Thursday, November 23, 2017

So close

I could tell something was wrong, from the look in her eyes.
She looked haunted.  I remember the way that felt on the inside and my stomach crumpled in sympathy for her.
I went about my workday, ringing people up, being the cash register jockey in the bad part of town, but I was hyper-aware of her in the store.

While I was mopping, she sat there with her three girls and just cried.  One was an infant, maybe three months old.  When I walked by her, she asked me if she and her girls could stay until morning, just sitting in the booth.
She explained, tears making black tracks down her cheeks, that her husband had been drinking and it wasn't safe for them to go home.
She explained to me that she had enough money to get the city, but wouldn't be able to do so until the next morning.
I could feel her anguish, her worry for her kids, and my heart crumpled when I saw the tag on one of the girls' backpacks; the same tag that my own children had on their backpacks.  They went to my kid's school.

I called my husband, and though we really couldn't afford it, he agreed.  "Might as well make it an even hundred," he said. 

I had it all planned out so I could blindside her and she wouldn't be able to refuse. 

First, I called the cheapest motel in town.  I explained to the clerk the circumstances and was able to reserve a room for her and the girls.  That's definitely one benefit of a small town-- most folks have compassion, and when you appeal to their generosity, they try their hardest to accommodate.

Next, I called the local taxi service.  I lucked out on that one-- one of my regular customers was driving that night, so when I explained the circumstances to him, he was there.  Thank God for Gerald.

After I withdrew the cash from the ATM, I walked over to her, knelt down and told her that we had a room for her.  I gave her the phone number for the motel, the cash, and told her that her ride would be there shortly and that the fare was paid.

She just looked at me and wasn't really able to say much.

When I made it back to my register, my co-worker looked at me so long it made me uncomfortable.  Of course, he wanted to know why I did it, people always want to know the why of it.

Nothing I could've said would've made any difference.  But the why of it was this:  I had one of those moments of absolute clarity.  I looked at that mother and her children, and I saw the faces of my own children.  I saw what would happen if they went home.  It was so real, it shook me up for days after.

When I looked into her eyes, I knew that if no one helped her, that she'd go back.  Worse, her daughters would go back.  And I knew that her husband would probably kill all of them. 

When her ride arrived, I walked away from my register, and into the walk-in cooler.  I cried until I couldn't breathe.  Mostly, it was relief.  That doomed feeling left as soon as she and the children drove away. 

I think of them all the time.  I wish I had gotten her name, so I could check up on her.  I wish I knew if she was ok.  Ultimately, it's none of my business.  I just hope they're somewhere safe, I hope they're in a better situation.

--

Every once in awhile, I have a day like today, where I'm worried about money. 
My boss fired me a few weeks back.  I live in one of those backward states where you don't have to have a reason to get fired.  I suspect mine has something to do with the fact I was there long enough to qualify for a raise.
I haven't found anything yet, and Christmas keeps getting closer.
Our rent and bills are covered, but I have no fucking clue how I'm going to buy Christmas for the kids, so I constantly feel like a piece of shit.
I've applied everywhere; fast food isn't above me, but so far, nothing.

My husband caught me crying in the kitchen today.  Being the angel he is, he reminded me of that woman and her children.  "God put you there for a reason," he said.  From the way he tells it, you'd think I was some kind of wonderful.  Bless his delusional heart.

I know I'm blessed to have the family that I do.  We have food and a roof over our heads.  We have love in our hearts.  The ugly part of me, the self-critical part insists this isn't enough.

I'm just so close.  So close to graduating, so close to making a great life for the kids.  So close to being that person that my family deserves.

So close.
--



Sunday, August 13, 2017

Parenthood is the Anti-Pride

I never realized how fast pride goes out the window when you have kids.

It's been a tough year in our household.  Last year I miscarried twins, and it didn't hit me hard until this year.  When it happened last year, I never even missed a day of work.  I pushed through and was honestly kind of concerned that I might be a sociopath.

This year, it crept up on me.  Panic attacks, random crying episodes, and when I realized the date, I knew why my heart hurt so much.

I lost my part of my heart, but employers don't give a shit about that kind of thing, so I lost my job as well.

I found a low-level cashier job.  Like I mentioned previously, I'm not too proud to work for a single digit amount of dollars per hour.  It's a job.

This particular job is pretty rough on an old-ish gal like me.  Eight hours of work, no breaks (yeah, I know the labor board frowns on that kind of thing, but I need the job too bad to complain.)
The thing that gets me through every hour when my feet are screaming at me, and my back feels like it has a hot coal in it is one thing.  My kids.

My twins start school this week.  Thankfully, I have enough money for school shoes, and clothes.  I already bought their supplies.  It took a lot, I had to sell a lot of my own personal shit, but fuck; I was glad to sell it.

Some people ask me about that other job and think I'm crazy to be working at a job they consider to be 'beneath' me.  I don't give a tin shit what they think.

Parenthood isn't about pride.  It's about swallowing it.  For me, it's doing whatever is in my power to make sure those beautiful kids go to school that first day in brand new converse, their clothes purchased through hours of mom's hurting feet.  And I hope they never know what it's like to stand until your knees are crying and begging to get your fat ass off them.

I want their school experience to be unclouded with worry.  I want them to enjoy going everyday.  I want their biggest worry to be what they're going to wear and did mom sign their folder.  I want them to enjoy their life.  So, I clock in.  When it gets to be too much, I think of two beautiful kids, wearing their brand new converse.  And I force this fat ass to go a few more steps.

Friday, July 31, 2015



Today has been a day for setbacks.

My first check (highly anticipated) hasn't been direct deposited.  My job says they've sent it, my bank hasn't seen it.  So, here I sit, broke, and defeated, feeling like I've let my family down, the way I do.

I have the money, yet I don't.  There's nothing I can do but wait on banks and finance and sit here and brood and get angry and list to myself the way I am fucking up, yet again.

I am so tempted to just leave work, to quit and walk away.  I can't stop thinking about the promises I've made to my children, the plans I had for this weekend to take them on trips, to give them what they deserve.

And I let them down.  The way I do.

So, instead of ruining our lives by quitting a job we need, I call home to talk to my two year old twins.  My daughter tells me she loves me, and then says the words that stop the dam of hurt spilling out of me.

I tell her things, and never realize what an impact my words have, until I hear her saying something to me that I say to her.

"So proud of you, momma."

And that does it.  I can sit here, even though I'll be blinking back tears all day.  I can sit here, and I can stay at this job, because I want to make my daughter proud.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

More of the same

I don't miss them often, but when I do, the weight of homesickness is like a darkness that just covers every bit of happy I've gotten used to.
The feelings I associate with my side of the family are the same as depression.  The aches, the constant uncertainty, and just an overwhelming feeling of sadness.

It doesn't help that I dreamed of my brother last night.  Out of the three of them, he's the one I miss the most.  He gave me my second chance when I lost everything, and losing him hurts the most; he was the one who was able to see the good in me.

In my dream, there was a S.W.A.T. team that pulled up out of nowhere, and as the team was clearing people out of the way, I saw my brother.  There's always that hopeful, but heart-wrenching feeling of love and longing, wanting to be a family again.  That's the feeling I remember most.  Then, he said to his fellow S.W.A.T. members, "Let her through.  That's my sister."
He smiled, and that ache in my heart intensified to that beautiful pain you get when your heart just about bursts from love for someone.

I woke up crying and still can't quite get over it. 

I won't tell you that I don't deserve him not talking to me, that's not true, and I'm not a victim by any means.  I am the queen of fucking shit up.  I just never expected it to be this long, or to last through this many years.

A couple of months ago, he was in the hospital.  I took my twins to see him.  It was the first, and probably last time they'll ever see him.  I didn't realize it at the time, but it's probably the last time I'll ever see him, too.

It's such a waste.  Out of the three of us kids, he was the one with so much fucking potential.
He's always had this charisma, this genuine goodness about him.  He makes friends everywhere he goes, and people love him. 

I remember him fresh out of boot camp, looking for two socks that matched.  One had a big hole in the toe.  I pointed this out, and he said, "If I take my pants off, her eyes will never go past this"(pointing to his thrill zone.)

I remember how he would annoy the shit out of me, and I'd be so angry with him, and then he would make me laugh. I wanted to hold onto being mad at him, but never could.

He had/has the best sense of humor of anyone I've ever known.  I still have memories of his ridiculousness, and although I laugh, it hurts.

Whatever else happens, I'm doing my best to leave this behind.  I can't continue to have this relationship with someone I don't even know anymore.  I can't keep looking back and remembering and hoping that one day he'll let me be his sister again.

I can't keep eating my heart a bite at a time. 



Something meaty for the main course
That's a fine looking high horse
What you got in the stable?
We've a lot of starving faithful
That looks tasty
That looks plenty
This is hungry work-- Hozier






























Thursday, July 2, 2015

This is what they call a breakthrough.

Intake.
I hate the initial intake before seeing a psychiatrist to get a steady medicine regime.  Today, it's talking to a psychologist who is fresh out of school, all but glowing with the desire to help.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not ungrateful.  I just see this as merely a business transaction.  I need my anti-depressants, and she needs to make a difference.  I answer the standard questions, and when the interview is finally wrapped up, and my appointment scheduled, she asks me about my twins. 

I throw her a bone, tell her they're two, and briefly mention that my fiancé calls me 'the fun parent.'

"You know, having the kind of childhood you did, it's common to want to make up for that, by giving your children the things you missed out on."

That sentence, how she cut through and saw something about myself that I never realized, hit me right in the heart.

--

It stays with me the whole day.  I turn it over in my mind, try to find out why that sentence hits a tender place in my heart, and makes me blink back tears.

I think about my twins, one boy, one girl, the absolute best of both worlds.

Bath time, and I blow bubbles while they play with their toys.

Taking them out on the weekend, to the park, to the splash pad, sunscreen smelling like the sweetest perfume on their skin.

Waking them up early on Saturday morning to get ready for a trip, or a prize, or whatever it is I've planned the week before.

--

It isn't until today that I realized what an impact those words have on me.  I went from almost nightly drinking, to making it a weekend thing.  Then, just a one day thing.  Sometimes Friday, sometimes not.

It's as if those words made the craving less.

Whatever it was, I've started participating in life more.  More chances, more changes.  More trips with the kids for ice cream, and swimming.

More sweet moments, less hiding my sober mind from the things I can't face.

--

I don't know if I can ever be truly free from the abusive relationship with alcohol that I have, but this seems to be a period of remission.  The love of my children, the ability to speak about the past, and clean the infection of my soul by (painfully) remembering past hurts and wounds; I'd like to say that this is the end of my addiction.

Each day, I live a little bit more.  I'm less afraid, and more willing to open myself up to failure as a means to success, than to hide within myself, drinking and brooding.

I see how beautiful my children are, what promise they have, and it brings tears to my eyes.  It also fills me with a joy so big, there are no words. 

Love is the strongest (and strangest) drug of all.  It's also the only thing in this world worth building a life on.
--

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Home of the Whopper

He was a lot of things. Womanizer, beer drinker, writer of smutty songs, expert on the best kinds of sin.

He was also my best friend.

To call him a womanizer isn't really fair. It's true, but sometimes even the truth doesn't paint someone in a fair light.

He wasn't your typical womanizer. I think he went through so many women, simply because he was a connoisseur of living in the moment. There wasn't anything ugly or demeaning in his behavior, and womanizer, though he was, through and through, he had the kind of charm that you couldn't deny.

Sometimes, when he'd look at you just right, that open and honest look in his eyes, like he was an eight year old, wanting to show you something he'd drawn, you couldn't help but fall into his charm. Even I wasn't immune to that.

--

We both came together at a time when we were mourning the end of our collective relationships.

Mine was uglier, more bitter. My ex and I kept resuscitating a relationship that I should've given up the ghost on a long time ago.

I don't remember when we decided it, but when J and I joined forces, it was a mutual decision that we could be drunker, sadder, and more pathetic together.

--

Normally, when girls talk about being a wing man, a good wing man, they really aren't. There are some points about being a wing man that girls tend to fuck up.

Now, I knew J needed to get laid. So, when we went to our regular bar, he'd case it. I usually tried to get him laid every time we went out, because girls and guys have different mourning styles.

Mine involved being curled up in a ball, listening to Dido songs and eating ice cream while naming nonexistant children me and my ex would never have.

His was more...hands on.

I'd stay around until I knew he'd sealed the deal, then I got the fuck out, like a good wingman should.

He'd always call me after. Usually, wanting me to come over and hang out.

I remember once he slept with a girl named Mika. He couldn't wait to tell me all about that one, and insisted that I come right over.

He met me at the door, in his boxers. "Dude! You won't believe what she wanted to do. It was the first time we had sex and she wanted me to do anal."

I was interested. "Well, did you?"
He wrinkled his nose in disgust, "No way, that's just...no."

--

We met at work, but after that initial meeting, neither one of us really worked much. Sure, we'd show up, exchange emails, talk shit about our co-workers, then we'd leave to pursue more important things--beer, mostly.

One of the rare days when I actually worked, I ended up with my first work crush. His name was James, and he was really cute. Dark, tousled hair, dark eyes, and shy. I have a thing about shy guys.

After hearing me talk about his not-so-slack slacks for a few days, J and my friend Ari decided to help me with my James crush. They both talked to him, so I could figure out what kind of shit we had in common.

The next day, I came to work early. I was pretending to work, all the while keeping an eye out for James.

I heard Ari let out a strangled caw of laughter, and when I looked at him, trying to see what the hell was so funny, he had his face in his arms, body convulsing with supressed laughter.

I stood up in time to see exactly what got him laughing.

James had just got in, and he was wearing a full leather trench coat. I could hear it creaking when he walked. Trenchcoat, black wrap around shades, combat boots, and I swear he was walking like there was a techno song playing in his head. He looked like he'd stepped straight out of the Matrix.

I wanted to die.

My crush evaporated, like it never was.

I had to listen to jokes about the Matrix for the better part of a week, and J, thinking he was hilarious, would send all of his emails twice. "I think your email is fucked," I told him at break, "I keep getting two copies."

"Is it exactly the same email?" "Is it giving you de ja vu? Because de ja vu means there's a glitch in the Matrix."

Fucker.

--

We carried on that way for the next couple of months. He'd leave me voicemails, singing Pussy Control; I'd buy him candy, and then we'd share the last couple of bites. It just seemed to taste better when we shared.

Of course, this whole being around each other every day made it seem like we were a couple. All of our friends thought we had this secret relationship going on, that we were sleeping together (we weren't) or that we were in love and just afraid to admit it.

We weren't in love, but there was this intense current of sexual tension underlying everything we did. We liked the same movies, we drank the same beer, and it got to the point where we could finish each other's sentences.

So, we did the only thing you can do in a situation like that. We ignored the attraction in the hopes it would go away.

--

Things came to a head on New Year's. The things you try the hardest to ignore usually find a way of shouting their presence, I've found.

He had a date with this gorgeous dark haired girl. I was taking my other best friend, Shayna along with me. We ended up going to a party where I knew no one. So, Shayna and I went into the kitchen and did shots with some of the boys there.

J's date hated the party. She looked at everyone toasting and having a good time and just sat there and glared. For some reason, this amused me to no end. I kept trying to get her to loosen up and do a shot, but she refused. Finally, she made J take her home. "Do you get to keep your sense of humor, or is she taking that with her when she leaves?" I asked him on his way out the door, snickering as he shot me a 'shut the fuck up' look.

I did enough shots that I lost track of time. In another hour, the ball was going to drop. I didn't want to spend another minute at this party. Somehow, it was too much. Too many faces I didn't recognize, too many people I didn't give a shit about.

I just wanted to be back at my house with J and Shayna, drinking a few more shots with the two people I loved the most.

I tried calling J, but his phone went straight to voicemail.

Twenty minutes until midnight, and I made a command decision. As much as I didn't want to, I called my ex. He made it in time to pick us up, and wouldn't you know it? J got there just in time to see me drive off with the ex. I gritted my teeth, knowing this wasn't going to end well.

I got to my house, and predictably, the phone was ringing as soon as I got there. Three guesses who, and the first two don't count.

It was the first fight I ever had with J. Every time I said something he didn't like, he hung up on me. After the third time, I unplugged the house phone, and turned my cell off.

Shayna spent the rest of the night drinking with me, and when I woke up the next morning, she'd already left.

I felt disconnected from my body, a little hungover, and a lot sorry that I'd fought with J.

About nine in the morning, someone was knocking. "It's open," I yelled from the kitchen. The knocking continued, so I put down my sandwich and opened the door.

It was J. Standing there, looking shy, with an aw-shucks expression on his face, a case of beer next to him, and a bottle of tequila in his arms. In J-speak, that was 'sorry' and 'let's put our beer goggles on' all rolled into one. So we did.

--

For my pre-birthday celebration, he gave me the movie High Fidelity. He was pretty sure I'd love it, and I did.

Later that day, about the time we usually went to work, he took me out for dinner. We ended up drinking margaritas and calling in. I remember how great I felt. The sun was shining, the drinks were delicious, and I was with my best friend. All was right with the world.

J told me he wanted me to experience something wonderful, something that not many people had experienced. Being drunk in the daytime.  It wasn't just for alcoholics.

We ended up shooting, and on top of all that beer, bad decisions were natural to follow.  He ended up smashing the webbing between his thumb and forefinger somehow.  Instead of the emergency room, we went straight back to his house so we could take a picture and commemorate this moment the right way.  By watching his bachelor party tape, and seeing who could outdrink the other.

--

I thought I heard him today, while I was getting fuel.  I could've sworn it.  There are some voices you never forget.  But, like the Temptations sang, it was just my imagination, running away with me.

He doesn't live here anymore, and we're not even friends anymore.  Too much water under the bridge, and too much history.  It was my fault, like a lot of things in my life, just pure stupidity and the inability to say two words that go a long way towards fixing things.  Sometimes pride is the only coin I carry.

Do I miss him?  All the time.  Especially when the beer is cold and there are shenanigans to be had.  Were we good for each other?  No fucking way.

Still, through everything, when I think of him, I want to chug some beers and blow stuff up.  Whatever he's doing now, I bet he's as irreverent and hilarious as ever, just the way I will always remember him.

--


Admission = free
Beer = cheap
Memories = not too clear.  But, probably priceless.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Absolution and Reprieve (2)

You stop watching TV. You'd think that would be a mindless outlet for everyone, but things bleed through.

You find out that everything does. The worst isn't the bad acting on reality TV (Snooki is actually one of the most pure hearted people-- I don't know if that makes the knowing better or worse).

If you're me, instead of seeing what movie your favorite actors are playing in, I sense what they were going through at the time the movie was filmed. There's that one actor who is a household name.  That golden voice. He didn't do anything newsworthy,(although the tabloids would have you believe otherwise) it's what he lived through. It makes me wonder why he never talks about that night, the smell of gasoline, the screams. How he never faltered, not in his heart, or his actions. What a warrior's heart he has, and yet, he doesn't ever mention that night. He never speaks it, but he lives it every day. That's the real story. The things we can never bring ourselves to speak aloud to a single living soul. The things that make us remarkable are the things we lock inside ourselves. Makes me wonder why humanity has survived as long as it has.

I listen to Beatles songs obsessively. Each song is like a snowflake, more beautiful than the last. It's hard to find just one to love, but I have my favorite. The best part about listening to the fab four is simple. They were on different planes of (thought) the whole mind thing. Drugs and smoking keep the worst of it out. Like a buffer. God bless the smokers and the tokers. And the Beatles.

Growing up this way... I could sit here and try to tell you. I could make analogies and apologies and anecdotes. I could tell you what you want to hear-- that it's great and I make such a big difference in people's lives and that I'm here for a reason and I touch lives.
That's not the truth.
 I think more often than not, I hurt the people I love when I interfere. Sometimes I'm the thing to fear. I don't talk about my dad much. When I do, I bring the good memories to the surface, share out the vagaries, and let the family members I still talk to rest a little easier. I share out those lies like a winning hand of black jack. And they swallow it gladly.

Tomorrow is yet another day. Yours probably stack up like a deck of unremarkable.
 I envy you. I envy your monotony. I envy your complacence. I envy you your differentiation of the weekends.
Tomorrow for me is work. Work, where thoughts bleed.
Somewhere over the rainbow...

Today the boss is thinking of divorcing her husband, but to be fair, she's always thinking of divorce. Today, he took out the trash and kissed her. So, she's thinking that he should get a second chance. He's a hitter.
When I see/feel her replay his abuse in her mind, I want to take a hockey stick to his danglies.
Bad is how she divides the abuse into categories.  Worse,  is the category she labels 'deserved'. That includes kidney punches, being slapped across the face, and the cheating. Like she's given him a reason to do this. He's the reason she's such a good boss. She's stern, but fair. But she suffers at his hands. 
Suffers.
It's the things like this, the knowing that my 98 pound boss gets the shit kicked out of her every other night that make me want to put a plastic bag over my head and call it good.

But I don't.  There's work left for me to do.