Facebook has this cute little thing it does where it gives you your memories as soon as you log in, and the Advents of years past are almost enough to make me cry. First it was a status update about adding Advent information to Bridgeport’s web site, and both Susan and Diane leaving comments about how good it looked. Then, it was pictures of Dana and me several years in a row putting up our Christmas tree. And last but not least, this friggin’ hysterical story from last year:
Dana and I are putting up the Christmas tree. So far, there have been two times where I just could not even. The first was Dana struggling with the angel on the top of the tree. “Light up, BITCH!” Then, she dropped the light on the inside of the angel and said, “Son of a whorefucker!” Her dad was a Marine. I know you can’t tell. Actually, there were three times that doubled us over. The last was me saying, “yes, Mom. She really did say that.” Then Dana looked over at me and without even blinking did the Allyn “DANA!!!!!!!!!” Did I mention I could not even?
Christmas has always been important to Dana and me, jointly and severally. We’d both come from childhoods in which faith was very important. She’d been Episcopalian until she moved to Portland (and is now Episcopalian again). I’d jumped around several protestant denominations, but while Dana and I were together, we only attended three churches. In Portland, we divided our time between Bridgeport UCC and Trinity Episcopal Cathedral. In Houston, we found Epiphany because we’d passed it several times and knew it was in our neighborhood, but didn’t go in until my old trumpet teacher, Theresa, said she went there. After that, I didn’t want to go anywhere else.
We both loved it, but I jumped ship quickly when I realized it was Dana’s place to fall, not mine, but that isn’t the point of this story. The point is that…
Well, I’m not sure what the point is. Maybe that I am so angry, sad, depressed, and grieving that we don’t get to do Advent this year. We don’t get to do our “botionals” (my sister’s childhood word for “devotional”), and open one present the night before and all that stuff you do with your family… and by that, I mean Dana and me. Long before we moved to Houston, we had our own traditions.
One year, I got window crayons for Christmas, and so the next Advent, instead of buying a tree we just drew one on the sliding glass door to our patio and taped candy canes to it.
Other years, we went to Bob’z U-Cut and Dana gallantly cut us a spruce (or something, I don’t know my trees). Eventually, though, I realized that the allergies weren’t worth it, so the saying became “we don’t go to Bob’z U-Cut because we don’t want to live in Leslie’z U-Sneeze.”
There are so many things I would have done differently last Christmas if I’d known it was going to be our last one together. I would have spent less time in my office, and the memories of being shut up in there haunt me because I was so sad and lonely. I got out my horn and started playing Christmas carols, coming up with an obligato for this one. Dana was at handbells or something, and it was the first time in years that I actually felt my emotions coming through my horn. I’d forgotten how to do that in the years since I’d become a singer. I’m no Miles Davis or anything, but at times, my horn is a better extension of my mind than anything else.
So I’m sitting there, putting these emotions into music, not thinking of anything else. I should have been doing something, anything to change my frame of mind. Maybe putting on some gangsta rap and and getting it handled. I could have made myself happier.
I just didn’t.
Everything was drawing to a close, because by February, the marriage was really, really over. That Christmas, I was so lost in my own mind that I cut myself off from the rest of the world. Maybe sitting in my office playing Christmas carols was my way of letting things go. Who knows? In retrospect it seems like it could be true. But I also have the advantage of some distance from it now.
I just felt like even though there were people around me, I’d never felt so empty. Good writing came out of it, though. Last year, instead of doing a devotional by someone else, I wrote one for each Sunday:
And perhaps the blessing of this year is this- I am single, and yet, have never felt so surrounded by love.
Lit up, bitch!