Sunday, November 27, 2016

Lineage #1

"Here are the bits where I am broken," she says and shoves a shoe box into my stomach.

I see what she means.  Inside are bitty bits and pieces.   I poke through them with a finger - delft bone china handle to something, torn sari scraps red-gold and fraying, bits of beach glass, shooter marbles, a Barbie shoe, a strangely shaped acorn, a triangular pebble, puzzle pieces and a red Sorry game marker.

"Can you fix me?"

I shake my head and shove the box back into her hands.  Her box of broken scares me.


I pull out the Sorry man, "Tell me about this."

"Is that a Sorry game piece?"

"You tell me.  It's your box of broken."

"What the fuck is a Sorry man doing in there?"

I say nothing.  I uncross and recross my legs.  I can't put the words in her mouth.  I know eventually she will begin.

"I used to love that game, yunno?"

I nod.  "What did you love about it?"

"I loved being able to slam someone else's man back into start just as they were about to make it home."

"Hmmmmm," is all I say.  We sit in the long silence that follows before I goose her again.  "Why do you think there is a Sorry man in your broken box?"

She sighs and blows the hair up out of her eyes.  For the first time since we began, I can see into them.  They are a warm honey brown, but they are so distant, so closed off.

"My family was always fighting.  Even when they weren't, they were.  People were always fighting.  Fighting to be seen.  Fighting to be heard.  Fighting to be loved.  Until fighting became a thing, became the only thing."  She stops and tears into an already shredded cuticle before continuing.  "I don't like fighting and I could never get them to stop."

"How did you deal with that?"

She shrugs, "I learned early on that I could make it stops sometimes if I apologized, said I was sorry."  She grabs the Sorry man from the box and flings him across the room.  "I spent my whole life apologizing.  I apologized for everything.  I apologized to boyfriends when they broke up with me for not being a better girlfriend.  I apologized to my mother for not being perfect, for not being pretty, for not being born a boy, for fucking being born at all.  I apologized at work for not working around the clock to get funding.  I apologized for every hurt - real and imagined.  I even apologized for being silent.  Can you imagine?  My whole life has been a big fucking apology."

"Have your apologies changed any of those things?  Did a boyfriend decide to stay?  Did you mother love you more?  Did you keep your job?"

"No."  She thinks for a while.  "The words are just that.  Empty words said to make it stop."

"To make what stop?"

"The feeling of losing everything."

"You aren't going to save anything with empty apologies."

"Then why can't I stop apologizing for the world?"

"It's a habit.  Like biting your nails."

She jerks her fingers from her mouth where she has been worrying the nail and hides them under her leg.

"You have to exercise it, like a muscle."

She looks at me crookedly.  "One of my friends just told me the same thing."

"That is a wise friend," I say.  "And this," I hand her back the game piece, "is just a Sorry man."

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016

It's Thanksgiving.  I'm at work.  My choice.  It will be a short day and I will go home to lounge in my penguin pants, watch movies and eat chicken risotto.  I will not eat turkey or watch football or fall asleep on the couch (OK maybe I will do that).  I most certainly will not be spending it with my family.

It isn't that I don't have anywhere to go.  I had at least five stellar offers from people I adore.

I turned them all down.

 If you are one of the kind people who invited me to join you.  Big thanks.

I used to do the BIG family Thanksgiving.  For 50+ years I did that because it was what was expected.  I endured conversations (term used loosely as no one really listened) at decibel levels equivalent to a Boeing 747 taxiing down the runway.  I endured political diatribes against everything I believe in and hold most dear.  I endured judgment oozing from every dish on the table that felt like poison in my mouth.  I endured pity for my eternally single life.  Mostly I endured sitting at the same table as my abuser and pretending we were one happy family.

I endured - until I couldn't.

Those were a mockery of Thanksgiving.  I was not grateful for a single one.  And every time I had to say what I WAS grateful for - I lied.  There was NOTHING to be thankful for in any part of this day from hell.  (I will make an exception for the invention of the broccoli-pault which was sheer genius).

In truth, I am so scarred up by those past 50 or so Thanksgivings, it's better for me to look at it as just another day.  Less crap gets stirred up.

Some year I may go back to celebrating with friends, but for now I choose to celebrate alone.  I celebrate me.  I celebrate all the things I have to be grateful for.  Including the bad grammar of the previous sentence.  I will be as happy as a hog in slops padding around in my slippers all by myself.  It will be the perfect Thanksgiving.  And it will work its magic to make me hate this day a little less.

Everyone's Thanksgiving should be what they need it to be.  I am finally making mine what suits me best.  I hope yours does likewise.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Trippin' with Shel

This is a journey from back in August.  Shel is one of my writing peeps.
It takes some time.  More than usual.  I am out of practice, out of breath, too much about breath. 

Shel meets me.  We are climbing up a granite face using ancient hand and foot holds carved into the vertical face.  I lean into the mountain.  Cool stone beneath my cheek.  Breathing.  Shel urges me on.  I am not afraid.  As we approach the summit, a curving set of narrow stairs winds around the peak.  At the summit, we stand hand-in-hand.

“So.  What’s up?” I ask.

Shel says nothing.

“What am I supposed to see?”


“Why did you drag me up here?”

“Is it not enough that it’s beautiful?”

He’s right.  It is beautiful.  Rolling emerald hills unfurl below us alternately lit and shadowed as the sun ducks behind scudding clouds.  Still I am restless, fidgety.

Shel sighs.  “We are here to call back the pieces you have lost.”

Now it’s my turn to sigh.  Finally, I think. 

“Where do you think they might be?” he asks.

“At work,” I answer. 

He nods, reaches out as a barn owl swoops in and lands on his hand.  He turns and presses the owl into my chest.  There is discomfort as though wings flapped about in the cage of my ribs, but this feeling settles as things shift inside me to make room. 

“Where else?”

“My mom.”

He gestures again and a pelican glides in to his hand and then into my chest.  I name other people, other events other places where I have lost myself, let my energy go.  One by one the pieces wing back to me in bird form.  At some point Shel stops receiving them.  Instead they fly directly into my chest, into my heart.  Each one lands and rocks me back on my heels, threatens to tumble me off the mountain. 

I am not frightened.  Shel is always there to catch me if I fall. 

After the last arrives, I turn toward Shel and ask, “Where are they?  I know there are more.”

“That is enough for today,” he states. 

We stand hand-in-hand once more.  He’s right.  It is beautiful.  And it is enough. 

Mean Girls Are Never Pretty

Mom's sojourn in Memory Care ended when she could no longer stand and became what they term a 2-assist.  She transitioned to Skilled C...