On This Day: 2 April 2016. {journal entry}

It has been several months – including the winter holiday season – since my house has given me any remote sense of joy. I really (really) like this house. It’s quirky enough to satisfy my disdain of cookie-cuttery and “normal” enough to reassure my faint desire to conform.

Inanimate – how could it give anything let alone joy?

But this evening, a weird coldsnappping on the wind and the dog impatiently yanking me down the driveway for a night walk I am beginning to enjoy, I turn to look back at our house, from the corner.

 

66Mill4.2.16

Fuzzy image of our house, dog walk. 4.2.2016

 

Two paper star lanterns hang side by side, glowing in concert with a single strand of un-twinkling twinkle/fairy lights.

She is in there, with six then seven then six of her girlfriends. Playing games and laughing wildly, howling at each other’s uncensored teenage humors and running commentary.

Junk food, juice, real soda, pizza and eventual ice cream cake hopefully burned off before bed so no middle-night stomach issues result. They sang to her, and she commented with genuine thrill, “I haven’t had an ice cream cake since I was like seven or eight!!” and blew out the 19 candles – an extra for luck – in one noiseless whistle. She was happy, IS happy, and that is something I have not witnessed in a long time.  She moved out abruptly, in January, after I drew my final line in the sand about her disrespectful behavior and backtalk.  I was done and that time, unlike previous others, there was to be no discussion, no bargaining.  She moved out the very next day, her father ‘rescuing’ her from me, her awful mother, her personal target, and blame-source.  He showed up, hours after he first promised, and hauled most of her things away, leaving a mess in her room and a giant, painful hole in our home.

Down to the final four, the sleepover will be sweet and sacred, as most of these things are. In the morning, I will prepare crepes and bacon and tea or juice, and cinnamon buns. They’ll be gone before 10:30 AM. And, then, so will she, until the next visit.  She does not come around often at all; I am ignored or shunned or too embarrassing.  It would be the same if she still lived here.  However, it was her behavior – not my lack of love or mothering – that led to the ultimatum:  change how you treat me or take your show on the road and play a few acts at your father’s.  She could not change for us – she needs to “individuate”, my friends all tell me.  “She’ll come back, better than before”, they all say.  But that is not now; the future remains a blank canvas.  We can only love what is right now.  So, tonight, I love this and the following moments of her being home.

Tomorrow night the house will be darker, less full, less lively and certainly less noisy. I wish it were like this more often: alive, glowing and sighing with joy.  Unbridled and happy. But, for now, it is really quite perfect. ❤

cake 4.2.16

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Horoscope of an Inappropriate Partnering.

January, 2010. We meet online — not that we were going to admit this to anyone, or that we have any mutual friends to tell (we do not) but there it is:  Truth #1.
After some writing and one phone call, he asks me out. I am surprised to hear a 53-year old man nervous over the phone; maybe because I am 46, a single mother and very little scares me. It is a predictably awkward but not horrific first date. We wander around a small, local museum, alternately checking each other out. While he stares at drawings by Frank Lloyd Wright, I study his shape. I like his height, 6’6″ and the broad expanse of his shoulders.  Top to bottom, side to side.  He takes up space, being that tall.  Where other manfriends and lovers have been lanky and slim, silos, this potential man is a dairy barn.  A sturdy, familiar, chipped-paint barn. I like his large hands, his goatee, the tousled salt and pepper hair.  He is handsome and rusting a bit, not brand new. His inky leather coat says something contradictory but not insulting to his loden corduroys, and after the museum is wrung, he suggests we might take in some wine.
Seven hours and his six-to-my-two wines later, we part company with a rain handshake and parking lot hug.  He smells good.  “Well, that didn’t kill me,” I think on my way home to a too-big empty house.
 
A week later he asks what I am doing for the rest of my life, and asks that I not run away. We are on our second date, riding the train to Manhattan to see Bobby Caldwell at BB King’s. Partly flattered and something marrow-uncomfortable at how willing he is to reveal himself, his loneliness.  The train ride begins at getting-to-know-you and arrives at watch-for-more-red-flags as we pull into Penn Station. I also feel sad for him–that he has no quest, no adventure, other than this. Every man needs a quest to keep him interesting; a quest cannot be another person. As sad as I suspect his story, and as much as instinct tells me ‘this is not your man’, our goodnight kiss in my driveway is one for the books and my concerns are shoved to the back of the closet.  I am that lonely, myself.
 
Valentine’s Day. We return to the museum for Spanish music and cocktails, a date of significance I fail to recognize; to me, this is just another date.  Later, we prepare dinner at my house; a shoeless, casual supper in formal attire at the Formica kitchen table. On too much free wine, he places a call to his son, asking him to be his best man, saying he has met the last love of his life, that he’d better marry me soon before I disappear. Again, I am surprised how he reveals his hand but say nothing.  Later in the month, we attend an 80th birthday party for my father. He is a nice date until I overhear him plumbing my parent’s friends for possible employment. This is off-putting and I resolve to be less available.
 
March. He attends church with me a couple times. I had not yet met his local family members, and he rarely spoke of them despite their close proximity. It becomes a concern, how he started two different families with two different women, only one of whom he married. He has three now-adult children. I repeat this to myself until it sinks in:  he started two different families with two different women…right alongside the realization of me possibly becoming number three. When he brings up “the future” it makes me balk because it is way too soon. He uses my discomfort and accuses me of wanting to break up.
 
April. Easter. A brief resurrection. We cook an afternoon supper for my family, moving a table into the sunspot in the backyard and have a feast for spring. It is “normal” and it feels right…except that he never heard from his family. Our invitation goes unanswered. He never hears from them, ever. [NOTE:  The entire time we knew each other he did very little, if anything, with his family, which I found sad – not in a pity way but in a way that made me want to be his family. Just before the end, I suddenly understood how he wanted to be saved, adopted, absorbed into someone else’s life. I could never be all those people for him, “my favorite people all wrapped into one,” as he often called me. It eventually ruined us both.]
 
May.  I went away with married girlfriends overnight, a well-deserved and needed break at the end of a stressful project. ONE night. He threw us under a bus and broke up with me, preaching it “the beginning of the end.” I’d never dealt with a grown-up who has severe abandonment [like mine]. This frightened me; that he could so easily end things because I was not available for one evening. He stopped answering my calls. I took the next day off from work to find him and talk us back together. (I should have walked away. But since I am familiar with being afraid of being left behind, I didn’t.)
 
How stupid of me. Really. I took us to lunch. He barely ate. Anytime I paid for us (he never had cash), he barely ate. When we cooked at my home with food I purchased, and drank wine from my wine rack, he ate and drank, heartily. I never said a word but kept watching and waiting for him to stop thinking I was either cheating or not caring, or that I was going to leave.
 
By June, things were weird and rocky. He became moody, and blamed his behavior on Parkinson’s. My intuition told me there was more going on; more he was never going to say. He asked when I might be ready to be his wife. I joke a reply, he pouts.
 
July. He wondered aloud if I would let him move in so he could “save some money.” I said no; I have boundaries, and I am raising a girl. His pay would not support any shared co-habitation. Mid-month: I gave $300 to an exterminator who came twice to eradicate the massive flea infestation his two dogs brought to my home. He wondered why I wasn’t inviting him over.
 
I broke up on a day he was shopping for $200 Red Wing boots and I was vacuuming up dead fleas. Not cool. Later that night, he asked if he can take me out to dinner. This is a first. I declined.
 
In August, he called, acting as if I’d been out of the country rather than out of his life. He offered me flea money – which he didn’t have; it was an empty gesture.
 
September. He called, wondering why I was “so busy” with my child, school, my work, friends, as he walked out on his only job and into unemployment — with no unemployment benefits. We did not argue but I asked him to stop calling.
 
October, I asked him to stop calling, again. He said once he was gone, back to Ohio, he would not call or hover or beg to come back. Yet, he left a stack of thrift and junkshop birthday gifts on the tractor in my garage. Every one something important or relevant to him.  Not me, not us.  Each gift had a relationship with his past, they had nothing to do with me.  It was a guilt maneuver which I saw, immediately.  A week later, in the town newspaper, he proposed marriage through a poem published across the center pages. The part of me longing for a good partner wished “yes!” could be an appropriate reply. The meaningless, used items-as-birthday-gifts went to the curb with an ad on Craig’s List, “free for the taking”.  They were gone within the hour.
 
We never spent a Thanksgiving nor Christmas together.  I ended things the following New Year’s Day.
 
He was not a bad person nor a particularly mean man. He was what most people would call “a loser.”  53, no ties to his children nor the rest of his family; talked a decent game about the future but had no idea how to make any plans for himself or with someone he loved. I choose not live with mediocrity; I am honest, vulnerable, I volunteer my time, and my child is the most important person in my life. Those were our biggest differences.
 
And yet despite all the on/off, the back and forth, I had a hard time letting him go…because I had a harder time seeing how I deserved, and was worthy of, someone better. I wanted to be so deeply in love with the man I met that January: the low-country dreamer, the romantic, who could fix anything – and did. The dog owning down-to-earth art and music-loving cook who loved me strong and close…to a point. But those are not the qualities I seek now…anyone can love dogs or paint a wall, change a tire or take you dancing in the kitchen. I know what was missing: a desire for the other person; confidence; companionship, honesty, trust, loyalty, friendship; like-mindedness; kindness; a flawed but loving, caring spirit, and actions that back those traits.
 
The last time he appeared, he and his wounded ego showed up in my driveway the morning I was leaving for vacation, alone. He accused me of going with someone. His constant accusations I was seeing someone behind his back made me weary and pained; there was never anyone but him. I knew it was not love. It was control and lack.  Maybe it was love when we were very briefly on an even keel, but he never trusted me to stay; he fulfilled his own prophecy, all those times he said I would leave.
And, I did.
 
DJD 2015

Reveal.

Might take a while but I think we all recognize the “good” in “goodbye”.  Maybe not simultaneously or even assign it the same weight or meaning.

Weightlessness is fine for wandering or aimlessly bobbing around, here and there.  But there came a desire to be grounded, certain, and that never happened.  It is then we choose, again, direction and propulsion.  

We do this, change course, many times in life — whether by choice or organically.
I am so blessed to be loved and valued, and that is all I know, right this minute.  Right, this life.
DJD

Rash.

“…Prednisone may cause you to feel aggitated, even somewhat uncharacteristically aggressive.  Angry, even.  You may experience feeling restless and, as in many cases, you may have trouble falling asleep – or feel no need to sleep at all.  You may have thoughts of daring feats.  Do not obey them… .”

Note:  You may lay in bed fully awake for several hours kidding yourself sleep is “just around the corner”, when you know damn well you’d rather be outside in the front yard in the booming thunderstorm holding lightning rods in your bare hands while sporting a tin foil hat and summer weight granny nightie, bare foot and hollering at the wild sky, “Is that all ya’ got, ya’ big rainy cry baby!?!”
[I had a very strange rash. It resembled a large cat scratch, hurt when touched, and came out of nowhere because I didn’t roll in the woods, lay lawn or swim anywhere.  It did go away, weeks later…Prednisone was dispensed by the doc-in-the-box.  I wanted to chew my own hand.]

DJD 2016

Breaking the Rules of Engagement.

What a curious thing to remember, today:  24 years ago, on this very night, as the temperature turned, my then-boyfriend and I drove from the south shore to Port Washington the all the way out to Port Jefferson – just to have dinner. He acted very peculiarly as he couldn’t decide where we should eat or when or what. Every suggestion I made, rejected; clearly, he had to decide.  He was preoccupied and a bit brusque. (Not unusual for him, as I came to learn.)

Before we dressed to go out, I asked, “Is this a dinner that requires hosiery?” And he said ‘Oh, yes.’  So.  Fancy and important.  I had some idea of what might be in store but wasn’t certain.  Heels, skirt, blouse, hosiery.  Out the door without any real plan.

When we finally arrived at the inn, happy to find it open post-summer, the restaurant had just served the last table. A waitress with loaded tray,  passed through the dark wood lobby between the kitchen and the grand dining room. My boyfriend launched into begging the maitre’d to seat us – taking the man around the corner – I could only stand in the lobby and guess their whispering – while he basically groveled for table.  I should mention it was about 8:30 PM.  They had every right to refuse us a table so late.  This is how it went with him:  good idea, poor execution.  I knew this.  In the short time we’d been dating, we’d been late to almost every invitation, every rehearsal and run-through, every timed event – because he was chronically late everywhere for everything.  I waited in the restaurant foyer watching the bar crowd boozy and loose, finish wide bowls of oysters and chowder.

20+ years later, I cannot tell you what we had for dinner. For dessert, even though I ‘passed’, I was presented with a small, black ring box holding a lovely diamond shouldered by two teardrop blue sapphires. It very much resembeled a drawing I had made several weeks before, which I was told got “lost in the wash” – and I believed that.

What I did not believe – in that waterside inn at the ferry landing, in that late-night moment, exhausted and leaning into what can only be described as compassionate resignation, with bleary-eyed staff curling around the dining room door frames to peek – was that I was sitting across from this man, about to say yes…to something I truly did not want. After only seven months of dating, including somewhat living together already a month or so, I was SO afraid to hurt his feelings.  From his bended knee aside our table, in front of the staff and other guests, I closed my eyes and exhaled agreement.  The applause and cheering filled the entire inn, but felt inappropriate as they congratulated a groom and his bride, the liar.  The girl too afraid to say what she did, and did not, desire.  I’d let things go too far and rather than risk his anger or a fight or immediate heartbreak and an uncomfortable silent ride home, it was easier just to say yes and give him what he wanted.

20-something years later, in this lovely Indian Summer September evening, shared with a different partner, I say “yes,” again.  To me.

Despite the path and the pain, any other reply than “yes” that night would not have been this life.  For I am in Love with this life, this ‘where’ right now, and the people with whom it is shared.

Happy Anniversary to me, today.  A day that reminds me to be honest with myself, to live, and Love, authentically, without fear.

Fearlessly loving from here.

DJDAWSON 2017

September 20. 

’tis a gift, this life.

How the heck did I get so lucky to
-be here (one smart mother).
-know what I know (open, curious, insatiable mind).

-shepherd my child (excellent karma).

-be loved by a handful of stellar souls (and I mean honestly Loved — in that 4 AM, unconditional, whatever-you-need, take-you-as-you-are way we Love people).

-and be lucky enough to have people to Love, and like, in return.

Don’t know how it happened, but I am so very lucky…and I would not change a thing or lodge a complaint with the manager or send back scrambled eggs when I asked for over-easy.  Everything is a gift.  Including you.

OX

Barley September.

These last few mornings, before dawn, I have walked the dog.  Because my head is thrown back mouth hanging open dazed by all the stars, I have no idea whether or not she has relieved herself of her night holdings.  Let’s presume “yes”, as she has not soiled the carpet (recently).

On our walk this morning, cows lowing and uncensored roosters on the farm through the wood tuned up for their field day.  Again, the sky invited gazing.  Orion, clear as ever, sparkling belt and all, beginning to dive out of sight into the gathering equinox. Tonight, we will be blessed by the pull and push of September’s full Corn moon or Barley moon; the true Harvest moon this year does not rise until October.

Orion, whose body so powerful, his ego so big, believed no creature would or could ever slay him, stung by a lowly scorpion and up into the stars he went.  The scorpion, receiving similar celestial treatment, was placed on the opposite heavenly hemisphere so the two might never meet again.  Orion’s story, far more detailed and varied than what I share here – versions that include seduction, death by arrow, sobbing goddesses and angry gods, mothers and daughters, and other narrative rhinestones – a familiar and ancient myth.

This morning, realizing the constellation was leaving our sky for a while, I felt an overwhelm’ment of gratitude for having those few moments of unlit quiet, alone and outside.  And, immediately after that peace, I felt as though the calendar would suddenly move more quickly than the last eight months.  When the grape harvest is over, our home life will return to ‘normal’.  No more insanely early wake-up times for him (which also mean for me because once he’s up, I basically am, too); no more going to bed directly after 5 o’clock supper (which means being in bed with a full stomach, tossing and turning and trying to screen read in the dark, and being awake long after he has crossed into deep sleep).  The return of morning and evening in-bed conversation and planning and mindwandering, and communion.  As much as I may become periodically flummoxed about these temporary changes to our household routine, Orion reminds me to never get so brazen and full of myself to believe I can get along without these things; to not take the small stuff for granted, lest they creep up and bite/sting/kill me.

Harvest isn’t going to kill me or us.  Neither is the changing sky…because there is always a reason to get up in the morning, and not just an anxious dog – whether or not the fruit is ripe and ready, and there is always something to look at in the sky, day or night, clear or foggy.

Just keep looking up.