Friday, April 29, 2016
I was ready to go on the annual family camping trip. I liked to get an early start because who wouldn't want to start vacation early? He (let's call him Justin) was a procrastinator and every year it was the same, I'd be antsy to leave, get frustrated that he had left a litany of things to the last minute and he'd get pissed that I was rushing him. We finally got going around maybe 3:30pm. I'd hoped to leave by 11. We'd fight in the car.
As we were leaving my dad called. He was already there, and I figured it was the expected message from my family of why aren't you here yet. Cue "we're running behind" speech. Pretty sure everyone knew it wasn't me. But it wasn't that. Dad was hoping we hadn't left yet so we could pick up a bottle of tequila for him. Justin was happy to make the stop and got a bottle of Johnny Walker for himself, too.
Tents were set up, dinner was eaten, the campfire was lit. Stars started to come out and the bottle of tequila was cracked open. It was only Thursday so the real party hadn't started yet, that's usually Friday and Saturday nights. The bottle was passed around, usually staying in my dad's hands for a few swigs each round. I passed it and stuck to my own cocktail. My dad waxed about how proud of me he was.. and called me a quarter horse. If you didn't catch that, my dad compared me to a show animal. I raised my eyebrows in what I wish I could say was surprise and said "Just call me Seabiscuit." Other topics of conversation included the two small handguns my dad had tucked into he sweatshirt pockets, because, you know, you never know what could happen.
Finally, the only people left around the fire were my dad, myself, Justin and my dad's not-to-be-trusted cousin... we'll call her Tiffany. The rest had gone to bed and with only the thin nylon between them and the loud and boisterous conversation, I suggested we move to one of the other campsites that out family had reserved so they could sleep. Everyone says sure, and we decided to light a new fire in the other campsite. Tiffany's honest to god sincere plan was to light a large branch on fire as a torch and carry it through the forest to the other camp site. 23 year old me had to explain to 40something year old Tiffany that it was not a good idea, and actually I took the torch from her and placed it back in the fire pit. Let's not burn down the campground, thanks.
The new fire was lit in a relatively sane manner. More loud conversation continued, until our people in this site were almost certainly annoyed. Not keen on getting the side-eye over morning coffee for keeping people awake, I audible announced that I'd be heading to bed, goodnight everyone. Justin elected to stay up. He and my dad had a good drunk going. In an effort to not be disruptive, they went down to the lake to finish the bottle of Johnny Walker and watch for UFOs. Dad has seen one before, he'll tell you all about it.
I awoke in darkness to a loud thud, which was my dad tripping on a stump in the dark and falling down. "Fuck." Crunch crunch, snap, crack; they traipsed through the rough area of the campsite, of course without a flashlight. Who needs those, or paths. I listened... do I need to get up or can I avoid the level 12 out of 10 drunk that Justin and my dad are both known to achieve? It became clear from their conversation that one of the small handguns that lived in my dad's pocket was missing. In a campground full of children. Wonderful. Well shit. I guess I have to get up.
Confusion and minor alarm... Tiffany was insisting that it was in his car, Dad was insisting that it wasn't possible and was muttering that she'd probably taken it. Meanwhile, Justin crawled halfway into our tent and passed out, sticking out of the tent from his knees down and his shoes still on. Doing my best to keep everyone calm I suggested we just take a look and see if it was in the car. What could it hurt? Sure enough, there it was. Tossed hapzardly on the floorboard. My personal belief is that it fell out of the sweatshirt, Tiffany found it and put it in the car. Whatever. It was found.
Standing by the car, my dad began to cry and apologize. I patted him on the shoulder and told him it was okay, that we found the gun and lets just all go to bed. He tearfully looked down at his sandal clad feet, covered in dirt and blood from the scrapes he'd acquired tromping through the forest without a light, and asked if I could help him clean up his feet. I walked him to my tent and wiped him off with babywipes. Like a child. I did the same for Justin, who then found has way entirely into the tent.
I crawled back into my sleeping bag.. still half drunk and groggy, my ears ringing. I wasn't sure what time it was but my guess was 3ish. How is this real life, I wondered.
Thursday, April 28, 2016
Those that have known me more than 2 years have probably observed that in terms of making changes in my life, I don't stick to slow, steady incremental changes. I tend to err on the side of huge life-shaking change all at once. I'm wrapping up the second of these in as many years. It's kind of like molting. I shed my skin entirely and start fresh. Somewhere you might be able to find vestiges of a shell worn by a stressed out codependent woman watching her drunk husband fail to pay taxes for the third year in a row and withholding comment to avoid a new hole in the drywall. Just leave it, its refuse for a reason.
I like change. I find it to be exhilarating and rarely does it leave me worse off than I started. Stagnation is something that's impaired me, but when I step out of a rut and open up to change and just let it flow, wonderful things usually happen. I have heard that this kind of thing is scary and hard for lots of people. I wish I could figure out how to bottle the sense of liberation that comes with a fearlessness of change.
It may sound odd, but sometimes there are little omens that present themselves. Kind of like the symbols in dreams but in waking life. The last time I turned my life upside-down (left my husband, moved and got a new job within the span of a month), I found beetles in my home. Come to think of it, I think there were three over the course of a week. Ten days ago there was a beetle in my kitchen window. I remembered them as ambassadors of change, so I scooped it up and gently deposited it outside as I'd done with the others a year and change prior, and said aloud "I see you. Bring the change, I'm ready!" Today, I received and signed a contract for a new job, which will allow me to work from home and do something I believe in. Tip o' the hat to my beetle friend.
If there's any advice I can give anyone its that nothing will change if you don't. Adaptation is hard but it gets easier with practice. Trust me.
Saturday, April 23, 2016
Thursday, April 21, 2016
I feared that my ex husband would find my little apartment downtown some night in a drunken rage and try to kick my door in. He's kicked doors in before.. and put holes in walls and slashed tires and dented street signs. I wouldn't put it past him. But he never did. His apathy towards life in general, I'm guessing, was the reason he never put forth the effort. Once he found out I was seeing someone new, he cussed me out via google chat and then didn't contact me again (other than a couple random one-off things.. but those were much later).
Last boyfriend was not an angry person. He never yelled, he never did anything violent. In hindsight this may have been the result of frequent opiate use, but in any case, my perception was that he was a gentle person. I had a quicker temper than he did, and thought it a good thing that he never escalated when I'd get upset. I did not think he would be the type to make for an unpleasant break-up.
This last Monday I was shown all the electronic avenues via which I'd forgotten to block him, since he sent me pleading messages on every single one. I even recevied a message via the fitbit app. Tuesday was much the same, with multiple messages and phone calls. I made clear that I would not be in contact on the first of the month, so despite many "if you want me to stop just say so" lines I refrained. I am not a fish, you can't bait me. Tuesday on my way home from work I received an email with the header "I have pictures you probably want" and a photo attached of myself, that I'd taken for him partially undressed but with my face omitted. I was never totally comfortable taking those kinds of pictures because of just such a possibility, but I played along and made sure to never have my face in them.
To me, this is a threat of blackmail. Not a very good one, but a threat nonetheless. I called his father to let him know what his son was doing to a lady, and asked him to try and talk some sense into him. I received a few more defensive messages after that, and then he stopped. I arrive at home each day with the possibility in the back (okay, the front) of my mind that he might be there waiting for me. I wake up each morning and look out my front windows to see if he's on my street, waiting for me to leave for work. I have actively and consciously been thankful that my office is badge-secure with a doorman. I have considered how I would handle him approaching me while I'm on a date. I have to think of all scenarios that could result from his apparent instability. It is exhausting.
It's been quiet for a couple days. I hope it stays that way.
Thursday, April 14, 2016
Wednesday, April 13, 2016
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
I realized that I was a couple days late in making a credit card payment today. That's pretty unheard of for me.. I am usually very on top of things. It sort of sent me in a tailspin of self doubt and mental flagellation. Stress. I imagine someone asking me "what do you have to stress about?" Work. Money. The aftermath of deleting someone from my life. Being good enough.
Being good enough. That's probably the realest, most encompassing of them all. Being prepared and responsible enough, financially. Being thin enough. Smart enough. Pretty enough. Articulate enough. Charming enough and adept enough to handle whatever comes my way. Being productive and skilled enough to get all my garden tasks done. Being accomplished enough.
I sometimes feel like it doesn't matter how much I achieve, that the scars of my past will always be a black mark on my record. My decision to stay with an abuser for the time that I did will always be an indication of poor judgement. My divorce, legal documentation of my failure to recognize a bad situation when I should have. Every mistake, every miscalculation, every failure is a permanent indication of my shortcomings.
The out I usually give myself is "better late than never," but only because there's nothing I can do to change it now. Deep down, I still believe I should have done better. Should have known better, been sharp enough to get it then. Better than my environment would lead me to be.
Anyway. Back to work. I'm not getting enough done there, either.
Friday, April 8, 2016
Sometimes I feel a restlessness that can't be abided or assuaged by a glass of wine or a cup of tea at home and a magazine. Sometimes I feel the need to get out of the house and talk to someone. And because my friends are busy, dynamic individuals, sometimes they are not available, and that's okay.
I have, since I reached adolescence, been comfortable speaking with strangers. I was raised by a very gregarious man and a socially anxious woman. My observation of them led me to the understanding that while you may think so, basically nobody is out to get you, and most people are open to a little small talk, and if neither of those is true, fuck 'em.
People are, for the most part, the same. We're just bags of flesh and bone and feelings and insecurities and we all seem to think other people pay an inordinate amount of attention to our shortcomings. They don't. But we do. And I can see that and it's so liberating.
I go out by myself because sometimes I don't feel like sitting and listening to my thoughts. I am an extrovert. I need to talk to people, human interaction is a big deal. Also it's a nice distraction. I take comfort in the cacophonous din, a blend of enthusiastic conversations, piped in tunes, the clink of glasses and ice beating the sides of cocktail shakers.
Sometimes I make friends. Sometimes I just tell myself stories abut the people I see. It's always a good time.
Monday, April 4, 2016
My month of chaos finally caught up with me. In the last 30 or so hours I was hit with a freight train-esque headcold. Complete with sinus pressure induced teeth and eyeball pain.
I lay half catatonic from nyquil, tea in hand, flanked by cats. I have stuff to write about but not the capacity to write it. Hoping tomorrow is better.
Sunday, April 3, 2016
Random and appropriate.
I spent the weekend feeding my soul.
Friday night I hosted an April Fools/Don't Suffer a Fool Slumber party to rechristen my home as a Fool Free bachelorette pad. I thought the idea was a little far fetched and that a lot of people wouldn't be into it, since we're all adults with responsibilities, many have kids and who has time for a slumber party past the age of 16? Well... apparently everyone. I did kind of use the "breakup duty" card, but the general consensus was that we need to have these more regularly. There was an over-abundance of food, drink and laughter; we sat around the fire pit out back having unspeakably raunchy no-holds-barred conversations, we counseled and cajoled each other for all of our varied life crises, it was everything I was picturing. When I and the handful of gals that stayed the night finally dozed off I think the clock was approaching 4AM..
The rest of the weekend has been a patchwork of gardening, catching up with friends, meeting a brand new tiny family member, and just general feel-good awesomeness. This morning I lived what I have long imagined for myself: tea on the back porch overlooking my garden, still in pajamas, entertained by my cats as they sniff around the yard, destroy a catnip plant and watch the squirrels run along the fence.
I'm settling into my space here. Part of why I love gardening is that it's something to do while spending time outside. I frequently don't prefer to just sit.. I like to keep busy, but I also like to get to know the land I'm living on. I like to become acquainted with the scrub jay that stabs at sunflower seeds on the fence and the inquisitive hummingbird, who appears to be perplexed by the inconsistency of the solar powered fountain bubbler when it drifts into dappled shade. I want to learn the audible patterns of my neighbors and how the light hits things at different times of the day. My first peach tree has set it's first little peach. I don't have my hopes up for it, but it's a thrill to see nonetheless.
I'm carving out my personal oasis and honing the fine details, day by day. I am happy.