Thursday, November 28, 2013

What really matters

"What part of our history's reinvented and under rug swept?"

Thanksgiving Day. 2013.

I'm having a soft pants day (like a pajama day) today because all the kids are going to their "other" parents' celebrations today.

So we'll have our turkey dinner tomorrow, but we're keeping it simple because we are cooking challenged.

Neil picked up turkey, ham and brisket from Goode Company BBQ yesterday.

Today we'll bake bran muffins (with and without raisins) because that is our holiday tradition. Neil will make his "special pie" (graham cracker crust, chocolate pudding, real whipped cream, sprinkles). I'm going to make some no-bake cookies (cereal, white chocolate, dried fruits and nuts).

Tomorrow I'm making sweet potato casserole, corn casserole and stuffing. Cranberry sauce is courtesy of Trader Joe's.

Lame, I know, but that's how we roll.

It's not about the food right? It's about gratitude and spending time with family and friends.

I am grateful for my life. I would be grateful for it even if it wasn't a fairy tale life, but it is. Saying so is scary because I immediately have superstitious thoughts that I will jinx it and it will all go wrong. Funny, when I am sad I feel guilty for my sadness and when I'm happy I feel guilty for my happiness.

My gratitude list starts with Neil and my two children and my grandchild. As long as they are well, nothing else really is important. Sure, I'd rather not be living under a bridge, but people, not things, are what matter.

That said, I am grateful for my things. I am grateful for my beautiful, comfortable home and enough food to eat and clothes to wear and savings in the bank against that proverbial rainy day.

I am grateful that my former employer and I agreed (in July 2011) that it was time for us to part company and that I have been able to dedicate myself to my glass art and to the other things I love since that time. Among those other things I love, two bear a special mention, my volunteer work with the adoptable cats at Sugar Land Animal Services, and the fitness regime, adopted a year ago, that I have sustained and that has been vital to my improved fitness and sense of well being.

I'm grateful, strange as it sounds, for my mom's death on October 30. She now is permanently out of her great emotional and physical pain. I'm grateful that my dad's death three years ago on November 30 was sudden, that unlike my mom, he never lost his intellect or his dignity, and that he did not suffer long.

I'm grateful for my brother and the way we've been able to support each other through the last difficult three years and the way we trust each other and for our relationship which will continue now independent of connection by our parents. I'm grateful for my cousins too, who connect me to my past and who make me part of an extended family, as we inexorably move forward into the place of the senior generation.

I'm grateful for my cats, Loki and Zamboni, who are an important part of my life every day, who touch me with their love and make me laugh at their antics. Laughter is medicine.

I'm grateful for Neil's family too, that I have good relationships with my step-children and my in-laws, that his parents are still relatively spry and independent, and that his siblings and their families are family to me too.

I'm grateful that Neil is easily amused, that he makes me laugh, that I can make him laugh, that we don't just love each other but we are intentionally conscious that loving each other is something to be cherished and nourished and valued. I'm grateful that my children are socially conscious and grounded and that despite the mistakes that I think I made raising them, I must have done enough things right, because I don't just love them, I am awed by them.

I haven't mentioned my gratitude for my friends yet, although I certainly am grateful for all of them, because I wanted to share something my eldest posted today on Facebook that expresses that gratitude better than I possibly could.
Day 28, I'm thankful for YOU. If you are reading this, then I am talking about you. Every single person that I've interacted with this last year has meant something to me, where you sent me a sweet note, a gift, or took a minute to think a happy thought for me. And it has meant the world to me. I am so ridiculously blessed to have the people I do in my corner. They say it takes a village to raise a child, well it takes a village to raise a single mom too. In a hundred lifetimes, I could never be thankful enough. I sincerely hope you and yours have a wonderful thanksgiving full of memories, laughter, good company and good food.

And to my precious Ryland Kade, mommy loves you to the moon. Happy Thanksgiving, my sweet boy. We might not be together, but I carry you in my heart, and NO ONE can ever take that away from us. (K.C.B.W.)
Thanksgiving Day. 2013.

I'm a world away from where I was in early 2002, which is also the year I met Neil, although that came later, just after Thanksgiving in fact. For now, I'll just say, I'm grateful for unanswered prayers.

Since December 31, 2001, I had let Marty's last note go unanswered. In late March, 2002, his company voted to approve its buyout by a California competitor.

I wrote him a one line note, asking if he would be leaving Houston now. I felt like some of my healing was tied to his being gone for good.

But I attached the note to a note he had written me the previous June, The title of the note was "Unfinished Business." It was a love letter where he said he was "so in love" with me.
I guess there is a part of me that still wants to stick it under his nose and say "see, look what you did, how could you do something so reprehensible, to write such words to me and then leave me alone in darkness." I have never spoken my piece to him, I have sat in silence and grieved privately
I sent the note because I felt good and strong enough to cope with whatever response I got, including an angry one or none at all. I was prepared for almost anything else but this.
Liz.... please call me.... I want to talk.

I can't believe you still have this, and I can't believe you sent me this note at a time when I've been thinking of you - of us.... please call.... it doesn't matter what time of night or day. I would love to speak with you.

Thank you for your note! Marty
Before I could frame an answer, he sent a second note.
Liz... I would love to call you, but I've lost your phone number! I'm very sorry.

To answer your question, I still don't know what will become of me if the merger goes through. At this point, I have to say I'm hoping to stay in Houston for now.

There's nothing to go home to in Syracuse - Mary has moved on, tired of the waiting and frustration, and the economy up there is worse than ever, plus the 9/11 disasters have sucked even more economic life out of the entire state.

I guess this is a good time to be footloose. If the worst case does happen and I lose my job, I guess I can go just about anywhere there's a good opportunity - but I want a home.

I hope you're well and happy.

Did he really think that I would come back as a consolation prize?

If he was thinking about us, why hadn't he e-mailed me? Or did he "lose" my e-mail address too?
I have no clue what I want to do about this. I'm shaking just thinking about it.

Part of me has always felt that Marty and I were each other's best chance at happiness. But all that means is that we may be less happy here on earth in this lifetime without each other, not that we should ever be together again.
In the end, this is the note I sent.
I still have everything. But do you think that what happened is surmountable?

I am well and reasonably happy. I can honestly say that I'm healthier, physically and psychically, than I was a year ago, before you and I met.

Trite as it sounds, it is true that what doesn't kill us makes us stronger. I would not want to jeopardize that for the world.

Sorry, this seems to be all about me. Oh well.

In return, he wrote this.
Liz, I don't know if what happened is surmountable. I have some warm memories of our time together. If you prefer to leave that in the past and move on, that's fine.

I'm glad you're doing better these days. If you have kept everything and were curious enough to ask the question, I thought you might want to at least talk - I'd like that.

But, since I've answered your question about leaving Houston as best I can for now, I'll just leave it to you whether we talk.

It's good to know you're well. Keep taking care of yourself.

What a frigging romantic, huh?

I have to say, it made me feel a little sick.

The tone was so different from the first note, where he said he had been thinking about me - and about us - and wanted to talk and asked me to call him (please), any time, night or day.
In some ways I am sorry I started this, but in other ways I'm not. I learned something. Some things.

In his second letter, he said that since Mary has "moved on" there is "nothing to go home to."

I guess his three sons are nothing to him.

I like him less and less. I am sad that I could have been so wrong about someone and have suffered so much over someone so graceless.

I didn't cry this time. My heart is heavy today, but I believe it will pass soon.

Maybe this is finally the closure I felt was still needed?

Please, please, please, let it be so.

I need to let it go, for once and for all. I am not usually so stupid and such a slow learner.
I thought about leaving it there. He did answer my question about whether he was going to be leaving town.

But of course I couldn't do it. So I called. Twice. The first time I didn't leave a message. The second time I said, "Hi Marty, it's Liz, sorry I missed you, I'll try again another time."

I didn't want to leave my number -- I didn't trust him enough for that.

He wrote again.
Sorry I missed you!

Liz.... I’m so sorry I wasn’t here when you called last night.

I’ll be around Saturday all day.

It was nice to hear your voice – thanks again!

Saturday was March 30.

I called.

It was a strangely neutral conversation - we never got past our families and our jobs. No feelings. We were old friends catching up (yeah, right).

He seemed genuinely pleased that I called, but he didn't ask for my phone number or suggest a meeting. In my minds eye, I had thought that I'd prefer to have any discussion of feelings in person - but that never even came up.

After about 20 minutes (that went by in a flash) his neighbor came to his door (he said) and I said I needed to get going. He said, stay in touch. I said, we'll see.
So that, as they say, is that. I will not contact him again (at least that is what I believe at this moment in time). He may, but probably won't, contact me. I'd still like to know if and when he leaves town for good.

Despite knowing that he is nothing but bad news for me, I have a soft spot for him yet. Maybe I am getting to forgiveness?

I am still seeking the beauty that comes when longing and joy intersect. I do believe in soul connections and that we have the potential for these throughout our lives.
It was right after this that someone on the support forum called me out for continuing to pine for Marty, a man I had met on a "singles" site. And I had to agree with her.
You are absolutely right. I've worn out my welcome with Marty. I myself am sick of talking about him and thinking about him. He is a weak and pathetic person and I am done with it now. No more. It is done!

Once again I am declaring Independence Day. April 1. What a perfect day.
But it wasn't done.

A few days later, I sent him a link to a story that appeared in The Onion on April 3. The title was You Used Me For Sex, Friendship, And Good Conversation.

I thought it was funny, in an ironic way.

He didn't like it, not one little bit. He wrote this.
OK. Thank you - may I have another?

I'm glad you're in a happier and healthier place, Liz. I really am. Thanks for being in touch.
I thought about that for a while. On Saturday April 6, a week after we'd talked, I sent him this note. The subject line was "Flagellation, satire, Elvis, and the end of laughter and soft lies." I was rather proud of that.
Marty, believe me, after all this time, I have better things to do than to slap you around.

The Onion piece was pure satire. I thought you'd chuckle. I did.

Too much baggage. Elvis said it best: "We can't go on together with suspicious minds."

No malice. Take care. Pax vobiscum.

And of course he wrote right back.
Liz, thanks.... I guess I was hoping that. I'm familiar with The Onion and understand the satire - even did chuckle a little, but a part of me does feel truly sad and regretful for hurting you and always will.

No malice here, either - only the sincerest wishes for your happiness and gratitude that you're achieving what you are! And suspicion has nothing to do with it - it's just good, old-fashioned guilt.

Happy weekend!

He still didn't get it.

But I could no longer afford to make that my problem.

Once more, I let his last note go unanswered.

"Ooh this could get messy
Ooh I don't seem to mind
Ooh don't go telling everybody
And overlook this supposed crime

We'll fast forward to a few years later
And no one knows except the both of us
I've more than honored your request for silence
And you've washed your hands clean of this

What part of our history's reinvented and under rug swept?
What part of your memory is selective and tends to forget?
What with this distance it seems so obvious?"

Alanis Morissette, Hands Clean

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Thanks for your comment! I will post it as soon as I receive it. Liz