On the morning of August 28th, 2014, at 9:45 in the morning I was sitting in a window seat on flight AC7738, and in the distance, perched atop the low-lying clouds, like a flawlessly crafted piece of art, sat the Manhattan skyline. I couldn’t help but notice how small, and insignificant it looked from so far away. But I already knew from my time previously spent there; it was anything but that. And it was for that very reason I was on that plane, that morning, anxiously awaiting touchdown and my first breath of New York City air. New York City is the love of my life, and as we approached – its vastness beginning to reveal itself – I sat hopeful, that somehow on the streets far below, she would be able to fix me. I was in desperate need of healing, and it was her I chose to help me. So, when I exited the airport shuttle in front of my hotel, I closed my eyes, inhaled the Manhattan air into my lungs and surrendered my broken self to the city…my love.
I was born in 1971, which means I am a true child of the 80’s. If you were born in the 80’s, sorry, it doesn’t count the same. You were just getting started. Meanwhile, I was sprouting hairs down there, riding out the angst of adolescence to the beat of Def Leppard and REO Speedwagon and driving around in a tree scented white Camaro with Rockaberry Cooler discreetly stashed between my legs. While you were learning to tie your shoes, I was outsmarting the local police department, and sporting stupidly teased bangs. I am a product of the 80’s. Not only was I raised in all its neon and hair teasing splendor, but I also survived to tell the tale.
Most of my friends are married, own homes, are parents of fabulous kids and are on a career path that’s going end with a well-earned pension. They all seem to have their shit sorted, are settled down and are adulting like normal people.
Then there’s me.
When I am out walking a dog and weaving my way through a new neighbourhood, I see not just homes, but lives. I see roots being planted. Stories being written. A place people call home. And I think, ‘How wonderful.’ But then. Then it happens. I hear the sound of a vacuum in a driveway and see someone cleaning out a minivan, see an open garage with boxes piled high – chaos stored within its walls, smell the scent of fresh laundry, notice unfinished renovations or see someone weeding their garden and instantly, I become anxious. What I see and smell reminds me that alongside all the ‘wonderful’ are things like chores, compromises, resentment, anger and unfulfilled dreams and I can’t help but wonder, ‘Are these people actually happy?‘ And as I continue on my way, I feel relieved, lucky in fact, that it’s not me. That nothing and nobody is waiting for me at home. I find domestication suffocating and thoroughly insufferable. The destiny that awaits me isn’t a white picket fence and routine. Oh no, out there waiting for me are lessons to learn, words to be written, Horizons to fly towards, and experiences that will lead me…to me, and my dreams. What has yet to make sense in my life, finally will, if I just stay on the path, I am on. Alone.
Don’t get the wrong impression, though. I love, and I love really goddamn hard. Like, there is a 99 percent chance at least one of my friends is getting an ‘I love you’ text from me tomorrow. That’s just how I roll. I wear my heart on my sleeve, and if I love you, you know it. Love is what makes the world go round, and without it, we would all just be a bunch of unfeeling assholes. I am totally not one of those. But…DOMESTICATION? *gag* THAT is like the plague to me. In fact, I have a much greater chance of surviving the plague than surviving settling down and being still. No matter how much I love, or how captivated my heart is, it will never be enough. I have a one-track mind, and it belongs to my dreams. So, fuck the matching track suits and the ‘her and her’ bath robes. I am on the move. And I need to keep moving.
This past week was one of the worst I have had in a very long time. The saying is, ‘When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.’ Well, that’s great and all, except when you have lemons flying at your face from every possible angle. How the hell are you supposed to get a grip on even one goddamn lemon to start squeezing when you’re getting knocked on your ass from constant flying fucking fruit? I certainly couldn’t squeeze anything. So, I fell into a deep depression accompanied by a hint of blind rage and sat suffering all alone. I didn’t write anything, and I completely lost myself.
Finally, last night, I decided that I needed to talk to someone. My face was beginning to hurt from my furrowed brow, and I was feeling like a useless pile of garbage. I drove to my friend’s house to talk to her, and her husband about my lemons. But dammit, I didn’t think they were home and left. I sent her a text to say I had stopped by and told her I just wanted to talk about my lemons. Disappointed, I drove back home. The song ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ came on the radio. The elation I normally feel upon hearing that song was instead met with a big, ‘FUCK YOURSELVES HARD, JOURNEY!’ I knew I had hit rock bottom.
Still fuelled by the desire to feel better, I texted my other friend. ‘I CAN’T HANDLE MY LEMONS!’ And, her response was just what I needed. ‘YOUR LEMONS ARE FUCKING STUPID!’ We went back and forth, and I complained about all my lemons and got them off my chest. I apologized for dumping all of them on her, but she said, ‘If it were me I would feel the same way!’ She talked me through it. And I realized at that moment, that together we were starting to make lemonade. She then said something that made me almost choke on a piece of broccoli because I laughed out loud. There I was, alone, and for the first time in days, I enjoyed a genuine laugh. For the first time in a week, I felt free of my lemons and once again I had hope. Then my other friend sent a text asking, ‘Do you still need talk about your lemons?’ She didn’t even question the fact I had referenced fruit in my text; she was just ready to talk. These are my friends. Ready to talk about my lemons and squeeze when I am in desperate need of some lemonade.
When I put my phone down, I felt relieved, clear-headed and back on track. I thought about the misery I had wallowed in all week, and how I tried to handle it all alone. I couldn’t. And I didn’t need to.
My life doesn’t consist of the same four walls and a family of my own. Mine is an adventure, and the walls that surround me are always different. But the one thing that is consistent in my life is love. The people who are willing to squeeze my lemons (Jesus Christ that sounds dirty) and bring me back from the darkness when it consumes me. They will always be there for me. And I will always be there for them.
I am not sure exactly what I am going to find within myself when I get to where I am going, but I do believe it will be bliss.
The next time I get whacked in the face by flying fruit and am lost in the darkness, far from bliss, I am going to reach out and ask for some help.
My friends know how to squeeze lemons and make really great fucking lemonade.
Yesterday I began pet-sitting for some new people. It did not get off to a good start, and I am now of the belief that it is imperative I stay extra on top of my game while I am here because it seems like if I don’t pay attention for even one second, something is going to go catastrophically wrong. Like for example, the cat is so large that when she lays down, she looks like a bath mat. It makes sense that this would be the week she explodes.
The plan yesterday was that they would leave around noon and I would head to their place right after work. When I got up in the morning, looked outside and saw that we were ass deep in snow, my first thought was, ‘Oh damn; they aren’t going anywhere.’ I live on the west coast and when one snowflake hits the ground people completely shit themselves – chaos ensues, and any semblance of order is thrown right out the window as people scramble to buy loaves of bread and canned beans in preparation for the perceived end. The level of snow outside my window yesterday morning meant that nervous drivers and assholes who refuse to surrender to the conditions would be out in full force, making any trip in a vehicle an unwelcome thrill ride. So, at 8 am I sent a text to confirm my services were still needed. What I heard back was nothing. No response. Just, nothing.
By 12:30 I was beginning to wonder if my new people were ok. My heart leapt into my throat when I momentarily wondered if I was supposed to be there the day before. I envisioned starving animals, urine and feces encrusted floors and claw marks on the walls from them trying to save themselves – but a quick review of my text messages reassured me I had the right day. The relief I felt is indescribable. I almost soiled myself when it crossed my mind I had the wrong date. For real.
I sent another text, all casual, ‘Just me again. You guys get away ok?’ I felt I did well. The text was rational and showed no signs of the hysteria that had taken hold.
3:30 pm rolled around, and I began to accept the fate that awaited me. I decided that though I had not received a response, it was still my duty to go out as expected and check on the animals. But what I imagined awaited me was not just two cats and a dog, but dead bodies. Yes, they had been murdered.
I was deciding if it was best for me to call 911 from inside the house or outside the house, or if I should just drive away and call from a gas station. Then I began to wonder if it would get pinned on me. ‘Of course, it totally will,’ I thought. It’s the perfect scenario. Keith Morrison will tell my story on Dateline, and despite my innocence, people will want to burn me at the stake because every piece of evidence will point towards me. I lured them with my ad. OMG; I have already been in the house. My fingerprints ARE EVERYWHERE! What was my motive Keith will ask me, and I will be like, ‘Keith, I JUST WANTED TO SNUGGLE!!’ ‘He will narrate the next segment after a commercial break saying, ‘She just wanted to snuggle – or – did – she?’ I know the drill, so, as 4:00 pm approached yesterday, I knew I was fucked.
I walked to my car when my shift ended and just as I was about to drive off my phone buzzed. It was them! She apologized and said she forgot to turn on her phone. I think I alarmed her because I responded with, ‘I AM SO GLAD YOU ARE ALIVE!’ And that made her say sorry, again. Then I said sorry for making her say sorry and that I am the one who is sorry. ANYWAY. The point is, they were not dead, and I am not in prison. I did wonder if her phone was off, but my scenario made so much more sense. IT DID!
With a smile on my face, I drove to their house, excited that living furry things I would be able to snuggle with awaited me. My smile was wiped clear off my face the minute I made eye contact with the cat. Cat ears stick up, right? Well, hers were completely horizontal, so much so, her head looked like a square. As I walked past her, I swear I heard her whisper the words, ‘Die, human.’
Then I realized that I forgot all my shampoo’s and soaps. And I was already on day two of dry shampoo, so that shit wasn’t going to cut it in the morning. Anyone out there ever wash their hair with dish soap? Just wondering, because I just thought, like right now, how funny it would be if someone ever did that. Am I right?
I also forgot the main thing for the thing I was going to make for dinner. So I drove to the grocery store, already tired from a long stressful day of worry, to grab things for my thing. I ate dinner at 8:30 pm and practically had to hold my head up because I was so damn tired. I didn’t even like the thing I made.
My coffee and a smoothie are essential to begin each day for me. I remembered to bring my coffee, but I did have a bit of a temper tantrum when I realized I forgot all my berries and would be smoothie-less in the morning. FUUUUUUUUUDDDDGE!!! (not what I really said) First world problems…I know. But, I love my smoothie. It makes me happy and keeps me regular.
From 2 am to 3:30 am I was wide awake because I kept hearing clicking. Positive it was the cat plotting my demise. So, this morning when my alarm went off at 4:15 I felt physically ill.
Then as I was walking the dog at 6 o’clock this morning I basically did the splits on some ice. My legs have not been that far apart since 1989, in the front seat of my boyfriend’s Chevy. I limped home hobbling on my good knee.
Anyway, the transition didn’t go as well as it normally does. BUT, today when I came home early from work, the cat let me pet her, without threatening to destroy me. I consider that a win. I also got to work the afternoon from home, safe from danger, in my sweatpants and close to the heartbeats of three cute little animals.
Yesterday I was on my way to prison; today life is pretty fucking great.
*This blog post was written in real time. I don’t even know if it makes sense. I have also decided I am not responsible for any of its content. I thought I was going to die. OKAY?*
My biggest fear in the world is flying – which is so weird because one of my dreams is to travel and see the world. My fear guarantees that when my dream comes true, I will spend a portion of it shitting my pants – a small price I am willing to pay if it means I will spend eternity reminiscing and celebrating instead of regretting.
Right now I am on a plane, and I think I am about to die. We are ascending, and I almost passed out twice already, due to the G-force I am experiencing. The pilot decided it would be best to head straight for the moon, instead of Calgary, like, right fucking now. (Dearest Pilot – HAVE YOU NO SOUL?) I have flown many times, but this ascent is unlike any I have ever experienced. So, I am documenting my final moments.
I hate the saying ‘The universe only ever gives you what you can handle.’ Like, hate. it. If someone ever says those words to me in my time of need or sorrow, I will have to refrain from punching that person in the throat (not really, but AHHHH!). I think that quote is absolute crap and makes no sense at all. The universe dishes out whatever the hell it wants, to whoever the hell it wants, and when it does, each of us is responsible for how we respond to it.
A few months ago, I was witness to a woman having a full-blown meltdown in a coffee shop. She unleashed her wrath all over the barista because he had the audacity to tell her they were out of bananas – news that apparently had ruined her life. Yeah, a banana. She wanted a smoothie, and when she heard that they were a banana short, she totally lost her shit. The abuse she spewed upon the staff was shocking. I stood there mesmerized and appalled by her relentless tantrum but also felt deeply concerned, for her. I thought to myself, ‘Wow. If this is how she behaves over a banana how is she going to handle a real crisis?’ The universe isn’t going to care when it has a bomb to drop whether she can deal with it or not, it’s just going to drop – she is not exempt simply because she couldn’t keep her shit together over a stupid banana.
Anway, you get my point. Right?
My ability to maintain my composure and deal with life has been put to the test often, and I am quite frankly of the belief that the universe seriously hates me and has it out for me. I envision that some twisted motherfucker in charge of my universe is sitting in a glass box with a bird’s eye view looking down on me snickering wildly. And he takes a bite of a Twizzler and rips it viciously out of his mouth with a look of insane satisfaction every time he presses the ‘I am totally going to fuck with her right now’ button.
If this is some karmic payback, then hey, I am willing to take my punishment like a champ – I know I have annoyed the shit out of some people – but this seems excessive. Dude, I haven’t been this much of an asshole, ENOUGH ALREADY!
He has pressed that button more times than I can count in the past few years, and each time he did, I was left reeling. That son of a bitch was ruthless at times. But, unlike the banana lady, I chose to handle the circumstances that were thrown at me, differently. I made a conscious choice to fight, to find my way back from the paralyzing darkness and to see beauty in tragedy and loss. And I did. It wasn’t easy, but I did. I came out the other side enlightened, inspired and at peace with who I am. I was ready to live the life I had always dreamed of living. I was beginning to fly.
But, just when I was about to soar he pushed that damn button and clipped my wings.
An ailment is impeding my ability to function at a normal level, and I struggle daily because my body won’t cooperate with my mind. My mind is sharp, committed and ready to reach for the stars, but my body keeps me grounded, discouraged and battling to continue moving forward. No matter what I will my body to do, fatigue won’t allow it to do what I need it to do.
That fucking guy then callously set his sights on my family, deciding it wasn’t enough that my stepmom has to fight a disease that will eventually take her, no, he thought it was best for her husband to now fight the same disease right along with her. ‘Why do it alone when you can do it together, am I right?’, that asshole must have thought. He had no regard for how much they were already dealing with, the stress associated with it and what was already weighing them down. Now, not only do they juggle endless appointments for her, but also for him. The worry and uncertainty are staggering, and all of us are still trying to process what the fuck is happening.
So, in the past month, the voice inside my head that so often whispers the words ‘just quit‘, has grown louder. And I have begun listening. ‘Just quit‘ it continues whispering, each time nudging me a little closer to giving up. I have struggled to see how it is possible to continue chasing my dreams when shit just keeps happening. I looked into renting apartments, and instead of writing this past week, I chose to get lost in the world of Hogwarts, wanting to be as far away from my world as possible.
Then, something incredible and unexpected happened.
I met a duck.
The duck, who belongs to the people next door, snuck into the yard of the people I am petsitting for and couldn’t find her way out. The neighbour came and retrieved her, but not before I was able to get a few photos. And as she was leaving to go back home, I was able to give her a little head rub (the duck, not the neighbour), and my heart melted. The joy that little duck brought me is indescribable.
A couple of mornings after that I heard a duck squawking, but really loudly and close to the house. It was 5:45 am, and the ducks are never up that early, so I knew right away one of them must be stuck in the yard again. I ran to the living room and flicked on the light to the backyard and right outside the glass door was the largest raccoon I had ever seen. My first thought was, ‘Oh shit, where is the duck?’ I hit the door to make the raccoon move, and when he turned, I saw the duck and screamed, ‘NOOOOOOO!’ The raccoon had the duck I had met only days earlier by the neck. I hit the door again, and the raccoon released the duck and took off into the field.
My mind was racing. I knew I had to get that duck. I ran outside in my underwear and picked her up, and when I did, she didn’t resist. Blood was oozing out of the wounds on her neck and had painted her back and tail red. I needed to stop the bleeding. ‘FUUUCK’, I kept saying. I sprinted inside and immediately applied pressure to her neck, while whispering, ‘please don’t die, please don’t die.’ I kept telling her it was going to be ok, unsure if it actually was. I kept waiting for her to fade, to show signs the end was coming, but instead, she just looked at me with her gentle eyes, her composure completely intact, as if to say, ‘it’s going to be ok.’ I couldn’t help but think in the midst of chaos, that her reaction to this horrific situation was remarkable.
After slowing the blood flow, I put her down, quickly dressed, and delivered her bloodied to the neighbours. I apologized profusely for the horror I had bestowed upon them by knocking on their door at 6 am, but they, of course, couldn’t have been more thankful.
I turned and walked away with my head down, bloodied myself and completely disheartened. ‘Did I do the right thing?‘ ‘Is she suffering more now because of me?’ are the two questions I couldn’t stop asking myself. I couldn’t believe what had happened and I kept imagining her pain and fear, and I felt shattered. I showered and returned to Hogwarts, desperately wishing I could board the train on platform 9 3/4.
The next day I hesitantly approached the neighbour and dared to ask the question, ‘Is she ok?’ I then braced myself for the dreaded words to come. ‘SHE IS GREAT!’ she joyfully exclaimed. ‘WHAT?’ I screamed back. She went on to explain that she wasn’t sure she was going to make it because of the blood loss and the number of wounds, but she did pull through. AND not only did she pull through, but she had had enough of solitary confinement and was already back with the other ducks. If I had known this woman better, I would have broken down right there. The relief that flooded over me knowing the duck was okay was so powerful it almost knocked me over.
I couldn’t stop smiling and cried tears of joy when I went back inside. For the first time in many days, something went right. Bless her; she was alive.
My mind went back to the moment I was holding her and the way she looked at me, ever so gently. I don’t know if she chose her response to the horror that was unfolding around us, but I like to believe she did. In the face of such adversity, she responded with grace and dignity, even with the knowledge it might not be ok.
I am watching her as I type this. She is in the field – a little worse for wear – but she is alive. Waddling side by side with her family, she has let go of what happened to her and is moving forward. With her resiliency on full display, she reminds me that once again I have a choice to make. To face it, handle it and keep living life with conviction and purpose, or crumble in the face of adversity.
I choose to be like her.
So, with the dignity and grace, she has shown me, I too will continue moving forward, chasing my dreams side by side with my family, facing whatever is to come.
There is nothing more Meryl Streep needs to do to cement her legacy as one of the greatest actresses of her generation, or any for that matter – she is a goddess. But last night she catapulted herself into the stratosphere and will be immortalized not only as the brightest star ever to shine but as a hero. Standing in front of her peers, and millions of people watching at home, with conviction, grace, and courage gave a speech for the ages about inclusion and protection of freedoms. The strength she must have had to muster, I can only imagine.
*names, destinations, and occupations have been changed in this post…for obvious reasons.
I don’t like to refer to myself as a paranoid person (I totally am), I prefer to say that I possess a vivid imagination. When I was 15, I was often at home alone, which was great – my dad trusted me. It was not unusual, though, for me to ask my friends to walk through every inch of my house when they dropped me off at night to make sure no creep was lurking in a corner waiting to kill me. When I was too embarrassed to ask them to do it, I walked every inch myself, steel bar in hand. It was the only way I could close my eyes and fall asleep alone in my house, with the knowledge I was, in fact, alone. One morning, convinced someone had broken into my dad’s bedroom and was rifling through his dresser drawers, I jumped out my bedroom window, with my dog tucked under my arm, and fled three doors down to my friend Ronda’s house and called the fuzz. After a thorough walk-through of the house, they concluded that there was no evidence anyone had been there, and my dad’s underwear and socks were intact – still meticulously folded in his drawers, just as he had left them. Oopsie daisy. I told you, a very vivid imagination.
Well, that’s a wrap…2016 came, and in the blink of an eye, went. But unlike so many years before, I am looking back on this one with a big smile on my face. Usually, on New Year’s Eve, I promise myself, that this year I will do something, I won’t sit around, I WILL MAKE SOMETHING OF MYSELF AND MY LIFE – annnd, then I totally don’t, and before I know it, another wasted year is over. 2016, though, was entirely different. It wasn’t at all like the previous ones. This one was full of magic, growth, happiness and a steadfast commitment to fulfilling my dreams. I began chasing the absolute hell out of my dreams, and for the first time in my life believe they are going to come true.
It is Christmas Eve.
The snow is falling. He is sitting in his favourite chair, with his legs up, reading and watching TV. He periodically peers out the big bay window for a glimpse – wondering perhaps who is driving by and where they might be going.
He is not alone, but he is alone with his thoughts. ‘How bad is it?’ ‘Will the results confirm there is a cure for the cancer growing inside my chest?’ ‘Will I be able to fight it?’ ‘Am I going to be ok?’ ‘Why is this happening?’ ‘What if…?’ These are only a few of the thoughts racing through his mind, and what he is asking himself over and over again. He is thinking about his life, going over everything. Remembering. Hoping.
He is scared.
He looks over at his wife. He feels comfort, relief that she is here, and is thankful that this Christmas Eve she is beside him. She is the love of his life. As he watches her, his thoughts are of his Christmas wish, the one he has had to wish for all too often on Christmas Eve – a wish for her – that the cancer in her bones remains lazy, that it keeps taking it’s time, in turn, giving her more. Tonight, he once again wishes, for her, only much harder than ever before. Her cancer has changed course and found a warm place to nestle in her lungs – but, again, it is resting. ‘Keep resting’ he wishes. ‘Please. She is the love of my life.’
This is not how it is supposed to be. She needs him. Her cancer, for the moment, is sleepy, but, he knows it will eventually awaken, seeking refuge elsewhere. He needs to be here. So, he sits, gazing at his beautiful wife and continues wishing, with all his might, for himself, and for her. ‘Please. Let me win this fight. Let me stay. Please, give her more time.’
It is Christmas Eve.
There is no snow falling and, I am not alone. At my side is family and best friends. The bustle of music and joyful celebration fills my ears, but, I am alone in my thoughts. ‘Is he going to be ok?’ ‘How long before her cancer spreads even more?’ ‘When will we know his results?’ ‘How can this be happening?’ ‘Why them…again?’ ‘What if…?’ I am thinking about my life, going over everything. Remembering. Hoping.
I am scared.
The people with whom I share this night are all around me. I watch smiles grow on their faces as they talk and laugh with one another, and I too, smile because I can see them, hear them, touch them. I look at these faces, these people and I am overwhelmed at the sight of them. Thankful that for now, they are safe – Time has not put them on notice, not yet. My heart pounds and aches as I watch them. I catch my breath. They are here. I too am here.
The Christmas tree is in my view, and the twinkle of the lights ignites the colours draped all around. It is beautiful. Presents carefully wrapped with love and generosity are tucked underneath, waiting to reveal themselves, and to bring joy Christmas morning. I think of the many people who tonight are alone in their thoughts, wishing for the gift of just one more day, or many days. A gift they won’t find under the tree, but in the eyes of the one who still stands or sits beside them. I wish them many days.
And I think of the ones, who are looking around the room tonight and see only space where someone once was. I wish them a distant relationship with regret and abundant peace in their hearts – that a memory or a story provides them the strength to smile, to remember and to hold on. I wish them courage.
I think of all my family and friends, who tomorrow will gather around a tree, open gifts and watch joyfully as their children experience the magic of Christmas. I hope they put down their phones, that they are present, and store each moment deep in their minds – so that if one day, memories are all they have, vivid recollections will flood in. I wish them all joy, laughter, health, happiness, and infinite love. I wish them this Christmas and many, many more.
I walk to the window, and I look outside. I close my eyes and think of him sitting in his chair, and her at his side.
My wish this night is always for her, but tonight it is also for him.
I wish I may, I wish I might,
Have the wish, I wish tonight.
It is Christmas Eve.
The snow is falling. He looks over at his wife. He feels comfort, relief that she is here, and is thankful that this Christmas Eve, once again, she is beside him.
For you, both.
I love you.