I dreamt of jump roping last night. Fitting, I suppose, for my last dream of the year. My sisters swung the ropes (Double Dutch not to be confused with regular Jump Rope. This is an important distinction as all Double Dutchers know) the ropes slashing through the air. “C’mon” they yelled their impatience signaled by speeding up the ropes.
I was on the cold slab of cement of my present-day garage with my speed rope. Just beyond the Cybex were the birch trees of long ago, the one place I have ever called home. Catkins littered the exercise mat their small bodies squishing between my toes as I jumped. My rope whisked past my ears and my breath stayed steady like I was 10 again. The Birch Trees started to fade and my sister’s calls melded with the purring of my cat. Then it was all gone.
I woke feeling happy. My thoughts raced through memories of two Square and playing Jax as I sucked on the end of a dandelion. A vivid picture of my skates- White, red wheels, pock marked from use, the laces hanging on by a thread. Nothing fancy but they were the best skates in the world. They withstood the ridges on the left side of the driveway and the collisions with my sisters. They rolled over shitty sidewalks and rough roads and kept going.
I started to cry for my skates but really about my lost childhood. This happens a lot. My subconscious is all about that loss. It is and has been at the heart of me since I was 5. Then my conscious, so tired of the whininess of my sub, put the kibosh on a cry because happiness is so much better than the grief.
Take it from a GRIEF QUEEN. It is addictive—such a sad state of affairs. This addiction is subtle and you don’t realize that you are an addict because it is couched within valuable and justifiable events. Which is the worst kind of problem. It allows you to revel. A sneaky subterfuge over the years but comforting and therefore goes unnoticed. If you have seen Leaving Las Vegas there is a part where he is puking his guts out in the literal sense. The early morning light shows the pale scrub of his face, his stark profile a wretch of bone. Yet, he walks into his kitchen and pours another drink and drinks is down. This has been me with the tragedy of my childhood. I have emptied my stomach, my bowels, my veins and this pain has poured out. Yet. Year after year, I have revisited it. Drank it whole, unvarnished—craving the pain.
I almost typed People Like Me…as if I have an edge over other people on grief. That’s the sway, the hitch, the draw that keeps me at the well. This belief that my grief is so much bigger and better and deeper than yours.
I can tote out at any moment my childhood, my twenties, my thirties. My GOD, my first relationship. AND don’t get me started about my marriage with its infinite pool of ragged, weeping wounds of deception and disappointment. I have been drunk on that for 20 years.
No. If I have learned anything this year, I learned that my grief was over.
Because the grief that I saw on the faces of those ravaged by the loss of their loved ones, well…It was hard to dwell within mine anymore. Not to say that the things that happened to me aren’t valid and that there will be moments when the pain will come. But, like this morning, I choose happiness.
The people who saw their loved ones shot and killed senselessly. The mother’s who worked hours and hours and hours taking care of someone else’s child unable to see their own. Scared to see their own. Every. Single. Essential. Worker.
I have saved my tears for them.
This year had me whirling in every direction. Jumping at the slightest sound and headline. One of my resolutions for poor 2021, which really has a lot of expectations on its already beleaguered shoulders: NEVER EVER CLICK ON ANOTHER BREAKING NEWS link. EVER.
Do I need to remind you about the Never Say Die piece of shit that continues to squat in the White House? He broke in, showered and shit—in that order and you know how that goes. He has continued to eat other people’s food, steal their money, use their Health Care, rifle through their intimates, and take over their remote controls. He doesn’t pay for the house or the utilities and certainly doesn’t mow the lawn—but calls it his now. Yeah. You get where I am going, so I’ll move on because there are far too many word counts dedicated to that piece of shit.
Okay, I am back. See what I mean about the jumping. A whirling dervish.
This year, as I sheltered in place, I scrolled and saw people show casing their projects. People were productive. The cleaned, they minimized, they baked bread, and they read books. I was so jealous of all those drawers getting cleaned out.
I could barely muster getting out of bed on my weekends. There were days that I didn’t step outside the house but I clicked on each and every nature foray like a glutton. The RV’s alongside rivers and steaming coffee under the canopy of the Redwoods. My guilt and covetousness strangled me.
There I was in yesterday’s panties draining Netflix, Hulu, Prime, and even Apple. (Ted Lasso, though…LOVED THIS SO MUCH!)
I did read books because, well that’s my auto pilot. BUT it took me many months to be able to read without checking for news every other minute. Shanyn got her groove back in October when hope seemed within the grasp of the American People (-74million, can’t forget those assholes) I read books in devouring batches interspersed by working 10-hour days and worrying about everything.
Terror filled me every day.
Last January I had known about the pandemic for months but at that time it was some mysterious pneumonia or flu that was spoken of in twitter whispers by accounts that couldn’t be verified. I was gun shy after all the Russian Bots that helped hack mofo into the White House. But, if you are like me, I follow and read things that don’t agree with my personal viewpoint simply because I AM NOT ALWAYS right and I like to be proven wrong.
Because, it is healthy to challenge your viewpoints, your belief systems, your conclusions. If they don’t hold up under scrutiny, I find the loophole and fix it.
I wake up everyday trying to better than yesterday or at least I used to. 2020 had me waking up every day just hoping to get through the day without someone I know dying.
I live in a county that is predominantly conservative and this Bay Area Girl has never felt at home here. EVER.
I went from open windows all the time to AC and hiding from the sun. Leading up to the 2016 election life became unbearable so by the time the reign of terror really started I was already on my way to becoming batshit crazy.
So, 2020…well there was a silver lining. It was that I was the normal one.
In March my family was already wearing masks and I will admit. GLOVES. Everywhere. I was ridiculed at my health club for going in and freezing my account for 6 months. People laughed at me at the store and made fun of me at work. Subtly, of course.
Here’s the thing. Due to my history, I am used to being different. To not fitting in. So, it never stopped me from cleaning my groceries while the neighbors scoffed. But it had been a very long time since I was terrified.
Terrified was for those late nights many years ago when I had no where to go at 2am. When I slept in parks and cars and hoped to find a shower somewhere. A terror so deep that one day I sat in a park on one beautiful summer day and planned out a bank robbery. Gun. Costumes. Seriously. I did that.
I DID NOT ROB THE BANK.
- I didn’t like the odds.
- I didn’t trust my partner
- My grandma used to take me to this bank when I was little and I felt bad.
I will tell that story another time. MAYBE.
When I look back over the year all I see are the walls of my home office. All I can smell is bleach and alcohol.
I feel like I can’t breathe when I look back over 2020.
I hear people talking about 2021 as if there is some miracle that is going to happen at midnight and suddenly everyone will be able to pay their bills, go back to work, and hug each other again.
I shudder. In normal years it always takes me until at least March to understand the lessons of the previous year. That’s usually when I assign a word to my year and try to live with it. Last years was Balance and Magic. (I am still trying to unpack the ramifications of these words in my life,)
I do know I found gratitude. In great big gulps that made me feel like I was drowning in my own guilt.
As I worked 10 hours days others were losing their jobs. As I caught up on my bills and shopped prodigiously on Amazon, others prayed to pay their utility bills and hoped God would hear their prayers about the rent that was coming due.
Not only did I have a job, my job is a nonprofit that helps people. Yeah. I know. I am a fucking spoiled bitch.
Mixed in with these blessings was that my marriage ended in shards of glass, more ugly words than I thought was possible (especially after 20 years of them), and then of course me taking him back.
Let’s take inventory:
Good job. Amazing boss. Dedicated colleagues.
Kids who did awesome at virtual learning
Worst marriage ever
I will talk about my babies. My oldest got COVID-19. BAD. But she is okay now except for the aftereffects. I worry for her future health but I am so glad that she is here and that I get to hug her, which I do as often as I can.
My other two ended their school year and started their new one online. They were left alone most of the week while I went to work. This resulted in them getting the first B’s of their lives. AND you will be disappointed to know that I was disappointed in this. My kids are GATE and Honors kids. I had and still do in many ways, get my feeling of accomplishment from their astounding intelligence. They make me look good at report card time. GOOD MOM is what Gold Honor Rolls says.
I am not ashamed to say this because there will always be a part of me that is super proud of my kids smarts. Their drive to do well. It fights off this 8th grade drop- out’s inner demons.
They struggled and are still struggling with this format which means those that have a harder time with school must be flailing. I am so scared for those kids and think of them every day. All those children, their parents feeling powerless and scared too.
There were a lot of changes in my kids lives and my anxiety has me losing sleep trying to figure out a way to be in two places at once so I can right the ship.
Going into 2021 I have ZERO RESOLUTIONS.
What I do have is good equipment for the journey…
A greater appreciation for frozen foods from Trader Joe’s
A Realistic view of myself
The satisfaction that I was right about wearing fucking masks before it became a mandate.
A satiation of staying home and not doing anything that has resulted in a fervor for a life lived.
I refuse to put parameters around my growth and my journey for 2021. I refuse to expect or ask of 2021 anything miraculous. Because, we don’t need miraculous so much as we need hard work, science, and integrity. Instead of placing impossible demands on 2021, we should be placing demands on ourselves.
As I tell my children.
Ask yourself the hard questions and answer honestly.
THAT IS SO MUCH BETTER THAN ANY RESOLUTION.
As I consider the upcoming year and how that reflects on America…it looks more and more like the Garage Clean up that looms every couple of years at my house.
Some of you know what I am talking about. The one that starts in the garage but ends up involving scouring the house for crap that is then piled for all to see in front of your house, on the curb waiting for pick up. (There are of course those hours , maybe days, in which you despise every person in your household and most of all yourself for the mess you’ve made.)
At the end though, there I stand with hair frizzed out of my pony tail, dirt smeared on my face, and my back aching like I am 80. There is pizza or juicy hamburgers and delicious drinks of iced elderberry tea. There is that book you’ve been looking for and that lamp you didn’t know you had. There are hugs and high-fives. There is camaraderie and a sense of unity.
The culmination is a restructuring, a remaking, a re-do of your space.
This is what I expect from 2021.