Mommy Game (Part One)

M

Molly had passed the first hurdle of two dinner dates with the couple. Her boyfriend Bran was beside her, but she was under no illusions about who was being evaluated. These people were his best friends and Molly liked them..cautiously.

She had tried to explain to him that she was a parent and the “other woman”. The way she would be judged was on a very different scale than what he was used to. Single white-collar men without children had very little to do with single moms that dated men that weren’t quite single or known for their smart choices in women. Please see Exhibit A, his current separation and divorce.

Suffice to say, they didn’t expect the best choices from him at this point and here I was, a possibly asinine choice…with a kid. Who knew what kind of crazy he had invited into their home. A general level of caution (at the very least) was just common sense. Additionally Molly was not necessarily likable, she was polarizing at best. People either really liked her or…they really didn’t. Personally, Molly was perfectly at peace with this reality but it was a fact that terrified her for her daughter’s sake.

It wasn’t even his oldest friend Aiden, but his wife Mia that was the real power (and therefore concern) though Bran didn’t seem to recognize how this all worked. The invitation to have Molly’s daughter come with her hadn’t come until Mia had met her and decided Molly wasn’t a total psycho. Waging-War-on-the-Mommy-Wars-830x1024

Mia was excellent at playing what Molly termed The Mommy Game and was, if not the center, a key player in her community’s parenting culture. She hosted gatherings, doled out smart advice and participated in all of the school events with a grace Molly found completely baffling and impossible to emulate. To Molly this was like doing magic tricks while performing death-defying feats of skill and bravery.

Molly liked Mia. She was the kind of mother she greatly admired. Kind and heavily invested in her children, she was still down to earth and intelligent. She seemed to be her own person, which many mothers seemed to lose within the confines of the title “mommy”.

As a rule, she didn’t trust these kind of women (no matter how much she liked them), because she couldn’t tell if they were real friends or not. She couldn’t tell if some small infraction would put her (and more importantly her child) into the “Do Not Touch” category. As a rule she avoided the whole game because nothing good came of it, she had learned this the hard way. In this arena she felt outmatched and defenseless.   Molly just tried to not make waves. Her daughter was the moon and the stars to her and that was enough. She’d rather be standoff-ish than a pariah, which could happen surprisingly quickly in the world of Mommy Land. This way she wouldn’t ruin anything for her daughter.

Rarely was it worth wading into the pool but Molly had found herself trying this time. Yes, these were important people in Bran’s life but there was more to it, which made it even scarier for her.

The couple’s surety and savvy was impressive but it was another aspect of this couple’s life that  floored her in ways that had nothing to do with boyfriends, The Mommy Game, or her general trepidation in such encounters.

TBC

 

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Little Late

L

The escaped through the window, like hey had done so many times before. In the beginning it had been a game of teenage ninja’s, testing the boundaries and pushing for freedom. Now, it was not only habit but an addiction they couldn’t live without.

They bent over and did that funny crouching walking style that allowed forward action while keeping them below the windowsills of the windows that rung the house. At the corner of the building they finally stood up and made a dash for the bike stand, grabbing each of their chosen mounts and setting off, in a practiced series of movement that were now ingrained into their muscle memory. No words were exchanged until they made it past the corner of the property and hit the main road.

Even after they passed the danger zone, where they were most l likely to be caught, on this night they said nothing. They road side by side. She reached out and he met her halfway. They road this way, down empty streets until they let go to make the turn that brought them to the park they liked the most.

She loved that it had the high swings with extra long chains. As she dropped her bike, she headed straight for the seats that allowed her to fly away for a small moment in time. She was already swinging toward greater heights as he made his way over and joined her on the swing beside her own.  His hair was curly, hanging in spirals to his chin. His skin had broken out again with the acne he hated and felt made him ugly, along with the long list of other faults he saw in the mirror every day. She couldn’t count the times she had looked into his beautiful hazel green eyes and told him be was lovely to her.He never heard her. 2dea1d01b1ac439007a39cf350b45159

She swung so high the chains were almost parallel with their anchors. Leaning back as far as her arms would allow, she dipped her head back. The world tilted and became something else a little less real.  She loved this feeling and could swing like this for hours. She didn’t want to come back to the earth.

He called to her and even without being able to understand the exact words, she knew he wanted her to come back to him. She fought the urge to ignore his voice. Instead at the very height of her ascent, she pointed her body outward and propelled herself into the warm night air. She landed with a solid thump, back on the ground. He had already begun the walk across the playground, knowing she would follow, which she did. He was lying on the merry-go-round.

She put one leg on and began to push with the other as she held onto the bar she was braced against. It was his favorite toy and she knew she would never see one without thinking of him . Once she was satisfied with their velocity, she found her wedge of space with her legs crossed under her, knees braced on two bars and head at the center of the rotating wheel. She put out either hand and found his waiting for her.

downloadThey barely spoke that night. He would be leaving the next day, to a  new Home, a new town and a new family. There was nothing left to say, she didn’t know any words to give him. She hated this feeling, the pit in her belly that echoed with the memories of people who weren’t there anymore. All the things people filled these silences up with, always felt like too little too late.

She held his hand until they had to make their way back. She looked at her beloved swings and wished she could stay in the air, upside down where the world wasn’t the place she lived in, where she could fly and never come down.

 

Killing Me Softly

Yes, I am aware that I am very very behind. I have been having some technical difficulties but I’m going to try to catch up by the end of this week. I make no promises, but I will do my best.

 

K

The roads were more graded dirt than real roads. The day’s rain hadn’t come yet, baking the sandy roadways, creating clouds of dust behind them as they drove. Sugar cane rose up on either side of them, giving the illusion that they were alone in this car disappearing into a world of sweetness and endless roads.

The Fugee’s album , The Score was playing and Li was driving. in a haphazard path filled with jerks and starts, but still,she was driving.  The tiny Honda hatchback was well sized to her small frame but seemed comical compared to the other passenger.

Jo was a big guy; dark skinned, weighing in well over 200lbs , he  towered over her. He was pretty much what you might expect from a high school fullback. Li enjoyed his size. Their differences made her smile when people saw them together.

Jo was teaching her how to drive. More accurately, he was riding along after she told him she was going to drive. Despite the physical differences, it was always Li that lead the way. Jo was a gentle giant, with a sweet disposition and Jo adored Li. He followed her around campus and gave her whatever she wanted, whenever she let him.

Right now, she wanted to drive and he gave her his car and company while she figured it out.

sugarcane roadLi knew he loved her but she also knew a puppy dog when she saw one. If she was kinder she would send him away, but he wanted to stay and for him, any time was worthwhile time even if he knew she didn’t love him back. He knew, because she had told him. Li’s feelings could be boiled down to, it his right to be where he chose to be. Who was she to say what was best for him? If he wanted to love her, he knew her thoughts on the subject. She liked his patience and love even if she couldn’t return it.

Li finally managed to both keep the car straight and not slam on the brakes every time the car seemed to go faster than her brain could handle. She got all the way up to 45mph on a straight away as the rain began to come down in sheets and Lauryn Hill sang about simple words killing her softly.

 

 

Give In (Sappy Love Warning; you have been warned)

G (1)

I walked down the path with his hand in mine. We were laughing, harassing one another int he way we had become comfortable with. We had fallen in love so hard and we had made the conscious decision to let that be okay. We would not edit or stop ourselves or try to be anything but what we were, pathetically enraptured with one another. We just gave in and there is something wonderfully freeing in that. I was routinely thankful that my messages to him and his to me were not public knowledge, we were sickening in that John Hughes, 16 Candles type of romantic comedy ending way. This kind of stuff didn’t even make it to trashy romances.

 

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I could just hear the editor saying “This just isn’t believable, no one talks like this, This isn’t Middle School. Don’t waste my time with this drivel.” For some reason the editor in my head is suspiciously similar to Old Man Jameson at the Daily Bugle , who would have been a terrible Romance book editor.

We just got lost in each other, in a way that hadn’t happened to me since I was young, maybe even first love kind of lost. It helped that the sex was Uh-MAZING, which totally could make it into some steamy romance scenes, but I digress.So great sexy time and he brought me steak and cooked for me. That’s a good man right there. He brought me presents which wasn’t my thing. I’ve never been comfortable with gifts. I will help build your house, hold you while you fall to pieces, show up with dinner or take your dogs or children as needed, but I never put much truck in gifts. He did, He loved to bring small things, a favorite tea he saw me order or a chocolate that I didn’t get because it was too expensive, berries out of season that I loved, small thoughtful things. The nature of the gifts was why I had gradually grown to accept and appreciate the “why” behind it. It was the same reason I showed up like super girl to help and fix, it was just his way of saying “I think of you. Your smile makes me happy, I love you. This made me think of you and I want you to know you are loved. I hear you. I want you to know I am here, I am present for you”

I needed to turn this over in my head and examine it from many sides before I got the right angle. We were saying the same things with different languages. This understanding a80b0d9b8b2af767cb415d3bae01ad9ballowed our communication to go from parallel to integrated.

I loved the discovery of new things through the eyes of someone who was passionate. I loved learning from someone that loved what they did. He loved me and I was learning to see me, through him. We were both damaged. Who wasn’t by their mid-thirties? We had baggage, divorces and issues aplenty. Yet we were finding out how to love again, more specifically, learning to love differently through each other and that is still rather sickening but I don’t want to stop learning…or holding his hand.

“Love is like a virus. It can happen to anybody at any time.”
Maya Angelou

F is for Flagging, Fatigued and Finished

F

F is for Flagging, Fatigued and Finished.

Today is day 6 of the AtoZ blogging challenge and it is a day that has kicked my butt. I am exhausted, so for today please accept my apologies for no new story. I can’t believe I’m missing the opportunity to use “fetish”..I really am done.

As a thought let me put this forth, F is also for Family and Friend, but what if they are one in the same? I have frequently lamented the lack of language to denote the importance of found family. Many people I know have people they consider family that share no blood, but there are no words that I know of to get that across. Friendship is often dismissed when confronted with the idea of “family”, they are not on par with one another when it comes to triageing time spent and obligations . I have run into this issue, because my partners have had family that always took precedence, and I have had friendships questioned over bad over because somehow that was allowable. I would never question someones loyalty to a loved one, and I have never understood this idea.

How do you define the indefinable? What do you call the Aunts and Uncles to your children,  that are your sisters and brothers by heart, if not blood? I bet there is a German word for this, there is always a German word…

Just a thought. I hope all of ya’ll are having a great time with this challenge. When I can keep my eyes ope, I love doing it. Have any of you made friends and connections from it?

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PS Recently I have been able to refer clients to one of my oldest friend’s law practice and she has done right by each one. That’s all great and stuff, but the point is we are grown-ups and have been friends since age 10 and every time we do some grown-ass shit, I feel like we’re gonna get caught out and someone will call us out for playing at this whole grown-up thing. When I have to send her official legal documents, I try to put Winnie the Poo stickers on the envelopes because i know it will make her smile. Most days I am still surprised I’m an adult.

 

 

 

 

 

Eli

E

 

Eli surreptitiously checked himself out, in the reflection of the glass before he went into the restaurant. Nothing seemed glaringly out-of-place but the surface was not a perfect mirror, so how could he really be sure. He couldn’t of course. He had done all the usual things, a mint for his breath, no spinach or other foods that might lead to teeth snafus and gone over the dating sites Top Ten First Date Mistakes. He had at least 10 conversation starters if there was a lull, plus questions he prepared if he got nervous and couldn’t think of anything off the cuff.  Was that normal? Did he remember antiperspirant?

He followed the large woman with the proportionately large gold bag into the restaurant, remembering to shift his shoulders back to give an impression of confidence and self-esteem.  He was early of course, he was always early. He had to create diversions at home so he wouldn’t be too early, but he was still there 15 minutes before the meet-up time of 7pm. He waited behind the large gold bag lady as she spoke to the hostess and was then lead to her party’s table int he back left corner. He watched as she was greeted by a tall thin man who stood up as she arrived. He kissed her on the cheek and gave her a hug. Both fo them were beaming. Eli saw the woman’s face for the first time and noticed that she was attractive int he way some women of a certain weight can be, they could carry it well, or maybe they were just comfortable in their flesh, he never knew. She had round cheeks that were blushing at the words the tall man was saying, a smile stretched across her face, suddenly making her pretty. They laughed and sat down across from one another

“Sir?”

” I’m sorry” Eli started and came back to himself, realizing that it was probably not the first time the young hostess had tried to get his attention while he stared at strangers. Pretty, too much eye make-up, too young, his brain quickly categorized the girl and then followed her. Nice to look upon, but probably barely out of her diapers.

She led him to a table that was at an angle from the older couple he had been so intent upon. He thanked the girl, sat down and pulled out his tablet to check work emails, but couldn’t resist checking the couple out again. He could tell they were on a date. They were flirting, laughing and arguing over menu choices in the way people did just for the joy of trading soft barbs. Eli wondered if he would still be dating when he was their age, which looked to be at least a decade beyond his mid-thirty vantage point. Neither of them seemed awkward, their conversation seemed to flow like water and each of them had some part of them touch the other; a finger, hand or knee constantly found its way to brush or bump into the other. Eli recognized the dance, he could sing the lyrics, but somehow the two never got together and made the perfect kind of moment he was witnessing, where everything was as it should be and neither party was conscious of every syllable and body language cue. He often felt as if he was following all the directions to the letter yet was always a few steps behind, stepping on toes and confused about what just happened.

“..and never the twain shall meet..” he heard the words come out of his mouth just was the noticed the hostess heading his way, another guest trailing behind her.

From behind the young hostess emerged a woman he recognized from her pictures online. In the pictures she looked different, but he Vital_Partners_dating_etiquette2supposed he did too.  She was curvy in the way that men loved but women often doubted on themselves. She had dark hair that  hung straight and shining to just below her shoulders, which she was nervously pushing behind her ears.  She wore what he had identified as “date” clothes, a skirt and blouse with a cardigan and paired with a nice looking medium height heel, that wasn’t too dressy or too revealing or too conservative. He recognized it because he wore the male version of the same uniform as advised  by various dating articles. What was good research without reading the corresponding data from the other side?

 

At first he couldn’t see her face, until she seemed to remember the same rules he had read and lifted her face as she too, straightened her shoulders and raised her head to greet him with an almost certain smile.

Her round eyes were that nebulous shade of hazel that never seemed to make a decision between green and brown.  He noticed a small collection of freckles dusted the bridge of her nose as a mouth that was just slightly too wide and full to fall within he median, smiled and turned her plain yet pretty enough face into a thing of beauty.

Eli reached out and grasped her outstretched hand in a not to firm grip to find the same barely there clamminess that is own nervousness often produced.

“Hi, Eli? I’m Olive, it’s nice to meet you”

The sat down, perused menus, chatted and her hand brushed his. He looked over and saw the older couple leaning in to one another, oblivious to the rest of the world and smiled.

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Z is for Zany

Z

za·ny
zānē/
adjective
1. amusingly unconventional and idiosyncratic
noun
2. an erratic or eccentric person


As I mentioned before, I have been a lifelong lover of NPR and a devotee of WNYC, and that means I get my news, entertainment and conversation starters via that medium. One of my weekly listens includes something called The Moth, a storytelling podcast. I had been hearing strangers stories on,  for years and at the beginning and end of every one, there is an entreaty for more. You can call the pitch line, give a short summary of your tale and hope for the best.

Have you ever had a moment when it all seemed to make sense, as if you stood outside of yourself and could see beyond your own internal dialog? At my daughters 4th birthday, that is what happened for me, as I watched everyone enjoying the sunny day and good company.  I was momentarily overcome by seeing the proof of what we had built, this shining thing that was something I never thought I would have.

During this moment of internal jubilant peace, I decided to call and pitch the story of my journey between one child and the next. It had all spiralcome together for me, in one hippy dippy moment, becoming a perfect circle. I called, I pitched and hung up in a panic. I called Robyn and told her I had done this incredibly idiotic thing.

A week or so later, I got a call, they liked my story, they wanted me to put it on stage.

What follows can be read elsewhere in this blog, but I can not articulate strongly enough, how amazing this experience was.  If you read back you can find out more about it here and here. It has put me in the company of people I admire greatly and shifted my perspective yet again. I found a new fight/drug/meditation to make the world shiny.

I didn’t find space to talk about my job in this month, so here’s the short explanation; I run an office that focuses on Transgender health, we provide the counseling and medical care for the transition process. I started working there because another adopted family member Dr. Lisa, asked me to run her office and I have been there for the past 6 years. I tell you this only to provide some background.

I get to help people everyday, through some of their hardest moments, I have a beautiful, weird, safe and healthy family and on top of that, I got to share my story with the world on a show I have been a fan of for years. It’s been a pretty zany, lovely, heart-growing ride.

I told my story in The Boys city, with all of his clan in the audience. I think that moment will be in my personal jewel box until the day I leave this world.thestory

I told my story because it is hard to say these things over the kitchen table during a weekend visit. I told my story so that my children would always have it, which is a pretty big thing for a kid without anyone to remember her childhood story. I told my story for me too, so I never forget my blessings.

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I did this as part of a larger project, both personally and professionally, but even if some of that doesn’t come to fruition, I really enjoyed the challenge.  I found a lot of new stories while I explored the other people participating in  the A to Z Challenge, which has been awesome. I also learned a lot about the habit of writing and myself.  So, thank you for reading this and thank you for being a part of this process with me!