I Would Write One Thousand Words.

Baby, it’s 3 a.m. I must be lonely.

There is something all too cliché about the “middle of the night” publication, but I honestly couldn’t sleep. Daniel does this thing when he goes to bed – he turns on the television. And it will take a while to wake me up, but it always does. This time the ‘Sons of Anarchy’ were having a blowout, gunfire ablaze, bright lights flashing like crazy. This would send any normal person into seizures, but not Dan – to him, it’s a lullaby.

He’ll say the next day, that he had to work all night and how by the time he finally made it to bed for a few hours rest, I was fast asleep. Snoring.

What little does he know.

I swear to God, sometimes I look over at him and his mouth is open and this old man sound is escaping from it and it scares me to death. I’m not ready to take care of an old person; I’m not exactly doing a stellar job with my own self. I get worried that I’m going to wait for him to come round long enough to look over and find that he’s using a walker with little tennis balls on the bottom.

Of the 120 indoor plants I have been nursing, one of them started to look unhappy once I removed it from the bathroom I use. It is by far, the ugliest plant I think I’ve ever seen from the succulent family of cacti-looking atrocities. I didn’t want the damn thing in my personal space, so I took it from the room that was always bright and sometimes humid – and ultimately removed it from its climate of survival.

He says, that was his wife’s “favorite” plant. But I think I’ve heard him say that before, about some goddamn thing growing outside or whatever else we happen to be talking about. So I have been killing her favorite thing as long as I’ve let it slowly petrify in front of the fireplace. Recently I summoned the last remaining charitable bones in my body and divided the two living stems in separate pots and fertilized them before I set them by windows.

One of the things is here with me, now, in the room I moved all of my furniture in to. A ticking clock of a plant that will either sprout something new in the next few days or give up the ghost. These plants, these step-children of animals that puke and shed and shit everywhere, I find myself so sadly out of love for them. It’s just not the same.

The chaise I’m sitting on now to type is just here, the blanket is the blanket I found lying over it. I pulled the fabric over my lap, so foreign to me but instinctive, like a hotel lounge I never leave. Like a woman who must have stayed here and then lost her memory. The little sign in the window that I’ve carted from one place to the next says: Home is where your story begins.

Home was where my story began and there is truly, truly no place like it.

I decided to come in here, put a record on and write over the little cry fest that has started to become routine. It’s simply exhausting, when your breathing is all restricted and you’re trying to maintain the level of snot coming from your nose. I’d rather be here, away from the anarchy and all of its sons, doing something that I enjoy.

Some days, as I’m backing out of the driveway, I remind myself of something Daniel said to me.

“You can’t let yourself be happy.”

All of the bullshit, the struggle that is so hashtag real, I tell myself that it’s my personal syndrome. My refusal of satisfaction. And then I tell myself to get over it because that broken record gets awfully repetitive and annoying after some thirty years. Everything is okay, it just seems like it isn’t because that’s the only thing I believe in.

I gave the dogs a bath last night. Duchess was jealous when Tess was in the tub and she kept trying to hop in with her. Silly pug. She’s next to me, sharing the blanket and pillow because I always have a place for her, always. The big dog is lying on the cold, hardwood floor and when I tell her she should go to bed she just gets up and nudges me with her cold nose.

I’m looking at her, messed up haircut and all, and I’m thinking: this was someone’s family dog. This dog was loved like I loved Lacy, the girl who accompanied me growing up. But the woman died and those kids left and didn’t take any animals with them. So she’s here, half-stupid, looking back at me with a little of that frustration of having to deal, day in and day out, that I can relate to.

I’ve always had my own room. Home, college, home, apartment, house – even when I was living with someone else I felt a sense of ownership because I had full control – and used lots of it. My bed, my closet, my decorative boxes filled with My Little Ponies and everything always black and pink. Well, once Daniel loses the bedroom set in there as part of a pending court bargain with his step kids, he is turning that in to his gaming room: fancy seats that vibrate, cords galore.

I realized yesterday that for the first time, I’m losing my room. I have to consolidate. Say goodbye to the little box I’ve been coordinating my entire life, the color scheme I’ve loved for so long, the pink room that contained all of the cutesy shit I always refused to let clutter up the rest of the house. I have to figure out where my clothes go. Where I’m doing my makeup. That space I’ve always had…is going away.

Daniel’s bedroom is not an option. He took the liberty of filling every closet with his own clothes once the space freed up. My queen size pillow cases don’t match his king-sized Waverly bed set. The vanity in there is two feet from the ground, in the darkest corner of the room, and that flimsy little stool would ruin my knees and my back. And her pictures are still on the wall.

I don’t suppose I’ve ever really had my own room, anyway.

The illusions we keep.

This blanket, this pillow, this seems like it will be just as well. Nice and quiet, too.

Good night.

A Little (Too Much) Off the Top

I’m just a big ball of hormones, I’ve come to realize. Granted the stress has left me on edge, always on the brink of tears, but my moods have been drastic and my perspective, ever-switching. I picture my predicaments and people one day and see it all accompanied with a golden glow, just to have the same scenarios and relationships in a totally different light some hours later.

In short, I am crazy. And I just typed “perdicaments” because that’s how I say it when I get this odd southern accent going from unknown origins. Spell checkin’ this bitch.

If it is possible to be a desperate whore by food, then I have accomplished that these past few months. I found myself jetting from work over to the local McDonald’s, stress eating on a very restrictive lunch period, stuffing my face with fries just so I could handle going back to whatever the hell I was doing before – an odd combo of absolutely dick, and tons of shit. It wasn’t enough old habits to actually go up a clothing size, but let’s admit it – jeans stretch.

Does anyone remember that old animation for Charlotte’s Web where Templeton the rat goes on an eating rampage at the fair, drowning in lemonade, swallowing entire foods whole in a colorful kaleidoscope of culinary delicacy? Yeah. I did that. From like, May to October.

I’m back on coffee and electronic cigarettes, today. Because I’m crazy, so extremes are the only thing I understand.

Daniel is incredible. An incredible piece of fucking work, and a work of art. He thinks he’s waking me up with a ‘hey, Autumn’ when I’ve actually been listening to him running around, groaning and growling, and he’ll say something about how I could help him, or something that needs attention, as he continues to dread before work. Once at work, he hates his job. Then at home he enters grades and works on teacher stuff until the early morning, cursing and screaming all the way. I have prepared a meal, made his lunch for the following day and set out the next day’s clothes to crawl in to. We see each other briefly, long enough for him to tell me that his day “sucked a big, black dick” and for me to “take care”, then the cycle repeats.

In between these days when he swears there is no time for anything else, I try to get him to do things. I took him to a fundraiser walk for the Michigan Humane Society last weekend. During our stroll along the river he kept complaining about how he had to get home and work – and he wouldn’t stop bitching about the dog.

Oh, the dog.

His dog is one of those mutts-on-purpose, a poodle crossed with a retriever. So it has shit all over its face: long whiskers and chin like some kind of schnauzer, and hair growing over its eyes. Its chin is constantly dripping from lapping up water, which gets smeared all over you when the dog is nudging its snout. During a grooming session, I took a little too much off the top and turned this:

start

In to this:

end

Which he will simply not forgive. He kept saying how bad he felt for her…even though she had no idea what she looks like. And you know…can actually see things, now.

Everyone swooned over my pug. A cameraman came in for a close up when I was holding her, and Duchess took her paw and put it to the side of her face in this totally perfect model dog moment, because my dog is the people’s dog. She can’t help being perfect.

When we got in the car to leave, I was wishing we could have stepped off the path on Belle Isle to admire the other dogs. I felt like everything was cut short. And I thought about how Daniel was just going along to appease me even though I had set the whole thing up to stay involved with him.

I started to cry on the way home when he said, “You’re not happy.”

After I told him why, he made me look at him by turning my chin, and he leaned over from the driver’s seat and kissed me.

We attended a Detroit Symphony Orchestra concert recently. His school is affiliated with a church that DTE funded the community event for, which meant free admission. Which meant sniffling children, clapping along, crying babies and everything else. But it was still beautiful. I had been wanting to hear an orchestra play, to which Daniel reasoned that we must have been “thinking alike”…

It was the conductor’s birthday and the playlist consisted of his favorite pieces. They opened with the ‘Wedding March’ and I fought back tears a good five times. The whole thing made me think about how Daniel says he “can’t get married for at least ten years” because of some social security he will inherit on account of who I have lovingly been summing up as ‘The Dead Wife’.

“How’s Dead Wife Guy doin?” someone will ask me. “Hey, are you bringing ‘Dead Wife Guy’ to dinner?”

It’s a dead wife thing.

Have you ever seen a cartoon where two super figures are fighting, each having shot out a beam of light from their palms that clashed at their center point? The opposing forces, the streams of energy are going back and forth, one trying to overtake the other… that’s how I feel a lot of the time. I get to mediate that, to fight for every little thing I want to do, for every little moment I want to have. It’s exhausting.

Sometimes I don’t know why me, Daniel, The Dead Wife and those awful fucking curtains can’t all just sit back, tip back a beer and have a good laugh together…then I remember it’s because there’s nothing funny about it. And because neither dead wife nor curtain can drink.

It sucks to be all of us, right now.

But enough of the trivial shit (too bad it’s all trivial shit). I gotta get ready for work. This weekend I get to drag Daniel from his study to carve a pumpkin with me, which he is already not looking forward to. Then I cart his ass to a haunted feature that’s outdoors; it takes a good half hour to walk through. I know it will all be good for him. And I have to remember that for everything he swears up and down that he detests, I will often look over and catch him not-so-secretly grinning about.

Like a circle through a square peg hole, we’re working.

Like A Wrecking Ball

The last time I finished free writing, I looked at my entry and said, “Shit. This is totally a break up letter.”

The following morning I looked at my undelivered break up letter and refused to give up. I dropped a ridonkulous amount of money on plush bath robe replacements by Ralph Lauren, tackled the 27 piece Waverly bed set from hell by toning it down with neutrals, and when I asked Daniel, “Tell me something good that happened today” and he answered with something negative, I repeated myself.

Yeah. I’m not fucking around.

We attended a Tigers baseball game last week, which he seemed to enjoy. I had never seen Comerica park before and I swear to God, the moment I sat in my seat and realized he was appeased, I just about collapsed with a much needed exhaling.

“You’re no fun. You’re like an old lady,” he remarked, bouncing around. It made me think of when my mom would take me and my brother to the mall and she would rest in chairs out in the hallway.

This week I sent him flowers to his school. The ‘Golden Autumn’ bouquet, quoting Eleanor Roosevelt, “Love is an education in itself”. Maybe he’ll learn something.

Last night his Xbox suddenly wouldn’t power on. All he could do was look at me like it couldn’t have possibly been because of him and his lifestyle patterns – it had to be me, the disruptive force, that broke it. I informed him that his beloved, always shedding, always jumping up in the most disrespectful ways and champion chipmunk murderer cat Dink, had been chewing on the cords. He didn’t want to believe it. Even after I pointed out the chew marks on the cord – which I wondered if he thought I had created with my own teeth – he insisted it was because I kept the cat indoors.

I figured it was a good time to point out that Dink had also been pissing on his school papers that he had set aside on the basement floor.

“This is a goddamn petting zoo. I need to just sell this fucking house.” And it’s not that I wanted him to break; it’s the realization that his elaborate shit mess was no paradise, that I had been hoping for. It’s hard, living here. He needed to admit it.

Yesterday I rearranged all of the shit on the porch, taking his tall plant urns and putting them to the back, so my things weren’t totally blocked behind them. Now the front of the slab is clear for real-deal jack-o-lanterns and not just the gaudy plastic ones he’s waiting to unleash on the yard. Yes, I will show this man what beautiful is. Yes, I will find that autonomous space if I have to make it myself.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to continue being wonderful.

And That’s The Story

When his late wife’s morning glories – the same kind I’ve planted – didn’t come up last summer, Daniel was upset. He talked about it whenever we stood by that spot by the fountain where they once grew. Personally, I didn’t sweat it – the flowers were cheap, easy to replace, and I didn’t think it was the worst thing in the world to show him via landscape that things change over time.

The widower’s home is something he never dreamed he’d have. It was a good deal in a lousy market in an area he thought would always be beyond him. Once those two moved in he began doing renovations and, of course, the wifey instantly filled it with the belongings she had accumulated over her fifty years of living.

Spiritually, Danny believes they will be reunited one day in heaven. He waits.

My name is Autumn May. I’m the consolation prize.

I have been feeling like a visitor in their home, very much like I just don’t belong. I am 33 years old and in the stages of creation. I’m learning about table settings, patterns, styles and all of the wonderful things that make home, home. Dan has informed me that every fabric, every color, every item tangible with their sentiments intact, shall remain right where they are, forever.

Last night I saw no reason to make it through the Pottery Barn magazine (issued in her name). I just threw it away.

Well then. That’s a shame because the red and white checkered curtains look like a picnic cloth vomited all over the windows, and I could too easily go on from there. So that’s kind of a real bummer. But it isn’t the permanently outdated fashions that concern me about this little house ruling.

His home is the material conclusion of everything he possesses. Some women would date him for the house – I am not one of those women. As a result, I am feeling crowded out. There are simply limits to how accommodating, understanding, and ultimately boring I can be. And our relationship requires a space that’s all our own to flourish in to US, but his little fixer upper in Farmington Hills is exploding with someone else’s shit.

He calls me crazy for having issues with this. The painted paneling and wooden floors are his obsession and he is ready to devote his life to every material and texture. In his mind, he bought and arranged the perfect box for the perfect life and the objective to live together with his wife inside of it was tragically ended prematurely. That doesn’t seem to have stopped him from trying to play out the same story line minus the main character, anyway. In fact, he thinks he is generously making room for me when he plants my hostas under the bird feeder and gives me my little operation in his marital home.

Yes, his entire scenario was threatened but he refuses to let go of the slightest part of his broken dream. I watched and helped him with several projects last summer and if his step children desire anything more they will have to win in court for it. He can’t see why I am suddenly proceeding with hesitance down this path of material sadness.

I made the decision to co-habilitate with him very early on. I was headstrong in love, confident in my feelings and I couldn’t imagine any sort of “stuff” getting in the way of my relationship with him. But I would instantly and always tip toe around her, her memories, her possessions, as if she was going to be home from the store at any moment. It was easier to look past the creep factor and just remember that she was never coming back, when I still had so much more to figure out. As I came to envision a real long-term relationship and not just a “in the meantime” guy, I began to consider what “forever” meant, and I realized that our environment was not built to last.

He doesn’t consider us. He doesn’t consider our future. He doesn’t care to know which articles are a stinging trigger for me, and even those he is aware of, are looking at me from every angle. His structure is a dark castle that separates him from the onward world outside of it. Every item is a weight that keeps him firmly planted in the time capsule I not-so-lovingly coined as “The Dead Wife Museum” the other day in argument. The way this is all going because of how it has to look – he wants it, and has forbid me from changing it.

He is basically telling me that I cannot stay. And I have to acknowledge the way he sees things and confess that I am not the kind of girl to kill time with until you meet back up with the wife in the afterlife. I deserve negotiation and equality to start, and love to last.

This morning the long-lost morning glory wove a late vine around some leggy daisies and bloomed for me to see before I went to work. Beautiful, bitter sweet flower. It said to me, that Dan and his wife are the ones meant to live there. They are the item, waiting on their next date. After everything I did and how hard I fought against everything and everyone, this truly breaks my heart.

I wanted to be with him. I wanted to be a real world, real girl, real chance opportunity for a good life filled with love and happiness… but it will never come at the cost of this melancholy house rental agreement (literally, I have a lease and I pay rent). The love of my life is probably not going to insist that his Irish girlfriend be drowned in Greek décor and someone else’s name embroidered on the bathrobe hanging on the chair.

Autumn, I know that you picked him. But he just doesn’t love you.

Maybe one day he will meet someone who makes all of this clear to him. Maybe he will catch on that women will typically not want to be replacements in his marriage. Maybe he’ll find someone who uses her coffee mugs unabashedly and even fits in to her clothes. Or maybe he will never let his heart be spoken for anyone besides his late wife.

No matter how it plays out, I wish him peace and joy in his life.

Things do indeed change over time – but I didn’t expect it to be me in this scenario. I really wanted him, morning glory.

Too Quickly, and So Slowly

I didn’t find my rhythm, but a rhythm found me. Practicing how to prepare meals, learning how to iron shirts and picking up on all of the things that Mr. Walton can’t accomplish in time, I was also building a pattern. It is the most considerate that I have ever been for anyone besides myself, in years.

Introduce more technology than he knows what to do with, but quickly leans to do well. Roku, Netflix, LG Tones to replace the guy who was always broadcasting calls from mom on speakerphone, the replacement parts he needs, the software to look in to his late wife’s locked iphone, the 3DS that admittedly sits more than gets used because ‘Mario is gay’ and ‘where are all of the shooter games’…I guess not everything translates.

Wake up when he does. Stumble downstairs and listen to ‘Breaking Bad’ playing from the den while you make a lunch. Put the food into the little dome-top, construction worker style box I found for him to replace the plastic sacks he had always used. Slip in a quote, this time, one of his own profound lines of wisdom.

“Fuckin’ A, swear to God.” –D.Walton

Feel happy when strangers approach you to compliment on the appearance of your couple hood, whether it’s because you ‘look cute together’ or because you’re bickering in a grocery store and everyone around you is laughing, insisting it’s love… then nonchalantly stroll off in to the void when he tells those people, who have just seen you enter their scene as a twosome, that his wife just died.

Oh, you must be the redheaded whore! It’s a pleasure to meet you.

Go with him to the radiology lab because he thinks his side pain could be cancer. Write in the journal, already filled with things about God’s love and the occasional torn out page, why you are there and about the TV show you caught Mr. Walton up on.

He enjoys ‘The Walking Dead’ and I believe it’s because people lose loved ones to a zombie outbreak and nothing is the same ever again – the tomorrow they anticipated is forever gone. I catch him wiping away tears as the main character, a sheriff, leads his pack of survivors through to the uncertain, unknown…

When I look at him I see a leader who is lost but a leader still. That’s why, when I see him struggle, I think, “Keep going, sheriff. I need you.”

Laugh with him later about how they neglected to tell him that the chalky sludge he was required to drink for his scan, would make him suddenly have to shit uncontrollably. In my car. Much later. In fact, we don’t laugh about that yet. His pride is an obstacle.

Take back a shirt because it says ‘fitted’ and he needs ‘classic fit’. Find better colors than the ones that Call Moms Cell selected from the Easter Parade Palette. When you get your schedule wrong and arrive at work too early, refuse to go home because you know his mother is there and still refuses to look upon you for the blasphemous way you came in to his life.

Drive aimlessly for hours, considering the concept of ‘home’, ‘hope’, and ‘worth it’.

“You don’t want to disrupt the balance of the universe. I love that about you,” he will offer, hearing of the afternoon I spent in hot parking lots, crying over how nothing ever seems to be working out.

When you warn him about the seemingly impending doom and he feels like you “threatened to leave”, find yourself speechless when he asks, “Notice anything different about the room” – and her photos are no longer on the mantle.

Act like you don’t notice, because you hadn’t. You were trying to look past them for months, anyway. Give him some credit and understand that he’s trying. Don’t push.

When you walk in to the formal dining room to water the plants, it takes a couple visits before you look up on the tall dresser and realize…the photos were never taken down. They were just moved.

Wonder if you ought to push harder, then…just don’t. You’re tired and officially know nothing, again.

Pick up the dry cleaning. Clean the house. Gather trash for him to push to the curb. Get better at ironing. Move some things around in the laundry room that cause him to bitch a fit, because he is neurotically obsessive compulsive, and have his mother insisting “that girl has an agenda, Danny. I KNOW it.”

She still doesn’t know that you have been sleeping in the same room. Always.

Try to look past the tacky Disney décor that She saw fit to put in every direction. Every Pooh bear, every silly, gaudy cartoon porcelain thing will be like he’s screaming ‘Team Dead Wife’. Pledge allegiance to The Mouse.

mickeyhat                                                    “Oh, Mickey, what a pity, you don’t understand.”

Let him take you out. Let him show you how to pick up the golf ball before the last hole swallows it and run over to the other side of the course and play more putt-putt for free. Roll your eyes when he says “Let me teach you something”, because he always says that, and love to hate him a little when he proceeds to make a hole in one.

Bring him to absurd places that he thought was beyond him. When the ‘Tiled Kilt’ waitress brings him a ‘blow job’ shot and everyone insists he takes it without using his hands, he will abide and they will all cheer. And when some of it proceeds to come out his nose on to the bar, they will cheer more loudly for him than before.

Smirk silently when you hear him say, “Mom, I can’t hear you; I’m at Hooters” and all you hear on the other end is Old Woman Screaming.

When he tosses the neighborhood picnic flyer away, pick it back up. Uncrumple it. Write a check for the two of you to attend and bring canned goods for Forgotten Harvest. When they call you and ask you to run the children’s games, say OK. Include Mr. Walton, who needs to get out and make friendly with the community. He will tug of war, speak through the megaphone, blow his whistle and everyone will love him for it.

You will bake a peach and pineapple upside down cake for the bakeoff and win that mother fucker. It will have to do with the power outage leaving many without ovens, but you made your entry ahead of time. You deserved to win, anyway.

princesses

When I saw the Disney towels in the other room, I suggested he give them to the little girls next door. This is them looking at their new reflections in the garage hutch.

Do so many things together with so much curiosity and good intention that he has to eventually admit that he is moving on, having fun and finding parts of himself that he had lost long before he lost anyone else.

When he’s off to work, open his closets and hold shirts up to ties until you coordinated a beautiful suit. Hang it on his bathroom door to save him a few minutes the following morning. When he asks where the ‘hook’ came from, you know he always means to ask if it’s something that came from you or something you found in his house of wonders.

Of the things that are yours – which he is slowly learning, are more than he realizes, answer, “I don’t remember. Too long ago.”

Wonder, when you see him moving on to the white coffee mug with black scrolls across the top, if he realizes that’s not another one of his late wife’s mugs that he has taken a custom to. It’s one of yours… but don’t ask him if he knows. When you feel brave enough to test and see, just say…

“That’s a really nice looking mug.” And decide in advance, when and if he says, “It’s my wife’s…”

How you are going to respond in this delicate relationship that flies by too quickly but changes so slowly, the two of you tend to overlook it.

Michigan Humane Society Mega March 2014

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Dear readers,

This is important to me.

I recently accepted the challenge to raise funds for homeless animals by participating in the Michigan Humane Society’s Mega March for Animals. Me and Daniel will be hauling our butts to Belle Isle with Duchess and Tess for the cause.

I would like to ask for you support, which will help animals directly by funding MHS’ life-saving services. These include sheltering and adoption, cruelty investigation, emergency rescue, and providing veterinary care for homeless animals.

Making a difference for animals and appeasing me is quick and easy – visit my dogs’ page at:
Autumn’s Humane Society Site

All donations are greatly appreciated, no matter the size.  Every dollar counts! Together, we will create a brighter future for thousands of animals in need, so they can go from Homeless to Loved. Please sponsor The Duchess and Lady Tessa. Comment and let me know if you were able to contribute so that I can send a proper thank you.

Thank you for reading,

-Autumn May-