December 21, 2011

Ice is forming on the river that separates my town from the next town over.  Winter is truly here.  I drove by the river early this morning on my way to an appointment and I thought about years past, and ice skating with one of my best friends back then on that stretch of river.  She lived with her brother and father in a cabin at the end of the cove.  I think about her nearly every time I drive by, but especially in the winter, and I wonder about her life now.

I vaguely remember my daily life growing up, or even young adulthood, but some specific people, places, and/or events have never receded that far in my mind, and certain times of the year bring them clearly back to me.  I’ll open a particular hair conditioner every once in a while when I shop at the store that carries it, and the scent places me back to my seventeenth year, with my best friend at the time, and the situation we were in.  It’s an immersion experience, but only lasts a second, if that.  Like a dream, I try to remain in the moment, but it’s gone.  Smelling the conditioner again will not bring the experience back, even an hour later.  I guess it takes my brain, or psyche, or whatever, more time to reset its visceral memory capacity.

Most of the time, my memories simply detail times past with whatever emotions were attached to any particular one, as well as my current feeling about it.  I might miss friends who were part of that memory, or maybe feel grateful that I’m not there anymore, or regretful for having acted badly, or having missed chances never given again.

I hope that I’ve gained more than I’ve lost, and, that I’ll not only recognize, but have the courage to take advantage of any worthwhile opportunities presented to me, and treat the people in my life in ways that won’t have me looking back in regret.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Waiting

I’ve been waiting a long time for this one…

I used to think my life wouldn’t be complete or fulfilled without a husband, but I’ve come to understand that I’ve only ever needed myself.  Once I started making better choices, loving and accepting myself, and focusing on my life, other parts of my collage started to be fulfilled:

I thought peace and happiness would come from what I attained, or achieved, or especially, through someone else.  In fact, most of the turmoil I’ve experienced in my life was because I tried to get others to give me, or do for me what I needed to give to, and do for, myself.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Getting In The Spirit

I bought a Christmas tree today.

I didn’t have one last year, and the holidays are usually depressing and far too filled with expectation and anxiety for me to enjoy them.  I’d rather keep to myself this time of year.  I don’t like holiday gatherings or Christmas parties much, and I suppose I dissociate for the month of December, and often into January.  Trying to keep away from alcohol is harder this time of year too.  Most of my friends drink, and none of them abuse it, so they don’t really know what it’s like for me.  I’m at that place with drinking alcohol that I can either control it or enjoy it, but I can’t do both.

I am not as anxious this year as I have been previously, but I’ve been careful to not make many plans so I don’t have to pretend to enjoy myself or others.  My family gets together for a holiday dinner and then we exchange gifts, and that’s pretty much all I can handle.  Well, that, and having my son with me for his winter break.  Christmas isn’t as fun as it used to be when he was little, but I really like having a pretty tree all lit up, and getting cozy on the couch with a cup of hot cocoa and watching, It’s A Wonderful Life, or A Christmas Carol, on Christmas Eve, and of course, how could I let Christmas go by without watching, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, and, A Charlie Brown Christmas?

When I was in college, one of the girls in my dorm phoned her father the night, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, was playing, and he stayed on the phone for the whole show.  She told us that she had gone on vacation over Christmas during High School one year, and her father had phoned her so they could still watch the show together.  That made such a big impression on me, and made me wish I had a father like that, and probably made all the girls in our dorm who were there with us that night wish that too.

Even though there are aspects of the season that I can enjoy, I’m happiest when it’s all over.  My true celebration is the Winter Solstice; there is no one who appreciates the return of the light more than I do.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Son Day

I’m so excited to see my son today!  I get to have him home an extra day for the Thanksgiving holiday, even though most of his time will be spent with his friends who are also coming home for the holiday.  Just knowing he’ll be here feels so good to me, although I know it feels nearly opposite to him.  It’s not that he doesn’t like being home and seeing me and his other family, it’s that his life is at school now, with his own group.  He told me he doesn’t sleep well when he’s home, and doesn’t know why.  I think it’s because he’d rather be in his world.  We will always belong to one another, but he has his own life now, one in which he sleeps better than when he’s here…

It made me sad to hear that, but I got over it.  It’s not personal in a mean way, it’s just life stages.  I had a really different childhood experience, and was separated too early from my mother, after her divorce from my father (which was a very good thing for all of us, but still disruptive and chaotic).  My son got to have a healthy, self-directed separation, and he’s so much less emotional or sentimental than I am, so it sucks for me…

We have the same sense of humor and like to talk about a myriad of subjects (when he’s willing to talk), but when he’s home and not with his friends, he prefers to spend his time reading or working on the computer.

I’m doing my best to find common interests to connect with him on, but it’s tough when our personalities and styles are so different.  Maybe if he ever has children, we’ll get to re-bond then.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Westward Ho!

“I just can’t take it anymore,” I complained to Tammy, cradling the phone with my neck while I finished washing the dishes.  “I need a serious change and I don’t know what to do.”

“Well, why don’t you come live out here with me and Dean?  That way you have a place to stay for a while until you get on your feet, and I’m happy to help out.”

I was quiet on the phone for a minute. “Wow”, I finally said through my tears.  “Really, you’d do that for me?   You do remember what it’s like to live with a three-year old, right?”

Tammy laughed and said: “Yes, and I miss having a little boy around.  Danny wants to continue living with his father in New Hampshire, and that’s been really hard for me, but he’s thirteen, and he has good friends there, and I just have to accept that I’m only going to see him for vacations.  I think it’ll be good for both of us if you come live out here.”

“Let me think about it some more, and I’ll get back to you.”

“I’m here for you, whether you stay in Maine, or come out to San Diego.”

“Thanks, Tammy.  I love you.”

“Love you too.  Bye.”

“Bye.”

That conversation in March of 1994 changed my life.  I had a new option, and while I had friends and some support where I was, I was a single mom in poverty, with no car and only a part-time job that I was about to lose.  It snowed over a hundred inches that winter in South Portland, Maine, and I was very close to giving up my son to his alcohol-addicted father, and committing suicide.  I had a plan, and I was getting the courage to implement it when chance circumstances re-connected me with a friend I hadn’t talked to in nearly ten years.

Imagining a different life helped make the life I was in a bit more tolerable, and I began preparations to make the move.  Several friends and relatives told me that it would be stupid to move so far away with someone I hadn’t seen in so long, even though we had been best friends through high school, and I had a young child to consider, and what was I thinking, dragging him across the country?

The other contingent, whom I sided with, saw it as an opportunity to better myself and give my son a chance at a better life too.  As I went, so went my son, type of thing.

I made my decision, and Tammy, who was going to fly back East in July to stay with her father for a few weeks while spending time with her son, decided to drive out with a friend, and bring me and my son back out with them on their return trip.

She had a pick-up truck with a tall shell for the truck bed, which she furnished with a mattress, and I was to sell my beds and other large belongings because they wouldn’t fit in the small trailer we’d rent for the trip back to California.  She had a guest room with a bed that my son would sleep on, and I would stay on the couch until I found work and could buy new beds.  I sold all of our big furniture, and kept my son’s books and most of his toys, as well as dishes and whatever else could fit in the trailer, because we’d be taking turns driving while one of us slept in the back of the truck.  I ended up paying for one night in a motel room so we could have a shower and get a decent night’s sleep.

My boyfriend at the time and I had a rocky relationship, but we liked each other enough to work through issues.  He asked me to stay in Maine, but conceded that he didn’t know where he saw our relationship going.  The week before I left, he told me he would have asked me to marry him if I didn’t have a child.  After he said that, I knew leaving was the right decision.  So many choices in my life translated to ‘damned if I don’t, damned if I do’ propositions.

August 4th, moving day: Tammy and her friend, Ann, were to arrive around Noon.  I spent the morning cleaning my apartment, and bringing whatever didn’t sell, and I didn’t want, outside to bring to the dump when my friend arrived.  My son was upset that most of our things were gone, and he didn’t want to go anywhere.  By the time Tammy got there, I was sweaty and irritated, and wondering if this had been such a good idea after all.

It was really good to see Tammy, and Ann and I pretty much instantly disliked one another. She made some remark about my attitude, and I was kind of stunned that this person I barely knew was openly judging me after having worked my ass off all morning, with a crabby child in tow, and no other help.  “Fuck you”, I wish I had said, but having a bit more grace than her, I fluffed it off and asked Tammy if she’d bring the junk pile to the dump, while I got some lunch for my son and played with him for a while. She, being a parent herself, was completely empathetic about my state of mind, and told me to take a break, and she’d deal with the trash and help me finish whatever cleaning was left to do later.

It took several more hours than expected to finish up, rent the trailer, and make sure we were ready to hit the road.  We left Maine around 5pm, with my son and I in the back of the truck for the overnight drive.  Luckily the truck’s motion put my son to sleep fairly soon, but I had too much anxiety, so I slept very little.

We drove through the night, choosing a route through the Poconos, which Tammy later told me creeped her out because Ann had fallen asleep, and my son and I were out of view in the way back – the window into the cab being hidden behind boxes, blankets, and pillows – and she was thinking about the Sleepy Hollow legend, imagining seeing the Headless Horseman as she drove through the darkness, with few other travelers that late.  We could have kept each other company, but I wouldn’t have been comfortable leaving my son in the back of the truck where I wouldn’t know what was going on with him, or with Ann, who wasn’t fond of children.

I drove the next morning, our route taking us through most of Ohio, and then down through Kentucky, and finally into Tennessee where we would stay on I-40 for the bulk of the trip.

We stayed in a motel in Tennessee the one night we didn’t drive through.  One bane of the trip was automatic flush toilets, which seemed to be installed at every stop we made, and which my son was afraid of, along with any loud, not-easily understood noises, so we had to find rest stops with a Port-A-Potty (or a wooded area) for most of the journey.

By the third day, we were all miserable, and my son was the only one vocalizing it freely and frequently, to which Ann questioned my child-rearing style of just letting him complain. I told her I had learned to tune out most of what he said, and did my best to keep him entertained by imitating his favorite Sesame Street characters voices, while making up stories, singing songs, and playing games, which seemed to annoy Ann, and made it even more pleasurable for me.  Poor Tammy was caught between trying to support her friend, but enjoying being with my son, grumpy or not.

I’m sure Ann was most happy when my son and I were riding in the back of the truck, or when she was back there sleeping.  I was most happy when it was just Tammy, my son, and I, riding up front.  I was driving when we neared Flagstaff, Arizona, and I saw a ‘Grand Canyon, 50 miles’ sign.  Ann was riding up front with me and my son, and I asked her if it would be ok if we took a detour as I had never seen the Grand Canyon, and thought it would be a perfect opportunity.  Ann said she’d rather not, but if Tammy was willing, then she’d go along with it.  The hitch was that I’d have to wake Tammy up to ask her, and I didn’t want to interrupt her sleep, so we continued on into California where Ann took over the driving until we reached her apartment in Ocean Beach.

I’ve always regretted not making a unilateral decision and just driving to the Grand Canyon because I still have not been there.

I was talking to Tammy on the phone the other day, both of us amazed at how much time has gone by, and she suggested I move back out once my son is through college, and I’m seriously considering it.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

All Hallows

Rabbit, Rabbit.  The ancient Celtic year begins today, marking the start of winter.  Winter was already ushered in rather harshly with our recent Nor’easter dumping thirty inches of snow in some areas.  I feel lucky that my town escaped with just over a foot of the heavy, wet snow.  I was only out of power for part of a day, while some of my friends are yet to get back their electricity.

Yesterday, I visited my Mom because her phone was out and I wanted to make sure she made it through the storm alright, even though I know that one of my aunts was staying with her, and the guy who works for her and lives nearby would also have checked on her and I figured I’d have gotten a call if anything bad had happened.  Then I thought that all phone service in the area might be out, and I just wanted to visit regardless of anything else.  I was a bit worried that fallen trees or downed wires would prevent me from making it to my mother’s house, and it might well have earlier in the day because I saw evidence of cleared trees and other debris all the way there.

It was almost evening when I arrived, and I brought a flashlight in case it was dark by the time I left.  My mom doesn’t have electricity or running water, so the storm changed nothing for her except interrupted phone service.

The glow of the kerosene lamps, and warmth from the wood stove, enveloped and welcomed me even as I was welcomed by my mother and aunt.  They were happy for my unexpected company and we chatted about the snowstorm’s effects, and how weird it was to have a major storm before Hallowe’en, as we sipped coffee and evening began settling in.  I don’t know if it was the time of day and the way the lamplight glowed and cast slight shadows on the walls, or the steamed windows and cooking smells from whatever dinner my mother was making, or simply spending time with my mother and one of her sisters, but there was something so extraordinary about being there that I noticed and enjoyed in the moment, and that feeling, or experience, actually, has stayed with me since.

I left before it was dark and made my way up the path without needing my flashlight.  I noticed the stillness of the woods around me as I walked, and had a sense of being present to life in a way that I rarely sense.

I got up this morning and began working on things that I often think about doing rather than starting – or finishing.  I feel my life changing, almost radically (for the better), and I hope that’s true.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Good Dog

My friend’s dog died two weeks ago.  He was one of my favorite dogs.  I met him a few years ago at a party I attended at my friend’s house.  I had a plate of food and sat down outside and there were at least twenty other party guests sitting around with a plate of food on their lap, but Cooper decided that he wanted to sit next to me.  He followed me all day long even though I never offered, or dropped, a bite of food.  I didn’t know it then, but we had just become friends.

Any time I went to my friends’ house after that, Cooper would follow me around and be so happy when I would pet him or pay attention to him.  He was a sweet bulldog and I’m so happy I got to know him.

I went to my friend’s house tonight after a fun night out on the town, and we were so full of our evening that I didn’t even absorb Cooper’s absence until I went into their living room, and it hit me so fully that he is gone.  I was misty-eyed as I remarked that it was so weird that Cooper wasn’t there, and my friend’s husband said: ‘here he is’, and pointed to the pretty box with his ashes.  I held the box for a while, even though I know Cooper’s soul isn’t in there, but I really felt that beautiful dog’s presence in the room with us.

There are very few times in one’s life that the feeling of unconditional love is encompassing, and tonight was one of those nights.  My friends said that Cooper’s spirit now lives on ‘Bulldog Island’.  When I was a child, and our dog had to be put down, my father told me that she went to live in the ‘happy hunting grounds’.

All I really know is that Cooper was a good dog, and he will be missed.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

I Spy October

Rabbit, rabbit!  October feels like an appropriate month to open with a folklore-ish incantation.  As I trudge my way into the dark months, October at least carries a supernatural mystique as the month ends with All Hallow’s Eve.

I enjoy the metaphor of the changing leaves; their often brilliant, sometimes muted, but always beautiful colors defiantly – or perhaps joyously – meeting their end.  I hope to meet my death fearlessly and spectacularly!  I’d rather not have anyone piling my body with others to jump in, though, or leaving me out on the lawn.  Let the metaphor end with the flamboyant dying thing…

My favorite thing about October is Halloween and the excitement leading up to it.  The two boys that I do occasional childcare for, and I, made construction paper Jack-o’-lantern’s the other day, and the older boy drew a skeleton that was quite good.  He could be an amazing artist if he enjoys it enough to pursue it.  The younger boy, always wanting to copy his brother, yet make it his own, drew a skeleton with a pumpkin head.  The older boy started to criticize it, but I nipped that little dig in the bud, and told them how each one was unique and fantastic.  I know that’s what older siblings often do to younger ones – I was a fifth child out of six – but I do not let slights go unchallenged.  The younger one has enough gumption when encouraged to stick up for himself, but I also see how the older brother’s chiding affects his younger brother’s esteem.  They know, with me at least, it’s fair play, and helpful words, or time out.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Evocation

I’m evoking the indomitable spirit that I came into this world with.  I was a handful as a toddler, my mother told me.  I was not someone to be trifled with, even at two.  I learned how to be cowed because of the violence I lived with, but staying oppressed has never been my nature.  My mother says that I was always vocal about what I liked and didn’t like.  I told her I was sorry for being a complainer, and she was quick to correct me that I never complained, I just let everyone know how I felt.  I appreciate my mother making that distinction.  I have never lost that quality, but I know it’s not always a strength.

I do pretty well in keeping quiet and trying to accept how things are rather than how I wish they were, but I can forgive myself more knowing that it’s a personality trait and not just dissatisfaction with life.  If I have a purpose, and that quirk has never left me, I imagine that I am one of those people who provides an irritant until things change.  Maintaining the status quo doesn’t allow creativity to flourish.

I can’t see myself as others see me, but I know that I’ve changed over the years, and I do the best I can in my life.  I probably have less anger than fear at this point in my life, but the fear that remains sometimes stops me from pursuing my dreams.  Anger is often useful to replace fear or procrastination.  Unfortunately, the kind of anger my father had is usually sparked to memory when I’m angry, so it can also hurt more than help me.

Fortunately, I have an easy sense of humor which can trump both anger and fear.  I have also found friends everywhere I’ve lived or gone, which has helped me through this life, and I enjoy the variety of personalities in this world.  When I stayed at the hostel in Israel, the owners, Rachel and Rahmin, were wonderful hosts, and I was usually in the breakfast room before anyone else (or perhaps after everyone else!), but I got a chance to have conversations with Rachel on everything from religion and politics to the many people she has seen come and go through the years of running the hostel, and I was flattered that she felt I was one of the better ones.  One of Rachel’s friends came to Haifa to stay for a week a few days after I arrived and we shared the women’s dorm for the rest of the week.  She was a lovely, personable woman and we also talked a lot about life and humanity’s follies.

I was on a spiritual quest, and ironically found out that the path I was on was not the path for me in a traditional sense, but I still love aspects of the religion I was following at the time.  I found out that I cannot tolerate having my life micro-managed by some unseen, unknowable essence, and while religions aren’t usually horrible, the followers can be.

I’m grateful that my early experiences made it nearly impossible for me to be a faithful follower or believer in anything.  As a result, I’m forced to believe in myself, and trust that I’m where I’m supposed to be.  It’s somewhat ‘Zen’-like that it’s the right path for me because I’m on it, but that doesn’t mean it’s an easy walk.

I remember when I first got into a recovery group I learned that we were ‘trudging the road to happy destiny’, not skipping it.  The recovery community has its own dysfunction through its followers, but I always defaulted to the founders who stated they ‘knew but a little’, that more would ‘constantly be revealed’.  I began understanding that whenever you concretize a fluid principle, it starts to lose its meaning and value.

I especially appreciate Grandma Moses’ statement that: “Life is what you make it.  Always has been, always will be.”

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Six and Four

That’s how old the boys are that I provide child care for occasionally, and spent my day with at a lake yesterday.  I used to watch them regularly but changed jobs last year.  The older boy was just two months old when I started the job.

My son was in full-blown adolescence then so it was perfect work for me to watch a child who needed and wanted me as my child was pulling away.  The difference between my son as a baby and the baby I was caring for was so stark.  I didn’t know a child could be so easy to care for.  My son’s pediatrician told me that my son was a ‘high need’ baby as I sat in his office back then, crying from lack of sleep and feeling so inadequate as a parent, and indeed, I was nursing him every two hours, which continued for seven months before he stopped nursing so voraciously, and he was colicky as well.  My mother came to help me during that time, while my son’s father was two states away at his job, coming back on weekends.  My son’s father and I weren’t happy as it was, and having a child only put more stress on our relationship.  We broke up and I moved out when our son turned a year old.

When my friend’s second boy was born, I began watching him at two weeks old, and he was an easy baby as well.  I loved caring for those boys.  It was so good for me because I wasn’t watching a whole group of children as I did when I worked at a daycare center, and I didn’t have twenty-four hour responsibility for them.

I still had parenting duties with my son, even though it wasn’t very joyful anymore, but I had enough positive experiences that dealing with my son’s adolescent angst and unpredictability was more manageable than it might have been.

I would give my son hugs and tell him that I loved him every day, as he stood there, arms by his side, at least allowing me to hug him briefly.  I would say that although he was rapidly changing, I was not, so it was going to take me far longer to adjust.  It was so painful for me to go from living with a boy who wanted to be with me, who called out to me several times a day that he loved me, who enjoyed spending time with me, to the stranger who I now occupied the same physical space with, but could hardly be further from emotionally.  Oh, and did I mention I was living with treatment-resistant depression, and I was a single parent?

I might have screwed up far more than I did with my son if it hadn’t been for my childcare job.  As the boys got older, they were somewhat in awe of my son, especially the older boy I watched.  When my son was there the older boy wanted to follow him around and it was sometimes a challenge to help my son have private space when the boys were with me.  I would usually see if my son could spend time with one of his friends during school vacations or days when I had the boys and my son was around.

I took those boys on many adventures during our days together, but our favorite pastime was finding cows.  I’d drive them to farms and we’d visit with cows and read books about cows, and while other animals were included, cows ruled.

I don’t think I could love those kids anymore if they were my own, and I’m so grateful when I get to watch them now.  The last few times I spent with them, the older boy has been questioning me about why they don’t see me that much.  I explained that I had another job, and they have school now, and days that I could see them their schedule and mine didn’t work that often.  He looked at me and said, “Well, we just don’t see you enough.”

So, I can’t get adult relationships right in my life, but I have a six year-old who knows how to work a room!  Yesterday before I left he hugged me and said “I just don’t want to let go.”  I said, “I know, me either!”  The younger boy and I have a happy, loving, and super fun connection too, but the older boy knows how to articulate what he’s feeling, and isn’t shy about telling me.

I have to figure out how to spend more time with them because they’re going to be seven and five in a few months, and the opportunities to spend significant time with them grows slimmer with each year.  While I so enjoy working with children, it can also be heart-wrenching.

I’ll be bringing my son back to college in a week, and he’ll be back home for Thanksgiving and his winter vacation, but he won’t be back next summer.  We know we love one another, and our bond is solid, but he’s a man now – no matter how much I wished to keep him a boy – and I feel the grief about losing him rising up all over again.  I don’t need to be consoled through platitudes or pity – not that anyone is trying to – but I do need a new purpose and I don’t know where to go or what to do yet.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Jump!

It’s raining hard and steady today, as it was yesterday, and I am ruing the end of summer.  It was a hot, sunny and sultry summer weekend before this past one, and I went swimming with some old and new friends a few times at a place called the Pumping Station where there is a covered bridge over the Green River, and a concrete dam where the reservoir water spills over.

Some years ago the river below the dam was filled in with tons of sand to keep people from jumping off the bridge, and the bridge walk-way was fenced over from the roof of the bridge to the bottom of the walk-way rail.

It was an effective deterrent until the huge storms of the last years washed the sand downstream, and actually made the swimming hole deeper than it had previously been.  Someone had also bent the fence out enough that you can slide through the railings, grab hold of the fence on the other side and pull yourself out to step onto the ledge to jump, and that’s exactly what we did.  Getting out onto the ledge was more frightening than jumping, although the first jump I took was dizzying.

I wanted my friends to jump with me, but I was among only a few adults jumping with the group of kids and teens.  My friend who used to jump off the bridge with me many years ago was happier staying on the edge of the water taking pictures of the rest of us

This is me, and my friend, Barb, back in the day when we’d go nearly every weekend and jump and swim:

Here I am last weekend:

Closer:

Happy and proud:

It was an extraordinary weekend spent in the company of some of my dearest friends, and the memory comforts me now, even as I long to be back in the water again.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

I Was In The Right Place, But It Must Have Been The Wrong Time

Right Place, Wrong Time, Dr. John (modified) lyrics

I went to karaoke last night and hung out with my fake boyfriend for a little while, which was great, but also put somewhat of a barrier between me and my regular crowd.  The bartender who’s usually there wasn’t because he and his wife just had a baby, and it altered the club’s dynamics.

He’s a somewhat gruff guy, but also a super sweetheart.  It’s interesting how I didn’t realize how fond I am of him, or how much he adds to club’s ambiance until he wasn’t there.  We’ve established more than a patron/bartender friendship from nights where I had my friends who run the karaoke drive me home, so we’d be the last ones there, and the bartender put me to work clearing tables on several occasions, and just hearing stories about every day events and observing personality quirks.

I played pool with my fake boyfriend, and danced a bit, and later we went to a nearby river that I was planning on going swimming in, but the bottom was mucky where it’s usually sand, so I ditched that idea and we just talked for a while.

He’s in that world-of-hurt place, and while I might provide an ego-boost because he knows how much I like him, it’s a ‘right fight, wrong arena’ deal.  I’m not going to be part of the fall-out.  I’ve seen pretty much all the dog and pony shows, and have no desire to be anyone’s re-bound.

And that’s what’s good about being older.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

White Mountains Trip

Two of my best women friends and I headed out to hike in the Franconia Notch State Park, located in Lincoln, New Hampshire.  We hiked the Cannon Mountain, Kinsman Ridge Trail very leisurely.  The temperature was around 80°F, but we were in shade most of the day, and the trail followed along the Pemigewasset River stream.  The water level was low so the falls along the way were not as dramatic as they must have been this spring after such a snowy winter.  The bridge that leads to Lonesome Lake was washed out this winter, and we saw other testaments to the power of the river in trees that had been uprooted or broken off, and even a large metal beam torn from the bridge and deposited nearly a half-mile downstream.

We could have trekked up the river bed for the whole hike, but it would have been more challenging than we wished to tackle yesterday because the entire way is strewn with boulders and rocks of various size.  There were many people swimming and wading in the glacial pothole pools and other places where the river water pooled deep enough to swim in – and even jump off the rocks into – all the way up the trail.  Unfortunately, I have a wound on my wrist that I couldn’t get wet, so I only waded in the water.  Otherwise, I’d have been jumping off the rocks into the wonderfully cool water with everyone else.

We arrived around Noon, ate our lunch out on one of the rock faces (smoothed over by the last ice age’s receding glacier and by water action), and we finished our hike around 5pm.  Then we drove down into the town center and had dinner.  On our drive back through Deliverance country, we rode through a small town with a big sense of humor.  There were more ramshackle houses that looked like something out of The Beverly Hillbillies (before they got rich) than there were houses that increased the property values.  There was “Red-Neck Mini Golf” and a ‘mall’ that was one building with the word ‘Mall’ painted in large block letters across the side of the building – which could have had a few shops inside – but it looked more like a joke painted on someone’s barn, and if it wasn’t a joke, I’m very glad I don’t live there…

The disparity between those with and those without money, or as former President Bush so humorously called the former: “the haves, and the have mores” was alarmingly clear.  I could feel the need for a soap-box coming up, but I quelled my desire and remained silent.  An acquaintance recently remarked how it’s not the fault of the wealthy that they’re smarter, harder workers, and I couldn’t hold back then on such an ignorant remark.

The rest of our drive back home brought us through areas of gorgeous landscape that reminded me how beautiful and varied this part of the country is.  I was glad to get a shot of the lovely pinks, purple, and orange tinges of the clouds as the sun set.

It was a perfect frame to a mostly perfect day.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Long Ago Summer Night

Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad, by, Meatloaf, is playing on a humid July night. I’m reading Pardon Me, You’re Stepping On My Eyeball, by Paul Zindel, on the hood of a friend’s Chevy Cavalier, waiting for a few of my other friends to show up and decide what we’re going to do with the rest of the night.

It’s quiet on the Avenue, but I hear the strains of Meatloaf out of the jukebox coming from the bar next door, and I look up from my reading to watch the moths and other night bugs swirl around, looking like aberrant snowflakes in the street light above the car I’m perched on.

My shorts and top cling to me in the sticky humidity, and I hope we decide to go swimming in the Green River, or at the Leyden Glen.  We had been removed from there by police officers the week before, but they couldn’t be there all the time, so we took our chances going back on hot, humid nights.

I had worked at, Zapmia Pizza (baby), earlier that evening, and was glad to be done with my shift on such a hot day. I was anxious to meet up with my friends, and hoped they would show up soon.  Debbie was the first to arrive. I was so absorbed in my book that I didn’t notice her until she hopped up onto the car hood, causing it to buckle a little as she plunked down, but the hood popped back up as she shifted her weight toward the center next to me.

We exchanged greetings and then chatted about the book for a few minutes, and finally other friends started arriving so we made our evening plans.

I remembered this so strongly tonight that I could feel the night air around me as I did back then, and hear how the music sounded muffled until a patron went in or out of the bar and the music would blast out from the entrance for a few moments until the door was shut once again.

While I don’t miss that time of my life, and especially what was happening to me, I dearly miss my friends and the closeness we shared.  A part of my soul is back there with them – maybe it’s even trapped in some odd space/time continuum – or perhaps less trapped than enshrined.  I get to visit the museum exhibit in my mind, but it’s an empty picture of the vibrant life that was actually there.

They were the people who knew and understood me on a level that no one else will ever come close to, but they live on in my heart and soul, and I hope I live on in theirs.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

May The Fourth Be With You

I’m sure that will be the title of quite a few blog entries today, but I couldn’t resist!

My son would get upset with me when he would eat with his hands when he was little and I’d say “use the fork, Luke!”  He’d yell at me that his name wasn’t Luke!  Now he just rolls his eyes if I ever say it.  I love Star Wars.  I vacillated between wanting to be Princess Leia, and wanting to marry Luke Skywalker.  Then I wanted to reincarnate as Princess Leia and marry Han Solo.  I wasn’t really up on the whole reincarnation concept.

I don’t believe in reincarnation – and even if it’s real regardless of my belief, I don’t ever want to come back here anyway.  A sincere fantasy of mine is wondering what it would have been like to grow up in a good-enough family.  Maybe I would have turned out exactly the same with all the same issues, but I doubt it.  I would have been braver, and I would have had tangible support.  My parents would have brought me to music lessons, or helped me learn how to pursue my dreams.  I do my best now – and I also have a large network of people who care – some I’ve never even met, and that’s what matters, but it would be nice if it wasn’t so taxing.  I am proud that I was a mostly good parent for my son, and presented him with many opportunities and supported his choices when he took the initiative to try new things.  I think that being present with him was my best gift to him, and regardless of my mistakes, he knows I did the best I could.

When my son was a sophomore in high school, starting the college process, he was being courted by dozens of colleges.  I cried when all the college applications and information starting pouring into our mailbox because it was so outside of my experience.  Those colleges wanted him, or at least wanted him to apply.  I applied at the only college I imagined would take me – our local community college – and then only because of my friend’s prodding.  Once there, it was one of my professors who suggested I apply to Smith College to finish my degree.  I looked at him and told him I wasn’t smart enough to go to a school like that.  He smiled, put his hand on my shoulder, and said: “Just apply”.

I was accepted that summer, on a full scholarship, and I was terrified.  I moved on campus and began what has become one of the most important experiences of my life.  I didn’t get a terrific job when I graduated, because I was still me, with all my untreated trauma issues, and there was a glut of English majors on the market then.  I was told by one potential employer to ‘go back and get a science or math degree’.  That’s what was really needed at that time.  I sent out a hundred applications and got two job interviews, neither of which hired me.

I finally found work as an office assistant, and was dreadfully unhappy.  Then I found work at a daycare, but only lasted there eight months.  I liked kids, but it was an overwhelming job, and was too close to home with some of the abused kids we worked with.  Then I was told of a band audition coming up and I went.  I was hired as a singer, and sang with them for a year, meeting my son’s father, the keyboardist.  We had a whirlwind romance and I was pregnant in two months.  He wanted me to not have the baby, but I felt differently, so I told him I’d leave and never bother him again, but I wasn’t giving up the baby.  A few days later he told me he thought about it and he wanted to stay with me, so he was resigned to my having the baby.  We tried to make our relationship work, but I think it was doomed from that day.

Our son is now in college, a bright young man who is very much his own person.  I wish he had a relationship with his father now that he’s older, and I talk about his dad with him on occasion.  Our son feels that it was his father’s job to keep in touch with him no matter what.  Maybe I should tell him it could be worse; his father could have turned out to be Darth Vader.  Of course, Darth Vader did redeem himself at the end.  I know life doesn’t often end on a positive note – it usually just ends.  I hope my son reconciles with his father because even if they don’t go on to enjoy a close relationship, he won’t be left with the regret of a wasted chance.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

The Opposite Of Hope

I know I have to continue to fight anyway, because what else is there to do?  Giving up means dying, and I’m not there yet.

Political news about permits for deep-water drilling getting pushed through, regardless of the lack of improvements or safe-guards a year after the worst oil-related disaster ever is mind-blowing, but I know it shouldn’t be.

We need the oil; those people need jobs – so screw the ocean and even the lives of those who work on the rigs.  They know what the risks are, but they need the money.  What does it matter if the all the oil that has spilled is still fouling the water and shoreline and delicate coastal waterways that once harbored sea-life nurseries but can no longer provide that refuge?  Out of sight, out of mind.

Oh, BP and TransOcean and Halliburton had record-breaking profit years, but people along the Gulf of Mexico are struggling with sickness from all the exposure to crude oil along with Corexit, and other surfactants, etc.  But per usual our corrupt media outlets proclaim that ‘there’s nothing to see here, folks; go about your business’.

I’m overwhelmed by such callous profit-driven action, and I know I shouldn’t be because this is how it’s always been.  But I’m not desensitized today.  This is the world I live in, and I know I’m not alone in this fight, but those who have the money make the rules and all I can do is yell and write and in the end, the bad guys still win.

Moving to the remotest reaches of the world won’t help.  I can’t pretend this isn’t happening, and I’m astonished at the ability for others to be so blithe about the horrors being perpetrated in our name.  I know I shouldn’t be because the world is so broken that most people have compassion-fatigue.

It’s just today.  I’ll gear up for the fight again, because what’s my alternative?  I can’t pretend that it’s all going to be okay if I don’t think about it.  This is a shared world and anyone’s attempt to decimate it ends where my breathable, eatable, livable world begins.  We need to feed off this Earth – I understand that, but we lose entirely if we don’t act with responsible, sustainable methods.

Maybe some corporate heads and politicians with power and wealth think they’re hastening a dubious ‘rapture’, but even were it true, they’d be among those ‘left behind’ by not being ‘good stewards of the Earth’.  Idiots all – but an idiot with explosives needs to be disarmed more swiftly than a genius should be.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Leaving Colorado

When I was nineteen I moved to Boulder, Colorado, to live with one of my sisters who couldn’t find a roommate, so she asked if I would move out there, find work, and help her pay her rent until the lease was up and she could move back east.  I was only out there for six months, but it was quite the journey for me.  We lived near the Flatirons, on Baseline Road.  My sister worked for the University of Colorado at Boulder, and I found office work about a week after I arrived.

Boulder is a beautiful city and my sister and I had a lot of fun doing things like walking around the Pearl Street Mall, and frequenting The Dark Horse, a really cool bar and restaurant just down the road from where we lived.

Our apartment complex had a pool and I taught a few of the younger kids who lived there how to do flips off the diving board.  I remember one girl, Michelle, who was about ten, flipped too close to the board and slammed her head on it.  What an awful moment that was.  I think she got a concussion and came through it alright, but I stopped teaching anyone how to flip after that.  Michelle became one of my constant companions when I was home, and even though she was a kid, I was emotionally immature enough that we got along well.  I think of her now and then and wonder how her life has turned out.  I hope she has had (and is having) an amazing life.

My sister made plans to visit her best friend in Seattle, who was about to have a baby, and I told Michelle that she could come to the airport with us to see my sister off.  I had made friends with a few people from work and they were going to see Jimmy Buffet, at Red Rocks (a gorgeous natural amphitheater concert venue in Morrison, CO), and invited me to go.  I was so psyched for the concert but it fell on the same day as my sister’s departure.  My sister understood and was fine with me not seeing her off, and I decided to just blow off my promise to Michelle about taking her to the airport.  What I didn’t understand was how excited Michelle was about going.  I knew she’d be disappointed so I waited until that day to tell her (hey, I was nineteen and an idiot!).  She wasn’t just disappointed, she was devastated.  I didn’t go to the concert, but was sullen and resentful for most of the way to Denver Airport.  I finally got over myself and had a lot of fun with Michelle, and I’m glad I did the right thing.

The summer went by quickly, as it always does, and my sister mapped out our journey back east.  She wanted to go to Yellowstone Park, and see the Old Faithful geyser on our way back, so off we went.  The small U-Haul my sister rented with the car wasn’t enough to hold all our belongings, so the back seat and the roof of the car was also laden down with our belongings.  We probably should have rented one of the small U-Haul trucks, but it either didn’t fit our budget, or they didn’t have one available.

Our trek back home is memorable for some of the mishaps and not just getting to see the amazing landscape as we went.  Our journey was to take us up through Wyoming, into Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, and finally Massachusetts (where I was going back to), and my sister would be driving on to Vermont (where her best friend had moved back to from Seattle).  It was a long, tedious drive from Boulder to Yellowstone Park, but my sister had booked our route to stay at specific motels along the way, so we had a schedule to maintain – which was good – but also added the stress of keeping to a time schedule.

After leaving Yellowstone we were anxious to make it to our motel for that night, and decided to take the advice of a local for a quicker route to our destination.  We were movin’ along, singing and enjoying our journey into Montana when we came upon a sign declaring: Welcome To Wyoming.  We both exclaimed ‘WELCOME TO WYOMING?!’ at the same time, stunned that our hours long drive had taken us back to the state we just left.  Trying to find our way to the right route with only a national map (GPS’s not having been invented for the general public yet, nor had cell phones, or the internet) took us through a small town on a winding road where my sister negotiated a sharp turn too fast and we lost some of the belongings that were tied to the roof.  We found what we could in the dark, secured the load on the roof, and finally made it back to the highway and on to that night’s destination.

The rest of the trip went more smoothly, but we did experience a harrowing ride in rush hour traffic on the outskirts of Chicago.  My sister lost a few more of her belongings on the highway, which we couldn’t stop for, but got the rest tightened up again after that.

While it was wonderful to see so much of the United States, and experience some of our national treasures, and other interesting features along the way, I was never so happy to get back home.  My sister felt much the same, but on her way to Vermont, the rental car broke down, or ran out of gas, I think.  She got some help, but when they got back to the vehicle, someone had stolen the rest of her belongings from the roof of the car.  It was a disappointing end for my sister, having already lost so much on the journey home.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.