Mirage 2: Le Petit Mort

In theory Lauren is dedicated to her book and to writing for this blog. In practice she gave it up weeks ago. The former hedonistic cougar is home bound, mothering her little ones, sick with worry and about to get dumped. When it rains it pours.

all photos by Brassai

 

Sunday September 21, 2014

Dear Elliot,

It was somewhere between the pasta pesto and the apple crumble in a restaurant at the boulevard. I never visit the boulevard, it’s further away than my regular hang-outs, but I took my long lost writer-friend Kay for a walk along the shore and suggested we’d try the strip of restaurants overviewing the water. It turned out to be a terrific choice; dignified, affordable and wine by the bottle. Fresh food blended with old stories as he remembered the first time we had seen each other informally. It was quite a while after I had given up running. He had been my trainer. We bumped into each other in a bookstore.
“You pointed out a new book from Henry,” Kay remembered. “It was a diary, named after the year it covered. And some tagline about how it had been such a terrific year. You were disgusted. Said you could never read a book with that title. Your father died that year.”

Henry’s diary! I had always assumed that I had missed it all those years ago, struggling to keep my job and dealing with the sudden loss of my father. But I had not missed it; I had revolted against it. Time must have healed me…. In 2013 I happily picked up the diary and sent Henry a note how much I liked it, pretty brutally confessing I had not read him in over a decade. “I have no idea why I dropped out,” I wondered, clearly without any recollection that he had been my arch enemy. “The diary is your best book to date.”
Kay’s anecdote of how we became friends (we exchanged the book store for somewhere with alcohol) provided a vital piece of my personal history. Suddenly I could connect the dots on me and Henry and explain the unsettling ten year gap in between.

Despite the exuberant night with Kay I feel lifeless today, katerig. This Dutch word for hangover literally means tomcat, and it is applicable to grogginess caused by too much booze, too little sleep, or the rude awakening after a one-night stand. I had neither but still felt very tomcat. Physically I am fine. I picked up yoga today with brutal enthusiasm, cleaned the yoga studio and rearranged classes so that I have the weekends off this fall. And still I have an unsatisfactory feeling about this weekend, haunted by a never ending to-do list. The reason is threefold.

Willem. My big cat has been ill for three months. The underlying cause of his returning bowel parasite has been found, and it should be a treatable condition. But the initial meds were rejected by him and I m now waiting for the alternative to arrive. Three months of lingering around the house, waiting for him to feel better before I can pick my life back up, and can ask friends to babysit. It’s exhausting.

Snails. To save Willem from being relentlessly exposed to parasite eggs, I need to de-snail the garden. At the VET they give you this brochure with extreme hygiene rules for your house, yet the garden is only briefly mentioned (“Throw away bowls and other objects that collect rain water”). How is disinfecting the kitty litter box going to help if every blade of grass and every flock of the moss between their toes contains three generations of larvae? I was on their tail once I saw the snails eating Willem’s feces and these are snails that get premium food like cucumber and apple peel from me. They voluntarily ate his diarrhea. Willem is on his fourth infection now, this course of meds ends Wednesday. By that time I need to have evacuated most of the snails. But I hate it. I keep their stress (and mine) to a minimum by collecting merely for 10 or 15 minutes, and then immediately transport them to the forest, but the container packed with snails still reminds me of genocide.

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Apotheosis. Yesterday I discussed my blog with Kay, and that I m choosing French titles for Mirage.
“I hardly write, too occupied with Willem. But I do have a worst case scenario title. If he dies I can use Le petit est mort.”
The little one has died. It is a reference to the expression Le petit mort. Kay said that even in Dutch they call an orgasm the small death. And that he understood why.
“Post-orgasm can be this big disillusion,” he explained. Ah, the infamous disillusion. “You lose all your energy. I mean for a man of course.”
Years ago I discovered older men suffer from this relapse. In their 20′s a man may get tired but he won’t shut you out, nor is he suddenly ashamed of what he has done. Taking post-sex rejections pretty seriously I made the shift to dating younger.
“It must be your age,” I commented ruthlessly. “Maybe some residue of Christian upbringing.”
I never bought into that wasted energy excuse for suddenly feeling disgusted after sex. My orgasms can be so intense and my fantasies are by any standard disgusting, yet afterwards I fall asleep happy and satisfied. Kay and me reminisced, remembered, and everything was as good as it used to be. Rebounding from my date with Kay I am fully capable of feeling petit mort for an entire Sunday.

Kay has a troubled relationship, but one in which he sees beauty. Also in a literary sense. He writes about her, his peculiar girlfriend, who is his opposite and probably embodies everything he never looked for in a woman. He acknowledges that she is perfect for him, that her unconventional personality is exactly what he needs.
And it threw me back to Rutger. It has been over a week now, we barely talk. I explained to Kay that I wished Rutger would be like that, that Rutger would see that I am perfect for him.
“He’s mourning what we can’t have. I can’t be in his life like the others.” I explained. We are seperated by two continents, two children and two cats. “He’s looking for a real relationship.” And look how that turned out. Every time I thought of Rutger I was biting my tongue.
Last weekend he had offended me, practically denying we were more than friends; “We’ve been in a relationship for 23 years. Just we don’t relate like man and woman.”
In Dutch the words for husband and man, woman and wife, are identical. Maybe he meant that we would never marry, which is cruel enough by itself. But it felt as if I wasn’t relationship material. That I had merely stuck around long enough to have sex with at some point.

It was the kind of insult that inflicted a small death and that could evolve into ten years of silence. Minimum.

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