Rough night. I was mulling over regrets and disappointments through the years, weighing the quality of the two as to which holds grander gravity.
I’ve singled out an instance of both as an illustration of the night-long internal debate. Not only in the mind. In the body and through the both. Such is the quality of allowing emotions to have no ordered destination and no particular time they need to get there.
When I was 11 my Dad took my sister and me back to his hometown of Marshall, Wisconsin. That was only one part of the trip. We visited Aunt Florence and Uncle Roger in Wild Rose and Aunt Carol and Uncle Bob in Mondovi. Dad knows how much I live for geology and he made many stops on the trip so I could shake out my geo-legs; Cave of the Mounds with the phosphorescent speleothems; Mineral Point which is one of the best examples of a Mississippi Valley type deposit in Wisconsin. Dad made certain to research the places I was babbling about before taking the trip.
My sister, Tiare, was never a huge fan of geology. She was miffed with regularity when my passion became too passionate. Our first time at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon I started spouting the answers to our ranger’s geology tour questions, with such animation the ranger let me give the rest of the tour. The other tourists thought it was adorable. My sister was embarrassed. I was nine. She had to endure this behavior her whole childhood.
Tiare’s passion is fine art, specifically Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painters. To me, a haystack is a haystack. To her, gravel is gravel.
We had one more set of aunt and uncle to visit in Inverness, Illinois. Aunt Erna and Uncle Bernard lived in this suburb of Chicago, and Chicago is home to two of the greatest museums in the world: The Field Museum (Natural History) and the Chicago Museum of Art. It was great to see Aunt Erna and Uncle Bernard, and I was totally stoked we were going to the Field Museum! Childhood Bucket List, enjoy that checkmark! Boom! Field Museum!
Aunt Erna had our one day in Chicago planned out. The day was to be spent first at Marshall Field’s enjoying a Frango Mint concoction (google it) … and … the Chicago Museum of Art. Like my sister, Aunt Erna has a passion for fine art. There was no plan to visit the Field Museum.
I wasn’t only disappointed. And not only crushed. I was furious. And I let everyone know this all day. I was a world champion juvenile asshole. It was my new life mission to ruin the day. Challenge accepted.
There was one specific painting Aunt Erna was keen for us to see. It was also a Tiare’s Bucket List dream come true: The pointilism masterpiece “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” by Georges Seurat. I think that’s right. It’s the big painting you see in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”
Quite plainly: Fuck Seurat right in the nostril. Fuck Frango Fucking Mint. I bitched all day about what a waste of precious life force it was eating minty chocolate ice cream (think those wrapped chocolate mints you get with the check at Olive Garden) when we could have been at the Field Museum! Everyone will pay for this moral slight!
As said, I made myself a world champion gold medal asshole all day. And something so special was ruined for my sister, and it was patently ungrateful and despicable treatment of my aunt and uncle showing us the city they call home.
Here’s where regret and disappointment battle it out. At the age of 11, not abstracting the Field Museum would still be there on a future visit to Chicago, my disappointment was tangible. I regretted ever visting Aunt Erna and Uncle Bernard. Their meddling ruined the trip.
Older and wiser with age is the aphorism. The truth is aware and introspective with age. An excuse could be conjured that “I was only 11 and was behaving like a normal 11 year old.” Bullshit. I knew what I was doing.
Today, in this time, my disappointment and regret have transmorphed. I’m so disappointed in myself. It took me years to apologize to my sister and Dad. It was decades in coming but I finally owned up to it.
That covers the disappointment segment of today, in this time. My matured regret is this. Uncle Bernard has been taken by Alzheimer’s and is beyond reach. He never received the apology he earned – he never stopped loving me – and now I live with tangible regret for dismissing the importance of a simple adult gesture while I had the chance.
It might be jarring this all-night musing is an allegory. Three weeks ago I made a reservation at Restaurant Antiquity for Bex to celebrate the end of the school year. It’s her favorite restaurant and she even knows what she’ll order before she goes and which wine she’ll enjoy with her meal. We had a reservation in January that I ditched out on because I was too prideful to tell her that several recent and unexpected expenses had wiped out my disposable income. Her disappointment was tangible.
I cracked. I didn’t recognize an escalating mania was already driving her away, and like a Frango Mint-dipped cherry on top I didn’t have the wherewithall to keep my raging symptomatic behavior from texting her some of the most awful words ever … I honestly wish I only had a double digit lexicon to tap into to prevent my false emotions from striking out irreparably.
An itemization of all the personal disappointments and regrets with Bex is unecessary because the cumulative disappointments and regrets weigh equally.
And like an 11 year old me ruining a day in Chicago because I was only acting like any 11 year old would, having bipolar is only an explanation and not an excuse. Regardless of causal motivation, I’m required to own my behavior. And I do.
Okay, who needs a Kleenex?
I want to say before closing this page that I’m immensely proud of my sister. For many years she was a docent at the Getty Center where daily she was surrounded by her passion in the company of some of Van Gogh’s greatest works.
Hey, did you know Van Gogh and Gauguin were roommates before Gauguin moved to Tahiti to paint naked Polynesian girls? Ma mere est de Polynesie Français, so Gauguin holds meaning for my family.
Okay, etymology on “phosphoresence.” First off, phosporescence is a light property of a material that when hit with a high pulse of photons the material will exude photons even after removed from the high pulse photons. Layman’s terms, the material glows in the dark. The cave formations in Cave of the Mounds are phosphorescent (because of manganese).
Phosphorescence gets its name from the element phosphorous, which “glows in the dark” (only for a different reason). That’s how phosphorous was first identified and described as an element. When the scientist (forgot his name) went into his lab at night he saw a glow in his sealed experimental jars. And what was his experiment?
He wanted to see what would happen when he putrified his urine.
He made phosphorous.
Try it. It works.