Tag Archives: memories

COVID-19 Chronicles: Days 37-40

I’d say I have an above average memory — one that can span all the way back to near infancy, in some places.  I mean I don’t actively remember every second of every day, though if I think back hard enough to what I call the “major” landmarks, I can start building out what I remember around them and connect them with days prior to and days after that “landmark” event.  It’s why I say I don’t “actively” remember things – I think the data is still there, it’s just buried in all the other shit my brain has to sift through on a daily basis.

Anyway, point being, I’ve been basically isolated from other humans, places other than my home (except the grocery store and the path that I walk every day), for over a month now.  I only see Ormsby (rarely) and my cats.  If I talk to anyone it’s via phone, text, or instant messenger.  That’s it.  And this isn’t a complaint.  It’s been quiet, I’ve gotten a lot of stuff done that I probably ordinarily would not have made time for.  In some ways, I’m living my best life right now.

What I’m getting at here, though, is that because it is so unusually quiet, and because there is not anything that ties me to the “here” (and, in fact, it is really easy to lose track of what day or time it is), I’m finding it easier to really immerse myself into the books I’ve been planning (and writing) for a really long time.  See, although I’m going to change the names of places, people, etc., I’m pulling all of what’s in there right out of my own memory.   They are prequels, really, to what I’ve written here over the years — what came before… what was FIRST.

It’s all there – it always has been – plotted out on paper, outlined, archives in place to jog my memory… but now, with the world so much quieter and so much slower, I can actually make some progress.  I can… well.. vanish… back into those times.  I can live in them again (and I’m being really careful to revisit only the good stuff right now – even I know better than to dredge through the bad shit when there’s nothing out there to wake myself back up again).  A world without COVID, without bills, where I was mercilessly naive (and that makes me laugh now) and trying to navigate a world I didn’t understand, but was fascinated with.  I get to turn all this over again and look at it and I realized, as I was walking today and thinking about what I was writing, I’m really watching myself transform into what I am now.  It’s fascinating.

To, I have to dig deep, in some ways, because I’m talking about pulling up shit that happened to me over twenty years ago now.  In so much detail that whoever reads these things will SEE these people.  Will HEAR their voices.  Will SMELL and FEEL what I did.  I’m resurrecting ghosts, in a way (even if not all of them are dead), and to do anything less doesn’t feel like I am doing those people, or those places, or those times (or myself) the justice that they deserve.  At any rate, when I get to the place I need to be, it’s like there are voices from the past echoing off my walls.  Conversations that I now remember verbatim that I could not easily access before.  And instead of freaking out over whether that stuff is still there and what I’ll do if it isn’t, I’m trusting that it will be there when I need it… and so far, they have been.

It will still be months (years, even) before this is finished.  Though if I keep writing like this, maybe not so long.  It is, after all, hard to convince myself to leave, sometimes, and come back into this other reality.

Good Stuff:

  • Really more of the same — though I am finding that this has been a really creative time for me.  I had worried that I was losing my touch.  Turns out, I just needed some quiet.
  • My knee is really recovering!!  I’m not running yet (and may not for quite a while), but can now consistently walk at my brisk speed-walking pace for 2.5 miles.  Daily.  I’m working back up to three, which was where I was at prior to the injury.  I can’t credit COVID for all of this, because this has been 2+ years coming (with many physical therapy sessions, multiple cortisone injections, plus an expensive, out of pocket, experimental procedure that apparently worked (PRP Injection)), but my need to get out of the house every day has made me want to prolong the time I spend out there rebuilding this thing… and I may very well come out of this a totally recovered woman.

1.0 – Another Flashback, 2002-2014

By the time 2003 had rolled around, I’d met someone who was now living with me in the small condo my parents had bought me in 2002 so that I would not have to leave Louisville to go home during the summer breaks between college semesters.  It was an accident, really, the way all of that had come about – my boyfriend had had nowhere else to go, he moved in temporarily, and then we’d decided he’d stay.  It was my first experience with “housing the homeless” and at that point in my life, I wasn’t great at telling people to leave when they’d overstayed their welcome.  At any rate, 1.0 and I had been friends throughout this time… civil, friendly even, sometimes talking on the phone, but not like it had been when we were dating.  I was seeing someone else.  Over him, really, but I’d still wanted to keep my friend.  After all, I hadn’t put in four years of work for absolutely nothing – to lose him now would be, at least to me, right then, a failure.

In 2003, 1.0 decided to visit Louisville again.  It would be easier this time… I had a condo.  There would be no need to put him in a hotel.  Mr. Ex, as I have said, was living with me then (this was before we were married).  I had stopped going to school by this time and while I worked during the days at the vet clinic, I had the evenings free – many of which 1.0 and I would still be able to spend alone so that we could talk.  I had no money.  He had no money.  We could not really afford to do a whole lot.  But we could sit around and watch stuff on television.

Mr. Ex and I were sharing an air mattress on my living room floor.  I had a bed.  He never wanted to sleep in it… come to think of it, looking back on it, I find that to be ridiculous now, but it was what it was then.  1.0 would have the bed, in the bedroom.  We picked him up from the airport, we went back to the house, he set up shop in there, and the three of us shared this absurdly small 500 square foot living space for four days.

Mr. Ex did not like 1.0.  I did not understand why this was… at least not at first.  1.0 did not let on that he wanted anything, at least at first, and the men were civil to each other.  Mr. Ex went to work, 1.0 and I walked up and down Bardstown Road.  I showed him the clinic where I worked, he saw the Hemingway kittens that were up for adoption in the clinic.  I wasn’t old enough to drink, so we didn’t do that, but he did seem to enjoy the atmosphere there at least.

On that Saturday, though, things changed.  I had the television on as usual.  I did not get cable, but there was something mindless on television anyway, and I had it on for background noise.  I was lying on the air mattress, watching it, as I normally did.  1.0 came into the room, asked what I was watching, sat on the mattress to watch it with me and eventually reclined.  I paid him no attention… if he wanted to be there that was fine… but when he started stroking my leg lightly, I was horrified.  Remember… I don’t cheat.  I don’t break that rule even for someone that I consider to be one of my best friends.  I jumped up, said I had to go to the bathroom, and when I’d come out, I’d decided that he and I were going to go to the casino to see Mr. Ex.  I was no longer comfortable being in the house alone with him anymore.  At least there we’d be in public… and my boyfriend would be there.

When we arrived at the casino, we found the Legends restaurant and got a table there.  1.0 decided to check out the boat (the casinos in Indiana are on Riverboats).  I was not old enough to board (you don’t have to be 21 to be in the food areas, but you do have to be 21 to be in the gaming areas) and so I agreed when he left me behind.  Hours passed.  Literally hours.  Legends closed (and on a Saturday, they closed at 1 a.m.).  By this point, I had been in the casino, alone, waiting for 1.0’s ass for a solid four hours.  He hadn’t bothered to check on me, he did not have a cell phone (even if he had, I did not get a signal there).  Mr. Ex got off work, and I sent him onto the boat to find him… 1.0 assured him that he’d be out in a few minutes… but minutes turned to more hours and when he finally came out, it was 3 a.m.  I was beyond pissed.  I said little to him as I drove him back to my condo and was glad to see the back of him on the Sunday when he left.

We did not speak again until after my divorce was final in 2006.  By this point, I was “seeing” Buttface, but I was glad that 1.0 and I had gotten back in contact again.  I hadn’t forgotten what he had done, but catching up after all of that time was nice.  I had no desire to see him face to face again… I was busy, driving up and down the road to Columbus, trying to put my life back in order, going to school, working an internship on top of the promotions and the modeling I was doing.  And yet, one night, he called and said he felt like going on vacation.  I didn’t know what he meant by that, so I encouraged it… I mean seriously… who doesn’t want to take a vacation now and then?  It was only after he kept pressing and told me he wanted to come see Louisville again that I hesitated.

I had nowhere to put him, and I told him that.  I did not want him in my bed… I was sleeping with someone else.  I also voiced the concern about his newfound marijuana habit… I did not want that stuff in my house.  I was living on the top floor of someone’s house… they were renting it to me, cheaply, and I did not want this under their roof (and I wouldn’t have wanted it under mine, either).  We fought over it.  He blocked me.  I was fine with that… I carried on about my business, went through the Buttface saga, moved to Florida, found a good job, got fairly comfortable.

In 2014, though, in March, we got back in contact again.  Granted, I’m more open minded now than I was then (though I still don’t use pot), and our conversations were very touch-and-go from the beginning.  We never chatted for very long, and never about anything important.  That was fine with me.  I was, again, involved with someone else.  Waiting for Botboy to return from this deployment, having promised him that I’d do so, took precedence.  And anyway, even if I hadn’t been, I don’t know that I would have been interested in 1.0… after everything that had passed between us, knowing what I knew, knowing how pushy he was, I knew it wasn’t what I was looking for.  I may have been okay with it… passive about it, even… back in 2001.  But I’m not nineteen anymore.  I know what I want, and that is NOT what I want.

That said, people change.  And against my better judgment, I decided to give him the chance to prove that he had.

Which is where we pick up in this crazy-ass shit show of mine.

Anniversary

In a couple of weeks it will have been exactly a year since Botboy returned from Afghanistan, took all his toys out of my closet, and left.  It sounds funny when I say it that way, and I mean for it to sound funny – because if you can’t find some humor in a situation, no matter how badly it made you feel at the time, then you never do quite manage to heal from it.

I’d be lying if I said I was ready to face that anniversary on my own.  I can’t think of anything worse than sitting in my house, alone, on that day with nothing to do but remember how I felt after I’d came home a year ago and found my closet empty, his note on my end table, and his energy bouncing off the walls of my apartment.  Or how confused and completely bereft I felt for a couple of months after that.  It’s quite something when you realize that someone who had made the first half of a year spectacular has the same power to make the first couple of months of the second half of a year absolutely horrible.  I have no other way to describe it except to say that it truly felt as if someone had died.  Because here was this man who had been a constant (virtual) companion for the first five months out of the year and then who, within the course of a few hours, was suddenly, and inexplicably, gone.

But, what was done was done.  Time moved on, as it tends to do. And when it does, we have the choice to linger behind while the world moves on without us, or to pick ourselves up as best we can and move along with it.

And, regardless of how I did it, I chose to move along with it.  I healed.  It doesn’t mean I didn’t carry with me some very real scars from the earlier damage, but I became stronger for it.  I’d spent the first half of 2013 getting ready for his arrival – moving things around, rearranging the house, revamping the bedroom and the bathroom.  I’d made space in my closet for his things, given him the two lower drawers, and lived in constant anticipation of his arrival.

I’ve since spread back out into the rest of my house (I needed the room).  Although he is away again (and not due to return home until later in the summer), I am not living in constant anticipation of his arrival – I can only hope that when he returns, I will see him.  But otherwise, it is out of my control.  I do not want to be alone on the anniversary day, but, then, likely I won’t be.  Metalhead is a fairly constant fixture here during the week due to those anxiety attacks and I’m sure we’ll be sitting around, as always, watching television.

True to my word, though, in an attempt to make something potentially irksome into something more tolerable, I’ve been building May into something better. I’m attempting to give myself something to look forward to despite all of the mental garbage that I could potentially fall victim to.

There is that wedding of course.  I’m not looking forward to the wedding.  But I am looking forward to my Louisville trip.  I’ll find myself zip lining through some underground caverns under the city of Louisville on the very day I get there.  I’ll get to spend time with my friends.  I may find myself at Kentucky Kingdom (the amusement park in Louisville) one of the days that weekend – this is the first year it’s been open since a ride cut a teenager’s feet off several years ago.  I’ll be so busy there that there won’t be time to feel sorry for myself.

But, as they say on the TV infomercials, “Wait, there’s more!!”

I’ve had a surprise!!

I reconnected, recently, with a very old friend (like a friend I’ve had since I was fourteen) that I call 1.0.  Or, as he described it, when he heard his own nickname for the first time, “DOS before Windows” (that’s about the measure of it).

1.0 has decided to make plans to visit Tampa, citing a need to get out of the city.  He asked which weekend in May would be good for him to do that.  My social calendar is not brimming of late, so I told him any (even that weekend for the wedding – since he could come to Kentucky instead if he was really that desperate).

A little back story on him.  After August 1997 – as in after I got raped, escaped the rapist, and found my internet connection disconnected, I needed to set up a system that would allow me to keep in touch with the people I needed to keep in touch with.  Very long story short, with the help of my friends in high school (who still have my undying gratitude), I managed to keep in touch with two:  Buttface and 1.0.  1.0 and I talked through most of my high school years (he was in college) and finally met in person during my Freshman year of college.  We dated for a few months (we never had sex) and then broke up.  I saw him two other times after that – once when I made my own pilgrimage up to New York for the first time, and the second time after I had met and was living with Mr. Ex (who was very jealous of him).  I haven’t seen 1.0 since.  And twelve years have passed.

And so, once he found out that I was okay with it, he bought the tickets.  Sent me the itinerary (I didn’t ask him to, but I appreciated it – after last year, the proof of all of this was awesome).  It was a very welcome surprise – I was so excited I almost couldn’t get through the webinars that day.  We’ll have fun.  Because we’ve always had fun when we’ve been around each other.  There are so many things I want to show him – my Alice bathroom, photos of my mother which most people never get to see, downtown Tampa and some of my favorite places, the beach at night (we’re going to smuggle some wine).

It’ll be good to catch up now that the divorce is well behind me and now that I am truly settled (or as settled as I care to be for the moment) for the first time, really, since we started talking in 1997.  We’re taking a short road trip up to Orlando to visit one of his friends as well.  And it should, really, be quite a good weekend.  It won’t be exactly the anniversary of the Botboy fiasco last year… but it’s close enough so that it gives me something to look forward to during that week instead of letting the demons get the best of me.

And so, despite the fact that May is the first anniversary of that very horrible experience, intentionally or otherwise, it’s wrapping up to be very different this year.  I’m busy taking care of my friend who needs me at the moment.  I’m hosting another one of my friends that I haven’t seen in a very long time.  And then I’ll wrap it up by going to Kentucky for this wedding – and seeing even more friends there.

The past is resonating… it always does… and it’s doing so especially right now in ways I won’t disclose, because I’m still sort of watching to see where all of this eventually goes without any interference from me.  But just because it resonates doesn’t mean that it’s all bad.

Planting Roots

I’m a strange girl… I prefer funerals to weddings every time, hands down.  Part of that reason, though, makes perfect sense.  Weddings tend to bring out the worst in people.  They are stressful, depending on the level of “bridezilla” everyone turns into a monster, and every last bit of family drama comes to the surface.  With funerals, I don’t care how awful a person you were in life, no one ever has anything bad to say about you after you’re dead.

And this, ultimately, is why I did not want to go to my sister’s wedding; why I still do not want to go.  But I am going anyway.  For her.  Though the terms, and the situation, is not what I hoped it would be.  True to form, when we decided to start discussing it, the past was brought to the forefront.  My mother, who has been a nitpicker since I became a rebellious, sullen teenager that started questioning everything she’d been taught never to question (namely, religion, morals, and “right” vs. “wrong), always uses these opportunities to engage in the “hard discussions” – she uses these opportunities to evangelize.  To spread the gospel to her horrible, lost, rebellious daughter.  And she uses these opportunities to bring to light everything I have ever done to disappoint her.  I’ve named these things before – but for those of you that don’t remember, or who are just now joining me, I’ll list a few: a modeling career she didn’t approve of, living with a man before I married him, marrying the wrong person (at their behest, though they like to pretend they didn’t have a hand in it), having sex as a teenager, moving to Florida, wearing too much eyeliner sometimes… it goes on and on (and yes, I’m being honest, these minor infractions that are quite mainstream are really, to her, horrible).

But because I love my sister, though we are not close, I agreed to go.  Being in it was not an option.  After I’d thought about it, I realized that with flight times, it was not logistically going to be possible.  When I told my mother this, she blew up at me – as if I can control the flight times, the clock, and the timing of this wedding (which is happening way too fast in my opinion).  More stuff was brought up, she called me selfish (anyone who really knows me, knows that I am FAR from selfish), we had a shouting match.  My father, later, after hearing her side, took it and now treats me like a stranger, making it very apparent that if I come up there with an attitude (an attitude, to him, is not using the baby voice the way that my sister does – something I have never done), that I will be thrown out.  To save myself the trouble of being thrown out, I have elected to get a hotel room in Louisville.

But the whole situation says something much larger about my future, and about the future of my relationship with my family.  Things have been… unstable… for sixteen years.  They get better, but then they get worse – irrevocably so.  At this point, so many things have been said, by both parties, that we are not able to let go.  And there have been things done, to me, that I cannot forget – being beaten as a teenager for nothing at all, enduring the always overwhelming feeling of being second best.  The deterioration, I knew, would cause an eventual split.  I’d hoped I was wrong about that – I’d hoped that we’d be able to go on, being civil to each other, I’d come home when I felt like I could – when I’d recovered from the latest “Let’s tear into Victoria” time, pretend like everything was fine, then go home to the silence.

Now I know that that is no longer possible.  I mean I’ve known that their town is not my home for a very long time – it hasn’t felt like home to me since 1997, and less so since I started moving out during the summers beginning in 1999 until I moved out, permanently, in 2001.  Still, you know, that’s where you are always supposed to be able to go when shit hits the fan everywhere else.  It hasn’t been that way, not really, for a very long time, but it had been civil enough that I was able to pretend.  I can’t pretend anymore.  It’s a little disturbing.  But really, it’s more of a relief.  I don’t know, I’m sad and happy all at the same time – sad that things have gone so far to shit that they are irreversible, but happy as if I’ve just gotten out of a toxic relationship that I’d stayed in for far too long.

But it does pose the question: If my roots are not in Kentucky anymore (because that’s really what’s happened here – my roots are gone), then where are they?  The answer, right now, is nowhere.  This doesn’t scare me as much as it should.  As I told Botboy in the previous post – I’m a brave girl when it comes to doing what needs to be done.

And what needs to be done, now, is making a home for myself.  A real one.  One that I feel like I can come back to, no matter what, when the world goes to shit.  I know that won’t be easy to do.  I don’t even know that Florida is where that home is, but what I DO know, is that Florida has felt more like home to me (even when I didn’t live here, even when I was only visiting as a teenager) than any place ever has.  So because of that, right now, I’m going to stay.  I’m going to give it a fair shot.  There are opportunities I have here that I have nowhere else.  I have a good job.  My best friend in the whole world, the one person that knows how I feel without ever having to say it, is here.  The weather is damn near perfect.  And it is half a country away from the people that have made me feel the worst about myself.

It’s not that I’m not scared.  I’m fucking terrified.  Because now, for better or worse, aside from my friends that are here for emotional support and my cat who doesn’t leave my side, I really am alone.  I can’t call my family when things go to shit.  When UK beats UL, I can’t call my dad and trash talk Rick Pitino.  I will have to learn to be alone for Christmas and to be okay with it.  But it’s exciting, too.  Because where there is loss, there is opportunity.  And this is a big one.  But, then, I think everything I’ve done, everywhere I’ve been, everything I’ve gone through has prepared me for this.  This one moment.

I have suspected, for a long time, that what I am now, and what I want now – and who I used to be (who they wanted me to be) could not coexist.  I know this, now, to be true.  I won’t compromise who I am for who someone else wants me to be.  Florida is the foundation.  Because, for now, I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather go.  Here I’ll find a house.  Hopefully find someone, eventually, to settle down with (that won’t echo the shit that my parents have put me through over the last several years).  Build something solid that I can run back to when the world around me goes to shit.

I’ll do it.  Because the only alternative is to give up.  And that isn’t an option.

Silver Linings

It’s a funny thing about cycles.  It doesn’t matter whether they’re monthly ones, weekly ones, or yearly ones, no matter what you do, they always seem to cycle – and there’s nothing that you can do to put an end to it.  If it’s a good one, you’re perfectly okay with it.  If it’s not a good one, you’re not necessarily okay with it, but you’re at its mercy.  And you know it.

I seem to be trapped in one.  And I seem to have been trapped in one, at least since college.  I’ve written about the venom before.  I’ve talked about it in the past.  It does its job and yet it still manages to leave me bereft of that which I really want.  Perhaps that’s my fault – my fault for looking in all the wrong places.  I don’t know.  But let me explain.

Six months ago, my world got turned upside down.  My boyfriend came home from Afghanistan, took all of his things out of my closet, and left me wanting – without any explanation, without any sort of cause, without, really, anything.  My job got turned upside down when the Groper decided he was going to come in and first tempt me to cheat on said boyfriend (before boyfriend disappeared) and, when I didn’t, decided to start slandering me to those around the office for not acquiescing to his request.  The boyfriend thing was worse than the groper thing – to begin with.  I found Metalhead, healed, got back out there.

But when I talk about cycles, I mean that it’s funny how things cycle back in their own time.  Because where I thought I’d settled the issue with the Groper, it turns out I haven’t.  It’s nasty, really.  The guy doesn’t want to drop it.  Like Botboy, I have no idea what he wants.  He doesn’t want me.  I can’t imagine that he wants my job.  I don’t know what his motives are behind all of this.  I don’t see that it really matters.  Truthfully.  I was willing to let the past go.  I largely have.  Yes, I stay in my office most of the time.  No, I really don’t talk to anyone.  Yes, work has become, really, in most cases, bereft of any sort of socialization the way that it was months ago.  But, Botboy or not, I think that would have happened anyway because it couldn’t have continued the way that it was before.  It just is what it is.  And I was perfectly happy to let it remain so.  Let him crucify me for whatever fucked up reasons he has for doing so.  Let him tell the new people that I’m a whore.  Let him tell them not to associate with me.  He hurts only himself.  And the people that matter at work, and there are a couple that I’m friends with there… they know it’s not true.

The thing is, apparently he is not satisfied with leaving it the way that it is.  Apparently he is not satisfied with letting things go.  He wants to blow it out of proportion.  He wants to file paperwork that will keep this in the system for months without a resolution. I don’t like it, but I don’t see that I can stop it.  I’ll stand my ground inasmuch that I won’t admit to doing something I have not done.  But, if I can convince my boss to convince him to just let it go, that he can win without the filing, I will.

It is inutterable chaos.  Botboy causes chaos, yes.  He readily admits to that.  But his chaos I can handle.  I have handled it in the past, I can handle it now.  This sort of chaos – the kind of chaos that affects my livelihood, the kind of chaos that threatens my wellbeing – that I cannot handle.

I suppose the gold thread in all of this is Metalhead – as odd as it sounds.  Months after he stormed out of my door, after I did what he once told me he wished people would do, and I left him alone, we have started talking again.  Like we did before all of that craziness happened last summer.  We’re friends again.  It was what I wanted, most deeply, out of everything that I lost over the summer.  I’ve missed Botboy.  I still do.  I’ve miss the social whirlwind that work used to be.  But I’ve missed Metalhead the most.  He’s the oldest friend I have in Florida and it has seemed strange without him.  Despite what happened over the summer, he’s still like my brother.  And whatever that cultlike organization did to him several months ago, he seems to have stopped following them now and is more like himself.  I guess there’s always the silver lining somewhere.

Tonight we went out for drinks after work.  I had dinner – he did not eat.  We talked a lot – mostly about the crap that’s been going on at work.  Also, a little, about what caused him to storm out of the door – even he doesn’t remember – though he says that’s just what happens to him sometimes and assured me I did absolutely nothing wrong.  He read the parts of this blog that I’ve been dying for him to see (especially the part about where I said I don’t sleep with homeless people – to my utter glee, he filled in the sentences before he read what I wrote: “Well, technically, you kind of did.”)  We went to the beach, and walked around for awhile (until the security guard chased us away).  That was kind of fun because I haven’t been chased out of closed areas since I was a teenager.  Ha!

I got home, and I thanked him for coming out with me.  And I told him I was still worried.  His words:  “I told you to keep your chin up.  Probably not as bad as you think.”

That’s the thing about silver linings.  No matter how shitty things get, no matter how hard they are to find in the midst of the chaos, they’re always there.  Sometimes more evident than others.  But this time, I know I not only have right on my side, I know I not only have the couple of friends at work that stand with me, but I also know that if I can make something that got so broken stand upright again, I can do this with something else.

I just don’t know what It’s going to look like once I’m finished.

Home

I looked at the calendar a couple of days ago and realized, with some surprise, that I have lived in Florida now for nearly three years.  I can still remember what it felt like to get off of the plane that carried me from Kentucky to Atlanta, with three thousand dollars in my checking account, no job, no apartment, nothing except a car that I’d bought that was waiting for me in Florida.  It was still more than I’d had seven months before that – seven months before that had me sitting, freezing, in a basement, playing World of Warcraft so that I didn’t get too bored while I waited, desperately for a phone call for a job.  I’d gotten the job in Kentucky.  It had given me enough money to make a fresh start elsewhere.  I took it.

Three years later, I find myself sitting in a fairly large apartment, with vaulted ceilings, in the land of eternal summer.  The beach is at my fingertips (though I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve been there since I moved here).  The sun shines the majority of the time.  I have a job that pays better than I ever could have dreamed (or ever could have had if I’d stayed in Kentucky).  I have, essentially, everything I ever wanted – at least materially – and I found it all within a couple of months of moving.  Moving may not solve all your problems (case in point, I am still single, with no legitimate prospects), but sometimes a change of scenery certainly helps.

That’s not to say it’s not hard sometimes.  I am, essentially, down here by myself.  When I got very sick this time last year, I had no real support system – aside from Gatsby/3.0 who made me feel as if the proposed tumor was more of an inconvenience for him than a serious issue for me.  My parents, family, sister, everyone lives 1000 miles away.  A two hour plane trip, yes, but a sixteen hour drive.  Some days I like it that way.  Other days, like when I’m sick, or on the holidays when it’s not so easy to just fly home so that I don’t have to sit here, alone, it’s hard.  And while I don’t let it show, I do get homesick sometimes.

Kentucky was not, by any means, all roses and daisies for me.  But still, there are roots there.  Roots that go deep.  And they’re undeniable.  I sit here, in Florida, in front of my television, in front of my computer, with my cat.  I sit here and I talk about these menial things that I’m doing in my life.  I sit here and I chat with my friends (most of whom still live up north) and I Skype with others.  And fairly frequently, I’m asked why I don’t just move home… or at least to Nashville… or maybe back to Louisville.  The fact of the matter is, I simply don’t want to.

Truth: visiting there is fun.  Going house to house, seeing people I don’t get to see very often, it’s like a big party all the time every time I get off the plane and get in my rental and drive the two hours to the little town.  It’s a nice change – a welcome change, really… to go from almost constant solitude to having people around me all the time.  There’s home cooked food.  And the air there is clean.  There’s no smog, the stars go on for miles, and when you go outside you can hear frogs and crickets… sometimes a coyote.  You see deer literally everywhere – which can be a bad thing if you’re driving.

And of course there’s my family, too.  My mother who loves to cook and who swears up and down that she never gets tired of me visiting.  And my father whose laugh is the best sound in the world to me sometimes (even if it’s from 1000 miles away, on the phone).  I do my best to get them to laugh.  When my father laughs… my little corner of Tampa gets a little bit brighter (if that’s even possible).  There are my aunts and uncles, my cousins, my sister, my best friend.  Lots of catching up to do, and it seems like we never really do seem to get completely caught up before I have to get on the plane again – though we certainly try as we work through the multitude of restaurants I absolutely have to hit up when I am there.

There is all of that… but then there’s Florida.  So many years I wanted to move here.  I can remember sitting in my house as a teenager, snow on the ground, wishing I could live somewhere that wasn’t so cold.  I can remember asking my now ex-husband time and time again to move here (he never wanted to move).  I finally got here.  And I did it all by myself.  And I’m ridiculously proud of that.  And financially, materially, it has been the best move of my life.  Yes it can get lonely sometimes, but, then, I wasn’t NOT lonely in Kentucky either.  I didn’t spend the last decade of my Kentucky life in that small town.  I spent it in the city… and I didn’t know anyone there either.  I tell myself that it’s no different.  And in many ways it isn’t.  But in most ways, in the majority of ways, I’m still happy here.  Happier in Florida than I can remember being in Kentucky – at least for the second half of my habitation there.  I know that if I did move back, that I’d no sooner settle in than I’d find myself unhappy again – and this time, unhappy and shivering in the middle of winter.

And yet, the rolling hills of Kentucky still call to me as I sit here, on my couch, listening to the mid-summer Florida thunderstorm outside my window.  Innately, I feel them drawing me in.  Beckoning to me to come back – to visit the family I grew up in.  To visit the graves of the family I never knew.  To spend time walking around the high school track where I can still feel the awkwardness of those stupid first dates in the bleachers, still hear the kids outside the school waiting for the first tone to sound.  In my mind’s eye, I can see the endless expanse of the corn fields down the highway and I can see the way that the sky, and the stars, seem to climb into the sky forever and ever – layers upon layers of eternity.  Kentucky calls to me when I am in Florida.

And yet, Florida calls to me when I am in Kentucky.  Surrounded by the clean, fresh air that I love, amused by my friends, comfortably pampered by my family, Florida beckons to me when I’m there.  It wants me back.  Tampa, the seductive city that she is, seems to throw out her arms and grab my hand, reminding me of the palm trees and the sound of the waves crashing into the beaches at night.  She sends me visions of the downtown areas that I love so well.  Palm Harbor, too, wants me to come back – the shops I love, the friends I’ve made there, the community that’s growing right before my eyes.

It is as if some days, I cannot win.  Some days, I feel myself being pulled into two opposing directions; the one where my history, for better or worse, is so deeply entrenched.  Where I will likely return, one day, to be buried with the rest of my family.  And the other where my present lies… possibly also my future, though, being the restless wanderer that I am, I’m always open to suggestions.  And then I realize… it’s not that each location, each life, is pulling me in two different directions.  It’s not that at all.  The truth of it is this: neither is pulling me anywhere.  Because I have something that not everyone has… I have two places that I can call home.  Whether I am here in Florida, whether I am there in Kentucky, I am home no matter where I go.

And, knowing that, I feel truly rich, indeed.

Karmic Debt

With the acknowledgement that the past resonates, the question, then, becomes WHY does it resonate?  If one believes in past lives, that we live again and again, learning things, making up for things we did incorrectly the last time, with the goal of becoming something better with the passage of each lifetime, then one could argue that the past resonates because those are the life lessons that we failed previously.  A second chance, per se.

But in my life… in this one… the past resonates often.  And it’s not the past lives… it’s this one.  Things echo.  People walk in and out of my life, more people come in to take their places, and the replacements resonate the way that the other ones do.  It’s like déjà vu.  I told someone not long ago that time is a funny thing.  It echoes.  It throws itself up in the air time and time again, the pieces get re-mixed, and then they all fall back down again.  In a new order, yes, but still the same old pieces – a reflection of what was.

I’m beginning to understand that now, particularly with what I’m doing with the men in my life.   Where two have now left, two others have taken their places.  Not in the same sense, no, but let’s start at the beginning.  I have only ever been madly in love with a man three times in my life.  There was my first fiancé, years and years ago.  When that ended, it took me months to recover.  There’s Buttface.  Who built that one up for a decade.  Getting over that, over it entirely, took forever too.  And then there’s Botboy.  Who I never really truly met, but it’s hard not to fall hard for someone when you speak to them daily, for hours out of the day, and when (whether they’re being real or not) they are everything you’ve been looking for for forever.  They have these things in common:  I was smitten with each of them in their time.  It also took an inordinate amount of time for me to recover from the fallout when it was over.  From the first two, I have recovered.  From the third… I’m mostly there.  It still pains me now and again but I am taking the pieces of that that I can salvage and making those mine.  Letting everything else go.

But that isn’t enough for Karma.  At least not for me.  See, she’s a bitch.  When I do something wrong, when I fuck something up, she makes me do it again.  And since, apparently, I am on my last life before I get to do “something else”, that means that whatever damage I do in this life, I have to fix in this life too.  So the past resonates.  Hard.  I have lessons to learn and no time to learn them in.  It’s like crunch time for finals.  It’s extreme.  But I’m dealing.  Anyway the two in question this evening are Buttface and Botboy.

I am not a bad person.  But I do like control.  I do like stability.  I do like to plan.  I like to know where things are going, what I am doing, and while I realize that you can’t plan for everything, christ, I try anyway.  So we’ll start with Buttface.  Ten years.  We waited to meet for ten years.  When we met, we tried to make it happen.  I believe he wanted it as much as I did.  But we were also both freshly divorced.  Things fell apart.  I don’t have enough words to go into detail here, but suffice it to say that out of a need to control, out of a need to understand, I suffocated him.  I was much younger, of course.  I didn’t realize what I was doing and I didn’t understand that I was killing from the inside what I was trying so hard to protect.  Things ended between us nastily.  My friend that I’d had for a decade was suddenly gone.  I was left to recover.  That was painful.  An impossible task, really.  But I did it.  We had one more small affair, casual that time, and then decided that we were better as friends.  We are friends to this day.  But it’s a hard won friendship.  There were years where we did not talk.  Long years.  I learned some things.  Hard won lessons, but I learned them.

Buttface = Metalhead

Enter Metalhead.  One of my best friends.  He’s had a blog… anyone who doesn’t know about him can go back and read about Rule Breaking.  But we’ve been friends since I moved to Florida.  He’s been one of my best friends through all of this.  We’ve had our periods where we didn’t talk, too, but that’s been more out of business than out of anger or frustration.  However it’s been interesting, at the very least, since we started sleeping together.  I’ve gotten to know him on an entirely different level, which is normal when you go from one level of friendship to another.  But it’s been bizarre too.  He doesn’t look anything like Buttface.  They are opposites right down to their height and hair color.  But their mannerisms, the way they approach life, the way that they respond to things… those things are exactly the same.

At first it was funny in a way, but then, as things progressed, as Metalhead started distancing himself, I started seeing things happening again.  I wasn’t controlling him… not at all.  I was keeping a lid on that, because after Buttface, I know better.  Hence the Karmic test.  Or part of it.  But I realized something else, too.  That I did not want carnal desires (I’ve always wanted to use that phrase!) to disrupt my friendship.  He was gone for a week, taking care of his kid.  I missed him, I missed the company.  I do not want a relationship with him, but I don’t want to lose my friend either.  And so, over drinks last night, we talked.  And we sorted it out.  He understands I’m not looking for anything else (because apparently he was worried about this), I told him that if this was going to fuck up the friendship we’ve built then I’d rather just stop it, and then we agreed to continue on for the time being with the way things are.  Airing out dirty laundry, communicating, that’s what friends do.  They don’t sit around and wonder… not communicate… not grow a pair and just ask (the way I refused to do with Buttface).

I apologized to Buttface for the past.  I squared things away with Metalhead (who still stays over, hangs out, is accompanying me on a trip I’m taking in a few weekends, yes we’re still having an affair because neither of us want to stop right now).  Everything is good there.  Karmic debt paid.  Hopefully this is a lesson I don’t have to continue to do over.

Botboy = Jesus

But there’s another one.  Botboy.  And it’s not the same lesson this time.  Not one of control.  Because with deployments, you realize you have very little and you learn to be okay with that.  Or you move on.  Deployment (his) taught me patience.  It taught me that I can’t always do things my way.  I am good with that.  What it did NOT teach me was not to jump into things headfirst without looking at what I’m jumping into.

And so, I’m doing it over.  There’s another overseas boy.  This one I call Jesus.  Because he physically looks like Jesus.  Same name as my first ex fiancé (the only other one of those).  Different country, but a similar situation.  The food sucks, the smiley faces are the same in the chats, the boredom is apparently the same, the movie watching, all of that is reminiscent.  And all of those things are minor.  Very amusing, but minor.   He doesn’t play with TransFormers, but in the midst of all of this, TransFormers are everywhere… on billboards.  On the freaking television.  On the back of vehicles I randomly pass in the road.  And then there is the girl.

I wrote about her.  I wrote about the girl that at least played some sort of part in the Botboy breakup (The Bot is the blog to reference for that one).  His ex wife, the one he said he did not want, but who wanted him.  The one who kept stalking him.  Torturing him.  Who had made his life more difficult than it needed to be and who, by proxy, made mine difficult.  With Bot, I chose to jump in anyway, knowing she was there, knowing he wasn’t over her, knowing that there was likely to be some baggage (though not knowing how much).  I made that choice.  I made that choice and then what looked like it was going to be okay, ended up not being okay.

Jesus has another woman in his life, too.  The same age (roughly).  And she looks just like her.  I mean these two women could be sisters (though they are not related to my knowledge).  And she says she loves him.  Red flags went off.  Immediately.  Because we learn, don’t we?  We learn from the past.  I had my heart stomped on, I wasn’t expecting it to be stomped on, because I trusted Bot.  It’s not that I don’t trust the new one… Jesus.  I have no reason not to trust him, but I don’t have a reason to trust him either.  And that’s the point.  We’ve not met face to face.  And we won’t until he gets home.

I’m not getting invested.  I can’t.  I’m intrigued by him.  But the girl may be a dealbreaker.  And what I have to learn this time is to let it go.  To let it develop in its own, if It’s going to develop, and leave it be if it isn’t.  I say this isn’t a lesson in control, and it isn’t for the most part.  This is a lesson in patience.  In waiting to see what happens.  In not jumping the gun out of desire.  And I’m learning it.  While it is a painful one to learn, because it is so reminiscent of what I’ve just gone through – what I just began to get over – over the last few months, I’m doing it.  Because I have to.

I have to learn to stop putting the cart before the horse.  I have to stop jumping the gun, I have to stop trying to make those choices for him.  Did we talk for six hours?  Yes.  Did I have fun?  Yes.  But that’s all it is right now.  And that’s all it’s going to be right now, because everyone has free will.  If he wants the other woman, he should have her.  Botboy did not want the ex wife… but I believe he did find someone else, much as I did not want to admit it for awhile.  So this lesson… this one is just letting time play out.  Let the chips fall where they will… let time do its rearranging and just to be okay with whatever design it chooses until it decides to throw them up again.

Karmic debt isn’t completely paid on this one… it’s a work in progress.  But I got this.

The Past Resonates

I had a vision a couple of weeks ago.  In a dream.  There were a lot of lights.  A lot of watches, clocks, circling, swirling around.  And a bunch of people I didn’t know, saying over and over and over that “The Past Resonates.”  I woke up.  I didn’t know what it meant.  I still don’t know, entirely, what it meant.  But I believe one of the meanings lies with this:

I think every girl has that one ex… the one who, despite the time, despite the distance, despite everything, the one that always seems to come back into her mind time and time again.  And who, if she’s lucky, still checks in on occasion.  “Sex and the City” would call this the Mr. Big effect.  Maybe it is.  I can think of no better comparison for it.

Mine is one I dated in college, I call him The Professor.  He was significantly older than I was… at 19 and 26, it was an unlikely paring.  He was working on a Masters.  I barely had a semester of my Bachelors under my belt.  But we met.  And we dated.  And it ended… not, for once, because we didn’t or couldn’t get along but because he was moving, and because I didn’t want a long distance relationship and I couldn’t follow.  It was more complicated than that, looking back on it, but being nineteen and arrogant, I figured I could replace him.  And anyway, after six months he’d never used the “L” word and the one time I did, he didn’t respond.  I could do better, I thought.

Fast forward over a decade later.  We’ve kept in touch.  It seems like every time I break up with someone, every time something goes a little wrong in my life (and even when things go a little right), he shows up out of the blue, for one reason or another.  I got married first.  And divorced.  He married  someone else.  They seemed happy.  I assumed it would last forever and despite the fact that he would try to engage me in sex talk occasionally, I wished him well.  Whatever happened a decade before had happened already.  It didn’t matter anymore.  Water under the bridge.  And while I, occasionally, would wonder what would have happened had I been a little bit older, had I had a little more experience, had we stayed together, I assumed things happened just the way they happened for a reason.  And I believe that even now.

I guess it was a year ago that we talked.  Really talked.  And that’s when he told me that he had been in love with me back then but hadn’t had the nerve to say it.  And then asked what I would do if he showed up at my door right then.  “Nothing,” I answered.  “You’re married.  And anyway, even if you did show up at my door, I highly doubt that given the prospect of actually doing anything about it, you would have the nerve.”  I meant that.  Despite the previous blog, I don’t mess around with married men.  His words made me think – made me realize that sometimes we do stupid things when we are young that change the outcome of our fates.  Had he told me that before he moved back in 2002, I thought, I’d have at least held on a little longer, to see if we could have made it work.

But it still didn’t matter.  He said what he said, and I heard it, but even still, he was married.  I jokingly told him to let me know when he got a divorce and I moved on.   I was with Gatsby, trying desperately to make that piece of insanity last.  Gatsby didn’t work out, of course.  And then I met Bot.  And I was happy with Bot.  And consequentially, that was the thing about Professor.  No matter what I was doing… no matter who I was with or how happy I was, he could always manage to swoop in, start asking invasive questions about my sex life, my relationships, and while he never exactly made me second guess what I was doing, I always felt a little dirty after the conversation.  I wasn’t going to let him soil the relationship I had with Bot.  Bot was so far away, and things were so fragile, and Bot had had that horrible experience with his ex that I didn’t want anything to spoil it.  So I cut ties.  And months went by.  Bot came in, left me high and dry, and left.

I hadn’t heard from Professor in all that time.  I’d thought about reaching out a time or two and then decided it was better to leave well enough alone.

And then, two months after the Bot drama, I got an email, telling me about his divorce.  My heart went out to him, it really did.  Their marriage had not been like mine.  Not what I had known about it anyway.  They’d really cared about each other.  I knew he was hurting.  And I began to talk to him.  Easily.  As a friend.  Because that’s what he needed right now… what no one tells you about divorce is that at the same time you’re having to move your shit out of your house and having to reorganize your life, your friend-circle significantly changes too since people begin to choose sides.  I did what I felt I could for him.

We talked about visiting… about seeing each other again for the first time in a decade.  I’m excited about the prospect of this, but I was adamant.  I’m not a rebound.  I won’t be a rebound.  And while some of our conversations can be infuriating at times as he struggles with his post-divorce emotions and his frustrating habit of turning everything into a sex talk (that I won’t be drawn into), it’s intriguing all the same.  Because this is the one that got away.

And still, I’m not putting my eggs into this basket.  Or any basket, really, and I’m certainly not making the same mistake of waiting indefinitely for a man I haven’t seen (ever, or in ages) ever again.  But he’s become a fixture in my life (at least for the time being).  His texts have replaced Bot’s.  His Skypes have given me a reason to use that program again in a way that doesn’t remind me of the evening Skype chats I’d have with Botboy.  I’m having fun.  And I’ve missed my friend.

But, of course, that’s not all there is to it.  He’s interested.  Of course he is.  Whatever we had ten years ago hasn’t died.  I’d say not on my part, nor on his.  And I’ve known that for awhile.  Since it all ended, really.  He’s being very careful right now, but his jealousy of Metalhead makes that even more evident.  It’s not just jealousy over the fact that I’m sleeping with Metalhead, but jealousy that Metalhead can tell me how he feels right now, can hang out with me right now, and he can’t (his words).  He won’t use me, he says.  And he has no idea, he can’t have any idea, how grateful I am to him for not using me… for not doing what Bot did to me after his divorce.

There’s a lot to think about, too.  He’s far away now… in Kansas.  And he has a good job.  But, then, so do I.  And I have no desire to do anything long distance either for any distinctive length of time.  I also have no desire to leave Florida for the Bible Belt and for a state that has “true” winter.  But, for the time being, we aren’t there.  And I’ve made a new resolution to take things as they come, despite the fact that my very forward-thinking brain likes to race often.  Thinking about what doesn’t exist yet, though, is only inventing problems.

And so, for the present, we’re going to Disney World.  Time to be determined, but I feel that it will be soon.  We are going to go to Disney, ride some coasters, have dinner together, and get to know each other again.  Taking it with slow, measured steps.  And I’m excited.  I haven’t been to Disney World since 1994.  I’m excited to see my friend.  I’m excited to see what comes of all of this.

But I’m nervous all at the same time – both at seeing him after a decade, and because I know that if something happens on either side, with Professor or Metalhead, someone is going to end up getting hurt and I’ll be the one to blame (I hate hurting people).  But… whatever happens, for the first time in a decade, I feel like I’m getting the best year of my life back (because that year when he spent half of it with me WAS the best year of my life so far).  I feel like I’m young again, before my divorce, before that nasty mess, before Buttface, before Gastby, before Botboy.  I feel like I’m getting the chance to really see what it might have been like had I NOT walked away.  I feel almost like I’m being given a second chance.

The past resonates.  Loudly and clearly.  I don’t always understand what it means, I don’t always understand what is coming.  And often, when it resonates, it resonates in the worst ways.  This time?  This time I’m liking the sound of the echo.

Communication

The next four weeks, for me, are a countdown of sorts.  And partially due to this countdown and partially due to some inspiration taken from one of my friends at work, I’ve decided to do a series on the four “pillars” of a successful relationship.  These are not the only pillars, by any stretch of the imagination, and your own experiences may have you placing a higher value on some of these more than others – or even replacing some of these with others .  But from my own experience, this is what I know:

I’ve had a lot of relationships.  And in all of them, I can honestly say that the one factor that really made or broke the relationship was communication.  And when I say communication, I don’t mean the amount of communication.  I don’t need to be in contact with my significant other all day, every day, every hour, every minute, and every second.  I don’t need to know everything that person is doing, I don’t need a breakdown of every detail.

No, what I’m talking about here is communication in the sense that both people in the relationship realize what they need and they find a way to communicate that to each other constructively.  Constructive communication is meant to build up the other person, to strengthen the relationship.  When you’re talking, communicating, having a civil, constructive conversation, each person comes out of it realizing what the other person needs, issues can be resolved, things get fixed.  Without solid communication, unless you are some sort of mind-reader, there are misunderstandings, chaos, utter breakdown – and, ultimately, bitterness which leads to failure.  I suppose what I’m trying to say is quality exceeds quantity.

My marriage, for example, was a complete failure.  Things broke, in this case, because we were two incompatible people that were trying to make things work when they weren’t supposed to.  Things became intolerable and unnecessarily inflammatory because we chose the wrong ways to communicate.  Frustration over the things we could not agree on got the better of us.  Emotions ran high.  We lost our tempers.  Simple discussions became screaming matches very quickly and while the divorce was probably the most civil part of that entire relationship, that isn’t really something to be proud of.  By the time the divorce was done, we didn’t care enough to fight anymore.  We were both tired and we both wanted out.  At least, I guess, that was something we could both agree on.

I suppose in this sense, yes, there was communication, but it was the inflammatory kind.  Emotions got too tied up into it.  He was an overemotional bastard and anytime I pointed out something that I needed or something that I wasn’t getting, it was as if I was making a personal attack.  Was I perfect?  Probably not.  I have a bad habit sometimes of thinking before I speak and I did that a lot in those days.  I’m sure there were times when I really was being inflammatory and was really irritating the already touchy situation by saying things I shouldn’t have said.  (Calling him a dumbass when he said he didn’t want his children to be booksmart like me is a very good example.)

Buttface, who I’ve also mentioned before, came after that marriage.  And this was the exact opposite.  Ironically, the relationship began online.  Chat rooms don’t give you the luxury of reading body language or facial expressions.  You type.  You talk.  You get to know someone else.  And so, when he and I started to see each other post-divorces, I assumed that communication would come easily for us.  The funny thing is, we had no problems communicating… we could sit and talk for hours about the most asinine things.  Sharing the same sense of humor meant we found the same inappropriate things funny.  The good times were really good times… he was non-confrontational and didn’t seem to mind if I did what I wanted to do.  I was passive enough after the horrific marital experience to not want to press any issues that I may have been upset about.  I went into it saying I didn’t want to fight, and we didn’t fight.  Ever.

But looking back on some of the things I wrote during those days, especially as things started to fall apart, I’ve realized that while we were fine when things weren’t important, we were horrible at discussing the big things.  I was intimidated.  Conditioned, even.   I’d gotten so used to being screamed at when I tried to express things that I needed that I didn’t have the balls to rock the boat in this new situation.

And he, well, I don’t know his excuses (and I don’t care to know) but we can safely say that when it came to the big things, he was never open enough with me to just talk about it.  There were plenty of things wrong in that situation… I know that now.  He wanted things that, had he asked, I’d have happily given him.  But he never told me, and I am not a mind reader.  I was so conditioned not to push matters, and so confused about how to ask the questions I needed to ask, that I was willing to let things drag on so that they could “fix” themselves.  But that’s not how solutions are reached, either.

At any rate, while we never had a knock-down-drag-out fight about it like in my marriage, I knew something was wrong when we stopped talking at all.  The conversations about the non-important things stopped.  He became distant.  There was never a conversation about what we needed to do to work things out, there was never the conversation about what he needed versus what I needed, there was never any middle ground reached.  Things just kind of went on the way they went on – he’d hang out with me (though not sleep with me), I’d still hang out with him, we’d eat together, he’d spend the rest of his time playing video games (and I’d play occasionally too), and I’d sit there wondering where it had all gone wrong.  How had we gotten from him telling me he wanted to “keep” me, to practically ignoring me altogether with the exception to the awkward hug I’d get when I’d leave to drive home?

The passive-aggressive treatment continued until, finally, I made the discovery that he was seeing someone else.  Not one to be passive-aggressive if I have the evidence in hand, I communicated this to him immediately.  I broke it off, cleanly, and with probably more words than I’d said to him in six months.  It ended, but I was still burnt up about it.

Sometimes I think passive-aggressive communication is worse than even the abusive kind… when that’s the monster you’re dealing with, you don’t know what caused it, there are no conversations about it, things just kind of fall apart and you’re left holding the pieces and thinking my god, what the hell just happened here?  Avoidance may look like the easy way out, but I can assure you, there is plenty of drama after the fallout begins and it’s much, much worse than the drama of just “dropping the hammer” so to speak.

There are many ways to communicate with people.  And I’ve come to realize that there are, unfortunately, more negative ways than positive.  Positive, constructive communication is simple:  you know what you need, you find a clear, logical way to ask for what you need.  Then you actually listen with an open mind to what the other person has to say (that’s really, really, really important), and then, if you really want things to work, together you try to find some sort of solution.  Constructive communication is NOT attacking the other person.  Constructive communication is NOT ignoring the other person, either because you don’t care enough to discuss the issues (if you don’t care enough, seriously, you should just leave) or because you are too non-confrontational to discuss the issues.

And as I mentioned before, listening is really important too.  That’s the key to any kind of communication happening at all.  If there’s no listening, you may as well be having a conversation with a brick wall.  And when you listen, you do it with an open mind.  You take the other person into consideration.  You try to understand what they’re saying, even if sometimes they do not express it in the most eloquent of ways and even if you don’t agree.  You internalize it, and you try to see it from the other person’s perspective.  Even people with polarizing opinions are able to reach a compromise if they really try, and compromise can only be reached by really, truly, listening to what the other person has to say, and, further, caring enough to take their opinions into consideration.

Relationships aren’t one-way affairs, communication within a relationship cannot be a one-way affair.  You don’t simply wake up one morning, on the same page, with everything neatly in place and a big bow on top of it.  It would be nice, but it doesn’t work that way.

Relationships are a lot of work.  And in order for them to work, you have to want the same things.  From that same blueprint, you share a dream, you think together, and you communicate those ideas to make that happen.  When you don’t, you flounder around without direction, without purpose, and when things go wrong, because there was never a common goal to begin with, there’s nothing left to talk about.  Suddenly, you’re fighting without knowing what you’re fighting about and, mostly, out of frustration because you don’t know where it is you’re supposed to be going.  Alternately, you’re ignoring it and hoping it goes away.  Ultimately, if there was no track to travel on initially, you have nothing to get back onto when you’ve had a disagreement.

And I’ll pose a question… rhetorical, mostly, though I would kill to know the answer to it if there even is one:  If communication is so easy in the beginning, if we can open up to each other, and talk, and share ideas, then why does it always seem that when we become “settled” into something, things become harder?  That something about the spark of the communication is lost?  Do we stop listening?  Do we become complacent?

Sure it’s easier to be passive-aggressive.  It’s easier to be inflammatory.  It’s easier to leave what is hard and go back to the beginning with someone new, where things are easy and uncomplicated.  But what happens when that gets hard, too?  When you have to find that blueprint? Do you keep jumping from place to place or do you try to make it work?

After all, doesn’t the old saying go:  Nothing worth having is ever easy?

Purge

There is an episode of Lost in which the Others have had enough of the Dharma Initiative.  And in that episode, tiring of the empty agreements and negotiations, they perform something they call the “Purge.”  They kill all of the Dharmaville residents, excluding Benjamin Linus and Ethan Godspeed.  After the Purge, the Others are the only ones on the Island… for awhile.  I liked this episode.  Hell, I enjoy that whole series.  But the fact that the writers chose to use the word “Purge” in that episode to describe the mass murder – it made me giggle.  I’ve been using the same phrase to describe the occasional cleanouts that I do, the occasional eradication of clutter in both my life and my house.  I’d haven’t heard that word used by anyone else in a very long time.

At the beginning of this blog, I was housecleaning.  I was trying to make my house livable, trying to exorcise memories that were, for a moment, a little painful to think about.  I was distracting myself, trying to make things bearable, throwing myself into something productive so that I didn’t spend my hours gaming or wallowing in my newfound solitude.  About a month into that project I met someone else, just when I least expected to.  Things got a little more complicated, but still, I kept cleaning, figuring that at the very least, I owed it to myself to have a place for us to hang out when we wanted to.  And as it progressed, the housecleaning took on a new purpose.  I needed space.  I had to MAKE space where there was no space.  The list of things to do that was once as simple as a deep clean grew more complicated.  More time consuming.  It would be worth it, I told myself.  I needed to do this anyway… he was just motivation.

This weekend, three months later, I finished the housecleaning project.  Aside from a few small things that still need to get done, the house is organized, everything has its place, and I am about sixteen large storage boxes of stuff shorter.  This project has been cathartic.  I’ve found loads and loads of things that I had forgotten about – some of it was worth keeping, most of it was not.  And I threw things away indiscriminately.   What didn’t get sentenced to the dumpster got left at Goodwill.

I purged all the wedding stuff, too.  Those things, seven years later, now seemed pointless to keep – the extra napkins with our names on them, the unity candle, the decorations, the memorabilia from the showers and things that were packed away during the divorce.  I hadn’t looked at them since.  I wasn’t even sure why I kept them to begin with.  And now that that is long over, behind me, now that the divorce has been final for quite a while, I didn’t want to revisit it.  I couldn’t bring myself to throw away the photographs – my family and friends are in those.  And I couldn’t bring myself to throw away the greeting cards from that – most all of which came from my people.  Those things I kept.  Though what I’m going to do with them in the long run, I am still not sure.

Every trip to the dumpster, wedding stuff and otherwise, was hard.  I’d question myself the entire way – would I want this stuff later?  Would I wish I hadn’t thrown it out?  I’d keep walking, because I didn’t know where I was going to put it – I needed the space for other things.  Once I reached the dumpster, I unceremoniously threw it in there, knowing that once I did, that was it.  I wasn’t going in there after it.  And I was okay with that.  One by one, the boxes disappeared until all that was left was a ceiling fan I hope to rehang someday and the box of things that belonged to my grandmother.

Once all of the physical cleaning was done, I stood back and marveled at the change.  The apartment looks significantly different than it did last fall when things fell apart.  Better.  Less cluttered.  More organized.  But then, my life, really, is significantly different than it was several months ago, too.  For the first time in living memory no one is stifling my creative energies or my eccentricities.  I can be myself.  I AM being myself.  I’m liking that.  I’m literally so overwhelmed with ideas for writing, for baking, for painting, for drawing that I have a hard time settling on one thing to do at a time.  Things haven’t flowed for me this freely in a decade.  Literally a decade.  The house was clean – but there was something else that needed to be done.  I knew it… I’ve known it for awhile.

A few weeks ago, though, I traveled to Ohio.  I saw many of my friends – most of which I hadn’t seen in a very long time.  I’d missed them, I was glad to see them, but an afternoon spent with an ex (we’d remained friends post-breakup) made me realize, more than ever, that there was still purging to be done.  I’d cleaned my house.  I’d gotten rid of the wedding stuff.  I’d gotten rid of most of the physical reminders of my past that were just laying around here, waiting for me to stumble upon them.  But there was something, this time, about the trip to Ohio that made me see things as they really are – as they always have been.  I went to lunch with my ex (we call him Buttface).  I spent an afternoon chatting, catching up.  And I was, literally, bored out of my mind.  I stayed for as long as I thought would be polite and then, as I was contemplating how much longer I needed to stay, my phone rang.  And it was my boyfriend.  We didn’t talk long… and while I didn’t need the call to push me back in the direction I wanted to go, it was a very good reminder of how much better I have it now than I had it then.  A welcome one.  There were no romantic feelings left in Ohio with Butt.  There hadn’t been for a long time.  Sometimes I think we kept in contact simply because we were one of the last relics from the long-time past for each other.  But somehow I knew when I left that that was it… that even that part of the relic was gone.  Strangely, I didn’t care.  A few weeks later, while finishing the cleanout, I deleted his numbers from my phone.  I was surprised, pleasantly surprised, that it wasn’t painful.  I did it with barely any thought at all.

While I was at it, I decided to purge the rest.  I went through my phonebook.  I cleared the names of contacts I hadn’t thought of in ages.  I got rid of email addresses, phone numbers, text messages.  After all, I’d cleaned my house.  Why not the rest?  After all, hadn’t I said that I wanted to do something different?  This final cleanout, this final purge would really give me the chance to actually start over, do something different.

I owed it to myself, I realized, to just LET GO.  Stop looking ten feet behind me and start looking at what I have beside me and in front of me: my job, my friends, my family, my relationship, these creative ideas that are pouring out of me at the moment, this fledgling business I’m starting.  None of these things are perfect.  I don’t expect perfection.  All of them require varying degrees of work.  Most things worth having do.  But these things at the very least, they deserve my complete and undivided attention.  They deserve the chance to really become something incredible, and I owe it to myself to be open to that; to stop my pattern of self-sabotage by living in the past and trying to apply the past to the present.  It’s easier said than done.  But if I can’t do that, then none of these things will work.  I’ve purged before – I’ve not purged like this.  This time I meant it.  This time there’s no going back.  The ties are cut, the house is clean.  I’m starting over.

It’s time to make a new past – maybe one that is better than the one I’ve spent too much time dwelling on over the last decade.