When your own father leaves you after 31 years of being a prominent figure in your life, everything inside of you, every childhood memory, every vacation and promise, all of your moral sense of values and of yourself becomes an illusion.Reality becomes awareness that nothing is real and you are constantly on edge, waiting for the next illusion to crash and fall, and grief begins to pound you like bread dough, only to be tossed in the air, and where you land is no longer a question you even address, because in the dark, you don’t even care.
My father leaving addressed all the men in my life before him, like a card deck shuffled and placed before me.
It is a shock to your system that every one of them were illusions as well, being played out just to prepare you for this moment, that they were symbols of what would come, leading you down the path to what would finally become the crash, or in cards, the Trump card.
So, when nothing is real and you have been trumped, how do you play the game anymore?
How do you reconcile the other hand? How do you win and what kind of prize comes out of card games?
Is love real?
In becoming a very brave or very naive woman I am, to discover if love really exists, I have coped by being a Master of Symbols.
Like a record over and over in my head, I hear my brother saying, “Katie, watch what a man DOES, not what he SAYS.”
And, the symbols have not failed me yet.
So, there is this man I have been wondering about, a man I don’t know, but do. He has been presented by my favorite friend all propped up on a silver platter of perfection, which instantly puts me on guard. When I first met him, I was aware that all the symbols matched up to my friend’s words, but somehow, I was missing the big picture. I knew he had to be somebody to everybody and I knew he was in love, but not with me.
Knowing this, I sat back and watched.
The Universe set up a party and I arrived at his house only with the knowledge that it was a party for my friend and this girl, the one I knew he loved who had just recently ended their relationship.
How strange that when I arrived, it was just her, in the kitchen, at the stove.
I found her to be authentic and beautiful in her energy, which was very solid and almost queenlike, filling up the entire home, and just in the way she opened and shut the drawers and cabinets, there was no mistaking her authority to be there.
I watched her outside of myself, wanting to capture her in the moment of who she really was, and as a woman who loves women, did not want to pass judgment, but discernment in my curiosity of how she actually is, not how others have presented her.
She was polite, asking me to stir the pas ta, bringing up a mutual friend, chatting about this and that, moving in and out in a graceful way, kissing friends as they arrived, having her wine filled without even noticing.
Her charm is unmistakable and eccentric, drawing you in. While we conversed, I was handed a baby, an adorable baby, who I rocked in that familiar motherly way on my hips, when the moment came.
It may not seem big to you, but to a woman forced to face illusions falling all around you, it was everything. I rocked, she pushed back her hair, put her hand on her hip, the fridge door opened, a frown on her flawless lips. I rocked.
She was dialing the phone.
“Your in line?” she asked.
“I understand that sweetie, but there is no organic butter. Land of Lakes is what you have, not organic.” Sigh.
“How is the pasta to be cooked without organic butter?” Louder sigh.
I rocked and listened.
“Sweetie, four hours is a lot of errands but AGAIN, why can’t you just pick up the organic butter?” Pause.
As the conversation continues, I look around me, still rocking my hips, with the perfect baby, and I feel the people come in and see their reactions, one by one.
I see the table laid out with sushi so delicious and fresh that everyone can hardly believe, each one commenting with genuine surprise and joy.
I see the laughter of th e couple talking about the perfect suede couch and hardwood floors, obviously cleaned, with the growing chatter of the men especially, announcing the Sweetwater keg, and pointing to the cups, giving a shout out for the bonfire and the drums.
I see the craft in the dishes and glasses placed out and I wonder how this could be?
How could a man barely on speaking terms go to such links to be not here to enjoy it, but still running errands and for what? I started to pull for him.
“Don’t do it, my friend.” At this point, I had somehow become invested in the butter discussion.
She ended the phone call and looked at me, asking where my good friend could be. Like the Tigger he is, he bounced over and she said calmly.
“He will not pick up Organic Butter and he is already in the grocery line.”
She says it like he killed her cat.
“YES,” I thought. “YES, yes, YES!”
I asked her about olive oil or sending Tigger out for a run to Kroger, but this was not the problem as I suspected. I pointed out the delicious food, the beauty of her pasta, and even told her we could lie and say ORGANIC butter, and no one would know.
She shook her head, not really angry as much defeated.
When I saw him enter his own home, I saw how tired he was, how much work he had done for the love of two people, but even in the love of sacrifice, he never picked up the butter. That was the symbol I was waiting for.
Nothing had been enough and I knew this was conscious to him.
And yet, in the end, by not agreeing to the butter, he valued himself. I wanted to tell him, but instead, I ate the pasta with the Land of Lakes butter, and in spite of all her noise, it was everyone’s favorite part.
“Oh my GOD, the red head said beside me, “It just MELTS in your mouth, doesn’t it?” I savored that moment as I savored the taste of that pasta along with the wonder if it was not the Organic Butter that was real, but the man who refused to buy it.