The Deep End of the Ocean

So happy to say that I am spending my birthday week with friends, and in one case, meeting someone new offline that I’ve been chatting with on. As I have said before, I am now averse to the all-online relationship having been both burned in some ways and set myself on fire in others.

Tonight is dinner with my precious Dan, invaluable to me on so many levels. She’s cute and funny in a way that’s infectious, and we’re also able to have next-level conversations because she’s one of the few friends I have that has also lost her mother. It’s not that I don’t value friends who still have them, it’s that a parent’s death is a certain ocean into which you’ve been dumped…. one in which people don’t learn to swim until they’ve been dumped as well…. and at first, you’re so far under you can’t even see the waves.

It’s taken me a long time to stop feeling a little bit bitter towards my friends who are much older than me and still have their parents, as if the slight was personal. Logically, you know it’s not. But emotion is often inversely proportional. My logic is right side up, while my emotions are upside down and backwards. It’s been making those two things slowly come into alignment that’s made me feel better.

There are only five days left in my 39th year, and then I will face my first birthday without my mother there to tell me the story of how I was born at 9:59 AM, which she did faithfully every year no matter what time zone I was in. I’m also not going to get a Peter Pan or Mickey Mouse cake, and now I am absolutely sobbing as I write this. Now I just want my mommy, and I haven’t felt this small in ages. It’s a good thing I can touch type, because I can still get emotions out when my eyes are closed. My fingers fly over the keys as easily as she played the piano.

And trust me, writing that in the past tense rips my guts out.

I am so glad I am seeing Dan tonight. I just want to be held by someone who knows, you know?

I have to remind myself that it’s a happy thing to have a birthday. I have never pictured myself as a 40-year-old, but I’m about to find out what it’s like. If there’s anything I’m hoping to gain, which I already have in some cases, it’s the ability to see what’s important and what’s not. Hurricane Harvey was a great reminder that having food, water, and shelter is a blessing in and of itself…. especially since my family is right in the middle of reconstruction afterward.

They were not flooded, but they’re working to help others. My dad and stepmom are medics on a church team. My sister took a temp job with the City of Houston organizing the relief effort at the George R. Brown Convention Center (she’s back at her “real job” today). It’s a very helpless place that my friends and family are all helping with relief and I’m sitting here high and dry…. although it’s not impossible to imagine Silver Spring flooding during Hurricane Irma, just unlikely due to its current course. If the unthinkable does happen, though, I will be the first to put on a mask and hang drywall.

Thanks to UMArmy, I do have a bit of experience in house-building and repair. I’ve tiled and put flashing on a roof, I’ve glazed windows, and I sort of know my way around a hammer and nails. It’s difficult for me in terms of being able to hit the nail straight on every time with monocular vision, but I do my best. I am not the most skilled “handyma’am” out there, but I am definitely enthusiastic.

I am glad that focusing on hurricane relief efforts in this entry has led me away from sobbing onto my t-shirt, but the devastation in Texas is just as tear-worthy. Again, watching it from afar is a very helpless place, as I’m sure some of you feel, as well. There are so many “Tex-patriots” out there, and I have met SO many in both DC and Portland. There seems to be some sort of unspoken rule that if you went to UT Law, you end up here. 😛

Look at that… a smile.

One thing I hope my 40th birthday brings is the ability to smile more. For the last two to three years, finding things to smile about has been difficult at best. Both Dana and I had our hearts ripped out upon finding that we weren’t as compatible as we thought…. and I am somewhat guilty about how long it’s taken me to move on. But grief has its own timeline, and I shouldn’t fault myself that it hasn’t been linear, or in fact, made any damn sense at all. I suppose the one thing that has made sense is that I needed a large grieving period due to how much we shared in the seemingly infinite number of years we knew each other.

I still remember being creeped out that she was serving lamb for Easter dinner… as if we were roasting Jesus over the coals… and made the joke that the day after Easter we could have leftover Jesus sandwiches. I think I made both Bamberger girls choke with that one.  Wordplay is pretty much the only service writers offer, so take it while you can get it, okkkkkkk……

That Easter was the first time we’d ever gotten together, and my advice to my younger self has always been, and still will be, when Dana invites you to Easter dinner, go. Because of course I was terrified of hanging out with someone I didn’t really know that well. Had I known how fantastic we were for each other at that time in our lives, I wouldn’t have hesitated.

I can only hope that someday, another one of my friendships will catch me off-guard and I’ll get butterflies in my stomach the same way (but not with Dan- she’s old and married and I’m just old [I may catch hell for that one because she’s quite a bit younger than me- I love you, Dan. You complete me.]).

What is it about writing that can allow me to go from sobbing at a paragraph to laughing at another? I’ll never know, but it works. Because of course, at “you complete me,” I lost it laughing about “Dorothy Boyd…. and THIS FISH.”

And on that note, it’s time go shower and get ready for dinner. In the words of an old friend, I thought, ‘what’s that smell?’ Ohhhhhhhhh, it’s meeeeeee…..



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