last cup of coffee

Last morning sitting on the deck watching the sun rise over the mountains.

Last morning with the frogs and red-winged blackbirds.

Last morning listening to the wind in the ponderosa.

Last day of using tree stumps as deck furniture.

Last day of hanging my laundry all over the house and yard to dry.

Last day of listening to my neighbor make really weird noises with his dog.

Last day of worrying about getting my driveway plowed.

Yes, I worry about that every single day, even in the summer; March 2019 traumatized me.

Last day of being a Mancos resident.

Last day with PO Box 843.

Last day of cool mountain breezes.

Last day in the brown leather recliner – it fits better in this house than in my storage unit.

Last day of Netflix.

Last day of banging my head on the sloped ceiling.

Last fire in the woodstove.

Last day with my bully rufous hummingbird.

Last of the spinach out of my garden.

Last climb up my sketchy stairs.

In this home, I have recovered from a (brutal) breakup.

I have walked by my son’s side as he faced 16 years in prison.

I have collapsed with relief when the judge didn’t send him away.

I have revived long lost friendships – both near and far.

I have shared intimate secrets with amazing women on this deck.

I have cried, sobbed, wept myself dry.

I lived in the living room while my innards healed.

I lost my father while living here.

I fell in love in this home.

I’ve had a lot of sex in this house.

My children have come to consider this their home away from home.

Elvis has worn a path across the yard by chasing the fucking tennis ball fifty-two-thousand times.

I’ve been pulled out of the snow in my driveway at least fifty-two-thousand times.

I broke my foot in this yard – that involved Elvis and a skunk.

I’ve killed countless mice – including the one that drowned in my bucket of cleaning water yesterday.

I’ve slept under the stars here on the same deck that was covered in 6 feet of snow last winter.

I have clocked thousands of hours in phone time with my Mommy.

I came here lost. I found my soul again. My heart.

I have loved every second of being here, even when I wasn’t enjoying myself.

This has been my most cherished home. Never, ever, have I wished that I lived elsewhere.

And as difficult as it is to leave, to part with my insular little world, I’m ready to close the door on this 3 1/2 year chapter of my life.

It’s time for something new.

Goodbye old friend.

My gratitude is boundless.

A piece of my heart will always remain.

leaving

Today is my last real day in the cabin. Tomorrow my family shows up to help me move all of my shit to either storage or the new home.

I’ve done most of the packing already; moved more, much more, of my belongings than I have remaining. The thing about packing is that it doesn’t leave time to just be; to stop and look around absorbing as much as I can of the goodness and serenity that this home has provided for me.

I’m so focused on the future, on the new place, that it detracts from the sorrow that comes with leaving a home that has been my refuge.

This cabin caught me when I was falling faster than the speed of sound. I was so lost and damaged and broken when I moved in.

Really, to be honest, when other people moved me in while I crumbled.

The day I moved out of my last home, the home that we shared together – MXB and my sons – was one of the saddest days I have ever survived.

My children helped then, but they too were broken. We were lost and scared and floundering. Tomorrow they will again help, but it will be with lighter hearts.

3 1/2 years ago when I moved, I was literally climbing over MXB’s shit that he left in the house when he bailed. Every time I carried boxes through the garage, I had to maneuver around his couch, his two freezers full of animals that he had killed, his ammo reloading table that he built and never used.

At one point that day, just to add insult to injury, she (the friend that was no longer a friend because she was the new love of his life) showed up on the ranch to drop something off for another resident. It was the first time I’d seen her since she blew up my world.

And on that painful, agonizingly heartbreaking day, she tore me a new asshole. She self-righteously shredded the last little bits of my soul.

Still not sure how her betrayal got twisted into being my fault, but she made me pay.

I lost my home, my friends, my sanity. My son almost died…and this cabin caught me. Healed me. Quieted my mind and gave my heart the space to repair, to become whole again.

It became my sanctuary.

These 800 square feet, my east wall of windows that brought the mountain peaks into my living room – made them my constant companions, the leather recliner in front of the woodstove, my deck under the stars: these are the bits of the cabin that gently held me while I clawed my way out of my pit of despair.

I can’t begin to count the hours spent curled up under a blanket in the chair, next to the fire, staring at the view, sporting the green hoodie that belonged to my dead best friend.

Deep, all-consuming, unadulterated, crippling grief.

In the early cabin days, every time I pulled into my driveway I thought, “Thank god I have this place.”

Each day since then, as I began to feel sane again, to feel happiness and joy and gratitude, I have said, over and over, “I love my home.”

As excited as I am to move to the desert and have a new adventure, I feel as if I am being kicked out of the nest.

And..I am ready. I’ve recovered.

I have changed. I am a different person than the one who took up residence here all of those years ago.

There is no way to survive what my family has been through without changing, without becoming new.

Or at least revised.

At Outward Bound we had a belief that we imparted upon our students…

‘Outward bound’ is a term that applies to ships – as a boat sails out of its safe harbor into the open seas, it is said to be outward bound. As we dragged kids up mountains and encouraged them to learn new life skills, we reminded them that their Outward Bound course really began when they got on the bus to return to the big wide world – taking with them all of the skills, knowledge, and self-awareness that they gained while with me for a month in the wilderness.

Tomorrow, I am outward bound.

 

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.

 

Residual Pain

There are a few times in my life over which I still carry much grief.

Some events I’ve moved on from, and some, I can’t seem to shake completely.

Things that haunt me. Things that no longer make me feel like I’ve been punched in the gut but hit a tender spot for sure.

I look at the ones from which I can’t unstick and follow the common thread – thinking that if I can figure out why I can’t let go, then maybe I will be able to.

The ones that still won’t heal are the ones in which there was a loss of trust.

Betrayal. A lack of integrity. And misunderstanding of who I am as a person.

I still feel wronged by something I got in trouble for when I was 17.  I don’t even remember what the punishment was but I was innocent of the crime and I still want to say to my mom, “That was unjust. I didn’t deserve that.”

Unjust. That’s another piece of the pieces that I grieve.

Around these incidents, time periods, in each situation, I have felt as if I’m being treated unjustly.

As if my side of the story wasn’t heard, or that it even mattered.

And the result of a couple of these incidences involved loss of community.

And a lack of accountability.

I hate being the victim. It is a very unbecoming trait.

And yet, there are times when I do feel like I deserved better. Does admitting that make me a victim?

The loss of friends has been brutal. The loss of trust even more so.

There two of these pivotal moments in time that have been sort of in my face recently and I woke up this morning feeling sad. I wrote for a while, trying to sift through the layers down to what it is that I need to let go of, what I need to be able to do that, and what, ultimately, do I want as the end result.

I read this thing this morning about regret. Basically, it said that having true, honest regrets is a good thing, a healing thing, a way to move forward and basically, do things differently in your life.

I have regrets, for sure. Amongst other moments in time, I regret that I couldn’t manage to handle these situations better.

I wish that my emotions didn’t run amok when I feel misunderstood.

Being treated unkindly, disrespectfully, and not having a voice…those things cause me to raise my voice.

And those are the same damn things that still cause me to fester.

The biggest thing is that I really don’t know how to interact with certain folks.

There’s a desire to let bygones be bygones, to fall back into ease and comfort and laughter.

Move forward, put the past behind, hang out and just enjoy each other’s company like we used to.

But it’s not possible. You can’t go back to what was because it’s not what was anymore, it’s what is.

And what is feels all kinds of cattywampus.

In other words, I am missing the friendships that I thought we had before I understood what kinds of friendships they actually were.

They were fun, relationships, not bad ones, which is why I really miss them, but they weren’t what I thought, at least not at the level of what I desire in a true friendship.

I have forgiven. I think.

But forgiving doesn’t mean that there is no more sadness or pissiness. It doesn’t mean that all personal interaction from this point forward is jovial and warm.

And, according to Desmond Tutu, forgiving doesn’t mean that you have to have a relationship with the other person.

So forgiveness, yes.

Friendships?

I just don’t know.

It’s awkward.

 

 

 

 

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)