July 30, 2007

The Kindness of Strangers

By Harley

You may have noticed, you who are TLC regulars, that I've been AWOL of late. Here’s why: last month, my husband of nearly ten years came home from work and told me he wanted a divorce.

I was . . . surprised.

I won’t bore you with the details, as I’ve been doing that to Sarah, Nancy, Elaine, Michele, Margie, and Rebecca the Bookseller several times a day and night, waking them from sleep or interrupting their writing to cry, “And ANOTHER thing—” Let’s just say when you think you’re living in a Jane Austen novel and discover it’s actually the Jerry Springer Show, it can be disheartening. I’ve lost a little of my joie-de-vivre. As has the entire household, including the dogs.

On the plus side, several times a day people stop me dead in my tracks with their kindness, compassion, and generosity of spirit.

There’s a New York City cab driver praying to Lord Rama on my family’s behalf, and a guy who gives out samples at Costco giving me the thumb’s up. There are Buddhists chanting, Christians praying, and Jewish friends handing me rugalah and telling me to eat. People I’ve never pegged as particularly wise, much less clairvoyant, will say to me, “it’s all going to be okay” and I clutch them and say, “Really?” like they’ve got insider information.

I’m letting the kids eat double desserts and watch extra TV. I don’t necessarily think this is a good idea, but everything’s relative.

I’m finding comfort in clichés. Like, One Day at A Time. And This Too Shall Pass, and When A Door Closes, Bash Through The Walls With A Sledgehammer, the kind of thing my mother and grandmother would tell me, if they were around. The other day, I heard a fabulous one. It was from the trailer of ROCKY # WHATEVER. It goes like this:

“It’s not how hard you can punch. It’s how many punches you can take and still keep moving forward.”

That one struck me like the voice of God channeled through Sylvester Stallone. (Did it make me run out and rent the movie? No.)

Speaking of movies, for weeks I couldn’t watch them. Now I can, but there are rules: no romantic comedies. Whatever I watch has to be dark. I can watch CASINO ROYALE, where Blond Bond no longer strikes me as Sexy Bond, only Sad Bond. UNITED 93? Perfect. A film called HIGH CRIMES because it’s all about murder, secrecy and betrayal. Give me a movie about people surviving horrible things, or even people not surviving things, but going down with some degree of courage. THE INTERPRETER, where both Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn cry, is just my speed. SYRIANA, THE CLEARING, 21 GRAMS. Love gone bad, heartache, grief . . . that’s entertainment!

I can’t read entire books, but I can read chapters. The night this happened, I started Robert Crais’s THE WATCHMAN, because I knew if anyone could get me through the night, it was Joe Pike. Now I read a little of this, a little of that, the poetry of Rilke, the prose of Paula Poundstone, the vampires of Charlaine Harris.

One thing I can’t read yet is the acknowledgment page of my new book, coming out August 7 (called—strangely enough—DEAD EX).

One day, I’ll be on the other side of this. Meanwhile, if you’re so inclined, please send bad clichés, depressing movies, recipes—whatever got you through one of the Top 3 Worst Things That Ever Happened in your own life. I love you guys.

Happy Monday!


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