©Shers Gallagher 2014
She had suffered a substantial loss while gaining something more elusive, and it felt odd to disclose that she had met the love of her life. But knowing was enough, and she never told anyone else. Yet, was it also enough to live life on a shoestring? Lydi was no longer used to such a life, though she had in her youth run away from home and experienced living rough for several years. This, however, was a long time ago and she was not quite sure how to live within her means anymore.
Lydi had also recently lost her house to a man she had once known as gentle and kind. When they met Jeff was a wisecracking teen with photographic memory that he used to beat everyone he knew at chess, including herself. Now he had turned on her and checkmated her out of her house by making a calculated move to sit on the unpaid mortgage till the bank foreclosed and they both lost out. His point, she gathered, was simply for her not to have any of it, no matter that he shot his own self in the foot. This was love gone wrong, love turned vengeful.
Lydi met Jeff on a summer’s day when the geese were still playing in the fields and he had stopped showing up for university courses, his youthful head crammed full of counter-culture propaganda about a cracked social system. And he announced to her and the near empty streets that he wanted to begin living life in parody. She, being a few years younger, thought he was nothing less than wonderful for wanting to drop out simply to kiss the sky. And this began their journey through philosophic hedonism with Lydi following Jeff, like sister to brother, in a childish sense that life goes on even when you’re youthful enough to ignore it. And it was this very delusion that caused their fall, which was not a great one because they had time and parents on their side. It wasn't long after that, including a bit of coaxing from the families, that the two got married, bought a house and had children of their own.
As the past they’d lived in parody began slipping by, so did the couple’s delusions. Clarity replaced obfuscation, and the two soon woke up to the fact that their lives merged really hadn't much in common at all. Jeff stumbled upon religion on his way to adulthood while Lydi found God in forested trails. He developed a thirst for success and drank on the side while she started colouring up her life with paints. Jeff dreamed of being somebody, while Lydi only wanted to capture on canvas illusions she couldn't hold onto while raising a family and working to finish a degree to generate more family income. When she found community theatre to be an enjoyable venue for her artistry in the form of set design, Jeff found sport and was gone most weekends racing with a local cycling team. The kids in most modern families are often ignored, but theirs they watched growing up together as they grew apart. To her credit, Lydi did try counselling. Jeff wasn't having any of it, however. He only mocked the latest psycho-babble, thinking himself too smart to succumb to that while slipping further into spirits that Lydi came to resent.
Life went on like this for quite some time, that is, till the day Jeff blacked out while driving and almost killed a public school girl riding home on her bicycle. This was when the marriage truly began to crumble and fade.
When Lydi graduated college, she went to work worrying only about the children who, in turn, played long hours with friends in the forested paths close to home. To her, they appeared happy and oblivious to the world of adult problems, which added to Lydi’s psychological entrapment. Life went on this way for quite awhile: working, worrying, ignoring, and not really liking living together anymore. And, yet, she stayed and stayed. Jeff stayed too. And Lydi stayed some more, that is, till the day she openly met Andy and Jeff secretly met Kim.
Now Lydi reached across a waxy pine-wood table to kiss the strong Scottish nose of her lover, Andy. They were sitting over coffee in a town café of her clarified years with Jeff, those years she had awakened to after their more playful days together. She thought of them all with a tinge of sadness, though only presently was she feeling some kind of peace. Thinking again: ‘What is so powerful about love?’ And it was a slow but pleasant burn of the heart when she had first caught sight of Andy while painting the set of a play he was, not acting in, but mixing the music for. ‘What is so powerful about love?’ She couldn't look away as he eyed her back, his smile catching hold.
That was two years ago, and they were there in town this day because of a botched child visitation. Her son Jamie’s birthday was planned to be spent with them, but a mix-up of lawyer dates and an ex-husband’s sabotage prevented Lydi from seeing him. Andy had purchased tickets to a baseball game that afternoon, but Jamie was off swimming with friends at a water theme park and unaware that they were coming to pick him up for the game. Lydi took this personally, cursing the ex and dumping the presents they’d brought with them at his door before leaving. She left before Jeff could see her cry. Only Andy had got an earful, which he sort of expected, knowing her frustration with the ex who, for all his self-pity, had moved in Kim shortly after the break-up.
“Games, games, and more games.”
“What was that?”
Lydi grimaced. “Sorry to drag you into all this. My ex does like his games. Only I don’t like it that he’s involving our kids.”
Andy nodded. “Rather low of him. But children are resilient. No worries.”
“Yes, I know. Still…they shouldn't have to go through this, all this crap with us.”
“And in a perfect world,” Andy said with a chuckle.
“Wishes would be horses,” she answered back.
At that moment, Lydi thought again that she had lost everything yet nothing, gaining instead an inner-connectedness. She no longer owned her own home but lived in a two-bedroom flat, working harder to split the expenses of teacher and musician. Only love had no price tag attached. ‘Yet, this is life worth living,’ thought Lydi. ‘All the rest is window dressing.’
The season was turning now and it would soon be time for life to travel inward toward its roots. Memories storing, leaves dropping and drifting while skirting sinking waters or falling to the ground and soon trampled underfoot…as all life in its season does.