"Change, when it comes, cracks everything open."
Dorothy Allen

Saturday, November 30, 2013

For Bill

I said good bye today.

If you have read my blog at all in the past, you have heard about my good friends Barb and Bill.  I adore them, they are 2 of my best friends on the planet. I have been friends with them for years and years and years.  I know them well, and they know me. 

Those motherfuckers are leaving me.  Bill got a job in Ottawa. He starts on Monday.  He leaves tomorrow.  Barb is sticking around a bit longer, but she's on that ticking clock as well. 

I have known for months that this was a possibility and known for sure for a while.  I knew this was coming.  I have dreaded it and avoided it, and looked the other way.  I smiled and laughed and talked about how this was Future Anita's problem.

I seriously want to kick Past Anita right in the ass for this. 

I met Bill for the first time at my stag and doe.  He came with mutual friends (we actually have quite a few, so it is kind of amazing that we had never met before.)  He began dating Barb shortly afterwards and was her date at our wedding. 

It didn't take long (if you have met Bill, you understand this) for us to connect and begin to hang out.  We both love horror movies, and tattoos.  And dogs and beer and wings.  We would see a splatter and gore fest together, and finish the night with some drafts.  Slowly but surely, he and I cemented a friendship.  I am friends with Barb, and I can honestly say that I am friends with Bill.  It's not a friendship by association, or a kind of couples being friends with couples thing.  I am legitimately and honestly friends with both of them.  I love them dearly.  They are my family. 

I have been saying good bye to them since August, basically.  I have called and texted them pretty much daily for months.  We have seen each other at least once or twice a week.  They come here, we go there, we go out.  Sometimes it's just us, sometimes there are others.  It doesn't matter.  We have been together.  We have had amazing fun. I knew it was ending and I was greedy for more.

I don't know what to write here.  I thought I could do this.  I thought these words would flow out of me, like they often do.  But I am stuck.  I don't know what to say.

I know he is only moving 5 hours away.  It's not a big deal.  In the grand scheme of things, this is not bad. They aren't sick.  They aren't dying. They aren't moving to the other side of the planet.  But the fact is, they are 5 minutes from my house right now.  They are a phone call or a text message away.  And as of tomorrow, that changes. 

So, what do I know?  I know that I haven't been this sad in a long time.  I know I have kept my shit together as best I can.  I was determined not to cry- in front of anyone.  And with a minor exception yesterday (he brought me a tea while I was working and caught me off guard), I have been good.  I have been able to smile and make jokes and inappropriate comments.  Even last night, at his going away party, I kept my shit together.  We all got together and got him an amazing bottle of whiskey.  We took one last selfie (photo bombed by his lovely wife :).  We hugged good bye.  And through all that, I walked a razor's edge of control.  I maintained.  I made it through.  I bit my lip bloody, but it was all good. 

What do I know?  I lost it tonight.  We went for dinner, Geoff, the kids, me and Bill.  We went for Chinese.  It was a typical dinner for us- Sawyer is crazy and lovely and demanding and in turns incredibly rude and remarkably polite.   Sebastian is amused and at the turn of a dime, monumentally bored and wants to go home.  Geoff is talking and filling in the quiet spots, to keep us entertained.  And Bill is quiet.  Very quiet.  I see glimpses of what is happening beneath the surface.  But I am still on the other side of that razor's edge, so silly me, I think things will be ok.

We leave and head to the parking lot.  Sawyer hugs him good bye.  I notice that he squeezes her a little extra tight.  He makes his way to Sebastian's side of the van.  Bastian says bye, and I hear Bill's voice break when he says bye back.

I walk around, mindful of the ice, and so very afraid to look up.  Bill and Geoff are hugging,  and it's not men thumping each other on the back.  It's brothers, hanging on, and saying good bye.  Bill turns and looks at me.  I am crying now.  I was afraid to start. Once I start, I don't know if I can stop.  I grab him hard around the neck.  I tell him that I miss him already.  He doesn't reply, but I can feel him shake. 

When I let him go, he is done in.  I try and smile and I can't.  It won't come.  When Bill hangs his head, and the reality of what is happening comes in, I grab him again, and pull his head down to me.  Geoff wraps us both up, and we stay that way a long time.  Finally, it's time to go.  I make him promise to text me all day tomorrow.  It's not easier, but at least it's something.

I get in the driver's seat.  I put the key in the ignition and I sit on my hands to warm them up.  I breathe deep and close my eyes.  I knew this would happen.  Once I start, I can't stop it now.  I have kept this at bay for 4 months.  It's here.  It's real.  

Sawyer is worried.  She saw Bill cry and doesn't really understand why.  I can't answer, so Geoff does his best to explain.  Geoff tries to hold my hand, and I tell him to give me a minute.  The tears keep leaking from under my lids, and I can't slow them down.  When I start to cry, really cry,  Geoff comes around, and pulls me out.  He walks me to the passenger side and I sit.  Sawyer is crying now too.  I ask her to hold my hand, because that will make me happier, and then we can both stop crying.  It works.  For her. 

It's hours later now, and it's still hard.  Is this melodramatic?  I'm sorry if it seems that way.  I don't mean it to be. It's been a hard day.  I'm tired.  I'm done in.  I miss him already.

So, Bill...this blog is for you.  I don't have much to give as a gift.  Sometimes I can write, and so I am doing this for you.

You are one of the best people I know.  You are kind and ignorant and crude and hilarious.  You have always been able to make me laugh.  You don't always say the right thing, but somehow, whatever it is that you do say is usually perfect. 

You are caring- you pretend to be hard and cold and indifferent but inside you care about kids and animals and your friends and your family.  Jesus man, you still tell your mom that you love her when you talk to her on the phone. 

You know something about pretty much everything.  You can talk to pretty much anyone on the planet and be friend with them at the end of the hour.  No one that meets you ever forgets you (evidenced by the fact that we can't go anywhere without meeting someone you know.)

You are going to do amazing in Ottawa.  You have earned this, by being smart and devious and just fucking being yourself.  We are all proud of you, things will only get better. 

I have the memories that we have built over 15 years of friendship.  I can remember a thousand beers, dozens of movies, and a million inappropriate jokes. 

I honestly don't know how we are going to do this.  But you are going to keep being my best friend.  We are going to keep being ridiculous together.   I can't wait to see what's coming.  I just know that I love you.

Drive safe my friend.  Come back to us when you can.  We will be waiting.

Love, Anita.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Le Poisson

I killed my fish.

I feel really, really bad about it. 

I didn't do it on purpose, of course.  These are the fish that I had in my fairy/pirate pond.  They were feeder fish that I paid $0.59 for a year and a half ago.  I bough 6 originally, and lost one that first summer.  I pulled them inside and put them in our fish tank over the winter.  I took really good care of them, and when the weather started to turn nice again, I moved them back outside into the new and improved pond.  Adam dug up the pond again this year, and the fish got pulled out again and lived in a bucket for a couple of days.  The fish had gotten bigger and brighter over the winter, in their protected little area, so I was worried about them in the pond through the summer.  Birds would come in alot and try and fish for them.  It would be days before I would see all of them together, so I was constantly thinking that I had lost one or 2 to a crafty fisherman.  But they made it through.  Whole, brightly orange.

I meant to pull them out about 2 weeks ago.  I got busy. I got distracted.  I went on vacation. 

Basically, I forgot.  And then it got cold.

Today, my dad told me he had fished 2 of them out the other day and they were both dead.  My heart dropped.  I ran out right away and started fishing through the leaves and detritus for them.  I found them.  All of them.

They were huge.  They were looking very healthy, if you could ignore the fact that they were dead. 

I feel like a horrible human being.  Yes, they were just fish.  But they were my fish. They were my responsibility and I let them down. 

I am trying not to be melodramatic about it.  But it has been bothering me for the last couple of hours. 

I will get new fish, maybe over the winter.  They make me happy and it gives me a purpose to have them to look after.  But I am gonna miss my fishies.

Sorry boys.

Rosie N. Grey
The N stand for "no excuse".

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Gotta get away

So, I just came back from a week away.  Like away-away.  I was in Holguin, Cuba at an all inclusive resort for one whole week.  Just me, myself and I.  Well, me with 12 other people in my group.  But I meant I went by myself without Geoff or the kids.

I know some people will judge for that.  Meh.  Judge all you want.  Fact is, it is cheaper for me to go by myself, I love the all inclusive and make the most of it, and at the end of the day, I deserved it.  I work hard, and a lot and I have a lot of responsibilities.  In reality, I have no more than most other moms, but then, I think most moms deserve to have a week away a couple of times a year.  We earn it.  Dads too, before you freak out. But (sweeping generalization coming up) I think dads tend to be more willing and apt to take the time off.  I know lots of husbands that go on fishing trips, hunting trips, sports weekends, boys weekends, comic conventions (ahem) etc, etc, etc.  The ladies I know just don't seem to do that, or at least not as much. So, ladies, this week was dedicated to you. :)  You're welcome.

I am not going to give a play by play of the week, some of you have already heard it, some of you were there for it.  Some of you just don't care.  But I did want to talk about some of the stuff I thought about and felt while I was gone.  Like always, my blog is my "a-membering place", so here I go, a-membering.

First and foremost, I remembered that I like to be by myself.  I am comfortable in that.  I like the peace and quiet that comes with my own company.  The TV in my room didn't work.  I didn't complain.  If it had, chances are I would have turned it on at some point, even just for background noise.  I really didn't need it, and I knew that, so I never got it fixed.  As it was, I did dance around a bit with my ipod blaring in my ears.  That was awesome and good enough for me.

Most mornings, even when it was raining, the first thing I did when I woke up was open my balcony door.  I was on the second floor, with an amazing wrap around balcony.  I looked out towards the ocean, with a protected marshland in between.  In the mornings, I could see and hear the amazing birds and waterfowl calling to each other.  Some sang, some screeched, and some just swooped back and forth in big, lazy arcs.  It was amazing to watch and listen to.  The morning we had the storm, I woke up to what I thought was thunder.  It was actually the waves crashing on the beach.  Good lord, it made me happy to hear.

I slept most nights with the curtains on the patio door open.  I woke up when the sun came up.  I got to see the amazing first lights, whether they were bright and blue and Cuban beautiful or grey and cloudy and the off-colour of fresh bruises.  The light in the morning was my first hint at the day to come, and I relished it pouring in across the floor.  I would lay still for a few minutes, and just watch it creep.

As a mom, I can honestly say that I can't remember the last time I watched that happen at home.  Even if the kids aren't there, most times I am relishing the extra hour of sleep I am greedily hoarding.   I have no time for a creeping sunrise.  I might have to change that.

I brought a book that I had been waiting a month to read.  Dr. Sleep, by Stephen King, the sequel to the Shining, which is one of my favourite books by him.  I started reading on the plane on the way down.  I was a third of the way done by the end of the flight.  Even with limited read time, I managed to finish it by Wednesday.  I had brought my Kindle as well, but to my dismay, the stupid thing broke.  My friend Bill graciously lent me his, and I started reading a book that has been on my list forever.  But my initial thrill at reading something I had been craving and staring at for days and weeks had passed, and I found other ways to occupy my time.  However since I have been home, I have been pumping through the book, and browsing to see what else might be interesting on there.  Is that bad?  And invasion of privacy even?  Dunno.  Don't care.  I don't think Bill will mind, and if he does, I am sure he will be quick to tell me. :)

I also learned how much it KIIIIIIILLLLLLLLLLSSS me to not know what time it is.  I thought I was going to go crazy.  I had a plan that I was going to use my cell phone to tell time and as an alarm to help me not sleep all day (that really wasn't an issue, as I shared earlier.)  However, since my cell phone couldn't find service in any way, shape or form, it wouldn't even tell me the time.  So I spent the whole week literally having no idea what time it was.  I would wake up and have no idea if it was 5am or 10am.  I would try and judge based on the foot traffic traveling to the beach, or by the movements of my neighbours.  Sometimes I would knock for the girl across the hall, who was part of our group, and based on her state of dress or undress, I would know if I was early or late.  (Sorry, Rosemary!)

I was actually looking forward to not knowing the time, and not being beholden to a clock all week.  I quickly discovered that the control freak in me had other plans.  For the most part, I was good, when I was with other people, and when we were all together, just chilling and laughing and drinking and sunning.  But when it came to starting or ending my day, I lost all perspective.  And it drove me crazy.

Note for next year- buy a fucking watch.

I also remembered how much I love sleep.  Solid sleep.  Sleeping at night, with the covers thrown off, with a breeze blowing in and pillows piled up around your head smelling like your shampoo and sun and sand.  Taking a nap in the heat of the day, feeling your shoulders burning comfortable, shucking down to nothing and just sinking into a sleep that is quick and deep.  Of stretching yourself awake like a cat, come around in slow, small steps, and having nothing but a smile when you realize where you are.  Dozing lightly in the sun, your bathing suit drying in the heat, your fingers trailing in the sand.  Hearing the ocean and the distant hum of humanity all around you, enjoying life and love and liquor. :)

I remembered what it was like to be so well rested that I started to dream again.  Vivid dreams.  Dreams that, when I woke up, I wasn't sure if I had been sleeping.  My dreams were good and bad, realistic and fantastical, anxiety filled and magical.  But man...it made me realize how much I have missed dreaming.

So, what else did I learn?

I learned that I like talking to people.  I like making new friends.  I like reacquainting with old friends.  I like telling secrets and hearing them in return.  I like laughing hard enough that my ribs hurt (and they literally did, for the first 3 days).  I like getting nicknames.   I like being the center of attention.  I like being on the sidelines, looking in.  I like seeing people that I think I know, in a totally different light, in a totally different environment.  I like complimenting people, and being complimented by them.  I like jokes, and insults and innuendos.

Basically, I liked interacting with everyone on the trip.  In our group, I knew only a few people.  By the end of the week, I simply adored them all.  They were in turn, hilarious, and sympathetic, insulting and crude and sweet and endearing.  It wouldn't have been the same without them.  I cannot thank them enough for giving me an amazing week.

So, yes, I went on vacation for a week.  I drank Sunshines, and Tequila Sunrises, champagne and Cervezas.  I did shots and smoked cigars.  I walked in my barefeet in the sand, and I got stung by a jellyfish (thanks to everyone that offered to pee on me.  Mostly thanks to Kathy for giving my vinegar, so no one had to).  I got tanned, I got a little drunk, I got very happy.  I laughed a lot, I cried a little.  I picked up girls at the bar, I judged old men, and I helped a drunk not fall off her stool.  I reconnected with old friends, I made new ones.

I got away from it all.  Thank you to all of you- those that went, and those that stayed- that helped me run away and then come back.

Only 51 weeks to go until next year.


Rosie N. Grey
The N stands for "next vacation please!"