Oh Mondays… I hope yours is going better than mine. Now, back to our story.
This is part Seven of an eight part series. If you are just joining, it's best to start at the beginning.
"Day 4, the Morning
I had always been told that I possessed an aptitude for numbers and the sciences.
As a consequence of this, my parents had "nudged me" nurturingly in those directions from grade school to University. At first I found science and math extremely frivolous, but being young, impressionable, and supremely obedient to my parents, I was satisfied that their reassurance, was valid.
But it was always a thorn in my mind. The fascination for people, and events, and history. Thoughts of how it was possible for one to immerse themselves in a pattern language of numbers to spit out more numbers, and find that all consuming, when the average panel of experts could not explain why someone loved to paint, or run, or why they liked women with fiery red hair. I saw Mathematics, and science as a pair of sunglasses, advantageous in many ways, but dimming of the vibrant colors that were naturally there.
When I met J for the first time, it was, ironically, an "engineered" event. Scripted by my Aunt, who felt that I had had enough time associating with love starved international students, and drunken sorority girls. She met both J and her Father at a charity dinner and was immediately taken by her.
I believe J once told me years ago, that my aunt's exact words were, "You would be perfect for my nephew", at which point I immediately began researching my family's genealogy for the hidden Jewish "Yenta" infusion.
J's mother was raised in a small town in the Provence region of France, Aubignan. J's Father, a very successful antique dealer from Seville, in the Southern part of Spain. I remember often joking about why he hadn't instead become a Barber, but he never found that amusing. He was a powerful example of a man, intimidating, and yet you were never at a loss to know exactly where you stood in his eyes. There was a deep comfort and an honesty about that that I never failed to appreciate.
They had sent her to America to attend University, in an attempt to "bring her out" of her shell, as it seemed her Sister Erianna, according to them, had gathered to herself the lion's share of beauty, vivaciousness, sociability, and most importantly, ambition.
It was much easier for me to speak to J's Mother. She had a very quiet way of saying volumes in only a few sentences, and I always loved to hear her accent, which was subtly different from say, a Parisian. She was always so unflappable, so calm. At first I thought her lack of words reflected her level of approval of me as her daughter's suitor, but years later, in a quiet conversation, she confided that it was merely "quiet observation".
She laughed when my Father-in-law laughed, and was silent when he was enraged... It was odd and I felt a moderate degree of resentment that she didn't seem to feel a need or have an opportunity to imprint her own personality and opinions when she should have. Her emotional displays were so few and far between. The one time I saw her in one of the uncontrolled laughing fits that so many of us PRAY to have more often, was at the dinner table, when I was recounting to J's Sister meeting a notable person on a plane trip to Hawaii. In a sudden pause of silence in my story, I overheard her mother mutter something quietly to herself in French and when I paused again and asked J politely what she had said, J replied laughing,
"She said... 'more with less' "
At that point I remember her mother putting her hands to her mouth and at first I thought she was ill, but then realized in utter surprise she was laughing. J and Erianna looked at each other in shock and suddenly followed suit, bursting into loud laughter, as did several other guests, and then finally, me... I also remember that J's Father completely disapproved of the display and literally "sent" her away until she could "control herself". I don't think I've ever come so close to hitting someone at the dinner table as I did that night.
I had never seen her cry except at her husband's funeral, at which point I was certain she would collapse and follow J's Father in grief. Erianna seemed content to believe with her entire spirit that he was in a better place, while J was crushed for months and months after. It was a very difficult time. The variance in the ways they mourned becoming a major point of contention between the sisters.
I often theorized to myself that J had inherited all the internal traits of her parents. Their insightfulness, their philosophic reflective natures, their powers of observation, while Erianna embodied all of their most beautiful physical traits, and the parts of their personalities that were more "external" and suited to feeling comfortable in social situations.
To see the two sisters together at a family party was always extremely confusing. The one, demure, quiet, holding her glass with both hands, the only piece of jewelry visible being an impossibly small crucifix on a silver chain that her mother had given her as a child. The other, in a far too revealing ensemble for relatives, playing poker at the coffee table amidst a haze of cigarette and cigar smoke, a stack of chips in front of her hand next to a bourbon and soda, which she drank out of a wine glass. I always found that rather crass.
For all their differences though, they were extremely close, sharing experiences and laughter often, and a family bond that often amazed me with its strength. Even when they fought they seemed to be silently prefixing each of their angry verbal barbs with, "I Love you, but..."
"Are you going to work in the yard today?"
I turned and J was standing in the doorway... I had no idea how long she had been watching me. Still in her robe I saw the crucifix around her neck that was just moments before, vivid in my recollections.
"I'll clean up around the house first, it's windy outside, and I'd rather be in here..."
She smiled weakly, "And I thought to ask if she weren't feeling well, but she then turned suddenly and walked back over toward the back of the house.
I glanced out the window again where I had been standing for an indeterminate amount of time and I saw Gina had come around the corner of her backyard with the pool wand.
I watched her innocently as she placed the net on the end of the long pole, jiggled it slightly, and then dipped it across the surface in an attempt to extract what looked like a large maple leaf floating on the surface. After successfully trapping the debris she lifted the net out of the water, at which point it slipped off the shaft and sank to the bottom of the pool. The leaf broke into several smaller pieces and began floating in different directions, seemingly taunting her in her failure.
I stifled a laugh as she jumped up and down once and cried out some exasperated expletive. It was like watching a small child attempting a feat of major dexterity. I think her clumsiness was an important component of her charm, and I hoped she would never lose it. Except of course, while driving.
I walked the direction I saw J go, and found her in the breakfast room sitting in a chair with her feet in a patch of sun that lanced in thru the curved glass.
Standing behind her I began massaging her shoulders as she tilted her head back, looking up at me and smiling.
"Let's drive somewhere...", I offered
We had spent our honeymoon there, two weeks, in a small house called the "Sea Drum" overlooking the ocean. Of all the memories I had of that time, I often chided myself that the most powerful memory was how her parents were livid that we hadn't come instead to Seville, as her Father had already planned to have some epic social event to show off his daughter once again to his community of peers.
J had always loved Mendocino, I think because it was beautiful... and lonely.
"Can we take the bike? I'll put the pegs back on, it will only take a second...", I had to squelch my mischievous smile with great energy.
"Sure! Have fun! Call me when you get there", she replied as she slapped my leg with a furtive backhand motion.
"I'll get the car ready"
I only pretended not to hear what she said after that...
"...We can talk there"
The story is sounding more, and more impossible every word. The gang starts to sway heavily on the side of fiction.
"I suppose I could provide a convincing rant about truth being stranger than fiction, or maybe some emotional outburst wrapped in a clever choice of words that was no more than a refined version of the grade school exclamation "it's true! It's true!"
To be brutally honest, the original post that began the whole thread was nothing more than a funny confirmation of information I had read in postings about motorcycles, and women. I found it shockingly amusing that the outward signs of the phenomenon were being supported to the letter, and I thought it an interesting subject for discussion in the forum.
My life with J has been... extraordinary, as far as I'm concerned, both good, and bad, and despite the unrelated first post, I found pieces of that life appearing in the following posts. They had an almost cathartic effect I found with each tiny bit that I offered, As I have even in posts other than this thread...
Writing is a tool I use to "get my head on straight". When I see something I don't understand, I write it down, and it becomes easier to digest. Like a Venn Diagram... or my life.
But I've never possessed the talent or insight to create something convincing, from nothing... and writing, for me, has never been anything other than "This is what I think I saw..."; Whether it be a description of a squirrel eating a piece of fruit pulled from a tree in my backyard, seeing a Life Flight helicopter landing on the freeway to save a critically injured motorist... or my wife sitting in the car next to me, on the way north, trying to remember the words to a song she sang as a child.
I have no aspirations to be a writer, and in truth, I delete most of the things I write, with the exception of the journals I keep. They are precious to me in that I want J to have them after I'm gone."
You're almost to the finish line.