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.


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.

The Cold Inside and Out

The house is officially for sale, now, the torment of the photos done, and all the work that it took to manage that over. Now it is the waiting – for the call that says load you and the dogs and get out so strangers can wander around. None have called yet but then it was a torrential downpour so…maybe next week. I was surprised to have no call thus far today. I do think there are drive-by’s – people slow down and look. I wonder if it perturbs them to see me at the table…

So I sit with a constant anxiety about having to launch. Every bit of the house constantly kept in a semblance of order. Of course, the dog fur is a constant so I have to continually wipe it up. Imagine living in your home but having to keep it like a museum relic. No smells of cookery, no thing that says You left out. No dishes left in a sink, or spots on your counter. For someone like me this is a trial. I am very private – I don’t want anyone here. And I am not a good housekeeper – I manage but I am not meticulous. This demands that I am meticulous constantly. And everytime you think you have everything in hand you see something that isn’t right and have to fix it. Like going into the master bath that you thought was all clean and finding he left it less than spotless. Thank goodness I took a shower and noted it. That too, a matter of timing – you have to take care of all your ablutions early and then remove evidence of same. It is a wonder people manage it. And it goes a long way to explain how some home photos are full of stuff and things. I have more mercy on them, now.

Still not a single job call, even the retail ones. They know, of course, that you don’t intend to stay any longer than it takes to get a better job so why waste time on training you. It is a blow to my ego to have had not a single inquiry, though. A friend might be able to get me lined up for a very good role that would allow for more growth than my old one. It is the one that I hope comes through but that won’t be until February. What until then?! How to manage it all? And there is the job in Wyoming that a part of me yearns for – a complete do-over, leaving behind everything familiar. No safety net. But that is a terrifying prospect, too.

So I sit here hours a day, looking for roles, customizing submissions, waiting to hear anything when I know that not a damned thing happens in Nov/Dec. How he thought this was a great time to put me in this position I have no idea. He is oblivious to the regular working world and how it functions. If he’d told me in June I might be all set. Or if he’d been able to keep his shit together through March. But now he intends to leave entirely mid-month and what then? Who to help me move my things if the impossible happens and I actually am able to go? How do people do this?! How did I do it before? I wish I could remember – there was a big house in Georgia and I moved across Atlanta to a different house. Did I hire someone? I don’t remember at all. I must have – there must have been a truck and assistance. I cannot think of any other way I managed it. But I was, of course, in the same state of mind and that is probably why it is a mystery – blocked out as a kind of self-preservation. The mind will do whatever it has to in order to ensure survival. But that intelligence would be nice right about now.

I think a lot about taking most of the stuff from the pod and selling it, loading bed and dresser, chair and lamp, and just sending it away. I ought to have sold most of my yarn – it was a ridiculous thing to consider keeping. Bag after bag of it. Had I only known and had enough time…but this is all forced on me and I don’t know what I could have done.

Now the weather, oh so very cold these last few days, looks to be ready to take the partly cloudy day and turn it dark and damp again. Maybe it will hold…and add to all the travail a dog who managed to cut a paw pad. Bad enough for the vet? I don’t know yet. I think it will be okay but…I can’t afford for it to not be okay. So I will wait and see if it heals a bit.

Everything just seems to be against me and I wonder why I am being pushed so…is fate trying to shove me to a decision, to a destination? I cannot manage more. I hope it all just stops and lets me breathe for a time. I know it won’t – it is a fruitless wish. But I am so very tired, now. All I want is to rest and get my mind right again. To be able to use it properly instead of this scattered coherence bordered at odd angles with so many stripes of fear.

How could he not know how terrible this would be and at least be willing to be present until I was safely off? What kind of man does that? I know it happens and much worse to many women. Imagine having children…but I was so certain he was something different and now…this utter abandonment to fate with only a roof as a parting gift…insane. Just insane to consider I was so wrong. I might have expected betrayal – all men are subject to it – but abandonment? Never. I wouldn’t do it to my worst enemy. But then I have seen the terrible side of life – the hopeless aspect. I could never do that to someone. I guess that is why I never expected it would be done to me. A failure of imagination.