Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Marriage, and everything else I don't know.

My best friend here got divorced today. When I first met her three years ago, she was so full of life and vibrant and literally exuding passion, and I couldn't imagine how she had ended up in the marriage she was in. Her husband was a nice man (IS a nice man), kind, stable, and loving. But --it was painfully obvious to me that this was a one-sided relationship with one person moving and evolving into a new stage in her life and the other running in place. I melted into their family life and into the lives of her three children, and watched everything crumble before my eyes as I played (and continue to play) the supportive friend role through it all.

This is not the first marriage where, through blurred lines, I became involved in the inner workings. My parents' second marriages were fraught for many years with a tension and palpable sadness that every other week, my family life was difficult in a different way. The fighting and accusations were about us, against us, in front of us and with us. The experience of this has left me a bit frozen in place in regards to relationships - I am extraordinarily bad at them, with trust & commitment issues, and above all there is a sense of foreboding in my mind that comes with marriage.

When all you've known up close and personally were the bad things, it is impossible to know the good exists.

Luckily, as I've gotten older, I've grown much more aware of the fact that marriage IS in fact something that can work. It can grow sweeter with time, it doesn't have to mean the eventual loss of yourself. I've seen friends in relationships where they have blossomed, and met people who have been married for dozens and dozens of years and are still excited to answer the phone when their spouse is calling.

These things give me hope.

But as that terrible country song says, life ain't always beautiful, and I've gotten to see more of the bad things too. My best friend began an affair a couple of years ago, and I'm the only one who knows. This is difficult on me, even "just" as a bystander--being the shoulder to cry on, delving into the frequent depressive and downward-spiral conversations, all with the burden of my own heartache intermixed within was turning out to be too much for me to take.

I didn't realize the emotional toll this was taking on me (given my background) until a few months ago. We were out to dinner and she was talking about it, and was emotional over everything and I sat there clutching my beer bottle and was repeating the same words of support and comfort I'd been speaking for months when something inside me snapped. I was in the middle of saying something and then out of nowhere, I just buried my face in my hands and said "This is all just scaring the hell out of me." Then I started to cry and I'll never forget the look on her face. She grabbed my arm with an urgency and said that no one could ever cheat on me - but how on earth could she know this for sure? She was so surprised at that moment, I think she would have told me she'd give me one of her kids if I would calm down.

Listen -that is SO fundamentally out of character for me that it scared us both, frankly.

But it DOES scare me. It all scares me on so many levels, and paralyzes me into inaction in my own personal life. This is something I know, I acknowledge, and I'm working on.

Her marriage ended today, and the strange thing is, I keep reading stories today about lasting marriage. Ms Moon just welcomed a grandson, and is mentioning many times how much stronger her marriage has become as a result, and how she's seeing the result of their love now carrying on through the generations. I read this story about a woman who, because she was in a same-sex relationship, was denied access to her wife as she passed away in a hospital. She is still fighting the legal battles, and her story provides a testament for marriage of all shapes and forms. And then the extraordinary Maggie May wrote a stunning piece about marriage, shaping words into lyrics as only she can.

I don't know almost anything for sure right now. I don't even know where I'll be living by Christmas. But I know this -love can exist. It may even endure.

And it may - one day - even happen to me.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Where to go? What to do?

Big questions have been posed to me today. All before noon...I got a couple of job offers today, or at least very serious discussions about having me come on board. Both will take me in different locations; which one do I pick? Which lifestyle do I choose to have?

I'll be doing alot of thinking over the next few days.

My life feels like it's coming together, and falling apart at the seams, all at the very same time.

"All these places feel like home."
-Snow Patrol

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Starting again

I just wrote a long post, and lost it -tried to submit, and poof, it was gone. I wrote for a long time about life--just plain, ordinary, messy life and how our connections with each other through all these different mediums is still amazing to me. I wrote about how I was thinking of my friends, scattered near and far, and what a strange month September seems to be for all of them. It's been a little strange for me too...heartache is still riding shotgun with me every day, and it's becoming familiar. And I'm becoming familiar with trying to drive it away.

But for the people in my life, September has been strange in a good way...for others, not so good. From wedding plans for some, to awaiting a divorce finalization for another. I review property and custody agreements for one friend and pick out bridesmaid dresses for another--life shifting from one extreme to another. I think of one awaiting a new grandson, and another awaiting a court date. My friends in blog-land and my friends from all walks of life are changing and rearranging it seems.

My college roommate called to scream "it's a boy!" to me this week; and a new guy in my life lost his brother. Life goes on, and the complexity that is faced when lives leave and lives enter into this world never fails to bring me to my proverbial knees.

I've searched for peace this weekend, and found it in some ways. I laid low and canceled plans, and grabbed some much-needed time for myself. It was a little strange being on my own for so much of it, but I know I needed that time also.

I leave for DC this week and even though I'm working, it will be good to see friends there too.

Sometimes living there seems a hundred years ago--when I go back, and clutch cold beers with those familiar faces in those old familiar places, I feel a little piece of me come back. A piece I never knew was missing.

I feel relieved after a trip there...being reminded that I have a little world tucked away there, between 8th and I St, just over from H and Florida Ave, ready to catch me if I should ever fall is comforting beyond belief.

I am thinking of them tonight--and of all of you--as we await life's adventures together.

Don't blink.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Pieces

Quiet on this Labor Day has been exactly what I needed. I had a whirlwind of a weekend with a bunch of family, visiting some more family and sitting at my grandmother's bedside at the nursing home. This weekend held alot of emotion for me, and I'm still processing through some of my feelings. To unwind today, I flipped on my HBO On Demand and watched a couple of documentaries which were both very thought-provoking.

The first was "Right America" which was Alexandra Pelosi's documentary on the McCain campaign--she traveled around with them to capture the emotions of the heartland on their fierce determination to 'hold on to American values' by voting against Obama. It was as you might expect...a snapshot of southern/midwestern America and the people in it who are scared to death of progress and change. I'm a little too desensitized at this point to really get fightin' mad at some of the outrageous things that were said...I honestly feel as though I've heard them all at this point--Obama's a socialist, a Nazi, a communist, a terrorist...and so on. It didn't reveal much that hadn't been already known, but it did actually make me think on a few levels about the fear these people must feel at this point.

Obama has, no matter what your political leaning, implemented some pretty massive overhauls in a very short amount of time and the speed and depth of some of these programs both passed and awaiting passage are daunting, even for the most loyal follower. I trust him, and obviously do not believe he's out to cause us all great harm. And I am familiar with the fear that comes when a President you do not trust is in the Oval Office--I lived with it for almost 8 years (the first year I was still too young and too naive to understand much).

But watching these people sob for their country as election results rolled in was, dare I say it, a little hard to watch. I think because I do identify with that desperate feeling that the world's going crazy and there's nothing you can do to stop it. These people who genuinely believe this man is out to do us grave harm must be terrified and I felt...sorry for them, a little. Sorry that they won't educate themselves enough to realize the insanity of their accusations, and sorry that these beliefs must be so extreme and short-sighted that they can't relish the good that does remain.

And then, I flipped on "Which Way Home" because well, I must be an idiot. This one made me cry, but it wasn't overly depressing. It followed children (mostly teenage boys) who travel via freight train through Mexico -- primarily boys from Honduras, Guatemala, etc -- and try desperately to get to the US. Watching this band of lost boys toil through hunger, muggings, and the loss of innocence in often-failed attempts to get here was staggering. They spoke of the US as though it were heaven on earth, and it made me wonder who the real patriots are...the flag waving bible-thumpers in the first doc, or these boys.

I think I know the answer to that.

I guess watching heavy documentaries aren't most people's idea of a relaxing day, but it was mine today :) This weekend my dad, stepmother, sister and young nieces traveled to see my aunt and uncle who arrived in from Boston and we all caravaned over to spend the weekend visiting my grandmother in the nursing home. We also managed to cram in a ton of over-indulgent meals, swimming in the hotel pool, hiking and a museum and by last night, I was completely exhausted.

I hadn't seen the Boston branch of the family in about two years, and they had never met my nieces. It was really funny watching them interact with new people--they are always wary of 'strangers' and like to just stand there and stare at new people like this:

(Staring at Uncle Mike, who is trying desperately to make them love him. It somewhat worked.)

They were warming up by the end of the first night and we were all in the hotel pool until late, getting our money's worth I guess ;) I was spinning the youngest around in the pool and "throwing" her toward my aunt and I realized what a funny thing the word "family" can be sometimes. My family life is largely made up of labels instead of blood relations, and many of my "family" members are not technically related to me but are through step-families, by marriage, etc. How fragile it all can be - one stroll down a different path--a marriage that never happened, a move never made, a smile never returned or a second glance never given--could have changed everything. I wouldn't be spinning this particular child and handing her off to this particular woman on this night in September.

Maybe it isn't even worth thinking about--I know (I think) that the path could never have gone another way, we were supposed to all end up in that pool. But, these characters that make up the pieces of my life make it so much richer, and I like to reflect on that and acknowledge it as often as I can--to say grace amid the chaos.

My grandmother isn't doing well. Every time I see her, it's like I miss her even more. At least, I miss who she was. I am grateful that she still recognizes me, knows who I am at the very least, and it's the one thing that keeps me from maybe fully acknowledging how serious it all is right now. I am thinking of her tonight, and willing her to hold on. She drank beer from cans, smoked, and cursed like a sailor while still managing to be classy. She is responsible for me knowing the word "bastard" from a very young age (and repeating it at pre-school).

She gave me her nose, and her blue eyes.