drips and drabs

For some reason, I still feel the need to not shit talk the people around me who have recently shown their true colors.

I think I’m doing it out of integrity, but who knows. Maybe I’m doing it out of fear – fear that these people won’t like me?

That would be stupid given the circumstances.

And not out of the realm of possibility

I do know, and I used to tell my ex-husband this all of the time, if you don’t want people to know what you are doing, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it.

Or, “Don’t give me so much to write about.”

All I know is that there is a major storm raining down and if I am to be honest about my life, I have to share a few little bits – drips and drabs so to speak – primarily for my readers’ understanding.

So here goes:

The person who said, “I’m not your person,” when I called from the hospital.

The friend that dropped me like a hot potato to pursue MXB so immediately after the breakup that he and I were still sharing a bed.

The friend who comes in to my work and instead of saying hi, skulks out without making eye contact.

Or the friend, whose first words upon hearing of my son’s accident were “He’d better have learned his lesson,” not “Holy shit, poor kid, I can’t imagine what he’s going through right now.”

As if my son doesn’t care one whit about what happened and how fortunate they all are.

And let’s not forget the good friends from whom I have not heard one single word since all of this began.

One might say to me, “This is about them, not you.”

A person might also say, “Get over it, you’ve got much bigger things to deal with.”

Or, “Those people don’t matter, you know who your real friends are.”

Or, “You are so loved, don’t let any of that shit get in your way.”

Or my kids might (did) say, “Those people are not your community, Mom. You’re a real member of the real Mancos. We know how to treat our neighbors.”

And yes, I can hear all of those things, and on a good day, I can see all of those truths.

But those people and their actions have hurt me so deeply; have made this breakup, loss of a life built together, loss of stability, giardia starvation, and accident thing a whole lot more difficult.

Needlessly.

I have felt pain in my very core.

And the worst part is that all of the comments, actions, and inactions, have also hurt my children; they too are being shut out and unsupported.

And, it’s given them yet another reason, like they needed more, to worry about their mother.

I know that festering and harboring resentments and taking everything personally isn’t helping the situation. I am trying my damnedest to find compassion and forgiveness; it’s hard.

I can also admit that probably no one has done anything to intentionally hurt me or the boys, but there is a careless, insensitive, lack of integrity that abounds here that just doesn’t work for me or my family.

So, now that that little bit is out there, I feel like I will be able to share, more openly and honestly, a little more of who I am at this moment.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

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.”

The unthinkable

A baby has died. A teeny tiny member of our small community is gone.

I can’t, I won’t even try, to fathom what is going on in the hearts of his parents. It is too unbearable to imagine.

For everyone who is a parent, it is our worst nightmare; it is the possibility that keeps us up at night worrying. It is the reason why we yell at our child for crossing the street without looking. It is the driving force behind standing over a sleeping child searching for the rise and fall of gentle breathing.

For me, it is the fear that has given me cause to wonder if I really am cut out for this parenting gig.

With my children having reached the ages of 21, 19, and 17, that fear has not diminished even an ounce. The only thing that has changed is the possible cause of death; car accident instead of SIDS, fatal football head injury instead of choking on a Lego.

Instead of hovering over my sleeping child as I did when they were small, I now hover, waiting for them to return for the night and go to sleep.

Today, no one is sure what has happened, why this child has come and gone as quickly as he has. All we know is that he is gone.

Does it matter what happened? A very wise woman said that to wonder about the hows and whys distracts us from dealing with the fact that this baby is gone…forever.

My sadness is so very deep.

As it is within our small, insulated world. There is a collective grief that many feel and we don’t necessarily know what to do with that pain.

As I fumble around, remembering the weight of that tiny man in my arms (wailing, because I am definitely not a baby-whisperer) I also see something beautiful happening.

I see community. I see that what exists in our town is strong and unique and loving.

People everywhere are throwing around the catchphrase “community.” It’s hip and trendy to “create community.”

The reality is that if you open your eyes and your heart here in this valley, we already have it in spades.

Folks who don’t even know this family are crying tears and rallying to help in any way that they can. Food, money, childcare for the sister…it doesn’t matter what, how big or how small. What matters is that a child has died, there are people suffering, and the love that flows through our town is astounding.

One of my chickens was killed yesterday.

My son hit and killed a fawn less than an hour later.

Death.

Death of the innocent, death of the young.

I know that my chicken and that baby deer are not someone’s child and that my pain over my girl is piddly in comparison to my friends’ pain, but I feel surrounded by death.

And that is painful.

Unbearably so.

And, I appreciate living so close to the natural world that I can see that yes, creatures are born and creatures die before what we think is their time.

Today it doesn’t make this child’s death any less brutal, but maybe some day it will help with the hows and the whys.

I think that I am rambling here. I want to talk about this, I want to process the grief, and yet I don’t want to make this about me. I don’t want to presume to hurt anywhere near as much as mom and dad. And I certainly don’t want to be a gossip.

But death needs to be talked about and picked at and felt. Our culture is at a complete and utter loss when it comes to grief. If one is not devoutly religious then it is likely that there is no set of guidelines for how to cope with the unimaginable.

For anyone who has seen Rabbit Proof Fence, there was a scene where a grandmother’s children are taken from her. She collapses on the ground and beats her own head with a rock. It struck me as beautiful. In moments of intense agony, who wouldn’t beat themselves with a stone?

I loved that it was accepted.

We don’t have that. If someone saw me beating my own brains out they’d call the cops.

So we make food. We show up at friends’ homes at 9:30 at night to just have a little bit of company and not feel so alone. We accept the parents right where they are and do not judge. We worry; about the mother, the father, the sister, the grandmother. We talk about the child, the sadness, the hows and whys, because whether those things matter in the big picture or not, sharing those thoughts helps us to bond as an extended family.

We say the words coroner, autopsy, burial, in hopes that speaking them will take just a little bit of the power, the rawness, out of them.

If I can say autopsy, then hopefully it will help Mom and Dad say it too.

Because it is an unbearable word to use in the same sentence as your child’s name.

We gather together and pick at the wound – perhaps if we pick enough scar tissue will develop and the pain will lessen.

We create the container that will hopefully help this family in feeling loved and supported and not alone in this agony.

 

 

 

Huge dilemma

This may not seem so huge to many of my readers, but if you know me at all, you will understand that for me…

Well, let me just explain here.

Again, if you know me at all, you’ve probably figured out that jewelry is significant to my every day well-being. Have you ever seen me out without earrings?

Probably not.

And then there is The Bracelet:

34 years with this baby

And The Ring (9-ish years):

The bracelets are an added bonus

The bracelets are an added bonus

So my right side is all set.

The problem is my left hand. Because of my pain disorder, I can’t sport a bracelet or a watch on that arm, so if I want it adorned (which of course I do – I am me, you know) it has to be rings.

And I know this might sound really trivial, a white girl first world problem, and I get it, it is, but there is a little more to it than you might think, because it directly ties into the whole marriage divorce thing. Let me explain:

When I got engaged, there was a ring, a ring that I adored. When we got married, there was another ring – one that I truly loved, but I was allergic to it.

Red Flag that I ignored.

But I never ever had to think about my left hand – it was all set. Until I got divorced.

I took the wedding band off immediately, but it left a big, soft, white circle around my finger that to me, was a glaring “Your life just fell apart and you failed your children in the process.” I figured if it screamed that to me, then every time the children saw my hand they would also be reminded that their lives had exploded and I didn’t feel like any of us needed that white squishy aide-mémoire.

So I had a “divorce ring” made and I loved it – the ring and the symbolism.IMG_2508

 

Then I moved on and got myself into the most amazingly dysfunctional relationship with a man who claimed “I’m going to replace that divorce ring with a wedding band.”

IMG_2511

It’s called “Crater” and I thought the earthy name would be solid and grounding.

Thank god that didn’t happen. But when that all fell apart it seemed like a good time to once again, eliminate some of the symbols of my past and move forward. So I purchased this one from an artist down in Mexico City:

 

I also came to the conclusion that it was time to quit focusing on the empty finger and celebrate my middle finger (which sees a lot more action anyway.)

Love love loved this one, until…

Another relationship. Time for another ring.

And I will interject here that wanting a new ring with a new relationship had NOTHING to do with wanting the Ring

So I moved on, decided to get something totally different:

This seemed to be the jewel that for which I had been searching…

IMG_2513

…until it broke.

Because I am really hard on my hands and whatever is on them.

So then I went through all of the others that I had picked up over the years, trying, rejecting, and trying again, all while my right hand screamed – get it together, Lady, just put on a ring and forget about it.

There was this one, with the hideous fake turquoise in the middle of the otherwise, stunning piece of artwork:IMG_2507

 

 

 

IMG_2512There’s the fossil ring that my off-the-deep-end cousin made:

He just died so I tried to wear it again, but it’s just really too masculine for me.

I have a few other random ones, but nothing has felt like I want it to be a semi-permanent part of my body, my life, me.

So then I’ve been looking around at rings. I’ve also been looking around at other people’s hands, trying for some inspiration. I got some recently with my friend Dodo who wears 2 silver rings on her left hand. One of which is, of course, her wedding band.

So then I thought, maybe I should look first for something that fits my ring finger – seems novel and maybe I’ve been barking up the wrong tree.

But that is a loaded proposition. To begin sporting a ring on your left finger when you are actually in a serious relationship, sends a mighty big message to people, even when there is no message to be received.

So I have fumbled.

And in my fumbling for a fucking ring – again, I understand that this is not quite as big of an issue as world hunger – I have dredged up all of these other feelings about relationships and marriage and divorce and symbols of all of the above.

And I get stymied because suddenly, it’s not about a little chunk of silver and it’s all about where I am in my life, how I present myself to the world, and what that shiny bit conveys.

When I was single, it seemed like it was less significant if I wore something on my “wedding band” finger, but now it feels like it would be perceived as a statement.

I remember when I first wore my engagement ring – silver with an almost imperceptible diamond – I thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I used to stand at work with my hand held out in front of me gazing adoringly at it. I hoped that as I reached to hand someone  something, that they would notice and say “my what a beautiful ring,” and I could then say, “yes, yes it is, isn’t it?”

And then they could say, “Are you engaged?”

And I could squeal, “YES!!!”

I still think it's beautiful. And it still fits. Bummer.

I still think it’s beautiful. And it still fits. Bummer.

I kept my engagement ring – but it’s not like I can actually wear it. And I’m not going to pass it on to one of my children because who wants to propose to a girl with a ring that symbolizes a really wretched marriage?

And I threw the wedding band in the river.

It makes me sad to think of that sweet, hopeful, and stupid young girl. And then it makes me proud to look at the display of rings past and know that each one symbolizes both my pain and my growth over the last few years.

So as I put each chapter behind me and move on to the next, I want to put the symbols of those chapters behind me too.

So maybe this is why I won’t ever find one ring that meets my needs, one semi-permanent fixture on my body – because I am not a semi-permanent fixture – I am still changing and growing and evolving.

And this is a thought that I haven’t had until just now, as I am writing this:

Maybe I should stop looking for forever and start looking for “right now.”

 

 

Coming out of the closet

I’ve been struggling to write.  I haven’t been especially inspired.  Really it all began with the shutting down of Single in the Southwest.

That was my choice – yes it was, in many ways – but to be totally honest, I hated ending that blog. It still exists, it’s just that I don’t write there any more and no one has access to it unless I allow it.

My Ex, T-dub, hated Single. Vehemently.

And I sort of can’t blame him, yet I repeatedly explained the math to him – stop giving me so much to write about and I will quit publicly raking you over the coals. I thought it was simple, yet apparently he didn’t see it that way.

In a moment of, I’m not sure what, frustration? indignation? I got so sick of him and his oh poor me I am such a victim of her writing act that I decided to rid the world of Single in the Southwest.

I understand why I did it and in the moment it seemed like the right thing to do – for the children.

Not that I believe the children were being hurt by anything I had to say – they didn’t even care about the blog – but T said that he would cooperate and be respectful if the blog was gone so poof! gone.

And I called his bluff. He “spoke” to me one time after that – ONE TIME.

And that was via text and just enough to inform me that no, he would not be paying his portion of the kids medical bills.

That was a year ago.

Could I have had my First Amendment Rights upheld in a court room? Probably. I certainly wasn’t writing anything that wasn’t true.images-2

I didn’t lie about him calling me a whore. I didn’t lie about him dying his chest hair. I didn’t make it up when he threatened me in public – in front of the kids and their entire football team – screaming that I had failed my children.

I also didn’t only write about him. There was a series on vibrators, quite a bit about parenting teenagers, and the one about work that almost cost me my job. And yet, he thought it was all about him.

Typical.

So yes, there was a good chance that I could have kept on typing away but I grew tired of the fight.

I also had a lot of fear. What if a Judge saw me as a bad parent because I wrote the things that I wrote? What if we stood in a courtroom and the Judge agreed that I was harming the children with my words? What if the judge called me a whore?

Then, the moment preceding the moment where I threw my hands up in the air yelling “I give up,” T was in the middle of insisting that of course, the blog could stay, but that he would be able to determine if anything that I wrote was suitable or acceptable.

In other words he believed that he should have final editorial approval before I hit “Publish.”

C.E.N.S.O.R.S.H.I.P.

Fuck that noise.

So, Blog – Gone.

Writer’s block – here for the long haul.

One of my greatest sadnesses when I look back over the years is realizing just how much of my life has been run by fear – primarily fear of him.

I have this deep anxiety-producing paranoia of getting in trouble which most likely started when, surprise surprise, I was a young kid and didn’t want to get in trouble.

Unfortunately I lived my marriage in a way that created the same dynamic. And then it showed up in a few other areas of my world, like work, and suddenly it became crippling.

I’d like to say that it became the litmus test for all decisions that I made, but the truth is, it didn’t.

I’m still independent and feisty enough to not let anyone else tell me what I can and cannot do.

I just suffered the consequences afterwards. In other words, I got in trouble.

So with my kids’ well-being at stake, I cowered in the face of fear and shut my trouble making mouth.

And in the process, shut myself right down.

But things are shifting for me. Or I actually need them to shift and so here is a step that will hopefully take me in that direction.

Over the last couple of years and the last few court hearings, I have come out on top – way on top. I have seen that the court system may be really flawed, but if you get a wise judge who is also a parent, sometimes things work out the way that they should; the way that is actually best for the children and…fair.

With the freedom of a few wins and watching a judge put him in his place and validate that I am a good mother, I am able to shed some of my fears.

So today, I am taking a monumental step. I am coming out of hiding.

Have I thought this through?

Probably not thoroughly enough, but I tend to be impulsive anyway.

I’m sick of the fear. I am sick of hiding. Sick to death of handing my power over to him. And living in secrecy has been doing just that.

So, today, I will link HDD to my own Facebook page.

And right here, right now I will say:

I , Suzanne Strazza, am High Desert Darlin, the artist formerly known as Single in the Southwest.

And I am a writer, a mother, a lover.

I am exercising my First Amendment rights.

And I am free.

images

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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Area 51

Today is my birthday.

I am so not a birthday person – my kids probably feel short-changed in their minimalist childhood birthday celebrations but, what can you do?

Anyway, for the last week my family has been saying, “Oh, next Tuesday is your big day.”

My response?

“Why?”

Then this morning, MCB gave me a treasure trove of treats and I was actually caught off guard.

“Presents? Really? Huh.”

Bless his heart – he loves birthdays so much that I am probably a total killjoy.

Then I went to work.

Peter asked, “You’re working on your birthday?”

It never crossed my mind not to. What the hell else would I do?

Maybe I am a killjoy; especially for myself.

Then I tried something; someone came into the cafe who I’ve known for a long time and I know he wouldn’t snicker at my 51 years.

“Can I tell you a secret?

“Sure.”

“It’s my birthday.”

I never ever announce my birthday to anyone, but this is the new me (at least the me that I am trying on for size. The me that maybe doesn’t believe that other people should be avoided at all costs)

Then I told someone else. We talked about the 50’s being the best years of life.

I stopped telling people after that. I’d garnered enough attention for one day.

But I want to clarify, my lack of enthusiasm for this special day has nothing to do with the fact that I am aging. I am truly one of those people who doesn’t freak out about advancing in years (although there are times when I feel like I am older than everyone else in the room.)

I’ve stopped worrying about being cool. I’m saying “yes” to a lot more these days, because, why not. I’m not so concerned with offending people or having everyone like me or being in the “in” crowd, or whatever else.

Fifty brought a new nonchalant attitude. Fifty-one is expanding on the theme.

So, so far, 17 hours into it, 51 is totally working for me.

If you hear that I’m the mean mommy…

…I totally am.

I’ve reached a limit of sorts.  I feel as if my good will and openness has been pushed and under-appreciated.

We have a boil.

It could be that I’m around the house more since I’m unemployed.

It could be this beautiful house that we’ve just moved into that I want to keep beautiful.

It could also be the security deposit we didn’t get back because we have to replace the carpet.

It could be not being able to walk around half naked at 5 am because there are too many impressionable teenage boys that might see my cottage cheese ass.

It could maybe be the dozen eggs that I boiled that were eaten before they had time to cool.

Or the shells that were left on the counter.

Or the empty string cheese bag left in the deli drawer in the fridge.

And it could possibly be a combination of all of the above.

All I know is that my good will has thinned.  I don’t want to be a hag – I truly like being the cool mom and having everyone feel welcome in my home. But I also want to feel like it actually is my home and that I can enjoy it in ways that I like to.

Like sitting on the couch with my coffee in front of the fire in my undies and no bra before anyone else in the house wakes up.

Can’t be done if there is someone sleeping on that couch.

And I want that couch to be cared for so that we will still have this time next year.

And I really really don’t want to lose my security deposit due to carelessness ever again.

And I want to be able to want those things without being considered selfish or unreasonable.

And I want to be able to talk about it, in my home, without hearing later through the grapevine, that “(Their) mom totally flipped out about some stupid shit.”

If that kid thought he witnessed a flip out, he doesn’t know me very well.

So rules have changed, laws have been laid down, and easy-going fun-for-everyone mommy has left the building.