Sitting around the unlit fire pit with a couple of friends Friday night, I was a little surprised when ShirtlessRoland offhandedly, but matter-of-factly stated that I am afraid of commitment. This deserves the same kind of overanalyzing I bestow on Lady Gaga lyrics and what to have for dinner, don’t ya think?

Technically, I’d already started overanalyzing about a week before he uttered that statement. Lately I’ve been taken with Jeanette Winterson and have not been able to move past her quote, “As your lover describes you so you are.” Granted, this passage was tumbling around in my head in the context of how I’ve described my past lovers. And generally, after the last of the gooey newness of a coupling has washed down the drain, my initial description of them has turned out to be as wrong as that last metaphor. Until Friday night, I never once wondered how my lover might describe me. And then there it was. I am, in his eyes, afraid of commitment. Even though that didn’t sound accurate, I thought it best to obsess over it before broaching the topic with him later in private. Here’s what I decided:

I am distressed that I hold on to commitment long after I realize I was wrong. Or worse yet, not realizing I was wrong just so I could hold on to it. I am weary of chasing it. I cannot remember a time I didn’t place more value on being in a committed relationship than, well, anything else. I am embarrassed how many times I’ve been wrong about another’s commitment to me. I am broken hearted by the number of times I have confused sex with commitment. I am exhausted, beaten down and at times incapacitated by commitment, but I am not afraid of it. Clearly, this points to a learning disability but I stand firm that Jeanette Winterson is still wrong.

So late, late Friday night, once the back yard was cleared of friends and empty bottles, and as we were laying our heads down for sleep I said in my own attempt at nonchalantness, “I am not afraid of commitment.” I was counting on him wanting slumber more than conversation, so I thought I had this one in the bag.

He paused before the titter. “I meant when it comes to things like band, and dance, and karate.”

He may have had a point, but suddenly I wasn’t as committed to having this conversation.

Sometimes, I think, friends come into our lives and serve a very specific purpose and then have to leave. Even if we know them for only a very short time, their mark can be as lasting as those left by lifelong friendships. On my last birthday I received the last e-mail from such a friend. A song was attached.

Today is the 7th anniversary of my 5 year death sentence. Traditionally, I have marked this day in gratitude of what one more year has allowed and in timid hope of what another might bring. It would be easy to say that the last year has overwhelmed me beyond words, and easier still to understand if I have learned we can’t predict what lies one year ahead. But I don’t think that’s really why tonight as I settle in to peaceful and quiet reflection my own words will not come. No. I think it’s because that friendship reached through time and touched me again, with that song, when I needed it most.

Thank you.

I have had the pleasure of hearing TallGirl and ShirtlessRoland pontificate longer than you’d imagine possible on the skill required to – I’m sorry, there’s no delicate way to put this – flick boogers.  TallGirl’s technique involves wiping the thing back and forth from hand to hand until it’s ready to be flicked from the thumb with the middle finger.  Similarly, ShirtlessRoland launches from the thumb, but with the index finger and only after rolling it around a couple of times.

Why am I telling you this?

Because I have just learned, much to my displeasure, that I am not divorced yet afterall.  No doubt this is nothing more than a legal maneuvering brought on by his paranoia or intention to wiggle out of the settlement he agreed to when he thought I was dying.  Whatever the case, I just wish I could wish him gone.  Funny what time changes.

On the bright side I get to spend another weekend celebrating divorcing him and I imagine it will be twice the fun as the first.  In the meantime, though, there is much frustration and the feeling that I just can’t get rid of him.

Remember kids, you can pick your husbands and you can pick your nose.  But you can’t flick your ex-husbands off your thumb.

About a year ago I received a card from a friend wishing me a Happy Hallmark Day.  For the first time ever, I realized that it was possible to both acknowledge Valentine’s Day as a silly occasion and as an excuse to touch someone’s heart.  In contrast, not only was it not celebrated during my marriage, it was a source of angst.  No greeting card company was going to tell ThatGuy when to show affection.  Being neither an abnormal psychology major, nor having an inclination to write a dissertation on the topic we’ll leave that alone. 

Anyway, on that same day, I received a very sweet, heartwarming, handmade gift from ShirtlessRoland.  I, on the other hand, had made arrangements a couple of weeks in advance to have cannoli shipped to him from “our” bakery in Baltimore.  However, a freakish 45 inch snow fall prevented shipments from being made.  With less than 24 hours to re-plan, I found a bakery closer to his home and had them deliver the cannoli to a local florist, who in turn delivered the cannoli and a mug full of daisies to ShirtlessRoland’s doorstep.  Whew.

But I think he was a little confused as to why I sent him flowers and cannoli.  Truth be told, I am too.  I was new to this and didn’t really know the protocol.  A year later I think I’m still kind of lost and found myself awkwardly planning for another gift exchange of foreign principle.  Taking ShirtlessRoland’s lead from the previous year, I made a gift.  He made another as well.

I love this idea.  Somebody thinks so much of somebody else that they take the time and use their own two hands to create something out of nothing for them, not unlike my philosophy on knitting.  If someone knits you a scarf, they didn’t just give you a scarf; they gave you their time.  They gave you the space in their thoughts while sitting in a doctor’s office, or on a bus, or in their favorite coffee house.  This concept has the added benefit of avoiding long lines to purchase clichéd chatchkas and bad chocolate made in a faraway land a romantically long time ago.

I have learned that any excuse is a good excuse to show somebody you love them in any way you can.  And conversely, there really isn’t ever a good excuse for withholding affection from the ones you love.  That lesson is what truly made this a hallmark day.

Another lifetime ago I left the courthouse in tears after my divorce.  I was there alone, unless you count my attorney – and I don’t often recommend that you do.  I was upset by the other people in the courtroom who were hootin’ and hollerin’ with joy when the judge stamped their decrees.  I was past being bitter and I was past being angry.  I was just sad; sad that the silly little fairy tale I believed in when I was way too young to get married, but walking down the aisle anyway, turned out to be, well, unreal.  I was sad that I was alone.  And I was sad that even though I didn’t believe in divorce, I was the one who had to initiate it and see it through.  I thought all those other fine, young divorcees ought to be sad, too.

I got in my Grand Prix and drove away.  Or I tried to, anyway.  See, I have a long standing habit of getting lost in downtown Raleigh.  As I made my third pass down McDowell Street, looking for an allowed left turn, I switched on the radio and the DJ introduced the newest song by Cher.  Actually, it may very well still be her newest song.  The chorus lifted me.

Do you believe in life after love
I can feel something inside me say
I really don’t think you’re strong enough, no

I drove back to work for a couple of hours, then picked up my young daughter from daycare and went home to embark on single-motherhood.  Alone.  But lifted.  I’ve never heard that song again that I don’t think about that day leaving the courthouse.  It isn’t a sad memory, it’s one of strength.

We all have songs that have somehow touched our lives.  Any time I turn on the radio, or change to a new station and happen to catch a song at the very beginning, I feel as if there is a deeper reason why at that particular time I am being allowed to listen to that particular song in its entirety.  My karma has AM/FM.   Call me crazy.  I’m ok with that.

I spent this morning waiting for a phone call to tell me that I am divorced.  I did my chores, ran my errands, talked to friends on the phone, and all the while wondered what on earth it would feel like.  Would I be sad?  Would I be relieved?  Would I finally understand why those people in divorce court all those years ago were so joyful?  Then an old fear I thought I’d put to rest crept back in.  Would I be less of a person?  An uglier human?  Less worth of love?

And then the phone call came.  It is official.  I am a twice divorced single mother of three.  The fairy-godmother did not wave her evil wand and take away my dignity or turn my Jeep into a pumpkin (thank God!), so maybe the first six months of this process that I spent agonizing over the stereo-type was a silly waste of time.  And I recall somebody telling me that at the time, too.  Several somebodies.  I am shocked to report that I don’t feel sad, or relieved, or joyful, or, really, anything. 

That’s not quite true.  I feel excited.  ShirtlessRoland just texted me to say he’s on his way.  We already, coincidentally, had a romantic trip planned to coincide with TallGirl’s competition out of town this weekend.  In a few short hours we’ll be loading up the car and embarking on…well, something.  I hope the radio gives me a hint as to what it might be.

The dream I had in the early hours of January 6th has been both a blessing and curse.  It seems that it was just the beginning of some sort of emancipation; or like the closing of a book so that I may open a new one.  However in the three weeks since, I have learned of some facts that have left me wondering just how many back covers that book can have.  What’s been learned is immaterial.  What is important is that I am free.  That, of course, is the blessing.

Unexpectedly, that freedom has left a hole.  The hole is about 18,000 words long.

One of my resolutions for 2011 was to have 50,000 words by March 31.  That’s not only attainable, but generous.  Except that I’d started writing about my divorce.  Not in a What’sHisName bashing kind of way, but more in a lessons-I’ve-learned kind of way.  And now I just don’t care.  My idea was that if some other woman finds herself living my September 24, 2009, they could pick up my essay and see that they will not only survive, but thrive.  As much as I wish I’d had something like that to read, I just don’t have the vim.  A little more than a third of the way to my goal and I’m out.

A writing buddy suggested that since I set the deadline I can revise it.  And maybe I can.  Likely, I’ll have to.  But what is bothersome to me is that I don’t have the burning desire to write anything else.  I’ve tried, but it is flat and uninspired.

I mean, I could write about some really awesome things that I’m doing right now, and I will in time, but at present it’s premature.  I could write about my travels, except that I don’t have any planned until next week.  I could write about politics, except I’ve been told that I am not nice and am why this country has failed (please don’t tell the CBO.  They currently think it’s because of overspending and I really don’t want to draw their attention).

So, my dear readers, until the inspiration fairies alight on my noggin again we will both have to find some other way to occupy the 2 minutes out of our day every couple of weeks that this blog has been costing us.

Good luck to you.  Until we meet again, I’ll likely be destroying another civilization.

I sat down intending to write my say about the Wake County School Board Reassignment plan that last night drew the attention of America’s most watched news source – The Colbert Report.  However, that soap box has been preempted by Spring Training.

I know it’s still January, and I know that a large chunk of the country is buried under snow and ice, but here in Suburbia, Global Warming is at its finest, bringing us 2 days of temperatures in the low 60’s.  Because these unseasonal temperatures are set to expire this evening with temperatures returning to a low of 29 degrees, I tried to make the most of the days that I could comfortably spend outside.  The plan included staining the wood for the frame of the headboard I’m still building, yard work, and garage cleaning.  But plans are made to be broken, right?

By the time my errands were finished and yesterday had warmed up, I had already made two trips to Lowes to purchase materials for my frame staining.  There would be two additional trips before the day was out.  I worked in the garage with both doors open while the kids played in the street.  Their squeals and laughter made for a very nice soundtrack.  By nightfall, I’d tested several techniques and decided how to proceed, come morning.

Today, I ran my errands and got back to work.  By 3pm, all wood was stained and glazed and set aside to dry.  ShortGirl played all around the house with some of her little girlfriends, while TheBoy rode his bike down the hill by the golf course behind our home.  I was just about to don gardening gloves and get to work in the bulb beds when my helmet-clad son walked up the driveway all dejected and said, “Mom, there aren’t any boys home right now to play catch with me.”  His glasses magnified his sad, blue eyes while his jacket hung off his shoulders, somewhat obscuring the baseball glove he was already wearing while he went door to door looking for male companionship.

I quickly looked around the garage and spotted TallGirl’s baseball glove, abandoned for a year and a half now, in favor of music, boys, and studies (in that order).  I asked TheBoy if maybe it would be alright if I played catch with him.  His eyes got even bigger and he enthusiastically said, “Sure!  Can we play in the street?”

Why not?

Now, you have to understand that TheBoy looks more at home in front of a chess board or maybe behind the Monster’s Compendium than he does in any athletic setting.  At 8 years old, he is the second smallest child in his 3rd grade class.  I’ve seen the parents of the shortest kid and sadly, I don’t think he’s going to break 5 feet.  My son is thin and pale and looks very much like a child who survived Cholera, but just barely.  He’s cute as a button, but he does look sickly.  Being a diligent (read; anxious) mother, of course, I’ve taken him to the doctor for his pallor.  He’s fine.  He’s healthy.  He’s just genetically predisposed to looking otherwise.

 We spent the next hour tossing a tennis ball (couldn’t find a baseball or softball in the garage I never got around to cleaning) back and forth.  We made plans to practice hitting in the back yard on the next spring-like day we have.  I didn’t complete everything I wanted, but I did complete everything I needed.

I created 3 new hockey fans by taking the kids to their first ‘Canes game this evening.  To prepare for the evening, I applied little, tiny Hurricane tattoos to each of our faces.  There comes a time, as it turns out, when face tattoos are not a good idea.  The rub-on kind, I mean.  Probably almost never is a good time for a permanent one, unless you’re Mike Tyson.  Let’s just say that when I smiled, my tattoo looked more like the parched land in drought ravaged Sub-Saharan Africa than a moist wind storm.

Our seats were right against the glass behind the Away Team.  At first, I thought these were awesome seats, but unless you like looking at the backs of the coach’s heads, or making your neck stiff watching the Jumbo Screen, I don’t actually recommend them.  Still, any seat is a good seat to watch hockey.

Tonight, the Away Team happened to be the Calgary Flames.  Canadians, in case you did not know, play dirty hockey.  Also, you can smell them through the glass along about the time the game enters an OT shoot out. 

I am happy to report that after roughly 68 minutes of swooshing and slapping and rumbling and grunting and wooooo-ing and argh-ing, the ‘Canes came away victorious with a 6-5 win.  While a playoff game isn’t completely out of the question, I’m probably gonna go ahead and wash off this tattoo.

I just awoke from a dream and must get it out before I sleep again and it loses its power.

What’sHisName came to visit the children for a holiday dinner.  He brought OtherWoman with him.  I had a strong feeling of anxiety as I watched them park in my driveway through a window.  I stood in my foyer and waited for them to ring the doorbell.  But then, I had an urge to see my house one last time before it got rearranged or sullied with His presence, so I walked a slow loop through my hallway, living room, kitchen, piano room; stopping in each room to take stock.  I looked at my soothing colors, touched my favorite photographs, picked up candles to smell them and, unexplainably, ran warm water over my hand in the kitchen sink and then walked back to my foyer with a very strong knowledge.

This is my house.  This is my house.  This is my house.  This is my home.

I opened my front door just as He was opening my storm door and preparing to knock.  His face was very tense as he ushered OtherWoman to the front of himself and said, in a squeezed voice, “OtherWoman, Serena.  Serena, OtherWoman.”

“Oh, I know exactly who she is.” I said, not unkindly.

She nervously extended her hand, but averted eye contact.  I shook it and as we released, she began to weep.  “It’s ok.” I said, and gave her a small hug. 

“I’m so sorry,” she sobbed and I pulled her into a full on momma hug; chest to chest and petting the back of her head while trying to soothe her between her apologies.

“Shhhhh.  It’s alright.”
“Shhhhh.  It’s ok.”
“Shhhhh.  He’s yours now.  All yours.”

She calmed a little and pulled back to look me in the eye, as if that’s what she was waiting to hear.  “Really.  He’s yours.  It’s ok.”

She exhaled in relief and wiped at tears that were still streaming.

“He’s yours.  But you have to know what it was like for us when he left,” I said, holding her two hands now, and talking very close.  She nodded and sniffed.  I struggled for the words to fit the surprise, the abandonment, the duplicitousness, the cruelty.  The only sentence that could encompass all of it was, “And you will.”

The dream did not end there, but took a strange twist, entering another dimension as dreams often do.

OtherWoman and I prepared dinner together, while What’sHisName and ShirtlessRoland hovered near by.  She began telling me some of their stories, and he corrected nearly every aspect.  I told him to stop arguing.

“Oh, What’sHisName doesn’t argue,“ she interrupted me.  “That’s one reason we work.”

“He’s arguing with you now.” I said, but she kept chopping something leafy and green.

This angered What’sHisName and he raised his voice and said some very nasty things (all of which I’ve heard in his rants while I’m awake).  “I refuse to fight with you,” I said.

As OtherWoman interrupted me to tell me that he would never fight, What’sHisName turned his unhappiness on the otherwise-occupied, laughing children and yelled at them for making too much noise.

She then went on to tell me that he is such a kind father and he’s so good with animals.  Before I could say another word, ShirtlessRoland silently placed his hand on top of mine.  I knew this to mean, “Shhhh.”

Just as I turned my attention back to cooking, it hit me; she isn’t the Other Woman.  She is the inexperienced, naïve Me.

There was a brief moment of internal fright and panic to try and save her.  ShirtlessRoland’s hand was there again, on mine.  “It’s ok,” he said.  “It ends well.”

And on that note, I believe I’ll be able peacefully slumber for what’s left of night time.

There is a lovely story I’d like to tell you about what inspired me to mix a drink that I have affectionately named The Blue Pear, in fond memory of my visit to this fine establishment in Palm Springs, California last summer. Sadly, you’ll have to visit me to hear the tale.  However, I will share the drink recipe with you.

6 parts Pear Nectar

3 parts Peach Cider

1 part Blue Curacao

4 parts Pear Vodka

Add above liquids to an ice filled shaker and jigga, jigga, jigga.  If your parts happen to be shots, then you’ve just made yourself a bunch of Blue Pear Martini.  Rim four martini glasses by dipping in a small puddle of Blue Curacao, then in a plate of sugar crystals.  Pour concoction and then garnish with a slice of pear that you’ve been soaking in vodka over-night.

The pear nectar can be found, if you live in Blandsville Suburbia, on the Mexican shelf in the half aisle of the whole grocery store devoted to international foods.  If you don’t happen to live near a peach stand in South Carolina, I don’t know where you’ll find Peach Cider.  However, I can tell you that it is an absolutely necessary ingredient.  It makes the pear pop.  I cannot explain it.  Without the peach, you can barely taste the pear, and other juices over powered it. 

Cheers!