Archive for May, 2011

In the winter of our discontent, there lie between us an unspoken, unplumbed gulf of pain and recrimination. The kind of pain that only two people can inflict who, at one time, loved one another without reserve.

The ice of Hannah’s habitual, perfunctory good morning kisses had for some months gradually frozen our ability to communicate with each other on any meaningful level. Odd, that so simple a gesture of affection was the first sign there was trouble amiss in our relationship. Odder still, that so natural and endearing a ritual should be a harbinger of the death of a marriage. Yet, there it is.

Who’s to say when the decline began…or why? In the midst of the demise, neither of us had spoken directly to the whys and wherefores. Nor had we sought, or participated in, any kind of marriage counseling. It’s as if we both understood implicitly that to do so would be a needless exercise in futility. Perhaps, even a breach of relational etiquette, if you will. You see, we are nothing at all, if not unfailingly polite with each other. That’s the way we’ve lived, side by side, throughout our life together. We are the only couple I know who have not ever really fought over anything substantial …hardly ever argued…and never said a recriminatory word to each other. Not once…ever…over anything.

I find that fact strangely compelling, and ultimately, disturbing.

On this morning, fresh snowfall coated the frozen ground, a patina of pure white glaze as yet unsullied by footprints, tire tracks or dirt. An early morning winter wonderland of unspoiled dreams lay before me as I gazed out the bedroom window. I was freshly showered, shaven, and mostly dressed. Shoeless, and sock-less, true, but I had always loved padding about the house in bare feet. It felt so …homey. Often, Hannah gently chastises me for doing so.

We have very old, but well crafted red oak floors throughout our home. The grain of the wood is magnificent and Hannah keeps the floors in a highly polished state. She keeps them that way because of her personal aesthetics, of course, but she is also afraid I would suffer a splinter in my bare feet. I used to think it was yet one more indication, however slight, of the depth of her love and caring for me.

Alas, it turned out not to be so.

So, here I sat with nowhere to be, even though it was a work day. I was sipping from my usual morning cup of lemon mint tea listening to one of my favorite songs on our bedroom CD player, “Folks Who Live On the Hill”, by Diana Krall. It was a standout cut from a collection of jazz songs I’d burned to CD. ‘Folks’ was a wistful, bluesy paean to the potential joys of family life with the right partner. It was evocative of the way Hannah and I had dreamed our life might be when first we married. Check out the lyrics, you’ll understand what I mean:

Someday we’ll build a home on a hilltop high
You and I, shiny and new
Cottage that two can fill
And we’ll be pleased to be called
The folks who live on the hill

Someday we may be adding a wing or two
A thing or two
We will make changes, as any family will
But we will always be called
The folks who live on the hill

Our verandah will command a view of meadows green
The sort of view that seems to want to be seen
And when our kids grow up and leave us
We sit and look at that same old view
Just we two, Darby and Joan
Who used to be Jack and Jill
The folks who like to be called
What they have always been called
The folks who live on the hill

I’d always wanted to be one of those people who were…”the folks who lived on the hill”. A lovely dream it was, but I no longer felt as if it was going to work out that way between Hannah and me, if it had ever been in the cards. We were at a definite impasse in our relationship. It seemed to me the reflective sentiments expressed in this song were destined to be only a sad, transitory reminder of what could have been. Especially, the lyrics that noted, “…we will make changes, as any family will”. Prophetic words, those. Listening to the song now left me in a contemplative and moody disposition, and even more depressed than I’ve been, of late.

I raised my head and looked out the window. A flurry of swirling snowflakes was falling, gently wafting a fresh coat of white on the still-pristine snow that blanketed the yard. It was in stark contrast to the gray, cloudy, sunless sky that seemed to be a backdrop to my despair. All in all, it was a funky, shitty, moody bitch of a day.

I’d felt out of sorts since the day before. I get that way sometimes. During the last several months, with all that’s been going on between Hannah and I underneath the surface, I would often find myself slipping darkly into a deep blue funk. Seemingly out of nowhere. You know the kind…a funk that melts your insides with wretchedness and woe, and overwhelms your emotional defenses while nearly always leading to a massive, bone-crushing headache. Which, in turn, can lead to uncounted miserable nights of insomnia, fitful tossing and turning, and the inevitable, insincere wifely refrain…“What’s wrong, honey? Can’t you sleep?”.

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