The Seven Year Itch: Prologue

Trixie stood in front of the full-length mirror, tweezers in hand; ready to attack any stray eyebrow hair marring a perfect arch. The movements are methodical point, pluck, smooth, point again. No attention paid to the woman in the mirror, the music in the background, or the man standing in the doorway.

Wake up Wake up, Gotta get this paper, Get this cake up. Gotta do my hair, Gotta put on make up…

Suddenly Trixie stops, moves from a crouched position in front of the mirror, leans her face away from the glass and actually looks at herself. It’s been a year since she’s done this, just stood there in her bra and panties to examine her body.

A year ago circumstances were vastly different. Her belly rounded, full of life. Little  Tadgh was on the way. A flatter belly remains, only the stretch marks zigzagging across her skin betraying her previously pregnant state. Her eyes hone in on the widest stretch mark, mouth pursed in a frown. Eyes wander upward. Dark brown curls frame her face and cascade past her shoulders, the light glinting off sun-bleached highlights. Freckles fan across her nose and cheeks. Biting her lips, a pink hue tints her puckered mouth. Eyes travel south to full breasts outlined in Calvin Klein’s latest orange lace bra. She lifts her hands to cup them, feels the weight that never left from the milk that used to be housed within. Lower still, quickly past her stomach and the memories. Matching orange bikini panties enveloped her hips. Turning sideways, she sees her butt which thankfully is still perky. Moles dot her “runner’s legs” as her mom used to call them; strong thighs, full calves, dainty ankles. Glancing downward still she notices pink toes, fresh from the pedicurist. A noise alerts her to the man standing in the doorway, watching as she pores over her body.

For a second their eyes meet and she sees the long abandoned lust etched in the depths of his hazel eyes. Trixie gives a cheeky smile to his reflection in the mirror, and starts to undo her bra. He straightens, looks away, his gaze landing to the dresser where their family photo stands. Her smile falls; a blank disinterested mask replaces her once seductive grin.

Alex clears his throat as Trixie turns around.

“I’m leaving for San Diego again today. I didn’t want you to wait up for me. Sorry I forgot to tell you”. With that he walks away, not looking at her.

Please somebody tell me what’s going on. My baby’s gotta suitcase. He’s telling me it’s too late. Don’t nobody, please don’t ask me why…

The song change timed perfectly with Alex’s departure. You’d never guess that Alex was her husband. That he vowed to love and cherish her. That a year ago he was behind her as she stood in front of the mirror, his hands on her full belly, his nose buried in her neck. Her pulse fluttered, and little Tadgh kicked at the same time. Alex lifted his head, a wide grin on his face, his future football star making his presence known.

In the distance the front door shuts. And the old images flint away.

I can’t stop my heart from leaving through the door. I can’t unpack my heart because he won’t look at me anymore…

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Death & Taxes

“Surely my sins have found me out God rest my soul, but show me out Surely my sins have found me out Spit on my grave, but kiss my mouth” – Daniel Caesar

The second you reach stability, you realize that calling something stable is like adding rolled up napkins to the short leg of a wobbly table. Precarious doesn’t even big to describe the situation.

Let’s start with the accident that totaled my car in 2017, which also started this whole rollercoaster.

On my way to work with B, 8am, stopped in traffic in the far righthand lane of the freeway, directly after the onramp. A car rams into me from behind, slamming me at 50-60mph into the car in front of me. Thankfully, I had left a car space between myself and the front car, but the impact of the truck that hit me was enough force to propel me the distance to kiss the car in front.

The slow motion, instantaneous impact, whipping me forward, colliding my SUV into another immobile object. The sound of glass breaking and metal compacting. The motion of your body flailing, searching for purchase, until the seatbelt catches your momentum. And just as suddenly as it began, you’re jerked to a halt, left in the weighty aftermath.

Can I move? Is everything working? Am I bleeding? Does it hurt? – well everything eventually hurts, but in the moment you can’t feel, you just act. Shock kicks in. Some part of your knows you can’t stay in the lane, that you have to pull over to the shoulder, that you need your phone, that you need to call the police. Mind and body working as two separate entities.

Wiggle your big toe, get these other little piggies to move. And then it all starts to reconnect. You move to the shoulder. Reach for your phone; call the police. Why am I breathless? Why am I shaking? Am I sobbing? Why am I sobbing? B takes the phone, relaying the information to Highway Patrol. My hand goes up to shield my face from onlookers and also to stop the heavy onslaught of water.

In a daze, you want to screen and rail at the driver. Belittle his character and countenance for this misfortune. But you also care about his well-being. You want to blame and inflict harm, anything to transfer energy from you elsewhere.

It’s surreal how your body can go through the motions without much thought or consciousness.

Information is exchanged, after crawling from the passenger side door out of the vehicle. You notice offhandedly that your driver side is smashed shut. Pictures are taken, with and without flash; statements given; insurance claims filed; off to the hospital for exams and prescriptions.

It’s not until days later when the adrenaline wears off that your body catches up with the event. Everything aches: sitting, standing, moving — all includes a sharp burning pain. There’s no rest day or night. Physical therapy starts. X-rays are required. The crack and clang of the CAT scan.

Your body enclosed in a bullet shaped coffin. Two hours of death simulation – unable to move, shallow breaths. A film that shows multiple herniated disc in the form of shadows and shapes. A black and white pinpoint of pain.

Visits to the specialists. Second and third opinions. Different shoes. Different desk. Various cushions. Bills upon bills. Less mobility. More weight gain. Less motivation. More pain. Threats of surgery. Recommendations of injections. Can’t bend. Can’t lift. No Relief.

The loss of self, of lifestyle. Helplessness. Sadness. The need for improvement. The disappointment. Bills upon bills. No car. New, gently used car. New payments. More payments.

Sleeplessness. Irritability. Lack of energy. Second diagnosis. Risk. High-risk. More surgery. Pills. Daily regimens. Scheduled visits. More specialists. Google searches. Worry. Holistic approaches. Despair. Time off work. Time away from work. Work piling up. Limitations. Lack of focus. Insomnia. Anxiety. Dread. Apathy. Isolation.

Renewal. Hope. Small incremental changes. Improvements. More medication. Adverse reactions. Less medication. Uncontrollable bleeding. No bleeding. Anguish. Loss of appetite. Anemia. Nutritionist. Activity. Pain. Perseverance. Fight. Breathlessness. Chills. Tired. Fear. Rashes. Hives. More specialists.

Potential diagnoses. Auto-immune disease. More Google searches. PTSD. Fear. Crisis. Prayer. Fear. Bloodwork. Prayer.

Limbo.

Sweet Shame

“It’s a sweet shame, I could be sorry for all the things I am And the things I ain’t We could give it some time and say that Things will change But, baby, things don’t change” – Kirby Brown 

The answer to the question “why did you stop writing?” is both simple and complicated. To sum it up, my brother died and my world fell apart.

I tried to hold it together for a couple of years, to lose myself in the present. It didn’t work. And then 4 years later, the fogs starts to clear; awakening in a new world of erratic movements on a tilted axis.

During the haze, I decided that instead of writing about things or wishing for things — I would give up the f*cks and just start doing things. I stopped social media, the mindless self-promotion, the eager posts for acknowledgement and acceptance — to just get to know people again. I added myself to person #1 on the list.

Who am I? A hot mess honestly — a vagabond, aimless wander, heart-sick traveler — an individual in pursuit of that hazy “something”.

The only aspect of my life that has remained steadfast and renewed at the same time is my relationship with Christ. I have a deep and profound appreciation of my Savior, Redeemer, and Lover of my soul. To know that at my lowest, I was still pursued by Jesus, that through every desert and in every valley — my Lord, my Fortress– was there. And I stand with confidence and conviction knowing who I am, because of Whose I am.

To get to this place, I had to eliminate — removed the need to be validated; released the individuals that constantly steal from my Piggy Bank of Awesomeness; refused to withhold opinions in uncomfortable situations; challenged what I thought was required or expected from me by others; allowed that space to be sad, to grieve; opened the avenue to be desperately alone; and finally learned to respect and honor people for who they are versus who I perceived them to be. Rinse and repeat.

I started to feel freer. Not all at once and not even halfway through, but in the last two years of practicing the elimination method (when consistent) brought peace and mental sanity.

The notion of liberty is not without its pitfalls. The practice of letting go is painful. You reexamine everything and place what’s unhealthy in the rubbish pile — preventing yourself, sometimes forcibly, from taking it back out again.

In the opening scene of Something New at the Valentine’s Day dinner with the girlfriends,  Sanaa Lathan is going through her list. She agrees to Let Go, Let Flow, they cheers — and she immediately goes back to adding things to her list of ideals.

I’d like to imagine that moving on is a constant process of adding things to a list, crossing them off, debating whether they are a necessity or preference. Because you do have to check yourself: what’s real? what’s a hard-line? over and over until you have an outline for how to move forward.

So why the comeback? Why now? I’d like to say that it’s because I’ve reached a place of healing and recovery — but that’s not the whole truth. Maying it has something to do with starting therapy again — but who knows for sure. After the “Great Divorce of 2018”, there’s a lot to process. Better out than in, as Shrek would say. I’m actually trying a variety of different outlets: coloring, knitting, meditation, exercise– and a few other things thrown into the cocktail, until I find what works.

Truth is, I’ve never lacked for things to say. And after reading Tiffany Haddish’s Last Black Unicorn, I realized I just have to let it out. Because on the inside it’s septic. So let’s pop the blister and cleanse the wound.

Cheers to Good Health!

Home Again #Writing 101, Day 2, A Room with a View

“Sometimes I wonder if I’m ever gonna make it home again. It’s so far and out of sight. I really need someone to talk to and nobody else knows how to comfort me tonight. Snow is cold, rain is wet. Chills my soul right to the marrow. I won’t be happy until I see you alone again. Till I’m home again and feeling right.” Carole King

When I was a little girl, my Grandma Lorraine on my father’s side used to send care packages full of homemade chocolate chip cookies and beef jerky. No matter when she sent the cookies or how long they sat at the post office before we could pick them up, when you opened the Ziploc bag the cookies were be round, golden, fresh-from-the-oven soft, buttery perfection. And the beef jerky, which she slow cooked for days in her dehydrator, would never be stale or tough but chewy, flavorful, and smoked to a thick maroon hue.

Growing up on a boat, you don’t have a lot of hiding places. So my parents always hid the goody box from Grandma in the galley “closet”. And I use the term closet loosely here, but when you think of a closet now, you probably imagine a space deep enough to store lots of items hidden by the clothes hanging across a parallel rod. Well, this closet was so narrow it barely held a shirt and a jacket on the copper pipe that probably connected to the propane tank on the other side of the galley door. It was so small that you probably only reached mid forearm before you touched the back of the closet, and the height was maybe about 4 feet.

But that was my favorite place in the entire boat. I would climb in there on top of the industrial cases that held my father’s mobile phones—you know the kind that only came in black, about the side of basketball player’s tennis shoe (in height and width), with the uber long antenna that you had to screw into the phone before it worked? I’d sit in the corner of the closet (which really spanned the entire closet) and sniff the sea salt from my father’s work jacket[; smelling the layered smoke from his Marlboro Reds.

I’d sit in that closet, eating Grandma’s cookies and jerky, relishing the pungent tang of the dried meat and the sweet escape of her chocolate filled cookies. When I was tired I’d pull the Carhartt jacket from its hanger, wrap the fleece lined warmth around me and snooze, rocked in the lulling motion of the ocean hitting the hull, the comforting smell of diesel fuel filling the air as barges passed through the estuary.

Eventually someone would find me, the evidence of my transgressions clear as day, from my chocolate smudged face to my oil stained hands. And yet they never picked a new spot for the loot.

If I could go any place, I’d go back to that boat, back to that closet, and back to that carefree girl. 

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