Wednesday, May 31, 2006

No Cause For Alarm

Just a quick note --

I didn't mean to suggest in my last post that I have any idea what I'm doing. I don't actually HAVE a plan yet. I'm just entertaining some ideas, most of which could take months or a year or more to implement. My point was more that I feel the beginnings of an itch to change, and I'm just planting the seeds.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Next?

My mom once told me that I seem to have a need for something big to be going on all the time. That I am never content to let things just be, that I always seem to need a plan, or a project, or an idea for some major change in the works.

And she was right. I always have, I always do.

Now, since moving to San Francisco, my "big plans" have been a little on the vague side. I realized that making plans for the Entirety Of My Whole Life did not in any way guarantee happiness or fulfillment or permanence. So I cut back. I landed in SF with the slightly less planful attitude of "I'll figure something out eventually. Hey, wanna go to the piano bar?"

I mean, I do make plans, but have been a bit gun-shy to commit to anything too big. (Suppose death and divorce will do that to a girl, huh?) Instead, I've just kind of tried lots of things and wended my way down a path with few expectations. Something doesn't work? That's okay, I'll just move on to the next thing. No big deal.

And this would probably explain how it is that in the 4.5 years I've lived here, I have done things like worked for four different companies, rented four different apartments, gotten into three serious relationships, applied to and been rejected from a competitive grad program in a completely different field from my profession. And so on.

Which is some ways has been pretty great. I mean, it's gotten me to where I am now.

Except...

I'm starting to think that where I am now needs to change again. That I’m kinda ready for the next phase.

I've been in the same job for year, and in the same apartment for almost two. On one hand, I'm actually kind of proud of these facts -- I haven't lived anywhere in my life for longer than two years except my parents' house. But I can tell I'm getting kind of comfortable in an uncomfortable way. I can see how easy it would be to stay exactly where I am, doing what I'm doing, for years. It's fun. It’s even kind of easy. I LIKE my apartment, and I LIKE my job. I LIKE my life.

But not enough that I want to wake up and have it suddenly be five years later. You know?

I feel like I came to San Francisco to get my bearings. To figure out how to stand on my own two feet while recovering from one life-altering event after another. The last few years have been great, but have also been about keeping my head above water. (Am I forgetting any clich├ęs here?) And I don’t think there’s been anything wrong with that.

It’s just that I feel like I am above water now. And I don’t want to just keep treading. I want to swim, go, move forward.

I am in my 30s, and accepting the realization that every day, every week, every month I spend burying my head in the corporate sand is another day, week, month I’ve opted for safety instead of fulfillment. I think it’s high time I admit what I really want and figure out a way to go after it.

Yep, it’s time for change.

Something For Memorial Day

One thing I find incredibly tiresome in defending my political beliefs is the idea that because I am liberal, I am not patriotic and I do not support the troops.

Which is idiotic.

So for those of you likewise tired of having to explain that your dissent of our current administration is not the same thing as hating our soldiers, I recommend this brilliant and funny post.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Travel Bug

“Do you ever write about it?” I asked Ish a couple months ago.

“What? Oh that? Nah,” he replied, shrugging. “But it WAS pretty cool...”

* * * * * *

My parents took me to Italy once. I was two, and my dad had to go for business, so my parents made it into this long, grand vacation. All I can remember is chasing pigeons around Venice, and being very excited by all the stairs. (Apparently, I’d just learned to climb them. To me, Venice was one big playground.)

I have never otherwise been outside of the country.

For a long time, I didn’t have much interest in traveling. When I was the age where many American kids start to get the travel bug (if they don’t have one already), I decidedly didn’t. “Backpacking around Europe” seemed like something young people did. I didn’t feel young. I felt like I wanted to get married and settle down and find some stability for once.

A few years later, when I realized “stable” wasn’t all I thought it would be, I uprooted myself completely. Traveling somewhere exotic/far/interesting seemed inevitable. Except once I moved to San Francisco, any time I had the money or vacation time enough to go anywhere, I could only go one place: back home. I’d moved 3,000 miles from my ailing mother and felt guilty about it. I couldn’t just go off and go on a vacation. I flew back east about six times that first year.

Then after my mom died (June of ’02), well. I would save up money and vacation time, and use it to go back home. First my sister got married in November. Then I had to return for Christmas (that’s non-negotiable). Then I had to spend two weeks the following summer to help my family move my father from an enormous farmhouse full of nearly 30 years of my family’s history to a much smaller home. (That was a gut-wrenching experience I’ll write about some other time.)

Finally, it seemed that I could maybe start saving money (and time) to visit the East Coast for Christmas, and maybe-just-maybe go somewhere else in the spring/summer.

But then my dad got sick.

His cancer wasn’t like my mom’s – it seemed entirely beatable, or at least possibly beatable – but he had cancer all the same. I wasn’t about to go off to Paris while I could be spending that time with my family.

* * * * * *

And so that’s how it’s been. Someday, with the right resources and timing, I will see the world. Or at least, more of it.

In the meantime, I remain absolutely awed and inspired by (and jealous of) people who have traveled. You know? To me, it's just always seemed so damned impossible. But then there are people like Ish.

I am astounded by Ish’s experiences in China. When I first met him, I was blown away by the fact that he could speak Chinese. CHINESE. I mean, I can barely piece together sentences in FRENCH, and that’s after having taken it for EIGHT YEARS*.

And when I learned that he'd not just visited China but actually lived and worked there, simply because he thought it would be interesting, I was floored.

Yep. Definitely someday.

*Je m'appelle Kristy. Le chat est sur la chaise. Je n'aime pas les maths. Ouvrez la fenetre!

* * * * * *

"I think it's unbelievably brave what you're doing. Telling your divorce story on your blog," he said.

"Oh yeah? Well I think it's incredibly brave that you up and MOVED TO CHINA. So there."

“Hmm. I guess I could blog about that sometime, huh?”

Yes. Yes, you could.



Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Thanks For Looking Out For Me

I don’t mind telling you that I did, finally, get a new cell phone. And after tremendous research, consultations, and due consideration, I finally selected this phone because it had the super technical feature of being pink. And if you don’t think that’s a good reason to choose a phone and you want to actually get VERY technical, I will tell you that this model was in fact MORE PINK than the other models. Because I’m no fool.

Anyway, at the time of this purchase, I re-upped my cell phone plan with Sprint. It’s not that I especially like Sprint or anything, but you know, they gave me a pretty reasonable plan five years ago, and so I just sort of kept it. The only thing I don’t like about my plan is that it comes with a spending limit (regardless of when my bill is actually due), that I am not allowed to exceed. And while I pretty much haven’t exceed the limit EVER IN FIVE YEARS, any time I come near it, I start getting automated messages letting me know.

Originally, an automated voice would call me about three times a day to let me know my spending limit was near. But when I got my new phone with such new-fangled features as TEXT MESSAGING (hello, 2003!), I was happy to learn that I would no longer get annoying phone calls about my limit. Instead, I would just get annoying texts.

I received the first such message this morning. And while it is less annoying than an actual phone call, I find it utterly bewildering. It read:

To make a payment and avoid exceeding your spending limit, please call 866-378-1477. For your convenience we delayed delivery of this message.

Awesome. Maybe now my Outlook calendar will start sending me reminders for meetings I don't need to attend that took place last week. Would be about as convenient.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Sometimes I Rant

Dear Stupid American* Tourists In San Francisco,

Summer’s right around the corner, so I know that we’ll be seeing each other real soon. And you know, I’ve been good over the last few years, I haven’t complained about you (too much), I’ve let you go about your business. So this year I thought I might make a few requests. You certainly don’t have to oblige me, but at least hear me out.

Firstly, San Franciscans aren’t really big on tourists. Loud, arrogant Americans who have no desire to learn about local history or customs are about as welcome in SF as they are in Paris. I know we’re part of the same country and all, but we’re also kind of...artsy. And liberal. And sometimes progressive. And I know this may be hard to believe, but we’re not actually embarrassed about this. So even if these traits are laughable in your neck of the woods, they’re the heart and soul of this city. You might want to wait till you’re home to insult us. No, that protest isn’t a joke. Please stop pointing at the gay couple holding hands.

Now. I might recommend you look at a map before you get here. No, no. Not of San Francisco, of the United States. Okay? See there, how California is really big? Where the part towards the bottom – we call that Southern California – touches Mexico? And how Mexico is kind of warm? And how like, when you think of California you think of LA and Hollywood and Beverly Hills? But see how those parts are also near the bottom? And then how San Francisco is not? And also, if you look closer at the state, you see how SF is located on a bay? On the Pacific (brrrrrr) Ocean? Okay, remember that. Now, look at some weather reports. Any light bulbs yet? A ha! Yes! There it is! San Francisco is located in NORTHERN California! You WILL have to bring long-sleeved shirts and pants! It may be July, but that fog is going to roll in and you will want your coat and scarf. Yes, scarf. In July.

Don’t buy new shoes for the trip. Those hills you see in all those movies and pictures? They’re not pretend. “Uphill both ways” is entirely possible around here, and just walking a couple blocks can take some serious effort. Your unbroken-in (glaringly) white sneakers are going to give you blisters.

Don’t wear a fanny pack. Ever. Think of your children.

And speaking of children. Look. San Francisco is a “big city.” That means there are lots of “big city” things here, like homelessness and people who swear on the street and service people who don’t speak English in addition to those gays you were pointing at. If you want to protect your children from seeing these sorts of “unsavory” city things, I recommend you vacation elsewhere. Like your backyard.

The cable car is totally fun, but it is a little dangerous. If you lean too far out, you can get hit by things that you pass by. You will note that there is no guard rail. Not even an invisible one. So if it looks like your leg is going to hit that pole unless you pull it back inside the car, you’re probably right. And then if you don't pull your leg back in and it gets all banged up, do you know whose fault will that be? No, not the fault of the cable car, the cable car drivers, or all of San Francisco. It will be YOUR fault for being too stupid to understand laws of motion in the absence of a seatbelt. Double true for falling off the cable car entirely.

Lastly, and MOST IMPORTANTLY: Do NOT go around bitching about how San Francisco isn’t really that great if the ONLY place you go is from Union Square to Fisherman’s Wharf and back again, the ONLY food you eat is from chain restaurants, and the ONLY shops you visit are stores you already have in your own damn mall. Unless you’re drunk and have a tremendous sense of irony, there are about a million billion things to do here that are cooler** than going on a Segway tour at Ghirardelli Square.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting


*Immediate caveat: I don’t think that most tourists, most Americans, or most American tourists are stupid. But I have been insulted directly and indirectly by enough visitors that I am writing this for them. Not you.

**Like going to a wine festival at Ghirardelli Square, where your friend will have the opportunity to take this picture.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Sex. (Because You Asked.)

Well, hmmmm.

You know, I DO have a lot of thoughts on the subject of sex and sexuality and my experiences and all that sort of thing. (Uh, who doesn't?)

But I sort of feel that writing about sex is like writing about religion and politics. It's a sensitive subject, one that's inherently entwined with our own senses of self, of morality, of what we consider ethical, etc. Thus, I know that to write about these things (sex, morality, religion, politics) in a raw or completely honest way is to wittingly open a can of worms.

And I don't really want to open any worm-cans.

NOT because I don't have opinions, or because I'm afraid of judgment from my IIFs. But because, quite frankly, this is a public blog under my name. My family reads my blog. My coworkers read my blog. Potential employers read my blog (whoops on me, but still).

So while I'm not exactly apologetic for anything I've done, or for my well established liberal beliefs, or for my agnostic-leaning athieism, or for about a million other "sinful" things, I'm also not COMPLETELY STUPID.

For one thing, I'd like to avoid being Dooced. And let's just say, given my employer, this is not a minor concern.

And for another, even if some day I am living as a self-employed writer and don't have to worry about being fired and I'm blah blah blah living the dream, I am still not sure I'll be gung-ho to detail my sexual preferences for my fam. Because seriously. Ew.



Friday, May 19, 2006

The Vault: Journal Entries

I wanted to wait until I was done telling the basics of the story from now -- from five years later -- before hauling out my journals from that time.

These excerpts are unedited (except for anything in [brackets]).


* * * * * *
April 12, 2001:

It's nearly impossible to begin.

I'm 25 and have the life of a 35-year-old. What's missing is all the stuff that's supposed to bring a person to that point. The point of being 35 and happily settled. I was working from a really big assumption. First, I assumed that "settling down" wasn't a term that applied to me. Settle? I'd always been settled. A little boy crazy at times, but settled. Serious. Mature for my age. What was I giving up?

I still have no answer -- at least, not one I like. What have I given up? Other men? What's that mean? Independence? To do what? My work life is MORE independent because I have Dave to depend on.

Is this as pathetic as a grass-is-always-greener situation?

Looking at this piece by piece is going to take some time. Is it the lifestyle? The man? Both? Neither? I know what it feels like. It feels as though the man made the lifestyle possible, and that the lifestyle is undesirable, and naturally so is the man who brought it on.

So about that, then.

Before I even get into the sex thing...

Dave is happy. Here, now, like this. He's happy. I start screaming for change so okay -- he can be happy with change. I realize all this means is that he loves me -- he's happy with me. Wherever, however. What does it say that I can't be the same way?

Am I in love with my husband?

Let's think about sex. Kissing. I miss kissing. Really good, hard, long kissing. We don't. We actually never did. A little we did, in the beginning -- but I think about our first kiss and how awful it was. Can I go the rest of my life with only him to kiss? Geez, when I think about it like that, the answer is a decided no.

But there's more to life, love, and happiness than kissing, right? Right?

Um, sure there is.

As for the rest of the physical stuff...it's fine. No bells or whistles. It's fine. I don't care about all the other stuff, actually, as much as I do about the kissing.

When I'm thinking of us as ending, I think of some very specific things. That we don't kiss. That he doesn't really take me, orthat even now, with all this, he insists on getting permission first. That it never just "happens" out of passion. It's a task. That he doesn't/can't dance. That in the end, he'd opt for spending a month in [WDW] than in Europe.

When I'm thinking of the next me -- the best, most incredible version of myself...I see a lot of things.

I realize my ramblings are all over theplace, but so're my thoughts -- emotions -- reasons.

Ok, so me... [what i want my life to look like, the next version of myself:]

I'm finally over my high school days andpeople. They are over and don't matter anymore.

I've been all over. I've made love in the most romantic places on the planet. I've stayed up all night dancing. I've eaten in cafes that are as romantic as they come. Bath, London, Paris, Rome, Venice, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Prague. I've lived in California and New York City. I've been shown the world.

Is there anyway to get from here to there? Yes. Can I do it? Well, that's what I'm here to find out.

My whole life's been about a very small circle, with very limited room for growth or change. The goal was outlined years ago, and I cutout all the extraneous crap to get there. College in the traditional sense? Woulda been nice, but didn't affect the foreseen outcome. Marry too young? How? Didn't do anything but make the outcome arrive faster.

It never, ever occurred to me that I am the outcome. Not my house or job, not my husband. Not my marital status, period. Not even my family, or their situation. My life is about me, and I htink I missed that somewhere amid the plight to find ultimate safety.

Safety above all else. And now I'm safe. And I feel dead. No, wait -- I don't feel dead, I felt asleep. Now I'm awake. I can see what I've been doing and what I haven't.

This -- Fairfield County -- is not enough. I think back to my beginnings -- back when I was thought of as a genius kid. When I wasn't afraid of doing anything, or of failing. Was this how I pictured the end? Okay, if not the end, then at least the lifestyle I wanted? Because for all my inner spirit, it comes down to me being 25, in a nearly sexless marriage, fat, bored, resigned to staying in most evenings, convinced that there are no people outside our close family/friends circle worth meeting, turning to the only outlets I can for channeling what's really inside me -- some writing, some online chats, painting the house, buying furniture.

When, in this picture, I've tried ofthought about losing weight, the answer isalways -- why? So that what? I'll look good the three times a year I go out? Is the beach really that much fun? What's the point?

I'm so tired of resigning myself to this version. No more. No more!

And Dave? Dave is the perfect guy forthe woman I thought I was. But I fear he's all wrong for the woman I want to be. How will I know? I already do know. That's not even a real question. The question is...will I do it? Will I leave all that I've known behind? Will I go after becoming better? Or after whatever that even means?

If I do, if I go, if I leave all my everything in search of all else...can he come?

Of course not.


It's fascinating to me to read this now. You'd think that, given this line of thinking, I'd have been happy when Dave decided to go. But as I said before, fantasy and reality are two very different things. I never had it in me to leave Dave.

Excerpt from April 23, 2001:

Dave is so perfect and wonderful. He knows me so well. He treats me like a princess. He adores me unconditionally. And my problem would be? Why would any man appeal to me? Why would Davenot be enough? I don't know. What am I looking for?

Sometimes I wonder if I'm dwellingon the man thing because it distracts me from all the other stuff I should maybe be working on.

Mostly I feel like I just want to be free. Free from everything, and then maybe I can be free from fear. Like, okay, I claim there are all of these things I want to do. But I'm not going to do them if things don't change. I won't do them so long as I'm held back by all the things I've surrounded myself with for protection. Maybe that's what all this comes down to. With a house, it's all about safety.


April 24, 2001. Apparently after having read Bridget Jones's Diary for the first time:

Tonight, sans present, we go to Dave's parents' house for Kathie's birthday. Will not be fun. Will talk much about house-selling, Dave's job, Mark's job, and possibly what we'll do in Denver. Will be cake -- will not eat it. Or much, anyway. Will def. drink wine before we go...


It's kind of funny. I know in hindsight how scared I was then about Mom, but I wouldn't let myself talk about it.

June 18, 2001, in smaller handwriting:

This isn't want I want to be writing or where. I haven't written anything since being in Boston. Nothing about how horrible the last month has been. Nothing about going back and forth, or of crying all the time. Of mom not getting better, of her having cancer. Of the doctors' talking to us. Of finding out. Of falling apart. Of there being no hope save for that of my family...some of them...all of them but me. I don't think there's hope, not in that sense. What I hope is gloomier, sadder, meaner even. I hope this won't get worse. I hope she doesn't get sicker. I hope she never feels too much pain. I hope she can go outside. I hope she never ever has to fully feel what's going on. I hope the rest is peaceful.


And the next entry was from July 7. After Dave left.

Nothing stops the pain. If I take pause to let the thoughts come I hurt so much I could scream. Sometimes I do. The tears are already there, poised, ready for action on a moment's notice. My heart is heavy and I know what that means now.

"Go," she said. "Spread your wings and fly." Just yesterday [Hakuna] said that.

I'm aching.

The problem, the blackness I can't escape, the big secret is that I did this. I could've been better. I could've been truer, happier, freer. I was spoiled and rotten. I complained. All the time. I hurt him. All the time. I did this. It's all my fault.

There were -- we had-- problems, true enough. But I know the real truth, the whole truth that he probably doesn't even know.

The truth that if I had been better, he wouldn't have gone. It wasn't really about the words I was saying (though it works out nicely that way) it was that they were ever said. I should've shut up.

Maybe if I'd had gotten a therapist a long time ago...

I've never made a mistake in my life that wasn't fixable. But this I broke. And it doesn't get unbroken.

In what I think of as my better moments, I look hard at this and think my spoiled-girl whining was about choosing between something more "glamorous" and my heart's greatest comfort. The version of myself I wanted to be true -- the version I'd no way to become -- and the version I was already.

Would I leave? Would I have left?

I don't know. I say no, but I suppose it's possible. Maybe I did want to. But I want a lot of things.

It was very easy to see greener grass. There, in the great distance. I would be with a guy like Marcus and in love, with the world -- the WORLD -- as my oyster. Of course that makes the life I had seem less than everything wonderful. But...do you? Do you, in the end, leave? Do you leave everything and go in search of something completely different? If you do, don't you get your heart broken at least twice? I don't think you go. I think you think, and work, and love, and stay.

Yes, I do think so.


And then after all the crap...

September 26, 2001:

Moving day, the first.

Today I leave Fairfield. I'm here at Einstein Bagels enjoying my breakfast. I just mailed off the rest of my stuff -- my lamp and computer. All I've left to do is pack my car, dump the kitty litter, and do a sweep-mop-vacuum through. After that, I'll be on my merry way.

I thought today would be sad. Of course, in some ways it is. Mom's not sharing it with me. Dad's too preoccupied to be more concerned or involved. I'm by myself save for (tremendous) phone support and the cats.

But I surprised myself. I woke up feeling excited, happy. I opened my eyes and couldn't fall back asleep. Like the going on vacation feeling, or Christmas.

I must know this is good. It's what I should have been doing all along. I leave today,and I am free. Free from domesticity, from Fairfield County, from marriage, from all the ties that suffocate.

Today I start the journey.

Today really is the first day of the rest of my life.

Hurrah!


Yes. Hurrah.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Postscript

The drive across country was absolutely fantastic. I have lots of great memories of that trip, but my favorite image would have to be driving through the Arizona desert with the car top down, ElG sporting an American Flag bandana around his head, with both of us car-dancing to a blaring “I Will Survive.”

* * * * * *

My divorce was final on November 7. There were no fireworks. There was nothing, really. I got paperwork in the mail a few days later.

* * * * * *

I stopped hearing from Marcus sometime in August, I believe. Just stopped. I figured he’d met someone on his travels, which he had. We eventually resumed communicating, but it was not like it had been. I was in the middle of uprooting my entire existence when we’d “met” and he wanted or needed or treated it as something much lighter. I understand that, but it sucked at the time.

The first time I’d meet him would be the day before Thanksgiving, at a nice restaurant downtown. It was weird and uncomfortable. I told him he’d broken my heart at a time when I didn’t have heartbreaking to spare. He apologized, but he had no way of knowing what all I’d been going through.

Nothing ever came of it. He went on with his life; traveling, moving overseas, taking more and more important jobs. Me, here in SF, finding my way.

We email occasionally. Sometimes, he reads this blog. He still makes me laugh.

* * * * * *

ElG and I dated for three years. It was an open relationship the whole time, in part because I didn’t want to rush into anything too serious right away, and in part...

We were always great friends. We never should have dated.

There were lots of things about us that never meshed. We were good complements most of the time, but the rest of the time we just exhausted each other.

After three years – three years of changes and moves and jobs and new friends and new lovers and a million new experiences – we got to That Critical Point in our relationship. Something had to be done. We loved each other completely, and needed to make a decision about the rest of our lives.

We got engaged. That, we felt, would settle everything. And it did, just not the way we’d expected.

Because as these things go, the engagement did not make everything clearer and better; it made everything heavier and more tiring.

About four months later, calmly and rationally and tearfully, we agreed to just love each other as friends. We were both relieved.

Plus four cats is just too many.

* * * * * *

My mother was never well enough to receive chemo. She lived another year anyway.

* * * * * *

In the few months after I moved to San Francisco, Dave would email me a few times, strictly about business (tax filings, car registration, etc.) or to ask if the cats were okay. Not me or my family or my mother, but the cats.

And then he stopped emailing me altogether.

My youngest sister, Samantha (who I have left out of this story almost entirely but who was probably impacted more by our parents’ illnesses than anyone), confronted David. She would call him periodically, reminding him of promises he made to her after he left me.

She went to see his place once. The townhouse he’d bought.

She said it looked exactly like our house. He had a lot of our furniture, and had acquired new things that looked the same. He even had dried flowers (something I had been big into for a while) around the place.

It made me feel better, hearing this. It was evident he’d wanted nothing more than the life we’d had.

Sam also told me she saw a picture of his new girlfriend in his apartment. She told me, “She’s not as pretty as you. And she’s not thin.”

Ha.

Only once, 14 months after our last conversation, did I get drunk and look up his number and call him. I left a message saying that Healy and Brian were getting married the next day.

* * * * * *

I said a long time ago that I behaved badly but that I thought that, in the end, David behaved worse. And no, maybe it doesn’t matter now. But here is what I find – of all things, of all arguments – most unforgivable.

David never visited my mother. He never called her. He never said goodbye. He and I had lived in their house, under their roof, for over a year. He had been married to her daughter. He had been her son-in-law.

And when she died – it had been almost a year since I’d seen or spoken to him – he sent a paltry fruit basket with a card that read:


To John and Family,

Sorry for your loss.

David _____


* * * * * *

When Healy’s best friend was getting married, her engagement announcement appeared in the paper of our hometown. Directly above David’s wedding announcement.

Which is how I learned that Dave married the girl he started dating the week he left me.

Months later, on a whim, I went to The Knot to see if they’d posted anything about their wedding online. They had.

His wife described how he had proposed, and it was apparent (mostly by her wanton use of exclamation points) that she could not have been more thrilled.

I feel some closure in that.

* * * * * *

Many of you have asked if David reads this blog, and I can only assume the answer is no. It is my belief that he moved on as quickly as humanly possible, and exists now as though our whole life together never happened.

I don’t know where he lives or what he does or if he’s still married or if he has kids.

I don’t actually care that much, either. Except I sometimes wonder if he ever feels ashamed.

* * * * * *

My first apartment in San Francisco was expensive for someone only working part-time, but I didn’t care. It was mine, if only for a year, and I loved it. I loved everything about it.

I loved that I lived in an apartment. I loved the city sounds. I loved overlooking the street. I loved having an old elevator that was broken every other week. I loved having a garbage chute. I loved buying furniture for a single girl.

I know how much ya’ll love my Cheetah Print chair.

I was moved into my apartment by mid-November, with enough furniture that I could actually sleep there. My cats arrived stunned but thrilled to see their mommy.

And nothing was better than “unpacking.” Nate and ElG and I rescued my boxes from Nate's poor, overrun apartment (“Oh, wow! I had no idea I’d sent so many…”) and it was like Christmas opening them.

Oh, hey! Salt shakers! A cookbook! A...light bulb? What? How did underwear...?

* * * * * *

I would eventually do all the things I’d moved to San Francisco to try.

I mean, less than a week after I arrived in the city, I would attend Halloween in the Castro where I’d be kissed by a girl I thought was hitting on ElG. I am pretty sure that Halloween in the Castro is the opposite of Halloween in Fairfield, CT as Mrs. _____ with the nine-year-olds.

But on a grander scale, I would change my whole life. I would have different jobs and would, eventually, re-launch my career. I would take classes. I would try new cuisines and learn to love Indian food and vegetarian chili. I would live in a beautiful loft and throw awesome parties for dozens of people. I would know dozens of people! I would make friends I thought I’d never be able to make as an adult. I would start singing again, and even start an a cappella group.

I would date and find love and lose love and learn that relationships do not have to always be so black and white but that life is made up of our relationships and almost nothing else.

Oh, and I would finally, finally start writing.

* * * * * *

Four years after I would arrive in San Francisco, I would find myself getting ready for my umpteenth first date of the summer.

I would tidy up my fourth apartment in as many years and feed my seven-year-old cats. I would select an outfit as flattering as possible, given my Just-Walking-Around-With-It status, slap on some lipstick, and hope for the best.

I would walk past the cable car – ding! ding! – and head to a tavern in my neighborhood.

There, I would meet a funny man with a bruised smile.

He would apologize for his demeanor. He would humbly say that he’s a bit broken, and not great date material, because, see, he had only just moved to San Francisco from New York. That he was newly separated. That it was painful and complicated. Agonizing.

He would ask if I knew what that felt like.

I would want, immediately and without hesitation to throw myself across the table and hug him, to say I know, Oh God, I know and it will be awful but it will get better. I swear, I promise, there is light here in this city. There is hope and love in this city. There is something mystical about being here, and you will fix what you need to – even if it’s just yourself – and you will heal and find your way. That is what people come here to do. That is what I came here to do. That is what I did.

But I would not say any of that.

Instead, I would just say, “Yes. I know what that feels like,” and I would take another sip of my cocktail and I would smile a little.

“Maybe someday I will tell you about it.”






The One About My Divorce

so no, the WHOLE story is not done. these 'chapters' were intended to be just about my divorce. one chunk of my life. the entries were as concise as i could possibly make them. (if i were ever going to make this into something book-like, there'd be a lot more to say, and a LOT of editing to be done...)

so in the short-term, i am adding a postscript, to tie up some loose ends (and hopefully satisfy some curiosities).

but the whole rest of the story, well, it's kind of a lot. i want to write about it, but i'm not sure if chapter-by-chapter is the way to go. a LOT has happened in the last five years, you know?

plus, i miss writing about lighter stuff. maybe i can figure out a way to do both?

anyway, postscript coming soon...

Ever After

Pt. XXV

My life in those first couple weeks after I left the house was as crazy and as surreal as everything that had led up to them.

I picked Saturday, October 13 as the date I would leave for San Francisco. I had decided not to fly but to drive across country, and we'd worked it so that ElG would come with me. He would go visit his family in the Midwest, and I'd pick him up and we'd take a week to drive from Indiana to San Francisco.

Between when I left Connecticut (Sept. 25) and October 13, I stayed in Boston, New Hampshire, and New York. I dropped my cats off at my parents' house and Healy would ship them to me as soon as I had a place for her to ship them to.

(Oh, yes, that would be expensive, but I would have my Hush Money check by then.)

* * * * * *

At one point while I was in Boston, David called me to tell me I had fucked up royally. I had been in charge of canceling all our services and closing out all our bills. (Right, because NOW it was my turn to pay all the bills. Another form of punishment, I'm sure.) I was unintentionally and unknowingly less than thorough, in part because I didn't have all the information I needed. And the only way I could get the information was to get it out of David, who was clearly at pains to have any sort of conversation with me, ever, at all. As such, I had totally let a bill go that I didn't even know we had. In turn, they – the landscaping company, it was – had put a LEIN on the house. We had to delay our closing by an entire day because of it, and almost didn't close at all.

You can imagine how pleased David was to call me about that.

But a day later, when the closing had gone through, he called me to let me know. And to say I could pick up The Check at his dad's law firm in Connecticut. I asked him if he would be there, or if we could have some sort of good-bye lunch. He said no. I asked him if we could at least have some sort of official good-bye conversation or something. He said no. He actually said, "It's not like this is the last time we'll talk."

Of course, it was.

* * * * * *

I picked up the check at David's father's law firm in Connecticut on the way to New York for Emily and Nick's wedding. I drove the check from the law firm directly to the bank and shook the whole way there.

After the money was deposited, I would live in a constant state of irrational paranoia, convinced that at any minute, I would check my bank statement and all the money would be gone.

* * * * * *

The wedding was perfect. Not in a cookie-cutter perfect way, but in a real, true, this-is-why-we-survive-the-bad kind of joyously perfect way.

* * * * * *

I spent the next week at Healy and Brian's, tying up the occasional loose end. I bought myself my first digital camera. I settled things with work, saying I'd be MIA for the next week and a half. I made cross-country CD mixes.

ElG and I picked hotels and made reservations and plotted our course. We thought we'd take Route 66 as much as possible. And see Vegas.

* * * * * *

On the morning of October 13, I awoke very early, hungover and with a cold. But it didn't matter. I cried a little as Healy hugged me goodbye, but not too much. (I simply couldn't let myself acknowledge how much I'd miss my family, or I probably never would have had the strength to go.)

I drove to the Dunkin' Donuts and filled up my car with gas.

And then, with my CD changer full of music, my mug full of coffee, my tank full of gas, my bank account full of funds, and my heart broken but full of hope, I left.

I was finally on my way to the other side.

It was going to be amazing.

* * * * * *

The End

Monday, May 15, 2006

Packing It In

Pt. XXIV

Packing was a little bit hysterical.

I wanted the whole thing to be over. I wanted to leave and never look back. I wanted to be brave and amazing like a movie heroine.

Except mostly it was all I could do to tape a box together.

I would tape a box, maybe a few at a time, and then wander around the house trying to figure out what I would take with me. I would walk over to the wall and see a thing hanging on the door. I would look at it. I would take it down. And if I could not determine if I wanted to keep it or if I wanted to give it to my sisters or if I wanted Dave to take it or if it should just go into the dumpster, I would "put it down" so that I could determine what to do with it "later."

You know what isn't considered "packing"? Putting things from over there into a pile over here. Yeah, no.

And the clock was ticking.

But seriously. Determining what I would do with each item in the home required more mental and emotional fortitude than I could rightfully summon, and without anyone there to help me (“Kiki? Don’t you think these kitchen items should be packed with the other kitchen items, maybe?”), the process was a bit dramatic and the results were rather haphazard.

Example Of Girl Who Should Not Be Allowed To Pack:

Kiki is standing in the middle of her kitchen with an empty box. She spies one of the 12,643 objects she will need to make a decision about. She considers.
Oh, look. [sniffle] It's the blue oven mitt. Remember when we got the blue oven mitt at that store the day before New Year's because we realized we didn't own one but needed to cook? And that lady at the store said I didn't look old enough to be married? And then we did cook with it? Well, I mean, I did. I cooked with it. [sigh] But I guess not enough, huh? Probably you wanted someone who would cook more than I did. Like…what about that girl, that girl whatsherface who you're already dating? Does she cook? Oh probably. I'll bet she cooks all the fucking time. I'll bet she's just giddy happy to have a man to cook for, right? And that is just great for you both. Great. Terrific. You deserve each other. No, I mean that. You go be happy with your new girlfriend and her love of kitchen utensils and I? Me over here? I’ll be living it up in an apartment in a REAL CITY where I can just get TAKE OUT ANYTIME I WANT and I will be COOL and that is WAY MORE AWESOME than suburbia-coated oven mitts! Who needs that? Who? Not me! No! Who needs to cook for a man who turns around and laughs at you in that awful voice when you're crying? AWFUL VOICE! Oh, yeah, I said it. Did I ever tell you that, dipshit? That I HATED your voice? Well I did. So you can take your horrible laugh and stupid voice right on over to some other Home Depot-ed, in-law-ridden prison and cook up a fucking STORM with your domestic-positive girlfriend and while you're at it, HERE'S AN OVEN MITT YOU CAN USE, ASSHOLE.

Right. Now, repeat that example 12,642 more times, with some slight variations.

* * * * * *

I threw a lot away. I also made a lot of piles for my sisters to come and take: there were lots of lovely items that I wanted to keep in the family but didn’t want to adorn my apartment with right away, either for issues of sentimentality (the artwork we received as wedding presents) or issues of practicality (the Christmas dinnerware will get more use here on the East Coast…).

And the rest?

I just wandered aimlessly through my house with open boxes. Here, I’ll take this vase. Oh, and that pillow. And this spoon, I always liked this spoon. And that lampshade. And the candleholders I painted that time with Mom in New Hampshire at the paint your own pottery place. How’d that napkin get in this closet? Better take it.

Eventually I ended up with about two dozen boxes packed to the gills with I-had-no-idea-what, in absolutely no order or with any reason whatsoever. And I shipped them to my dear Cousin Nate (who had no idea what he was getting himself into when he agreed to allow me to send him “some stuff”) in Palo Alto that I would pick up when I got to the other side.

* * * * * *

David and I would coordinate times for me to be gone from the house. I would go do things (like what?) and while I was gone, David would come to the house with his family and they would take furniture away and break stuff down and make their own additions to the dumpster.

Day by day, we whittled the house down to empty.

I sent stuff to New Hampshire and I shipped stuff to California and I packed up the stuff I’d need in transit that would stay in bags and suitcases in my car.

By the time I got to the last night I'd spend in the house, the only pieces of furniture left were cleaning products, the cat carriers, and my cell phone charger. I slept on the floor in the bedroom because it was carpeted.

* * * * * *

Completely unexpectedly, the morning I was to leave – first stop, Boston – I awoke with a feeling of joy. I was…I was actually excited. I couldn’t help but be reminded of waking up as a little girl on the morning my family and Em’s would be leaving for DisneyWorld.

I had butterflies in my stomach and a belief that really good things were waiting for me. They just had to be.

I packed up my car with my suitcases and my cats.

I took a long last look at my picture-perfect white house on — ferchrissakes — Primrose Lane. And I drove away.

You know? I never did look back.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The First To Go

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The Dumpster

Pt. XXIII


I remember now.

Once the house was going and I was going, the stage was set. The whole, awful summer had been leading up to these last few weeks which wrought swift, painful change.

And those things that changed? They stayed changed.

Which is why, I think, I still remember them. Does that make sense?

* * * * * *

I was finally able to forge a plan. It would change, but I had to start somewhere.

First, there were the basic logistics of moving. I decided I would fly to San Francisco the weekend following Em and Nick's wedding. Between the time of the house closing and the wedding (about a week), I would stay with Healy and Brian in Boston. I would pay to have my car shipped to me.

Then there were the financial logistics. David and I had agreed we would split our assets right down the middle, and that decision remained. We never really discussed it, but I suspected it would have been pretty easy (legally) for him to have left and taken all the money. That fear kept me in line. It was extra incentive for me to try and never upset him – the fear that all of a sudden I'd say the wrong thing and he would say, "That's it! You've annoyed me for the last time. I'm leaving, and I'm taking everything."

I wouldn't be surprised if these days he regrets having given me anything. Then again, maybe not. If I'm being perfectly honest, he was basically paying me off, like we were in a bad movie and I'd committed a crime and had to escape underground.

Here. Here is your check. I will give it to you under one condition: that you take it and move away and live as though this whole thing never happened. Got it? I have given you more than enough to start over, so I have nothing to feel guilty about. In fact, I'm being more than generous. So go on, go.

Like hush money. More or less.

[After I'd move to San Francisco, I'd have nightmares and panic attacks that I would somehow, months and miles away, piss Dave off and that he would come find me and take it all back.]
The logistics of the "stuff" was a little more complicated. I would later regret my decision, but in the fog of "just make this whole nightmare end" I said I wouldn't, couldn't take anything with me. David would get all the furniture to do with as he pleased. I could have any of the "knickknacks" – wall hangings, candle holders, cooking utensils, etc. – so long as I could figure out how to get them to California.

But all the beautiful furniture I'd purchased, or been given, or found and spent days painting, I gave up. I didn't have the emotional energy to deal with it. I just let it go.

I have no idea where any of it ended up.

Finally, there were the cat logistics. I couldn't figure out how I would get them to San Francisco. I mean, I could take them with me on the plane, but um…and then where would they go? From the time I left the house in Connecticut until I found my own apartment (and, uh, furniture), I was going to be living out of a suitcase. How do you do that with cats? I suggested, of course, that David, Mr. I-Just-Want-To-Be-Domesticated,-You-Are-The-One-Who-Changed should keep them. But he said no.

We compromised and agreed to each take one. And while I still had no idea how I would manage even one cat throughout my move, I figured it would be easier than managing two.

* * * * * *

On the morning of September 11, I drove into the office to settle a few things before permanently moving to the West Coast. On my way in, insipid DJs interrupted some insipid song to say there were unconfirmed reports that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. The DJs speculated that it was probably a small, personal jet and that some pilot had just lost his way (or mind). You know. Crazy New York.

By the time I arrived at the office, the DJs were talking to some man on his cell phone who was trapped in one of the offices above where the plane had hit. He couldn't get into the stairwell. How someone could be trapped after so minor an incident didn't make sense to me, or the DJs, or the man stuck in the office. What was going on?

I got out of the car and into the office where clusters of people had gathered. The news my officemates were getting was more reliable than the news I had heard. I hadn't changed my radio station to something more newsy because, really, I had no way of knowing it was such a big deal. But then the reports were so...

Hearing the "news" in real time, in convoluted dribs and drabs, was painful and shocking and unbelievable and unreliable. Our tiny little office had no idea what was going on, but who did? Everyone was rushing to different websites and radio stations, trying to get the most accurate account as it – slowly – became apparent that this was not a small event at all.

What are they saying now? People are stuck? How can – oh? Not a small jet? An airliner? What do you mean a second plane? There is? There was? It hit? There's footage? Cameras? People are jumping? This was…deliberate? Are you kidding? Headed toward the capital? There could be dozens more?

I called ElG who was still sleeping and said that he'd better get himself to a TV.

And then, what? What was there to do? What did any of us do?

I stayed in the office for a little while, feeling something akin to bewilderment. History was being made, and more and more I realized that nothing in the world – ha, let alone my life – was ever going to be the same. Everything had stopped making sense altogether.

I decided to drive myself home, back to my own personal war zone. I couldn't help but think of it that way.

In my rear-view mirror, far in the distance in the direction of New York, I could make out a cloud of black smoke billowing in the sky.

* * * * * *

At home, the dumpster had arrived. Left to my own devices, I knew I would be getting rid of as much as I could: expunging my life of excess; throwing away memories I had no reason to hang on to.

But how do you start?

I wandered around my house, picking things up and putting them down again. I would need to get boxes. I would need packing tape. Every single thing would have to go somewhere.

So daunting.

I would hold an object in my hand and without meaning to I would know where it had come from and when we’d acquired it and how I’d decided to put it on that table in this room instead of this table in that room. I had loved it all, in part. At least, I had loved the promise.

Had it really been all for...nothing?

* * * * * *

I am pretty sure it was September 12 that David came over to go through the CDs and DVDs with me. They were our only belongings that didn’t have a clear owner.

We were fairly methodical about it. There were only a few, including the Princess Bride, that we’d both wanted but I knew better than to argue for something as silly as a DVD.

No, I am pretty sure it wasn’t about the DVDs.

I am pretty sure it wasn’t about September 11, either, though I remember being surprised at how unmoved he seemed to be by it. I brought it up and he was dismissive. He didn’t get what the big deal was. He was slightly perturbed that I had called to reconnect our cable so that I could watch the events like the rest of the known world.

I don’t even think it was about the cats.

He announced that day that he had “found a home for Sherlock.” I was stunned.

“What do you mean, you found a home for him? I thought you were taking him. The whole point was that we’ve had them for three-plus years and we can’t just give them to someone else now.”

And do you know how he replied?

“You don’t get a say in what I do with Sherlock. He is my cat now, so I can do whatever I want with him. And I am giving him away.”

Divorce logic in action.

”Fine, I will take him. I am not letting our cats go to someone else.” I was horrified.

“Fine.”

And then…I guess I really don’t know what it was. But it was. Something escalated quickly and suddenly everything, everything came out. Oh god, everything.

(My heart is racing right now as I write this...)

We were arguing furiously and it was awful. I was begging him not to leave. Please don't go. I was begging him not to have this be the end. Please, please David. Please don't go. I was begging him to keep me, or keep some part of us alive. Any part. I would do anything. Please don't go.

I could barely move, barely breathe. I was shaking and crying, allowing myself for the first time to feel the truth.

And he? He was saying awful, horrible, spiteful things. He was alternately screaming at me and smirking at me. God, that was the worst thing. He made fun of me. He laughed at me. He mocked my pain and told me I deserved to feel as badly as I did. He shrugged off my behavior as being “dramatic” and said I was only behaving this way out of “fear” and that it wasn’t real.

I literally fell to the floor. I was at the top of the kitchen stairs that led to the basement and driveway where he’d parked. He was on his way out. I was a pool, and he was standing at the bottom of the stairs, looking up at me with disgust.

I begged him again, again not to go.

He just made fun of my crying, actually mock-crying at me before storming out of the basement door and slamming it at me.

Hours later, after I’d peeled myself from the floor and stopped shaking, he called me to apologize. He had behaved so badly that even he was ashamed. But it didn’t matter. It will never change my memory of that day, or of David.

Especially because that was the last time I would ever see him.

* * * * * *

Later that evening, still faced with the ridiculous task of packing the house, I did the only thing I could think of to do.

It was over. I was leaving, and the sooner the better. I was done. The sadness of leaving would forever be shadowed by the horror of our ending. Just like that.

So I wandered around our house until I saw it. Yes. That will do nicely. I grabbed it, and I marched to the front of the house, threw the door open, bounded down the stairs and threw that damn thing with all my might.

My beautifully framed wedding picture was the first thing I tossed into the dumpster.

It shattered.

Remember That Time I Fell?

Pt. XXI 1/2

just a quick note to say that -- in case you hadn't noticed -- the story i'm telling is a rather concise version. i have intentionally and unintentionally left a whole bunch of details out.

one such "detail" i forgot about was the trip i took to boston a few days before ElG came to visit me. i'm not sure why i was there -- did i stop in on the way to new hampshire? -- but i was staying with healy and brian. and, well, for those of you who might remember*, it was THAT trip where i oh-so-breezily swung myself down the stairs and um...


i still have the scar.

oh yes, yes i do.


*and for those of you who never got the chance to see my self-dubbed "infamous" ass picture the first time around

Thursday, May 11, 2006

September: The Ugly

Pt. XXII

So that earthquake I'd been expecting? Yeah.

* * * * * *

ElG came to the east coast to meet me. He was with me over Labor Day weekend, and it was weird and cool and nice and good. We'd spent so many hours on the phone that we knew we would get along and, well, we did. It was nice to have company, to not be alone in the house for a few days.

We spent a lot of time talking and I showed him around the land where I'd grown up (including a day trip to NYC). I think it was readily apparent to him why I'd loved my surroundings enough to stay as long as I had. And why I was ready to leave.

I knew it was too soon to have a boyfriend, but that wasn't how I thought of it, of him. I just thought that ElG was turning out to be a great friend. With some great benefits.

During his stay, we both slept in the guest room.

* * * * * *

Once ElG returned to San Francisco, knowing that he was waiting for me* on "the other side" was encouraging.

But please. I am not inhumanly pliant.

I still had to face the every day reality of living alone in a home that my soon-to-be ex-husband and I built together. I was living there, and it was going to go away. And I wanted it to except I didn’t. I wanted to hang on to it for dear life except I wanted it sold so I could move on.

And still, if we couldn't sell the house...what would we do? The realtor said we were in trouble if we hadn't sold by the end of summer. Why couldn’t we sell? What was wrong with us? What was wrong with the house we thought was so cool? What was so wrong with me?

* * * * * *

The nights alone in the house I was losing – had lost – were the loneliest I’ve ever known.

I remember the night routines. I would go to the Chinese restaurant and get the same cold noodle dish every time. The menu included the phrase, “We can alter the spicy according to taste” and that amused me.

I had borrowed the first season of Sex and the City from Hakuna and I’d never seen it and figured then was as good a time as any to get into it. I watched the episodes back to back to back. Every night.

Most nights I would drink wine, unless I was feeling especially sad or especially enthusiastic about the new, uber-urban ideal of my would-be, could-be life. In which case I’d make myself martinis. They were never made well.

I still can’t make a martini to save my life.

One time, I remember collapsing onto the floor in the bathroom, sobbing uncontrollably. Convinced that it would never get better and that everything had been a mistake. The pain was too much to bear. I thought about never getting up again. And when I realized I could have just stayed there for days and no one would have known, getting up from the floor seemed impossible.

Another time, I remember getting so angry, so fed up with everything that I stormed out of my family room and onto the outside deck. It was late at night. My deck was visible to all our neighboring houses, but what did I care? I stormed out there with my martini and I screamed and I threw the martini glass onto the deck and smashed the whole fucking thing into a thousand pieces. It felt good. I left it there.

I wondered if Connie had seen me. I hoped she had. I figured she’d be jealous. We can’t all be so free to express our rage.

Later – I don’t know how much later – David would be visiting the house when I was away, probably in New Hampshire, and he would ask me about the broken glass on the deck. I would tell him I got mad and smashed a glass there and forgot to clean it up. No sense lying about it. He got mad, of course. Why did I have to be such a lunatic?

* * * * * *

So finally the earthquake hit.

Everyone knows what they were doing on 9/11. (Oh, yes, it was THAT September.)

But what about September 9 and 10? Anyone?

Well, I can tell you what I was doing then. I got a call from David that our house had been sold. And that our closing date would be September 27.

Meaning that after almost four months of waiting on a fault line, I suddenly had two weeks to pack up my entire life and figure out what to do with it.

Perhaps fittingly, the first thing I did was rent a dumpster.



*Somewhere beyond the sea, somewhere waiting for me, my lover stands on golden sands, and watches the ships that go sailing...

Interlude: This Isn't A Love Story

The story about my divorce and my mom's getting sick and my moving across the country...it is not about me falling in love.

But the role El_Gallo (ElG) played – how he helped me, what he gave me, what we shared – changed my life forever. And so even though this story isn't about him exactly, I wanted to shed a little light on who he was and will forever be to me.

* * * * * *

When I "met" him, ElG had been living in San Francisco for about six years. He'd come out there from the Midwest, and was thrilled to do so. He was the poster boy for everything I'd wanted to find in SF. He...

...he was what I thought living in San Francisco should be about.

And for some reason, even though he was meeting me when I was at my darkest, he saw a light in me. (He said that a lot.) He had no doubt that I would come through all the heartache and be okay.

Having someone (someone who barely knew me) believe in me as he did was quite a powerful motivator. He had no reason to believe in me, he had no history of mine to base his support on. He had no reason to help me. He just did.

“I just like ya’” he’d say.

* * * * * *

We would talk about everything. I would learn from him. Mostly I would learn that I was okay, that my life wouldn’t always be in shambles, that brighter days were ahead.

His mother was very ill, too. We would talk about that.

He had gone through a traumatic break-up after a nine-year relationship. We would talk about that.

He had come to San Francisco and made a life for himself and took pleasure in the simplest things that SF offered. We would talk about how I could do that, too.

And in a refreshing way I didn't readily accept but desperately needed, he would be unforgiving of David.

* * * * * *

As I said, this story isn't about my love affair with ElG, but his becoming part of my life changed and probably saved me, which I do not say lightly or to be dramatic. I don't know that I ever would have had the courage to move if he hadn't been there to cheer me on. I had someone holding my hand, saying everything would be okay, eventually, because I deserved it.

ElG helped me believe I could do anything. And he was also okay with my taking my time to figure out what that "anything" would look like.

* * * * * *

In the months after I'd "met" him, my friends and family would be skeptical. They'd assume he was a rebound and they certainly wouldn't “get” his indie-like idiosyncrasies. They would fear I'd suddenly run off to Vegas and marry him.

They didn't (at first) understand that he was just being a great and true friend. And that he loved me without expectation. And that he never cared how he was perceived, because he was too busy just caring about me.

* * * * * *

Anyway, I just wanted to give you a tiny little glimpse into why and how ElG has meant so much to me. He is the only one who knew the whole story as it was happening. He is the only person I know out here who ever saw my house in Fairfield.

He is the only one out here who ever met my mother.

No. We did not, as you well know, end up together. We will always have our bond, but despite trying our best, it was just never going to work. We loved each other, we had tremendous respect for each other, and sometimes we balanced each other.

But oh, how we exhausted each other.

And hadn't I learned about that? About trying to force something to work?

Yes, well. Right.

And so back to the story.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

August: The Good, The Bad

Pt. XXI
(Where were we? Oh, right.)


The bad in August came because life just goes on.

Everything was supposed to be changing except nothing was. There was just every day.

Every day I would get up and go online. I would work some. I would take a walk.

Every day I would talk to my mom and she would not feel any better. Some days she'd be lucid, some she wouldn't. Some days I could get off the phone with her and go about my business. Some days I would get off the phone with her and cry and shake until I was nothing but a puddle on the floor.

Meanwhile, every day I would hope that our awful, ditzy realtor would find a family willing to buy our house, so that change -- the final change -- would actually come. My finances were frozen. I couldn't pack anything because the house had to look lovely and lived-in. I couldn't leave anything messy (even a little) because I never knew if I'd get a sudden phone call saying last-minute potential home-buyers needed to stop by. (Note: "lived-in" does not include having dishes in the sink or wet towels hanging on the bathroom door.)

Every day I wondered what it would be like to speak to Dave. I could never guess what kind of mood he would be in or if he would have determined that I'd done something wrong. I could never guess. I was doing my damnedest to keep things under control, but he would often call me furious about something I'd screwed up.

I was never physically or mentally abused, but I think I can safely say that I know what it's like to live with someone you're terrified you'll set off. The wrong word – the wrong inflection from me could result in any number of punishments, from being screamed at to being ignored for days.

Every day I was on edge that something new would go wrong. It often did.

But I was also walking around knowing I was on this life-altering precipice; when would the plates shift? When would the earthquake hit? When would I be able to jump off and go?

Waiting... Waiting... Waiting...

* * * * * *

The good in August came because life just goes on.

For one thing, Em and Nick were getting married. And moving back East. And that was such a bright spot. Finally I could just drive to see them (even though that arrangement wouldn't last long). Better yet, I could be there to help with some elements of wedding planning, which I loved.

I adored Em and Nick together and always had (still do). I loved that they were marrying. I didn't, as my sister asked me, begrudge them or the timing of their wedding. I didn't wish it had been happening at a different time. In fact, I was grateful to have it to look forward to. A big, joyous celebration was a welcomed change from my typical weekend.

In fact, I started looking at their wedding – scheduled for October 6 – as a get-to date. I thought if I could get to there, to the wedding, to that side of summer, the worst time of my life would finally be behind me.

And so it was with delight that I spent at least some of August planning their (co-ed) wedding shower.

That’s the kind of good I remember – it pierces through the otherwise heavy and humid memory.

* * * * * *

I went on a few Internet dates in this time. The in-person encounters were fine, but I enjoyed the safety of online flirtation and the feeling of being desirable more than the real-life stuff. I mean, I wasn't going to date anyone seriously before moving to San Francisco, and the virtual relationships were just enough to make me feel engaged without feeling the total vulnerability of putting myself "out there."

Plus, I hadn't actually been in the dating pool since my junior year of college, and the idea of dating as a grown-up was totally new to me.

And also with my body issues.

So I went on a few dates to see what it felt like.

Mostly it just felt like the guys offered nothing compared to the compatibility and camaraderie I had with Dave. (Dave and I may not have been perfect, but we weren't together for nothing.)

And anyway, there was El_G.

Home Again

it's wednesday but i keep forgetting what day it is.

i returned to sf yesterday, after a blurred whirlwind of a week, none of which i have the strength or capacity to write about yet. it was hard, and it still is, and it will be for a long time.

being home isn't great.

when you first get the news, and everyone rushes in to help, and you have to prepare for the services and make arrangements and all that, you are busy and you are kept company and you can only see as far as that. the funeral. settling things. seeing everyone.

and that was great, seeing everyone. the extended sammis "family" is a spectacular group of people. oh, we cried. but we sang! and laughed! so much music and warmth...

but now i'm back and it's only a couple days later and what? i'm just supposed to go back to work now? back to life? we're all just suppoed to suck up and deal? be around people who are alive and healthy and just living as though nothing's different? oh, hey, what are you doing this weekend? oh, me? uh, i dunno...might see friends, i guess. or catch a movie. or crawl under the blankets and curse the fucking sun for being so bright and try to think of a reason to feel like ever getting up again, ever. how 'bout you?


anyway. i wrote once about routine. i will try and listen to myself. writing is therapeutic. i think i might just go back to telling the story i was in the middle of, before death so rudely interrupted*.

stay tuned. and as always, thank you for listening.




*kindly stopped for me?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

I absolutely cannot express how much your kindness has meant to me and my family. Thank you so, so very much.


Family and friends are
invited to a memorial service
at The Margate Lakeside Resort,
76 Lake Street, Laconia
New Hampshire
at 1 p.m. on Sunday, May 7

Or, in lieu of flowers,
memorial donations
may be made to:
Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital,
attention: Section of Nephrology
c/o Office of Development
1 Medical Center Drive
Lebanon, NH 03756



Tuesday, May 02, 2006

oh, and it's may 2

i do not have the capacity to understand, but for my own sake, i feel a sense of...duty to...? fulfillment from...? (normalcy in...?) telling you --

--you, this invisible world of strangers and friends who have listened and read and made me feel like my story is worth telling.

god.

my father died this morning.

i don't have many details -- he was ill with cancer, but still up and about and receiving treatment and living and hoping. this was, is, a terrible shock.

i mean, for fuck's sake, i'm in the middle of telling that story, i can't believe i (and my sisters and my family and my friends) have yet another story to tell. already.

thank you all for being my audience and for grounding me. i'll be back soon. when i have words.

* * * * * *
update: if not words, i can at least offer a couple pictures


Dad playing NTN. Sort of his natural habitat...



I love this picture of my dad and sister (Sam) dancing at my wedding. It was a lovely wedding. It was a lovely dance.