Tuesday, August 26, 2014


A rediscovered draft from three years ago. Funny how much has changed...and how much hasn't even budged.

June 20, 2011
For the time being, I have pretty much given up on myself as a free agent. We are a team. Wendy and I, plus my barnacle (baby). We move as a unit.

Downstairs for breakfast and tea (together). Upstairs to get dressed (together). Outside with no shoes on to plant things in the dirt (cilantro, tomatoes, basil, zesty! salad! mix! and parsley, together!) and get dirt everywhere, including baby mouths. Putting Liam's feet on the ground so he can pound the grass under his heels until he goes all wobbly, then meandering around the yard, following his sister's babble of stories and stream of honey-brown hair until he finally sleeps on my shoulder. Inside again for laundry.

And more laundry.

And more.
Together here too, though this looks like Wendy watching TV from the basket while Liam and I play peekaboo with Daddy's underwear, because my barnacle doesn't nap. My Fault. I'm bad with schedules. I wish he would overlook this flaw of mine and do it anyway.
I could never fake the gorgeous moments as Stay at Home Mo that fall on me like a ton of bricks every day, when I am not ready or expecting. The kids in the garden. Liam laughing at Wendy running.  Wendy's face in a mask of concentration as she applies Manic Mango Hanna Montana glitter gloss to my lips, her eyes wide and focused, her own mouth tense and curling ever so slightly at one corner. This, I suddenly know with great clarity, will be the expression on her face when she is someday working on complicated math or painting her art class masterpiece or putting together an Ikea desk or performing brain surgery.
Thank you, SAHMo, for saying "yes" to the makeover. That face that I saw? That is a gift. (Plus glitter lips!) Try to say "yes" more. 
Outside to check the sunflower sprouts, then to story hour at the library and listen to the other moms sing preschool songs that I've never heard in my life (HOW DO THEY ALL KNOW??), while Wendy gives me the side-eye. I know she is scanning my reaction and deciding if these people who sing nine rounds of Duckie songs are cracked, or if this is totally awesome and I have just been holding out on her. Yes, Wendy. A whole world of music-and-motion with Miss Sara, and I've been keeping you in the quiet-and-still in a grey house of decaying dreams.   Dancing at the end credits of EVERY MOVIE WE WATCH just isn't quite as relevant as a few weak Ducky-related verses. If only I'd let you watch Barney, your life would be complete.
Library trips do not count, I don't think, as "out." I try to talk to the other moms, but there is always the sizing up that interferes from all sides: does your kid share? so you are just going to let her throw that block, huh? Who is your Husband and What does he Do? are you at home on purpose, or just unemployed? How about breastfeeding? church? preschool? dance class? Hey. Nice shoes.

We move as a unit-a three person society-but Wendy plays with the other kids whole-heartedly and un-selfconsciously. I am still vacuum-sealed away from the outside environment. Like the ground bison meat at the grocery store. It's like the hamburger and meat loaf mix...but obviously not from around here.  Not something you are quite sure you want to try.

What do you think? Will I scare the Library Moms away if I just skip all of that and start every conversation with "hey, what's up with whole parts of your personality dying and falling off like gangrene-infected toes when you become a mom? is it bad that I don't even miss those toes? do you always walk all tilty, do you think? are you looking for new friends?"

Probably freak them out, right?

The time stretches out in front of me, and I have to truly talk myself through every second and breath of some of the longer hours and some days I actually don't want to...and I am glad for my team, then. I know they are with me, and they know I'm with them.  That makes it worth it. It doesn't fix everything, but it balances.

Try to say "yes" more, and these gifts will fall at your feet. It's so worth it. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

My First Boyfriend has Died. Warm. Kind. Funny. Gentle.

I saw it on Facebook.  A mutual friend from high school posted it, and I followed the links, and there it was.  Pictures that rattled me and a story that I didn't know, about this adult with a full-on (hipster? Duck Dynasty?) beard who was a widely liked, and even well-loved person.   According to all of the comments on various sites: warm, caring, gentle, kind, innovative, funny.

I am reading these things, and I don't know what I feel.   I can't find a word that is right.

Warm. Funny. Caring. Kind. Gentle.

I haven't spoken to him since the night I very dramatically broke up with him (how else can you when you are almost 19?), and only saw him briefly from a distance twice since then.  I didn't know him after that.  From time to time, I hoped he was miserable and alone.  I hoped that he had learned to deal with his depression and anxiety, and was happier.  I was sure that he lied to himself about the reasons we broke up.  I wondered if he got really, really fat and still lived with his parents.  I wondered if he was dead.   I wondered if I would ever find out any of these things.

I joined the marching band color guard when I was a senior in high school.  He joined as an "equipment manager" so he could come with me on band trips and to shows and whatnot.  It took up a lot of our time in football season.  It became a problem in our relationship.  This one time, he held me down and suffocated me with his hands till I passed out, and made us late for the bus going to a band competition.  He didn't want to go.  He wanted to spend more time together, just us.  This is a small sample of his solutions to the problems in our relationship.  I also was on the hockey team, and we were in the Drama Club together, and choir.  Those things took up time and diverted my attention from him, too. Occasionally, I would go without a bra and once in a while, I would wear shorts, obviously trying to get someone else's attention. Problems with similar solutions.

(It's true: awkward, geeky kids who are not even that good looking have these kind of problems, too.)

Why even comment? It's not my story, now.

Except that I am confused. And full of rage. And I have a voice now for the things that I could not find a way to talk about then...sort of.  I don't want to talk about it.

I expected that I might always feel a bit pissed that I never got to really tell him off, with the benefit of adult perspective and all the glory of my success in life.  And I am pissed, now that I am sure it will never, ever happen. Doesn't everyone want that chance? Petty.


My 19 year-old self is RAGING that he just walked away from all of the damage he did in my life...and had a nice life, where he helped people and built things with people and people liked him. I didn't want to know all of that. It took a lot of years to school myself to only feel pity and mild disgust when I thought about us. To stop feeling rage and shame and mortification and self-loathing. I'm not 19 any more, and so many things have happened since then that matter so much more.  A long time ago, I learned to feel nothing about years 16, 17, and 18.

I was at peace with the fact that sometimes, there is no accountability for people who are wrong.

But I am caught off-guard.  Blind-sided, in fact, with a steaming sack of NOT NOTHING.
I did not expect to be so sad.  Have regret.  Feel Rage.

Do people change?  Does it matter?
Here's the thing: I believe all of that stuff they are saying about him.  I knew that side, too.

This one time, he carried a kitten in his inside denim-jacket pocket to keep it warm, all the way from his neighborhood where he found him, to my apartment.  We found the kitten a good home. And I believe that people are not just one thing, forever and ever.  I find, in the sack, alongside the Rage, a disturbing, traitorous grief for the person with a kitten in his pocket, who held my hand at my Grandma's funeral and worried about his mom and gave me his favorite Flyers t shirt to sleep in.

He died, apparently, from complications of a heart condition that he has had since birth.  A comment on a memorial page says, "so ironic that it was his heart, because he had the biggest heart of anyone I know."  Died of a heart condition that I didn't believe he had, because I finally realized that I couldn't tell when he was telling me lies.

I guess that one was true.  And he was very funny.  Plus the kitten thing.

Its been 14 years since I saw him. My life has made me different from the person I was at 19; I suppose his could have too. 

This one time, this really damaged, paranoid, self-involved, awkward teenager really hurt someone who loved him, over and over, until she was damaged, too.  Then he grew up and led a decent life and made good friends and was a productive, interesting, and worthwhile person.  The second part doesn't make up for the first part, for her.  Maybe it did for him, but it doesn't matter, because he died young anyway. 

Its not a good story.  Its not a story at all.  We make things into stories so they make sense.

I can't put a word to how I feel.  I don't want to even the score on the reckoning of his life.  Or maybe I do-but it doesn't matter, because it's done.  There is no reckoning.    I fixed that damage myself, and will keep on fixing it.  I am not just one thing either.

I don't want to talk about it.  There is no one to talk to.

This, right here, is the best I can do to put it outside of myself and try to let it go.