Sunday, November 24, 2013

The break that wasn't

"I wonder where you are, I wonder if you think about me, once upon a time, in your wildest dreams."

My resolve to take the rest of November off from bead making lasted five days. Which means I went four days without making beads. As Neil pointed out, this is the beginning of the time of year that it's actually pleasant to work in my garage studio. I muscled through the summer, five months of temperatures in the 90s, why choose now to take a break?

Now that I think about it, I know lampworkers and glass workers who routinely work during the nice weather months only.

I might just cut back to making beads a couple of days a week. Or I may just do whatever the heck the muse commands. I walk past my glass every time I go out to the car (or come in from the car) and the glass just looks so beautiful. I think about colors I own but haven't worked with for a while, colors like Eggplant and Grape Ape and Black Current, or a type of color, like the opals in periwinkle blue and sea foam green and rose quartz and jade and crocus, and I just want to melt them, even if I just make spacers and dot beads.

I ordered a sampler set in 1 oz. sizes of all 46 colors of Thompson enamels for beads, 32 opaque and 14 transparent, plus a sampler of Carefree lusters that can be used on glass or on copper enamel. And some copper leaf and some blue silver leaf and as long as I was ordering, I got a few more pounds of glass. I really did need some black and the rest, well, they are limited edition colors that I don't want to run out of.

Remember my Beads of Courage Carry-a-Bead Team Beads? The event I made the beads for was the Miss South Carolina USA pageant, which took place this weekend I hope the beads were carried proudly and the kids who get them will be thrilled to have a bead with a beauty pageant provenance.

Another quick look at the beads.

And speaking of beads, which oddly enough I do most days, I got my Texas State Fair third place ribbon-winning bead back in the mail. Ribbon and bead. A nice little ego boost, but why wasn't it first place?

Just kidding. Unless they only had three beads entered. But I'm pretending there were at least ten. Or four.

On Friday I convinced Neil to visit Animal Services with me and meet some of my cats. Lola was adopted, and Nick too. Orion went on two sleepovers but hasn't found his family yet. I got to pick two new cage mates for Jack last week. I picked Huckleberry and Polly and they are all getting along famously, which makes me happy. There are a lot of new kittens for me to get to know.

There's a family of cats that came in together, mom, dad and four kittens and dad is odd-eyed. He's mostly white, with some dark markings and a tabby tail, and he's big, very sweet and very bonded with the kittens. The only way I'm getting a third cat is if a white odd-eyed male kitten comes across my path. I'm not actively looking but I'm holding out so it's easy to resist the purring charms of Orion and Nikki and Shelton.

Neil is on "staycation" this week, by which we mean a vacation where you stay home. It may be my favorite kind of vacation. OK, right after hiking in National Parks. Of course a week off doesn't mean seven or nine days in a row. He'll work Sunday. And Tuesday. And the following Sunday. But a few days off in a week is a good thing for someone who averages one day off most weeks and no days off some weeks.

We've done some grocery shopping and a few projects around the house and Neil shop-vac'd the garage while I ran over to Walmart for printer ink and Starbucks for caffeine. One of the projects was changing out light bulbs and it's dazzlingly light in my office right now compared to the previous dimness. I finally got one of my last two new blends of frit listed and I'm almost ready to launch the other. Photos taken at least.

My latest four blends. Heirloom Roses, Beachcomber, Vintage Wines and Ribbon Candy.

I'm tickled about Ribbon Candy. I have Island Meadow, named for Ryland, Chelsea Garden for Chelsea and now Ribbon Candy for Kandace. Last year I did a limited run of Kandy Kane Lane but decided not to keep it in my regular inventory. I'll have to think of a good name for Neil for my next blend, which will have his favorite colors, the warm ones, yellow and orange with red and bronze.

One more blend after that and I'm sticking at 24. Maybe purples and greens, mostly because those are the colors I have left that I'm trying to use. Hmm, purple, green and goldstone, and I could call it Mardi Gras. That has serious merit.

Speaking of frit blends, which oddly enough I do fairly often, one of my customers is a well-respected bead maker, Donna Millard. She regularly buys my Gallimaufry blend (my very first one that started the whole shebang) by the large jar. I took a peep in her online shop to see what she was doing with it. Don't you agree that this set is a real stunner?

I have so many successes to celebrate. I love my life. I just love it so much.

It wasn't always that way.

By the beginning of March, 2002, I had crossed back over the line between illness and wellness. The terrifying months after Marty left, the parabolic waves of anxiety, the crippling despair, the relentless misery, all had loosened their hold on me. I had achieved at least a mercurial sense of peace, I had emerged from the abyss and I was standing at the edge of Terra Firma.

That didn't mean I wasn't continuing to obsess about Marty.
So many thoughts going through my mind. My mom doesn't believe there really is a Mary. I just remember the way Marty looked the night her letters came last summer. Mary either is real or he is one hell of an actor.

I don't know which pill would be most bitter - believing Mary is real and his love for her is real and more compelling than any feelings he had for me, or believing he just had a change of heart about me, compounded by his narcissism and inability to sustain intimate relationships, or believing he is nothing more than a player who took me in, a "good writer" who deliberately and cruelly set me up for a fall.

Maybe a little of each?

A narcissist may always wake up with his lover, but it is still a lonely existence. A little solitude in a busy, fulfilling life can be a great comfort, but like too much of any good thing, too much time alone with our depressed selves can start to stink like yesterday's fish.
Despite my new found and still fragile emotional health, I remained haunted by feelings of unfinished business, of lack of closure.
I'm still fighting the urge to make contact. It is like the urge to cut, I imagine. I know I will almost surely be hurt by whatever his response is, if any, and yet I keep coming back to the idea, like a moth to a candle. One day at a time I have resisted, but the desire does not abate.

In his last letter to me in December, he said it pained him to think of the hurt he caused me. That is the closest to any admission of culpability and expression of remorse that I ever heard from him. Ironically, though, it angers me, because I have hidden, or tried to hide, my hurt from him. I have remained cordial and civil and even compassionate toward him since things went to hell in a handbasket one hot day last August.

But that unanswered letter dangles like a loose thread and aches like a tooth that needs root canal.

In the quiet moments, or when I can't sleep, I wonder, does he ever think about me.
In mid-March, I almost had a relapse. I felt better for a time and I thought I was back in permanent wellness. Silly me.
I know I am healthier today than I was one year ago. More proof that whatever doesn't kill us makes us stronger. One year ago I was struggling with problems with my children and with loneliness and with knowing intuitively that it was time for my relationship with Robin to come to an end.

Then Marty came along and for a couple of months my world was bright and I experienced what it felt like to be in complete remission from depression. Then things went south in the huge way they did.

All that happened almost eight months ago, and here I am, still stuck and still struggling. Please believe me when I say, I want it to be over. I want the albatross out of my psyche, out of my head and out of my heart. I want him exorcised. I want him to get out of Dodge. I want ... him.

Damn him.
Randy continued to call.
One thing I like about him is he has been very laid back, calling me just occasionally and not pressuring me. On the other hand, my ego likes it that Mark calls me all the time, even if it sometimes feels like he is smothering me.

When Randy and I had lunch, I talked a little about Marty, but I ran out of time before I got to Mark. OK, for some reason, I found it very hard to bring it up. Last night Randy asked me if I wanted to do something again with him.

I'd like to get to know him better, without making any commitments, but do I want that badly enough to risk hurting (and maybe losing) Mark? Mark is so good to me, I honestly believe he loves me, he has seen me at my worst, he knows all about my depression and my broken heart and ... why am I trying to talk myself into this?

If I was giving advice to someone in my situation, I would say, create some space with Mark. Go out with him but not exclusively, and not all the time. Take some time for yourself, not just to date other people, but just to be. Go out with other people (lots of them, even) on a casual, friendly basis. Have fun.

In reality, I'm not sure I can do that yet. Maybe my healing isn't complete and I need more time.

Or maybe when and if the right person walks through my door, the way will be illuminated clearly.
Objectively, when I looked at what others had endured, I felt like I had led a charmed life.
My life has been charmed - and I am conscious of that always, even when I am in depression. My children are healthy, I have a job I love and I don't have cancer or some other terminal illness or permanent disability. True, depression is evil and can be severely debilitating, but I will still take it over many other ills.

In fact, I don't look at it as an illness as much as a condition. Yes, I was sick with it this past year, but it ultimately cycled or responded to treatment (not sure which, maybe some of both).
When we moved to the house I lived in, we had brought a cutting of wisteria from the house we had rented previously. Wisteria is a royal pain to care for, it grows rampantly and without training can be quite ugly. After my ex moved out, I had a tree company remove the plant and grind the stump.

Well, it came back. As many times as I mowed it flat, it grew back again. One day Mark tried to dig out the roots. You would not believe how long and strong they were. We wrestled some of them out and they felt like creatures from the black lagoon. "Isn't the life force amazing," Mark commented.

True that.

But I still didn't know about things working out for me and Mark.
I tend to think we are in each other's lives right now for a reason, but I don't think he is the person I will be with forever. Sometimes I worry that that means I should end it all right now. But I truly don't know, I have no crystal ball.

Two nights ago, Mark asked me if I missed him. I said, don't ask me questions that you don't want to know the honest answer to. He also asked me if my kids like him. I said, I don't know, I haven't asked them. And I don't intend to.

Poor Mark. But lucky Mark - he gets to see me on weekends and share some of my company. And we are amiable together. Whatever I want to do, wherever I want to go, that's what he wants (with Marty, it would always have been what he wanted).

So, Mark must get some needs met by being with me, even if I won't marry him and have his baby or even promise to take a trip to Paris with him this summer. Am I rationalizing? Probably.

Mark is a big boy, and if I want to see him on my terms and he is willing, I am not responsible for how he will feel if it ends. Don't get me wrong. I do care about him. I don't ever want to hurt anyone gratuitously.

For now, though, I have to just stay in the present tense. Keep my options open. Have coffee or lunch with other people. Do some separate social things. Be clear about the boundaries and the limitations. Spell out the ground rules.
And then, as March was going out in its lion-lamb way, I threw all my own good sense and my hard-won high road right out the window.

I sent a note to Marty.

"Once beneath the stars
The universe was ours
Love was all we knew
And all I knew was you
I wonder if you know
I wonder if you think about it
Once upon a time
In your wildest dreams

And when the music plays
And when the words are
Touched with sorrow
When the music plays

And when the music plays
I hear the sound
I had to follow
Once upon a time

Once upon a time
Once when you were mine
I remember skies
Mirrored in your eyes
I wonder where you are
I wonder if you think about me
Once upon a time
In your wildest dreams

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