Weathering anniversaries

I woke up this morning not quite right. I had every intention of getting in my car and driving to the gym and even went as far as starting the coffee and getting dressed. I paced around the bedroom and then against my better judgement, abandoned the idea altogether.

“Well, if you’re not going to the gym then do something somewhat productive before you start work,” I muttered to myself. Living alone I have a lot of these solitary conversations and battles with myself. I seem to lose a lot of them. I grabbed the calendar and October loomed before me. I was hell bent on planning a date to get together with friends for a dinner that had been postponed, and setting up some other overdue appointments.

But there it was. Today’s date October 3rd – my wedding anniversary. “Shit,” I said out loud. I’d almost managed to put it aside, but like most milestones on the grief journey, there is no walking around it. They always end up looming large and monstrous.

Grabbing my coffee, I took up my station in the easy chair by the picture window in the living room. A foggy, drizzly morning on the lake at this early hour. James had proposed to me on a drizzly rainy day, I recalled. He had even gotten down on one knee on a covered bridge at a local park that November day years back.

At last my love has come along
My lonely days are over and life is like a song, oh yeah
At last the skies above are blue…
Etta James

My wedding day proved to be a downright deluge. I did not care. I embraced the bad weather and even skipped down the aisle toward my future husband in brightly flowered Wellingtons. Nothing spoiled that day for me. At long last, my future was bright. I danced every dance, and ate and drank with my closest friends and family in the dry safety of the reception hall while the skies opened up.

Another day of rain and drizzle proved quite the opposite. The day James died. I had gotten the call from the veterinary office that cold March morning that he had been taken to the hospital. I rushed around the house looking for his car keys, since he had taken my vehicle to the vets office with the cat. I could not find them and ended up taking a taxi. It was an incredibly slow and painful journey as the taxi driver did not seem to know the way and chatted incessantly.

Days later I found James’ car keys in the same nightstand drawer that I know I had searched on that fateful day. He did not want me driving in the freezing rain that day, I know it. He was my umbrella even in death, trying to protect and shelter me.

James had loved the rain. He would sit outside on the porch during thunder storms, reveling in the special effects that only Mother Nature could provide. I try to love it too, but it’s too entangled in my memories of him and what I’ve had to weather since.

 

Motorcycle musings

I took to the open, albeit local roads last night for a little bike time sandwiched in between the latest bout of rain showers we’ve been experiencing here in New England.

Since a much earlier post about purchasing a motorcycle – my personal “fuck you” to my late husband (she said, with great fondness) I’ve gotten more comfortable riding and so am enjoying it more. You have to remain ever diligent, since you are incredibly exposed when on two wheels. However, I’m glad to say I’m no longer wearing my shoulders as earrings.

I keenly felt the bumps of the road as I unsuccessfully tried to avoid rolling over man-hole covers and sped across defunct railroad tracks. I took in the sweet smell of tobacco as I motored past open barns hung with the drying leaves of future cigar wrappers.

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As a 14-year-old I had worked tobacco one summer sporadically with my best friend Anne. I say “sporadically” because it was grueling hard work, and so sometimes as we walked the mile or so to the farm to catch the bus to the fields, we talked ourselves out of going to work that day. Instead we’d thumb a ride to the neighboring, bucolic town of Somers, CT and spend the day meandering through the woods there.

I don’t know what it was about that town, except that it had a certain magical quality for me and my friends. It was “woodsier” than our town, and had a small but significant mountain for hiking with the reward of a fireman’s tower at the top.

I never guessed those many years ago that I would find myself once again traveling the same roads past the same silent barns. A whole lifetime it seemed, had passed between that time and this one. Anne and I had dreamt of renting a van after high school and traveling ‘cross country. It was not meant to be. I went away to college, and she went to work. In either case, she had found a boyfriend by that time and was ingrained in his life. I was awkwardly stumbling through the corridors of higher education, spending a fair amount of energy on beer and boys.

Anne and I continued to take different roads and have lost touch. Somers is still there. I decide to ride through some of the familiar back roads on my bike. Definitely more “neighborhoody” than woodsy, but it still has some magic left.