Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day

She has beautiful face, like that of a pre-Raphaelite's model, a long jawline and strong eyes: I fell in love with her at once, in the abstract way that an artist falls in love with the perfect model. Never has there been the slightest twinge of the erotic between us. But she's beautiful, beautiful in repose, beautiful in motion.

And sad, grief-stricken, yesterday. I hugged her three times, twice more than I ought to have, wanting so much to make it better. I made it worse, if anything, pulling her attention back to the hurt. It's hard, if you're constructed as I am, to leave grief alone. The streak of vanity in me is always roused by it. Surely you can't be sad in the full sunlight of my affection and admiration? Not my affection and admiration, oh no, surely not!

But she was as sad when I left as when I came, in that desolate February house. She's usually happy, quick to laugh, energetic. She stood back from the doorway, impatient for me to be gone and leave her alone with her grief, her hair rucked up, her shirt askew. I longed to comb and tuck and pat everything tidy.

Well. Nothing to be done. Load the table into the car, toss the bag and the portable heater onto the seat, drive away under the cold white sky.

I used to feel useless and de trop so often. Now it's an unfamiliar feeling, an unpleasant reminder of unhappier days. At home I put my hands together, murmur a few “om manis,” and watch raindrops descend the windshield in erratic swithbacks. May all beings be without suffering and the causes of suffering. Right.

Exasperated with the Buddha and all his kind, not because they're wrong but because they're right. The suffering runs even deeper than we think, much deeper than the unkindnesses, infidelities, and disappointments that ostensibly cause it. Those are only the thin places, where we suddenly fall through into that underground river of misery. The river's running all the time, eating everything away underneath us. In the same way that the joy is always there in the sky. None of it ever goes away. We're churned between the two of them like pebbles in an agate-polisher: we tumble endlessly against each other, chipping and scraping, rolled over and over by the push of the river and the shove of the sky.

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