Once In A Lifetime

Kathie GibboneyBy Kathie Gibboney

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Once In A Lifetime
The peace of a Topanga Saturday morning is disrupted as I hear the Beleaguered Husband swearing while battling the tangled, obstreperous garden hose outside our bedroom window. After years of marriage his abrupt spewing forth of profanities is one of my few complaints. I never meant to fall in love with him. In fact, I thought him rather odd-looking as he careened through the beach-side Venice restaurant where we both worked. He was, I admit, tall and tan in his clean white shirt and tie, long hair flying behind him (for he had hair then). He deftly maneuvered through the tables, expertly waiting on the upscale patrons, dexterously opening the wine, filling their glasses, quick with a joke, while muttering frustrated expletives under his breath as if playing in a beach volleyball championship and losing. He took his job very seriously, yet in the middle of a busy rush he would somehow find a moment to step outside and watch the sun setting over the ocean. You got to love a guy who loves a sunset and suddenly I did. I fell in love completely, utterly, and urgently. A once-in-a-lifetime love. I felt as if I was under a spell, like Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, suddenly besotted of an enchanted ass. My then wronged husband asked the worthy and certainly legitimate question, “What is it you see in this guy you are leaving me for?” After stammering a bit, I could only answer, “Well, he’s a surfer.” In April, Michael Anapol and I will have been married for 30 years. Oh, wherever did the days go? The years slipping by? How can this be? Is the purple couch really that old and looks it? Is our fine son, who once rode so high up on Daddy’s shoulders actually turning 29? Have we really been to all those Topanga Days? How did we get here? Is it, as David Byrne and Talking Heads sang, Letting the days go by, water flowing underground, into the blue again, after the money’s gone, once in a lifetime? We are going to have a 30th Anniversary celebration because we fear by the 40th we may not even recognize each other. So, before we are too befuddled to recollect our lifetime together, let alone yesterday, I feel I should here record some memories of the swiftly passing days we’ve shared, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Can you, dear husband, remember a time before you were beleaguered? When you bravely moved us and our six-month old Riley to Topanga after the fire of ’93 and we found a community? The earthquake? Seeing the fireworks in Santa Barbara from that old hotel window as if they had been shot off just for us? The “good as it gets” sunset in Laguna? The time you ate too many marijuana brownies at the Solstice Parade and had to go for a walk? Can you recall when Miranda was born and how you were late picking us up the next day to bring us home from the hospital because you’d gone surfing that morning? Do you remember the time we lost Riley at the beach and the joy of seeing him riding in the lifeguard’s ATV coming back to us? Can you conjure the magical scent of the bonfire at Bonnell, sparks rising in the air as we felt so happy and lucky to live in this place? The Easter celebrations lasting into the evenings as the spring light lingered in the blessed Topanga sky? Summer vacations? Back when Topanga had a bar, (miss you Abuelita’s)? Losing the car in San Francisco? All those Halloween costumes, taking the children trick- or-treating, then stopping to see the Sloans and the tree growing through their living room? Opening Topanga Far Outfitter’ s? Your hernias? Inheriting money? Losing money? Friday night dinners you served at the Theatricum that we called, “The What You Will Café?” The Christmas Tree Train? The little kitty you and Miranda surprised me with? The raucous silent auctions at Topanga Elementary School? The shock of September 11th? Getting lost and yelling at each other every time we visited Miranda in Santa Cruz? Our green bowls? The Dodgers going 16 innings? Death? Granny Got Fresh, the produce concession you had on the side of the road? Fires in our fireplace? All the children’s plays I directed where you helped me transport backdrops, costumes and props and then you had to sit through the thing? Could you ever forget getting stung by the sting ray, the tarantula in our bed, or when I had cancer? Or all the friends we met and made in Topanga? Used cars? The Hollywood Christmas Parade? The audit? Grandmother Oak? The heart-raising hope when Obama was elected? Pokemon cards? Irish Pubs and Van Morrison? Opening Shaka Shack Burgers? Selling the Hummer? The New Year’s Eve I spent on the phone with the loan shark in New Jersey? Selling Shaka Shack Burgers and then still working there (God help us!)? And do you still remember Lobo’s soft brown eyes? It occurs to me that what I have listed above covers special days, milestones, highlights and low lights but a life together is not just made of these. If you were to stand back and view life from a great distance, as with Emily in Thornton Wilder’s Our Town after she’s died, you would find that even the most mundane of days is heartbreakingly beautiful, too dear to hold, that it slips like water through your fingers, water flowing underground. There is a wonder in the little, daily living when you pass each other moving from room to room. When you make the shopping list, drink the coffee, attempt to clear the clog in the bathroom sink (he just purchased something called, the Drain Weasel), help your spouse locate the lost shoe, sunglasses, keys, lip gloss or glass of wine, experiment with stain removers, come up with the name of the person or place the other has forgotten, share the Sunday paper out on the patio, wave to a neighbor, fold some laundry, laugh, pull some weeds, play the old songs, clean the cat box, argue over what to get rid of from the garage, or just simply being there in the morning for either one to turn to the other and say, “I had the strangest dream.” Happy Anniversary To Us
Kathie Gibboney

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April 1, 2022