Nothing quite like a Mother’s love …A slightly different kind of story about a Mom 🖤

Squeezing between bodies as I made my way to the back of the bar, I brushed up against a tall lean figure standing with his back to me. He turned in my direction and as I glanced up I found myself locked into the wild eyed stare of an infamous local legend.

I stumbled all over myself in an attempt to make conversation with him as I struggled to regain my composure and be my flirty self.

It was no different than the first time I met him two years earlier at the tender age of 15, time stopped and the only place I wanted to be was where he was.

Playing it cool wasn’t even an option. The physical reaction from being in such close proximity to this man coupled with the knowledge that my best friend who had an on again/off again relationship with him was safely half way across the country, left me helpless from preventing what I inevitably wanted more than anything I’d ever wanted before.

I felt it right away, that I’d be leaving with him. I knew by morning’s light I’d know what it felt like not only to be on the back of his bike, but to be in his arms.

I never left his side for the rest of the night, too afraid that any sudden movement could cause a shift in direction. This felt fragile and too delicate to survive if not handled with the most extreme care. I wanted nothing to jar us back into a reality where there was no us.

And then there was an us. I brought him home and he stayed. When he left, I left with him. We rode slow past store fronts and vainly looked at our reflection. Leaning casually back against that high sissy bar was worth every bruise on my spine and the fender of that chopped out panhead, with my legs wrapped around his waist, was my favorite place in the world.

His friends became my friends, and when he spoke of future plans I was in them. We purchased a cheap van together, along with some tie downs for the bike and began making a plan to head out to Colorado.

News eventually got back to my friend and I received an angry call from her. I offered no excuses, just a weak apology. She was pissed, but she seemed to get it. She knew the pull he had.

It made me sad to have betrayed my friend, but if that was the cost of being with him it was worth it. Being with him was everything, and then some, that I had felt that afternoon 13 year old me had her first ride on the back of my uncle’s friend’s bike, by the end of which I knew I had no use for boys my age and there was nothing like a modern day outlaw…A biker.

So while I may have been honestly sorry to hurt my friend, I was more than willing to do it. It wouldn’t be long however before I felt the bitter sting of betrayal myself.

My own on again off again relationship, the one with my mother, was recently on. She was living nearby to the house I resided in. She had begun to make attempts to get sober and was going to AA on occasion.

She had been in and out of so many detoxes and rehabs. It was a pattern that would continue for years to come. At this point she appeared to be sober and genuinely interested in a relationship with me, and I was in a space where I was feeling grateful to have her in my life.

I was excited when I introduced her to this man, and made no secret of the fact that I was crazy about him and the happiest I’d ever been. I could tell she wasn’t immune to his charms and I loved that he had that effect on everyone, but chose to be with me. I wrapped all my self-value up in that feeling.

“Come on, please. It’ll be fun, and I’ll do our laundry while we’re there”, I said to him as I snuggled up on him and attempted to fully wake him from his half sleep state. Begrudgingly he gave into me, and I assured my mother we would be there for dinner that evening.

That’s the memory I would replay in my mind for the next three days. How he didn’t even want to go.

That and especially how he had initially turned her down as we sat around the table, in front of dirty dinner plates, and she asked “Is there any chance you would give me a ride to my AA meeting on your bike?”.

He hadn’t wanted to, and just like I’d gently persuaded him to join us earlier, I again cooed, “pleeeease, don’t make her take a taxi there”.

He reluctantly agreed.

As I stood there at the kitchen sink, and heard the loud engine fade into the distance, leaving just the rhythmic noise of the dryer turning in the background, I reveled in the contentment I had found in this simple moment.

The time passed, and he didn’t return. My mind raced with possible explanations, most not good. He was only to drop her off a few blocks away, and then return.

Did they have an accident on the way there? Did he have one after dropping her off? Did she convince him to stay for the meeting? We were all trying to stay straight, perhaps he stayed with the intentions of checking it out and then giving her a ride home? Maybe he saw someone he knew, there or between there and here? Before or after he dropped her off? It was all just speculation.

Questions and guesses floated through my mind, but the one that kept pushing all the others to the side and coming prominently to the front, was the image of them together, together in a way that made me sick to my stomach.

I knew.

I knew the truth and I hated myself for basically orchestrating it. Who did I think I was to trust them?To trust life? To believe I could have both a mother’s love and a man I adored…

I was a fool, a fool washing her dishes and doing his laundry.

There are clear moments in time where a divide occurs. A before this event, and an after this event. I’d experienced them before, and I knew this was one. Nothing would be the same, nothing could bring me back to the “before this happened”.

I wanted to die. For the next three days, I basically invited that outcome. I swallowed handfuls of pills that I didn’t even know the names of. I slept drug induced sleeps, and when awake walked around groggily telling anyone who’d listen that my mother and boyfriend had disappeared together. Even through the muted chemical haze, I felt raw and exposed, and lost. So lost.

Then the call came from my roommate ,she called over to the house she knew I was at and told me he was home. She said “calm down, there’s an explanation, don’t freak out”.

I walked past the bikes parked in front of the house, his amongst them, and angrily threw the door open. Before I could do little else, he was holding me, leading me into our room. Those beautiful brown eyes, filled with shame and regret.

He told me nothing happened between them, to get that thought right out of my head. He said it was just a relapse on drugs. A poorly timed crack binge, and nothing else. We could move past it, we could start over. And then he said “I love you”.

That’s all he had to say. If he hadn’t said a single other thing, that would have been enough. I believed that he loved me. I had to. I didn’t care if somewhere in me I knew he was lying about my mother. The fact that he cared enough to want me to believe it hadn’t happened was enough.

The fact that he was standing in front of me, shoulders slumped, eyes sad, speaking softly, and professing love, was all more than enough to make everything in my world ok again.

Maybe I had been wrong, maybe this wasn’t a defining moment in time. Perhaps this was nothing more than a blip, a barely remembered rough three days, that would hardly stand out amongst a lifetime of adventures with this beautiful man standing before me.

I suppose it could have gone like that, but nope…not if my mother had her way, and she of course did.

He told me my mother couldn’t go home and was riding with one of the other guys now, and that was fine by me. He said he and his friends had some business to take care of and they would be back shortly to pick us up.

After a lingering kiss goodbye on the lawn, I walked over to the curb my mother was sitting on, and took the spot next to her. The happiness in my heart matched by the rumble felt in my chest from the four or five nearby Harley’s starting up and roaring down the street.

I turned toward my mother, I was smiling, I felt light, but then I recognized the contempt she held for me in her eyes.

It all happened so quickly. Had her words been fists there would have been no time to shield the blows, she verbally lashed out with a devastating speed, and it fell on me as painfully as any physical attack could have been…”are you stupid? Of course we slept together, we fucked the whole time”…

Stunned, I was crushed by the weight of what she was saying, she continued “the plan was to come back here and get his stuff, leave together, but then he hits with me that he loves you and wants to stay, tells me to ride with this other guy, fuck him”.

In the moments that followed I felt the familiar disconnect that had always been between us. I was not her daughter, just another player in her story, someone who did her wrong, as so many had in her twisted mind. Once again the world had been unfair to her, denied her, her due share.

She looked old, she was bitter, unwanted, and it stole her beauty right before my eyes. Had I been a stronger woman, I could have felt pity for her, but I wasn’t. I was a 17 year old child, trying to make my way in a grown ups world, completely untethered, and desperate to belong somewhere. I hated her. I’d always hated her for her rejection, she was at the root of every fear I had.

I completely succumbed to the rage rising up inside me, and now before she could shield the blows, I was on top of her, swinging wildly. Telling her with every hit, how pathetic she was.

That evening there was the usual traffic that came with a party house, and either some passerby or perhaps even one of my housemates, was promptly dragging me off of her.

Given the opportunity, she ran for the house, I broke away from the arms struggling to restrain me, and chased her. As more people stepped in, in an attempt to gain control over the situation, she was somewhat shielded behind bodies. I wildly grabbed anything within my reach and threw it in her direction. I didn’t care what I broke, or who I hit. I wanted to hurt her. I desperately wanted her pain to match mine.

Somebody was shouting to “please stop, we don’t need the cops here”, and then somebody was screaming at me to take the phone.

It was him on the phone. I don’t know if someone knew where to call him, or if he had just happened to call during that time, but I took the phone, and calmly told him “come pick up your shit, it’ll be on the lawn”. He said “don’t do that, go wait for me in our room, now put your mother on”.

Without saying a word, I turned toward the corner of the kitchen where she stood protected by strangers and extended the phone in her direction. She took it, put it up to her ear, and before she could get more than a word out, he told her to sit at the kitchen table and not say anything else. He hung up. We both listened.

I laid motionless on the bed we shared. The house remained eerily silent. Eventually I heard the bikes pull up, the front door open, and then there he was, standing in the doorway of our room.

We looked at each other sadly for a moment, he shut the door, and took his place beside me. He held me while I sobbed.

I never wanted to move beyond this room. There in his arms I found the safety I had been looking for. The protection from her that I needed. And he understood.

We eventually spoke, and the only explanation he offered was that she had money to pay for the drugs if he’d take her, so off to Brooklyn they went. His official justification for sleeping with her …”it was like something I’d read about in Easy Rider”.

He asked me what he should do about her now, did I want him to go out there and tell her to leave?

I thought about it for a second, looked up at him, and said “she rides with your friend, let’s go tell her”.

Let’s go, or maybe let’s stay…Sometimes plans change❣️

“I think I might like to go to Africa on mission someday” I offhandedly told the surgeon whose mobile surgical ministry my church supported.

“You should go to a 2nd world country before going to a 3rd” he said. “Perhaps come along to Ecuador in September” he continued. “Yes, I’d love to” was my response before I could even process what all it would entail.

I hadn’t left the country since I was 14. I didn’t even have a current passport and September wasn’t far off. I also had an August trip planned with my daughters that would need to be cancelled. I would have to secure time off work, etc.

I hadn’t factored in any of these things yet I was all like “let’s go”. Throughout the planning process I came up against more than one stumbling block.

For every hoop I had to jump through to make this adventure a reality I simply reassured myself I would take the next step necessary and if it were meant to work out it would.

I ignored the voice in my head telling me “this is impossible, you can’t do this”, and step by step, it did work out.

I learned so many things on that trip, and most of it was lessons about myself. I suppose of the vast amount of take aways from my journey one of the most life changing was this newfound trust in the universe I was cultivating.

When I was younger, as in my teens, I flew without fear. I’m not sure why, when one considers what an anxiety ridden child I was, flying didn’t scare me, but it didn’t. However the first time I flew after having my first child it was a particularly bumpy flight, and with an innocent babe in my arms who I was solely in charge of protecting, I felt vulnerable in a way I never had before. That’s when the fear crept in.

I continued to fly throughout my life, my need to travel outweighing my nerves, but to say the feeling in the pit of my stomach was unpleasant would be putting it mildly. And that was nothing compared to the places my mind took me as I imagined the scenarios of death and destruction if my plane were to plummet out of the sky.

Until traveling to Ecuador the longest flight I’d endured was NY to Arizona, which I recall actually being an excruciatingly long and turbulent flight. How on earth had I not given a single thought to the sheer amount of hours in the air this upcoming trip would require?

Well, somehow I didn’t and here I am at JFK boarding a flight for my first leg of this trip…NY to Miami was a typical enough experience. Not too horrible.

The layover in Miami included some wrong gate drama, a mad dash through security, and a walk of shame to the very back row of seats as I was the absolute last person to board.

Finally we depart.

I felt my usual unease as the plane continued to climb. And then, somewhere in the sky between Miami and Quito, something changed. Another of those recognizable shifts in perspective I so often share about. A feeling of peace washed over me and replaced the nervousness.

This contentment with my current situation wasn’t that I suddenly felt a guarantee my plane would land safely, it stemmed from the sudden confidence that no matter what should happen, all was well. The universe is always unfolding properly and in the grand scheme of things all will always be well.

It didn’t matter if I was gazing out a window 36,000 feet in the air, sitting at my desk, sleeping in my bed, or crossing a hometown street…I am not in control….There is a driving force to this universe, call it God, call it a divine energy, call “it” whatever you choose, but regardless of names we assign, I personally do believe there is something…

So in my little enlightened aha moment I recognized yet another opportunity to surrender. I surrendered my preconceived notions of safety, I surrendered the fear I held gripped in white knuckles, and as I had experienced in the past, with surrender comes a freedom.

A freedom to live in the moment, to experience it fully in a way you just can’t when worry is stealing pieces from you.

I experienced that on the puddle jumper from Quito to Cuenca. And on the 7 hour bus ride to the remote village where I would spend a week volunteering.

I experienced it walking into a make shift operating room, as well as hiking through the Amazon Jungle, and while gazing up from under an impressive waterfall.

So having unpacked “worry”, I left it behind, and carried my newfound “faith over fear” mantra home with me like a prized souvenir.

From adventures like tracking down wild horses in the Wild West to roaming solo through new cities, I have kept it with me, and it continues to serve me well.

It allowed me to look at my future in a different way and I made this fabulous, fearless five year plan to move to a city that captured my heart. (Ok I know a five year plan doesn’t fall under the spontaneous category, but to be fair there were child rearing obligations to be taken into consideration) No longer held back by thoughts of “well that’s impossible” step by step my timeline passed and finally with the last pre-move year unfolding, something ( read: someone) wrecked that plan.

And that’s ok. Because sometimes plans change. And as courageous as it is to move to a far away city where you don’t know a soul, it sometimes takes even more courage to stay put and be open to a whole other kind of adventure.

I still make plans…Fun plans, brave plans, spontaneous plans, always loose plans…I’ve learned to give the universe room to work it’s magic, for sometimes it has an even better plan than me.

And as one of my favorite poets, Mary Oliver said, this is my one wild and precious life….As for what I plan to do with it? Live it…Live it without apology, without self imposed limits, and without fear.

🌕 Moonbeams✨Mythes & Madness 💫

I sit in the darkness of my yard. I’m grateful for the warmer air, especially since I fled the house with no coat.

The rhythmic hooting of a nearby owl calms me. I am struggling to regain my composure, to slow down my racing thoughts. I want to disappear into the night but the full moon bathes me in her light. I feel crazy. I think I am a “lunar”~tic.

While I may not writher around on the ground sprouting fur when exposed to the monthly glow of a full moon sky, it would seem my fangs do grow sharper, and my bark has bite.

It’s not to say I embark on a spree of verbally striking down just anyone who has the misfortune to cross my path as much as it’s more an inability to control my primal response when confronted with fear or anger during this particular lunar phase.

My teens, twenties & thirties I wrote my monthly mood swings off to pms. In my early forties when I was smacked straight into surgically induced menopause I assumed that on top of the obvious menopausal crazies, the one intensely coming out of my skin day a month was a phantom pms of sorts. Now here we are, a good few years past menopause and still I have a monthly day or two break from sanity.

Maybe what I am and have always been at the mercy of, is the moon.

Who hasn’t heard tales that hospital ER’s and jails or asylums are all the more challenging during full moons. I’ve read that crime increases on full moon nights. Some people speak of not being able to sleep. And of course there’s the fact that she (the moon) commands the oceans < now that’s power.

Photo credit for this September 30th (next day all the way) full moon in Salem MA goes to my big brother Stephen Jacobsmeier

My sun and moon sign are the same. In the daylight sweet Libra boasts such characteristics as peace loving, fairness, and balance.

Under the light of the moon my lovely Libra personality possesses traits like outrageous flirtatiousness, an insatiable appetite for fun, and mercilessly demands loyalty from those who surround her.

The moon captivates me. I constantly find myself in awe of her beauty and her force. She is surrounded by both mythical magic and concrete science.

Moonbeams reaching into the very core of who I am, releasing an animalistic wildness does not seem out of the realm of possibility. And with such creative phrasing can almost make it seem dark, yet desirable. Freedom from society’s emotional restraints. How wickedly enticing….

A little wicked in the moonlight 🖤✨

Ahhh as much as I rather find myself enjoying the spin put on my occasional outrageous behavior of being some fair haired unruly moon fairy jacked up on sparkling stardust, science might see it differently….Mental Illness.

Hmmm. Well then….Turns out with a quick Google search that there actually is a documented link between bipolar disorder and the effects of the full moon.

Have I been trying to dress up psychotic breaks as pure unbridled fiery passionate moments?

I often acknowledge child me as painfully shy but if given the honest appraisal hindsight affords, the truth is it was more in line with paralyzing anxiety.

Creative cocktails of various ingredients starting around the age of 13 were the elixir that allowed me to come out of hiding and join the world. And join the world I did, I took it by storm.

That worked until it didn’t work anymore.

I suppose that could be considered the good ol’ self medicating approach. I just didn’t know that was what I was doing.

I was raised by a generation that believed you don’t show your crazy. You tuck it in, squash it down, lock it up…I have resisted this deeply rooted subconscious response as best as I’ve been able and subsequently banished a demon or two, but somewhere they remain. They have tucked themselves into the deepest darkest corners and there they stay docile until the full moon’s light is so bright it reaches into those crevices and stirs them up.

The ones I have met and acknowledged and named are the least terrifying but then there are those I run from. They are the ugliest parts of me. Some months they make their presence known more than others, and some they remain slightly more subdued.

If in fact the power of the moon does influence these moods of mine perhaps the worst corresponds with “super” moons closer to the earth, the same way their gravitational pull creates extreme low tides. That sounds like a plausible theory though with no real basis as I’ve got a somewhat unscientific simple mind. Maybe there just so happens to be other very real triggers happening in my life simultaneously and combined with the moon create a perfect storm.

Regardless, the moon now wanes and I grow more settled. I gaze at the night sky without trepidation as each evening it moves closer to my favorite phase of crescent moon…a Cheshire Cat smile.

I have a choice to make. Do I wait until my demons rise again, the way they always eventually do, or maybe it’s time to invite them out into the light of a new day.

Shall I introduce myself and learn their names? Whatever names that might be~depression~anxiety~mania~ptsd~etc.

It’s more likely I’ll slip back into denial. My general happiness and love of life is real and it propels me through most days with a well balanced ease that makes it so difficult to recall the fear felt on a moonlight night when I am helpless to contain my flurry of emotions.

Then again I have left this trail of words on a page to remind myself where I’ve been. I suppose it’s up to me now where I might go next…

This is not about my mother …oh wait, everything’s about my mother….

I just received an alert reminding me that my annual payment was coming due for my website. It’s been a year. And what a year it has been!!

I love acknowledging year anniversaries. I do it constantly. I’m obsessed with all things full circle and enjoy the opportunity to reflect on where I am as opposed to where I was, and what has been learned or changed as I cycled through all four seasons between now and whatever event I’m circling around back to.

Does that sound peculiar? Maybe. Well I can be a bit peculiar, so that’s ok.

On with the anniversary reflecting….To begin with, I don’t hate mermaids anymore! Today they inspire nothing more than the nostalgic feeling of childlike magic. Any thoughts of the “darker” variety have simply drifted away like seaweed on the shore carried back to the deeper part of the ocean by the tide….Sure it’s still out there somewhere, but it ain’t swirling around my feet anymore getting all tangled up and ruining my beach day.

So now here we are almost a year after that silly mermaid hating post, twenty or so subsequent posts later, 47 organically grown followers, a lot of love shown to me on Facebook/Insta when I post blog links, and a door cracked open just a wee little bit that I honestly hadn’t even thought of knocking on, all has me feeling pretty good about expressing myself on this forum through the written word.

Granted I’ve posted inconsistently and my topics have been all over the map, but damn it’s been therapeutic! Processing heavy shit, be it of the personal variety (death, depression, relationships, etc) or strife in the world ~write about it. Fun times on or at the sea ~ write about it. Holiday happenings that conjure up mixed feelings ~ write about it. Childhood memories ~write about them. Pretty much nothing is off limits, which I suppose could make those around me a little nervous…I mean it can’t be as bad as dating Taylor Swift (ouch that joke was so 2017), but I do like to publicly process some feelings through telling a story….

And tell a story is what I suppose I will continue to do. And maybe looking back on this year I see my story is bigger than I realized and it’s strung together through all these smaller tales. Perhaps there is a common thread that ties them all together and just maybe that thread is not a “thing”, but a “who”.

That who has quite possibly impacted who I am in nearly every relationship I have had, one way or another…My mother.

Fifty year old smiling, confident, super fun, trusted friend, loving partner, best mom I can be, me is comprised of an abandoned newborn, a stolen toddler, an abused mentally breaking down four year old standing in a West Virginia trailer park, a painfully shy and picked on elementary school kid, a suicidal middle schooler, a promiscuous teen, a high school drop out, a drug addict, and eventually a scared too young of a mom desperate not to repeat history….And they all continuously reach out for her ….My mother.

Well that paragraph was the condensed version of my most painful highlights and probably sounds a tad whiney and like I’m blaming my mother….Poor moms, always getting the blame 😉

I swear that’s not where I mean to go with this. In between those house of horror moments were love, light, and beautiful experiences that also played a significant role in shaping who I am and how I view the world. I know I’ve been blessed a million times over.

And how can I say I’m not blaming my mother when I make the bold statements that I do, you ask? Because I’m simply not, I’m merely acknowledging a fact.

The fact that mothers are creators, they are life giving powerful feminine forces and from the moment we are born of them as tiny vulnerable humans in an overwhelmingly huge world, they are the closest connection we know. Forever tethered by the phantom cord that once nurtured us into existence.

I do have enough life experience and especially after having made an abundance of my own mistakes, to know that nothing this woman did (or does), regardless of how much it seemed like it, was she doing “to” me. She’s just been surviving in this world the best way she knows how and because of this I don’t hate her. Plus there’s the fact that she did quite literally give me life….So there’s that. Thanks mom.

Still though, I feel compelled to continue to tell our mother/daughter story because it’s my story. It’s not to shame her or garner sympathy, but just because it’s my most intimate, complex, love story.

She was my first relationship and my first rejection. I carry part of her with me into everything I do and I can never fully escape her. When I look in the mirror I see her face. And when I look again at all my seemingly random blog posts, she’s almost always somehow intertwined in them. She is everywhere.

And so perhaps this writing adventure of the past 12 months, that started as an outward “mermaid” attack and quickly turned introspective, brings me to the biggest full circle moment of them all. I’ve gone straight back to the absolute utmost beginning!

So cheers to a year of self reflection, the beginning of finding my voice, a little healing and as always a lot of love. And that’s all I got for now. I suppose more shall be revealed….

Thanks to anyone who may have found themselves following along. Xo

.

Cat Tales 🖤

I’m grieving … I’m grieving a 17 lb black cat named Massacre.

A 17 lb black cat who 16 Valentine Days ago was born to a feral park dwelling mama.

Massacre and I had something in common…

My mother dwelled in the same park and was a bit feral herself.

Shortly after this (then) scrawny black kitty was born, his cat mom fell victim to a speeding car and it was my tent living mama that scooped him and his three siblings up to save them from the fate of being a raccoon’s snack.

It was an on again time in our long history of on again off again rotations. It was also just weeks after January 27th 2005, a significant turning point in which I was learning to find my feet in a new way of living and my life was changing in so many ways.

Most changes were of the both necessary and positive variety, but one heartbreaking beyond my control change was that I had to say goodbye to my own little feline partner.

~Gypsy~ Beautiful 13 year old calico Gypsy…Gypsy who was older than two of my children. Gypsy who outlasted a marriage and subsequent relationships. Gypsy who moved half way across country with me twice. Gypsy who I loved more than I’d ever loved a pet. And I had loved many a pet.

Gypsy relaxing on the balcony of our Florida condo where she was the queen of the complex ….everybody loved her!

Much like my mother had saved Massacre, I too had snatched Gypsy straight from a cruel fate. She was a 2 lb, flea & mite ridden, eyes swollen shut, ball of snot whose barely audible 3 am mew alerted me to her location next to the dumpster behind the sports bar where I was a cocktail waitress.

That was how our story began. It ended 13 years later with me handing her, weak and sick, over to an animal hospital worker, who was also a friend and had promised to stay with her during the end because I was too selfish and scared to be there myself.

How I’ve always wished I could go back and do it differently…but I guess all the wishing in the world can’t turn back time…

Meanwhile back at the park the orphaned kitties continue to thrive in my unconventional mama’s care and my loss of Gypsy immediately inspires mom to insist I offer a home to one of her motherless kittens.

My loyalty and grief at first cause me to refuse but she wears me down and I agree to one. Then comes the call suggesting I take two as she was only able to find homes for two. I agree.

Kitty delivery day arrives as mom steps off a Jitney bus with a cat carrier containing not two, but three 6 week old kittens. “A home fell through, but it’s ok, just pick the two you want and I’ll figure something out for the one you don’t” < this is the suggestion she makes as my three daughters stand before me already each with a squirmy meowing kitten in hand.

So yeah. I kept three.

The older girls immediately devised an ownership plan. It is decided that really our dog belongs to Andrew so he’s covered in the pet department. Shauna selects the black and white male as Colette is content with the black and white female. Oreo and Pookie have been named and claimed.

A very sweet two year old Tia is not only happy with her left over solid black cat, but true to her nature offers to share him with me. Her older sisters support this decision and Massacre is deemed “ours”….mine and Tia’s.

This is not necessary, I do not want a new cat. I look at this fleabag menagerie and my heart aches for Gypsy. I’ve been conned and now I have a brood of four legged mouths to feed that just serve as a reminder of the cat relationship I lost.

Time passes and the cats grow. They are fine cats. They are loved cats. We are a seemingly happy home and all living things appear to be well cared for. Still I keep my distance.

Im convinced that to love them too much would be a betrayal to the cat who I already feel like I abandoned in the end. I need to at least mourn her properly.

And so I do. And then one day it happens, and like so many defining moments in my life I look back with an awareness of the exact time and place which within a shift occurs.

I am sad or mad or something that I can’t quite process. I sit there on my couch and this now very large black cat hops up on me. His weight is a significant presence and I feel it ground me, bringing me fully back into the present moment. As I pet him he purrs loudly. I look into those beautiful green-gold eyes and feel overwhelmed with love for this comforting creature. And so our love affair begins.

I don’t know why in that moment, probably a good two years after this cat had already been “mine” did it become ok to love him so completely, but it did. He wasn’t just mine anymore, I became his.

I became his in such a connected way that at 5 years old when I almost lost him to organ failure I refused to give up and willed him to survive. With the help of medicine that was only meant to comfort not cure and a friend who came over two times a day to give him fluids by injection I watched the yellow in his eyes clear and the weight come back on. His Veterinarian was shocked and could offer no explanation for his complete recovery. I never took a moment that came after that for granted.

He saw me through recoveries just the same. Both illness and heartbreak. With one fat black paw on one shoulder and the other on my other, he would lean his forehead against mine and literally hold me. Again I say his weight had such a substantial grounding quality and his ability to love me was perfect.

So perfect that he remained a good sport through household additions of both the four and two legged kind. Oh wait, and even a three legged one at that!

Calypso ~ she’s a sweet story on her own ❤️
Massacre & Memphis
He didn’t even bat an eye when along came an 80 lb German Shepherd (not to mention SheRa’s owner who he could have easily felt bumped him from some of his snuggle time 🤍
Let us not forget Piccadilly the Wonder Goat …
Man that cat was a good sport 🖤

He was a gentle giant if ever there was one. I would frequently cup his face in my hands, look him in the eyes and say “you can never die Massy, don’t you ever leave me”.

I thought we had a deal, but on February 15, 2021 the day after he turned sweet 16, something happened inside him that couldn’t be willed better.

We are in a quiet room. Massacre is calm and wrapped in the cozy blanket I held him in on the drive to this location. It is fitting that Tia and I should be together in comforting “our” cat during his final moments.

I kneel beside the table he is laying on and gently press my forehead against his. He responds with a purr. Tia strokes his fur and he continues to purr softly until he drifts off to one last sleep.

Now I grieve. My grief encompasses so many elements from the very easy to understand feelings of missing my cat that I loved to the more complex feelings toward the woman who gave him to me.

And just as it was 16 years ago it is again only weeks after January 27th, and the same as how Massacre just had a birthday, I too in a very significant sense just turned 16.

So I’m left thinking that maybe we actually do sometimes get a chance to go back and do things differently and I’d like to believe it wasn’t just Massacre I was kneeling beside at the table there in the same room my sweet Gypsy girl drifted away in 16 years earlier.

Perhaps eventually all things come full circle.

Travel in the time of Corona 🚙😷

Destination chosen. Time off work secured. Lets get a packin’.

When making the usual travel choices and checklists we can now factor in these considerations….Covid test appointments scheduled for before travel and after. Yup yup. Do we dare risk an airport and airplane? Nah, let’s drive. Do our hotels have sanitizing procedures in place? They sure do. Have those we’re visiting tested negative, been vaccinated, or already had Covid-19? ✔️✔️✔️

Mask on, extras packed. Here’s to 6’ apart.

Big difference from last years carefree travels to Mardi Gras where my biggest concern was securing enough outfits with gold, green, & purple sparkle.

Bodies squeezed together dancing in the streets and sitting on dirty curbs while waiting on parades. Catching plastic beads and trinkets thrown from passing floats, touched by dozens of unknown hands. Who knew how strange that would seem by the following year.

Apparently Mardi Gras was the original “super spreader” event before we really grasped the dangers right around the bend. Surprisingly enough (especially considering that tidbit of info) I myself have not had Covid. I tested negative for the antibodies as recently as a couple weeks ago. Who knows why some people get it and others don’t, even after exposure.

My good fortune in not contracting this highly contagious virus does not make me feel invincible and I still take it quite seriously. How could I not when people I love are considered high risk?

Or actually ….how could I not when any human I come into contact with might be a high risk candidate?? It’s about more than just me.

Ok ok, getting a little preachy here….I’ll stop with the passive aggressive shaming of those who don’t buy into this whole “global pandemic” thing.

Honestly I shouldn’t go getting too sanctimonious as I probably fall somewhere in the middle myself.

Am I willing to tweak my lifestyle and do my best to be safe and keep others safe? Yes! Am I willing to stop living and stay home 24/7? Uhhh…no. That’s a big huge N-O-.

And so I do my best. I travel by car to avoid public transportation and crowds. I test regularly. I wear my mask in public. I limit my trips into stores. And whenever possible I keep that 6’ distance. It’s kind of become second nature by now. Here’s a god awful phrase ….it’s the “new normal”…. < haha I know that’s so obnoxious!!

Obnoxious or not, it’s life. Life on life’s terms. We’re living in the days that will be recorded in the history books of the future, and like all things…this too shall pass.

Even pre-Covid I was always down for a good road trip, and now that has become the preferred vaca theme. Keeps me and whoever my travel partner(s) may be just a little more self contained.

This most recent trip my travel partner was also my life partner and in fortunate news, we do well self contained in confined spaces. I’m sure for many travel partners (much less life partners) that’s not always the case, so hooray for us, we rock!

I’m being serious …want to test a relationship?? ….Get in a car and cover a total of almost 4,000 miles in ten days! Throw in a little her meeting his dear old friend and him meeting her father to inspire just a few nerves.

Update …everyone loved everyone …damn that went well! Again I say it, we rock!

Oh Corona, you may have forced my hand and made me dial back my travel itinerary….no international excursions and no popping in on a celebration of music and life (with its fair share of debauchery) this year, but cheers to inspiring visits to new cities as well as long ago favorites.

Sometimes I may miss the energy of a crowd, but oh how I adore wandering with my love down to a quiet riverfront, through historic cemeteries, lazing on a riverboat, or biking a (high bear activity<for realz, the sign said so) trail.

And yes I’m a fan of hopping a flight, dozing off and being somewhere far away and new when I open my eyes, but I do love the things that happen as a car rolls down a highway and the miles pass….conversations both silly and deep, singing along to songs, and random roadside stops.

I may not be making as many trips as I’d like, going as far as I have in the past or had planned for the future, and I am definitely not seeing everyone I’d like to spend time with these days, but I sure am savoring what I have, with who, and where.

Stay safe y’all and if our paths cross out there I’ll be sending ya an air hug and blowing you a 6’ away kiss 💋

2020 Survivors

I know we’re all basically feeling like we should get an “I survived 2020” tee for making it through this year < wow that sounded more clever in my head, seeing it in print I’m confronted with the thought of just how many did not.

We lost (and still are losing) astronomical numbers of people to Covid 19, and of course many of us lost loved ones to a suicide, cancer, and tragic accidents, and how can we not pause and think of those who died by the hand of police brutality.

This year we took notice of racial injustice like never before when the dying gasps of a man calling out for his mother and repeating the phrase “I can’t breathe” was heard around the world.

George Floyd, Elijah McClain, and Breonna Taylor are only a few of the names chanted in streets, the list of lives wrongfully extinguished far too long and too many names not even known.

2020 is certainly a year not to be referenced lightly. Perhaps it’s challenges impacted us collectively more than any other year, or maybe that’s just the way it feels to me.

Still though, reining it into a more local level evaluation, even for all its surreal extremes I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shout-out of gratitude for all the good in my life. And as always, if I look for it, there is so much good…

Though It hasn’t all been sunsets and snuggles, there sure was plenty of that.

The most difficult personal loss for me this year was saying goodbye to someone I loved my entire life, but this year also brought new babies to the family and engagements and these are the things that hold the promise of hope as life carries on.

Milestone celebrations were scaled down. Travel plans may have been canceled or altered, but that is a small price to pay when you consider it’s about staying healthy and keeping others healthy. And especially not the worst thing when you’re fortunate enough to call the NoFo home. < A fact that is never lost on me!

My beloved live music…sadly summer concerts were all postponed, but I did leave the shore with a fine singing sailor every chance I could…making it a magically musical summer in it’s own right.

🎶⛵️

I am by nature a social creature and while I truly missed all the friends and family I couldn’t see, I have however appreciated the opportunity to form bonds all the tighter with my quarantine crew.

And I know how privileged I am that so many of the terrible things happening leave me and mine largely untouched, and I know that just because I get to exist in this blissful little spot where blessings can be so easily recognized, that those awful things are still happening. I know I have a responsibility to not get swept away in ignorance and forget to fight the good fight.

In my positive proclamations I certainly in no way mean to be insensitive to the loss, the isolation, and the devastation many have faced through 2020, the pain for so many is so real..I know this.

I pray for all those who experienced the worst of 2020 that they may find peace and love abound in 21.

May we all continue on a healing path, with strength to endure the difficulties, gratitude for the grace, and respect and compassion for our fellow humans.

Happy New Year!

Holiday Hell 🎄🔥

If there is indeed an afterlife and if my life of sin should assign me eternal damnation as my ever after, I have a pretty good idea what my personal hot spot will look like.

The glow of Hell’s fires will actually be the soft twinkling of holiday lights. The background noise won’t be the tortured moans of my fellow damned souls, but rather nonstop (perfectly pitched) caroling favorites, and of course there will be the smell of freshly baked goods wafting through the air.

Almost sounds like heaven, but wait….all the while I shall exist in this perpetual external December paradise, whilst carrying the constant nagging internal twisted anxious knot that tells me I’m not happy enough.

Happy Holiday expectations….Where exactly did this stem from? Did I have such ideal childhood holidays and that somehow set this incredibly high bar? I can’t imagine it’s that.

Don’t get me wrong, they weren’t the stuff nightmares were made of or anything. They just weren’t a Norman Rockwell standard either.

There was love, gifts, and good china set around the dining room table (a table only sat at for a holiday meal) but you know, they were just kind of falling short in the special department, with their baby shrimp cocktails in a jar and fruit salad out of a can, how lackluster…

So if it isn’t the long ago ghost of perfect Christmas past haunting me, It must be my very own wild imagination fueled by books read and movies watched that scream of the all encompassing “holiday magic”, that really piles the pressure on.

Add a few kids into the mix and boy oh boy does that make you really feel like you have to make things emulate that sought after perfection.

We all know perfection is unattainable under the best of circumstances, but hey let’s sprinkle in some active addiction for good measure.

What you have now eventually leaves you with a highlight memory reel of holiday mishaps and let downs of some colossal proportions.

Let’s review…there was the time I was newly separated, estranged from family (by my own doing), in a sweltering state I hated, with three wide eyed youngin’s scratching up a storm with the chicken pox…What could make it worse you ask? If I had the chicken pox too and my current budget allowed only for Dollar Tree shopping.

Wait a second, if I remember correctly that Christmas actually turned out OK.

Oh I know, there was the one where I stayed up all night wrapping into the wee hours (amongst other things one should not be doing on Christmas Eve or any eve really) and upon running out of …eh…wrapping paper…yeah, yeah…that’s what I ran out for at 3am…wrapping paper! And when I stopped at 7/11 after picking up said wrapping paper, I managed to get my pocket book stolen out of my car. Boy did I wish I hadn’t left that “wrapping paper” in my bag…

Oh wait, maybe it was actually a Christmas blessing that I did, because now that I think about it, I went home and eventually to sleep and in the long run that wasn’t the worst Christmas either.

Ok, ok I have it …my pièce de résistance of shitty Christmas memories…oddly enough this one comes into play long after the financially struggling single mom days, and several years after the whispers of an actively addicted life had been silenced.

It was the year I did it all. I checked every box off the “How to have a perfect Christmas” list.

Step one-Cut down your own tree ✔️

Step two- Decorate early✔️

Step three- Take family into the city for a full day of holiday shopping, 5th Ave window peepin’, family pic in front of “the tree”! And add in any other hot coco sipping, ice skating watching, NYC winter wonderland goodness you can think to pack into a single day ✔️

Step four- The baking of holiday cookies, not only decorated as sweet as they taste, but packaged up in Christmas cuteness and hand delivered to friends and neighbors alike (be sure to have you and your elf (youngest daughter) wear appropriate holiday attire, consisting of Santa hats and ugly sweaters for full effect ✔️

Step 5- Dress everyone in their Christmas best and not just attend Christmas Eve candlelight services but be the family who stands up in front and lights the advent candles, recites the scripture, and exudes peace, love, & joy ✔️

Step 6- After the (non alcoholic) egg nog has been drunk, and holiday shows watched, and the traditional Xmas Eve present opened by each…tuck those kiddies into bed and let the sugar plums dance in their head….almost got to ✔️ that off …so damn close…until Mama’s melt down woke up their sleepy little heads.

This was also the year I lost my grandmother. The woman who raised me. Or more accurately saved me. The woman who grounded me, and who without I felt lost.

I recall now how I had grandly announced as the season began “I will not be sad this first Christmas without my Grandmother, I’ll celebrate the way she would have wanted me to”.

I checked those boxes off at warp speed like they were steps on a scavenger hunt and I was racing to the finish-line. I don’t think I stayed still long enough in a single moment to have been present in it. They are blurred memories at best speeding toward an epic crash.

The crash…that’s a memory that is sharply in focus. I can’t tell you what my children’s faces looked like that day in the city, try as I might, but I can see the disappointment and confusion when they awoke from sweet slumber to the sounds of shrieking and crashes, as I hurled whatever was nearby at the wall.

Embarrassing….yes, I know. It’s this thing that happens to me though. When I don’t honor whatever the feeling is I’m feeling, be it sadness or fear, or if I dig my heels into expectations of how things “should” look or be….things tend to come out sideways…usually as anger. Earth shaking, unreasonable, uncontrollable anger.

Side note > In my life this can apply to anytime of year, though as a tribute to this fa la la la time of year, I’m focusing on Holiday sadness and expectations.

I’d like to suggest that this amazing sense of self awareness I clearly have suggests that I have now nipped that little personality problem in the bud. Ehh well, “progress not perfection” is the phrase that comes to mind.

And so progress it is, but some days you forget. Some days you walk through the hap happiest season of all with a smile on your face while inside all you want to do is sit at a table reserved for holiday meals and eat tiny shrimps drowning in a glass jar of cocktail sauce and you don’t want to let yourself feel how much you’re missing the people with whom you shared those sweet ( what did you call them? -lackluster) holidays long gone by.

So maybe one December weekend you’re trying to make it all look perfect and then the crockpot overcooks the beef stew meat and undercooks the vegetables. And maybe the cookies you were baking fall flat. And maybe you start to feel mad at someone for things you already forgave them for, and everything feels wrong and you want to explode…but then you remember ….this isn’t some Holiday Hell you’ve been banished to and you’re the only one telling yourself how you’re “supposed” to feel.

On that note, it’s ok to call a friend and have a good cry, a heartfelt “I’m sorry” can work wonders, piles of mushy flat cookies are delicious, pizza is always an acceptable solution for dinner, and no dog ever complained about tough meat when being served beef stew.

And maybe the difference between heaven and hell is nothing more than your very own perspective ….And I’m just gonna be over here doing my best to remember that 😉

Wishing y’all peace, love, & the ability to be kind to yourself this holiday season ❤️

Somewhere in between the dark and the light…

It has been in my nature for a while now to reference the dark vs light quite a bit. I suppose I use it literally, biblically, figuratively, metaphorically, metaphysically…you know, all of the above. I just really like that whole light/dark vibe…I see where it is applicable in so many situations, but if this past year has taught me anything, it’s taught me things ain’t quite so black and white, so maybe everything isn’t dark and light.

It was right around this time last year that somebody told me I was being overly simplistic in my declaration of what (or was it a who?) was dark (oh yes it was a who) and who was light. Looking back I can see she wasn’t wrong.

In January of 2005 I had what I truly believe was a “white” light experience. It was an instant where the universe shifted and I became aware everything was different from how it had been only a second earlier. It was when a muffled voice in the distance became audible, when a blurred vision came into focus. It was a definitive moment in time, one that I came to believe separated the dark period of my life from what now would be my time in the light.

How overly simplistic indeed. How willing I had been to write off my previous years as all having been lived in the dark, but that was not the case at all.

Cue Leonard Cohen …I can hear his baritone voice singing “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in”.

In the darkest parts of my childhood, abandonment and abuse, was there not the saving Grace safety of my Grandmother’s home? The unconditional love from those I shared it with? Light.

Throughout my school years when I was lost, shuffled around, unable to find my feet in an academic world, were there not those moments highlighting my potential and intelligence? Light.

For all the places I didn’t fit in, did I not find friendships that would span the decades? Light.

Where I see the failings and short comings of a young wife and mother, can I not also see the strength and resilience of a young woman who faced challenges and made tough choices in the name of fierce love and protection? Light.

In my darkest of times, days that blended into nights, and as the hours passed gave way to day once again, a twisted period of pain and confusion driven by the most primal of survival instincts, yet still every bedtime I would pause and safely tuck my children in while singing “you are my sunshine” <<<right there, that was a crack in which the light got in.

The light was always infiltrating the darkness, just as the dark still seeps into the brightly lit, warm life I live now. There is balance in everything I suppose.

The darkness of betrayal winds it’s way through the brightest of times. The fears that live in the dark cast shadows against the light. And at times the darkness comes from deep within, but all that it touches is not ruined forever.

No, not ruined. Changed yes, but different is not the same as destroyed.

In my naivety I believed if I was willing to draw that line, leave those years, those sacrificial memories, there in the darkness, that somehow my todays would all remain untouched. They have not. Should I erase the line? Redraw it to include more years in the scrap pile?

What of my children’s lives growing up? Small arms around my neck, kisses on my cheek, “I love you Mommy” whispered in my ear. Times I saw their eyes wide with wonder. Would I banish those memories that bring so much joy due to the smudges of darkness left by the pain caused from our time with a devil?

What of the lover I placed on a pedestal? Would I say goodbye to the laughter, the love, the hundred ways my life is more fulfilled because their darkness ruined my image of perfection? Perfection? Theirs, mine, ours together…an illusion.

Through it all there is a coexistence. A blending of the dark and light.

And now here we are, the “holiday season”…I walk through these days with an eerie remembrance of its counterpart day from previous years. Some more prominent than others in my mind’s eye. Some darker, some blissfully light, and I allow them all their opportunity to exist in my memories, as I continue to grow comfortable walking in this space somewhere in between the dark and the light where real life happens.

In “Deanna” wants me 🎶

Undeniably Deanna 🥀

I say “stories that are mine to tell”, but is this one really mine?

Many memories overlap and intersect with someone else’s, but this story does not live in the black and white world of my memory vs theirs, having been created during shared experiences, thus creating a story we both call our own. This story, these memories, exist within the shades of gray.

In my minds eye I see the teenage girl with the long strawberry blond hair staring at a pink newborn through the nursery glass.

If I look closer I see the days before where she was in labor, scared and crying out for her mother. I see them take the baby from her, the baby she is not allowed to hold.

Looking still closer I can see the months earlier, before being sent to the Bronx home for teenage unwed mothers, when she defiantly pushed an empty stroller down the block she lived on for all the neighbors to see.

In my memory I see the form fitting mini dress showing the beginning of a baby bump. I see the strides she takes, the proud arch of her back as she blatantly extends her growing belly. I remember the weather that day, the sky is clear, still slightly cool as winter gives way to spring.

Oh wait, I don’t remember these things. I couldn’t possibly. I am the baby. The baby she looks at through the nursery glass. I am three day’s old and I don’t yet have a name.

Again though I imagine I can see her standing there. The nun in her black habit approaches her and gently places a hand on my young mother’s shoulder, softly she says “if you wish to be the one to name her you must do it now or we will when we baptize her”.

It is the only thing she is allowed to do. Someday, this first name she gave to her baby may be the only thing she knows about her. She has been desperately trying to dream up a name that is unique.

In these self created memories I can hear the piped in music playing in the hospital corridor… “Indiana wants me, lord I can’t go back there”…I see the teenage girl turn to the nun and say “Deanna”.

The memories continue…On a crisp fall day I see the same teenager on the side of a road with her thumb out. After she receives a ride I see her hand balled into a fist knock upon the door of a home in Bellmore. The home that was meant to be mine. The woman with the kind face who longed to be my mother is too sympathetic to turn this desperate teenage mother away.

The memory of my first Christmas I am not even in. I see my grandmother hand her daughter a gift wrapped box. It contains baby clothes with sweet delicate details. This gift says “ok we will bring her home”.

These are the earliest memories that set the course of my life. Where I would grow up and who I would be.

So perhaps this was my mother’s story, but she has passed it down on more than one occasion through the years. I have accepted it, assigned the imagery of the details I couldn’t possibly know, and placed it in the memory box of my life along side of my own.

And I suppose that makes it my story to tell….