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"One of us will make the move and dissolve this pernicious distance …"

Suddenly, a decade passed, ten successive years inhabiting alien territories knowing we would never belong there. Each place came with histories we appreciated without really understanding, for we were Just Visiting, not exactly in jail but in close enough proximity to remain insecurely out of the flow of the game. Other players bounced over and around us, going on with their transactional lives while we longingly watched, remembered, and some days dared to dream of our ParadiseMisplaced. We felt displaced but certainly capable of maintaining some semblance of normal activities of daily living. The Muse crafted a fresh career while I held fort, building a larder, dust mopping hardwood floors, and mowing somebody's else's lawns. The soil there seemed like some silly analogue of real dirt, clay or hardpan, rocky and rough. I improved each soil I touched knowing I would never see the future of any of it. We've spent the last decade Just Passing Through.

I seem to have become unemployable, unable to imagine myself surviving a job interview.
I've resisted retiring, preferring to work to produce something each day but long ago abandoning the idea that my work might be worth anything to anyone but The Muse and my sanity. I became a gifted loner, an apparent grandfather without grandkids around, adopting the neighbor kids who refer to me as Mister no matter how I might protest. We set up the stations of our cross everywhere we alight. The Muse's sewing room, my writing chair, her bathroom and mine, her workstation and my mostly avoided desk. My books, her houseplants. My yard, my garage, her dining room with dueling china cabinets. I stopped buying things years ago. She's still accumulating.

Behind all this foreground activity lay the prominent memory of the paradise we misplaced. We managed to retain ownership of the place, but have as yet not managed to reinhabit the space. The Muse makes the money and I make the best of the curious choices my life's brought me. The Muse works way too many hours and mostly prefers her life that way, lip-deep in some juicy pursuit. I work way too little as if preserving my energy for the hoped-for time when we regain our misplaced paradise. Once or twice each year, we revisit our paradise, maintaining or improving, tuckering ourselves out with effort which used to comprise our daily breadth but has narrowed considerably with our limited proximity. We hold hope as our St Christopher medal, dangling from our necks and ricocheting off our chests.

The Muse hummed our ParadiseMisplaced Anthem, THE INVISIBLE HUSBAND, as she pruned budding tree peonies beneath a bright Spring sun: If someone can get there, well, we're the ones who can; An Invisible Husband, his immutable dreamer, and one impossible plan. We've been living under the auspices of an impossible plan for a full decade now, a plan more notional than actual. We have no discrete milestones delineated, no formal timeline, it retains more mystery than elucidation. It's more notional than actual, a shared understanding but no less real for its many omissions. We know where we're headed and always have known. How we might manage to get there, an unimportant detail, subsumed to the clear superiority of the clear understanding that we're the ones who can, however invisible the husband might have become.

I spoke with my nurse practitioner yesterday, who seems to be laboring under the persistent misconception that some metabolic imbalance might explain my over-wintering euuni. She'd reviewed my blood work to find it unremarkable, and posed some hypotheses which to her mind might warrant further investigation. She finally admitted that the test results couldn't explain anything. "How are you feeling?" she asked. I replied that I was feeling terrific because I had lots to do here. I'd been pruning fruit trees all day and my shoulders felt like over-inflated basketballs. I was grunting whenever I stood up while playing an extended solo game of pick up sticks with fallen branches. I felt tired beyond belief and happier than a goddamned buttered clam on a bed of fresh linguini with a freshly chopped parsley garnish. I'd not been ill, but distant, suffering from no more than the normal invisibility anyone might feel when they'd misplaced their paradise.

Dreams are not insubstantial presences. They haunt us with truths we'd never sit still to hear. They whisper into unwilling ears hoping to make meaningful impressions. So much of so many lives exist in anticipation, focusing upon horizons not evident to any witness. We look like the neighbors we are but we understand how impermanent our presence remains. We live neither here nor there, but in in-between space with our personal ParadiseMisplaced. After a displaced decade, we feel the quickening. Probably not today and maybe not tomorrow, but sooner than later now, certainly not another decade will pass with our ParadiseMisplaced. One of us will make the move and dissolve this pernicious distance, maybe even this invisible husband.

©2019 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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