Saturday, September 14, 2013

14 September 2013
6:00 PM

Of the middle of September
the regularity and of the kind of sunsets

14 September, the date will probably stick in my mind for a long time. This is the birthday of my former wife. Although she's been absent now for 12 years, it is hard not to remember some of the birthdays of the past. She may be gone now, but she did not disappear suddenly. For the most part she pulled away gradually, like the mist slowly leaving the surface of a still lake on an autumn morning. At first you can hear the loon sounding somewhere through the fog, then, before you know it the fog has lifted and the loon is visible across the lake. Her presence was there and then gone like that fog. She was around but not, at the same time. She gradually withdrew being there, until she could cast a shadow but could not fill the space.

There was a time when I was crazy in love with her. Yes, there may have been some glaring rough patches that I chose to look through with different eyes at that time. However, now in light of how things have played out, I should've been more aware of what those difficult times really had to say to me. On the morning of the 14th I always recall the excitement, the sheer anticipatory joy of the impending birthday. And if you are the one who is waiting to present the one perfect gift you've been considering for a very long time, you can be as excited as a person who should be receiving the gift. For me this was often the case.

There was a time when we were often driving out West to go skiing and we would listen to some tapes that we had made of some of our favorite music. The wife always love to hear the songs that had a pedal steel guitar in them. She loved the pedal steel. Those were her favorite songs. She would often advance the tape just to get to the songs that had the pedal steel featured on them. She made so much fuss over enjoying the pedal steel guitar that I thought I would surprise her and buy one of her very own for her birthday.

This turned out to be a grievous mistake and became one of the most grievous “thoughtful” mistakes I could make. There are a lot more after this, though. You would've thought I would've learned my lesson early on. But, apparently I didn't. You see, I assumed that she was being like me. Expressing great enthusiasm for something that she wanted to do. My mistake was thinking that she wanted to do anything, or even something. Turns out that she didn't want to do much of anything. This is so foreign to me, I just never saw it forwhat it was as it was being presented to me. How could anybody enjoy something so much and not want to participate in it or with it?

I presented the pedal steel, completely assembled and tuned up, along with a small Peavey amplifier. Once she figured out what it was, you would have thought that I had presented her with a rattlesnake. She recoiled. She wouldn't come close. I tenderly tried to encourage her to just make a few furtive strums on its finely wound steel strings. Nothing doing. She wouldn't come any closer than 3 feet to the thing. It was as if it had a big sign draped on it saying that it was not only cancer producing,and radioactive but could cause bad breath as well. She just didn't want anything to do with it.

On another occasion I went to the fancy underwear store and bought her several bra and panty outfits that were quite nice. There was lace everywhere and the finest of fabrics. I bought the most expensive and finest that could be found. They were all wrapped up in fancy paper and were contained in a very nice box for each set. They were met with a lukewarm acceptance and I've noticed that every time she would work her way through her underwear drawer, those were the last ones to be utilized. I noticed, with chagrin, but apparently her most favorite underwear were the pedestrian, everyday variety. She only wore the nice stuff once all her usual underwear were in laundry waiting to be laundered. Even if we had a nice evening out, dinner and some kind of activity, I noticed with great sadness that was always the pedestrian underwear that she would wear. I never got into it with her, but I often wondered if this wasn't more of a comment about how she felt about herself than anything else.

The year is melted by, one dissolving into the other, and each time the birthday season would roll around I would try to outdo myself in getting her a lavish gift. Nothing ever took. There was never excitement, joy or effusive thank you's. The only time I ever saw her happy with getting a gift was when she got a Sapphire tennis bracelet from my father and his wife. They had asked what was requested for Christmas and she said the only thing she wanted was this bracelet. They accepted the request, and cautioned her that it would be expensive, probably the only gift she would get that season. She assured them that it would be okay, that's all she wanted.

She was true to her word, she was extremely pleased, and that was all she wanted. I realized at that point that I have been doing everything wrong. I was supposed to have an account at some jewelry store and if I had done a lot of trafficking exclusively at that place of business she might have been happy. In hindsight, there might be a lesson here. I would hate to go that way though, so we'll just leave it at that. But I learned from my experience there was nothing that I would give that would ever be acceptable, mostly because I didn't spend enough money to get the right thing.

Every year about this time, I recall whose birthday it is, and how often that resulted in complete failure on my part. I tried mightily to get her gifts that were well thought out and were also very much who she was. I just never saw her as somebody want to collect lots of jewels.

Meanwhile, from my experience there are some awesome sunsets at this time of year. The problem I have is that I live most of my life in this little room, on the 3rd floor the window is difficult for me to see out and it aims toward the east. Odds are very against the fact that I will ever see many sunsets again.

There is nothing quite like stopping for a few minutes to take in a setting sun. It is possible to see the actual movement of the celestial orb moving in relation to the horizon. In those silent moments the events of the day crowd up together in those last waning moments of daylight for remembrance, all of the things that occurred during the day, the mass of things that filled up a day. I am often struck with how many there are, and how little time there is to relish in detail each and every one. The moments cram together and I realize the moment to relish them was at the time they were unraveling, for there is not enough time now. Then the sun is making like Kilroy's forehead peering over the edge of the horizon, then slipping beyond the rim of the world, its gone.
See ya'

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