Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Island Memories

In 1987 I was pregnant with Larry-O, and married to Mr. Mags. We were just five years out of college, still living in the Boston area (newly moved to a small house located roughly in the middle of the commuter rail tracks in Wellesley), still very close to all our college friends. Among these were G., newly returned from two tours in the Peace Corps (Liberia, where he managed to weather both a revolution and malaria) and on his way to medical school, and J., easily my best friend. Beginning in our junior year in college we tried every year to vacation with college friends... a week at the cape, three times, then a summer where it didn't happen, then a week's rental in the house above, on Peaks Island.

I was 6 months pregnant, very big and happy about it all. Mr. Mags was an attorney with a Boston firm, and I was nearing the end of my attempt at a singing career. With us in the house, in addition to G. and J., were another J. and his fiancee K., not members of the college crowd, but part of a law school cohort that briefly cropped up. The house we rented was beautiful and spare, overlooked Casco Bay with a view of the Portland lights at night, and the sound of clanging buoy bells wafting in through the windows on the crisp island breeze.

Having grown up at the shore, I naturally wanted to swim, but discovered that even my polar bear nature had its limits: one brief dip was enough to last me the week. But we did ride bikes, and we cooked together, and we played games (Pictionary and Scrabble were great favorites).

I think my marriage was happy then. That's what I think. But I'm not sure. We were both overjoyed to be welcoming He-Who-Would-Be-Larry-O. But I did have a persistent emotional theme that told me I didn't quite fit in as a wife at the Firm (no Tom Cruise overtones intended). I had ongoing issues with my mother, who loomed large as an influence and as someone to defy, escape from, but never entirely successfully. My memory of that week is sweet. I did fall off a bike while out for a ride with G., who begged me to never ever tell Mr. Mags lest his life be forfeit (as if he personally had pushed me off). As far as falls from bikes go it was singularly unspectacular: I fell from a complete standstill, my pregnancy girth throwing off my balance. Embarrassing and hilarious.

This week I sat with G., now a doctor and married with three small boys, and J., a single mom like me, with children who are slightly younger (E., 13, and P., 10). J. had heard all about the divorce... I had kept in better touch with her than with G. He heard much of it this week for the first time.

It was odd to spin that particular yarn with these old friends, who know the Ex as well as they know me. It was odd to hear J. look at Petra, smile and shake her head and say, "She looks so much like her father. She is so much like her father." It was odd but healing, too, I think. I find that the story of my divorce is not so fraught with fresh pain as it once was. I can talk about Ex with some compassion and some realism, instead of as a victim... which, truly, I don't believe I am/ was. Though I would have chosen other ways for things to happen and work out, I am truly happy today, perhaps happier than I have ever been.

Where the seeds of our marriage's demise present in that little gray shingled house? Perhaps. Can I be grateful for the years we had together, as I am grateful for my life exactly as it is today? Yeah, I think I can.


3ThingsI'veLost: said...

what a peaceful post! thanks for sharing; the house looks lovely.

Choralgirl said...

Funny, isn't it, how a new context--especially with people who "knew you when" changes your perspective on your present, isn't it?

We're going camping with L, my best friend from high school, and her husband & 2 girls this weekend. I like that she and Beloved know and like one another. Feels like coming full circle, somehow.