Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Thinking About Elizabeth Edwards

I'm the most rational person I know. THE most logical, literal and scientific person I know.  At the age of 4, I declared myself an atheist. I conducted scientific experiments to that effect; I blew out the Chanukah candles and when nothing happened and God didn't strike me down as I'd been told would happen, I knew someone had to be lying. 
As for the Santa story, no one I knew even lived in a house, much less one that had a fireplace so I presumed that story was null and void in modern times.  I never heard how Santa managed to visit apartment house kids, although for a while I harbored some strange theories regarding incinerator chutes.  I got into frequent fights with my English teachers in high school because I refused to capitalize “god” in my essays. I thought of “god” as a concept, an idea, ideology perhaps, but not a proper noun. 

But then, I have my moments of fear and superstition.  

Whenever I board an airplane I must touch the outside of the plane; the painted, riveted metal that meets the frigid air at 30,000 feet.  I’m not sure why or how that compulsion came about, but it’s my way of somehow ensuring my safety.

I also have this bottle.

It's a bottle of cheap champagne from the year 2000. It was tacky.  Boldly emblazoned in glitter all over the bottle are multiple 2000’s.  The millennium was supposed to be a big deal. I bought the champagne for a New Year's Eve party that my “ex” and I were to attend.
I can't recall if we forgot to bring the bottle to the party or if we took it there and forgot to open it.

Nevertheless, I still have this bottle.

It was only a few weeks after that party that I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was a short time afterwards I discovered that the “ex” was cheating on me -- with the same woman who threw the party. The remainder of the millennium, for me, was an amalgam of physical and emotional misery, acute sickness, pain, chemotherapy and loss.

I imagine that over the years, thanks to fear and superstition, I managed to associate the worst of my suffering with that bottle.  

Fear and superstition being what they are, I held on to it.  

Since those dark days I’ve climbed mountains, run marathons, triathlons -- done more than I would have ever dreamed.  It sounds clich√© but it’s true.  What I had thought was the end of the world was just the opportunity for a new start. It was hard to see at the time, but looking back I can say that cancer served to filter all the trash from my life and it left behind only the treasure. 

It's been over 10 years.  I have a great life now. I'm a completely new person yet here I am still dragging this old bottle of champagne around.

I'm in a quandary about what to do with it.

Somehow I have come to believe, that all the memories of betrayal, cancer, pain, sickness and the wretchedness of my life from that entire year are now stored in that bottle... which leads to my dilemma.

I've become afraid to open it, afraid to drink it, afraid to dump it out and throw it away. I've considered smashing it. Still it sits there. I am terrified that any action I take will somehow unleash all of the suffering my fear and superstition placed in there. 

Ridiculous superstition for someone like me, I know, but there it sits. It's an annoyance that it's still with me; such a strange artifact.  I’ve probably bubble-wrapped, packed and moved the damned thing 6 or 7 times.  I have got to do something about it. It can't just sit there forever.

I have a conversation out loud with myself because I have to focus.  Slowly and methodically I force the logic out.  I tell myself the bottle is sealed.  It has never been opened, there's no way I could have actually put anything in there. There is champagne in that bottle, not memories.

Champagne is for celebrating. 

I ask myself why it is customary to open a bottle of champagne on New Year's Eve. Hope perhaps? Hope for a successful future and to bid farewell to the past all at once. That's what champagne is for.  
It's been 10 years, I'm still alive and I think I finally know what to do with that damned bottle.

Mimosas, anyone?

It's the only rational thing to do.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful post.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful post.

vicinbama said...

'Blow it out' this New Year. Mismosas for everyone!

ehowton said...

Wonderful, wonderful story! I myself was never able to "place my burdens on the tree outside the house" before walking in unencumbered, then again, my work is often closely integrated with my life.


I love seeing both sides of you and your ability to lead us down the path you took. Very entertaining read as well!


Laurie Freeman-Gibb said...

Part of me says keep it why tempt the fates, the rest says (the researcher side) seriously there is no connection between it and what will happen to you. So alas I am no help to you. What ever you choose is right for you. :)

Gandalf said...

The power of the Bottle is too strong for you to master. It has slowly corrupted every bearer, as it corrupted your ex, and will in time inevitably corrupt you. Do not succumb to temptation! The Bottle is a scourge upon Mankind, and it must be obliterated from Middle Earth. It can only be destroyed by throwing it into the pit of Mount Doom, the source of volcanic glass from which the Bottle was forged during the Second Age, deep in the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie. Go forth immediately. It may already be too late.

If you're not in a position to undertake the pilgrimage, I can arrange a party of mercenaries to act as your agents for a very reasonable fee.

Sauron said...

Don't listen to Gandalf. He's been P.O.'d ever since Saruman put him on double secret probation for entering into an inappropriate relationship with an underage Wookiee. The Bottle is Precious. The most appropriate container for its nectar is Yourself. One sip is better than the a bite of the Apple. Better than three gulps from the Hippocrene. Don't let some pointy-hatted old geezer deprive you of your birthright. Drink!