Lost Sanctuary

eagle sanctuary

They had been driving to the Eagle Sanctuary for the umpteenth time together. “Look at this!” she said, pulling out from under her legs a very long hair, much longer than her hair was. Driving, looking ahead, glancing over her way he said to her, “It’s gray.” That settled it. Had it been black. Or had it been red. Or had it been, like hers, yellow even. It was the length that got him. “It must belong to one of your gray-haired girlfriends,” she replied. Keeping it just as nonchalant as a driver behind a wheel must, with an aplomb of inflectionless indifference he answered, “I don’t date gray-haired women.” And that really settled it. It was over. But he was surprised later on at how slow he had been. What if that hair had actually been yellow? His wife had cut her hair to half its current length only six months prior. It was completely conceivable that clinging to the underside of the car’s front passenger seat where she almost always sat it had been hers, awaiting her pulling it out someday. What if it hadn’t actually been gray? Why hadn’t he just said, “It’s probably an old one of yours”? And ended it there. He hadn’t in fact been snooping or sleeping around, nor, for that matter had she.

But there come times in some relationships when the obscene, the irrelevant, and the inconclusive surface and take their demonic places in the forefront of our too, too human drama. These forces become like ancient characters, like actors who play them (instead of us) who once wore giant wooden masks over their heads bellowing out their lines on stage to an audience who knew exactly what was going to happen next, at each step of the ensuing tragedy already known, already unfolding before them. And the worst thing about such tragedy, even when it is exalted by the hero’s own self-knowledge at the end amidst the total ruin of everything else once loved and dear to him, is that the entire terrible story is completely known beforehand, before anybody sits down in their seats or the benches, and there’s nothing you can do about a terrible storyline that is already written. And little in human life is worse when, like these very actors on stage, we perform just like them in the arena of our own domestic lives the same, a performance now which, too, must also end, and yet it ends with the real destruction of everything about us that was once precious, dear itself, and cherished.

She, for her part, had wanted to spice things up between them. She had pulled out from one of her drawers, that had always been her drawers and not his drawers, and for years now he had not ever once gone into a single one of them, a little black book which she had long kept there. Once, some years prior, she had pulled it out of there before one evening. And he had commented to her, over her abridged edition of it, “I threw out a beautiful copy of the entire Kama Sutra one time,” and with that, her little popular Barnes & Noble edition had been put to the side. But here it was again. He flipped through the pages, saying nothing, as she, too, having placed it on their bedside table had not said anything about it to him. It was just there. He did not say to her, “Look at this!” over the shiny stains of oils or some lotion that had very long ago made the top corner of the black matte cover remain to this day glossy. But he knew also that just as he had not at first conceived that the blond hair under her car seat three months ago had been hers when they were driving out to see the eagles soaring as was their custom on Saturday, he knew in his mind like Hippolytus, but could not feel it in his heart, that her bringing back out again this little black book on lovemaking and intimacy was done so only out of her sincere effort to connect with him. He could not feel or imagine that, any more than she could have witnessed the long blond hair in their car when they were driving out to the sanctuary together as her own.

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