The Peace Flag

Tonight L and I fought about the peace flag. It is an American flag with a white peace sign in the blue square instead of stars. It hangs in the middle bay window. I was irritable when I got home, and he was, too, or else he caught it from me. He hates the peace flag. Maybe even more than he hates war.* He hates the flag because it keeps out the sun and gets in the way when you open the window. I offered suggestions: He can move it to another window, which is narrower. He can make this work by folding the flag so it's thinner, pinning it with safety pins (reducing the number of stripes, but who cares?) He can move it to the bedroom and pin it to one of the curtains of the french doors. That way fewer people will see it, but we do get a lot of traffic in the alley. He was not appeased. He hates the flag. He was moving furniture and plants around. We're going to get our long-awaited red lounging chair delivered tomorrow. We ordered it in December or January.

I love the peace flag because people can see it from the street and sidewalk and we get even more traffic in the front. It reminds passersby and drivers-by that there's a war and that people are against it. L hates the peace flag because it's one more thing that he didn't put up.** He says the living room looks junky and the flag makes it look junkier. Everything here is mine--furniture, posters, tchotchkes. This is my condo and he has a house about 35 miles away. He visits it once a week or so. He loves his house and the national park right behind it. We talk about living together full-time. After 11-1/2 years I'm almost finally ready. I was alone for so long that it's taken me years and years to understand how to live with someone. I still am learning that two people can be in the same place at the same time and go about their own business. "Parallel play" it's called in child-development circles.

The red chair will be the second piece of furniture we've bought together. The first was the next-door neighbors' entertainment center. They were moving. It was so big that it couldn't go through the door. L took it apart in their apartment and put it back together in ours, an admirable feat. Other than that, he has 1-1/2 chests of drawers in the bedroom, half the closet, half the bathroom. Every so often he gets upset and cries out, I don't live anywhere! He has a green bag that is his transfer bag. He puts stuff in it that goes to the other place.

We have pretended for a year that we were looking for a new place. We were seriously pretending, before I got cancer. There's a dear little frame house about a half-mile away whose price keeps going down. It would be an easy move, I said yesterday. There's no such thing as an easy move, he said. Or else my sister said it. I don't remember, just that we were sitting in the living room. Which I don't think is tacky. Or junky.

Tonight I sat on the futon for a while. (I bought it in the 1980s and I love it. He hates it and says it isn't comfortable. He likes the white couch-bed we inherited from the neighbors and claims it's more comfortable than the futon. Which is plain wrong.) I didn't feel so cranky any more. I said I was tired. L came over and put his hand on my head. I had big procedures yesterday, I said. Your whole way of operating throughout this cancer, he said, is to keep on with your normal activities. You have to rest. Or something like that. I asked him to repeat it, because I knew I was going to write it here but it all slid off me.

*Of course, L hates war. The second thing I liked about him when I met him was his politics.
**He would dispute this, positing the junkiness factor.