helping others

back story:

Sometime last fall, in the immediate aftermath of the implosion, I was running errands  and entered a store where a woman who I know works.

*important note: I haven’t seen her in a few years so had no idea that I would see her there.

I don’t know her well, but we’ve had a couple of conversations that involved our hearts and I’ve always enjoyed her.

Anyway, she asked “How are you?” and I lost my shit, and so she closed the store for an hour and sat and listened and offered love.

She was such a gift.

I haven’t seen her since but I’ve thought of her kindness and generosity a million times.

yesterday:

She was in town and came into the cafe to say hello. She told me that she’d been having a really rough day recently and was crying and driving and I crossed the road in front of her.

She said that seeing me gave her strength, made her smile through her tears.

I took it that she meant that I was an inspiration.

But today a friend shared a slightly different perspective:

“She’s just glad that her life isn’t the shitshow that yours has been.”

Oh. Glad I could help.

so fun

I love scoring cool dishes in thrift stores.

I love dishes period.

Tableware, serving platters, teapots, even though I don’t drink tea, all thrill me. Large bowls really rev my engines.

Generally everything I have in my hutch is “one of a kind.”

And I do have a few items that truly are one of a kind.

Occasionally I will pick up two or three of the same kind in a thrift store, but they have to be something really fantastic.

And, I won’t be the shopper who fucks up a complete set.

Anyway, the added bonus to my mismatched dinnerware is that it’s not the Ducks Unlimited stuff that I used in my past life.

My dishes now are a bit more reflective of me.

At some point I picked up these killer lunchtime plates – 4 of them, unchipped.DSCN0761

Tonight, I was cooking dinner with one hand and holding one of these cheery cherry plates in the other and I flipped it over to read the back:DSCN0762

So I decided to look it up.

And lo and behold, there’s a whole story that goes with them and people seriously collect these.

To eat off of, not to hang on the walls.

Websites, auction sites, Wikipedia, a fan club.

This pottery was made in Tennessee at some point between 1930 and 1957.

The company shut down in ’57 because they could no longer compete with plastic dishes.

My particular pattern is called Cherry Bounce.

It’s hand painted.

Isn’t all that just fantastic.

I am not shitting you

So, I do have this thing about people flossing in public.

Personally, I think my thing is totally normal and appropriate and I’m not sure I understand how there could be any other perspective, but apparently there is, as was proven today in the cafe.

But before I get there, let’s just take a quick look why I dislike watching people fling food bits out of their mouth across the room with a shredded thread.

It’s gross.

Enough said.

So today, I actually had to ask a customer to stop flossing while standing over a table talking to someone who was eating IN A RESTAURANT.

What could possibly be okay about that?

I hesitated to say something, but then I thought, “Food is being flicked onto someone’s panini.”

But the most astounding part…

He actually asked me what was wrong with it?

Dear god, help humanity.

This says it all

“I travel in wild country a great deal, often alone, and my friends find this to be fatally eccentric, although they use the more polite term “stupid.” They feel sorry for me because I miss the fun of camping in groups, same-sex or mixed. Perhaps I am too cranky to know any better. I go afield to calm myself, to sort out the demonic squirrels in my head, a self-indulgence that lasts about thirty seconds, or as soon as the first petroglyph or curve of the canyon wall comes into view or a ravenous swarm of gnats eats my entire skin, or heatstroke finishes off what the lobotomy began. Then I succumb to pure sensation. I try to notice how the desert is put together, with the expectation that if I look hard enough the land will open up to me, spilling an endless stream of color, light and living things in bright ecstasy.

In company, I would likely remain completely silent for two days straight and everyone would take it personally. I would try my best to troop down a slickrock trail with a gynocentric agenda. I would fall flat on my face with strong women walking over my back in single file. Perhaps in a herd of gazelles, there is always one animal that faces the west when all of the others face east, one animal that drinks backward at the waterhole and is actually not very gazelle-ish at all, but rather awkwardly assembled and inclined to involuntary utterances such as deranged hiccups when the lions are eating it’s compadres.”

ellen meloy… the anthropology of turquoise

Closure?

I looked up the word “closure” in relationship to relationships and this is what the dictionary gave me…

“a sense of resolution or conclusion at the end of an artistic work”

Would we call a failed relationship an artistic work?

That’s kind of pushing it.

So I hit up the Urban Dictionary and here’s what I got…

closure

1. To attempt to ‘move on’ following the termination of a relationship with another individual.
2. When used in a sentence, insinuates that the individual using the word is the same individual who was the target of the ‘break-up’.
3. A word used by overly-emotional, self-centered ‘drama queens’ (mostly women and gay men).
4. Individuals using this word generally will utter the word ‘chapter’ during their often one-sided conversations.
5. A word created during the 90’s which was borne out of individuals unable to cope with relationship failure.
6. Individuals using this word insinuate that the more stable party is responsible for all of the ‘closured’ individual’s problems, as well as the War in Iraq, airbag safety issues, the Democratic National Convention, dustless chalk, nipples on men, PMS, and bad-hair days.

So where am I going with this? Why did I feel the need to look this up in the dictionary? Was it because I have wanted some sort of closure for the last seven months?

Right? I’m not a gay man and I would never use the word “chapter.”

Nope.

In light of the above, I embarrassingly admit that yes, I did want closure. I didn’t need to clarify why we had split – that was very clear. But I wanted to understand what the fuck happened in the aftermath?
Things that he did, or didn’t do, were so fucked up and cruel and hurtful and careless that I honestly just couldn’t believe they were happening.
But I actually didn’t need him to explain it. I have plenty of language for that going on in my head.
What I honestly needed was a chance to say all of the tens of thousands of things that have spun through my head in the last 7 months, to him, not to my friends, my therapist, and random strangers.
And they needed to be spoken, not screamed.
I ran into him yesterday. I saw him and thought that I’d blow by with a quick “hi,” but that’s not how it turned out.
It was only the second time I’ve seen him since last autumn and the first time amounted to “How’s the weather” in terms of depth or content.
We talked about the fact that we had never actually talked after things shook out. There was never a final anything. We “broke up,” and then, within days, the shit started hitting the fan with the litany of cruelties that took me down.
And down and down and down.
And it just became a mess.
Being a woman of words, I have this belief that if I say something well, the other person will understand and show some compassion and maybe even remorse.
If they don’t then I just keep talking, thinking that they will finally see the light, but really, the other person just tunes out and shuts down.
I often (almost always) walk away from conversations involving my hurt heart, with a lot of self-doubt, regrets, frustrations, and 52 reasons to spin out about every detail of the interaction.
And 52 million things that I wish I had said because, in hindsight, if I had just said ____________ then he would have understood and regretted hurting me.
So we had this lengthy chat and I walked away, went back to work and began to hyperventilate; loud, body-wracking sobs and tears that didn’t stop running into the dishwater all afternoon.
I didn’t want to talk about the details with anyone – I just wanted to sit with it while I cooked. I know that I need to feel this incredible sadness and grieve what I haven’t yet grieved.
Did I get what I needed?
I did receive some valuable bits.
He was kind and respectful.
He listened.
He saw one big piece from my perspective and admitted that it was “fucked up.”
I didn’t yell.  I said everything that I needed to say without going on ad nauseam. I didn’t try to hold him accountable for other’s actions. I wasn’t sarcastic or condescending or demeaning. I didn’t barely swore. I was calm and rational and very very clear.
And I didn’t fall apart.
(All things I do more often than not.)
I owned and apologized for some really shitty things that I had done.
In other words, not only did I maintain my dignity, but as I ruminate on the exchange a day later, I am satisfied with it.
I’m not wishing that I had said things differently or said more. When I think of things that I would have liked to add, I am thankful that they weren’t included because they are the things that would have made me look small or petty or pathetic or bat shit crazy.
I’m not cringing in hindsight.
I was able to try to set things right from my end. It takes two to tango as we all know.
That which he apologized for…it was what I wanted, and I appreciate it, and I also realize that it’s not the apologies that I need. The remorse can’t begin to undo what has been done.
What I needed was to be heard and maybe understood a little bit better.
To speak my peace.
To say, “You destroyed a family that loved you.”
Without expecting anything much in return.
I needed an opportunity to regain my dignity which I, maybe not lost, but definitely compromised in my unhinged moments.
And regain it I did.
The sadness that I am feeling today is deep. I am exhausted. And yet, I understand that this is part of the process and that I will eventually feel some relief.
And I don’t have to beat myself up for one more mismanaged moment.
So did I get the elusive “closure”?
I don’t know.
But I think I can probably go to the coffee shop now without fear, without ending up on the floor of the kitchen having a full-blown anxiety attack.
And that’s worth a whole awful lot these days.