I’m sitting at the public library trying to work but mostly listening to Good Ol’ Country Boy talk Librarian’s ear off. She responds to his long trivial sentences with one word, sometimes no word at all but only a hmmm of acknowledgement. She sounds beyond bored. I myself have looked over at him at least four times, as if to say this is a library and you’re speaking too loudly. He doesn’t catch on. Did you hear about all the trees down after the storm out on Henderson road? Did you know that he and Jimmy can never act serious together, that it’s just not possible? Did you hear that Bertie has cancer again, this time worse than the first? I cringe at Librarian’s disinterest, ashamed at my own annoyance. I feel her pain, her inability to hand this unwelcome conversationalist off to another person. I, too, am Librarian.
I write out a text supposing that perhaps stronger friendships may relieve some of my ongoing feelings of anxiety.
I see you Good Ol’ Country Boy. I am you too.
We finished your blackberry freezer jam today. I stood at the kitchen window, in our new home, no longer the one that your family dug deep roots in for decades, but I can still feel your presence. I sometimes still find your grandson with tears streaming down, missing his grandparents. I still imagine you at your own kitchen window, the center of a room where you spent hours preparing meals for your family, meals I know we all wish could be eaten one more time. I still remember you later sitting in your daughter’s kitchen, those big hugs you offered, those jokes you would crack, those smiles you shared. It’s been two years, and we just now finished your jam, still so sweet and fresh, like memories. We found it tucked away in your chest freezer, along with other frozen goodies, excitement in our eyes, anticipation for such a yummy treat. You have fed us over and over again for the past two years. I like to think you knew the importance of taking care of your family, even from afar. A simple gift with such big meaning. We finished your blackberry freezer jam today, and though the jar may be empty, our bellies and hearts are so full.
The moment I begin to settle into the silence of the house when I’m alone, I also begin settling into the uneasiness. That previously unheard creak magnifies and echoes in my ears. Since when does the dishwasher make a noise like that? And can anyone really be sure that the air conditioner is responsible for those sounds that are so similar to an axe murderer stealthily unlocking my backdoor?
Did I say settling?
Clearly I meant unsettling. The act of unsettling is so easy when others are nowhere nearby. And clearly my loaf of a kitten-cat is completely useless in fighting off the bad guys. And so I turn on every light in my house. And I refuse to walk by the back door or even make eye contact with a window. Don’t ask me to take a single step down the basement stairs. I stick close to my kitten-cat for the rhythm of his snoring and the soft sound of a heartbeat, no matter how lazy. I snuggle up to the uncertainty of a home all alone. I attempt to make peace with this invisible friend of uncomfortable. Thoughts tend to grow lavishly if not kept in check. Truth and not truth become blurry, their colors mixing into a magnificent shade of gray, like tonight’s cloudy night sky.
Friendship is good and important, faithful and calming.
It’s two in the afternoon, and I’m just now taking a slow long inhale of that perfect coffee smell. The one that says you are fine, right where you, just breathe because you are fine. Why two in the afternoon for my first coffee of the day? Well, on days off one gets the lofty idea that coffee isn’t needed and all other Priorities take over and coffee gets neglected.
Until I realize that I have seen my husband for a total of 2.33 minutes on this day and that didn’t stop me from spewing every hurtful word and thought my silly brain could contrive. And I know those words hurt. I knew my words would hurt before I released them and I released them anyway and this makes me so angry with myself. My words hurt others and then hurt me in return when the shame rises up and what good do I bring but increasing hurt?
I must decrease and He must increase.
I want to make myself so small and crawl up in the corner and silently disappear with little fanfare.
I want my lips to seal together and my ears to grow large with the strength of quiet continual listening.
I want to hear the wreak I havoc before I ever get to wreaking. I want it to stop me cold. I want to be a wife who builds instead of breaks.