Showing Up.

Showing up is not an easy thing to do. I proved that by flaking out on myself for years.

 And, NO, that isn’t HIS fault.

 It is MINE.

I’ve been taking a long hard look at what showing up means. After listening and reading and scrolling I saw that showing up means a lot of different things, to a lot of different people. I knew I needed to figure this out for myself. How could I know that I had failed, if I didn’t know what I was failing at?

For me, showing up means showing up for yourself, your kids, your community…there’s a lot more to it than facials and bubble baths.

I forgive myself for not showing up for me for years.  I did the best I could, at the time. Was it my personal best? Nope. But it was the best I had. All those times that I RSVP-ed: NO to my life suck, but I can’t get a do-over.

Shanyn, I am sorry you let yourself down and fucked off some really important things.

 I forgive you.

Done.

The alternative is a lifetime of recrimination. Oh, wait. I’ve already done that for half my life.

 I forgive myself for that, too.

Done.

Here’s the thing, Showing Up is also about asking the hard questions and answering honestly.

NOT> EASY>TO>DO.

It means taking responsibility for my actions, my choices, and my lack of action despite how bad my life has been.

When I woke this morning, I felt too tired to get out of bed, so I lay there, and ignored the vibration that calls me to meet the sun as it rises.  My eyes were heavy and somewhere in me I knew the day was going to be too hard to hold.  I considered letting it hold itself. But, my orange planner had WRITING: BOOK 2, written just above my accountability homework.  

Showing Up means not letting yourself off the hook when you have important things to do.

I got up and fed Smokey Magic, who had stayed out all night, and was doing the rub of shame on the screen door. I let her in and asked her if she had a good time, because really– #yolo .

I took it slow and I left myself alone. I didn’t chide me for not wanting to go have coffee outside in my chair, facing the sun.

I boiled the water and ground the beans. Because, showing up for myself means making the best damn cup of coffee that I can. Every day, but most especially on the weekends.

I felt a heaviness in my chest and my heart beat a warning. Part of my unease, I confided to the orchids, is that Monday is my 18th anniversary.

Showing up means facing the hard shit. The kids are with their Dad and I am ripe for a cry fest. A 48-hour layover in MY BED and that would be OKAY, if that was one of the honest answers to the hard question. Unfortunately, if I did that it would be a cop out.  Showing up sucks.  

I had already let myself off the hook yesterday by laying on my bed, crying, and eating two too many pieces of chocolate cake. Instead of yoga and writing. Though, the bills written in bright orange in my planner, demanded that I wipe the ganache from the corners of my mouth and face my fears.

 I had reluctantly gotten my files and my budget and turned on my laptop. No matter how many times I run the numbers, I just don’t have enough. It has been truly daunting taking over all the bills and the overhead, all by myself. It means that I am budgeted down to the last 26 cents in my wallet.

July tried its personal best to kick my ass. A broken washing machine, glass in the garbage disposal, new rotors and brakes…FUCK ME. There were several days I wanted to crawl into bed like I used to and just stay there. Curtains drawn against the mail box and the overwhelming demands of the world.

I didn’t. I got up every day and went to work.

The stress feels like a weighted blanket that I can’t take off. I stopped myself and took a breath every time I wanted to yell at the kids and asked, where is this coming from? Okay. That’s a lie. There were several times I just yelled. Then, I took a breath and asked myself the hard question: Am I taking my stress out on them? The answer was obvious as most truth is and so, I apologized for my assholeness.  Then I asked them not to be assholes. Because both things can be true at the same time.

Two days of letting myself off the hook would mean that I am also not working toward my dream of finishing my second book and doing the work on selling the first one. I thought about the question I have written above my desk, copied from a friend—Where will you be in 10 years?

I drank my coffee and acknowledged my sadness. Then I went on my bike ride and didn’t go the extra mile that I had planned. I promised myself that I would do that tomorrow. And I will. Because I am gaining trust by following through.

When I got home my phone rang and when I answered it was my father. I have spoken to him twice in 18 years, counting this morning.

My father, who I have been estranged from for most of my life, is dying of cancer. About a year ago my estranged half siblings called to tell me the horrible news, along with the rules and regulations regarding how they wanted to control my talking and seeing my Dad. They are a great example of letting your kids be assholes and then they grow up and become adult assholes. They tried to co-opt my Dad’s diagnosis into their drama and drag me right along with them.

I explained to them calmly and clearly. NO. I won’t go pay homage to my father knowing he regrets nothing and no I won’t come over there so you all can take your unhappy lives and fear and anger out on me.

I took a week and let myself grieve for the fact that my father would not be calling someday to say he was sorry, that he loved me, and the he would love to see me. No, my father wanted my attention and my body so he could reassure himself that he wasn’t the asshole who fucked up his kids lives on a grand scale.

Showing up for myself meant that I gave myself permission not to go see my Dad and to opt out of dealing with his kids. It also meant ignoring their bullshit regulations and calling my Dad, anyway. I listened to him that day, as he went through all that he was going through, without saying one mean thing. After he was done telling me the horror of his experience, I wished him well and got off the phone.

I cried for two days and then went on with my already fucked up life.

Today, he called to tell me that he is much worse. His voice was older than I remembered and when he called himself my Dad, another piece of my heart tore off. He was matter of fact, running through his cancer experience. Each day that he lives is a miracle and he is thankful to Jesus for that. He has help and people are caring for him. It is, what it is, he repeated so many times that I realized he was trying to convince himself, not me.

I waited for him to finish and then I told him what I have never said. Speaking of Jesus, I began. At the end of what I told him, which I will not share here, I told him that I forgave him and that I loved him and that I am so sorry that he is going through this. My voice shook as I have not told my father that I love him in at least 30 years.  

That is when the heaviness on my chest lifted. Tears slid down my face as he responded to my words and we got off the phone promising to talk soon.

I showed up for my Dad. That was hard.

As I sat there, the silence of my house surrounding me, I realized that I needed to face another hard thing. Something that I have not wanted to really bring out and look at in the light. That is, how the relationship with my Dad has affected my relationship with my husband. This is especially difficult because Monday is coming, a looming reminder of the destruction of my hopes and dreams.

Showing up for myself means examining my marriage for the ways that I let it down. The ways I let Him down. It also means that I am working toward forgiving myself for letting him and our marriage down. For letting myself down.

It means that I must sit in this pain, accept it, and then move through it until I get to the other side– no matter what that looks like.

 And I am fucking scared to take my marriage out and examine it honestly. I am sure to see things that I know I could have done better. I am sure to be shamed by things that I have said. It is so much easier to make him the villain. After all, he is such a fabulous villain.

But, many years ago, when I was in a yearlong women’s shelter for abused women, they asked me some question when I first got there. They told me not to answer them but to think about it, and answer myself.

Why did you love him? Why did you choose him? Why did you choose to stay? This was by no means an excuse for what that past man did to me. Nor is this an excuse for the things that my husband has said and done to me.

What it is, is asking the hard questions and answering honestly. This is about healing and forgiving. This is about taking account of my own heart and becoming connected with my soul.

I choose to believe that this portion of my path needs to be lived. It is the lesson I am learning. I spent so much time living for someday. I want to live today.

Even if it means that today is about crying.

For my Dad.

For my marriage.

It also means that I will let myself have two pieces of my most excellent Chocolate Ganache Cake, while I lay indolently on my lonely bed, and watch Swedish noir.

Wanting…

I woke this morning and watered the garden. I nurtured the trees. I walked around the house caring for the plants in every room. Even your old room, where plants never used to grow. There is one there now. It sits bravely in the corner where you hid out for years. I have changed this room. I have brightened it, opened it up to all. I have painted bookshelves and created a semi-circle of inclusion, arraying the furniture around the family portrait taken on that long-ago day.  The very same day that our son was born.

I sat in my chair, directly across from where your chair used to be. But now, instead of facing a dark corner, I am looking at the picture that was taken by a photo journalist on Easter morning.

Somehow, I had managed to get both the girls into their Easter dresses, white gloves, and hats at 5:30am. I had put on the prettiest dress I owned and a hat, despite the ache of our son’s weight bearing down on me.

I wanted us to be something we were not. The gloves, the hats, you wearing slacks at 6am. Was that one of the signs that you loved me? The slacks at 6am?  Instead of kissing me was that what you did instead?

The photographer froze my image mid contraction.  I am looking down, breathing through it, and our oldest has placed her hand on my stomach, on her brother. You are holding our youngest daughter; both of your faces are obscured. Only the blackened bottoms of her sandals show. And your hands, holding her firmly.

I have always loved your hands. Strong and capable and secure. The wedding ring that you have not worn for a long, long time shines from the tight grip you have on our daughter.

Our faces are obscured. Our sadness is hidden from view by hats and gloves and your wedding ring.

The picture had been posted on the front page of the newspaper the next day. We had no idea that we had been photographed. It was the next day that the nurses came in laughing, the front page of that section opened to our family. We looked at it over the head of our newborn and we smiled at the nurses. I remember wanting so badly for that picture to be a symbol that things would be better. That we would be, what I wanted us to be, and not what we had become.  

Later, that night, as the hospital slept, I picked up the paper and as it always goes, I saw clearly in the dark. I could see that the edges of the photo contained the fantasy and that outside those borders, lay the reality that I couldn’t understand. So, pushed it aside, and held our newborn, brushing my lips over his beautiful head, breathing in the scent of hope.

I got up and I watered the first plant to survive in your old room.  I moved onto the others in the next room. The orchids and the vines in the front window. The ferns and the rubber plants, their vibrancy filling me with their energy. Lastly, in the corner, tall and slender, her stalk too thin to keep her upright, is the first plant you ever bought me and I think the last.

I remember your small smile when I told you that her name was Stacy and feeling your eyes on me as I placed her on top of the TV cabinet you bought for me. That little apartment, the one I could barely afford as a single mom, looked so real to me with my first ever brand-new piece of furniture, and Stacy sitting proudly on top.

Now she sits on the floor, too tall for the top of anything. Stacy reaches for the sky though she is root bound. She is 19 years old. She bends and folds when it gets windy and I am afraid that when I do find the courage to replant her, that she will not come out of the pot, her soil so hardened. She has become used to making do with what she has. Will she die if I try to change that? Even, if what I am offering her is better and healthier and new?

This morning I wanted to go upstairs and lie in bed with you. Snuggle up to your back and whisper boo on that small mole on your back that looks like a ghost. I wanted to draw silent letters on your back like I used to, my breath a whisper on your neck, my breasts pushed against your broad back. I’d whisper, guess. Your deep voice would rumble out the right answer every time.  

I miss you.

I love you.

Why?

What happened?

Why wasn’t I enough?

I can’t do that, though. And I couldn’t have done that even when you were here because you slept in your chair or on the couch in your room downstairs. The space around you growing smaller each day until finally it held just a table, a TV, your remote, and you. The wall around you let no sunlight in. Or questions. Or concerns. The TV lights flickered on your face of stone. You sat, just under the portrait, turned away, your back to what we were. What we had.

I want my family back. The hope and the promise that is contained in that portrait from so long ago. I want to feel as if things will get better. That your bitter words and their definitions of me will change and that you will come, your strong hands knocking at the door that you once had a key to…and that I would open that door to a face full of remorse and longing for me. For our family. For us.

I want that so bad that my days scroll through the hours, my tasks, my conversations are all a montage and the song playing as my life rolls by makes me yearn for you.

But, the you I want, is not the you, that you are.

You tell me that you gave me your all and I ache so bad that I feel as if I will split open like rotted fruit and ooze out all my wasted flesh. 

I want to howl. If your all was the words that you have left me, the silences, the curl of disgust on your lips when your hand or hip accidentally brushed mine. If your all, was the wall that you built around your corner in the family room, just under the portrait–if that was your all, then I built a whole life based on a dream destination and now I am left with a mirage.

Wanting your love, hoping for your love, begging for your love with each packed lunch and hot dinner. I thought, that someday would come. So, I ignored so much of our every day.

I lay on the couch that you used as a bed and your smell is gone.  I am trying to find the signs, the gestures, the lights at the horizon to find my way. But I am drowning in a sea of sorrow and regret.

I want to wake up with you next to me. The promise of the day like shafts of sunlight on my face and I want to roll over and write on your back…

Come back.

My heart doesn’t know how to let go of my hopes and dreams and goals for our future. My heart doesn’t know how to stop loving you. It never understood how to do that no matter how cruel you were. Instead, my heart stopped loving me, so it could conserve all its energy to continue loving and hoping and withstanding you.

My heart has made-do for so long that I am not sure it can survive this replanting.

Class of 2019 a.k.a It Only Took Me 30 Years.

I graduate from Come Back Kids Charter High School tonight. I started about 2 ½ years ago with an 8th grade education. Actually, that is a little misleading. I went to college first. I took the placement tests at Modesto Junior College and attained a little under (approx.) 100 units (I went a little crazy) and transferred to California State University Stanislaus . I’ve had a few setbacks which I won’t get into here. Those are stories for another day.

If any of you have seen the movie, Night School, you will remember a scene from the beginning where Teddy, the main character, is looking into getting his GED. He meets up with the night school teacher and she hands him a text book and he looks at it astonished and tells her that he thought it would be more pamphlet in size. Well, that sums up what I thought going to high school was going to be like. Because, hey, I had already been to college. Piece of cake.

WRONG!

High School was hard. I did get some credit for my junior college courses but only the remedial courses—the ones that didn’t count as credit toward my University transfer. I had tested into Kindergarten math (not really but close),so I had quite a few units I could use. However, as I had tested into College level English I was in for the surprise of my life. I had to take 4 years of English.  And just for the record.

I.HATE. SHAKESPEARE.

It turns out, I love Marine Science and Economics. I am pretty sure I am graduating with all A’s*. Which is a first because I am a solid B student in college. That story isn’t over yet. We shall see how well I do on the rest of my academic journey as I go for my BS in Psychology with a minor in Political Science.

But I digress from my main point. Perhaps, I am trying to hide my fear of vulnerability with stats– the minutia protecting me from this very difficult subject. You see, I kept this a secret from almost everyone in my life. There are a few people that know I was going to high school. And up to now, no one other than this close group knew that I was slated to graduate. Because, I felt such shame. I still do to some extent. There is a voice inside me that reminds me that I should have gotten my shit together a long, long time ago. However, there is a new voice that sounds suspiciously like Brene Brown’s.  This new voice is telling that old voice to shut up and sit the fuck down.

I am being brave announcing this to the world…or for the few people that will read my blog—lol.

I went to college for me. To prove that I could do it. That I wasn’t dumb and to stop the lies. I had lied for so many years, to so many people, on so many job applications. I needed to prove to myself that I was smart. College taught me how to be consistent and to show up even on the bad days. Something you don’t learn when you are homeless and living from crisis to crisis. As I tell my kids, intelligence gets you only so far. You also need perseverance, diligence, integrity, and kindness.

If I thought College was hard, I had another thing coming.

High School was a pain in my ass. There were many, many late nights after dinners, teaching, laundry… that I considered getting my GED. But, I was never good at giving up. I AM good at procrastinating. I wish I wasn’t.

My 15-year-old daughter started calling me High School Mommy and it stuck. In fact, without Tyva, I couldn’t have done it. Our Homework Club, which included my son Constantine, would start right after they got home from school and on the weekends. We would post up in the living room, small tables under our books and devices, with the tv switched to the Hallmark Channel. Mysteries, Love Stories, Christmas Movies. We watched them all while we bent over our homework. Sometimes, we would sit out on the grass if the weather was fine. No matter, we did it together. What motivated me most was watching my daughter complete Honors courses in Middle School and this year, Pre-AP and AP courses. She had hours of homework. Hours. Yet, she pushed herself and is a straight A student. I think she is the most amazing person and when I grow up I want to be just like her. Constantine is just as diligent. His course load isn’t as strenuous as Tyva’s as of yet. In elementary school he was in GATE classes which were pretty difficult. Now that he is in junior high his has honors courses and they are no joke. Yet, he maintains good grades just like his sister. With them to look up to there was no way that I could allow myself to fail.

It took me awhile to understand that there was something else that pushed me to the starting line and that kept me going to the finish. I realized mid way through this part of my journey that it was my mother that was at the heart of what I wanted to accomplish.

Her name is Julie Anne

By the time my mother was 19 she had 3 kids. I was the first. She never went past 8th grade either. She died on August 12, 1990. She never got the chance to reach her goals or attain her dreams. I went to high school because my mother couldn’t. I am graduating for my Mom. She was an ass kicker despite the fact that life had never stopped kicking her ass—right up to the night she died in a horrible car accident.

My last conversation with her was a phone call. She had just written a new song and was beyond excited because she had finally gotten the courage to leave the abusive marriage that she was in. She was going to sell her songs. She was going to make something of herself. The next night she died. My next phone call was the one telling me that she was gone-forever. I hold tightly to the memory of the last time I spent with her. We were flying through the foothills in the fall. A sea of green flashed by my window as she played two songs over and over and over again. IF I Could Walk On Water by Eddie Money and If I Could Turn Back Time by Cher. I had never been to the mountains. I had never seen the house she had bought in Twain Harte with the money from her day care business. I remember the wind blowing her hair across her face. Hair just like mine. She would glance at me and smile. I wasn’t really listening to the words to the songs that she kept replaying. I was just looking at her. I hadn’t seen her in a very long time. It was a magical ride.

Today, I listened to the songs and paid attention to the lyrics. I can’t stop crying. Because I can finally hear what she was trying to say that day.

Mom.  I forgive you. I love you.

 Today is for you.

I Hate Regrets Even More Than I Hate Ants

This morning after a previously rescheduled school appointment and before I visited my precious #Kitkats, I took myself on an outing. I had not been on any outings for a while. A long while. I got sick just before Thanksgiving and fought that flu to the bitter end. *cough* The bitter end resides in the dry hack I have developed which has me peeing my pants at inopportune times.

I couldn’t cancel my classes, as I had already found a sub for one so that I could attend my son’s first ever Baritone concert, and only one student showed up. I didn’t want to chance that they wouldn’t show up again, so I went. Throat Coat Tea with lemon, honey, and ginger in my tea mug, the cold catching at my face as I rattled my way down the deserted school corridors, my teacher cart’s warped front end, one asphalt crack away from exploding  my materials everywhere.  This sense of obligation is not foreign, must not be, to any of my teacher friends, and certainly not to those of you out there, whom I have not met. I felt none of this altruism to any of the private sector jobs that I worked. It wasn’t that I didn’t have a passion for any of those jobs. I always take pride in everything that I do. I definitely didn’t call in unless I absolutely had to and most of my sick calls were about my kids. That, of course, wasn’t pertinent during the 13 years that I ran my cleaning business. I took my kids or I stayed home depending on the severity of the illness or my fatigue from caring for it. It was why I scrubbed toilets for a living. I could breastfeed, I could take my babies with me, and I could stay home when they needed me. Even that job saw me give the best of myself. It taught me a lot of about me, other people, and how to organize my own home. Most of my clients were genius in the ways they organized their homes. Their fridges afforded me the opportunity to see the right or wrong stuff to eat. Their linen closets showed my where and how to put my linens away. The beds showed me what order the blankets went in and how to place the pillows. I didn’t know anything of these things. Now, before you think I was snooping. I never ever did. Any place I went was because I had a task there and then used the opportunity to learn from it.

But I digress. What I really came to talk about was a conversation I had at the counter at Preservation. It is a unique little coffee shop that I have been going to since it was Serrano Social Club.  The coolest coffee shop I have ever been in. I say that with so much love. First, you must understand. I have no home base. I have no place to go where people say, oh she looks like… Or remember when she… I found friendship here. I found my tribe here. And believe me. That has been a long, hard journey. There is no drive-thru and the parking is a bitch. It forces me to walk, even when I don’t have time. It forces me to take time to just be. I rarely write there. I usually regroup. It is a place where I can always find a hug, a very good cup of coffee-made Doug’s way, which means it perfectly suits my taste and mood. It is a hub for motivated and creative people. There is always someone interesting to catch up with. It is also a place that allows me to just sit and stare out into the street, thinking my thinks. Or nothing at all. Calm comes over me. I begin to center myself, finding balance, which allows the stasis I need to write and be my best self.

At the counter today, I met up with Doug. I was being an irritating debutante, trying to determine if I wanted their eggnog latte rather than my usual-“Doug Knows”. Doug doesn’t suffer debutantes gladly, it is one of the things I love about him. Calm, unfettered by the ridiculous, and unimpressible. During this silly interchange (on my behalf)  I was enfolded in a hug. By one of my favorite people. Auni.  She is ethereal. I am not kidding. She glides rather than walks. Her countenance, a creamy visage of milk and honey with a sexy splash of red hair. Her contrast to Doug’s bearded, I am a fur trapper and friend to the Indian’s look, is very good for business. Though, it is the inside of them that attracts me. Auni’s is brown sugar with undertones of Sriracha, the amount of which depends of how much you fuck with her. I like my friends to be complex and capable. Auni is all of these things. I turned and closed my eyes, melting into her hug, accepting the goodness of it and responding with my own love and light. When she released me I looked into her big blues and saw the steadiness of her truthful personage staring back, the beginning of my centering began there.

A little backtracking. Several years ago, I went through a major transformation. A huge overhaul of my manifest destiny sans the killing of innocent people. It was about 2012 or so. It was all due in part to going to the social club. You see, I was starting to make friends, acquaintances. I was starting to feel comfortable enough to reach out, past the fear, the feelings of inadequacy, the shame I felt at cleaning houses. I was beginning the process of meeting myself and formulating the hard questions that needed to be asked of myself. One of the things that became apparent was that I couldn’t finish a sentence with any given individual without stopping and asking them if they needed to leave. Did they really want to hear what I was saying? Or even giving way to another person that would often walk up. In fact, I didn’t even give them a chance to answer. I’d stop mid sentence, ask the question, and then promptly say. “Oh, never mind. I am so sorry..” Or some such thing that would dismiss myself, my topic, my whole person as being unimportant. Because that is how I felt inside. Not because they did or said anything to warrant such behavior. And I am sure, now, that some of my conversation must have been tedious. It is why I love so many people, here, in Modesto. They have put up with the tediousness of me—in all phases of this transformation. It hasn’t been pretty. But then, I never do things pretty. I am even an ugly crier. Coincidentally. It is the longest I have lived anywhere in my life and despite my hatred for the heat and the constant of the a/c in the summer, I love it.  This blog post is not about that transformation, which is not complete, I have another blog post about that subject. Suffice it to say, it is a testament to that period of time that I am able to have such heart to heart conversations. Like the one that ensued with Auni.

We chatted about her beautiful baby. Then, I spoke of the murder that I have in my heart for the ants. I explained to her that my house is built on an ant hill, a huge one with what I envision, a mammoth queen sitting on top of a mound the breadth of my house– under my house. I can clearly see her queenly eyes smirking as she intuitively signals her next attack on parts of my house. The more inconvenient, the better, I imagine her transmitting. This time it is my bathroom. Auni, nodded and vehemently added her own thoughts on the invasions at her own home. We clicked and clacked, comfortably sharing our passion about killing them all. Though, I don’t think I mentioned my dream of killing the queen. Exploding the queen and her smirk into a million pieces because, well, I know Auni loves me but she may become afraid of me if I told her that. I mean, I feel such shame that these urges exist alongside my love of the Earth. My respect for all living things. My regular and consistent recycling and saving of spiders. But this blog post is not about my hypocrisy. OKAY?!?

That’s when the deeply private part of me decided it needed to be heard. It was probably because of those baby blues and the honesty that shines from them. I told her how hard it was to finish the last few chapters of my book. A book that has taken me four years to write. A book, that when (IF) I mention it, I always preface with an apologetic air and explanation.  Yes. I say. I was learning how to write while I wrote this novel. I rarely go into the fact that I decided to go to college, then restart college, and then go to high school while I wrote this book. That I lived through some of the most difficult time periods of my life, and that is saying something, while I was writing this book. That the transformation that took place in my soul and to my body took place while I wrote this book.  I enfold that truth behind and between the words when I over-explain myself for the millionth time about this subject. It is an apology that no one really cares about nor do they really understand or pay attention to. But Auni did. Whether she saw the sheen of tears across my pupils or heard the tremor I have learned to mask, I don’t know. But she heard and saw something that made her say…

What if you died tomorrow, Shanyn? What would you say while you were looking down? First, I just want to say (please imagine tearful eyes and an obvious tremor as I say this) my heart trembled that she assumed that I would, of course, go to Heaven. NO matter your belief, mine is obvious, the gist of that is…she thought of me as a good person. This is so valuable to me. Beyond riches, beyond power, for people to think I am good is important to me. Call it what you want and I am sure there are psychological, in fact I know there are, terms for this. I want and need people to believe that I am a good person. I won’t go into why, suffice it to say, I have lived a long life. Sometimes it feels as if I have lived a million lifetimes, that is how weary I am. And I have done a lot of things that make me sad and shameful. To be to the point that I  live my life so that people think I am good is one of the goals of my transformation.

The next and even more important part of this conversation was her belief in me and her care in responding thoughtfully. Because this attention, this address, this conversation got me thinking. If I died tomorrow, what have I done to change the world for the better?  And does it,finally, outweigh the bad that I have done? Have I earned my existence on this plane? The same one that so many amazing people have inhabited and altered with their feats of good? The answer is not easily forthcoming and the few tidbits that stream amongst the detritus of thought in my head do not seem enough. Not nearly enough.

I know every act of kindness I have performed. For I have intentioned each one. Because, I know every act of unkindness, perpetrated by me and observed by me.  This question is deeper than finishing this book, though, finishing this book is important. The question, begging to be answered by actions, needs attention.

I thanked her, while the synapses sparked and zapped, and I went to sit in the window facing the street. I drank my coffee, the eggnog latte I decided, by making Doug wait far too long and that I hoped had a splash of somethin’ somethin’ beside the nog. It didn’t but a girl can hope. I said I am transforming, I didn’t say I was an angel. I will NEVER EVER be perfect. I will always have more than my fair share of vices, pettiness, and useless vitriol.

I propped my legs up on a chair, ignored The Paris Review I had intended to finish, and looked through the people passing by. The bottom of my cup became visible and I knew that it was time to go. Finish the book. Finalize the questions. And then go about asking them. The answers will be what make the rest of my life worth living.