I realized something

I’ve realized something and it made me pretty mad.

OK. Very mad.

Mostly at myself.

In restarting this blog and talking to people about how I was still writing all along, but not posting and then having to answer “Why not?” I realized that I had become afraid to post.

I had become afraid to post because I was with someone who was easily triggered.

And something that he had loved about me, the openness with which I talk about poly and mental health and everything else, that something became something I felt I had to hide from him. And he never specifically told me I had to, in fact, he told me he hoped I still would write and post and chatter on twitter and all that other stuff.

But then, when I did, it was like stepping into a minefield, and I didn’t know what was going to blow up. And one little phrase or word and he’d get angry and sullen and depressed and I’d get terse text messages and awkward afternoons and eventually, I just stopped. He took my words from me. Except, I didn’t see it that way, because I was still using my private journal.

But that doesn’t change the truth. He took away my platform.

I was never going to become that person, and I did anyway.

And I’m really sorry that it happened.

Lesson learned.

Time to move on.


One AM in Tokyo

I was laying in my bed in a Tokyo AirBnB when I got the news that he had died.

And there is a sentence I never thought I would write, to start a story I never dreamed I’d live.

And yes, this is another post about someone dying. Mental illness is involved. People die in my life with alarming frequency, and if you are bothered by my talking about it, best you move on now.

So, let’s break this down.

I was in my bed in a Tokyo AirBnB…
Yes, I was in Tokyo, which is only a little (maybe, actually, a lot) related to this story in that it’s the setting for this news.

I was up late with a stomachache. Something in the Ramen we’d had for dinner hadn’t agreed with me. Considering my impressive list of food allergies and intolerances, I’m still amazed that that was the only meal that made me feel ill. And I remember the next day was supposed to be Tokyo Disney because I was trying desperately to sleep and I couldn’t.

I never thought I’d be in Tokyo and the whole trip felt unreal. I was there to visit my partner who is teaching English in northern Japan for a year. If you know me, then you know this trip was a triumph, a giant FUCK YOU to my mental illness. Scared of flying, scared of new experiences, but finally strong enough and driven enough to take a trip of a lifetime.

If it was the day before Tokyo Disney, that means (I think) we spent that day in Akihabara. Time gets a little blurry on vacation and it’s even worse when you’re seventeen hours off your home time zone. One AM in Tokyo is eight AM the previous day in Portland, just in time for my friends to be waking up and looking at their Facebook and Twitter accounts.

After untangling myself from my sleeping partner and digging my phone out from under the bed, I logged into Facebook.

I got the news that he died
There’s a cadence to social media posts, and if you spend any time at all on those annoying necessities of modern life, you start getting a feel for what’s happening even before you see the posts that actually spell it out.

At the top of my feed was expressions of shock. Disbelief. Concern.

I went cold and hot all at once.

I’ve been down this road before.

Penny. Slash. Mitch. Anne.

That ghostly shadow of death.

Thoughts and prayers. Gone too soon. So young. So sudden. What happened?

The news of an untimely death spreads like wildfire in a dry forest in this age of instant messaging and social media. I knew before I found his page, knew with a stomach-churning certainty, that he was gone.

I don’t remember a time when Brant wasn’t in my life. We were in every year of public school together, never close, but never not together. We did plays together, went to speech tournaments together, were in the school TAG program together. He was brilliant and funny and burned so damn blindingly bright. We made fun of the same teachers and stupid assemblies and talked about drugs and life. He was the reason I started listening to the Doors in middle school. I was the reason he got into the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

We fell out of touch for a bit. I got married, so did he, he went into the military around 9/11 and I moved to California. He had three kids, I had two kids. He got divorced, I bought my house near Portland and opened up my marriage. He was a knitter, too, and we’d talk about patterns and yarns and projects and he’d ask advice of me for colors for a scarf for his daughter and how to make a hat for his girlfriend. He read my blog and opened up to me privately about some struggles in his own life. We messaged back and forth often, but never had a chance to meet up.

Sure enough, that ball of dread was correct again.

He was dead.

And I cried. And I hurt. And I tried to wake my partner, who kindly but firmly told me he couldn’t deal with that right now baby-girl he needed sleep can it wait til the morning, just like that, one run-on sentence mumbled into his pillow, and he started snoring again and I was left alone in a foreign city with the knowledge that my childhood pal was gone.

One AM. Daybreak in Portland, so I messaged my husband.

“Remember my friend Brant? He died yesterday. Today. Erm. Anyhow, he’s dead. I don’t know yet. I’m trying to find out. I’m gonna message someone else, she probably knows. No, I don’t need to call. It’s the middle of the night here and I don’t want to wake anyone up.”

I was restless but uninterested in walking, knowing I’d get lost, not trusting my scarce knowledge of the streets in our neighborhood or the complete lack of knowledge of the native language. I wanted a bath, maybe, but likewise didn’t trust my rudimentary knowledge of Japanese plumbing, not matter how nominally Westernized our little bathroom was.

So, I sat on the toilet and cried and messaged with my husband and another friend of mine who I knew would be awake because she has a toddler and, even better, she knew Brant and could maybe, possibly tell me what happened.

Really, she didn’t have more answers than I, except he was struggling with his own demons. And it’s not my story to tell, not this one, but it seems his demons won.

And another of my fellows-in-arms against that fucking Bitch of mental illness had fallen.

And like a switch, I flipped from sorrow to anger and then guilt.

I have survived when so many people have not.

What makes me so special?

Here I am, winning my battle, or at least winning it a little, enjoying the hard-won freedom of a foreign vacation, and he fucking dies. How selfish of him.

I’m sorry, he wasn’t selfish, he was broken.

It could have been me.

But it wasn’t.

I feel guilty that it wasn’t.

His kids are the same age as mine. What are they going to do without a dad?

I’m glad my kids still have a mom.

What makes me so special that I get to survive this hell and others don’t?

Why has my ideation never turned to action?

Why am I strong enough right now to fight?

Why wasn’t he?

The hamster wheel of my thoughts turning and turning.

One AM in Tokyo. Disney in a few hours. My first glimpse of the other side of the Pacific. Many adventures still ahead, a life change that I’d never dreamed of which I’ll write about another time. Each moment a giant middle finger to that Bitch that still lays in wait in the corner of my mind.

I knew I couldn’t process his death. That would come later. If I stopped to grieve then, my trip would be ruined. So, I boxed it up and packed it away, to deal with again on American soil in the weeks following my vacation.

I took an Ativan and matched my breathing to my partner’s as I big-spooned around him, my feet finding a perfect tangle with his and my breasts against his ribs.

Finally, just after one, the ghosts fell silent for a short time, and I fell asleep.


February 1st 2017

There’s a spot on my drive to work where reflective thoughts always seem to hit me.

The route is simple. I leave my house, and I often stop for coffee on the way. I chat a moment with my favorite cashier at New Seasons, if he’s working, then straight down my road to the freeway and then I’m at work. If I catch it just right, and the day is perfectly clear, I can see Mount Hood to my right, Mount St Helens straight ahead, and OHSU and Portland’s West Hills to my left.

I don’t remember what I saw that morning.

I wore a dress to work that day, though I couldn’t tell you now which one it was. But I wrote in my journal about an icy wind against my legs.

It’s an easy drive, usually the traffic is light, and I can let my mind wander as I drive.

Unbidden, a thought of you lodged in my brain. And I missed you with a fierce ache, though it had been years since I’d seen you and months since our most recent Facebook conversation. I thought of our first date, at a yarn shop in Sellwood, long since closed down. My daughter was 2, so it was 2009, I think? I had the driest coffee cake I’d ever eaten and you ordered a plate of apple slices and brie. You were unconventionally beautiful. Slightly crossed golden brown eyes behind thick glasses. A mop of curly brown and henna hair. You laughed that the brie and apples were perfect for you, made a comment about them being a favorite snack. I showed you my new tattoo. It was my ladybug, the first one I got. Which puts us for sure in 2009, as I was 29 when I got that tattoo.

And that was it, just that little brush of a happy memory.

I got to work and turned off the alarm and turned on the lights and since I had several minutes to spare, I did what I often do on the mornings I don’t stop for coffee; I started a cup of tea for myself and sat down to check my social media feeds on my phone.

And it was there my worlds came crashing down; the first post on my Facebook was the news that you had died.

My heart contracted painfully and suddenly my stomach hurt. I knew without a doubt that the brush of a memory as I travelled to work was your soul’s final kiss before you moved on. I heard a whisper of a giggle, and felt the brief tickle of your lips upon my neck in that spot where you used to love to kiss me. You’d sneak up behind and nibble that soft skin and whisper wicked things in my ear and giggle and leave me aching as you danced away to tend to the children or some other minutia of your ever-busy life.

And you were gone. Just like that. The biggest heart I’d ever known had simply stopped.

You were there, in the front row for my second coming out. When Jas and I decided to live open and poly, you were my first serious relationship outside of my marriage and the first relationship with a woman since my teens. I still remember the smell of you on my fingers and the apricot color of your nipples and the long scar on your chest from when your childhood doctors bought you enough time to make your world collide with mine for a breathless year early in the fresh milenium.

I was careless with that fragile heart as I fought my own demons. You begged me to come out of my closet, teased me bitterly when I wouldn’t and I said I couldn’t and you began to call it my walk-in closet for all the time I spent in there and how I welcomed other people to join me but I refused to leave. You loved me without reserve. I couldn’t do the same for you, not then, and that is something I always have felt sorrow over.

You taught me so much about love and about life. We stayed friends after we broke up in 2011. I was the one who broke up with you, unhappy with myself and unable to voice it. I lacked the words for my needs and I know I screwed up and I’m certain I hurt you, but there it is. I can’t take it back now. And in your love, you gave me the most precious gift.

You gave me freedom.

I learned to love the broken in myself. To see the sacred in everything. To cherish the love I was and am gifted with on a daily basis. We would talk via Facebook on occasion. I know you followed this blog and you would send me encouraging notes.

My last messages from you were about how proud you were of me for getting treatment for my mental health, how happy you were to hear I was taking care of myself.

The last picture I saw of you was from the Women’s march, just a few days before you died. You in your pink hat that I know you knitted yourself. Your sons with you, tall and strong and beautiful.

I’ve moved through the last year feeling rather numb. It’s been a huge year of growth and change for me, and I’ve wanted to reach out to you so many times, only to find a vastly empty space where you used to be. I think you’d be proud to know I’ve finally destroyed that walk-in closet. I’m finally comfortable in my own skin and in my own mind. I am building a life I love, a life that was changed by the tickle of your lips on mine and the contented sighs you would make when you’d snuggle into my embrace.

My dearest, I shall miss you always. You are always with me.

Thank you for the time you spent here, for the lessons taught, and for the legacy of strength and love you left behind.

Cell Phone Waiting Area

I’ve said so many goodbyes here
At this airport
In this space
So many tears
So many one last hugs and sweetly stolen kisses
So many footsteps between gates and TSA and Powells and Coffee People
Crossing continents between storefronts
So many goodbyes that the awful teal carpet is embossed on my soul
I see it in my sleep when I travel Away
And know when my Chucks touch it again I am home
Or someone I love is home
Or is leaving and I am stuck with the cold walk across the skybridge
To the damp parking garage
Clutching another book from Powells in my hand like it will ward off the chill of the bed
That you’ve slept in these past two weeks
And tonight I will have all to myself
I should wash the sheets but they still smell like you
Like us
Like your skin cream and our sex
And I should wash those sheets
And your hoodie you left behind
But tonight when I sleep alone
I want your scent to surround me again
I’ll dream of airport goodbyes on different continents and know that soon
I’ll be back on that awful turquoise carpet
And you
You’ll be home again

I’m here

It’s been a year and a half.

Lots has changed. Sorry I dropped off. Life got… busy. It got weird. It got wonderful and big and scary and awful and wonderful and so much has happened and I kind of have forgotten to keep writing. And, like, I meant to write. And I’ve done a lot of writing the old fashioned way, with chemicals on dead plats. Scribbled bits and pieces in odd notebooks and scrap slips of paper. But I haven’t wanted to publish any of it for a really long time.

I was going through relationship things best left off the internet for all involved.

My mom almost died.

I met the love of my life. So did my husband. We moved his love in with us. My love moved to Japan. I visited him there, and he proposed.

I had a major surgery.

Someone who literally changed my life died.

An old friend died, too.

I debated quite a bit about keeping this blog up, or starting over fresh. I decided on something in between. I’m keeping this site going, at least for now, but there’s going to be some renovations. I want to use real names from now on, where I can, because keeping track of the nicknames was a pain and I just can’t do it. I’m going through the archives, too. I don’t want to delete my past, but I may be making some things more private.

I’m going to keep writing about poly, my family, and my fight with mental illness. I’m also wanting to write about my journey into the world of kink and how much I have learned about myself.

In other words, I’m finding I still have a lot to say. And a shiny new laptop to say it with.

Thanks for joining me. I hope you enjoy the journey.