It’s not you – it’s me

I am going to be ’unfriending’ those of my Facebook friends who only or primarily post there about running. I am having so much more fun talking about music, movies, philosophy, writing, beliefs, reading, childhood, CK, adulthood, Gervais, food, relationships - rather than lotteries, mileage, finishes, races, DNFs…even seeing pictures, albeit some beautiful ones, taken on runs just bores me now. (Pictures taken to make others envious and/or to show that ‘this is what I did/where I was today while you were working” is, for me, not the right motivation.) Wow – I sound like a judgmental bitch. And maybe that’s what I am or have become. But when I left all my awards and 100-mile buckles in the tote bags in my old garage when I drove away recently, except for a few pieces that I really like, that have some other meaning, I guess that I was making a second choice. The first choice was literally storing them in the garage in tote bags for years.

I think that unfriending those people will make me feel lighter. Because judging makes me feel heavy. And I need all the lightness I can get, these days. For most of them, it won’t make any difference, whatsoever. For one, it may, but she and I will talk it through, as always.

Goodbye, those runners. “It’s not you – it’s me.”

Memento – backward or forward

Wow. Memento is amazing. And I still haven’t finished it, due to rewinding and interruptions.

Some of these lines are incredibly relatable to people who’ve been…’diagnosed’, who’ve dealt with any mental illness. Who’ve been hospitalized for anything like that, or wanted to be, or not wanted to be. Ever.

“He wasn’t a con man. You fake it to get a pat on the head from the doctors. You fake it. You bluff… You bluff to seem less of a freak.”

“I want to live in a world outside my own mind.”

“We all need mirrors to remind ourselves who we are.”

Dang. Hard to ‘just watch’ this one.

My latest…note

LC 11-09 068

FYI, I’m not a TOTAL nutcase. When Mish was alive, we had a very relaxed, undefined relationship – because I knew where I stood in his heart and in his life. I was near the top. Usually at it. And he knew with me, too, even though it was unspoken. Complete respect, trust, commitment. And with you, I guess I never could be ‘there’. Or I realized that I couldn’t. Finally. Your sobriety takes so much of you. Your work takes so much of you. Your family and friends and sponsees take so much of you. I’m not blaming you at all… I just needed to be higher on your list. The way I thought I was, at first. And, as it always is with un-equal “love”, the harder I tried, the more you backed off; the more I pushed, the more you freaked out.

I’m so saddened by it, as I’ve written. I don’t know whether you are or not, or whether I’ll ever hear from you again. You should never have told me you loved me, because I clung to that, thinking that you meant it… Assuming that you knew what those words meant…to me.

That last married run

It was a Thursday. A random Thursday in April, 2009. My husband off to pick up our only employee at the train station; me, alone, working from home. Working away.  For too long – I realize that much more time had passed than was necessary for a trip to BART and back. Finally, the car pulls up outside my dining-room-turned-office window, and the two get out, coffees in hand. Two people, four hands, two cups. Nice. I wait, coffeeless, as I hear them come in and retire to his office-turned-lavish-workspace, with its multi-thousand-dollar, we’ll-pay-for-it-together, built-to-his-specifications,  solid-cherry handmade credenza and shelves. They sit, together, at his cherry desk, working almost-touching on aspects of the company that had always been  mine to do. I warm. Heat, almost. No explanation when asked, except “Just in case.” and “It can’t hurt.”, yet I feel a burn in my stomach that even coffee without cream doesn’t give me.

Awkward silences and more-awkward talking, my Self getting so small that my knees barely reach the edge of my chair, my feet nowhere near the ground. An excuse to run comes from the distance – show her how to heat train, please. Layers on, clothing loaned, three people out the door, but really two and one. Across the street and hike and run. Give advice, show the way. Suddenly, he runs up an always-before-hiked hill. I shake my head and laugh to her, not because it’s funny, but she can’t tell, and let her know that she should be proud to be the  object of the show-off. We reach the top to lame denials, then she’s allowed  ahead, so I know bad is to come. We trot on, he speaks. She won’t go home  tomorrow. She will sleep on our couch. She will help us in our home in the dark.  Three rules broken in a few hundred yards, all the while with feigned innocence  that this discussion is a tornado, close enough to feel. No, she will not. There. I said it. Ducking, though outwardly, I don’t falter. Angry silence  punctuated with anger, you’re-wrong-ness, and control. Back to the correct two  and one, as I lag behind on the trip “home”, the place which lost that name on the trails, which became a house, a mere condo in those short miles.

More silence pierced the fog of anger that permeated the rooms. No discussion, no name-calling, yet control exerted with a closed mouth. Aaron comes home, unaware of the not-atypical strain, unable to see that this is his-earth shattering. Off to his room – he knows his place when Dad is working – and she is so brave that she sits on his bed to chat. In that instant, as my  son’s beautiful Room and Board solid wood twin bought-in-my-Midwest pedestal bed becomes the fire hydrant on which she pees – my fire hydrant; in that instant, I hate her. I will never be mean to her, but I will hate her from now on. Not for taking him, but for her fake kindness to my son. Always. Because this is who she is – a breaker of boundaries, but all the wrong kind. I go to my room to change – not even realizing that it is, in fact, now my room, only – and not long after I return from the already tainted bedroom (though their night there is ‘tomorrow’), it is announced that he will take her to the train. One half-hearted attempt on my part to chauffeur, and they’re gone. For good. The van pulls away, looking the same as it had arrived that morning: two happy married people – but not happily, you see – off doing what they want.

Although I don’t receive the ending-it-forever e-mail until twelve hours later, at 05:00 on Friday, our marriage had ended at the park. It had ended on that day, on that run. And I had known it when I’d heard the result of his last push of the garage door button. Aaron wouldn’t realize it for weeks, poor kid –  he was still to learn that a ‘change of mind’ equals admission of a mistake, that all things in some lives are treated like a Band-Aid. His wound took time to heal after it was so brutally exposed that day, the sudden rush of air breaking it wider open than ever before that day. That day. And that run. The run that, in  some ways, had started it all, had been the beginning of the end but that, really, had been just the end of the end, the beginning so far in the distance by then it was unrecognizable on that run, even at the start. That run. On that run, I’d had a purpose, I thought. I’d been invited, I’d had a reason, I’d had meaning. I had worn the layers to teach her a lesson, yet it was I who had learned. Not about the heat, though, but about the cold.


Writer’s note: This was originally written on November 8th, 2012 for a Kickstarter campaign, but not published here until November, 2013.

Those friends…

The moon tonight is beautiful. For me, heartbreakingly so. It is one of those moons that, for me as a kid, we called a ‘man in the moon’ moon. One of those moons where it’s more than a ’sliver’, less than a half, big enough and defined enough, I guess, that one can see a ‘face’, a man’s face, an older man’s face in it. Yet the reason, for me, that it’s heartbreaking is that it offers me no more comfort now than it did then. It is lovely, for sure; and it’s “comforting”…in quotation marks. But it’s not real.

My whole life has been like that. My dad was “comforting” like that. He was a father, really. A father, only - a “dad” in quotation marks. My brother and my mom were real. ARE real. My “boyfriends” and “husbands”? Yeah, they were in quotation marks, too. Mish? No quotation marks there. A real friend, a real love, a real comfort. And I’ve finally, because and since him, learned real friendship, with men and women - without those quotation marks. But, sadly, I guess, I’ve also come to recognize those marks. To see them, whether I want to or not. Not so much ‘sadly’ for me, but I realize that it can be ‘sadly’ for others, for those who think or want to be ‘real’, but they just aren’t; they just can’t be. They are just plain Quotation Mark People.

So, tonight, I walked outside and looked at the moon. And it made me sad. It made me weep, at first…and then cry. Because now I have people in my life like that. My ‘men in the moon’. My “men in the moon”… My Quotation Mark People. And it made me miss, once again, Mish… But I also wept with gratitude for those in my life who will never have those quotation marks around their names. Those friends… Those Real Friends.

The backyard

Just back inside…again. The yard looks so different today. Feels so different. Shit – IS so different. Nessi’s favorite spot still bears her indentation, but next to it now, thanks to the wind, is the threaded thumb of one of the suede gardening gloves that Sayer had given me, one of the few scraps of the two pairs left outside that remains after the dogs’ nighttime intrusion.

The sun is shining, yes; quite brightly, actually, and the day has warmed because of it, but the mood still feels somber here to me. The birds are singing on the swaying tree branches just across the fence – pretty little songs, I know, but I find no joy in them today. What I wouldn’t give for the singers to be just slightly less comfortable, even up high, because the very small cat they’d grown so used to seeing still caused them to be alert as they hopped from branch to branch, never daring to actually land here inside her fence.

I look around, seeing that the wind has moved so much – leaves, dirt, a towel on the line. But that’s not what I’m looking for, not what I want to see. Not at all. Not even something as strong as the desert wind, sweeping in as it has these last two days, can bring about the change that I want, can blow, from around the corner, what I want to see… So I go back inside…again. And, again, I weep.

Miss…ing Nessi

I decided to rela… Ha. Relaxing is impossible right now. I decided to lie down, rather, on the couch about an hour ago, and shortly after that, Tango came out from her hiding place where she’d slept since 3:00, waking each time I almost-silently checked on her. She hopped up on the couch and immediately curled up, two-thirds of her on me, one-third of her sliding off onto the cushion. I petted her, stroking her head as I watched the end of ‘The Bucket List’, a movie I’d started the other day. Tango purred as I petted her, and she set to work, cleaning off all the dirt that had accumulated in the six feet she’d traveled to this new sleeping spot. I tried to keep my tears, not only to myself, but to my face, wanting only to weep, as I knew that “crying” would be disruptive to…her, to something. But I couldn’t help it. I cried. Hard, my chest heaving, Miss T moving up and down with each sob, each inhale, each shaking exhale. I cried for the movie characters who were dying, for their families, for Sayer… I cried because Tango was safe here at home… But mostly I cried for Nessi, sweet little Miss Nessi, who, for whatever reason, had liked me, trusted me from the very first…

I had only recently started to call her ‘Miss Nessi’ and ‘Miss N’, since Tango, aka Miss Tango or Miss T, and I had only been here about a week. And it had only been these last few mornings on which little Miss Nessi’d joined Sayer and me for coffee time, had been a second cat to reach down and pet when we checked Facebook before dawn, and on which she’d considered tasting Tango’s frothed milk…until Miss T’s quick and audible reminder that it was, in fact, her frothed milk. And even one fewer evening than that on which she’d been a part of this small family for dinner and after, “watching” episodes of Season One and, last night, Season Two of ‘Big Bang Theory’ with us, sitting or lying on the couch with Sayer and me, while Tango took it all in from “Aaron’s chair” which I now used at my computer. Yes, we were four. A family of four. A new family of four, perhaps, but we were that, nonetheless.

And now we aren’t. Anymore. Ever again. Nessi, Miss Nessi, little Miss N – you were the tiniest member, but the void you’ve left, the hole that’s here…is huge.

Content to move

Well, just about all of my Facebook friends have read this ‘switchbacks’ piece, by now. I posted it first just three days after Misha died, have posted it two or three times since…and this will be the last time I post it.

“One thought is running through my head today. I am thinking back to Monday, when Mish and I hiked a ~13 mile loop out of Silver Lake near Mammoth. The first part had a switchback section up a loose, rocky mountainside. We made good time and put the switchbacks behind us. As we were heading back to the finish later, Mish noticed those same switchbacks and commented on how much steeper they looked from where we were now, across a lake and at a distance. I said that I thought that’s how my whole life had been, like switchbacks – that, to others looking from a distance, it looked as if it had been so difficult, so “steep and slippery”, so relentless, but to me just living it was like when we climbed those very same switchbacks – not all that steep, putting one foot in front of the other, just moving forward. It “was what it was”. Mish knew exactly what I meant.

But little did I know what kind of switchbacks I’d be faced with just 24 hours later…”

Mish’s death was…something else, for me. Something that not even my closest-I-thought-were-my-friends will ever understand, yet something that some others I’ve known have felt in their own hearts; an inexplicable loss, explainable easily with a hug or tears or a run or a smile or a toast or cairn or shared tent. So many of you have shied away from me – I can name the ones who haven’t on one hand – I realize that I have been a huge and horrible burden to the few of you who have chosen to stick by me.

I finally feel that I have reached a summit, of a sort; or maybe just a saddle. That’s probably more like it. Yeah, it’s a saddle, only, yet I know that I finally feel able to take a break, fold up my poles for now and tuck ‘em in my pack, just walk around the place, enjoy the view, and be done with the switchbacks for a bit. Kick back, relax, and move forward without climbing for awhile. Because with the help of my friends who have served as ‘my poles’, my support over this past year or four or even more; even when I leaned so hard at times I almost broke them and, at others, treated them so poorly that I nearly forgot where I’d left them…with them bearing with me, alongside, helping me, I got almost all the way here. And then finally, with Sayer, almost out of the literal blue, reaching a hand down to me…a perfectly-timed hand, it seemed, onto which I just grabbed; his strong hand alone, I’d thought at first, only to realize that there were other hands just beyond it, too, waiting to welcome me up… Chuck’s and Jessyca’s hands; Jeanne’s and ClairAnn’s; Tom’s and Andrea’s; Ewa’s and Joe’s and others’…  Sayer’s the biggest and most obvious, but a bunch of hands, each with loving and strong arms attached, giving my old friends a break, finally… Sayer and his – and now our – friends, welcoming me to the saddle, where they live – not where all life’s problems disappear, not at all, but where friends share the load and always have your back and help when they can, and people ‘hang out’, and music or love for the outdoors brings you together, and money doesn’t buy happiness, and often it’s just the little things that count, and donating’s almost as good as selling, and who cares ‘what you do’ for a living, and trust means the world, and tears are sometimes better than smiles, and…shit like that. Where I’ll still have my issues to deal with, but I’ll no longer be tackling them on my own. For I know that, when it’s time to leave the saddle and head back up the next set of switchbacks, I won’t be hiking alone. Not ever again. I know that, from now on, Sayer will be hiking with me. And my friends who’ve been with me since last year or before will be there, still, and that now they are getting to know Sayer and all the rest of my new group of cohorts. Or, if they’re not ‘here’ anymore, it’s okay, because I’ll never forget what they did for me, in the time they were here, what they’ve meant…the same way that Mish sees it all and smiles at my happiness and understands it all; but understands that he isn’t gonna be a topic for me anymore, that he’s just going to reside on that spot on my hip and in that spot in my heart. Those two permanent places where he belongs… He was and is a great man, a great friend, a great love…but that it’s time for me to move on.

Move on. To Barstow, to my new life, and, most importantly, to the man I love, to the life I want. To Sayer. To simplicity. To the desert. To friends. To close friends, here, there, and everywhere. To Sayer. Yep. It’s time…and I’m all smiles.