I missed the big local music festival this weekend. I might as well have missed Woodstock, so wonderful is this festival.
I knew I wouldn’t go. On the first morning of last year’s festival, I told my husband that I was bummed that we weren’t going to the music festival–again. That was the day he took his life. I’m not saying that my complaint caused him to do it, but I feel so guilty for saying that, for inserting my disappointment into whatever hell he was in. Not attending this year was my penitence.
Whenever people talked about this festival, or reference last year’s, it was like a knife through my heart. As people enjoyed the music last year, he was dying. I don’t begrudge others their happiness, this year or last. It just demonstrates the different plane I live on. I hear “music festival” and I think sadness, or thoughts worse than sadness.
A few days before the festival a friend pleaded with me to buy an extra ticket she had. I briefly considered seizing the day. I considered what it would mean to leave my kids for the better part of the weekend after this rough patch we’ve been through. I pictured going by myself, wandering around the festival, unattached, not wanting to be a third wheel to oh-so-happy couples, glomming on to this group or that to hear some music, but being there on my own, exposed to the awkward looks and greetings I still get, a year later. I can hardly bear my 8 minutes at the farmers market each week. How could I withstand that?
So I sat out the festival, as intended. Besides, I needed to be home. Apart from one awful household skirmish that nearly ripped my heart out, the kids and I spent a lot of congenial time together. I’d rearranged the living room recently, and the new layout is cozy and inviting. I was able to enjoy the room with a good Danish mystery novel, but I’d often put it down because the kids would gather, which was nice, too. I made some decent meals that we ate together. There was strawberries and cream. We watched 2001: A Space Odyssey. Well, daughter fell asleep, I periodically removed myself to do dishes, but son sat through it, because all the older techie and sci fi guys (including his dad) reference this classic, and he wanted to know what it was about. He wasn’t sure if it was brilliant or if Stanley Kubrik was just sort of crazy. I’ll let him sort that out in his dorm freshman year of college.
Daughter and I were supposed to go on a guided birding/kayak trip, but it got postponed due to weather. She and I paddled on our own, anyway. We politely stalked the lake’s heron, from one end of the lake to the other.
For much of May, I lacked the wherewithal to load up the kayaks, to get through a book, even to cook. The rough patch was such that the kids and I did not take a lot of comfort in each other’s company, and we’d retreat from one another. So this quiet weekend at home was some sort of friggin’ testament to our humanity.
I got some chores done that have been on my list for awhile. It’s so different from last summer, when I had so much mess to sort through. By now, I’ve cleared a lot of the mess away. There are still so many tasks on my plate, but we get ’em done (pretty much). They’re just tasks. The household matters aren’t the struggle they used to be. We are learning how to live in this home, with just each other. We are building a new life. The world goes on to music festivals and seizing joy, but our lives came hurtling to a halt, and we move at our pace, in our own space, on our plane. I missed all the fun, but I’m pretty sure I was where I was supposed to be this weekend.
I spotted the dog comb on the balcony, too. Golly, it’s been months since I’ve combed the dogs. I completely forget you’re supposed to comb dogs. There’s so much for me to remember, so many tasks that aren’t even on the list. I spent time each evening on the balcony, combing away. As tasks go, this is a decent one–evening breeze, quiet night, snuggling up with a giant dog. I could have filled a garbage bag with the fur I combed off each night. I felt rotten, but there were no fleas, since I’ve been keeping up with their monthly flea medicine (that’s a task that’s on the list!), and there’s only one matted patch on one dog, and we’ll take care of that. I pushed the balls of fur to the edge of the balcony as I worked. At one point, a strong wind blew through, portending a thundershower. I thought of all the townfolk at the music festival. There was probably a headliner on stage at that moment. I felt bad for them. The wind picked up the dog fur and I watched it swirl through the air, across the yard, and away.