My Bologna Has A Middle Name And It's 'Oxymoron'
There is a perfect storm brewing in my heart on this day of the examination of all feelings intense or otherwise, or better known as February 14th .
It is the day we reflect on what is most beloved in our lives.
And upon reflection I have decided my life is built on a series of foundation blocks made of oxymorons.
I am at the perfect age for the perfect storm powered by the great nor’easter of reflection. I am accepting of the term “middle aged” somewhat, and more so when applying the formula that fifty is then new forty. Since I won’t be retiring before the new sixty, I’ll have plenty of time to get used to it.
I have been married so long that we have gone through all the known anniversaries—oh I don’t mean paper, wood, metal (silver or gold—please!), I mean the ones where you envision your spouse being injured in some fiery crash and you cry all the way home from the grocery store, to the ones where you envision your spouse injured in a fiery crash and you plan what you will pack for your Tahitian vacation. But seriously, you do go to the outlier of extremes over the long course of marriage. The first year is about sex, being together, touching and holding. And about the tenth year, give or take a few years depending on variations involving children or in-laws, complexities of annoying habits modeled by your spouse, you really don’t think you can stomach looking at the face of the person you married the decade before. And then, magically or miraculously, you wake up one day, older, wiser, and that face is again dear to you. You still wince at the cutting of toenails at bedtime, the whistling of “Old Man River,” the proud wearing of a twenty year-old pair of jeans where said spouse repaired a blown-out knee with the rear pocket of another pair—as if a patella wallet will soon come in fashion. But it is a face you want to see until the end of time.
The storm brewing is from the fact that I have been a very active participant in life and now my cards have been shuffled, and although not a bad hand, it is a different hand, as if there has been a blending of two decks, and the feel and the size are a bit off.
I was a police officer, a sergeant, undercover for fifteen years. We were movers and shakers, and it was a bit of living on the edge. I retired earlier than expected, an injury when the definition and delineation between good guys and bad guys got blurry, and I settled in to family life at about the same time I couldn’t stand the way my spouse slept on his pillow at night.
This may or may not have been about the time I stopped sleeping at night, when I went back to school for something more marketable than a criminal justice decree, and got an MFA in creative nonfiction.
I created a bit Victor Frankensteinish my best work at 2 in the morning.
My husband slept, pillow askew, undisturbed.
My children thought we had bright nightlights.
I returned to the working world as an English Teacher. I evolved to Administration. I told my husband I hated whistling more than Do-Wop songs, canned spaghetti, and people who name their dogs “Duke”.
And now, as Journey told Steve Perry, my former colleagues, also now retired, have called to say, “We’re putting the Band back together.”
“Shroyer, Jimmy three-fingers, you and me.” My former partner told me. “A package consultant group—surveillance, technical, analytical, and field work. We have a battle brewing ‘in country’“.
I don’t have an answer for him. I need to think about it. I’m feeling a bit….
“What?” he asks. “You’re feeling a bit soft sitting in an office all day”?
“I hardly sit. I am running from one end of the school to the other.”
“Oh. Excuse me. You have to take Kleenex to wipe some noses, or have some detention notices to hand out.”
“It is hardly like that. That sounds like what I’m doing doesn’t make a difference.”
There is silence on the phone line.
“This isn’t Peter Pan,” I tell him, “Sometimes we have to grow up and move on.”
The silence seems to have white noise. Are you there I ask.
“I am. But I’m wondering if you are signing us up for AARP. Are you saying we’re getting too old for this?”
I don’t answer. I could tell him my knee makes a funny noise when I walk up the steps, that I drink tea every night, that I went to my first professional ballet last Friday night, that I like not having a mark where my 9mm rubbed my hip.
Instead I tell him, “I like knowing that basically the people I work for are all the good guys. I mean, they can make stupid decisions, but at the end of the day people don’t die.
I hear him move the phone away from his mouth. I ‘ve seen him pull it closer a hundred times when he wants to say something, but he has learned a thing called “diplomacy” or so he says.
“Most people would feel we represent the good guys.” I don’t answer and I know he didn’t expect me too. We never talk about it; we don’t mention names.
“But you’ll be available if we need back-up.” It is a statement and not a question.
“I’ve got your back.” I answer
“And I’ve got yours”.
It is our version of Sonny and Cher.
I close my eyes and tell myself Sonny and Cher never made it to the year where they started liking each other again. And then Sonny hit a tree.
There is a perfect storm brewing near my heart tonight, a sure connection to a chocolate valentine and cupids arrow.