And then one day, things started to look different.

Daniel recently accepted a board title as groundskeeper for his suburb and I jumped at the chance to steal some of his projects. There is a spring cleanup event that I took the responsibility of budgeting and planning. People meet at the house for breakfast (continental style), work in the park and then come back for a lunch of lasagna (bon appetite). I also worked with a few landscapers on a design for a front island/medium and flowers to go around a brick sign with the community’s name. I liked taking the different ideas and tweaking them to fit appropriate estimates. All of that allowed me to do things my way, and it kept me feeling involved.

I’m working two jobs. On several mornings a week I have been a housekeeper for a small company of less than ten women. It forced me to go outside my comfort zone, traveling to nearby cities and working inside of other people’s lives. The money is decent and I’m trying to show my boss that I’m the real deal – one of the best – and I’m going to see if I can’t get some more incentive for the adventure I’m on with that sort of career.

You know, it’s weird doing things that can easily be seen as “below” someone. The half of me that wasn’t even sure I could handle it is learning new skills, and feeling more self-worth. The half of me that felt “above” it is learning to be humbled with every toilet I scrub. It’s a very flip-floppy experience and I totally accept this challenge right now.

With the extra income I have been paying off credit cards, paying more things sooner in general, and the feeling is great. I even bought myself a few hair tools to help control the mop on my head. I haven’t had time to try the curling wand or ceramic straightener, but hopefully I’ll be messing with my new toys soon. I even got an epilator, which is like an electric shaver only it rotates several tweezers and rips your body hair out as you drag it along. Some women think it’s a torture device. I will soon see for myself.

My boyfriend and I have had some pretty incredible fights. I have been trying to express the depression and stress from feeling like I live “under” him, which he doesn’t understand. Then I attack his method of communication when he says something like “how dare you put this on me”, which I see as a manipulative tactic to turn the tables and victimize himself, to have him screaming back that he wants me out of his house.

“That, right there. That’s why I don’t feel like this is my home.”

So there’s that. But there are more good days than bad, and we always come back to a silent understanding that we both just want everything to be okay, and we go on doing our best. He finally took the photos of his wife off the walls and out from the other rooms. He put his wedding ring on his other hand. I became involved so early on that these things feel like half-baby steps to me, and I am struggling to find patience and tolerance for his grievance. His speed is his own and could never match the speed of how I wish things were.

He says I have a princess’ fantasy of everything being perfect, and that it just isn’t possible. He says he cannot give what he believes I want, even though we never specify the sort of things that I want. I’ve been told not to confuse hope and promise with a sunbeam shining on a piece of shit; I’ve been told to be very careful and that sometimes, people never change and all you do is waste your light on them. I am choosing to believe that my situation will improve – that my relationship will evolve, that we are both still young and we will find happiness together.

I’ve been on the wagon for a while now when it comes to diet and exercise. I’ve stayed the course and my jeans are no longer as taught as they seemed last winter. I want to need a smaller size by the end of summer and I aim to continue conquering that particular demon. But food is so much fun. It’s hard.

I wish I wasn’t as lost as I actually am. I wish I didn’t seem as hopelessly lost as I obviously am. I wish I had more things already figured out and established, but I don’t. All I can do is continue to try. Today I asked myself to pretend that I’d already lived a perfect life, and had already lived in the perfect house with the perfect flowers, lived through a long marriage, raised a kid, and then I asked myself, “What do you want to do now?” I like to think that the stuff AFTER what society brainwashed me in to thinking was “the ultimate”, will reveal the sort of things I actually want to do.

And I thought about changing. Changing like my name. What if I didn’t even like flowers anymore? What if I thought all of that shit was entirely stupid. How fucking cool could I get?

I didn’t arrive at any answers…I sort of got lost in the imagining, and sidetracked by responsibilities.

We will see.

He Saw Me Fall Into Depression. He missed the part where he shoved me.

We had a dinner discussion that turned sour, not unlike previous dinner conversations. He would say or ask something and I took long sips of alcohol whenever the words were not right there to give. I was thinking. I feel that I owe calculated answers.

“You drink more when you’re nervous.”

He had put a crack in my heart Valentine’s weekend, which I had taken work off for, when he saw the gift bag on my record player. This was just before dinner out.

“What’s this?”

“It’s your Valentine’s Day present.”

Upset, he sighed. “Autumn, I wish you’d stop. I can’t keep up with you.”

As he struggled with getting ready, getting dressed, getting his keys, pretty much simply gathering himself together to walk out the door…he announced as if the task was all too much, “I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day.”

I don’t know why he asked me why I looked so sad, eating lobster tails. I couldn’t get his expressions off my mind. I refused to explain. Tears would well up, but never actually fall. I somehow managed to suck them back down my tear ducts every time.

When I ‘pushed my gift on to him’, he seemed upset that the Armani cologne was not the cologne he already had, from his lifetime ago. But then he said, “I used to buy this”, as if to say that it was not only his lifetime ago, it was discarded from it. Or that he had simply been there, sprayed that.

His late wife had bought him the scents from the other side of the counter that are made to smell clean, but to me reek like baby wipes and Febreeze – therefore reminding me of assholes, ass wiping and covering up the smell of ass.

“’My blue guy’, she’d say,” because something is probably called ‘Blue’. All I see is that huge Febreeze bottle, spritzing over ass-covered couch cushions.

It’s fine for people who like that. It’s fine for me, that I like Armani and have a bottle of D&G stored in the closet for his birthday (along with a shirt that has a floppy disc on it and says OLDSCHOOL, get it?).

Smelling better helped. I do like my scents. His gaming room has been spritzed with Britney’s “Hidden Fantasy” more times than I’ll ever admit.

‘I never tell/tell on myself/ but I hope she smells my perfume’-Britney Spears, “Perfume”.

He took me out twice that weekend. I’ve learned to keep my head turned away from everyone else and never make eye contact with them. I can see Dan’s eyes roaming around, ever since I had painted his face for Halloween and noticed how they tallied everyone’s movements carefully. This is to keep him from ranting later on, about how he thought I was getting too close to a stranger or was somehow behaving inappropriately.

“You can’t see yourself when you drink, Autumn, you don’t know.” And yet I’ve never had this problem, or any like it EVER before in my life, to which he explains, “You were with a stupid, young person and you’re used to doing whatever you want.”

A part of me says, “Or maybe I was just being social at the Applebee’s bar”, and I have a feeling that I’m right and he has some sort of problem. But we all have problems.

Daniel received a bouquet of flowers from me, to his classroom. For the second time in the year we’ve been dating. He kept asking me why I did it, but it was too hard to explain, “Because it’s February, and the living room in fucking February should have some FUCKING flowers on it, but I trust you not to know that.”

We went out – correction, I dragged him – to the Detroit Institute of Art recently. He gets so upset before we go out because he says he has to get back to work. Having neglected to eat before the visit he was “gonna pass out”, and I nervously walked through the rooms with him. For me this is like regretting your time with me before it has even started.

At one point I was looking at a stunning oil painting of a volcano and he answered a phone call from his mother. Always on speakerphone. Always mutually sounding so upset, my background music, of those two people complaining about how much work there is to be done. On the drive home he was cursing about the time he had lost and he asked what my favorite part had been.

I hold back a lot of tears, in this relationship.

He says that his late wife understood that he always had to work and that she left him alone. “She said it was enough just knowing I was nearby. THAT’S TRUE LOVE, Autumn.”

As opposed to? SO SORRY if I felt a kind of magnetism. I’m sorry I wanted to be close.

At the dinner during my long sips, he had both hands on the table. They were two individuals.

“This person lives and grows this way, and the other person grows SEPARATELY and grows along WITH the other person.” He was being the teacher, teaching me about how relationships work. It immediately pissed me off.

“What about when one of them is always ever making a hard left”? I asked, and I grabbed his hand and pushed it backwards. “I feel like I can either constantly tag along or I have to get lost.”

“You always take what I’m telling you and then you twist it and only see it YOUR way, Autumn. I can’t believe you just had to hurt my hand to make your point. You should SEE yourself right now.”

He had been making these very separatist points for a while, now. My attachment style seemed unappreciated – he even made it a point one day to say that I had “latched on to [my] life, because that’s what you do.” Really?! Figuring out ways to help someone who claims he never has enough time to have a life worth living, and I was being clingy?

I took all of this constructive feedback and I detached.

Just started taking steps back.

Skip a few days forward, over more of the same, insert streaky little static marks like a speeding VHS.

This morning Daniel says to me about his framed photos on the bedroom wall where I’ve slept for a year, “Hey, Autumn. Do you think you have six photos that we can put in this frame?”

I never thought he’d ask. Yet at the same time, something inside of me gave up on ever believing that thing would come down. The night before I had reached out and touched the jewelry organizer under it.

“You can use the one I bought for my wife,” he’d offered, when I said I was trying to organize my things in my one room I’m allowed-

Oh, don’t say that, I’ve let you put shit all over this house, he’ll say now, because I waged absolute bloody wars for any inch of mantle I could wrestle from Americana fauxtiques and decorative cats. But believe me, all of my s-h-i-t, is in one room upstairs.

I was looking at that jewelry organizer, under photos of the late bride, something I would have never, ever picked out as it stood empty because it was hers and she died and her jewelry is all probably appraised and in a safety deposit box somewhere, and I just said, “Fuck this thing.”

“Fuck, this. Fuck everything here, that isn’t mine. I’m never touching it. Don’t want the shit,” I decided, as I fell in to bed. The same one that was theirs. To be fair, I’ve had to pick some or leave.

Do I have six photos. I don’t even know what to say. I don’t know, anymore.

I don’t go down and have coffee with him anymore. I don’t butt right up next to him on the couch. I don’t wait up at night. I’m finding time to do other shit.

I haven’t decided if I’m still fighting.

He all but spelled out that we needed to be separate and my life is NOT taking the course of a constant hard left. Gotta move forward. And now he has to bring everything up. Says it’s a pattern – even though he didn’t KNOW me before – and that my time on the treadmill and off in another room playing on my laptop is all part of getting ready to leave him.

“It’s nice just knowing you’re somewhere, around, somewhere,” I answered, flailing my hand, “It’s TRUE LOVE, you know.”

Somewhere Between Helping and Hurting

Everyone’s got a past filled with the other people from the world. They have histories of living and loving before you came along. Each relationship is different, existing on its own account, whether brief or everlasting.

While it’s true that most breakups devastate at least one of us (the lyrics “When a heart breaks, it don’t break even” come to mind), sometimes both parties unwillingly separate. We don’t all choose to end it. But we do choose to begin anew.

Despite the harsh turns our lives take, none of those people in yours should be (or be made to feel) like your last chance leftovers. They are not the ruins of your previous relationships. They are not defaults or plan B’s. Don’t ever look at your partner and tell them that they came from your past without them.

To say that you’re holding their hand only because you can’t hold someone else’s is wrong. It’s hurtful and pointlessly devastating to the both of you, to live by this methodology. Life would be different if things were different; this is basic science – it’s not the basis of a relationship.

“When I was with someone else, I wasn’t with you.” No duh. Neither was I.

“If I could have stayed with someone else, I wouldn’t be with you.” Why does that matter, now?

“The only reason I’m with you is because one door closed.” Hold on there, dipshit.

For the record, I am not ONLY, ANYthing. And I’ve been with you because I’ve chosen to, and that’s what matters. That is the only direction to go with this. I’m not a crappy band-aid for your losses in life.

I’m sorry if you think your last partner was a bigger jackpot. I’m sorry that you’ve loved bigger and better. I’m sorry you didn’t win. I’ve been here, focused on you, giving you all I have and I know you’re hurting. You should be trying to do better. That should be the point.

Don’t treat someone like your consolation prize because they’re not.

You’ll lose that, too.

Sometimes Baby Steps Are Not Enough

Dear Koula,

I have spent the better part of a year struggling with the many ways you remain.

I am frustrated with the foreign Greek culture because it is alien to me, as if the household is rooting for an opponent’s team. The hand towels say “Greece”. The decorative plates have people wearing long, Grecian robes and there are strange canned foods in the cupboards with funny names. Sometimes one of the discs in the CD changer kicks over and starts playing a peculiar noise that I have to come to know as your Greek music. You started a mural on the wall in the main entryway and though far from finished, I assume that is Greece is well.

One of my goals this year is to incorporate more culture in to my new year. I think it’s wonderful that you celebrated your heritage and loved it so much. You have made me want to enjoy my own. I added a Celtic station to my Pandora app and I am proud to be Irish.

For better or worse, I moved all of my things in to one room in your house. Daniel said it was best, because his house was full. The shelves are lined with Disney porcelain, ceramic bowls and all of the things that you accumulated during your lifetime. Sometimes I try to mix my things in between, but it feels like a battle of forces that usually ends in tears as I look around and realize that there is no room nor will I ever fully appreciate your fondness for “rustic, country” décor.

There was nothing wrong with your personal tastes, and there is nothing wrong with mine. I respect you for every shade you selected and every shape you carefully placed – but they do not have to be my ideals. I see so much potential for updating and modernizing, and making things look lavish and luxurious. I will continue to develop my own style, and as I accumulate things of my own I hope that it is okay if I store them somewhere while I am here. Someday I would like to enjoy my own visions, like you did.

I hope you don’t get upset when I cancel your magazine and commercial subscriptions. I would gladly forward them, but I do not know where you are, now. There is always the philosophy that you were “supposed” to be here. And if your death was a mistake, then I am a snowball effect of people being in the wrong place. I hope you know that I am trying to grasp on to this idea of your former home as my current one. The usual signs that I use to decipher this are no longer there, such as looking around and seeing myself, and reaching in to the mailbox and pulling out my name. Please let me know if you have ideas for getting that sense of home back…because my heart hurts, terribly, over having lost it.

I wonder if you learned many things about Daniel after you parted from the world, what you never knew, and how you would have felt if you had known. Just as well I wonder what you were able to see and know about him that I have not discovered. He does not like my invasive nature, but it seems like every time I go exploring I uncover something peculiar. It is not always an unflattering discovery, but never ceases to amuse me. Is there something you want me to know?

Daniel loves you very much. So much that he can act like the past 4-5 years from his fifty were the only years that ever were. He does not think of me as the wonderful person that you were to him. It left me feeling insignificant and insecure. I had to remind myself often that you had no roots to my emotional heartbreak, whether you were the perfect saint or human as they came. It was Daniel that caused me many hours of pain and confusion.

I think he tried to love me, too. I think he wished he could. But lately he just remarks that everything is downhill for him and that he is just waiting the rest of his life out.

I can see now, that it was never about detesting where you were. It was about where I was not. And that was home.

Koula, I have really loved him, but I cannot live and love a partner with that outlook. It is destructive and abusive. As if you don’t already know, I don’t want to be around your every belonging any more. I don’t want to look on my bedroom wall and see another woman’s wedding photos. I think that Daniel would really rather be with you – not only as if you could only come back – but I think he prefers your needlework to my anything. And he always will.

I think he prefers Greece.

So Koula, let it be Greece.

I will work on finding my Ireland.

The Most Spoiled Person Without Any Money

Sometimes I think about being the guy on the other end who had lost his main source of income. That income also being his romantic partner. So I’m sitting around in unavoidable debt and I’ve just lost one of the most treasured people in my life. I’ve lost everything and all I can do is scramble after any leftovers that will determine my misshapen life.

I meet someone who is interested in me, seems to like me as a person. They are a little strange, but not necessarily in a bad way. For some reason I feel like I can trust them and I am lonely and confused. I take the sheets off the windows and let them in to my home. I like this girl. Maybe we could help each other.

Let her move in less than thirty days later.

Wow. I mean, think about that.

No wonder I heard his mother screaming on the other end of the phone.

I could have been addicted to drugs. I could have been a thief. I could have misbehaved as a roommate or partner. I could have been someone who was unable to pay their bills. I could have been someone who did not help the situation whatsoever.

And I got upset because we drew up a contract. The landlord, doing one of the only things he is familiar with, designed a lease that would allow me to prove that I had rights and was paying rent – but I was afraid of the papers, threw my copies in the trash and hoped I hadn’t signed away anything I couldn’t get back.

I took a huge chance on this person who is me.

So many things have happened since I last wrote… There are times when we take turns wondering if the other one isn’t just taking advantage of us for the unknown. There are times when neither one of us is ‘OK’, and we say things that seem so particularly inappropriate, later on. I have become more like The Child, and he is revealed as The Old Man, and sometimes we start slapping each other until we start laughing.

“I empower the powerless, and I can take it away any time I want,” I said as I willingly agreed to a demand for orange juice.

“There you go with your unnecessary deep thoughts,” he says, unsure of them.

I accidentally broke a dish and he showed every bit of concern…for his dish. As I picked out shards from the sink, cutting open my fingers and drizzling red down the drain, he wanted to know if it had a maker on the bottom and whether or not we could replace it at Macy’s.

I needed him to learn. When your girlfriend crashes your car, you don’t bitch about the car in fear of something more important, being fractured. I would stay upset over this, re-evaluating my stay in his house, for weeks afterward. Because that was just a dish, and I have not finished being imperfect – so I consider the many times-suggested ‘Exit Strategy’.

Then I dropped the top of my slow cooker on to the kitchen floor.

“Are you okay?”

There it was. The right reaction. I could stay, after all. We would keep going.

He recently called me “The most spoiled person without any money” in a way as though he couldn’t figure out what I used for tender.

And so we teeter on this fragile line between good and bad, forward and backward, wondering what’s about to happen. There are too many things wrong with everything else, to have problems with each other, but we let no single issue overshadow another.

Today I stepped back and rewound it from his side. There he was, the man I immediately wanted everything to be about, standing in the kitchen asking, “Could you feel safe here?”

I am the one he asked to share his misshapen life with. I wanted to kiss him.

I still do.

Xmas Card Exchange

Xmas Card Exchange

Late notice I know, but if you’re sealing and sending off Christmas cards like I am, I can get one out to you by Saturday’s mail! If you would like a Christmas/New Year’s card from me please comment or PM me with your snail mail address and I will reply with mine! Thank you and happy holidays.

What’s With All Of This Old Shtuff.

I’d like to apologize to anyone currently subscribed to my feed in a way that notifies you via e-mail of any activity. I’ve been looking through the things I’ve hidden and, deciding to no longer cast shadows for convenience, I’m spell checking and returning them to public status.

It’s no longer my burden, if anyone else believes that my life has been unacceptable. Been there, did that, don’t agree with all of it, either, sorry, move along.

WordPress will notify you of a “new post” when it’s really not. I’ll be done with it by the end of the afternoon. Thank you. Let there be light.