Ballad of Urgency

 

Ballads may not sound urgent, but they are.

They are born from an intense longing.

A raw awareness of the heart.

This may be the the most exhausting form of obsession regardless the dilemma.

And in its shallow rhythm it still screams of urgency.

My voice may be weak from the toll the hurt has taken.

My heart may be heavy and in a thousand pieces.

Still this ballad I have summoned,

Fills the distance between us like a beautiful storm.

Just as there is quiet in the noise,

There is noise found in the quiet.

 

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Remember Me

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She was phenomenal in every way,

Yet unsure of how to accept a compliment.

Her beauty was captivating.

However, her shame blinded her from seeing her true reflection.

She wrestled with her obsession to scrub and organize her surroundings,

Always in an attempt to face her own neurosis.

Her thoughts are what killed her, you know.

She grappled with them through every second of daylight.

And she bantered with them not to lead her into the darkness at night when she closed her eyes.

Like a babe in the woods, she latched onto her thoughts as they became vultures with talons, not realizing their intention to ruin and deprave her soul.

With severed legs, she could not run.

With a torn and fragmented heart, she could not feel.

This extraordinary woman, lost in her own despair, sincerely could not find her way out.

She had become so addicted to wandering into the desolate closets of her mind, she knew that leaving bread crumbs would help her come back…

But the vultures pulled and tugged at the small thread of lucidity she held onto until she could not feel at all…

All of the small things mattered a bit too much.

The distractions of her worried mind.

Sadness disabled her heavy eyes from searching around to see the beauty of the world.

Just as often, she failed to look around to notice the charm of her little ones.

From time to time she caught glimpses of their joy, and at times their afflictions.

These moments were when the urgency to stay alive kicked in.

This rare and remarkable woman travailed until she grew weary.

Her body never gave up, but the venomous thoughts caused her mind to wither away.

This woman prevailed exquisite and admirable.

Yet, she did not know this to be true of herself.

This woman loved you enough to stay alive as long as she could.

She had to let go.

This phenomenal woman was your mother.

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Paralyzed

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She, the beautful one, is twenty-two years young.

She has so much to say,

But fears she’ll come undone.

What if the words coming make no sense?

Maybe no one is listening.

Seems she only has fragmented thoughts,

Often not ever making it onto the page.

Just better to remain silenced, she thinks.

At 22, she should have this down,

Like walking to the mailbox.

In.  Out.  Open.  Close.  Repeat.

All that changes is the terrain.

The footwear.

The weather.

She walks down the same steep, concrete stairs at 22 as when she was 14.

The former a chore for approval and excitement.

The latter, just a burden.

Nothing in that box but bills, bills mommy paid.

Little did she know her mother’s helpful intentions were chaining her down,

One leg at a time, one arm at a time.

Finally stealing her voice.

She is now paralyzed by the very person who gave her life.

Haunted Treasures

nepenthe

Roaring background noise.

In the rubble lay her desperation.

She is now chained to her reverie.

She stares at her future with grief and fear.

Sad how she takes responsibility for the actions of others.

It is her nature now,

The Heroine of her tragedy.

The woman she swore she’d never become…

She is terrified of her own self.

As for him,

Her own sworn protector.

Those were just words.

Only a piece of paper.

It’s foolishness how something so disposable can hold such depth.

When in reality, there was no depth at all.

She needed love,

Is that what it’s called?

You were not invited.

She noticed you looking at her.

This she had been waiting for since the day her daddy walked away.

The missing ingredient.

You couldn’t read her fragile state of mind,

How could you?

Some say it had been plotted out.

But how can a man so young be so intrusive with intent?

She will always defend the motives of her captor.

A snake,

A predator,

Stockholm Syndrome.

She was too blinded to give you any credit.

She did not think you could read her.

Once you discerned her spirit,

You tried to warn her.

She refused to listen.

Addicts are stubborn.

You were too late.

She was suffocating in revulsion,

Blindly to her demise.

She could reveal the good in anything…

In her father, her mother, even him,

But not herself.

What happened?

She was just a girl.

She couldn’t stop this?

None of you could.

Where were you?

One way street.

No U-turns.

Mysterious.

She must have mistaken you for somebody else.

Didn’t you feel it?

Her heart was depleted, all except for one piece.

She held it near, for she was only 18.

She gave it to you.

Why? She still does not know.

A girl is not meant to throw away her whole heart.

Just take it all…

Her mind,

Her soul,

Her spirit.

Then you took her body and did what you pleased.

She traded her dreams for you.

She exchanged her heart for yours.

Still defeated by herself,

She climbs mountains to find her soul.

Where does she start?

She doesn’t know where she’s from?

So much time spent exploring the inside of his heart,

That she lost her own…..time….. heart.

She fixed you,

And then she broke.

You found her when she did not want to be found.

She ran the other way as you screamed to lure her back.

It doesn’t make sense, does it?

The abused confuse mistreatment with affection.

She ran as if racing for the gold,

The screaming was for you…

Misery loves company!

She is truly sorry she could not help herself.

She is a beautiful soul who never saw her own beauty.

She floated away like a piece of driftwood in a river.

She will rebuild.

That driftwood is just disintegrated pieces of her past on the river bank.

She despises him,

She still rescues him.

She equates him with with pain,

Sympathy,

Empathy,

Urgency…

She is disturbed in his presence,

But is lost when he leaves.

How can she be addicted to someone so destructive?

Addicted to her own demise?

Hollow eyes.

Aimless steps.

On a mission with no destination.

This will consume her life.

It hurts to remember,

But it remains her treasure.

ironic

Fatherless? Just Tell Me The Truth.

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As a young girl, she pondered her purpose.

Questioned the tragic event of her birth.

Where did her dad go?

To be exact, he was at the bar when she fell from her mother’s womb.

One year later, he left and never returned.

She has always been grieved by his absence, but never angry.

Not at him anyway.

Her resentment toward her mother, however,  grew more with each passing day.

The facade of her mother lit a spark inside of her.

How long can a mother tell a lie?

How long can a woman pretend a bad man is a good man?

Her daughter grew up in a warped fairy tale with false expectations.

Good or bad is irrelevant.

For it is honesty that is worth comfort in a child’s eyes.

She knows this from her own experience now.

This little girl is grown and now has two children.

Two children whose father has disappeared.

The circumstances are different of course.

But fatherless is fatherless.

These children shine because their mother never lied.

They will not grow up resenting their mother for painting a pretty picture of smoke screens.

Their father is not a bad man, but he chose bad things.

They know this.

There will be no surprise.

The inevitable disappointments will hurt,  but knock them down with less force.

They will be strong, independent individuals who know reality from a dream.

Their mother grew up riding her bike up and down the alley anticipating every car turning the corner just might be her dad.

She was disappointed.  Her disappointment turned into a life of pain and depression.

And a relationship with her mother she would rather forget.

She learned from her mother what not to do.

She loves her kids so much that she will not lie, no matter how bad the truth.

There is no shame in the truth.

There is no shame in authentc love.

A Hundred Little Tragedies

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“The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.”   – Carl Jung

This is an update on my Ex, D.    Fighting for his life.

Today I became painfully aware that I have not truly grieved the loss of my precious identity and beauty,  things I never knew were inside me to begin with. These being the innocence of my heart, the dignity of my sexuality and the tolerance for my own discomfort.  I have accepted  these losses and hurts, came to grips with them.  But to authentically grieve for myself?  Not yet. I feel I am on the verge of a breakthrough. I often feel that, but then nothing happens.

Right now, I feel the pain and tears well up in the back of my throat.  I am alone, so you would think I could let emotions burst with no inhibitions.  But, I let it out in small spurts like hiccups.  If I submit to my welled up emotions, I may end up in a heap on the floor.

It feels like a simultaneous eruption of little earthquakes in my stomach. From top to bottom, my insides shake.  Moving like a strong building floor violently rolls in an earthquake .  Somehow I must be able to stop it.  I absolutely should not, but I do. I see a single tear drop fall to my shoe through my shaky fingers.  It is unusual for me to get to even this point. It’s a start. It’s progress. Healing, it’s called?  It genuinely feels like like grief.  I am painfully aware of my heart.  I can actually feel the life pumping inside me.  I now know it is receiving life and losing it at the same time.  This is struggle in its purest form.  

I can just visualize the end of my outburst, exhausted and curiously poked at by my kids as they arrive from school.  So I better just keep it together.  For everyone’s sake.

There is an empty space inside of me.  It feels like a hundred little holes that make up a larger one.  Like a paper target at a shooting range, with the face in the middle?  The gaping holes inflicted by blunt force, shredded at the edges from trauma.   My chest actually feels hollow.  My heart hurts.  It needs to give in  to the dam I have been keeping so close to me.   I don’t know where it ends and I begin. Grief is more complex than just processing a loss.  It is not just an emotional reaction, it is physical, cognitive, behavioral and social.  My PTSD has arrested my ability to go through this process.  As badly as I want to, it is paralyzing to allow a thought or a memory run its course through my head and heart.  I guess that’s why it’s called a “process.”

I feel like I am walking in the dark, arms outstretched, searching for a door that needs to be opened, and only I can open it.  I feel terror knowing I have to open it and I have no idea what awaits me on the other side.  If and when that door opens, that’s my new life unveiled.  That is my new self, my authentic self. Someone I have never seen.  It is a being, a state of wholeness I long to discover more than anything, but I am comfortable with what I know.  Isn’t that sad? Change is frightening.  Illumination is blinding.  That’s why addictions and mind sets are so hard to break.

I found out that my Ex-husband, I refer to him as D, relapsed a few weeks ago.  I am surprised, and not surprised at the same time. He has been using drugs his entire adult life.  He has managed to string together some sobriety here and there.  We managed to get married, have 2 children, and live a somewhat normal life for 7 years.  We were married for 10 years.  Do the math… yes, there were relapses during the marriage.  All in the last 3 years.  It was an ugly time. I had to get the kids and myself out before they were removed from our home.  Every day after work walking up the stairs, hoping not to smell crack smoke, became very tiring.  Worrying the money would be gone, the car loaned out to a dealer. I was even sold when there were no inanimate objects left to sell, trade, or pawn.

The last relapse closed the deal for me.  I knew I had to leave.  A fighter rose up inside of me I did not know I possessed.  D picked me up after I worked a long night shift.   I could see in his eyes he was high.  It’s a haunting look I can never forget.  He was strangely quiet. The blue in his eyes covered in an opaque sheet of black.  When we got home, he asked  me to use with him.  I was disgusted. Even as an addict myself, I knew asking the one you’re supposed to love to join you in misery is inexcusable.  That fighter who rose up in me did something it had never done before.  I gathered my things… car keys, money, credit cards, packed a small bag, ran down the stairs and drove away.  I was able to salvage some of what usually would end up in smoke.  Including myself.

I talked to D on Thanksgiving.  He spoke with the kids briefly.  I am always happy when they get a chance to talk.  However, because of the Protection Order, there is little contact.  I decided it was time to say “fuck the protection order.”  His life is in danger.  I usually let them talk and he and I don’t speak. I wanted to hear his voice this time.  I always know when something isn’t right.  He had the chance to leave the state with his parents a few months back, which I believe would have saved his life.  He pleaded to stay here to work and better himself.  He had completed a 9 month inpatient treatment program, lived in a halfway house voluntarily, and accumulated a year clean and sober.  He even got a job. I thought he would stay clean this time.  I hoped.  But after 25 years of the overwhelming temptation and lure of Crack Cocaine, and the trigger of payday cash,  this relapse is a clear picture to me.  By staying here in this city, a using playing ground for him to run wild, he opened his own coffin.

He told me he sold his van. He was living in it. The weather has been extremely cold and I was hoping he had not sold it yet, for I knew he eventually would.  I know his addiction. He walked away from his only source of protection from the elements, leaving all its contents inside.  Everything he owned.  All that remains are the clothes on his back.

He told me he was suicidal.

 I saw a story on the news the other day.  A man had driven his car into a store, loaded his vehicle with items to sell, and was hiding when the police arrived. My heart sank and my mind raced.  I recalled a story D told me of a crime he committed 20 plus years ago…  He drove into the back of a music store in this same area, stole merchandise, and got away before the police arrived.   Up until a few hours ago, I have been checking the jail inmate registry on the hour, every hour.  I sent him a text 2 days ago with no response until a few hours ago.

I have tortured myself with obsessive worry.  Not because I have “those kind of feelings” for him anymore, but because he is the father of my children and someone I have known literally over half my life;  someone I believe to be a good man in the deepest part of his soul.  He was, at one time, a providing husband and loving father.  Some Psychologists would say this is the unhealthy “Caretaker” role emerging from me. But something just feels different this time.  More urgent. More tragic. I don’t want him to die. He has relapsed a few times since our separation.  This is different. We both have an eerie and tragic feeling in our gut… something two people who have been to hell and back, hand in hand, would only know.  In sync.  Too bad when drugs became our god, he no longer held hands with his earthly love, but with a demon…and soon could not decipher the difference.

I know first hand when death seems a sweet relief, the closest angel in your life can beg and plead, but there is a stone wall around your heart.  Hearing no life. Seeing no life. Speaking no life.  Sometimes the will to die overpowers the will to live. The pull is overwhelmingly strong.

I texted him again today and asked him to please just let me know that he was alive.  Within minutes, he called, from an unknown number, of course… the paranoia kicking in. I told him, “Fuck the protection order, your life is at stake!”  I truly exhaled for the first time in 3 days.   He may be alive, but far from well.  He is barely alive.  He is waiting to die. Those are his words.

His phone had been shut off, which is why he didn’t get my text the other day.  I sent him pictures of the kids.  He chuckled “You ruined my high.”   I said, “Good, that was my intent.”   I knew the responsive laugh was just a cover for shame. He is using drugs because he can’t handle the pain of what he did to us.  All of us.  I told him I understood.  And I do.  I am the only person who understands what he is going through. He told me I am the only person he could talk to.  He is right. The last time we spoke, I told him he could call the crisis line.  But we both know, on the other end of the line,  sits a volunteer who is looking at a script pleading with us that “it’s going to be okay.”  On that same note, he is the only person I know who really understands me in my addiction..  We went through all this together. Too many times.

I have scrolled down my phone contacts… and the green dots next to the names on my laptop, all in search of someone to talk to… I end up not able to see the screen as my eyes fill with tears. I am alone.  Addiction is powerful.  Not many understand its gravity.  I am done praying to God.  I am done with 12 step programs.   Addiction is bigger than that.   It’s a monster bigger than all of its so called “help” combined. It’s a monster that never leaves you. It can be arrested and in remission.  But it waits.  And it pounces when you’re not expecting it. Believe what you want, but this I know.  When I told him to call the crisis line, I could hear the ridiculousness in my voice.  I felt like a hypocrite. I have been in that place.  After the volunteer on the other end disappears, the hope disappears as well.

 So, today, when he said the pictures of the kids ruined his high.  To the “normal” person, that sounds horrible.  But let me translate.  He is so full of guilt and shame, he cannot bear to take another breath without needing to stop the screaming in his head.  The self condemnation that plays on a continual loop what a loser he is and how he fucked up his family.  This may, in fact, be true in some aspects.  But I hurt for him.  My heart breaks for him.  There are a few times I can recall when he sobbed on the floor in front of me after a devastating relapse.  We had lost everything.  Looking back, sometimes I don’t know how we survived.  How did we keep a roof over our heads with two kids?  That’s why I made him leave… with the help of the law.  He is a stubborn one.  Most addicts are, and master manipulators as well. We develop that as a survival technique and to support our habit.  Because at the time, nothing else matters.

He told me on the phone he could not bear the pain of what he had done to me. He was called to protect me. It was his duty as a husband.  Especially after knowing that I was sold for drugs at 16 by the infamous “Chewy” I have written about, and D did the same to me.  He is so ashamed.  Hindsight is always 20/20, and consequently, devastating. There are little words, which explains perfectly why he wants to numb himself.   What he let happen to me is the lowest of betrayals.  I heard the excruciating pain in his voice.  I told him he was forgiven. I do not hold a grudge.  And that is true.  I released him.  I told him I knew who he was when the crack was not in control of him.  That was not his true self.  He said he knew that, but even though it was his physical body, the drugs were inside him, he was my husband and should have never fed me to the lions.  I told him it was okay. In actuality, It is not okay.  But it has to be now.  I can grieve while he fights for his life.  This will not kill me;  but it is killing him.

 D told me he stood on the edge Aurora Bridge last week.  Cars were honking at him.  I know he wants to die. I know him and I believe him.  He is genuinely remorseful about what he let happen to his life and his family. The grief is destroying him. If his heart is beating, he will get high. No prayer or AA meeting can replace the pipe or the needle.  It may suffice for some. But not for all.  He can be mean and cold, but he is more sensitive than any man I have ever known, and this regret is more than he can bear. If he does not take his own life, he will overdose.  He told me he was speed balling (Cocaine and Heroin together intravenously).  He had never used a needle until a year ago.  He said he was close to giving himself a hot shot.  I asked him what that was. He said he would inject himself with air.  I am not sure what is stopping him.  But I hope there is a faint light in him or around him keeping him going.   I don’t want a phone call from a faceless man or woman informing me he is dead.  “Can you come and identify the body?”  How do I tell my kids their father is dead?   Honestly though, I want the police, paramedics, whoever… I want them to contact me, not his family, his blood, who have washed their hands of him.

When he told me when he sold his van, leaving everything he owned inside, I expressed my concern about the frigid weather.  I asked him if he had a coat, gloves, a hat?  He said he had just the clothes on his back and he is on foot or crashing in random people’s places.  His hands are numb by the end of the day. But he’s “runnin’ and gunnin’” as we called it  back in the day.  He’s Clyde now, alone without Bonnie. He sells and smokes all day and night.  Sell, inject, smoke. Repeat.  He always hated Heroin. Addiction is a progressive disease.  And for all of the people who cringe at this, the AMA recognizes addiction as a disease.  It fits the diagnoses of all the others.  It’s progressive and terminal.  Would you reject your child if they had a mental illness, a severe addiction, cancer?  Don’t hate on me.  Look it up. We don’t choose this.

Keep walking, I beg him.  I told him to please stay warm, eat and sleep.  He said he doesn’t get hungry.  Well, I know that.  I remember.  You don’t get hungry or thirsty or tired.  You have to make yourself eat and drink. I can visualize him when I close my eyes.  His face sunken in so his cheekbones are showing. Dark circles under his once bright blue eyes. Neglected facial hair. His face has aged 15 years in the past 5. The wear and tear of crack cocaine, the erosion morphed into deep wrinkles.

What a life, huh?  Get married, have a couple kids (not to mention his two grown children from other women),  fall back into old patterns, get up and fight, fall again, fight again.  Finally, he is on his own, homeless in Seattle.  Giving in to his every whim and need while I try to make sure our kids are fed and clothed.  I feel a little jealous.  That first hit is amazing.  I want to feel that feeling that removes all other feelings.  Comfortably numb….though sadly it’s temporary.  That is why addicts end up in jail or dead.  The chase of the first high is relentless and trumps all… your kids, your spouse, your parents, your belongings, and eventually your soul…. because you have sold it.  Then, like my Ex, you graduate into an empty shell, just a body.  The same body you have lived in you entire life, except it has become unrecognizable.  Your brain does not even know who you are anymore, which is frightening and unbearable, so all there is to do is what you know how to do… get high… it all goes away.

Can you imagine? Our brains and our bodies are woven together to feel and respond to the other.  You become so numb that the two become separated. It is not right.  I have been there.  I have felt this.  Most who read this won’t understand. That is why this desperation to connect with D is imperative.  I am all he has left.  I am his only friend.

Isn’t that all we want in the end?  Nothing else matters.  No material things.  Just a heart that can understand yours, no matter the history, the differences, the pain.  It no longer matters.  Fuck grudges… I will not give up on him, like everyone else.

My determination does not revolve around him being the father of my kids or my ex-husband. It comes from knowing his pain. Knowing that one human being needs another.  He needs me a source a light in his now dark world.  Those people on the street can feed his addiction and immediate needs, but not his spirit and will to live.  I will place myself aside for now to save his life.

D, I can’t rescue you.  You placed yourself in this position.  You have been given many chances. You repeatedly fail with each attempt at a new beginning.  I used to hate you for the wreckage you created, the mess you walked away from and left me to clean.  I don’t hate you anymore.  Maybe I should.  But my sick friend, you are hurting and I understand you.  I am not the one to judge you; there are enough doing that already.  I know you.  I know your heart.  I hear the real you through the wickedness in the back ground.

You are not evil.  You are kind.

Today, you say you are sick.  Dope sick from the black. Every muscle hurts. You must be desperate to get yourself hooked on heroin.  It’s okay.  Just rest. Sleep it off.  The sun will rise tomorrow and you will live another day.  I know you will.  I just know.

I could not move after our phone conversation.  Like I was saying, the grief is trying to claw its way out of me, but it stops when it reaches the apex of my jumbled mind, or heart, I am not sure which. I guess both.

I am so close to coming undone.  Another earthquake in my stomach. Only one tear after all those convulsions… so close.

Maybe next time.

 

“Say something,  I’m giving up on you…

I’m sorry that I couldn’t get to you…

And I…  will swallow my pride,

You’re the one that I loved,

and I’m saying goodbye….

…Say something.”

never give up

Chelsey

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September 19th.

I remember this day every year as it approaches as much as I would like to forget.  Bittersweet remnants of my journey from an innocent child to a bruised adult pass through my already rattled brain.  It is the birthday of my closest childhood friend, Chelsey.   Although she was not the cause of my life tragedies, she was present in some form… whether in person, in spirit, or the nagging voice between my ears.  Sometimes her absence spoke louder than her presence.  It continues to do so.

I remember the first day of elementary school vividly. Chelsey and I were like two magnets drawn together despite the annoying clatter of silver spoons running wild in the classroom.  This is surprising to me in hind sight since she was just as privileged as the rest of the school.  Her father was a big wig at Boeing and her mother was a registered nurse at a highly respected hospital.

We attended a small Christian school.  In the 1980’s, not many kids like me were in a private school.  When I say “like me,” I am referring to only having one parent.  Of course I have a dad because I am breathing and writing. However, he disappeared during my infancy never to be seen again.  At least not by me.

My mom forced her way into the Naval Industry to get us off state assistance. After school, the stay at home moms arrived in their expensive cars, wearing nice dresses, garnished with styled hair and flawless makeup. In contrast, and to my embarrassment,  my mom was leaning on the door of our grey Datsun 800 wagon in her orange overalls reeking of Diesel fuel. I approached the car hoping to God she wasn’t smoking a cigarette.  However, 30 years later, I am proud of that juxtapose.  My mother stood tall and proud, and damn she was beautiful!  The moms with the caked make up didn’t hold a candle to her bare beauty.  If I could only have seen the significance of that as a child, but my awkwardness was what reeked, drawing attention to the the veil I wore which gave away my pain of being different.

Standing apart from the crowd was not on my compass as a child.  It is still not a strength I claim, although I wish I could harness that power I so often envy in others. I have always been this way. A quiet observer. An introvert. Awkward and anxious.

Chelsey, however, stood out whether she intended to or not.  I laugh to myself as I remember our personality differences.  She had a laugh that echoed throughout our apartment complex in college.  She was goofy and didn’t care who noticed.  She made me laugh. I made her laugh because I was somehow allowed to be free when it was just the two of us.  I could only dream of laughing as freely as she.  Chelsey rarely thought before she spoke.  I seldom talked, and when I did my face turned bright red.  The color of her hair, in fact. Like Little Orphan Annie, Chelsey had a head full of short, think, curly red hair. Quite the contrast from my dull brown, straight as a board, paper fine hair. She also towered a good 6 inches over me.  I have no idea what force bonded us, but there we were.  Best friends.  A friendship that withstood almost 30 years.

Just her and me?  We could argue for hours.  We could laugh for hours.  In the 6th grade, we had library duty together.  We argued over music lyrics quite frequently.  One day in particular, it turned into a hard-back book throwing brawl.  One book after the other, rather than being re-shelved, flew across our tiny library as we ducked and dodged to avoid the fierce catapults of rage. I do not remember if I was given the opportunity to, as usual, prove I was right. But, I imagine after doing so, she realized music was my strong suit, not hers. I remember a song popular at the time… “Nobody gonna break my stride, no body gonna slow me down”… Chelsey insisted it went, “No body gonna break my stripes, no body gonna slow me down…”  Honestly?  I just couldn’t let that one go.

When we were young, Chelsey spent most of the weekends at my house. Although her house and home life appeared perfect from the outside, she was the happiest at my house… an old, run-down small home I grew to be ashamed of in my teenage years.  My house was the exact opposite of what my classmates lived in… It wasn’t pristine and it was missing a farther, but it was Chelsey’s second home.  Her mother kept a spotless house. In fact, she was not allowed to have sleepovers, even me.  If Chelsey sat on her Duvet or messed up the pillows on her perfectly made bed, she would be yelled at and shamed.  I was visiting her after school one day until my mom could pick me up, I went to sit down on her bed while she opened her closet to lay out the next day’s school clothes as instructed by her mother, and I nearly hit sit the ceiling as Chelsey told me I could not sit on her bed.  The look on her face clutched a fear no child should have to wear.  She panicked as she smoothed her Duvet with herb hands just as mom had made it.  I walked over to the bay window, perched by her boom box, and watched as she carefully constructed the next days outfit.  Much to my visual dismay, the ensemble included a red and white striped long sleeve shirt, a navy blue corduroy jumpsuit, thick white tights, and brown penny loafers (with shiny pennies of course).  I was content in my over sized tee shirts, jeans, black converse, and a flannel.  Not only had I never heard the word “Duvet,” I was mortified when my mother suggested taking me to The Brass Plum at Nordstrom for nicer clothes like Chelsey wore and those god awful penny loafers. I refused.  It suited Chelsey fine.  But not me.  Just another one of our monumental differences that meant nothing to us. We didn’t match, yet we did.

Life at my house was a lot more relaxed.  My mom didn’t yell if we broke a dish or spilled milk on the floor.  We could sit on any surface.  I am uncertain if we owned a Duvet, but if we did, my mom certainly would let us wrinkle it. Sometimes we slept in my bed, giggling and talking about New Kids on The Block. Chelsey was not allowed to mark her walls with posters, however my walls were filled.  Sometimes we slept in the living room.  My mom would make us a big comfy bed consisting of every blanket and pillow she could find.  We would watch movies and eat Oreo cookies until we passed out.  Upon rising, we would sneak into the kitchen to make breakfast.  It was an intended surprise for my mom, but our fighting usual woke her up before the smell of the bacon.  We would bicker over who would make what to the point of hitting each other with our towels, chasing one another out of the kitchen. At least my mom’s cook books were out of reach.  And still, my mother never got mad. She would walk into the kitchen, assess the mess, and somehow laughed because she knew we were fighting with the intent to bring her breakfast in bed.  She knew what Chelsey’s mother was like and wanted her be free at my house. She just smiled and enjoyed her hand crafted breakfast of over cooked bacon and under cooked pancakes.  Maybe the Valium had something to do with her ease, but at least from our eyes, everything was okay. We were still pissed at each other, but knew we were still best friends.

I was often jealous when Chelsey came over.  She would curl up in my mother’s lap.  My mom would hold her.  It was just an unspoken awareness that Chelsey needed a mom.  Coincidentally, I needed a dad.  And Chelsey’s dad was the coolest.  He took us everywhere.  I remember being in his always- new BMW, enjoying the smell of clean leather and our favorite radio station. Chelsey would be talking, and her dad would catch a glimpse of me in his rear view mirror.  He told Chelsey to quiet down.  He sensed I was experiencing something wonderfully foreign.  New leather seats and a dad.  He took us to the movies.  He took us to Shakey’s Pizza.  The restaurant where each table top had a glass covering holding in place the old black and white newspaper. I’ll never forget those unique tables, the smell our town’s best pizza, or the taste of drinking Root Beer from a pitcher.  But most importantly, I will never forget being in the presence of the world’s greatest dad.  The dad who knew I needed him. The same dad who knew his daughter needed my mom.  I often drive by the Taco Time that took the place of Shakey’s Pizza many years ago and am instantly transported back in time.

After high school, we attended different Universities.  I ended up working a regular job upon the completion of my Freshman year.  I needed to decide what I wanted. I missed Chelsey.  I couldn’t focus on anything.  I called her in Eastern Washington shrieking with joy that I was making the trip over the mountains to attend school with her.  We were so excited. We arranged to share an apartment off campus.  She had already made so many new friends. But that was okay.  We were still us.

During my years at WSU, my mom called me every night.   A gesture parents should avoid when their adult child moves away to college.  Chelsey’s dad came to visit on Dad’s weekend.  He went to pub crawls with us and he bought me a new tennis racket so we could all play.  It was comforting when he came to visit.  My mom made the drive over on Mom’s weekend.  She partied with us as well, but she was not as comforting to me as she used to be.  I hope she was for Chelsey though.

Life took Chelsey and I down completely different paths.  I think she may have ended up a little too much like her mother.  When her marriage failed, I tried to reach out to her.  She ignored my messages and never returned my calls.  My gut tells me that was her pride.  I married before her and had 2 children. Although my marriage proved to be a disaster, I don’t think she could handle the fact that hers ended before mine. She had a great husband.  I think her mom’s personality reared it’s head in her like a bomb that just could not be stopped.  It changed her.  She resented and despised my husband.  I do not blame her.  He was ugly to me and slowly isolated me from my friends.  I went years without seeing Chelsey.  And when I tried, he would control when and for how long, making me feel guilty and anxiety ridden to the point where I just stopped trying.

After my failed attempts to reach Chelsey, it became clear to me that life’s circumstances were more important to her than our friendship.  We had a bond so strong as children, I believed nothing could break it.  No man, no parent, no tragedy.  I was wrong.  During the last 5 years, I have tried to forget her.  I went through all of the feelings and processes of grief.  Overall, I feel anger and betrayal the most.  It is what it is.  If I could have seen the future, would I have been her friend for nearly 3 decades?  Yes.  I wouldn’t change our time together.  I wouldn’t take back the fights or the late nights. I especially wouldn’t take back the time we had to pull her car over so she could take a shit in the wheat fields. I’ll never forget her red head poking up through the wheat that went on for miles. I nearly peed from laughing so hard.

But if I could go back, I would want to know the exact moment she changed her mind.  I would do what ever I could to stop it, and we would still be friends. We would be us.

painful goodbye