Tuesday, September 16, 2008

the rules for riding bikes

So Ike ripped Houston a new one and here inland we got a run of sweet, cool weather. Sorry, Houston. Way to take one for the team. It'll get hot again, one more time. We all know this. Summer will give us one more run for its money, but it's days are numbered and it's like a different world now.

At the laundromat yesterday people were smiling and holding the doors for each other and a girl no higher than my waist with pink overalls and a long french braid watched me over the counter while I folded clothes and asked me if I was a teenager, and then how old I was and if I had any children and if I did have any children would they be boys or girls and what would their names be? I was loving her for her deep, old eyes and her shy, slow smile. When her mother came and took her hand and told her it was time to go we waved goodbye for a long time.

On Saturday C. and I had a fight, a big one. Over nothing, over whether it is OK for one of us to cross the road without the other while we are bicycling, and then we were out in the yard yelling at each other for all the neighbors to hear and then I got back on my bike and rode away. All day the edges of the hurricane system were blowing over us -- scraps of clouds going unnaturally fast, long banks of gray hanging in the sky like the bellies of pigs. We never got a drop of rain.

On Friday I fired Josh. He doesn't do the things he says he'll do any more. When he told me at the last minute that he couldn't make the job we'd scheduled I felt the second of total calm I feel before I get furious and then I fired him in three short sentences that ended with "fucking unacceptable" and hanging up the phone. I don't know that I've ever ended a conversation like that in my life, ever. Not with Josh, not even when we were sleeping together. Before C. I wasn't really one to fight with lovers. Fighting isn't worth it unless there's something serious at stake. Sleeping arrangements aren't that serious.

The project is serious. I've worked too hard to get tripped up by someone else's sloppiness, I don't care who it is. I don't know what the matter is with Josh. I don't know if he's doing coke again or if he just thinks he can't fired because we used to fuck. It doesn't really matter why. I'd drive myself crazy if I let myself care. I'll never understand him any better than I'll ever understand myself. I feel quite cold about it, and relieved to feel that way. Not everything can be my problem.

I fight with C. because I'm serious. Because I can't leave him, won't leave him. Because we love each other so much that we're stuck with each other and so we have to make it work. No picking up stakes and moving on and finding someone else who won't zoom through a yellow light ahead of me and leave me stuck. I fight about stupid things, because I'm still learning. And maybe because there's something in the air, some kind of hurricane mojo, the freakishness of waiting for something to hit you that never hits you, because the day before they were telling us to buy bottled water and hunker down and now it isn't even raining.

I rode my bike through the dark, headed nowhere, turning right and left at random. For a while I felt pleasantly disconnected and free, but then it caught up with me -- the anger and the boredom and the loneliness. And I thought, if I were a man I would go to a strip club now. And I thought, no wonder they are such depressing places to be.

I stopped at a bar in a neighborhood a long way from mine and I had a beer and then C. called my phone and I answered and he said, "I'm sorry. We'll figure it out. We'll make a list of rules for riding bikes. We're smart people and it can't be this hard."

I say I'm sorry, too and I'll be home soon and C. says to take my time. I try to take my time but I can't wait, so I slam my beer and coast home in a happy haze. C. meets me at the door and we lie in bed for a long time without talking. Over and over again I think I hear rain, but it's only wind. And when we wake up all the clouds are gone.


Clever Monkey said...

My SO is convinced that once you start having those really bad arguments about the stupidest things that make no sense in the light of later days, you know the relationship is working.

I guess you aren't disagreeing on some fundamental differences that can never be resolved.

I'm hoping she's right. We once had an argument about whether the city enforcing those "broken windows" bylaws was classism or not.

Yeah, looking back, I don't understand it, either.

BTW, if I understand the question, it is safer to negotiate city streets in a group as cyclists, but each cyclist is technically a separate vehicle that should negotiate turns and crossings separately in a safe manner.

But I don't want to fight about it. Don't tell my SO.

Adam Sweet said...

I can't wait until you write your novel. I love the way you describe things. I enjoy reading everything. Please write more frequently

Anita said...

Grace, I love your writing. You write such that one can feel what you are feeling in their gut and heart. Atleast I do.

You and C will make it all the way. People are meant to be flawed and irrational sometimes. Esp at times like this. What you have is precious and protect it.

Keep the faith and May God bless you


Frank said...

"Because we love each other so much that we're stuck with each other and so we have to make it work."

That is so true.

Glad to hear Ike didn't get you. Miami is like Neo in the Matrix as far as hurricanes are concerned. We've been dodging bullets.

Rev. Brandy said...

Oh, my God. You moved me to tears.

The last three lines of your post pierced through my flesh and bones to my soul and won't let me go.

Thank you.

cosmiccowgirl said...

Nice post. I especially liked the end. I think you guys work out differences well and that makes all the difference.
BTW, yeah, we were hunkering down, too. But yes, we really got hit. Been talking about it on my blog, what kind of stuff at least us here in the Houston suburbs have been going through.
But I also know what it is like to be prepared for nothing, hello Rita, and how it raises stress levels that sometimes just need a release.

Hara said...

nice-good writing
good rhythm in this one.
Lovely piece about an adult woman coming into her own and taking no shit on her way.

Anonymous said...

You're not fighting about "nothing".

People tell you who they are by their actions.

People who know you're following them, yet plow ahead at a yellow light, are telling the world that they put themselves first--that their needs come first, to a degree THEY don't even realize at times. So they forget to factor in the needs/desires of the people closest to them.

This doesn't make them *bad* people. It just means they're possibly more self-centered than you would like them to be.

Use every example of your loved one's behaviors as a sign telling you WHO they are. Once you know who they are, where they're coming from, how they feel about life and their/your place in it, you'll know how best to communicate your needs to them.

You guys really love each other, so you need to REALLY understand each other. Which starts with understanding yourselves.

C needs to understand his own priorities, THEN he needs to understand yours. Then you guys can negotiate some commmon ground.

Never stop learning about yourselves and communicating what you learn with each other. If you do that, you'll probably make it as a couple.

Nice post, as always. Write on Grace...

xo ~ Casey

jj said...

Like a fortune cookie your "I fight with C." paragraph has struck an esoteric nerve.

What a beautiful glimpse into what my own woman may be thinking. How damning that my own commitment is so shallow by comparison.


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