CHAPTER INTERLUDE SEVENTEEN
What Happens After “Happily Ever After”?
October 22, 2017
“Why do all the movies, televisions shows, other vids, and books, plays, operas, songs, poems...why do they all 'end' with the love declaration or revelation, the love realization, the first kiss, the marriage proposal or the wedding? Why do we not get to find out how that 'star-crossed' couple does together, after that point?”
I raise one hand to point all around us. I am walking around the ponds and pools, my favorite pathway on The Campus, with my friend, Angela Lopez, one of the few good friends I am still connected with who is alive and living close by. She is a Cubana Jewish-Catholic American with an irreverent, fiery spirit that matches my own. We laugh a lot together, which I sorely need.
“I mean, after all the rejecting partners' previous ambivalence, their wrong turns, their idiocy of not knowing their own hearts/minds, their persistently not 'seeing' what is right in front of them while relentlessly pursuing other—less suitable—lovers, how do the newly desired partners ever forgive them? How do they allow themselves to be vulnerable, to trust the heretofore recalcitrant ones? I don't know if I can.”
She stops walking, hits me lightly on the shoulder and laughs. “What do you mean? We do see them! They kill themselves or each other, usually by some horrible 'accident' or misunderstanding, or in some other way one of them dies! Especially on soap operas or in Nicholas' Sparks horrible books and movies: no one ever gets to be 'happy' for very long!”
“Right,” I say grumpily. “Or, they have children and then can't sleep together or communicate well for about ten years.”
She gives me a long look and continues. “You, on the other hand, are right on the money when you say you can't forgive or forget Epifanio's nonsense, nor should you. He is constantly disrespecting you, Clara. Move on!”
I point to the plumes of my friends' waterspouts. Angelina, my long-time dolphin friend, and some other Campus-dwelling cetaceans are swimming nearby and greeting us. I send back a greeting to them.
They spout even higher. We get splashed and I laugh. Angelina and a few other dolphins from her pod jump and fly over the water in response.
I love these pools for exactly these reasons. I send them my affection with an image of me swimming with them tonight.
“Really?” Angelina queries, justifiably skeptical of my commitment. I often cancel at the last minute.
“For sure, this time!” I say.
Angela laughs and wipes off her blouse. “How do you get them to do that?” she asks as we start walking again. “They must like you.”
“I don't 'get' them to do anything. They do what they want. We're having a conversation.” I explain.
“I don't hear you talking, though.” Angela looks at me. “You really do talk to them? You're not kidding? Where is your fish, then?” She looks around, pretends to open my purse (I don't carry one) and then empties my pockets. “How do you communicate with them without a translator thingie?”
“Telepathically, Angela. I know you know this.” I send to her: “¿Cuál es tu problema hoy, hermana?”
Angela gets a gleam in her eye and sends back to me: “Yo no tengo problema. ¡No más!”
Aloud, I answer: “Well, if you aren't having a 'problema,' then what is it with you and the obvious questions? I'm on an important topic, here: unhappily ever after! I need perspective!”
“I'm just messin' with you, Chica! ¡Relájese!” She both says and sends that last exhortation.
“I would love to relax, as you command, but I'm concerned. I try to timult my immediate love life and I keep coming up blank: no Epifanio, no Steve! No one. What's up with that?”
Angela walks over to our favorite bench, sits and pats the space next to her for me to join her.
She puts her arm around me and I lean into her. She's a lot taller and I find her hugs comforting and somewhat motherly, even though I'm ten years her senior. I sigh happily. “I'm so glad you are here today. Just what the doctor ordered.”
“You know I love to see you, any time, Clara. It's amazing that today, you have some time when I do: that's been hard to arrange.”
Angela laughs at my horrible attempt to speak as rappers speak. “Don't ever do that in public, CeeCee. It's an abomination.”
“What? A Buddhist, Jewish, white, bisexual, female of a certain age from the Midwest, former USA, can't be a rapper? Why ever not?”
“Don't quit your day job is all I'm sayin'.”
“Noted.” I sit up and half turn to face her. “But, I am serious. I know you don't timult and don't know about other timelines the way I do, but I talk to you about my romantic life, or lack thereof, in all of them. In fact, we have this or some other similar conversation quite often, so keep talking: you always help me!”
She shrugs. “'We' aim to please.”
“I don't hate being without a lover, but I don't like it, either. And, I miss Epifanio the most.”
“I have to admit, Clar, I don't know what you see in Fanio. He's not 'all that and a bag of chips,' you know. Merely a mortal man, one with many serious flaws, as we both know. Don't you deserve better? Like, some kind of superhero partner or something?” Angela stands up and mimes a tall figure, wearing a cape, then uses her hands to pretend to be flying off over the ponds. “Zoom. 'Up, up and away'!” She turns to me seriously and asks: “You can fly, right?”
“No, Angela. Not the way you mean. I can teleport, but it's not visible. I can levitate a little, but that is not so useful, practically speaking. It's more hopping around on one's ass than flying. Not so fun.”
She sits back down and looks at me askance.
I explain: “Levitation is a 'stepping-stone Skill': it's not valuable except for training for other Skills.”
She settles back on the bench looking disappointed.
“And, stop distracting me. No, I don't need or 'deserve' a 'superhero' for a lover. I'm not 'all that and a bag of chips,' either....”
“Oh, yes, you are, Clara. I wish you could know that. For real.” Angela regards me somewhat sadly. “You don't see yourself clearly.”
I shrug, spreading my hands to show I have nothing to counter that.
“No one is perfect; fine. But, you... you... You're better than Fanio. He knows it. I know it. Many know it. I bet all your cetacean friends know it! That's probably why...”
“No. Don't say it. Don't say 'he doesn't want you.' I can't bear to hear it.”
“I would never say that, Clara. I am saying he isn't 'up' for you, in more ways than one, if you catch my drift.” Angela pokes me with her elbow. “Verdad?”
“The whales catch that drift, Angela! Even your namesake is spouting at you for being too obvious, again!”
We both watch as Angelina and her friends spout and jump.
Dimples and Stripes jump over and over each other, getting closer to our bench. I point to them, tell Angela their names, then send: “This is Angela. Remember?”
“She's funny.” Stripes responds.
“Not so funny,” I say aloud and send.
“What's 'not so funny'?” Angela demands.
“You are funny, according to Stripes. I disagree.”
“I am pretty damned funny and you know it, Clara. That's why you keep me around.” Angela pretends to pout.
I reach over and pretend to slap her pouty cheek. “You are dissin' the Chief. How is that 'funny'?”
“This 'Chief' needs some dissin', true dat!”
“Oy!” I say, protesting her use of the rappers' slang.
“Don't 'oy' me, Chica. I can get away with it. I'm Latina!”
“Whatever,” I say, aiming for sounding like a surly urban tween and almost succeeding.
Angela laughs. “You're better at that, 'fer shure'!”
“I get why you don't consider Fanio a good match for me. Sometimes, I do. I really do.”
Angela glares at me sideways as I amend my statement.
“In some timelines, I do.”
“So?” she demands. “Then what? Why are you in whiny mode today?”
“The Transition is almost over and I'm still partnerless. In every 'line I timult, if I stay single through the next year or so, there's 'nothing but turtles all the way down' for me.”
“Where are you going with that Yertle, the Turtle stuff, now Clara? Dr Seuss? Really?”
“You understand precisely where I'm 'going,' Angela: exactly nowhere,” I say gloomily.
Angela sits up to face me more squarely. That means she's serious. I watch her face carefully to prepare myself for what's coming, deliberately not reading her in any other way. Angela is one of the few friends I can count on for honesty and I need some today. I take a deep breath and open.
“Clara. You know I love you.”
“I say the rest of this with a lot of love.”
I nod. Tears are welling up already.
“Get over yourself!” She shouts this and waves her arms around near my face to emphasize the point. “You're over 60. You're the Chief of the friggin' WORLD. You could have anyone, any time, practically order up anyone to visit you and hang out. Instead, you're sitting here on a poolside bench with little ole' me. Why? Because we 'click.' So, if you and Fanio or Steve or whomever don't 'click,' MOVE ON! Get some new bodies over here. Go off-planet. Teleport somewhere beautiful and hang out by a beach that is actually a beach! Put out pheromones saying 'available' and watch what happens.”
I start to protest, but she runs right through my words.
“Your problem is that you give off 'taken' everywhere you go, so anyone even remotely interested won't come near you. Believe me; I know.”
“How do you 'know'?”
“I vet and invite several potentials, women and men, to visit you, encounter you at gatherings, all that. They tell me they flirt, come on, everything they can short of accosting you. What do you think happens?”
“What 'potentials'? I never notice anyone....”
“Exactly. You 'never notice.' They report back that you are welcoming nada, bupkis, zip, zero times. They get no 'interested' vibes from you. A few of them are smokin' hot, too, or right up your alley in many ways: smart, funny, fascinating; even a few meditators. Right ages and other demographics, too. I know your list. I send good ones!”
“You send me meditators? You are the best, Angela!”
“Doesn't matter: You are impregnable, Clara. You're so wrapped up in Epifanio you may as well put on a chastity belt or take nun's vows and be done with it all!”
“I do consider becoming a Buddhist nun in several 'lines. No joke,” I mutter.
“I DON'T WANT TO HEAR THAT!” Angela jumps up and starts toward the water. She picks up a rock and skips it. “See this rock? This rock makes more of a splash when it comes into a room containing eligible lovers than you do!”
I can't help it. I laugh.
Then, I cry.
Angela comes back over to sit down and hug me, again.
“Take away my feminist card. I shouldn't care so much about that damned man, but I do. I suck at relationships.”
“Don't we all! I get pregnant by a cute guy with a car who is actually twenty-three—an actual adult predator—when I'm 15. I pick another loser alcoholic ten years later. And so on. Finally, I get a somewhat good guy, but he's depressed and out of work most of the time. Even though he knows I'm a recovering addict, he keeps drinking and smoking pot in front of me, to 'cheer himself up.' Gotta kick him to the curb soon, too. Don't ask me for relationship advice, Clara. Blind leading the blind.”
I wipe away the tears and ask: “Then, what good are you?”
“I love you. That's the 'good' I do!” Angela tips my chin up so I can see her smile.
I look at her. “What kind of love?” I say suspiciously, only half-joking.
“Get over yourself, Dopey. We're sistas, not lovas.”
She laughs and holds up two fingers. “How many?”
“That's how many times you get to come on to me and mean it before I smack you. That's one.”
“I don't mean it! That one doesn't count.”
“That's two.” She smacks my upper arm. Hard.
“Ow! No hitting!”
“Do it again and it'll be your face!”
I sense my personal OSes approaching and I send to them: “Stand down. We're only playing.”
“I don't 'do it' in the first place, Angela! You're mi hermana otra!”
“Sí. I am your other sister. Don't you forget it. I don't have one, so you're my only sister. Stay that way!”
“I do. I do!”
“If you're serious about wanting a woman instead of a man right now, I can adjust the potentials I put in your path. Are you?”
“I don't know whom or what I want, except Epifanio. Sometimes I want Steve, but only when I'm with him. Mostly, I'm bonded to Fanio. That's my entire problem, in a nutshell. My romantic life is a disaster.”
Dimples and Stripes are jumping and blowing near us again. “Yes?” I respond.
Stripes sends me an image of myself laughing and touching the arm of someone whose face I can't see. A man, though. Interesting. “Who is it, Stripes? Where is he?”
Dimples leaps straight up and sends: “Nearby. Soon. Here.” She sends me a rapid series of other images, some quite graphic, involving our being naked and having a lot of interaction together, this unknown male and I.
“Wow! What fun! Thanks!” I send to them both.
I stand up. “Time to go, Angela.”
“What are they telling you, Clara? I can't understand them by 'pathing and I don't have my fish, but I know you can hear them well.”
“That I am bound for glory, Angela. Bound for glory. 'Soon. Nearby. Here'! They're better than any fortune cookie for giving me hope.”
“Really? Excellent!” She takes my arm and we stroll back down the path to my place. “Tell me more.”
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