Black Curtains

So now she’s spreading tales, half-truths, about how she had to protect her identity, involving lawyers, threats of restraining orders, stemming from her deep fear of men and menace and harm going all the way back to island state girlhood to present days of criminals having committed unspeakable acts of sexual violence and worse. (That was never what it was about.) Those to whom she tells her tales of victimhood muddle the stories, repeating new and more elaborate versions, like children playing telephone whispers. And round and round it goes, all the way to this other coast. It’s not becoming of the person she holds herself out to be. But then that was always the problem with the person she wound up being. What you see was not what you got.

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She and her pathetic need to justify, too be right, are of trivial concern. She is nothing if not small, today and always. The entire world is consumed by a viral blight far more lethal than a man who wanted togetherness. Covid 19 the latest coronavirus is indiscriminately taking its toll, spreading sickness, death, and almost worst of all universal fear. Fear of what we cannot see, so therefore everyone and everything becomes a possible vector of infection. It’s as though the air is filled with virus, that every breath becomes a prelude to dying.

Is infection inevitable? Will the virus fade, wear itself out in some way yet unknown? How many businesses will fail? How many people will die? Will there be an end, or is the planet changed forever? Doomed? Are these the prophesized Last Days?

It’s time to reread Samuel Pepys plague diary, when the Black Death killed a fifth of London’s population. He survived.

Shall people be hanging black curtains in the windows?

Practicing social distancing, the nice euphemism for staying away from other people—those possible Typhoid Mary’s among us—is not so onerous for now. I spend my time organizing my new apartment, finding the last storage opportunities for too many random items, ordering food and staples online, along with a desk, loveseat, storage bins and shelves…all minimally designed to fit into my small space. Hanging pictures, placing carpets, sorting books into my own personal Dewey Decimal System. Somehow James Frazer and Charles Doughty belong together on the same shelf.

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Would I rather be sheltering in place with someone with me, to share the solitude? With her? In some other ideal world, yes. With her as I first knew her, yes, before she could no longer not withhold who she wound up being. Before she told a friend she didn’t do relationships well. She should never have begun.

To be sheltering in place with my little dog, the dog she kept, would be a comfort. Though my dislocation and eastward move didn’t permit keeping, or sharing, our dog, that she has him for company during this time is one of the unfairnesses of her dissolution of our marriage. Collateral damage. I miss him, still.

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No wonder news of her drinking isn’t surprising.

Everyday my boys and I check in on one another. We have a WhatsApp group that makes it easy, and the occasional video call on Zoom. We are a connected family. Sam is a short walk from my apartment; we visit many times a week. This morning Sam took me to the early seniors-only opening hour at the Seaport Whole Foods.

Though the chemotherapy eradicated Adam’s cancer it’s left his immune system compromised just now when he can least afford to be vulnerable. So he stays mostly home, enjoying his time as best he can before he begins his first choice internal medicine residency at Highland Hospital. He’s a happy young man. We are happy for him. The May 9th wedding celebration is now in doubt, given coronavirus travel restrictions. There will be even more to celebrate, let us hope, at a later date.

What comes next is unknown, uncertain for everyone. I’m glad I’m away from her orbit, now turned so uninhabitable.

As an associate in her law firm wrote to me, “As part of my job I read your blog, and was moved. I wish you well on this painful journey.”

There is no more pain. The journey continues.

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