Mid-life Crisis

Night Thoughts

Pure Luck has been gone for all of a day-and-a-half, but it’s crystal clear from the day I had today how much I depend on him. It’s not that we can’t manage all right without him…but things go more smoothly when he is here.

For instance, if he had been here today, he would have seized the opportunity to chip off the ice on the front steps when it softened, and I wouldn’t have landed on my bottom after my feet flew out from under me. (No permanent injuries, just a bruised palm on the hand I used to grab the railing, my second mistake.)

Tonight we had a family party–the family of my first husband–to celebrate #1 Son’s birthday. My children’s paternal grandfather, or Papa, as we call him, cooked a delicious chicken fricasee. I had only to provide drinks, bread, dessert and, small thing, a clean house. Ack! Fortunately my dear sister-in-law, Wonderful, turned up early and helped us get organized. She has a gift for the housewifely arts that I sadly do not share. (But call me if you ever need a wedding or a funeral.)

Two glasses of wine later, I inadvertantly referred to my ex as “honey.” This happened once before at a holiday gathering, and he told me it was weird that I said “honey” to him. I said, “Would you prefer ‘hey there, you s.o.b.?'” And, really, after two glasses of wine, I call everyone “honey.”

Papa made some remark about “In Vino Veritas,” which raises an interesting question. #1 Son has had some drinking experiences at college, and he’s learning by trial and error how much is enough. I, for instance, drink about 10 times a year, and it’s unusual if more than 3 or 4 of those times I have more than one drink. Two is the limit. Three would be unthinkable. (Or vomitrocious, even.) After a drink, I am a little giddy, but after two, I am loose-limbed and naughtily frank. Is that the truth about me? In Vino Veritas?

When I was in tenth grade, my Baptist youth group had all its meetings at the home of one of the leaders. He was a newlywed with a beautiful wife. We sat around on their living room floor, because they didn’t have furniture for it yet. I loved that group. My pastor’s wife was another one of the leaders, my absolute idol. One night near the beginning of the year, she said, “Songbird, you are so refreshingly honest.” Six months later, as the year’s programs were ending, she told me, “Songbird, you are painfully honest.”

Painfully honest. Naughtily frank. Open. Exposed. And, oh Lord, vulnerable.

We all have to learn to cultivate the personae, the masks, that protect our weak spots. I suppose I learned to be more diplomatic as time went by. The more I develop the “pastor” face, the more protected certain parts of me become. Somehow I’ve had to learn to balance honesty with caring. I find that’s much easier to do at work than at home, where I seem to feel I should be able to say whatever I feel, to “be myself.”

In Vino Veritas? My son wondered if the grumpy self he experienced when drinking represented his real self. I wonder the same thing about the giddy girl I become. Are these parts of ourselves we hide? Or are they shadows themselves?