On Royal Weddings, PDA, and the Preservation of Love

22 05 2018

I’m not a royal fan, though I give the Queen all sorts of credit for serving her office with

harry-22 grace and charm throughout some tumultuous years. I’ve always been suspicious of inherited positions and wealth – it’s so cynical of me because of course, I inherited privilege as well – a healthy upbringing, sort of, good food, education, support. I suspect people feel the same way about me as I do about the royals.

This wedding, of Harry and Meghan, well, it won me over. It was THEIR wedding in so many ways, less pomp and more love. Lots of PDA. Hand holding! Who’d ever thunk it?

Weddings are funny things, anyway. You and some other person you think you love stand before all your mother’s friends and tell each other that you will stay with them forever, and then you go back and lead your own lives, sometimes stuck together or not. What, me bitter? Naw.

wedding-disasterMy ex and I dined out on the disastrous story that was our wedding day for years. It was horrible from stem to stern and at the time I was so proud that I held it all together. I’ve always been proud of holding it all together. It’s a thing.

I held it together that day when my father was taken out in an ambulance just before the wedding photographer arrived. I held it together when I knew he was in horrible pain, and yet my mother wanted to ensure the whole party went on. I held it together when my ex looked at me in horror at the altar (to be fair, he thought my dad had died). I didn’t complain when I started vomiting wildly on the wedding night, thanks to the impact of erythromycin, a dental infection, and champagne on my stomach, even though my ex never awoke as I shivered and retched. I didn’t fall apart when we went to the hospital to see my father the next day, and he struggled to keep back the tears.

I didn’t comment when my brother’s poor girlfriend had a mental breakdown because of the rudeness of one member of our family, I didn’t even offer my sympathy (I was overseas, but that’s no excuse – I probably felt in my mind that she was showing weakness.) And I didn’t even lose it when I realized I’d worked six months to pay for my mother’s friends to have a party. Or when my sister’s wedding got so much more support. (The family was accustomed to weddings by that point, less of a shock, and she is much better at stating her wants than I. Though she had her sorrows too – dad was long gone by then)

I’m good at holding things together, at least until lately. So why did I burst into tears at seeing Harry weep? At seeing their hands tightly clasped?

Ah, regrets, I’ve had a few. What possessed me to marry a man so afraid of PDA (public STOP-NO-TOUCH-TALK-EYE-CONTACTdisplays of affection) that I went without a kiss for 23 years, except in “certain situations”? I was raised in a home scarce in physical affection, and I hungered for it like an abandoned puppy. By the time my marriage ended, I was looking at men thirstily on the street, wondering, if I asked them politely, if they’d kiss me, just once. I went to my dentist just to feel his hands on my face. I screenshot-2018-02-12-11-37-34remember my doctor touching my shoulder once, briefly, when I got my diagnosis of MS. I feel every touch every man has given me. God knows there have been few enough of them. I fell in love at the first man who was kind to me, who gentled me. Sadly, he was the only fellow I’ve met in all the years since I left my ex that was trustworthy with me. And he was lying to someone else.

818741c5b89bab894c5bad43ef3e4896It just about killed me, those years of affection desert. It’s taken me years to admit that I am a touch junkie (thus the needle felting in soft fuzzy wool, the craving for milk chocolate.) It’s taken me longer to understand that love requires regular feeding and care, regular laughter, regular kisses, regular touches, regular attention.

Just before the end of my marriage, I used to insert nonsense words into what I was saying just to test if he was actually hearing me. He wasn’t until he learned the phrase I was saying. We laughed over it. I was good at holding things together.

It’s taken me even longer to understand that holding things together isn’t necessarily a good thing.

So, this royal wedding made me think of my ex, now remarried to a lovely lass who is much better at speaking up. I wonder if he’s happy (ier).

I know I am lonely. Not for him. But for a kindred spirit, a companion with hugs. And perhaps a little coziness. I wonder what it would feel like to be with someone who wasn’t afraid to hold my hand and weep a little with me at the beauty of love, even if all sorts of people are watching. I’m tired of holding myself together. Sometimes I need a hug to pull in all my bits.

811bf9a7ffe715a5eac42980f8804546

 

Advertisements




The Art of Intimacy, or how we can lose it as we grow older

13 01 2018

922fdc71b4b3d56d004b2e3f4e1aad93That old yellow wall phone. We had one with an unnaturally long cord in the kitchen of our house. It was the conduit of intimacy. We all spent hours on this phone over the years – it was out of the hearing of the rest of the family once they retired to the den upstairs. I must have spent weeks of time on the phone – with girlfriends, with (giggle) boyfriends, with everyone. The cord was long enough we could jump onto the counter and pull up our legs and feel all cozied in while we talked of – what? I don’t remember much – usual things about school or latest likes or plans and dreams. My siblings did the same. My mother lived on it when she was at home during the day.

It seemed as if the handset was slightly warm all the time, handed over with no time to cool. The cord got all stretched out of shape as we dragged the handset into different rooms, all over the kitchen, around corners.

In my family, kids were at home on school nights, and that phone was our connection to 3f635ff0e340055f44c2cfe7394f19da--old-phone-on-the-phonepeople outside – fellow entrapped kids, the secret boy who walked me home from school, the plots and games of outside life. The time we spent on the phone was intimate time, endless hours of it, getting to know each other intensely, one to one. Even during university, I spent hours on that phone – either to the family when I was away or to friends when I was home. So many words, feelings, thoughts.

When my kids were little, we moms formed tight bonds, the coziness of babies crawling all over us opening our talks, making us friends in the trenches. We’d call each other at 4 PM, the witching hour when being with small children was grinding us down. But, like work friends, when our kids grew up and went away, often the friends went, too. We got competitive, or marriages broke up, or jobs moved us into new relationships. The friendships often didn’t survive.

I was asked recently if I had “intimate” friends, people who I knew well, who knew me well, and my first answer was no. After all, I’ve moved all over. I left high school in my senior year and moved across the country, inadvertently severing ties from my school year friends. I spent two years in Seattle and then moved to Canada. More severed ties. And then I married a military guy and moved and moved and moved. With all the moves and the kids and general messiness, friends made slipped away. Was it my fault? Theirs? Probably both sides got busy and forgot to make the regular connections needed to keep friendships alive. It’s tough to keep in touch.

So now I’ve settled on the very edge of the continent and am using FaceBook as my yellow wall phone. I find old chums and meet new ones, chat with cousins and family and friends  – but most of these conversations aren’t close, don’t share reality. They don’t fill the need for the intimacy of face-to-face relationships. I truly miss those long conversations about nothing and everything, especially with people who know a bit of my background. I long for them.

2fa5e5a110cb1c7f82925997be5811a6I’ve grown accustomed to my distance, that long spiraled phone cord that hides the mess I sit in on the other end of the line. I push aside that stack of bills, the dirty dishes, the detritus of my lives, and put on my happy voice, or sad voice, or whatever seems right for that conversation, whether face to face or not. Which is usually nowhere near what I am really feeling. Interactions are shorter, busier, and I miss that one to one concentration and mutual sharing.

I had a phone buddy – a man far away who would call me almost every day, for no reason. We chatted about all sorts of things, for foolish amounts of time. Of all of my chums, he was the closest. Now he has become ill and can’t talk on the phone. I’m missing him so very much.

I’ve loved living a life of travel, of moving here and there. As I get older, though, I realize more what I’ve lost through it – the chance to have those friends from elementary school still around, the ability to refer to our shared past and add to it. The close crowd of family members who know me and love me anyway. As a Come-From-Away here in Nova Scotia, I’ve lived seven years without a bosom buddy, and it gets lonely at times.

Time to pick up the phone, and arrange a get-together…texting just won’t be enough.SC554Ylg

 





Oh, Mr. Neville…

27 07 2017

05103c84733200777408f3c80b5eb4da4e65deOne of the blessings of my enforced by MS flare-up idleness is that I have been able to plunge myself into a myriad of books, to wallow in lives not my own, to lay on my patented “chaise short” (an antique chaise with the merit of being less than 5 feet long and thus fitting both me and my apartment) and read the hours away.

It’s been wonderful, but I see that I have chosen the last three books unwisely. The first mistake was Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. This book tells of a man who loved a woman so much he followed her around, through her marriage and children, at a distance,  until her husband dies. Then he asks for her hand. She accepts, and he tells her he had remained a virgin for her, all those 60 years. She says, simply, “liar!”, and they go to sleep. Meanwhile, he had been keeping track of the conquests he had to relieve his suffering for her love. He had arrived at 650 or more.

I adored this book, both for the love over the years and for the practical approach to it. It’s a grown up book, with grown up affection. And lasting love. And badness, concupiscence, and humour.

The next mistake was another of Marquez’s  – All My Melancholy Whores, an amazing and surprisingly sweet book. A ninety-year-old man desires to bed a virgin to celebrate his birthday – (at first a horrific thought.) He goes to a whorehouse that he used to frequent when younger – of course, it has aged, too. The madam obtains the virgin, but the girl is nervous so she is drugged, asleep when he meets her. The man finds he prefers to simply look at her, and sleep beside her.

Over a number of visits, he falls in love with her, and she with him. The romance is chaste and both sad and joyful in turns. I loved it.  Again, a twist on the usual story, and characters with deep, serious emotions. I suspect Marquez of being one of those men who truly loves women. There aren’t so many of them about…

images-10Third mistake – The charming, witty, and ultimately motivational Hotel Du Lac by Anita Brookner – winner of the Booker Prize, and I can see why she won. It’s brilliant.

Edith, the protagonist, is a writer who has been sent to the Hotel du Lac as punishment for something awful she’s done. She has not been a “good woman”. The hotel is almost closed down for the season – it’s fall, and it is not in a fashionable ski resort. The weather is generally glum and foggy, as is Edith’s poor mind. She’s trying to write another novel, but she is emotionally fraught.

We don’t learn why until halfway through the book. She is in love with a man, David, but scheduled to marry another. David is married to a Very Perfect Wife, and thus available only upon his whim. The man who is to marry her is a bit too commanding for my liking, and also for Edith’s. She stands him up at the altar. The author is wise to put the “reveal” in the middle of the book – by this time we’ve grown to quite love Edith and her quick wit and desperate kindness, her loneliness and her resilience. So, of course, we cheer when she tosses the bossy man into the drink.

The other characters at the hotel and the employees are all charmant, all interesting in different ways, all dealing with their own issues. The rampant consumerism of some females is hauled out and mocked; Edith is made to feel inadequate in dress. (It’s a common enough thread amongst women – I’ve felt it myself. Edith and I favour comfort and giant sweaters. We may, at times, look sloppy. Just saying. ) There is a very thin woman with a tiny dog, a fat older woman and her clingy but oddly sensuous daughter, a deaf woman who smiles or grimaces on occasion, and a mysterious man, Mr. Neville, who seems to like Edith.

He proposes to her and offers her his companionship because he wants someone “steady” to help him rebuild his status after having his wife leave him. He says cheerily that he doesn’t love her, that he will have affairs and she can, too. I identified so much with Edith, I found myself saying ‘NO!” out loud when she decides to accept him.

But she rallies. And I am left cheering, and, oddly, with the desire to write.*

So what is the problem with reading these three all together? They all three deal with solitude and loneliness, with the interweaving between the desire for contact and the desire for silence, with connections made and severed.

It’s too close to my reality to be completely comfortable.

And, they are all filled with discussions of passionate love – not the “grab and smooch” kind my cousin and I used to giggle over in “the soaps”.

bb0daba08d0cc572acfe66e4a94d018c--forever-alone-quotes-being-alone-quotesThe sort of love that lasts through hardship and challenge, the kind that comes unexpectedly, but is fulfilling even if incomplete.

The kind of love that fills in the spaces around one’s life, enriching it.

The kind I would still like to find.

So the three in sequence makes me feel a bit sad, a bit lonely. I feel an ache. It’s not painful, just a bit of a gap.

Which is what makes me want to write.

 

*Of Anita Brookner, Wikipedia has this to say: “Her novels explore themes of emotional loss and difficulties associated with fitting into society, and typically depict intellectual, middle-class women, who suffer isolation and disappointments in love.” Hmmmmm. I think I may have found a kindred spirit.





Roméo Irené Pierre Vachon

5 05 2017

Such an impossibly romantic name! Such an impossibly romantic background – his father a famous pilot back in the day when pilots rarely made it to the parenting age. My uncle Pierre’s father‘s plane is in the museum of Science and Technology…

But it’s about my equally romantic uncle I’m writing today. One of my very favourite uncles, one after whom I named my son, one who always made me smile, and one who was a role model for me in so many ways. A man who was handsome and dashing in looks, charming in manner – in every sense the romantic hero.

My uncle passed away this week, at the age of 85. I am sad to lose him, but I know that his faith will see him safely to see his peaceful place – and I know that he lived a life full of adventures and love and gusto and appreciation and joy.

Camino-de-Santiago-800Uncle Peter (or Pierre as I eventually was brave enough to call him, after my years of poorly learned French) was a man who lived large. He, his first wife, Dorothy Anne, and my cousins were such a huge part of my growing up they feel like my family. Uncle Pierre did things I always dreamed of doing – walking the Camino – twice! Hiking and staying in monasteries, gaining thoughtful peace. Coming home to a home filled of laughter and caring. Raising his children in a bilingual household when it was not the standard of the time. Being a member of the United Eclectics!

I loved him so, but I don’t think he really got to know me until I was a grownup, when I was fortunate to have some deep conversations with him. He made me yearn: for philosophy, for religion, for walking, for peace. There are so few people that you meet who make you want to be better than you are. He had that effect on me.

When I was a kid, and all of us, a multiplicity of cousins and associated parents were staying at our Second Cousin Cousin Grace’s cottage on Cape Cod. I couldn’t sleep. No lecture from depicB9bhzysignated babysitter Pierre. He talked to me, and made me a sandwich of bread, butter, and brown sugar. It knocked me right out. (The other parents simply told me to get back to bed. I remember his unexpected kindness).

I think that was what I loved most about Uncle Pierre – his ability to be kind in unexpected ways. As with many men of his generation, he held himself a little apart from the silliness that is little girls. But he adored my mother and father, and they adored him back. He adored all of his children, and their crazy pets – the Vachons always had a dog of enhanced personality – and his love for my aunt was bright and visible. Growing up in a cooler house, I liked to see the joy between them.

One morning Pierre and Dorothy Anne arrived just as we were heading out to church, and so we told them to help themselves to breakfast and left them in the kitchen. What Uncle Pierre couldn’t have guessed is that my dad had been experimenting with rum in maple syrup, and had a jug of it, a fair bit too rummy, in the back of the fridge, waiting for some titration with more maple syrup. We arrived home to find the two of them giggling helplessly over crumbs of pancakes. “Chris,” said Pierre to my father, “I think your maple syrup has gone off a bit.”

Uncle Pierre taught my dad how to sail, one calm day on Lake Washington. We were renting a place on the lake and it came with a small boat. Dad was eager to try, so out we went, testing how to turn about and manage the sails and the rudder and everything. It wasn’t very exciting due to lack of wind, but the motor brought us in nicely.

3180fbe356dc290e644f527d4efea652Uncle Pierre was a great teacher. So much so that my dad felt supremely confident, and the first chance he had, he took us all out in the boat on his own. Never mind there was a gale blowing up… We nearly drowned, except that my older brother conveniently let go of the sail line just as we were tipping over and we fluttered back into verticality, with only one head injury to report. I can still hear my dad laughing as he reported it all to Uncle Pierre on the phone the next day…

Pierre was at his wife’s side during her terminal cancer and supported her throughout. He also was stand-in family for many of the Warner (Dorothy Anne’s) clan, sharing his home with my lovely Uncle Cliff, rallying around to help where needed.

After Dorothy Anne died, he was also brave enough to love again, marrying the very sweet Margaret Graham. I haven’t met her in real life yet, and I love her already, just through the brief electronic chats we’ve had. I’m so glad they found each other after the loss of their first spouses – they had some time (not nearly enough) to travel and paint and laugh together.

200aa737d8ab4d7e90ecbcc1fc30eb7bI’ve been so blessed. I got to grow up in a life full of cousins and aunts and uncles that, barring the occasional one or two (there is always a worm in the apple!) made my world full of friends and people who supported me, who loved me unconditionally. We’ve lived all over the place, and we don’t see one another nearly often enough, but the lovelines are there and strong. I treasure them, and as with every family event, I vow to strengthen them even more…while knowing time, finances, illness, and life will keep us apart more than together.

Go with God, my dear “oncle Pierre”. I can’t walk the Camino, with my MS and general weakness in the heat. But I dedicate the next 500 miles of my walking to you. Once again, you are inspiring me to be better than I am. It might take me a year, or two. Or possibly more…how I will miss you. I will look for your kindness in the faces I see and seek quiet in myself as I walk.

default

 





A Tiny Wee Heart

1 11 2016

5293_121759486490_547246490_2899209_3924748_nI’ve always loved birds. When I was a kid I had budgies. Of course I didn’t really know how to take care of them and they lived, but I didn’t love them. Until high school. My dad bought me a blue and white budgie for Christmas and it was love at first sight.

There is something so mystical about having a wee bird love you. There’s no reason why they should, really. We are huge and wont to tread on them, we keep them in cages when they should fly, we feed them stale seeds and fluoridated chlorined water.

Their tiny little hearts beat so fast. The feeling of cuddling with a bird is unimaginably precious.

My budgie and I hung out all through my senior high school days and I loved him. We had a sudden move across the country and I had to find him a new home. It broke my heart.

But nothing approached the love I had for wee Dora, my parrotlet. I got her from a breeder and she was hand raised. I’d done my research and was an adult now, with adult capability to look after her. She came to my home and stomped across the floor and into my heart. She hung out on my desk when I wrote, she ate all the plastic buttons on my remotes. She shared my sandwiches. She travelled with me to a cottage and yelled at hummingbirds.

Meanwhile I was learning how to cope with Multiple Sclerosis, newly diagnosed. She cheered me, made me laugh when I was feeling low, cuddled with me and teased my hair.

She started plucking, for some reason. I couldn’t figure it out. I played with her more, I cooked up special warm breakfasts and fed her kiwi by the ton. I shopped for the freshest fruit, I fretted, I asked people about it, I talked to the vet. She plucked on.

I researched parrotlet behaviour. Maybe she was lonely? I got her a roommate, Flora. She hated her on sight. I thought, she used to hang out with a budgie, maybe that would help her. Nope. Maybe she was hankering after a partner? I flew to Ottawa to adopt a wee male fellow who she terrorized. He didn’t pluck, but my poor wee Dora did.

She had a parrot-sized cage, filled with toys and tasty treats. She acted healthy, played and  cuddled with me (but not her partner). She simply pulled out her feathers. I tried tiny sweaters on her but they all weighed more than she did. I bathed her in soothing solutions.

At the same time, I was having a terrible time with my MS. I couldn’t handle trying to keep the two birds (I’d rehomed the budgie and returned her girl roomie to the breeder). I was beside myself, desperate and so sad for my girl. I reached out and found her a home with It’s a Bird’s Life Aviary, together with her handsome “boyfriend”. I’m so glad for her that I did – she is I think happy there, and I know her care is excellent.

But I miss her, and her tiny fierce heart. Every every day.

I live with a cat now, a furry gentleman who provides warmth and lashings of fur. I love him. He’s my dear buddy and he’s a gentle old gent with a purr that melts me.

But there was something really special about that Dora. It is a true gift to be loved by a bird.

522350_10150751094991491_1947155645_n





Losing my voices

14 01 2016

051726b3b9c2504494417355e49585450db82-wmSome of my pals tell me they are visual types, focused on how a thing looks to determine how they feel about it, or him or her.

Not me. I’m a voice gal. I used to swoon regularly listening to Long John Baldry’s deep voice, especially his “Oh, Baby!” on “You’ve lost that Loving Feeling”. I croon along with Hugh Laurie in the car, delighting in his deep tones. Matt Andersen gets my money whenever he appears in town. I get phone calls every once and awhile from a fellow I’ve never met, but I’m always delighted to hear from him because he has a glorious “radio” voice. I’ve been known to assault unwary waiters with the suggestion they look for voice work.

Add an accent and I am as liquid as a cat.

So when David Bowie passed away this past week, I was left saddened but not tragically so. His reedy voice never turned me on. Too hip and tight.

But Alan Rickman????? His loss grieves me to the core.

I’ve watched every movie he was in. I swear to the gods I’d listen to him reading a grocery list, my head tilted forward, ears turned greedily toward the sound. I wish I’d had a chance to hear him on stage.

Why is he no longer among us? I feel bereft, so sad, just like when I heard of the loss of Long John Baldry. My favourite voices are slipping away….

Of course everyone knows Rickman as Snape, the evil/good character from Harry Potter, but I love him best for his role in Dogma, as the Metatron, the Voice of God. If my god had a voice, I’d sure as heck want him to sound like Alan Rickman. I’d be ever so much better behaved if only there was an Alan Rickman talking crossly and then gently to me. Heck, a Voice like his could simply say hello and I’d vow to be good forevermore.

Maybe he’ll get a voice over job up THERE? I can only hope.

Until then, I shall simply keep on sinning, with a deep bass background…

images-5

Whisper in my ear…..

Thank you, A.R. You’ve made my life immeasurably richer.

 





Serpent’s teeth and the brilliance of Shakespeare

30 08 2015

db-0100I hated reading Shakespeare as I grew up. The language seemed difficult, the concepts dry and old. I was, of course, ignorant. And a philistine. Now I know better, and am continually gobsmacked by what Shakespeare was able to contain in his works.

I wonder who I was when I was younger – so sure of myself, so sure I knew things, terrified of being caught out yet pushing my way through, singing “Whistle a Happy Tune” and “You’ll never walk alone” to keep my chin up – but as an old friend said, it WAS up. Though I knew nothing, and inside I knew I knew nothing. I knew enough to fake it til I made it, just about. So I did.

I blame my mother. She told us we were special, and though we never really believed it, we carried it around. My adopted aunt once gave me a book which had a marvelous poem in it about “Mary-Alice”, who had great potential, and because she was so afraid of losing that potential, she kept it hidden under her bed in a very secure box and got it out now and again to look at it but never showed it to anyone.

That poem has haunted my entire life. Thanks, Aunt Shirlianne. (Love her so much, and there’s no reason she should have expected that that poem would have such an effect on me). Between my mother assuring me I was meant to do great things and my aunt inflicting overly wise poetry on me, I was and probably still am, a mess. I figure I still have to contribute – have to have an effect on the world, have to use my potential before it vanishes like Mary-Alice’s.

potential

It’s encouraging in one way, terrifying in another. Here I am, gently losing my mind with the cognitive effects of MS, and I am flogging myself to write, to agitate, to exercise, to model healthy behaviour, blah blah blah. Add in a generous dose of Roman Catholic guilt and it’s almost unbearable in here. Wine helps. And chocolate.

Sad thing is, I seem to have visited it upon my kids, this same sense of “you have great gifts and you’d better use them to better the world or else”. It’s a lot of pressure, and I didn’t mean to make their lives the same living ratrace mentally that I spin upon, but I did.

So now they have secret lives, and are afraid to tell me their plans and are snarky at me so they don’t have to feel that I am judging them.

Which, of course, I am NOT. Funny thing about parenting. That unconditional love thing is the code.You get it through the umbilical cord, I think. So I don’t care what they do, though of course I would be sad if they got arrested or hurt somebody or sat about being unhappy and unfulfilled. But then I think they wouldn’t like that, either, so I assume we are on the same page, sort of. Maybe.

I have to guess, though, because, like those ungrateful children in Shakespeare, two out of my three wonderful offspring speak rarely to me. It hurts me, yes it does. I’m sure they have reasons to avoid me, and it’s pretty much due me as I recall I kind avoided my mother for a spell, and still argue with her though she is 24 years gone. I guess I also passed on the serpent’s tooth.

In a way, it’s good – I raised my kids to be independent, questioning individuals, and so they are. Just wish a bit that they’d be a little less questioning of me, sometimes.

Ah well, at least when we DO talk, they are interesting, witty, intelligent, and worth the wait. Perhaps you can’t have that without the tooth…

quote-he-d-be-sharper-than-a-serpent-s-tooth-if-he-wasn-t-as-dull-as-ditch-water-charles-dickens-326928








Destination Humanity

Chasing big dreams one photo at a time

Ingridphilipp's Blog

Just another WordPress.com weblog

*UNBREAKABLE QUEEN'S LIFE LESSONS DIARY*

Breaking Free From The Past, In Hope For A Bigger & Brighter Future

Christ a poet

one word at a time

C.S. Lewis & Friends

11th Biennial Frances White Ewbank Colloquium

A Bit of History

Exploring historical thoughts and themes, a bit at a time.

%d bloggers like this: