This short, 3 page story or observation is along the same lines as the mis-conceptions in “The Writer”. This in no way says I’m against divorce; many times I feel it is absolutely necessary, even got one of those myself. But, having lived my long years and watched and known couples who’ve stuck through the bad times, the hard times and come through to old age much happier and content with their spouse; I have to say, divorce is many times a mistaken quick-fix to anger and disappointments within the union. I’ve heard friends say… “I should’ve stayed with my first wife/husband, but it’s too late now, he/she’s happy with the new wife/husband.” What about the children? Are they happy with the new husband/wife?
There is a line in the 1939 movie, “The Women” (Screenplay by Anita Loos from the play by Clare Booth Luce) as the elderly mother gently tries to talk her daughter out of divorcing her husband… “Just remember, it’s being together at the end that matters.” Also a great line, “Listen to your mother. Remember, dear I was a married woman before you were born.”
I wrote this in 2008 and it still applies.
THE WINDOW OVER MY DESK
By F.J. Wilson
I can look out of my window, across my desk with its bits of clutter, reflections of my daily life, and imagine what goes on in the house across the street. The winter light gives it a lovely feel this morning, partly hidden by the tall Pines; Crepe Myrtle and Elm. In a peaceful venue, it backs off the road into a shelter of shrubbery and shadow. It has a large picture window which teases to what’s inside; the life, the secrets.
Are there children with hopes and dreams, growing to adulthood with fond memories of today? Are there good things cooking on the stove, and school lunches lying in wait for little hands to grab and run? Is there a sleepy bath robed mother waiting at the kitchen sink, mug of coffee in hand wondering what in her life has brought her to this time and place. Is she standing stoically next to cereal bowls and plastic glasses, smelling of old Kool-Aid and chocolate milk? Maybe.
The father is he in the shower, preparing for another day of work and rat race, looking forward to the week-end and the camping trip planned? Is he the love of her life, or has she strayed? Has he? Do they think of it? Does he still think of her as his baby? Does she still feel safe and loved in his arms? Are there college accounts in a bank, set up for the future? Is there money for groceries; are they behind on the mortgage? Does she overspend to make up for the lack in her life? Does he? Where is the lack in her life, was it caused by him, was his caused by her?
Do they still dance to soft music in the glow of the lights from the Christmas Tree? Pretty packages bringing hope for futures with plenty. Their private moment, expressing itself in tender embraces and deep kisses, there, in the Christmas lights before the day and the little ones awake. Their children and their noise and clatter, bringing another joy between the two, a different love, a conspiratorial joy; parents have for their children?
But, looking again at the house across the street. Is there a Father? Is this one of the new generation families where the man of the house has had to set up accommodations elsewhere, due to irreconcilable differences? Is there really a difference that is truly irreconcilable, or is it another lawyer term for “My client’s mad as hell at the bastard for not being the person she thought he should be, and she will not take this anymore”? If so, was his sin so bad he was banished from his family, and home? Did he not remember dates, important things in her life he didn’t take time to touch? Little sins that built sin by sin until the pile was so large, she couldn’t vacuum around or over and so she stopped loving? Could he not hear her pain when she spoke? Did she speak it, or expect him to guess it? Was he too busy making a living for his family rather than bringing flowers? Was she so demanding of him and his affections that he couldn’t keep up and so stopped loving? Are the things between these two adults and their need for perfect love so important they’d sacrifice their children and the happy home that is theirs by right of birth? Was he a violent man, with power to hurt or destroy, his being expelled from his home, more safety than want?
Where are the rules that challenge the expulsion from house and home, of one spouse by another? Why can it be done so easily when so many are to suffer from the choice?
Is there a Mother? Is she on a mission other than the one with her home and family? She’s allowed now, to find another way, to desert the home and challenge the working place, to answer needs not recognized before the first or second child. Where are the rules for her? Where are the old rules, rules lived by our grandmothers that say, ‘children’s home and happiness first’? When did it become, “Mother’s not going to be last, anymore; I deserve to be first.” The most important rule; you’ve created life, now see it through for the good of the lives you’ve created, has been sacrificed; has been cast aside for greener pastures by one or the other of the parents because they didn’t try harder to make it work and because they think leaving will make them happier. Are the people in that house so sophisticated that they’ve convinced themselves of the over stated words… “the kids understand, kids are so resilient…” ? Is the house I watch this morning without a heart?
Ah, here he comes, out of the front door. There she is, looking like morning in a tired world, he kisses her, not a husband leaving for work peck, but a deep lover’s kiss. He grabs her behind and pulls her close, knee between her thighs; she looks around to see if there are watchers, then giggles and kisses him again, the kiss of the married couple the morning after good sex, not had in a while. The kids come running and laughing out of the house and get in the back of their Dad’s car with their school books.
Loving people, bonded together, against a new and hostile world of families gone awry, live in the house across the street from my window. The question, “is it good for the individual instead of good for the family?” is not welcomed in the house across the street. In the house across the street, the good of the family comes first to make it good for the individual.
I go back to my writing and stop invading their world, knowing there is still hope for the family in this neighborhood at least.
Oh, look, the house to my left has left the empty garbage can out all night. Is there a reason? Is someone too weary or angry or happy to drag it back to its place behind the garage? What is the life in that house?
Sometimes it is so hard just to sit at my desk, mind my own business and write.