We are spending the fourth of July in this small Colorado town in which I have summered over the past 25 years. This is a bucolic little town where doors are not locked, they are simply left wide open; keys left in unlocked cars, everything is within walking distance, and I don’t get lost with a mountain as a reference guide for where I am at any given time. A place where quaint houses are buffered by delicate delphinium and aspens quaking in the breeze and the hot sun of midday in the clear blue sky yields to snuggling under a quilt in the cool early morning hours.
As I walk this morning, I think how in the quietness, sounds carry. I clearly hear whispered voices through open windows. I wonder how he and I could have managed living here. The peaceful quietness shattered by shouting, resonating through this pleasant little town. I wonder if we had lived here, and everyone had known, would it have been easier to leave because it would have been harder to hide?
I received a welcomed call from a friend at home, and we both laugh at my story of profusely apologizing to my house sitter about not having cleaned enough. My friend is sympathetic and reminds me our norm was being on the receiving end of anger triggered by the most obscure things. We could never do enough to avoid some tirade on our perceived imperfections. We were continually trying to be sure it was all done and even then, it was never enough.
She remembers her husband affectionately grabbing her hand as they watched fireworks a few years ago, confessing his hopes that they would always be together, only to be completely out of control just hours later, precipitating her leaving with her children to be safe. I listen and reflect on my own similar memories. I am reminded she and I are unwilling kindred spirits, seeking to find some peace, to reconcile our experiences. There is no file for the inconsistency, the absurdity, the ‘I love you’, followed by a violent enragement over some perceived wrongdoing; experiences we both knew well.
I have a renewed compassion for her as I ponder how we are processing our individual pain and loss through the variety of distractions in which we hide. There are days when we want to forget this ever happened to us and just enjoy the moment. We seek solace as it is so difficult to be continually working, working, working through it. This day as she calls to check on me, I celebrate this friendship that has been forged out of the common grounds of our losses, and our attempts to recapture ourselves.
Today, after all the memories are filtered out, I am happy to have a friend who is regaining her self-worth, who, too, appreciates the beauty of this day; our day to celebrate our independence.
and to our abusers…Live or die, but don’t poison everything. Anne Sexton