Friday, May 28, 2010

two years

I started blogging two years ago this week.

It's been a hell of a ride. Thank you all for sharing it with me.

This is not my swan song, nor is it a retrospective.

If you've been following me for any length of time, you know that if one thing happens in my life, that several things will follow in short order. It's been a calm and peaceful few months, and I've been grateful for that. But things are a-stirring again.

My new puppy was a bit too much dog for a small townhouse, so I found him a great adoptive home. Two days after he left me, I rescued a tiny kitten who was crying under the bushes outside my work(a day care center). Her name is Jake.  The kids at the day care wanted the same name as the day care and this was a compromise. She's a female ginger tabby - most ginger tabbies are male, which is why she ended up being called Jake. I refuse to change it. She'll be gender-neutral very soon anyways. And the name suits her - she's a combination of purr monster and little hellion.

Last weekend (Victoria Day weekend in Canada, fondly known as May 2-4), the girl and I took on a smallish project in the house and started painting the two rooms I hadn't painted before I moved in. The object, in part, was to create a better writing space for me, but also to give Emily a larger, brighter room. She's 6. Ergo, the room is pink. It took longer than we thought. We ran out of paint and couldn't get more because of the holiday. While the painting is done, my bedroom still holds the contents (considerable) of my office bookshelves and various paraphernalia that does not yet have a home.

 In the middle of our painting weekend, Emily decided that it was time to get the chicken pox. Trauma. And spots and itching, and sore throat and sleepless nights. I was reminded that shared custody does not always translate to shared responsibility, as the ex was adamant that he would not care for her during his oh-so-precious working hours. Apparently my working hours are less important. On the day in question, my oldest was taking a first aid course, and I was scheduled for my weekly ten-hour day. The ex was working at home that day. I ended up taking most of the day off- I was tired of arguing, and I want what`s best for Emily. The simple fact that she is sick and needs someone to look after her seemed to escape her father.

The day I was home with Emily was the day my grandmother passed away. She was almost 99. She had a long, full, and wonderful life. I am grateful to have shared so much time with her, but I am sad that she is gone.

My rooms are unfinished, my kid is still scratching, and there are sad funeral plans for this weekend. I was supposed to go to Michigan for Ferron`s birthday weekend - obviously that won`t be happening, and it`s okay. I`ll be at the Fen another time. Instead, I will be surrounded by family and rememberances.

And on Sunday The Girl is whisking me away for a little day trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake. It`s exactly what I need.


Monday, May 10, 2010

I hated it

I took The Girl for a drive on Saturday, to my hometown. I was dropping Emily at her grandparents' for a sleepover, and it was lovely to have her company. I've written a lot about my experiences as a kid. Before we moved to the town my parents now live in, I had a most awesome childhood. Three brothers, a bike, the run of my suburban neighbourhood, and the freedom of childhood.

It all changed when I moved. Small, closed community. A neighbourhood with few kids. We found things to do, of course, as kids do. We spent our summers wading in the river, or hiking along the river road. We spent our winters on the toboggan hills and at the rink. But until I was halfway through my teen years, my experience with my peers was mostly horrendous. I was ostracized and bullied - back then, hardly anyone new moved into town, and when they did, they were treated with disdain. The only people that mattered were people who had always lived there, who had parents and grandparents that grew up in the same insular community. I think that a lot of small towns are like this. Or they were, before technology made the world much smaller. When I go back now, I see a community that has doubled in size, that is rich and somewhat diverse. Even when I lived there as a young single mom, it was a more accepting place.

I try not to think about high school, really. Much of it is best forgotten anyways. Who wants to remember rotten lunches in their locker, or the french fries that got spit on when I went up to the counter for salt? Or the endless name calling that took place before, during and after school. When I turned sixteen, I stopped caring what people thought - I grew a tougher skin, and I started holding my head up a wee bit higher. But I couldn't get past it - it took me years to realize I was not the names they called me. I am not ugly, I am not stupid, I am not useless, I am not better off dead. I moved away from home and found people that could accept me - in spite of the massive social anxieties that I'd developed after years of being bullied.

I have a love/hate relationship with my hometown. It is a beautiful place. Most of my family lives there - my parents, my brothers and their wives, my nieces and nephews, some of my aunts and uncles. I feel simultaneously at home and alienated when I am there.

I wanted to show The Girl some of the places that I loved, the houses I lived in, the hills I sledded, the river that was my second home. So after dropping Emily off, we took a little tour. Through town and across the main street bridge, past the waterfalls. Over another bridge, where the limestone rock was flat enough that we could wade all the way across the river. Past the little white house that my parents bought when they first moved...a tiny two-bedroom house for four children and themselves. We turned around in the driveway of the prefab that they had built on the extra-large lot...ruining the best toboggan hill in the neighbourhood, I might add. And then we crossed town to the house I lived in as a teenager.

I had to drive by the high school to get there. Exactly the same as it always was, institutional red brick. Big field and running track at the side of the school. Parking lot devoid of cars and smokers, because it was Saturday. I glanced over my shoulder as we drove past, and I said "There's my high school. I hated it."

And then it hit me. I hated it. I really did - not in the casual way that people hate sauerkraut or math class. I hated it with a visceral, physiological hatred that I could feel in my body. I said it over and over again.

I hated it.
I hated it.
I hated it. I hated it.

The Girl was so amazing. She made me stop the car, and she rubbed my back and held me while I cried. I thought I was over it, I thought that I could go back there and face the memories with the barrier of time between myself and the rawness of my pain. I guess not.

I don't hate the people that went to school with me. Or the misguided teachers that perpetuated the bullying. Or the town. I don't even hate the building that houses so many memories. But the experience? My fear? My self-loathing? My belief that I was not worthy, never good enough to have friends, to date, to experience the things that other kids were able to do - you know, dances, house parties, hanging out on the street corner? I can hate that.

When I changed my relationship status on my facebook, one of my high school friends was very excited, because now I would have a date for Homecoming (think about a high school reunion for an entire town...that's homecoming). I know there's a reunion of some kind. On one hand, I'd really like to show up and show them what success looks like. On the other hand, I don't want to remember, and I'm terribly afraid that I'll spend the entire reunion walking up to the people that caused so much pain and telling them exactly what I think of the way they treated me. Because you know I'll do just that.

It's ironic that such a beautiful place can hold so much sadness.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I should be

-walking the dogs
-writing something substantial
-cleaning the house
-thinking about serious, important issues (actually, I am...oil slicks and floods, and a Canadian government that refuses to provide funding for abortion even though it has touted maternal/child health as being oh-so-important)
-taking that darn bone away from the dog because his chewing drives me crazy. He farts, too...anyone want a dog?
-standing still underneath the maple tree outside my office and just breathing in the energy of spring
-saving money for all the places I want to go this summer
-behaving as a mature adult with responsibilities - well, I do....except

that I'm completely and totally distracted. Who knew dating could be this much fun?

And more. She is an amazing person with a beautiful heart. I like her a lot.

I am so gushy. Is this better than angst-ridden introspection? Depressive phrases that chase each other around and around the page? Happiness...and inspiration. Who knew?

I think I'd better give her a name. In an unabashed absence of creativity, I shall call her "The Girl." She reads the blog. In fact, she went back to the beginning and read each and every post because she wanted to understand me better. How cool is that? At this point, she doesn't write her own blog - being far too busy with things like work...and hockey (no, I'm not a hockey fan, but if she can survive my Amy Ray obsession, I can survive hockey)...and spending time with me...but who knows?

There's a robin singing in the tree outside my window. The sky is the indigo of early darkness, and the light of the setting sun is reflecting off the buildings across town. I need to go spend some time with mother earth before I get completely lost in my own words.

All I can wish is that everyone is feeling the same sense of joy and wonder that I am in this moment.