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Ex-Pat remains in the hospital, and as I discussed yesterday, I have started the clean-up process in my old house.
It is terrifying.
I don’t understand how someone can let things get this dirty. I chided Kelsea about it last night (nice welcome home, huh?) and she said that she never touched half of the stuff in the house – which sounds just like her Dad. My response? Whether you touch it or not, you still live here. So there.
I won’t gross you out with all the details, but suffice it to say that when you have two dogs and two cats, love to cook, and live by a creek and across the street from a cow pasture, you just have to realize that hair, dust, and grease can transform some things into creations worthy of Salvador Dali if you don’t stay on top of it. I’m so far under it in this clean-up process that it’s hard to breathe.
But progress was made last night. Several surfaces were cleaned and shined. One carpet, while not salvageable, was at least improved. Walls and ceilings were partially de-cobwebed. A load of laundry was done. The freezer was cleaned. The kitchen table is 90 percent excavated. I have made some decisions about some of my things – what to take to my house, what to leave here, and what to throw away.
This cleaning process became more amenable for me when I realized that this is another stage of leaving my old life behind. When I moved out in 2008, I took things willy-nilly, at random, because I was shocked at what I was doing. I was actually leaving him. I would grab a random stacking file here, a cookbook there, but there was no real packing. Some of my clothes are still in his closet. Which is beneficial when I housesit, but perhaps not helpful for either of us in making a full-fledged parting. Although he has been passive-aggresively letting the cats pee on my clothes that find their way to the closet floor. Grumph.
I talked to him today, and told him what I was doing,and he said not to go crazy on the cleaning. Since the house is half mine, and in the state it is in, I am disregarding that and doing what I think is right. He may be coming home soon – depends on his fever and blood cultures - and will have a home health nurse coming periodically to help him through six weeks of IV antibiotics through a picc line. It’s my opinion that cleanliness is critical at this time. Dog hair +picc line = back to the hospital.
Kelsea, meanwhile, is embracing the cleaning with all the enthusiasm a teenager on spring break can muster for such an activity. Get what I’m saying? Yippee.
But as dear Ceciliag commented on yesterday’s post, this cleansing will be good for all of us.
Assuming we survive it.
Last week at our writer’s meeting at work, my boss asked me what else was happening in my life – we always end our writer’s meetings that way, since the writers actually interact very little during the week.
I told the team that Kelsea was starting high school on Monday. And they all said, “Awwwww, are you okay???”
I thought that was a perfectly bizarre reaction. Am I okay? Of course I am okay. Why would I NOT be okay? It’s not as if I’M starting high school (again… if I were, then I probably would not be okay).
When I started high school, back in the age before cell phones, computers, electricity, fire, etc., it wasn’t that big a deal for me. I went to a small school, and was with the same people I’d been in school with since kindergarten. The most significant thing was that I finally got to change campuses.
It’s different for Kelsea. She’s been to a K-8 school, so there was a certain similarity, in that she had been with a lot of the same kids for a long time, and in the same building all of those years. And she was absolutely sick of it. It’s been great how excited she’s been about starting high school. She’s always wanted to go to this school, ever since her older cousins went there.
Of course, she had a day or two of anxiety when she found out that she didn’t know a soul in any of her classes – and she had really been looking forward to going to class with her friends. But that has ebbed. She’ll still see her friends. Even though she’s a bit shy, she’ll make new friends. She seems to do that quite well – much better than she gives herself credit for. And I heard something today that I’d never heard from her before: her talking to her friends about what they were going to wear tomorrow.
This weekend, we went clothes shopping for her – new jeans and T-shirts (almost all from thrift shops, where things are stylish, unique, and inexpensive.) We had a great time together. I love it when she wants new clothes, because it so seldom happens. And we found the absolute BEST thing of all: a pair of teal green genuine Converse high-tops (that fit both of us) for $5!
We were so excited. She’s wearing them now, as she’s wandering around for a last hurrah with Uber-Cool Will. I believe they are off to the mall to buy glow-in-the-dark shoelaces and a mustache belt (don’t ask – I’m not sure.)
Her schedule is such that it will be tough for her to stay with me at all during the week. We may work it out – we’ll just have to see. Which means I’ll miss her. And I’ll (finally) really be here at the Bungalow alone (except for the cat who isn’t really mine).
I don’t know if it’s that realization that’s got me a little verklempt, or if it is as my co-workers inquired, that I am suddenly “not okay” – that I am undergoing a realization that my little girl is really growing up, that she will always be my little girl, but that we’ve only got four years worth of weekends and summers together until she’s off on her own. I suspect there’s a bit of that playing into my feelings.
These days, though, I am not borrowing trouble. I am so happy that she’s happy, excited, and who she is. My feelings are about me letting go and moving on, which is the story of my life these last few years. Maybe it’s the story of all of our lives from the day we leave the womb. I don’t really know.
I know I feel pretty lucky to be sitting on my own front porch, writing, fending off mosquitoes, listening to my wind chimes, a glass of wine at hand. It’s a far cry from where I thought I’d be now, if I ever even thought this far into my own future, when I started high school. Or at this time last year, for that matter. “God made the world round so we could not see too far down the road.” Truly, I never saw this.
What I do know with an absolute certainty is that I am blessed to have such a cool human being as my daughter in my life.
It occurred to me the other day, as Kelsea and I were driving down the road, noting to each other which houses we might like to live in here, how different my life could have been had I had a partner who was working with me towards a shared goal all these years. I know that sounds obvious, and I know, too, that I have pondered this many times, but somehow, not in the same way.
We all choose our mates for different reasons. I know that, way back in the annals of time, when I was a few days past 21, I chose mine because he was different from me, exciting, and he made me laugh. They seemed like good enough reasons. And once I get with someone, I tend to stick with them until I realize it will kill me if I don’t leave. I’m stubborn. Or stupid. I know now that I chose my mate to eventually have this wonderful child. Not another child. THIS child.
Others choose mates because they want to rescue them (or be rescued by them). There was some of that in there for me, but it played itself out long ago, when I realized the futility of the whole rescue concept. Others because they don’t want to be alone. Others still because it’s almost expected, and it’s easier to stick with something than to get out and find something else – good enough will be good enough.
None of us can see all the way down the road. People change. Change is the only thing certain in this life. In some cases, each half of a couple changes in ways that still work for the couple as a whole. And in other cases, not.
Had I been with someone who wanted to work towards a common goal, I would have had my beach house here – and my travels, and my place in the Caribbean sun. And some space to write and breathe. I never expected to be coupled with someone who shared ALL my goals, just as I wouldn’t have shared his, but that part is less important than caring enough about one another to be willing work to fulfill not only common goals, but to help the other realize his or her OWN dreams – simply because you love them enough to want to them to be happy.
I spent my long 25-year relationship without a partner, working to support us, our little family, and occasionally being able to indulge my own goals. Am I bitter? Well, yes, a little bit. But only when I think of what I haven’t accomplished, and what more I could have accomplished with some help. With a partner. I am proud of what I have been able to accomplish on my own this past quarter century. It’s really quite remarkable. And I have a lot of time left to accomplish more. It’s just that I wish the train could arrive sooner, as much as I enjoy the journey. I would like to be able to spend more time sitting by the sea, writing, and breathing.
So, in my wizened wise woman state, I say to you, if you are younger than me and wondering if this person with whom you are side-by-side now is THE one, be clear on your goals, and share your life with someone who has goals of their own – as well as ones to share with you – and who is willing to work towards them. Try to think of it without rationalizing or fooling yourself. And try to have the difficult courage to act on what you know is true.
You will find both the journey and the destination unfathomably joyful.
Yes, it sometimes feels like my life is a B-movie. Not horribly bad. But just as bizarre as, well, a B-movie.
My feeble attempts at dating have yielded some interesting experiences. I seem to be following a “three strikes” rule – meaning no one has gotten beyond date number three. At this point, I’m okay with that. I’m not in a place in my heart yet to even give a single strand of it to anyone else. I suppose if the right person came along, I would do so. Knowing myself as I do, I couldn’t help it. But, the right person is an illusive concept these days.
And so, I date. And debate becoming a nun, because honestly, I might as well. But that’s another post.
My first out of the inning was a very nice guy who, while a little proper, and a little controlling, I discovered after three dates, was really just a little old lady in disguise. I’m not sure quite how I found this out. Maybe it was the pride in which he spoke about his matching Tupperware. Or his inability to drive more than 10 miles under the speed limit. Still, he was a nice guy. Just not the guy for me, as I decided on the third date.
My second out of the inning, was undoubtedly the strangest first date I’ve ever had. We had a very nice time. We talked about everything. He was properly impressed with my weird knowledge of history and off-beat things. We met for drinks at the Brown Palace, talked about music and family and cocktails and abstract art and his business doing something with petroleum and…just everything. Then we moved onto dinner at Marlowe’s (which was absolutely yummy, and I highly recommend the salmon) at a table outside by the 16th Street Mall, where we discussed horse-drawn carriages and remodeling old houses and various sundry things and how things in Denver had changed over the years. Then we got to talking about what to do after dinner. And he had an idea. And the next thing I know, we’re at BJ’s Carousel, home of Denver’s friendliest drag queen show.
Now, you guys know me. I’m pretty much up for anything, especially if it makes a good story for the theoretical grandkids, or at least a good story to tell any stray parrots I happen to round up. What’s my motto? All together now. That’s right. ”She who dies with the most stories, wins.” It’s a hefty responsiblity and not one I take lightly. So, since this was something I’d never done, we went.
I’ll tell you, for a first date with a professed Christian, this one took the urinal cake. I was the only woman (??) in the place, and I do have to say, that everybody there was very friendly. I’m serious. They were all incredibly nice. But I suppose that being the only woman there, and sitting at a ringside table, I was bound to attract the attention of the performers. And so it was, that Fantasia, during her (his?) first number, shone the spotlight on us, introduced her(him?) self, drank my vodka and soda, and sang a Lady Gaga song to me. How nice. Really. It was. Someday, I want to try to wear eyelashes that long.
A few other performers came and went. And I know that even I, with my puny fashion sense, could make a little money on the side by being a fashion consultant for this population. Again, seriously. I don’t even know where to start. Each seemed to have their own little following, and several patrons lined up to place dollars in the star-of-the-moment’s curious cleavage.
And then, Fantasia was back, still enamored of me and my date. She approached the table. She paused in her song. She grabbed my face between her two hands, and I thought she was going to kiss me. But no. She buried my head between her fake boobs and tried to suffocate me for about three seconds. A very long three seconds. Then she proceeded to give my date one of said fake boobs. At that point, it was time for me to get some air. So we went.
I was not uncomfortable or unhappy with this date. I was just bemused and baffled. And Kelsea said I was extremely jumpy the next day. I decided he was pleasantly eccentric and I’d see what happened next. I like eccentric people.
Our second date was drinks and dinner. Pretty normal, although he drank more than I was expecting. And our third date was drinks (do we see a pattern here? yes, and we’re not sure we like it), a Rockies game, and dinner. I wasn’t in the drinking mood, which he didn’t seem to care for too much, and over dinner, he called me a flaming liberal and started bashing gay marriage (yes, the same guy who took me to a drag club) and told me I was an idiot for believing in health care reform, Obama, or anything any semi-rational human being believes in. Well, buddy, let me stick a fork in you, because you’re done.
Ah, the irony of having my second third strike be a baseball game date. And I did feel a small pill of pride about “breaking up” with somebody over health care reform.
I’m wondering if this is a trend. I don’t really know if I’m ready for dating. Right now, I don’t know if I’m ever going to be ready to date. When you’ve had magic, it feels impossible to go back to ordinary. But I will continue to give it the old college try when I have time. At least until I’ve gone through a full nine innings.
Just in case, if anyone has the number for a good nunnery, let me know.
The seemingly endless move is finally done.
Done is, of course, a relative term.
But when I say done, I mean that the last item was carried out of the Cottage – by me – today. Before I left, I walked through each room. The painter was already working, so it didn’t feel like it was my home anymore, but still, the memories remain.
Tearful conversations and good night hugs. Holiday dinners eaten over the stove and on the kitchen floor. Happy showers. Love and laughter well made in the sunny bedroom, with hopes of shocking the Sunday morning congregations. Naps on the red couch, A lot of memories. And a few tears as I left, with that one last item, a wine carafe experimented with with much mirth.
Everything is here now. And I have been sleeping here for almost a week. I sleep well here. I am exhausted. I haven’t gotten home from working, moving, cleaning until after 8 every day this week. I come home and forage for food and crawl into bed. I’m the lead writer on a huge proposal at work, so even after crawling into bed, I was editing until I couldn’t keep my eyes open. So unpacking didn’t happen this week.
The movers were … okay. One was great, but his two adolescent helpers were dawdlers, and so I wound up paying extra for their time, which pissed me off. But Ruben did take apart and put together my bed, which was really, really helpful. Although he made it higher than it had been, somehow, so I almost fell out of it trying to reach something on the floor, which was greatly amusing to me, even in my exhausted state. I only had one casualty – the bookcase. You know the one, right? The one put together without any nails? Yea, that one. It didn’t survive. And I didn’t think it would, so … okay.
So I’m negotiating around boxes, trying to unpack when I can. Trying to get things washed and sparkling. The Bungalow is happy to have me here, and it feels very homey, like I’ve been here for a long time. It is quiet at night, and the birds are chirping and cooing in the mornings. I even saw a bunny in the alley today.
Being as old as it is – 111 and one of the oldest houses in town – it has its spirits. I have glimpsed them out of the corner of my eye. They are curious and embracing, but slightly surprised to have someone here with any sensitivity to them We’ll see how that relationship evolves.
This will be Kelsea’s first night here. And Niece One’s as well. She is going to live here until August until she goes to teach overseas. I hope they are as enamoured of it as I am. It is a great little house, and I want it to be a home.
I know my true home is where my heart lies. And my heart is both waiting and restless right now.
Constant? Painful? Exciting? Poignant? All of the above? And more?
Tonight is my last night in the Cottage. I am leaving my little woodland Sleeping Beauty haven, with its eagles, deer, bunnies, owls, foxes, and coyotes. Where there is no path to my door, and the only sound I hear at night is the wind.
It has been a time of change here, and where I go tomorrow is not what I expected to happen to me. But it is what I’ve made out of what’s happened to me. The Bungalow is in pretty good shape for move-in, and it’s mine. Mine. Yes, I have more street sounds, and yes, I park in an alley right now, but the house has a sense of coziness, comfort and love in it. It has a sense of – most appropriately – starting over. The house itself is starting over and so am I – we’re doing it together.
I was so heartbroken in so many ways when I moved into the Cottage - and I admit I’m heartbroken now that I’m moving out. Heartbroken in a way I could not possibly have imagined when I moved in here, into what was to be a temporary arrangement. Well, temporary it was. Indeed.
Packing up, I found empty travelling bottles of Patron, each marked with a date, and most with a few words. “Confusion”. “Old soul, new house.” Things like that. An old rum bottle from last year’s birthday, where we laughed and loved and discovered the truths behind the universe – that was the best birthday I’d had in years. It’s hard to know what to do with those things kept for their significance when life is now so different. It feels pointless to keep them, but impossible to part with them. I will keep them, because I still have hope.
So, there is still packing to do. I get the truck in the morning, and a couple of guys will come to move the heavy things out and in. In the Bungalow, there will be much unpacking, still a bit of painting, trying to figure out how to connect anything electronic, scrubbing, planting. There are still a few things that need replacing, but I’m so broke now, they’re going to have to wait.
Whatever happens in other areas of my life, in this one, it’s time to start over. I guess Spring is a good time to do that.
I have been working 2 or 3 jobs for the past 11 years. I have gone back and forth between being okay with it, and feeling like it’s killing me. Right now, I’m at two jobs…. and I’m over it.
I have been at my second job for 8 years. For a long time, it was a labor of love. But for the last year or so, I have been wanting to quit. It kept me going when I was unemployed, so I was glad I didn’t quit before I got laid off. It has been helpful in buying the house, and the extra income made little luxuries (like maybe plane tickets) possible. Last year, when I thought we were going to go away this year, I was so relieved to think that I wouldn’t have to do the job for another year. Well, as I’ve said before, life’s what happens when you’re making other plans.
These days, I feel like I’m just not doing a good job at this job. I let things slide. I got (another) lecture from my boss last night about it. And these days, even though we’re friends, I feel like sometimes he’s judgemental of me in ways that I don’t need or agree with.
Then I think that maybe I still need that extra income. The job has been really flexible from a time perspective, which another part-time job might not offer. But I almost dread going to work. I am so aware that I’m not doing a good job that it’s becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. I keep thinking I just need to be more disciplined, more organized, more dedicated, but nothing seems to work to motivate me.
I don’t know what to do. I would prefer to go out on a high note, like John Elway leaving the Broncos after two Super Bowl wins, but I think it’s too late for that. I don’t want to admit that I can’t do it – and I don’t think that’s the problem. It’s that I’m burned out and don’t want to do it anymore. I love my full-time job. The pay is decent. I’m motivated to go to work, so it’s not like I don’t want to work. The commute adds a lot of time and energy to my day, and if I didn’t have the second job hanging over my head, I would be okay with that.
The bottom line is, I don’t want to do the job anymore, but I am scared to let it go – afraid I’ll need the extra money – and I don’t want to admit defeat. I don’t want to admit that I can’t do it.
So what do I do, readers? When is it time to let go?
I am carved of honeyed
Shaped and gentled,
Into something new.
An old soul of a snake
Revealing fragile freshness
A useless coverlet,
Brittle and sheer.
I move through barren landscapes
With gentle forcefulness,
But a wary shapeshifter
And you must earn my trust
As I am
But no longer
After a long day at work, a glass of champagne at Bean & Berry (the fizzies were good) and still not feeling 100%, I went to the Bungalow. Unexpectedly, the large truck and trailer belonging to my neighbors were back in my space again, so I went over to talk to them. They are so sweet – Emma (a name I can’t forget) and Octavio. Octavio understands English but doesn’t speak it well, but Emma does – she’s only 7 years my senior and has a 20-year old grandchild. Talk about different cultures. We talked about the space, and they apologized. I clarified what my needs were. I’m perfectly willing to share if they need help, but not to have them usurp my property and they understood that. I left with mutual exchanges of good will.
Harry the Handyman has done some more work. The ceilings are painted, as is the living room and the trim in my and Kelsea’s bedrooms. The sink is installed and looks fab. I still have a tough time believing that the house is mine.
Where I am right now is so vastly far from where I thought I’d be now, when I was looking forward 4, 5, 6 months ago. I thought I’d be in Italy or on an island. I thought we’d be planning our year of dreams. I most certainly did not think I would be alone, sleepwalking through starting over, faking it until I make it. I had no idea that I would not be finding someone else’s foot in the middle of the night. And still, I do not quite understand why I was not good enough, pretty enough, real enough. Why, when I had bided my time, patiently hidden, just at the point when I was to have been revealed, I was pushed aside for someone else. It hurts.
And so, bewildered me christened the Bungalow tonight with my tears. They fell on the 111-year old pine boards of the kitchen floor. The Bungalow itself felt a bit bewildered by this show of emotion, but it was not rejecting, just a little baffled. As if it to had tears to shed, but hadn’t had anyone to share them with.
This is the biggest thing I have ever done with no support from any side (E-Bro excluded). I feel very on my own. But as I say, I still feel like I am sleepwalking through it all, through my pain and loss. I do not like that feeling and I wish it would go away. It makes me feel as if I am living less of a life than life deserves. And I know it will just take time.
That past is completely gone. The person I loved so never reaches out to me – no calls, no emails, no texts. To him, I guess I am gone and forgotten. He is all caught up in his own confusion and his new girlfriend. I wish it were different. I wish he still reached out to me, at least to see how I am. That’s what friends do. But he doesn’t. And I have to accept that. What choice do I have?
I will just continue to sleepwalk, and hope to wake. Someday.
In my hair, on my shoes, under my nails, on my clothes. But my bedroom is now painted, except for the ceiling and the trim, and Kelsea’s has its first coat. It took almost 4 hours. Tomorrow, Kelsea and Uber-Cool Will (and maybe one other friend) will be tackling the living room, while I address the needs of the clawfoot tub and get started in the kitchen.
We took our first load o’stuff over today, and put it in the garage. Everything’s going in the garage until I can tackle the floors, and I can’t do the floors until the painting is done. And my landlord wants to start showing the Cottage next weekend, so I have to get a lot more o’stuff off the floor, and basically just leave the big furniture. Which means more loads must head over after work daily next week. Which means I need boxes. Which also means I am exhausted.
But it was interesting last night, when I was coming home. I was in a sad place, and I found myself wanting to go to the Bungalow. I was thinking of the Bungalow as home. Not the Cottage, which has been my home for 2 1/2 years. I’m really looking forward to my little house adventure. Yes, I am lonely. But it’s great to have the kids around.
I sure do feel independent. And sleepy.