Short winter days

These short winter days can be hard. Grey days where the sun rises but little warmth comes from it. Then before you know it, it is dipping down beyond the horizon and night comes. The afternoon is measured out in the number of times the heater kicks on. The roads are icy, the steam and smoke rises from the chimneys of houses up and down the street. Nowadays there isn’t the acrid scent of woodsmoke in the air. The stores are much emptier than they would be less than two weeks from Christmas.

In what used to be a busy season, people are staying home, which is fine. I don’t feel like Peopleing much these days anyway. Winter was never my favorite season, mostly from being a sickly kid and knowing that an auditorium filled with coughing kids for the school Christmas Program would always end with me on antibiotics in less than a week. But I did love skating and sledding and innertubing and trudging through the snow, reinacting the scenes from Hoth in Empire Strikes Back with my husky, Scooter.

Today, I am in the middle of moving things around, cleaning, boxing things up. Getting ready to leave a lot of things behind that I have grown accustomed to over the last twenty years. Today I watched Fiddler on the Roof, and so many of the things of this movie affected me in different ways. Watching your children grow up, losing people you love, and even uprooting yourself from not only the place you have called home, but also your traditions that have kept things for falling apart. Some of those traditions could be called a rut. Who is to say that ahead lies a better way?

What I see in the place I am now is a place where people live in fear. 25 years ago, I first made these observations. I was a kid used to freedom. My hometown was boring, but you could drive for twenty minutes and be in the mountains, hiking in places that people in the Front Range see only in postcards. I was dating a girl at the time who lived in the suburbs of Denver. Her parents (her mother at least) used to refer to me as a bohunk or a hick. The extent of her worldliness was that she hardly ever left the house. They would videotape movies and TV shows to watch in their basement theatre setup. Other than the store (and work for the dad), or school for the girl I was dating, their window into the world was mostly the TV. Yet, I was the hick.

There were always rumors of a train derailment, or crime, or a home intruder, or some sort of external boogieman that kept them locked safely inside their home. Today, I see that on a large scale. The news, the government, little signs all over town telling us to be afraid, be very afraid. And anyone who raises a hand and says “None of this sounds right,” is shouted down. You are trying to kill helpless old people! You need to trust the science! You need to cover your face and bend the knee! It is emotionally exhausting. Between that and the traffic and the fear of gangs and racism and the every-shifting tides of popular opinion, it’s a wonder there is a shred of sanity left in any of us.

It will be good to leave it.

I’m tired of these grey days. The red lights. These days people are filled with a lot more worries and arguments than they are handshakes, hugs, smiles, or laughter. Though I will miss my daily trip to get coffee, I have felt like I am outgrowing that place these days. The smiles and short visits seem hollow anymore. The shine has worn off. The faces and names are all changing. People come and go. And I feel like that tall stone in a field that just watched the seasons pass, the grasses grow fall before the blade and grow again, never growing myself.

I have my work cut out for me, but at least it is honest work. My poetry professor in college used to say “Writing is lying.” I don’t agree with that anymore. I think writing is honesty. Tolerating what we see and hear without comment is lying. As the pictures come down from my walls and the books find their places in boxes, a life built here for the last six years is slowly draining out of this place. On the floor are marks left by heavy furniture which is no longer in the place it stood, closets empty out, the rooms increase in size, inviting the potential of the next resident.

I have finally given myself permission to do this. Something I should have done years ago but didn’t have the opportunity. Instead I kept my head low at work, with my ex-wife, with everything, just letting the world pass me by. It’s time to start moving forward again.

Soon, the days will get longer, the rains will come, the sun will shine. Five. Ten years will pass. Then many more. New friends will be made, old friends will fade away. Painful memories will have dulled and the sharp edges will be filed off with time. Maybe the busy world of the cities will find some peace, because right now, I don’t have much hope for places like this. It’s no place to grow up or wind up. A place where people cannot think for themselves anymore. Just waiting for the next wave to crest and maybe, just maybe if they keep their heads down, they can hold on long enough for the next one, and the next, and so on until the end.

It is best to follow opportunity, which is what I am doing. I don’t need to play mother-may-I anymore while we all sit on a sinking ship. It’s time for something better.

Turn the page

When I was a kid, my mom used to sing songs from church to help me sleep. Being the night owl that I was even then, I would often stay up long enough to see my dad at the door when he would come home from the mine at around midnight. I’m certain I got up at about 6am to watch cartoons too, bright and early and ready to glaze over watching Popeye and LooneyToons.

One of the songs she used to sing was “I Can’t Feel At Home in this Word Anymore” which even then I thought was a little morbid. Church has changed a lot in the last forty years. The last time I went to church the songs were all bland, hardly memorable, and easily forgotten. I’m glad they flashed the lyrics up on a screen, otherwise I would have never been able to tell one from the other. But those old songs from back in the day are haunting. They are the kinds of songs that people would hum or sing when they weren’t at church. I don’t go to church anymore, and I don’t miss it. It wasn’t for me. Something was lost from those days. Maybe the darkness.

Maybe something else.

I’m starting off on a new path soon and it scares the hell out of me. But like they say, everything you want is on the other side of fear. I can’t help but think of that old song my mom used to sing. I have seldom thought of it in the way that Christians are supposed to. The transcendence from our earthly design to a heavenly purpose. Usually I just think of how weary I have become of this life. These days, I have felt especially weary. Six years of just maintaining, surviving, getting by.

There’s not a lot holding me to this place, to this position in life. Two of my three kids are out of my house. My job ended. I am not in a relationship. I am comfortable in many ways, but ways that will eventually fade into quiet desperation. When I went to London in 2019, I made it my goal to do something everyday that scared me.

So, I’m making some changes in my life. Might as well. The world is not going back to how it once was, so I might as well ride the wave of that. Ahead of me lies opportunity. Here is just scrambling to hold the pieces together of what I built for the last twenty years. Honestly, I don’t feel at home in this life anymore. I feel like everything has moved on.

So, it’s time to move on myself.

Watch this site for updates.

Immune system

Yesterday marked the end of the best relationship I have ever had. I spent most of the day wandering around in a state of depression, I’m not going to lie. It was hard. I was mourning the last several months. Nearly a year of feeling so connection, so accepted, and incredibly happy.

We parted ways, but we didn’t fight, argue, blame, or say anything nasty to each other. We had reached the Rubicon and this is why you date people, so you can see what you are willing to put up with for the rest of your lives or not. You get to see whether or not things will work out on the long term. I won’t get into it, but we had some serious and lengthy discussion, and ending things was the right thing.

I’ve been through breakups before. The pain center of your brain is firing. The fight or flight center, the amygdala, is working overtime. 70% of the amygdala deals with negative thoughts because being aware of things that can kill you or cause you pain is what keeps you alive when sabertooth cats and direwolves are hunting you. We are the leftovers of ice age megafauna.

Previous breakups for me were devastating. I went through many stages of mourning, again and again, sometimes for several months. For the last two years, I have been working on myself. In that short time I went from a highly dysfunctional relationship which ended without any explanation as to why. It was shaded with lies, gaslighting, push-pull, and ultimatums. In the end, it just fizzled out and I kept expecting it to start all over again just like it had for years. It didn’t. I made myself let go. I was single. Lonely. Then I went a little crazy. I traveled by myself. I pushed my comfort zones and boundaries and started to wake up. And one day when I decided the path I was headed down was empty, I decided to start cutting ties to some people. I made the conscious effort to be the man I always wanted to be.

Two or three weeks later, I was centered, and content with being alone but open to the idea of finding someone nice. I met the woman I would spend the next ten months with. She was better than anything I could have ever expected. Smart, wise, sexy, kind, generous, and so many other amazing attributes I could list all day long. A recovering co-dependent herself, she had also done the work. She had gotten to the point where she was comfortable being alone too. She didn’t need a man to define her.

It was an amazing ten months. Healthy. Happy. Fulfilling. I always trusted her and I still do. I have a theory that the best people come into your life when you are at your best.

We reached a crossroads. The decisions made at that moment did not mar the ten months before. I carry no resentment, only the sadness of loss. Mourning the past, present, and a future that could have been. So many plans. A lot of this was out of our hands. The pandemic, the constant fear, the only thing to report every day when you shelter in place is the negativity going on around you. It starts to eat at you. It has been eating at everyone.

But today, the day after, I woke up to a very strange feeling. Yesterday I had that moment when I woke up and everything was fine. Then it all came rushing back in to me. The ebb and flow of the tide of grief filled me. I felt rough. I felt the old amygdala working overtime. Today, I woke up and fully understood what had happened. Where things were now. I felt a strange sensation I have never experienced after a breakup: equilibrium.

In the past it was often relief, or panic, or emptiness. I would look down the long road ahead and just think, “I’m always going to be alone.” Today, loneliness isn’t a factor. On my “journey” (and I’m kinda getting sick of the amount of Woo-woo people attach to that word), I have put in the work to be healthy. To make and accept good boundaries with myself and others. Today I’m not looking at a road ahead of being lonely. I have my own company. I have my son. I have my writing. Friends and family. And I have the possibility for many new experiences that are yet to happen.

Today I am looking at a long road ahead of working for myself instead of a shitty master at a job that throws 18 years into the gutter and all the knowledge I have with it. I get to do what I’ve always wanted to do! I get to write. I have the opportunity. I have the talent. And here’s the bittersweet truth of it: now I have a lot more time to focus on it now.

Everything happens for a reason, and if that isn’t true, then when things happen, it’s up to you to give them purpose.

These are the benefits of working on yourself. You aren’t racing to the next thing, because in my experience, I haven’t seen better. I was lucky and I was even luckier to find someone at this level of mental health. She knew her boundaries too. There’s nothing wrong with that. I can’t help but love her more for it.

So today is a new beginning, and I have a lot of work to do.

  • First goal: don’t starve.
  • Second goal: get good at what I’m doing. Thrive.
  • Third goal: Toyota 4Runner. Graphite or dark blue.

As you can see the success curve gets steep pretty quickly.

I think even though I have lost someone who was the bestest I have ever met, it hurts a lot less today than any sad choices I have said goodbye to in the past. I think this is what happens when you take care of yourself and have a healthy immune system (relationship wise). The pathogens of pain are quickly dispersed by the antibodies you carry. The way you respond, the lessons you have learned, and the peace you find within yourself. This time, the loss was much greater, but I don’t feel like I’m dying. I feel like I learned a lot, I felt loved and seen for exactly who I am for the first time in my life. I am happy still. I am loved…even by myself.