Repeating Our Prayers

Okay, so I managed to keep from sitting down in front of the news this afternoon and staying there until the newsmen had repeated and repeated the news. I had been volunteering in the middle school library when my friend came in to replace me. She told me what happened at the Boston Marathon. As I was walking out the door, she told me not to watch it over and over on the news, that she didn’t think it would be good for me, for any of us.

She’s right.

And she’s wrong.

After I left the library, I walked the dog, tried to take a nap, took Nick to get a hair cut, and ate leftovers for dinner before sending my guys to a Scout meeting. In other words, I went on with my day without very much thought to the people in Boston.

But the people who were there at the finish line when the two bombs went off deserve to have our thoughts. They do. I need to be with them in spirit. They need to feel the thoughts of the country beside them, sending love, support, outrage.

So, it was with some trepidation that I looked at the photos a friend had posted on Facebook. Some of the photos were graphic. I saw photos, of the runner, older than I am, lying on the pavement as the police mobilized. I saw photos of injuries, pools of blood, shocked faces, people running, police with guns drawn. I saw police, EMTs, reservists, and ordinary citizens running toward the blast. I saw people kneeling by the injured. I saw people holding children. I watched a long video of the blast and what happened immediately afterward. I imagined how strange it must have been to be the man behind the video camera as people tried to pull the barriers out of the way to get to the injured. His camera was pointed up in the air. He started to breathe heavily and then repeated the same thing over and over and over.

“Oh God.”

“Oh God.”

“Oh God.”

Oh God is right. What the people in Boston need most from us now is our prayers.

Thank you for listening, jules

To Be Forgotten

There’s a woman at church who’s getting a minor surgery tomorrow. The other women were all over her to provide her with meals and help until she’s better. That’s a good thing.

You’d think.

I just sat in my back pew and wondered why no one ever offered me a meal when my husband was having surgery on his knee last month or all the times when my son was down with pneumonia. The poor kid has had pneumonia six times now, and even the time I had pneumonia with him, folks just looked at me as if I’d been shirking my duties when I finally returned to my spot in the back row. There’s definitely a favored list among the people of our small congregation.

I used to be more involved than I am now. I admit that. I worked at the food bank. I manned the table at the town festival. I went with the group of kids to Wild Waves. I’m still the one who organizes a table for Halloween. I still bake for the sales, take my turn at coffee hour, and I’m in the choir. Yet, I can feel it.

There are favorites.

Everywhere.

I know that I am not a favorite.

It’s my day to complain. It’s my day to be ignored,even at home. I hate those days. You know what it feels like, don’t you? You get home to where you think they love you most. You think you’re having a conversation with someone and they walk away without answering or worse, they look up at the TV as if it’s got more personality than you do.

I have to admit that my husband has been doing this to me. Oh, he apologizes afterward when I bother to cry, but more and more, I feel him drifting off, in another, more desirable world.

I’ve never admitted this to anyone else but I wonder if I’m going to be traded in for a newer model. For my last birthday, he gave me three pair of socks and a hat. The card he gave me was about the craziness of menopause. I adore this man. I do. Yet last night, I dreamed that he kept walking away from me as I tried to keep up.

What is happening with my life? It looks normal, but on the inside, it feels as though it’s disintegrating.

I make more mistakes. I forget things. I’m not as cute as I used to be. I imagine there are lots of reasons I’ve lost favor. I’m a bad mom. My husband lets me know that I’m a bad mom when my boy ignores me and I end up yelling at him to do what he’s supposed to do. That is a huge stone in the pit of my stomach. I try not to yell, but all my friends tell me that preteens don’t get off the couch until the volume goes up. Yet, my husband thinks that I’m the problem.

I’m sure it’s hard to snuggle up with someone who’s sulking, but it gets no better when I’m cheerful and chirpy. Sometimes I imagine getting lost for a month or two and wondering if they’d notice.

Well, they’d notice. The laundry wouldn’t be done. There would be no meals, no one to do the dishes. The dog and cat would either die of thirst or starvation. Someone else would have to buy groceries. I’ve actually disappeared as much as I can without interrupting services. Isn’t that sad?

It is, unfortunately, the truth.

The worst part of it is that I intended to tell you the story of how my husband and I met, fell in love, and got married. I was going to tell you how we were in a canoe, how we paddled on flat water and along rivers, for an afternoon and for a week at a time. It was all so lovely, but now it aches to feel it, the loss of this lovely connectedness, the way I used to feel his power through the motion of the canoe under me. I felt my power too.

Yesterday, I read that fast canoeing burns more calories than rollerblading, cycling, swimming, and karate. I know how hard I used to work when we were really working to keep our boat upright. I was burning almost a thousand calories an hour. No wonder I was hungry on those trips. I was invigorated by those trips, even when we were moving more slowly. It seemed to connect us, the unison motion of our paddling.

So what has happened? Why are we struggling so much now?

There is no time for us any more. Even when my son is off on some adventure with his friends, my husband and I don’t know how to connect. We might do okay if we could get into a canoe. We’re out of practice on dry land. I don’t think he even thinks of me when I’m not around.

Oh, he says he loves me. I beg for love letters for holidays. When I get them, he says he loves me and for a while, I believe him. And then he goes back to zoning out at the TV when he’s done with our boy, with work, with Scouting, with chores at home. I know that he’s got a lot on my mind, but I’d like to be in there somewhere above chores at home. I’d like to be in there somewhere. It doesn’t work for me to get mad. It doesn’t help to cry. I tried demanding a level of priority.

This has been long in developing. Back before we even had kids, I used to call his job the other woman. He didn’t like that. I’m pretty sure he hasn’t found another woman, but he might as well have.

So, can you see how it’s hard to keep working on this book of mine as I feel forgotten, lost, and yet still in love. I’m not going anywhere, but our marriage sure could use some First Aid.

Ah, there goes the television again. It was off this afternoon for an hour or so. Maybe I’ll go take a nap. Maybe I’ll dream that my husband loves me, that instead of walking away, he turns around, takes me into his arms and makes me feel precious one more time. He’s really the only one I need to remember me.

Thank you for listening, jules

The Real JB

I woke up angry. See, I need to get a tree or two cut down on my property. I have a guy that does that kind of thing, JB Trees. His work is a thing of beauty. He shimmies up the tree with his chain saw and drops lengths of those trees onto a spot no larger than my bathroom floor.

So, on Saturday, I sat on my deck in the sun, looking up at the trees as I often do. It was lovely, except that one of the trees wasn’t right. It was leaning. Crap! It was leaning toward my garage! No, I’m sure that tree wasn’t leaning that much the last time I sat out on my deck with my tea.

It was a very tall tree. That’s something we have in abundance here in the Pacific Northwest, very tall trees. “I need to call my tree guy,” I told Mike.

“Why don’t you do it now?” he asked.

“On a Saturday? Isn’t that kind of mean?” I asked.

“No, if he’s busy, he won’t answer the phone,” he said. So, I sat there on my butt and searched for my tree guy on my iPhone. I saw his name there, the part about serving the Snoqualmie valley. Then, I pressed the button that said call.

“Jerry speaking,” a man answered.

“Is this JB Trees?” I asked.

“Yes?” he said and waited. Waiting can be such a devious thing. I especially don’t like when people leave silence between us. My mother used silence as a weapon. She still does. She got silent yesterday when I said I needed to get off the phone. I was volunteering at the school library and there was a child standing in front of me. I had told my mother that I might need to get off the phone at a moment’s notice.

“Hey Ma, I need to go.”

And there was silence while this small person looked up at me patiently.

“I really need to get off the phone now,” I said, feeling the burn begin at the bottom of my stomach, a little to the left of my belly button and a bit below my ribs. That is where my shame resides. Sometimes I wonder if that’s where it is for everyone or just for me.

“I’ll talk to you later,” I said and then, my mother went on talking as if I’d been rude and interrupted her story. I had interrupted her story, but I’d told her I might need to interrupt her story when I got onto the phone. I had told her I was working in the school library. It took five more minutes to actually hang up while that poor child stood there and stared at me. Damn!

So, when Jerry, on the other end of the phone with me, left that ‘yes?’ just hanging there, I filled it in. I actually started gabbing about how much I loved JB Trees, my tree guy. I talked about how the guy that came to my house last time could shimmy up those sad trees with his chain saw and drop them into a designated spot the size of my bathroom. We agreed on a time for Jerry to come look at the leaning tree.

Then, yesterday afternoon, I needed to change my appointment. My boy’s ride to swimming fell through. I blithely clicked my iPhone and found the number I had called. It still looked like JB Trees.

“Jerry speaking,” he said again.

“Is this JB Trees?” I asked with confidence.

“Yes?” he said. Honestly, I had no inkling that I was talking with any other company. I had searched JB Trees on my iPhone and I believed that I was talking to a man from JB Trees when I talked. Jerry didn’t disabuse me of my mistake. Oh, I wish he had. I even got to telling him how much I liked JB Trees again. He told me a story about how two guys were arguing over whose tree guy they would call and both of them turned out to be him. That story made me laugh then. It only fuels my anger now.

He came to my house yesterday, a bit later than we’d originally planned. I had taken my son to his swimming lesson and got back home before he arrived. When he got out of his shiny red truck, I shook his hand. The guy from JB Trees drove a beat up black truck and was quite a few years younger than this man. And he was a brunette. This guy Jerry had blonde hair, dyed blonde hair with a touch of gray left at the temples.

“Are you Jerry?” I asked. He nodded and smiled.

“Have you been here before?” I asked, hesitating for the first time. This was a different guy. Did they have more than one guy that came out to talk about the trees? I had thought that JB Trees mostly flew solo except occasionally when his wife answered the phone.

“No, I don’t think so,” he said and then he stopped talking. It was no wonder he had a little sparkle in his eye, that he seemed like he was about to start laughing. I had liked that about him at the time. I don’t like it so much now.

We walked around my yard and discussed the leaning tree along with a few others. I even introduced him to my husband who had just gotten home from work. Jerry worked fast, wrote up an estimate as we stood there and handed it to my husband. We all agreed that Jerry would send someone to cut the trees next week. He would call me to schedule it. And then, he hopped into his shiny red truck and left.

I chatted happily with my husband about how a sign on a fallen tree across a slide zone sometimes reminded me to call JB Trees when it was my turn to bring the kids home from swimming. That was before the tree was actually leaning.

“Did you get the phone number from that sign?” he asked me.

“No, I looked him up on the Internet.”

“Hon, this estimate isn’t from JB Trees,” he said. I popped out my phone and looked up JB Trees again. There it was, the same number I’d called twice before. There was no heading and ‘JB Trees’ sat under little button that said ‘call.’

I had been duped! These people intentionally didn’t put their own name at the top or I would have been alerted to my mistake. Jerry intentionally didn’t say anything but ‘yes?’ as if answering the phone when I asked if I had reached JB Trees! He let me babble on about my favorite tree guy and he knew I’d ‘accidentally’ called the wrong number! I felt like an idiot.

“Should I call JB Trees instead?” I asked my husband.

“No, it’s already on the books. Just let them come and do it,” he said mildly. He hadn’t heard my conversation with Jerry. He hadn’t heard me go on about how much I like JB Trees. I nodded my head and dropped Jerry’s estimate into my in box.

And then I woke up mad. I do that sometimes, get muddled by other people’s expectations and emotions and don’t realize my own feelings about a matter until I’ve slept on it.

The Internet had been set up to confuse me, but Jerry had let it go on and on, and on again, as I talked to him, twice on the phone and once in person. What a shit!

As soon as it’s a decent hour, I’m going to call my own tree guy at JB Trees and I’m going to ask him to come over to take a look at my leaning tree. I don’t even care if his estimate comes out higher than Jerry’s or if his schedule is booked for a couple of weeks. I don’t imagine either of those things happening, but I don’t care if it does. I’ll be looking for the guy in the beat up old truck to show up in my driveway.

Then, when Jerry calls I’ll tell him that he might have had a chance at doing the work if he’d just been honest with me at some point in the conversation, if he had just had some integrity.

Thank you for listening, jules