One stop at a time.

So, here I am, back in Denver, one of the last places I thought I’d end up. But I honestly didn’t know where else to go.

It’s not a bad place to be, Denver. I just never felt like it fit me. But nowhere seems to fit. Paris maybe, but that’s not really an option right now.

A dear friend offered me a room in a condo she rents out until I get my feet under me. It’s cozy and I have a warm bed to sleep in, so it’s a start.

It’s a bit further removed than I’d anticipated, which wouldn’t be an issue if I had a car. Let’s just say, Denver isn’t famous for its public transportation. I actually don’t know anyone who has taken the bus by choice…and now I know why.

I avoided it as long as I could, but my neighborhood has little to offer – one coffee shop a mile away in one direction and a handful of bars and stores a mile in the opposite direction. I don’t mind the walk so much, but the destinations don’t feel worth the schlep, especially when it’s freezing outside.

The bus I have to take is ‘the 0’. Fitting, since that’s pretty much where I’m starting from. I’ve tried to put a more positive spin on it, but all I came up with is it will be a hard one, meaning zero, to forget.

My first experience was…interesting. A trip that used to take me 15 minutes to drive took over an hour. But it wasn’t terrible.

The way back, however, was a bit of an adventure.

‘The 0’ was delayed by half an hour, so I hopped on the first bus headed south. This seemed like a logical choice until I realized the route ended way before my stop, which meant a transfer at “the station.”

bus

We pulled off the main road to what was basically a huge, empty lot. It was darker than it should have been, which made it feel like we were in the middle of nowhere.

The bus drove off, leaving me with three other men, each sitting on a separate bench.

I’m not the paranoid type, probably to a fault. And yes, I have put myself in some questionable situations. But I’m not reckless, and I know when I need to stay vigilant. I didn’t feel like this was one of those situations. However, my phone had conveniently stopped working, and I had no idea when the next bus was coming. So, not ideal.

I paced back and forth, trying to stay warm and caught the three men looking my way a few times. But they seemed harmless. And I’m sure they were curious why I was there. I don’t think I qualified as a typical passenger on this particular route.

The youngest of the three finally approached me. He wasn’t threatening at all,  more concerned. He asked if I knew which bus to catch. I assured him I did.

I had no idea.

After what felt like hours, a bus finally pulled up. I didn’t care which direction it was going, as long as it was going.

My next trip after hours proved to be…I guess “animated” would be the best word to describe it.

It wasn’t that late, but the bus was almost empty. Two younger girls sat huddled in the seats lining the wall, facing toward the aisle. A very talkative, somewhat obnoxious man sat across from them. He was trying to interact with them, but they kept their heads down, doing their best to ignore him. I couldn’t help but feel protective, so I casually moved over to the seat closest to them.

We came to a stop. The driver got up to lower the ramp for a man in a wheelchair. The obnoxious man hopped up and lifted the bench to make room for him, which made me feel bad for thinking he was obnoxious. We started to pull away, then jerked to a halt when a woman began slamming her fists on the door.

The driver knew her and they began chatting as the woman made her way down the aisle. She sat in the seat directly behind me and continued to yell up to the driver. “So, did you hear that so-and-so from the center just got thrown in jail for murdering his wife?”

This abruptly transitioned into her announcing to anyone who would listen, “You know what happened to me last night? Four policemen jumped me and tried to take me to jail.” She rolled up her sleeves and came over to show me her hands. “See the marks from the handcuffs?”

The man in the wheelchair and the ‘not as obnoxious’ guy teamed up and began laughing at her, saying she was crazy.

She jumped to her feet and screamed at them, “I am not crazy! They ran all their god damned tests on me that proved it. I am not fucking crazy!”

I pulled the chord, exhaling when I heard the words, “stop requested.” Cold and dark for a couple of miles seemed preferable to murder and abuse.

I decided to sync up my bus outings with the light of day for a spell…and to never leave home without my headphones.

girl.bus

The next morning’s ride was a short one, no more than 15 minutes. Odds were good I could make it to my destination without incident.

I was just a few blocks away from the coffee shop when the man next to me requested a stop. He started making his way to the door but stumbled backward when the driver hit the brakes.

Something fell out of his bag. I instinctively reached down to pick it up and did my best not to react as I handed him back his knife.

It wasn’t a menacing knife, necessarily, but it wasn’t a pocket knife either. I don’t believe this man had even the slightest intention of using it on anyone. And given the direction he was coming from, I get why he had it…just in case.

To be clear, I’ve never felt like my life was in danger. Everyone, for the most part, is harmless. But I have realized I don’t exactly blend in, as I seem to be the one “the man who had a few too many” gravitates toward.

And I see the curious side glances when I sit down or the blatant scans from head to toe. Maybe I’m just paranoid, not because I think their looks are threats or advances. They feel more like judgments, as if to say, “who the hell are you?”

I usually ignore it, but sometimes I just want to look them in the eye and assure them…

I have no fucking idea. I lost her a quite a ways back, and I can’t seem to find her.

That’s what I want to say. I want them to know that I don’t think for a second I am better than anyone else who takes a seat on Bus 0. We are all doing our best to navigate our circumstances.

But no, I don’t want to be here. I actually couldn’t be further away from where I want to be.

Yesterday, I missed my stop. But instead of getting off and working my way back, I just sat there, staring out the window. We headed downtown, making our way closer to where I used to live. We passed the place I used to take Biscuit to get his bath, then the place ‘E’ and I went the year I decided to like football, then the gym I used to drag him to, the place I took dance lessons, the coffee shop where I used to study during grad school…

This was my world where I no longer belong. What used to be home, now feels like a warped cassette tape. The same song is playing, but it doesn’t make sense anymore-the words are garbled, the melody distorted. And there was no way to fix it.

I feel like I’ve been exiled, still able to roam freely, but imprisoned by boundaries I can no longer cross and memories that have been hallowed out by regret.

The bus stopped and everyone got off. It was the end of the line.

I was mad at myself for wasting the morning searching for a place I wasn’t going to find and ending up nowhere close to where I needed to be.

I finally found the bus I needed to get back and waited impatiently as everyone boarded. The driver closed the doors and headed out, then stopped abruptly to let someone else on.

I was annoyed, tired of waiting and feeling lost in a place I used to call home.

I knew I was spiraling, so I forced myself to revisit my ‘gratitude list’.

I’m grateful for my friends, for my warm bed…that I have all of my limbs. 

But it wasn’t working. I wasn’t grateful. I was angry.

The woman slowly made her way up the stairs and stopped to greet the driver, who seemed genuinely happy to see her.

He smiled, “How was your day?”

Without hesitating, she responded, “Well, no one I love died today, so I’d say, all and all, it was a good day.”

That sounded much better than “I have all my limbs”, so I added it to my list.

I’m grateful that no one I love died today.

The woman sat in the seat across from me. Her face was hard and soft at the same time, her demeanor firm but gentle. She seemed familiar. Did I know her?

She caught me staring at her and I tried to smile. She nodded her head slightly and made her way to the exit, disappearing into the crowd of people waiting to get on.

She had only said a few words, but her voice lingered, filling in the words that were taking shape in my head.

Hold on, love. You’ll get where you want to go. But it’s not back there. You’ll have to take a different route. You’re headed in the right direction, though. Just keep going forward …one stop at a time.

 

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Your Mid-life Manic Pixie Dream Girl

A sneak preview of an article in the works:

He had told me he needed to leave over an hour ago, but he was still here. A battle of wits was in full swing. I was winning, and I could tell he liked it.

The banter continued, the chemistry, obvious. He finally paused, studying my face. My chest tightened. I knew that look, and I knew what was coming.

“You are, I don’t know, I’ve just never met anyone…”

I stopped him before he could finish, “Are you married?”

He laughed, clearly taken aback, then looked down.

“No. I mean, not technically. Or I guess technically I am, but it’s been over for a long time.”

This is now one of the first questions I ask if I’m interested in someone. And this is what I’ve learned: “no” usually means yes and “getting a divorce” means I want a divorce, but I’m not yet and won’t be for an indeterminate amount of time.

To be clear, I’m not seeking out men who are married. But as it turns out, being 40ish and newly single seems to be the status quo. It also turns out that single or even just available is open to interpretation.

When I first got divorced, one ex-boyfriend after another started reaching out. I was a bit naïve in the beginning, thinking they just wanted to catch up. I quickly realized that even if we aren’t the type to keep our married status current or obvious, social media can be telling if someone’s paying attention. It can also be very deceptive.

When the one I never quite got over showed up, I, of course, scoured his social media. His status? Married. There was a good amount of pictures of his kids and family vacations, so I reasoned he must just want to catch up.

After a drink or two, however, I got “the truth.” He’d been separated for months, the marriage was over and had been for years, his situation was complicated: the kids, the house, the finances…But he was finally ready to move on.

This all made sense at the time. My divorce was painful and not immediate. But logistically, it was relatively simple and finalized within a few months. In short, we didn’t have children.

So I listened. I listened to him tell me that he loves his kids but wondered if he made the wrong decision, that the reality is, he’s thought about me all this time and has never met anyone like me…

I believed him and we plunged in. I had the person I thought I was meant to be with, and he had an exciting distraction from the painful reality of his day-to-day.

Therein lies the tragic flaw. For men in the thick of a mid-life crisis, I’m a distraction from reality, existing in the realm of a fantasy they conjure up.

I’ve become their manic pixie dream girl, the female version of a night in shining armor who “…has no reason to exist except to cheer up one miserable guy.”

This is it, in a nutshell: (explained by Hugo Schwzer)

I thought less about her and more about how it was she made me feel… As unstable as she may be, the Manic Pixie Dream Girl not only senses a young man’s potential in a way he can’t, she intuitively knows how to lead him to his destiny. She knows him better than he knows himself, or so he believes. That convenient assumption allows the young man both to adore the MPDG and to avoid any responsibility for reciprocity. How can he be expected to give anything back when she has this magical intuition about the world that so vastly exceeds his own?


Maelstrom

r.druatemer.drowning.                                                                                                                  ~ illustration by Rebecca Dautremer

Do you wish sometimes you had never met me?

No. I wish you had never left me. 

I had to… you would have never left me.

* Maelstrom: A powerful whirlpool in the sea or river. A situation or state of confused movement or violent turmoil.

 The Kids, Her Perspective

I am sure my previous article published in the Washington Post pissed a lot of you off.

Perhaps you think I am selfish, completely discounting the feelings and perspective of his ex (or soon-to-be, as I thought at the time). This is anything but the case. There is no question my ex and I handled things terribly. We fell in love and plunged in without fully considering how it would impact her. We should have waited until their divorce was finalized. I convinced myself that concealing our relationship was ‘protecting’ her and his kids. But in retrospect, this was not my main motivation. I just wanted to be with him, and I knew on some level that we would fall apart if she knew. We did.

This might have been the reason for our demise, but it’s irrelevant at this point. It wasn’t meant to be and we caused so much unnecessary pain for everyone involved. I now understand this, and it feels terrible.

Clearly the guilt, regret and residual heartbreak have resurfaced since the article was published. And as I was responding to comments, grappling with all of this, I came across this article, strategically placed right beneath mine.

Beautifully written by Samantha Shanley, it addresses the same topic, or at least one that is intimately related, but from a very different perspective.

Hers.

She relives the experience of ending her marriage while trying to keep her family ‘together’. She and her husband took a situation that can be so loaded with anger and resentment, choosing to treat each other with love and compassion instead. The grace with which she handled everything literally brought me to tears.

Her is the link to her website. I highly recommend reading more of her work. Her writing is extremely moving and powerful… and I kinda want to be her friend. 🙂

Thanks to all of you who have taken the time to share in my excitement about being published. It truly blows my mind, especially when I read articles like this.

How do you keep a family together after a divorce?

 

Please check out my social enterprise, Briya, and help us empower women and children with education and economic advancement opportunities across the globe.

Briya produces fashionable bags and accessories that allow adventurous spirits and dedicated change-makers to travel in style while helping women and children to reach their full potential in underprivileged regions around the world.

www.briyabags.com

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‘His Kids’ Revisited. (Published in the Washington Post)

BWKP0095 (1)

Well, this is kind of exciting! Check it out and I always love comments and shares!!! 🙂

I Never Met His Kids. But They Still Had The Power to Make or Break our Relationship

Note: The last sentence gets lost with the ad, so read to the very end! 🙂 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/soloish/wp/2017/06/12/i-never-met-his-kids-but—they-still-had-the-power-to-make-or-break-our-relationship/?utm_term=.776c14394939

 

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Please check out my social enterprise, Briya, and help us empower women and children with education and economic advancement opportunities across the globe.

Briya produces fashionable bags and accessories that allow adventurous spirits and dedicated change-makers to travel in style while helping women and children to reach their full potential in underprivileged regions around the world.

www.briyabags.com

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Whipped Cream Revisted (Published in Thought Journal)

An entertaining one for your Tuesday morning. 🙂

What Not To Say To The Cute Guy ShopAt The Coffee 

 

Please check out my social enterprise, Briya, and help us empower women and children with education and economic advancement opportunities across the globe.

Briya produces fashionable bags and accessories that allow adventurous spirits and dedicated change-makers to travel in style while helping women and children to reach their full potential in underprivileged regions around the world.

Shop here: www.briyabags.com

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Adulting Revisited (published in Thought Catalog)

Check out my latest article published in Thought Catelog:

The Unedited Truth Of What It Feels Like To Find Yourself Unexpectedly Reliving Your 20s

It’s fun, think you’ll enjoy it. But I have no idea what the picture is supposed to mean. And they take liberties with the title. But, I’ll take it.

Thanks for reading and supporting!!!


Please check out my social enterprise, Briya, and help us empower women and children with education and economic advancement opportunities across the globe.

Briya produces fashionable bags and accessories that allow adventurous spirits and dedicated change-makers to travel in style while helping women and children to reach their full potential in underprivileged regions around the world.

www.briyabags.com

me.gypsy.fav.cross.legs