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.

But it is 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 to forget. (Or an easy zero to remember for that ‘positive spin’).

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 either, 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 exactly ideal.

I paced back and forth, trying to stay warm. I 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 everyone, “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, laughing at her, saying she was crazy.

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

I pulled the cord, 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 never leave home without my headphones.

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 and I instinctively reached down to pick it up.

I 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 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.

I’ve never really 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.

I also 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 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 is 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, of feeling isolated and 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 taking shape in my head.

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

 

Advertisements

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.

My First Article Published in the Washington Post: His Kids…

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

 

—-

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

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

me.gypsy.fav.cross.legs

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

The D-word: Part I

“You did too much. You tried too hard. The only thing you didn’t do is walk away. So walk away. It’s going to hurt like hell, but do it anyway. Do it with grace. Do it with love. Do it knowing you did everything you could”.        – b.breazeale

I have admittedly been avoiding this one, but it was inevitable, really. It’s pretty much why I’m here writing this, why I keep on writing this, why some of you have asked me to keep writing this.

Divorce. It’s apparently one of mid-life’s sidekicks. A lot of us are starting to wonder if these two now just go hand and hand. We see it happening all around us, yet it still feels like we are the only ones going through it.

I thought I would find it reassuring each time one of you confirmed that I’m not alone in all of this. It’s not reassuring. It’s heartbreaking. When I hear your stories, I just want to push fast forward so we can all arrive safely, unscathed, on the other side.

I think most of us have an idea why we are going through this at this point in our lives. There is growing evidence that our age bracket (40 and older) has the highest divorce rate. Clearly there are multiple factors, but most theories attribute this to the ‘empty nest’ phenomenon. I will try to tackle that one next week, at least my thoughts on it since my experience is only from what I have read, hearsay, and observation.

Regardless of age or the children factor, we all pretty much have different versions of the same story. We are the ones who cheated or the ones who were cheated on, the ones who are hated or the ones who hate, the ones who left or the ones who were left. Either end is excruciating and feels terrible.

For me, it was the months before- the unraveling of what I thought was my forever, when I knew I had to do it- that was by far the most painful part. The moment of truth, of trying to come to terms with the fact that I had to leave, of trying to find the courage to do it, of trying to prepare myself for the look on his face when I finally forced myself to do it- to turn my back on him, open the fucking door and close it behind me.

It is the hardest thing I have ever done.

I try to reconcile the guilt and regret with the fact that I truly did fight for us. And I know he did too. We all did. Not one of us wanted to give up on our person, on our relationship, on our lives as a couple or a family unit. We didn’t want to be the cause of pain for the person we still love. We didn’t want to be alone or bear the thought of them being alone. We didn’t want to hurt our kids and our families.

So we tried longer and harder than we should have, prolonging the inevitable, trying to forgive or waiting to be forgiven, trying to conjure up what had been missing- to fix it or force it or fake it. It seemed an infinitely better option than being the one responsible, or being the victim, or admitting to ourselves and the world that we had failed.

We all know the statistics: ‘Approximately 50% of marriages end in divorce’.

For most of us, the statistics were irrelevant. They certainly did not apply to me. I, unlike the other 50%, would beat the odds. I didn’t get married out of desperation or the desire to be the status quo. I wanted to be with the person who I had chosen to grow old with. I wanted to solidify our commitment to each other in front our closest friends and family. I wanted to build our own family and community. I wanted to have the happy, fulfilling, normal life that I assumed all of my friends had. The ‘other’ 50% were getting married for the ‘wrong’ reasons. But I wasn’t in that bracket. I was by no means going to be a statistic.

We were together for around 7 years before we got engaged. And yes, it became an issue. I began to question whether he was in it for the long-term or if there was something wrong with me or if there was some glaring reason why he didn’t want to get married that I wasn’t seeing. When we did get married, I distinctly remember wanting to tell everyone and probably made sure the ring on my left hand was noticed. “See, there is nothing wrong with me. I am lovable. Someone does want to be committed to me for life. You thought I wasn’t, but I am. I am normal”.

We did in the end become a statistic. But we were so much more.  I don’t regret one second of our marriage (except for hurting him), nor spending over a decade of my life with him. I married him because he was everything I wanted and needed at that point in my life. I married him because I wanted to spend my life with him. It never occurred to me that I wouldn’t.

I hate that I couldn’t save it, that we couldn’t save it. But I think we both know we would have been saving it for the wrong reasons. I didn’t leave because I didn’t love him. I left because I did love him and I knew I was no longer giving him the love he deserved. I also knew that I wasn’t getting what I needed anymore. That wasn’t his fault. He did every possible thing he could to give me what I needed and more. But what I needed, from life, from my partner, had changed. Staying wasn’t fair to either of us. We would have been living a lie.

Although divorce seems to becoming the norm, there is nothing about it that is normal. The unfolding, arrival, and aftermath is different for everyone. It is rarely mutual or fair, it never just ends, and it is always painful. Most days I know it was for the best. But there are still so many days I wish we were still together and just feel like I made a colossal mistake.

I think it just takes time and perspective to get to the place where we know that we made the right decision, that we didn’t fail, that sometimes failing is actually staying. But we are not there yet. We are in the thick of it and have little access to those on the other side- the ones who now can see that they did the best thing possible for everyone involved. This is why we are still fighting when we know it’s time to stop. This is why those of us who stopped are now riddled with guilt because we did.

But you can only fight for so long. And when you realize that you are the only one fighting with conviction, it is time to lay down your sword. It is time to fight for you, to have faith that time and perspective will reveal in the end that you did the best and most courageous thing you could have done. You walked away.

“One of the hardest parts of life is deciding whether to walk away or to try harder.”

Articles regarding divorce rate statistics: 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/pa/article-3330435/Divorce-figures-drop-except-50s.html#ixzz4cRuDEekC 

https://www.mckinleyirvin.com/Family-Law-Blog/2012/October/32-Shocking-Divorce-Statistics.aspx