I was out late tonight. If you are reading this tomorrow morning then it was Thursday night. I went to see my friend Levi and we played a game called Magic at another friends house. But that really isn't the point of the writing. I met Levi because Nicole, my ex-wife, worked with then Levi's girlfriend Eva. Now Levi and Eva are married and Nicole and I are not. It is funny how things change and how plans change. Well as often serendipity seems to work. I was ruminating on that on the drive home and listening to National Public Radio (NPR). Well every night I think about 9:50 or so they a quick show called "The Writers Almanac". It is hosted by Garrison Keillor of "Lake Wobegon" fame. Well he reads a poem or two and tells about writers birthdays and different books. Tonight he read a poem that I am going place below. Please take the time to read it and I will meet you on the other side.
by Stephen Dobyns
How calm is the spring evening, and the water
barely a ripple. My son stands at the edge
tossing in pebbles, then jumping back. He knows
that someplace out there lies Europe, and he points
to an island to ask if it is France. Here
on this beach my neighbor died, a foolish man.
He had fought with his daughter, his only child,
about her boyfriend and came here to cool off
when his heart stopped. Another neighbor found him
and thought him asleep, so relaxed did he seem.
He had helped me with my house, gave me advice
on painting, plastering. For this I thank him.
As I worked, we discussed our plans, how he wished
his daughter to go to the best schools, become
a scientist or engineer. I said how
I meant to settle down and make my life here—
My son asks me about the tide, why the water
doesn't keep coming up the street to wipe out
the house where he lives alone with his mother.
Is he scared, should I console him? Should I say
that if I controlled the tide I would destroy
that house for certain? Our plans came to nothing
and now, a year later, I'm just a visitor
in my son's life. We walk down to the water,
pause, and look out at the world. How big is it?
he asks me. Bigger every day, I answer.
"Cecil" by Stephen Dobyns, from Cemetery Nights. © Penguin Group, 1987. Reprinted with permission (buy now)
what did you think? I am not a great poetry reader. I do read all of the time and I fancy myself a bit of a writer but I do not have an ear for and never have really enjoyed poetry. But, as I listened to the poem being read and he mentioned the neighbor dying on the beach I thought "oh that is sad." and then he moved to the man's son asking about the tides and why didn't the water didn't come all the way up the street and "wipe out the house where he lived alone with his mother?"
That was when it hit me. The man was divorced and the plans that he had talked about previously with the now dead neighbor didn't matter. That the plans for the future came to nothing and now he is just a visitor. Well I do not mind telling you that I begone to cry as I was driving down the highway. I cried because the plans that I had now mean nothing. I cried because it feels like every time I have a good week or day something comes along from out of nowhere and makes me realize what I have lost. I honestly do not feel depressed a majority of the time. But in some ways I am dreading reaching a time where the thought of Nicole does not make me sad. As it is there is an empty spot in my life and for me to lose the memories I have of her, for me to lose the memories of the good times I do not know what that will mean for me.
As usual when the pain hits me. It hits me hard and it takes me by surprise. I have no idea how she is coping. Or even what she is doing to cope. The only thing that brings me some comfort is the vague hope that she is happier then I am now. At least I hope she is. I do not know. If she is not then this is truly a horrible thing for the both of us and there really was no benefit at all. I do not know that there should be a benefit but the thought that at least she might be happy or happier now has been of some small comfort to me.
Now, i sit in the garage and write on my laptop. Wullie is asleep in the ferret sleeping bag and Sebastian is roaming around like he usually does. "It's just you and me fellas." I tell them. I know they can't understand me. But sometimes it feels as if they are the only ones that I can really just let myself go with. Their needs are simple, clean food and water. Some bedding to sleep in and a little bit of attention but they do not even need much of that. I think they are aware that things are different but I am not sure what that would mean to them. I have no idea how aware they are of things. I wish I did...I wish I did.