Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Pie of Love

On the fourth day of each month, or sometimes on the sixth, I bake a pie.
Coring apples, I contemplate what these 30 days have given me. Peeling away the skins, I leave behind what is no longer needed. Thin slices of joy and heartache, I toss them in a bowl with sugar and lemon juice and wonder who might receive this simple gesture. Who do I know that needs a bit of kindness or a nice surprise? Who’s shown up and left my life a little sweeter? This process makes me calm and smiley.
The recipe I know by heart, but the spices change a bit with every person, every pie. I roll out the dough and press it into the waiting pan, an empty space to be filled. I fill the raw and waiting crust with the gooey mixture, topping it with pats of butter. As I lay the top crust over the mound of glistening fruit and pinch the edges together, all the love I have is sealed inside; the penance of Eve. I run a paring knife across the arch to gently slit the skin and brush on heavy cream. Then into the oven goes the Pie of Love and I wait for the smell of cinnamon, cardamom, and lemony apples to fill my home and bring the memory of my brother’s face. One of the few things he asked of me while he was on this earth was, “Hey Trace, when are you gonna make me one of your pies?” Now. Now I bake your favorite dish with all the love I can, and I deliver it to grateful friends, to family and neighbors, to lovers…haven’t given one to a stranger yet, perhaps because I want the pie tin back, but I probably should.
July will be my final pie, at least my final apple pie, as the year of grief comes to a close. But I might make pecan, I make a wicked chocolate pecan.
Thanks, Steve, for showing me so much about the simplicity of love. As you would say “It’s been a slice”.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Un-wife myself

After years of slow unraveling, my husband lost his mind and walked away from life, ours and his own. But that’s not the story here; that one will best be told on stage where the truths and dramas of real life belong.

Like so many others, a 180° turn: full-time actress/director/playwright & part-time Realtor® to the total opposite. and the real estate market was flipping right along side me in a synchronized (sink-or) swim. Raising two sons solo, I struggled with balance— three schedules, the mess to clean up and my sense of artistic and spiritual equilibrium. Yet in the space of radical change there is always a moment of clarity, where truth and possibility exist in equal measure.

Always been a fiercely independent woman; made my own money, strong of opinion, highly capable, blah, blah, blah. With all the inherent complexities of gender differences, I’ve always adored men. Hey, some of my best friends are…men, but I never knew I’d depended on so many of them to be and do so many things. It was only in the quiet of my overly hectic life that I discovered the peaceful ways my life had changed without one, constantly at hand or under foot.

I heard it when my friend, Jim, and I loaded kids, axe and rope into the Jeep and drove to the mountains to cut down our Christmas trees. We set off in different directions, Jim with a chainsaw, I with a handsaw, in search of the season’s perfect symbol.I was feeling pretty bad ass at the end of the day, proud of my tree and my Paul Bunyan skills and as we were tying our beautiful evergreens to the roof of his car, I heard it coming from my mouth: that tone. As we tossed the twine back and forth across the trees and the roof rack Jim and I were talking to each other with a sound I remembered like a school bell from my childhood; familiar but no longer a part of my life. That tone which carries the implied idiocy that comes when people have been together for a long time. Jim has been married to my dear friend Mary as long as I had been married to X, though theirs is a delightful partnership. I stopped myself and didn’t say a word the whole way home as I contemplated how far I’d come, how far I had to go. But that tone… it was so… strangled, I swore I never wanted to hear it in myself again. I would have to let go of all expectations, to unlearn in order to be open once more.

Human beings are in a state of constant change, some are quite profound. Occasionally a simple state of flux is turned into a drama when a simple bitch would do, but these are not big things. Big things are the things that rock us to the core and break us open. They ring in our ears, silence us and demand that we change. They bring us completely into the present, willing to surrender the heart once again. There is no other choice.
Oh, and X? He eventually regained consciousness and is off climbing mountains.
And so am I.