Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The End of An Affair

By Joe Bruns   

     It is hard to put a precise time on when I fell out of love. There was no big argument or momentous event that caused a sudden rift in our relationship. Instead it happened gradually, imperceptibly. But I have now come to terms with the fact that she is no longer a central part of my life. We stay together, mostly out of habit. But I no longer cherish waking up with her every morning and finding her fresh, entertaining, and endlessly interesting.
     I do remember falling in love with her, though. It was the mid-seventies. It was love at first sight. This was the Watergate era, and she had an uncanny inside access to all the sordid details as the scandal unfolded. Every day I looked forward to hearing what new facts had been uncovered, and how the mighty were falling. My, she did know how to tell a story. She also had wide-ranging interests. In addition to politics and world events, she could spellbind with the depth of her knowledge in culture, the arts and sports. Yes, she was a great sports fan and seemed to enjoy them all, going beyond just knowing the scores and statistics with colorful commentary about anything from the Redskins to high school rivalries.
     She seemed to know everything that was going on in Washington. She may not have cared very much for the suburbs, but she knew the city, its movers, its shakers, its flaws and its characters. Everyone who knew her had a favorite topic and was eager to learn what she knew. She was regularly quoted at power lunches and solons throughout the day.
     While she was older than I, she had youthfulness and an enthusiasm that was infections. At times her opinion seemed to color her judgment, but for most of us that was part of her charm. We matured together over the years. She had her rivals, of course, but was never threatened by them, especially on her home turf. She knew she occupied center stage and could therefore just ignore them as they came and went from the scene.
     She was generous and compassionate, she noted births and attended funerals. When tragedy struck she could be counted on to offer assistance, and always knew the right thing to say to bring understanding and comfort. But she could also deliver criticism when needed, a wake-up call where she saw injustice.
     The eighties were her “Hollywood” phase. She made new friends, many from California and the West, who exuded glamor and style more than intellect. But the men were handsome and the women beautiful.  In the nineties, she had a fling with a younger man, a “bad-boy” who was able to charm her in ways that allowed her to overlook his flaws.  When his past caught up with him and his star faded, she stuck with him and defended him against his detractors, though I could see she was hurt.

Old love dies hard...

     But then things began to change. Without noticing it at first, but seeing it now in retrospect, her freshness wilted. Her stories, which once rivaled those of Scheherazade, began to seem repetitious and stale. Her eloquence began to fade; she made grammatical errors that broke the spell. Worse, I began to realize that I had already heard the stories she was now telling. Sometimes, I even heard them from her the day before. She was less engaged in the world and began simply to repeat what others were saying. She said there was a web conspiring to bring her down.  She began to go to bed early, and seemed to be indifferent as to whether she had anything new to say or not. Her opinions, once fresh and insightful, now were entirely predictable, cranky, even boring. Those she brought into her circle to share opinion consisted of the same people who had been around for years, seldom anything or anybody new. And when someone new was added to her circle, it seemed more for the label than for the wine. 

     It was clear that her world was changing far more quickly than she either desired to or could. Some say she suffers from poor circulation, and others have suggested an extended trip to renew her energy, perhaps an adventure to the Amazon to revitalize her.  I don’t know, but for me the old magic is gone.

      Old love dies hard. She is still part of my life, just not as important to me. I no longer consider her my window to the world, and sometimes find myself ignoring her entirely. But we had some great times together over the years. There is always that.      

     I miss the better days with The Washington Post.

This article first appeared on Trail Mix

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