It’s been one week since I left home to find some peace and, more importantly, distance, from the last few weeks and all of the surrounding stress and heartbreak that they have held.

Toady is my last day of solace in spending time with friends who are so much more than that; they are family. My last day before I am back on the road tomorrow and heading for home and the uncertainty that awaits. Today though, I am working hard to not think of what is there. Of what waits for me to decide and figure out. Instead I am focusing on where I am today and at the adventure filled next few days ahead of me and where the road will take me. 

A few days in Costa Mesa before being here in Phoenix have both settled me and brought up so many emotions that it has been a maelstrom of competing feelings inside of my spirit. Memories of past visits have flooded me and swirled up hurt and loss like I didn’t know, but suspected, they might. They came. Tears came, and went, and came back again. Through all of it through, what shone through most brightly (aside from the sun that threatens to burn my poor white skin alive) was the laughter and the love being shared and indulged in. A perfect example of life in a micro view. Hurt is there yes, but present also is joy and happiness and moments of calm and peace that I have not felt in far too long. 

I have vague plans of heading for the coast and travelling leisurely as I make my north. No real plans beyond finding places to stop that make me smile and enjoying the quiet of the car and the chance to spend time letting my mind wander as the miles pass behind me. 

I am working hard to embrace the space that is where I need to be right now and to sit with it and wander through it. To let go of the feelings that creep in that whisper to me that I have to figure it all out, that I have to have a plan once I am home. Right now, today, and in the next few days, there is just now.

One of the hardest things to do is nothing.

Sometimes you have to sit in the space that hurts. 

Sometimes you have to stay in, 

and be surrounded by,

the space that makes you uncomfortable. 

Knowing that inside that space is held truth and wisdom and guidance. 

Sometimes the only way that you can discover what action is needed is to give the voice the space to speak and be heard. 

That voice whispers softly.

The quiet is it’s harbour to find you. 

Sometimes what is needed to be done is nothing. 

To wait. 

To listen. 

To sit, and know it is where you need to be; where it is the only place you can be right now in this moment.

To observe and welcome what you learn from those spaces that you never asked to be in. 

The spaces and moments that you don’t want to be in. 

When it’s time, action and direction will be the right thing to do. 

When it’s time, you will know where to walk when you set your feet to the next path.

But for now, nothing.

Not the usual Day One road trip musings. Not the same as the last one, that’s for sure. There are some funnies, but there is more heavy than the last time my backside sat in the driver’s seat leaving my home area for a long run down the states.

For starters, this one is solo. Which in itself is not necessarily a bad thing but it feels heavy on my heart today in so many ways. Maybe tomorrow it will feel different but today it’s impacting me and making my head and heart tumble more than the wheels of my car have so far on this journey.

My trip this time is for a simple purpose: to give myself time and space to heal and reset in a way that I am hoping will bring me some peace.

The previous couple of months have been tumultuous to put it mildly. June and July were filled with my work environment and dynamics finally reaching a crescendo that had been building since last fall. An issue that has taken a toll not only on me physically and mentally but also contributed to a significant impact on my personal life with regards to my relationship with my partner.

The end of July saw the end to my long term relationship, in large part due to the degree of work-related stress in my life and how it affected every aspect of my mental and physical health; how it then affected her and, in turn, us. 

Within a week, I had reached the breaking point at work and a full-blown breakdown happened on my part at work. Two out of the four front staff leaving within a week of each other had created a situation that found me covering long and extra days and with the pre-existing work environment issues, I simply could not deal with it anymore and a decision had to be made. For my health and sanity. To say that sounds dramatic but it’s accurate and not at all over-stated. I was unable to stop crying and could not eat or sleep. My health was failing and I was unable to even make it in to work at one point. The decision was made for me to leave my job as the work conditions could not be changed and the interpersonal dynamics could not be dealt with in any way that would allow me to stay. The last two weeks of August have been grueling with long shifts and extra work days but there was an end in sight as August 29th was my last day. Almost seven years of employment done. 

All things told, in the past month and a half I have seen the two most basic, grounding levels of my life gone; of my day to day “me” in many ways, ended. One far more important and having a much deeper level of hurt than the other, but both rocked me.

So, what to do? Nothing to do other than move forward and try to settle and try to figure out how to live with the changes. That’s all anyone can do when faced with change. That’s what I’m doing. I’m doing it hurting and sad and with no idea how it is going to look when the proverbial dust settles. 

The answer for me was a road trip. A chance to get away, physically, from reminders of life that set my head spinning. 

I started the day today with mixed feelings of excitement for the days ahead of solo driving (I love long distance driving) and anxiety over being alone with just my thoughts and no distractions. I hadn’t realized just how much I had pushed down dealing with some hurt until there was nothing to do other than listen to my heart. Ouch.

As the miles rolled by, my emotions jumbled as much as the roads curved and climbed. Landmarks from my last trip this was brought back memories that made me smile and cry at the same time (yes, I am a pro at driving while crying 😉 ). I was reminded by just how indecisive I can be when I couldn’t make a choice on where to stop for the night (800 kms and 12 hours was enough I finally decided and Roseburg, Oregon is home for the night now.)

I’m sitting here in my hotel room, with the TV on to add some noise to my quiet and plunking away at getting some feelings out on the keyboard. I have pie in my room fridge from the diner across the street and I am not in my car so those are two big happy things right now.

Oddities from today:

  • Best billboard sign goes to… “LUST will drag you down to HELL!!!” (Sorry, no pic, I was driving)
  • A very stern crosswalk signal (check out my instagram for the video)
  • A brochure for Cannabis Tourism (pic below)
  • What I thought was the last remaining telephone booth in existence (turned out to be just the booth, no telephone 😦  (pic below).

Tomorrow, heading for the coast and winding my way down to some very missed framily. California first, then on to Arizona. Soaking up the sunshine and hugs and love. All very much needed all around as we are all hurting from way too much lately. 

Dark, heavy clouds move with urgency across the sky, driven by the force of the wind. The air feels wet but no rain falls. The chill in the air holds fast with the dampness encased by the unburdened cloud cover.

The fierce wind envelopes the buildings and the dormant carnival rides as it storms its way down the length of the pier. The force of the gusts making the weathered signs and banners dance in its wake. Waves crash against the supports of the pier as the ocean is driven into a maelstrom.

Desolation and abandon encompass the Carnival grounds. Boards nailed tight over the ticket windows and vendor booths, guarding against the wear of time and weather. A glance down the empty midway shows not a single open venue or attraction. The faded, peeling paint a proclamation of disrepair and neglect that has fallen over the once bright and loud expanse of rides, attractions and games.

The echoes of laughter, now long gone and lost, is carried on the wind as it presses violently between the boards and shakes the ever crumbling buildings. Silence now where there was once the boldness of sound assaulting the senses. The melodies of the rides absent…the crowd calls of the vendors muted…the music of children faded and no more. The only sound a distant bang of a shutter as it slams against the window it now barely clings to.

All is silent now, leaving a void.

The emptiness heavy with the weight of sorrow for what is lost.

Dear Universe (or Life or whatever you would like to be addressed as),

 

I would like to commend you on your tenacity. Your many and varied attempts to break me are impressive and you continue to surprise and shock me, even when I think I’ve seen it all.

 

Granted, I have only had 47 years to try to decipher whether or not your intention is to find a way to make me tap out of this journey or whether I , like everyone else, am simply here for your amusement and enjoyment. However, 47 years is long enough for me to have garnered some insight.

 

Admittedly, there have been a few occasions where it had looked like you may have won and yes, I admit, I have come close to conceding defeat. Yet, no matter how many times or for how long the bad days have lasted; my track record for beating them is pretty damn good. To clarify, that means that I haven’t ever given up for good.

 

I have never been one to enjoy playing games that require great skill, cunning, or strategy. Luck has eluded me as well – I find its fickleness and uncertainty to be unpleasant to my taste for reason and understanding. I do love games that challenge me though. So thank you. For so many chances to discover the strength and clarity that comes with knowing not only what I’m up against, but more importantly, what I bring to the table.

 

Thank you for showing me what I’m made of and all that’s inside of me that I have to fight with. I’ve seen, and accept, that sometimes I do slide a bit and falter when I’m pushed; I also see that I always find my grip and dig in and I hold on – without fail.

 

Today, I offer you these simple words:

 

You have no idea what I’m capable of and what I can handle, but I do now. Regardless of what comes next – challenge accepted. And I won’t lose.

 

P.S. Your sense of humour sucks at times.

You must have walked into the room but I didn’t notice.

You were just simply there

all of a sudden,

next to me on the couch.

 

I’m not surprised to see you,

even though I should be.

You’re not on this side anymore.

That’s what the coroner told me just a few hours ago.

She made me hear her.

Even when I tried not to.

Especially when I tried not to.

 

Now here you are.

We sit together.

I don’t say anything at first.

Then a quiet “How are you?” escapes my lips.

 

You shrug.

A familiar movement from you.

It’s not out of the ordinary.

But it should be.

I know that deep inside.

But it isn’t.

It’s just you and me.

 

“I’m okay” you almost whisper to me.

You sit.

“It’s not…” You start, then your voice trails off.

I hear you sigh.

 

Now it’s my turn to shrug.

I don’t know what to say.

I have too much,

and nothing,

to ask.

 

“I have to go.” You say as you stand to leave.

You wait, looking down at me.

“Do you have to?”

I turn to look up at you.

But you’re already gone.

 

Level One (sober, but the drinking has begun):

A variety of songs by Pink. “Slut Like You” will most certainly make an appearance towards the end of this phase – live version. “True Love” will be played and will induce the need in me to text my sweetie and profess how much I love her.

Prince, Twenty One Pilots, X Ambassadors, Fun.

 

Level Two, Part One: Tipsy:

Ed Sheeran takes a stroll through here. Beginning with “I See Fire” and wrapping up quickly with “Shape of You” before I realize I don’t actually like Ed Sheeran. Moving on.

 

Level Two, Part Two: Tipsy but in danger of losing the music buzz from the foray into Ed Sheeran (hey, sometimes we all make poor judgements when drinking)

Matchbox Twenty circa 2012 to get my drink induced swagger back on track. “She’s So Mean”.

Prince “Darling Nikki” . No explanation needed. Bump and grind in the kitchen. Not to brag but my kitchen chair is hard now…

Quick stop on youtube to pull up the BEST EVER dance worthy mashup of Van Halen and ABBA ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Mdm9kISNgY you will not be disappointed, trust me).

 

Level Three: More than tipsy but still holding my own:

Enter nostalgia phase…54-40, Mother Mother, Madison Avenue and Joy Division. Realize absentmindedly that my collection of music may need updating – and that it is more than a bit bipolar.

Exit nostalgia phase… back to dancing. Annie Lennox “Little Bird” to the rescue. I am now able to reach a vocal range I have previously thought impossible for me.

“Whore” rounds it out and puts a smile on my face. I am now convinced that I can not only sing, I can dance.

Resist urge to search Ke$ha on youtube. This is my first hint that I may be more drunk than  tipsy.

 

Level Three: Drunk Part One: Techno indulgence:

Unidentifiable techno club mix of something from the ‘90’s that I used to teach Spin classes to. I really need to do a clean out of my music collection…. I haven’t taught in 7 years.

Club remix of The Cranberries “Zombie” (Tiesto version https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Yn4Nr24ORE ); one of my standard running songs. Evokes thoughts that maybe I should go running. No. Too drunk. (See, I can make some good decisions while drinking)

Level Three: Drunk Part Two: No More Techno PLEASE:

Gay takes over. Dykeville here I come. Melissa Etheridge, Indigo Girls and “Drive” by Melissa Ferrick. Realize that my boyfriend who suggested I was actually a lesbian when I was 15 might have had more insight than I did at that age. ‘Nuff said.

 

Level “I have had too much to drink and need to go to bed but one more song….:

Sarah MacLachlan “Ol’55”. I am now a singing goddess and can hit every note that she can. With lyrics that include “lickety splitly” how did she expect anyone sing this one any way other than drunk?

 

*PS: Each drinking episode differs in specific music selection. Don’t judge. 😉 *

“I think I’ve seen you before.” She whispers to the reflection in the mirror.  

She turns away to dry her hands, pushing the thought from her mind. But she can feel her watching.

She turns to face the mirror. Slowly, reluctantly.

Leaning in close, she studies the eyes of the woman who is looking back at her.

The blue eyes (didn’t they used to be brighter, softer?) flecked with gold at the edges hold her gaze steady.

Unwavering. Demanding.

She wants to turn away from what she sees there. She doesn’t though. She stares back.

She wants to ignore the anger that defiantly glares back at her. Challenging. Harsh.

Still she looks.

She doesn’t want to swim the in the cold emptiness that lurks beneath the rage that she sees. (when did that grow there?)

Still she looks.

She waits. Squinting, looking deeply for more that she knows (hopes) must be there.

She searches for the spark that must be there somewhere (weren’t there flames there once?).

She blinks. Did she something flash for a second (or was it just imagination)?

Her eyes are a brilliant blue now as tears silently fall on her hands resting (gripping) the sink.

The woman in the mirror is an intimate stranger to her.

She turns off the light and walks away.

She slowly trailed her tongue along the rim of the shot glass, wetting it. She dipped it in the sugar and set it on the bar with a solid slam.

She reached below the bar, expertly handling the bottle and the amber liquid poured quickly, overflowing the rim slightly. The bar, sticky with remnants of the night shimmered in the neon lights that hung behind her.

She slid the shot towards the Femme who would be in her back room soon.

“Whisky Sweet.” She said simply and turned away.