Sunday, January 29, 2017

Unexpected Changes

After spending the spring, summer, and early fall in the Pacific Northwest for work last year, I was lucky enough to have a few months off to work from home recently.

The (not so) wee ones were both excited and less than thrilled to have me around full time, having become accustomed to running their own lives and the luxury of that. It was definitely a change, as I'm so accustomed to traveling, and found that I missed that freedom more than I expected. It's a fairly comfortable life, I admit. Hotel living has it's perks: gorgeous views, housekeeping every day, dining out every night, no hassle of dirty dishes in the sink or laundry needing to be done or "real life" drudgery.

It's lovely. And I found that I needed that mental respite on occasion.

So over the fall and winter, I'd take the occasional getaway, both for the kids' sanity and mine, and give them a break from the requisite motherly nagging that goes along with teenagers and messy bedrooms.

Through a good friend, I met a nice guy who lives in another state: we have a lot of shared interests in outdoor activities, intelligent but not divisive conversations about politics and world affairs, and we got along fabulously in the bedroom. I'd fly in and visit once every few weeks for a couple of days: he'd go to work during the day, I'd putter 'round the cabin, and occasionally we'd play hooky and go cross country skiing across the fields or out in the woods.

It was never meant to be a long term thing- honestly, I'm introduced around as "my friend who's visiting", and neither of us have any expectations. And we were okay with that.

Now though, I'm back to work up in Washington and doing the usual weekly commute. Vague plans have been made that I'll pop up and see him, or he'll come down for a few days, but it seems we've both come to an unspoken agreement that while it was all lovely fun, it's run it's course. And without much more thought, I've returned to life as usual: single mom, weekly travel, hotel living, and sorting through scholarship offers with my eldest on the weekend, trying to pick which university she'll attend.

As I landed on Friday evening after my flight home this week, I got a text from my oldest asking me to stop and pick up some things at the store for her. Obliging, I popped into the local drugstore and as I perused the aisles, it occurred to me I was overdue for my period. I scanned my phone's calendar, didn't see the usual notation for January, and - with absolute sureness that it was entirely unnecessary (as my GP had given me the talk about perimenopause not three weeks prior) but because I like to rule out risk with complete confidence- threw a pregnancy test in the basket along with everything else.

20 minutes later, in the privacy of my bathroom, listening to the muffled sounds of teenagers in the kitchen, I stared down in complete disbelief at two pink lines.

I did a frantic counting back, thinking no, it's not possible. Can't be possible. Desperately called my GP, who although 10 minutes past closing, took my call and told me to come into the office immediately. Dashed to her practice, where she mirrored my look of "dear god, let this be negative" as she thrust a specimen jar at me as soon as I walked in.

Minutes later, her nurse handed her the results. My GP looked at them, looked at me, and said, "Well, that's that, then. Now what?"

My thoughts exactly.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Let the Weekend Begin

Life is pretty damn good...

We survived the roadtrip (more on that later), and came home to find Eldest had been accepted to college. My close friends and I secretly breathed a sigh of relief and not so secretly toasted her achievements. Granted, she's still a senior in high school and living at home, but taking college courses simultaneously with her high school classes, and then -God, Buddha, and the Fates willing- she moves to Oregon next year for university.

That, combined with my company being based in the Eastern US time zone, is how I find myself on the front porch with friends getting pleasantly tipsy at 2pm on a Friday enjoying rosé (and maybe a few G&Ts) and enjoying the unseasonably cool summer day (a spring like 102* F).

Ah, this is the life.... One child successfully reared on my own, friends to celebrate with, and a glass of wine to toast it all.


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Those who wander are not lost, just finding their own way

We're on the road again, and by we I mean one mom, two dogs, and three teens. All living in the teeniest tiniest camper van ever built, our Westy.

You'd think two teenage girls and a 12 year old boy might mind sharing roughly 45 square feet of space. With no electrics. No bath. And no AC.  You'd be wrong. :) Despite the occasional squabble, they've been doing brilliantly well. And after 10 days of living/camping on the road and in the woods, we made our way  up to the Pacific Northwest, where I'm working for a week.

Upon arriving at the hotel I alway stay at for work, they scrubbed the dirt of the feet, traded flip flops for real shoes, and just like that they morphed from hippie kids to hipster kids, wandering the museums and art districts, eating lunch at hole in the wall Korean places, and sending me texts of graffiti street art. I love that they're so independent, so self sufficient, and so adaptable. It's amazing how they take everything in stride, and find their own way.

Eldest is off to uni  next year, and so we're checking out different schools  as we make our meandering way through the backwoods of Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia.

3500 miles and three weeks. One unforgettable adventure. Especially the ending... But that's a story for next time. 

I'm getting my groove back, finding my way, and finding my voice that's been muffled too long. 

And this roadtrip is just the beginning. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Next Adventure

It's been a long couple months. Major changes are occurring. 

I finally- after 6 long years of desiring- bought a Westy, a VW Westfalia camper van. We had one years ago, when the kids were itty bitty little things and there was another man in my life. 

I found one on Craigslist the other week, and on impulse called the guy. 

"You're the first person who's called about this van who isn't a hippy!" he exclaimed halfway through our conversation, "Sold! I'll hold it for you til you can get here."

A few days later I hop on a 5am flight to Northern California. Halfway through the flight, I get violently, horrendously ill. The plane lands in a rinky-dink airport in the middle of nowhere and I stumble off the plane to the closest airport bathroom, where I alternately sleep on the toilet floor and vomit for the next four hours. I literally crawl out of the bathroom and collapse in the floor in the airport hallway, completely ignored by passers by. I finally, luckily, and half delusionally, flag down an off duty airline mechanic leaving after a long night. 

"Is there a medical facility in this airport?" I ask. His blank stare tells me everything I need to know.

"A what?" he asks, probably wondering what the hell the woman lying on the floor is asking. 

"A doctor, a quick care, anything?" He shrugs, and it's all I can do to ask for a wheelchair to get me to a cab. He wheels me out, taking care to get my full name and the airline I came in on (in case I sue, I presume) and dumps me in a cab. "Closest ER, please," I ask the driver, who looks understandably scared, given that I'm vomiting all over his back seat and have shocking red and oozing welts protruding from every inch of my skin.

The driver, nice that he is, rushes into the hospital and retrieves another wheelchair for me when we arrive. He wheels me in, and as I'm doubled over in pain and alternately crying and vomiting, I check in.

I know the drill, I work in healthcare. And still I'm shocked as a nurse parks me in the corner of the ER, where I fall out of the wheelchair, and I spend the next hour huddled on the floor, crying and sick,  and only other patients also waiting for help bother to check on me.

A nurse finally retrieves me from the floor, and I'm given a bed and medication for pain. Then IV drips of antibiotics and anti-venoms. My phone rings, it's the VW Van guy. 

"I'm here with the van, where do you want to meet to see it?" he asks.

Completely drugged up, I tell him to bring it the ER. Tell them your my uncle, only relatives are allowed, I say. He shows up, a half hour later, and a sweet volunteer brings him to the ER bed I'm in.

I'm naked, save for the hospital gown, hooked up to IV drips and cardiac monitors, and he's looking around nervously like he's on some hidden camera pankster reality show.

"Do you want to see it?" he asks, somewhat ridiculously. I can't move, am hooked up to so many lines and wires I'd trip if I tried to. I laugh, say no, and we make somewhat awkward chitchat. I buy the van, sight unseen.

Hours later, I wobble out to the parking lot after I'm discharged, (diagnosis: severe allergic reaction to venomous spider) and there it is...

A 1983, manual drive, somewhat beaten up old camper van. 

And it's beautiful. 

I climb into it, and collapse in the back to sleep for a couple hours.

And so begins the next chapter...

Sunday, March 13, 2016

New Perspective

I spent the whole weekend on the boat, for the first time since Trevor walked out without warning or explanation. I've spent a couple hours down here, on the weekends I'm home, but it's hard to be here alone. 

This weekend, though, I decided to push my way though the emotions. The weather is gorgeous, and I'm only home for two weeks before I "move" to Seattle for work. Here at the marina, though, the spring boaters are just starting to make an appearance. The rest of us are starting our annual  maintenance; cleaning, shining, waxing... shaking the proverbial winter dust off our sails and opening the portholes to the spring breezes. I decided to join them and return to what used to be my normal life, til it all went awry. 

I drove down to marina, screwed up my courage and committed to spending the night there. I made my way to the boat, chatting and catching up with all the neighbors along the way. I changed into shorts and a bikini top, got out the teak oil and fell into my springtime routine of refinishing the woodwork- something I've always loved. My box of oiling supplies- sandpaper, brushes, rags, teak oil- was still where I'd hidden it last spring when he had insisted on taking all "unnecessary supplies" off the boat. On deck, my handrails were still partially sanded, when they'd been abandoned last spring, slightly more gray for the weather. The sun shone above, voices and faint music floated over the water, and I settled into a blissful state of non-thinking. 

Hours later, hands cramped and arm muscles burning, I retired inside, turned on some music and made myself at home were I'm happiest: in the kitchen. But slowly, as the night darkened and despite my best efforts at avoiding, the echoes of the past floated through the air, "my beautiful bride" was whispered by the ghost of his memory, and his presence -as overwhelming as it always was- seemed to permeate every nook and cranny of the boat. I dreaded going to sleep, the v-berth seeming cavernous and empty. I crawled into bed, lost in the emptiness, and rearranged the pillows snugly against me- both as a barrier against the past which held me firmly in its grip, and as a comfort, a replacement for a lover that once held me close here.

Memories -both good and bad, for I'm no fool wearing rose colored glasses- held me hostage 'til I finally surrendered the past to sleep.

I normally sleep the sleep of innocents and babies on the boat. Last night, I slept the sleep of the tortured. Finally, about 530 this morning, I fell into the deep sleep of exhaustion, and when I woke late this morning I was tired, but somehow lighter. 

Whether it was subconscious or not, I had taken off my ring yesterday before I went down to the boat, for the first time in 13 months to the day it was put on, and exactly four months to the day he left. I didn't realize it in the moment of taking it of. I just did it. I left it on my bathroom sink, and it sits there still. But I'll admit I have noticed its absence. 

The hard part is knowing he left by choice. It was intentional. Planned. And a complete surprise to me. So I don't know how to grieve, really. How does one grieve for something they only thought they had? Because I realize, what I believed was there, what I changed my entire life for, what I opened my kids to... was not actually real. It was not healthy, it was not real, it was utterly devastating and almost destroyed my family.

He cheated, he lied, he made promises knowing he'd never keep them. I can't believe I ever trusted him, but now I'm here on the other side, having survived. Stronger. Smarter. And more aware of who I really am, and where I want to be. And the kids and I came through it, closer and stronger as a family.

So despite your pathological character, and your selfish ego that supersedes all else, we survived you, Trevor. And all I have to say is good luck- karma is a bitch and usually comes when you least expect it.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Same Old Story, on Repeat

It's been five years, almost exactly, and yet I found myself sitting in the same position now as I did then: a therapist's couch. Different man this time, but if I closed my eyes, I'd swear they were the same. Marriage proposal from a single, never married, no kids man followed by major freak out on his part and marriage counseling so he could point out all my perceived flaws as an excuse for leaving. After two sessions of listening to him tell the therapist how horrible I was, I decided enough was enough. And the next week when I returned to the therapist alone, the therapist told me I should consider myself lucky that it ended, no one would ever be able to meet my ex's unrealistic standards and demands.

So life has returned to normal since then, I spend my weekends sailing when I'm home, and now Christmas is just around the corner.

I'm living in New England for work these days, in a small college town of notable money. It's a beautiful town, but weird in its Stepford-wive-ness. I found myself in a meeting last week, wondering if I should go blonde to fit I'm better, as I looked around a room filled with blonde women, all wearing J.Crew and dripping in jewelry.

I don't know that I could pull off blonde, but at least it would hide all my grays!

But for now, I'm home for two weeks with the kids for the holidays before I return to New England, and just starting to get our Christmas going.

Wish me luck as I face the crowds of Christmas shoppers! I'm going to remind myself that it could be worse when I'm waiting in line behind 832,000 other last minute shoppers... I could still be in marriage counseling!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

High School Never Ends

I was home today, for the first time in ages, to watch Eldest do her band thing. I drove 50 minutes through hell, high water, and ghetto neighborhoods to watch her get her band geek on at a Big City High School.

Showing up early, I got roped into helping them load stuff on the field.

As I stood there, watching as acne-suffering teens filed past me, the band director -having correctly pegged me as useless- assigned me to pull the cooler filled with water bottles, entrusting the more important band things such as gong and xylophone to more obviously trustworthy adults.

I watched as the band kids pass me, in awe of the freaks and geeks that band seems to beckon (me and kid included), when the band director/teacher yells at me, "Hey, take it to the sidelines!"

And just as the band is announced, and I'm struggling with an unwieldy cooler on wheels full of unnecessary water bottles -it's 50 fucking degrees people and these kids who are being judged on their performance are certainly not going to stop mid-performance for a drink- I trip over a goddamn speaker wire running from the judges to the field.

And promptly dump the entire, unnecessary cooler full of water bottles all over the track.

In front of stands full of hundreds of people watching.

(Flash back to when I was last minute picked to be a cheerleader when half the squad was kicked off for drinking. Homecoming, 1992. First time putting on a cheer skirt, no idea what the hell I was doing. The rest of the team hated me because I was a goody two shoes with straight A's who worked in the library and ended up as a cheerleader as a fluke. I spent the entire Homecoming game standing there stupidly because I had no idea what to do.)

The stands (today) laughed like they did back in '92, as I got down on hands and knees and scrambled to pick up the water bottle mess I made. A super nice band dad came rushing over to help, "I hate when that happens," he mumbled as we struggled to corral all the stray water bottles rolling all over the field.

I was too mortified to respond.

I'm 40, and still feel like I'm in high school.

Eldest refused to even look at me after, and shook her head- not subtly- when I glanced her way, warning me not to come talk to her.

I slunk away, as embarrassed at 40 as I was at 17.

As the saying goes... High School never ends. And I'm as much of a dork as I was then.