Narrative Mostly Freewriting #4

The friends that have walked on before us
Are waiting to take us to laughter and dancing.
The friends that have walked on before us
Are waiting to take us to the sky.

Dreamland, The B-52’s

I’d like to believe there is an afterlife, but I really don’t have proof. I mean, sometimes I can feel the presence of a loved one, but I don’t know if that’s just wishful thinking.

This is going to be a huge year of change for me. My Sweetie and I are giving up the room we’ve shared for 4 years for a number of reasons that don’t have to do with the state of our relationship. Moving is going to be a pain, but far less headache in the long run. We have somewhere else to call home already, though for me it’s the weekend home because commuting there would get old after a day.

It was a fairly typical day of work. Just another Monday. Didn’t bring lunch so I went out and grabbed a salad. I try not to travel with the rest of the people who work in the area to the more popular destinations. Today was the first day I actually got stopped at the train tracks. Wasn’t too bad.

Making friendship bracelets again. Funny how one can still uncover muscle memory after a few decades. Though I’m sure I made random ones here and there since I was a teenager.

Still trying to wrap my head around the concept that 1990 was 30 years ago. It doesn’t seem that much time has passed. Maybe that’s only because I keep trying to block out most of my 20’s and 30’s because of how painful it is that I no longer have the family I had back then.

It kinda feels like today’s a journal writing day. I think I’m gonna go do that.

Narrative Mostly Freewriting #3

The news that Neal Pert has left this world reached the world today. Such a talented person we lost too soon. I listened to most of Rush’s “Moving Pictures” today on the drive home. We still have the music and lots of videos that have archived a lot of his work. That’s one thing I love about the 21st Century–we have a way of preserving much of the 20th century in ways that they didn’t have in those Roaring Twenties that have been popping up in memes for the past year.

As I have to do laundry and clean up my room before I head up to spend some time working on wiring for Neotropolis this weekend (among other things), I decided to go for a dab. I started getting anxious on the way home. I thought it was my upper back, which has been bugging me lately. Then I remembered how much Rush reminds me of Kevin, and that one memory I treasure is my 30th birthday, when my friend Grinner came to visit. I had to choose between them when I was 21, and I chose Kevin. When I was 22, I found out about Polyamory and realized I actually didn’t have to choose, but it was too late. I regret not knowing that, but I also don’t think it would have made a difference. I had the life I had from 21 to 39 because I made that choice, and I can’t change it.

I’ve been wanting to write about Kevin again, mostly because I’m trying to listen to songs we both loved again, instead of avoiding them because they usually make me want to cry. The biggest culprits are:

  • From the Beginning, ELP
  • Pretty much all of Pet Sounds, The Beach Boys
  • Everything Counts, Enjoy the Silence, Question of Lust, Depeche Mode
  • Moonlight Feels Right, Starbuck
  • Chamber of 32 Doors, Genesis
  • And You And I, Yes
  • Pretty much all of Talking Book, Stevie Wonder

It always sucks when the more popular ones of these songs pop up at work, especially when I can’t stop what I’m doing and run to the bathroom. I’ve learned how to cope, but it’s hard stuffing that kind of emotion back into one’s soul to focus on my job. I’ve designed it where I don’t have to do that anymore, finally. The loss I feel is so profound that I need to give myself a larger chunk of time to start processing it and making sense of it all. Those songs bring up so many snapshots in my mind’s eye that my coping mechanism of trying to pretend those 18 years of my life were a dream. Sure, that’s allowed me to start to build a life for myself, but it’s keeping me from truly growing.

There is a woman who sits
All alone by the pier
Her husband was naughty
And caused his wife so many tears
He died without knowing forgiveness
And now she is sad, so sad
Maybe she’ll come to the park
And forgive him
And life won’t be so bad
In Paisley Park

Paisley Park, Prince

I forgave him before he died. Now it’s time to get rid of the survivor’s guilt I feel.

Narrative Mostly-Freewriting #1

When I first started this job, I used to take the bus. I wanted to reward myself at the end of each day and make the commute home more enjoyable. So, I walked down to my local dispensary and got myself edibles. Rice krispie treat in my case. (It can tolerate being cut into 6+ pieces and eaten over time best. One $5 treat lasted 6 to 8 days.) By the time I got home, I’d usually decompressed from work and gotten a little hungry. Sometimes it was a light journey, listening to music and catching up on Facebook. Other times, shuffling through my playlists prods some sense memory that forced me to feel that profound pain loss I’ve done my best not to feel too often. Then I cry while I keep listening. This is how it’s leaking out now, so I might as well go with it. The leak will stop, aided by the walk from the bus stop home. Everyone keeps telling me that I should feel this pain, and I keep saying that I resent having to feel it in the first place. As I’m finding out, this has not been the healthiest thing in the world. So folks, allow yourselves to feel that horrible pain of loss when it happens. Storing up all that pain will come back to haunt you at the most inconvenient of times.

On Paydays, I started a tradition to go to the dispensary, which was right near one of my bus stops, and have a dab, much like someone else would stop at the bar or liquor store on Payday. There’s something therapeutic about consuming marijuana via concentrated wax. It’s a more “body high that taps into the third eye” kind of high than traditional flower tends to be (unless it’s REALLY good). It also allows me to bleed the pipes, so to speak. I can allow myself to feel that pain, but not to dwell on it too long. The old slogan fits, too, a little dab will do ya.

I still partake in this tradition every now and then. It’s cheaper than Starbucks, even with tip. These days, I’m lucky to have a car, but I still walk to and from the dispensary. Getting a DUI is an expense and hassle I don’t need. It’s roughly the same amount of time I spend on the bike at the gym, which is good because there’s no way I’m taking a Lyft too and from the gym. That would become an expensive habit fast.

The best part of the walk home is the music. I’m sure people around this neighborhood think I must be crazy because I’m dancing down the street like I’m in my own private musical. Listening to music stoned is something I’ve been doing for two dozen years. Usually it was when my late husband Kevin and I were working or I wanted to write or work on the online sales part of our business. That’s why a lot of music I enjoy triggers sense memory–Kevin introduced me to a lot of music that has become a part of my soul. I also love dancing, which gives me a way to channel emotional energy into movement. I learned how to do this when I was 18 and it really helps. Nowadays instead of dancing, it’s usually kicking. I spent most of my 30’s studying and teaching Taekwondo. I miss it, but I can’t go back to teaching unless I have another way to make an actual living. It’s the Art that I love, and as my Grandmaster taught me, it’s okay to charge people according to what would fit into their budget.

This little ritual is slightly reminiscent of an old one I had when I lived in Toluca Lake in my 20’s–get high, walk to Trader Joes, buy a bag’s worth of groceries, and walk home. It took less than an hour and I enjoyed it. There are a lot of happy memories of that time of my life. I think I need to remember that as I start to confront all the bad ones prompted by all the issues in my marriage.

I often find myself starting to write in my head. I’ve probably written this in my head a couple dozen times already. I guess that’s why it was relatively easy to finally set all this down.

I love living in this day and age, where I can actually do something like this, in the neighborhood I grew up in, thanks to the open-minded voters of California.

Narrative Essay #1: December, 2019

It’s rare that I leave the house after sunrise on a weekday. Most weekdays are spent waiting as long as possible to get out of bed, then stumbling into clothes and a bathroom routine. Gather my things, grab lunch and a Soylent from the kitchen, and head out the door. If I’m up to it I’ll make sure the sink is clear. On Fridays, I empty a couple of trash cans into a bag so I can toss it into the large trash can that’s a few yards away from my car.

I usually grab the newspaper for my Dad, except on the rare occasions that he’s up before I’m out the door. I started out a year ago just putting the paper near the back door on my way to the bus stop. I started putting the paper on the arm of his chair when I started exiting out the back door.

On damp days, I clean off my windows while the car warms up. Set up my phone and plug it into the car stereo, open the bottle of Soylent and take a swig. Check for messages from my Sweetie if he’s already up. Maybe check the commute and figure out when I’ll get to work.

I’ve been in the habit of listening to Audiobooks or Podcasts on my commute. Music’s been too much to take in while driving to work lately, and on the way home, I like to finish up what I’ve been listening to. At this particular moment in time, I’m listening to Acid for the Children, Flea’s memoir. His writing style and how he reads the words he wrote has been inspiring. On this particular weekday, his voice fills my ears as I see the snow-capped San Gabriel Mountains as I get to the peak of the hill that offers a view that I grew up seeing. The houses go higher up into the foothills as they did in my elementary school years. It’s snowing in places it hardly ever does, which is why the mountains look that way. Every 5 to 10 years, this happens. People can be so quick to forget because they act like it’s never happened before every time it happens.

It’s an odd coincidence this is happening now. I remember when this happened a decade ago. My life was much different. That snow was surrounding me, as I was on the other side of those mountains in a geodesic dome with the family I had then. Yes, I once had a husband, six cats, and for a time a rooster and a couple of hens. I lost all that almost 5.5 years ago. While I’ve spent the time since that loss going forward and building a life for myself, I haven’t really processed the profoundness of being the only survivor of that household. I took a step towards finally doing so, with the assistance of the same group of mental health providers I had in the 90’s. The office has been upgraded, of course. I now speak to the folks at the front desk through glass. There’s a security guard behind the glass with them. I now answer questions on a tablet that are tracked with every visit–a mental health equivalent of taking my vitals. Yes, I’m really depressed and anxious, but no, I’m not suicidal. Having survived my husband’s suicide, I have no desire to put my loved ones through that. Especially my parents and my Sweetie.

I have to open these “cans of worms” as I’ve been referring to them lately. The hole in my heart for my former family and the life I once had. The facts: I know why that life failed, and I didn’t have as big of a hand in it than I was led to believe while I was living that life. All of that requires a lot of mental strength and time, as I have to recover from allowing myself to feel all of that. It hurts just as much as it did when I broke my arm. But it’s an emotional pain, which is a much harder pain to endure and find relief from. I have a plan in place to open those cans, examine the contents, and realize what it means now. I need to do it. I can’t keep that kind of pain in anymore. Even if it means missing several days of pay over the next few months.

Work is work. I’ve worked harder for the same money, and I have benefits. Getting out of bed is hard, but once I’m out the door, I can get through the next 10 hours. Sure, there are days when I’d like to go home an hour after I clock in, but I find a way to get through the day, and am very proud of myself when 4 o’clock rolls around and I head out the building and to my car.

My commute home is a different route the first third or so of the way due to traffic. It’s a fun drive a first, which helps me unwind and makes me happy that I have a sports car (but I don’t drive like a maniac). If I’m up for it, I take a detour to the gym to get a little stretching and cardio in. My only goal with the gym is to keep going and get at least 3 miles in on the bike. Then I go home, check in with my parents, eat, shower, talk to my Sweetie, and head to bed.

This kind of routine is not one I’m really used to. In my former life I worked at home. I’ve had this job a year. The last time I worked at a job for a year was 2002-2003. I was at that job exactly one year and was coerced into quitting by my late husband, for a reason that was never really explained, but had to do with us wanting to move out of our apartment and into a house. We got the dome in mid-2003 and had it exactly for 11 years.

It’s the last Saturday morning in December and it’s time to drive up to see my Sweetie. I leave after sunup, partially tracing my commute home (in reverse) to get to the 60 freeway. The snow-covered mountains greet me again, but this time I’m heading to the other side of them. Flea’s voice fills the car as I head east to the 15 North. When I pass Devore, the snow starts to become more visible, but it takes until the 138 to appear on the side of the road. I have to slam on my breaks right past the Weigh Station that used to excite me because it meant I was almost home and back with my former family. Today, the exit I used to take is quite long–people wanting to take advantage of the snow to head out for a family day trip or to enjoy the ski resort. I’m glad I can avoid all that. I hated how crowded it got on Hwy 2 after a snow when all I wanted to do was run my normal errands. All the impatient families who used my old road as a playground and set up little hibachi grills like they were at the park. They couldn’t be bothered to actually head into town, buy a $5 pass, and go into the area set aside for them.

But today, I head past all that, marveling at the snow that covers the hills around me. More snow is expected in a few days, but I’ll be back to the land of my birth and the area I’ve been working in for the past year.

Now it’s Sunday morning and I’m writing all this down. My Sweetie had to work early today, and I found myself alone in our room for the first time in months. I started writing, and it felt good to finally get all of this down. It’s been brewing in my head all week.

I keep telling myself that I have to make more time for myself to write. I think I will when I have those days to work on those cans of worms. Narrative essay style rather than journaling or first person fiction. I feel the need to articulate my thoughts and daily experiences rather than how I feel. That will come later.