Get It Outta Here

You can take 2018 and flush it. Here’s to 2019 and a hope that it offers rather less drama.

As with all NYE’s I spend it home, quietly, and safely. Well away from the morons who are set on killing themselves on the roadway…I have generated some support with the Taylor Fladgate, bought for a special occasion and, now aged beyond its 10 years, it will suit. I am missing some Stilton to go with it but I will struggle through.

I do not allow myself much in the way of medicinal comfort. I have earned at least 3 months of Xanax-laden peace but I ignore that. Like much else…too easy to let it sugarcoat the truth so that you need not look at it. I have, more than anything, been trying so hard to be honest with myself about everything that has happened, and my part in it.

I think the utter shock at the news was a key to my understanding of it – one assumes a relationship has stages and you are wending your way through a shallows, snagging on old limbs. But you thought the vessel sound. Only to find that the craft is loose at the keel, all the boards trying to fly apart to create something new with itself, by itself. It is the shock that something so worthy can be so warped and you never knew.

So everything sinks to the bottom and you have to decide what to drag to shore. What is ruined and what can be salvaged and what you can never hope to get to a new place…it reminds me of the movie, The Piano, which is stunning.

I will choose what comes with me to the new year, the new life, the new home. And some things I will not be able to choose, they being beyond my ability to address. I wonder though…where it will be…what beach will I wash up on? What trinkets of the sea clinging like barnacles to my hair? When I was very young I thought I must have been a mermaid, so lost I was in the world of people. It seemed like I never quite belonged. There was a hauteur to my young soul, I will admit it. And maybe even now a touch of that remains. Pride…but it is the pride of survival. A chin raised against the blows. Teeth set and quite willing to snap at a foolish approach.

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I do not tempt fate. But I try to not bow to it, either. I have given it too much already.

I have surrendered enough.

Sunday Morning, Coming Down

It was a good day yesterday, against all odds…there was an inspection of the house in the AM and I had to take the dogs and get out early. And stay out. I gave one dog a Dramamine to help avoid the car sickness (it worked) and headed to Bastrop to a dog park that I’d seen before – always empty but if it had a fence and a place to hang out that’d be fine.

They settled in for the ride but I was surprised to see the park rather busy for a very chilly and windy morning. As soon as I parked they were both making noises I hadn’t heard from them before – the hoots and howls made me laugh. I got them offloaded, glad to have put the harness on Artik instead of relying on the collar. I made a circuit of the park, letting them smell through the fence and greet dogs with safety. And then it was into the Big Dog section which was, thankfully, empty. They ran, smelled, had a lovely time just getting tree-mail when the very fine shepherd arrived. Max was young but a perfect match in temperament for Artik.

They ran, fought, played, and she FINALLY was rolled, surprised at not being the dominant one. Take that, spoiled girl! Ranger, however, was not happy that someone was with his girlfriend. He tried to run, tried to dominate, but in the end I had to make him quiet down, his old bones no match for the youthful sport. We stayed for over an hour but I was getting hungry and I knew they would be, too. Off to Starbucks nearby.

We feasted on egg bites, wasting more time, before heading toward home. I assumed almost 2.5 hours would suffice. However, I found both the inspector and the buyers there. I wanted to put the dogs in the house and probably ought to have asked the agent to have them do the interior first. He said it’d be another 90 mins, the buyers saying he was an hour late. I put the dogs in the back bedroom, the buyers deciding they’d had enough and left with me. Another Starbucks run to just waste time and I got home to find he’d left the oven on (very unsat) and about 6 breakers off (WTF?). Not to mention having left the vent upstairs in the bathroom running. Honestly – how hard is it to return things to the way they were? I notified the agent just in case it was their recommendation vs. the buyers selection.

I will say this – our inspector was a piece of crap in comparison. Sheesh. I am betting they try to ding us for $20k of “issues”. We’ll see. But I am not yet feeling comfy with it…end of January is the closing.

I haven’t heard anything from any of the MANY applications and that is including about 6 manual labor/unskilled places. The latter is less surprising – they know it is a temp job until something better comes. But I had hoped to hear something between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Let’s hope the new year will bring new budgets and finally responses…

I keep looking out the window at the view and wondering what my next vista will be. Will it even be Texas? Or will I take the spoils of war and wander north? I think it a hazardous thing to up and go without a job so I’ve applications in but…there are so many little things that come up – as if the universe is saying it is time to do the wild things, the scary things that I’ve avoided for so long. To live my own life rather than in service to others.

I can remember a long time ago when I visited my sister in Arvada, CO – the very air there was intoxicating. I’d opened the window in the morning to as fresh a breeze as I’d ever known. Later, a friend of hers took me to Boulder Falls – this was back when they allowed you to climb above and beyond the falls. There is a steep mountain behind and as we lay on the rocks, watching the world, I saw a tiny movement near the top. It was then I realized it was a person and the scale made me suddenly dizzy – as though I were floating off the rock or falling down the ravine. I grabbed hold of the warm stone under my hands and clung to it. I have never forgotten that moment.

And then there were the days in Boulder after – many years later – and the one year alone. My word, I was so brave, then. Not only flying there but renting a car and driving in snow to the hotel, driving to the park and walking the heights alone. And then taking the steep steps and breath killing altitude to see Dream Lake. I found it surprising how quickly my system moved from No Air! to Ah, clean air. Just a brief picnic of cheese and an apple and in that space of time my body moved to an understanding of the place. I’d had to put my long johns on in the port-o-let, knowing that they’d be needed since I didn’t have proper snow gear. I was so thrilled….every view a painting…

I haven’t been back since. But I never forget the sigh of relief at the site of those flat irons – or the sadness that hits when the slip from view as you drive back to the airport, back to a world without walls, with a sky so wide…Oh, I have done my homework. I know Colorado is not for me. I have demands and one is no state income tax. Why leave here to take that kind of hit to a paycheck? Wyoming is still wild, still classic west. And that is the draw…a place where it might be a throwback to a place and people who hold similar views, appreciate the same things…and the snow…

I have a love of snow like an Inuit. The first icy grains to the thick and fluffy flakes, the deep squelch when your boot compresses it, the squeak when it is so cold that the compression seems to make an ice-cube underfoot. And the glistening skin of a rime on top in the moonlight, making it look like it was coated in diamonds or glitter. So like the sea in sunlight with the glinting, moving light. But I tell myself that is not all there is – there is also the gearing up just to walk the dog, the constant slush at the doorway, the car always covered in a crust of dirt and ice…It is not all fun.

The rational side says to just stay put – stay safe, and you can always fly to the snow, drive to the snow, you can visit it and walk away from it, take no risks for it at all. The safety is tempting. It is classic Me to stay as safe as I can, as predictable a path as possible. I had too much insecurity in my life and don’t seek to add to it. But you cannot help but wonder what might happen if you threw away safety and jumped headlong into risk. Is it too late for adventures? Too old for schemes and games? Or is it only me that takes on that mantle of crone? Just my mind telling me it’s all over – just another 20 years of drudgery and pain and then farewell to all that? Is that a lie suited to ensure the safety of the flesh against the hazard of the yearning spirit?

These are the things I consider as the rain falls on windows smudging a view I love, a view that I ache to replace with something as good or better. Who can blame me? Have I not paid my fare?

Bah…

This is not my first Christmas alone and silent. Far from it. But it is the most unexpectedly so. I’ve been treating it like any other day because, in this situation, it is. Same look at open roles, same breakfast, same dog walk. Just less traffic outside and the Last Minute Gift advertisements have finally ended.

I have not missed at all the frenzy of shopping. It has been a tremendous blessing to be left out of that madness. In fact, I am giving serious consideration to each year booking a cabin in a pristine wilderness and just being away for all of this. Once you have experienced the pleasure of No Obligations it is hard to consider returning to the frenzy.

I figured today I might get the backpack cleaned out – it has languished too long in the truck and, a few months ago, I had to rummage through it and sub-packs were strewn everywhere. Too, it is a bit heavy so I need to scale it back a little bit. Obviously, when you need it you really need it but you also have to be able to tote it.

I had to leave the house yesterday and it was madness. Generally, I try very hard to be off the roads on the holidays because People. And usually Drunk People. So I got an early start but made the mistake of going to the grocery store to get some decent coffee. What a mess. It took forever to get out of the parking lot, too, because someone thought they could wait at the door, idling. Then wandered slowly by every aisle, considering a turn, then not. I conjured up my last bit of patience to not curse them and just go home.

The dogs had their Christmas snacks this morning – some ground chuck that I bought for dinner. Even the cat had some – the cat that refused to stay inside last night and that I refused to get up for at 3am. Coyotes be damned – she should have stayed inside. Now she has found a place to sleep it off.

Artik has remained mostly an outside dog of late – I don’t know how I can manage that later if I have to live in an apartment. And she still refuses to come inside in the evening, waiting for his car to roll up the driveway. When the neighbors come home she races around the corner as she used to do to see him, slowing down as she realizes it is not, and then trotting back to lay down again and wait. It is heart breaking. She enjoys my care but she loves him. Too bad he didn’t feel the same. Sometimes I get quite angry at her refusal to give up the vigil. It is a reminder that he is not coming back and he never really loved us as we all thought. There is still a poignant ache in that and I need no reminder of it. But she is just a dog – she doesn’t understand and I have to temper my words so that we can get through another day.

It is easier, certainly, as time passes. But the little things come up as reminders and you are forced to shake it off, again. I think that is part of the reason why I’ve considered just leaving the state entirely. It might not remove every single reminder but at least the scenery would be changed…the people and the places…no one would know me or my history.

It can be hard to see people smiling and rushing about to be with family and friends, hard to see the happiness of children, considering the gifts to come. So I try to avoid it – social media, TV, movies…it won’t be so hard next year and easier the year after that. And someday it won’t be anything more than a day off of work.

I think it can be hard to make it clear to well-meaning family that it really is okay to be left alone. They can’t always understand how hard it can be to present a pleasant demeanor when you feel things like envy, anger, disappointment, and fear. You don’t want to sit there and smile when it is a lie. Well, I don’t. I know there are people who capable of that sort of thing. I would far rather not be a damper on anyone’s fun. It is a consideration, I guess. A removal of self from the world to prevent it from being dimmed with my lack of enthusiasm.

There is, of course, the religious side of the holiday – it isn’t as though I cannot appreciate it for that or pare down all the excess to that one point, that one star. But in some ways I have been disappointed in that, too. It isn’t a “loss of faith” but rather a disappointment that having done this once was insufficient to the scale of universal balance. Why must I have this in my life again? But we can’t know the big answers in this place. It is a solid fact – you can think you know, you can have faith that you know, but no one Knows on this side of the veil. I am patient to find out the Answers. I just wish I wasn’t dealing with the eternal question of Why Me.

So while I haven’t gone full on Bah Humbug I am most assuredly not in a celebratory state. The word Diffident comes to mind. Reserved. Waiting. Wanting. And just think…all that rush and madness that so many have gone through for the last few months will be over in a week. They will start again their year with the assurance that next year it will be different.  I will begin it with the guarantee that it will all be different. Nothing will be the same. For good or ill…nothing of this life will come through to the next.

Except, I guess, dog fur. That I can count on. And maybe to stand here once more. I’d like that.

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Maybe This Year…

Something I’ve always considered but never done…go to an Overland event. Now, it isn’t as though I have a fancy bouldering vehicle or even desire. What I do have is a wish to know how to get a vehicle into back country without getting mired – or, if you do, how to get de-mired. Safely.

May 17-19, 2019 for Overland Expo WEST
at Ft. Tuthill County Park, Flagstaff, Arizona

Is this the year? I’m not sure. The months will fly by, after all. And it seems a frivolous consideration in the middle of my…desperation…but I have been trying to find things that I’d like to do as a way to keep myself motivated. Besides, maybe I’ll wind up in Wyoming one day, anyway. No, I didn’t get an interview for the job. I sort of left it to the fates on that one so I wasn’t terribly surprised. But I did send a nice thank you note because You Never Know.

The day was amazing – 72 degrees, breezy but…stunning. I cleaned the pool while the weather was mild. The wind is gusting, now, but that was expected. Still, I actually sat in my swing and let the sun bake my back. I haven’t had the heart to even look at it, recently. As time passes so does my clinging to this place. I have reminded myself that it was mine only for a small space of time – it can be someone else’s everything, now.

I bought the goods to do the maintenance on my vehicle – today would have been a nice day for it but gusting wind and oil changes are sometimes incompatible. Time for the fuel filters, too. And I bought front brakes just in case as I think the one side is starting to cling a bit. If not needed I can return them easily enough. I can do those myself, usually – it has been awhile but I bet I manage. He has said he will do the other things early Saturday before he leaves. Then the wheels get rotated and she is all set for the winter. I usually put new wiper blades on, too, but I think they’re still good.

It is strange to be moving back into my former self where I just noted what needed done and got it managed somehow. It isn’t rocket science. And I am reminded that if I had started my diesel mechanic degree way back when I retired that I could command one hell of a salary about now. So it goes…you think you have time, you know? Anyway, I also looked up the part for the mirror housing that got smashed by the gate. Need that replaced before the weather gets in the circuit boards and turns the fancy mirror into a manual set it and forget it one. Not the end of the world, no. But I like things to be the way they ought to be.

I’ve been waking at 4am almost every day and forcing myself to sleep again. I wonder if I ought to just start getting up. Once I start working it might be good to have that extra hour to just get my soul started instead of the mad rush. You see, even in this I am trying to be positive. I have been fighting very hard to remain in that way of thinking – the house will sell, I will have enough to start over, and a good job will be mine. The alternative was killing me, emotionally. It still has a siren song of defeat playing in the background but I try very hard to just get my rest, take care to keep the house in good shape, and try to check off all the last boxes before he saddles up and hits the trail.

If there is a bright side…the new residence has offered him a portion of a large building to store his things so perhaps all the goodness acquired over the years can be retained and not sold too cheap. And his motorcycle can go in there which will help a lot if I have to use the garage for a time to house things as I move them…wherever…

Having no home in mind is a harrowing thing. I try to meditate on it as they say to do – to think of the perfect place and fill it with my things. But I have no idea where or what I can afford. So I just…store little snippets of what might be nice and let it go at that. I look out my window at the view, the one that I enjoyed for so long, and wonder how many more days it will be mine. And will I remember it as it is or will it get gilded and lit with a kinder light later?

Now, I just want to watch the tall blonde grass wave like an ocean in the gale outside. Soon the setting sun will set it all on fire with its light. And a part of me turns the color to flame, letting it all burn behind me as one did with ships on a foreign shore. No return, mates. No return.