Sully, the Christmas artist

So we’re in Ireland and Sully is helping my pal Christine wrap her bf’s gift. She is 16, bf is 16, Sully is 4. To give him something to do, she gives him the card to draw on. Said card has a nice snowman front, some glitter, and inside some words and pretty plain. Plenty of room to draw.

He draws, she wraps, and then I hear her ask what he drew. There is a pause I’m familiar with, one that means something bad has or is about to happen, he says something to her I cannot hear and then I hear, HEATHEEEEER, can you come here?

Upon entering she repeats, Sully, tell Mommy what you drew. He looks exasperated, rolls his eyes to the back of his damned head and sighs.

Penises, he declares. One for her and one for me. He looks at me like I’m an idiot and his craft is unrecognized.

I am slightly taken aback but obviously living for it, but have to pretend I’m a responsible parent. She remains horrified, as real Irish are very private, do not discuss sex or bits, and are apparently unaccustomed to having a toddler draw a bag of dicks on a card meant for the birth of Jesus.

I try, SULLY WE DO NOT DRAW PENISES ON CARDS. I am stern and trying not to laugh.

He remains unapologetic. WELL I DREW ONE FOR HER AND ONE FOR ME. I find this explanation way more valid than she does.

He then, out of anger, grabs the card back, scribbles violently, throws it back at me and shouts THERE, ITS A ROLLERCOASTER.

He then crosses his arms, not so much in defeat, but in complete disgust with us, and leaves to go find something better to do.

A penis for you, a penis for me, Happy Birthday Jesus indeed.

 

xmas dicks

No more ghosts of Christmas past

I told Chris today how proud I was that I didn’t break down over Xmas over missing my father. I didn’t have a wine induced, shit show, laying on the floor, hating everyone moment, or half day. Seems like a small accomplishment, but I love a little holiday self destruction.

What I didn’t get into is that I had decided not to lose myself in my grief and anger in losing him, but I tried really hard to channel him, celebrate him, and make him come to life.

I decorated more. I made thoughtful present attempts. I sang. I drank water. I dressed silly. I acted like a kid. I helped others. I loved and hugged people. And most of all, I laughed hard, and tried to make others laugh, because that was the very best thing about my father—his deep and joyful, thick and meaningful bowl full of jelly, twinkle eye crinkle, ear to ear glee, unapologetic, strip you from adult woes, howling, childlike wondrous humor that made everyone forget what they shouldn’t care about, and made you only care about laughing so hard you forgot how to breathe. He made time stop and bad things disappear when he made you laugh, and sometimes I think I have the superpower to do the same.

And so I didn’t need to cry this year, I just needed to laugh more, and i think it worked.kevin heather xmas

The power of Voice

Sully said something to me Sunday that makes me insanely upset and helpless, but also inspired.

He’s mad that Sawyer gets to go to Boy Scouts. He’s mad that most things require an entry age of five and he’s four, and so when he doesn’t feel included, he hates whatever he can’t be a part of.  In fairness, he’s all of us adults, he just reacts a bit more transparent and emotional, and likely more tantrum focused than any of us can allow.

There was a fight in the boys room Sunday, and I came up to shouting.  Sawyer had told Sully he was doing Scouts this week and Sully could not come, and so Sully went into his best defense of why he, a four year old, couldn’t care less.

“You are lying! You do not help anyone. You do not grow. You shoot and you color and that’s it!”  I had no idea the context, but Sully was PISSED. Arms crossed, shouting, and he had somehow reduced Sawyer, 20 months older and normally with a lot more emotional stability, to tears and a voice shaking.

“TELL HIM HE IS LYING. I AM A SCOUT. I AM A HELPER. I AM A BIG GUY.”   Oh dear God, Sully had attacked his character and somehow it had worked.

“What’s the problem? Sully, why are you being mean to Sawyer?”  I was not impressed, as Sully does sometimes need to be knocked down from his Napolean inspired platform.

“HE IS LYING” he shouted with anger and I think he spit and for fucks sake it was 8pm and I wanted all this to end.  “About what,” I asked flatly, and did not expect the answer I got.

“He says he grows things and helps save the world and builds things and teaches people and helps the world AND HE IS LYING BECAUSE HE DOESN’T.” He was so steadfast and bullshit, and I couldn’t even laugh because they were both so worked up. Sawyer was almost crying and reduced to insult in a way he shouldn’t have, and then the other one, a big ball of anger and accusations.

“Well, that’s not true, Sully. Sawyer does help in Scouts. He grows things, and he tries to help people, and he tries to learn about ways to make the world a better place. Sawyer does try to do nice things with his friends, and it’s not nice for you to tell him he’s lying.”

None of this mattered to the angry one.

“It’s JUST NOT TRUE. He’s lying.”  I don’t want my boys to misunderstand what a liar is, and he was dead serious that his brother was a liar.

“Why do you think he’s a liar? I’m telling you it’s true, and he’s your best friend, so why don’t you believe him?” At four and almost six, their answers are usually pretty revealing and this was no exception. I almost expected it to go to full out battle.

“Because he is just a small boy. He says he is a big boy now and I am small but he is not. And small boys cannot do things like grow things or save the earth or teach people because those are things big guys do like mommys and daddys and he is lying and I don’t like it.  One boy cannot do what he says he does at Scouts because he is just one boy and he says no one is helping him and he is just a little boy.  IT IS JUST NOT TRUE WHAT HE SAYS.”

And then I realized the actual argument didn’t matter, but perhaps the fact that I hadn’t instilled in Sully yet, only Sawyer, that a person of any size, and any age, can do very, very big things.  He is just one boy and one boy cannot do what he says.  That stung. It made me sad to think he thought there were limits based on size or age, and that I missed giving this lesson because I have been caught up in my own adult world.

“Well, Sully, that’s just not true. Anyone, big or small, little boys or parents, are able to change the world and do things big and amazing.  Your brother can try, and you can try, and I can try, and sometimes trying is all that it takes.  It doesn’t take more than one person to make a difference, because if everyone thought them not trying wouldn’t matter, no one would ever start and no one would ever finish. Mommy tries every day. Mommy tries to make people happy and make the world better and sometimes I help and sometimes I can’t help, but at least every day I try harder than the last day.  You can help even if you are small, and don’t tell your brother he can’t, because no one should ever tell you YOU can’t.”

I felt kind of defeated, even though he nodded and said ok, like the pep talk I just gave was enough to make him come down from screaming that his brother was a liar.

It’s bothered me, though, for 3 days, because I didn’t think they were ready for talks about ways they could change the world, but I think they are.  Maybe it’s time for me to tell them about who I hope they model parts of their life after.  Maybe it’s time for them to tell me what’s important to them and allow me the growth to tell them how to help with those things.

And so I thought of people quickly, and off the top of my head, that I think they should know, people who have impacted my life– like Greta Thunberg, Malala Yousafzai, Angela Merkel, MLK, Jane Goodall, Elie Wiesel, Christine Blasey Ford, David Hogg, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Travis Mills, Rosa Parks, Pope Francis, Jacinda Ardern, Anne Lamott.

I don’t want icons, though. I don’t want people in mainstream media. I don’t want anyone who has earned their career based on social networking– I don’t want my kids to think these people are worthy of being heroes–because both my boys think Tom Brady IS the hero, and while I’ll fundamentally agree with that, I don’t even want him to have a place in this conversation, not because he doesn’t do good somehow in life, or he can’t exemplify perfection and dedication and standards and commitment and ultimate sainthood, but because he is impactful in an arena that will never reach or impact the future or wellness of my children, and I’m sure he’d tell you that himself.

I want my boys to push forward in what is seemingly a negative world right now, with a bit of light and inspiration from people who I think exemplify hope and kindness and good and progress.  And the books and the news and documents will report the hate and pick and choose who is documented.  Maybe it’s time I just tell them about some love, hope and inspiration, if only from their mother’s eyes.

I don’t know. I’m still somewhat new at raising children in this world.  And I’m lazy in teaching lessons that they deserve.  And I don’t trust textbooks or the news or things they’ll read 20 years from now, without a bit of perspective from someone who loved them most, cared about their future, and just wanted them to be very good, kind, and thoughtful men.

The Meeting of the Bostonian Walrus

I met Ted Kennedy twice in my phase 1 life in DC as an intern or staff assistant, the first time was the summer of 2001, when evenings meant five cent pitchers at My Brother’s Place, a seedy little hole in the shadows of The Hill.  Terror had yet to ruin the innocence of those of us working for the government, and so we still walked the paths to the bars with our heads held high with naivety, and our pockets full of change bestowed to us by the Greats who ran the Congress and did literally nothing else but exist and be more delusional than any of us could ever be.

It was a Friday in July 2001, a month The Delusional still insisted they “worked”, and with the tick of 430pm, all New England based interns and the like set off out of the depths of mailroom hell to march uniformly to My Brother’s Place, a watering spot we called home on many days to escape the pain of indentured servitude to those who couldn’t hang their dry cleaning or wipe their ass, much less connect to the people of the state they voted to protect and uphold.

It was me and two partners in crime that one sunny afternoon, leaving the back doors of the Russell building to cut the parks to 237 2nd St NW, tucked out of sight of the dreams of Constitution Ave. Dreams died at 237 2nd, they were not made, but memories were, and I have many.

On that particular day, our thirst induced intentions were delayed at the site of a very robust, and very stuck in the public with minimal staffing, Senator Ted Kennedy.  All storms were perfect, he was ours, and he had no chance.

I was two months fresh into the theatrics and fanfare that was interning on the Hill and a Ted Kennedy opportunity was like the middle spot on a bingo card, too good to pass up and walk away from.  “Let’s get a picture,” I declared, and the others just followed along because they were stuck playing my bingo card just by being friends with me.

We approached as one would a rhinoceros, he was large and bold and brash and loud, very loud, even when he wasn’t addressing you.  He was standing alone with one meek and beanpole shaped staffer, and stood monitoring the Beanpole’s attempt at tossing tennis balls to his tall and arid looking water poodles, or Portuguese Water Dogs, if we’re being specific, and referring to the name I was later informed of.

We approached with caution, and I felt, Ted Kennedy deserved a level of respect few interns deserved to be on the receiving end of, but I was positive I needed to know him, and him me, and so I went forth.

“Sir, Senator,” and then I stopped in his presence.  His suit was clearly from one of those Big and Tall joints, and his hair was so shiny you could sled down it like the best ice storm New England had ever seen.  His smile was as big as he was famous, his existence unnerving, but he had an old man quality to him that reduced him to a big, fat, fancy dressed walrus with a Boston accent, and as I pictured this image of him I created, I reminded myself to focus on the fact that he was, indeed, fucking political royalty

“Senator,” I stammered, four foot eleven to his greatness, “we work for Susan Collins, and could we please have your picture tonight?” My friend stumbled for our shared point and shoot, which we carried around with us for exactly this fucking reason, and we held it out with hopeful and sweaty palms, praying he’d say ok. We also hoped he didn’t hate her, which was give or take that year depending on the voting record.

“Alright,” he boomed, “but make yourselves useful,” and then he pointed to the dropped tennis ball those ugly water poodles had left at the feet of the wilting Beanpole, full of slobber and sad doggy expectations.

We looked at the ball, at him, at his sad Beanpole, and then at him again.  We were her paid servants, not his too, but this on the Hill is not a thing.  “Well,” he boomed again, “what are you waiting for?”

Reality, I think, or the notion that taking a photo should not require payment on the way to a happy hour I could barely afford, but this must not be the case in the Land of Kennedy’s, and so we complied.

I threw that stupid tennis ball like I was back at high school softball tryouts, much to the relief of Beanpole, and much to the delight of the very massive, and somewhat approving Senator from Massachusetts.  And when I had done my service, he obliged with the requested photo, a perfect moment in the time where we looked as hopeful as our age and experience lent, and it was validation that we belonged.

We trudged off that afternoon to the happy hour knowing we were better than the other interns we were about to swap bottomless cups with. We were touch by A KENNEDY, we were like royals ourselves, and there was nothing that was going to stop us, not that night, not that summer, NOT EVER.

I met Ted a second time by accident in an elevator on the way back from the Capitol. He stepped into the elevator on the 2nd floor of Russell on my way up from a chicken finger basket errand one random day in my later years in the Depths of Delusional Congressional Years.  I think he had started on the 4th floor, god knows where or why we’d meet in the middle, but there I was, holding a basket of hot chicken, and there he was, with those same damned dogs that looked like fancy, hairy, overgrown twits.

I saw him and them as the door opened, and he acted as he did, unaffected by a human with food in a closed space about to be shared with overly excitable dogs, because when you’re famous, you have no idea how dogs and elevators and humans and fast food works.  In any case, I saw him, I saw those dumb dogs, I glanced at my lunch and those motherfuckers lept into the elevator like it was within the Kennedy Institute and before I could differentiate, I was down a pair of nylons and my leg was bleeding as a parting gift.

I will admit that I was still too in awe to be belligerent about my bleeding leg, ripped nylons or partially consumed lunch, because as he dogs were assaulting me, at least he knew best to ask, “Where are you from” and through the pain and bleeding I said Maine and smiled, and he said “Good people, nice summers and good liquor stores” and I was kind of like FUCK YES YOUR STORES AREN’T OPEN ON SUNDAYS ARE THEY TED and then I got distracted because his head was really so fucking big, his nose more red than Rudolf’s was ever portrayed and I wondered if anyone ever asked him to play Santa in the Cape before he was wicked famous which was probably when he was like 6 so irrelevant, but honestly he was so damned majestic that walrus doesn’t nearly come close.

The door opened two seconds later and he waltzed out forgetting anything dumb I had said.  The water dogs followed him like the dumb twits they were, and the only time I ever saw him again was at his funeral.

 

The End can wait

Friends and family have reached to me more than once in the past 6 months to tell me someone they loved has died by suicide, and asked me what they could have done, could say to the family, can do moving forward. I wish I could say I haven’t had this conversation with more people than I can count since my Day One on 2 AUG 2007. I wish I could say I don’t know what to say or do, but I do, and so I’d like to offer my story and some advice.

A friend contacted me recently with a heavy heart, a loss, and I was going to wait until I had the right words to write, but there is no right time, no right words. Her friend lost a child to suicide with no warning, one with the promises of college ahead, and the loss is heavy, and new, and full of shock and regret. Like every other loss I hear of, it drops my stomach, makes me sad beyond belief, and makes me wish people reached to me as a resource before a tragedy, asking how to help a family live, instead of be on the receiving end at the last hour to help a family grieve and find next steps. I wish I could help with fear, and hopelessness, and the need for help, instead of how to live after burying someone, and the sense of regret after it is too late.

I wish I could normalize scary concepts like depression, and anxiety, and substance abuse, and bullying, and the need for medication, and more so the need for acceptance, and a safe place. I wish I could tell people what it’s like to be sick, how to talk to someone, how to truly listen, how to validate someone, how to say everything by saying nothing, how to just accept, and be, and how to instill hope. I don’t get to do all these things Before Death, and so I tell my experiences and my stories and my thoughts and I hope it helps someone After Death, and I hope it most of all it helps the YOU that might need it. Hang with me, this is going to be a tough one.

I have lost a father to suicide.
I survive my own daily struggles with mental health. You name it, I may have felt it.
I have friends who lead seemingly successful lives, lives with family and great jobs and travel and gifts, and those friends want to die.
I have friends who wanted to die after giving birth to children they wanted, having no understanding of their lack of interest in their children, spouses, families or their new-found lack of self worth and will to live.
I have friends who have lost siblings, parents, spouses, and friends.
I have people waiting for someone to try again, or this time to succeed.
I have friends who harm themselves and cannot stop. I have friends who used to harm themselves and found hope.
I have friends who self medicate, over medicate, or refuse medicine or therapy.
I have friends slowly killing themselves with drugs, alcohol or starvation because to them, its an easier way to go.
I have friends who cannot lift their heads from bed days at a time, because the world is awful, dark, bleak and lacks hope.
I have friends functioning on mania, lacking of sleep for days on end, feeling a high that’s dangerous and exhilarating and always on the verge of destruction.
I understand the anxiety and defeat of addiction.
I understand the clarity and hope of sobriety.
I understand lack of acceptance and the purgatory of ill thoughts and questioned existence.
I understand needing help but knowing shame.
I understand the power and safety of trusted friends and professionals.
I know the loneliness, the emptiness, the insecurity of self doubt.
I know the pressures of career, and family, and money and stability and success.
I recognize masks, and denial, and blame, and false reassurance to others.
I understand triggers and fighting yourself and do overs and patience and forgiveness.

I don’t know the specifics of YOU who needs this, but I am positive I have met, struggled with, or encountered every piece of YOU. I do know that YOU aren’t alone, YOU are worthy, and YOU deserve a better version of YOU when YOU are ready.

I know that people have good intentions, but do not understand this disease, and do not understand that sunshine, and walks, and ice cream and empty declarations of “you’ll be FINE” are not going to fix YOU. I know medication is a choice, but not always a fix, not always accessible, not always the solution, but might be a crutch. I know that self care is important, and so is self awareness, honesty, vulnerability in a safe space. I know talking helps, but so does a heavy silence without expectations, in the presence of a non-judgmental friend or family member.

I know YOU need time, and the ability to realize YOU HAVE THE TIME. The end can wait–the promise of an end, an end to the noise, to the pain, to the defeat to yourself, it may seem so powerfully positive and peaceful, but THE END CAN WAIT.

YOU mean something to someone, somewhere, most likely too many someones. Your joy, laughter, voice, company, YOUR footprint on life — these are things YOU take for granted, we take for granted, assume your best parts of life will easily be forgotten or gotten over with over time without you around. I know steadfast that if you believe the false truth that you do not matter, as a survivor of suicide, YOU ARE WRONG.

Without you, someone will lose their way. Someone will spend the rest of their life hoping to never forget the magic of your laugh, the tone of your voice. Someone will save emails, listen to voicemails, and replay conversations over and over and over again. Someone will rub pictures of you dull that they carry with them as reminders, the only tangible thing they have left of you. Someone will pray the vision of you that they hold in the deepest parts of their memory , the one of your face, or the last time you hugged or were near, the glimmer or your eyes, the creases of the corners of the smile of your mouth, someone will pray this mental snapshot of you never fades with the passing of time.

Someone will be left to talk to you and themselves and a God they aren’t sure exists in the stillness of the night because they need someone to listen. They will curse you, beg you for forgiveness, will you to return, and pray to anything listening to help them understand. Someone will never know the answer to why, regardless of if you left a message, or a letter, in an attempt to explain and depart.

Someone will hate themselves for allowing you to go, for not helping you, for not trying harder, calling more, listening harder, for not telling the future, for not physically making you stop, for not understanding your pain, for not being given the chance, for not being enough. A part of them will die with you and they will never return to The Days Before That Day.

And what you won’t see, but it’ll come— People standing over you, speaking fondly of you in past tense, things they wish they had said Before This. There will be crying until the seas of tears run dry. Pleading, pummeling the ground, tossing at night, sweating away bad dreams. People will half function dazed, lost, or not at all, in regret and sadness and relief and guilt. You will be loved and you will be hated, grieve, memoralized, but never forgotten, and that is the punishment for those who stay when you go. A lifetime of daily memorials for a loved one who they needed, who they could have helped, if only you allowed them, and yourself.

None of us make it out alive in the very end, we all do our very best based on circumstance in this crazy world, and none of us win a trophy for being more seemingly sane than the other. We can save each other. We can use kindness and open dialogue to fight illness. We can choose to accept and not judge. We can stop and be still and care, and not be so caught up in image and false realities and delusions of people all being the same and all needing the same things. We can need each other, we can ask for help, and we can do so without shame or fear of having to do all the bad things the worst of you demands. We are all, all of us, in this fight together.

Make your conversations count. Learn to listen. Learn to accept and love. Learn to ask for help. And know, without a doubt, THE END CAN WAIT, it’s not your time, and it can get better. Just try one more day for better.

 

The time Kait ruined Christmas

Kaitlin tended to call me en route to a vacation stop, or while waiting for a plane, or to check in from some local airport bar where she was living down her latest forty-eight hours of poor decisions.  This story is just that, a recollection of a weekend that involved a few poor judgement calls, bars in airports, and a holiday disaster of epic proportions.

She called me while at Logan airport after a weekend of guests, and she caught me off guard with the immediate and aggressive details of her weekend, so much so, I almost got hit by a car trying to cross the street to process the latest disaster she called dating.

“First, I need to tell you how good looking he is,” she emphasized this, as we’d had some terrible suitors of late that did not qualify as good looking, and so this was her disclaimer up front to get me to avoid being disappointed in her latest tryst.

“He’s a pro-golfer,” she continued, defensive still, and I started in with my usual interrogation tactics.  This is odd, I thought.  Normally I have to pull the professional details of her latest out of her, like the time I did with the toilet salesman, or the Target worker, or the guy with the ambitions to be on American Idol (the Bangor, Maine, version, to be clear).

“It’s winter, Kaitlin, and I highly doubt you met him on a golf course.” My voice was filled with doubt and judgment, as the only thing I’d ever seen her do on a golf course was pose awkwardly with her siblings, every Thanksgiving, when they took this infamous family shot on the green at her Mimi’s retirement community.

kaits awkward photos

“Did you meet him while visiting Mimi, Kait? Because that means he’s at least 70 and I know you like it there, but JESUS.” She had recently told me what a gem Mimi’s community was, with the early dinners, naps, and day drinking by the pool and golf course.  She had boasted how marketable she was for any grandkid of one of Mimi’s friends, and truly, she never ceased to amaze me with her locations of choice for a pick-up.

 “No, Christ, I’m not that bad,” and at this point, at least that was debatable, because her Coug days were just getting started, maybe perhaps with this very first take down.

She carried on with, “He’s the younger brother of one of my roommates and girlfriends,” to which I countered,

“Oh, this sounds like it’s going to end well.  Please carry on.” Why the younger brother of a girlfriend wasn’t enough to deter her, I’ll never know, but apparently, she was into young, unsuspecting lads we were probably old enough to babysit a decade ago.

And then she just laid it out simply.

“So I took down her younger brother last night. The one with the nice girlfriend that the whole family loved.” 

I was almost hit by another car and my mouth dropped so wide a swarm of bees could have flown in and I wouldn’t have been able to shut my jaw enough to stop them.

“Holy god, what the hell is wrong with you?”  She knew I was more proud than horrified, and she asked what all the beeping was about.

“I almost got hit by a fucking Parisian.  You could have warned me before you said take down.” These stories never ended well.  She carried on, unphased.

“So he’s giving me the eye at the bar when we’re out with the family and then one thing leads to another blah blah blah and we’re back at the house,”

WHOSE HOUSE, I demanded, and I want to say hers and the roommates, but to this day, I can’t be sure.  I’m pretty sure hers, though.

She continues, saying blah blah a lot about the details from the bar, but I can picture it all in my head anyway. I have seen her blah blah blah before.  It’s less than classy or attractive.

 “And then he comes in my room late at night and blah blah we had drunken sex. I think the headboard is broken because it kept banging but then we also kept banging.”

I couldn’t get enough of this story.

“And then when we were done, he went out to the living room to sleep in the aerobed, and yep, you guessed it, HIS MOTHER WAS SITTING ON THE COUCH.”

I made a pained noise and then laughed so hard I choked.  “I didn’t fucking guess that, Kailin.”  Truly, I didn’t see that one coming, no one guesses the mother is in the fucking same building, but then again, it was not a huge surprise.

“So she was sitting there just staring at him and then just said, “were you doing nasty things in there?”  I almost got hit in traffic again. I had to stop walking and crossing these damned streets.  This story was the best. Nasty things is one of my favorite things and while I wanted her to elaborate, I knew she didn’t need to.

“So I didn’t know any of this because I passed out in my room but then the next morning, no one said a word when his parents drove us to the airport.”

“DID YOU SAY PARENTS?  Where was everyone sleeping? You had the whole family there and you took down the young brother? Oh my god.  OHMYGOD.  Why were you all on a group trip to the airport?  Jesus, I’m so confused.”  There were so many parts of this story I didn’t understand, care to understand, or really question.   She had this ability to create a circus without even trying and it was magical.

“Who cares? Stop asking all these questions.  I was flying out for work and he was flying back to DC.  Anyway, I thought we had gotten away with it, but then we headed to the airport bar,” she paused for a second and I jumped in,

“Why were you all making a family trip to the airport bar?” I was confused. Didn’t she live in Boston and why was she going to the airport bar?

“Ugh, to see him off,” she was mad I kept interrupting her with my aggressive interrogation and disruptive laughter. I didn’t know what stitches was but I was fucking in them.

“So he grabs me and says, hey, quick, I need to tell you something, and then went into the story of how his Mom asked if we had been doing nasty things and that his sister (my roommate) also knew. The whole family knows. That’s why no one looked me in the eye today.”

Yes, hearing the drunken sex of the prized youngest son will do that to a proud mother and doting sister.  Jesus, I couldn’t get enough of this story.  She needed her own TV series, really, and if I had more time that day, I would have elaborated on what nasty things this time entailed.  If I were to go with the historical knowledge I had of her sex life, I had an idea.

“Oh dear lord what did your roommate say? Nice work on banging my younger brother? I’d kill you, just so you know, if you banged my brother.”  I did hope her friend at least had a sense of humor about the whole thing.

“Oh, you know, the usual,” which I assumed meant she was disappointed, slightly in awe and at least thankful for a good story.

“So she didn’t care?” I tried again. That girl had to care. Kait’s take downs were always epic and disastrous.

“Oh, no, she told me I ruined Christmas.”
And with that I just sat down on the sidewalk and laughed and laughed and laughed until the tears almost drowned me and lack of air almost suffocated me.  People were staring and I had never been so happy to make a scene in the middle of Paris.

“HEATHER, IT IS NOT FUNNY.  I RUINED THEIR CHRISTMAS.”  I kept laughing.

She had ruined an entire holiday, for an entire family, on perhaps the holiest time of the year, around the birth of Jesus.

I was so proud to be her friend.

 

Things about Kaitlin…

The last time I wrote here, was about my father, on the day I lost him ten years ago.  It was the start to a decade of pain, and it ended just the same, but with new grief, that of losing my best friend, Kaitlin.  I have avoided writing anything too real and painful, and just allowed for a few pictures and memories on FB, because I knew it would hurt too much to write how I feel about losing her, and it reminds me of the pain I felt when I lost my father, and it’s a reminder of how loss in general is one thing I do not do well.

It took me at least a year to write something significant about the loss of my father, and most of which I kept private and unable to share with the world.  Even now, ten years later, I have not written everything I have to give, because it brings me to a place that leaves me uneasy and scared and vulnerable, and vulnerability is one of my very least favorite things on earth.  But, I loved Kaitlin in a very different way than I loved my father, and she loved my stories, and made so many with me, that it seems wrong not to write just because i’m not sure I’ll make it through.  I owe her at least to try, and I know if I can’t, she would understand and wait.

What I can’t decide now is how to approach this.  Do I start at the beginning, with us sitting on her front stairs, late into the night holding hands and me crying, or do I start when I publicly gave her eulogy, not coming up with enough words to express my love, and still crying.  So.  I guess I’ll work backwards, because there is no more forwards, and I should start with the enormity of my loss, to be able to reflect on the abundance of laughter and happiness she brought to my life.

The problem is, though, that I can’t find the eulogy I gave.  I ripped it from my journal, and tucked it back somewhere not to lose, and I did just that, I have lost it, and the only reason I’m not going to light something on fucking fire out of anger, is because sadly I’m unable to forget most of the words I wrote about her.  And, maybe it’s ok I lost it, because I didn’t say everything I wanted to say, and I didn’t get to have more than one chance to say it, but I do now, and so maybe this will be a better version anyway.  And, it’s a better way to spend my time, than the last hour I spent scouring Facebook pages to find photos of us together, to remember the last time we spent together, saving every moronic and unattractive photo we ever took, and my god, did we not try to be attractive.

I met Kaitlin while living in DC, and we became the best of friends almost exactly ten years to the month I lost her, maybe 30 days difference.  We had been acquaintances, buddies through other friends, but it was not until around 15 AUG 2007, that she became one of the most important people in my life.  I had just come back from losing my father the week before, only in town in DC for a few days to gather more things and myself, only to go back to spend more time with my family in Maine.  My friends were worried about me, and I had a dinner with her and a few others.  The dinner that was to distract me from my grief included good news for another friend, and I felt devastated, because I didn’t selfishly, have the moment with my girlfriends, to be as rock bottom as I was.  I made it through the dinner, and she offered to walk me home back to her place, for another drink, and it is one night that I have never forgotten, and will never, because she saved me from myself and my grief for a few hours, and I always told her that I could never repay her for what she did.

We went back to her house, and she asked if I wanted to sit on the stairs and talk, have another glass of wine, a few smokes, and for me to tell her how I really felt.  I had never spoken to her before about anything bad, forget life changing, she knew only the details of my family life that I mocked, and I had never sat before her so ruined, so lost, and so willing to give in to every last bit of self destruction I could muster.  I told her about the week before, about the phone call, about the long drive up 95 that ruined my life.  I told her about having to tell my sister and how I would never forgive my father for that.  I told her what it was like to go back to his house a day after he died, what it was like to feel everything and nothing in the same day, the things I regretted, the things I hated, the things I didn’t want to admit to myself but I had to tell someone who didn’t feel the same pain.

What she did for me that night, and through the entirety of our friendship, was she did not judge me.  She did not interrupt, she did not tell me to feel less or feel something unrealistic as forgiveness or love.  What she did is sat quietly to the left of me, on the same stoop, and she sat silently, and from time to time, she grabbed my shoulder or she ran her hand across my back.  When my drink ran low, she filled it and kept listening.  She lit cigarettes from me and nodded from time to time, but not once did she ever tell me she understood, and I was so grateful to have someone let me be angry and sad and destructive and hateful and lost and defeated and expect not one thing from me, and for when I paused, she sat in silence too, and smoked and stared into the same darkness I was staring into, and she just waited until I spoke again.

And when I was done raving and swearing and pleading and crying, she just asked if there was anything she could do.  And for once, when I said no, nothing, she was the person who didn’t try beyond that.  She put me on her couch, took my shoes off, and when I woke up the next morning, she asked me if I wanted to go to Cheesecake Factory, and she never mentioned what she sat through the night before.  She never asked if I was ok, or told me to cheer up.  She took me to our favorite place to eat buffalo blasters, and she ordered us both a white wine, and she told me about one of her horrific dating experiences of late.  I laughed, and she laughed, and she never felt sorry for me, and it was that weekend, in AUG 2007, that she became my very best friend.

We spent a decade together, making very poor decisions, living life irresponsilbity, laughing so hard we cried, defending each other, fighting each other, loving each other, and having a better understanding of each other’s fears, best moments, and plenty of worsts, than so many other people in my life.  She was a sister to me, and we made each other better, and we certainly brought each other down with mutual bad behavior and lack of self control.

We always said we’d end up together, rocking somewhere on a porch facing the ocean in Maine, drinking nips and smoking into the night, reminiscing about the life we lived hard in our 20s and 30s.  We’d surely be alone, because no man could ever contain us or really want us for life, but we’d have each other, like so many times in our friendship, and it was something we looked forward to, and expected on some level, and were fine with, on all levels.

She was so many things I am not.  She was endless laughter, and spontaneity, and selflessness and compassion that I have never felt.  She was kind, and endearing, and mischievous, and clumsy, and sunshine after a hurricane of chaos, most of which she was directly involved in causing, with or without me.  She was accepting, and forgiving, and patient, and optimistic.  I can hear her laugh, because it’s what she did most, and there was a twinkle in her eyes that sparkled and made you happy, or worry, or both, depending on the day.  I never met anyone who didn’t like Kaitlin, because her heart was truly good and never conflicted, and she was real and loyal, and she would do every last thing possible for someone she loved, and she loved me, and she always, always gave me the world.

This piece was actually not as hard to write as I imagined, and it made me smile.  But my heart hurts, and I’m so very sad to live days where so much reminds me of her, and I instinctually go to message her still, screenshot things only she would understand, raise eyebrows at things we’d need no words to share and laugh about, and when she used to just be a moment away, she is now a lifetime away, and every time I am forced to remember that, it kills me, stabbing, aching, pain that drowns me.  One day, hopefully, the pain will be less.

But not today.

She was the very best. She was my angel, my counterpart in creating chaos, my sounding board, the person who always forgave me for just being me.  She was, all things unconditional, and she was a piece in my life that will remain empty until I see her again.

 

me and kait 2009

And when I do, when we are together again, we will raise hell, laugh until it hurts, and I will tell her, I was never scared or very alone, because I was always sure she stayed with me.

 

Ten years of loss

I’ve spent nine years and something leading up to this post, and still have no idea how to make this one post centered around loss different than any other I’ve done.  I decided not to read the other posts, so that when I wrote this one, it had the potential to merely be an update on where I’m at dealing with the death of my father.

And then I thought I should forget about this post because it was too much of a milestone, too much pressure, but I do need to write my way through this, and so I will, because the best thing that’s ever come out of my loss is realizing I can help people who are not able to be as vocal as I am.

So.  Here we go.

In the past ten years, I’ve deliberately taken of Dead Father Day, a holiday not everyone gets to celebrate, yay me, and my “celebrating” includes no amount of decorations, friends, finger foods or alcohol that I’m willing to share for a group.  In many Dead Days past, I thought sitting on my back porch was extremely healing, if healing includes drinking straight through two bottles of wine, a stray beer here or there, and a large amount of tobacco to prove that I’m driving the south forward on their tobacco production.

Today, Wednesday, 2 August, 2017, marks an approximate 3650 days of death dealings.  I’d say 3655, just because of leap years but honestly, I’m not a fucking calendar and I don’t know how many leap years there have been, nor do I care to look it up.

This year it hit me harder than last, proven in my journal entries by day this week.  I wrote a normal entry for 31 JULY and then the next day, as I sat in a gazebo out of view of my office, I sat and smoked and drank too much coffee and decided to write.  And the minute I wrote 1 AUG, the sinking feeling I felt paralyzed me.  How could I know that July has a last day and not remember that August, the worst month of the year, has a first day? August, you humid, sneaky cunt, I still hate you with everything I have in my blood and bones and hobbit sized body.

I wrote privately about how hard it hit me, how shocked and oddly so, and how I should not have been.  I wrote about how truly I hate vulnerability, and how I hope this entire month would drink poison and disappear again forever.  I wrote about wanting to say something profound for those that I know look to my experiences to make theirs better or less painful.  I wanted to write to make sense of what ten years of loss truly feels like. I wanted to write to tell my father all of the things that he has missed but I’m sure he’s either at the bottom of the ocean we dropped him in, or he’s found a way to raise hell elsewhere, and thankfully just not in my life right now.

The truth of the matter is that three thousand something days could go by, and I am still able to put myself exactly where I was when I found out, when i drove home, when i told my sister, when i stayed home, when I cried and when didn’t know how to cry, when i was angry and didn’t know if I’d survive, the days I felt like lying on the cold linoleum floor of a transitional apartment complex made sense, and still makes sense to me now, because when I got very sad the other night, I moved myself with a pillow to the floor, because I feel like I feel my best pain apparently lying with my face against the floor.

I’ve previously written about what each year means when you lose someone to suicide, but after ten years, I’m probably past that.  So instead, I’ll give a ten year overview, and this may get a bit messy.  Ten years, one still dead father, two sad and regretful daughters, a sad and capable wife with cancer who could really fucking use her husband right now, a million questions never answered, and time that never fucking stops to help us deal with all of this bullshit or at the very least, make sense of it.

I’ll start with what’s most bothersome to me, and lucky public, you’ll get insight into our failures and issues that our father thought he’d highlight on his way out to the woods to end his life.

There was once a time that we were told we were not mentioned in my father’s lengthy suicide note, the note that told my stepmother where he could be found, who to call, why, and what to do.  That letter that detailed selling snow blowers and cars and paying bills and making life easier in his absence, that letter that apparently didn’t include a portion for me.

At that time, I demanded to see the document, once searched the house for it when I could find spare moments, I needed to see it, it consumed me.  I called the police station drunk one night to beg them for a copy, to beg to talk to the man who found my father, to ask him if he could tell me anything more, to hear the voice of the one person who saw my father last as he dragged him out of the woods.

I needed that letter.  I needed to know he left something for me, but we were never given it, and we were told he never said anything.  I think we let it go for a few years and then I started in with the demands again.  I’m sorry but my father shot himself twice in the chest like some magician in the woods which we all considered was a place of solace and I spent 27 years loving him and hating him and loving him harder and I was to believe that he left no words for me?

If you know my family, you’d have to be out of your goddamned mind to believe that. Smiths are never short on words–cutting, encouraging, blabber, and the like.  I did not ever believe he would end his life and never mention me.  It wasn’t until years later that I was told that there were two things, and then it was obvious why were weren’t told, because what he chose to say was sad and an unfair goodbye.

Katie: I hope she completes her nursing school and sticks with something, which is kind of a slight considering she was actually TRYING to complete her dreams vice giving up on life.

And then me, the one with all the similarities and problems.  My wish for Heather is that she doesn’t turn out like me and gets control of her anger and drinking.

And that was that.  That was the effort put forth in a letter that expressed more words in ink on how to operate a snow blower or how to sell the cars or who to deal with and how to pay off the credit cards he wracked up when manic.

I hated him for choosing to leave that guidance for me.  I hated him because it was true and I hated him because I needed to hear him say he loved me.  I know I’m just like him.  I know what my vices are.  I know how I respond to stress and life and boredom and family.  I wish he had never said anything.  But I really wish he had just left this for me instead.

Heather, You are more like me than you will ever be able to admit.  We’ve shared these talks over the years and I beg you find the peace you need to conquer all the things that cause you to self destruct.  I know the fact that I lied to you and promised that this would never happen again after the first time or two is now complete bullshit in retrospect but I hope you understand what I am trying to do for my family by leaving.  You are a strong woman.  You will beat this.  I need you to run the family.  I need you to know I will always love you.  You are the worst of me in the best way and I will always watch over you.  Take care of your sister and Judy, and when you need me, ask, and I will be there.

That is the fucking letter I needed.  That is the letter I didn’t get.

I got, I hope Heather doesn’t turn out like me.  Too late.  I’m just fucking like you.

I wish after ten years, I could make some sense of this.  He owed me so much more than that. I FUCKING DESERVED MORE THAN THAT. I BECAME MORE THAN YOU. I HAVE A SON NOW WHO IS INSANELY LIKE YOU. I can’t go one day without looking at Sully and not see my father and if that’s not fucked up payback, I don’t know what is.

 

Let’s talk about despair and loss and guilt and pathetic behavior.

I’ve mastered all of those things as well.  Despair? I’ve passed out on the floor during the holidays with his urn open and lying next to me, so I could be close to him.  Loss? Every day is loss when it comes to my father.  Loss of his loud voice, his captivating stories, his smell of Irish Springs soap, his hugs, strong and sturdy, realizing the twinkle in his eyes disappeared the moment I was told he was gone.

I’ve spent too much time lying on floors, face under a vat of wine, or beer, or vodka, taking in anything that would make me feel better for one goddamned day in my life.  This never works, by the way.  I always wake up more sad, more angry, and so fuzzy in the head that all I wanted to do is throw up my sadness.

I’ve thrown up a lot since he died.  Half of the time, likely attributed to drinking too fast, too strong, in an attempt to make it all go away.  The other half, I’d wake out of a dream where he was there, I could feel him and see him and touch him, and I’d wake and have to throw up because I was so convinced I was just with him and then realized I couldn’t get back there and I felt like someone was keeping him from me and I’d go to my yard and throw up until my eyes would almost fall out of my head, on my knees, pleading that I could go back in that dream where he was, where I needed to be, but he was already gone. Don’t ask why I go outside to have these fits of emotion and breakdowns. There’s something I like about the yard.

I’ve felt him a few times, in passing, mostly when I was dealing with a very hard time, and it was like a wind swept in and something sat with me, said nothing, and just sat there.  That has happened maybe 6 times.  At the end of these times, though, the wind always moved on.  I never did.

I’ve had really hard decisions in life to make where I didn’t know what to do and I felt him sweep in and just surround me in a glow and I felt my entire disposition change, I felt ok, I felt I was taken care of, he was there, and I trusted in what I did. Those times, I begged him to never leave.  He always left anyway.  I hate him for that.

But, for the most part, he’s always gone.  I don’t know how long they let you out of hell for good behavior, and I don’t know how to ask.  Maybe in my eleventh year, I’ll find out.  I don’t know.

What I do know is the following, and this is just going to spew out:

I loved my father since the day I met him until the day he ruined my life.  Not one day in 3650 plus has gone by that I haven’t needed him or loved him or hated him or been filled with an instance that if I could see him again for 5 minutes, I’d want to fight him for hurting me, but I’d hold him with every last ounce of love that I have for him, and I’d look him hard in the eye one last time, kiss him, and tell him I will always, always love him.

I needed him to help me not be like him, because I’ve failed.  I needed him to tell me he was proud of my motherhood, something he never thought was possible.  I needed him to tell me how to get Sully to stop saying WHAT THE HECK, which isn’t even from me bc if it was, it’d be WHAT THE FUCK.  I need him to come to Germany and hunt down his terribly recorded family heritage.  I need him to come tell me one more time that I’m a Smith and we are strong and we have moxie and to never let anyone tell me any different.

I just need to ask him why.

why.  why after 27 years of my life, many trying times together with your mental illness and our family issues, why, why couldn’t you stay for me? Why was I not good enough? What could I have done, because you PROMISED ME YOU WOULD NEVER DO THIS AGAIN.

But you did.  On Thursday, 2 August, 2007, while I was at a work happy hour, you were already hours gone.  You didn’t give me a chance to talk you out of it this time, you just gave me the chance to come home and realize our new family reality.

And honestly, still, fuck you.  Fuck you for leaving me. Fuck you for leaving Katie.  Fuck you for leaving Judy and fuck you for giving up on us.  I do understand mental illness, but it is so fucking hard to understand it when it changes your entire world.

I can’t do more tonight.  I need to sleep.  I need to remember that my real life picks up tomorrow.  And I need to hope that for the millionth time, it’s really a thing that this type of tragedy makes you a better person, even though I’m not even sure I’m capable of being a better person.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chex Mix

So Chex Mix says that eating a full bag of Bold mix is consuming 8 servings. I think that’s a bit unfair and don’t appreciate their snack size. I ate an entire bag yesterday in the office and am on par to finish today’s bag in the next three hours.

I don’t know what to make of this, and now, since I ate 1/3 of a pint of B&J in bed last night when reading, perhaps I should consider upping my step count. I don’t want to be foolish and slow down on my eating.

I might consider chewing quietly since I sit in an open room with 11 other people and just a few weeks ago one of my new coworkers asked, mid bag, Are you going to finish that whole thing, without turning around and without first considering how important his life was to him. I decided also to not turn around and kept chomping loudly and said, Yes, yes I just might.

That was his strike one.

I might also consider cleaning up my mess at the end of each day because underneath my desk looks like a squirrel is hiding CM down there. Just today, some techie person came in looking for phone cords and even after I told him we didn’t have any, insisted on getting on his hands and knees awkwardly and searching under each of our desks. All was fine until he got under mine and he shouted, YOU LIKE CHEX MIX HUH? First of all, please stop yelling so everyone on the floor can hear you. Obviously I like it, it’s everywhere under my desk because I have no self control and it’s everywhere. Look in my keyboard. Gross? Yep, it is wicked gross.

And if we’re judging my by what’s under mess desk you’d find, 3 pairs of smelly shoes that I only put on for meetings, slim jims, wet wipes, a spare pair of underwear, my daily journal for writing down good ideas and names to add to my shit list, and a mirror so I can check my teeth b/c I don’t like to talk to people after eating in this manner.

Kind of a slow day, outside of binge eating at my desk.

 

Pictures: Edition 1

I’ve had two conversations with the same friend where she said the same thing to me that bothered me in a way that kicked my ass.  She’s a friend I have over late into the night and we sit out on my back porch and down wine and talk about all of the things that no one ever gets around to talking about. We talk about family mostly, just because of the absurdity that is our past lives and the characters within.  We talk about relationships–my marriage and her dating life—and all the things we hoped it would be and will be and isn’t.  We talk about my wonderfully insane children that I deserve, because she takes care of them, and I trust them to her with my life, and she has helped make them the little angry beings they are, but in the best way possible, because she allows them to strive and just be.

One night a year ago she said to me at 3am, after 97 family stores, lots of laughs and a few drunken tears, “I hope you write this all down one day before you forget.  Can you imagine if you woke up one day unable to remember and this was all lost?”

And that killed me, because that was the exact feeling I experienced since the day after my father died and I never had the chance to gather all I needed from him and his family to piece together that part of my life, and I never would again.

And I’m full of stories, most worthless but some really good ones, too, and so what if I did forget? What if my mind left me and I never got to writing these out for my kids, god help them, or for the people who just need someone to help prove they’re sane and use me as an example of what they’re not?

And so tonight I was looking for the wedding picture of me and all my siblings to wish my brother and sister a happy wedding anniversary but in doing so, I came across 8 years of pictures I had forgotten about.  Surprisingly enough, though, I could feel the moment I was in them, and I could remember the details of almost of all of them.  And that is where this is coming from.  I want to go through every last picture, like 18000 of them, and write one paragraph or more to explain where I was in life, what the weather was, what the day tasted like, what the weather did to my hair, who I wanted to drink poison in that moment, and just where I was.

And so here is the first installment.  Encouragement will keep this project going and I’m so grateful anyone is even willing to play along.

hair

First of all, I only allow for this humiliating picture to be reposted because the choice was random (by the thoughtful Miranda Mulligan, who will pay for this) and it actually has a funny story worth telling.  I don’t know why it’s still on my FB because I don’t allow for such hideous pics, but oh well, here we go.

This was July of 2012, and it was the Mr.’s 37th birthday party, but not only his, but my cousin Kyle’s birthday party, as he was here for the Summer of Gays and so obviously me being the thoughtful wife I am, I made a joint birthday party that involved food, adult beverages and wigs.  Why not, just what any husband nearing 40 wants in life.

Now in this picture, we had done the cake, celebrations, and moved on to wig wearing, and I can’t tell you why for the life of me, but my friend Sandy had no less than six wigs at our disposal to try on and glamour shot it up for the remainder of the evening. This wasn’t even my favorite of the night, but you couldn’t tell by the drunken excitement exuding from my stupid face.

I would guess this gem of a picture was taken around 9pm, and I know the bbq started around 4pm, and who knows why I’m wearing an Old Navy graphic tee that cost me $7 that no respectable woman should wear after high school. I’m unclear of the details why I’m braless but yes, my sidewinder tits are that nice without a bra (slightly better in this pic than they are now) and god knows why I was wearing gym shorts since I neither succumb to voluntary physical activity and I know the outfit I showed up in was jeans and a bright blue top that matched the lai that someone handed me upon arrival. Who knows where that fucking outfit went.

It’s clear I had consumed at least 7 drinks at this point by the boldness of the sunburn I must have recently acquired and the evidence that I had rubbed off all the makeup I showed up with, and further, at this point I had lost all ability to care about eye contact and my facial muscles were were losing functionality, a sure sign of slowness to come.

I will take a wild guess that my underwear are also not present in this picture but could be found with my pants, my bra, and my dignity on the floor in my friend’s bedroom or on the porch, but currently I can’t recall.

In any case, I know this party moved quickly from adult wig wearing to moving to a club to dance moves that hadn’t been dusted off in a decade, though by the looks of this photo, I’m positive I felt prime time to unleash the sprinkler, shopping cart, or some sort of unsexy Michael Jackson ensemble on a bunch of unsuspecting Germans in the basement of a dirty bar bound to give my shoeless (clearly) feet hepatitis.

I didn’t get that far, though, because before I could stretch or hydrate further properly, I got a call from the house I just left from Bryan and Kyle telling me how inappropriate and rude I was to leave them there to clean up the mess, regardless of the fact that a. it wasn’t my fucking house they were cleaning and b. Cinderella A and B had offered the friend that did rent the house to clean it, probably as payback for drinking all her monkey gin all fucking summer without asking.

So I’m on the phone, borderline slow, hearing an extreme amount of shrieking and anger and swear words that I DO NOT LIKE USED ON ME and I throw up my hands and ignore the glances of my other friends and shout, Oh, I’ll fucking deal with this and be back. And off I stormed in an crooked path around the two blocks back to the house to knock some estrogen out of the two that had just called to verbally assault me and prolong my sweet dance moves.

Upon entering the house I saw them both at the end of the hallway, one holding a swimmer broom contraption and the other a trash bag, both heads snapping in ugly unison to highlight their dislike and discontent but I was there to gun blaze and so I launched in all hot and ready to ruin.

“Don’t you dare call me back from a bar to punish me like you are my mother,” I hissed and glared, hoping the lightning from my eyes struck their pretty and oddly moisturized faces dead.

And that is when I realized I was not dealing with my girlfriends but instead the very emotional and drama charged Dream Team that was now both dead set against me and wanting blood. The looks on their face went from dramatic and feigning hurt to bitch I will cut you and I saw one dart his eyes around for a weapon.

There was a lot of screaming and blaming and insulting going on, death threats and talks of gaining weight and lack of appreciation and people being horrid trolls. I want to focus on that but it was just at the peak of the insulting that one, the smaller, seemingly innocent one, pulled back with the swiffer in his hand and full out tried to whack me with it, straight horizontal, which if executed, would have welted my entire hobbit stature, but my drunken cat like reflexes ruined his ambitious assault and I snatched the swifter mid air and then in a move I like to remember fondly, I launched that mother fucking floor cleaner straight across the room, right past their shocked bodies, and into a bedroom where it clanged heavily and defeated against the wooden floor.

“How fucking date you try to SWIFFER ME???!!” I shrieked the verb as though I’d used it a million times before. I glared and wished holes burning in place of their mostly slightly horrified but proud eyes. I knew my swiffer tossing abilities, clearly nearing the level of Olympic javelin tosser, both shocked and impressed them, and I could tell because it reduced them to apologetic tears and hugs that only a gay but proud man would succumb to if he was impressed, and they were. Otherwise, if I had reacted in the typically awkward manner I usually did, they would have treated me like the frumpy, overweight lesbian they normally treated me like.

Honestly, I don’t know what their thing about lesbians is but that’s a whole other post that I really don’t want much to do with.

And so with one aggressive defense tactic, I regained their trust, their respect, and we hugged and apologized for things no one was probably even mad about in the first place.

Then I walked back to the bar alone in the same crooked like, only to rejoin my dance  troop, but not before I yelled over my shoulder back at them for good measure, “You bitches pull his shit again and I’m calling Aunt Chris and putting you both on the next flight back to New Hampshire.”

And that is why I was wearing a platinum wig in July of 2012.