Twenty One

It is with great shame that I confess to you that I am not a Colorado native. 

I always wanted to be one of the few, the proud, the natives, who drove around town with their awesome bumper stickers and spoke with their weird non-accents and considered being born with an Apgar score of 6 a freaking medal of honor. 

But alas, I am not...I only play one on the internet. Someone told me a few weeks back that they found my blog by googling "Denver Mom Blog" and I smiled so hard my face broke. I wish I was from Colorado; I wish answering the "where are you from?" question was as easy as "Oh, the box in the middle of the country. You know, the one full of piles of win?" which is exactly how I'd answer if I was actually from there. 

But I'm not. I wasn't born there, I was simply born-again there. Twenty one years ago today I made Colorado my home. Twenty five years ago I started toying with the idea of starting my whole life over in Colorado, but I'm slow on the uptake sometimes. Evidence

This is my birth certificate.

Totally counts as a birth certificate if you squint real hard when you're drunk, shut up.

But it really doesn't matter that I have a deep and abiding love of all things Crocs (and I make them look gooood), or that my pantry is armed to the latches with Celestial Seasonings tea, or that I know what Fat Tire really tastes like - and would take a 1554 over it any old day. No one cares that I own a 1997 Lesbaru manual transmission station wagon, that I know what a Rocky Mountain Oyster is, and how to avoid one at all costs. People just roll their eyes when I proclaim that I actually saw Opie (RIP) play at Herman's, and have forgotten how I've gotten home from Lincoln's more times than I can count. I remember when the furthest south any self-respecting Denverite would go before hitting The Outer Regions was Arapahoe Road, and when only thing between Arvada and Boulder on 36 was Storage Tech. STC. 

I even remember when it was STC, gentle readers. 

But I wasn't born there, so none of that counts. 

But...my *kids* were.

I think it was Confucius who said,  "If you can't beat'm, breed for'm." This has earned me the equivalent of an Ivy-league degree (working on my Master's as we speak), and ipso-facto gets me a lifetime membership to the Colorado Native Club. Pass the hummus and the oxygen masks. 

And while I may never, ever be able to answer "Where are you from?" without needing a globe, an abacus, and a shot of whiskey, my kids, who may have been dragged across this freaking continent by their horrible parents, they know that their home is Colorado. They know they always have a place to go back to, that it will always be there waiting for them, and that it's probably the best place in the world to be from.

Especially if you're into drinking contests #unbeatable

I know all too many of us are gypsies, wanderers, homeless homies, and I think a lot of that is why we gravitate to each other here, online, where there arent' boundaries or bumper stickers, where we get to decide where home is for us. Colorado was home for me, and someday I hope soon California will be, too.

But really, sometimes it's just easier for me to say that this, you, are my home, and I'm totally okay with that, too. 

Here's to 21 years of wandering, of searching, of living a different life. Here's to each of us that was born again, by force or fire. Here's to the beginning of my next adult life, and you all are a part of that. Here's to us. Let's go get wasted on Goldschlager or something. 

(My friend Ryan make those t-shirts, by the way. They're called The Home T and he does a whole bunch of states. They make really great presents for us lost souls and a portion of each sale goes to MS research. (Oh, Ashley, don't read this post, or go look at your next birthday present. DON'T.) I kind of want one from each of the places I am occasionally from, or maybe just one of, like, North America or something. Check him out, he's a cool dude and fellow social media traveler making super fun things.)

What I Haven't Got

Winter's change is the cruelest of all, for me. It is frozen and dark and offers no glimmers of hope, except those that twinkle reflecting off the frozen tundra, mirages in the desert of our lives holding out the distance sparkle of solace where the reality is that there is none to be had, and it is cold, and there is a long way to go before there will be warm, golden light.

Everyone is writing their end of the year posts this week. The best books they've read, the coolest places they've traveled to, the best pictures they've taken, the best goals they can think of for themselves in 2013 - this is the week that pretty much everyone looks in the rear view mirror, checks their blind spot, and changes lanes along the highway of their lives. People woke up on Tuesday - maybe refreshed, maybe hungover, maybe pregnant, and stared down a new day and a new year with the determination to do/be/write/love/act better.

More. Bigger. Differently. Something. 

These are the moments for which I hold my breath and wait for time to pass. These are the days I pray for forgetfulness or distraction. These are the times I wish I wasn't, and didn't, and won't. 

My year isn't ending yet. My year ends on January 7th when my entire world did. It ends again on January 25th, when the new house of cards I'd spent 17 years meticulously building up came crashing down. My year isn't restarting yet.  It begins anew on January 9th, just like it has every year since 1992 when I was shoved headfirst through an airplane jetway and into a brand new life. 

January marks the days of my mother - the day I lost her, and the day I left her forever. January marks the day I lost my husband and decided in my heart, if not my head, to leave him forever, too. January is not the month I reset or recharge or realigned; it is the month I die over and over again. January is a month of resignation, of giving in - letting go and letting whatever the hell will make this easier

...

But I am trying to change that. 

This year will be the first calendar year that I live start to finish intentionally, for myself, not in a way that I feel like someone else is making me live but in the way that I chose to live. I ended this year entirely too far over the edge of the precipice to let anyone pull me back into that old cycle, that old life that I keep setting myself up to live through and die from over and over again.  

I'm learning - no, I've always known, I'm trying to accept - how much of everything that has transpired is my own fault. I didn't make my husband drink-and-everything-that-comes-with-it, but he certainly didn't make me stay, either. I perceive requirements that don't always actually exist and customize my life around them, because I am a highly skilled, professionally groomed enabler, and that is what we do best. I've been so afraid of change that I found a near exact replica of my relationship with my mother and entered into a legally binding, contractual, lifetime relationship with it. 

Every January I mourn these losses that are in fact gifts. Twice in my life I have held my nose and stood tippy-toes-over a precipice, waiting and hoping for something, someone, god will anything just come shove me over? because I certainly have never had the courage to leap on my own accord. Twice in my life I have been given exactly that which I have wished for. 

And it is a gift. These weights I cling to are actually disguised wings. I just have to figure out how to use them to fly.

Fabulous Yellow Roman Candles

Fireworks

It's been just over two years since we came to Texas and already, my kids know the community we live within well enough to call who would be lighting professional-grade fireworks in the middle of a suburban cul-de-sac on a Saturday night, from a half-mile away.

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We spent a glorious last evening of 2011 with the @schandenfreudett/@ck_lunchbox family, and on our way home we realized that five minutes til midnight on New Year's Eve is the greatest time to be driving because A) no one else is and B) you can see fireworks for miles and miles.

We had this incredible 360 view of the fireworks going off in every community near us, and as we drove closer to home we could start to differentiate the ones coming from our neighborhood, then the ones coming from our side of the neighborhood, and as we neared the entrance to our sub-division, we realized that we pretty much could pinpoint the ones coming from one of the kids' friends houses. 

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Sometimes I cannot believe the resiliency of my children, that they learn and re-learn people so openly and easily, how they are so easily adopted into the communities in which they live because they hold nothing back but instead burn, burn, burn like this time it's going to be forever. 

There is quite a bit in this life I am only going to be able to learn from my children, I believe.

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My neighborhood is this amazingly balanced mix of people, of cultures, of nationalities and ethnicities and sometimes I get so used to seeing everyone that I forget to see everyone. We all share the commonality of parenthood, and that has a funny way of blinding us to everything else. I forget that every single kid at the bus stop is a different shade of human, because after a while they all just look like kids who want to eat my stash of good cookies. 

Milano cookies are very bad at hide and go seek.

I stand on a corner with strangers, though no one can really be a stranger who's children you know, spending the first hours of this year under the bombtrack of roman candle warfare with people I suddenly regret I've resisted coming to know, watching our rainbow of children laugh and play under 1.3G rainbow of spiders exploding across the Texas stars.

A Gift Guide, Of Sorts

My dear children, all I ask for this year is that you freeze this moment in our lives together. I am weary from trying to hold onto something that is not mine to keep.

Wrap me the things you define as treasures and place them under our tree with care. A soda pop lid from your collection, one of those cards I'm always screaming at you to pick up, that sock exactly the way it smells at this moment, the ringing of your laughter when you don't think I am listening.

I am always listening, my little loves, even when I am not there. You resonate through the marrow in my bones. There is nothing else in the world that I can hear but you.

Today you are perfect, as you were every yesterday and will be every tomorrow. Please, package yourselves for me with ribbons and bows, each exactly the person you are at this moment, because tomorrow you will be different and I cannot bear the losing of one more you to a new day's promise. 

Promise me you'll continue to believe in magic you know for certain doesn't exist. Try your hardest to have faith where there ought be none. Know something in this life to be true simply because you decided one Tuesday morning that it should be. Myths are simply dreams we refuse to forget because they make us happy, nothing more. Remember how to believe, though belief is never sensible and rarely probable, but is almost always red and white and pepperminty. There is no reason why.

Algebra and faith are the most important things you will ever learn. 

That, and that your mother loves you. You are my sun, my moon, and my star, and I could never ask for anything else as long as we all shall live. 

27 8X10 Color Glossy Pictures

I love Thanksgiving. It's my #1 favorite holiday ever. Here's why

In a nutshell, that link takes you to the story of the very first holiday turkey I ever cooked, which was kind of significant because we didn't exactly celebrate holidays, or have money for food. Oh, and that I was eleven, cooking a turkey. My son is eleven right now, and I simply cannot imagine.  

Basically, the food bank people know who the relgious crazies are and don't bother bringing them the bags of food that people donate at the grocery stores and the food drives. One year, someone accidentally left our family on the list, and two white people showed up at my doorstep with dinner.

The fact that two white people came into my neighborhood is story enough, really.

The other important fact to note is that the canned goods and groceries and money you donate actually do end up going to people, and you can be a Judgey McDickerson  all you want about grown-ups not being able to feed their kids, but it's no child's fault they are born into poverty. That bag of food changed my life. Without it, I wouldn't be writing this post right now about fancy-pants Thankgiving turkey, this much I guarantee you. Tis the season, and stuff

Moving on...

This is the year I figured out how to clean as I go with the cooking. It's reassuring to know that I'm not the only late bloomer. Because of this, I was able to take 27 8X10 color glossies with the circles and the arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one, explainin what each one was, to be used as evidence against my Thanksgiving dinner, but of course I took most of them on my phone, and of course the day after Thanksgiving my phone's memory card decided to reformat itself. Because fuck my life. 

Bygones. 

I can still tell you what I made, and how I made it, pictures be damned...and it's all after the jump.