Closure

I have often been told not to expect closure. But sometimes you find it in strange ways.

I mentioned in an earlier post that it was the anniversary of the end of my last serious relationship. The woman I dated and I had a big trip in May 2020 planned. Ten days in the UK. London then up to Edinburgh and back again. I had always wanted to take a trip like this, but because of COVID quarantine our relationship ended and with that, so did our plans.

I had $350 in AirBnB credits for my part of the stays that I had to use up before they expired, so when my mom, son, and I went to Washington to visit family, I used the balance to rent a cottage in Seaside for a couple nights that was just off the beach.

The strange thing was that my former girlfriend had lived in Oregon for nearly twenty years before moving back to Colorado. It was strange to be seeing and visiting many of the places she often talked about, without her. What was really strange about it was I didn’t feel haunted by her.

Truly a horrible place. *eyeroll*

Her take on Oregon was that it was a miserable place where it rained constantly and that the state flower was mold.

I don’t think I have seen a more beautiful place, even at the tail end of winter. The cold sea, the mossy trees, the sunsets, and yes, it did rain. It even snowed a little on the shore one day. But it wasn’t anything like she described. It was a place I could see myself returning to again and again.

I guess what I am saying is that my eyes were opened in many ways. I began to see fundamental differences in who we were as people. What our tastes and values were and more importantly how they diverged.

On this trip, I used up the last of the funds I had set aside for a trip with her, in a place she had lived, and in a weird way, I got closure out of that. The page was turned and the book was closed on that part of my life.

Photo by Clinton A. Harris March 2021

The title never fits when it’s the first thing you write

All these years we’ve been thinking like readers when we sit down to write. As a reader, other than the cover of a book, the first thing you know about any of it is the title. So when we make that transition from reader to writer, we might have some unrealistic ideas of what to expect from ourselves when we are writing. The title encapsulates the book, either from a line of prose that wraps up the entire theme, to something symbolic. I have news for you; the writer didn’t start off with the title. Why? Because as they were writing, it is likely they figured out what it all meant as they were chugging along.

So why is it in life, we think we are supposed to have our lives figured out so early on? I read the blog of a millennial the other day who was putting so much pressure on herself for not having everything laid out by the end of her twenties. I remember that I might have done the same. A friend of mine discussed out our careers need to be established by 27, and how she was already past her prime.

What a load of crap.

Funny how these days, kids can’t be expected to cross the street on their own, sit in the front seat of a car until they can drive it, or do half the things I was able to do on my own at their age. But they have a window of nine years now to figure out their entire lives, including four years of college, and the massive debt associated with that. Oh yeah, don’t forget to get married and start a family too in those years.

Green as the grass and twice as wet behind the ears as a fish.

Tonight I’m feeling a little melancholy. Maybe it’s from two solid days of DIY on the house and not enough writing. I re-walled one of the rooms, floor to ceiling. I threw in some insulation too. Today I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t do any work on the house. I didn’t do a lot really. Some laundry, visited my folks, slept in, and made acorn squash rissotto. Rissotto is one of those foods that sounds really fancy, and it is tasty, but when you get to brass tacks on it, it’s really just mushy rice.

I would rather have some decent BBQ. Honestly, I don’t know what the big deal with saffron is, I can’t taste it. I can’t even smell it. Never could. Maybe that’s good, because at least I don’t know what I am missing.

Tonight marks an anniversary for me. A year ago, a woman I was seeing at the time and I went on a romantic weekend trip for her birthday. Shortly after that, the whole state was on lockdown. I would only see her once more and then six weeks later, it was all over. It took me a while to get over that one. Someone who said they would always be there…then they weren’t. Something like that makes the walls go up. Since then, my life has changed quite a bit. My job of nearly 19 years ended, I moved back to my hometown because I could no longer afford to live in the Front Range, I got a dog, who at this moment is nagging me to play fetch with her. I have drifted from some people while getting closer to others. I tend to guard myself in talking about these because last year taught me to not get too comfortable sometimes.

Tonight, Facebook brought up a moment in 2018 where my youngest son and my daughter were ice skating. I watched the video and saw the smiles. The genuine smiles. At the time, I wasn’t all that healthy or happy. Bad relationship, bad work environment, a CPS courtroom process finally winding down, resulting in nothing other than a bunch of bureaucrats patting themselves on the back telling each other “Good job!” and nothing being any different.

Six months later, my daughter stopped smiling and stopped coming over to my house. My child support doubled. Work started to look really sketchy as far as job security. The bad relationship I was in finally folded at the end of that year, and it took a while to understand my worth. (She got engaged to someone else six months later–kinda sus).

A year ago tonight, I was sitting in a hot spring with someone I was in a serious relationship with, who may as well have fallen off the face of the earth a week later. I don’t expect a pity party, I just don’t think I could have come up with a title for the last year and the awful and wonderful things that have happened.

The world got crazy and since the St. Patrick’s Day that wasn’t, now everyone hates Dr. Seuss and Mr. Potato Head.

I’m far from being 27 and I know that I don’t have my life figured out. Other than there are a lot of things I wouldn’t want to repeat, and a few I wouldn’t mind going back to once in a while. In some ways I feel truly blessed, and am working every day on how to just let those blessings be good for me. To not push people away because it hurts when they get close. To just be content in the silence of a house I am lucky enough to fix up.

Tonight I’m playing fetch with the dog.

A moment of panic

This morning I woke up at around 9a.m. and started writing. Lately I have been using a method where I jot down ideas for a scene or even a chapter right there when I need to on my phone. I finished writing a significant chunk by 11a.m. when I got out of bed. 3260 words. Last night I struggled to get the right ideas down, but eventually I did. This morning, the scene I worked on flowed better. It pieced together the scenes I wrote last night in a good way. It was really a keystone kind of chapter that begins a new section, having played out the last one to the point where I am sick of those characters.

I got the scene down in Notes. Then I got coffee. Then I fought fires through the better part of the afternoon until around 4p.m. when I sat down to transcribe the scenes I had written in bed to my master document. I opened up the file and it synched through to my computer. I watched it as I clicked on the file to select all, copy, and paste it to the main document in Scrivener. And as I did this, the entire file vanished.

Two hours of work. Gone.

I checked in deleted files. I rebooted my phone and the computer. I tried to check my backup hard drive. It was like the computer decided to be helpful and synch what was on the computer over what was on the phone. Because computers are helpful that way. It was gone and not a tech info library in all of the internet was of any help. They just kept suggesting I check the recently deleted folder.

No shit? I hadn’t thought of that!

Of course I had thought of that. It wasn’t there. And unlike the last time this happened, I didn’t think I was crazy and maybe had shaken my phone and accidentally undid typing in a file that hadn’t been saved. It was literally right there. Synched on my phone and computer.

So, I broke down and called Apple Tech Support.

The first person, though she was very nice, was exactly the same kind of tech support I used to work with when I did the job myself twenty three years ago. She escalated me to L2 tech support. Someone in Cupertino who actually knows what they are doing instead of trying to field 50 plus calls a day which can usually be remedied by “Have you tried turning it off and on again?”

He took control of my phone and poked around in Apple’s secret files and…

Found the goddamned files. Saving my bacon. My sanity. And getting my eternal gratitude.

The rest of the day, I finished Utopia on Prime and also the most recent episode of The Boys. I got another coffee and prepared to do some more writing. I had some Happy Panda for dinner, poured myself a stout and sat down to write another 2,850 words on a new chapter. And then the words you are reading now.

It’s just midnight now and I feel good about the day. I could keep writing though.

Maybe I will. If I make a tea, I should have another two hours in me before the writing gets sloppy or I black out at the keyboard.

I think I might just let the chapter I’m working on percolate while I sleep. Then I can start again in the morning, hitting the ground running.

I keep holding back, since a lot of the stuff I’m writing isn’t going to sit well with some people. This is a concern. I’m not a robot and I do still have empathy for people. But the story needs to be told, and this is what I need to write if I want the story to be true. No holding back. No pulling punches. Not that anyone ever pulled a punch with me.

Maybe being nice is one of those things to consider in my second draft.