A Letter to My Mom

Dear Mamant:

First and foremost, happy birthday. I wish I could be celebrating you with fresh flowers and silly songs. But we will celebrate and remember in our own way. Not a day goes by that you aren’t on my mind in small or big ways.

I feel like you deserve a life update. So much has changed this calendar year and maybe I haven’t done a good job of “including” you in that. This year I started a new job in an Elementary School. I don’t always feel equipped but I know you’d tell me it will get easier day by day. The staff is wonderful and inclusive. I feel completely myself and not like I’m hiding behind a facade like my last two jobs. It is so nice to feel landed for the foreseeable future. And like I am making a difference each day. Like Dad has always said, look out for the little people: the less than in whatever way that appears. Be there for the overlooked and see them. I think that is truly what my job is all about. And thank goodness for my perception and intuition.

I’ve met a boy (I will never stop calling him a boy regardless of our age). It’s kind of surreal, mama. And my biggest heartsickness about it is that he’ll never get to meet you. Yes, I’ve shared stories and brought you to life for his mind’s eye but it isn’t the same. He won’t hear your laughter or be goofy with you. He won’t be able to have serious talks with you about his Grandfather’s growing up in Congo. Though I don’t know for sure about the concept of your being , I like to believe you somehow have a sense of him: that you know how much he loves me and how he makes me happy, that Shelly likes him (and what a huge deal that is), that he’s goofy and serious and listens to me even when I’m being ridiculous. Somehow I think you’d be the least surprised that I’m the one who has ended up with someone so similar to Dad. I dunno, I just feel like you knew it was an eventuality.

I miss you. Each day. And this month, and the days near your birthday make my heart yearn the most. What I wouldn’t give for just an afternoon of cooking, crossword puzzles, laughter, and creating. I made that boy some curtains yesterday and all I could think was “how apropos and what a way to celebrate you”. And though I miss you dearly I’m forever thankful for your lessons that still keep providing. I wouldn’t be me without you, even now. I love you.

They Fought for This

Voting has followed me closely throughout the years. From hearing grandma talk about working the polls and organizing the Dems in TH. To “living” at the LWV office with mom throughout my toddler years. To trekking to “the mansion” and casting my first ballot there while Greg capture it all on cell phone photography.

I’ve never questioned the importance of casting a vote. I’ve never questioned being an Informed Voter. Though I haven’t always made it to cast my vote in every election that I could, I still have at my core that my voice matters. Probably even more than I know.

It seems to me that some of my own rights have been under undue attack recently. And it seems more than unfair. It really burns me up that anyone thinks they should have a right to dictate the state of my body. It really burns me up that some professions that give their all, and have remained on the front lines throughout the pandemic should be under attack as well, or not given their due. but here we are. And I may not be cut out for politics, but I am cut out to raise my voice, I am cut out to stand my ground, I am cut out to question and seek and do better every step forward I take. And I can only hope the same for you.

Dancing in the Wind

My perception of the divine is expansive, it’s bigger than any space that could be filled by a person. And so I call it “universe”. It’s never ending, larger than anything I can imagine, fills every single space ever. Yes, I believe in the divine—a creator that plays a role in the day to day. But I don’t picture it as human form or personality. That’s too limiting. I picture it as a force. A gusting wind that coaxes us but doesn’t force us completely. That part in genesis when G-d breathes into dust and Adam and Eve come to life—that is the best way I know to describe it. The divine is breath. It is living. It is moving. It is all around. But we are still in control. And just like all else in life, my idea of the divine is fluid and always changing. As I grow, so too does the divine I come in contact with, the divine I see in the world.

Good Things Come

…to those who wait. Or so they say. And maybe it’s just my time (cue Goonies “it’s our time down here” quote). If you’ve been following along this journey for any amount of time you know that I’ve ridden the dating roller coaster along the tracks for a while now. Lots of twist and turns and being thrown for a loop. It’s been great at points. And grueling at others.

About three months ago I made a promise to myself that my previous relationship was in the last (once and for all). I somehow pulled myself out of the trance and admitted how toxic and one sided it had always been. And even though I’d sworn it off before, I knew it was beyond time to make this time stick. Around the same time I was graduating, accepting a new job in my ideal school district, and starting to consider a new home purchase. Things were falling into place it seemed. But my love life was still pretty stagnant. For the millionth time I put myself back on apps. I haven’t really enjoyed the swipe culture but I also know that meeting someone organically wasn’t currently in my cards. But companionship was something I knew I needed to my core. I had to keep doing the work and putting myself out there if I wanted anything to come about.

And then something happened. I met this person who was so different than anyone I’d ever dated before. It was eye opening to the fact that there were people like me: slightly jaded but hopeful, intelligent, goofy, considerate, diligent, open, and committed to growth (individually and as a partnership). It’s weird knowing that something could exist in the world and never being able to find it. And then one day you do find it and realize how lucky you are.

Don’t get me wrong: no one is perfect. People have quirks and things they need to learn. And everyone makes mistakes or does things they regret. But I am thankful to have connected with someone who recognizes their own flaws, is working to better themselves, seeks to learn, remains curious, and stays honest and open with me. It’s way more than I could ask for; and at times feels like more than I deserve. Though there haven’t been “bumps” exactly, there have been difficult conversations, and forcing ourselves to show up as our most vulnerable selves. There’s also been endless laughter and goofiness (I mean have you met me?), insightful conversation, and seeing each other.

I’m not sure where this journey will go. There are lots of unknowns. But things feel positive, there is little to no pressure, and we just continue to move at a speed of “one day at a time”. I’m unbelievably happy. And for that, I am so grateful. Sometimes you can’t even put into words what something (or someone) means to you. But shit, I’ll spend every day trying. The people around you deserve to know you love them, and how much you love them.

This. This post right here. Proof of the growth that has happened in the last 3-5 years. I wouldn’t be here, or be this version of me without everything I’ve been through. I wouldn’t be able to appreciate my relationship the same way if something had been different. But thank G-d for all the slogging I’ve done. I’d say it’s been worth it.

No. 1 Ladies’ Detective

My mom loved to read. [Really my whole family has always loved reading. Somehow for a while this penchant skipped me. (But boy do I love it now).] Her favorite author I’d say was Alexander McCall Smith. He has several different series (mostly mystery). But mom was most taken with The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. try as I might, I couldn’t ever really get into them. The style of writing fell a little flat for me. But I tried and tried for it to be another connection point for us. As I was thinking tonight about what this blog would be, I realized I wanted a quote (who’s surprised? No one).

Be content with who you are and where you are, and do whatever you can do to bring to others such contentment, and joy, and understanding that you have managed to find yourself.

If anything encapsulates what the last month or two have been—this quote does. For the first time in forever a long time I am feeling very (almost completely) content. I feel happy and seen and important and knowledgeable and like I have a voice that matters. And it feels really damn good.

If you see me over the course of the next week, I’ll just be soaking up the last few bits of summer. Incredibly in awe of this life I get to live and choose each day.

Get Off the Train

Everything about being on the dating train gets me excited. Meeting new people. The potential of something long term. Being exposed to new things. Seeing the city in a new way.

But at the same time much about the dating train annoys/depletes me. Having the same mundane conversations. Ghosting. Perpetual talking without meeting up. Me having to initiate much of the time.

All I really want is honesty and open communication. People who are genuine. That’s it. Most everything else is negotiable or discussable (not a word). Don’t want a LTR, cool, say so. Not feeling the vibe, been there, say so. All this “easier to just disappear” bullshit is just that, bullshit.

And so here is the cycle of wondering whether online dating is worth it or not. Jury’s still out on that one.

If you want to write, write out.

Sometimes I write poems, or short story fragments. Sometimes it makes it into the public world but more often than not it stays tucked away. I wrote two things this weekend that I’ll leave here. Mostly reflections of things and times and people gone by long, long ago. It’s cathartic to remember. It’s empowering to share. It reminds me of my strength and my craft.

These People

“I don’t want to be these people,” I told you long ago. Your baffled expression and stitched eyebrows told me you didn’t understand. “These people: who hurt each other, and themselves. Who hang on for dear life but don’t do the work. Who claw and claw and claw to stay afloat, only to find the air on the surface is just as suffocating. Who love but don’t understand how to make that enough. Who yell and fight and ignore the ragged edges as if it can all be solved with a coy eye and a morsel of skin. These people we’ve become, I don’t want us to be them. I want us to be ourselves, free from the pain and suffering. Free from each other. Free to find what God is really calling us to. Because this vicious cycle we’ve maintained can’t be all there is.”

Your

It used to be you. Best friends. Late night calls. Silly inside jokes. And quite serious talks. I used to have your birthday memories and you’d do anything to make me laugh. I don’t miss it. I don’t miss you. But it makes me think about how simple life was back then. How naive we were without even knowing it. How much we had in front of us. And how much we’ve each grown. I wouldn’t change a minute, Benj. Not. One. Thing.

The Walrus

“ ‘The time has come,’ the Walrus said. ‘To talk of many things: of shoes, of ships, of ceiling wax, of cabbages, and kings; and why the sea is boiling hot, and whether pigs have wings’.”

Conversations are my favorite. Getting to know other people, diving into the deeper parts, figuring out how they tick and why they are the way they are. It truly captivated me. And a huge part of that feeds into my need for genuine communication. It’s important to me at the very core of my being. It hasn’t always been that way, it’s developed over the years. I admit to having been someone who would avoid difficult conversations in the past, who would avoid direct communication in certain instances. But now I truly do not function well without it.

But I’ve been in many a relationship where the other person doesn’t have the same view on communication. And that’s difficult. In my mind communication isn’t difficult. And you gain so much by being clear and willing to be vulnerable. And so, as I’ve worked through things with myself and with my therapist, I’m turning over a new leaf. I’m not excusing repeated poor communication, and I’m definitely not accepting it. Opening up takes time, but even that you can be clear about.

Honestly, Easter feels like just the time to do it. Life begins anew. We see it all around us as spring unfolds. We see it in the Gospel lessons; new life. And I’m right there as well. New life—in relationships, with my education, etc. and it feels really refreshing.

Who Knew

There was a side of my mom that very few people knew. You had to traverse past the RBF, and deeper than the heightened intelligence. And there in, neatly tucked away you would find her silly side. I can’t even encapsulate exactly what this was like, or how it presented differently than the laughter and joie de vivre found in most people. She was, by far, one of my favorite people to joke with. I can remember moments with just the two of us, and belly laughing for hours. I can remember stories and feeling the ache in my side from the hilarity. Though many saw her as serious, stoic, and perhaps abrasive—there was much more to her. And I miss that. Sure, each of the three of us carry it on inside or us. But what I wouldn’t give to just sit and giggle with her. Today sucks, but in every way I can, I choose to find joy.

Conservationist

By happenstance, two of the recent books I’ve listened to on audiobook have been about some sort of conservation. One about trees (no surprise there) and one about wolves (which also talks a lot about trees). It’s made me think pretty deeply about my own life. What do I actually think about conservation? About the environment? About caring for the land? I’m not sure I know. Someone I dated a few years ago was a stickler for conservation. If he could have, he would have lived off of the land. Who knows, maybe he is doing just that. But it definitely skewed my perspective during those few months. But it didn’t stick. It was conservation by association of some such instead of me actually subscribing to my actions and making them long term. Funny how people change us. Or rather, funny how we change ourselves for others (whether in small or big ways).

We aren’t owed anything. We owe a lot for our actions though. This last book talked about how we could be doing much more for our planet and our world if we just chose to “rewild”. And I wonder what that looks like. It the sense of the book, it means going back to basics and living a more sustainable and simple life. But I wonder what the rewilding looks like in other areas of our lives as well, and not just in terms of conservation. In what places of my life do I need to rewild and once I do, what does that look like and how do I maintain it? As a highly introspective person, it almost comes as a shock to me that I have a different perspective on something deeply personal. But it is a direction I am pursuing during this early part of Lent. And honestly, I like having an introspective direction. Perhaps part of Christ’s own journey held elements of rewilding as well. A rewilding that took him away from the thoughts of his society. A rewilding that allowed him to subsist in the desert. A rewilding that gave him deep insight into the animalistic actions/reactions of his Disciples.

I don’t know much, but a quick Google search shows this book as part of the rewinding endeavor. And boy, everything about it makes me want to give it a read. Perhaps it is next.