It's a new year. I was ready for 2010 to be over.
It has been a hard year creatively. I've had two projects on my heart I've wanted to finish this past year. I am almost finished with one: a book proposal. But the second, my solo show, sits on the back burner, always pushed aside as I dealt with the “tyranny of the urgent:” bills to pay, auditions to run off to, tours and shows and teaching and taxes. I got to shoot a low budget movie and was on the road for a month. IT was a terrific experience. I pray the movie goes somewhere. But I know better than to expect some event to resurrect my career. Not at this point. If anything will, it will be that solo show or another book.
It was a hard year on Larry and me, individually and as a couple. I taught two classes that brought me home late at night. I got to sleep late, he goes to sleep early. I was on the road a lot. I was gone for a full two months last year, but this time I was in and out of town. It was almost more difficult to do the "here and gone again" thing for two months. Plus, I was teaching and trying to act like an actor.
The longer I am married, the more I realize what a rat I am: I witness my shortcomings as a human being and it is not pretty. Larry and I get along very well. He is my absolute best friend. But my first impulse is not love but selfishness. Marriage is grandest adventure you may ever take. But it is not a boat cruise. It is work. It works on your soul. I thank God my soul is getting a work-out. I need it.
It was a hard year for Larry. He worked harder than he ever has. He hates corporate politicking, and he got a load of it this year. It was hard to see him that overworked, under-appreciated and driven nearly to a breakdown. Larry's got a quiet, even-tempered strength, I lull myself into thinking he couldn't crack. But he nearly did this past December.
My mom continues to decline from her vascular dementia. She lives in a rest home in Colorado, so I don't get to see her often. Every time I do visit her, I mentally prepare myself that it could be the last time. I spoke to her on Christmas. She cried. She always cries when I talk to her on the phone. I feel touched and slightly embarrassed at her emotion. After all, it's just me calling to say hello. I always assure her I will see her soon. And when I do see her, she cries upon setting eyes on me.
Why is she so emotional? Well, she was often like that before her strokes. But now all of her adult reasoning has been zapped away, and she is just like a child: a child who feels love and loss immediately and fully. There's no adult psyche to tell her it's not necessary to cry when your daughter calls or visits. She just cries. She's just pure emotion. The strokes took away her internal editor. And all that is left is her unrestrained self. And her unrestrained self is lovely. I think she started out good, but all those years of pressing her face into God and prayer in the face of sorrow, have burned off anything less than her true self.
And now she feels love and loss and beauty and unabated wonder. You tell her something she should know and she hears it for the first time. My father was not an easy person to live with or love. At our last visit I asked her if she missed Dad.
“Not really," she shrugged.
Where is he?” she asked.
“He died.” Her mouth shaped a silent O and her eyes flooded with tears.
“But it's okay Mom. He's with Jesus now."
“Oh,” she exhaled and dabbed her eyes. “That's so good to know!”
I miss her. I miss the old her, too. I mourn the fact that Larry never got to meet her as she used to be, with all her faculties. But she's disappeared in such small increments, I have come to expect meeting her just as she is and enjoying her that way. And however I can connect with her when I see her, I am grateful for it. I know the day is coming she will leave us. But I don't like to think about it.
I miss Honey, my dear cat of 14 years whom I lost this past July. I cried solidly for a month. Some nights I got up and went into the other room just to cry in my soundproofed Voice-over booth. I have her pictures posted in strategic places in the house, and my sister-in-law made a beautiful collage of her photos that I keep in my office. I look at them momentarily. I'll pass them when I walk out the back door or look to the left of my desk. But if I look long enough, I will see her face and remember what it was like when she rested that face on my forearm as I was typing.
I still find memories of her around the house. I moved a shelf in the pantry yesterday and swept behind it and found some of her hair. If you have ever owned a cat you know they like to “mark” objects with their scent: doorways, corners, fridges, anything to claim as their own. Over time a gray waxy mark appears. I noticed a mark on the fridge at her height. It's been there all the time. I almost didn't wash it off. As unappealing as it sounds: a gray waxy mark on your fridge, I was reluctant to remove one last trace of her presence. But I did. I already regret it.
We adopted a second dog. Herbie sweet and full of nervous energy and doesn't have a malevolent bone in his body. But I miss Honey. I think about getting a cat. I sometimes look at the cats on Petfinder.com. I can't help but doing a search for Honey's breed: dilute tortoise shell. But I look at every cat and compare them to her, and they're always found wanting: the face is too long or the markings aren't as beautiful. On one occasion I noticed a thumbnail of cat that looked very much like her. I clicked on the details and a larger picture and was brokenhearted. Because it wasn't her.
I make no apology for loving a cat: a creature that could never return that same love with the same intelligence that I loved her with. After all, God has managed to love me in my small-mindedness and my inability to return his love in the same measure. A God who repeatedly loves me when I am so closed and brittle and small of heart.
In 2011 I plan on completing those two projects close to my heart. I also plan on loving my husband more. I want to get another cat. Maybe. But not this year. It's still too soon.
PS: I wrote the above at 2:30 in the morning. I would say, "forgive my maudlin display," but well, I need to work on being more maudlin and less "together."
Jan 6, 2011
It's a new year. I was ready for 2010 to be over.