Wednesday, September 24, 2014

You Say It's Your Birthday, And We're Smoking Cigars

At this time four years ago, I was hugely obese, my normal shapely ankles had become purple, swollen masses known as "cankles" (calf + ankle).  I could hardly muster up the energy to walk to the bathroom, which I had to use often, let alone reach around the mound of life to shave my woolen legs or tie my fat, fat feet into running shoes. I lived in Crocs and extra-wide flip flops. And waddled only when and where absolutely necessary. I slept in bed with many full-body pillows but was never comfortable. The simple act of rolling over was met with new bodily sounds and tears. It hurt to live. My husband had long since given up sleeping with the snoring, sighing, farting mass that had become his wife and resigned himself to couch living.

We were grumpy and hot and exhausted. A premonition, I'd say.

My daughter, who was living inside of my body at the time, was planned to make her debut into this world on September 14th, 2010. She didn't like our plans. She was in no hurry to vacate her nest, to move from passenger to operative, to find out what in the hell was actually going on out here.  She dug her claw-like feet into my ribs and hung on (atta girl!)  I was proud of her resilient, stubborn nature. I respect that in people old enough to talk, people living well outside of my body.

The Indian summer days were very hot and she was late and later still; and by September 27th, we decided that she was grounded for life for being so late and for torturing and misshaping her mother into the blob that was wheeled into the hospital for induction. My midwives and doctors decided that the baby had to come out. I listlessly agreed. I should have known that she would not be happy with foreign stressors threatening her happy internal universe. Induction did very little to entice her exit.

I just wanted her out. Once that happened, I wanted a Guinness and a cheeseburger, STAT.

What seemed like a million drug-free hours later, I took the big needle in the spine and got some "rest" which mostly was me feeling super high and wondering if my arms and legs feel asleep if I would become invisible and if i became invisible, would the pain stop. Just like acid trips, it's all in your head, man.

Then, there was a bunch of drama. Visitors, nurses, doctors, midwives all coaxing a stubborn, fat and happy child into a world of noise and chaos. Oh, the hoopla! Bribery only works if you offer something that she doesn't already have. My daughter was 100% happy, tight space and all.

After many gory, long, hot, stinky hours of pushing and not pushing, of shitting and not shitting, of panting, and sweating, and chomping ice and swearing and well, labor, we went to the surgical room. In 25 mins the doctor cut my baby girl out and she was pissed. No worries about the lungs, she's got pipes like her mama. That girl can sing.

Before she was named, she was grounded. I love that kid more now than I loved her that day. Happy Birthday, my sweet girl. Thank you for not killing me. Now that you are moving beyond the terrible 2s, let me return the favor.

(Ha, now we are even. xoxo)

Now, who wants to take me out for cheeseburgers & Guinness?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


Autumn is here. I saw it today leaching the juice out of the trees and flowers. Everything felt dustier, felt dry; summer's succulence is gone. Leaves are falling, turning the forest floor into crunchy dander. The long nights and wind are coming. I need to protect myself from the winter with teas, tinctures, and oils. I need a new hoodie and more blankets. I need to hide. 

I can't even think it.


Monday, September 22, 2014

Parking Lots, Swimming Pools, and a Sports Metaphor: You Look Like You Could Be the Mother of a Girl (How You Like Me Now?)

The past gets buried. It gets burnt down. It gets built on. The past moves from short-term to long-term parking after years of not visiting certain places in your mental lot.

Not that long ago, when I moved away from somewhere, from some one, I wrote letters. Some were emotional, some descriptive, some filled with drawings and notes and torn off bits of wherever I was at the time. There was an occasional phone call to catch up (always watching minutes.) Being long distance meant something. Bell, and then AT&T, ads told us to “Reach out and touch someone.”  

Distance makes your heart grow weak. Distance makes memory slide so far back into the gray matter that remembering can only come in circuits—you are waiting for the bus to the long-term lot, thinking of you aisle number, remembering your keys, which highways to take back to the house where you once lived. You remember one small thing, then another. Then the next morning, a bus comes crashing and you remember a whole night or weekend. Then chunks come flying at you all fast and inconvenient.

The natural order.

Then came social media and Facebook; and with it the inevitability of making old connections new again. Forcing your hand. Forcing your memory.

I’ve never been one to look for lost friends or loves on social media. At least, I haven’t been that sort in the last decade or so (I can’t remember if I reached out on Friendster but I have a sneaking suspicion that I did.) But most people can’t resist.

It’s human to go through a mid-life thing and start looking back. Looking to the ones that got away. Looking to the ones that made a big impact. Looking to see if anyone else is dipping a toe in the pool of sports cars, high-school reunions, and other clich├ęs. How cold is the water?  Do you remember me? Did you ever love me? Where we real or did I imagine the whole thing?

The natural order.

Are you happy? Please tell me that you ended up happy. Or that you're divorced and want to date. I need to know. What would my life have been like if I married Dan and not Dave? What would my life have been like if I had children 14 years ago instead of 4? Who would I be now, if I never left Canton, or D.C., or Osage Beach, or New York?

The answer is, it just doesn’t matter, not really. There will always be someone else that can be a "what if".  It’s not what could have been that makes us who we are, it’s what was that makes us. I will always have a soft spot for all the people that I loved that loved me back.  Part of me cares that they are alive and happy and have “made something “ of themselves.  But after so long, I can’t even begin to explain what "having made something" means to me. What I think of success and happiness, how I got to this place in the last 25 years--you couldn’t follow it if you tried; and seriously, so little of that road is meaningful to anyone else but me.

For years I thought that one of the men that I loved before would swoop in and we would have time, as adults, that we never had as youths—time to fall in love, time to explore the world together, time to not be directed and dictated to by our parents, schools, etc. Time to see if it was real love or reactionary, adolescent love.  I waited for those loves to get off the bench and find me. "Put me in, Coach!" I ran into one of them in NYC and thought that that was it, the one, caught and re-captured. Eenie meenie minie moe, and you are not it.

But then, short-term moved into long-term and I met my husband. He was not living in the past (mine or his own). He was the present. He was a present. And I chose him. Maybe I was tired of waiting. Maybe I was in love. Maybe it was both.

I can easily sit here and wonder what if I had made some other choice, but I wondered that for a long time last year and the year before—and it did some good—it was important for me to go through and sift out the bullshit and re-commit to living my life, this life—but too much time spent in the past is not enough time spent in the present. I am alive right now. In this moment. I know I have this. This is the time I choose.

Thanks for the memories.

The only way to break the gap, that the long-ago past leaves in us, is to get to take time to delve into the depths and talk about real shit. How is your soul? What are you looking for? What moved you to look for me? Is something missing? Tell me. What's your life like now? How should it be? Make that happen.  Who have you become? 

I have long since given up on telling my life's story to people newly met. I used to when I was a lass, but now, it's long and painful and it's over. I don't have any interest in telling my story, not in that way. My present is who I am now, what I've become because of all those untold stories. You may have loved me then, but how do you like me now?

The natural order. (Take it from someone who has been there and who is very uncomfortable with small talk. Let’s get to the heart quickly before I have to make dinner.)