Cherry is the Best Flavor of Metaphor

I love Twizzlers. I LOVE Twizzlers. they are the perfect (for me) candy. They are not too sweet, not sour, not bitter, they don't taste like chemicals, they don't leave grainy or gritty or sticky residue in your mouth. They're versatile: you can untangle them or chop them into little pieces or suck on them until they melt or nomnomnom a whole bag in one sitting. They're great for movies because they last a while and they don't melt all over your hands. You can use them as a straw if you have 7-up and some time. (Do not try this with milk; trust me on that one.) They don't get too terribly stuck in your teeth. They're delicious. 

I love Twizzlers. I LOVE TWIZZLERS. And I can never eat one again, for as long as I shall live. 

The moment I eat a Twizzler I will be on the floor having something close to a seizure. You see, there is something in Twizzlers that just doesn't work with my body. I'm allergic to red food coloring and there is not a single thing I can do about it. I can love Twizzlers with all my heart and it doesn't matter. They hurt me, every stinking time I try, no matter what I do to prevent it.

They can't help it, either; they are who they are and I am who I am and we simply don't work. 

I ate them for a long time anyway, because the pain was worth it. Eventually the pain stopped being worth it. Eventually they were the bell and I was the dog - every time I saw them my head started to hurt, my body clenched up, and I braced for what was coming. Now I don't try anymore. Now I keep my distance and simply remember how much I loved them, once upon a time.

Sometimes if my kids leave a pack laying around, I'll pick it up and take a long, deep inhale. I love the smell of them still. Enough time and distance has made me able to enjoy, nigh savour, the smell of them and every happy childhood memory that smell brings back for me. (Except that milk bit. *shiver*) Sometimes when I'm having a weak moment, I want to lick one of them, just to test the waters and see if maybe, this time, after all this time...but I know what will happen, and I resist.

I've licked enough Twizzlers to know that the end result never changes. I can't will myself out of this reaction I have to a perfectly fine-for-someone-else piece of candy.

We simply don't work.

We never will.

So it goes. 

This post that, while entirely true, has very little to do with candy, is brought to you by the letters M.E.T.A.P.H.O and .R, a healthy dose of DayQuil, and this very lovely post on BlogHer.com. Because this would have made a hellofalong comment. 

Day Two Hundred Seventy Eight

We're doing this thing right now that someone, I think it was Deb Rocks, described once to me as killing our relationship so thoroughly that we will never be able to rebuild it. This has all very conveniently happened over Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and I will have more to say about that later. 

My blog turns eight in a few weeks. I've had this blog longer than I've had my daughter, and in those eight years it's become an issue with him more than once. It really became an issue last week, and I'll have more to say about that later, too. 

Sometimes you just have to take the fuel away from the fire, you know? So I shut my blog down on Christmas Day, because it wasn't worth the battle it was causing, and I'll have more to say about that later, also also.

But then my friend Elan asked me if she could use this post of mine in her 2012 Five Star Friday wrap-up post. I don't actually know how to make that post public, but none of the other ones, so for right now, the blog is back up. Because I am physically incapable of telling Elan no, shut up. 

So much of what I don't say it out of fear. I don't even know what I'm afraid of anymore, is the thing. I lost him, I lost my husband, I lost the man I thought at 20 that I would love forever and ever to a bottle of vodka and it didn't kill me. In fact, it worked out kind of nicely for me in the end. I realized after a really long dark time in my life that I was able to love, and able to be loved in return. Of course, entering into a healthy, happy relationship with my best friend 18 months after I asked for a divorce makes me an adulterous whore if you ask my husband, or his family, probably because he was too drunk at the time to remember me asking for a divorce which is, of course, completely my fault/problem, but you know what? So be it. I'd rather be a happy 37 year old adulterous whore than a miserable co-dependent enabling self-deluded trapped asshole.

But I'm still kind of afraid he's reading this, even though he's twice promised he would leave my blog alone and once demanded that I write about him on it so that I could resume being "a really nice lady" to his face, and I'm kind of afraid that he'll use it against me, even though I have been summarily forbidden from using anything against him that happened anytime before, oh, five minutes ago because i'm just a vindicate bitch who lives only in the past, you know? 

But I think I need to read day fourteen again, and I think I need to read days 1 and 22 again, and any of the other days which I mustered the courage to put pieces of this out here where they sit under the bright flashing florescent lights of the internet waiting to be dissected and picked apart and twisted and mouth-fed back to me by people who have never, it turns out, really given two shits about me at all. 

Why this continues to be a surprise to me is anyone's guess. Fool me once and all. 

So I don't really know what I'm doing next here, with this old blog that has seen this same story told over and over again. But for today, I know that a whole bunch of people who have written truly extraordinary bits of wonder on the internet are being celebrated here, and I'm so super humbled to be one of them, and everything else I have to say about this can wait until tomorrow. Or the next day. Or the day after that, when I am feeling less angry and more brave. 

That'll Do, Pig

First off: Thank you all, so so so much, for this. I keep trying to do the math on how many vaccinations we've provided for kids in need around the world, but I ran out of fingers *and* toes and I think my abacus is still packed up in the garage. Which is more than half-way unpacked, I'll have you know, all by my own self.

#Blogust rages on, with a post today by my dear friend and fellow Coloradan Julie Marsh, who wrote an amazingly lovely post about science, bitches. I have the smartest friends on earth. Go leave a comment there. (We're shooting for 10,000 comments by months' end, yo, to get the full $200,000. No small feat, but it totally can be done. We raise $20 per comment on every post.)

Now.

My blog.

I have a gazillion mini post-its all over my house, covered in the scribblings of half-drafts, miniature inspirations, snack-sized ephipanies. And I can't stop sleeping. 

It's hard (but not impossible) to blog in one's sleep, but you know, this sleep thing is so good. I forgot, entirely, what rest felt like. I am hoarding it like it's all the cats on earth and I'm sure the end is extremely nigh. It's not boding well for my blog-life. 

But alas, I am a mommy blogger, or so they tell me, and my children insist of being smart and interesting, so I suppose I should say something about them. Contrary to the below posts, it isn't actually all gloom and doom around here. We have many more good times than uncomfortable ones, and I can't say we've had even a single moment of bad since I got home and we moved into our new home. 

Well, there was that day two weeks ago when I was moving my son's dresser in with him, and I went backwards, and now I think I have permanent nerve damage in the pinky where he rammed it into the doorframe with the edge of the dresser with just a little too much gusto - but other than that, everything's been pretty damn a'ight.

My daughter has a friend at school who is not named Caliber and she talks about him almost obsessively, which you and I know means one thing, but she just knows it means she's happy to like someone, and she wrote him a note the other day. The very last line of it read, "I have a very nice home."

She is currently being charged with second-degree murder of a parent, by a minor in cuteness. 

My middle son has a friend whom he walks home with every day, and a bit of a few love interests at school. He also has a full sized violin, which means he grew, like, .0016th of an inch in the past year, which makes him not the most tiniest person in his class. He is officially King of the World.

My oldest son actually speaks to me - almost every single day, in fact. For 14, that's astonishing. 

Life is oddly humbling. You spend all these years proving you can handle anything, take whatever gets thrown at you, do everything and anything on your own, and then one day you wake up and the universe decides it high time you unlearn all of that bullshit, or die trying. And by you, I mean me.

We're constantly out of money, but even that doesn't feel scary or bad. We have what we need, and we don't need anything else. Going to a single income family is a huge adjustment without factoring in a cross-country move, but I've had help from a few close friends when I absolutely needed it, and that is forcing me to learn how to ask. For help. Because I can't do everything on my own.

We have couches, finally, and hot water, which you really can go a long long LONG time in Arizona in August before you even realize you don't have any. I think I am very close to having a dining room table, which is great because I bought white couches because I hate being either clean or sane. I hate my washer and dryer because it isn't the washer and dryer I had to leave behind in Texas, but it actually works fine. So does everything else. 

So does everything else. 

I wanted to hate it here, but we kind of like it here. My kids love their schools. We all love this little rental house. We're excited for winter to come, for being able to go outside and play any old time we want without a coat or an umbrella or a car. We are snuggled up together in less than half the space we left behind, and it actually feels good. We are learning each other again, in the quiet spaces the tv and the XBox used to fill. (I opted to not get cable, and to seriously limit game-time. I couldn't really explain why, but I didn't have to. This guy went & said it better than I could have, as he is wont to do.)

In a lot of ways, it feels like time has slowed for us. We go to bed early, really early, embarrassingly geritolly early, and we wake up ready. We wake up unafraid. We start our days looking forward, not back, and we end them together, on the white for not much longer couches, under the just-big-enough roof, in the almost but not quite too hot desert. We are rebuilding our lives and each other very quietly, and with careful consideration, and I think that, for now, it is just enough. 

 

Sevens

I was gone for seven weeks. 

Correction: I came back on the first day of my seventh week away from my whole entire life. 

It's been so long since I've written anything here, and so much has happened in that expanse of time, that I can't even remember what's already been said. I suppose I could go read my own archives, but that somehow feels like cheating. On myself. With myself. There's a vibrator joke in here somewhere.

I was gone for seven weeks. So much has happened in that time.

My oldest son's voice dropped while I was gone. I called one day and had no idea who was on the phone. I wasn't even sure it was a *human*. That boy is going to make some choir director's baritone dreams come true. He also got his schedule for high school while I was gone. After 14 years of parenting, I have now officially missed a milestone. I can't believe how awful that feels.

My youngest child, my daughter, she kept her squeak but refined it. Like the baby fat that sheds itself overnight, the roundness of her words molted away and was replaced with sharp angles, strong bones, and complex adjectives. I came back to a girl-child, a woman-in-progress, someone who spent the summer learning, for the first time, how to be feminine from someone other than me. Now I condition her hair all wrong, but she'll still gives me butterfly kisses in the early hours of the morning when no one else is looking. I'll take it. 

My middle son is the most eerily inconsistently consistent human being I have ever met. Nothing about him has changed in the slightest. It is amazingly comforting to come back to one familiar thing. 

I left Phoenix with a 10X15 storage locker and the hope that everything would work itself out...and not much more. I had to go; I had to go for my job, I had to go for my sanity, I had to go for him and his family to start finding their own way through this together. I had to go, and I went, and I had no clue what was going to happen once I was on the other side of more flips of a calendar than I'd ever relinquished control of my family to before. 

Relinquishing control is not my strong suit. Josh and I got into a massive fight in, oh, week two because he and his sister were being such control freaks and undoing each and every one of the many meticulous plans I'd so carefully laid out, all pressed and starched, on the edges of the beds for the time I would be gone. Because I'm not a total hypocrite, oh no

Turns out, letting go is a lot easier when you're in free fall and there is nothing to latch on to. 

This summer was a long, slow, drawn out, slow-motion leap of faith. It wasn't even a leap so much as a leaning over the edge until I had no choice but to fall. It was terrible and frightening to be gone for so long, and I am so glad that I was. I think I had to be. I think I had to let everything settle down the way it wanted to, not the way I wanted to orchestrate it to.

I think I had to let the kids father spend the summer with him in his own way - not the way I would want, expect, or even tolerate, honestly, had I been within a 10 hours drive of them, but it wasn't my summer with them so really, it isn't my place to dictate how it went.

They lived.

They're happy as shit to be home.

The end.

I think I had to be very, very humbled by the love and support that I sometimes forget I have in my corner of the ring. My kids' godfather and his brand new wife and their brand new baby basically gave me a home when literally did not have one, some company, some perspective, and the best homemade ice cream you will ever put into your body. My best friend talked me off a lot of ledges, and watched over me even when I wasn't sure I wanted to be watched over.  My old, old buddy (who *gasp* doesn't have anything to do with teh internetz and is therefore unlinkable) fed me some wine when I needed it, played me ridiculously loud rock and roll in the parking lot, just like we used to do a million years ago, and reminded me of who I used ot be before I tripped and fell into this damn hole again. 

I think I had to be ready to let everything change, and I think I was gone just long enough that everything did exactly that. 

And now we have this home - a house that I took sight me-unseen (the kids and their dad came to check it out, and the kids said, "uhunno, i guess it'll do, grunt", and that, like cookie, was good enough for me). We still haven't met our neighbors (though I've met their unsecured wifi signal, howdy) (don't you judge me) and my garage still looks like this:

But my living room, MY living room, myveryownlivingroom without a drunk guy on the couch sucking all the energy out of it, looks like this:

And my daughter's room looks like this:

And my sons' room looks like this: 

And that is, of course, blackmail for later, when they are really being a-holes and also have girlfriends. Have blog and iPhone; am not afraid to use them. 

(Also, judge not the dorm room. They had loft beds which clearly will not fit. Ikea run for twin frames forthcoming. Until then, that room is merely a crystal ball of their almost-immediate future, with less ramen and porn.)

I am not showing you my room. Last night, my son told me to flipping clean it up already, mawm, jeez. When a 14 year old is disgusted with the way you're living, it's time to reassess. 

But really, what matters to me most right now isn't the way the couches I got for $125 on Craiglist while I was gone (score) perfectly fit this space I accidentally ended up in, or the way the sun rises through the blinds in my windows and makes everything look sparkly and full of promise every single day now that I'm back, it's that under this roof, there are three smiles. Three real, relaxed, not contrived, not manic, not hiding anything behind them smiles. 

I was gone for seven weeks. That's why. And now I get to start on forever, finally.

Vertigo

It's quarter to ten on a Monday night; I'm sitting on my friends' bed in their house in their state, working on some spreadsheet or the other until I am suddenly not there anymore. I'm in a wooden chair on an outdoors patio in front of the Pixies concert in Vancouver. I can see the lines of faces like they are here in front of me, and I can see his face right there, across the table, so close I can touch it if I close my eyes and hold out my hand.

The air is thick with the scent of his colonge, and heavy with the weight of the Marlboro red smoldering between his perfectly manicured, uncalloused fingers. The juxtaposition of the softness of his outside against the hardness of his insides always leaves me a little disoriented, even in my imagination, where he often times appears with neither cause nor warning. I am always sitting close enough to him that I can feel him without touching him, that I can drown myself in the scent of him, of us. 

Us. 

I miss us, and I can't always realize why, so I thought I should write it out while I can see pieces of it. That night at the Pixies show, or the night screaming in the plastic seats at the Avalanche game, or the nights in the Barnes and Noble when he would put his hand on the small of my back and nudge me gently through the crowd - those are the moments in which I feel most whole and least alone. We, he and I, have always been, as long as I have been able to think in terms of me. 

Most of my life with him was alone, waiting, worrying, wanting, but when he was there, even though it was almost never romantic or tender or intimate, there was always the comfort of we, of us, of being with the one thing in life that completed me, for better or ill. 

I know the scent of his skin like I know the feel of my own fingerprints. I know the gait of his walk and the sound of his breath and I knew that I would always and forever have a place by his side, a place no one else on this earth would ever have. He was nothing I needed to learn, but always had something for me to discover. I know him like he is myself and now he is gone and I feel like I am losing the half of my own heart. I feel lost all of the time. I have no idea where I will belong. It makes me dizzy, looking around and over and back again for something that looks like him or smells like him or tastes like him but isn't him, and sometimes it seems so futile that I just want to sit down until it all just stops.