Category Archives: Memory

The Online Other Woman: Chapter 13, Unforgiveable

Time, the constant traveler, walks with the Moon and rides with the Sun. Days and nights crumble and blow away. Months slide slowly by. It has been almost two years since that fateful night when Dan first told us he was leaving and Max and I first faced that he was done with us. It has been over a year since the day the dreadful divorce went down. And, it has been a full year and a half since the last time I saw Dan.

That was on a night just before he flew to Australia to join the woman he had met online, the woman he was leaving us for. I had not expected to see him. I knew that Max had spent the day helping him move his things from his apartment into a storage container in his parents’ backyard. But Max had gone on to see friends. I was alone when Dan messaged that he was bringing by a shelf unit that he wanted me to have.

A few minutes later, he was at the door. I was shaky and nervous as I fumbled to turn the lock. We said “Hello.” Dan looked tired from all the moving he had done that day. We stepped off the porch and over to his rental truck. Together we moved the shelf cabinet into the house. It was replacing an older, rickety shelf which he carried out to the garage for me.

Once his shelf was in place, and I had thanked him for it, Dan said, “Well, I guess this is goodbye.” I asked, “How long will you be gone?” He said that he did not know,  maybe a year. I shook my head and said, “It’s very strange.” He said, “Yes, I never expected anything like this.”

He reached to hug me. His manner, maybe because he was tired, lacked the happy-go-lucky style that he had shown in so many of our encounters since the Crack-up. We hugged, and when we pulled apart, I reached down and held his hand for a moment. He looked at me, more directly than he had in months, maybe years, and said, “Forgive me.”

That caught at my heart. I began to cry. “Oh, I do forgive you,” I said. “It’s just that I am so sad.” He nodded as if he understood, then he turned, and I watched him walk out the front door and out of my life.

A long and lonely hour followed. I was listening to music in the den when I heard Max’s car pull in. He sat on the couch and talked of his day helping his dad move. He said Dan tried to talk to him about the Stages of Grief. Max said, “I told him I reached ‘Acceptance’ the first week. I see there is nothing I can do about the situation, so I accept it. It does not mean that I like it or think it’s a good thing, especially for the family, but I accept it.”

Max told me about the container that Dan had bought and placed in his parents’ back yard to store all his possessions. He said that Papa, Dan’s eighty-year-old dad, was out there helping them that day. Max could see the strain and grief on Papa. He later talked to Dan about it, but he was oblivious.

Max said once again how selfish he thinks Dan is. He said that day Dan was going on and on about how bad it is for him that he could not sublet his apartment. Max said his dad has no idea of how more than bad everything has been for us. He only thinks of himself. He later said he doesn’t think Dan cares about us at all. He’s going to spend $5,000 on dual citizenship and more on a lawyer. Max said, “The $100 I got for helping him move today is probably the last money I’ll ever see from him.”

* * * *

Forgiveness came easy for me that night when Dan asked for it. I forgave him for what he had done to me. I bore him no anger or ill will, only a great sadness as I told him at the time. Max, too, on his last day with his dad, was able to speak of acceptance, which is his version of forgiveness.

I am a spiritual, loving person; I understand the importance of forgiveness. To live well we must be free of anger and negative thinking. But though I forgave Dan for his betrayal of me, I found I could not live in peace with his treatment of Max. It did not seem right or fair. I felt passionate about it. I felt unforgiving.

The night Dan announced the Crack-up, he walked out without leaving so much as a twenty dollar bill for Max. In the year and a half since Dan left us, college tuition for Max has come due six times. He has gone to the dentist and the doctor. The car he drives back and forth to school has needed gas, tires, service, and insurance. His health insurance sends bills regularly. Max has worked some part-time jobs and has usually been able to pay for gas and car expenses and his own spending money. But the rest I paid. Once he left us, Dan paid nothing to help Max with expenses as he completes college.

Two months after Dan left for Australia, Christmas came. He sent Max nothing. The next Christmas, again nothing. Birthday, also, nothing. No gifts. No contributions to help Max with school. Dan sent email greetings, but nothing else.

Dan’s disregard of Max seemed especially unfair considering how much help he was still–at his age–getting from his parents while Max is only in his early twenties and just beginning to make his way in the world.

It was as if Dan had turned his back on Max and disowned him. This was what held back my complete forgiveness. I felt that for Dan to cease altogether in providing for Max as a father was unforgiveable.

When I began this final chapter, I entitled it “Unforgiveable.” My heart was still breaking over the fact that Max does not have a father in any real sense of the word. But over the course of writing and struggling to get at the truth of how I feel today, of how I want to feel today, I find I have come to a new place. As I was writing about that day a year and a half ago, the last time we saw Dan, it began to seem like a long, long time ago. Dan has drifted into the distance now.

Max and I have gone on with our lives. Though we haven’t had Dan’s help, we have made progress with our goals. Max’s self-esteem was greatly damaged by what his father did, but he accepted it, and when I see him now, see how well he is doing, see his smile, I know that he is on his way. He is intelligent, hardworking, dependable, funny, loving, and loyal. He will make a success of his life.

As for me, I have been finding my own way, as well. I live now completely alone. Max took a job and moved into the city. It is strange and very quiet here sometimes. The nights are long and lonely. But I soldier on. I think of other women who have been in my position for a time in their lives, my mother, my Aunt Rene, even me in my younger years.

I am a hard worker, just as they were, and that helps. I work two part-time jobs and always have a renovation project going on here at my home. I love to garden and commune with nature. Inspiration flows into my writing and creative sewing and painting projects. And my friends are many and such fun and interesting people.

My life has not turned out as I would have liked. I wish Dan had loved me. I wish we could have spent this time of our lives helping Max find his place in the world and laughing, playing, and doing good work with all our friends and family.

But, as Max was so quick to see, Dan did what he did. It is done. It is over. Our only choice is to accept it. And as I close this Crack-up story, I am guided by my better angel to take the final step. This chapter began with “Unforgiveable,” but it will end very differently.  The writing has cleared my mind. I am still sad and sorry for what Max and I had to suffer, and yet I feel at peace with what remains behind and what he and I can build anew.  I breathe in a sweetness, a strength, a purpose, and a sense of being fully alive.

The Online Other Woman: Chapter 12, The Dreadful

Through the twisted danger of memory fades a day from long, long ago. It was a lovely day, sunny, with only a slight chill in the air, unusual for February in New York City. Dan and I rode with four friends on the Avenue B bus downtown to the municipal building where a grey haired judge with kind eyes asked some questions and said some words. I wore a purple velvet suit that I had sewn myself and carried a few lavender roses. Dan looked dashing in a black vintage suit. After the ceremony, we walked with our friends across a park to the old City Hall where Lincoln had lain in state in the sad spring of 1865. One of our friends took a photograph of Dan and me in our wedding attire that day. We were standing in one of the grand rooms under an ancient oil painting; we were looking out at an uncertain future. Hope, history, loss, beauty, betrayal, and terrible mistakes turn the tides of memory and all that was or never was is gone forever.

Some memories, though, are seared into the flesh and may never take their leave. Such was the moment that night at the Dylan concert when I noticed that Dan was not wearing his wedding ring. I did not speak. I only reached out and touched the bare skin of his finger. All he said to me was “I don’t want to be married.”

So soon! So coldly soon. Dan had told me nothing of his feelings until two days prior, but now, already now, so soon after his first announcement at the dinner table, here was the realization as to where all this must inevitably lead. I managed to ask, “But we’d have to get divorced?” A dizzy swirl of fear fell on me as I looked to him for confirmation but hoped for denial.

He said, “Yes, we’d have to get divorced,” and he began to tell me about cheapie, easy, do-it-yourself divorces that his buddies at work knew all about.

I sat beside Dan in the stadium seats of the concert pavilion, the arm rest between us, and over this I stared. I stared at what he was saying and that he could say it.

Divorce. The word ran through my veins, through my nerves. Divorce. I had always had a horror of divorce. It was one of the reasons I waited so late in my life to marry. Divorces were so dreadful.

When I was very young, my first job was working at a bank in downtown Memphis. I worked with thirty or forty other women. We took breaks together, and over the course of the three years I was there, I heard enough divorce sagas to put the fear of marriage into anyone: he cheated on me, he stole my kids from the babysitter and went off to Arkansas with them, he put his hands on somebody at his job and he’s in jail now. So many horror stories! I came to view marriage as a high-risk experiment with the odds heavily in favor of disaster to be followed by the doom of divorce and the deadly warfare that seemed to rage all around it.

It took my own marriage years to get there, but finally I was there, right where I had always dreaded to be. I did not want to call its name, so I just called it The Dreadful.

During the back and forth emails when we were working with the settlement papers, Dan had said he wanted to be present at our court date, but when the dread day did arrive, he said he would be working. A girlfriend said she would go with me because she remembered her own divorce and how it had helped her to have a friend waiting when she walked out of the court room. But when the date arrived, she said she couldn’t go because she had to babysit her grandchild. I considered asking Max to go with me, but quickly put that aside. A child does not attend the divorce of his parents.

I would have to go alone. Like Woody singing the old gospel song, there was a lonesome valley up ahead for me, and I’d have to walk it by myself.

The Dreadful was scheduled for a day in early October, a month that is usually gloriously warm and beautiful in the South. It was the best month of the season that had been my father’s favorite and mine. He used to say he loved the fall of the year because the weather was mild with very little wind unlike spring when, though the weather is nice, it is often windy.

Now my favorite month of the year would be forever tainted. And, strangely, this October, coming as it did during the season of the Crack-up, did not follow the usual autumn weather pattern. The whole week and especially the day of The Dreadful were grey and rainy and dark. There was a hopeless bitter wind blowing and the sun was gone forever.

The time I had been given was 9 AM. I had worried that I might oversleep because I was taking several prescriptions at the time, but I did not sleep at all, so waking up was not a problem. Driving was. Driving with a blur before my eyes, my chest compressing my heart that was breaking, and beating, and breaking like a lost cause.

I was so alone walking the sidewalk, the cold stone that led the lonely to the columns and the walls and halls of the county court house. I had no idea what to do. Courtroom B, I think I had been told. I went in, hesitated, and then sat to the side in the back on a very cold bench. Nervously, I wondered, where is the lawyer? Does she find me, or am I supposed to find her? Up front the judge was questioning a man and then granting him a divorce. Next there was a woman. She had two friends with her.

Finally, my lawyer came and spoke to me. A few minutes later, I was the one standing up front being questioned by the judge and being granted a divorce. It was not until I was downstairs in the clerk’s office that I broke down. The room went dark; I gripped the counter to keep from falling. My lawyer tried to comfort me, but I just wanted her to hurry up the filing process so I could go, so I could get out on that lonesome road and run and keep on running.

Finally, it was over and I was home. I felt so destroyed, so driven down to nothing that the only thing to do was go to bed. When I woke up, I remembered that Maria and Mark and several other close friends had planned a little dinner for me at a restaurant in Decatur. I began to get ready. The rain and dreary weather continued making for a dark afternoon.

Max came home from school and stepped back into my bedroom to check on me. I turned when he walked in; I was still weak and weepy. He looked at me without talking for a minute, and then said, “How are you?” I said, “I’m sad, so sad, but I’m going to be OK.” He reached out his arms, so very kind, I walked toward him, and we embraced. It was then that I noticed my son is now grown so tall that he can put his chin on the top of my head when we hug.

I told him that I loved him. He said, “I love you, Mom. I’m sorry this had to happen to you.” It was very sweet of Max, very generous, and very brave, because, of course, the loss, the sudden loss of love and of our old life had happened to him, too.

The dinner out on the rainy night with friends was darkly, somberly pleasant. Everyone wore their sweetest smile, their deepest hope that I would last through my sorrow. It was reassuring. It did help to spend the evening with people I had known and loved for so long. Although the lonesome road lay up ahead and was not to be avoided, although I was sinking lower as the unfamiliar aloneness of divorce crept nearer and nearer all around me, at least for this first post-Dreadful night, I would raise a glass to dear friends, and I would blink so no one could see the tears.

Black Tape to Ease the Scrape from Crack-up Poems, Crack-up Songs

I’m telling myself to let go,

But let go of what?

Everything? My whole past?

Which doors must I shut

In order to be safe?

How much must I release

Before I can relearn

The path to peace?

 

Why am I back to this battlefield?

Would you think a garage

With his side blank and empty

Could bring on a barrage

So that I suddenly re-feel

The bullets of betrayal,

The smoking trail

Of tragedy like sniper fire

That rips the skin

And explodes within

My head and then

My heart?

 

A simple trip to the recycle bin

But when I turned, I fell

Into the old emptiness within,

As I saw the emptiness of his side,

That newly noticed space,

And I stared at the dusty inside

Of the garage door,

And on it a black strip of tape.

This is what caused the uproar,

The new downpour,

The memory war:

A strip of black tape,

Black tape to ease the scrape.

 

He put the tape there.

He always tried to park his car

Far back where

His car would not bar

The opening of our house door.

Usually, he would hit his mark close

And then the garage door

Would come down and close

Clearing his car just right.

But sometimes he might

Not be pulled in so tight.

The garage door would clatter

Down and scrape itself shut

Along his black car bumper.

The tape was to ease the scrape.

 

Black tape to ease the scrape.

Where’s the tape to ease my soul,

To help me escape so I can reshape

My life and adjust to my new role?

A door of severance is coming down,

Scraping my edge, scarring my surface,

Driving me back to a breakdown,

Blinded by rain’s raging and rusting embrace.

 

What we love, we will protect.

He took trouble not to damage his bumper.

With me he showed no such respect.

I was just a forgotten, former

Lover, who must feel once more

How much he did not care

For me his wife and for our son before

He left us in poverty and despair.

 

Say he was fire, but not that I was water.

Wasn’t I good at gath’ring wood, paying

A paper bill so there would be the starter?

I would not see the signs his smoke was saying.

The story told by his look of anger I denied.

He burns now in foreign sun that shines on earth

That’s not his own. His heart of heat once lived beside

The one who understood love’s worth.

Pollute of smoke. A sign unseen. Renewal.

Water puts out fire, but I’m still bringing fuel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Online Other Woman: Chapter Nine: The Eyes of a Stranger

Dan always had a lot of possessions. Even in his early Beat Pad days, he had tons of records, wooden crates stacked with decades of Life Magazines, huge speakers and lots of stereo sound equipment, band equipment and instruments, oil paintings, clothes a plenty, furniture, appliances, etc. When we moved to New York, we hauled it all up six flights of stairs to our sublet on Avenue B in the Lower East Side,.

Once we returned to Georgia and owned a three bedroom home with closets, an attic, a garage, a utility room, and a basement, Dan would accumulate even more. He worked in construction and came across things all the time that were cool or had some value or purpose, and he would drag them home. If something broke, it did not have to fear the trash heap. It would end up in our basement, saved to be repaired even though Dan had never in his life spent a Saturday repairing anything. His connection with music and former bands brought in more items to store such as towers, wooden risers, carpet, drape, recording equipment, most of it obsolete.

Everyone has stuff, right? But gradually, over the twenty years we lived in our house, Dan’s accumulating reached critical mass. Seriously. He even wanted to store equipment towers and unwanted tables in Max’s room. Why Max’s room in a home with a garage and a utility room? Because everywhere else was too stuffed with stuff!

Our home, I realize, was like that of a, if not a hoarder, a pre-hoarder. Was Dan filling a need, a gap in his life or just weighing himself down in dirt and clutter?

Was he hoarding out of unhappiness? I know he was unhappy with his limited success in music. During our last years together, he no longer had his own band. He played in a cover band; he liked it and his band mates, but it was not a vibrant creative outlet for him. As for his personal life, his life with Max and me, was he really all that unhappy? His mother has told me that she does not think he was. I don’t think he was either. I remember, for example, after a particularly good meal that I had cooked, and as we had sat there with Max talking, he said, “I love my family!”  And he looked around at me and Max and meant it. He would tell me of guys at work who were married to women they described as “psycho bitches from hell” and tell me how glad he was I was not like that.

Hindsight analysis to the side, he had, over the years of our marriage, filled our house top to bottom with junk. That was the setting, as he and the Instagirl spent the months preceding Crack-up Summer flirting their way into an online affection.

Once he had reached an understanding with her and she had agreed to fly to America to visit him, he needed a place for her to visit, he needed his own apartment. Fate smiled on him; he immediately found an affordable efficiency in an in town neighborhood. All very nice for love nest purposes, but note, I said efficiency.  Dan the pack rat could not pack much into an efficiency.

And sure enough on Crack-up night when he told Max and me that he was leaving and in minutes was out the door for the last time, he took very little. In the weeks prior to that night, he had secretly supplied his new apartment from our basement with camping pots and pans and household things left over from a yard sale. And, of course, he had culled through his closet and dresser drawers for the summer clothing he wanted and taken a few toilet articles. But much, much was left.

His announcement to me and Max that he was leaving came on a Thursday. Two days later was the Dylan concert that we strangely attended together, and the next day was Sunday when he had arranged to borrow a pick-up truck and his best friend Mark had agreed to come over and help him move. They took Dan’s L-shaped computer desk which was large, a chest of drawers and bed frame from the basement, and, and…. I don’t know what they took because I was in the middle bedroom, my studio, as I called it, sitting in a chair suffering and waiting for it to be over.

When it was finally over and Dan and Mark had driven away in the truck, I slowly emerged reclaiming the interior space of my home, and saw that in the middle of the living room floor there was a pile of Dan’s things. Not enough room in the truck? These things did not fit? I circled them. Stared at them. Dan’s things had such a presence for me. Now there was a pile of them in our living room the other end of which was our dining room where I ate most of my meals. How would I ever be able to stand this?

And still his closet, the hall closet, the foyer closet, the attic, the basement, etc., etc., were full, full, full of him, him, him. He was gone, but his stuff, tons of it, still remained.

Gradually, I began to add to the pile that he had left in the middle of the living room. If something of his was out and caught my eye and I thought he might want it, I added it to pile in the living room. From the kitchen, I added dishes that he had used more than me, like the Boonton Melmac serving dish that he used for corn chips with his cheese dip. Our cupboards were full; I added to his pile cans of beans and rice packets that he liked. I don’t remember all that I added or why I added certain things to the pile. If ever I was demented, it was in those days.

On day five after Crack-up announcement night, Dan finally got around to telling his parents. He called me saying he would stop by here after he saw them. I dreaded it. He had begun to act so strange and cold toward me. Once he arrived, we sat at the fateful dining room table and discussed some of the business of breaking up our marriage. He told me that his parents had been wonderful and very understanding. To be honest, that surprised me. They had always seemed to be people who valued the family above all else and what’s more to be people who knew right from wrong and tried to live accordingly. To think that they were OK with what he was doing was one more disappointment and blow to bear. They had always been kind to me. I loved them. But, of course, Dan was their son. They would side with him. I realized that here was one more Crack-up cost for me. I would lose my place with Dan’s family, a place I had held and enjoyed for thirty years.

After a few minutes of tragic, marriage tear down talk, Dan went to the bathroom and gathered a few more toiletries. He packed the pile from the middle of the living room floor into his car and once again was gone.

But still there were so many of his personal things left here in this house, surrounding me, over my head in the attic, under my feet in the basement, on his dresser, and in his closet in my bedroom. He even had stuff stuffed under the bed, the very bed I slept in every night. I talked to a few other teachers at work, my friends, my confidants. Of these, the ones who had been though a Crack-up were quick with what to do with stuff left by a “no good two-timer.” They said, with great emphasis,” I’d tell him, ‘Yo stuff is on the street. If you want it, you better get over here right quick and get it ‘fore someone else does!’ ”

Somehow, I just never was able to take that sound advice. But I did begin some symbolic shifting of Dan’s things, moving them, if not off the property, at least farther and farther away from my own most personal space. These shifts often occurred in the middle of a particularly sleep-spared night. One night, trying to see through the crystal blur of tears, I cleared all the many dusty things from the top of his dresser and put them into his dresser drawers. A few nights later, I took those same dusty possessions and the socks, underwear, t-shirts from the drawers, all his second-tier clothing that had not made the first cut and been taken with him when he left, and bagged and boxed it all, beginning a new pile in the living room. This time not in the middle of the floor, more over to the side where his desk stood.

On another noxious night while lying in the bed, I became acutely aware of all that was underneath it. I got up and began to pull his things from under our bed. So much of it was pure junk. There was even a bag of what could only be described as trash: unopened junk mail, used tissues, old bank statements. Creepy! Who puts a bag of trash under the bed like that? I knew what had happened. On a day when Dan needed to clean off the top of his desk, rather than go through and deal with things properly, he had stuffed them in a bag and then stuffed the bag under our bed. Voila! Clean desk! But under our bed—trash, actual garbage. Strange. Sick strange.

One day when I knew he was coming by to take me to the cable and gas companies to switch service into my name, I bagged all his dirty laundry from the hall closet, and his vitamins, cold remedies, shampoo, mouthwash, and whatever else from the bathroom. This was all by the front door, and he took it at the end of the visit along with some things from the pile in the living room. But still there was so much, so much.

For one thing, there were all his clothes, a huge closet full, and the foyer closet was full as well.  One night, I laid a sheet down along the wall in the living room where his computer had been and made trip after trip with his clothes in my arms. When I had removed everything of his from both closets, the pile along in the living room wall reached waist high and was ten to twelve feet in length. I covered the pile with a white sheet. It had a funereal appearance, like a draped coffin. The dining room table where Max and I ate was on the other end of this room. Soon I could no longer cope with this coffin of Dan’s clothes, and I transferred the pile to a side wall of the garage. I failed to cover the pile, and the next day when I pulled into the garage after work, right at eye level on the top of the pile was a dark green print shirt that I remembered him wearing the previous Thanksgiving. That shirt tore my heart. I burst into tears and went in search of a sheet to cover the pile. I could not look at Dan’s clothes. They made me so sad.

Gradually, night by sleepless night, I transferred as much of his stuff as I could first to the living room, then from there to the garage or basement. There were still some items of furniture in the house that were his and I knew he wanted, there were hundreds of record albums, books, video tapes. The bedroom and the bathroom were cleared of his things, but the garage and the basement were now more packed than ever, and there was still the attic and the utility room. I was constantly surrounded by so many reminders that could bring tears like the Thanksgiving shirt had done.  There was so much presence, and weight, and volume to so much stuff. It was hard to breath in the midst of it all. How could I ever begin to feel free of him, to begin to sever my life from his, as I would have to do, if I was completely surrounded by his possessions?

And it wasn’t just the suffocation problem. There was the realization that if he was leaving this stuff here for weeks and months after the Crack-up, it must not mean that much to him. He had cherry picked around the house for the things he most wanted and needed. Those cherished items had gone with him to the apartment that he was prepping for the arrival of the Instagirl. What he had left was the unwanted, the, in a sense, disposable trash. Since Max and I had been left, we were in that category, too.

But wanted or not, I needed his stuff to be gone. He was gone. His possessions needed to go. In August he messaged that he wanted to come by to leave me a check for his half of the divorce lawyer fee and to pick up a few things. It troubled me just to hear from him, but to get a check and to be rid of some of his things were incentives to agree. I was at work. The plan was for Max to let him in. Here’s what happened.

Max was in his room on his computer about an hour after the time when Dan was supposed to arrive. He said he looked up and was startled to see his dad suddenly standing in the room right beside him! He said to Dan, “Didn’t you want to ring the doorbell to let me know you were here?”

Dan said to him in a voice that Max described as creepy, “I still own this house.”

Max told me, “Mom, it was like your dreams.”

What dreams did he mean? Soon after the Crack-up, I had begun to have these dreams where I would be in the kitchen and hear someone come in the door. At first I would be very afraid, but I would look up and see that it was Dan. I would feel a sense of relief. But then, I would look at him, and he would look at me with the Eyes of a Stranger! A chill, a killing chill would run right though me, and I would try to wake myself from the dream to escape the horror.

When Dan suddenly appeared beside Max in his room that day, Max felt the same horror. A stranger suddenly stood in his room. A stranger dad.

Dan did not leave a check, of course, He later offered an excuse that blamed Max. He said he forgot to leave the check because Max was giving him the evil eye. What he wanted was our camping equipment from the basement. He had been telling us and his family that he was going on a solo camping trip on the Appalachian Trail. Although by this time, we all knew of the Instagirl, he was still denying her existence, thus his emphasis on a solo camping trip.

Max let Dan into the basement to get our camping equipment, but instead of taking one of the small tents, Dan took our large family trip. Maybe Max was watching to see if he would do it. Max told me that what he said was “So this is what you are going to commit the adultery in!” Dan’s response was to disconnect which is what he would do whenever anyone confronted him. He just did not answer. Talking to him was like talking to a misfiring robot in those days. He did take the family-sized tent and the rest of our camping equipment. Once again he went away with just the few things that would serve him in his affair with the Instagirl.

There was a real insult imbedded in his taking just the things that would furnish his efficiency apartment, readied for the visit of the Instagirl, and our camping equipment for the trip he planned to take with her, while Max and I were supposed to cooperatively and foolishly store and stare at all the rest of his mountain of possessions.

I reached a point of actually begging him to come get his things. I said, “You know you have to get this stuff eventually, why not rent a storage unit, get a couple of friends, and in a day or two you could have it all moved.” I did this one fateful day in front of Max and Dan’s father. I did it with tears, begging, pleading, saying, “This is breaking me down. I cannot stand to have this stuff here Any Longer! Please!!!” But Nothing I could say cut ice. By that time the Instagirl was in the country. He was not going to give me even a minute’s time or a half-thought of consideration.

I could drown in a sea of his castoff, unwanted piles and piles of stuff, and he just really did not care. He made that perfectly clear. He made it perfectly clear to me and since Max was there, he made it eternally clear to Max, too. Our interests, our life and death struggle, a small relief that could have meant the world to us, meant nothing, nothing at all to him.

He left us, and not only that, he left us to live, die, survive, or not, in the midst of all his things, his records, his clothes, his furniture, his empty boxes in the attic, and beat-up band equipment in the basement.

I was crazy enough to beg him to come get them, to help lighten my load, to free me from the detritus that was drowning me. He turned a deaf ear to all my requests, all my suffering. He, who had been my friend, my lover, my husband for thirty years turned and looked at me, and for a minute I may have felt relief. “He may not love me now, but he used to love me. Surely, he will help me. He will free me from being suffocated by his things, by all this that I cannot, cannot bear. He will finally move out and take his things away, he will have pity on me, and then Max and I can breathe and begin to build our new lives.”

But when I pleaded with hope and faith for him to still have some goodness, some care for me based on the old times, Dan turned and looked at me with the cold, cruel, chilling eyes of a stranger.
 

My Past from Crack-up Poems, Crack-up Songs

You broke our hearts.
You broke our home.
You left us with no choice.
We had to move on.
The keepsake box with its souvenirs
Of romance, of child, of home
Was smashed, left out,
Tossed on the trash alone.

The flood fell, the tide rose,
It was lifted, and lost from sight.
The heart and what it held bled, shed.
The place, the locus, the where,
All this was lost that night.
The home, the family, the history,
All adrift, no place, no center.

I stare at the dim light
In the distance as the
Storm still flashes and threatens.
I see only space and
A midnight sea that is so somber a silver,
So empty, so fearsome, so empty.

Where do I put my memories?