Three Years Later

It happened again. Another anniversary crept up on me before I even realized it was happening. It turns out today is the 3rd anniversary of our move to Maryland. If this is news to you, and you really want the back story, there are links at the end of this post. For the purposes of this post, however, I had to go back and revisit Two Years Later just to see how things have changed.

Three years later, our lives have seen some big changes and we’ve said some goodbyes. We said goodbye to elementary school, as Veruca “graduated” the 5th grade. We said goodbye to Neph, who decided to move back home. We said goodbye to Pi. She lived a long and happy life, but she was ready long before we would ever be. So, we now have just one dog and one cat, and no plans to add to the brood. Some extended-family dynamics changed as well, which are better left unsaid.

Three years later, Opac has returned to football after a broken collarbone acquired during practice tackling drills last year. He is starting this year as a JV defensive lineman. I heard his name and jersey number announced for the first time last night, when he ran the ball runner out of bounds. Proud momma moment! He’s still an honor student… nothing new to see here. He still likes his rap music, but he has recently discovered the WWF of the 1980s and loves replaying videos of his favorites, Randy Savage and Rick Flair. I wish I could just explain the irony of this.

Three years later, Veruca has started middle school. It was a much easier transition than I expected. I was much less emotional about it than I was when O started. This year, V has met two other girls in her grade with Type 1 diabetes, and it’s had a very interesting and positive effect on her. And, after much deliberation, she returned to cheer this year, but I think this is going to be the last year. She’s ready to try something new, and I admit I’m ready to put an end to six days a week of running kids to and from practices/sports.

Three years later, we didn’t do any major renovations around the house, but we did some minor things in preparation for my in-laws’ 50th anniversary party. Which we hosted here. It was a bit stressful in the month leading up to it, but the party itself turned out great and we had gorgeous weather. We had a tent, live music, and a neighbor hollered at one of our guests parking on the street.

Three years later, Todd is still a professor. He’s taken a step back from more intense responsibilities but if you ask me, I think he’s now climbing the walls. He is still working on that personal and potentially very lucrative project that I mentioned briefly last year. Breath held. Meanwhile – and I know this will come as a shock to those who know me – I’m still working in the restaurant business. Somehow I think I will die there, and they’ll bury me under the bar. However, I am also doing some grant research and writing – I’m really enjoying it and I’m hoping to see it develop more in the coming year.

Three years later, the apartment we said we’d never rent – is occupied. No worries – it’s a good thing. A good friend of ours was in need, and the timing was good. You know the family you get and the family you choose? He’s the family we choose. There’s a lot of trust there, and for that I’m grateful.

Three years later, and this is a big one – Todd and I finally got that vacation. It was shorter than we would’ve liked, but it was longer than a weekend and we were alone.

Three years later, I’m a Marylander. I’m not just visiting, I’m not a new resident, I LIVE HERE. I no longer feel like an outsider, I truly feel like I belong here.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Changing Places – The Prequel

Changing Places – Moving Day

Changing Places – We’re Not in Kansas Anymore

**Disclaimer: I don’t use the upgraded service; therefore, you will see ads at the bottom of my posts (ads I don’t see because I’m not you). As it has come to my attention that certain ads may not align with my world views – I am compelled to add the following statement until further notice.

I ABSOLUTELY DO NOT SUPPORT DONALD TRUMP. NOT YESTERDAY, NOT TODAY, NOT – EVER.

 

 

 

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Revelations – the Detox Story Continues

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My journey toward writing my New York stories – whether by book or by blog – took me to this particular page where I was surprised to read what I had written over 25 years ago. I’m inspired to share the chronicles of New York and NYU, in my usual style of humor and a bit of sarcasm, but this page – this page – was anything but funny. The most shocking bit of it, was the only part I have no memory of.

I recently wrote about discontinuing Paxil, and how difficult it has been. It’s been 17 days, and all that appears to be left is waking nausea – not unlike morning sickness – and the emotional hurricane inside my whole being. To the former – many of my withdrawal symptoms look like pregnancy. However, I can assure you, I am not. To the latter – anything, and everything, has the potential to release the floodgates on my usually composed emotions.

I was sitting at a table in the water park on Tuesday, and our song came over the sound system and I just tensed up with stupid pent up tears. It was ridiculous. I fully expected to cry on my two high school friends the previous night, you know, because we haven’t seen each other in sooo long and how many years has it been and we’re getting older and… for the love of GOD. Thankfully, I didn’t. But that’s the crap part of this – you never know when it’s gonna hit. Well, except when we’re watching movies and then I can be sure it will come – and what the hell was I thinking watching Ghost under these circumstances?

According to what I’ve read, this crying thing is part of the withdrawal. And it sucks BIG TIME. This medication, just like anti-depressants, “takes the edge off” so much that I was actually numb. I even asked my alarmed, and slightly annoyed kids – when is the last time you saw me cry like this? And they can’t remember. Because, it’s like – never.

Yesterday Todd and I went to the bike shop to have my bike repaired after he accidentally rolled over it in the garage in the Mustang (SO glad I didn’t do that). He’s in the market for a road bike, so he and “Mel” were chatting while I sort of wandered about the store, touching at the jerseys and bike shorts in a disinterested way. And then I saw a yellow jersey that struck me instantly with a memory of my uncle, an avid cyclist, who lost his battle with cancer twelve years ago. Lance Armstrong sent him a LiveStrong jersey, post- mortem. It was hung over his bike at the memorial service, where I cried an uncontrollable torrent of tears. In public. And later, all I could think of was, is this what life will become? Everyone I love will eventually pass on and I get to stand here and watch it happen, over and over again? It was a heartbreaking revelation and it took me a very long time to recover. And now – in that bike shop – all those emotions came flooding back to me and I found myself fighting back tears.

Okay so back to the point. So, ultimately, I don’t want to be on medication. I don’t think I need it. Yet, after re-reading what I wrote at age 20 – I wonder that I always felt so conflicted, so fragmented, so emotional, so angry at things I couldn’t even articulate. That the semester I took a course in Women’s Literature I started to really consciously recognize these feelings. I read A Room of One’s Own. I read The Golden Notebook. I plunged into my writing classes. It all started to click. And now, in retrospect, besides knowing there’s a significant genetic link to this – I was always this way – Born this Way – and now I’ve got wisdom on my side. The wisdom to know what works for me, and what doesn’t. The wisdom to know the difference between just surviving, and thriving.

Flashback: July 25, 1989

July 25, 1989

I realize now just what I need in a relationship with that degree of commitment.  I need to be me, plain and simple, and never lose my separate identity. I’m aware of my good qualities in spite of the bad, and that I should never put up with bullshit, because it’s not worth my time. I can do better. I’m still healing from the breakup with Ben. I sent that letter I wrote him. I’m hoping he’ll call. Which is probably why I can’t fully engage my heart and mind with John.

Speaking of phone calls…Todd called me last night. We haven’t spoken in two years. We spent some time catching up. He said he considered coming back to visit this weekend, but then he changed his mind. I’m considering going to Baltimore to visit him some weekend. I don’t know.

I nearly hit a dog today – it ran out on the street and scared me half to death, no kidding. Sherry and I went shopping the other day, spent a ton of dad’s money and I came home with some beautiful clothes. She told me that dad thinks that the grandkids he’ll have some day will be immaculately conceived. She found this enormously funny. I’m not sure whether she expected me to dispute the fact, but I said nothing and instead laughed with her.

Work at the nursing home has been slow lately, but being there makes me feel a little better… changing the beds and delivering meals…. Tonight I got to feed Eleanor and Mary R. at the same time, while Mary F. entertained with her usual striptease in the dining room. The RN came over and says, “Mary, I’ve had it!” Mary looked up at her and said in the most casual of voices, “well — who gave it to you?”  Agreeable Eleanor just nods and giggles to herself. Linda and I just lost it.

I was talking to Dorothy earlier, who told me she’ll be 84 in October. She was telling me about a thunderstorm where she got shocked by her vacuum cleaner.  She doesn’t really look like she’ll be 84. But then, Mary G. doesn’t look like 98 either. Eloisa is this little old Sicilian lady who grabbed a hold of me when I wasn’t expecting it and wouldn’t let go. She holds on so tight, it’s painful. I can’t say I wasn’t warned not to get too close to her. She was imploring me for medicine for her “head-achy.”

Mr. “A” is the grandfather of a classmate of mine. I was warned about him too. He’s very touchy-feely. Still, the nurses let me walk him back to his room at the end of the hall from dinner one night. The walk back to his room was slow and very awkward, as he tried his best to wrap his hands around my personal parts. He’s sneaky and subtle about it too, and I’d bet my car he uses his “senility” to get away with it.

 

 

 

Closure

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My ex and I had one pet we acquired during the marriage – a beautiful Golden Retriever we adopted in April the previous year. Rosco was intended to be the family pet, but in the end he became my dog as the early months progressed and I was the sole caregiver to him. He followed me everywhere. He slept on my feet as I washed up the dishes each night after dinner, while the kids played in the living room and their dad was out “running leads.”

Two weeks after the divorce became final, my ex attacked me late one night after I came home from working in the restaurant. I ended up leaving the home and moving into my dad’s house with the kids. I returned each morning after I dropped the kids off at school to do my schoolwork until school let out and spend time with Rosco, because I knew my ex wouldn’t be home. One day I came in and found him gone. Subsequent texts revealed only that he had been given to “a good family.” He never told me where Rosco went. I was devastated. All I could think about was that this dog had loved me – I was his person – and one day I left and he never saw me again. It was terrible and my heart was broken.

I learned later that Rosco was with my ex’s father. Good or bad, ultimately this was the best I could hope for, since my lawyer couldn’t seem to negotiate a return of the dog without it costing me even more money I didn’t have. At least I knew the kids would still be able to see “their” dog. They had no idea how I felt.

It’s been over 4 years. I have thought of him periodically, with a heart aching to see him and touch him, to wrap my arms around his big soft body and tell him I love him. For what it’s worth, I know my ex-father-in-law and despite my personal feelings I know that he loves that dog with everything he’s got. He himself got divorced, lost his home (no sympathy there, believe me), and lost all four of his Goldens to old age and illness during this time. Rosco is his constant companion. Still – I needed to see this boy and find some sense of closure I desperately needed.

By coincidence, I finally got to see him last week. Todd warned me not to expect too much. He was worried I’d be upset if Rosco didn’t know me.

In truth – I considered both scenarios. One where he recognized me and got really excited, and one where he only sniffed at me with curiosity and no memory of the “mom” he once hid behind when he was scared of something. I was mentally prepared for both. I knew that either way he was no longer mine and I was okay with that…. and I was okay with whatever happened.

Humans have these stupid emotions that dogs just don’t feel. Dogs don’t hold onto memories the same way we do. But in my mind – I couldn’t let go of the feeling that he’d thought I’d abandoned him, and I just couldn’t stand it.

The day finally came last week. I knew he was on the other side of this gate I was passing through, and I took a deep breath and willed myself not to cry. Four years I have waited for this moment.

When I saw this full-grown Golden crossing the deck, I was awe-struck. He was so big. Much bigger than he was before. He had the paws of a lion. And, when I said hi Rosco!…. he doubled back toward his daddy. He was shy and skittish. I had forgotten this about him, as it never used to be about people. I held out my hand for him to smell, wondering whether he’d recognize my scent, but he gave no indication. He sniffed briefly, and wandered back to where he could watch his daddy to be sure he’d not be left behind. He never lets him out of his sight. He was never that skittish with me. But then, his life hadn’t been quite turned upside down before that day he was taken from our home. I allowed myself this internal thought with a touch of anger toward my ex, and then with a deep breath willed it to go (no word on that yet).

Eventually he warmed up to me as I squatted down to pet another dog who was there, sitting down right next to me – giving me no other choice but to stroke his back. He would later sit next to my chair, not too close, his eyes keenly focused on his dad and what he was doing, but he allowed me to stroke his head and back and tickle his big soft ears. When I knelt down to pet him and see his gentle brown eyes, I whispered the words I have wanted him to hear since the day he disappeared. And I realized that it wasn’t for him. It was for me.

He’s okay. And so am I.

 

 

The Return of Mr. Hyde

This is a hard post for me to write. It’s been two days, and I’m still feeling the aftershocks. For those who know me personally, it may be hard to read. I’ve already respectfully asked those closest to me, not to read it. But I have to write it. I have to. And afterward, I’m calling a counselor.

I’m not going to rehash the history. If you’re unfamiliar with it,  this post will provide you the background. There are other posts under the Toxic Marriage/ Divorce tab.The ex and I have had a ceasefire since I moved over an hour away, almost 3 years ago. We haven’t really had any words in as long. Our communications have been mostly amicable, and businesslike. And for that, I’m grateful. But, as I mentioned before, there’s always a second shoe waiting to drop.

I spent most of the early part of Sunday recovering from a particularly difficult night at work. As the kids were with their dad, I planned to head up early so I could do some shopping before the stores closed. About 3 p.m. I received his text. We had agreed to some changes in his financial support and the text addressed the bills I sent him that weren’t properly prepared. He requires copies of the receipts I have for insurance copays, which I’d forgotten to give. Ultimately, he would be “a fool” to write checks based on a total amount without supporting receipts.

His confrontational nature left me feeling more than weary. I told him this wasn’t a good day for discussion. He started calling me, multiple times, and I refused to answer. I meant what I said. Finally, not entirely unintentionally, I poured the gasoline on his fire when I suggested that going through domestic relations to clarify everything in black and white might be better for both of us and make this all less stressful. Which couldn’t be further from the truth. He immediately saw this as a threat, and berated me for ignoring his calls. The texts grew more tense.

I suspected a confrontation was coming when I picked the kids up, and proactively attempted to get someone, anyone, on the phone before I pulled into the driveway. Well, anyone but Todd, who I knew would lose his shit if my ex got nasty with me. Which is the absolute last thing either one of us needed with him at home an hour away.

Unfortunately, not one person was answering their damn phone. I cursed the gods and pulled into the driveway and, like déjà vu, I see him stalking out the back door toward my car. I kept my window up. He tapped on the glass and made the “roll down” motion with his hand. I said – through the glass – I told you, I am not having this conversation today. I’m not doing it. Why I ever rolled down the window, I’ll never know. I guess I thought if he had his say then the kids could come out and we could leave. (He told the kids to stay inside until he came and got them.)

He started in immediately, making accusations about I-don’t-know-what and he crossed a line with me fairly quickly. I put the car in gear and started to pull away. He jumped onto my car, holding onto the open window with both arms as I was drifting – essentially allowing himself to be dragged. I panicked and stopped, my pulse racing ahead of my brain which was telling me this was going to end with the police again.

He was yelling and screaming at me, all the while holding onto my door to prevent me from leaving. I couldn’t get a word in. I imagined everyone within a half mile could hear. At some point my fight reflex kicked in, and I started yelling back. There’s no trust between us, and there never will be. He changed jobs and never told me. He moved his girlfriend in eight months ago, whose last name I don’t even know, and never informed me. And now, they’re engaged. He never told me that either. I shouted all of this to support my lack of trust in him, and all he could come up with was – what does any of that matter?! It’s none of your business! I said it IS my business because it affects the children, and the custody order dictates that major changes are cause to notify the other parent. He denied that she moved in. He really thinks I’m stupid, I guess.

I kept telling him that I didn’t want to do this right now and repeated step away from my car several times. I felt the tears burning up through me. He reached out to touch my arm on the steering wheel and I snatched it away before he could, hissing don’t touch me!  At some point he was crying, over money troubles and job stress, and missing the kids all the time… it’s always all about him. I promised him we wouldn’t go back to court and now I’m threatening to go to domestic relations. But he’s wrong. I never threatened to go back to court. But he did, in one of his many breathless diatribes that afternoon, that if I go to domestic relations for more money he’ll have no choice but to go for custody again so he doesn’t have to pay more money. I know how ridiculous this all sounds now. But at that moment, I told him he can have them, if that’s what he thinks is best for them. Because it was one small victory in my heart – that I’m no longer afraid he will take them away. It would crush them. And he can’t be that selfish. Or can he?

It was horrible. I don’t even think I can articulate what it was like – other than in an instant I was catapulted back to being married to him again – where he’s controlling me and I can’t get away and he’s screaming at me and making accusations. So many times in arguments we’d had, I’d try to walk away – or even outside – and he would stand between me and that exit, physically barring me from leaving, his face inches from mine, crowding me. And he did it all while belittling me and trying to tear me down. All of my senses were tingling on high alert again, a feeling I haven’t felt in 4 years. A crushing, desperate need to run.

I’m broken. I’ve been broken for a very long time. If healing from a toxic relationship is based on the half-life theory, we were married for nearly 13 years – and so it’ll take me six and a half to fully extricate the subconscious mind from it. To say he is despicable isn’t enough to heal me. To say he was hateful and wrong and unapologetic is easy, but it doesn’t make me feel any better. I still hear his critical voice in the back of my head every now and then, because it’s like a wound that is still bleeding – not a big gaping wound, but more like a papercut. It stings.

I rarely have cause to cry these days, but this day it started and I couldn’t shut it off. When he was satisfied with the results of this interaction, he was suddenly calm and said he would go get the kids. Left me sitting in my car, the tears streaming down my face. Just like déjà vu. And I couldn’t shut it off long enough to drive my children home. I cried intermittently, with Opac zoning out on his iPod and Veruca curled up in the front seat, sick from some stomach pain. She never mentioned Sunday, but he did. He worries over these fights. He admitted to watching from the window, and admitted that he was wrong to do so. But he was worried. We talked about it a little yesterday, but I am guarded. I don’t know what to say and what not to say. The only answers I have for him, is that it wasn’t about him, or Veruca.

Right now I’m feeling fragile. I don’t want to talk. I’m stronger than all of this, but I’m going to need some help. Help I should’ve gotten long ago.

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 Hours and 15 Days

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Photo Copyright TMA & The Tara Chronicles

I haven’t been much for writing these days. Not terribly inspired. It sounds crazy, and maybe hard to believe, but I’ve been mourning. I really have been experiencing the typical stages of grief, from shock and disbelief to moments of extreme sadness (with tension-releasing tears), back to denial and refusal to acknowledge it in any way, to quiet acceptance, to anger over media speculation. I’ve been listening to his music, losing myself in the sound of his voice – rich and deep and sexy, soft and crooning, his emotionally-charged falsetto – the range of his music intoxicating, arousing, and dreamlike.

I’ve tried to stay away from news outlets, as I typically do, simply because I just don’t want to hear it. I don’t want to hear about the battle for his estate, the value of his fortune, what caused his untimely death – I don’t even want to hear about the vault, or others’ memories of him. I don’t want to hear other people talk about him, or his music. I don’t care what their favorite song was. I don’t want to hear some other artist singing or playing his music “in tribute.” I don’t see it as a tribute, but rather as their selfish way to make themselves relevant again, if just for a moment. I want to keep my feelings about him, and the associated memories, to myself. I’ve been listening to Sirius channel 50 a little less every day, turning instead to my personal collection of his music. I prefer to listen to full albums, from start to finish, rather than jump around the decades with attention only to the hits.

One afternoon last week while I was making an apple pie for the restaurant, I put on the 20/20 special about him that aired the day after he died. I just had to. I don’t even remember what was said in that hour, but I remember that the last song he played in his last concert was Purple Rain. How poignant it would turn out to be. Hearing that song, and seeing him seated at his piano, brought fresh tears to my eyes and that sinking feeling in my heart. I turned it off and tried to brush off this inconceivable grief for a man I never knew. Not happening. I haven’t cried, really cried, in ages. And here I was, crying like I’d lost my best friend. And then Todd came home, and wrapped his arms around me, and I fell into his shoulder and cried like I used to during that horrid custody battle.

It finally occurred to me that my grief has less to do with the tragedy of his passing, that I will never see him in concert again (which I had planned to do), that my unrealistic hope that one day I’d meet him – is gone. The grief is layered. I’m not even sure I can articulate it, yet it occurred to me that my sadness is somehow attached to Todd and that magical time when we were two teenagers falling in love. That first night alone in my room, lying on the floor listening to Controversy, For You, Dirty Mind, and Purple Rain, the music enveloping us as we dreamed away our young lives and connected to each other in a way neither one of us would ever forget. HE made that happen. Silly as it sounds, it almost feels like he took a piece of us with him when he died. Perhaps I’m grieving for the time lost. I don’t know. The physical sensation I have is one of an empty pit, that stirring dull nausea in my gut that I suddenly remembered as one I’d felt before…from breakups and lost love.

All I know right now is that it’s difficult for me to hear anything about him. I don’t want to know about some love child who just may be the sole heir to an empire we can’t even begin to imagine. Todd is more the realist – he believes it’s entirely possible. How many women do you think he actually slept with? Silly me. I’d never in a million years ever considered that he was first and foremost a rock star – a Gemini male who not only oozed pheromones, he WAS a pheromone. And today – I really don’t want to know. I am content to live inside my bubble where he was everything and perfection – unattainable and untouchable. Beyond human.

So there it is. The heartbreak, because…He was human.

Grown up, But Not Fully Grown

I had to go out today because Opac forgot to take his medication. So I drove to the high school with impeccable and completely unplanned timing (since I can never remember his schedule), as he was in the middle of lunch. The office has a window looking out into the cafeteria, so I saw him coming from the other side of the room. His gait was tall and serious, like an FBI agent moving stealthily through a crowded airport. Of course he had no idea why he was being paged to the office, but I can’t imagine he’d be worried given that he’s, like, never in trouble.

He came in and was all business, took his pill and bid me goodbye in a formal way like a boss ending an interview. As I walked out the front doors, I giggled to myself. He’s so different in any school-related environment… cutting an austere figure with his mother in the presence of his peers. I wish I could say he’s trying to be the cool dude, but I don’t really believe he’s trying. I think he’s more just trying not to look like a doofus.

At home where he is relaxed, he is silly, loud, obnoxious, cool, and occasionally emotional and sensitive. He was home sick for 3 days last week and, while he usually is hiding out in his room, he spent most of those days on the couch hanging with me. I absolutely love the moments I can spend one-on-one with him, because they are fewer and farther between. He’s fifteen now. He’s in high school. He’s already anticipating being 16 this year and driving.  A car. In just three short years, my baby boy – the little man who snuggled against me for the first four years of his life, whose big brown eyes and long dark lashes gazed at me with love and wonder – will be looking ahead to college and moving away. I’m sure I’m not the first mother to announce that I’m not ready.

I took the opportunity to finally rent Straight Outta Compton because Veruca was in school and I’m that mom. He’s totally a rap addict, and was looking forward to seeing this since the day it opened in theaters. I bought the other movie he hadn’t seen – Star Wars: The Force Awakens – which he’s been dying to see… one, because he’s been a huge fan since I introduced him to the original trilogy when he was 4, and two, because everybody else has seen it and he’s been unwillingly exposed to a handful of spoilers. I popped that DVD in and periodically watched his face for reactions. When the first shot of the Millennium Falcon appeared, I watched the slow smile spread from his lips to his eyes and it filled me with the exact same joy and heart-rush that I felt every time we watched Star Wars together. It was like watching that four-year-old boy’s thrills, one frame at a time.

I’m glad he likes to share with me. He shares every last detail and thought about the music he listens to, what happened at Death Row Records (not like I wasn’t sitting right next to him watching the movie), how his Biology test went today, how many deadlifts he did in weight training yesterday, and all the God-awful-stoopid videos he finds on You Tube. I don’t want the conversation to stop. I hang on to those moments like I held on to my Todd’s gazes across the gymnasium in high school. He won’t talk to me about girls. I ask occasionally, and he quickly brushes it off like a nagging mosquito. He will still occasionally take my hand, absentmindedly wrapping his fingers around mine, and then just as quickly drop it like he suddenly remembered he’s 15. When he got in the car to go home last weekend, he picked up my makeup bag from his seat and asked what it was. And then he asked me why I wear makeup because I don’t need it. Sigh.

I once wrote about how surreal it is to be hugged by your own flesh and blood that is now larger than you. How he can pick me up. He still hugs me every day. I make him. Well – it started out that way – I told him he has to hug me once a day, every day. He hasn’t forgotten and some days when we’re really busy he will come to me for it before I’ve had a chance to even think about it. And I’m grateful. These are all the things I’m holding on to… hoping they will always overshadow the other 50% of who he is. I’m still getting used to the stubble on his face when I kiss his cheek. I will never get used to him growing up.

Nothing Good Comes of It

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Been absent from the blog for a bit. I haven’t had any inspiration. Not sure I have any today, either. Todd and I had an outing last weekend to support a high school friend who’s fighting cancer. Cancer. What the fuck? When did we get old enough to have peers with cancer?

I drank too much. When we got in the car, with my brother in the back seat, I said I really wasn’t up to drinking. Todd said, great! This means I would be the designated driver for a change. We got there. It was crowded. It took nearly 30 minutes to get our first beers. So, being ever efficient, I ordered two. I hadn’t eaten dinner. You do the digestive math.

Alcohol is evil.  I drank beer, the absolute least innocuous alcoholic beverage I could think of. My girlfriend, hours earlier, had suggested that tequila is a fat-buster, since she was the skinniest she ever was when it was her proprietary drink. I forgot the advice an hour later and started drinking IPA.

I saw a bunch of people from high school I have absolutely no contact with IRL – and, a week later, I know exactly why. Of course there are a handful that I do keep in contact with, but ultimately, it wasn’t worth the time or the ill-timed alcoholic response I had to the others. Nevertheless, I learned a few things. Take a lesson from Tara.

There is no such thing as “just a couple of beers.” A couple of beers on an empty stomach translate as you will be drunk within an hour and have no control over your common sense. I keep forgetting this lesson. It’s a lot easier too, when your little brother with the wooden leg is along for the ride. And, while we’re here, your little brother – unless he’s been expertly trained – cannot be counted on to be your wingman. For the record, I never asked him to be, but still – in retrospect I think had he been taught properly to look out for his big sister, some of the more stupid aspects of my evening might have been avoided.

Being drunk means making bad decisions. I wanted to curse the gods that my bff wasn’t there to reel me back in, or that Todd loves me enough to let me be who am I for whatever it’s worth. But, at 46 years old, I shouldn’t need someone else to beat some sense into me. I should know better. So – I spent some time this week revisiting my embarrassment and also contemplating what drove me to make certain decisions . What did I expect to get out of it? What message did my poor decision, driven by Goose Island IPA, send? And this is where I went terribly wrong. I know my intentions were nothing more than clearing some air that’s been void of oxygen for 20 years. Should’ve left well enough alone.

I’m a nice person. I have an innate desire to BE nice, and also to be perceived as nice. I like to get along with everyone. Including my ex – and we all know how far that gets me before I get burned, like the burgers my brother grilled at last summer’s party. I don’t want people to think I’m a bad person, a bitch, or someone worth avoiding. I enjoy banter with friends – old and new. And I had a good time getting caught up that night with old friends. Yet… I drank too much. Probably said things I shouldn’t have. What’s worse – not knowing what I said. Which is why alcohol is a bad thing.

I am self-destructive.What is it that makes me self-destructive? I do, and say, things sometimes that serve no one, not especially myself. And I’m not sure where this comes from, or why. And it’s not alcohol-driven. It’s a rare thing nowadays, these attempts I unconsciously make at self-sabotage. But I suppose I was overdue, and the alcohol opened the door for insidious behavior.

Forty six. Not the age to throw caution and common sense to the wind and hope your house is still standing when you wake up. I’m feeling terribly fragile by my carelessness. No one is making me feel this way… only me.

 

 

 

Never Date Somebody You’ve Never Noticed

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Imagine that you one day meet someone who has been admiring you from afar that you didn’t even know existed before they mustered up the courage to enter your orbit. Imagine that you’ve been pining away for someone else entirely. Now imagine that this secret admirer asks you out. You are either flattered or horrified. Let’s assume it’s the former, and you figure – what the hell? (Except maybe when you’re really young, you don’t use that kind of language yet.)

What the hell, you say? Don’t Do It. It won’t end well. At least it doesn’t when you’re an incurable flirt, immature, and … me. It didn’t end well because it wasn’t meant to be, was a waste of time, and took me away from my destiny. (Cue Soap Opera organ music.)

I stumbled on one of three journals I kept in my teen years, this small, navy-blue-with-white-flowers-on-it cloth-covered book. It was filled with song lyrics of the day (ahem <cough> 80s) and some really lame prose I’d written about love and longing, peppered with a little bit of lust I had yet to experience. My memory isn’t terrible, and so I can remember meeting Todd when I was 15 and what that was like. I’ve written about it before. We saw, we met, we … didn’t date. But I was definitely into him. What I didn’t know was that he was too. I mean, I thought he was, but he never even asked me out. If “WTF” existed then, I’d have posted multiple pics of my crush from a safe distance, on Instagram, captioned with it.

What was really cool about finding this journal is reading the words my 15-year-old self said about him that I’d never read in 30 years. Some senior I barely knew asked me out and I wrote that I was going on my first date – and that “Todd waited too long…” as if he were to blame for it.

I ended up dating this other guy in college who I never even knew existed. Eleven months later – was it a mistake? I don’t know, I’m truly not one to say I regret something. There are lessons, sometimes. But it was one hell of a painful lesson I didn’t think I needed. I got dumped and rebounded into another thing with yet another guy I never knew existed. And guess who came back in the middle of my rebound? Todd.

I wasn’t ready for that. As I revisit old journals to tell my tales of New York, I see just how not ready I was. New friends, new experiences… new guys… oh there were plenty of them for my incurably flirtatious self to distract myself with. It’s almost embarrassing, and why I won’t be retelling those tales if I can help it.

We spoke a handful of times that summer I moved to New York. We wrote letters. I held onto the last one he sent me – where he had hand-drawn a rose at the bottom – for more than 10 years. I regret that I allowed it to be taken from me by jealousy.

We talked about this recently. I told him I was writing this post. This all sounds like I obsess over “what if” … and I’m focused on the past I cannot change. I know someone who’s going to say so, and will also tell me that I should be focused on the blessings that we have today (you will be wrong, and I do, and I love you for caring). Anyway, what came of our conversation was this: I was literally flying by the seat of my pants back then and that I wasn’t ready for anything. I knew it, too. I wrote about it constantly.

The other thing that came of it was this: I was immature and wasn’t self-aware enough to know better. Todd said, you took what you could get. It wasn’t what I was looking for, but I took what I could get.

You go through life and you’re looking for something… and it’s just not there… or you think you’ll never find it. But others are there and it seems okay, so …. Take what you can get.

And now I think I’ve talked myself into a circle, or is it a corner? Am I advising against dating someone you never noticed? No, cause that would be stupid. Do I really obsess over this? Nah…I just enjoy dissecting things sometimes. It’s fun to imagine where we’d be without those “intermissions.”

One thing I know for sure – the route may have been different, but the destination would still be the same.

 

 

Overheard in a Fitting Room

A 10-year-old walks into a space-challenged fitting room after trying on a dress, and wedges herself into the corner seat. The click of hangers and whoosh of fabrics … a few seconds of trivial conversation turns to this.
 
Dad really loves Stephanie.
I hope so. I’m glad.
You want him to be happy.
Yes, I do.
Why did you and dad get divorced?
We didn’t get along. We fought a lot.
But you don’t fight anymore.
That’s because we’re not married anymore.
What did you fight about?
Everything. We didn’t see eye-to-eye on very much. But I’m not sorry we got married – because I have you, and your brother.
You’d still have us, even if you married Todd instead.
Well, I’d still have kids, they just wouldn’t have been you and –
Yeah, cause then we’d look like Todd. Eww!
What?!
Well, his face is skinny…
What are you saying?
No – I mean, he’s alright but –
Well, I like him.