Saturday, November 12, 2011

Thoughts on a marriage inspired by rain and sun in Como

Is the rain-to-sun transition so different here? Or is it that I’m rarely outside, or possibly failing to notice light when the rain ends, quickly or slowly, and the sun comes out, quickly or slowly, bringing brightness to the very places which glow the most? Stone buildings, marble statues, fountains who’ve already had their fill of water: These things light up like magic, as though a misguided Hollywood special effects guru has decided something as awe-inspiring as Bordeaux’s unforgettable horse fountain somehow needs a boost.

But right now I’m not in Bordeaux, though it’s my next stop. I’m in Como, of beautiful lake fame, and I’m watching the crowd while eating a surprisingly good pizza with a nice red wine. My lunch perch overlooks the town’s cathedral, constructed from stones of pink, grey, beige, and colors unseen in other buildings. I look across the piazza toward the art fair in a sunken area with arches but am distracted by my phone vibrating, a trendy technical intrusion jarringly out of place in this eternal site which feels so solid and real.

It’s my husband, from his office in New York, no doubt, politely inquiring as to my whereabouts. He is too frightened to ask for a divorce but wants one, as do I, but I am punishing him for his infidelity and will make him complete the bad-guy circle. As I wait, I have decided to tour Western Europe, easing my pain with copious amounts of wine, fondue, chocolate, pizza, and sex with handsome Mediterranean men. Here in Como, my last stop on a two-week self-guided lake tour, it’s myself I’m punishing, taking long walks in sun and rain, thinking of the many times I pushed him toward other women. Emotionally unavailable most of the time, from the very beginning I did things like withhold physical and verbal affection, sex, and kindness in general. I skipped every one of his family’s gatherings, though truth be told I did him a favor as I would’ve been cold to them at best. It’s surprising he married me, and I’m still unsure why I married him.

I warned him about the famous moodiness and aloofness of writers, of how those of us drawn to writing (at least, myself and everyone I knew) are not warm and friendly but crave solitude and basically dislike people. I told him I would not be a mother—ever. (I think he thought I would change my mind…a silly and dangerous idea, and yet the most common, held by many about to marry.) In short, I was a bad bet for an outgoing, warm man like Jack, but I win no prizes for being right about that. No amount of chocolate or one-night stands fills that empty silver trophy cup.

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