My Beautiful Wickedness


One of the perils of hanging on to ephemera
June 26, 2008, 11:14 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

In my ongoing campaign to clean out all the drawers that have piles of old Christmas cards, phone numbers on post-it notes, and other evidences of a life too busy to really live it, I tackled the “phone drawer.” Here’s where I’ve stuffed paper goods, programs from children’s activities, invitations to parties that I haven’t gone to, scraps of paper, duplicate photos…. Unfortunately, I got an unexpected wallop from Christmas letters.

My dear friend from Iowa — historian, triathlete, track hall of famer, golden girl, married to an exceptional guy who was her high school sweetheart and star of his college tennis team, two great kids — is a terrific writer and sends me a Christmas letter each year that is brilliant, poignant, and honest. When we were in grad school, my husband and I always thought of these two people as in reality what people imagined the Kennedys to be. They were young, smart, well-read, good-looking. You liked being around them because they gave off that golden glow of happy well-grounded energy and Midwestern good sense.

Well, long story short — the couple that was the most blessed of us all, with love, affection, humor — just finalized their divorce. I don’t know what went off. I’m not crass enough to ask. But it seems just too damn unfair that Christmas letters last longer than the marriages that generated them. I try not to read too much into the words, try not to wonder if I missed some coded message they contained. If I had been a better friend and more supportive, could I have helped out? Or was there some structural defect, unforeseen and unseeable, a restlessness that never should have been placed in a double-harness?

All I know is that it makes me, with my totally average marriage, with my ups and downs, my dry spells and my good times, feel really vulnerable when the thoroughbreds go lame.

Moral of the story: throw out your Christmas cards promptly. You’ll pay for it otherwise.

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