It’s five minutes of midnight. The Eels are singing, “End times are here,” in the minor key of missing someone; a quiet guitar, a lulling rolling repetition of five notes. “End times are here.” I unlock and open my door, letting in the cat, and before I turn to go in myself, I stand a moment under the stars, bright and crisp in a rare cloudless sky. “End times are here.” The minor key and the rolling guitar sound notes in my heart that a favorite Chris Isaak song once did, one of so many I once narrated my life by. Now I wonder as I look at the stars, will these songs ever speak to me the same? “She’s gone,” they sing. “End times are here.”
I’m not missing anyone tonight. What I am missing is the comfort of the ways I once used to measure out and narrate my life. “She’s gone; end times are here.” I had landmarks, places and times familiar to all who knew me, events I would narrate for new comers to my life, complete with markers for the passage of time and experience. “She is gone now and nowhere near. Seems like end times are near.”
I spent tonight with a new friend. As we spoke of our lives, hers with two divorces and one child, mine with one marriage and two step-kids, I could map out in the sound of our voices the landmarks we both worked to avoid. The pauses, the stops to look back over one shoulder and then forward again, the reversals followed by another approach; our conversation careened and lurched like a new driver learning how to parallel park. It wasn’t that we were uncomfortable with each other, just the opposite. Twin spirits, we connected immediately. But we are also women redefining our relationship with the past. “It could all be over at any old time. And I can hear it loud and clear. The world is ending and what do I care?”
I’m not navigating the first year after divorce nor the second and neither is my friend, and I don’t know her past, what topography she left behind with the old life, but I know mine. Mine is about time. “The world is ending and what do I care?” Each time I use the word “years,” I run smack into the curb: a demarcation line. How many years I was married. How old I was when we met. How many years since we split. How many years since my dearest friend’s death, which was probably the true end of my marriage, as opposed to the day we divided our worldly goods. How many years I was too ill to have anything resembling a life; how aged I became; how years later my therapist said, “You got sick to save your marriage.” How many years between my age and my husband’s; more now than when we met. How many years between me and my much younger (now ex)boyfriend. How old my step-kids are. And their kids. “I don’t feel nothing now, not even fear, now that end times are here.”
The minor key, the rolling guitar that rocks me gently, the sound of my heart, these are all I have in this moment. And these are all I want. “Seems like end times are here.”
What marks the end is this: I sold my wedding ring, which I created, but I needed the money. I sold my blues collection, the music of my heart, but all the songs belong to what I was. I gave away my collection of martini glasses. I still can’t believe I did that. I love the way glass reflects the light. I love the shape of the shallow chalice, the chill of the gin. I love the thrill of the thrift store hunt, finding the rare, the beautiful, the campy, the next pretty version of that shape that held my life. It hurts to no longer love the things I have always loved. The man is gone; he was gone long before I left, and I do not regret nor look back. But these things I thought were mine.
“It could all be over at any old time.
And I can hear it loud and clear.
The world is ending and what do I care?
She’s gone; end times are here.”