The days leading up to anniversaries like this. The day Ethan died… along with his birthday, with Christmas and Thanksgiving- those are difficult for me. But when they finally get here it really isn’t that bad. I just don’t really want to be alone.
Last night, rather than being alone, I walked a few miles. Palm Springs was having a street fair and I visited Owen Klass’s booth to look at his latest painting and to also see what he has and how it is displayed. There was music. A Native American flute. A guy on a viola. A young trio with guitars. Some people on stage with the bass and drums from a recorded track. And I made my way through the thick crowd looking at art and produce and knick knacks. Several people bumped into me. At least one with enough force to knock me back.
Uneasy is that feeling like when you lean back in your chair just a bit too far. Not the point past that when you do fall… but that point where the balance is upset and you catch yourself.
I made it to a hotel restaurant where I met up with a group of colleagues that were finishing a cheese platter and their second bottle of wine. The service was very slow and there wasn’t enough help according to the lone server who disappeared for long stretches of time. But I didn’t drink at all and eventually we all got our food and eventually we were able to pay our checks.
I look at art sometimes from an artist’s view.. . for technique and color and composition. There are all those things I need to learn. And to look at different styles and mediums and to think about process- I think is this is helpful.
And sometimes I look at it from marketing and retailing perspective- what sells, how it is displayed and priced and presented. And so I always look at art here in Palm Springs. At the lighting and walls. At the sizes. And especially the prices.
I got to walk back through the street fair and buy my regular peanut brittle from Bridgette who has a booth in our Running Springs’ Farmers market. I saw Owen and his wife, but didn’t speak to them. I did talk to an artist with this indistinct European accent who had these bright splashy acrylic animals. I bought some ice cream. And looked at a couple of the galleries on Palm Canyon. I made it back to my room and paid the $5 internet fee to get slow internet. Tried to find something on TV with half the channels not working. And reluctantly went to sleep.
I don’t know what you call those little rooms. You know those ones at the entry… too small to be a foyer. It is just the space between the outside doors and the inside doors. I have that feeling of being trapped in that entryway- That door closed behind me and the one in front doesn’t open. It’s locked. So I turn around and that other one is locked. And then I realize that this restaurant is somehow closed. And there is this intense moment of panic when I realize that I am now trapped in a glass box. Eventually, should this happen, I would have to decide whether to call and wait, or to look for a way to break the glass. But it would be resolved. I hope.
Grief is like that sometimes. Not dark and scary, but scary and uneasy in a way that feels more like being very very stuck… trapped.
Some call this an “angelversary.” But I have never used that words. Technically, in the Christian tradition, you don’t actually become an angel when you die. Angels and people are different things. And it has an element of cuteness that is discomforting.
And I am at a keynote speech with thousands of teachers. In a dark room, worrying that my battery may not hold out. Thinking about getting my progress reports turned in before 4 PM… realizing that I actually have to back to the motel room for my papers.
I looked forward to these days with some amount of anxiety and it is always a bit more than turns out to be necessary. There is no large announcement in the atmosphere. There is no general astral disturbance. It turns out that these days are quite ordinary and that nothing of note happens. The sun still rises. People still go out and work and play and eat and jog. And cars zoom by at their ordinary pace. And the only ones that notice that anything at all is amiss are the few very very close to this, and in an every shrinking circle.