Typically when things are awry in my life, I turn inward. The extrovert fades to a shadow and the circle of my life becomes more compact, more hug-like. Creativity grinds to a halt, at least the kinds that want connection with others, like my writing and photography.

You see, I’m living alone again. And it’s fine, but it’s different from not living alone. There is still a “together”, but there is obviously also a reason we’re living apart. The relationship is changing, morphing somehow, but the details haven’t revealed themselves yet. No idea how long this will last, no idea where it will lead. I know I’ve grown; this ambiguity would never have been okay with me even a year ago.

But that’s on my to-do list and his, and no one else’s. This morning, though, on Day Two, I realized I hadn’t danced with the dog in a very long time. So I put on Rhapsody and sang “You’re the First, My Last, My Everything,” with the helpful cover of Barry White’s voice, to Thomas. He got excited at first (Thomas, not Barry), and howled a little, until I pulled out the iPad to take video of this event. I was hoping to catch his responding howl when I ask him “We really got our thing together, don’t we?” (yowwwww!) I’m afraid this shattered the moment, and he decamped to the couch and stared at me, sullenly. I would’ve snapped his photo, but it seemed inappropriate somehow. But this is his trademark contemptuous stare. It’s all over the blog.

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I’m concerned he may be hip to my appropriation of his image in my creative work. I expect union activity at any moment.

So back to the other thing. I believe that behind most of the things we struggle against are opportunities to learn about life, and ourselves, if only we would stop thrashing for three seconds and hear the messages that bubble up. Saying that, however, doesn’t magically convey the ability to do it, unfortunately, and I’m not strong enough to do it in just any context. So this is space, this is aloneness. It’s my attempt to calm my inner toddler, to quiet the scene a little bit, to bring some reality home, and listen to it. I have a feeling there are messages coming that I won’t want to hear, about myself, about life, about the realities of relationships. There might be easier messages, too, but those don’t tend to be the ones we shut out.

I’ve said before that I believe that life is a kind of peeling of the onion, a slow revelation of self. I still believe that. But I have to admit that it’s a really big fucking onion.

But during the peeling, there will be Barry White. And a dog.

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8 thoughts on “Today in Barry White, unraveling onions, and sullen dogs

  1. Ah yes, another opportunity for growth. The therapist I went to after my divorce refers to those as an AFGE — Another F’ing Growing Experience. It always cracked me up to hear this sweet, soft-spoken Christian lady drop a big F-bomb.

    Wishing you joy and for things to turn out the way they’re supposed to.

      1. I’ve been contemplating a phoenix tattoo for many, many years for that reason. However, now, I may instead get a big fat AFGE tattooed on me.

  2. “I’m not strong enough to do it in just any context”

    Just for the record, it’s perfectly normal and acceptable to have certain needs to be able to stop thrashing and listen. A sense of safety, for example, which is accomplished in different ways by different people. I don’t think it’s a matter of strength and I don’t think anybody can “do it in just any context.” The strength is in being willing to try to find the circumstances you need so you can stop thrashing. Don’t question your strength — you have an abundance.

    1. I didn’t mean “I don’t have the strength” in a pejorative sense, just a realistic one. I don’t, in fact, have the strength to do it any context. That’s okay. I’m not questioning my strength. 🙂 I take your point, though.

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