To the Land of Sunshine, Sandy Beaches, Milkshakes, Sharks, the Best Burgers in the World, Humidity, Soft Skin and Great Hair.
Someone asked me the other day if weddings are hard for me. I am assuming she wondered because I am a bitter-old-divorced-hag – as is she, minus the bitter, old, and hag bits.
I thought about it and realized that I go to very few weddings these days. I think last night was number three in twice that number of years.
My response, “I don’t think so. But maybe? I guess we’ll find out.”
I think my biggest concern going in was that I would be cynical and disparaging. I already had a bug up my ass about people who spend god only knows how much on a wedding dress that they 1) are only going to wear for a few hours, and 2) will totally trash walking around in the grass and the mud. There are starving children in Africa after all.
I spent a few hundred on mine. I was going for the simplistic homespun look and I got it.
I hated my dress.
Maybe not right in the moment, but in the years afterwards, all I could think was “Blah.”
It has now been cut up and dyed by a teenage girl who saw the potential and didn’t care that it was a wedding dress from a wedding that ended in divorce.
Back to last night…
It was stupendous. There was so much sweetness in the air, in the crowd, and yes, in the Vera Wang dress. I cried again and again, but not even once out of sadness or pity for myself. This wedding was what love is really about.
Really, the most difficult part was trying to figure out what to wear . I ended up not in the boots, not in Grandma A’s gorgeous flowered and veiled hat, and not in eggplant lace. It actually doesn’t matter what dress I donned, because I sported the best accessory there; MCB in his crisp and classic East Coast wedding attire including navy blue blazer and bow tie. I would have looked good in my bathrobe.
The bridesmaids all wore dresses and cowboy boots. Right? I was so excited to have an opportunity to roll my eyes and feel great disdain for them being so predictable but you should have seen the dresses…each one a different style and color and oh so cool. The groomsmen wore shirts that I had actually picked out in a moment of total wedding planning frenzy and let me just say – I can dress a guy.
Then Vera came down the aisle, in a huge poof of fluff and I thought, Oh, now I get it. That’s why gals spend so much money and (energy and tears) on their wedding gown. She fucking rocks.
And she totally knows it.
And she is psyched.
And I never hated my wedding dress as much as I did at that very moment.
The rest of the evening was perfect in every way.
I know the groom better than I do the bride – he and I have been friends, for many a year. Seeing him standing up there with gushiness and joy oozing out of him made me realize just how much love I feel for him.
I was so overjoyed that it took the wind right out of me.
Gratitude and humility were the overrunning themes of the evening and who could possibly ask for anything better?
It was a magnificent wedding, a magnificent couple.
And no matter what my cynical bitter self says about the likelihood of divorce, the hope to which I bore witness, made even tragically damaged me believe in happily ever after.
But I don’t want to be this gal:
Or this one:
I want to be her:
But, here was a conversation that took place, just today:
“What are you wearing to the wedding?”
“I don’t know, seems like every wedding I go to, the standard uniform for the gals is dress, cowboy boots, jean jacket.”
Well, shitdamn, I don’t want to be wearing some “We think we are such cute western girls, even though we’re from Connecticut and have never stepped in actual cow shit,” uniform.
Because, I’m not that girl. Can’t be.
I’m from New Jersey.
And I am just as cool as my girl, Emmylou.
In my head.
I bought this gorgeous dress a while back, thinking it would be perfect for the wedding and it’s green which MCB really likes which makes it even more perfect. I started thinking about what I could wear on my feet that would accommodate all of the needs of the event: standing, dancing, walking on grass, all, for hours on end.
I’ll just throw on my boots – easy. Don’t need to give it another thought.
But now I do because the cliché has been noted; using an out-loud voice.
If I wear the boots and the dress, even without a jean jacket since I don’t own one, I will a) be that gal, just like every other gal there, and b) doing so with everyone knowing that I am fully aware of being the wannabe cowgirl who grew up listening to Bruce Springsteen and Tom Waits, not Ricky Skaggs and Patty Loveless.
So, maybe I could go with these:
I am from Jersey after all.
Or, since I am an “Outdoorsy” type, perhaps these will be better:
Or my inner athlete could go here:
I have 45 hours to decide.
I refuse to buy anything new.
And I am convinced that whatever I chose to wear, it will steal the spotlight from the bride and in the years to come, people will look back and relive the moment they saw my ill-shoed feet instead of her Vera Wang gown.
I just pulled a dead squirrel out of the pond outside my office with a kayak paddle.
It answered two questions:
Why won’t the dog get out of the pond?
Where did the varmint go that my co-worker shot earlier this afternoon?
After showing my treasure to everyone we tossed it over the barbed wire into the neighbor’s yard.
I did something today that I could never have imagined doing.
I am a keeper of strays – always have been. Love the underdog.
I’ve had cats and dogs from shelters, the Walmart parking lot, a burlap bag in the river, under my trailer/office, the Farmers’ Market, and the reservation.
I’ve even taken in a stray child or two and can never turn down a stray plant.
Given my history, I completely went against every thread of my being and did an abominable thing…
…I took a cat to the shelter.
And left him.
And lied and said he was a stray because I was too ashamed to admit that I was actually just giving up one of my pets to whom I’d committed a lifetime of love and protection.
It was the Walmart parking lot kitty – the one who has slowly gone a little bit nutty, ultimately pushing me way over the edge last night.
It’s been building. He suffers from anxiety and it has been impacting the quality of his (and our) daily life.
He has become skittish, unpredictable, and a yowler.
Where other cats Meow, this one wails; long, mournful, agonizing, howls of angst that no amount of screaming or ignoring can stop.
Not all the time – I’ll give him that. He has moments where is is actually kind of cute. Those moments are what have made it impossible to do what I did.
He spent half the night outside our bedroom door singing his mournful tune. I finally got up at 3:00 am to see what was wrong.
Then, when I let another cat inside, he ran out. We have a cardinal rule in our house; the misfit does not get to go outside at night because he can’t handle it. He’s okay for about 30 minutes and then he positions himself below our bedroom window, which is also below our neighbors’, and the yowling begins. It is incessant – he doesn’t even stop to breathe – until I let him back in.
Sometimes I don’t want to get out of bed to open the door.
Once, I tried to ignore him. A neighbor threw a rock at my house.
So, he’s outside, the wailing is fingernails on the chalkboard, and MCB snores away.
Later that morning (5:00 am) I’m crabby ass and bitchy from my shit night and next thing I know, MCB and I are having an uncomfortable conversation about screaming cats, getting a dog, pet responsibility, etc.
I got in the shower and thought, “I am miserable, I have no affection for this cat, the last thing any of the children said to him was ‘go away’, and he is now impacting my relationship.”
MCB and I talked, we both felt cruel, irresponsible and cold-hearted. MCB is a little bit attached to this one and not at all to the others (go figure). But we finally came to the conclusion that this really isn’t working.
I had to do it immediately, without thought or feeling. If I hesitated for even a split second, I would be spending another 100 nights bitching in the middle of the night.
I left work, went home and the second I walked in the door, he hid. Found him, got the bejesus clawed out of my arms and right leg, but finally got him into the favored form of transport: the pillowcase.
I put him in the way-back of the truck and listened to him yowl all the way to the shelter. I could hear it over the sound of the motor, the wind, and the radio.
After I got to the shelter and lied about the “stray” in the back of my truck, the gal and I went out to get him. He had shredded the pillowcase. My brain said, “Good riddance,” my heart said, “Oh, poor baby.”
Brain won out over heart.
I drove away, did a bit of retail therapy (got a fabulous purple dress) and went for a run.
“I’m fine” I thought.
I am actually not fine, but trying hard to get there.
When I got home, I knew the kids wouldn’t notice that he wasn’t around, probably wouldn’t for another week. So I thought that it would be better for me to just tell them.
“Are you kidding, Mom? That’s so mean.”
“Really? I actually liked him – he was part of the family.”
“Why did you only get rid of one?”
That was Bobby – he wants a husky.
So now, of course, I am second guessing myself. I am wondering how much this event will cost in therapy for my children later in life, and thinking that everyone in the household is afraid of being the next victim of my sociopathic cruelty.
- an audiocassette or CD recording of a reading of a book, typically a novel.
No, I haven’t just discovered audiobooks per se. I’ve been listening to them for years; small children, road trips, concussions – plenty of times when listening to someone else reading a story is just the best.
What I have recently figured out is just how perfect they are for running.
I have actually struggled a bit with the idea of listening to music while running. I always thought myself to be more “pure” than that – believing that listening to the wind in the ponderosa placed me on an elevated spiritual and intellectual level.
Then I got an iPod because I am weak (on every level) and have had moments during which listening to Pearl Jam Ten sends me blasting through the trees at the speed of light, oblivious of the pain in my foot, knee, hip, back, shoulder, hand, and neck.
But it’s short-lived – the change in tempo from one song to the next brings me crashing back to reality and allows me the mental space to realize that I can barely breathe.
Recently, I’ve been mixing it up – some days with music, some without. My feelings about it have been mixed also.
And then, yesterday, I had this flash of brilliance…
What about listening to a book while I run?
Left the office, raced to the library, picked out a few books, including one that I always wanted to read but couldn’t get past trying to mentally pronounce the dialect.
Raced back to work, burned all of the books into my Library, synched it all with my iPod, and at the end of the day, raced out to the trailhead.
It was fucking divine.
Of course I chose the challenging one. Read by the author. He know how to pronounce everything. When he calls his girlfriend “Mammi” it sounds bario-cool. When I said it in my mind, the character had an oedipal complex.
I ran. I remained evenly paced. I got (mentally) lost. I was completely absorbed in the story.
But not so lost that I couldn’t appreciate the sunlight through the trees.
A book and nature seem aesthetically compatible in ways that any music beyond classical violin and nature doesn’t.
I run to give myself a break from reality. I read as an escape. The two together brought so much peace and quiet to my brain.
For a little while afterwards, I felt that I was still stuck somewhere in Santo Domingo. I had a little bit of trouble grounding back in MT.
It was absolutely delicious.
I am going to get online this weekend and start downloading books and run myself right around the world.
Run, Darlin’, Run.
I’m not the patriotic type.
The Fourth of July is actually one of those holidays that I can live without celebrating. I’m not even a huge fan of fireworks.
But 9/11 – it gets to me.
In so many ways.
The whole “people who serve” thing just cripples me. The level of decency from which some people function is absolutely mind-boggling. If I could have a hundredth of that pure goodness my life would be so incredible.
I think about the people jumping out of the building – deciding that it would be a better way to go than collapsing in a burning building.
I think about the mothers and the fathers on those planes, knowing that their children were about to die and trying to comfort them.
I try to imagine being so devout that I would be willing to give away my life and the lives of so many oblivious and decent people.
I try to imagine that level of hatred.
I try to imagine what a person would be feeling when they survived and their friend from the next cubicle over didn’t.
I wonder what wives would feel towards one another when one man lived and the other didn’t.
It is unthinkable. Unspeakable. Unfathomable.
My brother was there. THERE.
He lives in California. He was there on a quick business trip. He went downstairs to get a cup of coffee. Everyone in his office died. He watched the second plane hit. He left when people started jumping. He ran all the way uptown. He went to his childhood town to stay in a hotel and hide.
I am lucky.
Being the liberal, peacenik, hippie, that I am, my immediate reaction was definitely not “retaliation.”
If I was my brother, his wife, his (our) parents, would I feel differently? Would I say, like my sister-in-law did, of The Patriot Act, “I don’t care what rights they take away, I never want to live those (post collapse, not knowing) hours ever again?”
If my brother had died, how would I feel about losing freedoms and killing others, because my brother had been killed by terrorists.
I am happy that this day does this to me. Thankful that my brain spins through all of these truly horrific imaginings. This keeps me humble, keeps my feet on the ground. If every other day of the year I walk around thinking only of myself and my woes, I know that for this one entire day, I will think of others with compassion and love.
Stands for Traumatic Brain Injury.
Cause: Helmet to Helmet hit on the football field.
Necessary Action: Go to the Doctor.
Treatment: Time off the Line.
Reaction: “It’s all your fault, Mom.”
Yep. I’m the one who insisted on him playing football, even though he begged to sing in the choir instead. I am also the one who told him he was a puss and needed to hit a whole lot harder. I refused to listen to his complaints about having a headache for over a week. Oh wait, he didn’t complain because I told him to lie about the headache and deny that he had one. I also stubbornly didn’t agree with him that he knows more than the ER Doc and doesn’t have a concussion. And I am definitely the driving force behind the national movement to save athletes from long-term brain damage by implementing more rigid protocols for allowing those athletes back on the field after a hard knock.
Obviously, All. My. Fault.
After yesterday’s second doctor appointment for the head, the appointment wherein the doctor said, “Yes, it is a concussion. No, you shouldn’t have been playing last week. Yes, you should have told your mother and coach about the headaches. No, you’re not going back in this week. And, yes, TBIs are very serious,” we walked out to the car in a torrential rainstorm, the silence between us thickening with each falling drop.
I unlocked my door and got in the car. He pressed his face against the window saying “Are you serious?” as I decided if I would let him in or not.
I begrudgingly did.
As we drove home I said, “Now is the time to say, thank you, Mom, for caring so much about my well-being. I am sorry, Mom, that I yelled at you and accused you of ruining everything for me…”
Then, “…repeat after me, ‘I. Was. Wrong.'”
“I can’t say those words, Mom. Not in my lexicon.”
‘Wrong’ isn’t, but ‘lexicon’ is?
I rolled down the window on his side (Love power windows. Also love the child-lock.) I figured a good dousing would at least make me feel better.
He still can’t utter the word ‘wrong’, but I think he gets the message.
Let’s be honest here…
What self-respecting woman doesn’t need high heeled rain boots?
You know when you’re in a relationship and it gets to that sour point of there being nothing that the other can say or do that doesn’t grate on your every nerve – sometimes to the point of disgust?
A glimpse, a touch, even a thought, makes you cringe and want to be extricated immediately and forever from the entire relationship.
You know it’s irrevocable and hopeless.
I am in the midst of that particular mire right now.
With my hair.
I want to break up.
It’s easier to get rid of a boyfriend than it is to get rid of my hair.
It’s big and overbearing and does absolutely nothing that I ask it to.
It’s not the right hair for who I am.
I try to not be controlling, but then it just ramrods me into accepting what it wants.
I try to be flexible and compromise, but there’s no give on its part.
Sometimes it’s totally out of control. Others it’s so well-behaved, so polished, that I know it’s all an act. And it feels so fake.
It was really long. Then it was really short. Then it’s been in-between for the last 8 months, which has been utterly disheartening. I feel like it has totally disregarded me and any feelings that I might have.
I have no say, whatsoever, in how things go in our day-to-day relationship.
My self-esteem has plummeted. Looking at myself in the mirror just hurts.
I always thought that I appreciated independent thinking, but this is a little much. One minute I look like my mother, the next, a rancher’s wife, and then, a small child who has gotten a hold of the scissors.
It’s not beautiful and flowing. It’s not short and sassy. Definitely not cute in any way shape or form.
It clearly has no respect left for me.
This relationship is finished.
And yet, we are stuck together.
To quote my fabulous mother…
“I hate my hair.”