Friday, April 03, 2009


April may be the cruelest month, but maybe it just seems that way this year because it comes after March. As a rule, I think March is far worse than April, but this year I spent March hopping around, even catching some sun before shuttling back for a week of winter on the plains before returning to the Big Woods. Spring ain't here yet, though, which may be what the whole "cruelest month" thing was all about in the first place.

There is nothing like a little sun fix just when you thought it was never really going to come back. The Goat has a motor-bike out in Vacationland, though it's too small for me ride with him--besides, my hair is no longer blond and it's way too short to toss about while shrieking, "Oh, my God!"

So he went out zooming around on his own while I weighed down a deck chair in the sun and devoured five or six books, which always improves my outlook on life. It helped that we drank a lot of good coffee, found a local source of good wine, and generally enjoyed the fruits of warmer climes, all of which tends to induce a feeling of extraordinary well-being. I even thought about warming up to coconut and pineapple, neither of which have ever been particular favorites of mine. Take my advice, choose a guy with a house in the south somewhere...

For a change, it was the Goat, and not me, who got sick this time, and it happened right before we took off for the Frozen Steppes. So we spent the two nights we had planned to spend careening around his old haunts in gay abandon holed up in our little apartment, instead, watching TV and sleeping a lot. Then we took off for the actual Great Plains and spent a wonderful week circulating among friends so close they are better than relatives. The member of the family who had given me the most grief about leaving my wife was otherwise engaged, and her runner-up had actually divorced her husband and moved out of the house if not out of town, thus neatly making life easier both for him and for everyone else who wanted to hang out with him. I did notice that some of the tension and chaos in the house which I had always associated with her presence seemed to have survived her departure, so at the very least I had done her an injustice.

But I have to say I still had a better time without her around.

Maybe it's just gender solidarity, but some women can't seem to see beyond the fact of my actions to why it might have been a good idea... or that I did what I did at immense cost... but then, who can blame them? They have their POV, and I have mine.

I got to spend time in town, time out in the country, bounce around from house to house with the Goat in tow, and generally have a good time. Everyone seemed to get along, and if we did occasionally visibly make an impression of being a pair of dizzy queens, no one seemed to care. The Goat was recovering, and I was too happy to care, myself. We managed to make it back to the Big City for some museum-hopping and general sight-seeing after all; we just didn't have our own little black leather wrapper to do it in... and the Goat went to visit my friends' father with me, which can't have been easy. The pater familias was the first of the family I got to know, and he is of a generation that can't see divorce being worth it for any reason [on some days I'm inclined to agree with him].

I realize looking back that a lot of my panic about the trip had nothing to do with the things I was fussing about, and everything to do with having to take the Goat to visit him, and not knowing how he would react. It was fine, if not an easy visit; my old friend was past caring about most things, but at least the involuntary physical contortions that had been the signal torture of his old age so far had abated--he seemed quite relaxed mentally as well as physically--and the Goat just went with the flow. The visit to the mother of the family was a little more fraught, as she has lost most of her marbles and, after asking over and over why we were traveling together and being told over and over that we were living together, only needed the word "divorce" to declare over and over how it wasn't her part to judge anyone else's actions; that went on for about fifteen minutes.

Then we cut our losses and left. It just goes to show you: it's never the things you worry about that wind up making life miserable--it's the things that catch you unawares.

The last night the family invited us out to a concert Lutheran enough to make Garrison Keillor smile, and I have to say the music was wonderful, though I did kind of wonder whether any music written after Bach's time had made out to their community... and by the way, why are 99% of all organists so clearly gay? Having run around with a borrowed umbrella much of the week, and having gotten it home every day without incident, I left it on my seat at the concert hall, and someone took it while I was helping my friends chat up the conductor and other friends of theirs in the chorus.

The flight back was uneventful, if rather more complicated than necessary. Sometimes I do wish I lived in a hub city so that we could go places without all the puddle-jumping and waiting between flights that seem to make up air travel as we know it these days. And if I'm ever offered another package of "mini-pretzels" as if it were more than a salt hit in a well-sealed air pocket, I'll bite somebody. That feeling should have worn off by the time I get on a plane again, which, barring a funeral, is unlikely to happen any time soon. We arrived at our destination on time, our bags made it only half an hour or so after we did, and the Goat got home in plenty of time for his early morning faculty meeting the next day.

So, all around, a good time was had by all. I hope you can all say the same of March, and here's hoping April isn't as bad as they say. Now if I can just knuckle down and make my brain focus on things like work, I'll be all set.

Hang in there, everybody.

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