The children are in college. My husband has vamoosed to the Far East.
For twenty-two years I have longed for this moment, the moment when I would be left completely, magically, ecstatically alone, when I would not have to cook, clean or talk to humans, field questions about where all the clean underwear in the home had vanished, lose a lung screaming about yet another cell phone thrashing about in the week’s load of laundry, or jump to my son’s rescue after he forgot to take his lunch to school for the tenth time in the month.
For eons I have waited for this still air in my home, for the ultimate nihility, for the Laputan moment so I could finally write. But now that my Shangri-la is here I cannot put pen to paper.
Billions of bilious blue blistering barnacles in a home that feels like a morgue in the tundra! Won’t someone, anyone, make me a margarita—with a gallon of tequila—so I can find my Nirvana?
The nirvana I seek is the generic variety, the kind you may be able to buy at CVS Pharmacy if a drug store would only sell some. Nirvana, it is said, is the state of being free from pain and suffering. The word, literally, means “blown out,” as in a candle, and refers, in the Buddhist context, to “the imperturbable stillness of mind after the fires of desire, aversion, and delusion have been finally extinguished.” No, I’m not seeking that ultimate enlightenment, the profound peace of mind acquired with liberation of the senses. I’m not asking for that. In Hindu philosophy, nirvana is the union with the Supreme Being. No, one union is enough for me, thank you very much. I’m not begging for that either. I call the above the Saks Fifth Avenue variety of nirvana, the kind for which I must give up all my wicked thoughts about George Clooney or my ticket to watch the Chippendale men. See how much that stuff costs? It costs dearly.
All I ask for is for a certain blissful state that will allow me to write. My home doesn’t do that for me. In my home office in Saratoga, I’m away from pests, children, and all family members. But I have so much quiet that the silence is disquieting. All I can think of is what still needs to be done around the house and in my life. I have no peace of mind.
The mailman smiles when he catches my eye through the window. But why does he so often give me my neighbor’s mail? The electrician—who visits without his tools although he does not forget his business card—drops by to survey the damage. Then he doesn’t drop by for weeks. Between my writing and editing, I must remember to send him three emails and follow up with a call about those emails before he will arrive at my doorstep again. My landscape architect, Jose, has a few to-dos pending from the time he overhauled my yard two years ago. Every time we talk, I realize how he and I have the same dreams for my yard, dreams my husband has no idea I dream. Jose and I hang out by the patio, look out at the yard and talk about the figs that are fruiting and the citrus-scented flowers that are just peeping before the kumquats rear their orange heads. While he and I are out fawning over the backyard, my husband is sitting in our living room, gushing over the photo of the same backyard on Facebook.
I want to give Jose a piece of my mind. Dude, where’s my epoxy painting of the wall you said you’d get done while I was away in India? Where’s my Chinese style wooden garden bridge you promised to throw in for free? Where’s my replacement pomegranate tree from the nursery? Why don’t my persimmons look chubby, like a Simmons mattress? Two whole summers have gone by and the avocado has yet to bear fruit. I cannot bear the barrenness of it all anymore than I can bear the glint of Jose’s golden tooth.
In the meanwhile, the weekly gardener, who arrives on Thursdays at 9.30 A.M., mows the front and back yards in exactly 3.382 minutes and leaves weeds and dead leaves exactly where he found them. The day he brings the monthly invoice he shows me how busy he is on a regular basis. “See? So many weeds,” he says with a gap-toothed smile, pointing to the crabgrass in his left hand. “I put fertilizer today. Okay?” I’m not sure if Rico is informing me that he has already applied fertilizer or whether he’s suggesting that he will sprinkle those fertilizer pellets if I remember to hand over the monthly check. Whether or not Rico is using the past or present tense, he is one more reason that I’m tense about the remainder of my life.
My husband has since returned from Beijing. He reminds me that he and I are alone again after twenty-two years and that maybe we should live it up before we are older and grayer.
I’m trying hard to find romance once again with the man with whom I’ve had two children and a lot of happy times. But just last night when we were in bed he says, “Hey, I can’t sleep. Is a light on in the family room?”
I open the blinds just a little to see if the light is indeed on in the family room across from our bedroom. And there, from out in the blue night sky, the full moon beams at me, flashing its light on my face, its effulgence bursting with promises of a honeymoon late in my life.
I turn to my partner in bed. Oh yes, the moon’s high over our heads. But the honey’s snoring softly, dreaming about connecting with old girlfriends on Facebook and LinkedIn.
Nirvana? Heck, not yet. Just pour the tequila.