I wanted to commemorate the 300-day mark of this project with a special photo. It’s been wonderful having FunkyPlaid back home this week, and I am dreading having to say goodbye again so soon. My heart was especially heavy today until I read this piece about Patton Oswalt losing his wife. Then I felt like a big jerk for sighing over a separation of several weeks.
My mom gave us this beautiful bit of ironwork from Oakbeck Forge for our sixth anniversary. Behind it is the purse she handmade to match my wedding gown.
Writing from: my study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: FunkyPlaid puttering around in the kitchen.
Today’s smile started when I picked FunkyPlaid up from the airport this morning and it hasn’t been far from my face since.
FunkyPlaid even managed to decorate a little for Halloween! I’m so glad he’s home. Work and exhaustion are solid distractions from my loneliness, but life is so much better when he’s around.
Writing from: my study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: FunkyPlaid turn the pages of the book he’s reading. <3
Here are two signs I saw in our neighborhood tonight. I don’t need to add anything else.
Writing from: my study. Listening to: “Salt” by RY X.
You genuflected outside the gothic cathedral the day after I got officially old. My nose was running and cold and I turned from the great grey edifice to see the only familiar face for miles. On that face, the expression I tried to capture: irreverent yet strangely penitent, maybe just tired from walking or overwhelmed by unfamiliar vowels or musing how new it feels to feel this old.
gratitude: FunkyPlaid · FunkyPlaid · FunkyPlaid
At dinner tonight, we got to talking. We talked about so many things, but one I wanted to write about before it slipped through the old brain-sieve. I am listening right now to a song that makes me think of someone I have not seen in years, someone I loved desperately with my then-heart. If I saw him again, I likely would have a flash of feeling, that electric eel around the collar one, remembering what it was like. Then I would have that certain relief of not having to love him anymore, of not having to succumb to muscle memory. The love is under glass in a museum I no longer visit. Sometimes I walk past the museum, and I can hear this song playing inside.
She told me it took a long time. She told me it took a long time before she stopped seeing him everywhere he wasn’t. She told me it took a long time to unlearn the cringing, to unfurl during the phone ringing. She told me it took almost as long as they were together to be comfortably apart, not to expect the other shoe to drop, his other shoe, when his feet weren’t even near.
She told me it took a long time, not that she expected it to be short. Once you are terrorized in a certain way, she said, your body exists only within boundaries of panic. For long, hollow years later, she would be flooded with adrenaline from a glimpse of the color of his hair. Fight or flight, but of course she did neither.
She told me it took a long time to allow herself a leisurely shower, an indecision over clothing, a detour on the way to the market, a reshuffling of plans. Sometimes, after years of only being grabbed and pulled by the wrist, she would just sit, sit somewhere quiet, and hold her own hand.
He puts his head on his hand, elbow beside the yellow pages. He scans the names and numbers, pausing to smirk at a funny bunch of letters. Today the book is of Reno, Nevada. He has never been to Reno, but he pictures it like Orinda in July, only flatter. Once he went to Orinda for a family picnic. It wasn’t his family; it was the family of a woman he tried to love. She tried to love him back. After a few years, the attempts weighed more than the result, and they parted over a steak dinner. After that, steak always reminded him of not knowing what to say.
Something I am learning from this exercise: the prompts often launch me in a completely different direction. I wonder what that’s about.
I am reading a book called “How to Be an Adult in Relationships: The Five Keys to Mindful Loving” by David Richo, and this passage struck me today:
Childhood forces influence present choices, for the past is on a continuum with the present. Early business that is still unfinished does not have to be a sign of immaturity; rather, it can signal continuity. Recurrence of childhood themes in adult relationships gives our life depth in that we are not superficially passing over life events but inhabiting them fully as they evolve. Our past becomes a problem only when it leads to a compulsion to repeat our losses or smuggles unconscious determinants into our decisions. Our work, then, is not to abolish our connection to the past but to take it into account without being at its mercy. The question is how much the past interferes with our chances at healthy relating and living in accord with our deepest needs, values, and wishes.
Where to begin … yeesh. First of all, I can’t write entries like this with Jonathan Coulton playing, no matter how much I like his music. Now that it’s off: in past relationships, I was often told that my past was a problem, something to “get over” – or, rather, something I couldn’t get over, and thus was a deal-breaker – so much so that I attempted to disconnect myself from it, to forget it in order to overcome it. As a result, my memory of my childhood is spotty at best. When I discover an artifact from it, I am often moved to tears not because I reminisce but because I cannot reminisce. Whole years of my younger life are gone now; in an effort to be “normal” I have created twice as much work for myself.
While cleaning my desk today, I found this photograph of my family. I think I am three years old in this photo, but I truly have no recollection of it or of being three, of having two parents in the same place. We all have separate homes now. And today I realized that I am still trying to make sense of that.
[Want to help me bust through my writer’s block this month? Read about this exercise!]
When your relationship is getting ruined we know how to help you. We will come into your house while you are at the grocery store, buying whatever the hell cereal you want to buy, now that there are no other arbitrary preferences in the house, and we will rearrange everything. We will confuse your weakened heart, so there is no longer a focus on the ever-present crumbling, the noise of a tow-truck always idling around the corner.
We know that it is not about words of wisdom. Curse words are more apt but still not good enough. The words you want to collect and trash are the words you think you will never say again: “honey” or “baby” or “sorry” “I missed you” or “I know I was wrong” or “what do you want me to say”
We know how to help you. We have machines that will help. If you press your forehead against the cool metal and look right into here we can see into your brain and therefore your heart. We can see which baggage to zap, which intriguing trait to enhance. We know things you do not know, can never know, without us.
All it takes is three easy payments of your distrust your despair your disbelief.
— Halsted Mencotti Bernard
(Thanks to my junk email folder for the first line.)
There are so many words and photographs I want to share with you about Scotland, but I am a perfectionist and so those will take a while to percolate. Yet something monumental happened during our trip, and I do not want to wait any longer to share it.
When I shared it with a friend yesterday, he told me how happy he was for me, “…particularly remembering where you were, lifewise, less than two years ago. Things Get Better. A lesson for us all.”
Things Get Better, better than I had ever hoped. This beautiful ring from my beloved symbolizes the start of our second chapter, during which we prepare to become husband and wife.
These mornings are so foggy in the Sunset. Foghorns remind me of my beloved. I wrote a poem about an evening of ours, years ago, set to the soundtrack of a foghorn. Ever since then, I cannot hear a foghorn without thinking of him. I realize now how apt the symbolism is.
This Saturday will be the fifth anniversary of the day I kissed him goodbye on the eve of his move to Scotland. Coincidentally, it was my half-birthday, so I never forgot the date. I tried. I tried to forget so much, but I kept hearing foghorns.
My social software habits have become dreadful. My status updates are usually complaints about work or illness, compiled as an archive of generic distress that makes me cringe. I am not a victim of circumstances, and I want to behave accordingly. To this end, each day this month I will attempt to write about the things in my life for which I am grateful.
Today’s subject is the easiest: I am grateful for FunkyPlaid. Yesterday I felt utterly out of sorts by the time I returned home from work, and he listened to me, talked gently to me, drew me a bath and rubbed my aching, neglected feet. I generally avoid thinking about my feet because they creep me out, but today they creep me out a little less. That’s saying something.
Last night is just an example of how kind and generous he is to me. I could write about only him for the entire month, but it wouldn’t be a challenge. Here’s hoping that the last few days I won’t have to resort to topics like “shampoo” and “sporks made from corn”. (But I really do like them both.)
If you’d like to join me in this month of gratitude, please trackback/pingback so I can read your posts!
Today, years ago, in a place I have never been, a woman I never met did something remarkable. All mothers do something remarkable, it is true: that violence absorbed, accommodated, relinquished is nothing if not remarkable. As a result, and despite that, you exist.
When I met you, that first day in your store, I knew you were more than just a passing acquaintance, more than a bit part on my stage, even though our orbits were mostly separate. Each time after I saw you, I knew you less; not for any obfuscation on your part, but because there was more of you to which I could not be privy.
How could I realize that my dull little email four years later would spark the beginning of the most important friendship of my life? That summer, as you were preparing to change your entire life, mine changed alongside it. Your openness to the world, your sheer breadth of knowledge, and your inimitable passion for living taught me that amidst all these bitter, jaded people, I was not wrong for anticipating goodness and light.
Back then, I couldn’t have done what you did, no matter what you might have believed about me, and you always believe the best. I couldn’t have uprooted my sense of self, my home, and my comfort to achieve a goal. I would never be so arrogant as to say “I let you go” because you had to go. My hands released yours easily so you would never doubt your path away from me.
Even so, when you left, I wanted to be so much stronger than I was. I wanted not to grasp desperately to catch you again; I wanted to be the effortless support I strove to be with you in my midst. But miles apart, I could only see not seeing you. I could only think of you in my own terms: mine, or not at all.
So many lessons in those interim years I learned the hardest way. Time and again, I tricked myself into lessening you. As you reached and grasped and succeeded, I learned the most important part: you exist not for my sake. And I promised myself that if we were ever able to be friends again, I would not forget that.
So here we are, my heart, on your birthday, the first we celebrate together, and all I know is that all my words fail me in the utter presence of you. With your own hands you built your life, your support structure, your home, your business, and your education, and I am lucky to witness them all from so close. Your humility throughout all your accomplishments is my touchstone; your resilience unmarred by disappointment or rejection is my inspiration. My lesson to learn is how to love you for who you are, because you are the greatest person I have ever known.
Happy birthday, D. And thank you for persevering through so many hard times on your own so that we might share whatever is to come.
I wanted to write you a story, but not any story: the best story.
I wanted to write you a love story, but not any love story: the love story that would bolster your faith in love, in how what is meant to be can come to pass.
I wanted to give you all of my words, and for a month now, I have struggled with just how to harness them from my heart and arrange them for you.
So I was patient through all of these days, patient with the pen, patient as it hovered above the page, as my hand shivered and stilled in turns.
And while my head was briefly turned, he began to write the story. Not any story: the best story. Not any love story: the love story.
Tomorrow our hands will entwine on the same pen, and put it to the same page.