Anti-social

Sometimes I just don’t want to be around anyone. My dog is good enough company, and as I write this I’m even fine with her being in the next room, sleeping on her doggie bed. The house is quiet right now except for her snoring. I am just enjoying the silence. Sipping coffee. Letting my thoughts marinate.

I have assignments I need to write this week. Money is getting low and I have bills coming up soon. I had the chance to socialize this weekend, but I’m not doing it. I am not obligated. I don’t want to people (verb). The idea of being social tonight almost makes me angry.

This is a month of many anniversaries. October is neck and neck with April in being my least favorite month. My oldest kid turned 21 this month. Happy Birthday, kid. The time has slipped by. I haven’t seen him in six years. I haven’t even had a conversation with my daughter in four years. A year ago this week, a judge determined that my youngest son needed to live full time with his mother. So, when people say parental alienation isn’t a thing, I will say “fuck you.” Not only is it real, but the courts assist toxic parents in accomplishing it. They must have a vested interest in filling prisons and rehab centers, because that is usually the result.

Honestly, I’m tired of talking about it. I’m getting on with the rest of my life. Or trying anyway.

Eight years ago I took the first step at doing this. I began researching how to get out of an abusive relationship and how to file for divorce. Eight years. Really, with the exception of one year off, I have been in court for most of this time. My ex-wife loves to remind me what I was getting out of. She’s probably reading this, because she continues to stalk me online. She needs to get a life. When I see my analytics list her city as one of the places with the most hits on my blog, I know who it is reading my stuff. I don’t know what she is up to with her life. I don’t care. I haven’t cared for eight years.

Being who she is, she probably loved seeing that reference to her. Ugh. Gross.

That’s not why I’m writing today. I just needed to get that out of my system. Like a yearly colonic to remind me how far I have come–and how far others have continued to sink.

I’m doing okay. Really. Tonight is just quiet.

This time of year brings back a lot of memories. Good ones. Like the time I got invited to a Halloween party by the deaf interpreter who had a crush on me. Later I found out she threw a party in hopes that I would come and we could hang out. She dressed as Galadriel. She wrote me poetry. I didn’t really know at the time that she was interested in me. I was seeing someone and didn’t think much about anyone else.

I think about the Halloween parties my friends and I went to together. I remember when my girlfriend at the time won a date with Darth Vader (David Prowse) and we got to hang out with him at a five star restaurant in Denver. He did not like George Lucas. Hell, her birthday is in four days. I still remember after all these years. One of a handful of people whose birthday I do remember. Happy birthday, you’re still a fish.

I think of the way the weather would get cold and the first snows would come. We wouldn’t see leaves on the trees for another eight months. This time of year makes me think a lot about the past. It is a transitional season, a time for changes as summer becomes winter, the dead stir from their rest for a time.

A year ago, I was in denial. I had lost someone and I wanted them back in my life. I fought hard. I did everything I could to win their heart. It’s the last time I am going to fight for anyone like that. You shouldn’t have to fight for someone like that. They should just want to be in your life if they are worth it. I should have just let it be. Let it die a dignified death.

The theme for a lot of this is that need to be wanted, isn’t it? Tonight, I realize that a lot of loneliness stems from a need to be wanted. A fear of missing out. I can’t think of a better place to be right now than a quiet house, watching Netflix, maybe drinking a glass of Ridge wine, and hanging out with my dog.

Not too long ago, I would have been climbing the walls that everyone seemed to have somebody and I was all alone. Not only does it not bother me now, but it feels pretty nice. I don’t have to check in with anyone, I don’t have to do something for someone else, I just get to live my life at my own pace.

Tomorrow will be a work day. I have to get caught up on some assignments. I have a couple projects in the works too. More than enough to fill my time. For now, I’ll take listening to music from another room. Coffee. And that eternal neeeeeeeeee in my ears from tinitis.

Enjoy your life on your terms, my friends.

Let’s start a new tradition

I was reading another blog and the writer was talking about her upcoming wedding and asking for suggestions on what to put on their wedding registry. The question got me to thinking. I offered my suggestions in a way that was hopefully as sincere as I could manage. Just because my luck in being married wasn’t ideal, doesn’t mean I don’t wish other people happiness. You miss 100% of every shot you don’t take, as the Great One says.

Looking back, my wedding registry was ridiculous. Lots of towels, expensive kitchen stuff like matching slotted spoons and soup ladles. Pizza stones. Small appliances. We just went OFF with the scanner gun at the Aurora Target. Most of it didn’t last long. The towels wore out. The appliances broke. And of course we wound up fighting over a large chunk of what was left over, paying lawyers $300 an hour to bicker over a set of dishes that were missing most of the coffee cups.

The other day, my mom and I were at a thrift store and we were amazed at the number of complete china sets they had for sale. China has gone out of fashion when it comes to presentation and bringing family together. Whole sets were selling for like $75. Originally, they were probably over $500. Like the families who donated the china, I didn’t need any of it. I’m sure those china sets were on someone’s Registry stretching back to the 40s and all the way up until the 90s. I remember one of the patterns was a set that I had looked at with my ex wife back in the day.

It got me to thinking. Why don’t they have a divorce registry? They should be doing a lot of what is involved with divorce differently. It could be an excuse to have a decent party, sorta like a wedding, or a funeral.

For example, when someone dies, they are inundated with casarole dishes because grieving people usually have to force themselves to eat, or at least cook. The same is true of divorced people. And most of the good stuff they used to have in the kitchen to help them cook has been divided in half (best case scenario), or destroyed by a vengeful ex. So, why not unload your favorite hot dish on your divorced friend? Or better yet…you might see where I’m going with this.

Have a Registry! And a party!

They can scan all the crap they are going to need to put their household back together. Even if it’s just a couple chairs and a couch from Ikea (which would be the perfect place to register: mattresses, furniture, housewares, towels, etc). You’re going to need forks, knives, and spoons. Blenders. Mixers. Nothing will replace the bowl that has been in your family for generations that your ex decided to hang onto (or smash in the driveway), but maybe you can add some decent stainless steel mixing bowls onto the list of stuff you will need.

When I got divorced, many of the people I found coming back into my life were very generous. They gave me gently-used couches, TV stands, kitchen tables and chairs, and stuff for the kitchen. I appreciated all of it. I only wish I could have had a nice big grill out for everyone. A celebration of starting over in life. Maybe a big pit-cooked pig like at a luau. An open bar.

I’ll likely never get married again, but if I could have done things differently, other than choosing a different bride, I wouldn’t have registered at Target. I would have registered with an airline or airbnb. You can pick up just about anything you would need for home at a thrift store or an Ikea. It won’t last anyway, and if it does, there’s the chance it could outlast your marriage. Who needs to be reminded of that?

I say give the gift of experiences. Go somewhere. Do something. Enjoy yourself, because nobody can ever take that away from you. The memory might be soured, but some blood sucking lawyer isn’t going to be counting up their billable hours when your ex wants your memories of paragliding to keep for themselves.

If I had the money, I would give a couple starting out the chance to have a trip they would enjoy.

Bill Murray once said:

“If you have someone that you think is The One, don’t just think in your ordinary mind, ‘Okay, let’s make a date, let’s plan this and make a party and get married.’ Take that person and travel around the world. Buy a plane ticket for the two of you to travel all around the world, and go to places that are hard to go to and hard to get out of. And if when you land at JFK and you’re still in love with that person, get married at the airport.”
–Bill Murray, Men’s Health, 2014

I know my ex and I did not travel well together. Every excursion was a chore or a carbon copy of some childhood vacation she had been on with her family, replicated right down to the endless bickering and fighting. We probably should have known. We should have called it at the honeymoon.

If you have a recently divorced friend, you and your friends should all chip in and send them on a trip. There’s a couple reasons for this. Their finances are going to be bullshit. They are soaking their money into attorney’s fees, they are focusing on their kids and essentially bribing them to continue loving them, and they are working on starting their lives over again. They are NOT going to spend valuable resources on going on a vacation. Even though that is probably the one thing they could really use right now. Don’t make it an option either, because if they have cash on hand, their ex or their lawyer is going to grab it.

Remember Eat, Pray, Love? Remember How Stella Got Her Groove Back? Remember Under the Tuscan Sun? Getting the hell out of town is sometimes exactly what someone needs to find themselves again. I know I would have loved that. Instead I dated someone who went to Asia and Europe without me and would send me pictures of all the places she was and I wasn’t.

And no, the goal shouldn’t be finding someone to sleep with. Hell, you can do that at a bar. The goal should be self-realization. Self-exploration. Creating new memories with the one person you should have been investing your love and affection into this whole time: yourself. Because the best way to be happy is to enjoy your own company and shake the codependency that got you fucked up in the first place.

Dance me to the end of love

I went outside tonight to let the dog out and noticed the stars in the sky. The Milky Way was visible again, cutting a path from almost due south to north. Over time, the constellations take their places and creep across the night sky, until Orion is back and the Seven Sisters rise in the east again. Soon it will be Winter again. Already, the trees are beginning autumn’s first blush. The night air is chilly and in the morning, you can see your breath.

This will all happen again and again, long after I am gone. Forever.

But sometimes it feels like nothing changes. Each year is a slog and it feels like I’m getting nowhere. But I had to think tonight that things have changed. This year, there have been many, many changes. My son no longer lives with me. I lost that fight. I fought hard and spent more money than I had just to go nowhere with it. The system is broken, and not only will my children have lost out, but generations after them as well.

I have been unattached for the longest period of time so far since I was 17. Not chasing anyone. No talking stage. No situationship. Just getting my shit figured out. It has been an important thing to do. A year of working through it, in spite of my usual efforts of trying to fix things that of course were unfixable. The most recent one is engaged now; that was fast. That’s three women I have been involved with. I used to joke with her about being the foster, helping rescues find their forever homes. I found some closure in knowing it was her turn. After a lot of insomnia last night and wondering why I don’t get chosen, I realized I sounded like her for a minute. Yeah, I found out through the grapevine. It’s only fair, since she still reads my blog and knows what I am up to. I’m just over here shaking my head. I don’t need to know anything else.

I know why I don’t get “chosen.” Like so many others today, it isn’t that I’ve “Given up” it’s that I’m working on me. I’m not compromising anymore. I’m not settling for a life that is “adequate.” I used to tell people I didn’t plan on dating again unless I met someone who truly knocked my socks off. Or maybe someone who I could trust with an open heart. But now, I know what I would rather do. Unless it was someone truly spectacular, I’m going to just enjoy my own company for a while. I’m going to enjoy sunrises, and remember the chill of the air on my legs on a morning in St. Louis at dawn when I was young. Or the way someone gently sang off key in my ear as we danced to Chris De Burgh at Homecoming, my palms slick against her satin red dress. Or the loves that have come and gone from my life since. Kitchen dancing. Holding hands as we drive. Speaking in a whisper as though the moment was so fragile we could break it with our voices.

Shrill piping laughter of my kids who invented a hilarious joke or rode really fast down a hill on their skateboard.

It isn’t a fear of never finding these moments again, it’s a fear that I might forget how all those other times felt, the little details that shined through with each of them. A sparkle in an eye, the cool way someone held a clove cigarette, the silent belly laughs, the rants about out of state drivers or a big smile and a shy wave whenever I came home, or when someone was speechless when I said they were beautiful.

My biggest fear in life is forgetting. And sometimes I really have to stop to remember those beautiful moments. Even when they are shadowed in pain. I wonder if there will be another who has one of those details, like some thread connecting them all, some aspect that resonates, as though I knew another soul before there was time and like the rest of it, everything shattered and was spread across the universe in a jumble, and sometimes we recognize a part of what we loved in someone else, glimmering, standing out from all the rest.

Will there be another face to stand out of so many others in a dark room?

One of my best friends has heard my sad stories too many times. More than she would like to admit. She told me once when I was wondering what I do with all of these memories of people who are gone: My lost children. Those former loves. Family who are no longer with us. I said I wished I was like Leonard Cohen, who kept all of these people from his life in his songs and poetry. She told me I get to keep them safe in stories. She’s a wise one. So, I write my stories and I keep those memories there for now.

I’m done trying to fix anything. There is a wide, unbroken world I want to see finally. A place of beauty and laughter. Of sunbeams that hang in tattered clouds, dappled on a grey sea. I’ll try my best to remember those sweet moments, but sometimes it stings too much to look at them too often. Like someone sitting in an overstuffed chair, wasting the day looking through pictures of their youth when there is still so much more to see.

That is why.

It’s not worth playing the game anymore, because so much of that just seems to be an attempt at a do-over. Righting the things that went wrong in a bad marriage, or trying to bring back that feeling you had when you were first in love with a new face. It’s the same picture, it’s the same You, just with someone else standing in place of another.

I would rather see what happens next. I can’t fix what went wrong and I can’t replace what was lost. It will never be the same again. It is never what you planned anyway. But you can open the next door and see what else awaits. To walk into a place so unfamiliar that you could be anywhere. You could be anyone.

It doesn’t matter if I become a catch in someone’s throat when they remember the little things and for a brief moment wonder where I have gone and if I’m still sad. Of course I am. I have the heart of a poet that I wear on my sleeve. But I’m somewhere else, lost on the infinite tides on my own adventure. I’m also happy. At last. Making all new memories.