My Dog, My Virginity, and My Job Walk Into a Blog Post

Yesterday was my puppy Jack/Jack-Jack/Jack-Jack-Attack/Jacques Cousteau's third birthday.

*Pesky facts aside: Yesterday was (most likely not) my puppy Jack's 3rd birthday. We found him behind a trash can. However, yesterday was day (20 years ago) that I lost my (first*) you-know-what, and I thought it would be kind of nice to have a reason to eat cake and have a party on that day every single year for the next 12-15, the dog-gods willing. Because I'm glad I lost my you-know-what, and I'm glad I found a puppy behind a trash can. So.

Funny thing, giving your dog a piece of birthday cake that's shaped a lot like a slice of pizza. It's not that they don't totally get the concept of fire, it's just that they don't totally get the concept of fire. Or waiting to eat their birthday cake that's shaped a lot like a slice of pizza until you've all sung off key and blown their candles out for them. They also don't get the concept of birthdays. Bygones. 

And if you give a dog a piece of birthday cake that's shaped a lot like a slice of pizza and it also happens to smell a lot like pizza, your dog will give you the above look. Which totally makes is all worth it. 

Today is my one-year anniversary at BlogHer. I celebrated by having a baby with my boss.  This is what it looks like

*In case you're in the market aside: Jenna Hatfield make an excellent midwife/80's rap earworm-implanter.

I kind of can't believe it's been a year since I started working for the same company who has done so much for me over these past eight years I've been blogging. I always used to tell anyone who asked that I could only credit any measure of success I've ever been blessed with to Lisa Stone, who believed in me and my writing before I even knew what I was doing was worth being called writing, and WAY before I had any idea that *I* was worth much of anything at all.  And now I get to get up every morning and try very hard to do that which was done for me? And I get to do it with a team of some of the most amazingly smart, talented, sharp, and well-shod women I've ever had the honor of working with?

That's a cyclic relationship that I am totally happy to perpetuate. 

*You never get a second chance at a first impression, but for $65,000, you can get a second chance at losing your you-know-what. I don't really suggest it. 

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.)

61,416

I laid beside you in your bed tonight, staring up at the yellow and blue and green stars that flickered and danced through your ceiling fan and across the expanse of your little 10X15 vaulted sky. You rested your head against the space where my neck and my body meet, and in those few moments there was no way humanly possible for me to hold you tightly enough. 

I know that you are seven now, and i remember what seven means. Your biggest brother was seven when I started this old blog, back before I had any idea there would ever be a you. Your biggest brother, well, he seemed enormous at seven, most certainly seasoned enough to stand with my midwife between my knees and help you come into this world. I looked at him and saw a dude, a manling, a thing becoming, and I look at you seven years later and I see the itsy bitsy tiny helpless little gelfling they carted away to the NICU because if there is one thing in this life you will do right, it is make the grandest of entrances. 

The day? night? incomprehendable expanse of time from when you left my body until you entered my arms? after you were born, I held you much like I did tonight - in your bed, buried under blankets, staring into the dark. We laid beside each other for hours - 10, if the nurses tell me correctly, and we didn't have much to say to one another. You nursed until you couldn't muster enough strength to continue, and I stared at you though the thickest haze of exhaustion that only comes from doing something truly other-worldly, like falling though the air or surfing inside of salt water tubes or creating the most exquiste human being to ever grace the earth, and I kept staring into your then-blue eyes without blinking once, until I had little choice but to declare you the wildest thing of all. 

That night you were 24 hours old, and tonight you somewhere around 61,416 hours old. The best thing about you is that tonight, my mind was just as blown as it was that first night we hung out all night watching Law & Order reruns and eating really atrocious Jello cups. You have changed everything I ever thought I knew about anything. You've changed the way I see my life, the way I see the lives of others. You've changed me at the core of the person I thought I was, and I will never be able to thank you enough for that. 

But I know what seven means. I know that you need me to start easing up on my grip. I know you need me to hold you just as tightly, just maybe sometimes not, like, in front of your friends or stuff? I know that you're about to start pushing off of me and rowing into the seas of your own life, and so you're going to have to forgive me for a little while while I lay in your bed more often than you think I need to and stare at the ceiling with you. It's really not that you're the only person in this house with a not-Ikea mattress (thought that is true and totally a bonus), it's that I can still smell you brand new in my arms. I can still feel you warm on my neck. I haven't quite figured out how to see you as gigantic, a womanlingthing, a lady becoming, and I am almost, but not quite, possibly ready to start talking about that. 

Under fake stars.

Under a ridiculous amount of blankets. 

In our own little world. 

For as long as you will let this magic keep happening.

Happy 7th birthday, my angel. There is nothing I love more than being your mom. 

I also remember what your scabs taste like. My therapist will be billing you for that later.

I can hardly remember how you laughed, but I remember the taste of your blood like it is still hot on the tip of my tongue. I watch you bleed over and over and over and over again in my dreams, and I can't make it stop, ever. I try; I keep trying to get enough cherry juice stains on my shirt that they will believe me when I tell them I drank it, and you will finally have one quiet night in your life. 

I can hardly remember how you laughed, but I can see you under the surface of your childrens' smiling faces, like they are reel-to-reel films of the life we used to dream about people living when we hid in the back of that tiny, dark closet covered in the salty paste of sheet after sheet of the Publisher's Clearing House stamps we pretended tasted like candy with each lick. 

I can hardly remember how you laughed, but I remember the way your hair smelled, and what your voice sounded like whispered through a hole in a wall, and I remember precisely what if felt like to be safe under your left arm that was just enough bigger than me that I knew there was one place on earth I would always be okay.

I remember everything about you. I remember things you can't, and won't, and shouldn't. I remember mostly that you are the finest human I have ever met in this life, and that I am the luckiest person in the world, beccause I have gotten to take this entrie journey with you, save the 16 months you had without me. 

That just means you turn 40 first. Neener neener.

Happy birthday, Eddie. You were the best present our parents ever gave me. 

I love you. Like, a lot and stuff, yo.

Another Fourteen

I missed your birthday once, because of a very noble and solemn situation and also stupid Donald Sutherland, and I swore that I would never again not be there to say goodbye to the child I was tucking into bed for the last time, nor miss greeting hello with a small birthday cake and a kiss the new child I was meeting the next morning, another day older and wiseasser. 

You seem to have forgetten this, mostly I believe because at 11 you don't realize you're supposed to be keeping a running tally of all your parents' failures for your future blackmail and/or therapy. I doubt I will be so lucky in life twice, however. 

I left for Montreal yesterday, earlier in the morning than the sun even begins to wake, and so I will never know how you spent even a moment of your last day as a 13 year old. I hope you had fun. I hope you cruised around on the skateboard I bought you (with a little help from my friends, who love you as much as I do, and I just want you to know that they do) and felt like the king of the world. As far as I am concerned, you are.

I hope you enjoyed the movie your grandmother took you to see today, I hope you enjoyed talking to your father this afternoon while we sat on a French Canadian porch and tried to sort out what happens next with us. I hope you enjoyed getting your first anime books at the bookstore today, and I hope you enjoyed your first ambulance ride this evening. 

I suppose old women falling off of curbs and breaking their feet isn't the worst thing that can happen to a kid on his 14th birthday, especially if that means he gets to ride in an ambulance to the hospital with said old woman, spazzing out six year old sister, and totally-unable-to-process-current-events 12 year old brother. 

I also, with all the sincerity in my heart, would like to thank your grandmother for going to such great lengths to make sure that you'll never, ever forget your 14th birthday. You know, the one I wasn't there for. Well played, Grandma. WELL PLAYED.

I hope you know that I have laid in my hotel room bed each night and taken inventory of every minute of you. I hope you know that you are the single greatest catalyst on earth, and that everything I became when you did is because of you. 

I want you to know, even though you will think that it is oh my gawd sooo naaaasty mawm that when you fall asleep on the couch because you are so quickly becoming a man that your body simply cannot keep up, that in those moments I kiss your temple and smooth your hair and whisper in my ear that you will always be little to me, and always be loved by me, and always be every good thing in the world as far as I am concerned. I whisper that you hold a place in my heart that no one else ever could, that I don't care how quickly you are trying to outgrow my heart - it will just keep getting bigger to accommodate you. I do this because you would probably punch me a little if I said it to you awake. 

Moms always get their way eventually. We know where you sleep

You are one half of one inch away from being as tall as I am and most likely already wiser than I will ever be. You are funny at all the right times, and funnier at all the wrong ones. You have discovered the person that you would like to be, and it has been the greatest privilege of my life being able to feed and nurture and support this discovery. Every moment I know you, I stand in total and complete awe, whether it be of your aspirations or your compassion or your intelligence or that smell inside of your hats. 

When I laid in a hospital bed 14 years ago, swollen and beaten and tired and terrified, I thought I had given birth to my son. What I didn't know is that I had actually given birth to pure, unadulterated wonder, and that I would get to spend the rest of my life watching it radiate outward. 

I marvel in you. And I always will, even when I'm not right there. 

Pinky promise.