Zoe & Sophia Chair Dance for the Locals and Demonstrate Airport Etiquette as the Sublime Consumers of the Lightness of Being

January 27th, 2010

January 27
Please send your ADVICE to two single women, whose lives are suddenly crashing in chaos! Zoe and Sophia, BFFs for thirty years, find themselves unexpectedly cast into the world of re-creation and redefinition after decades of being faithful wives to George and Marty. They need advice from anyone willing to help them. For instance, what advice would you give your BFF if she wailed, “HOW CAN I GO HOME WITH ALL THAT PAIN WAITING FOR ME? Any advice you can give to Sophia would be helpful, but this is what Zoe said.

Early on the morning of Zoe and Sophia’s last full day in Florida, Zoe found Sophia sprawled in a heap on the deck outside the guest bedroom, sobbing, of course. Zoe expected this would happen when Sophia realized the transitory nature of her escape from the searing pain of her broken marriage to Marty. Sophia stopped crying out the litany of harms, a morning ritual, when she saw Zoe’s shadow.
“Get up, Sophie. The sun’s out and we need to put the polish on our tans.”
“Jackson’s been such a good host. Oh, Zo, I’m dreading going back to New Hampshire.”
“Don’t waste precious time on that shit. We don’t leave until tomorrow. Today is today.”

“Okay. How are you doing?” Sophia asked as she struggled to her feet. Before Zoe could answer, Sophia reached out for a badly needed hug, but Zoe didn’t see her, and at that instant she bolted back indoors when she heard Jackson call her name. Consequently, Sophia wrapped her arms around air, leaned into the same then fell flat on her face. “Trust” was not a game to be played with Zoe if she was answering the call of the “nature.”

An hour later Sophia heard Zoe open Jackson’s bedroom door and heard the bathroom door bang. Fully expecting to find Zoe immersed in one of her too-many-to-count ‘afterglows,’ Sophia barged into the bathroom, boundaries being a concept they ignored with each other’s space. To her surprise, she heard Zoe weeping in the shower. Instead of letting Zoe cry alone, Sophia jerked back the curtain. Frightened, Zoe screamed and slipped on the soapy tub floor. On her way down, Zoe grabbed the shower curtain, and took both the curtain and fixtures down with her.
“Fuck sake, Sophie. Why did you scare me like that?”
“I’m concerned about you,” she said to the back of Zoe’s head, since Zoe’s face rested on the bath mat, while her legs and torso still occupied the tub. Since the curtain had lost its purpose, water spurted everywhere, not that either woman noticed.

As Zoe resumed her wailing, Sophia stepped over her and finally turned off the water.
“Fuck sake, Zo. What’s wrong? You’re scarier than a Stephen King movie.”
“I think I’m falling in love with Jackson,” Zoe said, standing up and drying herself off. “I can’t bear the thought of leaving him.”
“Zo, only an hour ago you reminded me that we shouldn’t worry about things that haven’t yet happened. Remember what Pema would say. That’s not living in the moment.” Pema Chodron was a Buddhist woman who wrote amazing books like “When Things Fall Apart.” Her teachings were the spiritual foundation for both women, especially since things were always falling apart in their world.
“NEVER MIND WHAT PEMA WOULD SAY,” yelled Zoe. “We are missing really great sun outside while you stand here gazing at the wall like a catatonic. Let’s go to the beach.”

An hour later, Zoe and Sophia parked Jackson’s red Audi sports car.  They knew finally where to park so they wouldn’t lose the car again as they had a few days before. The women shimmered as they strolled onto the Naples Pier, the city’s centerpiece and the best place to see and be seen. Zoe’s lower half was wrapped in a sarong over a skimpy bikini that showed off her flat stomach and large breasts. Sophia wore her tight turquoise bathing suit which set off her tanned skin and her light blond hair to perfection. Their long, lean legs looked spectacular in high-heeled sandals, but they ran into a problem when the sandals sunk into the fine white sand, trapping their feet like quick sand, so they didn’t walk more than a few steps beyond the pier for fear that they might fall, something they tried to confine to places outside public view.

They each popped one ear bud into their ears to share the R & B and hip hop music playing from the single I-Pod. First they sat on their low beach chairs, “chair dancing” subtly as they took in the fabulous seafoam green water. Along its shore played Pelicans, Egrets and Sandpipers, impervious to the women’s delighted admiration. Soon the pier was flanked with more than fishermen casting their lines. Men of every color, shape, size, and age stood casting their gazes toward the women, especially after Zoe and Sophia lay on towels side by side, flipping for a uniform tan, and doing so in unison to avoid the ear buds yanking from their ears.
“Those men are gawking,” said Zoe. “It’s positively rude.”
“Don’t pay any attention, Zo. Pretty soon their wives will drag them away, and hate us for looking the way we do. If they only knew that THIS comes with a lot of hard work.”

As she said “THIS,” Sophia’s hand made a sweeping gesture from her head to her feet. Unfortunately, her hand cupped some sand which blew into Zoe’s eyes. Zoe yelped then jumped up, feeling around for her water bottle to wash out her eyes. Not finding it, she ran toward the pier shower, a few yards away, but when she reached the pier steps she was still blinded, so she fell up them, lost her balance, and bumped down them again. Sophia ran so fast to her aid that she couldn’t stop herself in time not to trample Zoe, before falling herself and bumping her head on the steps, which nearly knocked her unconscious. Rather than offering to help the women, the men who had stood gawking only seconds before, melted away like butter in a hot pan. Their wives smiled inwardly. No big deal–more gawkers would replace them once Zoe and Sophia regained their composure—just like sand in water.

To avoid recognition, the woman relocated to the beach on the other side of the pier, then took a quick swim and relaxed into the chairs to eat their favorite breakfast of Chex Mix. They decided their usual in-between-meal snack of Nutella might be too messy at the beach, but they always had gum if they needed to staunch their appetites.

“So what was this you were saying about falling in love with Jackson?” asked Sophia as if the conversation they started three hours before had not been interrupted by time, space, and bruises.
“I’ve had absolutely no desire to text, talk or email with any other man since we arrived. He is strong, kind, smart and loving. Jackson is a real man, Sophie. Do you know what I mean?”
“Not exactly.”
“Well, he’s a take-charge kinda guy. He knows who he is, he’s entirely self-sufficient, he makes wise choices, but he’s considerate of other people at the same time. Not arrogant–just confident. I like that in a man.”
“Is that why you think you’re falling in love with him, for those qualities, I mean?”
“Humm, well yes and others,” said Zoe. “He’s fucking lights out in bed, he has fabulous taste in food– although he ought to eat more of his salad—and he has a capacious mind. I mean, the man knows everything about the history of these parts. That’s the kind of curiosity I love in a man.”

“Do you care what I am NOT curious about, Zo?”
“What do you mean?”
“I’m not curious about what it sounds like when the lion is having his way with his new lioness in the old love den.”
“What the fuck are you talking about, Sophie?”
“For the first few days, I could read the signals. Jackson turns up the music, and you two disappear in the middle of one of my sentences. Soon after I realize I’m talking to myself, I hear his bedroom door close, and I try to be transported to the mist on the mountains by the music, while you two ride there attached.
“Are you gonna make sense at some point, Sophie?
“What do you mean, Zo?”
“Please don’t tell me this is gonna be one of those days you try to make your metaphors parade as well-articulated thoughts.
“Speak English, Zo.”
“Never mind, and no, I do NOT care about what you are NOT curious about. I was discussing Jackson.”

“Zo, wasn’t it fun last night, watching reruns of “Sex in the City” in Jackson’s bed after he went out to a meeting.”
“Yeah, been a while since I watched the show. Although when I first left George, it was the only thing I could do to get any peace at night. Good thing you bought the entire series. I was kinda like you are now, Sophie, screaming in pain–that’s what I felt all the time, remember?”

“How could I forget? At first I wondered why you were so depressed when you made the decision to leave George. But I get it now. You were letting go of a life time, an identity, and it wasn’t that you stopped loving George. It was that the marriage no longer worked.”
When Zoe left her husband exactly one year before, she moved in with Sophia and Marty, who lived five miles down the road. Every night Zoe came home from work, Sophia greeted her with a glass of single malt, twelve-year-old scotch and a warm delicious meal. The women sat for hours in the evening, talking in front of the fire of the spacious, but cold, 1770s home.

Neither of them knew that Marty was upstairs, carrying on his affair with Fugly by email and text. Sophia did sense then that boundaries were becoming fuzzy in Marty’s “business” relationship with Fugly, but she tried to trust Marty, partly because when Sophia questioned Marty, he screamed “Why Can’t You Fucking Trust Me” about a thousand times a week. During those months Sophia was able to focus on helping to heal Zoe, so she pushed under her growing suspicion and doubt, trying hard to replace them with belief and faith. Those were the nights that watching “Sex and the City” was both an anti-depressant and a sleeping pill for Zoe and Sophia.

“I gotta tell you, Sophie, Jackson was a little curious about all the crumbs in the bed.”
“Super. You said you loved his curiosity.”
“That’s not what I’m talking about here. Stay on track, Soph.”
“Where did I fall off?”
“It’s what fell from your fingers and mouth last night.”
“You lost me, Zo.”
“Before he dropped off to sleep, Jackson asked if we ate cookies in his bed.”
“Honestly, Zo we didn’t unless you ate some after I left.”
“NO, I wasn’t eating cookies. Be real, Sophie. I told him “No,” and it wasn’t a lie.”
“Get to the point.”
“When Florida Guy rolled over this morning, bits of Chex Mix were stuck to his butt. I plucked them off before he knew they were there.”
“Did you eat them?”
“Of course. No sense wasting good Chex Mix.”

That evening Jackson took Zoe out for a romantic last dinner of Cuban cuisine. Sophia begged off to give them some space and to get her stuff packed. She was fine alone until thoughts of what awaited her at home first poked her then hit her in the head like a hammer. The panic rose and fell until she skidded into obsession. Then she tried thinking about what Pema would say.

Pema would say that when our lives get yanked out from under us, we can suffer to our core, but these are the moments when we can find our tenderness and make a choice. We can either be consumed by our aggression and bitterness and blame external forces, or we can allow ourselves the pain, recognize the groundlessness of existence, and find our tender hearts. This is a path to loving ourselves and others. These tender moments are also the times we can open ourselves up to feel compassion for those who suffer as we do and even for those who have hurt us. Sophia worked at understanding Pema’s words because when Marty and Fugly decided to have an affair, they yanked the worlds out from under Sophia and her children and Fugly’s husband and their children.

Fugly’s famous husband had resources unlike Sophia. She was trying to figure out how, if she ever did feel like eating again, she would be able to afford more than toothpaste for breakfast. But her famous husband had a father who was a household name legends, and between them, financials would never be an issue. However, Sophia also knew that the one thing we can never eat was money and that when the world splinters into cutting shards, no amount of cash can rescue our hearts from grief. So, she felt compassion for Fugly’s husband and his family. Feeling compassion for Marty and Fugly still eluded Sophia, except when she remembered that Fugly looked like a male troll with deformed thighs, which were dotted with purple pimples AND when she remembered that Marty was a cold, selfish son-of-a-pathological-liar—then she could almost snatch a whiff of compassion for them both.

Finally, Sophia was able to fall asleep, but in the morning she awoke in a panic. Zoe sauntered around the living room, stuffing suitcases and acting as if they had all the time in the world to get to the airport. Clothes were scattered everywhere, and her cosmetics, lotions and hair accessories, which took up a suitcase of their own, were strewn across every surface of the bathroom. Sophia jumped around like a nervous monkey.
“Zoe, fuck sake, get packing. We can’t miss our plane.”
“Power down, Sophie. Jackson says we don’t have to leave for two hours.”
“TWO HOURS? TWO HOURS? No, that’s crazy. We’ll miss our flight.”

Zoe ignored Sophia’s histrionics and went at her own pace. She laughed and flirted with Jackson while Sophia flew around the house like a rabid bat packing, re-packing, and lining up all her luggage right in front of the door. Sometimes she sat for five minutes and hyperventilated then she paced for awhile. At one point she became so excited, that she forgot to look down and tripped over her perfectly lined up luggage. She landed on her stomach at Jackson’s feet. Gentleman that he was, he helped her up and suggested that she might want to calm herself and trust that he would not let them miss the plane.

To work off her nervous energy, Sophia carried all of her luggage out to the car and lined it up perfectly then sat down on a suitcase and tried to meditate. After two minutes she was unable to connect with the open space and instead dashed back inside, thinking that she could carry Zoe’s luggage to the car. But Zoe was nowhere to be seen, only heard. When the house stopped shaking moments later, Zoe walked into the living room and found Sophia starring at the wall.
“You ready, Sophie?”
Sophia turned around and looked at her friend and suddenly felt very selfish. Zoe’s eyes were puffed and red.
“Oh, Zo, you’re sad to be leaving, aren’t you?” Zoe fell into her arms and cried for a minute.
“I don’t know what’s happened to me, Sophie. I’m crazy about the guy. I’m really gonna miss him”
“I know you are, and I’m sorry,” said Sophia gently pushing her away. Then she marched into Jackson’s room, grabbed as much of Zoe’s luggage as she could manage and hauled it out to the car.

Jackson demonstrated his unique sensibilities by his selection of music for the half-hour drive to airport. Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding and a host of other favorites filled the air as the three of them sang along. Jackson also helped them carry their luggage to the outside check-in and then started the good-byes. He and Zoe hugged and faltered over and over on release.

When it was Sophia’s turn, she thanked the wonderful man profusely. And then she lost it entirely. As he tried to walk away, she crouched down and wrapped her arms around his knees, crying, “I can’t go back.” Jackson was in mid-stride when Sophia started this exhibition, so within an instant, her arms slipped to his ankles, and he half dragged her a few feet across the pavement. Other travelers stopped to watch the sobbing lunatic. Zoe, the faithful BFF knew what to do.
“FUCK SAKE, Sophie, get up,” she roared. Sophia did not let go of Jackson’s ankles.
Zoe crouched down and stroked Sophia’s head then said, “REMEMBER WHAT PEMA WOULD SAY: ‘Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible be found in us.’ NOW, LET GO OF JACKSON’S ANKLES, AND GET ON THE FUCKING PLANE.”
“Ok, Zo. Hey, was that a Buddhist thing?”
“Sounds like.”

“Can we split an order of French fries today?”
“No, Sophie, I’d rather eat my foot.”
As Jackson drove off in a hurry, the two women entered the terminal, breezed through security, and walked arm-in-arm, off on another adventure as the Sublime Consumers of the Lightness of Being.

To be continued, and remember, if you want to read the adventures from the beginning, start at the bottom of the Blog.  Keep your wonderful advice and comments flowing.  Thanks.

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  1. AMI
    January 27th, 2010 at 14:51 | #1

    This message is just for Sophia: I love you Sophia; I know that you are struggling through the most painful of human experiences- worse than a death, because if Marty had died you wouldnt have to see him without being with him, thereby being reminded over and over of his betrayal. I also know that you have always had the gift of survival. You are the human version of the Phoenix: repeatedly reduced to ashes only to rise from the rubble, more glorious and resplendent than you went in. You WILL get through this. In the meantime allow yourself to feel each wave of pain; knowing that once that particular wave has passed over you it will never be back. Give into it once and then allow yourself to let the pain go- one experience at a time. Better days are coming and only you have control over when you allow the light to begin to pierce the darkness. I love you.

  2. January 28th, 2010 at 11:08 | #2

    Dear sweet fan.
    Sophia is in a heap on the floor weeping at the poignancy and power of your words to her. She wants me to tell you that you remind her of her beloved neice Lulu and her precious daughter Poppy. Your words resonated with her hours ago, and continue to give strength and inner nourishment. She knows that she is blessed to have you in her life, and people like you and Poppy make life worth living…make survival once again possible, even though at times she has doubted that she could ever climb out of the blackness. You bring light. You are a treasure. Oh shit, she just tripped over something, blinded by her own tears, as usual. I need to get the snot out of her hair. Thanks again. Oh, one last thing…she wants me to say to you, “I love you too, forever and ever.”

  3. AMI
    January 28th, 2010 at 11:43 | #3


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