Today, I went in search of batteries for my heart rate monitor. I knew they were here; I just couldn’t remember where I’d put them.
You remember my heart rate monitor, don’t you? It was the one that changed my life in so many beautiful ways, when you gave it to me that special Christmas in Arizona. I remember nearly bouncing with excitement about it, and then stilling myself because bouncing was so painful after I’d fallen at the Grand Canyon the day before; fell hard, unexpectedly.
The timing was brilliant, because when I’d fallen, I realized I needed to change my physical life. All the moments that have come since then can be traced back to this moment, when I took control of my own direction. I’m so grateful I did it, in spite of the canyons I’ve fallen into, and the ones that likely still lay in front of me. I learned I’m not going to break, in spite of the tangles, in spite of losing so many things.
But back to my search today. I looked in my jewelry box for those missing batteries. Opening that box, I fell down a new canyon when I found my wedding ring, gold and diamonds. It was all tangled up in my mind with the the now bittersweet memory of how you gave it to me…twice.
And it was all tangled up with the delicate chain from an equally gorgeous necklace you gave me when I graduated college. You were so proud of me, like no one had ever been in my life. I finished for us, I worked so hard for my grades so we’d have a great future. But that future is my past now, and I’m left with a chain tangled around my ring. And my throat. And my heart.
I slipped the ring on, all tangled up with that chain, even though I knew doing that would seer all the way from my finger to my heart.
Tears filled my eyes because, even though the ring is still here, and it’s still beautiful, we aren’t intertwined and connected anymore. We’re tangled, like this mess, tugging and screaming and pulling away from each other with what’s left of our hearts.
The batteries weren’t in the box, so I took the ring off and gently closed the drawer. Untangling it, and us, wasn’t something I had the heart to do today.
I went to the kitchen, determined to find those batteries so I could work out; knowing I’d feel better if I could just find the power for the heart rate monitor…and me. If I could only solve this problem, I could move on….and be able to climb out of the canyon I felt myself sliding helplessly into like I’d done all those years ago.
But arriving in the kitchen, away from my ring, didn’t stop the brutal slide, because Anna Begins had begun to play, and sweet Anna had something to say.
“You try to tell yourself the things
you tell yourself
to try to make yourself forget.”
Memories have a way of beating in time to a broken heart and an even nastier way of sneaking out of a junk drawer when you innocently open it to search for ordinary things.
I found batteries. I did. But not the kind I was looking for. I needed a specific one, and it’s not there, and you’re not here. And now I’m spinning in a room with Counting Crows, recounting, reliving it all. And me and Anna begin to change our mind.
Was it as bad as I believed when I told you I couldn’t do this with you anymore? Maybe instead of fleeing to opposite lives and just leaving the tangled mess here to be sorted out, we should have closed the drawer and left it alone for awhile. Maybe it would have come untangled and we could have gone back to being intertwined like we were for so many years of our lives.
Is it true, my dear, that it wasn’t love, because you didn’t want to talk about it anymore? And now I’m changing my name, and I can’t think of the consequences without washing it all away.
“But I’m not gonna worry about it….
For one time only,
I’m going to make an exception,
and I’m not gonna worry about it.”
I need to gain some distance from this coconut island my kitchen has become, so I go upstairs to a third place. There I find the batteries, labeled neatly in a drawer I’ve cleaned out several times since we fell apart. I am so proud of that drawer, and feel my strength, my resolve, renewed from finding those batteries.
I take them downstairs. Anna is still beginning again, and I can’t get the back of the gadget open. And now I’ve messed up the plastic, because you’re not here to fix this for me. You’re not here to fix anything for me.
You won’t answer me. You can’t tell me why.
But I understand now…there’s no explanation for this tangled mess that we can ever hold onto. We started loving each other 23 years ago yesterday, and now, like my gadget, the battery is dead, and the plastic is messed up, and you can’t get inside to fix it.
We’re not intertwined anymore either. Instead, we’re tangled. So knotted and gnarled that there’s no gently picking through the chain to separate it from the rest of the gold and diamonds so they can go back to being what they once were, shining gently together. Instead I’ll likely have to break them or take them to someone else to have them separate the mess I’ve made, you’ve made, we’ve made together.
I’m trying to start over, but sometimes I’m not ready for this sort of thing. The shade of gray, rainy dripping on our house, full of projects that won’t be done, and junk drawers whose parts are no longer useful to my life, get all wound up with Anna Beginning, and the tangled mess of my life, and my ring, and the golden chain, and I feel myself begin to melt.
But I’m not gonna bend. And I’m not gonna break. I say, as I shudder and shake. As long as this is love, it’s not all that easy. I’m talking in my sleep and it’s keeping me awake. And I haven’t even gone near the photograph albums.
But I’m not going to worry about it. This tangled mess isn’t my future. It’s only my moment. I’m going to buy a new plastic gadget. I’m going to work out. I’m going to climb out of the canyon I’ve fallen into.
And Anna and I are both going to begin again, as soon as I’m untangled.
~ cj 2011.12.08-15