I love that Ellen Meloy once wrote a book about turquoise- a shade of blue, my favorite general color. I love that she included an excerpt from Vasily Kandinsky, who said:
“The deeper the blue, the more it summons man into infinity, arousing his yearning for purity and ultimately transcendence. Blue is the typical celestial color. Blue very profoundly develops he element of calm.”
I’m thinking again about how she wanted to age with grace instead of sorrow; how she died peacefully in her sleep at 58.
Blue reminds me of the sky and ocean, my eyes and the Ralph Lauren perfume I bought ten years ago. It makes me feel calmer and deeper and more alive.
Blue is the color of existentialism. I’m pretty sure it’s the color of chess and jazz. Blue is the color of ennui and melancholia. Blue is the color of heaven and sorrow, tempests and blue skies. It’s the color of my patio umbrella and the Christmas lights I stare at when it’s 3 am and I’m smoking part of a black and mild, waiting for the dogs to pee, listening to cackling coyotes, freezing to death. The neighborhood smells like a rotting skunk and my dog is mutilating a stuffed monkey.
I keep looking at my phone like its going to give me an answer to everything. I have been searching for something but I don’t know the right question.
Phone, tell me, why won’t my husband get a job? Is he going to leave? Does he love me?
My phone is oblivious: “Sen. Mitch Fucking McConnell floats Merrick Garland as new FBI director.”
Dakota is screaming through the house for fun. Her voice is taking shape and gaining color. Charley is in the bathroom listening to a right-wing reporter complain about the left no longer believing in “free speech”.
He scratches his head as I pass.
“Do you want me out? Yes or no?”
“I don’t know.” Why can’t I say yes? What do I want? I can’t say yes because I don’t want him to leave. Because I don’t want to see him leave and get it together because he’s gone. Because I don’t want to see him fall apart. Because I still love him but he’s unemployed and lazy and it’s driving me fucking crazy. Because every decision sounds like a bad outcome- here, away, here now while planning to go, away but here some- I don’t know.
This is bootcamp for Emotional invalids.
“Do you ever feel like the world’s a stage? We’re all just playing…”
“What are you Shakespeare now?”
“No, I don’t read that man. … You know he was French?”
“Oh really? My professors never told me-”
“French-Canadian. Fought in the Revolutionary War.”
“Oh you don’t say-”
“You know Renee Descartes?”
“Yes I know him.”
“Calvin Hobbes?” Giggles.
“Um, Calvin Hobbes. Was he also in the Revolutinary War?”
“Yes. You can learn a lot from me.”
I like it when Charley is weird and happy. But accuses me of being jealous of the baby. More jabs to see if I’ll react. It goes downhill. Dakota’s bib is covered in drool. She looks Like a chubby water fairy.
There’s nothing that would make me jealous of Dakota. Anything I think I’m missing or craving in my relationship wouldn’t make me want to see her with any less love. Charley’s greatest gift has been his love for her and I hope it only grows.
We’re watching the new adaptation of Anne of Green Gables. It’s called “Anne with an A”. In the new series, at one point, a house is burned down and Anne comforts a girl from the house: “Maybe you can imagine what color you’d like your room to be. I know for a fact it’s always good to have something to look forward to. … I’ve always been partial to robin’s egg blue.”
That is a fine blue. A greenish-blue cyan, it’s tranquil and cool, similar to turquoise and teal. The blue of a robin’s egg is caused by biliverdin, a pigment deposited on the eggshell when the female lays the eggs. It’s a form of protection against predators.
It’s windy and there are enough raindrops to attract all the birds. A hummingbird with a green tunic buzzes to the kitchen window to suck nectar from a red glass jar. A half dozen songbirds.
It’s nippy out so I make a fire in the kiva. Dakota is spitting and gurgling a conversation to the dogs. Charley is in the other room watching Joe Rogan videos and waiting for the food stamps office to answer the phone. Forty-five minutes later the hold ends and he’s talking:
“Me and my wife are separating, possibly divorce. I don’t know. I need my own card-”
“So,” I inquire after the phone call, “a divorce?”
“Nah, I just had to say that if I’m going to get my own card.”
I made him get his own card. He’s too slow getting documents in on time.
I think about my blue. My blue is protection against predators. I don’t want to feel too calm or happy or sad, (I never know what’s coming next); I just want to watch Netflix, read books and play.
“Be honest. Where do you see us in a year?” I ask.
Charley’s thoughtful. “We’ll be living together. I’ll be working and sober. I’ll teach you how to snowboard. … We’ll be a happy family.”
Maybe it’s my blueness but my great hope feels small. Thank god for kiva fireplaces and coffee. Dakota screams with joy. I’m a sorrowful idiot. I might as well be a cat. Snap out of it, Cloudy.
I want to be Anne. Where is Gilbert? “There would never be anyone but you”, Gilbert Blythe said. “You know, every day I would pick a different memory of you and play it over and over and over again in my mind, until every hair, every freckle, every part of you was exactly as I remembered”. I want letters and poetry.
I guess real life isn’t poetry and romance, but it should be. At least men should be better and think more about others. Basically they should be women, but men. So maybe in my twilight years we’ll look back on this shortbus marriage and laugh over the Lavender fields of Provence. Then again, maybe I’m destined to meet someone else- Darcy, Gilbert, Rochester or Edmund- in a last chapter before the final epilogue.
In the evening, Charley is back from AA (during which I drank a glass of wine) and we share part of a black and mild and I tell him I understand and I still have faith. And then we go in and he’s talking on the phone to his sponsor. I’m eavesdropping, catching fragments of one side of a conversation that makes me want to intervene and say, “But don’t forget…” and “How do I cope…” and “Tell him to work…”
I hear Charley shuffle by, “…a shot of whiskey on my mind…” And I guess I need my own sponsor. A night of Al-Anon. A little hope. I feel more stuffed with old voices telling me I’m stupid and a few choking on daydreams. Let’s walk the Hayduke trail, Moab to Zion. Let’s get sunburns and blisters and photographs of arsenic-tainted water and sandstone. As Virgil said, “Steep thyself in a bowl of summertime”. Everyone thinks of Edward Abbey’s Monkey Wrench Gang when they think of Hayduke. I think of how I met Charley: the hostel, vodka, tent, and stars.
Does marriage show it’s expiration date? Maybe when your soulmate turns out to be an ongoing project instead of a blessing. Maybe not.