One day Anni was twirling and singing one of her original compositions.
"It's my gift!" she declared.
Dizzy, she fell with spectacular gracelessness.
Laying on her back on the tile floor she began flapping her arms and legs
as if she were making a snow angel.
"Falling down is also a gift!" says she.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

strolling down someone else's memory lane

The weather here has been truly awful: colder than we anticipated, and rain nearly every day. And Annika seems to be getting sick (it had to happen - crammed into those subway cars with all those people breathing all over her). Still, her temperature has not topped 101 and she seems to be dealing with it just fine, so outside of a few moments when I have the mad feeling that I need to find a good lab to have her blood drawn to reassure myself that it's not rejection or something liver-related, we're feeling pretty comfortable. Even more reassuring is the fact that Frankie spent yesterday being unusually grumpy, and Joerg is currently laying on our cool, red, faux-suede sofas (Will those things fit in the overhead compartment? I so love this furniture we have here.) watching Star Wars in German (and Darth Vader is sooooo cool speaking German) and complaining of feeling icky. Both of which facts lead us to believe that it's just a little viral bug and no big deal. Frankie is already back to her happy, hopping self, and Anni shows no signs of getting violently ill. Today was spent with one of Joerg's ex-girlfriends, Claudia. Actually, she is the ex-girlfriend - the one that he was with the longest, including a long period of cohabitation, the one that he had the closest relationship with before we married. When I told my new American friend, Norma, about our plans for today, she laughed and rolled her eyes. I'm not sure which of us she thought was crazy for this plan, Joerg or me..but I suspect it was me. I forgot to mention to her that this ex-girlfriend had already come for a visit to us in the States, living with us for 2 weeks (along with Schaefer and his ex-girlfriend). And that visit while I was 6 months pregnant. I don't think that Claudia has ever seen me, outside of pictures, when I wasn't a bit full of figure. Still, the fact that Joerg has kept up a relationship with Claudia does not disturb me, although I remember it did a bit in the first years of our marriage. I laughed as I told Joerg about Norma's reaction. I explained to him that I don't really worry about affairs anymore. I, personally, am just way too tired already to find the energy and time to somehow create a secret love life for myself. I said I assumed the same was true of him, too. "No," he said, "I could probably work out the time and the energy, but I couldn't take the guilt." I was shocked. SHOCKED. Clearly, I need to send a bit more work his way. Just to safeguard our marriage, of course. * *Joerg, if you are reading this, please know that I am in no way saying that you do not do enough work around the house. Those last few sentences are for humorous effect only. Your efforts are valuable and appreciated. And you've got the magic touch with laundry. Then there is the fact that I don't worry about him leaving because of what we have been through together. It would be very hard to find someone else, no matter how empathetic a soul, who could really understand how nervous and nauseous I get when I smell Big Red chewing gum, which is exactly like the smell of the floor cleaner they used in the hospital, or who could nod silently when Joerg curses the sight of the gorgeous Chicago skyline as we drive in for another checkup. An intimate conversation with anyone else seems impossible, without that major reference point - the intense fear and helplessness we felt together as we faced Anni's worst medical crises. And then Joerg pointed out that the fact that someone else would not understand those things might be exactly the draw, as many affairs are begun exactly to escape the pressures of family life. That's the thing about my husband - he can't help but be logical and reasonable in his conversation, even if it's really not what I want to hear at the moment. Sometimes I find that endearing, especially when I've already had one glass of wine. And the wine that we each had one glass of last night (and no more, lest we not be able to roll out of bed cheerfully at 6:30 when our bright sunshine morning girl comes to insist that the day can wait no longer) was exactly the Corsican wine that Joerg used to drink back in the days when he and Claudia lived together. The days when they motorcycled together across Europe to spend months lounging around on beaches in Greece. I insisted that Joerg choose a wine as we stood in the supermarket faced by all the unfamiliar choices, and he chose that one in honor of Claudia's visit. Wine and beer are pretty much the only things that are cheaper here than in the US, and they are both much cheaper here. Even the Californian wines are cheaper here. Joerg was curious to find out how his old wine tasted after all these years. He uncorked it and poured us both a glass. One tiny drink, and I could already feel the hangover begin. Joerg, generously, called it "dry." I called it "vinegary," less swayed by fond memories of downing bottle after bottle on warm beaches at night. I was surprised that this was the wine that would have become the "house wine," as he called it, of any house. But then we both remembered that in our younger days we scorned any wine that dared be even slightly sweet. Fruit notes and oak finishes were for wimps. It was probably the same impulse that drove us to late late nights and breakfasts consisting mainly of black tea and strong cigarettes. In any case, his memory of the wine was far better than his experience of it now. He (and I) have become people far different than we were just 10 or 12 short years ago. There's our marriage, and our kids, and the ever-present worry about Annika. We're the type of people now who seldom drink, in order to have more productive mornings and less snoring at night. Did snoring ever enter our conversation 10 years ago? Absolutely not. Joerg observed that it was funny to talk about us being "different people," referring to personality issues as is usual, since after 10 years it was probably also true on the molecular level, as well, as our cells died and new ones were created. I do believe that conversations with one glass of wine each are a good thing for us. And the visit with Claudia went well. She brought us organic asparagus and potatoes from a farmer she knows, and we had a glorious feast together, which dirtied nearly every pan in our small kitchen (yes, the lack of dishwasher has already lost its rustic appeal for me). She looks much the same as she did last time I saw her, which was 5 years ago. Watching Annika do a little dance to her beloved Kim Possible soundtrack kept my mind mainly off that fact. I am glad, though, that I covered my gray before we came.

8 Comments:

Blogger liz said...

Sounds like you folks have a great, healthy relationship. 2 kids and a year of hospital stress may have changed your body, but you've still got a great sense of whimsy!

5/15/2005 7:21 PM  
Blogger PPB said...

You are a good woman. I'm an insanely jealous woman who wouldn't let ex girlfriend within 3 counties of me. But YOU are a good woman.

5/15/2005 8:57 PM  
Blogger jo(e) said...

I think it's terrific that you are secure enough not to be the jealous type. I have not much patience with jealousy myself.

Hope any sickness passes quickly and the family stays in good health.

5/15/2005 9:26 PM  
Blogger Jay said...

Joerg needs to learn a more appropriate response to the affair question:

NEVER NEVER NEVER, NOT IN A MILLION YEARS, AND BESIDES, WHEN I HAVE YOU AT HOME, WHAT'S THE POINT?

I suggest all men write this down, and keep it in their wallets for frequent use.

5/16/2005 11:21 AM  
Blogger none said...

Hey, so glad to hear that Annie et all are holding up well.

Keeping up with exes can be a heikle* issue at the best of times.

But I too think it´s ok, as long as I can sence that there is no "spark" left; that I am included in the friendship and genuinely liked by the ex.


*www.quickdic.de (german/english dictionary)

5/16/2005 12:08 PM  
Blogger Phantom Scribbler said...

Oy. I tip my hat to you, Moreena. Not sure how I would handle dinner spent with an ex-girlfriend, but I doubt I would handle it with quite so much humor and grace.

Hoping you're all better soon, and you don't need to find a good lab on this trip.

5/16/2005 8:28 PM  
Blogger trisha said...

I love reading you, Morrena. Heavenly.

I wish you would write a book so I could wrap myself in your words for HOURS.

5/19/2005 10:01 AM  
Blogger Jessica said...

Morrena -

I, too, am friends with my husband's ex-girlfriend...the only other woman who has been a significant as me in his life. In fact, she was my maid of honor at our recent wedding (her dual connection and affection for myself and my husband made her the perfect choice in my opinion) - I blogged about her here: http://daughterofopinion.blogspot.com/2005/01/still-swingin-at-30.html

6/29/2005 10:17 AM  

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