Sunday, September 30, 2007
Yours, Mine, Ours
A friend of mine used to keep gifts and pictures related to his ex-girlfriends in boxes decorated with their names -- a serial monogamist, the boxes lined his closet like tiny little coffins, each one smaller than the last. His last love told him he'd have to get rid of the boxes which he refused. His past, he contended, was contained and refined to its essence. Unlike Bluebeard's infamous room, he'd taken care to put his past loves into a Dewey Decimal system of trinkets and tokens. I liked this idea -- it appealed to my sense of order. But instead of a box for every love, I decided that one box would do and spent a lot of time looking for something perfect, not too big (how much of the past do you want to drag around?) and not too small. The box I chose, a simple leather black box with a handle, serves as a repository of the past, instructions and cautions, like a pilot's black box, pinging up against the reality of the present. My friend's girlfriend left him after pilfering all his boxes one night and his past became hers, like a phantom limb, a pain that she couldn't see and couldn't medicate. And, of course, she became a box for someone else to worry about.
And the past carries that weight, yours, mine, ours, romances and friendships gone awry, gone away, just gone. We lose whole afternoons to it, all those missteps and petty miseries, the things we said and should not have, the things we did not and might have made a difference. But what's a writer to do? Spend entire days stepping back into that pool, the deep end if possible, taking stock and telling myself that it will all be fine, that I have gained as much as I have lost, that I would change nothing, no regrets right?, the Edith Piaf thing and I can't even think of her without being sad so there's so much for that, but that's not the story you're telling yourself today, the story we all tell ourselves for as long as we can, that things will be better, that they have to be better, this time, next year, no matter what the black box, the thing that identifies the living and the dead on planes, the recording that tells you what went wrong in the final minutes, that thing, says.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"I think you have to pay for love with bitter tears." Edith Piaf
The Swimming Pool
Freeze champagne into teeny-tiny ice cubes. I use ones shaped like the state of Texas to be festive, but any ice-cube tray will do. Put these little friends into a glass of champagne. Garnish with a chocolate-covered strawberry.
Benedictions and Maledictions