Cashing Out

I grew up in tiny Sandpoint, Idaho. I had one of those storybook childhoods that most people dream of for their children. I learned to ride a horse before my training wheels were removed from the bike that would have tethered me to paved roads. My best friend was raised by her grandparents so we had ample adventures and limited supervision. I’m eternally grateful that I grew up before Facebook because we were very good at finding trouble to get into. Premarital sex, underage drinking and grand theft. We got away with it all…and there are only a handful of bad pictures.

I wanted to drive away from my small hometown the minute graduation was over without a second glance over my shoulder. I’ve never liked small town life and when you live where other folks vacation, people think you’re crazy for admitting that you actually hate what they covet.

I moved in with my boyfriend in the middle of my sophomore year of highschool and got pregnant…like so many small town girls with big city dreams, do. I was 16 and had an abortion. It was awful, though I’ve always been grateful and would do it again if I had the chance to choose differently. I was scared to death of a penis after that though- and my boyfriend and I were terrified of getting pregnant. Things declined and we eventually broke up and I moved home for my senior year. Counting the seconds until my last drive across the iconic long bridge.

 

Life and living beyond my maturity had left me pretty isolated and removed from any friendships I’d had before, so I poured myself into school and graduated with honors. My focus was clear again and I was excited to leave my small town and all the sad memories, behind.

I ran into that same ex boyfriend on my 18th birthday… and we got pregnant with our son. I turned 19 with a newborn in my arms, having only made it about a ten minute drive from my mother’s house. We did the best we could with what we had and worked hard to have a happy home. I’d just never hoped to call a single-wide with mushrooms growing on the ceiling, home-sweet-home. I had always wanted to be a mother though, and fell in love with raising babies instead of chasing dreams. I packed away my big city dreams with my high heels and started sewing cloth diapers.

When our son turned 3 and I wanted another baby… we bought our house. When that second baby turned 3, we got divorced and that house became my home.

Queen of my own castle, ruler of my domain.

That sounds far more incredible than the reality.

I’ve been through foreclosure twice, my property taxes have crippled me a few times and don’t even get me started on the maintenance of 2 acres OR the $10,000 water leak. I’ve hung on to this house by the smallest possible margin and I’ve grown to love it like it’s my fourth child.

The worms in my garden are some of my closest friends. I’ve spent a lot of time alone in trying to keep up with my sanctuary, and I’m still constantly behind the 8 ball.

Corona virus decimated my company and all but 3 employees have been permanently laid off. I’m one of those “lucky” ones who makes more on unemployment than I did working full time. I’ve been cleaning and painting and treasuring these endless weeks at home to catch up on the gazillion things that have fallen by the wayside as a result of being gone 40 hours a week and single parenting full time.

I bought myself a Roomba and wake up to clean floors every day. Holy Christ on the cross, if you don’t have one, buy it… I don’t know how or why I ever lived without her. A clean house makes me so happy and happiness clears my head. I bought a big beautiful wool rug for my enormous living room, and sat in the middle of it with my knitting, smiling all by myself.

Happy.

So happy I’m done settling for sad.

I sat in the silence of my big empty castle and decided to leap like I’ve always wanted.

To take that last drive across the bridge I’m supposed to love, but don’t.

The only thing keeping me from going is my best friend in the whole wide world. My red haired security blanket. The first person to tell me to go because she knows how much I’ve always wanted to. She helped me narrow down the field of candidates and I pulled the trigger.

I listed the house and my beautiful garden for sale.

I want that last drive to be THE last drive.

I picked the nicest realtor who came highly recommended from my favorite people. She got me all signed up and ready to go, then blew my mind a little.

$900,000.00 with a stipulation that I get to harvest my garden. How do you like them apples?

The nest egg I’ve nearly killed myself to hang onto, has grown to the point that my dreams can come true…

ANYWHERE else.

 


Day 18: Describe 5 strengths you have.

  1. I’m nice. Nice to a point it’s debilitating, but still- it counts. In a world so jaded, angry, dishonest and cruel… I’m that smiling stranger. I’m that lady who offers to hold your crying baby so you can help your other child, that person who pays the difference when you run short and the first to volunteer for shitty jobs that nobody wants to do. I’m nice. I’ve hated this about myself for years and finally in the last couple have learned to embrace what makes me happy. I LIKE being nice. It doesn’t sit well with me when I’m unkind and I’d rather suffer the consequences of people taking advantage of my kindness than live life as an asshole.
  2. I’m stubborn. Bullheaded is an understatement. I redefine what it means to be inflexible when I am determined. I hate this about myself a lot of the time, but truth be told, it saves me regularly. I refuse to give up, wouldn’t quit with a gun to my head and pursue what I want, intently. I don’t take no for an answer, I dig my heels in and pull out all the stops until that no changes to yes. There are downsides but for the most part, I’ve achieved some amazing things simply because I flat out refused not to.
  3. I’m really thoughtful. I like to make the people who are special to me, feel those same feelings in return. I like to mentally catalog the favorite things of my loved ones and surprise them when it’s least expected and needed the most. I love you with my whole soul, no parts left out… even the ugly stuff that most people would turn their nose up at- those things are sometimes my favorite details because it makes me accept my own shortcomings a bit easier. I am inspired by love and the feelings resulting from it, and I go overboard at times in expressing it. I like that about myself. The world is full of sadness, I enjoy doing my part to make it better for the people that do the same for me.
  4. I’m crafty AF. I can knit, sew, bake, grow, can, fix or paint anything I’m inspired to want to do. If I don’t know how, Google leads the way. I have collected hobbies for years and am definitely the mom to call when you’re in need of crafty help. I used crafting as therapy for years in a bad relationship, and learned how to knit some of my favorite treasures in the process. I fell in love with heirloom tomatoes and planted 350 plants…. hence the needing to learn to can. I’m a crafty version of that “If you give a mouse a muffin,” book. One craft leads to another and before you know it, I’m rewiring the garage and installing new tile in the bathroom while my cheesecake bakes. It’s a lot sometimes… and I wish I liked to clean up my messes as much as I like making them.
  5. I’m funny. I can laugh at myself with the best of them and have learned to brush off the tears that fall as easily as laughter when the two collide. When the hot water heater dies, I can laugh about it now- where it used to decimate me. I can joke about my poor taste in men and perennially broken heart, because what good is life if you don’t use it all up? I took my female cat to the vet for an emergency last month and found out that she’s a he. How can life be anything but hilarious after that?

Day 9: What are 5 passions you have?

  1. Truth. I don’t like grey area and I don’t like games. If you want to know how I feel, ask. I’ll tell you. Lying pisses me off more than anything and liars are weeded out of my life like the dandelions in my garden. I have a lot of patience, but I don’t fuck around with lies. Hurt me with the miserable truth and I’ll love and respect you forever, but lie and you’re dead to me.
  2. Knitting. It’s a guilty pleasure because I rarely have the time to turn my yarn into anything but silky soft loops of therapeutic peace on my needles. I have half a toy elephant dress finished and my baby nieces are growing at the speed of light. My Dumpling had to go with her daddy last month and it always makes her a little anxious at first. I knit her a bunny with a tiny heart on it’s chest that we spray with my perfume when she has to go. It’s a snuggly soft reminder that home is just a state of mind, a smell or a person. The bunny goes a long way towards making her feel right at home, right away… with her dad. Knitting is magic at your fingertips, all you need are a few sticks and some string.
  3. Writing. In the last year I’ve written three times as much as before, with most of it private or contracted. The work I’ve turned in professionally has earned me more financially this year as well. That’s not what has stuck with me though. I find it so much more satisfying that I wrote my own self out of feeling like warm trash this year. In yelling at the world through a keyboard, I taught myself to let shit go and move on. I love the entertainment of it all, but the therapy of it all is why I began writing in the first place. Sorry to all of you along for this crazy ride, and thank you for your shared perspective.
  4. Love. I love out loud in ways that make me painfully uncomfortable on occasion. I still wouldn’t have it any other way. I smile at strangers, I help people who are grumpy… it’s just who I am. It comes from my adorably sweet grandma Elaine and my equally spicy red-headed firecracker Grandma Afton, both of whom taught me to love the whole world and everything in it, to my toes. Sure, sometimes it ends badly and I end up hurt again… but at the end of the day, purely because I refused to give up, I like to believe my life will have been full of more love than I knew what to do with because I never let fear stop me from having faith.
  5. Gardening. My beautiful obsession with the dirt has gotten me through things I never thought I would survive. Losing my son, my house going through foreclosure (twice), an epic water leak in the yard, countless cheating boyfriends, 5 years of celibacy, having a baby alone from birth, poverty, depression, etc… You name it, I’ve coped with everything by putting on a headlamp and pulling weeds into the wee hours of the morning. Some of the worst and most insurmountable pain can be soothed by digging potatoes and beets. Some of my greatest heartache has only been kept company by tomato plants in need of staking, peppers in need of picking and long, quiet rows waiting for a fresh blanket of straw. When I’m at my breaking point and in desperate need of a reminder to keep myself grounded… I take my shoes off and stick my bare feet in the dirt.

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What are you passionate about?

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Left on Read

ghosting

I don’t mean to… honestly I don’t. I read the messages when they chirp in. I just don’t remember to respond for a while… or ever. The first sign of stalking, the first inappropriate comment or out of context proposition, or after receiving an unsolicited dick pick… I ghost them all.

I don’t mean to be rude, but if I’m already feeling disrespected or annoyed, I’m done talking. That whole “Good morning, Gorgeous” crap they do now is not my favorite, either. After four days of receiving that text, what is there to say?

D- Good morning, Gorgeous.

J- Awwww, thanks.

D- Good morning, Sunshine.

J- Awww you too.

D- Good morning, Beautiful.

J- Thank you! Happy Tuesday.

D- Good morning, Pretty girl.

No.

Not just no. Fuck off with that. It’s annoying, generic and I can’t help but wonder how many other ladies are on these “Good morning” texter’s list. There’s also something unnerving about always being referred to by your physical appearance. I have some damn ugly mornings and I’m so much more than a pretty face. Now if he said “Good morning, you bad ass knitter. I’d have something to say. That guy is getting a date.

It’s difficult to navigate boy feelings when asking them to stop doing something other girls have encouraged. Some of you must love these early greetings? I can’t understand why, but to each her own. The last guy I was seeing was a constant fixture in my phone. Morning, noon and night, I was on the receiving end of a hurricane of compliments. The first three days were great… and then it got weird. If I didn’t respond within a half hour, he was worried I was mad and it became a discussion.

WTAF.

Texting is my preferred form of communication, but it can be a full time job with a boyfriend, or even worse if you’re dating several people at once. They have nicknames but I can never keep them straight and frankly the onslaught of digital love notes leaves me dry and angry. The quickest way to get ghosted is to inundate me with attention, novel length messages and phone calls.

I should spell that out from the beginning… and I’ve tried… but men listen as well as women do when we don’t want to. After a week of hearing those messages rapid firing into my phone, I set him to silent, a tiny moon pops up by his nickname and I forget he exists. This is why I don’t date locally… because running into them at the grocery store after you ghost them is AWKWARD. I smile at everyone, so when I’m caught mid-grin by the realization that the man glaring back at me is the weirdo I ghosted after a horrible date, I’m mortified.

Ghosting isn’t nice… but it works, dammit. Some of them reappear after a few months of silence, but that little moon is forever. The Heathen sent me 19 text messages yesterday and I’m sorry- but what do you think is going to happen when you harass someone with your interest?

Fess up… do you tell them you aren’t interested?¬†Or do you vanish into the ether like me??


Peace

I used to really care what other people’s opinions were. I don’t any more. My mother says the same thing to me, every time I need to check back in with myself.

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I’m proud of myself after surviving the last year. I’ve learned to love the less spectacular things about myself and the messes I’ve made within the confines of my life. I fell head over heels in love with a good man and suffered the worst heartbreak. I don’t regret a single tear. Life is too short to be anything less than passionate and though it didn’t end the way I wanted, I learned a million things from every painful day. He may have broken my heart, but he also broke my douchebag magnet and flooded me with the faith that comes from realizing that you can fall crazy in love again when you least expect it.

I learned to play more and clean less. I’ve made buckets of slime and have spent quality time just listening to my children. I’ve turned the TV off and focused on the reality of the beautiful home mine has become. We cook, clean and laugh together more than ever before.

I found peace in the small details when the big picture felt too overwhelming. I asked the uncomfortable questions and got the answers I needed to feel better.

Talking to my favorite man and hearing some painful truth was the cure to what ailed me. I can happily cook again … and eat for that matter. I overslept this morning and it felt like winning the lottery. As an overthinker, my mind had gone down every dark path and I’d made Everest out of molehills. Cold silence is the way I punish people but it was the first time I’d been on the receiving end of it. Having the difficult conversations has become one of my favorite things because I found my will to be blissfully happy again, even on the heels of hearing things that made me sad.

The truth sets you free, but the details dust you off and help you back up.

I miss my Anthony so much it hurts more a little each day because I feel so much better lately and he’s not here to hear all about it. He died in the midst of me folding myself up like a dying flower and he didn’t get to watch me bloom again. He always insisted I would. I find myself looking skyward with a simple wish that the clouds obscured heaven, like I did as a small child. I understand balloon releases a lot more these days because I wish so much that I could write him a letter that he’d actually be able to read.

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My priorities have gotten clearer and I’ve begun the new year making choices that feel better and aim towards happiness instead of delaying the hard work involved to change my life. I’m truly happy, all alone. In feeling so sad last year, I forgot about so many of the luxuries in my life that give back so much more than holding a man’s attention.

I spent yesterday cleaning up and throwing out the things that clutter my life. Blank surfaces inspire me to clear the cobwebs from my head and they heal my heart as well. I pulled my knitting out from the long-since abandoned basket of yarn and made a washcloth. Just like the first few days after I learned to knit, I caught myself moaning and groaning about how slow going it can be. It’s that way with everything you neglect… you have to get your feet back underneath you when you’ve been sitting down for too long. I pulled some black beans from the barely touched pantry and made chicken tortilla soup for dinner, relishing the simple one foot in front of the other magic that goes along with cooking.

A week on my mama’s farm was like therapy and I miss my little chicken friends this morning. Along with farm chores and cooking to my heart’s content, I realized a lot of the things that I’ve been giving my time to aren’t worth the sacrifice. I spent a week disconnected from the internet, unplugged from the television and hidden away in the mountains. I fell in love with my life again, separate from the “things” that make it so difficult. I got surprising answers to questions I didn’t know to ask and finally duct taped that hole in my heart.

Somewhere amongst the baby owls, blooming orchids and fresh straw… I found peace.

Happy new year to each of you. I hope if you’re struggling that you’re able to find some peace and If you are content, then perhaps offer a little to someone you know that has run out.

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