Monday, 31 August 2009

Leaning over you here, cold and catatonic
I catch a brief reflection of what you could and might have been
It's your right and your ability
To become my perfect enemy

Wake up and face me, don’t play dead cause maybe
Someday I’ll walk away and say you disappoint me
Maybe you’re better off this way
I had breakfast with an old friend this morning. Remember Claus? He had all kinds of thoughts on Bridget nineteen months post-flight, on Ben in absentia, on Lochlan, on the children and on the upcoming winter.

All kinds.

I am still processing.

Instead I'll tell you that long after breakfast, I counted sixteen lily pads in the creek, the sixteenth one curled so that Henry was convinced it was actually a frog. Four blooms on the planter by the back patio and one lone raspberry intended to defy the coming frost. The strawberry plant seems to be finished, much to the dog's chagrin, and the grass seed is coming along nicely on the spots where we played dodge ball and ruined the lawn in the space of a single afternoon.

I picked up some hockey tape for someone. I can't remember who, I'll leave it on the table by the front door and someone will thank me for it eventually.

I made plans inside my head to go to the concrete room less, and hang on words said by boys less and put up with less, making my own plans, doing a little more of what I would like to do and maybe even worrying and waiting a little less.

Like right now. I had thirty minutes to spare so I brought out a forbidden cup of coffee and my laptop and I had planned to enjoy some solitude and fresh air in the backyard but it's been quickly quashed by my neighbor who has decided to mow his lawn with an enthusiastically loud lawnmower. I already smiled and waved and he grinned and probably mowed half of my front lawn, I can tell because it's taking him twice as long as usual.

I will reciprocate in the winter when the snow falls and I shovel the sidewalk in front of five houses because winters begin in exhilaration and end in despair for me as the novelty (HA.) of the snow wanes. By February I will have passed the shovel-torch (now there's an invention waiting to happen) to PJ or Chris and not care in the least if anyone can make it down the sidewalk but in the meantime we do neighborly things because it makes the world a little more comfortable for everyone and it helps bring me out of my shell.

Yes, the kevlar one.

Thank heavens I'm a turtle and not a frog.

I've kissed frogs though. Just in case. As per my suspicions, they don't always turn into princes. And that's okay too. Sometimes princesses are just turtles in dresses.

And no, I have not been drinking. Skateboard Jesus told me I looked as if I needed a drink. He was right, as usual, but I think I'll stick with coffee. I want to process today, not bury it.

Maybe I can slip today under a lily pad when no one's looking. I can tape it there with this handy tape.

Yeah, I think that's exactly what I should do.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Staring down the last full week of summer.

(Oh, regrets, would you just go hide in the closet and I'll pull you out in the spring again with the raincoats and squirtguns? Thank you. I'm not going to itemize, I'm too busy doing other personal inventory. Not going to itemize that either. Lord, we would be here all day, wouldn't we?)

Oddly I have found some sort of resigned positivity, namely because when I just step in and do it or step in and refuse, things seem better. So there you have it. It's a gorgeous day at the farm, starting out cold but now sunny and crisp and clear. Not a cloud in the sky. I woke up in the warmest arms on the planet, since surrogate husbands seem to be in ample supply these days while real ones are not. Out here I sleep in t-shirts and long johns so it was more like having a living blanket than anything else. Down the hall the delicious smell of woodsmoke and fresh coffee filled up my nose and my ears were gifted the quiet crackle of a fire in the fireplace.

I think I could move here, save for the fact that Nolan doesn't have music on much unless his sons are around or I spin the dial on the radio on the table from talk to rock. That and the fact that it's a difficult drive in the winter make me hesitate. Plus it's isolated. I'm so thoroughly spoiled, having all the boys close by but far enough to send home when they argue with each other. Besides, when I do move, and it will be sooner rather than later, I'm going to head further than this climate reaches, because after surviving seven winters here and staring down an eighth, I think I've had just about enough.

And I will miss the farm. We'll be back here soon, I hope. Long weekends are made for this place, I think.

I've got a semi-busy, semi-quiet week ahead, however. Finish painting the kitchen (yes, again). Celebrate Ruth's birthday (she will be ten years old. Two years until Junior high, mom! OH MY GOD STOP GROWING, CHILD.). Take the kids to the pool and the library and grocery shopping, again. Coddle PJ, because after an argument he turns in the sweetest man alive and I always enjoy him seventeen times as much as usual, when he's a metronomic pain in the ass. Ignore calls/texts/boxes from Caleb. Make the list of hockey gear required because the boys will miss things otherwise and hockey starts soon even though we seem to be down a goalie.

(Positive, remember, Bridge?)

Look for a new breadmaker because I'm sick of running out, sick of paying six bucks a loaf and sick of bread that tastes like cardboard, I'll go back to making my own.

Oh, and I need to make a CD of Metallica's setlist so I will be ready for the show this fall. I always do before a big concert, helps build momentum! Even though momentum comes from my platform skull shoes. I've already decided I'll be wearing those when I catch James' eye. Shameless, I know. Leave me be, that's one of those twenty-year crushes, transferred from Cliff Burton when he died.

Maybe it's me.

Speaking of crushes, and on a vacuous note besides, we tuned into a repeat of Saturday Night Live last night, the one with John McCain, who was campaigning for something or other, I don't know, I don't pay attention to politics, but the musical guest was some guy with a fledgling beard named David Cook. While he was a little light musically I thought he was adorable. I looked up his music this morning and as usual I am the last to find about new artists. He's everywhere, this guy.

So I think I'll just crawl back into my blue-velvet and muscle-lined world and stay there. And when I paint my kitchen I'll listen to Lamb of God. They open for Metallica, you know.

Oh, that's right. You already knew.

That's okay. I know other things. Things you'll find out a long ways from now, so we're even, I think. Enjoy the rest of the weekend. We are heading home.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

And for the record? Right now Caleb is actually the least of my worries so I don't care if I'm crossing him or not. Thanks for the concern though. We are here safe and sound.
Just like it's cold before it's warm
You'll get back here again
And I'll wait I'll wait I'll wait I'll wait
I'll wait I'll wait I'll wait I'll wait
I'll wait I'll wait till you fall from grace
It's the calm before the storm
It's there then it's gone
It's so early my brain isn't awake yet. Lochlan, PJ and I are taking the kids up to Nolan's farm for the weekend. It will be a good chance for them to play in the creek, ride the horses and enjoy a few cookouts, complete with marshmallows. We might even sleep outside under the stars if the nighttime temperatures hold.

We'll play games and make gnome houses out of sticks and talk and get tons of fresh non-city air. We'll muck stalls and cook for Nolan and sleep.

I'm not going to see Caleb tonight, in other words. I'm just not going to let him do this anymore. I haven't figured out how, exactly, but I'm working on it. We're working on it.

Friday, 28 August 2009


I wish I could fly.

Henry says this regularly and it's about as chilling as you would imagine. A child's unintentional dream interrupted by the weight of reality. That weight crushes my heart on a daily basis. Henry puts on his costume cape and will run around the house making airplane sounds for the rest of the afternoon.

Caleb thinks life would be easier for me if I would just consent to send them off to boarding school. Even a Waldorf school, he professes, as if I'm considering his suggestion. I'm not, for the record, and I won't. In the event that I can't make their decisions for them, PJ is in charge, and PJ isn't any more likely to ship them off than anyone else. I think Caleb would like a clear line of sight, frankly. He's growing tired of lurking in the shrubbery again.

Case in point, and for the future, a point that might change PJ's powers under the law, sadly enough:

Between arguing over whether or not Caleb even has a say over where the kids go to school, he let it slip that he was responsible for PJ's latest hook-up.

Remember that scene in The Devil's Advocate where Al Pacino is telling Keanu Reeves he can have anything his heart desires?

I imagine it went exactly like that. And PJ's had a rough go with online dating services and friends of friends and I bet he just said what the hell and jumped for the brass ring that the devil was holding. See, that's what Caleb does. He gives you whatever you want and then some.

Then he takes ownership of your soul.

By using PJ's vulnerabilities now he proves that he still has power I can only dream of, and he gets a new inroad into my life altogether. This is not cool.

It's cool with PJ at present. Who has been telling everyone within earshot that he's going to marry this girl. Yes, the one he met four days ago but only told me about on Wednesday night because he didn't know what to say, so he left out all the parts about meeting her through Satan. I'm sure he wouldn't have told me at all but he didn't have a choice. I had to drag it out of him one word at a time. I asked if I could meet her, and he refused.

His reason?

You've ruined too many potential relationships, princess. Let's just wait a little bit.

What the fuck, PJ.

He's the one who has ruined them by comparing everyone to me. I had nothing to do with it. Hell, I'm certainly no prize, so I highly doubt they weren't good enough for him. He wanted a clone. For a very long time.

But now his soul doesn't belong to him anymore and all the rules have changed.

I asked Caleb to call off the hooker or whatever she is. He told me I was brilliant but no. I told him if he messed with PJ's heart he should just go dig his own grave because I'm not going to let him ruin anything anymore. He asked if I would prefer that he shift his focus back to Ben. Then he said he thought Ben was happy to be out of focus while he medicates his pain away again. Then he smoothly changed the subject and reminded me he has recommendations on several schools that would be perfect for the kids. See what he does?

You've got them both, don't you?

The children? You don't know where they are?

No, PJ and Ben. You're pulling strings again, aren't you?

Bridget, I don't know how you see me, but I'm not as evil as you seem to want to label me.

Then stop.


Just like that?

Of course not. Remember our arrangement? For my silence and Henry's emotional wellbeing?

Yes. I don't need your silence anymore, remember?

We'll just shift the terms slightly. Protect your friends. Your children..our children...were never in harm's way. They're children, after all.

I don't understand.

Sure you do. So don't make any plans for the weekend. And I'll be sure that PJ is let down easy. Wear the black dress. Don't cry until I've made you cry. I'll have the car pick you up.

I'll tell everyone.

Go ahead. They can't save you or they would have by now.

What about Ben?

Ben will reach a point where he is too far gone to care anymore. You should know him well enough by now. Remember, he's thrilled to share you. It eases his guilt in being away so much.

I think you underestimate Benjamin. And me, for that matter.

Is that so?

Stay away from them.

Done. Your wish is my command, princess.


Bring some words with you. Good conversation is the perfect foreplay.

I still hate you.

No, you don't. See you tomorrow, princess.

Thursday, 27 August 2009


: a very strong or irresistible impulse to travel [syn:
wanderlust, itchy feet]
That's what's going on. I'm trying to run away before winter comes back. The whole thing feels unsatisfying. I feel caged in and useless and boring. Frustrated.

Quantify it, Bridge.

But that's just it. I can't. Travel the world and define yourself. I don't even know where to begin. Start over. I'm too tired. Jolt yourself out of the rut. How do you do that? I'm still the human dishwasher, still making breakfast. Still brushing the dog. Be grateful. Oh, but I am.

I have never taken a single thing in my life for granted. So don't you dare tell me I'm not fortunate for the life I have.

See what I mean? I have no answers. I slip so easy. Work is tough. The market got tight all of the sudden and no one wants the words and so I stop asking. Which is precisely what I shouldn't do. I stop looking after myself and begin to tread the misery waters. Waiting. Watching. Wondering.

What is the meaning of life?

You've got to be fucking kidding.

This is not my life. My life is flat on my back on the beach. Hot sand and a rough towel. Drops of saltwater drying on my pink-brown skin. Hair curled into ringlets from the swim. Squinty eyes with the sunglasses as a hairband. My super-white teeth exposed in the widest smile you've ever seen. The best book I have ever read, a bottle of Pop Shoppe pop in Lime Rickey and a bag of salt & vinegar chips. No distractions, no interruptions. Just the roar of the relentless ocean breeze in my ears and the sun baking me silly. Life will somehow punctuate those times because it always does, but that will be my grounding point.

I don't have a grounding point at present. Somewhere over the past few years, I went a little crazy, you see and now I'm trying to figure out the easiest way back but I was never very good with directions. I don't hear so well either so when you told me I probably never even realized it.

That's okay. The point is waiting for me. There will always be a beach towel I can grab and a good book to read and someday I'll get there and be calm because there won't be a before the beach history or an after the beach future. It will just become an endless moment. Time will stop, you see. When I tell it to.

I have a feeling it's going to be when I die.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

It's quiet tonight. I am sunburned and overtired and just a little bit hungry and trying not to gloss over the wrong things, trying to keep the focus on the right things, trying to get that feeling back of summer in my favorite jeans, shirt tails tied up just right, hair uncut for several years running blowing all over my face. Hot-sticky summer pouring in through the windows of the truck, radio on playing good music that I can't catch because the roar of the highway is too loud.

All I see are cornfields and I turn to Lochlan with his sunbleached curls and sunburned face.

Are we there yet?

He laughs and says nothing.

I asked him again tonight, and again he laughed and said nothing. It didn't have the same effect that it used to. I'm not sure if that's because of me, because of him, or because of time.

Probably a combination of all three.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Ben and the fit of the doubt.

I found him easily. Always in the same place late on Saturday evenings. Going over his notes for the service the next day. Tired eyes full of mischief. Hair curling and sticking out straight, in his eyes, over his ears. Rumpled white shirt rolled to the elbows. Board shorts. Bare feet, always. Jacob had the biggest feet. It was like tripping over loaves of bread left on the floor by mistake.

He was sitting in the big overstuffed parlour chair in the den, a single lamp lit beside him. Papers stacked high on the table, the floor, his lap. He had a book open and he was writing on a piece of paper balanced on the page, lifting it every few words to read something underneath.

Hey, princess. I need five more minutes and I think I'm good to go.

He smiled absently and went back to writing and I nodded, a habit I hate, especially when you know the person won't see it because they aren't looking, and I went to gaze out the wall of windows into the backyard, still resplendent with tiny white lights and wind chimes making the garden look like a fantasy world for fairies and small princesses alike.

Movement behind me. I turned to watch as Jacob packed up his papers and put everything in messy piles on the desk. He shook the hair out of his eyes and smiled and crossed the room to wrap his arms around me. He planted a huge kiss on my forehead.

How are you doing, princess?

Good. I miss Ben though.

He frowned.

Ben has issues you shouldn't have to see.

I'm not a child, Jake.

No but if he cared about you he would spare you the ugliest truths, Bridget.

What purpose would that serve? Honestly? I'd rather see flaws and all. It's liberating and touching. He doesn't care if he's vulnerable in front of me.

It's an albatross, a burden you shouldn't have to bear.

He's my friend, I can help him.

He's your friend, he shouldn't subject you to his demons.

That's a selfish thing for you to say. We're supposed to help the ones we love.

We'll help him. I want him to stay away from you, that's all.

I'm closer to him than anyone.

And he took advantage of that.

It's a cry for help, Jake.

It's a crime, Bridget.

So throw the book at him and then you can feel righteous in the face of misery. Isn't that what you want? To be better than everyone?

All people should strive to be better.

He was sure that was the end of the conversation, but I wasn't going to let it go and he never forgot it. It changed everything.

Closer, then.

What, Bridget?

You want to make sure that you're closer, Jake.

He sat there with the question on the tip of his tongue, one he couldn't ask because he was afraid the answer might turn out to be one he didn't want to hear. I didn't say anymore and I should have. I really should have said something.

I went down this evening and stood in front of my dead Jacob with my offering of the dead dragonfly and he looked pained, worn and drawn. He tried to shield the weariness from his eyes for me. I would only be there for a moment.

Oh, Bridget. I can't bring things back to life.

Sure you can. God has given you the gift of presence in my life, it must be a package deal. Resurrect this and then you and Cole can bring each other back to life for me. Then you can promise me no one ever dies ever again.

Time on earth is measured, princess. You can't change that.

Bullshit. You chose your departure when you flew.

Flew? Is that how you describe it? Beautiful.

Don't change the subject.

Fine. A question for you. If you had known we would only have eighteen months together would you still have spent them with me?

That isn't fair, Jake, and you know it.

Why don't you feel safe that he's here to stay, Bridget?

No one has ever given me a reason to.

Ben has.

How do you figure?

He wears his heart on the outside for you. He gives you everything. His frustration, his jealousy. His rage. His happiness. His misery. His bliss. There's no mistaking how he feels.

Why couldn't you do that?

I wanted to feel righteous, just like you guessed after I banned him from the house. I was petty and jealous and I wanted to be everything. Instead I was nothing.

You weren't. You were everything.

No. But I knew he could be. That's why I picked him.

Pick is a strong word. You asked me to consider him and it was a surprise after so much adversity between the two of you.

I was selfish in life. I didn't want to be selfish in death.

So bring back the bug. Make him fly. Make him hover. Prove to me that you're real.

He smiled, so gently. Just like that night from his chair while he was distracted, hurried.

It doesn't matter if I'm real. What matters is that you keep me in a place where you can work through the feelings you hold. That's very important. I never had that capacity, Bridget. It's one of the very things that keeps you so resilient.

I'm not resilient.

Take a deep breath.

I did and I waited for him to say more and he didn't.

Now what?

Go love, princess.

You didn't help me.

You helped yourself.


You figured out that Ben isn't in this for any reason other than because he loves you. Instead of trying to be perfect or pious or logical or better, he simply presents himself to you, full of flaws and mistakes and offers to be with you. That's something the rest of us couldn't manage. We couldn't let you see the weaknesses because we were afraid. Ben comes to you with the fear up front like a name tag. He doesn't try to prevent you from spending time with anyone or lay down rules, he just keeps going with the same dogged faith that since he gave you absolutely everything he has, that it will be enough, even as you turn to the others for comfort in his absence. And upon his return you'll be handed back. He trusts everyone he loves.

And you didn't have the same kind of faith.

I'm not half the man he is.

No one is, Jake.

You're right, princess.

And I'm safe.

Yeah, you are. At last.

Oh good, because I really need to let go of this dragonfly now.

He laughed and then he was gone, and I was standing alone in that room with the bare lightbulb swinging gently. I took another deep breath and I vanished too.

Monday, 24 August 2009


Isn't that what the antagonist creates?

Lochlan laughed and then he said he would come back and I should tell the internet at large, to cause much horrification and antagony. We all make up words. It's a hobby. We need each other. Not a hobby. You wouldn't understand, so don't even try.

It was Ben's idea. I thought the pizza delivered without a word spoken would rescue the night. He figures Lochlan can do it better and with less cholesterol. Generous to a fault. If only he would extend that much courtesy to himself.

The Net.

Back in 1995 or '96 I saw a movie about a woman who was completely introverted. Her entire life was online. The best and only memorable part of the movie to me (sorry Ms. Bullock) was that she could order pizza. Online. Without having to call.

I thought that was the cat's ass. The only thing greater would be a food replicator. Seriously. And a mere fourteen years later it has come to pass. I jumped online and ordered a pizza. It will be here in forty-five minutes.

This changes everything.

Point me toward a cake delivery joint and I will never leave the house again.

(Things are looking up this afternoon, by the way. Lochlan went home. The rain stopped. Ben called. All very good things.)