Maggie Valentine has no idea how old she is. Not in the sense of calendars and birthdays, these details she of course knows well enough, marked as they are with parties, and resolutions, and the requisite attention to the big years. Rather, it is the final number that doesn’t make sense to her, the tally of her years as if the age she has landed at is a place, irrefutable, like the next city plotted on a map. She does not feel 37. She sometimes experiences a jolt of surprise to hear this actress, or that singer, someone she sees the details of regularly, is a particular, much younger age than that. When she would swear these women are contemporaries, older even, than she is. It is as if she has the wrong idea about everything now.
In truth, Maggie Valentine is approximately three years past pretty. Though filters and animal ears hide this in her most commonly shared photographs, it is a reality she sees in the mirror every morning. The slacked jaw, the fold-down corners of her mouth, the stomach rounded and hips fleshed. She has not grown old with someone, has only herself to wake up to each morning, and this is what she sees. A woman well past pretty, still sexy, even beautiful at times, but there is little youth to be found in her features now. This, she has to accept.
But how to be 37? How to understand in her bones what that means, when it is nothing that they told her it would be (They. Her mother. Women’s magazines. People who should have known better).
I missed Maggie V. So I’m revising her at a different time. Just to see where she’ll take me 😉
Jade ocean and granite mountain. I am still. Known and knowing, heart achingly quiet. I should stay right here on these rocks, face turned, palms open. I should let things be. But I carry the madness of my mothers, a garnet red river in my veins. When calm descends, I can’t help but twist toward wild seas. I want to breach my banks, break free.
I have said this all along: I was not made for serenity. There are no tranquil waters in me. I desire, crave authenticity. I cannot leave illusions alone. When I reach backward like this, it’s for the promise of new.
And no, this is not really about you.
You, who responds – are you well? As if I could be contained by this small question and this small interest in such a large, unwieldy life. I have long understood I dive to the depths on my own. It is the rare man who could meet me there – and you were asked before I knew.
I do know. Whatever sensation I seek today, you have merely waved from the shore.
(I do not think you feel less, old friend – but I am certain I feel more.)
“Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes)” ~ Walt Whitman
“For her part [she] needs to begin to curb her angry outbursts – – not because they are unjustified, but because they will not give her what she is really seeking. Anger may make her feel more powerful, temporarily. However, psychologist Steven Stosny observes that that “if loss of power was the problem in intimate betrayal, then anger would be the solution. But the great pain in intimate betrayal has little to do with the loss of power. Perceived loss of value is what causes your pain – – you feel less loveable.”
Dear – –
This is not an apology. I am not sorry for the outbursts, for the kind of hurt from my kind of words, and the times I carved through your metal with my scorching blade. I am not sorry for the sparks, and if you got burned. You were the one warming yourself all over me. You should be the one on your knees, respecting years, respecting
I am not sorry for the discomfort of a buzzing phone. For street corner revelations, or for Actually … tied up in your silence, I am not sorry for any time I broke free. Understand, from behind your perennial shield, you share
some half this responsibility.
This is NOT an apology. My dear ‘Henry‘. Your arms-lengthing would provoke one more sober than me. Hard-won, I now at least have clarity. That withholding is an act of emotional cruelty. Revelation, finally! Your refusal had nothing to do with me.
No rust-mouthed man gets to (silently) say. If I deserve to be loved. And when I am free.
“Whether the ending is done in person or in writing, it must be responsible, mature, caring, and clear. He needs to … appreciate the depth of what they shared … and give her closure. There is no way for this not to be painful, but it makes a world of difference if [she] knows that she’s not the only one feeling heartbroken.”
“Speak the words you have swallowed. We have – – years of silence to fill. Let us crowd this night with all we have not said, let us cover every last second with our secrets. Whisper them soft and sure against my skin. Tell me goodbye, and tell me why.
Dust me for your fingerprints one last time, hold me up to the light, and see yourself all over. Know that you were here. Here we are. Grasp at what we will leave behind. What we are losing. There are ways for us to end this.
Love me just enough. Then let me go. Hold tight all through these midnight hours, then stand up, be brave. And watch. me. walk. away.”
My darling, there are ways for us to end this.
Good god. She went so far as to tell you what to do. You have always done what you are told to do. How could you not even give her that …
Word over word. One little truth at a time. Pulling myself up that rope, away from the muck down here.
I am saving myself. And I am reaching back to save you, too …
“You live out the confusions until they become clear.” ~ Anais Nin
Last night I slept with a man I met at the hotel bar. A Sailor visiting dry land for the holidays. He told me he lives weeks at a time aboard his submarine. Submerged in the deep and the dark. His world is a place most of us would do anything to avoid.
My God your body is beautiful, he said when we lay down on the bed, and I thought – living under the sea must do strange things to a man.
But I looked to see, just the same. I lifted the sheets to make a coy appraisal of my flesh, marinated in the salt and oil of summer, this skin that I will peel and shed back home. I took in the chipped red of holiday nails, the grains of sand in the curve of my foot, and the nerves still pulsing in my flexing toes. I looked at my pliant muscles, and the startling white of my hidden parts. I could see all of the ways the ocean had left its mark on me, too.
This man tasted of rum and cherries. And when he kissed me again I wanted to say –You are not the only one who has emerged from the deep.
Last night we both looked beautiful when held up to the light.
~ Lucy, LOVED
I posted an early version of this exactly five years ago. Like so many of my musings here, the scene found a perfect place in my novel. Eventually. Funny reminder today that you never know where you’ll end up. You. Just. Keep. Going. Here’s to an exciting second half of the year …