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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Dance

D

Lucy liked to sing in the store while she shopped, and enjoyed the odd looks when she broke into a little booty shaking in the aisles.  With Pandora on shuffle, a list in hand and a plan of attack, this had become a weekly ritual right along with laundry and picking her daughter up and getting ice cream on Fridays after school.

She liked the smiles she got and outright laughter when she was a little too loud and slightly off-key or doing a little dance to music only she could hear, though this wasn’t always the case. She had been taught to be quieter, because she was always too loud, to laugh softly when she brayed like a donkey and to just tone all of “this” down. She was too abrasive, too passionate, too everything. From her childhood to her marriage, she had been told to be a little less than herself, or a lot less really.

It took Lucy much too long to realize she had let people tell her these things and it had been her choice to change for them. That look in the mirror had been rough, but she had decided changes must be made, quickly. She started small, and this act of song and dance, this small act of inappropriate behavior was one of her first acts of bravery. What did people think of her? What would they say about her? She didn’t want people o look at her and think she was strange, that she wasn’t normal.  Why couldn’t she just be normal??

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Yet Lucy hated stores and shopping but she loved music and dancing, so she decided to try the latter to negate the former as an experiment and tiny act of rebellion.

At first it was hard and she stopped moving if someone joined her in the  aisle and  started whispering under her breath if they were within earshot. Sometimes she completely failed and became silent and still like everyone else around her, like a normal girl, but she kept at it. Soon, she realized she was making more people smile than frown and she caught them singing along, winking or trying to catch her when she passed them. She realized that they were laughing with her and not at her and the perception she had of herself and the the world she lived in, shifted on its axis just enough to let more light through.

As she sang and helped an older man get a collection of bottled water into his cart, he thanked her and smiled with her.

Much larger changes came after, many were still in process now, but this small thing that most wouldn’t consider an act of the utmost bravery, made her heart sing along with her voice every time she did it.

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Cherished (Adult Content)

C

“Why are you here?”

“I need to be hurt”

I hurt him.

With gentleness I stripped the clothes off his body, as he trembled, kissing and darting my tongue out as the urge struck me. His breath was already sharp and jagged as I smoothed his hair away and tied a soft scarf over his eyes.

With care I wrapped his wrists in soft, supple leather restraints. With affection I strung him upon the steel bar that spanned the high, wide doorway that allowed me to have access to every inch of his skin.

I hurt him

With love I marked him. Floggers of varied makes  and weight warmed his back, slowly increasing the depth of red raised skin.  I created wings along his shoulder blades, made of burning lines he thanked me for. Practiced aim and a dragons tail  whip left gorgeous triangular patterns on the muscles that braced his spine.

I loved him

I saw his walls, the limits he thought he had hit. I petted the lovely pain I gave him, my lips traced his wounds with oh so soft kisses. I circled him, caressed his face with tenderness and whispered of his safety with me. Give it to me, let me take all of the pain for you my love, let me shoulder this for you. I will keep you safe when you fall to pieces.

I brought him close to breaking from pain, from pleasure, from love until there was nothing left

I broke my beautiful boy and deftly put him back together again.

One tear , one touch, one word of love at a time.

I licked the tears from his cheeks, digging nails into wounds while he could not resist the haven between my legs.

He loved me.

I poured water over him, washing every inch of him clean.

I baptized him in our private rite of cruelty and care..

I cherished him.

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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!

 

Y is for Yearn

Y

yearn
yərn/
verb
1. have an intense feeling of longing for something, typically something that one has lost or been separated from.
2. be filled with compassion or warm feeling.


When I was a kid there were no parties, there were no presents. The first gift I remember getting was a 12 pack of Play-Doh for Christmas, that I shared with my brother, and that was it. Later (from age 9 to 13) I lived with my mother’s parents and they did give gifts, in fact they were the giftsole expression of interest and love. During a therapy session I had told my therapist that my grandparents never told me they loved me or showed affection, she insisted that I tell my grandmother.  I assume she thought it would be helpful. I told her, and her response? “ We provide for you, we buy you gifts at the appropriate times.” That’s it, that was her response, except to add that I did not react properly to said gifts and perhaps I should address THAT with my therapist.  So lets just go forward with the knowledge that I have some issues, big, cringey. pathetic issues when it comes to gifts and celebrations. 

6180_138001065751_6851742_nWhen my daughter turned 1, I made it, a big deal. My kid would always know how precious I thought she was, she would always know how celebrated her life was. Once a year, she would have an awesome party with everyone that loved her. Around 60 people attended her first birthday party, I took out a small park to accommodate it. I know this is more about me, all of my insecurities, and perceived failings, but sometimes self-awareness doesn’t even slow me down. Rented tables, crafted projects, tulle, costumes and full menus are all part of my yearly homage to the life of my daughter and she knows she is the princess of her own little tale.3oncouch

Soon after Asha turned 1, I finally kissed Robyn, who had been one of my best friends for years and secret crush for some time. She (literally) ran away, or as she says “walked briskly”, but she returned and kissed me back. We got married and she legally adopted Asha, bringing her official momma count up to, 2.

AquabatsAfter the first year, that party evolved to be both a celebration of Asha and a greeting of Spring. It’s the one time we have a big party and see everyone, especially the people we rarely get to see during the rest of the year. The Boy and Gretchen came the first year and the third, but Gwynnie was still teaching classes and couldn’t come. When Asha was turning 4, I made sure it would work for Gwynnie and they were all able to drive down. Gwynns sister and partner drove out from Brooklyn too. Asha and her cousins were into The Aquabats, so they were also making an appearance, in the form of one doting mother, and assorted Uncles and Aunt.

We had just moved to a sleepy little town on the Delaware River. The kind of place that is filled with walking and cycling paths. The weekends fill the main drag with antique hunters, bikers in leathers, cyclists in spandex and families strolling with sticky-fingered children. It was the first time since I gave The Boy up, that Gwynnie would be in my house; also the first time I was proud of where I had made a home. It even had a garden and tiny porch!

Everyone came, everyone talked, laughed, and ate well. As Gretchen sat on the porch talking music with my broth-in-law, Gwynnie chatted with her sister in the backyard and The Boy chased his sister around while she squealed, I realized some deep shit.

 I could, maybe, let up on all of the heartfelt yearning, because..here it comes.. I had a family.

It was filled with people who didn’t have any blood connecting them, and there wasn’t a language to easily explain it to outsiders, but it was strong and fierce and mine. More importantly, it was my daughters’ and her brothers’ and they would both be okay, neither of them was ever going to be alone.kisses4yrs

X is for Chemical X

Chemical X
Sugar. Spice. And everything nice. These were the ingredients chosen to create the perfect little girl. But Professor Utonium accidentally added an EXTRA INGREDIENT to the concoction…. CHEMICAL X. Thus, the POWERPUFF GIRLS WERE BORN

In April 2008 my daughter was born. She was exactly 8lbs, had all of her fingers and toes, she was perfect. A c-section helped.Asha42508_zps40ff6b64

 

A small note about c-sections, I don’t understand why anyone would get one voluntarily. I’d choose the pain over and over again. My daughter was breach despite every effort to shift her. I was strapped down and I couldn’t hold this baby that I was getting to keep, it broke my heart. Thankfully it was a sad whisper among a joyful noise.

My room was filled with people and gifts and smiles. I couldn’t have asked for a better welcome for this new life.  Spring, sprung in during the time I was in the hospital and everything seemed to of flowered to welcome this child destined for sunshine and warmth. It was  a stark difference from how alone I was the first time, or how very sad I was then. Instead of loss and heartbreak, this was all about love and life.

5660_148663340751_3041154_nI named her Asha which means “Hope” in Sanskrit and “Life” in Swahili. It seemed apt. I think names are important, they are one of a mothers’ first gifts afetr life and I hope hers’ shapes her well.

When I spoke with The Boy after she was born, he asked how much she weighed (he was 8.6) and he was quick to point out he was bigger. I brought her up to see them when she was 4 months old. It was probably one of the easiest visits I had ever had, as the dynamic began to shift.

I was only a few years older than their oldest niece and nephew, yet I was not a peer for those kids or for the adults, it had always been an 1113_51130610751_8253_nunsettled place to find footing, along with all of the rest. Now, a decade later,  I was a mother in the true sense, and it was new unblemished ground.

4503_110684995751_3927311_nI still don’t know if it’s accurate to say that Gretch and Gwynn started speaking to me differently or if I just started listening better. The shift felt massive to me, but again, who knows? I spoke to them about baby stuff and they happily shared their experiences. I didn’t have this anywhere else, there was no mother, Auntie or grandmother to call with questions. I don’t want to give the impression that they were my go-to, because I was never that comfortable (which is on me) but they were a touchstone that I didn’t have anywhere else. I’m sure they would of answered had I been willing to reach out.

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I was the first of my friends to have a child, and they assumed I’d just figure it out, I had always been that type of person. I do not know what parents did before Google.  I was at a loss and in the ER, for diaper rash, more often than I would like to admit. My daughters first year, like the rest of my life was a lot of trial and error.

When I had left the hospital with her, I remember thinking “What is wrong with these people? Why are they letting me leave?? I have no idea how to take care of this tiny person!”.

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Most days, I still feel that way.

W is for Wayward

W

way·ward
ˈwāwərd/
adjective
1. difficult to control or predict because of unusual or perverse behavior.

I told Gwynn and Gretch about being pregnant and the reaction was….cautious. Wondering if I had thought it through, if it was the best decision for me, if I was ready. I was upset and wanted to take deep offense to this caution but after a few minutes (hours, days….whatever) of attempted self-awareness, I realized that they had every right to the questions.

storm coming

From their point of view, I had been flitting about for years, getting into trouble and then seemed to stabilize and commit while I was with Nikki. I started working decent jobs and stayed at one address. Then I just broke-up with her for no discernible reason, got rid of everything I owned and decided to move to China. All of this was within about 4 months of time and then I call and say, “ I’m pregnant! Surprise!…hold-up..why aren’t you excited??”

 

Secretbox (1)They had almost no exposure to my friends, which had shifted and matured over the years; they had no idea that the relationship that seemed to stabilize me was one filled with suffocating abuse and leaving was the best thing I had done for myself in a long time. They didn’t know, because I never told them any of this stuff. Like everything else in my life, if I was keeping this kid, I had to change my modus operandi. So I told them and asked them to trust me and to believe in me, despite all evidence to the contrary.

Despite my own surety that I was having this baby, I was a mess, because really, who knows if they are strong enough before they are tested? I had lived a rather selfishly fearless, wayward life so far and being a parent seemed more terrifying to me than any of the other incredibly risky hitchhiking-in-australiastupid things I had done prior.I had watched loved ones die, been beaten and betrayed,  I had hitchhiked across states, dove into ocean depths, taken candy from strangers, ingested unknown substances,ran with scissors, committed crimes,  fallen wildly and stupidly in love, lost everything, left everything and had often wondered where I might sleep that night; yet this idea of motherhood and being responsible for another’s life caused more fear in me than any of those adventures combined. I didn’t regret any of it, but I wondered if it was a foundation that another life should be dependent on.

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