Day 46

Turning 59 was the best damn thing I’ve done all year, mainly because I gave myself a little gift: 59 days… 59 days in which I am “allowed” to take care of me, selfish as I need to be.

I had to… my cup was bone dry. I had given away too much, hurt myself by helping those I love, without reciprocity. I needed time to replenish my resources (time, space, energy, money, or whatever). I also promised myself to double down, always add two extra days for any day one of my resources get tapped or compromised for the benefit of someone else.

Well, here it is, day 46 and I’ve already blown this Popsicle stand upside down by extending my 59 days to an entire frikkin year. No, it’s not because I wasn’t able to set boundaries with people who don’t have any. I just need more time to unlearn some bull, strengthen my resolve, and step fully into my own. An entire year will take me to my 60th birthday.

Truth be told, I’m not going back… I kind of like the bitchy new me.

Perhaps that’s the wrong adjective, but if you met the people that I have to deal with, you would fully understand. Take my son-in-law (please!) as I’m tired of politely reminding him that he has absolutely no control over me. His latest stunt? Texting to tell me he’s coming over to get answers, he’s got questions, wants to know what I’m doing with my money. As if that’s any of his business. I found out later, from talking to my daughter, that she’s been telling him that I’m broke whenever he asks her to come hit me up for a loan for something stupid, like when he’s out of weed or wants to go play bingo. Thank you, child… but now he’s wondering why I’m broke all the time, got it into his head that I must be giving all my money to the Vet.

Speaking of the Vet, I think he’s waiting for me to revert back to my old self as soon as bail on my 59 days. He tests the waters now and then, pops in to say, “Babe, my Netflix still isn’t working.”

Well duh, done told ya… time to get your own. Yeah, I deleted his profile and changed my password about a month ago. It’s time, been time. It’s not like he’s here watching my TV anymore. He hasn’t stayed over one night in this house since we broke up on the 4th of July in 2018, even though we were still seeing each other, because he was so hurt when I took my key back that he vowed to himself that he would never spend another night in this house. Bit bizarre as he never REALLY lived here, always kept his own apartment downtown, and it’s not like I ever had a key to his place.

I asked if he planned to punish me forever. If we stay together, will he make me sleep alone for the rest of my life? I miss how his foot would find me in his sleep, miss him waking me up, the pleasures of early morning sex… and he wants back on my Netflix. What an impasse, eh?

Well, he can get his own. It’s only $8.99 for one device, not like he can’t afford it. The only difference will be that my name will not be on his Netflix screen. It is one more degree of separation.

I’ve been making other positive changes, too. The most noticeable was reclaiming a forth of my house by moving a farm table with benches into the wasted space commonly referred to as a living room. Just hauling a huge recliner chair out the door totally changed the vibe.

It looks like a dining room, but that is a work table. It’s usable space for arts and crafts, set the kids up with paints or whatever as my studio is off limits.

Of course, I had to find something else to put into the kitchen. I chose a small, antique porcelain top table because I had a similar size porcelain top stand in my kitchen years ago, gave it away when I moved back in the mid 1980’s. It’s a perfect work surface. My great grandmother baked pies for a living, rolled dough on hers, so childhood memories were woven into the decision.

I also purposely choose a simple design with an all white top because the others I saw for sale reminded me too much of someone else. Now, I just need to find a couple chairs. I’m thinking ladder back, something I can doll up with colorful paints, folk art style.

Sorry for writing so long… but, it’s been awhile.

Thanks for reading!

Old Screen Door

Fresh paint and a new wire screen spruced up the old screen door.

The vet stopped by for a visit and pretended not to notice.

I expected him to say something, not that I needed lavish praise or anything. I thought he might test the tension with a finger, maybe nod appreciation. Care and patience were required to dismantle and reassemble the screen section without breaking the old molding.

No, it doesn’t look brand new… it’s an old wooden door, vintage with scars and character, a bit of history in every layer of paint. I think the worn out screen was original.

He paid no attention to the door, not even after he opened it to exit. I was standing in the house, looking out that door while he standing out on the porch. He continued to ignore the door just like he ignored the photo I had posted on Facebook.

So I said, “Hey, I think I did a pretty good job on this door.”

Still nothing. Then he looks at me and says, “Why didn’t you paint the rails?”

Yeah, he’s talking about the vertical metal porch rails visible in this photo snapped from inside the house (love how “clear” the screen looks; it’s almost invisible).

What the hell?

I told him that I haven’t got to that yet.

It’s Fall. If you notice, it’s been raining. A lot. I’m also a disabled woman doing what I can as I can. It’s slow going. I do a little at a time. It took many hours and lots of breaks to get as much painted as I did.

He’s mad because I hired my son-in-law to finish painting the porch instead of asking him.

He’s mad because he thinks my son-in-law milked a 30 minute job into two hours and didn’t bother to paint the face boards up around the outside edge. I should have inspected the job better before I paid him. What exactly did he do?

The vet wanted me to show him, as he had already seen THIS photo (porch ceiling) of what I had done BEFORE hiring help to get where I couldn’t get by dabbing with rollers and brushes stuck up on sticks.

So, what now? He just noticed that my son-in-law painted only painted the wooden hand rail on top of the metal railing?

There is a reason for that… I assumed the white was all done when my son-in-law opened the can of “dark rum raisin” brown and started painting the wooden hand rail on top of the railing. I watched for a minute… then I decided to call the job done. He didn’t paint the metal railing because I told him to finish painting the wooden hand rail and we’ll call it done, that’s enough for today.

This is not my first rodeo. Anyone who has ever painted twisted metal porch railing knows that you have to paint those rails from all sides, that it is so much easier to lean over the hand rail to do it. Otherwise, you have to run around, up and down, on and off the porch multiple times, wiggling through bushes, and might even need a step stool in places to reach those rails. Unless you are a tall contortionist, you do not paint the wooden top rail first. I wasn’t going to pay $10 an hour to watch him try to do that.

I didn’t know that he skipped painting the outside around the top, as I had specifically told him, when I was outside showing him what needed done, to do that and finish the two wooden corner posts FIRST. (He was talking about going over what I had already painted and I didn’t think there was enough paint to re-do what I did AND paint where I couldn’t reach.) Yes, I should have looked. I should have walked off the porch, looked up, and inspected the work before I paid him. Oh well. Does it really matter? No… the whole house will be professionally painted next year, if I can save up enough cash to get it done. This painting was just to tide things over, prevent some wood rot this winter while making it look like someone actually does care about this place. At least enough to spruce up that old screen door.

 

FOUR DAYS LATER:  I got the rails done.

The vet said he’d paint those missed boards when we get some dry days again. This is Ohio so, never know when that might be. Snow could fly before then.

I realized something… painting that screen door was just another change. About every time the vet comes over, something is different. Every little change I make, inside or out, reminds him that everything is changing. Nothing will never be exactly the same as it was before. The house is different. The dynamics of our relationship is different. We are different. It has only been four months since we decided to take a break in our relationship to work on ourselves and here I am, making all these little changes.

I have to… otherwise, I’d feel like I was living in a shrine of what was. It would feel like I’m drowning in a stagnant pond of my own tears. Besides, some changes are just normal upkeep and all, things I would have done anyway.

We still love each other… that is the one constant in the flux of everything. Right now, there is no future and no past, just one day at a time, one text, one call, one visit. Can we roll with what comes?

Thanks for reading!

Twirled Around

Somehow, this became all about me… we are taking a break because I need to get back to myself, the me I was when he met me. We come from different worlds… he thinks that I’ve been trying to blend into his world and losing myself in the process, so I need time to get back into being me.

I opened the door on Sunday afternoon expecting to see one of my friends as the sound of the knock was familiar, it sounded like hers, but he was standing there… clean, sober, and serious. He came to talk.

He’s right on some of that… when was the last time I went to a poetry reading?

It’s been a couple years, maybe three, since I read my own words out loud on Phelps Street in downtown Youngstown with crowds of people walking by, a few stopping to listen. Or, was my last time reading to a bar crowd in Suzie’s Drafts & Dogs? That was fun. I quit the art committee for the annual Women’s Show after I had that little stroke. Wick Ave was closed, so I’d have to walk in from Fifth Street, and it was just too much for me at the time. Losing the sight in my right eye knocked spatial relationships out of wack, so I seldom try to bead anymore. It’s hard when pliers grasp air next to the wire. I quit going to gallery openings because I cannot afford to taxi home after bus hours.

And why is that? “Babe, I need $10.” Well, there goes my cab fare.

Yeah, wait a minute… how exactly have I blended into his world?

I haven’t… I can’t… he blocks me out. “The Secret Life of [His Name]” is the title of his closed, tightly guarded book. I’ve teased him about that… he lives a dual life. Always has… covert missions to the store for a loaf of bread doing the Arnold thing, “I’ll be back.” Everything is a secret. What he does, where he goes, who he sees when he’s not here with me, even who cooked the fucking chicken that he brought home on 4th of July… all of it, none of my business.

Some secrets, he has told me, is to protect me. There are things I don’t need to know about… people who are not safe for me to be around, what I don’t know won’t hurt me.

Now my life, on the other hand, is an open book… “Bee Out Loud” is more than my tagline. Having spent most of my childhood locked in silence, I have to be open and honest and just throw it all out there.

The only “secret” I kept from him are my written words, including THIS BLOG, and that’s because he told me, back when we first got together, that I needed to keep something to myself, a part of my life for me, not to be shared with him. Yeah, I choose my VERY PUBLIC and easily accessible blog as my thing not to share with him. All I did was quit posting links to this blog on Facebook (which made it two clicks away from his eyes instead of just one) and never once brought it up in any of our conversations.

There was no mention of the key or the chicken on Sunday.

We agreed to take a break; that I need time to work on me, to get back to being my old self. I’m still thinking about that… not sure if he got the idea from reading the title to one of my favorite songs (Joanne Shaw Taylor’s “Lost Myself to Loving You”) but if he actually listened to the words, the lyrics are about NOT losing myself to loving you. Maybe it’s just an excuse… as in, “I’m cheating because YOU changed” kind of thing. Which, of course, he has not and will not own up to… but, I’m not stupid. Someone cooked that chicken and that key opens the door to someone’s crib.

Oh well. Does it matter?

NO… my heart is shattered into a thousand pieces, but it shall heal. And I will NEVER go back to being the me I was when he first met me, even if I start doing the things I used to do all the time more often again.

I simply cannot be the me I used to be because life changed me… having that little stroke changed me. The death of two beloved Aunts changed me. The loss of a sister changed me. My muse and confidant of 20 years abruptly exiting my life had a profound impact on me. My cat dying changed me. Some asshole dumping my nephew’s body in a frikkin McDonald’s parking lot changed me. Another nephew assaulting police officers during a drunken PTSD episode in my living room changed me. The vet wanting to “take a break” instead of just flat out leaving me has already started to change me.

It is not just people exiting my life that alter the course of my existence. Every new friendship slightly changes things, the therapy I started weeks ago is changing me, even a conversation with a stranger on the bus can ever so slightly shift a perspective. Life is fluid, like a river constantly changing, unless your life is extremely stagnant and even then, moss grows. Thing is, if you isolate to track a single drop of water from any river, it will never flow past the same point twice. We cannot turn back time. I cannot be the me I used to be and, in time, I won’t be the me I am right now either. Life goes on.

So okay, we can take a break instead of flat out breaking up… I need time… maybe he’ll use the time to get his own self together. I don’t know… time will tell.