Tag Archives: family

When September Ends

It’s September first.

Those of you who know me, know that September is a tough month. My SAD usually gut-punches me right about now, as I get fed up with feeling overheated, itchy, and achy from the summer heat and dryness. Add to that the anniversaries of my father’s death in 1999 and my sister’s disappearance in 2003, and September usually bites pretty hard-core for me.

So, I’m checking in. I figure today is a good day to take stock, to assess, and to look forward.

I’m generally doing well. This summer hasn’t been so hot, so there has only been a few bad days for my heat-related issues. I had one bullshit low day… Started out down, my daughter got sick so I had to scramble to cover my shift so I could be home with her… It was a bad bad day. Usually, I can feel my antidepressants catch me, and that day I felt like I fell through a hole in their safety net. I called on my lifelines. I texted with Ziggy and Mr Awesome. I put out a call for help on Twitter, and finally, I made it through my day, ending it with an Ativan and reading the Bloggess until life didn’t feel so awful anymore. I woke up the next day feeling fragile, but better. I pulled through.

I’m meeting new people and making New friends. I got a new tattoo, a gorgeous tigress on my right calf. My relationships are going so, so well. Ziggy lives nearby now, and we get to see so much of each other. I’m even going on a trip with him next month to LA and I’m going to meet his family. He’s staying with me this weekend while Mr Awesome is camping with his girlfriend. Mr Awesome and I are doing so very well.

It’s been almost a year since I started the Cymbalta. The unremitting pain I was in is a memory. The brain fog and bullshit lies of the Bitch are pretty much gone, too. I’m stronger, braver, and more fierce.

I feel alive. And there is joy in being alive. My life is full and fascinating. My kids are unbelievably amazing.

I am happy and strong.

I still dread September and its hurts and its bad memories. I know September 10th will be a tough day and the memory of my father’s final hours will be more with me than they sometimes are. There is a hole in my life that is shaped like the aunt my children will never know and that is a heavy weight for me. Maybe, this month, I will take the kids to CapeDisappointment and tell them stories of my father. Maybe I’ll buy some Cindy Lauoer and Madonna albums and dance with my daughter who looks so much like my sister that it hurts me to look at her sometimes. And in sharing the stories of the good times, maybe I’ll make the sad memories hurt a little less. 

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One of the most common questions/criticisms I hear about the poly lifestyle has to do with people expressing concerns about my children. It’s second only to the questions about jealousy and time management.

“What about your kids?” people will ask. They frequently whisper this, like it is too taboo a subject to even speak aloud. I often just shrug. It’s a big topic to tackle in the space of what is usually a small conversation.

“Our kids are fine,” I’ll say. “They don’t know much; when you were eight, how much did you know about your parent’s sex lives?”

And that’s the crux of it. Our kids don’t know the ins and outs of it, haha. Our son is almost 13, our daughter will be 8 this weekend. They are far more concerned with Pokemon, social studies homework, and whether Gramma paid them for their chores this week. Our son is best friends with Velah’s son. They are the same age, share the same interests, and are frequently thrown together during social functions. I’m glad the kids can still be friends, and I hope their friendship will flourish. 

So, what about our kids? At almost 13, our son probably knows what happens when I send the kids to bed and take my boyfriend into my room with me. He knows that his dad stays over at Velah’s house. He sees us kiss each other, often, and passionately. He also sees us kiss our other partners. When I was kissing my boyfriend one time when he was visiting this fall, I saw my son looking at us and grinning. He knows this man makes me happy.He also knows that Splatoon is currently on loan from my boyfriend, and that he has another grown-up in his life to talk about pokemon with.

Kids have a very self centered view of their world. And in a healthy poly family, the kids have multiple adults with multiple talents and interests who are there to help them figure out this crazy world. Our group of friends and partners includes multple faiths, backgrounds, careers, and interests. I feel this provides a well-rounded safety net for the kids; if they can’t come to a parent with a question, chances are some adult in their life will have the answer.

It’s better than I had as a kid.

Somewhere, our society has lost the village… We tend to hole up in big houses and wall ourselves off from other people. Feeling like we need to be the only answer for our kids shortchanges them of the richness of experience that a different point of view provides to them. I’m not saying that poly is the answer for everyone; it’s hard work, and a person can do a lot of damage to a family if they do it for the wrong reasons or go into it with an unhealthy mindset. But, I think everyone can learn a little from the idea that more people in someone’s life can be a very good thing.That sitting down with someone of a different faith or from a different part of the country can give you a perspective on your own life that you might not have had. That having a group of caring adults looking put for a group of kids is actually ok… and admitting to ourselves that we aren’t always the best person to answer our kids’ questions or concerns.

When I think of the vast amount of intangibles that our partners and friends have brought to the table for our kids, I can’t think of raising my kids any other way. The poor kids get exponentially more parenting than they would have if we were doing it by ourselves. But they also get exponentially more love and support.

“Our kids are fine with it,” doesn’t even begin to cover all of this. “Our kids are better for it,” sounds smug. Maybe in writing this out, I will have found a better answer.

In the meantime, thank you for reading.


At the Lighthouse

I want to write, but my heart is so full right now, and I don’t know where to start.

Mr Awesome and I visited my dad today. We made the long drive NorthWest from Portland to Cape Disappointment. We stopped for Snickers bars at a gas station in a small Washington town and had a lovely long conversation about everything and nothing, the way we do when we get together without the kids.

We had packed a lunch, and parked at the base of the trail, and hiked up, past Dead Man’s Cove and through the forest to the cliff face overlooking the Pacific.

There’s been some changes, in the past fourteen years. A fence around the Coast Guard station. Trees lost to coastal winds and storms. Erosion has
shaved some distance off of the path, and eaten the sign with the poem on it that I have always loved.

But he’s still there. My dad. Watching the ocean, laughing with the other old sailors, and listening to the voices of the children who visit this historic site daily. I could feel him there, still at peace.

And I leaned into my husband’s arms and cried.

We watched the ships cross the bar, and the waves strike the jetties, and the dragonflies chase each other. My mom will never make it up there again, to be near him, so I took lots of pictures to show her later this week. And she and I will probably cry together, and laugh, and miss him. I cherish this time with her… I know she hasn’t much time left, and soon, in a year or a few, I will be an orphan. No parents, no sister, no grandparents, no ties to the child I was, no people to tell me the stories of way back when.

And I look down, as I type this, and realize the hands I have are the hands I remember my mother having, except I have all my fingers, and I am the same age now as she was when she had me. She was 35; my father was 50. An age difference that seemed impossible, when I was small, but seems so much less so as I look at my own dating history, realizing the last date I went on was with a man thirteen years my senior, and somehow, we had a lot in common we could talk about.

My mother’s light is flickering now, not as steady as it was even five years ago, and I realize it’s my turn to carry the torch, so to speak. To tell my children the stories of Portland-that-was and the world that used to be before 9-11 and technology and economic collapse and everything else that makes their world so much different from the one I knew. It’s up to me to fill their amazing brains with stories of the grandfather they will never know, so he isn’t lost, so the world will carry him for just a few more years. To let them know that when they see the ocean, he is there, with them always, laughing at them and loving them from wherever he is now.

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Presence

My ghosts have been near to me again. A word, a song, a book… and they whisper again in my ear, inviting me to remember, to let them back in for a moment or two.

Someone near to me lost her brother this week. Drugs. It seems it is all too often drugs when it is someone gone too young. I saw her yesterday, young and sad and scared. I hugged her and invited her out for tea and told her I was willing to be a shoulder when she needed it. And grieved again my own sister, lost to me, though likely still alive, judging from the collections notices we still get in her name.

I indulged today and played hooky from Faire in order to hit reset, to take a break. Velah and Mr Awesome and the kids could go, and I’m sure will be full of stories when they return for dinner tonight. I drove into the city, to walk anonymous on the sunny streets and browse the dusty stacks at Powell’s books.

My ghosts followed me, though. A copy of “The Ghost in the Closet”, a book I bought at about age 14, and I think, my introduction to lesbian fiction. Back when it was just the “Gay Studies” section of Powell’s, and they kept it in the green room. The thrill of reading about Jackie, the butch Black cop with her bulging biceps, and the distant hope that someday, I’d find a funny lady with short hair and a take-charge manner.

Funny, isn’t it, how I became that lady, instead of finding one to date…

In the manga section, a copy of a book that Wash really wanted me to read. Several titles, in fact. When everything fell apart, he was trying to turn me into his anime buddy. And I was left with the niggling sense of something missing, something not quite healed, like when you have a cut and it is better and the scab has fallen off but the new skin is still sensitive and tight and doesn’t quite fit over the old hole correctly, yet.

The memories come, fast and strong, the current of them sweeping me into the past. My mother went to Powell’s, once, maybe twice. She took my sister and myself there, and Steph bought several Stephen King books; I forget what, if anything, I got. And in the same room as King’s multitudes of stories is another prolific author, Philip K Dick, and I recall how much a former lover wanted me to love his books, just like he does. “I’m really into Dick!” he proclaimed once, and I dissolved right there, in bed with him. He looked confused for a moment before he laughed along with me.

I think all of us have our ghosts that live in the corners of bookstores and thrift shops, little things that remind us of where we came from and who we used to be. Who knows why they brush our shoulders when they do, why the make their presence known at some times rather than others.

I’m just glad that sometimes, they do. Because sometimes, it’s really lovely to visit with those people we loved and the selves we used to be. Sometimes, it’s nice to have the reminder of where we came from, and where we don’t want to return.

Sometimes, it’s just nice to feel once again the presence of a person we loved and lost, and to feel for a brief moment, the warmth of their soul near our own.


Lost girl

She hadn’t been doing well. I could tell this, even though I got a terse, “I’m fine…” The couple of times I asked.

Once, she asked to leave the sales floor for an unscheduled break, clutching her stomach. She’d just worked with an eccentric customer, an aging hippy wearing John Lennon glasses and a tie-dye shirt.

I knew, without her telling me, what was going on. But I didn’t want to push, for all that I wanted to be there, knowing that to get it out of her system would help the most.

I asked again, after the store was closed, no threat of customers or phone calls interrupting a conversation.

“I’m fine.”

Clink, clank, the rattle of money being counted into a till. The smell of one dollar bills and fresh printed paper from the nightly numbers.

I turned to my other register, closed it out, and handed her the till to verify the funds. Tears rolled down her face. And like a rainstorm, the words poured out.

I asked if she needed a hug, and held her there for a moment, while she loosed the demons inside.

That customer reminded her of her dad.

I was her, once. I lost my father young… 20, like her. And I remember being 24 and missing him terribly. A customer would remind me of him, or I’d smell Brut aftershave in the grocery store. And I’d feel like I was punched, hard, in the gut. My breath would leave me and I’d lose him all over again. I remember an older coworker who had lost her father young, telling me it would get better, hurt less, fade with time. And I remember thinking I didn’t want it to fade. That I didn’t want him to be a memory, because he is a person.

And now, years later, I come up against September 10th and I can’t remember why it should feel significant. Then, something will remind me of flying from San Diego. My layover in San Francisco and reading my bible and desperately praying that he would live long enough for me to see him one more time. Of my brand new in-laws driving me from the airport in Portland to my childhood home. Of the hospital bed that held the shell of the fiery, fierce man who raised me.

And now, I have more years of memories without him than I have with him. And he feels, a little, like a character in a book that I read a long time ago. I have to work hard to conjure up his face, although, oddly, I can remember his scent in an instant. Cheap beer and Brut, and a metallic overlay from all the coins and keys he carried in his pockets.

That’s what she was afraid of. That her dad would become just a memory, no longer a real person. And I assured her that as long as she had his memories, she carried him with her always. But I couldn’t tell her the awful truth… That someday, all she would have is his essence, the feeling of someone she used to know well, like a well-loved character in a book.

I couldn’t break her heart again, not as her tears dried and she gripped my hand and looked, achingly, like a lost little girl.

So I brought out that time-worn cliche and simply told her it would all be ok. That it would get easier, eventually.

Because it’s a cliche for a reason. It’s true, sort of.

And it was what she needed to hear.


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