True Path(ology)

by

Tuesday evening and I’m sitting at the dining table, typing. There’s a glass of wine to the left of my laptop. Separating me from dim daylight, the blinds are lowered to the floor, a shield against the approaching thunderstorms, possible tornadoes and hail. Those blinds are about as protective as confetti. Earlier today, I flipped April’s page away and opened May’s trapdoor. May Day. Mother’s Day. Memorial Day. And then May 25th, the anniversary of my husband’s death. Last year, I was moving into this apartment, arranging furniture, busy, but I was aware, even thinking, “How strange. Charles has never been here.” I wanted, was trying, to close a door, to escape, hoping I could force grief to be linear and left behind. I don’t know yet if I’m really going forward, but I say it, repeat, “I’m fine” and “time heals” even if I’m kidding myself. Hell, I’m trying everything except religion and even if what I’m doing is just performance, I’ll work it, fake it, and laugh a little too loudly at parties held in the lobby of my building for residents and their guests. This isn’t assisted living, but it is. Really, I could dream about Charles tonight, wake with a thud, and feel like beating myself bloody against the headboard. Anyway, I have a seriously impressive flashlight Laura and Erma gave me for Christmas and it’s ready to grab, along with my keys, one of which accesses the stairs to the parking garage beneath the building. All of these are with my purse that’s filled with necessities—you know, lipstick, hairbrush, breath mints, and the wine. Okay, I’m joking a little, playing with you. Hmm, that wine goblet’s empty. Empty twice. I AM ready though, if and when this twisting force rumbles its erratic path past the confetti. You know more than 35 people have died this week in storms that hit the South and Midwest and millions are at risk during the next couple of days. Not as many who die almost daily in the countries the USA bombs in the name of humanitarian intervention. Do Americans understand this—the choice that was/is made to demolish lives and cultures? To kill children? Meanwhile, Laura’s called throughout the day with updates. I know this is love. She’s someone to watch over me, little loner that I can be, even as she has her wine with Erma and Erma’s sister. Whoa, I just watched a video—towns that look like warzones. This could be Iraq, Afghanistan, any area after missile attacks. Meanwhile President Obama, on that Asian trip, has promoted business deals, signing agreements, finalizing the fast tracking of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and, of course, chastising the Malaysian government about human rights issues, because: “…nations are stronger and more successful when they work to uphold the civil rights and political rights and human rights of all their citizens.” Jeez. Oh, my, he mentioned a regret, his biggest—not spending enough time with his mother. It’s just that I can think of so many responses, decisions someone with a conscience would lament. And what if, in a flash-dash of honesty, he’d said, “Receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, because I do so enjoy my Kill List?” Then there’s Sec. of State John Kerry, accusing Russia of “escalating the crisis” in Ukraine, blah, blah, blah-ing about “spirit of law” and the creation of “a structure by which we would behave, all of us, differently, representing the best hopes and aspirations of all people on the face of this planet.” Huh? I think he’s exhausted, dizzy, after slipping the truth about Israel, saying “apartheid state” in a meeting (januis clausis) on April 25th, then U-turning and spinning when word leaked. Charles wouldn’t like this, my writing mean stuff about someone’s physical appearance, but I look at the ghoulish Kerry and think, “The worms crawl in and the worms crawl out.” I may wish I’d deleted that. I still can, will consider it later. Okay, check this article about computer software that’s being written to decipher human pain—can accurately read facial expressions. Imagine if this technology were used when Obama and any of the death dealers misrepresent or exploit a tragedy to buttress nationalism. Time to drag the foam mattress topper into the bathroom that’s windowless and try to sleep. If this building blows and my body becomes a projectile, I can think of destruction I’d like to inflict. I learned something from that experience with the man who negated his existence every time he exercised his vocal chords: that I’m not really very peaceful. Maybe I should follow my true path, anger turned outward. Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com.

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