I think I just committed to leaving town

Whoa, shit. I just put a feeler out there on Facebook for job or house in Moab. oh my – I said it out loud.

I think it’s going to be really tough to find both so I need to put the word out there as far and as soon as I can, which feels a little like committing even though I have nothing in place.

So now it feels like this might actually happen. I’m spinning a little and will probably chicken out more than once but today, this is what I want to do.

Why Moab when you’ve always said that it’s too much like Summit County and you could never live there?

Number one reason is that I still want to hang out with my boys so I don’t want to go some place like Boulder, UT. Moab to Durango is completely manageable and they love Moab.

Rationalization – it won’t be so Breckenridge-y in the winter. Hopefully.

I want to live in the Desert. I am a desert person. I’m a goddamn lizard. It’s where I go to feel joy so why not live in the middle of it?

Duh.

And, suddenly, I find myself totally free.

Or I will be as soon as those boys of mine find an apartment.

I haven’t been this free since the day I fell for my ex-husband. That’s a long time. And not a lot of people get this opportunity at 52.

I want to write. I want to write about the desert. Hard to do when you’re not there.

Am I running away?

I’d be lying if I didn’t say yes.

Sure I am. But not with my tail between my legs.

There are definitely things down the road that I don’t want to be around for – and I don’t want my crazy to show up in Mancos again. Once was plenty.

This place is home – no doubt about that. I am so honored to be a part of this community. I couldn’t have raised my boys in a place any better than this.

And, before here, I never lived anywhere longer than 2 years. I am a wanderer, a loner, an adventurer.

I used to love moving; I loved the excitement of finding the secrets of a new place; to find my favorites – book store (if there is one, which there is in Moab), coffee shop, thrift store; to be able to explore some place where you don’t already have your favorite running trail or your go-to storm watching site. I love nesting in a new home.

I detest packing up an entire house. So this time I am going to sell the fuck out of my belongings and get out of Dodge with about 1/4 of what I currently possess.

Of course, there’s the piece about being so sad and wanting a fresh new world for a little while.

Breaking up in a small town just sucks. No way around it.

But, it’s time for an adventure. It feels a little ephemeral – like it’s just another random idea on a long list of fantasies. So I figure if I start talking about it, it just might happen.

SOOOOOOO scary and yet, every time I picture living in the Desert, my heart rate picks up just a little bit and I find myself smiling.

So, I’m putting it out there and am going to see what the universe presents.

my buddies, my pals

Now that I am moving out of my crisis fog (headache gone, giardia on its way out, heart healing, excitement building) I have the space to think about more than being a spinster, and here is what I am thinking this morning:

Going through a breakup isn’t just about the two people splitting. It’s really not when there is a family involved.

But this isn’t about that.

This is about the friends; the people on the periphery who are affected by the breakup in one way or another. This is when you find out who the real friends are.

Last time – the time we’d like to forget – I leaned so heavily on my people that I will never be able to repay them.

K and K – obviously the best two humans on the planet. Then there was the gal who warned me not to get involved and never once said, “I told you so” after the implosion. Or the friend that had the doctor call me to provide me with some relief from the relentless spinout. Or the friend that said, “He’s an asshole” based entirely on the fact that she believed me to be too good for him without ever having met him.

We all need those people to jump on our asshole bandwagon sometimes.

So this go round, it’s the same thing; who is on the team, who isn’t.

Let me tell you something folks, my team is BADASS!

I’m talking about feeling the love from around the world – even as far away as Africa.

I’m going to mention a few here. If I don’t specifically mention you, don’t take offense – I see you, I appreciate you, I am thankful for you. Also, those of you listen to me day in and day out and cry with me and get outraged with me and remind me that life is full of joy, you know who you are and that I wouldn’t be breathing without you.

First and foremost, K and K. Once again, scraping me off of the rocks, even though I haven’t had much time for either of them over the years. They just keep showing up with orange Fanta and Lilly Pulitzer-pink gladioli.

Best friend from second grade to whom I haven’t spoken in 2 years? And that was in a crisis. I never even heard what happened after the crisis, but it doesn’t matter – here she is.

Best friend from college; my Buffalo Soldier.

Africa and Oregon – high school “sisters” – they warm my heart.

My friend who sends me a screen shot of her phone at 4:20 with her funny looking dog sitting with a garden gnome. How can a person not feel better after that?

North Carolina – I adore you.

I am so appreciative of the offers to hide away in Durango or watch Netflix and play with puppies or escape into a private little apartment (and flowers and morning texts telling me I am wonderful) or to come over and play with dinosaurs.

My bitch friend who showed up at work just to say, “I love you.” She gets what I mean by that even if no one else does.

The one who is taking me away this weekend to our old stomping grounds.

The new friend who reached out because she saw me lose my shit at work.

Or the one who I spontaneously ate lunch with who said, “If you want to feel better I’d be happy to tell you more stories about my crazy world.”

Hers is a bit more “chaotic” than mine. She’s a way tougher cookie than I am. And she always makes me smile.

What about the wise one in the City Market Pharmacy line who looked at me appraisingly and said, “Oh you’re fine.” She said it so convincingly (almost dismissively) that I believed it and am 1,000 times better because of it.

I get heart emojis on my phone.

I get loving messages on Facebook.

The former mayor? A couple of words from her and I remember that I am a powerhouse – because she is too.

Utah – you are my hero. If you can do what you have done, I can do anything.

People have been reaching out publicly and privately. People have been funny, kind, understanding, non-judgmental.

People have cared about my children; they understand, without explanation, that my kids are also going through something brutal.

These are people who show me what true friends are; that time and distance don’t matter, that being cool (or not) doesn’t matter, and that show up in ways that I respect and welcome.

It’s so easy to get caught in my day-to-day life – to focus my friendship attention on only those who are right in front of me.

But this has made me see that 52 years of life has created a community that spans the planet, the years, and all of the phases of my never-dull world.

I am lifted up, carried, cherished.

I just want to thank you. I want you all to know that this has been a whole lot easier because of your love and attention. I am so glad that you are on my team.

 

 

Today my heart…

…is heavy.

Every year, come hell or highwater (which is exactly what it was this year – thank you Hurricane Matthew) my mother goes to Paris. Paris is her heart place; a piece of her soul lives there. We who love her, know this, embrace this, and send her on her merry way every October.

She’s almost 80 and legally blind and a badass adventurer.

But my 85-year-old father’s health hasn’t been so good lately. Actually, we’ve had some pretty big scares recently.

So Mom was going to cancel her trip but instead, I flew to Florida to hang out with Dad.

Perfect solution for all of us.

And then came the hurricane. Mom was gone, Dad was evacuated, I didn’t know if I was going to even be able to arrive here.

Turns out I was. Dad had just returned to his home which was damage-free, yet still a mess. When I got here, there was a massive amount of debris and the steel “shutters” still covered every window and door except the garage.

It was mighty dark and fortressed in here – like a bunker.

Dad was in pretty good shape and very good spirits. I was super psyched that I was here.

We’ve had a week of cleanup, chores, and lovely talks. We completed some projects that he would never have been able to do on his own.

And I have seen things; I’ve gained insights into my father and into being elderly in general.

I’ve witnessed that a sense of order is important. I’ve experienced the frustration of not being able to do simple things by oneself. I’ve opened the doors to the near empty refrigerator of people who no longer cook for themselves. I’ve met the comrades who take care of each other because none of them can do it completely on their own. I’ve been here for the death of a close friend’s child.

This morning my father is visiting a friend who can no longer leave the house and has become isolated and depressed.

I sat in the cardiologist’s office while he explained that they can’t explain what is happening to my dad’s heart and lungs.

I’ve watched my father wince in pain. I’ve seen that he needs to sit down and catch his breath after taking the dog into the yard to pee.

I made the decision to stay with my dad rather than take advantage of a once in a lifetime opportunity to see my best friend from high school – a choice I certainly would never have made when I was 17.

And, I’ve borne witness to his strength and resiliency. He’s still the same guy; kind, witty, intelligent, loving, and totally unwilling to give into old age and sit on his ass.

Vital.

We’ve had gallons of coffee, bowl after bowl of ice cream; we casually ate our meals at the bar in the kitchen rather than the dining room table. We’ve lingered, we’ve shot the shit, I shared some incredibly personal and painful bits of my life

For the first time EVER, we have watched the news and agreed on politics.

I have been told, repeatedly, by many of the folks in this town, “You are your mother.” I am honored.

My father is amazing, a gem. He is the most decent man I know. After close to 60 years of marriage, he and my mother are still in love.

So today, I depart. He will drop me off at the airport at noon so I can return to the rest of my family who I miss terribly.

But I am sad. I could stay here forever. I would love to be here when my mother arrives (tomorrow) and have more time with both of them.

This trip has brought to my awareness the fragility of life and the desire to share these last years with my mom and dad; they won’t be around forever.

I get that in a way that I’ve never really gotten it before.

I adore my parents. I am so fortunate to have been born into this family.

I am so thankful that I outgrew my stupid teenage rebellion.

Friends adapting to change

Me: “Elvis Aaron Presley, you get back in that car.”

Her. Spoken: “You said ‘git’, with an ‘I’.”

Her. Unspoken: “You fucking hillbilly.”

Me: “Right? What the fuck happened? I was a country club gal and now I have chicken shit on my boots and I’m talking high school football records with a ditch-digger.”

Her. Spoken: “I went away for just a little bit and came back and this is your life. I missed the process.”

Her. Unspoken: “Maybe I shouldn’t have gone away – I could have stayed here and reined you in.”

Me: “It’s like you going away and coming back a lesbian.”

Her: “Exactly.”

Me: “Thanks for noticing.”

Her: “Right back at ya.”

Life on the Colorado Plateau

Yesterday I sat in the bleachers at the home football game wearing jeans, a long underwear top, flannel, wool socks, work boots, wool vest, down vest, sleeping-bag-like down coat, wool scarf, and hat.

The sky was grey. Very grey.

Today, while harvesting pounds of carrots, then playing catch with Elvis Aaron, I stood barefoot in the grass, wearing a tank top.

Green grass.

Orange scrub oak.

Yellow aspen.

White snowy mountains.

Blue sky.

Hot Damn I love it here.

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Reality hits

92
Everett

 

Position
Linebacker
Height
5-11
Weight
195
Class
Fr.
Hometown
Mancos, Colo.
Highschool
Mancos

HIGH SCHOOL: 2016 graduate of Mancos High School … Competed in football, track, wrestling and basketball … Four-year starter … Played linebacker and full back for the Bluejays.

PARENTS: TW and Suzanne Strazza

Fort Lewis College

© 2016 FORT LEWIS COLLEGE ATHLETICS | ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

 

Run River Run

Yeah, I totally stole that name – Ann Zwinger, incredible author, boater, and all around lovely woman, came up with that for one of her books, but, it’s perfect here so I’m at least giving her credit as I pilfer her title.

Anyway…

Two summers ago, right at this time of year, when the rivers were peaking and some even flooding, I almost drowned.

Seriously almost drowned – not an exaggeration, not being a drama queen – we’re talking, sinking underwater, about to give up and accept the end, understanding the depth of my will to live, not going to leave my children motherless, completely life-altering, drowning.

Years ago a friend of mine drowned – I know that it happens.  I do not think that I am invincible in water. I have always had a healthy respect for the power and unpredictability of H2O.

And yet, I’ve also had complete confidence in my boating and river-navigating skills.

So coming that close to the bottom of the river was not only terrifying, but came as quite a surprise.

What also came as a surprise is, once I dumped out of my boat, everything I’ve ever known (and taught) about river safety, went right out the window in my panicky fight for my life.

For a brief bit in the ensuing days, I tried to convince myself that it really wasn’t that big of a deal, that I was fine. I tried to sort through real danger vs. perceived danger. I attempted to list the incident under the latter.

But then, for the first time in 20 years, I didn’t want to get on the river. The sound of rushing water caused my heart to race. I stood on river banks, thankful that I was on dry land.

This was so unlike me – the obsessive boater, the person who took to the river over and over again as refuge and respite.

That’s when I realized that this had been actual, real danger.

I’ve become afraid of the ocean. I recently had to turn off a surfing video because seeing that much water from a go-pro’s perspective was unbearable.

I’ve only been boating a couple of times since then. I have let other people row my boat. I’ve lost all trust in myself.

Last weekend we had company in town and decided to take them on a float. Our river options are currently aplenty. Big water everywhere, rivers flowing that haven’t flowed in years.

I am actually the person who suggested the one day adventure. I had hoped to float my dearest river, which usually takes 2 or 3 days, in a day. The weather is warm, (in case someone accidentally took a swim) and since I know the river like the back of my hand, it felt like the safest option.

But, no permit. That still left 4 other stretches of water from which to choose. Trying to make that choice left me stressed out and unsure of myself. There was even some tension with MCB about it until he came up with a manageable plan.

Once it felt like someone else was in charge, I was able to relax just the tiniest bit.

At the put-in, I was quite spastic – concerningly so. I couldn’t remember how to rig my own boat. I tripped getting onto it (while still on dry ground) and ended up face down in the bottom of the vessel. I slipped, I almost backed my truck into a ditch, couldn’t maintain my footing as I squatted to pee.

MCB assumed that I would be rowing. He had confidence in me that I didn’t have. Yet, I did bring a huge heap of ego with me which made it impossible for me to not jump on the oars in front of our company.

When we finally went afloat, I got an oar stuck twice in the current, I got yanked off me feet, I slipped, I got the other oar stuck in the willows, and I couldn’t manage to get off-shore.

I rowed for a little while, I negotiated a few wave trains, I practiced my strokes trying to regain my ease and composure at the helm. In my head, I repeatedly talked myself down.

Then I offered for any of the others to row. First one guest did, then the second. Then MCB jumped into the driver’s seat and I lay down on the front of the boat, able to relax knowing that we were in capable hands.

The next thing that happened took my by surprise. I began to get that familiar I Want To Row itching. It took a second to realize what the feeling was, but when I did identify it, I thought, I’d better get on those oars right this second or this desire could pass on, maybe forever.

So I totally passive aggressed MCB into letting me row again. I wasn’t really fair to him about it but I wanted to nurture this little shift from fear to familiar comfort and thought that I let him continue to row, I might never be brave enough to do it again.

And thank goodness he’s a gentleman.

I rowed. Not totally smoothly, not flawlessly, but with budding confidence and no major mishaps.

It was healing, but really, it was just fun. The kind of fun that one gets to have in a beautiful place, with water and trees and views, the kind of fun that happens when everyone feels good about where they are and what they are doing.

This was huge.

I even took a quick swim at the take-out.

So now, I am obsessed again. It’s a relief, really, to know that I haven’t been scared off forever.

I’m not ready for “big” water – I may never be again, and I am okay with that.  I can start with what is small and familiar.  If I get beyond that, great.  If I don’t, I’m super fine with that, as long as I can enjoy floating in some of my favorite places and not have panic attacks.

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Interesting Emotions

Interesting in a way that, as an observer, I would say, “Huh, I didn’t see that coming,” but I wasn’t an observer, I was the one having the emotions, so instead of being intrigued, I was momentarily overwhelmed.

Here’s the situation…

My ex-in-laws showed up at graduation yesterday. They traveled here together, even though they have been divorced since the year that I married their son.

She and I had been close in some ways, not so much in others. She’s a little batshit crazy. I haven’t thought much about missing her or her presence in my life. It’s been easier to write her off as a loon and forget that there was ever any connection between us.

He and I were very close, even in the early years after the divorce.  Then, once, he mentioned my (other) blog and inquired if I thought it might be hurtful to the boys. Since shutting down that blog was my ex’s raison d’etre, I figured dad took his side and considered me to be the horrible, emotionally abusive, bad guy, that his son portrayed me as.

Then, last year, in a desperate attempt to get my ex to do right by his children and help with their medical bills (which are astronomical) I wrote dad and begged for his assistance – in any way, shape, or form. His response…

Radio Silence.

Absolutely nothing.

It hurt, it was rude, it felt just like the Silent Treatment that my ex has given me for the last year and a half. I felt, that as the mother of his grandchildren, I at least deserved a “Thanks but no thanks because you, HDD, are a monster.”

But, it gave me another place to lay my indignation, frustration, and sadness for my boys.

As you can imagine, the prospect of seeing them yesterday at my son’s Big Day, was a bit nerve-wracking. I already had all of these emotions going about my baby graduating from High School, the end of an era, seeing my ex and his new family and wishing that somehow we could all get along for the boys’ sake and then there was the question of “How will his parents treat me?”

There was also the question of “How will I treat them?”

I walked into the auditorium determined to maintain my composure and be gracious, if given the opportunity, for the sake of the children. I was striving to be the bigger person and not ignore them as they had ignored me. And I was also prepared to be persona non grata yet maintain my joy for Greg.

After the ceremony, we all stood outside socializing (separately, of course) and just as things were starting to wind down and I had fallen into a conversation with friends who unknowingly were helping me keep my feet on the ground (thank you T and D), the ex-in-laws approached.

Oh. Holy. Fuck.

And suddenly, I was wrapped in a huge bear hug with dad and as self-righteously angry as I wanted to be, I felt myself hugging him back so very tightly. I could actually feel my guard letting down, could feel the physical and mental shedding of the armor.

And it felt really good.

When mom finally got there, I was able to turn and sincerely tell her how happy I was to see her.

I wasn’t the bad guy.  I wasn’t going to be ostracized. I didn’t have to hang onto my anger and hurt.

What I felt was relief. And love. And compassion for these two kind human beings who are struggling to move through the world just as the rest of us are.

They are doing the very best that they can and I can’t imagine that their position is a comfortable one. Talk about being in the middle.

Their son, to whom their loyalties must lie. Their new daughter-in-law (the third they’ve had to adjust to) who is really, from their perspective, not part of the problem and is just this young girl who walked into a hornet’s nest and started having children so then she is also the mother of their grandchildren.

There are the two children (theirs) who are adorable and innocent and ignorant of the shit show. Then, there are my two children, who have been emotionally beaten to a pulp throughout the disintegration of their parents’ relationship. And, Bobby, my child who they tried to make their child, who honestly just wants a place to call home.

And the last person caught in the awkwardness of the moment was MCB, who, as always, handled the entire thing with grace. His well-mannered upbringing showed in everything from his firm handshake with dad to his bow tie (which, yes, he tied himself.)

So these lovely people, older people, people who deserve a little peace in the twilight of their lives, are having to navigate waters that none of us more directly involved have been able to do successfully.

And they handled it like champs. Which gave me pause, then the presence of mind to put on my big girl panties, take the high road, and just show a little love and a lot of appreciation.

It was a big lesson and an emotional upheaval and a gift.

Today is Graduation (or: Oh Holy Shit)

Yes, my firstborn graduates from high school today. My baby, the person who changed my very existence just by showing up one day.

I’m proud and I am ecstatic and I am nostalgic. So many choices that I have made, that he has made, end up with us right here.

The moment I found out that I was pregnant was filled with excitement and terror. But from the very first look at that little blue line, I knew that he was my baby. I loved him with all of my heart.

Choosing to raise my boys here in this tiny and close-knit community…any questions I have had over the years about whether or not that was best for them, are answered today. Yes, bringing them up here was the best decision that I could ever have made. The things that they might have missed out on (culture, a more varied education, a larger pool of potential friends); none of those things are as important as their sense of belonging.

He is walking today with young men and women whom he has known since he was born. They are some of the closest friends a person will ever have.

T – the girl he fell in love with on the first day of kindergarten because she could “push him high on the tire swing.”

AC – the next girl he feel in love with and dated maybe 15 different times over the years.

D – the boy who fought him in kindergarten because Greg showed up wearing purple socks.

J – so close, they’d be madly in love if they weren’t like brother and sister. When her brother died way back in middle school, Greg insisted on going to the funeral saying “she’s my friend.” That was when I understood that he understood what true friendship means.

N – the boy who is now a father. The boy with whom my son got in shitloads of trouble. The boy whose parents I have spent a lot of time sitting with outside the principal’s office.

And most importantly, A. A has been a part of our lives almost since the day they were born. A’s mom has been my co-parent and best friend since the day we first met.

Our boys were inseparable for countless years; there’s no way to count the adventures, the learning, the excitement, the trouble, the hours that they have spent together.

They drifted, as childhood buddies often do. Different likes and dislikes, different activities and interests, different things that make them tick. And yet, they will forever be connected – forever friends. They hold such a special place in each other’s hearts.

And these children hold such a special place in my heart. I feel a sense of pride and, for lack of a better word, ownership for each of these children. I love so many of them, appreciate immensely who they have become and what decent people they’ve turned out to be.

And I know that there will be parents in the audience today who feel the same way about my child. This community is family and full of love.

And that’s what my children may have missed out on in exchange for culture or AP classes.

And as he says goodbye to an era with his classmates, I am saying goodbye to an era with their families, so as I write this, I am bawling.

How am I going to hold it together in the auditorium if I can’t even get my sorry arse out of bed?

Sundays

You ever have those days when you want to be happy, get a lot done, enjoy the day?

You don’t wake up wanting to feel blue. You don’t get out of bed thinking, “I want to have a shit day today.”

You certainly don’t want to spend the whole day trying to hold it together or sleeping the sunshine away.

Seriously, who wants that?

So, this morning, I wake up next to my sweetest BF (MCB) and my adorable little dog is so thrilled to have me home that he can’t stop wiggling, and the sun is out, and I can hear my new wind chimes, and my children are happy and well, and I have nothing on my agenda until 5:00 pm except put the final dishes away after our super fun dinner party, feed the piglets, commune with the chickens, take the doglets to the pond, maybe go for a run, read a book, sew, write, then, go to my job that I actually enjoy, work for a few hours, make some good money, laugh a lot, then come home and curl up with MCB and the dog.

And yet, I am so off. My heart feels…unenthused. I want to crawl under the covers and escape – read or sleep. Or I could smoke a shitload of weed and just prostrate myself on the couch, stare at nothing, and think about even less.

When I took the dogs to the pond, I curled up on the grass and tried to doze off – that is, until the big one decided to roll all over me right after a long swim and traipse through the mud.

MCB is building a hog fence – we are now pig farmers. We have 8 adorable little piggy boys who will grow up to be kilos of bacon and chops. When I entered the chicken coop with their kale and hamburger treats, almost all of them squatted to be held. So endearing. So funny.

And still, blah.

I can’t think of a single reason to feel this way, today.

I am totally loving my life. The freedom of not working 9-5 is more liberating that I could possibly have imagined.  My waitressing gig is a good one and I love my cooking job.

Who wouldn’t enjoy creating really good food that’s fresh and organic and homemade and nurturing?

My kids are fantastic – one graduates from college today, another from high school next weekend, the third wrote me a text last night to tell me how much he loves me.

I live in a gorgeous place on this planet and my life is filled with beauty and good people and amazing friends and promise and hope and lightness.

And yet my soul is heavy.

Last night, an old friend posted a photo on Facebook of her family on the beach, in the place where I knew her; the place where I spent my formative summers, a place we thought we “owned.”

A place I may never see again because of the near-impossibility of getting there from here and the expense of just setting foot on the island, let alone trying to stay there.

And suddenly, because it’s today, my home feels less than. It’s not there.

And it sends me spiraling into the What If’s about all the choices that I have made in my life to get me here and not there.

And any other day of the week, I would be thanking the heavens above for those decisions, but it seems like Sundays are a kill-joy.

I have noticed that Sundays tend to be challenging (to say the least).  So often, when I feel this way I think, “Why do I feel this way?”

And then I remember that I often ask that question and seems like it’s on a very regular time frame and I realize, once again, that for some unknown reason, “Sundays are hard.”

I don’t go to bed on Saturday night thinking, “Oh fuck yeah, tomorrow is Sunday, I can be a depressed sloth for the entire day. Yippeee.”

No, it doesn’t even cross my mind at all, so this is definitely not a psychological set up where negative thoughts bring negative reality.

It’s something else. Hormones, brain chemical cycling, exhaustion from a busy weekend (or week); but definitely not bumming out over the fact that I have to return to work on Monday morning because I don’t work on Mondays.

So who knows what it is, but it definitely is.