Different is okay too.

Here it goes. I'm anxious, the good kind. Life's about to take a turn. One path, grow old in this house, maybe watch my children's children play under the trees, miniature golf course in the front yard.. all of that is gone. It won't happen. I couldn't have promised myself it would happen anyway. I was grasping at ropes that were frayed. Frayed by money problems, frayed by drinking problems. Frayed by lack of sleep, then lack of sex. Frayed by stress and not enough friendship. Frayed by resentment and ultimately the rope broke, even though I trusted it. And it was my choice to walk away. I don't doubt it wasn't what is best for me and for him, even for our children, for me to end it. Some relationships end. 

I thought I was in it for the long haul. I certainly feel like I gave it my all. In fact, I gave it more than that. I gave up on myself for it. I lost myself in it. I was consumed by it. I was in a constant panic to save it. I was so invested that when it ended I was nothing. I had to rebuild myself, completely. I was nothing but his wife and their mother. 

And now that it's done, I don't panic. After the grief, I woke up. I saw her again. Me. 

Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if she had stayed from the start, would it have ended sooner or would it have made things work? 

Would he have respected me the way I really am? That's a hard one.

The other path, I'm on it now. I take her out. I climb peaks. I ride my bike. I read. I write. I absolutely, without a doubt, cherish motherhood. I embrace that role knowing I am one lucky mother. I cry sometimes, not as much now, for what I've lost, but I know it was lost long before I walked away. My marriage and myself.

You know when there's a disconnect. But it's easy to stay and hope. I know now that the only path a person can change is their own. So I did that. I changed mine. I walked away. I will walk away from this home, my dream home. Months, hundreds of hours spent searching for this place. A place with old trees and a garage. More hours spent consulting with banks to obtain the loan. Paperwork. Leg work. It's easy to feel like it was all a waste. But easy isn't the way to describe any of this. It's all terrible, devastating and difficult. It's sad. It's a loss. 

And people like to tell me I'm better off. People like to think they might know how it feels. They don't. Divorce is a special hell. 

I was climbing down a peak and I got lost, stuck. I couldn't climb up and I couldn't go down because it was a straight drop, the leg breaking kind. I stood there. I started shaking and tears were on their way. The tear factory was thinking it was back in business, they'd had a very profitable year after-all. But she was there with me this time. Don't panic. Just think your way through this. 

I knew to head west. The path I had strayed from was west of me. So I hugged that peak and I inched laterally, slowly, as far west as I could. Then I tucked my fingers tight around the edges of the granite and I hugged the mountain and I lowered myself down, testing ground that kept coming lose. I could hear it give way and roll down the mountain. I tested and tested until I found something I could trust. I let go and felt myself drop. The ground was loose but it held good enough. It would work. I inched west. I did that over and over. 

Eventually I came to a clearing. Looking up at where I'd come from after almost an hour made me grateful and proud. It also made me really damn mad at myself for getting off the path. 

I stayed in the clearing briefly and decided to head west again over a ridge. There was the path! 

I walked down to the path and I sat. That's when I decided I can't beat myself up anymore about what I should have done. Or how it should have been. Or what could be. 

I will be fine. I can think through this. She is with me now. I am her. I will be okay. Even when the path is scary. 



They're doing it again. The thing kids do best. They're existing within an elaborate, invisible reality. I can't see any of it but I know it's there. I see them running around in their baggy legged pajama pants, bare feet, with messy hair. They are police officers, they are knights, they are monsters, they are ninjas, they are going on vacation. They are a family, they are friends. They are seamlessly flowing through the story line that is coming out of thin air.

And then as easily as they slipped into this other-world, I see cracks. I see the fabric wearing thin. Oh no, their stories aren't lining up. The ninja wasn't ready to become an ordinary little boy, the queen's son or the brother waiting at the airport. The girls vacation lasted a little too long. The sword got bent. Someone was standing in the closet waiting to be found, but the story took a sharp left. The monsters are hungry. All at once the line of children going up and down the stairs, shouting out the narrative interlaced with excitement and giggles has become a broken tangle of opposing directions, they don't agree.

And now they are eating lunch, their minds drained. But if I pay close attention, I can see the second their minds start to rework some stories, write new narratives. Almost ready for another round of visiting the place adults rarely ever go. Kids are magic.




There was poetry in my gas station coffee, it touched my lips this morning and I sank into my seat. Construction on the freeway. Watered down, lukewarm coffee. Ten cents in the bank until tomorrow. Not my usual coffee, only the usual drive.

I'm heading toward the city, I stop short and some of the cofffee spills over into the lid. Stains on the white plastic outlined dark, the middle of those loose circles, light. I lick all the way around it, then suck the liquid from the lip. I sort of regret washing away the proof of life there. It's not always meant to be so clean. God bless you please Mrs. Robinson, heaven holds a place for those who pray. Hey, hey, hey. 

I'm humming, red lights, I sit and wait. I feel a smile come from my toes, rising, it rides up my spine, passing my heart, straight to my cheeks. I look at her in the rear-view mirror. We smile. I'm drinking my gas station coffee on a Tuesday. Here I am, she is here too. Look around you all you see are sympathetic eyes. Stroll around the grounds until you feel at home.

Someone bikes out into the street, timing his route to miss oncoming traffic. First one way, then the other. A daughter keeps snatching a cigarette out of her mother's mouth each time she tries to light it. People going to work, people out for a morning walk, people grabbing coffee, people with homes, people without. Laugh about it, shout about it. When you've got to chose, every way  you look at this you lose. 

I see a friend and wave, head into the garage and spiral up. Run up the stairs and type this. Sip the last of my gas station coffee and toss the cup.


Head in the clouds.

We stood out there in the rain because there wasn't a reason big enough to make us run for cover. We enjoyed the cool water soaking our clothes and our hair. The socks inside of our shoes. The taste of the air that day was full of life and that rain was just a sampling of it. 

Those clouds usually so high above us, we could touch them and the effect was grounding. 

Isn't it funny, maybe the most meaningful moments come along when your head is actually in the clouds? When you are connected to that vast wide open, usually blue sea of the sky, and the ground below feels so magnetic, charged almost. You can stick there. Right there. Not move. Let yourself get soaked. Let the water baptize you. Let the earth below support you. 

And watch everyone else duck for cover. They don't know that they have missed something magical. They don't care. But maybe next time, or the one after that. They will run out into the rain and let everything come to a balance too. They'll be lucky they did. 




Where do I go from here? I can’t stay in the warm, half on the floor now, perfectly messy sheets of yesterday. The pillows are all smashed down. So, I sit up, blink my eyes and step into today. I turn on the shower and let the water stream down through my hair, along my neck and over my shoulders, down my back and around my feet. I used to want to paint this picture, when I was in college. This image of my feet and the water, and the tub floor and the sun shining in the window and the birds singing outside. Morning. I bargain with myself, what are the chances I can just stay here for another five minutes, maybe ten. What about all day? An all-day shower.

I block the drain and start to fill a bath for my kids. They make their way in and I let them play and ease into the morning. Now I’m awake. Putting water on the stove to boil. Yelling into the bathroom, what kind of cereal do you guys want? Hannah changes her mind at least five times, so she usually ends up pouring her own. Then the blood is on her hands when she changes her mind exactly the second she is done pouring milk into the bowl. Too bad kiddo, you’ve gotta eat that kind now.

I pour boiling water in the coffee press, indicating time is up. We all need to get out the door. Brush your teeth, spit most of the toothpaste out into the sink, get your shoes on, turn off the lights and please put your laundry in the hamper. I know when I get home tonight I’ll find wet towels on the floor by their beds. Ada, you still aren’t even dressed? Nice. I wonder what she’s been doing for thirty minutes, little time escape artist. Laying on her bed under a towel staring into space.

Otto is requesting to shoot some hoops before getting in the car, he runs out the door unanswered. I think maybe he doesn’t understand the concept of asking and telling. The girls and I are sitting there in the car watching him. He’s determined, just like he was yesterday and just like he will be tomorrow, to get that ball up high enough in the air. Half way there, bud.

I start the engine and he tosses his ball over the fence and climbs in. Here we go.



Goodbye to her rose colored glasses.

I'm above it all now. Looking down on what it was. Seeing through objective eyes. I see where I went wrong. Hindsight is watching video surveillance; when you could've walked away, chosen another path, made the "healthier" choice, that last bit of time ticking, adding up, before a disaster. But, instead you watch yourself walk into those last remaining seconds, the bomb has been set and it will leave you dead on the ground. The you in the video heads straight for the site.

My rose colored glasses got lost. In all that ensued they must've fallen off. I was too busy, fumbling, exiting the tail end of chaos to even notice. But they aren't here now.

When the bomb went off in the my lap my hands blew off, I know they were the first to go. My usual fists couldn't protect me anymore. I was vulnerable. My legs broke, blew to pieces. Dust. My heart shattered. Sharp shards of glass. My head floated away to protect my mind and my spine and two feet were all that remained on the ground.

At first, the shock must've settled me. I didn't make a damn move. I read and and re read the words my husband wrote, then I read them again. I tried to wake up from my nightmare but my eyes were wide open. Gaping wounds, evidence of the blast. I ran scenarios, damage control. How could any of us make it out alive? Who have you told? My instinct was to protect everyone else, to take care of it. Can you imagine? Two feet and a spine, trying to hold it together. 

I lost ten pounds that month.  

I ran into any open arms I could find. Some offered me parts to rebuild. Some took advantage of the scraps. Some gave me tough love. Some gave me easy love. Some took the dead parts and helped me bury them. Some witnessed me mourn, helped dry the tears or watched them flow. Some helped me grow new parts. Some helped me find the gold in the parts I would've left behind. Others left me behind. I left some behind too. And still, others stood to remind me that I am strong, beautiful and smart. That they saw me. I was once confident. Do you remember that Madison? You used to be so confident.  

My two feet and spine held fast. I know where I need to be, that was never a question. But I was exhausted, warn down to the bone.

Slowly, I stitched the pieces I had together and I took those pieces out on walks. I told them they were going to be just fine. Even when I was lying my non existent ass off. I grew this new woman. Full of holes, still vulnerable. I told her to keep walking through that snow, it was up to her knees and she was afraid. She tried to tell me it would get dark soon, turn back. I made her hike for seven hours that first day in May, not knowing how it would end. I came off the mountain and for the first time in a long time, I knew I loved her. I knew I'd have her back always and forever, I wouldn't leave her again. I'm so sorry I did.  

I loved her when she couldn't love herself. held her when no one was around. I was happy for her inches of progress when she was so afraid. I pictured her. I built her. I am her.

I am stronger now and I have a lot of work yet. But she can rest now. That girl I was. She can finally go to sleep. She didn't know she was walking to the site. She did the best she could. She loved with all her heart. She tried. 

She stayed awake and waited and she tried. She forgave and forgot herself in the process. She kept moving forward and I don't blame her anymore. She did the best she could. I forgive her and I am so sorry I wasn't there when she needed me. 

Her rose colored glasses are lost now and I'm not going back go look for them. 


Happy birthday.

I stared at this 'happy birthday' sign for months.
I stared at this sign on the night before my son's fourth year of life.
Watched him play with his sisters beneath it.
I stared at this sign on the worst day of my life, a month later.
Just let the feeling of nothing consume me.
It hung at my daughters seventh birthday, four months later.
It hung at my daughters ninth birthday, seven months later.
And it came down on Sunday.
Time to move on.