. Then, towards the end of the marriage, there was that time when his moodiness during a visit from his seven year old daughter on one of his every other parental rights weekends ended up with a hole in our kitchen wall because of his anger directed towards me. On that same weekend, I came home to find dozens of little pieces of telephone all over the dining room floor because I had excused myself to go for a drive to get away from the tension. I had asked his daughter for forgiveness as I gathered my purse to leave, I told her I had to go run some errands. I fled the apartment and went for a drive. I recall feeling directionless that day- I just drove randomly up this street, down another with tears streaminng down my cheeks and blurring vision, which made it necessary for me to finally pull over. There were no cell phones back then, so I found a pay phone and tried to call him. I wanted so desperately to try to connect with him on that level we use to have together. But I had no success. Instead, the phone just went dead in my hand. On my return to the apartment, I understood why the phone was dead. It was broken in pieces; weeks later I was still finding the odd opaque button with letter 4 or 7 along the baseboards in the dining room- buried in the plush carpet. All this anger in the presence of his daughter. His poor sweet daughter. And now over twenty years later, I wonder how their relationship is now? Do they even have one? And how is her ability to have healthy relationships with men? She might be married now. She might have kids of her own. I would never know the outcome because I escaped within six months of that episode and was divorced from him within that year. And, we did not keep in touch. It was one of those marriages that almost feels like it never really happened. Like it was one of those nightmares that I wake up from that feel so real and thankful that it was just a dream. Except that it was real. And it forms a layer in my psyche.
So I think about my Mom’s aunt and her uncle. What are their stories. Why did she go to Russia? Who was her lover? And her uncle, what of him? What are their back stories?  One thing I do know, theirs is a  universal story of disappointment, of lost love, of sadness and of shame.