Monday, 3 March 2008

Wretched success.

We are home. We actually got in late last evening and frankly there's been a lot to catch up on, namely swimming lesson registration, prying Butterfield out of PJ's capable, spoiling hands and school. When is spring break already?

The bourgeois princess and the blue-collar guy from the eastern seaboard quietly and simultaneously vetoed the lovely five-room marble suite with the three fireplaces, grand piano and built-in butler. We had great plans to run off to the Holiday Inn at the edge of town but resources were scrambled instead and we were given a three-room suite a few floors below the one that was built for the queen or Mick Jagger or Lindsay Lohan or whoever would be so bold and famous as to need a room such as that one.

For just having stood in the grand entranceway I feel like I somehow crossed off a milestone or six. The funniest part was they let us keep the butler anyway. The hardest part was that he wouldn't let me tip him, he just gave me the party line, saying everything has been looked after. It's a phrase Ben used a lot too. Fancy that.

We all slept late and the kids and I shopped a little and explored and Ben would meet us for long dinners but otherwise he got in so late we didn't see much of him. He would throw himself in bed with me as I was just about ready to wake up and it was a perfect time for some warm, epic sweet sex that we both have missed. Even stealing two nights like that will help get us both through the next few weeks until he is home for a while again but the weekend was difficult in that we knew it would be a working weekend for him and we tried to squeeze some time in anyway.

I called Ben to let him know we were home safe and he asked if it was that bad, if it was a mistake or if I was disappointed. I told him I wasn't, that it was fine. A little difficult and the kids predictably didn't enjoy it (much past the spoiling they got) thanks to the mostly waiting and being schlepped but for the momentary breather it afforded me to get through the next bit of life, it served a purpose.

Ben asked if I wanted to do it once more before the end of the month and I said I doubted it but that if he wanted to bring a butler home with him when he returns I am totally up for it. He said he would be the butler when he gets home.

I am holding him to that. Because the butler part was really, really awesome.

Friday, 29 February 2008

Fit for a princess.

Ben called and made his usual offer to fly us out to join him for a couple of days.

I always say no. I was never interested in spending hours on little gilded planes and in strange airports with the kids in tow only to be subjected to the hazards of his 'other' job. Hazard is not the right word, it's not dangerous or anything, mostly I just don't want to know. I don't find it offers any privacy or is any sort of good environment to expose the kids to but he never fails to ask, if a weekend comes up and he can't make it home. It's become a bit of a sad tradition between us.

Only the past two weeks have been very hard here. Hard for me for reasons which I haven't touched on. For all the readers who have emailed me, pointing out that I'm not myself and things seem wrong, I spent a lot of time reassuring everyone that everything was fine, that I was dealing with illness and such and no worries.

Well, everything is fine and I am dealing with illness and there are no worries, I promise. Only this will be a good opportunity for me and the kids to get a very brief change of scenery and a good chance for Ben to play the hero and when he called this morning, I knew the offer was coming and the kids and I were already packed.



Okay, we'll come to you.

Oh my God. I'll have someone call the plane and the hotel.

Is that cool?

More than cool. We can hole up here all weekend.


I'd like nothing more, princess.

Is there a pool?

There is everything for you guys. It's like four thousand bucks a night, I should hope we'll want for nothing. I'll make sure of it.

You really know how to impress a girl, don't you?

This isn't for just any girl. This girl is special. She's my dream girl.

That's really sweet, big Ben.

No, you're sweet, little bee. You made my day.

No, but I'll be there in time to make your night.

I don't doubt it.

So, I won't be posting for the next couple of days but when I return after the weekend I'll fill you in on what made things so hard and other things I've been ignoring, like the ever-growing stack of requests in my inbox. You all seem to want to know more about Ben, namely, what he looks like.

Why doesn't that surprise me?

See you early next week.

Thursday, 28 February 2008

Bleak and directionless.

I didn't say much about the movie the other day. Duncan and I had ducked into a discount dingy (dodgy!) moviehouse afternoon show and we left feeling sober and worldly and wishing we could reverse the two hours, wishing we had never gone.

Okay, the music was good. The music was terrific.

I identified with Christopher McCandless. I would do that. I'd run off and live alone and probably wind up hurting myself and becoming stuck in a situation both frightening and just. I would have drowned in the river on the way out, or been murdered hitchhiking first, I suppose.

I may be an introvert but I like knowing there are people nearby. I'm a giant fraidy-cat, then, fine.

There were some stark moments of beauty in the film, mostly from the words he threw out just at the right moment. This was a man who clearly absorbed the most beautiful phrases and let them weave him a platform on which to rest within himself.

Duncan, a half-assed poet himself, found the movie bleak and exhaustive and relatively pointless overall, and that's okay too, I daresay that would have been the average response. Since our viewing I have been left wishing that instead of a biography written by a stranger, that Chris had gone off and written his life story or every thought he had ever had, instead of a stunted, choppy diary and then someone found and published THAT, instead and then the movie would have had a more poetic, less befuddled-mainstream placement. Sean Penn should have known better.

Or in Duncan's less-dignified approach, What the fuck?
He wants to make it up to me this weekend and take us to the IMAX to see U2 in 3D. I'm not sure I want any more dry movie-theater air this week. Oh, I can't believe I just said that. I live for movie theaters and sticking to the floor and broken armrests and people kicking my chair. It's one of my all-is-right-with-the-universe places. Right up there with having amazing sex and eating in overpriced restaurants.

Neither of which I've done in a while, come to think of it. I did mention I wasn't feeling well, didn't I?

The good news is I am up making lunch for the brood and hovering around 101 now.

Psycho Somatic.

There is a grace that keeps this world, I'll tell you that for nothing.

This morning my phonecalls were croaks and then a whole bunch of cobbled morse code, giving up early in favor of emails and text messaging. Duncan is coming over to look after me, what a sweetheart, he's already had this cold so he isn't worried about catching it.

Joel is such a hardass. No Nyquil, no more Dayquil, I can't even get a good brandy, I'm left with cough drops and hot tea which just makes me sweat more. I'm holding my head today. Ben is better, seems like even though he really pushed his luck by trying a quick trip home, he bounces back quickly and is relatively independent when he's under the weather. It feels like he's a billion miles a way right now, a vague lump in my throat of a different kind altogether, really. And this is dumb. I'm well-versed in Ben being gone all the time. Should be it this hard?

Maybe it's just harder when you don't feel well. I tried to convey that I would get through the day just fine, if not scaled back significantly but Duncan insisted that forcing the issue would see me lose, now just call the school to confirm pickup by him and then go the hell to bed.

Did I ever tell you how much I love my friends? I'm in tears thinking about how awesome they can be. And tears plus snot equal something like the equivalent of wallpaper paste on my face. Must be pretty. I'll chip myself out of it tomorrow.

Goodnight. Going to bed, I've got a fever of 104. Hot stuff.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Apple kisses.

Duncan spent the afternoon with me eating candy apples, watching Into the Wild and passing the phone back and forth, Ben on the other end. Probably so I wouldn't fall asleep watching, though I don't see how I could have with my face glued to a big chocolate-peanut-marshmallow dipped apple on a stick. I saved the red candy-coated ones for the children and the dark chocolate/pecan one for tomorrow, I can split it with PJ.

When Duncan left, unable to stay for dinner with us later tonight, he gave me a sweet, sticky kiss that made me smile. We had bailed on the afternoon and it was incredibly restorative. I like to plan mini-escapes throughout the week, scheduling downtime as per my instructions for therapeutic quiet-time. On a bad day I can be accused of filling up every last minute in order to avoid being alone with my thoughts and then I wind up crashing out of fear or sometimes exhaustion. This way I strike an effort at a balance.

It works. I'm still having a good week overall (so far). And to all of you who emailed me last night, accusing me of making you cry? Thank you. Misery loves company.

But not right now. This is my quiet time. And I'm not actually miserable. Take note of that, would you?

Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

    Nothing's wrong as far as I can see
    We make it harder than it has to be
    and I can't tell you why
    no, baby, I can't tell you why

The two biggest memories of my childhood I keep are the endless sunburnt hours at the ocean, and the music on the stereo.

Today I've got the Eagles on twelve and I know every word, every backing vocal, every drum beat.

My folks live far away from here. I don't require or seek out their input in my life, I've been living apart from them for longer than I ever lived with them at this point in my life and it's no secret I am the littlest black sheep by far. I am so different from the rest of my family I will always secretly wonder if perhaps I was adopted, or some grand psychological experiment that they agreed to. They let me run off and join the Midway with Lochlan when I was in grade school. They might have their own issues.

And they no longer have the stereo on all day, driving that used to be an excuse to be held hostage by the glorious radio station chock-full of seventies guitar riffs now requires full-concentration and should be carried out in silence and I don't believe they've bought a CD in their entire lives, but the music is something I give them full credit for, and when I left home I took it with me.

Monday, 25 February 2008

One hundred and ten.

    She gets high
    She gets lost
    She gets drowned by the cost
    Twice a day, every week, not a lie

    Oh, Life is waiting for you
    So messed up, but we're alive
    Oh, Life is waiting for you
    So messed up, but we'll survive
    All messed up, but we'll survive

It's a beautiful day. A day for red coats and clear red lipgloss and newly darkened blonde hair and long dog walks and constant phone calls and words that leave me holding on to things that are bolted down lest I float up into the blue sky.

It is day 110, Jacob. Almost a third of a year has passed and I am mostly getting by.

I talked to Sam last night. He doesn't mention it but I know he misses your guidance and your friendship. He doesn't have anyone that is on his wavelength to sound off on and is running into mostly the same obstacles you faced when you tried to improve the administration side of things in the church. I told him to keep fighting and he would eventually wear them down. He told me he was so happy to hear the smile in my voice.

I found your belt yesterday, it had been knocked off the hook on the back of the closet door and fell into my big market bag. I hung it back on the hook, so you could find it easily and then I threw it away because you don't need it anymore.

If we count this week as starting Sunday then I have only cried once for you so far. It gets better. I don't think about you being gone and never coming back, I just pretend you're on a trip and so I finished the blue scarf I was making for you last night. Again, I know you don't need it. I'm just looking for loose ends that I can tie. Everything stays nice and organized and as normal as I can get it.

I wish you were here, Pooh. 110 days is an eternity.

Ben and I had a long talk the other night. We are both sick with Henry's cold now but the weather is warming up so hopefully soon everyone will be feeling better. He looks after me best he can, but he's also a wonderful distraction. He isn't offended or jealous of my feelings, he is happy to finally have a larger role in my life, maybe the one you stole when I met you. He's been terrific and I know you'd want to know that my heart grows back, slowly, steadily.

I will never be the same. I find I'm quieter, more reserved. I keep my sweater drawn around me a little tighter. I've become incredibly selfish with my feelings, you would say it's cold but I know behind it is warmth and I'll get there.

They have told me at some point very soon I'm going to have to deal with everything or risk sliding into a bigger hole and I don't really want to. I don't even know how to begin to face this. Maybe you can help? I don't know if you can help with anything. I don't even know where you went. When Cole died remember how I said I could always feel him around, as if he were watching me? I can't feel that with you, I can't find you, pooh.

And I want to.

I have to go now. You always made me promise to embrace the really good days, and I think this is one of them.

I love you, oh God, how I love you.

Sunday, 24 February 2008


For the record, flying with a bad cold is not only a poor idea, it's an agonizing experience people should forgo entirely if they can.

Ben? Staggered down the stairs at arrivals holding his head in both hands and trying to smile for me. He let go of his head long enough to give me a quick hug and then when we got to the truck he let his head roll back on the headrest and swore in a whisper, a string of epithets that I don't think I've ever heard put together in a more creative way.

I got him home, made him a bowl of soup and he gave up halfway through and went to bed. At nine thirty or so last night he came lumbering back out into the kitchen and started making more soup and said he felt better and did I want some food? No, I said but he made enough for two anyway and we each had a bowl and then he asked how I was doing and I said fine and coughed and he laughed and I pointed out I wasn't jet-setting around the continent. He said he had to come back because he owed rent and wanted to make sure he paid in advance. I frowned and he poked me and grinned.

I rubbed the sore spot and he laughed and asked if I thought he was serious. I nodded and stuck out my tongue and he said dead-seriously that he had assumed he was free to pay his rent with sexual favors and if anything, I owed him.

I almost threw the bowl at his head but there was that killer smile once more.

He asked if I was planning to hit the illegal Nyquil (it's only illegal because it doesn't go so well with my medications but when you feel as bad as that sometimes you really don't care) and I said no and he said good because he really needed to take some and if I took advantage of him in his drugged state he'd be really glad.

It never happened. I think we were both asleep before we could make a move. Me crushed into his arms and him on his side, breathing heavily into my hair, still as stone. He doesn't move when he sleeps, not an inch.

He's gone already, loaded up on decongestants and soup for breakfast and the kind of sleep you can only have when you're completely wrapped around someone you love.

Saturday, 23 February 2008

Pretty like a rosary pea.

For the record the only medication I stopped was the newest one, which has done nothing but make me so dizzy I wanted to vomit every time I looked down and after three weeks and being told to keep taking it I said fuck that and I stopped a few days ago and I felt a million times better (physically) almost at once.

Emotionally it's been a long, rough week and I said things that are not fair but most certainly true and I warned them, they knew and now everyone panics, freaking out because I shouldn't still be in this place and why didn't anyone notice all this three months ago?

I sent Ben away. Far away from my heart and my troubles and he didn't want to go but I reminded him I'm not fair. I reminded him it wouldn't be easy and maybe we had our brief moment and it was so sweet but in the long run, I'm not the girl for you.

And no, I didn't see Caleb, we've been warring on the phone. The odd part being he's been the most objective, rational person to ever weigh in on a question asked that I have spoken to yet. Very much like Cole with using a dry, straightforward approach. Am I projecting? No, in spite of what you think. I've had a lot of correspondence from Caleb in the past month, he doesn't care as much about what I have on him as he does not putting a permanent rift between himself and his brother's family. That he is considering retiring early as it is (he'll be forty-five next year) and his career doesn't mean as much to him as it once did. That he has had time and therapy to come to terms with how he behaves around me and he wants to make amends, at whatever pace I set for him.

I took it with a grain of salt and a heaping dose of envy, for it must be nice to sort yourself out so quickly. If only it were that easy for the rest of us.

Personally I think he fell under my curse. Or maybe I fell under his. It's pretty difficult to be objective at this point, either way. He just seems so good at it. He always has been.

Especially since I've gone from being locked in my glass turret, knight standing at the ready to standing in a field surrounded by the enemy and down to my hapless wits and wiles to save myself, probably a position I should have taken up long before I even met Jacob. And didn't.

Dammit, I didn't.

What would I like now? I'd like Caleb to be normal, a warm but slightly professional uncle who sends presents and calls the kids regularly, keeps in touch without any of our history in the way. I'd like Ben to not be gone half the time so that we could have a chance because if there is one person who ever resisted a curse and lived to tell about it, that would be Ben. The only guy to ever figure out how to be around me without his own feelings coming between us. We managed to exist as friends for a damn long time before we complicated things. I would have killed for another shot but that's up to him. If I were him, I'd take off at a dead run in the other direction. I wouldn't blame him a bit.

I would like Jacob to burn his trump card and let me grieve for him but in my head I am sorry to admit, yeah, I'm waiting. I am at that awful, horribly painful part where I let my imagination protect my heart and I pretend he's coming back. As if all those awful things never took place. As if nothing else ever mattered but him wanting me. I haven't grieved for him and I don't know how to and I won't and that is what's messing me up.

I'd like for my other friends to keep on going forward. Christian has found some happiness and I daresay it doesn't appear to be a distraction or gapfiller. PJ works so hard and is the best friend and uncle in the universe. Joel has been great, a never-ending asshole to my face and a sweetheart behind my back making sure I have appointments and connections required to stay on top of all this mess. He's going to be making some changes in his life though. He failed one of the most important tests in his career with me and he may switch gears himself. The other guys are doing well, always calling to check in or stopping by, bringing hugs, little funny gifts for the kids or spending an hour with us doing nothing at all. When they leave I get a list of reminders to call me if you need me or just want company, let's make some plans, keep going, you're doing great and then they hold me too long and I let them because I want that.

In other words, hi, my name is poison.

They will tell you different. This is just me rambling at nine in the morning with half a cup of coffee lubricating my brain and a message on my phone that warmed me up much more efficiently than the bad coffee I make for myself:

    I'll see you at 3. Stop it.

Which means Ben isn't going to put much weight in my doubts or my setbacks or my dumb moves and self-sabotage. He's coming home for a night and he's not going to play fair either and for some reason this makes me strangely glad.

Friday, 22 February 2008

Off with her meds.

I did it again.

I didn't go to him, he called and I answered, only because when it hurts I'll do anything for a way out. Sometimes it hurts so much the only answers lie in certain death, deliberate cautiousless actions that take me far from where I'm supposed to be.

I don't have any answers and currently my status is not caring. Unmedicated not caring, that is. Oh shit.

I don't. I don't care. I feel nothing and as long as it stays this way I'm fine. Fine because Caleb says he has answers for me.