Friday, 19 January 2018

Friday.

Be right back. I'm drinking semi-bulletproof coffee, listening to the second single from The Banished Heart and ordering just about every single thing in stock from Ewa i Walla while the Salish sea roils and churns in the rain.

Damn. What a beautiful day.


Thursday, 18 January 2018

Clap your hands.

Happiness is poison, goes the quote about writers. Songwriters, authors, anyone who creates goes under this umbrella to stay dry against the river of blood that threatens to expand our minds until we're too content to find the words, too blissed-out to put it down on paper, too fucking thrilled to get it out and make it work and twist that darkness until it sucks the air and the light from all around us.

That's how it's always been, and Lord help them, they don't know what to do with me when I'm happy or sad. The de facto state for them is protect and entertain and anything else is simply a perk, a bug or a cog in the gears that fucks the whole thing up and takes us right off the rails but so far so good. We always seem to find our way back.

It's not boy gossip you'll find today, just contentment. Sort of like how you feel when you are in on the secret that the cool kids know. And this new change isn't a change, just a curiosity fulfilled. And this new day isn't dark, it isn't light, it's muted somewhere in between, as I said. Content. Entertained. Protected.

Safe.

Poisonous.

Yeah.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Rack Ops and Good Cookies.

Neamhchiontach. 

Yes? 

I'd like a word. 

PJ stares at Caleb for a really long minute and then grabs his phone off the counter and wanders downstairs to see what Dalton is up to. I know what Dalton is up to. He was sleeping when I left. So was Lochlan and dammit if that wasn't a fun sleepover. Dammit if I didn't want to leave.

What is it? 

What have you done? 

Today? I made coffee, caught up on laundry and had the front brakes replaced on the-

With Dalton. 

No, he didn't come with me to do the brakes. PJ picked me up and-

Were you with him last evening?

Define 'with'. 

Bridget-

WHAT?

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Finally I'll be seven feet tall.

(We're literally doing nothing today, so here.)

Ben let me shave his winter beard today. It's twelve degrees in the sun. It's the calm before the storm, I know it. I see it coming a mile away as we drop one by one from the flu, as the snow looms on the horizon line, just beyond the mountains, threatening to spill down past the highway, an avalanche of typical January weather anywhere else, a ridiculous unnecessary anomaly here. He's going to regret his bare cold face within days but within a week of not shaving again he'll have the start of a new disguise.

He already went for a haircut. I already decided I'm not cutting my hair in 2018. Not even once, which will be interesting as I have a pixie right now that needs a trim but also can be tousled just right thanks to the built-in heavy salt air, so it still looks cute as fuck.

Give it a couple months and I'm going to look like a maniac but I have an assortment of headbands, hats and bobby pins to wrestle it into some semblance of something and I'll leave it like that until it hits my waist again. I love cutting it all off but I miss it too. Desperately sometimes. It can be a perfect curtain of privacy anywhere I go and I've grown tired of strangers commenting (however sweetly) on my expressiveness, or my eye color or my smile, since that curtain of hair is gone.

(You would be surprised. I have one of those faces that goes from looking like I'm about to cry to the most joyous mirthful expression in the universe. It's...I mean, it's fun but it's exhausting to check my expression when I'm out so people don't ask if I'm okay. Or I'm smiling and they want in on the good news but it's something dumb, like the time I said I was going to be Pyramid Head for Halloween this coming year, from Silent Hill. The boys can be the sexy faceless nurses this time (I did that already). I'll go shirtless, wear culottes and a bloody apron, have a huge helmet on and carry a machete. Except Ben called it a 'mah-chette' with a hard ch sound and I laughed so hard coffee came out my nose. People wanted in on the laughter. It was dumb but I couldn't catch my breath long enough to even share it.)

So that's the plan.

I mean, that's the plan today but I'm just daydreaming. I want to eat pizza (without plates, straight from the box like they do in the movies), and watch the rest of Lucifer because it's so campy and profound all at once and I want to avoid Duncan just a little bit though if you offer someone Bridget, pizza and endless television Duncan just appears as if by magic, as he's one of the cuddliest laziest fuckers I've ever met.

I want to snooze but not miss anything. I want to still be able to touch a beard if I need to (PJ is willing, able and ready, or so he pointed out when Ben left for the haircut with the promise that upon his return I could give him an Amish chinstrap beard before shaving it all off. Actually once I did that he turned and made it into a weird pointy goatee and no way in hell was that staying but if you ask me? Between us he's the one with the expressive face, the striking dark eyes, the easy, subliminal half-smile, the perfect skin with no lines on it save for such faint ones around his eyes when he laughs.

That's the face people should comment on but Ben will turn away in a crowd so you're not sure it's actually him, or he'll duck beneath the edge of his jacket hood or the brim of his hat.

That's a shame.

Monday, 15 January 2018

There at the edge of the world right is returned to me, caught on the wind and tucked safely into my arms to remain. I control the weather just as I control their hearts, here by the sea.

Apologies came swiftly once again as we stumbled into yet another year, tripping over words and misguided attempts to repair or replace broken things. Broken things like hearts, minds and promises. Rainy things like moods and nights. Ugly things like jealousy and longing and loneliness.

And we fail but then we get up and run again, clutching that sharp edge so tightly we bleed our souls out so that they run together in a river, marbled, mixed, indistinguishable once more. We finish each others' sentences, comfort each other when there is no light and find that light to pass along, when necessary.

Here at the edge of the world left is the open arms, the open doors, the open minds of that marbled river, the tides rising and falling with need. The hearts breathing like lungs, rising and falling with emotions, sheared clean by that edge once again.

But they grow back.

There at the edge is where she stands. Where she bleeds. Where she cries. Where she grieves. Where she loves.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Shell Jesus.

(Now I want to go to Trolls for dinner.)

You didn't miss last week. What are you talking about? Sam's coffee breath wakes me up completely as I stand in the front hall helping him tie his Windsor knot. He'll never be pulled together. We're practically twins in that. In fact, you told me twice it was boring.

That's why I forgot. Sorry. I kiss his cheek and he heads out the door. I'm still in pajamas, about to have some coffee breath of my own. I'm not going to church, off the hook since I went last week when very few of the boys did. Sam absolved me over an early breakfast and now I'm kicking myself for getting up at all when I could have slept in. I could have slept for hours but Lochlan practically shoved me out of bed.

Go dig some clams for the Lord. 

And he laughed weakly and was asleep again before I had both my legs properly underneath me enough to walk away.

Christian, Andrew, Schuy and Danny represented the point this morning but I'm awake anyway. I make a big cup of coffee and dump some sweetened condensed milk into it before pouring the whole thing into a travel mug and heading for the door. I shrug into my wool wrap and boots and take my cup across the driveway to the stable. It's heated now and completely weathertight so I can leave my art supplies here. I have a small cupboard with a bluetooth speaker on top and all of my paints and sketchbooks are neatly organized inside.

There's a small table and chair and my easel stands in front of the south-facing windows. Lots of light, actually, and a cozy little space to have some time to myself which is something I need but somehow got used to never having as I'm perfectly happy to have someone close by to molest and touch and tickle and just be with. And so I never decompress. One of my Christmas gifts this year was the boys winterizing this, somehow without me knowing. It has electric heat now and better lighting too and I don't have to worry about the pipes for the work sink freezing ever again.

I pull out a tiny canvas board, barely six by four inches, and paint a clam for Lochlan. It's not very good, as I do it from memory but somehow it makes me feel better. They get ideas and we go and do them. I get ideas and I get made fun of. I miss spending time at the water doing things. All we do is walk and talk on the beach these days. There's no building sandcastles or collecting shells. There's rarely swimming. It's always a psychic workload. I've grown to dread the walks just because they involve so much introspection, admission and enlightenment. Ideas to try. Restoration to embark on. Penance to pay. Healing to be done.

Dreading being within touching distance of the ocean, dreading going to it, dreading being near it isn't an association I want to have, ever and I'm angry that it's come to this. I don't want to walk anymore. I'll sit in the fucking library or lie in bed and talk til I'm blue in the face if that's what you want but don't turn the only place where I can breathe into something awful.

When I'm happy with Lochlan's painting I set it aside to dry and work on some other little projects. I'm between ideas so I draw and learn and experiment. Sometimes I write. Sometimes I just putter around and think.

I would stay all day but we have plans so when my phone starts blowing up I collect my mug  and the painting and put my boots back on for the trip across the driveway. I even resent the boots today but bare feet in the winter bring shouts of disapproval and disappointed looks. When I get inside I take the painting to show Lochlan.

Made you something. 

Oh! Hey! This is great! It's a UFO! I like it. Very stylized. 

I nod, mouth set in a line and force a smile. Enjoy. 

I know it's a clam, Bridget. 

How do you know it's a clam? 

The happy face. It totally gives it away. He bursts into laughter. I love it. 

It means you don't have to take me clam-digging. We have one now. 

Jesus. If that's all it takes, paint me a show, Baby.

I can do that. 

Be a lot harder than a mollusk. 

Not really. He was difficult as fuck. I mean, look at him! He has a face!

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Not sure my heart HAS cockles, but if it does, they're warm.

Lochlan's only consolation was that Caleb was kind. It brings a strange sort of relief to him when he expects the worst. He was further heartened that Caleb couldn't calm me down, that he doesn't have the range of soothing mechanisms that Lochlan has always had from the first moment, those nurturing, comforting capacities he's only ever denied me once.

Once.

Once is the hard part. The part that keeps him at almost-arms length. The part that makes it so easy to keep Caleb here close enough to touch as some sort of permanent punishment. That one moment when Lochlan faltered just enough and I saw that he was human and fallible and a goddamned teenage boy and maybe he and Caleb weren't all that different after all and how everything was still wrong even if we were in love because I wasn't old enough to self-validate my feelings, and yet my feelings didn't count because I was still a child.

I don't know if I'll ever forgive anyone for that. They're selective. The good feelings are acceptable, encouraged and noticed. The bad ones are wrong, shove them under the rug, don't let them see the light of day, bury this shit like we should have buried her and then we wouldn't have to live like this, under the risk of not knowing when she would tell, who she would tell, when she might implode.

Instead she reminds them daily that feelings are feelings and you don't get to choose which ones are the ones you will nurture. Instead she teaches them that people are stronger than they sometimes look. Instead she finds a way to live around it, through it and without it too and it seems to be working mostly fine, though the experts (both in-house and out) tell you it's so unhealthy it might be a first and what the fuck, Bridget, eventually it's going to implode. Either they are, you are or all of this will.

If you live on borrowed time, do it well, because you'll never be able to afford to pay it back, let alone with interest.

I want to go clam-digging, I announce abruptly and Lochlan's all well and good to take me until he pauses.

Do they have clams here?

I have no idea. 

Look it up. 

Yes. Plus oysters and cockles. 

I've never seen cockles here. 

Just outside Nanaimo. 

You want to do this today? 

Maybe. I don't know. 

I need a new video card and Ruth has to get her school supplies for second semester. Then at four Christian wants me to pick him up while his truck's getting serviced. Uh. Can we go tomorrow?

No, I missed church last week. 

I don't think Sam cares, Bridge. 

I don't go for him. 

I don't think Jake cares either. 

Wow. 

Well, wow, you want to drive for half a day to dig clams? 

I want to leave here. 

Elaborate. 

It's cabin fever, that's all. I hate January. 

I thought Ben fixed January. 

He only showed up for a bit and he's already gone again. 

Lochlan stops what he's doing and comes over to me, pulling my hands in against his chest, kissing my forehead, my nose, my mouth.

I'm here. You don't have to run. 

Everyone's crushing me with their sweetness. I'm fine. I don't need to be coddled.

Really?

Seriously. 

Then we're not going to the island this weekend. 

Lochlan! 

You said you didn't need to be coddled!

Clam-digging isn't coddling!

It is in fucking JANUARY, Bridge!

Friday, 12 January 2018

"History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce." -Karl Marx.

The sound in my mouth
It gets so loud
It gets so loud
Little words can slip out
Words like sorry
I'm so sorry
To his credit he waited until Ben disappeared again, until Lochlan was in an exceedingly good mood and until he noticed that I had bitten my nails to the quick.

Neamhchiontach, you're still tense. 

Just having a hard time letting go of tension. It takes more than a few days, I think. 

Your hands-

I hide them in the sleeves of my sweater. Just nerves, that's all. 

I can fix that. 

It's late. I raised my eyebrows. He nodded and held out his hand.

I woke up this morning directly underneath a river of hemlocks, rain beating down on the glass, filtered through the trees straight into my eyes. His room is warm. The fur blankets are warm and cozy. The rain is cozy. I lie there biting my nails again and he doesn't open his eyes. Stop. Would you like to have them done so you can't bite them?

Caleb is sleepy, after half a night of trying to fit together conventionally. No doors, no violence, no drugs, no booze. Just him, hands empty, heart almost-full, holding out his arms for me, keeping his weight just right, taking his time, amping up affection levels to a point he rarely reaches, being sweet. I never know what to do when he's like this. It makes it harder still.

No. Thank you. 

I don't like this. You have the hands of an eight-year-old. 

Eleven. I correct him automatically.

He watches my expression of anticipation, my dare. My quiet reminder. Time to go, Baby Girl. Your Magician will be antsy. 

No, he's resigned. 

Resigned, is he? Good to know. 

(I'm sure somewhere Ben has Lochlan in a headlock.)

Yeah, I can go. I get dressed as he watches and instantly start biting my nails again.

I failed. 

Pardon? 

I was going to make you less tense. That was the point. How do I do that? 

Be anyone but you.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Who needs a title? I've got a Ben.

And after this world is out of reach
Sober and silent, faded and violent
Hopeless, I fight to fall between
Never surrender, out of the embers
Save a space inside for me
I don't know what it is about Januaries but they seem to be a Ben-thing, in that he just comes out from hiding and positively blooms. He's present. He's engaged and engaging. He's charming and sweet and affectionate and funny. He's around. He checks the schedule and shows up on time, or early. He talks us into things. He's Ben again.

He goes through debilitating times too where he'll disappear for weeks and then months and then he appears like magic and I love it so much. It's made me look forward to the after-Christmas period where usually all I do is complain about the days still being short, in spite of promises that they'll soon be longer.

I'm not going to assume his presence has anything to do with my health scare. It doesn't. I could set my seasonal-watch by Ben sightings alone, and he's been this way for years so it isn't me, it's him.

But I'll take it.

So will Lochlan.

So will everyone, actually, as he's been helping PJ in the kitchen, he went and did a little work with Caleb in home repair (Caleb isn't...uh...handy but Ben wasn't about to let him waste two or three hundred dollars calling a plumber to change out a new tap after Caleb tightened one too hard and broke it. Ben learned his skills from the others and shows it off every chance he gets.) and he went over to visit with Batman and Jay. He and John are going rain-golfing shortly even.

Snort.

(It's freaking cold.)

He even went and met Joel for coffee last evening. He's down to a meeting twice a week otherwise which is nice because he's home more. He's charmed the dog. He's rested. He's up to date. He's now trying to figure out what projects to take for spring and what to pass on. He's in demand but choosing carefully. He is not, contrary to rumors, hitting the road again.

(Indefinitely not so whatever you heard it's wrong.)

He is making lunch for me as I type. Right now. I don't know what it is. He told me not to worry about it when I asked. That makes me nervous, because when he says that it means he's making something weird.

He just came and read over my shoulder and he insists it's nothing weird.

Call Loch. It's ready. 

Okay. But what is it?

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

The world revolves around me.

In spite of sayings to the contrary, it actually does.

I poked around the internet this morning. Every old blog that I used to follow long abandoned now, tumbleweeds rolling through, save for one or two that are updated sporadically in fits and spurts with many apologies. I guess Youtube is the way to go now, or Instagram stories, which I don't get at all. Ruth and Henry use Snapchat, I tried once and now have a picture of myself and Christian on my phone with dog ears (which has become comedy gold, mind you) but I like to write.

It keeps me from going crazy.

I managed to have a major, terrifying health scare over the holidays and it was resolved on Monday. I have an all-clear. I was scared but I was also prepared. I didn't look it up. I told very few. I didn't tell my mom, and now she's mad. I followed instructions diligently and I spent from Dec 19 to January 8th waiting.

Waiting is hard. Your brain conjures up results without any information and you make decisions for every outcome and the one you want, which requires no decisions at all to be made after the fact is the one you get which makes you think you've just ducked as a bullet whizzed over your head and you're grateful beyond measure.

And then you are relieved but it floods in slowly. It takes days to stop clenching teeth and fists. Days to breathe again. Days to feel like you used to. Life begins today. Today is the first day, they say, of the rest of your life and finally that stupid saying makes sense.

I think grief has aged me. It's made me fearful of stupid things and very big things alike. This was some sort of resignation. I was ready to be told my time has been shortened. The boys were ready to fight. But it hasn't been shortened now and they don't have to fight.

Now we meet in the middle.

But yeah, my world revolves around me, so there's another saying that makes sense. Just like when Lochlan had so much trouble healing a broken arm we revolved around him. The world revolves around whoever is in the center. Yours revolves around you, too. Congratulations.

I'm not sorry to discover this. I had a feeling it was true, it's nice to have it confirmed. It's nice to know that my boys are relieved and thrilled that I'm okay. It's good to be loved. It's incredible to be loved this much.

And words will never be enough to describe this life, so I need the full allotted time to try and do it anyway.

Also, I've asked if we can do Christmas over again but they all said no.

(Thanks for respecting the odd moments when I ask for privacy. I only posted this to quiet the predictable (but seriously misguided) pregnancy rumors. Stop it already.)