Yesterday, Friday, Neil and I went to the Bayou City Art Festival. We had not gone since early in our dating days. We used to do all sorts of activities when we were dating. The zoo, the Arboretum, the Fine arts museum, theater, concerts, movies. We took blankets and picnics to the park and spent sweet hours just watching the clouds.
And then we stopped. I think it was for a combination of reasons. I was burned out. I'd spent years running around, exposing my kids to cultural activities, running around because of my own restlessness, keeping moving, staying distracted, so I wouldn't have to think about loneliness or the meaning of life.
And then the kids went off to college, and Neil and I got engaged, and we started building our house, and I moved to Sugar Land. Neil was working both Saturday and Sunday most weekends, and on his rare days off, about one in every 14, we ran errands or worked around the house. After I started making beads, while I was still employed by corporate America, all I wanted to do in my free time was melt glass.
Now, after more than 18 months of being a full-time beadmaker, some of my obsession with lampworking has waned, or at least fallen into a more reasonable perspective. I never torch while Neil is home now. And I'm trying to rekindle the romance of our dating days by doing some of the things we did then, or doing new things, like our recent first visit to Trader Joe's, which we both enjoyed way more than I anticipated.
The Art Festival was much less of a success.
I bought our tickets online, which saved a whopping $2 total, and then splurged on VIP parking. I've observed lately that for the most part we live below our socioeconomic status. We both worked hard, and Neil still works very hard, to achieve a certain level of financial comfort. Yet dinner out is usually Denny's or Panera or Sweet Tomatoes or $5 pizza night at Bombay Pizza. We have almost no nice furniture, we still use the hand-me-down sofas Neil was given by friends when he divorced. We have no artwork on the walls, our rugs are a disgrace, but as much as our cats yak, there's no point in upgrading them.
And anyway, we almost never have guests that aren't related to us. Neil feels stressed when we have all the kids home at once, and I'm an indifferent cook, so parties are off the priority list chart.
We have no landscaping in our back yard and we have the builder landscaping in front and once a year or so we replace any dead shrubbery and that's it. Neil says he'd like to garden if he had time. I long ago made peace with my brown thumb and my disinclination to get dirt under my fingernails. We have no house plants either.
We're happy this way.
But I've decided to stop worrying about the small stuff, such as paying almost $10 for four Honeycrisp apples at Kroger. I'm going to enjoy every bite of them.
We got off to a bad start with the art festival though. The website had no information about where to find the VIP parking, but I was confident there'd be a sign. You'd think there would be, right? There was no sign and we drove past the entire festival site. Neil hung a U and we went right back past the entire site. I was trying to tell him to stop and ask one of the security people but there was no place to pull over and Neil didn't want to hold up traffic, and he got frustrated with my backseat driving and told me to stop talking.
That clammed me up.
The third time we drove by the festival, Neil pulled into the lane for the shuttle bus and let me asp directions to VIP parking. Two more U-turns and one more stop to ask directions and we finally got parked.
The day was humid and overcast, a good thing because we would have been unpleasantly hot in full sun. The festival was set up as a huge circle of tents. I can't imagine doing art festivals, dealing with setting up those big tents and displays and hauling my art in and out. Being at the mercy of weather, heat, rain, wind, all the things that threaten to affect your wares, make you feel miserable, and keep the crowds at home.
Neil and I set off on the circle counter-clockwise. I had no shopping agenda, I wasn't looking for anything particular, but I was open to being enticed to buy something beautiful. No fear of that, I saw no painting or sculpture I wanted to own, and even if i had, I saw a lot of prices I'd have been unwilling to pay. There was some pretty jewelry, but it would have been expensive at half the price and I mostly wear my own beads anyway.
After our first circuit of the festival, Neil and I sat at a lovely little table with fresh flowers in the mostly empty concession tent and shared a $3 bottle of icy cold sweet organic green tea. I said I felt like we had to buy something to justify the $50 we spent on admission and parking. Neil said he'd had the same thought, so we made a second circuit, clockwise this time, and in the end I bought a cute $5 T-shirt from the 2012 festival. Green. A nice shade of sage. On St. Patrick's Day I noticed I had not one green shirt in my wardrobe. Two birds.
Then we went home, stopping for lattes, and later we went out for $5 pizza and watched an episode of New Tricks.
Today, on an impulse, I signed up for a framed-pendant class at a bead shop in Pearland. Neil is working and then going to a hockey game with his daughter.
And I wonder if I am running again, keeping moving, staying distracted, so I don't have to think about loneliness or the meaning of life.
At the time that Nick posted about reconnecting with his (ex)girlfriend, which just happened to coincide with the time I decided to end my failed marriage, Nick and I had not yet met in person.
I took the news with something approaching equanimity. At least at first.
Maybe I was in denial, maybe I was hopped up on neurotransmitter reuptake inhibitors and benzodiazepines, maybe I was just plain crazy, but I didn't see it as the swan song of our relationship. Nothing is over until it's over.
Or maybe I knew at a subliminal level that the whole affair with Nick and me wasn't about any one person. It was about hope. It was about the possibility of feeling passion and connection with another adult human being again.
I wrote this to my future former sister-in-law, who had been my one confidante during this time. Everyone needs one confidante.
I finally resolved it. I have to be free to have a chance at happiness.
Nick is seeing his ex again and I don't know where that stands. So whatever, it may never happen.
Fantasy world stuff anyway (probably) (maybe).
He is more conflicted right now than I am. All I want to do is meet him some day and let whatever happens happen. I am willing to take the risk that it might be anything. I don't think he is at that point yet. He is afraid.
He and I talked about it. That is, we emailed about it.
I believe you care and sincerely hope for health for me. I also think that you and I have been exchanging some heartfelt, romantic correspondence. I don't know how you are feeling about my situation. In spite of expected biases, I believe you wish the best for me. (Are you that magnanimous?)E.
I'm not making any decisions at this point. I am not "back together" with her.
I am "that magnanimous". What happened with your ex doesn't have anything to do with you and me.N.
It's just that everything in my whole being thinks getting "back together" with her is not what you need. But I know I don't get a vote.
I know you are scared. Of me I think. I wish you wouldn't be.
You get a vote.E.
Yes I'm scared of you. No, not you. Me. I'm scared of the image you might have of me and me letting you down.
Okay, I'm scared shitless.
I don't know what's supposed to happen with us. We just have to find out. It is a scary thing.N.
Writing back and forth to you has been the single most encouraging and hopeful events in recent memory. I lit up whenever you would post or mail me. I felt honored. I write this to validate you. It is true.E.
Liz, several times I wrote to you that our correspondence was fantasy and fun. It was like a fairy tale. But I reminded you that we hadn't even met, AND, that you were married.
I don't know if I'm capable of having a relationship with anyone right now. With you it was so easy and pretty. But it was so safe and protected.
I care for you. What I know of you I have loved and cherish the moments and the feelings. What is the right thing to do?
What is the right thing to do?
As usual, I don't know.
Would you consider staying in touch?
Yes, we can stay in touch. I think you are so special. You have added to my life. You have validated me. I am deeply grateful.It wasn't enough though. I desperately wanted to meet him.
Even if we were only to be friends, I was ready to push through the fear. I was ready to see his face, to touch his hand, to look into his eyes.
But first I had to persuade him.
"I only want to hold you
I don't want to drag you down
Or fence you in the lines I might have drawn
It's just that I've gotten used to having you around
My landscape would be empty if you were gone
It's all right, I love you
That's not gonna change
Run me round, make me hurt, again and again
But I'll still sing you love songs
Written in the letters of your name
And brave the storm to come
For it surely looks like rain."