You know those fellers who are always saying ordinary, normal things to you – things that, on the surface, you can have no quarrel with – but you know there’s another meaning a few inches below; a meaning you dare not explore because it would change everything? You know them, right?
Well, I had a curious interaction with one the other day, when, making a delivery, it was quite apparent he’d just come from the beach or the gym. I watched through the curtains as he hurriedly (but blatantly) dressed himself, then went out and made a funny-sarcastic remark about my immunity, at which he laughed, and then he was gone about his business. A short while later, he sent me a text, saying, “A lot of people put up money in the bank and never get to spend it. Careful of the things you put up. Lol.”
It’s no laughing matter, really. As one who is still waiting on my CLICO and BAICO ships to come in, I knew, quite literally, what the feller meant. But I also knew what he meant metaphorically, Sisters; and it bears thinking about in these, the last days of a dying year, when our minds and hearts turn to New Year’s resolutions.
Nobody I know has ever resolved that, as of January 1, she is going to make her life worse. Unless she is anorexic, a woman doesn’t vow to get fat next year or quit the gym; a sister nearing 40 doesn’t plan to put off having her first child; a middle-ager doesn’t commit to not marrying her longtime boyfriend; and a broke-tail female doesn’t plan to max out yet another credit card. All resolutions are born out of hope; a hope that – despite the cold, hard state of things now; despite our experiences to the contrary – next year is going to be better. I made some myself when I was approaching age 35, and I honoured them all, with one extra thrown in. So I know that resolutions made can, indeed, be kept.
Now that I’m long past 35, however, I’m painfully aware there are some resolutions that, perhaps, ought not to be kept; some promises made to oneself – and, often, to others – that, maybe, ought to be broken. Because, as I look around and shake my head, I’m reaching the conclusion that there is far too much putting up going on; and, consequently, there are too many women out there who are unspent and whose assets will end up unclaimed and un-inherited.
Stop looking so puzzled, Sister. If I were to refer to that cabinet you’ve got standing like Kilimanjaro, crammed full of china, silver, and crystal that you never, ever, use; or that dresser drawer bulging with frothy nightgowns and lacy underwear whose secrets Victoria never get to reveal, you would understand. What you need to understand, as well, is that you, too, are being layered in bubble-wrap, tucked away, and left to gather dust. Isn’t your life more valuable than that…?
I know a number of women who have resolved to cut off, or close down, certain aspects of their lives. They remind me of those lines in Billy Joel’s Innocent Man: “Some people stay far away from the door if there’s a chance of it opening up/They hear a voice in the hall outside and hope that it just passes by/Some people live with the fear of a touch and the anger of having been a fool/They will not listen to anyone so nobody tells them a lie/…Some people say they will never believe another promise they hear in the dark/Because they only remember too well they heard somebody tell them before/Some people sleep all alone every night instead of taking a lover to bed/Some people feel that it’s easier to hate than to wait anymore….”
The song goes on to say, “I know you’re only protecting yourself” – from hurt, rejection, deception, or being used again – and, in most cases, I believe that is what retired-from-life sisters are doing. But all these are life, Girl! Just because you got fired from one job, you don’t stop looking for work, do you? And if your old car has given up the ghost, you just hop on the bus, like Gus, right! Right? Right?
… Aaah. I think that, that last question, is at the heart of many women’s retirement; and I believe it is what the feller at the top was implying. Far too many sisters are “putting up” themselves because they can’t “come down,” so to speak, to “that level.” And so they become one of their own fine possessions – watching TV alone, rather than going to the movies with somebody not their type; starting the laundry on Friday night; and cooking Sunday-dinner on Saturday night – because they’re much too good for “ordinary” use. They’re too “A” to take on the “B” feller; way too sophisticated for a man so local; just too-too uptown for that downtown guy….
Putting up in place of putting out: What negative resolutions! What hopeless resolutions! What a waste of a life, Sisters! In these past few weeks, as the national discussion has turned to serious illness and its debilitating or terminal consequences, shouldn’t we be resolving to start living life? Despite the circumstances of the shattering – divorce, separation, infidelity, betrayal – shouldn’t our resolution be to begin picking up the pieces and going forward? And if he, or he, or he, wasn’t “the one,” shouldn’t we have learned, by it, that there is no “one,” and resolve to move on to No. 2 or three or six? Why leave in the past the keys to your future?
Listen: A long time ago, a friend, coming back from a trip, brought me a beautiful candle shaped and scented like a rose. I placed it on a table in my living room, where it sat, admired, for several years. Then one day I took it up and realised that the colour had faded, the scent was gone, and it was just a piece of odd-shaped wax that had never lighted up my life or anyone else’s.
I lost the essence of that rose, Sisters, but I’m trying to pass on the lesson: In 2013, you be careful, and mindful, of what you choose to put up… .