magic on Saturday.

Some days time and my mind pick a pace that lines them up perfectly. 

The gray days. Something about that shadowy/light box affect, surrounded by majestic mountains with a lid of cottony gray clouds, it just does it for me. 

We drive into the city so I can run an errand. This drive is short now that we only live across the bridge and I make sure I drive past the basketball arena. I want to take Otto to a game, his eyes will be on the court and mine will be on him. 

I show Ada symphony hall and the gold railing. I show Hannah the planetarium and an art museum. 

We’re driving around looking for a place to park, Hannah is my helper. Her eyes are open, Otto says they’re peeled because he heard that once from his grandpa, the same one he would later tell me he goes to the barbershop with all the time (that’s why he’s not afraid of haircuts, by the way), my dad.

I give Hannah a break from being a parking spot seeker,
Look out the window those women crossing are ballerinas, they do that for their job. They travel all over and they perform down the street. 
Hannah’s eyes light up. Otto turns a full 180 as they cross and then turn. 

I find a spot after a couple of laps. Parallel parking and me, absolutely terrible couple. 

We start to walk. Let’s see how they do. Crossing the street Ada turns around, looks at me like wow and just grins, blinking, two or three times, with her long dreamy lashes. Her hair bouncing as she hops along. A giggle almost ringing the bell at the top of one of those carnival games, I can see it rising in her chest. 

I’m here. I’m happy. I’m with my kids and I’m finally at a point where I am starting to feel like myself again. 
Stop. Look at that car. Do you see the driver? You’ve got to look right at them so you know they know you’re there before you cross.
Something tells me I need them to understand this. “Mom, remember when I fell down and my hands were in my pockets? That hurt really bad but getting runned over would hurt worser.”
Yep bud, it sure would
His voice, it makes me smile, I don’t know what sound he’s going for but it’s like he’s in tough guy mode. His lips flare out the tougher he tries to sound but he hasn’t polished his l’s and r’s yet. I absolutely adore him. Among the many names I wanted for him was Rocky, it would’ve been a fit. 

Otto is a full on kid now. Sometimes a baby version still tries to get that last little bit of existence in. And I get mad about it. I know, what the hell? “You’ll miss it when it’s gone.” But at the same time, it’s nice to hear “Mom I’m tired/mad/hungry/sad” instead of being hit with a fit out of left field. The “Mom I’m happy/I did it!/I love you” doesn’t get old either. 

Later, “There they are mom, the ballerinas” They are different people but they are ballerinas too. I’m glad to know she is observant, my Hannah. 

Reflecting now, I think Ada smiled that time-pausing smile earlier because the train was rolling by. As we were walking she asked if we could ride it. I told her we could some other time. But as soon as the period finished my sentence,
Actually, yes we can ride it today. Even if we pass the car by a block we’ll just walk the difference. 

When we walked onto the platform I made sure to let them all know to stand clear of the edge. Things I think they need to be told right from the get go. Let’s get the obvious out of the way. The girls listened. Otto asked why.
Because you don’t want to be that close to a moving train...because it moves fast...because I told you no.
His age man, it’s such a distinct teeter between baby and child. They either get it or they just don’t give a fuck. 

The doors open and the kids find seats, they got that one figured out. Oh shit, I can feel their excitement. They are riding a train and they are pumped. 

Every day I see this go on. And the magic is lost on so many. One of my favorite parts of being their mom is seeing the magic they see. Their enthusiasm to ride a train makes me feel grateful to be breathing this stale train air along with them. 

I see Ada about to laugh. Double pointing with thumbs raised, out the window, there goes my car. She thinks it’s funny. I do too. 

We walk back and I stop for a small coffee, the kids climb on stools to talk and wait. The girl behind the counter says “I didn’t know kids still played that,” referring to some game they’re playing. It’s one of those magic school yard traditions, passed down; myths, legends, cats cradle, the song that never ends, all discovered while standing with a group of friends by a fence at the edge of the lot or under the biggest tree. In the lunch line. During the frosty, cool mornings, waiting for the bell to start the day. She said she played it when she was little. 

When we get back out on the street Ada tells me about the game and for a few seconds I’m standing under the big willow tree from my childhood in the school yard.   




old bridges that don’t get used anymore.

We live near the city now but I kept the kids in their school. So we wake up early and that is something we have accomplished surprisingly well in our first few post flu days here. Something about driving toward the capital each morning puts a smile on all of our faces. Ada likes seeing it lit up. I like seeing her eyes light up. 

I like to see my kids look out the window at the trains and the yellow-green hills. I like to point out the artwork painted on our street, the Mexican restaurants we’ll try, the street signs so they understand where we live, even the ugly oil refinery and always, “do you see the building where I work?”

This morning it was raining. The sky my favorite gray. Easy on the eyes. Easy for my mind. Fitting for my sad mood. A good friend of mine called me and in good friend fashion gave me some perspective that I needed. Some tough love. 

My life a year ago is gone. I told my friend “I just wish things were different” and I guess that’s when the suspension bridge spanning that life and today’s life kind of appeared out of the fog. A bridge built out of denial. 

I don’t want the pain, the anger, the sadness. I hide that from myself. I dilute it with excuses. I drown it out because I feel bad about being angry, as if I’m not allowed to be. Deep down I don’t want to believe that my marriage was not a forever one, my reality was warped. When I do feel the pain, the anger, the sadness, I want to cut that bridge. I want to watch it fall a great distance and I want to hear the planks shatter. I want no way back. No way back can be scary if you’re in denial like me. 

Today, I’m standing on the other side of a year.

Driving back to the city, admiring the gray, I looked directly at my life, first time in a decade having friends of my own and time to grow those relationships. Ten years since I’d been on an airplane, first time on a sail boat and a passenger train tracing the coast, first time I’ve ever traveled alone. Lots of solo hikes. A lot of time sitting on a therapist’s couch and holding hands with a group of strangers praying for serenity, courage and wisdom in some church after hours. I just bought my first house. I just bought my first tools. It hasn’t come without struggle but I’m proud and anyone looking to cut that down is probably standing on the bridge. The bridge that is no longer my concern. 



sick and sad.

A year ago was the last time we shared a bed. Tonight, I’m a day out from the flu, my three kids are snuggled in bed with me, snoring in a way that strangely compliments the trains I can hear outside. 

A year ago we had just moved. Tonight, I’m in a new place. This time a place on my own.

A year ago my drive home was aimed at Mt Olympus. Toward a family with a husband and a dog. Tonight, it’s under and over bridges toward a few more boxes left to unpack and a cat. 

I know this day won’t always hurt. But tonight it hurts. It hurts like hell. And the next few days will too. I know I can and will make new memories and things won’t hurt as much. But it’s still too close and it still hurts too much. If I could pour an ocean between now and then I would, but I’d probably drown trying to swim back to then even though I know I can’t and it wouldn’t change a thing.

Separation, divorce—ending the year from when it all started with the flu in my new place. Life is sure a fucked up ride sometimes. 

I plan to keep riding it though for as long as I can. I’ll just be sick and sad for the next few days. 



Scheduled break.

When I’m not with my kids I have time to really consider my relationship with them. And the times that I’m with them, I am grateful for those. Not to say I didn’t get it when I was married. 

That role exhausted me, the way I went about it. I was always going, trying to be the best wife. The best mom. All I was met with was exhaustion. And I mistranslated that exhaustion to mean I was a disappointment. There were never enough minutes in the day to get done what I needed to do so I would really be the best.

Basically, there are people out there more suited to balance that and I bet the number one thing they have in common is that they take care of themselves. They schedule time with themselves. I was not one of those people. 

The time I scheduled with myself went more like this: sporadic thoughts that were meant to keep me on some track to be better. As if I wasn’t enough. 

Since that role for me, at that time, did not include me taking time for myself I had no capacity to really feel grateful. Not how I do now. Now I have all the time in the world from the minute they hop out of my car and wave as they run away to their dads place to the minute I get to stick my tongue out at them and make faces as soon as we make eye contact through the car windows.

My alone time has now really become a time for me feel the real and whole feeling of gratitude, not the fleeting gratitude that used to be glittered through my exhausted mind. This time it’s different, I get to spend a lot of time with it.

With the divorce, I’ve also had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with grief this year too; the pleasure of spending time with self care. Even spending time observing, listening, has become more meaningful.

If you can relate to this exhaustion I’m telling you, take a break. Even if it’s as simple as scheduling a time to q tip your ears once a week or splash warm water on your face and give yourself a good look in the mirror. Start as small as you need to just to get it started. Then one day you’ll be sitting there on your scheduled time with yourself and you’ll feel a genuine feeling of gratitude that will just fill your whole world with a new hue. 

You don’t have to be a single woman like me, without your kids, alone for days, either. Because when you schedule time with yourself, there could be people all around you, but the most important one holding your attention is you. And when you allow yourself to be considered important, every bit of what makes you you struggle and what makes you great gets noticed by you. You get to know yourself through and through. And when you know and appreciate yourself, you suddenly find yourself grateful for what you have, and have had, because you are important enough to have had it. 

Bonus points if you can hang with who you are right now, flaws, follies, scars, struggles, failures, losses, frustration, bravery, courage, curiosity, creativity, the whole damn beautiful person you are right now, just for a shortly scheduled break with the best date around. 



Spare change.

Change. It happens every single day, every minute. Every time your eyes open from a blink, even. The subtle ones are easier, they feel comfortable, they’re smooth. You’re looking into the eyes of your baby, then you’re looking into the eyes of your child, one day into the eyes of an adult, the growth is subtle, you only see it if you look back. The bigger ones, they cause doubt, sometimes fear. You don’t need to look back to see them because they are in your face, no amount of avoidance or numb works. Sometimes they are a rush, other times they feel like free falling; the pit growing in your stomach because you aren’t sure what you’ll meet at the bottom. Feather pillows or piercing rocks, or something else, maybe there isn’t a bottom. Maybe you’ll get wings while you’re falling.

In a month, last year, my normal world changed, the big kind. What I took for granted, what I resented, what I loved and what I hated all changed. It went away. And I chose that. I fell away from my path.  

Nearly a year later, it’s still scary. It’s hard. I am working toward that self-reliance I so loved from Emerson’s essay.

This year, I climbed metaphorical mountains and I got metaphorically lost and I made real mistakes and I learned real lessons. I ripped my broken heart away from its normal home and I too easily gave it away, not entirely realizing old habits don’t care about change. I keep it for myself now, for myself and my kids. All the knots in the string tied around my heart have to be undone, or just let go of, or cut.

My kids’ and my ex-husband’s lives changed too, not just mine. Despite losing a whole family and group of friends I’ve kept moving forward on my new path. My kids, holding hands and making sure to stay in front of me, just like I’ve always told them to, they’re on the path with me, giving me inspiration; sometimes still turning around for guidance, for the way. I’m happy to point it out, even happier when they can navigate it.

Early on, telling my kids the change would become the normal, until it did. Watching them adjust, watching them struggle, hearing them ache, comforting them, watching those tiny beings claim their own thoughts and adapt beautifully, sometimes awkwardly, sometimes with resistance, other times with strength, they have absolutely amazed me, they make me proud. Their resilience is inspiring. Sometimes it’s my fuel. It’s all I can do to keep going, just to keep up with them, to be there for them.
Your goodness must have some edge to it, —else it is none.

All of this, this change and the path it put me on, has taken me to a place where I can finally dwell in my own mind. When I was too afraid to go there before, I seek that now.       
It is easy in the world to live after the world's opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.

The knots aren’t so many now, the anxiety not so strong. The fear not so dark. The depth gives me perspective. The path forward is welcoming. The desire to predict my future has nearly diminished because if the change has taught me nothing else, I am in control of myself, not anyone or anything else. And that is a very beautiful thing.  
But do your thing, and I shall know you. Do your work, and you shall reinforce yourself


Story tellin’

We all have a story. If you are the one telling yours it means you have completed a chapter. Maybe even a book. If someone else is telling yours, it means they are lying or you are dead.

Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.-Mark Twain

Here is part of mine.
About four years ago I came to terms with a real problem. I was angry. If you had asked me then, I could’ve given you a laundry list of all of the reasons why (then in the next breathe, be upset with myself for complaining about my life). Today the only reason, the one that wouldn’t have made my four-years-ago list, is that I didn’t love me. You might be thinking, wow, this is going to turn into a pile of lovey bullshit real quick, but stay with me

I was caught in a vicious cycle. Lose my shit, be nice and try to hold my anger in or rationalize crappy things, lose my shit. Until one day, I loved myself just enough to hate my path.

After a fit of rage, a concussion and hours of barfing on the half, a friend of mine suggested I seek help. I did.

I sat on a couch and reluctantly opened up to someone who I paid to listen to me talk. It didn’t set me on the path I walk today, but it did pull me into the parking lot, reach over me, pull up the lock; the kind that sit by the window, the long metal indicator that you remember watching your older brother or cousin rest their finger on and then push down right when you pull the outside handle. The hot, metal, summer time hell.99 special handle. Anyway, therapy opened the passenger door and kicked my ass out of the car. It threw some tools out the window as it pulled away. I’m not complaining, a lot of my baggage was in the trunk.

From there I started walking. Repeating my same old mistakes. A few steps forward a bunch back.
That healing back and forth dance led me to be open to friendships outside of my three kids and my husband. One of those friendships made me admire strength. One of them taught me boundaries. One made me feel beautiful. One lead me to CodA. A twelve step group. Yeah, the serenity prayer. All of that. Holding hands with strangers.

I shared at every meeting, I listened too. Mostly, I thought, holy shit I don’t want to end up like that. Only thing is, I already had. So just like any body from any twelve step program says, like they’re coming to some profound awaking, I made a choice. I wasn’t afraid to be alone anymore. I’d stop fearing it. It’s not until now, years later that I understand the fear. I was afraid of who I would see in the mirror looking back at me. Who she was, was so lost on me.

It just took me coming to some hard terms with it. It had to slap me in the face. The grief. That flu of life, you know it will end, but when you’re in it you aren’t so sure. So you relapse and if you’re like me, depend on someone to tell you what you are, even if that means hearing you’re a piece of shit, manipulative bitch who ruined their life, or that you’re so intelligent and beautiful. Then you proceed to blame someone for not carrying those ideals for-fucking-ever. Why would I be me when you can just tell me who I am?

The terms I’ve come to are that I deserve the best for and from myself. There are amendments I keep trying to slip into the terms, when I feel like I don’t quite deserve the best, they cause my terms to become null and void. I keep having to rewrite them. I try to slip in passes, so I can deconstruct my framework, old patterns are hard to break. Even when there is no one left to blame, I set things on fire and watch them burn. Then I pick up my tools and rebuild. I know this is part of it, and the sister to this part is unconditional love. Apologies. Forgiveness.

So what happened when the car pulled away? After waking around, kicking up dirt, collecting some stones to throw, I stood in the parking lot for a real long time. I planned some escapes because fuck facing reality. Can’t I just hitch a ride to another life? The car came back around about a year ago. It was dark outside. Dark, cold, miserable fucking wintertime, that I hate. Need a ride? I did. I needed some more tools, for my solo climb.

My marriage took the biggest hit. Mine was a marriage between two unhealthy individuals. And this one, she wanted to start climbing. And she wanted to do it alone. She had to. And she is.


Driffrenter thanksgiving.

This is our first different thanksgiving. I'm feeling it. The driffrent, as Hannah would call it.

Hannah is my special girl. The child most like me. She is so smart she can't contain her thoughts so she talks a lot and every once in a while if you're really watching you can see her wheels turning and that is a magical thing to watch. I have to remind myself often to go easy on her, she talks like an adult but she is still a child. I often wonder just where her far reaching little mind takes her when she's at school. Me at work, looking out my window, thinking about her. Wishing I could be with her. Hear her.

I used to get excited about the holidays. This year, they've all been hard to swallow. Some things will be the same. Some different. A person missing, this weird hole. You can even miss the things that cause you pain without even trying. But different is okay. Soon it will just be the same. The new normal.

I've been sleeping in my clothes. I am exhausted. Why does it feel like midnight before I even leave work? It's all I can do to clean up dinner then play with my kids. Listen to them talk about themselves and watch their made up skits. Hear Otto tell me he's a lion 800 times. All I can think is stay awake until bedtime, sometimes I don't even make it that far and we all end up waking up tangled together on my bed. Hot, sweating but fighting for the blanket, or fighting to get out of the blanket from 2am until my fourth or fifth alarm goes off and the kids can't take it anymore. We can't stretch the sleep out any further.

The cat scratching the door because my kids shut him out. It makes me miss my dog. Missing my dog makes me miss my old life. The one where I was married and had a dog. Back then when the illusion of hope still filled my tank because next time things would be better.

Now there isn't a next time. It's driffrenter now.