It’s Memorial Day weekend.
For six years, the rhythm of my life was utterly determined by major holiday weekends because that’s when the crowds would converge on Cannery Row and the Little Store, and we made lots of $$$$$$.
It’s very odd that that part of my life is now more than a decade in the past. It seemed so all-enveloping when I was doing it, I thought it was impossible I might ever do something else. Monterey! With its morning fogs, and its beautiful beaches, and its quaint adobes—Monterey is built on granite bedrock, so unlike other Spanish colonial settlements in California, its 19th century Spanish buildings mostly survived.
My favorite was the Cooper Molera adobe, which sat on the other side of a Trader Joe parking lot:
Cooper Molera’s kitchen garden was still intact with its fruit trees, and its well, and its old outdoor oven, and its Lady Banks roses in yellow and pink. Chickens waddled about! There were picnic tables. I used to take RTT to hang out there when he was a wee thing. He squealed over a small flock of very shaggy and well-behaved sheep that politely nibbled munchies out of his hand.
I suppose Monterey is my Manderley. Except that I never dream of it, hardly ever allow myself to even think about it.
I know I could never set foot in the place again without weeping hysterically. Three years ago, when Max and I drove up from Tustin to Santa Cruz, I made him take a detour so we wouldn’t have to drive through it.
He rolled his eyes and told me I was nuts.
But he humored me.
I suppose one of the reasons why I have so much sympathy for the millions of people who’ve lost their livelihoods in the recessionary pandemic fallout is because of what happened to me in 2008/2009 when I lost the Little Store.
I was hardly unique in losing a business.
Millions of other small business owners went under in 2008/2009.
But I felt as though it was a matter of personal shame. I had tried my hardest, and it hadn’t been good enough. And I had made bad, emotional decisions as the business started to go under.
And no one had my back.
The ensuing five years were truly awful.
But then I came out on the other side.
Financially solvent! Psychologically intact!
If I’m no longer capable of that wild unfettered joy I used to be able to feel, I’m no longer capable, either, of plunging into despair. My emotions use a more muted palette these days, and most of the time, I am… content.
Content is neither happy nor sad. It’s an equilibrium.
Like BB always sez: Lower highs! But higher lows!
Anyway, I could not bring myself to talk to John last night because… Monterey!
And on the enormous list of Shit I Really Must Do—If Not Today, Then in the Next Few Days, there is that letter I want to write to RTT.
Which is also… Monterey!
Because his father’s birthday is coming up, and Ben is very entangled with my memories of Monterey.
I don’t much care about Ben’s birthday myself, but I know RTT will, and I want to offer him some kind of proactive consolation.
Though what positive things can I possibly think of to say about Ben?
When I think of Ben now, all I can see is how enormously he disliked me: that time he snarled at me and kicked me out of his hospital room in full view of all the grieving relatives plus the anointed Girlfriend.
(“I have no particular interest in being here, either,” I told him. “I came because Robin specifically asked me to.”)
Or the time when he’d been furloughed from the hospital and RTT asked me to track him by phone because RTT had to work, and Ben picked up the phone and growled, “It’s always the wrong time for you to call,” and hung up.
(Though to be fair, he called me back a few minutes later and left a sniveling apology. I still have the voicemail.)
I didn’t deserve to be disliked. Except for one time, I was always pretty standup in my dealings with Ben, and he had that one time coming.
In the final analysis, deathbed declarations or no, I suppose Ben saw me as a kind of easy mark and didn’t really love me.
That’s a hard thing to think.
We were married for 17 years, after all.
But the conclusion is unavoidable. Crossposted from Dreamwidth.