16 February 2017

Left Behind: How I’m Doing


Tonight I had dinner with my friend Scott Carrino at a restaurant in Bennington. Scott has been one of my closest friends for several years now, but this was the first time the two of us had ever had dinner together. It was a special time, we had two  hours to talk and listen to one another, to share our lives and fears. The whole time I kept thinking, this is what women do, this is rarely what men do.

I enjoyed it, and I think Scott did too.

The one- on- one conversation was very different than a foursome would have been, it was much easier to focus on one another, to talk freely. How strange that we are so rarely alone together. Men often put everything else above friendship, their loss.

Scott's wife Lisa was busy, and Maria was in India. In a way, I suppose this is the only reason Scott and I were alone together, and as anyone with a friend knows, friendship comes out of time alone with people, when you make those connections and  have the chance to talk honestly and openly. It is rare for men to find the time to talk to one another alone.

I notice that while Maria is away, women shy away from being with me or inviting me out if Maria isn't there.  It isn't personal, not something that is conscious, I have learned that women are always more comfortable when other women are around. And I do make some people uncomfortable, I have always known that.

Several women friends have mentioned that I ought to be alone with their husbands if we have dinner "I'll leave you two alone" they say, but they seem reluctant to come if Maria isn't there. Women are not always comfortable with men, especially if there are not women around.

Some people take pity on me because Maria is away and assume, that I am either lonely or unable to cook. People in town look at me with some concern, as if they assume I am withering away. They usually see me and Maria together. "Have you two ever been apart?," they ask. Well, yes we are – all day most days – but not so long and no so far away.

They don't quite accept the idea that Maria never shops and rarely cooks. I have good stuff to eat, and lots to do here. I cannot believe  how quickly the day zips past.

My daughter Emma sends me photos of Robin, and that always makes me smile.

I am happy to go out to dinner with friends, but the truth is, I am not hungry or in need or lonely. It might be fun for them to be with us when Maria is back, they all want to hear about her trip.

This is evolving differently than I imagined.

I thought Maria and I would be unable to talk much on her trip, but we always seem to find a way to communicate – e-mails, face time audio, cell phones.

Technology has changed travel, I don't speak to Maria often, but I have a sense of where she is and what she is doing.

My plans for a creative followship have been disrupted by heavy snow and serious computer troubles. Maybe the dramas are over. Life is like this, it decides for itself each day what it will bring, and the wise people just go along rather than rant and complain.

I haven't had a day yet to focus on my book, and I'll know in the morning if my computer is coming back or when. It does seem to have stopped snowing for awhile, I am sick and tired of shoveling.  I'm writing this on Maria's old laptop, once mine.

How am I doing? I'm doing well, despite the bumps. I miss Maria all the time, but in a low-yield kind of way, it  just feels like something is missing. And something is.

I often turn to talk to her or show her something or tell her something but she isn't there, and she does the same with me. At night, and in the morning, we talk about our days, our fears, our challenges. She is always rooting for me.

I miss her presence out in the pasture, with the animals, and they are always looking for her.  She is a radiant presence at the f arm, it seems darker.

The animals like me fine, and I love them, but I don't speak to them in as personal a way as she does, it is different with me, perhaps because I am a man. I still can't tell all the sheep's names, one from the other.

I am learning that our connection, mine and Maria's, is not really bounded by geography after all. I feel quite close to her, as if she is right by my side. She is thinking of me, I think, and I am thinking of her. But we are also doing our work, telling our stories, taking videos and photographs and writing about what we see and feel.

Maria and I are always looking out for one another, always trying to support each other. Of course, I miss that, even thought it is still there.

And I miss her body in bed, we sleep like two octopuses wrapped around one another.  I can never quite believe my good fortune. Fate is curling up next to me, but it isn't quite the same.

At night, I am doing the chores of two people – dishes, laundry, wood stoves, animals, dogs and cats. I try to read and often blog, and because I am busy all day, I am sleeping easily and deeply, a rare thing for me.

My heart and my angina have not acted up much, despite all the shoveling. Cassandra Conety is a wonderful presence, I get it now. I get up early to work (when I have a computer) and Cassandra sweeps in quietly, mucks out the barn, brings hay to the animals, checks on the chickens, runs the dogs a bit.

I need to take advantage of this while it is here, but life, of course, has its own plans for me.

I am fresh and ready when I get to work. And I am mesmerized by the wonderful writing and blogging Maria is doing from Kolkata, the trip is a triumph for her, and I am very happy for her.  Maybe my computer is telling me to be quiet for a day or so.

So time for bed soon, I am grateful for the quiet and the solitude, I am getting to know me a little better.

I will think of my computer tonight, and  hope it is well and wants to come home to me.

I have to let the dogs out, check on the wood stoves, turn the heat on in the upstairs bedroom, wash the dishes, let Minnie in the basement, read Maria's blog posts, put some laundry in, turn the dampers down, set the thermostat on 50, take some pills.

Life is good. I am doing very well.

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