Friday, July 31, 2009
Get ready for enough words to stuff a small mattress. This is a repost of a blog from June 4, and then an update on how this is all turning out.
Last night I was writing you this beautiful blog...
Thursday, June 4, 2009 at 8:27am
About my daughter, and her birth, and who she's growing up to be. I was in my typical nine para graph style working up to what I really wanted to say about how she is really my teacher and not the other way around as I had envisioned it in the beginning. It was good, it was tribute, it just barely glimpsed the way I love her and what she means tome as from the corner of you're eye when you're sure you've almost glimpsed a miracle. But it started with her birth. She was my only hospital birth, and her brothers were 7 and 9 that june sunrise... I had a good friend playing the roll of their birth coach because I wanted them there to be a part of it, not just have me go "Hey, look at this baby I got, she's your sister." On the off chance that one of them was too freaked out or grossed out to handle it I had this good friend who went and got them at 4:30 am from their dad (who can't stand her, she went through that for me) and I had been practically holding her in for them to get there so we could all do it together. They got to my bedside and I said "Hi boys, can you see ok?" and then three pushes later Molly was here. I remember them telling me to get my hands out of the way, but I catch all my own babies and as soon as I had her under her slippery little arms I pulled her up to lay on my heart where she's been ever since. Andrew wanted to know if they were going to unplug that extension cord, Paul was kinda "Hey cool but gross" Neither of them was in perfect vagina viewing angle, they were by my head, and still too young to be scarred by seeing their mother naked.
Remember, this was 16 years ago, lesbians weren't having babies the way they were today, as in whenever they choose to. Pretty much a partnerless lesbian wasn't going to get a lot of birth action, although that statement is absolutely meaningless to this story, it serves to slightly illustrate how deep our bonding was that we had just been through that together. Molly's dad hadn't attended any birth classes (I told him I didn't need him for anything when I was giving birth and I don't know what he thought it was going to be like but I don't think he saw any role other than the original implantation anyway) But my friend (who I'm not naming for her anonymity later in this story) had been fascinated by the whole process and really wanted to be there even though she knew that her role was to take a boy or two out if they couldn't handle it. She was right by my side when baby "Violet" (her name for molly the whole time she was inside) was growing and preparing for her emergence into the land of touch and breath. It was three pushes (Where Paul was 26 hours and Andrew was 5 days) and then she came right as the sun emerged from the rain clouds for those few minutes on that June morning 16 years ago. Molly's dad was furious that I wanted her there, he hates "those gays" and didn't want "one to see my wife naked." I completely disregarded him in that as I did in so many other things, which is part of my part of why we couldn't be married, but this isn't that story.
So I was writing a beautiful, poetic story last night about my daughter who will be 16 tomorrow, and was just past the part that my friend had played in her birth. We've drifted apart, this friend and I. We did use a lot of Meth together in the year before I got pregnant with Molly, we kicked together, we made beaded jewelry well into the night together... but then I married Molly's dad and he hated her and she felt excluded and that was the start of the drift. We have stayed off meth for these last 17 years, both of us, although I took up drinking and she hurt her back at some point and had a Kaiser style access to pain meds. She took me to my first three or four Indigo Girls concerts, and we'd talk and exchange birthday presents, but something shifted in our friendship and we had long moved from "best friends" to really old friends who remembered a lot of tricky bad times we'd been through.
Michael knows her, we've eaten meals together, surprisingly they never got into playing guitar with each other, but our whole family knows she's a distant spinster aunt who would be so much happier if she could find the right woman to love and settle down with. She got increasingly depressed and bitter and I really dropped the ball in seeing how much trouble she was drifting into, moving on to stronger and stronger pain pills, morphine patches, pills and pills and pills. I didn't ask her to be a bridesmaid when I married Michael (There's no way I would have asked her to wear a dress or explained a bridesmaid in a tux to a majority of my guests) but I did ask her to play me a song at the reception.
Recently she moved to Las Vegas to try to find a better job market, and referred to it as "making the biggest mistake of her life" because she was going to live with a couple who both have used meth for the whole time I've known her. I was so worried that she'd fall back into that, and have actually said to my friends that I am afraid I just sent my good friend off to the desert to die. I called her on the way to my fateful Indigo Girls concert last month to say hi, I was thinking about her and we only chatted for a few minutes, but how could I be on the way to see Amy and Emily and not think of her hard enough to call her? That's the last time I talked to her before last night when I was randomly writing about her and her part in Molly's birth, which was a blog about the magic of my daughter.
I'm hitting my stride now, I have enough words that come before the story I want to tell you to feel like it's time to start now.
Turns out that my worries about her falling back into meth use were groundless, it's been disgusting her the whole time she's been there. The part I never anticipated was that her Kaiser isn't recognized in Nevada, and with no job she couldn't fill her many prescriptions without paying out of pocket. She's been kicking opiates alone in a tweeker house, and she's been on them for years. It's been a sweaty sick business for her, and she's been afraid to call me about it, not because she thought I wouldn't understand but because she knew I would. She knew I would be telling her to get her ass to an NA meeting, and she'd sort of found this second rate way to try to halfway deal with it: A skeezy guy who comes over and has been giving her methadone. This is not a story about my feelings about giving opiate addicts methadone so they can replace one drug with another, and I'm not qualified to have an opinion about that, opiates weren't my thing and who am I to judge anyway. Turns out Mr. Skeezy has shown up in her bed the last two nights, once demanding a hand-job, and the next having sex into the crease of her bended knee while she lay with her back to him crying. I call this rape, whether or not he penetrated her. She called me horrified and crying and needing drugs so bad and knowing he'd be back with more drugs and more penis. He said to her last time "I'm being nice this time" and she needed the drugs so badly and we both know what was coming. She called me, because I'm an addict, and I know about that need that lets you watch yourself do every single thing you've promised yourself you would never do. That need that must be answered. I know that need, it's asleep right now, hypnotized by my Higher Power but once it worms itself into your soul like an amazonian parasitic worm that surgery can never remove.
We cried together, and we talked about the problem for a while, honored it's hugeness and then me being me we shifted the topic to possible solutions. I was harsh in describing my visions for her immediate and long term future. Harsh from love, but pulling no punches in telling her that she was probably close to death, if not of her body then her soul. She asked what sponsors do, and if I would be hers and if that would change our friendship. I said it would, because there's never been any balance of power between us and that I can be a hardass and what a sponsor does is give directions and the other person doesn't do what is suggested then it's a big waste of time. I said I'd sponsor her for just that night, and that if she really wanted my help she would need to do what I said. Like I know what other people "need" to do, but she's in Vegas and I couldn't drive over there and the only connection we had was the tenuous wireless one that is so battery-dependent.
I told her to drop to her knees that moment and say to whoever it is she talks to "Help me I'm dying and I can't do this without your help." she did I said "Do it again." Crying and sobbing she said "Help me, please help me I'm dying and I need you." I told her she was now infused with a power that was going to allow her to do the next thing. I told her to grab her guitar and a backpack and put three pairs of pants four shirts and a handfull of panties in it. To grab all the small valuable things that she could sell later and her journal into the backpack. I told her not to get strung out into other things like "which CDs should I bring?" (the answer was none) "Grab your family memento little things that you can't replace, grab what fits into one backpack. She's setting the phone down and crying and I'm praying my ass off and googling the nearest hospital to her address while she does this. She had to put her phone on it's charger and set me down because it was our only connection and her battery was almost dead. She trusted me, she was doing what God was telling me she needed to do next. I told her to put every pill, every drug she owned into the backpack and take it with her, that there couldn't be one drug in her room when she returned, which she wouldn't be doing. I asked her to walk away from her stuff, which is how we define our space on the planet sometimes.
I said the hard part was that she needed to go put that stuff in her car and be ready to drive away from the rest of it. First she had to feed the dogs, she had to go to the bathroom, she had to smoke one more bowl. Of course she did, hurry hurry hurry before someone comes home. She did as I suggested because I love her, and I'm an addict and I know the need and she's seen myself be saved from it. I asked if she had her car loaded and when it was I said here comes the next hard part, I don't want you to leave a note of any kind. I want you to walk out to that car, and don't look back, you will turn into a pillar of salt.
Somehow she got a full charge on her battery (Thanks HP, we needed it) and talked her (with the use of google maps of a place I've never been) all the way to a hospital that should have been a 15 minute drive, but there is so much freeway construction that crucial onramps were closed. It took half an hour for her to get there. She asked me to sing some of "Turpentine" by Brandi Carlile to her, I did. She asked what she should say when she walked into the emergency room and I told her to tell them that she was going to kill herself, that she had the drugs to do it, and a plan, and that she was going to do it right now except that she didn't want to die. We both wanted her to be 5150 so that she could get three days of medical detox and a safe place to be. I said if she couldn't say those things she needed to hand the phone to the admitting nurse and let me talk to her. She couldn't, and I did.
"This is my sister who stands before you right now. We've been on the phone for three hours and she is going to kill herself. I don't know what kind of drugs she has in her purse, but she has enough to kill 6 people and if you let her walk out that door she's going to do it in your parking lot." "We can't make you any promises that we can do anything for her." I couldn't believe it. "You have got to help her, I'm in another state, and she's trying to kick an opiate addiction and she can't get the drugs she needs and she's giving up. She doesn't want to use any more, she doesn't want to live any more and I sent her to you. I have to put my sister into your hands, and you have to help her!!"
July 31, 2009
So that was back in June, and after three days of hospital detox she's stayed clean, and come down from all those drugs she was prescribed by the Big Connection called Kaiser. She has been rattling around Las Vegas, living in the same house and getting an up close and personal look and disgust at active drug use, and she wants to come home here. When she calls me to check in her voice is light and cheery and I can hear my old friend again, the person I chose twenty years ago to be someone special in my life. She is abstinent, yet not in recovery, the people at Las Vegas NA meetings freaked her out and she just didn't connect with them. I am not her sponsor, but I have been filling that role for her while she gets to where she's heading in life at the moment, and if I make suggestions she listens to me. I am just not qualified to be anyone's sponsor at this point in my life, unselfish giving, regular meeting attendance and most importantly true availability are necessary for that, and with my illness my tank is often only half full on any of those. I do have some experience though, and I am willing to share it with any who seek it, and she calls, seeking.
She took what would fit in her car, and walked away from the rest of her belongings and came home yesterday. Stuff is just stuff, and that's a giant step in willingness that makes me so proud of her. She's home here again, with no job, no permanent residence, but one true friend and a plan.
We're going together today to a ninety-day live-in rehab program that is available here in this town to start the process of getting her in there. Not every town has a facility like this, and I think it's a God-send and that every town should. If you can pay, they ask you to pay, but if you can't you can still avail yourself of their services. For three months you get a bed, and meals, and groups, and go as a group to meetings almost every night of the week. If you stick with it and follow the sometimes ridiculous and arbitrary rules (all, in my opinion designed to see just how willing you really are) and complete the program you also get assistance finding work and a home when you graduate. Many of the graduates go on to volunteer or work at the facility when their ninety days are finished. What it is, really, is the best running start on recovery that is available within miles of where you're standing right now. It's a miracle, housed in an old building that's no longer being used for it's original purpose.
They make it hard to enroll. You don't just waltz up to the door and say "I'm ready, fix me!" They are always full, with a waiting list to get in. They'll ask you to return once a week, still clean, and try again. Sometimes it takes weeks to get a spot in the program. Willingness, diligence, persistence and a desire that is bone-deep are what it takes to become a client here. I've seen so much of that in her already, and I believe she is going to secure her spot in the future that's offered there. The co-dependent in me wants to tuck her under my wing and hold her there until she's in, but I have to remember that she started this journey way over in Las Vegas and has come this far without me micro-managing her. I so want for her what I've found in my own life though, I want it like I used to want a horse when I was ten. Big Want.
We're going to have coffee this morning, and some epic hugging, and some tears, and then get on it, this recovery and renewal of a life that (like mine) was almost lost to addiction. Pray for her, and for me, and just for good measure= for everyone in the world, we all need something from the Universe to be our highest selves.
I, for one, am so excited!
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Today, twenty-five years ago, I entered my journey of real-time parenting. Never think that parenting begins when your child emerges on their day of birth, you have a complete relationship with a being that shares space with your internal organs for months before you get to meet them face to face. Sometime as the sun was going down on this day 25 years ago I met Paul for the first time.
He missed his due-date by two days, on the early side. I had been planning and was well prepared for his birth at home in our tiny apartment by the beach. I had visited my midwife that afternoon, driving the Mighty XOC 812, which was a Volkswagen bug of cancerous color and she assured me she thought it would be sometime that day. The XOC broke down about a quarter of a mile away from the nearest available phone and I walked, in 95 degree heat (with contractions that demanded that I stop, breathe and get through them) to a small car repair garage to beg use of their phone. I remember being terrified that a police car would stop and demand that I be taken to a hospital since I was so obviously in labor, and there was no hospital in my plans.
When I arrived at the office of this greasy garage there was a character straight from a movie talking on the phone, with his feet up on the desk, smoking a cigar. Think Danny DeVito only taller. I was panting, and puffing, and holding a belly that left a scant inch of space between it's borders and my knees when I was sitting down. He actually gave me the "just a moment" one finger signal that he would be done soon when I told him I needed his phone. Maybe he couldn't see me because he was turned inward mentally and talking about whatever car guys talk about. I actually breathed through two contractions while I stood there and waited, because I thought it was important to be polite. I was 23 and he was an older authority figure. I finally found some birthing-mother resources and out of my mouth came "If you do not let me use your phone right now I am going to have a baby here in your office! You're going to need to clear off this desk!" His feet hit the floor, he looked at me for the first time, slammed down the phone and said "Jesus, let me call an ambulance, we don't want no babies getting born here!" I explained, between little puffy lamaze breaths that I just needed to call my friend for a ride. He eyed me like a crazy woman, like a bomb that was ticking and MacGuiver nowhere in sight to defuse it, and let me make my call.
I made it home with over an hour to spare.
The boys' dad came home from work, and wanted to get straight into the birth-coach role that he and I had gone to the classes to learn. He wanted to tell me when to breathe, and to the light belly effleurage that the teacher had shown us, and I wanted no part of it. I was listening to the boom of the wave sets across the street, and the ocean we call Pacific and the ocean in my belly were communicating and my contractions had started to sync with the wave sets. If you've ever listened to the ocean for any length of time, there will be several small waves, then a big one that booms and thunders, about every seven waves or so if I remember correctly. My well trained birth-partner was reduced to water man, I wanted a drink between contractions from him, nothing more, nothing less.
The whole labor including the push lasted 26 hours, which is far short of my longest labor, and far longer than my shortest. I remember when it was time to push I was really excited and ready for the work. I could feel the results, the slow but sure movement with every push, and though it wasn't comfortable I never yelled, I just worked hard. In three births I have never yelled, I would have made a good pioneer, traveling the country ever westward in a covered wagon, except I'm sure I would have packed too much stuff. By the time his head was fully crowned and out my midwife gave me the toughest assignment any woman will ever get: "The baby's cord is wrapped around his neck, looks like a couple of times, so I need you to stop pushing for me."
For any of you who have delivered a baby naturally, or those of you who are still with me and just imagining it, I will tell you that the urge to push is primordial, it's undeniable, it is a force of nature. Not pushing is like trying not to have an earthquake, to ask thunder to wait just a second. It turns out that his cord was double-looped around his neck and each time I pushed I was strangling him. I popped over to an entirely separate plane of reality, and went idle, stopped existing myself, long enough for her to untangle one loop, clamp and cut the cord in two places and then resume reality. "Ok, go ahead, you can push now." she told me, as if I could have resisted that imperative one more time.
I pushed, mightily, as though I was Atlas and had actually rolled that rock to the top of the hill after all. Paul flew out of me and landed on the bed before anyone could even catch him. One of my friends, who knows him as an adult said "Well, he is a skater and that was just his first trick!" He said "Whaaaah whaaaah!" maybe twice, to clear his lungs, and then was silent. He was born with his eyes open, and for the next four hours he said nothing at all, just looked at us with those sapphire eyes that were so aware; looked back and forth at us, at the world, drank in the outside visually while he was totally calm. We knew him, and he knew us, and he was born very old.
His eyes were a shade of blue that defies description if you don't add electricity in there, and as a baby he was so serious and contemplative that for a long time people would ask "Why is your baby staring at me?" After his newborn phase faded, he became the most beautiful baby that anyone had ever seen. His dad had played guitar just inches from my stomach while I sang for the entire pregnancy, and amnio fluid conducts sound quite well. He was marinated in music, and to this day is an amazing and gifted guitar player himself. He is my child who keeps things to himself, has always seemed to know secrets that he keeps in his eyes, unlike his brother who talks always and makes sure you know that he has been trusted with top secret information that he can't divulge.
I will tell you Andrew's story the day after tomorrow, because that will be his birthday, but today I tell you Paul's.
He was the most unusual baby, and has always remained my beautiful and loving enigma. We connect in ways that I can't explain, only treasure. In a book that Molly wrote when she was around 5, she sums up the Paul page with "I love Paul, everybody loves Paul." and even then that was a truth and a prediction. Everybody does love Paul. That is just a constant in the universe.
So today I wish a very happy birthday to my first-born. My Paul Daniel, the first of my three true soul-mates the Universe has seen fit to bless me with. I love you honey, you set the standard for your brother and sister, you were the first to give me the greatest joy a woman can know, and I thank you. I love you more than words. Happy Birthday!
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
In my recent purge of items, the Universe has introduced two vastly different sets of characters to my stage. One is Asher and her crew, a woman who will go to so much effort and use her own time to do generous things for her friend. She took the trailer from my driveway, and went through all the mechanics it took to deliver it to a safety zone in Trinity so that a man who lives on a porch can now have a home, with a door to close on his own space. She gave him the gift of saying "I live here." with cupboards and a counter and a table. She made several trips to do this, driving an hour from her house to mine. She and her partner are such lovely, giving women, and she is very businesslike about her philanthropy, she's just doing what she does. I have intense admiration for her, and plan to maintain a friendship with her because there's no accidents when it comes to life OR craigslist.
The second pair, are Josh and Lauren. They were the recipients of the snake cage, a 900 pound monstrosity that has taken up garage space for the last 13 years. It once held various reptiles from my old life, and was custom built to do that well. It has been transformed from a giant nuisance to a habitat, and I get to hear about it all the time. These two didn't simply show up to take possession of an object though, there was an immediate bond and somehow they are like new family members already. We have adopted them in a way, and I already love them and their two daughters.
It started with the many phone calls it took to discuss the logistics of moving such a large object from here to there. Then I got daily phone calls about what kind of animal they might choose to house in it. (The final answer was Columbian Red Tail Boa, already 7 feet. His name is Brick.) After Brick was home in his new enclosure, there were the daily phone calls about how he is doing, and what they're learning about how to keep him healthy and happy. Since I am who I am, plenty of personal chat made it's way into these conversations and I started to fall in love with them as a family.
They're young, 28 and 26, and their daughters are 2 and 4. They haven't been married long, and just made the long leap of relocation from a backward state in the south. They are changing their lives, and showed their commitment to that by coming all this way out here, even though they don't really have people here, except one aunt of hers. They hadn't met any friends yet, they are still wet from hatching into their new lives.
Josh is loud and funny, much like Andrew, but without the science. He's ex Marine Corps, and is freakishly strong. He could lift our house if I asked him to. Lauren is quieter, and deep in her thoughts, and even though she's very young I sense a wise old woman behind her eyes. Those girls... have completely stolen my heart already.
In that amazing way the Universe works, Josh has miles of tattoos that reflect the old lifestyle he's turned his back on that desperately need covering. I still have a hard time comprehending how a man who so obviously feels deeply and with so much love and compassion ended up wearing swastikas and SS bolts and White Pride; in long conversations I find that it was a protective costume that he started to put on as a little boy to survive in the places he came from. I won't tell his story, it's not mine to tell. It's not a pretty story, although it's beautiful at this chapter because he's ready to be rid of all the hatred he's stained his skin and his psyche with and become the loving, compassionate human that has always existed underneath that titanium shell. The tattoos burn now, they torment him, they keep him in a shirt even in the hottest weather, because they are lies and he can't bear to be seen that way, by you or me, by his daughters. He is like Brick, but cannot so easily shed his skin as he grows. Oh, but there is this miracle I know how to do, and it's called cover-up.
I have so much work around my house that needs tending to, brute-strength style labor and lots of it. I live on approximately a 1/4 acre of land that I have let deteriorate into natural habitat over the last 13 years. I have sheds, and a garage, and all the stuff I described in previous blogs that really needs to be given away until the good stuff is gone, then the remainder removed in a dump truck. His refuse is confined to his skin, but is just as dirty and weighs as much, and we are uniquely suited to cleaning each other's yards. The trade began yesterday. He is a wild and unrefined power source as well as being freakishly strong, and the amount of stuff he raked, and ripped out and dragged to the staging spot for the future dump truck was staggering. Today I have my first appointment with him to start the act of transforming the past.
They've come over and just spent the evening with their girls once already, and it was pure visiting. Andrew and Josh had a loud (not angry, just loud, both of them have no volume control in excitement) and spirited conversation about so many things, and Lauren and I sat in the same room and had our own conversation about so many things, that was almost private in it's decibel wave length. The girls were like little butterflies, engaging my two little dogs in ways that they've never known, and I saw a side of Michael that I never imagined: The Grampa. I never knew there was such a Grampa inside my husband, it's adorable. Although I will never ever wear the title, (I'll need my own name) I can see where I am going to love being a G.... Mother of a child with children of their own.
Those girls are attracted to him like bees to honey, and he is endlessly willing to spin them in chairs, rock them and drag them around in a laundry basket, answer "Do you like pink? Do you like green? Do you like blue? Do you like fairies? Thumbelina has wings did you ever see her?" and throw the monkey toy for the dogs and watch the girls giggle and try to beat them in fetching it. So you have two grown up conversations going on, and then you have two little girls with one future-grampa willing to play whatever they want to play, all in a room that's not very big. It was like having a big family.
We love them, we've adopted them, they are ours now.
The girls come straight to me for hugs now, and let me pet their hair, which is long and amazingly beautiful. Yesterday they met Molly, who is now their hero, their Goddess, their sun in the sky. She picked them right up and took them in the house while their mom and dad were doing yard stuff. She washed them, and gave them little bits of jewelry, and painted their nails; she did everything that she does with her own little brother, except these are girls and she is the consummate girl herself. She is slipping right into the role of Magical Auntie, and she fell in love in the span of one afternoon just like we did. I can't explain the how or why of it, but our family just got bigger and I love these people.
Just on the sheer amount of work that we want to do for each other I can tell you that this relationship will last for quite a while, but even if we get done with that at some point I'm pretty sure they're here to stay. I mean, where else are they going to go during the holidays? Molly has already asked me for twenty bucks so she can take the girls to the Goodwill and shop for dress-up. Lauren is a young mother with two little kids that are the same age difference that my boys were so many years ago, and I so remember what it was like to navigate through all that. I love to show her that they really do grow up and learn to pull up their own pants and get their own juice. It's family love, it's sibling and aunt and grand just the way I've always dreamed of, and I found it on craigslist, in the free section.
The Universe is so kind and generous when and if I know how to ask for what I want, even when the words for "I want more family in my life" are actually typed "I have a snake cage I'll give you for free." It's amazing how the Universe always knows what I mean.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
My dog Jack Bennett came to me in a dream last night. He's been gone for a couple of years now. I was alone with him when he passed, took his last breath in my arms while I was petting his face and telling him what a good dog he'd been, how he could go now ; let go of his wasting body that was shutting down in every way. He took a last breath, arched his back and went stiff, then relaxed and the air went out of him. The spark that made him Jack Bennett was gone. He hasn't visited me in dreams really, since he moved on, maybe dogs don't cling to people and this phase as much as people do, and the first darting thing or interesting smell on their new level sets them running without looking back. I visited with him last night though, in his oldest and most wasted state. He came to me to show me death and dying, and once again it was a process I couldn't stop. I cried in my dream, and woke with tears on my face.
I don't know if I clung to that spark that was my Grandmother, or if she stayed attached to me, but she visited me in both sleep and aware for years until one or both of us was ready to let go. I don't see her as often any more, and I think she's become my dream symbol for certain things rather than an actual visitor. When God speaks to me it's usually in her voice, because it's one I easily recognize and understand and will always listen to.
I got a letter from a woman who lost her baby before it was born. Lived with him still in her womb for three days after the doctors had told her that he hadn't survived the accident. She wants to meet with me to have me tattoo his footprints. She emailed me and touched my life, and made her story more than an article from a newspaper.
The hardest days | Napa Valley Register
Shared via AddThis
I went to bed without really processing the event, just talking about it as a tattoo appointment for Dominick's footprints, wrote her a meager offering of condolence, because how can mere words even begin to touch this? Maybe I've been digesting this story as I slept and Jack Bennett came to me as death in a way I could understand and connect with, so my own grief could kick in and I would get the blessing and curse of my empathy in full.
I was written up once, while working in a special education class as a Sign Language interpreter for our Deaf students. "Laura's empathy level is too high, and interferes with the daily performance of her duties." Hmm. I had a hard time seeing that as a black check mark on my record, but then I've always seen through a different set of eyes. At the time I decided to just own that statement about me, and not feel bad at all.
My dear friend just lost his dad, after some heart attacks and the gradual slide from a heart that functioned to one that failed. They got him home just in time to start his journey from there, and he passed among his own surroundings and people. It was no surprise, everyone knew he was going, and had their chances to hold him and love him and say what they needed to say, and watch the blue creep gradually into his complexion day by day. As deaths go, it was the kind I would choose, I think, if that choice were available to any but the suicidal. But still.
Michael got an up close and personal look at the possibility of his mother's passing, time to consider it as a possibility although she said "NO" to that invitation, and came through her experience with an unshakeable intention. I think just the other day when my vitals were slowly dropping that I was coming up to a doorway that I may have slipped through if Michael hadn't taken me by the hand and yanked me to a hospital and back into my life that I love.
So many people are giving birth, which is walking through a doorway at one end of life's hall. This we celebrate and call "good." Always there is someone passing through the door at the other end, people I know or know of, people I have never known. The hallway that is conscious life is long or short, winding or straight, and in cases like Dominick's it's just one door that goes from here to there without a breath in between. The Universe pops the most unlikely and unexpected cast of characters into the one hallway that is mine, sometimes they intersect, sometimes they merge for a while or quite a distance. Each person though, has their own two doors which they walk through alone no matter the company we keep along the way.
Lots of days it's just me, me, ME walking along, and I think my experience of life is a singular thing. There are moments though, when the camera angle changes and rises straight up to look down and I can see it as an endless maze of criss-crossing hallways, and they are all part of the same thing. We're all walking together even though the dividing walls give the illusion of separateness, and I become just one of all, like a cell in a bloodstream. These moments can be euphoric, they can sometimes contain or connect with the pain or confusion that the whole system occasionally shares. Simultaneously suffused with all of the Joy, or all of the pain I lose my own personal boundaries and the loss of my sense of self is like vertigo at the edge of a cliff. I am much more comfortable being one human in one skin, I can comprehend that, at least a little.
This morning I'm having tears, for feelings that are not mine, and yet being ours the are mine. I long to zoom back in and be only me again, even as I've sought to zoom out to find understanding. Being one human is a challenge, a blessing, a limiting experience and something I ponder while I travel my own hallway. The precipice over endless space is enormous, and the question of falling or flight takes my breath away. Some time, somewhere there will be a door on the edge of that cliff, and I will either reluctantly step through it, or get a running start and leap. I won't know till that happens, and I won't have an answer to my fall or flight question until I do. All of this is too large for my one morning mind to absorb, and for the moment I'm just having some tears. I really need to talk to Andrew about this, he is the one person who will immediately get it without a need to explain the visual imagery that is the way I think.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
I live in a house that is technically a two-bedroom, but two more rooms have been modified enough to call them someone's room, and one person who sleeps on the couch with designated areas of the living room for his stuff. Counting my husband and I, and our four offspring who are occupying all of this boarding space we have six people who live in our house. With the economic crash that began last year or even before, it's become a trend, this adult-children-living-at-home-again thing that we're doing, I know from talking to friends at both ends of the parental spectrum that we didn't invent this.
The six residents here do our best to get along and not step on each other, which is a challenge since there is no room you can go into that has not been named "someone's room." Except the bathroom, which is everyone's room, and we all take turns with it. There is actually another bathroom, attached to the back room, but for some reason that one is dedicated to spiders and empty toilet paper rolls, and to be quite honest simply smells like a boys' bathroom at a gas station. You would have to walk through and over one person's stuff to get to it, and the only time that kind of invasion makes sense is when you really have to pee and someone else is in the shower.
I'm totally cool with all six residents, it's the seventh that is driving me crazy. Mr. Nobody. Why I assign a male gender to this as-yet unseen seventh roommate is a mystery, but their behavior just seems male to me. Mr. Nobody is the one that leaves the lunch meat on the kitchen counter, leaves a whole loaf of bread open to become air toast, drinks half a glass or most of a glass of milk and leaves the remainder somewhere to become, eventually a home cottage cheese experiment, and doesn't agree that condiments belong in the refrigerator.
Mr. Nobody has all the silverware and most of the glasses in the magical land of somewhere else, because if you try to run the dishwasher and ask "So, who has forks in their room?" everyone will say that it's not them. This same invisible person will use the last of the milk, the toilet paper, the toothpaste and not report a need for more when Mrs. Grocery Shopper (that's me) is so obviously going to be making a trip to the store soon.
It's amazing and rude, what Nobody does around this house. Even if you can track ownership of a pair of shoes or a generic black hoodie sweatshirt to a certain person, they will assure you that even though it's theirs, they themselves did not leave it in common space. All space here is common space, except for the tiny area designated for each person's belongings. Nobody will move your load of wet washing from the washer to do their own laundry, without cycling it through the dryer for you first, or remove your clean, dry laundry to a surface and not bring it up from the basement.
He uses metal utensils in the non-stick pans. It's Nobody who will close the dishwasher, half full of dirty dishes to get to a cupboard to make something to eat, and then set their bowl on the counter right next to it or in the sink. It's Nobody who will put a dish with any kind of food still in it straight into the sink, even though in the thirteen years we've lived in this house we've never had a garbage disposal. Nobody will take the trash out to the can, which is just a statement, not saying that this mystery person actually does it, it's more saying that nobody will do it so my hard working husband has to do that AND take the cans out to the street on garbage day and bring them back that evening. It is, however Mr. Nobody who will carefully defy the laws of gravity stacking items on top of a full trash can until it towers over the actual borders of the kitchen can.
I love my kids, all of them. I am totally sick of this Mr. Nobody though, the invisible roommate who also lives in this house and does not contribute to rent, groceries or utilities. When I find him, I'm kicking him out. He's comfortable here though, he's been living with me since it was just me and my own three kids. Bastard.
I'm ever so happily married to someone who is just right for me. This brings me such joy that like a newly converted christian I have come to believe that everyone I know and love should eventually attain the same state, is on their way to it, or is at least searching for the partner to link up with and promise forever to. It's got to be the best way to live, since that's the way I live, and I always make the assumption that it's right for everyone. Maybe yes, maybe no, I rarely step outside of my own experience to consider whether it's right for everybody. What makes me happy must be good for everybody. So I always wish that my loved ones and chosen family will find someone like I have and live happily ever after.
When someone that I love enters a new relationship, I'm immediately assessing whether or not I think this is "the one" for them. If I just don't see it (and let's face it, if it's just a rampaging monkey-sex kind of connection and nothing more the chances of me seeing it are slim to none) then I think "Oh, this isn't really going to work out for you, I wish you could meet the 'right' person for you, and be as happy as I am!" When I'm introduced to a new good date, or budding relationship and I think that I myself would have chosen this person for my loved one I feel elated, because I immediately start to hope and emotionally invest in the kind of permanence that I wish for everyone.
I have never had a one night stand, only a series of deep and meaningful emotional relationships, some of which have lasted up to two hours. I tend to marry too quickly, apparently, since it took me three tries to find my real husband. All of the people who are afraid that legalizing Gay marriage is a threat to marriage itself should really focus more on people like me, because I think I'm far more a threat to traditional marriage with my two ex-husbands than any two women who have been together for twenty years or six months that want to exchange vows with each other.
So when I meet the new lover of a dear friend, and they just click; emanate that mutual admiration, fascination and respect for each other that rolls off of them like the smell of freshly baked muffins I get so excited. Vicariously I fall in love all over again, and it's the falling part of love that is the most intoxicating, the daily commitment that is permanent and monogamous has its ups and downs and isn't nearly as exciting. Deeply fulfilling and nutritious for sure, but not always ecstatic.
Inside I'm jumping up and down and giggling and screaming "This might be the one, the one for you! Oh please take me dress shopping with you, we could go on Say Yes to the Dress!" I'm filled with Joy that someone I love is finding and falling face-first into this cliche word of love, which is not cliche in the slightest when it's real and you're in it.
It happened for me yesterday. A good clue that one of your major life companions is entering this state is that they start to disappear from your own life, become a bit transparent at the edges, don't call quite so much. If you feel insecure as a rule this can be very threatening, because it can imitate abandonment or trigger fears that they are mad at you for some reason they haven't expressed. For seasoned love-junkies like me, it's easy to tell that nothing is being subtracted from your own friendship, it's more that the giddy fires of new love have been added to theirs.
I have been missing this one certain person a bit lately, because we went from daily texting and phone calls to the occasional facebook comments and quick "I adore you <3">
This is a new friendship for me, but I've told her that we're not like Sandy and Danny from Grease, that our connection is way more than Summer Lovin', we will be BFFs for always and forever and never lose or lessen our adoration, or at least I won't. Finding out that someone I love so much is (dare I say) falling in love with the most amazing person just thrills me beyond description. (which doesn't mean I won't use another hundred paragraphs in my attempt to describe it...) I got to meet her yesterday, and in that best friend/sister/mother/daughter kind of way I fell a little bit in love myself.
I have high standards for myself and my Lovies, and this woman exceeds all of them. She's beautiful and intelligent, super spiritual and creative, complete in her own life and not looking for someone to fill an emotional hole (as far as I can tell from one hour of coffee, I'm not Christine so I'm not a real psychic, simply presumptuously intuitive) and in my opinion just perfect for my Dear One. I am so excited I could just spin around until I'm dizzy.
This doesn't happen as often in regard to others as it did for me when I was dating. Ask me on a second date and I was pretty sure we were on our way to something real and profound, but then again I had far less self-esteem way back then and thought I needed someone else to complete me. Thank God I got off that ride and did a lot of soul searching and internal discovery before I met my perfect mate. If I hadn't I'd probably be married to a future ex-husband again and wondering why things never last. I come from a life where only one person I didn't give birth to actually stayed, so the quest for permanence is coded into me. I'm still guilty of trying to pick or predict permanence in relationships for the people I love, it's a gift or a curse but it's mine and that's just how I operate.
So today I'm skippy-hop-happy, and all night last night I knew that this would be the topic of the following morning write. Someone I love has connected with someone I find to be so right for them, and my universe is spinning a little faster and smoother on its axis. Ain't love grand? I'm deliberately leaving out names, because it's not my business to introduce this new relationship to the world, just to sit here and be thrilled and hope I will someday be a bridesmaid. I'm really over the moon though, to see someone I love and admire so very much be in the presence of another who brings out the best in her, to smell their new muffins and imagine that they too may have found the thing that makes every one of my own days so beautiful and grounded even in the midst of chaos or worry. Get me some pom-poms, I'm ready to do a cheer! Give me an A! Give me a J! (that's all I know about cheerleading, I was a stoner in high school and never went there.
I'm so lucky I get to share this.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
There seems to be no way to just bring my old blog over, which is actually just a collection of facebook blogs I put in one place so my Big Daddy could figure it out. He can navigate a motor coach from southern California to the Bay of Fundi, but he can't seem to find my facebook notes.
I occasionally give the address to the few others who are interested in reading my daily ritual, and if you have stumbled upon me and enjoy reading then by all means continue.
The RSS feed at the top contains all the months of writing that I have laying around, there's some stuff to click around in there as well.