I feel safe at home. I like being among the familiar things that Jimmy and I bought together or fought about buying. I always won, of course and that's why they're here.
Photos can be painful and depending on the day I conciously avert my eyes as I pass by, but other days I'm able to hold up a picture very very close, often with a magnifying glass and search for any sign of disease or impending doom.
Like a jeweler with a loop checking a diamond for a flaw, I compare the pictures of Jimmy taken just months before to the ones a few years ago. I remember where we were and what we were doing and I close my eyes to visualize if he seemed tired or 'off'? but, wait...we danced and laughed and he was fine.
When I'm home I don't have to worry about running into someone. That's a big fear I have when I leave the house. I've considered putting a paper grocery bag over my head like 'the unknown comic' but decided that might attract extra attention. I entertain myself this way.
I'm uncomfortable seeing people from the neighborhood because there are many ways it could go and none of them are pleasant. It's not pleasant for me or or for the poor soul who had the bad timing to push her shopping cart into aisle 8 just as I am rolling mine in from the other end. Let's face it - A face off like that must be acknowledged. If I ran into me I know I'd be saying to myself, 'Damn. Did I really need those eggs?'
Running into me is a lose/lose situation. Here are a few possibilities:
1. They heard. They never sent a card or called and now they feel guilty. They
"I just heard two weeks ago. We were away. We would have been there. You know
that, don't you?"
I end up consoling them. "Of course. Please don't worry about it. We're friends."
(I'm thinking,'What the hell is her name, again?)
2. They don't know. "How's Jimmy?" is the first sign. Sometimes, I mumble and
move on...and sometimes I blurt out "-------------" This usually results in a
gasp followed by a very very long and suffocating hug. They search
their memory for the last time they saw him and look at me perplexed.
They demand details. They mean well. They're worried about their own husbands.
'Could this happen to Mike? I think he's actually a few years older than
Jimmy...' They ask Jimmy's age and when I tell them they gasp again.
So, this is why I've developed hermit tendencies. I stay home and sit on the couch sadly smirking as I look at the chair Jimmy told me not to buy because it was too expensive, the one he ended up sitting on all the time.
But, I do have to go out once in a while. One day, a few weeks ago,I was dog sitting for my next door neighbor and good friend's chocolate toy poodle, Marley.
Marley is used to be carried around Paris Hilton style by Brooke, his 22 year old Mommy. I had to do a few errands, bank, cleaners, etc. and when I got out his leash to take him along, Marley sat on my pocketbook to tell me that he wanted in. "Ohh, I said to Marley 'You're not that small. I'll go get an overnight bag for you.' So, I did.
Marley and me (like the book) shlepped around town and he was a very good boy content to stay in the bag with his chew toy. Wherever we went strangers saw his little wooley head sticking out and they ooohed and ahhhhed.
Our last stop was the card store. To get there I had to walk past a jewelry store where I go from time to time and have a great rapour with Sy, the owner. He's a man close to seventy who should belong to the Friars Club He's full of life and fun and we are always joking around. He complains that I hardly ever buy anything except a battery for my watch.
I see Sy is sitting outside his store on a park bench. I have to pass right by him. I know he doesn't know. How would he? I hesitate and begin to walk. Sy spots me, a bag over my shoulder, a little curly brown head sticking out and he shouts to me,
"Hey, is that your husband in the bag?"
I approached him and said, "Sy, you are going to be so sorry you asked me that." I told him and then I vowed never to leave the house again.