The Love Letter

“Warm-heartedness reinforces our self-confidence – giving us not a blind confidence, but a sense of confidence based on reason. When you have that you can act transparently, with nothing to hide! Likewise, if you are honest, the community will trust you. Trust brings friendship, as a result of which you can always feel happy. Whether you look to the right or the left, you will always be able to smile.” Dalai Lama

I wake and listen as you breath, the dog is starting to get restless and I think he wants to go out, my glasses have fallen on the floor and the combination of darkness and blindness has left them hidden under or behind the bedside table. I am contemplating getting up and finding them, and you get out of bed, and you take my dog outside. Sometimes the scar that I have carried for almost four years is like a chipped tooth, I tongue it, feeling its roughness, feeling its unevenness, other times I revel in the new tooth, so to speak. I realize in my state of near wakefulness, in the moment of dawn hearkening, that this is perhaps the first time in my dog’s life that someone other than me has taken him out, without me asking. He is 12. And at no point in those 12 years have I lived alone until now. I roll over on my back, and I close my eyes.

You come back into your bed, and you do not immediately come to me, but as I turn away, tonguing that tooth, you edge over to me and put your arm out to me, and I turn to you and you pull me in to the strong warm masculinity of you. I relish these moments because with you they are far more rare than I would have them, if I could pick out your traits the way I do my clothing. I have come to love this about you, though it was hard won. In a few minutes you rise and bathe, and I can hear the sound of you feeding my dog. Again, I think, is this not one of the first times someone other than me has fed him, without me asking (if I was not out of town, or on vacation). I am not as sure of this one. But it strikes me as close to the truth.

You have finally begun to introduce me to your friends. Long in my life have I felt, at times, like a fish out of water, gourmet restaurants that for some reason make me feel like a sows ear though the food is good, amongst people whom I sensed negative judgment like a flashbulb on my retreating back, amongst friends who are like children in need of several sorts of intervention, I felt like the nagging adult. Here amongst these men, I feel none of this. I talk of frogs legs, and venison mincemeat, they speak of rabbits, and hunting, and turkey calls and fishing. And though you go away from me, and return, and you do not touch me, I feel the press of your knee on mine as you sit beside me on the bar stool. I feel the light of your eyes on me, your crinkled face, and approving smile. And when you hand me your new gun, letting me fire off three clips worth, and when someone else is shooting, you step forward of me, blocking the pepper of spent shells, I feel your affection.

I find it hard to put this affection I feel for you into words, how can I express to you how great the gift of your man hood is to me, the gift of your decency, the gift of your outspoken honesty, the gift of your teasing, and your less than frequent affection. I sit across from you and your hands which are wrapped around a coffee mug, they look like my father’s hands. The thick blue viens, which fascinated me on my uncles’ hands when I was young, make me smile. What you ask? Nothing. I tell you how beautiful the setting sun is as the rays shine through the lace curtains, over your head, on the golden hairs on your arms, and across your upper arm, and you lift a finger to me, gesturing rudely, I laugh aloud, hearty, for which you only shushed me once. My reply was, when I am filled with joy I laugh out loud. It was the first time we made love.

It is as though I was a homespun girl, trying hard to wear poor quality cashmere, or department store silk, but finding the care and maintenance, and the lack of durability, and the pretentious bits of it too hard to bear. Its hard to work in such clothing, and in the darkest hours of my life, I said, I want that homespun back, I want not the cashmere, but boiled wool, not silk but careworn cotton. I want it bad, it was like eating a diet of Sara Lee Cheesecake and tropical fruits out of season, and waking up one day and rediscovering garden fresh vegetables and homegrown strawberries and apples off the tree, oh yes this is what healthy feels like. This is what was always missing, that I sought, and asked for, and craved. And when I saw in you, the qualities that have always made the men I admire most, I found myself, a willing fly in your web. Only, its more like the bower bird, I see the nest you have built, I am drawn to your keen ability, your boyish charm, wrapped all up in your strong man, your common sense intelligence, your sparring humor, all the things about you that make you a treasure.

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The Best Kind of Joy

I am sitting across from my cousin, we are eating a delish lunch of jerk chicken wings and philly steak pizza. You know I say, I have to admit that as much as I hated it, and as much as it hurt, I am really glad about what happened. He knows, he was there. First time I had seen him in years, he was a big part of my recovery (return to sanity). The journey was difficult, and even though I met the pirate soon after the events took place, we did not actually start to spend time together for two more years. I was in no condition. Early on people told me it was time to get over it, friends, relatives, strangers on my blog, but the therapist said you cannot put a timeline on your grief. And I didn’t. My choice was to do it drug free, but not without the help of some intensive stuff. I know, I talk about this alot, but really it consumed my life for a year, for two years and now I can tell you in my waking hours it consumes me little. There are moments though when I look at my life as a before and after. I know you aren’t supposed to compare one relationship with another but sometimes I have no choice but to do so. The one I am in now is so different, so completely and utterly different that at times it takes my breath away. I tell my cousin, that first of all the events brought me back to my family, particularly him and his father, whom I call and talk to, and sometimes tell him, you are the closest thing I have to a father, since mine passed 19 years ago. It deepened my friendships with several people, including the woman who introduced me to the pirate. And I am filled with thanks for that previous situation, because a couple of the people I knew because of that relationship saw me through, and one of the them introduced me to this man. My cousin says that he is glad too, that we got in touch again and says something that is interesting to me, he said I don’t understand why you weren’t with a hunting, fishing, outdoors guy to begin with. My sister’s husband is not like that I say, and yet he is cool. True. But for me, now, in retrospect, this man is so right for me, precisely because he is that way. I am in the shower, I come out to breakfast on the table. I make breakfast, he clears the table, takes care of the dishes, and wipes down the table, the counter. We are out, he is always prepared, always with tissues, toothpicks, breath mints, water bottles. He puts his hands behind his head while we lounge in the hot tub, I love to take care of my family, to provide for them. I wish I was on that list I say, teasing, at least a little, what do you mean he says, you are my family. In a conversation about other people and other things, he says the thing about having children is that you have to give up certain things, and you have to make sure that you are doing what a man should do, and make sure you are providing for the mother and the child. You cannot just quit your job and expect the mother to pick up the pieces. I grow quiet. I wish I had known him 22 years earlier. I wish I had known myself better. I wish I had known him 10 years ago, when I was working two jobs and providing not just for my child, but for someone else’s, a grown child, a child who didn’t understand the rules, who used me quite without remorse.

And now that so much time has passed, I can see the slow progress of getting from there to here. The moments of utter dejection, rejection, loss, the tears that fell. The clearing of my mind, as though I woke one morning to a terrible fog that lifted day on day, week on week, year now, on year, until it has dissipated into a clear blue sky sunny day. But it isn’t just the fog of that relationship, but another kind of fog, a fog of confidence, security, and understanding. I don’t question my pirate, I never say to myself, does this guy love me? I know it, it is obvious in his actions, and he doesn’t fake it, not anything. There is no pretend. I tell him marriage means nothing to me, I don’t want it, I say, because if it is easier to get a divorce than it is to marry, whats the point. Why bother with it. And I tell him, I don’t want anyone to even bother asking to marry me unless its with the understanding that it is a lot of work, sometimes it down right sucks, but the idea behind it, is to keep your commitments and work through the hard times. He is quiet, I can hear what he is thinking, I tell him, but I know you, if you ever did ask me to marry you, you would mean it, all the way. You are damn right he says. In my heart, I mean it though, marriage isn’t the point, the friendship, and the family part of it are the point. You don’t just leave your family, you don’t just walk away when things are hard, never looking back, you don’t just dump your best friend, crying at the loss of it, but not caring in the end, about the heartache you have caused, and the emotional destruction you have wrecked on the other people your choices have wrought.

My daughter is in a place right now that isn’t good. And I am powerless to have an effect. This situation has left her in a place that I worry cannot be undone. It is as though her fog had never lifted, and perhaps never will.

I have let go of trying to fix it, though. All I can do is be there for her to help her put back together the pieces, and strongly impress on her the importance of the choices she makes today, on her long term future. It is heartbreaking to watch her self destruct. I know how it is, I have been there. One day, perhaps when she is 44 she will see, that if only she had known her self a little better, if only she carried her confidence a little higher. Maybe then she will know the best kind of joy.

More Pictures from Paradise

Sun Lit Palm

 

Heart of Palm

 

Water Lily

 

Turtles On Turtles

 

Hibiscus

 

Sunflower

 

White Cockatoo

 

Here are a few pictures that I either tried to include in the previous two posts, and the quirky problems that I was having disrupted that, or are pics that didn’t fit the two categories (palms and turtles?)  I saw a few of the pics the pirate took and they are terrific.  I cannot wait to see more.  I am really please with my new little camera, it does not have a very good lens for far away pics, but it is great for close ups.  I just love the texture on the Sunflower above.  Also the amazing color saturation in the water lily. Both the texture and composition of the heart of palm pic turned out really good too.

 

 

I surrender

I have other plans but my cousin calls me and we go to the local gun show, which is quite interesting to me.  There  are a wide variety of interesting antiques, particularly oil cans and metal powder horns and ornately engraved guns.  There are some that I just love the overall styling of, and although I am not fond of the matte black of a composite gun, I do like the over all look of the one my pirate buys.  There was some amazing knives that are pure art from the Damasus knife company. I particularly like both the guns and knives with painted woodgrain. I pick out a few beautiful guns, pointing them out, that gun is beautiful I say, price tag 4000.  I like the lines on this gun I say, price tag 2700.     You have good taste the cousin says, and so does the pirate, later.  He is there too, but alone, eventually he catches up with us, and we three have a beer together, my cousin quiet, but happy to spend the day with me, the pirate, hyper as hell.  We compare notes later, I loved this I say, did you see that he asks, and I say, oh yeah, before he has finished.  Today the pirate and I went again, this time I bought a really great day pack, for hiking, and honestly for traveling.  I felt unprepared when we were in paradise together, and I wanted to carry my own weight.  I also bought gifts for my best girlfriend and my daughter.  There are in fact some great unexpected things at the gunshow.  There are also some distasteful things, like Nazi memorabilia, which I express abject disgust over, and some serious Obama bashing.  I voted for him, I say when the two men in line behind us mention him, and I am going to do it again.  Shh they say, don’t speak those words out loud in this venue.  I see a cool woman I work with, she expresses the same feelings as I, the antiques are awesome but the attitudes not so much.

I meet several of the pirate’s associates.  Later I ask, who is your best friend.  You are, he says.  And I know it.  He is mine.  I mean really he is.  So is B. whom I adore, but really when it comes right down to it, this man, is now my dearest friend. I am at his house, doing nothing, he is playing with his new gun, I am reading, but it is getting late and it is time to go, I am tired, and I go to kiss him goodbye.  Don’t go yet, he says.  Just stay a little longer.  OK I say and I do.

muddling through this mediocre life

we tell our children how special they are, but if every child is special, are we not all just ordinary?  what makes us think we are so special?  are we not all just mediocre people?  a friend once referred to another person as common, a judgment i guess on the fact that they were not special.  but i ask who is truly special?  are we, as humans, not all just common, only our false airs, fake hair, plucked and waxed faces and vaginas, and our pretentious ways, we are all common, even a princess poops.  she just doesn’t talk about it, but guess what, she has to wipe her own bottom just like everybody else.

these days i don’t feel very special, i feel ordinary, every day is ordinary, and the ordinary days bleed one into the next, i keep waiting for my peace award, or my art award, or the teacher of the year award, or the amazing mom of the year award, but i deserve none of it.  really none.  i am just muddling through this mediocre life, i am just muddling through.

i have never raised a kid, i don’t know what advice to give you, he says.  i haven’t ever raised one either, i say, i don’t know what i am doing.  my voice cracks…

sometimes teaching is hard, i am tired of nagging the kids, and saying the same stuff over and over and having them not listen, seriously at all, it gets exhausting saying the same stuff over and over, giving directions repeatedly, and that feeling of being thrown into something and not knowing what you are doing, a result of budget and staff cuts forcing people into roles they are not always prepared to play.

i failed as a wife, i still don’t exactly know why.

he tells me, two years is too long to wait,

i tell him,

it is, it is way too long.

i tell him, you are the first responsible adult that i have spent considerable time with in 20 years, your home is a sanctuary of peace and serenity, i say, i just want to be here because it feels good.

 

finally after all this time, i see how hard my mom worked, and how difficult it must have been for her in my college years.

i stand on the cliff, well not exactly, because i am afraid of the precipice, and i beat my chest, like a territory protecting gorilla, only i don’t have fur, and i am a woman, and it hurts just a little, i put my hands close to my face and press my arms against my chest, resting my jaw on my fist, i am sitting under a massive boulder, well not exactly, because i am afraid it will be dislodged, i am like a mouse, whiskers twitching

i may as well be a furry ape, or a quivering mouse

Gorilla

 

Guest Blog: Sweetie and her New Mom.

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We knew there was a feral cat hanging around, so we started leaving bits of food out for it………..chicken and turkey skin, bits of gristle and fat from beef and pork…….things like that when we had it. I got a bit of dry food from a friend , thinking that if the cat liked it, I’d get some and leave that out. I was sitting on the deck one day when I saw a small black cat, obviously young and very frightened.  I got the food and shook it in the dish.  The cat would run close, then scurry away, frightened, but OH SO HUNGRY.  I set the food a ways away from me on the deck and sat quietly ,watching it. Its hunger finally overcame its fear and it started to feed.  About halfway through the food, it stopped, came to where I was sitting and twined around my legs, rubbing me and purring loudly. I didn’t have to “talk cat” to know it was saying “OH thank you, thank you. I was sooooo hungry.”
 
“IT” turned into a young female, not feral, but a stray someone had dumped. Young, ribs and backbone prominent, terrible frightened and hungry and coming into her first heat.  She was Liddy, then Mariah, then finally , Sweetie……………..which fits her to a T and what I kept calling her…..”come on , Sweetie, here Sweetie.”   The toms wouldn’t leave her alone and I didn’t want more kittens bred to starve or be eaten by owls and coyotes and to live a short miserable feral life, so I took her and had her spayed and got her her shots.
 
She spends most of the day sitting on a chair on our back deck, facing the door, watching my comings and goings inside. I look out often to see just a dark smudge in the chair, as she is pitch black, with the most incredible yellow eyes, watching me………..like a miniature black panther. Every morning she comes in for her daily treat of wet food and when she’s done, she jumps up behind me , onto the recliner back and purrs loudly and head butts me. Eventually she’ll jump down and play field hockey with her little toy mousy and scraps of fabric.  The contortions she went through in and out of an empty box one day had me in stitches.
 
A big gray tom occasionally comes around and she hates him. She sits by the patio door and from this small body comes the most primal, gutteral, terrible yowl-growl-scream, like nothing I’ve ever heard. It literally raises the hair on the back of my neck. It is fierce and ferocious. 
 
She reminds me of my daughter’s cat, Tuxie. Independent , loving on HER conditions, doesn’t like to be picked up, though one day she surprised me by jumping up into my chair and tucking herself under my arm for a few minutes. She prefers to be outside , watching me from “her” deck chair. After 18 years with no pets, I’ll take what she gives.  She is becoming more lovey, playful and trusting as she lives with us. She has gained weight and her fur is like plush velvet.  She still startles quickly, ducks if I try to stroke her head  ( did someone cuff her and make her cautious?), but she’s doing better.  As I write this…………….that black smudge is in the chair again, watching me with those most incredible yellow eyes.  For she is not my cat…………..I am HER person.
 
Author of this blog entry is my mom.