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By the Banks of the River of Sadness

March 10, 2011

My dear friends:

You who follow this blog may have noticed a lull. I want you to know it is not about you.

I have not felt up to the task.  I have spent the good part of many days a walking cliche of heartache: sifting aimlessly through bills and recipes, reading bitter romances to make me feel lucky, staring at the ceiling and scribbling letters I will never send.

I know, I should have gone to Heartbreak Camp but it would have been my third visit in recent years, the helicopter would not come for me and I did not have the strength to take the train.

So I created my own small tent right here with plenty of custard and blankets and acted as my own private nurse. Which, by the way, I still am. I am just sitting up briefly to write this missive.

There wasn’t the same sense of solidarity with other lovesick patients as one would find in the real Heartbreak Tent, but it was all right.

How did this come about?

I will not go into specifics because you know who you are, you don’t read this anyway and it would be boring.

The rest of you are lovely, innocent people and do not deserve to hear a reality-TV style rendition of modern lust.

That’s not what I deliver.

Something happens and I have to tell about it.  It is not so much that the events themselves are interesting, but that in the telling — if we’re lucky — they become interesting. And maybe not even that. Maybe telling a story is one way of crying without the tears.

I don’t tell everything — that would be impossible, because a) who would listen, and b) how could anything new happen? There wouldn’t be time.

These days the story I do not expect to keep alive is about the demise of an affair.  Am I not too old for this?

Is it not like getting a bad grade in a very important course?

But when it happens I tell the story. I keep on telling the story while it is fresh as I would if I had broken my leg, been hit by a train, or fallen under the wheels of a bus and lived to tell about it. Whoever is around gets to hear it.

I am scarcely animated except when I tell this story I come alive. I am convinced this is a sad but not permanent state.  It becomes like a Civil War re-enactment.  He was standing here, I was standing there. Or, more accurately, we were both lying down.  At some point one of us stood up, and that (in my opinion) was when the trouble began.

Eureka! We should all just be lying down, all the time. It would save so much trouble. And the clothes! We could do without them, or we would not have to have so many.

I enlist my friends in the re-enactment. They are dubious at first, but then they get all energized. They become part of the story, and it becomes part of them. At the very least they are a rapt audience, sighing with compassion and clapping like little seals in disbelief.  Together we form a little amateur dramatic troupe — something Huck Finn might have met on the banks of the river, and joined.

A brief sense of pathos falls over us like a net.  Outside, a robin chirps. I want to cry.

And then it is time to get up and wash the dishes.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. gloria permalink
    March 10, 2011 8:07 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story with me. As always, even though this piece is about heartache, your writing brought a smile to my face.

    • March 10, 2011 8:10 pm

      Oh you are such a DEAR!

      I guess it is OK to be vulnerable even in cyberspace 🙂

  2. Joann permalink
    March 10, 2011 8:15 pm

    Stories happen to people who can tell them. I hate it when people cannot turn their life events into something interesting. Do they not notice the details, or are they just inept at telling a tale? Thank you being an astute observer of your details and for whipping them into lovely essays.

  3. Jan Baiden permalink
    March 15, 2011 4:30 am

    “Maybe telling a story is one way of crying without the tears.” May I please steal this line.

    As someone said about the poems of Naruda, “Poems are not for the people who wrote them, but for the people who need them.”

    Your line needs to be remembered (but not cross-stitched on a pillow).

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