Joseph had just exited Runnymede subway station, the wind was biting cold as was to be expected on a January day in Toronto. The commute from his office at Savage Goldstein and Law seemed to him, filled with women dressed in Canada Goose coats and those hideous rubber boots. He guessed that after paying for the incredibly overpriced coats, whose only redeeming quality was the badge emblazoned on the left arm announcing to the world, I possess enough wealth to purchase said coat,( but not quite enough for a decent pair of boots.) He ruminated on his own wardrobe, not a single corporate logo to be found. He lamented bitterly on the corporatization of our culture. As a copyright lawyer he understood the Borg like monolithic structure of the system. Resistance is futile.
The day before he had ordered a dozen long stem roses from a small independent florists that he passed on his way home. As he waited in line for his order his mind wondered to a phone call he received from his wife Ann that morning. “Hi dear.” “Joseph, don’t forget tonight is girls night at Jeanie’s and we need milk and bread.” “Ann you realize today is our anniversary?” Shit! I’ll call you back.” Ann called back twenty minutes later; “Joseph, I can’t get out of my date with the girls tonight but I can be home by ten. We’ll get together then.” “O.K. sweetheart, see you then.” “One door closes another opens. I can now watch the game and have sex later, just like ordering takeout.” They always had sex on their anniversaries, birthdays, Christmas, when Ann got back from Italy rejuvenated and Josephs’ mother stayed over.
Ann in all ways was a fairly typical wife and mother with one outstanding character trait; she possessed either courage or the inability to foresee the consequences of her actions. This character asset or flaw in many ways has defined her life. If she wanted something Ann would take tremendous risks without the benefit of a risk and reward analysis. An indication of a primitive operating system perhaps.
She was admonished by her father for how she dressed and behaved in her teenage years, then her husband when first married. Slowly the wilting disapproval from without and within inexorably replaced who she was with not pain, not pleasure, nothing. Like the schizophrenic on meds, not alive but not dead. The relentless suppression of her sexuality and her overriding need to express herself created two personalities. The inculcation of who she should be as time unfolded was devastating to her spirit. You can hide the human spirit but not destroy it. If hidden it will manifest and express itself in a different form.
Ann was working on her biography for posterity. Taping away on her laptop struggling to place in a two dimensional form her multi-dimensional life. It was proving more difficult than she thought possible. “I was a talented musician, beautiful, quick witted, daring, and fully engaged in the world in which I lived. My younger brother, not so engaged, seemed always to attract more attention and family resources. I didn’t so much feel inconsequential, more so lived it. This slight became a part of who I am, this ethos I carried into my marriage. This rendering I called “Preparation for motherhood and the back of the bus.” I slipped readily into the role of wife and mother having been prepared sufficiently.
For the last seven years Ann vacationed in Italy, ostensibly she had a keen interest in Roman architecture. Her solitary trips to Italy were a concession she wrestled from her husband of twenty seven years as a way of decompressing from the accumulating pressures of life. Ann was married at twenty-two and became pregnant for her first of three children in the third month of her marriage. She was and still is a devoted and loving mother, however being a mother and wife did not define her.
As the years passed it wasn’t the drudgery of diapers, anhydrous lanolin, teething aids, kindergarten concerts, and later the high school equivalent, but the loss of who she was before husband and children. The unseen and unspoken loneliness and longing she felt while firmly concealed within the heart of her family was difficult for her to understand. She was lonely for that part of her that somehow slowly evaporates in a woman as the realities and demands of being a wife, mother, and woman in todays world displaces the young, sexually curious, and vivacious girl that once was. This gradual yet ongoing loss of identity, never allowed her to be who she truly was in her later years.
Later that evening during dinner a conversation started between husband and wife, the conversation was endured more than enjoyed. “Are you planning your trip, Ann? “To be honest I haven’t given it much thought. My biography seems to be taking over all my spare time.” Ann replied. Joseph never ceased to be amused at Anns’ attempts to lie. She lacked the sophistication to do so convincingly, and when Ann did lie it sounded like cracked china. She always predicated a lie with “to be honest”. Ann had started planning for her next trip immediately after her previous trip was over. Joseph peered over his glasses, “So, how’s it going?” “What?” “The bio” “It’s a challenge Joseph.” He was reminiscing on how she projected herself in the early years of their relationship. After five minutes of silence Joseph asked. “Do you remember the Holiday Inn, the bottle of Black Label, and making love all weekend Ann?” “I do” The tone of her reply was abrupt, ending the sunny thoughts of the early times along with that line of conversation. She was not in the mood to indulge in a warm and fuzzy conversation on their past. Ann was thinking about her upcoming trip to Italy. Bologna for some shopping, then on to Ravenna for a few days, before following the Adriatic coast south to Brindisi. The meal was finished in silence except for the chink of cutlery on china, tea cup on saucer. Both left the table hungry.
Later that evening after the ritual of the evening meal was complete Ann went to her bedroom and Joseph to his study. Ann had e-mails to compose; she needed to touch base with the people she had formed relationships with in Italy on previous trips. Joseph had his reading; at the moment he was reading, Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham. He consumed literature to assuage his ravenous search for the truth about the world in which he lived and about himself. This was his lifelong passion and its spur was he couldn’t figure out if he was just innately curious about life or he was missing something important and desperately searching for it.
Joseph loved spring in the city within a forest, Toronto. He didn’t understand why Ann would choose this time of year to travel. “Ann shouldn’t you be packing?” “I have two days and you know how I pack.” “Will you be taking your one piece bathing suit or your two-piece?” “Didn’t you suggest some effort in the gym would go a long way, a while back?” “Yes dear but…” ‘Then my one piece black bathing suit it is.” Ann after twenty seven years could still be hurt by Josephs at times, lack of sensitivity. Ann decided to pack that evening.