24 January 2009

She wears it well

A little old-fashioned, but that's all right

Free at Last

On January 20th, 1981 the man I was seeing told me that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. A day or two later, billboards went up throughout the Bay Area: Free at Last. The signs referred to the end of the Iran hostage crisis, but Jerry and I took the words personally. We'd found each other; our spirits were soaring. The road ahead would be rocky -- both of us were still married to other people -- but we'd travel it together. Ultimately, anything was possible.

January 20th is one of several dates we still keep track of; we refer to it as our Betrothal anniversary. (Isn't "betrothal" a lovely, old-fashioned word?)

I don't have to tell you what happened on January 20th this year. Free at last. Free of the lying, dysfunctional... don't get me started. It won't be easy, but I'm filled with the sense that, ultimately, anything -- and I mean anything good -- is possible. I haven't felt that way in 28 years.

11 January 2009

In his prime

The universe has a weird sense of timing. Without making a resolution of it, I decided at the turn of the year to start decluttering, a little bit every day. Last week I was working on the storage shelves under the basement stairs and found a box of video-cam cassettes Jerry shot back in the '90s. I asked him to decide what to do with them, and of course he started watching. "I think you might want to see this," he said. The first tape he'd popped into the player had a long sequence of Abbie at the age of five or six -- it was at our house in the Berkeley hills, so it must have been prior to March of 1996 when we moved to the coast -- freaking out with a baggie of fresh catnip. He was a beautiful boy, and he loved his 'nip well into his dotage.

A later tape, shot at Sea Ranch, captured part of a stunt Abs used to do fairly often. He'd accompany us onto the second-floor deck, off the living room, where Jer and I often went to watch the sunset. From there he'd jump to the railing, then up to the lower section of the roof over the porch, and from there to the steeply-pitched main roof, where he'd climb to the peak and sit by the chimney to watch the sun go down. He had the best view in (or on) the house. When the show was over, he'd retrace his steps and leaps in reverse. Watching the tape reminded me that I had a couple of stills of Abbie doing his evening acrobatic routine. What a guy.

One of the other videos consisted of an existentially boring tour of the apartment that Jerry had rented for his mom at Rossmoor, a senior community in the 'burbs east of Berkeley. He'd taken the footage to West Virginia to show her where she'd be living once she moved to California. Of course, Tom's been gone for more than a decade now.

Another showed my brother and his wife in San Diego, before their son was born. Josh is 14 now, and Larry and Sheri have been divorced for ages. Another was shot one Easter at Jer's daughter's house in Marin county. It included his son Marc, who died of AIDS later that year, my mom, Lauren's then-partner Lucinda, and me in my long-haired and still relatively youthful glory. Sic transit...

My inner academic pointed out that I could have called this post "Historical artifacts unearthed during a routine household archeological dig." Yeah, that'll bring in the readers. Of course these priceless treasures will be re-archived. We should digitize them, I suppose.

I got a lot of comfort from watching that footage of Abbie in his prime. He had a good life and, on whatever level cats process such things, I think he knew it.