I’m kinda weird. (Great going, Ken. Now, you’ve said it all! No need to write anything else!!)
When it comes to buying cards, the only thing I hate worse than buying them is not having one to give when someone gives me one. And so, here we are at Christmas.
“You didn’t buy me a Christmas card, did you?” I asked my beautiful wife the other night.
“Yes, and don’t freak out and think you have to buy me one just because I bought you one.”
Dammit. You think she’d know me by now.
So, today I drove on over to Target, hoping that my eternal love and devotion, my gratitude for how she’s stood by my side through all of this unemployment, my irritation at how difficult it is to find anything to say that she might find witty, the happiness that fills my heart when I think of how lucky I am to have Steve and Noriko and Mike and John and Rayna and so many others as in-laws, can all be summed up in a way that’s marketable enough for every shopper this holiday season.
You can probably imagine how long I stood there, reading card after card. You can probably imagine the dull hatred descending from my tired brow after reading pap after pablum. Every card for a wife assumes you met in elementary school. Every card for a “loved one” assumes you haven’t yet proposed. There’s no winning.
Then again, maybe it was me.
You see, Vicky and I have had some problems of late that I haven’t discussed in these parts. Rosa problems. (Forgive me for being redundant.)
A couple of weeks ago, before the attack, my sleep was disturbed for a couple of nights thanks to Rosa popping up in my dreams. Actually, she sort of just waltzed on to the set like an unwelcome groupie. I didn’t want her there but there she was.
We later found out that, right about that time, she was selling her home, the home she and I had shared together. (When I say “we”, oddly enough it was Vicky.) Not only did I find it strange that I was dreaming of her those nights but news of the sale also gave me a creepy feeling. After having several days to think of it, the only way I can describe it is as if you learned that someone moved your grave. (Take a minute. I’ll still be here.) Or, perhaps better still, it was as if someone sold Auchwitz.
Vicky didn’t get it and I didn’t do a great job helping her understand. Think about it from her perspective. Here I am dreaming about Rosa and then I’m shocked to hear she’s moved. It didn’t look good. And Vicky hit me with the worst thing she could think of – she went for the big one – and told me that Rosa was “the love of my life”. (My life. Not hers.)
And there’s no coming back from that, no way to defend yourself. I loved her; I can’t deny that. Losing her tore me apart. It was the end of my life as I knew it.
It’s a cheap shot and Vicky knows it. That’s why she saves it for the big whammy.
It’s cheap because Vicky knows the truth. She knows that, as much as losing Rosa was the end of my old life, Vicky is my life now. Rosa was the love of my old life but Vicky is my present and my future, the love of my life now and from now on (if I can help it). I hated losing Rosa but I’d never give up my life now for her and what I had then.
What Vicky probably doesn’t realize is that I know how horrible it would be to lose her and I don’t ever want to risk that. If losing Rosa tore me apart, losing Vicky would break me like cheap glass. I’d never recover. Vicky probably thinks that my years of obsession over Rosa mean more than my years of love with Vicky but nothing could be further from the truth. The thing that makes my love for Vicky more powerful is that I don’t need to work so hard for it, I don’t need to fight for it. Vicky makes me feel loved. In a time when everything is about to fall apart around us, Vicky makes me feel safe.
And how the hell do you find a card that says that?
You walk out and you tell her. That’s all.
You mean more to me than anything, Vicky La Celle. Merry Christmas.
(Then, I went to Hallmark. After all, I’m not crazy!)