Day 74- Whiskey & Snakes

We bonded over Books, Booze, and Corn Snakes.

We got to know each other in the library at LASFS. We would hide in the back, sample various drinks and flirt outrageously. We would argue over which alternate history authors got it right and the difference between urban fantasy and romance novels masquerading as such.

We would talk late, make excuses as to why we had to go, and then talk for another two hours or so. When we met he had a girlfriend, and then when they broke up I had a boyfriend, and so on. We kept our boundaries in place declaring it more fun that way.

One day he was leaving for Austria and he needed a snake sitter, right away, right now, help! So we had another long evening talking, saying goodnight, and talking some more.  We had figured it out by then. We were both single! We liked each other! This was great!

The sunrise was beautiful.

Then he went away for six months.

When he came back, I was no longer available.

Our timing always was terrible.

This pattern continued for a bit. I was free, he wasn’t, he was free, I wasn’t.  I got a new snake, we bought a bigger tank, we said “hello” and “goodbye” a lot. (The snakes kept going back and forth for care of course.)

Upon his most recent return I was overwhelmed with depression. My illness kept me away from everything and everyone. I was melting down within my chrysalis hoping to emerge a butterfly. (Or at least have my PTSD, anxiety, depression and Bi-polar under control.) I was in and out of the hospital and he would send me PM’s. Heart emojis and bad jokes abounded. He kept the lines of communication open and I carefully responded as best I could from under the heap of cushions around my head.

Then I had the depression managed! I was ready to talk, and to be social and to… Move.

The eviction, the job-loss, the maddening swirl of my upcoming adventure took over and suddenly there was so much to do. Panic, plan, pack, deploy!

I needed care for my snakes of course.

Our last goodbye was bittersweet. I gave my girls,  Brownie and Candy, to the man named Whiskey with a snake named Bourbon. (Which sounds like the opening to some sort of joke, I know.)  We quipped about how often we had passed them back and forth, “like a pair of divorced parents.”  When we hugged it felt horribly final; I chalked it up to nerves and stress. We agreed to talk when I got back.

Our timing always was terrible.

I am grateful that we were able to grab some stolen hours during the periods when our calendars magically aligned.

I always thought there would be more.

I’m sure he did too.

I feel so terribly alone. My friends who are also grieving his loss are hundreds of miles away and I am stuck here on my way to Albuquerque. I suppose if there is a memorial I will miss it, not due back to California for another 10 days or so.

Even now, it appears our timing is still terrible.

At least I am left with a pilgrimage to make. He wanted to take me to Austria someday. So someday I will go on the road again only this time on a plane. I will find the place he told me about.

And I will cry myself dry.

Day Unknown- Faded

I’m supposed to be sad but all I can do is rage. My kids have often remarked that my first response to being hurt or startled is to get angry. This is so much greater than a simple unexpected pain it’s gone beyond a measurable response. Even rage is too gentle a word but I can’t think of any other descriptions.

This is huge, it’s so big, I can’t grasp it, can’t comprehend it, can’t encompass it. My mind is spinning from the fruitless efforts I’m making to grab hold of something solid. But everything is liquid.

I’m so physically worn out I can’t function. Upon getting into our cabin tonight, I collapsed. My legs simply refused to bear any more weight of any kind. I had the kids bring my computer to me and now I’m writing, my fingers pounding the keyboard, striving to make sense of the senseless.

I’m not supposed to deal with this much death at my age. Or for all the years previous when the phrase “so young” first began it’s poisonous insertion into my life.

How many? How many more? Why do I stay closed off Dr. Shrink? Well let me tell you…

Today someone I love died.

And…

Today I was visiting the hometown of the last bright one who died on me.

It was to be a pilgrimage to try to make sense of what happened all those years ago to the two teens who loved, lost, tried to regain and eventually lost again.

Then the final loss.

Taking my children though the tribal lands today every drop of red sand felt like memory turned to blood, blinding my eyes and piercing my soul. I made myself vulnerable today and therefore I was already in a precarious place. Then the word came that on this day, of all days, another beloved one is gone.

There are no words for this, none.

I can’t rage, I can’t scream, I can’t let go because I’m the mom and I’m stuck in the cabin with my kids and the boy whose birthday is tomorrow. I have a cupcake for him. I bought it at the Diné market this afternoon, showing him around the land I didn’t realize I remembered so well.

(The stray dogs that wander all around and in and out, somewhat indulged yet ignored. One, with her teats heavy with milk followed us around the parking lot today and I wanted to grab her and say, “Take me to your pups and I will somehow save you all.”  Instead I got into my rental after griping after my kids for something-or-another and drove away.)

(The people whose eyes speak of both despair and wisdom but also great humor, they seem to see you from the side and not straight on as if to look too closely would be rude. The ones who approach you at the gas station with jewelry and the ones with fry-bread at the roadside stands and the tourist trap that we were at earlier today.)

(The land. Oh my dear God the land. The vistas that flow into pure light, colors not to be found at any other place I’ve ever been, the drab and dreary desert exploding into pinks and corals that aren’t quite those hues but again, there aren’t enough words.)

I have nothing but my words, I’m trying to ground but I’m not sure I’m able to. Tomorrow I promised a trip to the Grand Canyon and I’ve half killed myself getting us here and I have no idea what dawn will bring.

My kids are both scared of me right now. I have a snarl on my face that is so large and raw that I think they are reading it as a “Business Closed” sign. “Mommy isn’t home right now, leave a message and she might get back with you later.”

I know the rage is a cocoon, a safety-shield and a way of sheltering me from the tsunami of grief that I can see but refuse to face. I can’t. I just can’t.

I won’t candy-coat this, and put a shiny bow on it, talking about “better places” and other sanctimonious bullshit. My friend is dead and though I’m thrilled there is no more suffering for him, I am a gaping wound of pain. So I will feel my way through this.

I’m so tired.

I’m so pissed.

I’m so… Sad.

How can I be back here again and how do I get to tomorrow?