Thursday, February 25, 2010

Spring Cleaning

One of the first things I did when my ex-husband moved out was to get rid of the bedsheets. At the time it struck me as an odd thing to focus on, when so many other important things were going on, but I couldn't stop myself. I couldn't stomach the thought of continuing to use them. I bought two new sets, then took my old ones (my share of all the sheets we had, since even that was split in half), washed them, folded them, placed them in a bag and eventually took it to Goodwill (after I'd bagged a bunch of other items I wanted banished from my house). It was a coincidence that a few weeks later I snagged two more sets from a cousin who was decluttering.

I eventually did the same thing with the towels, keeping just a couple of old ones for general use, like large spills. It was the same thing with them, not wanting them around, not wanting to use them myself or have guests use them. Seemed so silly even then, but I just didn't want to keep using them.

Over the last year-and-a-half, more and more things that belonged to or were used by "us" have disappeared, gone for good. I look at my shelves, inside my closets and in storage boxes and remember those first weeks in July after he left, when I raced like madwoman through my house, flinging things out of drawers, emptying boxes out, pulling down picture frames and knick-knacks, a crazy kind of urgency pushing me to either store some things far, far away, or to get rid of as much as possible. Almost immediately, I went through everything and either stored or tossed.

It wasn't that I wanted to erase that life or those memories. There was no anger in my actions. It was that the pain was too intense for me to keep anything too close. Even the sheets and towels. The farther removed I am from that time and the whole experience, the clearer it is that I was utterly shocked that my marriage ended; or more precisely, I was shocked at the ease and eagerness with which he left. That shock propelled a lot of actions that at the time felt like nothing more than survival tactics.

My answer, then, was to remove the things we'd both used, whether or not it had sentimental value. I was resentful that he took very little with him, that he even had that choice while I did not, and the way that his actions unequivocally communicated that none of it had value to him and that he wanted no mementos, no memories, nothing. I also felt a tinge of disgust, that I would continue to use or keep around "our" things, when in one fell swoop that entire life was swept away. Those things - though I did not consciously recognize it at the time - were tainted. I simply wanted it all gone; they had no place in the new life I was trying to forge.

Since that first major purge, I've come across some things here and there, at random moments when I'm organizing or looking for something I haven't used in a long while (funnily, most of it hasn't even mine). Those items were promptly dealt with. Some things, inevitably, remain, and will for some time. The really good knife set, some furniture, the TV. Mainly though, it's all gone now.

I'm in the midst right now of the Great Cleanup of 2010. For all my purging, I let too much other non-marriage-related stuff pile up and have basically been extremely awful about being organized and neat. It was o.k. in the beginning, I told myself, because I just. could. not. handle. anything. past. basic. survival. And it was true; I was intensely overwhelmed. But what's been my excuse for a year now? Nothing. And this is a terrible mess I've got going on right now, and it's time to tackle it.

Have I mentioned that I hate housework? Blaahhhh.....

And yet, there are things that will be happening later this year that require that I clear out and make space, and at the same time, Max is just about ready to move into his own room, and it's all got an air of goodness and growth and happiness. And so, for once, I'm eager to take this organizing/cleaning on and get it done.

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Posted by Tere @ 2/25/2010   | | | links to this post

Thursday, February 18, 2010

House Business

So it turns out that a couple of fine people (Gus @ Miami Beach 411 and Balou @ Searching for Normalcy) nominated me for these blog awards at the Sun Sentinel. I'm nominated under "Family" and "Personal."

Quite frankly, you should vote for me (here), because I'm nice and I'm asking nicely. No, seriously, I don't mean to be an asshat about it, but I'm a pretty good writer and I write some really good stuff here. And that, to me, should be what constitutes a really good blog -- not because I tweet the hell out of "vote for me! vote for me!" (though I may do that, too, and annoy the shit out of everyone on FB. The grand prize is a Target gift card and I want that baby!).

Other category suggestions:

For the "Photography" category, you should vote for Pete at Depth of Field because he's a really talented photographer (for real, check out his work). And also because he's family, and I, like the mafia, am all about protecting and promoting the family.

Under "News," "Neighborhood" and "Travel/Tourism" -- Miami Beach 411 for all three. This is the best local website for news, tour/travel info and to have some great discussions in the forum. Love this site, love the owners (and full disclosure, they are awesome enough to give me work so that I'm not all destitute and sobbing in the streets).

So, yeah, FWIW. Please vote.

Also... I set up a formspring.me account and instantly deemed it useless. I mean, you just ask questions and wait around, hoping the person answers; or, you sit around hoping someone asks you something. I didn't see much point to it, though I liked reading everyone else's answers.

But as the days have passed, I think I've begun to change my mind about this. The site lets you ask questions anonymously, and there's really no limit: it's an empty box, you type it out, and send. And as I found myself asking questions of others, I wondered: what would people ask me if they knew I'd never know who was asking? It's intriguing. I'm even curious about myself, how honestly (or not) I would answer questions.

Anyway. I put the widget over there to the left. Or you can go to my account. Have at it. If you want. It could be fun. Or disastrous.

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Posted by Tere @ 2/18/2010   | | | links to this post

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Four from the Last 24

1. Max woke up way early and ran off to the living room to watch some cartoons. A while later, he realized I was still in bed and came into my room and declared, "I'm climbing into bed and snuggling with you!" And he did, curled up right in my arms and proceeded to chat up a storm about a host of random things. It was adorable and sweet, and what touched me most was the level of openness in what he was telling me. I wonder a lot about what goes on in that head of his, and it was wonderful to lay there and hear him pour so much out. Moments like that are what I live for.

2. In the late afternoon, Max was playing with his chalk on some cement in my parents' backyard. He got this look in his eyes and reached over and swiped my jeans with bright pink chalk. I reacted very quickly, getting instantly annoyed at him. And yet, even as I was expressing that annoyance I was asking myself what the big deal was, it was just chalk and he's just a little boy. So I reached around him, grabbed a piece, and shocked him by scribbling all over his face. He loved it, and starting painting my shirt, my hair, my face, while I did the same to him. He laughed and laughed and it echoed all over the yard.

3. Throughout the day, jevo and I have been on the phone, discussing a variety of things. We've been doing it for a bit now, and I realized we'd hit that point in a relationship (delayed for us, I think, because we got into the habit of texting when we were friends and because we chat a lot on IM throughout the day and because I really just don't like the phone) where you call each other various times a day to chat about things both big and small. I love it. I may not be crazy about the phone (and I'm funnily aware of how unused to talking on the phone I've become), but I love this new dimension to us, and I love the quick conversations to make a decision or to update each other on something important. It's a whole new level of closeness.

4. Then at dinner with my parents, they were discussing the passing of a doctor they'd known in Cuba, and my mom mentioned the cemetery he'd been buried in, and I asked, "isn't that where we're putting you?" This is what followed:

Dad: "no, we changed our minds, we want to be cremated, and your sister is keeping the ashes. Then, when things change, you can all take them to Cuba and bury them there."
Me: "cremated? for real? I can't believe it!" (my dad used to be big on wanting to be buried)
Dad: "your mom and I discussed it -- no one goes to cemeteries anymore, so there's no point to it. It's better to be cremated and have (my sister) keep the ashes."
Me: "why her? why can't we all get your ashes? we can mix you both up and divide it in three."
Dad: "no, I don't want to be split into pieces. Your sister will keep them and you can visit and that's it."
Me: "she's going to have to include your ashes in her will, because what will happen when she dies?"
Dad: "then you can do whatever you want; take them to Cuba or toss them somewhere, in the ocean, maybe."
Mom: "no. Put them wherever you want, but not the ocean. I've always been scared of drowning and don't want to spend eternity in the ocean."

Sometimes, my parents and I have these conversations that are positively sublime.

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Posted by Tere @ 2/16/2010   | | | links to this post

Sunday, February 14, 2010

To Wonderful Surprises

I think often about the look in your eyes the first time you kissed me. You had the same look the second time you kissed me, that day a few weeks after the first one, when you knew you wanted to be with me and didn't want to lose any more time. You get that look still, your eyes suddenly serious and intense as your hands cup my face.

The thing about that look is that it floors me. I, who am not easily silenced, find myself utterly silenced, breath and words leaving me. I look into your eyes and I have no words. I am transfixed.

We are comical now, the way we continue to rehash that night, and the weeks leading to the day at C's party when everything definitively changed. The surprise, the shock that it is you - you who's by my side, you who fits so wonderfully with me, you whose kisses make me dizzy and take my breath away - is still too fresh for me. Of all people... after so many years of knowing each other... considering we'd never viewed each other "that way"... I don't think now that I ever want to lose this sense of surprise; I want to always wake up like I do now, and see you next to me and feel all over again the joy of such a wonderful surprise.

And had someone told me a year ago that it would be you who would change my life, I would have thought them crazy. To think that this day last year I saw you for the first time in (what? six, finally?) years, and we - each brokenhearted, each awash in confusion and sadness and doubt - had no idea, we never imagined, it would come to this. And this, this is awesome and wonderful.

You are solid. You are loving and generous and thoughtful. Your affection, sense of humor and intelligence and your we-are-a-team-no-matter-what approach to our life together make being with you a dream come true. Your level of organization and "where are the facts?" mentality freak me out. You're so damn hot that my stomach does flip-flops every time I see you. Your trust in me, your support and all the effort you put into this relationship make me feel like the luckiest woman in the world. You have exceeded any expectation I ever had of what a great man would be like. You are everything I've ever wanted.

And when you look at me with that look in your eyes, I know I'm right where I belong.

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Posted by Tere @ 2/14/2010   | | | links to this post

Thursday, February 04, 2010

The Moment Where Everything Changes

We fight the way that we do because we're too much alike in our stubborness and sense of being right and sensitivity, each one of us acting strong and tough but really always ready to be devastated by an indifferent tone or mean gesture.

He collapses, inevitably, in a heap on the floor. I know that heap well, for I've done the same many times throughout my life. In fact, sometimes, when the fight escalates to truly melodramatic heights, I join him on that heap - both of us on the floor, clutching each other, him crying and me somewhere between calming my hysteria and reassuring him - even though I shouldn't do that, because I'm mommy, and I should know better.

He fights every fight with all his might, like I once did. Every one of them is big important, and he is too right to back down. It's uncanny, how much this is like me. While I still lose control from time to time - yelling, ranting, making dramatic gestures, with the intense desire to grab something and throw it across the room with all my might practically choking me - in general I am a lot calmer and more rational when things get tense (in truth, I tend to retreat completely, saying little to nothing because it seems the best option). I know his style because it was for so long my style.

And like me, in anger, he says terrible things. As a four-year-old, they don't carry the same wight and meaning and recognition as they will when he's older, when he can understand and purposely use those to crush me. Even so, they hurt, and it takes a lot of strength to not cry. Although I tell him his words hurt, and to think about how he'd feel if someone said those words to him, in anger he still says them. And I get it. I can scold him and correct the behavior, but I so get it. Words are sometimes all we have, and it's too easy for some of us to use them to inflict pain. And I do. It is sometimes my strongest weapon, my smugness in having a superior vocabulary, my confidence in my ability to say the phrases that will sting the most, getting carried away and going going going, saying exactly what I think or feel (I never say something I don't think is true or that I don't in some way mean) in the cruelest way possible.

So when he looks at me and tells me that he doesn't love me anymore, there is that brief moment where my heart deflates, but I know I cannot respond in kind. I can't tell him (not in the heat of hurt, which I tend to express as anger) that I'm so pissed I want to stab my eyes out, that he's exhausting and that being a single mom is sometimes too hard and heartbreaking for me to handle. No, instead I tell him, "that's o.k., you don't have to love me; but I still love you and nothing's going to change that." This usually pisses him off even more, and he yells that I can't love him, to which I respond either, "but I do, because that's my choice," or "well, I've decided to love you no matter what," and he wails, WAILS, "NO! You can't love me! I DECIDE! I DECIDE AND YOU DON'T LOVE ME MOMMY!"

And this is the point where it's almost a gift that he fights like I fight (fought), because that means that I know how to fix it. I simply drop to my knees and take him into my arms and tell him, softly, that I love him, and I always will. That he can be mad and tell me exactly what he feels, that he can stop loving me, but that no matter what, I love him and won't ever stop. In that moment I can suspend my anger and frustration and offer him nothing but my love and my arms and my words - of reassurance and certainty and love. And I tell him these things because it's what I've wanted to hear my whole life and have never heard. When I've felt, when I feel, so scared and misunderstood and angry, the one thing I've needed, the one thing that could make me back down and make everything right is to be reassured that I am still loved and accepted - even though I've acted like an ass or a baby.

There is always that moment - the one where I just grab him and hold him and tell him to feel upset and be mad but to know that through it and after it I will love him as always, with no danger that a wall will go up between us, that I would treat him differently or push him away. And it is always that moment where everything changes: where he stops, steps back, and tries to correct or change his behavior; where his words change and he tells me he's sorry, that he does love me and always will. It works so well with him because I know the place where all this comes from, because I have that place inside me as well.

Later on, I will revisit the thing that started the fight and will try to teach whatever lesson best fits. The fighting and the drama does not excuse inappropriate behavior, and things don't end with that mess of a fight; it's just better addressed and corrected it without the anger between us.

I'm seeking to cut this melodrama out, but it's not likely to happen so long as he's this young and spirited and stubborn and so sure of his own mind. And so, if it's like this, me living with a son as temperamental as me, then so be it. I will continue to give him what I've wanted for myself, to create that moment, to hold him and reassure him of my love, even in the face of his hurtful words. It is vital to me that he knows that no matter what, my love is true and steadfast and impossible to lose.

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Posted by Tere @ 2/04/2010   | | | links to this post