I’d sorted all my toiletries, added thoughtful touches like a scented candle and sparkling water, a bag of citrus and kolaches, lots of sun screen and self tanner. I needed to only pick out which bikinis I’d take, but the thought was close to revolting.
While I lay out tanning my soft, middle-aged body, there would be a hotel full of people there not by choice, but out of necessity and 6 blocks away people protesting for the lives of black Americans.
It just didn’t feel right despite everyone I talked to telling me I deserved it. Do it, go for it, you need it. Truthfully, what I needed was to stay home and be that person.
The person who wept when she watched the videos of people bravely hitting the streets and peacefully protesting get mowed down by mounted police or thrown to the grown by big, muscular men in riot gear, a septuagenarian harassed and left bleeding by callous officers sworn to protect us.
The person who yearns for a world that feels safe. For women, all people of color, every sexuality and every religion, every different mobility and health status, every height and size., every gender identity.
When you think about it, this world is set up to be kind and accepting to very very few types of people. The lane to acceptance is narrow: attractive, tall, fit, straight, Christian, white, cis, preferably male, [college] educated, never incarcerated. That was a very easy list to write down versus the hundreds of other combinations I could come up with that are not that.
My decision made and my heart light, I called the hotel. I explained that with the uptick in COVID cases in the last week coupled with the protests, “It just isn’t a good time now.”
She was perfunctory and efficient in her response and in less than 4 minutes I’d rescheduled my stay for the end of August. Perhaps then it won’t feel so gross.
I texted The Vet. He was sweet. “Want me to come over instead and bring a pizza?”
“Nah,” I replied. “I have a shit ton of kolaches.”
We sat on my back porch, the cicadas drowning out our conversation from any possible eavesdroppers. We drank and talked and laughed. He’s leaving in one month.
I felt tears, but ignored them. We have never talked about our feelings regarding our friendship and what the move will mean for us. He’s happy to be leaving; it’s good for him. I’m happy he’s happy. But I will miss my best friend and I wanted the weekend at the hotel to be a last hurrah for us. Strictly platonic, of course.
At 1 am, fighting the urge to close my eyes in my chair he bid adieu. He stood tall and bald, casual in cargo shorts and a t-shirt that clung slightly across his broad chest.
“I read an article about how to hug safely if you’d like to,” I said. “We just can’t have our faces face the same way and I have to keep my face in your chest.”
He answered by opening his arms and I stepped into them. I turned my right cheek against his chest and wrapped my arms around him. I breathed in the scent of him, his detergent probably, and wished we’d held on a few beats longer.
I quickly stepped away per the safe-hugging instructions and felt awkward, like I’d just been caught with my hand in the cookie jar.
I walked him to the door and said goodbye. My entire night was the right thing to do and just what I needed, and today I slept until I could sleep no more then walked the 1.45 miles to my ex’s and played for an hour with Peyton and a hose and some slippery grass.
I don’t need fancy right now, all I need is simple: friendship, love and rest.
Early meetings bled into late morning meetings morphed into lunch meetings rolled into afternoon meetings like so many cigarettes of a chain smoker. My ass didn’t leave my chair for 7 straight hours and even the cat got bored of me sitting there and found somewhere else to lounge.
Pey wanted to see me again after work, so the second I was done I laced up my tennies, put on cropped leggings so my chubby thighs wouldn’t chafe, and set out with the old, now creaky dog.
I was a little anxious.
My ex texted hours earlier asking that I refrain from touching our baby while he’s in possession. A stupid, illogical request seeing as we have shared custody and yet another maneuver on his part to control his anxiety via my behavior, to, as he put it, “keep isolation intact.” Yeah, ok.
Never mind that we’re swapping every two weeks.
But I guess a hug from me while he’s in possession is much more dangerous than taking him back into his home after he’s with me. I know: it makes no fucking sense.
I pressed Play on my audio book and listened intently to the dulcet tones of Tom Hanks. I passed fragrant, blooming bushes and trees the names of which I’ve never known. One tree with long, wispy branches had leaves like dragonfly wings and orange petals like an exploded firework. I don’t think it had a smell and I didn’t stop to investigate for along the inviting boughs were inch long thorns. I kept walking.
The visit was lovely. More playing with the hose, lots of “accidental” sprays on each other. My ex came out too this time, ostensibly to enforce his request of no touching, but he was mild mannered and we chatted about his family. I honored his need for no touching. Reluctantly.
The Vet asked me earlier in the night if I was up for drinks tonight. I told him I wasn’t sure, but the truth was I wanted to be up for some. For us to go meet at our favorite hang out or maybe a new one before he moves away and to catch up and laugh while serenaded by the chirping, hysterical cicadas overhead that seem to be everywhere at once.
I forgot that I no longer eat meat and ordered a pastrami sandwich to be delivered as I walked back past all the bushes and blooms and their thick, sticky fragrance. I didn’t even realize my mistake until hours after I’d eaten every last crumb. What a shit pescatarian I am. (It was delicious, though.)
I didn’t cry when I got home like I’d hoped yesterday, but I also didn’t stuff my face or drink. One rosé spritzer was all I had. Good job, Hy. I also completely forgot to text The Vet back. I’m just a black hole of nothingness and useless grey matter.
Lastly – and most upsettingly – Sunday night, in a fit of desperation (and hope) I booked two nights at a downtown luxury hotel basically for the price of one. It has two queen beds, a view of the water if I’m lucky, and is walking distance to all the fun, outdoorsy stuff my town has to offer.
But isn’t that the height of grossness?? To be in a luxurious setting while less than a mile away protesters fight against and endure police brutality? I mean, do I go join them before or after I lay out at the pool? Ugh – barf.
It’s in bad taste, right?, to spend money so cavalierly when others are having to skip rent payments to survive during this goddamned pandemic and since when did I become a Have and not a Have Not?
And not only all that, but what if I get sick by leaving the safety of my house? Yet another indecent privilege I’ve been afforded during all of this.
I asked both my bff, Sherry, and The Vet if they’d like to come stay with me.
“It’ll be fun!” I texted, filled with optimism and gripped by momentary insanity. “We can drink, play, paddle, lay by the pool, get room service. Party!” They both agreed it sounded great and would love to come, but what if they get me sick?
They go to work every day and have been throughout this entire quarantine, and apparently that has affected their threshold for mingling. Mine remains – apparently – very, very low.
But hotel sheets, a change of scenery, someone to take care of me. It’s embarrassingly privileged and humiliatingly attractive all at the same time.
The hotel now reminds me of that beautiful orange blossom on that alien-looking tree with it’s misleadingly soft-looking branches – there are big ass spikes all over it, after all. It is not to be experienced with anything but your eyes.
I have until 2:59 pm tomorrow afternoon to make my decision and get a full refund. I wish the cicadas could tell me what to do in their songs.
I’ve been eating my feelings the past two days, which might not be all that notable except that I’ve diligently been chipping away at my weight during lock down and this now feels extremely reckless.
My heart is breaking on all sides – no different than you, probably. I ache for black Americans for all the suffering they endure and have endured. I ache for essential workers who must chose to risk their lives to keep food on the table. I ache for the loss of life as we all knew it and I ache for the unknown future. I ache for my little one who is back at my ex’s. I ache for my loneliness – I miss my mommy and my friends and dates (even the bad ones).
I just ache.
And after Pey went to my ex’s yesterday and we hugged and cried goodbye I threw myself into work. I stared so hard at the computer screen my eyes watered and my back ached. The fat ass cat tore into my lap whenever it suited him to get some attention. It felt like a reminder that I was not actually as alone as I felt.
When my day was over I grabbed a bite to eat – a chicken salad wrap – and took the dog off down the street, careful to suck in my stomach because that’s what middle aged women do, I guess.
My visit was leisurely, there was a hose and some water for all of us, a lolling tongue and squinty dog eyes, hugs and kisses. I walked back home and immediately opened a bottle of wine and made pasta. Ate too much, I’m sure, but didn’t care. Then drank some more wine and ate 4 truffles. I went to bed early instead of eating more because that was all I really wanted to do (eat).
Today, I woke up with Pey’s balled up shirt in my arms. It’s not weird, you’re weird. It was so quiet, peaceful. I wasn’t worried about what my child was doing or should be doing. I immediately felt guilty for the relief I felt.
Work started earlier than usual and I bore down on my day like hungry little bug on a juicy leaf. And boy was I hungry. I ate most of a frozen dinner and then the left over pasta. When work was finished I laced up my shoes again and headed back out.
This time I was met with an admission that there were tears the night before. I was missed. “This is hard.” Yes, baby, I know.
We fabricated rainbows with the mister nozzle setting and turned our faces into it. It was good to see each other. Do you want me to come again tomorrow?
I walked home listening to my audio book (my second ever) and felt guilty for being so removed from all the pain and suffering in the world, for my ignorance of whatever was happening less than 10 miles away. But I’m fucking tired.
I feel like I have been weeping for humanity since 9/11 when I watched in horror as the first tower collapsed. I had just barely turned 26.
I headed straight for my last bottle of wine and ordered some Chinese food. It’d be my third meal of the day – I don’t even remember the last time I ate three times in a single day. I savored the MSG on the sweet and tangy shrimp and chicken and the mouthfeel of the salty fried rice and wanted to melt into my rug for the sheer shame and pleasure of it all. This was what I wanted.
I have a brutally long day tomorrow, so my plan is to indulge to the fullest tonight then be in bed by 10 and sleep it all off tomorrow. No more booze then, no more eating my feelings. I’m going to sit alone on my couch after my visit with Pey and I am going to cry. I am going to cry for everything and everyone and everywhere.
I wrote a whole other post about my failings as a mother. I had an epic fail today – right off a fucking cliff – and sobbed for an hour as my guilt coursed as readily through my veins as the blood. Hours later, I’m feeling slightly better. Slightly. Gotta pick myself back up and keep goin’, as they say.
Suffice it to say my heart is broken even after I didn’t know it could break anymore. The injustice of police and white racist brutality is too much. And then a bunch of white people say, “Be angry politely, please!” which is its own racist brutality. I thought a killer virus that was sweeping through my nation (and world) was bad enough, but now it’s outright hate and ignorance added on top.
All that to say, this Every Damn Day in June is going to be special. I’m glad you’re here for it!! Expect to find lots of resources on how to do better and more and re-educate yourself on things. Mama’s got ideas.
I have never felt my aloneness so keenly as I do now and so I cried in the fucking closet.
I am alone with all the fear for the future, I am alone in my struggle to keep all the balls in the air, I am alone in homeschooling a defiant, confused, and sad pre-teen, and – as usual – I am alone in love.
I sat on the floor with my laptop set on my giant fuzzy pillow. My therapist’s wizened face watched me with kind eyes as I wept into my hands. I wondered what she thought of the clothes organized behind me, hung neatly and in order of type of dress. I did that the first week of quarantine.
Two weeks after I made the heartbreaking decision to cancel my trip to London on March 11th my ex texted to suggest that I keep our baby because there were so many families in our broken-home chain that I guess they had all decided it’d be safer for the kids to shelter in only one place separately.
I didn’t hesitate, “YES ABSOLUTELY I’LL DO IT.”
I have now had Peyton every minute of every day since school shut down 6 weeks ago and the world screeched to a halt.
I knew it’d be hard, but I also knew it’d be incredible. I hadn’t been able to be a mother uninterrupted since nearly 10 years ago. Yes, yes, yes, of course my baby will stay with me. I’m the kind one, the unselfish one, the smart one, the better, stronger, more capable parent. Yes, I’ll do it.
My child has no memory of only one stable home where the rules remained the same, the love the same, the bed and pillows unchanging. I wanted to do this.
What I didn’t account for was the complete overwhelm.
I’m working more than ever and am buried under never-ending demands while constantly dealing with the world coming to a mother fucking end. The heartbreaking injustices, the Sophie’s Choice of daily decisions to survive for so many. Are there even words to describe the existential crises and trauma we are all experiencing together? Things will never be the same and my soul is mourning.
Plus, while it’s a beautiful, honorable thing to be solely responsible for another’s well being, I feel like I am barely surviving myself. Am I a good enough mother right now? I fucking hope so.
I cried in the closet because I’d had yet another battle about school work and fuck is that English teacher for real?? Does she think I have nothing else to do but sit on my child all fucking day to make sure her need to make students work X amount of time is met?? Why haven’t they just called it already??
School’s out, take a break, mourn the end of life as we know it, parents. Make sure your kids are safe and happy. We’ll make it up next year/over the course of their lives because who really needs to know how to find the area of a fucking trapezoid anyway?Jesusfuckingchrist.
I can’t talk to my ex – he’ll blame me and push to take Pey away; I have no partner to lean on – my friends are sympathetic, but can’t understand; my family watch helplessly – they trust me, but have no solutions, either.
I get up early to write down assignments and scour the school site for information, but my child has been lying for weeks despite my best efforts and now I’ve moved my old iMac two feet from my little work station at the dining room table so I can support and help throughout the school day.
At night, after work, I tell myself I’ll work more on the school work, but I’m ignoring work that I need to do for myself and so say Fuck it instead and watch Gilmore Girls and have a glass of wine, make dinner, and cuddle with my sweet, angry, sad one.
We talk and laugh and the dog and cat pile on us. For a moment all seems normal. Of course I’m home on the couch on a Friday night because Pey is here. And then I remember that even if I were childless, I’d still be alone because that hasn’t changed and it’s not safe to leave the fucking house.
And Peyton has been sleeping with me again this week; mothering has literally become something I do in my sleep.
As the years have ticked by it naturally happened less and less and when we moved to our new apartment in November we stopped entirely. At my ex’s, the rule is no children allowed in the master bedroom for any reason. Bad dreams, rough day, nothing, no, no, no.
Pey accepted it, was stoic about it, but at my house it was always, “Hey mommy? Can I sleep with you tonight?” and I would melt because, Of course, baby. Anything you need. They won’t always want to be close to us like this; what’s the rush to make it stop?
Then this week my ex refused to let Peyton come stay with him for just a weekend. He wanted a full two weeks. All or nothing.
“Would you like to sleep with me tonight?” Yes, my baby said. Yes. Because this fragile, little baby human was rejected by a father who’s more interested in what he wants rather than what his child wants.
So yes, honey, of course you can sleep with mommy because your little heart is being broken. Your school is closed, your friends are just a bunch of idiot kids too and don’t call anyone either, you can’t have play dates or play your favorite sports, you can’t see your coaches or your teammates, your grandparents, your father won’t let you come see him because he’s mad you won’t stay longer, and you’re trapped in the house with a 45 yo woman who works full time, makes you do distance learning against your will and let’s not forget all the chores and bedtimes that are still enforced. Yes, sleep with me, baby. Forever if you need to. Forever.
Then my loneliness kicks back in as I strive to meet and solve that of my little love’s. Fuck, the loneliness.
It’s so acute, like a knife in my heart, and it makes me panic to think about when Pey will finally go back to my ex. I will be so so alone then – and I don’t do alone.
I feed my demanding extroversion through dating and men; they’re how I survive myself and the abandonment I experience every other week when my little one leaves me.
Abandonment. That’s what I’ve discovered during this quarantine: sharing custody is akin to full blown abandonment to my nervous system – every other week – and I never get to recover or work it out or even feel it for what it is because then we are reunited and I’ve spent a week working longer hours and filling my time with men and wine and deep dreams about nothing. I anchor my feelings at the bottom of all things, an ocean of nothingness, hidden from myself so I can start all over again in another 7 days, just so I can get out of fucking bed and look normal.
That era of distraction and distancing from myself is irrevocably over and I will have to feel my loneliness and face it head on. The Universe wants me to notice.
The world is molting, shedding its layers of abuse and misuse and slowing down. The earth is breathing more deeply, people are waking the fuck up, we’re all crying for the loss, the injustice, the fear, the calamity.
This much I know for sure from crying in my closet: I want to love. I want to love myself. Better and more than ever before. I want to be able to weather watching my child leave me over and over without dying inside, without craving stupid fucking dick. I want to keep empty, greedy men away from me and my most precious parts. I want to grow and fly and soar above the destructive decisions I ordinarily make. And most importantly, I want to help my little one’s heart to heal alongside mine.
I’m looking forward to crying in my closet again and highly recommend it. Everyone should go have a good cry in theirs.
My energy for dating has been exceptionally low over the last 9 months or so. Mourning, processing, working, mothering. There’s barely been any time for fucking.
It also doesn’t help that out of every 50 guys I match with, 35 of them keep asking me how my day is/was, 5 completely ignore me and another 9 send me an unsolicited dick pic or expect me to invite them to my house so I can spread my legs for them.
If you were doing the math, that means only about 1 men out of 50 behave relaxed and non-threatening, show intelligence and interest, and maintain a line of contact that is both intriguing and comfortable. And are fucking hot, of course. Mama has standards, y’all.
And to be perfectly honest I’d say that number is probably closer to 0 – .5 per 50, but there’s no such thing as “half a man,” so we’ll just have to go with the whole guy for every 100.
It sounds exhausting, but really it’s not! Though there’s a lot of initial up front work planting seeds in the row, within hours I can see what’s going to grow. The little shoots that will turn into eggplants show themselves almost immediately.
BAM! Mother fucking eggplant.
The guys who like to make sure your day is going well every morning, noon, and night reveal themselves next. They grow paltry little leaves and have a fallow, weak color to them. like a houseplant starved for sunlight.
Gotta just let those die on the vine.
Obviously the men who never connect never break the soil’s surface and I forget they were even there.
And when that one little glorious seedling pushes through the dirt and uncoils steady and bright towards the sun, oh that is the best feeling.
It’s a little miracle watching it unfold and grow tall, sprout leaves and strengthen. It excites me to see how it just seems to know what to do with little help from me, yet it flourishes with a little water and all that delicious sun.
Holy shit! This one’s palatable!
These are the special seedling men, like Francois, who make all the work seem worthwhile. I’m not trying to feed a village, after all, just me. One little woman, one little soul, one little hungry body and they’re easy, beautiful, warm, and bright. Perfect examples of the intangible “chemistry” we all seek.
And, my friends, my latest planting has some promise: I have found a new seedling worth waiting for.