September 30, 2012

exile

how to tell you the truth?



I fell in love with someone else's boyfriend.

he fell in love with me.

I talked to him, with the rarest of exceptions, every day for nearly a year. every single day. he became my best friend.

from the day we met he felt to me like a person I'd known my whole life.

meeting him changed everything for me. I met him at a low point, still deeply in recovery over scott, still trying to swim my way back to the surface. what can I say about it, how can I possibly put it into words? I met him and I woke up. I met him and I remembered a thousand tiny things about who I had been, things I had long ago lost or forgotten, things he recognized and appreciated and brought forth.

so complete was the transformation that he never would have recognized the person I had been before we met, sad and lost and dejected. together we were silly and playful, honest, open, unafraid. I never even had to try.

did I know that he had a girlfriend? I did, and then I wasn't sure, and then I did again. but we never spoke of it. I was complicit in that; how well we avoided the brontosaurus in the room. I was afraid that the minute I said a word about her, it would end. and what was it anyway? the dearest of friendships, a tacitly understood undercurrent of love. I knew only what I saw, which was how unabashedly happy we both were just to be together, just to eat pizza or ride bikes or walk around, to sit at tables swinging our legs and talking.

did I care? yes. and also no. what was between us was to any outside perspective just a friendship until almost the very end. a friendship that, I knew, was a secret. that it was a secret sometimes hurt me deeply, because it meant that while we were in many ways only friends, we could also never truly be friends; I could never be a real part of his life because we were a kind of close that is impossible to foster without time. if I'd suddenly appeared publically in his life, how would we ever explain how well we knew each other, how easy our shared presence was?

did I do it on purpose? no. I fought it for a long time. I held back, I let him call the shots, I held it in my hand gratefully, glad for whatever it was, glad to be happy after so much time being sad. but a month after we met, if he had come to my door and said, "let's elope," I would have gone without hesitation. that, too, I kept inside me for a long time, a secret thing.

so -- did I do it on purpose? yes. because of course I knew that while there was technically nothing wrong with our seeing each other, there was also everything wrong with it. I was entirely complicit in it. I won't shy away from that. a thousand times, frustrated and sad and lost, afraid of losing him, afraid of what would or would not happen, I thought of calling it off, of showing up one day and saying, "you have to choose." but I was also afraid of the choosing, so I grit my teeth and held on to what I had, waiting for something to shift in the universe.

was it wrong? yes.

am I sorry for it?

.
.
.


no.

you can pass whatever judgment you want about that. but I am not sorry it happened; I would not take it back. from the very first day, it was clear to me that something bigger than me was in motion, and that there was, even from the start, no way out of it that did not involve pain. even after just one long happy lunch together, the first of so many, I could not have cut him out of my life without sorrow. but I acknowledged that the end result was necessarily pain for one or all of us. and so it was. so it is. I am sorry for the pain we caused her. to say, "I wish it could have been different" is disingenuous; I acknowledge that it could have been different. but it was not different. and even now I would not trade any of the wonder of those perfect days to be rid of my current sorrow.

I have been utterly loath to write about this here, for a multitude of reasons, some of them probably quite obvious. I doubt I'll write about it again. but writing is the way I cope, and I am not coping very well. all my days and moments and breaths are made of this. what else can I possibly say?

so: you don't have to have sympathy for me. I accept the ugliness of it all. sometimes the truth is ugly. even good people do terrible things sometimes. I have now, in my life, played every role in this love triangle. I never thought I would complete the trifecta, but here I am, 'the other woman.' I both regret it and do not regret it. I deeply regret that it happened the way it did. I deeply regret that anyone had to be hurt. the words sound hollow, because in this place I still can't tell all the truth of what was. but: yes. I so utterly regret the pain we caused. I caused.

but I do not regret the barefoot sunny afternoons, throwing rocks into the willamette, grinning at each other; I do not regret all the stories swapped back and forth; I do not regret my beautiful, exquisite 31st birthday; I do not regret the long meandering bike rides, or the days spent saying what should we DO?, or all the days and nights and mornings spent idly talking, as old friends. I do not regret the one perfect kiss, or the few weeks I believed it might all, in the end, come to pass. that it did not come to pass is the penance I pay, maybe, for my lack of regret. I acknowledge and accept it.

there is much about what happened that I will never understand. but isn't that true of life. I loved him -- I love him -- completely. I've waited my whole life to love someone like that. so there is one thing I know above all others: like sugar says, our task is to tackle the motherfucking shit out of love. so, that's one more thing I don't regret.





September 25, 2012

okay. you want to know how I am.

I am sick, and exhausted, and absolutely mowed down by sadness. an all-systems failure. the other day my BFF asked, "what's wrong?" and I very seriously thought, "what isn't?"

I survived the gala.

gala
IMG_20120922_174611

despite appearances, the object really was survival. the following day I did nothing but lie on the chaise all day, too tired to move. that is not hyperbole.

I have so much to say, and also nothing to say. inside my brain it is very loud and jumbled, but I am too tired to get it out. there is so much. I am very broken. I am also getting by, because you have to. I am appallingly, bone-crushingly sad, a sadness which permeates everything, which is now not just situational, not just about heartbreak. it's everything. it's everywhere.

it's fall. everything dies.

last night in tears, alone in my room, I thought very forlornly, "just once, couldn't something just work? why can't my running injuries be the kind that would just heal with time? why can't I just love and be loved without it ruining everyone's life?" a truly morose path of the mind.

that is how I am.

September 23, 2012




the face of this love was quiet and feral. it was a ruthless act, but not a guilty one.
a waterfall, a flood, is neither guilty nor not guilty. it simply drowns the people in its way.

-- mary lee settle, charley bland


many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it.

-- song of solomon, 8:7

September 17, 2012


adnarel paused. "your love for yalith, and hers for you, is, and therefore it always wlll be."

-- madeleine l'engle, many waters

September 14, 2012

you'll say did they love you or what
I'll say they love what I do
the only one who really loves me is you
and you'll say girl did you kick some butt
and I'll say I don't really remember
but my fingers are sore
and my voice is too


on hiatus for awhile. see you around, internet.

September 10, 2012

up, down

DSCF7663

me and three of my dudes climbed st. helens this weekend.

fog
entering the boulder field
trudging
climbing through the boulder field
DSCF7670

2 miles of the hike is just a steep hike; everything above treeline is a scramble. you can't walk more than a few steps before you have to climb a rock.

DSCF7672
sad pole
(there is no space for a trail so the poles are your only markers. this one had lost the will to live)

what lay ahead


micah, who led the way most of the time, found this treasure about 3/4 of the way through the hike:

micah

it was an actual barbell. you know, the kind that weigh, like, 40 pounds. how anybody got it up there is a real mystery. we were amused.

alex
bob
DSCF7676

DSCF7669
spectatin'
DSCF7681
(apparently I had my camera on the "dark and shitty" setting)

DSCF7691
the way the cloud cover formed made it seem like we were very, very high.

steep.
I climbed that mountain once too.

MIcah contemplates the earthscape
Micah + the earthscape
we found wall-e along the way.

a little windy
also, it was really effing windy. I didn't do my hair like that on purpose.

we got to the top. it looks like this inside the cauldron.
MAGMA
Inside the cauldron
cauldron

Nub at the summit
Nub got there too. it was too windy to put him down.
(also, teeny tiny mt hood!)

Micah at the summit
4 amigos, summit

I'm still not sure mountain climbing is really my bag. but I'm glad I went.



otherwise, things are pretty hard, internet. it's a herculean effort just to get out of bed in the mornings. and that's all there is to say about the rest of my life.

September 4, 2012

today when I came to feed the horses, danielle was riding. she pulled cookie over to the gate. we chatted. cookie is the kind of horse who always wants to be involved in the party, so it was no surprise when she stuck her head right into my business. I stuck my hand out and she snuffled it for awhile; this is our old habit. ('are there treats? no treats? no treats?'). but then she lowered her head and held it against my chest and I wrapped my arms around it in a head-hug (any horse-lover understands this), and that was that. animals are funny sometimes, the way they know.

September 1, 2012

I bought Cheryl Strayed's Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar the day before my bomb went off.

it's been breaking my heart pretty consistently all week, every single page of it seeming to reach out and sock me in the gut or hold my hand.

I read this particular excerpt while I was sitting on the stoop outside my apartment. I sat and read it six times in a row and sobbed. I present it with no additional commentary.

the ordinary miraculous

Dear Sugar,

The general mystery of becoming seems like a key idea in many of your columns. It’s made me want to know more. Will you give us a specific example of how something like this has played out in your life, Sugar?

Thank you.
Big Fan


Dear Big Fan,

The summer I was 18 I was driving down a country road with my mother. This was in the rural county where I grew up and all of the roads were country, the houses spread out over miles, hardly any of them in sight of a neighbor. Driving meant going past an endless stream of trees and fields and wildflowers. On this particular afternoon, my mother and I came upon a yard sale at a big house where a very old woman lived alone, her husband dead, her kids grown and gone.

"Let’s look and see what she has," my mother said as we passed, so I turned the car around and pulled into the old woman’s driveway and the two of us got out.

We were the only people there. Even the old woman whose sale it was didn’t come out of the house, only waving to us from a window. It was August, the last stretch of time that I would I live with my mother. I’d completed my first year of college by then and I’d returned home for the summer because I’d gotten a job in a nearby town. In a few weeks I’d go back to college and I’d never again live in the place I called home, though I didn’t know that then.

There was nothing much of interest at the yard sale, I saw, as I made my way among the junk — old cooking pots and worn-out board games; incomplete sets of dishes in faded, unfashionable colors and appalling polyester pants — but as I turned away, just before I was about to suggest that we should go, something caught my eye.

It was a red velvet dress trimmed with white lace, fit for a toddler.

"Look at this," I said and held it up to my mother, who said oh isn’t that the sweetest thing and I agreed and then set the dress back down.

In a month I’d be 19. In a year I’d be married. In three years I’d be standing in a meadow not far from that old woman’s yard holding the ashes of my mother’s body in my palms. I was pretty certain at that moment that I would never be a mother myself. Children were cute, but ultimately annoying, I thought then. I wanted more out of life.

And yet, ridiculously, inexplicably, on that day the month before I turned 19, as my mother and I poked among the detritus of someone else’s life, I kept returning to that red velvet dress fit for a toddler. I don’t know why. I cannot explain it even still except to say something about it called powerfully to me. I wanted that dress. I tried to talk myself out of wanting it as I smoothed my hands over the velvet. There was a small square of masking tape near its collar that said $1.

"You want that dress?" my mother asked nonchalantly, glancing up from her own perusals.
"Why would I?" I snapped, perturbed with myself more than her.
"For someday," said my mother.
"But I’m not even going to have kids," I argued.
"You can put it in a box," she replied. "Then you’ll have it, no matter what you do."
"I don’t have a dollar," I said with finality.
"I do," my mother said and reached for the dress.

I put it in a box, in a cedar chest that belonged to my mother. I dragged it with me all the way along the scorching trail of my twenties and into my thirties. I had two abortions and then I had two babies. The red dress was a secret only known by me, buried for years among my mother’s best things. When I finally unearthed it and held it again it was like being punched in the face and kissed at the same time, like the volume was being turned way up and also way down. The two things that were true about its existence had an opposite effect and were yet the same single fact:

My mother bought a dress for the granddaughter she’ll never know.
My mother bought a dress for the granddaughter she’ll never know.


How beautiful. How ugly.
How little. How big.
How painful. How sweet.

It’s almost never until later that we can draw a line between this and that. There was no force at work other than my own desire that compelled me to want that dress. Its meaning was made only by my mother’s death and my daughter’s birth. And then it meant a lot. The red dress was the material evidence of my loss, but also of the way my mother’s love had carried me forth beyond her, her life extending years into my own in ways I never could have imagined. It was a becoming that I would not have dreamed was mine the moment that red dress caught my eye.

I don’t think my daughter connects me to my mother any more than my son does. My mother lives as brightly in my boy child as she does in my girl. But seeing my daughter in that red dress on the second Christmas of her life gave me something beyond words. The feeling I got was like that original double whammy I’d had when I first pulled that dress from the box of my mother’s best things, only now it was:

My daughter is wearing a dress that her grandmother bought for her at a yard sale.
My daughter is wearing a dress that her grandmother bought for her at a yard sale.


It’s so simple it breaks my heart. How unspecial that fact is to so many, how ordinary for a child to wear a dress her grandmother bought her, but how very extraordinary it was to me.

I suppose this is what I meant when I wrote what I did, sweet pea, about how it is we cannot possibly know what will manifest in our lives. We live and have experiences and leave people we love and get left by them. People we thought would be with us forever aren’t and people we didn’t know would come into our lives do. Our work here is to keep faith with that, to put it in a box and wait. To trust that someday we will know what it means, so that when the ordinary miraculous is revealed to us we will be there, standing before the baby girl in the pretty dress, grateful for the smallest things.

Yours,
Sugar