It was a cold day, miserable for anything out in it. I had been up all night making a beautiful doll I’d stupidly sold in advance of its existence on e-bay so that despite being sleep-deprived and worn out from Christmas, I was suddenly working hard, far into the night, collapsing three days’ crafting into one..
I wanted my customer to gasp with delight upon opening the box. Therefore I had exerted myself to make an especially beautiful, heavy doll, that could beautify a guest room or stand in when one rocked with it, for a child lost or gone so that one might go so far as to lactate, ovulate, or both.. BelCherubino Heirloom Baby Dolls – Radiant Babies for Comfort and Collection, my sales copy reads.
But despite the fulfillment of making something beautiful—seeing a project so complex and draining to completion– this particular morning lent itself to depression. The falling snow was itself depressed; it had a listless incessancy, like the forlorn chirping of cold sparrows. It was aftermath storm, in the immediate wake of the orgasmic build-up that is the holiday and the American way of going about it all like a horde of mice air-dropped into in a cornfield.
The rush and grab, assault on Wal-Mart, the coming and going in a forced state of good cheer. How on Christmas Eve all of us sit in our huffing and puffing houses with caught breath: will the turquoise ring with a Navajo stamp fit? Will he like the nearly new pair of shoes, he with his graceful long feet? Will anyone of us lose it and revert to how and who we really are come the day after Christmas and the dawn?
I am in fact always tired. I am always impatient. So it was that rising that morning to the presence of the package because Ed’s truck had died and not responded to multiple attempts to turn the engine over, so that he could not take my Herculean effort to town, I blew a gasket of my own, and heard myself say something that I knew I would live to regret.
My faux pas was especially deleterious because we were scheduled to make love that day, which requires at our age some planning; i.e. Ed’s foregoing of various medications the night before, taking of six tablets of Viagra despite the ubiquitous caveats against four-hour erections– my rounding up lubricants and an assortment of little toys we’d also bought on e-bay, to begin the marathon of lovemaking that had befallen us when we tried these days so that one “date” lasted several days….all wonderful and grueling by turns and reminiscent of a little poem of my father’s I had discovered years earlier in an old trunk of WWII memorabilia in the basement… a little spot upon the sheet/ a little effort to repeat…
Lord, lord. Getting old is without mercy.
It was also indubitably unkind of me to blow a fuse over the dead truck and the unmailed doll because Ed gave me a beautiful diamond ring for Christmas. And in fact he is himself, a diamond in the rough; a very kind and loving and beautiful person. When I lose my temper I stand before him emotionally nekked, all my moles and cellulite showing.
I can attribute more than a little bitchiness to the fact that I may be hooked on pain pills and non-alcoholic beer that has a distinct aftertaste of cat urine. I don’t function well without something to take the edge off and something to hold in my hand to steady me as I deal with the vagaries of our life together.
And then, there are my physical issues, which may be said to warrant a veritable trove of beautiful rings. At 66 years old, in addition to a warped and shortened right leg in the wake of horseback riding accident seven years earlier, a leg I had to compress into a long brace so that I could drag myself about with a cane, having spent three years doing so in the walker I brought home from the facility, I have chronic venous insufficiency, i.e. the veins in my lower leg are blown and cannot muster the energy to send blood back up to my torso and heart.
In addition to the swelling from this issue, my toes are deforming from arthritis and the nails have something cruel living in them—portrayed on tv as mucous-yellow, amorphous organisms with eyes; as prognosticated, the nails are collapsing inward, folding up and toughening. I have not had the courage yet to attack them with my rather dull wirecutters, nor the energy, quite, to mix a potion with which to try to eradicate their malaise.
To boot, and to wit, we have filigrees of dusty spider webs adorning the ceilings in our double-wide that contribute to a general aura of the great mandala of life throwing a bearing, blowing a tire so that each day it seems that we are riding on the rims of existence, graying, weakening in our resolve to transcend the entropy filling our rooms like a premature twilight.
Despite all of these things, that I am a woman with the feet of a Gargoyle and an esdtrogen-parched vagina crowned with an ever-tumescent clit, I attempt to carry on as a forbearing, loving and cheerful person.
In fact, Ed makes me feel beautiful; even though I have all of these things plaguing me and have only just begun to face each of them in some kind of sensible order, beginning with the fourteen teeth extracted this summer, dentures pending—said extractions having been conducted under the happy influence of oxycodone, my favorite drug and I am proud to say, the big dog I have weaned myself from.
He is wirey and tall and does not suffer from these things; nor does he have insomnia. He eats three squares a day at the appointed time and ~I foolishly, for I shouldn’t be standing and cooking for long periods given the aforementioned conditions, insure that he has something beside the tins of beanie-weenie he used to permit himself to eat, together with too much that is plain and cheap and filling.
I am not a plain and cheap and filling sort of girl and lord knows how we ended up together—need and common ground in its haggard minuet. Synchronicity, fate, a mutual love of horses, an affinity with Lonesome Dove , Breaking Bad, Golden Retrievers, and a great many other things.
A love of coffee ice-cream shared together curled up in front of the telly.
With or without, or in spite of all of these things, today was a hapless day from the beginning. Again, it was grey and cold and the big pick up wouldn’t start. Again, there was the box, into which I had lovingly placed the gorgeous doll I had made, a day late in being shipped Fed Ex Smart Post—ground mail first by truck and then handed off to the US Postal Service—to the lovely buyer in Oregon who had won her on e-bay. .
I had felt my blood pressure rise and I laid into Ed with all the class of a back alley whore. “You are bad for me,” I had screamed, at one point, when in the beginning I was only irate about the truck, that he had let it sit and done nothing. .
What I had uttered, together with the usual epithets that hurt him and boomerang back to me as utter shame toward myself for being selfish and cruel hung in the air like a neon burn notice on the eve of Armageddon. A deep roiling panic stirred within me.
Was that true? After everything, after setting up a life together, the crown jewel of which was the ring I had picked out and proudly wore on Christmas Eve?
Making matters more problematic, the day after Christmas, half-stoned on the VC and far into the night, I had lost my head online when confronted with the panoply of rings from a dozen or so Chinese entrepreneurs—beautiful gemstone rings, undoubtedly faux diamonds and hybrid crystals of every kind for under three dollars per item in most cases.… I had lost my head and heart to the dazzle and color, the elegant facets, the pulsating rubies and glinting green emeralds.
So utterly and pervasively had I plunged from my asceticism , that I had ordered more than twenty rings, each of them costing 5.00, late at night, when the pain meds had blurred the edges of time and reason, and Ed and our dogs were sleeping.
Only yesterday, one of the rings having been a trio of lilac amethyst Rose De France stones set in white gold, I found a remarkable amethyst band to pair with it.
These gems, like little iconic reminders of my follies, burn away silently in their velvet beds in the jewel box Ed gave me—a beautiful objet d’arte itself.
What, I have wondered, is so damnably alluring about them—especially when one recognizes that the Chinese are adroit at sleight of hand—a white sapphire might be in reality designer glass, a chip engineered by the human hand rather than dislodged from the sandstone walls of a cave in the catacombs of the Russian Steppes.
The lovely settings with their golden claws—the arrival of tiny custom packages via China Airmail Post—why bother to resist. The elderly woman’s imperative of carpe diem; when life hurts, spend money.
But as our argument dissipated, I at last took myself by the nape, organized myself and together we went out into the yard. First he got into his truck and we tried to jump it with mine. It didn’t work.
We tucked the box-full of transformed and transformative nouveau-realistic doll into my truck and he got in and we headed into town, down the wide grey highway. We encountered construction and I turned around and we made our way first to Fed Ex and then on to WalMart, where we went in and I set out in a scooter, cruising for some of the things we needed.
I forced myself past the jewelry cases all seemingly monogrammed with my initials; sapphire and diamond rings waiting for me, adorned with a scripted and elegant J…bling excellence, bad ass bling for royalty.
And then in softly falling snow, on this cold January day, we headed back down the road We munched chocolate chip cookies, a beautiful fire emanating from the faux sapphire softly flaring on the fourth finger of my left hand. We came in at nightfall, into our warm and lovely home, enfolding and sedating us with a generous familiarity. .
copyright Jenne’ R. Andrews 2015.
lysbeth andrews said:
I think you found a GEM in Jack. Much love to you both and Happy New Year ! As I was ready this it reminded me of our Great Grandmother Sprague, Grandpa Andrews mother, at another time i will tell you what my Mother thought of her.
Thanks dear Lys— hugs to you. xj
Britton Swingler said:
Jenne…your tell-it-like-it-is ability, fervor even, astounds me. And then there is the melodic rhythm and sheer gorgeousness of your word choice; for some the result of a thesaurus, for you mere breathing. Your work…for it is all work, is it not, never fails to move me.