Thursday, 12 April 2012

Absolute and foolish bravery.

Slightly defective, not what I had planned.
After dark when all of the boys were squarely on my side, I took one of the torches and lit it. I was quiet, I promise. I held it against the wooden railing of the bridge that separates me from Satan. Eventually the whole bridge went up in flames but he didn't notice, because he was busy, and then Lochlan was mad that I took the torch in the first place and didn't clean it properly afterward and he pointed out that when one burns bridges they tend to leave one on an island all alone so what's the point if you are the only one affected?

I'm not, I insist. I grab another torch and light it. Lochlan takes it again and puts it flamefirst into the water bucket. He rolls his eyes. We have to find another way, peanut.

This might work, I say, and pick up a third torch. Lochlan kicks the bucket over and tells me we can do this all night but I am wasting my energy. You know those people you just can't impress, ever? They'll stand and watch your whole act, criticizing everything, insisting the fire isn't 'real' somehow and then when you pass the hat they walk away? He's one of those people, peanut, and he's never going to change.

Oh he'll change, I say above the roar of the flames. Just you watch. I can make him change. I've just never wanted to, before now. I didn't think I had the capacity to do it, before now.

But I do.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

They're going to hate it.

When things get interesting around here I haul out Lochlan's big laptop and sit on the floor in his room pretending I can use all of his exciting art programs. It keeps me busy for a little while and then you get something new to look at. Like the new header above. Shipwrecks and soliloquies is going to be the new tagline here. I used Jon Foreman's Nothing in the world could fail me now for a hell of a long time and then I switched to Marc Arcand's In all the ways I've dreamed you, I chose a song to reach you, but I am so so fickle and loathe to put any more songs up on pedestals. Essentially they are all there already anyway.

So I came up with my own line.

It seems very fitting. Shipwrecks to honor my beautiful and violent Atlantic ocean and the mess of relationships crashed upon my shores, and soliloquies because, well, that's what this blog is. A place where I can talk to myself and describe how I feel.

Hope you like the header, in any case. It's certainly not perfect and so it fits in here just fine.

Just bring me all the fairy tales and I'll point out who's who.

Whenever you're sorry
You're not in my hands
You're in some other defect hands
Hey beautiful. I turn and he is there, black wings folded, paint-spattered jeans and hands to match. Dark brown curls hiding his eyes. But he is smiling, so that's something. Rough week?

I nod slowly. I'm wanting to look for Jake but Jake is nowhere to be found. I don't come out here to talk to Cole, we have nothing left to say. I start back toward the door but suddenly he is blocking it so I stop.

You need to do something for me, okay, paper doll? You need to not make any sudden moves right now. I want you to just hold tight to Ben and don't think about anything else right now. Can you do that?

I nod again, like a child. It's akin to being hypnotized. Cole's directives have weight anyway and the wings now give him all kinds of insight into my past, present and future so he knew I was playing scenarios through my head like reel to reel tapes and he worries (GOOD) that I might do something he wouldn't want me to do.

This is none of your business now, Cole. I tell him softly. I watch his nostrils flare and he shakes his curls back and just for a moment he is my lizard king again, the one who force-fed me a cure for homesickness that turned out to be a sham in of itself. The one who took over, raising me from fourteen to thirty-five. No small feat, especially considering he did so with Lochlan and then Jake, too, breathing down his neck. Cole the Great and Terrible.

No sudden moves, I give in and repeat his instructions. He's so very good at this.

Good girl. That's my girl. You're doing well, munchkin.

I look at the floor.

You can do this. Just keep going. Keep yourself in check.

You're gunning for your brother to win and I don't even know the rules. I'm not the one playing games, Cole.

Doll, who is filling your head with these ideas?

He stabbed you in the back over and over again and you take his side?

He looks up and smiles under a curtain of tousled waves. Blood is thicker than saltwater.

No it isn't. I turn and walk out on him again. It's becoming part of our routine.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Dissonance and the art of knowing a little bit about everything and a whole lot about nothing.

He left the house shortly after midnight Sunday morning, basket in hand, and he stroked flat out all around the neighborhood, dressed in a tux, morning coattails flying in the dark out behind him, spats making him appear to be gliding on air. The spats obscured his inline skates from view quite nicely in the dark and the giant rabbit head mask concealed his identity completely.

He threw tiny foil-wrapped chocolate eggs everywhere, onto the grass, front walkways, flowerbeds and gazebos, and rang a tiny handbell as he went. It was just enough to spool up talk in the neighborhood, among the youngest set, that the Easter bunny was real, because they all saw the same thing when they got up to see what was making that strange sound overnight.

This year it was not Lochlan in disguise.


What seemed like three nights was actually only one since we flew in overnight on Thursday and then out again on Saturday evening. I am so ridiculously underslept right now I have taken to gritting my teeth as I answer what are seemingly innocuous questions disguised as blistering irritants to my very being.

Ben took me shopping when we had a little free time on Saturday afternoon. He stood and smiled benignly while I tried on impossible shoes and scandalous lingerie and dresses that I'm not sure I could wear out of our closet for their sparingness. He bought everything he liked most and as we were leaving, my hand in his, with his other hand holding all of the bags, he said all of it could only be worn for him. I stopped in my tracks and just stood there looking up at him because he's never been one for rules or quiet derision and here it all is suddenly, far from home, a familiar format to him, a foreign concept to me.

He shook his head as if to clear it, giving my hand a squeeze, changing his expression to one of silliness abruptly, suggesting a bath and some room service later in the night. I nodded, still sort of frozen when he started to walk and I fell all over myself as I was pulled along with him. Abruptly he stopped again and turned to face me, rightening me at the same time. He laughed softly, looking shy and confused and so much like the Ben I fell in love with that I melted and ran into the sidewalk grates into the subway tunnels below.


Don't what? I am trying to keep my hair out of my lipgloss. I fail. It whips into my eyes and he takes his hands and smooths my hair down, keeping them there.

Don't let me make you feel bad for missing him.

I duck out of his hands, turn and walk fast. I want to be out of this wind.


We pull in just before eleven Saturday night and I stand shivering as Ben helps the driver unload our things. He makes no move to tell me to go in ahead of him and I make no move to go in on my own. I am just watching him, so at ease with suitcases and strangers and his old routines. Finally it's us and he loads my suitcase on top of his and pulls them both easily with one hand. His other hand slides around my neck, pulling me in against his shoulder. He stops me and asks if I had fun.

I nod and he smiles. Actual fun?

I start to shake my head and all the composure I held so carefully all week spills all over the front walk.

It sucked, didn't it?

Yeah. Too much work. My shaky breath makes him laugh sympathetically and he nods. I know, little bee. We'll make it up. Maybe we can plan harder with a little more time and do something later on in the spring.

I am waiting. I nod politely. We won't. Ben is a huge homebody now. And I'm not all that far behind him, except when I am strung out feverishly from cabin closeness and wanderlust. Those times the sickness is horrible and the rest of the time I am completely fine. And he is as mercurial with his monopolization of my time as he is with everything else.



Go see him. Tell him we're home. Peter Pan needs his Wendy.

Which one are you, Ben?


If he is Peter Pan, and we already know Caleb is Captain Hook, then who are you?

I'll be Tinkerbell. Plotting to have him to myself. He wagged his tongue but instead of being funny it was sad.

I know who you are.

You do?

Yes. You're Mr. Barrie. You're the one writing this story now.

Hope clouded his brown eyes into a pale tan reflecting the sand at the bottom of the cliff.

Ben, have you read Peter Pan?

I saw the mov-

Did you read the book?

No. Why?

Their relationship is as ambiguous as all hell. One minute she is his mother, the next they argue like siblings. She loved him when she was a child but it's never fully explored. It hasn't played out properly.

He leans over and kisses my hair and shoves me away at the same time, while he whispers Exactly. His face is grim but he flashes me a dismissive smile anyway and he turns and hefts the bags up the steps. When he gets to the top, he turns back to look at me and he nods toward the garage. I turn to look and see Lochlan. He is helping New Jake with something on the bike. The worklights they have set up blind me.

I sigh loudly to highlight my own frustration and turn on my heel to head across the driveway.
“Wendy," Peter Pan continued in a voice that no woman has ever yet been able to resist, "Wendy, one girl is more use than twenty boys.”
― J.M. Barrie
Touché, Mr. Barrie. Touché.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Safely home. Kissed my babies and boys, got the hockey scores, going to shower and go to bed. Forgot how much I hate the smell of plane fuel on bare skin. More tomorrow. Oh, and Christian sent me this earlier this morning and I love it. Really I do.


Friday, 6 April 2012

Pretty Boy Floyd.

So, so you think you can tell Heaven from Hell,
blue skies from pain.
Can you tell a green field from a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?
And did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change?
And did you exchange a walk on part in the war for a lead role in a cage?
How I wish, how I wish you were here.
We're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year,
Running over the same old ground.
What have you found? The same old fears.
Wish you were here.
When I said hello he started singing and he sang the whole thing before hanging up. I was in the vestibule of an expensive restaurant and there was no free place to sit down and I wanted to go and stand behind the curtains and hide but it would have been weird so I walked outside and people fell all over themselves getting the doors open for me or I probably would have walked right into them.

I continued down the sidewalk in my too-cold dress for the weather and too-high shoes for a stroll until Ben caught up with me and tucked my arm through his and held it with his right hand and turned me, walking me back down the street until we reached the restaurant where everyone was still seated inside, oblivious to my escape. He turned me to face him and bent his head down, kissing my philtrum and scraping my nose with his fledgling stubble. He looked into my eyes and smiled a little. Only a little. His eyes weren't in it. It wasn't real.

He doesn't really want to be here either but at the same time as it's necessary, as is a private little break for the two of us right now, just two or so weeks shy of our fourth anniversary, which is some sort of record, since I am such a bad wife but most of the time he doesn't seem to mind.

Until he does.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Back Forty/Salt in the wound.

(I'll be back before you miss me.)
Throw me line if you will
My trembling hands can't hold the truth you tell
Go home, Bridget. His voice startled me from the dark. He was sitting on the stump just up from the water, tucked into the edge of the woods proper.

Why are you hiding, Lochlan?

I bet you don't listen at all, do you? He laughed but it was a harsh sound. He stood up and walked over to where I stood on the grass right beside the lake. He planted a kiss on my cheek. Sloppy. Now I smell like beer too. Yuck.

He points at me. You really should go home.

Why are you drinking beer? You're not allowed yet. You have to be like twenty. I think. I don't know what I'm talking about but I know he is fourteen and too young.

Bridget, you're too uptight for an eight year old. Most kids wouldn't even notice.

You're sitting in the dark alone. Where is Caleb?

On a date or something.

Why don't you have a date? It's Saturday.

So I should be out with some girl?

Isn't that how it's done? Do you like someone?


Then you should ask her out.

She doesn't know I like her.

Why don't you just tell her?

Bridget, have you ever thought that you were in the wrong time and space? That something that should be easy can't be because of circumstance?

I don't know what you mean.

Nevermind. Now why don't you tell me why you're at the lake by yourself after dark. You know you can't swim alone, right?

I wasn't going to go in. Bailey is up the path at the swing and I didn't want to be there. They're smoking. It's gross.

So you decided to wander in the woods?

I'm not in the woods, I stayed on the path and came straight back to the beach.

What is the plan, then?

I have to go back and ask Bailey to take me home.

How about we go together and let her know that I can take you home.

You can't drive. You've been drinking.

We'll walk. It's nice enough. Are you warm enough?

Not actually.

Here, take my sweater. He took off his hoodie and zipped me into it, pulling the drawstrings of the hood tightly. Then he smiled at me. You look like a pixie. You look cute. Let's go.


And sadly, just as I start to write about last night (which wasn't all that different than that moment in 1979), Ben comes upstairs with my carpet bag and tells me I should go pack, because we have a two a.m. flight to New York to catch, a long weekend in the biggest city I have been to, unless you count Paris but that might be area rather than density and I was only there for a day anyway so it might not count if I did know what I was talking about.

But I don't. What else is new?

Lochlan does not want me to go, and so he's taken a turn from my bookmark in the big book of immaturity and gotten himself onto a good bender. A mild one, but one nonetheless and he can hang out here with New Jake and PJ and lament the sorry state of his (amazing) life all he wants while he sips all of the good (Irish) whiskey and I play Pepper Potts for another day or two and steal all of the attention from Ben, who is all business these days anyway, and then visit some of the restaurants I have read about lately, so I can make butternauts with freshly churned goat butter siphoned from a thousand cashmere pearl mountain lambs born under a waxing crescent or whatever the hell ridiculous things are written on menus now to sway the one percent.

I am hoping we can get in and out before the Russians find out I am in town. Batman assures me I am safe but I'm not in the mafia so I have no idea what their clubhouse rules are or what sort of revenge they enact past breaking knees and scaring women. And since I don't know what I'm talking about that's one of those side-worries, kind of like what if I die when my will isn't up to date? and Jesus H. Fucking Christ, Schuyler, please don't let Henry drink chocolate milk morning, noon and night for the next three days.

And PJ, please look after my Lochlan so he doesn't miss me too much. Because as I took the bag and headed upstairs to pack, Lochlan pointed at me from across the room.

Wrong time and space, peanut. That's what this is. I am the outsider. You were right.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Gold Stars (It's never going to work so here, laugh at my expense).

You land so awkwardly and never seem to learn
Still I follow you at every single turn
And I picture darker nights and longer sunny days
And hope that you will stay the same all year round

A message in the air that caught you by surprise
I sent it many years ago when I was wise
And I see you've built an army now while I have built a home
And I hope you haven't come to burn it to the ground
Just on the verge of my wanting to tear a strip from Caleb for his non-admissions of late, discovered on accident by a frustrated Lochlan (who would have rather kept silent for the rest of his life, truth be known, if only to protect me from the weirdness), the children decide to stage a coup d'état, demanding that their fathers start doing things together.

Or what? I asked. Or they start resisting everything, they tell me. Oh, and it's for your own good, Mom.

Every event features one man or the other but never both. The exception to this rule is (was?) family dinners, in which there are enough places and spaces in the house that they could both be here but never come across one another in the course of the evening. Opposite ends of the table and everything.

They both like it that way, frankly. But the kids do not and I'm sure the counselors/mediator/teachers/judge/Sam/God had something to do with this but they want us to do things as a family now. All six of us! Sorry, PJ, they mean (as) nuclear (as we can get), so step-dad, both dads, mom and both kids.


But we can't just jump into these things, because it would be weird and no fun and awkward so it's far better to warm up by having Lochlan and Caleb hang out together (Oh my God). Do things together (Jesus Murphy Christ). Ruth helpfully suggested if they could become friends maybe they wouldn't punch each other so much anymore.

So friends they will be.

(Children aren't stupid and they aren't completely unaware, but life has been softened for them in varying degrees with regard to our memories because that's the way it has to be.)

This morning I decided to get started, and take both of them (Caleb and Lochlan, not Henry and Ruth) grocery shopping. I played my insanity card, clearly. I failed to remember Caleb has his groceries delivered and has no clue about things like lists and budgets and comparison shopping, or better, waiting in line. He doesn't do pedestrian errands. Why would he? He doesn't have the need to blend in with the working class. I function as his personal assistant when I'm not busy being his torture victim/sugar baby or whatever he demands depending on the day.

(Hush, you.)

We started out on the wrong foot, too. First there was a dust-up over the fact that we were taking Lochlan's truck. Duh, Caleb. Three people and enough groceries for ten don't fit in his car or mine.

Then he expected us to go to one of the high-end markets downtown. I'm like, DUDE. We're going to Superstore. Oh, yeah. Yellow labels all the way. No-Name everything. I thought he might die from the bourgeoisie of it all, actually.

Thirdly it was cold and windy and I was looking at my car before we left (thought there was a ding but it's just dirty) and he pulled all of my hair up out of my collar and put my hood down. Lochlan counted to at least six before he came over and stuffed it all back in and pulled my hood back up. Because my ears plus a cold wind equal hurt. Not sure why. Lochlan knows that but Caleb doesn't.

And with that we're off. Once in the truck the devil frowned again because I'm wearing jeans and red Chuck Taylors and a green hoodie. He at least thought I should match. I sweetly pointed out that I do. I match Lochlan, I told him in my best elementary school voice.

(Okay, yes, fine. I'm digging now. My own grave. It's inevitable, I may as well get a head-start. Not even sure I need the full ten by three-and-a-half. Probably five by two will suffice. Three by two if you bury me in a fetal postion. Oh, look how dark I can be while choosing between President's Choice and Tetley teas. Just get it over with and kill me now.)

PJ sends me a text message saying that he can be there inside of fifteen minutes if they get into it in-store but really I should probably plan to call the cops because they could be there faster. I laugh and type back Will do without showing it to either of them.

And to their credit, they managed just fine once we were there and I could give them tasks (like children). They fetched things and compared notes on flavors and packed bags and then Caleb stood there and asked Who takes this outside? I told him You do and he just looked at me. So I said, Fine, I'll do it and then he kicked into gear and he kept looking back at me saying You can push this? To the truck? And I nod because I've been doing it for twenty years or more and he was sort of in awe of my sudden, magical brute strength and a little bit surprised at the amount of food I buy each week. He offered to pay for it but I told him that it was part of the household budget and we were fine, thanks and then he was quiet for a while. We loaded the bags into the bed of the truck and snapped the tailgate up, put the cover down and drove home.

I sat in the middle, listening with my eyes wide as they discussed the best restaurant meals in the city. Not sure that was exactly fair considering Caleb won't pay any less than forty-five dollars for an entree and Lochlan won't pay any more than fifteen, but they managed to talk the whole way home and Lochlan did not drive us off the cliff into the sea or anything.

They unloaded all of the groceries together and brought them in, taking several trips, continuing their discussion while PJ and August stood there in the front hall and stared, mouths open. I ignored all of them and opted to let them put everything away too.

When the last bag was empty, Caleb kissed my cheek and said he had to run. He said goodbye to Lochlan and then to the others and left and then Lochlan immediately said This is going to be a long spring and no sooner did I nod in his direction when a text message buzzed on my phone. It was from Caleb.

It's going to be a long spring, isn't it? He wrote. I didn't answer. It's a given. I just hope it works. It's probably the only thing we haven't tried but at the same time, you don't fix thirty-two years of bad memories overnight and at this point hope is in short supply.

As is patience.

And I'll be the first to admit I am not mature enough for this. By far.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Blurry but with clear intent.

It's cherry blossom time. The blooms are fat and heavy on the branches, low over my car. They're in my car. They're all over the front walkway, and pretty much everywhere else too. They're in the house, in Ruth's shoes. They pretty much take over until around Mother's Day and then they will dry up and disappear for another year. It makes up for a winter of...muted green clawed-back vegetation and slightly chilly temperatures and don't make me laugh, this isn't actually winter in Canada, who's pulling my leg?

I'll be cursing the track of petals through the house inside of a week because I've become all jaded and spoiled like that.

No, actually I won't. I secretly love them and still lament the fact that one of my neighbors decided to cut their trees down because they made a mess. Um, what? Seriously?

I can walk under the branches. Only the kids and I don't have to duck. Next year they probably will but I won't and then maybe I'll make a fort out there and not tell anyone where I've gone.

The petals are in PJ's beard, too. He has taken to double-checking his face every time he passes a mirror and the others keep fooling him, pointing to his face and saying You've got a little pink there, Paddy and he'll start combing through his facial hair while we laugh and laugh.

It's very pretty (no, not PJ's face, the wall of blossoming trees), and even though I am terrible with photographs and even if I wasn't, a picture could never do this justice, here. Enjoy.

(It would have at least been in focus, had Bonham not been pulling on the leash I was holding.)

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Dress reversal.

Wouldn't it be so much better
If we could look at what we're seeing
Late gazes wore me down
Oh won't you see what you're doing

Gaze into passing places late at night
Gaze into welcome faces when you see no right
Gaze into your own eyes
When it's too late
This morning I stood in the driveway in my Sunday best and waited for the boys to get ready. I'm sorry, but I decided a long time ago that I was not going to go from room to room mashing down cowlicks with Brylcreem or standing on the bed behind someone trying to tie a perfect Windsor knot while looking over their shoulder into the mirror to get it right and I wasn't going to point out that the braces should match the shoes even if no one could see them under a suit jacket. It takes me long enough to get dressed as it is, checking in on the children all the while to make sure they get ready too and don't become distracted by toys/cats/each other.

Eventually I wind up here, alone, loitering in the driveway freezing my butt off, but loathe to go back inside lest someone take that as a sign to slow down. Not like it matters, we're already late and I don't want to make our appearance smack-dab in the middle of Sam's announcements because it's such a spectacle as it is when we go in. Waiting outside isn't an option, there's no room and no good time to interrupt anyway once the service begins.

Sam will invariably call upon us to join in. He has Matt save space in the first two pews on the left and I will blush furiously as all eyes watch us make our way to the front of the sanctuary. It sucks, it really does. I have to pinch the children to reset their facial expressions from bored to polite and keep Ben from whacking his way down the aisle, knocking aside handbags and errant legs. I have to pull Lochlan along, he who would rather be anywhere else but here, confined indoors and I have to fight with myself to ensure that I don't spend too much time turning Sam's efforts into Jacob-memories in my head, comparing sermons, choice of hymns, you name it.

I don't like church, okay? I just don't. I'll get on my knees at home and pray. I'll say Grace. I'll talk with Sam one on one about God but I don't want to go and sit through public services because it's hard and I feel like every last word is aimed at me. Every eye is on me. Every moment is endured, cataloged and filed away as one I will never get back and one I am supposed to process and improve upon.

But I'm still in the driveway and the longer I stand here the more I have decided I hate what I have on. I fidget against the confines of my garter belt under this very proper layered dress. I stick my index finger between my teeth and pull my gloves off one finger at a time. I unbutton another button on my bodice and give my bra a mighty shrug. I stumble in my stupid stiletto ankle boots and when I recover I walk in circles watching an eagle fly the same path far above me. I hope valiantly that he shits on my head and then I'll have a funny excuse to stay home and lounge with the heathens.

I hope Caleb comes out and makes me a better offer. We have a lot of words we need to exchange, only he's made no move to do so as of yet, rolling in late Friday evening and managing to avoid me all weekend. That won't last forever. I'll give him until midnight tonight and then if he hasn't shown his face here I will march over and confront him myself. I'm not eight anymore, thought I feel like it today, plotting to scowl through the service right up until Ben reminds me of lunch out, a promise he has already made to me. Afterward we're going to see the Olympic torch, it's being lit today and I might finally see it on fire with my own eyes. That will be amazing, especially if we come home first so I can change.

I don't know why I insist on dressing up for Sunday service. Sam wears his jeans and a plaid flannel shirt every Sunday (actually every day) without fail. That makes me smile, because Jake never would dress down unless the service was outdoors. Inside he always wore khakis or his grey dress pants and a plain white dress shirt with his ragged green corduroy coat and I...

Oh it's totally post-traumatic stress.

Hey God, if I pray really hard do you think you could fix my head? It's a total fucking mess. Kind of like my morning. Kind of like my life.
Oh, on second thought, don't answer. I know what you're going to say. I used to be married to a minister, after all.