Anniversaries and Updates

Anniversaries:

A year ago yesterday my innards fell out.

A year ago today, a doctor told me that I needed to have surgery that had me unemployed for 9 months and from which I am still recovering.

Then…a year ago tomorrow my father died.

Updates:

My uterus is gone, as are my core muscles, so now my back hurts.

I spent today in an MRI machine, re-traumatized by being in the hospital where my son’s accident played out 2 1/2 years ago.

My dad is still dead.

I am unemployed now/again/still, along with millions of others, because there is a global pandemic.

THERE’S A FUCKING GLOBAL PANDEMIC.

The planet is blowing up.

We’re seeing a resurgence of lynchings.

And our president is an asshat.

Good thing for margaritas, the desert, and being madly in love.

 

 

 

 

zip code

After 24 years as a resident of 81328, I am mixing things up, heading west, and will be a new member of the 81321 community.

Holy shit, right?

It was just finalized yesterday afternoon and still hasn’t sunken in. I was going to savor it, roll it over in my mind, get used to the idea, before making it public. But, as we all know, there are no secrets in a town this size and word has gotten out already; the rumor mill has begun and therefore I am making an official announcement.

Questions abound, such as: Why would you leave your cabin that you love so much? Why wouldn’t you stay here, where you raised your boys? What about your friends here? Why 81321???

I would never, ever leave this cabin if I didn’t have to. It has been such a sanctuary for me. I would not have survived the past three years without these 800 square feet to call my home. The beauty, views, access to the lake, birds, bears, lovely neighbors, peace and quiet; it has all helped me to heal from tragedy and pain.

But, my wonderful landlords actually want their home back. They would like to live in this perfect place. I always knew this day would come, although I had hoped instead that they would call one day and say, “You’ve paid enough rent, the cabin is yours.”

That did not happen.

They gave me notice months in advance so no rush. After my initial distress, I started thinking about the requirements for my new home starting with “where.” Every time I left the house and drove somewhere, I thought, “I could live here, or maybe here, ooh, definitely not there.”

And weirdly enough, it didn’t even cross my mind to look in my home town, even after all of these years.

I had become rather myopic about the 1300 people and .6 square miles of my town, but since moving to this cabin, located between towns, I have expanded my world to the rest of the County.

For those of you who know here you understand the significance of County. For those of you who don’t, this is the rural west, what county you live in is more significant than the town. Ours has a very strong identity, vastly different from the surrounding areas. Ours has a distinct persona, one that I am proud to be a part of, yet because of said myopathy, I lost connection to. 81328 is fabulous, but only a piece of this place that I call home.

And 81328 is changing. Changing in ways that I don’t love. I’ve caught myself, many a time, mumbling under my breath, “fucking newcomers.” I have felt crowded and curmudgeonly.

Dating TAM has drawn me out of that tiny world. I have spent vast amounts of time reacquainting myself with people and places that have been out of my range. It has been lovely.

I have had a renewed love affair with the community at large.

So when I learned that I would have to move, I began a list of what I would need in a new home to make it okay to leave this one.

quiet. private. views. birds. space. closer to TAM. excellent landlords (because mine are the very best.) liveable inside space – although I can be quite creative so inside wasn’t quite as important as outside. space for Elvis without being so close to anyone that I would have to worry about him taking a leg off a passerby. solitude and beauty.

most importantly, a place to sit outside and drink my coffee naked if I want to.

One morning a place popped up on FB, I called, I went there immediately (the Jersey Girl pushed her way right up to the front of the line) and I fell in love.

Primarily because of the one requirement that wasn’t on the list (because I never thought it could be)…

It’s in the Desert.

Yes, my dear readers, I am moving to the desert. Red rock, sand, cactus, cliffrose, scorpions, lizards, heat. My heart’s desire.

It’s about fucking time.

This new home meets all of my other desires except it’s farther away from TAM, not closer. But he is lovely and supportive and we will make the extra driving work. It’s only 15 minutes more.

My view to the south is a giant sacred mountain. To the north, it’s open pasture all the way to the border of our local National Monument – a canyon landscape that I will be able to wander at will, filling my soul with magic and beauty. Between my home and the slickrock is a creek that feeds into the river which holds me heart.

And, it’s here. It’s not leaving the state. I’m still going to shop at the same grocery store. I’m still close to my children and my dearest friends. I will come back to 81328 to work, but then I will return to a refuge in the canyons. A place that feels a million miles away.

I’m dropping almost 2000 feet in elevation.

No more digging my way out of multiple feet of snow.

I realize, remember really, that I am a wanderer. Nomadic. Before coming here, I had never lived in one place for more than two years. I get it from my mom; she too is an adventurer. I stayed in one place for so long because I raised my children here.

And because I love it.

But the kids are out and doing great. And I do most of my work from home. And I have no choice but to move.

With this sudden freedom, my hunger to explore new places, creating a home in an as yet unlived-in community, can be fed. I hate moving, but I love to “move in.”

I like to mix it up and I haven’t for so very long.

I feel a certain sense of freedom. I am spreading my wings. I am expanding. Leaving my safe little world. While a bit nerve-wracking, it feels like growth, power, self-love.

It feels like the very right, next thing in my life.

I have made this decision based solely on what I want. I’m not moving to a ranch because of a man. I am not moving to a shitty ski town because of a man. I am not giving up my desert dreams because of another young man and his bad choices.

I am doing this because it will feed my soul.

So goodbye 81328 – you have been so good to me. I have felt safe here. I feel loved. I have friendships that I will continue to nurture and value. I will remain a part of this community, but with some distance.

 

 

 

 

 

still in high school

Yep, that phone call kicked up a few things for me.

Fucking high school. Was there anyone who really felt like they fit in?

I went to the public school in my town until I was in 8th grade. Then I went to my all-girls high school in another town, which was a 45-minute train ride away.

My parents were friends with a whole different crowd, most of whom belonged to the same country club as we did. Those were the people with whom we hung on weekends, family gatherings, vacations.

There was some overlap between the groups, but not much – at all. My friends with whom I had grown up all went to school together. I no longer did.

The gals from high school…part of what added to the fish out of water feeling was the fact that I other friends, in other places. I wasn’t totally immersed in the friendships from school.

And my parents’ friends’ children? Most of them went to boarding school, so I didn’t quite fit in there either.

Between all of these groups of kids, I never felt like I totally belonged to one because I always had a foot in another.

Some might say that it was great that I had so many friends and such a diverse group at that, but that’s not how it felt.

What it felt like was that I was always scrambling to find my place, a place where I didn’t feel like a bit of an outsider. And I never quite got there.

Now, let’s add a bit of bullying.

There was a gal named Camilla who, in our younger years, wanted nothing to do with me because I went to public school.

No shit. She taunted me relentlessly during tennis lessons and wouldn’t hit the ball to me (unless it was AT me) claiming that I shouldn’t be there, that I should just go back to my public school friends.

In school in my town, 8th grade, there were a few girls who I thought were friends who turned on many of us behind our backs, producing one of these:

In our version, I was raked over the coals because I didn’t like wearing the color red. For real – that was the problem with me.

I still don’t wear red.

In high school, because of…

(I honestly have no idea…)

…Janet C. hated me and was determined to make my life miserable. We’d known each other a bit since we were little, (certainly not well enough for her to detest me like she did) but starting on day one, freshman year, she made it her mission to make me feel like shit.

Which I did.

She put old food in my locker. Put signs up on the windows of our classroom doors, ridiculing me, while I was trapped inside learning that a+b=c. She called me sluglips.

Even after she left our school and went elsewhere, she still pursued her prey. Then, we ended up in college together and she continued her bullshit.

And I continued to let it bother me.

I moved west. I still floundered my way through friendships and relationships.

Then I came to work at Outward Bound – prompted by one of the summertime, boarding school friends who I never imagined actually liked me. And now she wanted to work with me?

I remember sitting in a meeting with a bunch of other OB course directors – total misfits, totally weird people. I looked around at one point and thought, “I kind of belong here.”

It was a completely new and almost frightening feeling.

Now I live in this great little community and like I said yesterday, I feel like herein lies my tribe of rough and odd and funny and kind folks.

There was a great group of women with whom I raised my children – they are all still super connected – I distanced myself when I met MXB.

I was the girl who dropped her friends for a boy.

For a few years there, when I was with MXB, the much younger man, I hung out with a community of women – there were 6 of us – that felt like mine. In hindsight, just like in hindsight about every other friendship in my life, I realize that they too weren’t my tribe.

But I was SO excited to feel like I was “in.” That I actually had a group of friends to which I belonged. I got a little carried away, a bit over-enthused about being a posse. I was Lindsey Lohan with the Queen Bees.

And as soon as the breakup happened and I no longer had my link to this community, it fell apart around me and I was no longer one of them. I was, once again, on the outside looking in.

I need to stop here and say that there was one gal, one, who didn’t drop me like a hot potato. I will always be grateful for her.

I was so devastated during that period in my life – so crushed about the loss of community. But I realize now that it wasn’t as much about losing the individuals as it was about losing my (perceived) place in a group.

The loss of fitting in.

I felt like once again I had fooled myself into thinking that people liked me when in all actuality, they didn’t.

Fucking Brutal.

So every time I accused everyone of acting like they were in Middle School, I was the one who felt like I was still in Middle School, dealing with Camilla and Janet and the girls who wore red.

Crawling out of the black hole has forced me to re-examine every single relationship I have in my life. Friends, family, not-friends, long lost friends.

And people around here who I have always liked and admired,

and assumed that they too, didn’t necessarily want me around.

Well, I am learning that some people actually do like me. Some even want to hang out.

But more importantly, I am realizing that variety is the spice of life and that I am so very fortunate to have people from all different walks of life who are walking varied paths in my world. In my tribe.

I don’t have to be a part of a group. I don’t have to be a part of a “community” that is really just a clique.

Why would I want to limit myself like that?

 

 

 

playing hooky

I had so much to do this weekend.

Work – tons of it – hours and hours.

Clean out my truck – you know, skis and shit.

Fix the broken window in my truck – in case, after getting my skis out of there, I decide that I want to pack my camping gear so that I am ready on the turn of a dime.

Dishes.

Laundry.

Taxes.

Write a piece for a book that I’ve been contracted for a contribution.

What did I do?

Not taxes, not dishes, not work.

I ran a load of laundry but then walked away from it for two days so everything has to be washed all over again to get rid of the still-wet stink.

I went for a run. I went to yoga. I napped. I went to the desert.

When I ran on Friday, I decided to try something new.

Stretching.

I know, totally new concept.

At 54 I’ve discovered what the rest of the world seems to know; to stretch is to not hurt.

I’ve been struggling with my running for a few years – my problems have gotten progressively worse, and yet I have continued to put one foot in front of the other because for as much effort as it takes, running with lead-filled legs is better than not running at all.

The other major problem with my running has been the need to pee. And pee.

And pee.

Since giving birth, I haven’t been able to run more than 100 yards without stopping to dribble.

Between my legs becoming hard as a rock within 25 steps and then having to stop and drop my pants, my runs have become far from fluid and have consisted of this weird pace of runwalking that I can continue for 15 miles but certainly wouldn’t want anyone to witness.

Post-surgery, post convalescence, I have realized that I am fragile. That as tough as I am, my body needs more care than it did when I was 30 and could do 10 miles, off the couch, with not a sore muscle afterward.

I’ve realized that perhaps, I need to take a little bit better care of things (me) so that I no longer have to live by the motto, “Pain is inevitable, suffering, optional.”

So on Friday, as I am clawing my way back to the land of the living, I decided that I would try this stretching thing. I climbed up to a slickrock bench overlooking a canyon and spent 30 minutes doing a combination of yoga and 1980’s field hockey stretches.

And lo and behold, I could run. for the first time in years, my breathing, not my legs, wore out. This may not seem like a big deal to most, but I feel as if I have just discovered sliced bread; something everyone else knew existed, but I hadn’t bothered to try.

Also, because of the surgery, my bladder is fixed – back to “normal” – and I can bounce without anything falling or pouring out.

This means, for the first time in 22 years, I can drink water when I run.

Before it wasn’t worth it. One sip of H2O and it would dribble right down my leg with the first two steps. I have been dehydrated for YEARS.

Between the stretching and the drinking, I felt like a powerhouse superhero Olympic athlete for almost all 3 miles.

Everything changed. I have found a new love and appreciation for this tired old body. I am reveling in taking care of this bag of bones that has taken such good care of me over the years.

And with my new joy, I decided that I should definitely go to yoga on Saturday. Which I did, but then needed a nap to recover in the afternoon. And then, wanting to try out this stretching thing again, I had to go to the desert to see how it worked there.

We hiked, then we stretched, then we hiked more. And I felt great afterward.

Until I got home to the piles of dirty dishes and stinky laundry and shit tons of work that got ignored while I practiced being an athlete.

Which is why I had to say goodbye to TAM (This Amazing Man) last night and sit at home, alone, late into the evening reading through handwritten letters from prison inmates.

And which is also why I have been up since 5 am pouring coffee down my throat, reading more of those letters to prep for a meeting this morning in just a couple of hours.

My dog won’t even get up yet.

And as I sit here with a pile of files on my lap, all I can think about is my new discovery of athletic prepping, so instead of those fucking files, I’m blogging about running.

Still playing hooky.

 

Things that make me a better person

I ran today.

Let me say that louder:

I RAN TODAY!!!!!!!!

First time since last June.

While I ran, I kept thinking, “Running makes me a better person. Keeps the mental squirrels at bay.”

Then I decided to make a list of all things that make me a better person.

Things that maintain this fine thread of sanity that I tenuously grasp:

Running

The Desert

Sex

Sunshine

Air on my skin

Writing

Sex

Time alone

Grass

Naps

My children

Sex

Ice cream (in particular, Alden’s strawberry)

Good food

Hanging with my dog

Sex

The right music

Baking

Eating chocolate cake (see “baking”)

Sex

Hanging with TAM

Sex

 

 

 

 

 

Love

Love a place. Love a friend. Love a child. Love a woman. Love a man.

I love a man.

So very much.

Sometimes I stop and pause and just allow warm gushy feelings to wash over me. I feel it from my scalp all the way down to my pinky toenails.

He is wonderful: kind, caring, nurturing, witty, smartsmartsmart, playful, supportive, and oh so sexy.

Lucky me.

It has (and continues to be) so healing for my delicate wounded heart. I say wounded because my heart, though it has been broken into little bits and has felt delicate, isn’t fragile. My heart is strong, I have the heart of a warrior.

I love fiercely.

Because of the past pain, past experiences, I did not fall into this with reckless abandon. Apparently, he didn’t notice any hesitation on my part – probably because I jumped into bed with him on date #2 and still haven’t crawled out of said bed.

But oh how I did panic behind the scenes. My gals at work can tell you.

I freaked out. I liked this man and he said that he liked me too.

But I’d heard that before. And it didn’t mean all that much.

So when this man, who, one evening, was hanging from the rafters stretching his back, said the word “girlfriend” and looked over at me wondering what I thought, I said “yes,” but inside I thought, “Yeah, we’ll see where this goes – if anywhere.”

Now don’t get me wrong…my reservations, my skepticism had absolutely nothing to do with him – I want to make it clear that all of the turmoil and uncertainty was all in my head; it was due to my past, not anything that this man had done to cause question.

It was me that didn’t trust him because I couldn’t trust at all.

One friend said to me, “I wouldn’t fucking trust anyone after what you’ve been through.”

In the very beginning, if I didn’t hear from him one day, I would start the mental spin out and end up hyperventilating in my kitchen, pursuing the idea of breaking up with him.

I felt that I just couldn’t handle it. I’m not ready. I’m not strong enough.

I can’t possibly go through another heartbreak like the one from which I had just emerged – totally scathed.

So it seemed easier to run than risk that again.

My gals would talk me down, or up, off the floor, as the case often was.

And I would gather the courage for one more date. One more adventure with this glorious, generous, gregarious, all-around great guy. And it would be fun and I would feel so content and fall for him just a little more each time.

And then the freakouts at work, or sitting on my deck with my friends, would double in intensity.

But I didn’t want him to see my crazy because that would, for sure, scare him off and send him running for the hills.

And I knew enough to know that I didn’t want that to happen.

So, for this man, I played it as cool as I possibly could. I only periodically let on that I had “some concerns”. But I kept moving forward because I really liked him and wanted to believe that he was as good as he seemed to be.

And he is and I am so happy that I didn’t run away.

Even happier that he didn’t run away.

It hasn’t been an easy time. US, the two of us together, our relationship – that’s been easy. Our lives, the challenges put to our foundling relationship – overwhelming.

Bruised hearts, children, health issues, money, surgery, (which meant no sex for an extended period of time at that point in a relationship where we were supposed to be having sex ALL OF THE TIME), work, irrigating (which, if you are a farmer or rancher, you understand that irrigation season does not leave time for a relationship, or a life of any kind really.)

Our relationship has been put to the test multiple times – things that could have proven to be too much under any circumstances, much less a brand new romance.

And we pulled through – I think, with flying colors.

We just celebrated a year together – and then he left town for a tropical paradise with his children. I miss him terribly, but not in an angsty, what’s he doing without me, will he call me when he gets back, sort of way.

I miss him in an I can’t wait to hold him sort of way.

I miss him in an I’m a lucky girl sort of way.

And I am lucky.

And so grateful for the friends who scraped me off the floor and encouraged me to keep trusting that he is who he says he is.

I am grateful for him – his kindness, patience, love.

His integrity.

But most of all I am grateful for this strong and loving heart of mine that has been resilient enough to try this, to open up to one more possibility…

this heart that allows me to fiercely love this man in the way that we both deserve.

PS: and now, from this point forward, he will be referred to as TAM (this amazing man)