Westward, Ho!

Friday can’t get here soon enough. The Huz and I will be in the car heading west, bound for Arizona. We haven’t been “home” in about a year and a half, which isn’t that long, but things are changing and time does, too. Since moving to the east coast, we have traveled home about once every two years or so. Sometimes it seems like too much, others too little. That said, I miss home.

It’s not my siblings I miss. I do miss my mother and some of my cousins. I definitely miss my best childhood friend and her family, as well as my best Army friend and her family (who we will visit on the return trip). More so, I miss my desert. I miss driving through the desert as twilight comes on, watching the watercolors shift from sky blue to denim to orange and pink to violet, then finally to the giant night sky with the brightest twinkling stars. With all the places I’ve lived, I’ve never seen or loved a sky quite like the Arizona sky over my desert.

My head is swamped with all I need to get done before we load up and yet, all I can seem to do is avoid the house. I need to clean because I hate coming home to a dirty house, but the kids will be home, so I feel like the house wont be clean anyway when we get back, so why bother? I need to pack, but The Huz and I travel light, so I can get that knocked out in less than an hour. I’ve got plenty of work to do for my freelance job and for my home business. PLENTY. And, I’m avoiding. But why?

Since becoming a mother, this will be my first trip to Arizona without children, other than having gone home for two funerals. Those were quick trips and really were no fun. But as far as road trips home, it’s been 23 years since we’ve done this alone. I’m looking forward to the uninterrupted time with The Huz. My guilty pleasure is being with him with no one else. It’s beautiful.

Big things will be happening over the next two weeks: a milestone birthday, a devastating situation a loved one will be facing, reunions, celebrations, highway insanity. I think my mood is what it is because I am having a hard time grasping the enormity of it all. I hope that’s a good thing, maybe?

 

 

I was Devastated

It’s been all of my life that my relationships with my siblings have been strained. In fact, that’s an understatement. I’m the youngest of four with complicated circumstances which I will spare for another day. This past week, the company for which I contract encouraged us to post a photo and brief caption featuring our siblings. It almost brought about a panic from deep within. I don’t even have a picture of me with all my siblings. In fact, I’m certain one doesn’t exist. Although I long ago accepted the situations, I was sobbing by the end of the day my manager made her request. I posted a picture of me with two cousins whom I adore and miss as we live in three different time zones. And even though I love them, it hurt me to do it.

My oldest sister was out of our parents’ home by the time I was born. She came to stay for a couple of weeks shortly after while our mother had a hysterectomy to care for me and our brother while Mom was recuperating. She called me Punk from the time I was very small, which infuriated our mother. I don’t remember ever hearing her call me that. I wish I could say I felt like it was a term of endearment or a shortening of Punkin; maybe a simple oxymoron? That would have been good, but it was inaccurate. She married when I was an infant and had children when I was a toddler. They all lived in another state and visits were infrequent. Even then, I could sense the strained relationships between her and our parents. That, sadly, also never changed until our father died.

The younger of my sisters was not raised with us and I did not have a true connection to her until after I had my own children. She was raised by a relative and also had her son when I was a toddler. Our paths have intersected at various points, including a time when I pursued our relationship and protected it fiercely. I was longing for a connection. After the passing of her husband not long after the passing of my father, our relationship was no longer a present part of either of our lives. Things got uncomfortable. I backed off. She evaporated. It is what it is. We sometimes connect through social media, but that is rare. I accept it, but I miss her. As much as that is true, I also understand investment needs to come from both parties, and I’m spent from trying.

The only boy is eight years older than I. He was present in my life growing up, and when he began his own family, they were an integral part of how my parents ran our family. He and his wife and son lived with us for a while and I was my nephew’s first baby sitter. I spent summers caring for him and he was with me nearly every weekend. By the time my niece was born two years later, I was used to people asking if they were my kids. In a way, I felt they were. Eventually, his marriage deteriorated and ended in divorce and by that time, I had already met and married The Huz and we were living 2,000 miles away. He used to call me to talk about what was going on with him and the kids or about what was happening for us. I can’t begin to express how important those calls were to me, but they stopped and I would learn later, he began to explore new layers of his addictions which took him to very, very dark places. The next fifteen years would find him angry at me for all things. There was only one time I fought back. My part was short-lived because I was aware what it was doing to our parents who were present the entire time. It was the last time I would defend myself to him, choosing to just keep my mouth shut from that point forward. Years later, we talked and became friendly again, but I couldn’t forget the damage and I never let my guard down again. These days, he hates me. His relationships with his kids confuse and hurt me. One speaks to him, one doesn’t, and I understand how they feel. Truly. I miss him desperately, but I will not sacrifice any portion of my wellness for him.

Our mother will be eighty next week. One sibling is traveling for work. One is sequestered in her world. One is likely working and drinking through the next four months, and The Huz and I are trekking across the country to celebrate with her. I’ve managed to keep it a secret from the herd, although I did break down and tell Mom we were heading west. I’m excited for the time away from my own brand of crazy on the east coast, as well as the time with Mom and a few very sweet treasured friends and their families. It will be good.

And it will be sad. No one has to point out that the visits with Mom are dwindling. She’s mostly well, but she’s advancing. We will celebrate quietly, hopefully with my brother’s children and my niece’s sweet young family. While we do, I will be happy, but I will also mourn what I know I will never have. I am OK with it. Long ago I accepted it. I no longer want to expel my energy on the lost causes of reconciliation. But I am sad. I’m maybe more sad than I should be about people who don’t want me.

I’m strong, though. And intellectual enough to know I can’t change them. But I just can’t help but feel a pang when I know once our mother is gone, my relationships with them will finally be put to rest.

Wistful

I miss The Huz.

Sounds kind of stupid, especially since we spent the whole day together on the Fourth of July. I’m not kidding, the entire day, just he and I in the car and exploring our city. Now, it’s three days later and I can’t help but wish he were home.

I was a Soldier’s wife. For more than 23 years, I stood beside a man who took an oath to defend our Constitution against all enemies. When we were dating, he told me he wanted to join the Army. He even took me to the recruiter and told me to ask him all the questions I had after watching a ten minute VHS tape. Then, he told me, “If you’re not in, I’m not in.” All smiles and in gooey love, I couldn’t think of a question to ask, so I batted my eyes and he signed the paper. We were so very young. Two years ago, (thankfully) he retired.

I was asked by civilians all the time how it was that I could get through the separations. That was honestly *THE* most asked question. In those two decades, he was gone to Korea for two years (two tours), Iraq for two years (two tours), Haiti for six months, and we were geographically separated for a grand total of five years for various schools, trainings, exercises, orders to different duty stations, and the like. Geographically separated (at least for the Army) means that we were still very much married but were voluntarily living apart for important reasons (usually school or other things having to do with the kids). Somehow, we made it when we know so many who did not.

I spent my nights exhausted, praying God would shield him and would make me strong. What God did was put in my head the confidence that everything would work out. I felt plenty weak. I was often scared. I was usually weary, but I never questioned that he would come home to me. And he always did.

In some ways, the demands of his civilian job are harder. When the Army called, with her demands and late hours and her years away, I quickly learned to suck it up and drive on because, *The Army* . . . I would sporadically allow myself a little pity party, but it didn’t last long. Now, he works six days a week most weeks. Monday through Friday, he leaves home about six in the morning and I don’t usually see him again until nine or ten at night. On those nights, dinner is served whenever the hell I feel like it. On Saturday morning, he will go in and work for four or five hours. Sometimes that runs long and other times, he will have to run parts to one of his satellite locations, so he will call home and tell me to meet him so I can ride with him. I suppose I sound like a brat for saying I live for those Saturdays because he will talk the whole time we are gone, about work, his teams, what he wants for us, and no one is there to get in the way.

Tomorrow, once he returns from work, I think he will likely be under the hood of The Son’s car buttoning up the last of his engine replacement. The parts we ordered weeks ago arrived Monday, so ’tis time. I’m jealous because I want the afternoon with him, but having that car running frees me from some of my duties. Perhaps it will free The Son enough that he can go get a real job, which seems to be the discussion d’jour of the week. I am feeling incredibly jealous.

Drive on?

 

 

 

Real Bad Mood

Yesterday was the Fourth of July, a time of festivities, fireworks, family and friends, and shit. It was also day friggin’ five of the assholes in my neighborhood shooting off various types of explosives. I like looking at fireworks from a distance and I can deal with a little hoopla every now and then, but holy crap, be done! I’m out of The Big Dog’s anxiety medication and I’m just not in the mood to go get more and ain’t no need to light so much as a traffic flare today, so stop.

In honor of my foul mood, I’ve compiled a list of things which are currently on my nerves:

  • My neighbors. We’ve previously discussed that I need the Fourth of July to not be celebrated on the fifth. Even so, as I left my house today to deliver my daughter to all the places, my neighborhood was riddled with the litter of a thousand fireworks stands. The trash is everywhere. I can’t even count the garbage left on the street and in people’s yards. So, pyros of my hood, you suck.
  • The Son. He is currently (or at least he was 15 minutes ago when I left the house bound for Panera where I can mostly be at peace) laying on the fuzzy rug which was my Mother’s Day present from Huz. It’s a lovely rug which he is strand by strand fucking up by pulling on the threads. He also, in the last 24 hours, consumed half a bag of tortilla chips, half a jar of salsa, six eggs, four packages of creamy chicken flavored ramen, two tomatoes, 8 oz. of medium cheddar cheese, half a loaf of double fiber bread (have fun with that one, buddy), a whole damn lot of mayonnaise, nine slices of Papa John’s pizza, three bananas, about half a package of American cheese slices, and he got into his father’s mini fridge where he stores the Powerade he takes to work and has consumed no less than four of them. He’s a permanent fixture on my shit list.
  • The Daughter. She is currently babysitting for some lovely family. She is personally keeping Uber drivers employed. She’s got a lot of bills to pay and needs to purchase clothing for her newest job, but, dude, she’s got friends to see and Ubers to take. She also can’t wake up in time to go to work in the mornings. Any morning. All mornings. Every morning I walk down the hallway and pound on her door to awaken her loveliness so that I can have the privilege of taking her to one of her many jobs. Where she makes enough money to pay everything even though she never seems to have money to pay for her life. Yay!
  • THE ADULT CHILDREN. I’m trying to plan a trip across the country for my husband and I to visit my mother and my best friends. This is an important trip for me. My mother will be turning 80 while we are supposed to be there and both of my best friends have been through a lot over the last few years. I just want to hug them. THE ADULT CHILDREN are really making me question whether or not this will work out. One still will probably not have a car and the other, who knows what his status will be. All I need is the doors locked and the dogs loved while I am gone. Is that too much to ask? Apparently.
  • The Son, Part Deux. School starts at his college in about six weeks. He hasn’t enrolled. He hasn’t done his paperwork for a stipend he receives each semester. He hasn’t done his financial aid paperwork. And, dude, I question whether he will have his shit together enough to go back next month. And, that means one thing… He will remain in my house through fall semester. That right there is a lot of bad words.
  • These people at the next table at Panera. They have a toddler with them who seems perfectly annoying for a child of his age. The mother and grandparents, however, need a blanket party (not sure what that is, check this out) for just being stupid. They have no way of knowing I am well-versed in American Sign Language, but I am. They are teaching this poor boy some strange hearing person’s morphed version of Sign Language. And it is atrocious. I could have interjected and corrected them, but I decided against it because I’m here seeking peace. I’ll just assume they’re idiots and eat my cookie.
  • Panera. Somehow, they managed to jack up my favorite cookie. I have always enjoyed the iced shortbread cookies, but this monstrosity is kind of sucktacular. Too much icing is just too much, kids. Knock that crap off and give me back perfection, please.
  • My hair. What the hell is going on with this business? Floofy in one spot, flat in another, some kind of wicked curl sneaking in from nowhere, and a cowlick showing itself for the first time in 44 years? I call bullshit.
  • Summer. It’s fucking hot.

I could go on, but I don’t need anyone calling in a health and welfare check to the local police.

Pantsless

One of the hardest transitions I’ve had to make with the ADULT CHILDREN moving back home is not getting my way. Sounds bratty, I know, but still…

I love not wearing pants. I can wear a bra all day any day, but please don’t make me wear pants. I will happily put them back on to take the dogs out or grab the mail from the box, but I hate pants.

Today, I dropped The Daughter off at job #1, then delivered The Son one of his sketchy places of employment. He’ll be gone until some time this weekend as this particular job entails the driving of a graduate student’s belongings to her new home in another state.

So, that’s one little break for me, and one which does not go unnoticed. Now, if we could get the other one off on some excursion, I could be happy and pants-free for a few days. Just the thought of it makes me giddy!

I may not get my way much, but a girl can dream.

By the way, my Pandora is playing Run DMC’s “Tricky,” and I am reliving my youth right now. Yes, I remember the words. All of them.

Here’s What’s Wrong

This is a two-parter, organized that way only because it just makes sense to me. And it is list style. I can’t make cohesion happen correctly here because syntax and my brain are just not gellin’ like Magellan.

In conversation with my kids and other people I know who are younger I continually hear about how unhappy they are. They are unhappy with their relationships (romantic and friendly), jobs, finances, and just about everything else. I hear the phrase, “Don’t I deserve…” a whole friggin lot. So, here we go:

Part 1- What you deserve

  • you deserve to be safe.
  • you deserve to be loved (think unconditionally in this application).
  • you deserve to be well.
  • you deserve to be happy.
  • you deserve to be enough.
  • you deserve to be heard.
  • you deserve to feel whole.
  • you deserve to be fulfilled.
  • you deserve to be complete.
  • you deserve to be part of a home (whatever that might mean to you).

I could add more, but that’s a great foundation. And, it’s all true. But, here’s where we get into a little bit of muddy water. A lot of what you deserve are things you have to work on/at/for. And, sadly, millennials have no idea how to do that work. Yup, I said it. Right here, I put it out there. What are you going to do about that? If you’re like most millennials, not too dang much. You’ll bitch about it a whole lot, maybe mean-mug me, might tweet something, but you wont change it because you DON’T KNOW HOW. Which leads me to-

Part 2- How to get what you deserve

  • define what you want
    • however minute you think something may be, define it
    • put a name on it and focus on it
    • let all things you do be in support of that definition
      • Ask yourself, “How can I make myself safe?” “How do I want to be loved?” “What can I do to make myself well?” “What will make me happy?” “What will make me feel like I am sufficient?” “How can I make sure people hear me?” “What will make me feel whole?” “How can I achieve fulfillment?” “What does complete mean to me?” “What will it take for me to feel at home?”

Notice anything? It’s up to the individual to get what they deserve. Yup, make it happen. It can’t be something someone does for you, otherwise it will mean nothing.

Life is like wrestling. It is both an individual and a team sport. If the individual can’t pull their crap together, the team suffers.

What do I think of millennials as a whole? As the mother of two of them, I think they are skyrocket smart. They are engaging (sometimes too much and it gets in the way). They are diverse and accepting. They are unique. They are emotional. And, they don’t have a clue what happy really means.

Padawan…

Neither of my kids are in a committed relationship. One has extensive short term (hint- wham, bam, thank ya, ma’am) stints and the other has had relatively NO experience. They both tell me that relationships nowadays are physical first, that it is common to not know the partner’s full name before things get physical, and who a person is isn’t as important as what cool things they can offer in the genitalia department. Umm, kaaaay.

Thank God I’m not young. Thank God even more that I never will be again.

I taught my kids about sex. I taught my kids a lot about sex. If they asked a question, I answered it in a way they could understand and process without being gross or going into too much detail. I always told them before an explanation, “There is a lot to this, if you don’t want to hearĀ everything about it, tell me now. You can stop me if it’s too much for you.” And then, I told them the truth, the truth about their anatomy, what party tricks it could do, what diseases they could catch, what the slang names they were asking about really were… I was really good at that part of being a mom.

And now, they teach their friends what I taught them. Surprisingly, with as “open” as sexuality seems to be now, people have decidedly little understanding of what is really going on with their bodies. They know how to get down, don’t get me wrong, but they are missing the emotional aspects of it because somehow sexuality has become separate from emotion.

We’re all here because biology makes us able to procreate with anyone of our choosing. When we choose partners of the opposite sex, we breed (at some point). So, in theory, you can screw anyone or anything you want. Eww.

I’m not here to tell anyone they’re wrong. Quite the contrary, I only want people to understand everything about themselves before they run headlong in the wind (thanks, Garth).

If you’re young (or maybe not) and you’re single (or maybe not) and you’re having sex with people to whom you have no commitment greater than the next few hours, pay attention.

You can have all the sex in the world and still not find yourself happy. You can have all the partners in the world (except me) and climax a new way with each of them and still be missing something. Or not, whatever. But, this whole have sex all the time movement that seems to be so popular isn’t doing much for the sake of progress. I think it might even be dragging us back to the dark ages.

I’m not saying anyone needs to be Duggar-esque with chaperones and side hugs, here. What I am saying is that I’m pretty sure there are a lot of bodies out there who are pretty mortified come morning light with their “selection” of partner the night before (or the hour, I’m not judging). Why? Because they don’t know them. They don’t know anything about them. They don’t know why she didn’t want her feet touched. They didn’t know he didn’t want you to be vocal because your voice sounds like his mother’s. They didn’t know that he flipped out because he always has to be on the left side of the bed.

It seems trivial, but those little things are bigger than they seem. Maybe if you knew beforehand, you never would have banged them. We all learn through the course of our relationships what the deal breakers are and we respond to them. We come to trust ourselves and our partners when we navigate things for ourselves, both alone and as couples. Who would someone not have had sex with if they had only known that element? How do we feel when we find out about that deal breaker?

And, if sex is the goal, and we’re having sex almost immediately, what are we growing? Are we building a real relationship? I know there are plenty of one night stands that turn into really great relationships, but I don’t think they are as common as we might hope. I even know a few people who have great marriages that started out as one nighters. Yes, they happen. But don’t bank on that happening. I’m fairly certain it is a happy woops. So, when the sex is easy and the growing is hard, guess what usually happens? Someone gets bored and looks elsewhere for what they’re needing.

And just like that, there’s nothing. Maybe not even a thought.

So, ask yourself, knowing you *can* have all the sex you want, “I can have sex with anyone, why do I want to have sex with this person? What makes it so much better?”

And then, remember what Ms. Hairspray has to say, “If you can’t answer those questions, maybe you shouldn’t be having sex with them in the first place.”