Life

Home Life

Breathe

0

There’s a song that encompasses this wild roller coaster ride of a year that is soon drawing to a close. In fact, that song sums it all up too well.

But that second verse… That second verse is all him, almost to a T. I used to be a singer, and I used to sing this song every time I heard it, but now I get to that second verse and fall silent, because it hits a little too close to home.

One thing I heard repeatedly was your first post-divorce relationship will be a disaster. So when he reached out to me, I tried repeatedly to sidestep him. I knew I wasn’t ready. It was less than a month after my husband and I split, and I just didn’t have it in me. After more than 20 years of having my ego used as a punching bag, I was… empty. I’ve never in my life dated anyone younger than me, I wasn’t really interested in starting. I joke that I have daddy issues. It’s really no joke, it is probably true. I’ve dated (much) older men and never thought twice about it. I don’t know if it’s the fact that I have sons, and even thinking about some older woman preying on them sends my maternal instincts into overdrive, or just some cultural norm, but the idea made my skin crawl.

He was a persistent little shit, and my resistance was MIA. So I gave in. I figured having some fun wasn’t a bad idea. I am a firm believer that when you’re stuck the important thing is not simply to move forward, it’s to just get moving again. If you worry about moving in the right direction you’re likely to stay stuck. You can always correct your path, but you have to be moving to do it. So I did something I rarely do. I threw caution to the wind.

I miscalculated, on multiple counts. The worst of which was seeing a little too much of a me that no longer exists mirrored in him. Someone once believed in me before I could believe in myself, and I’ve always knew I’d pay that forward someday. I thought I could do the same for him, but you can’t help someone who thinks there is no downside to the choices they make. He always blames the fallout on the nearest target. I tell my kids all the time, people don’t change until change is the least painful option, but when you’ve convinced yourself that you aren’t the cause of your own pain, you’ve made yourself powerless to change it, to even connect the dots, to see the cause and effect.

I will probably be haunted by that realization for the rest of my life.

But as someone who is rather obsessed with cause and effect, I used the whole experience to learn, to connect some dots I’ve struggled with for years. It’s a strange thing to say, but couldn’t be more grateful. It could have been a disaster; but somehow I came out of it stronger, healthier. I’m ready to take these next steps I’ve been avoiding for years, because I was terrified of making the same old mistakes.

I’ve spent the last few months testing hypotheses and trying out some new skills. So far so good. If you can walk away relatively unscathed and with some new weapons in your arsenal, that’s a win.

But the feeling I can’t shake is I’ve seen this movie too many times, and I don’t like the ending. I had hoped I could help him rewrite it and then we could both go our separate ways, ready to own the future.

The kindest thing he’s ever done is shut me out of his life. I hate that ending and I hope I never have to watch it again. It’s too heartbreaking. There are no happy endings. Nobody makes it out alive.

Tragedy isn’t my genre of choice.

And As The Years Go By

We are the unlikeliest of friends. I’m not the only (or first) person to make that comment. It’s undeniable on the surface.

He’s the classic BMOC, he’s smart (brilliant actually in a Will Hunting sort of way, although it’s not the first thing you notice about him); successful, he has a smile that lights up any room. He’s the center of any crowd; he’s the glue that holds many diverse personalities together. More than that, he’s the secret ingredient that makes them all blend harmoniously. He’s the definition of gracious, in spite of his frequent reminders that he has no filter. He can say things nobody else would ever get away with because you see his heart, it’s right there on his sleeve. He can be a mischievous imp, but he doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. He’s also the man in our singles group who tends to have many eyes following him. Not that he notices.

I am not the see or be seen type. In fact, if there’s a plant to hide behind, a dog to pet, or a child to chat with, I’m happier than a pig in, well, you know. I’m a social introvert. I’ve been accused of being an ambivert, but that’s not quite true. I love people. I enjoy getting to know them, I love nothing more than talking to someone, and trying in little snippets of time to heal their wounds, to see the things other people miss, I think people are for the most part heartbreakingly beautiful; but I have my peopleing limits and it doesn’t take me long to reach them; and then I need to retreat to a cold, dark room and pretend the outside world doesn’t exist for a while. Kind of an odd trait for a person who loves being a rideshare driver, right? Yeah, I haven’t quite figured that out myself.

So not exactly two people who would seem like they’d become great friends, right?

I’ll sum it up for you in just a handful of letters.

ENFP/INFP

We met on the heels of similar personal disasters. I’m not particularly skilled or gifted or successful at anything, but the one thing I say I do well is love. And I am good, I guess, at reframing things. For helping people connect dots they might not otherwise see. We’ve all been hit by that hurricane relationship that leaves you breathless by the side of the road wondering what the hell just happened; and when you’ve landed in another country and you don’t speak the language, your odds of piecing together where you are and how to get back to where you were (if that’s even possible, which, it isn’t) are slim to none. For months we talked almost every day. In part because I was able to help him figure out where he was, and since going back wasn’t a desirable (or available) option, how to go home again.

He’s courageous in a way few people are. In an odd way, some of that is fear. Who wants to keep hurting when you’ve just been mortally wounded. It’s an evolutionary imperative to stop the bleeding. But few people have the courage to turn in the face of such assaults, draw that line in the sand and stand there saying “cross it one more time…”. So we wandered that path together, both of us unafraid to look pain in the face, because continuing to hurt like this was not an option.

You can’t share that kind of experience and not forge a rare bond. The fact that we’re both a little empathic, both lean towards the live and let live side, the fact that my barely there filter sometimes rivals his nonexistent one. I could go on, but the moral of the story is your mother was right when she told you never to judge a book by it’s cover.

We’ve become friends. Maybe even family. I’m not sure I have a label that can really encompass the place he has in my heart and my life, but can say I have few friendships I cherish as much as this one.

The fact that on the heels of tragedy comes the most beautiful of blessings is one of the reasons I haven’t become hardened. The beauty is always there, if you stay open to seeing it.

All You Need Is

0

It’s rare that I have nights like this. It’s one of the reasons I love driving for both Uber and Lyft. Some nights used to involve much sitting in a parking lot, but I ain’t ‘bout that life, thanks.

Tonight though, I’ve been driving around for almost 3 hours, and not a single ride. After over an hour, I finally get a ping from Uber, 10 miles away as the crow flies. Usually, a ping that far away means two things: there are no cars in the area and it’s typically a short trip.

Which is ok, short trips happen; but at this point, Uber is taking more than 40% of what a customer pays on short trips. I have a floor in terms of hourly earnings, and I’m in the negative to the tune of $20 already. Earning what… $0.25 cents a loaded mile ($1.25 on average when I started, then $1, now $0.75 per our contract) is not the direction I was hoping to head in, and I have limited hours before the end of the pay period to resuscitate both my paycheck, and my evening.

I log out for 5 minutes and log back in again. Pinged to the exact.same.location. Again. Still no surge. Odd. Sorry, Uber, can’t risk it. Before I can even get my finger to the screen, I’m getting pinged there again. Oy, seriously? Time to reboot for the third time tonight my (t)rusty iPhone (Release Date is almost here! Release Date is almost here! goes the mantra in my head) and give Lyft a try. I’m done with Uber tonight.

The area I’m getting pinged to is a local concert venue with notoriously bad traffic. If I’m getting pinged down there, almost 20 minutes away, the traffic is going to be bad. Even if I’m in the area it means an hour in and out; risking a ticket, or an angry cop waving me on while I try and figure out where in this teeming sea of humanity my specific passenger is. Heart rate rising with every hand on my door handle, and sinking with every wrong name. I drive around for another hour, checking my silent screen periodically.  It’s been this way for a while with Lyft. Summer hasn’t been particularly kind to any of us. I’m told by local bartenders on their way home for the evening they’ve had the same problem. It’s feast or famine.

Hello? Are you there Lyft? It’s me…

My Screen finally goes pink. A (blissfully close) address. Yes! It’s a relatively uncomplicated pickup. We exchange the usual formalities and pleasantries. Hey, are you…? Sure am, how’s your night been? I normally offer a breezy “busy, just the way I like it!” but tonight breezy is beyond me. Lord it’s slow. “You’re my first pickup tonight. Most likely you will be my one and only passenger tonight”, I grin. He offers “Well I tip well, and in cash!”. I crack back, “not even worried about it, let’s just get you home, I know you’ve had a long day. And I’m ready to get home and write”.

“Oh really? Like self publishing a book”? “No, I’ve written various blogs over the years, but writer’s block is the bane of my existence”. “Oh, Berkley did a study, try mushrooms! Great for stimulating creativity”. What follows is a discussion of our various (very limited in my case) experiences with mind altering experiences. Mushrooms… with my Mom of all people. He, with his boyfriend. It’s a funny thing to bond over, but when in Denver…

I pull up to his apartment and I’m almost sorry to see him go. Best part of my night, maybe best ride of the week. I wish him well, and a good night’s rest. He does tip well. In cash. Almost 300%. I’m nearly in tears driving home, grinning from ear to ear, but it’s not the money. Passengers are the reason I love what I do.

Who The Eff Is This?

I’ve been both a “paid” and hobby blogger before. It’s been nearly a decade since I’ve written, and much longer than that since I’ve written on a regular basis. Other than being a lousy grammarian, which tends to make me feel like a bit of a fraud as a writer, writers block has always been the bane of my existence. I think the thing that holds me back is I struggle with a massive case of “who cares what you have to say?”.

I guess I think it takes a level of hubris for me (not anyone else, everyone else is amazing, me, I’m just ordinary, says my negative Nelly brain) to write a blog. I mean I tell myself this is therapeutic, and that’s true. I have passengers that have haunted me, friends who I find to be so remarkable they need lauding, and life experiences/dots unconnected that I sure wish someone would have explored in a more approachable way before. The therapeutic aspect is why my gut wouldn’t shut up, I could not get some stories out of my head until I wrote them down (pro-tip, some are still there, but at least they’re a bit less noisy).

But if all you want is catharsis, there are millions of blank journals just waiting to have their pages filled in every store that sells books.

You only start a blog if you want people to read what you have to say, and that’s where I start to squirm.

I have many loved ones who have supported me in my years of what can only be called folksy storytelling. Some people seem to relate to what I write, some people seem to appreciate the way I string words together. And all of that is nice, I can’t lie. But the only way I can justify writing this is my life is at some interesting junctures, all at the same time. I’m writing from a perspective that is realistically more than half of my life expectancy. And I guess I’m hoping to Hansel and Gretel a trail of crumbs for others to follow. That’s what my favorite storytellers tend to do, they lure me in with entertainment and then one-two gut punch me with lessons.

So I hope you’ll indulge my hubris and maybe find something meaningful here. I’ve always understood struggles to be opportunities to serve others. Nothing would please me more than for my blunders and foibles to light the way for someone a little less clumsy.

This Girl Is On Fire

0

Tonight I’m celebrating the birthday of a new friend. I adore her. Everyone adores her. That really isn’t the story.

Every so often you run into those people who make you realize that whatever you’re prideful about, you really aren’t all that. You know that commercial with Rod Stewart and Rachel Hunter where she’s building a house and doing all this other amazing stuff?

That’s her. She’s equal parts Pink and Mary and MacGuyver. I always thought I was a good wife and mother but I am not even in the same universe as her.

And she does it all with a smile on her face, a hug for every soul who needs one, making friends and having fun and breathing life into every moment.

I really don’t have words to express how phenomenal she is, or how grateful I am to have her in my life.

Happy Birthday love. And thank you for helping my battered soul find a smile and a whole lot of peace.

 

The Roses In The Windowbox

0

I remember walking into my Grandmother’s living room. He was sitting in Grandpa’s chair. I don’t remember seeing him cry before or since, but he cried for a long time that day. He played Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding again and again, tears silently streaming down his face. I remember trying to console him, feeling scared and powerless and overwhelmed by the loss of my Grandfather and any force that could impact my Father this way.

For my entire adult life I’ve had a copy of that album.

In the final stages of creating this blog I’ve found my heart so burdened. I’m picking off lots of barely healed scabs and opening lots of raw wounds. I’ve shed more than my share of tears. I have been playing this song so often lately. It’s funny that whenever my heart is heavy I need to hear it. It’s equal parts catharsis and visceral memory.

It’s interesting how those distant memories can so strongly impact our future, our ways of coping, and our perspectives.

I know I don’t say it enough, but some of the best parts of me I learned from you.

I love you Dad.

 

Godess On A Mountaintop

0

She walks into the room of singles and the world tilts. Not like that (exactly). But she has that… bearing about her, and you know immediately she is different. And over the night that hunch is proven correct. She’s educated and successful and accomplished and talented and knowledgable and fierce. Ever so fierce. And beautiful. Breathtakingly, jaw-droppingly, with a mane of curly hair that makes me want to weep with envy.

Some women might find the admiration awkward, but she doesn’t, we spar and play over it, and it’s a blast. She’s not vain about my fondness for her, she’s just badass enough to accept it for what it is.

She is seemingly effortlessly what so many women wish to be, what I will never be, but can appreciate freely. How can you not appreciate art? Beauty?

Life is dark enough. I don’t want to nitpick someone’s imperfections, I’d rather revel in the perfection of who they truly are.

I Get By With A Little Help

0

The first time I realized what was happening I was floored. A perfect stranger walks someone out to my car and gets them safely seated and buckled into my car. They tell me this is their good friend so and so, please make sure they get home safely. Which I of course agree to do.

We live in a world where we hear of people who take advantage of inebriated people in the most heinous and/or violent ways. Who drug others to take advantage of them.

Every week I have multiple people gently ensconced in my car by someone who simply wants to know they get home safely and aren’t harmed. And they are willing to pay to make that happen.

It’s beautiful and humbling.

One side note, I have on occasion had passengers leave important belongings behind in my car. Uber, in one of their finer moments, has created a feature that allows you to gift someone else a ride. Whenever possible, this is the wisest action to take. If the actual passenger leaves something behind we have no trail to reunite them with their belongings if they don’t use their account. One time a wallet was left behind, and it was only my memory of a distant city and the knowledge that the address on the license was correct that allowed it to get returned to its owner.

That said, keep on, beauties. I see you. I appreciate you. I wish you many blessings.

All Is Fair In Love

0

As they approached the car, I saw the closed off body language. Both wore guarded and wounded expressions. My heart clenched for a moment. They were both polite as they got in; silence settled over the car like a heavy veil almost immediately. They were a beautiful couple, both dressed to the nines, clearly successful, see and be seen types in an up and coming neighborhood. The wife was fierce and proud and seemed like someone who had no problem speaking her mind, the kind of woman I most admire. And her husband was handsome, and polished, they were just beautiful.

“How could you behave like that?”

Nothing but stony silence.

Me, being the mother hen that I am, waited a few minutes for them both to calm from the rush of adrenaline; started chattering about the kind of nonsense I normally eschew but which is a useful refuge when emotions are running high. The husband did all the talking. Ok, I’ve got him off the ledge, time for a more direct approach.

“Young lady, I have to tell you how beautiful you look this evening. You’re absolutely stunning; and that dress is on point.”

I hear a soft gasp, a squeaked “thank you” and gentle sobbing.

Not what I was aiming for, but I think she needed to hear it. And it was the only thing I could come up with on what was only a very short trip.

A minute or two later I hear a shrill, “Don’t touch me!”.

I feel you, dear one; I feel you. It’s hard to feel love or compassion or accept an olive branch when the person you’ve given your heart to has humiliated you in front of a perfect stranger. But I could tell he truly meant it. I think he knew he could have handled himself better.

The trouble with relationships is we humans fear pain and abandonment, so anything that looks like either of those sends our heads spinning.

How cruel is life, that the things that first attract us to someone often become the things we find most triggering. The bonds that once drew us close often wedge us apart.

I’m sure the fact that she is fierce is why he loves her, why he won her heart. No other man had that strength, that courage. And I’m sure the fact that he is an impeccable gentleman made her feel safe, like she could let down her guard for once. But now, her independence looks to him like disrespect, and his nurturing feels oppressive.

I did something I never do, something I probably shouldn’t have done. I logged out of Uber, parked the car and got out. I asked her first, because she was on my side of the car.

“Is it ok if I give you a hug?”

She nods, and I hold her and she cries again. I never wanted to let go. In some way, it’s like holding my past self. But I remember this pain. I remember being young and in love and thinking that’s all it took.

This couple had so much going for them, and I truly felt they were well matched. The reality of this moment was painful to watch, and I know all too well how much worse it was to experience. I walked around and said “you too” and gave him a quick hug. I looked at them both and said, “You’re going to be ok, you’ll find a way through the hard times”.

I have no idea if it is true, I just want it to be, and I want to leave them with some hope to cling to.

What I really wanted to do is log out for the rest of the night and play therapist, to reframe these wounds for them, to help them remember what it was like when they first fell in love, why they loved each other, why they each won the other’s heart, and why nobody else ever came close. I wanted to help them see that the  thing that hurt the most was the very thing that could help them have a marriage others dream of.

Instead I did the only thing we rideshare drivers can do and watched them walk away.

I think of them often. I pray more for them than I do for nearly anyone. If there is a God, if there is justice, someone will help them see the truth of life, and love. Before it’s too late.

Love like that is rare, and we don’t get second chances at it.

Popular Posts

Why You Look So Sad?

‘Cause I’m Broken

I Keep On Falling

Miss Independent

My Favorites

And As The Years Go By

We are the unlikeliest of friends. I’m not the only (or first) person to make that comment. It’s undeniable on the surface....

And I Your Willing Victim

Why Do You Love Me