Friday, April 18, 2014

Spatial Relationships....

Years ago I stopped at a local estate sale.  It was the house of a family going through a divorce and basically everything in the house was for sale.  I was pretty weirded out, walking through this house that contained all their personal items.  Looking through clothes in closets and walking in the kids bedrooms.  A few professionals were handling the sale.  A table was set up by the front door.  There were lots of people. There was a line to check out.

I remember thinking that the kitchen must have been custom.  Somebody must work for Sub-Zero because nobody has a Sub-Z in their garage as a beer fridge!  I saw a black jacket hanging in the closest with an embroidered Sub-Z above the right chest.  Empty boxes and piles of decorations scattered on a table.  The prices were too high.  I picked up a resin Easter bunny inside of an egg.  The bunny had whiskers made out of taut fishing line.  I need more Easter decorations.

The whole scene made me sad and kind of sick to my stomach.  How quickly the life you have created can turn and you find yourself on the brink of divorce with kids ready to go off to college and a big house with a big mortgage and a big tax bill.  You can't afford any of this on your own.  On your own. How would that feel?

I was ready to leave but felt like there had to be something to buy.  I wasn't ready to give up yet.  All this stuff in this house and I can't find one thing to buy?  I can find something to buy in the worst of thrift stores.  I headed to the basement which was dark and contained so much stuff my eyes didn't know where to land.  I saw a big print leaning against a metal shelving unit.  Tools and paint cans and random things that come with years of marriage and kids and upgrading your life.

The print was a map of Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands. It was nicely framed and the background was yellow with some blue to identify the waterways.  Sepia colored boats scattered the edges and gave a description of their history.  I love a good map.  I love boats, particularly sailboats.  There was not a price tag on it.  I had to haul it upstairs and wait for the professionals to figure out how much to charge me.  I thought of how much money I wanted to spend on this.  The number would be too much.  Everything is overpriced. "How about $10?" Great.

One of the professionals asked me if I needed help carrying it out to my car.  I think I had a kid with me.  I said no.  I still felt icky. But also kind of excited about this cool map for such a great price.

The map was hung in my son's room.  We recently painted and redecorated the kids rooms so the map got relocated to the office.  At some point after purchasing my ticket to Write Doe Bay I realized I had this map. I put my finger on the glass and traced it from Seattle to Bellingham to Anacortes to Orcas Island.  I had this treasure in my home, a map guiding me to my next big adventure, and I didn't recognize it.  It was so loud and I didn't hear it. I started to cry.

Last night I attended a small gathering at my friends house.  Multi-level marketing at its finest.  I went to support her and buy an overpriced lipstick or bottle of lotion.  The last woman to arrive was tall and blond and kinda kooky in a cool way.  She talked a lot and was outgoing.  She was the neighbor who used to live across the street.  They all hugged and talked about how much they missed her.  The neighborhood just wasn't the same without her.

"Did you have an estate sale a few years ago?" I asked.  "Yep, did you buy anything?" she jokingly asked me.

Yes I did.  I bought a passport. A talisman that will forever hang in my home.  I will take my finger and retrace the path that I took to find myself.  It was a long journey.  But as my friend Chrissy said, Sometimes you have to travel far to find a lost you.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

No Man is an Island....

The last time I wrote on this blog was September, 11, 2013. The one year anniversary of my Mom's death. I wrote broken and bruised and scared that I couldn't do it anymore.  I wrote about my Mom.  That's all I had in me. Mom. Mom. Mom. She died. She died. She died.  I can always write from a place of darkness but seriously I had to get some new material. 

On December 18, 2013 I saw a post from Nici Holt Cline from Dig this Chick and Kelle Hampton of Enjoying the Small Things.  It was an announcement about Write Doe Bay 2014 and they would be presenting and attending in April. Something inside my heart flickered.  It spoke to me, but I tried to ignore it. Kelle's post pushed me over the edge.  I waited a day.  Claire Bidwell Smith wrote The Rules of Inheritance, a book that felt like an oasis after my mom died.  She would also be presenting. I kept pulling up the website and looking-looking-looking.  Looking for something to take the pain away.  To take away the feeling of just sleep walking through life.   To take away the feeling of all this grief crushing my spirit. 

Write Doe Bay was founded by these two amazing gals: Jesse Michener and Jen Furber. Little did I know how much these woman would come to mean to me in my life.  That what they created could mean so much to so many.

The Doe Bay website kept beckoning me.  It was all I could think about.  I pictured myself on a ferry by myself, wind in my hair, being brave.  Finally I just pushed the button to purchase the ticket. And it was like sweet relief.  I had checked to see if I could get a frequent flier mile airline ticket before I pushed "purchase" because I'm thrifty like that.  And it would be easier to tell my husband. To which I did not tell him for two weeks.  I just wanted it to be a special rock that I held in my hand.  My secret.  I did tell my sister and a few girlfriends.  Each and every time I told someone I broke down in sobs.  I would say "I don't know why I'm crying." But I knew exactly why I was crying.

I was scared and excited and questioned if I was even really a writer.  This blog, this space where I come to release and further myself, it was left alone for so long.  I couldn't even pull it up and bear to look at the fall leaves decorating the space.....long ago dried and brown and fallen to the ground.  

Attending Doe Bay was all that I needed and more.  The funny thing is, it wasn't even about writing.  Sure, it was, but it was so much more.  It was a day of travel: 2 cars, 3 shuttle buses, 1 airplane and 1 ferry.  It was waking up at 3:00  in the morning and not being able to fall asleep because you just want the journey to begin.  It was turning on the radio at 5:30 in the morning and hearing your mother speak to you through a song. (This too shall pass by Tyler Stenson) I cried.  I cried while packing and picked up Claire's book and opened to a random page like it was my instruction sheet.  "I'm no body's most important person." (Claire Bidwell Smith)

Traveling alone always makes me feel more capable.  Smarter and more confident than I give myself credit for. My husband said, "You flew to Turkey alone, why would this scare you?"  Oh, really it was easier to go to Turkey! Three airplanes and a driver waiting with a card with my name on it, an air conditioned car and a bottle of cold water.  I always wanted to be one of those people I see in airports, traveling alone, drinking a beer before my flight.  I am one of those people. 

I was craving this adventure.  I needed this adventure.  Laundry and unloading the dishwasher, cooking and cleaning and raising these creatures to grow up to be kind.  If I want to show them how to appreciate the see all those little things like puffy clouds shaped like dinosaurs or tiny red bugs crawling on fresh grass....then I need to go out and refill this vessel called Mom.  Momma's well has run dry my precious babes.  

While on the ferry I kept looking around wondering who was possibly going to Doe Bay.  Is it her?  Is it that guy over there with the really big hair? (Luke) Is it that red-headed woman with  her laptop open, crying? (Angi) She doesn't have a suitcase.  Can't be her.  Is it the guy playing the ukulele? 

Angi approached me and asked if I was going to Doe Bay.  Hell yeah.  Game on.  First friend.  Let's do this. We rode to the resort in silence mixed with nervous chatter about our lives.  About how we weren't really writers, did I have a blog? Sure do, a sad space that I've abandoned a year ago and in abandoning that space I was suffering so much.  

My writing juices were already flowing.  I've written more on the journey to Doe Bay than I've written in months.  The juice tastes sweet in my mouth as it moves over my tongue and teeth.  

Pulling my carry on suitcase up the gravel road to Cabin Padma, breathing in the clean air...I felt electrified.
Whatever is about to happen is going to be exactly how it is supposed to be. No forcing. I felt the unraveling of leaving the kids, the grief in my heart, my expectations and fears.  Let it unravel into a pile of used up yarn. Yarn that will be knit into a new story. 

This is my story.  Only I can tell it.  

"God damn girl your wounds are beautiful" ~Daniel Blue, God Damn Girl, Motopony  

Only a few days prior to leaving for Doe Bay my girlfriend cut my hair.  I had colored it a few weeks ago as well.  It was brassy and orange and the dark roots were already showing. It was a pain to put a wig on over the top of all this hair.  All this hair.  Just to look in the mirror and see hair in all the right spots.  Could I really ditch the wig?  That godforsaken hat of hair that I put on my head everyday.  Even before walking to the bus stop.  I don't wear it when I go running.  But I feel like every neighbor is looking out the window to see my lack of hair.  "I really think you could pull it off Tricia," Ashley said.  "A little color and you are good to go!" 

In May of 2013 I took my daughter to a local wig shop to help me pick out a wig.  I couldn't cover up the huge patches of space where hair used to reside or the bald spots any longer.  I was weary from all the effort it took to leave the house. I was so sick of talking about my hair. I was about to depart for Turkey. I couldn't pretend anymore.  This shit was real.  Was it my thyroid again? Shock after mom died? Alopecia? Whatever it was, I couldn't do it anymore.  The wig was like a thick coat of  cool aloe vera on my sunburn. I felt normal again.  I felt pretty. kinda. I was renewed and restored....momentarily.

"Hold on, just hold on" ~Daniel Blue, June, Motopony

And just like that I got on a plane to go to Doe Bay without wearing my wig. 

"You say it like it's easy to do" ~Daniel Blue, Waif for Me, Motopony

I couldn't have written this story any better. This is the movie version. It was the end of one story, the beginning of another. Wearing the wig made me feel like I was carrying around a secret.  A lie.  Always paranoid that people knew or could see right through me.  But it was also protection in another way.  I was hiding behind this fake hair.  It was a lifeline. And now, here I am...all forehead and big eyes.  Nowhere to hide.  It's me! Hello!  A bit patchy on the right side so as not to let myself get too comfortable.  A small reminder of where I've been.  Don't get too excited it says.  This could happen all over again because there is no medical explanation.  

Lean into the fear.  

I have returned from Doe Bay alive to life.  I got on an airplane to return home and re-read Claire's book and wrote and wrote wrote.  It poured out of me like I was letting go and coming home all in one.  Re-entry into the world hasn't been easy.  Over tired, laundry and a house left with two kids and one man equals me wanting to run away.  Return to the sanctuary I found at Doe Bay.  Where chicken coops and organic gardens greet me on the walk to the cabin.  Where the safety zone of fellow writers embraces and protects me. 

I can't watch T.V. or listen to music unless it's Daniel's CD on repeat.  I am carrying my journal around with me like it's an oxygen tank.  I stop and pause and write the thought down.  I can't begin to explain this to others. All I want to do is write.  I am making space for my craft. This is who I am.  This is what I do.  I am merely manifesting ME. 

"I want to feel good too" Daniel Blue, Euphoria, Motopony

But this is what I've learned:  I can create that space anywhere I go in this world because it is within me.  I am that space.  I can write when my heart isn't broken down and battered.  I am a writer.  I am not alone. I will never be alone. I don't need to apologize.

 I just wish this feeling on everyone.

"But how much more do you need to see Before you can believe" Daniel Blue, Wake Up, Motopony

I have a new plan for this blog space.  What I see here no longer fits me.  I have emerged.  But to honor the past I haven't touched a thing and posted this here. My book idea is forming and shaping and growing. The spirit dwells inside me and she hand feeds me ideas like she's popping grapes into my mouth one by one.

I have tasted the magic elixir of life.  

It is me. 

Anatomy of a Lemon Bar...

Lauren asked if we could make lemon bars.  She used her i phone and wrote all the ingredients in the notes section. I'm not a baker, but this was easy.  I've watched you make these bars a thousand times.  For friends, for your mother, for funerals, for us, just because....I've been dark and lonely and sad and I wonder if I should get on a drug.  The whole world is on one but I've been going it solo since you died.  Sure, the alcohol helps numb, but that doesn't seem to be enough anymore. I want to go back to when I was in shock and numb simply from the fact that you were no longer here.  Now it is full deal reality.  I'm angry and sad in some sort of combination that peaks and dips at such odd moments.  I feel you with me, I do.  But that's not enough sometimes.

This life of motherhood isn't easy and I need you to break the do it with me. To be here.  To call and complain and cry and laugh.  I haven't written a blog since the year anniversary of your death.  I feel like death inside.  Without writing I feel weak and slowly withering away. Yoga helps.  I have a bunch of new mantras and self-speak.  Still, something doesn't feel whole.

The lemon bars brought up so much emotion that it forced me here.  To write it out.  I opened the utensil drawer and prayed that the pastry cutter was in there.  I know I took it from the house.  I held it in my hand as you held it in yours and I cut the flour and butter and powdered sugar as your hand written recipe card instructed.  You used fresh squeezed lemon juice once and the bars weren't as good so I used the lemon juice concentrate.  I did however put some lemon zest in there.  You know I have to put my spin on everything, but I thought you would approve.

Grandma says no one can make these bars as good as you, but that might not be my point.  The two sticks of butter and the recipe card sat out on the cutting board since Sunday because Lauren forget to put powdered sugar on her list.  The kids were at the neighbors tonight and for some reason I couldn't wait for her to get home to make them.  I just needed to do it.

I'm going on a writers retreat next week by myself.  I'm scared and excited and don't feel much like a writer these days.  In August Evan will go off to school all day and I'll have no more excuses.  I have to write it all out.  That terrifies and inspires me. What will I do all day?  What will I write about? You died and all my hair fell out.  I've worn a wig now for almost a year.  I'm so over it.

I was driving in the car yesterday and realized that I've been a writer my whole life.  Travel journals like Auntie Ruthie on trips, the college newspaper....journals and diaries and letters and cards and correspondence.  It is what makes me feel alive and yet I haven't written in six months.  I guess I needed time.  Time to process all this stuff that has happened in my life.  I think it's been enough time.

I whisked the sugar and eggs together.  I could have done that for hours.  I want to be okay.  I want to feel alive again.  I know that's what you want for me.  I read an obituary of an actor last week and in it he told his daughters to grieve in whatever way needed but to remember that there is still so much living yet to do.  That touched me.

There is still so much living yet to do.  And there are always more lemon bars to make and eat.