Lately my mind has been completely blank. Devoid of any original ideas, creative stories, sparks of madness. Trying to write is tedious, almost painful. There is nothing there. Zero. Zilch. Zip. Nada. So my vacation comes at a very opportune time. I can recharge the batteries, take a break from life and get a new perspective. Hopefully when I return next week, my dry spell will be over.
Her heart felt like the opaque windows in the living room; openings to the world which didn’t allow any light to shine in.
A Gods of P B & J Story
I stood on the top rung of the ladder holding the garden hose in one hand while the other hand pulled gunk out of the gutters. My face contorted in disgust at the mushy mixture of decomposed leaves, pollen and what looked like deceased insects; although, I didn’t try very hard to confirm the last one. My children playing in the yard below me were the only thing keeping me from vocalizing the string of curse words circling in my head.
This was a job my ex-husband had normally taken care of, and one I couldn’t afford to outsource. I had already relied too heavily on my BFF/single dad partner in crime/angel of mercy Adam, (whose daughter Katie was in my Noah’s kindergarten class) to help with these “manly” chores. As a newly dedicated feminist I was determined to do this one on my own. I just had to keep from puking my lunch up and I’d be fine. Or at least I would eventually recover from the emotional trauma of dead bugs under my fingernails. In a day or two. A week tops. SO GROSS!!
“Mommy, can I ride my bike?” Noah had recently gotten a new bike for his birthday and I could barely keep the kid off it. I also considered buying stock in whichever company makes band-aids. I was pretty sure they would make a killing on me by Noah’s eighteenth birthday.
“Sweetie, you have to wait until I’m finished and I can watch you.” I yelled the words over my shoulder since I was somewhat precariously balanced. “Hannah, are you down there?”
“But I don’t need to be watched. I’m a expert.” He yelled back at me and I heard the sound of his feet on the concrete driveway and pictured him running to get his helmet. Hannah hadn’t answered me so I wasn’t certain if she was watching him. “I promise to be careful.”
“Noah Alexander Pierce don’t even think about riding that bicycle!” I turned slightly on the step to get a look at him, forgetting about the water gushing from the hose in my hand. I lost my traction and my feet slipped off the ladder. I let out a shriek as I free fell a few rungs down before grabbing onto the ladder for dear life.
My heart raced and I took in a deep breath. Whew, that was a close one. The gods of peanut butter and jelly must have been looking out for me. I almost . . . unfortunately that thought never got completed because my wet hands couldn’t maintain their grip on the ladder and I fell the rest of the way to the grass below.
I woke up in the ambulance, groggy and confused and strapped to a backboard. I felt wrapped up like an Egyptian mummy. Minus the cool makeup. I still managed to put up a good struggle and the paramedics had to subdue me. “Where are my kids? They’re alone. I need to be home.”
“It’s ok ma’am. (Ma’am?!?!?) Your neighbor has your kids. You took a nasty fall and we need to get you checked out. Just relax.” I fell from a ladder, lost consciousness and I was in an ambulance alone while my children were home with Jessica, probably scared out of their minds. It’s not like I was in a freaking day spa. Relax? Seriously? What kind of pep talk was that?
Five hours, one CT scan, one MRI and 3 X-rays later and the doctors boiled it down to a concussion and a sprained wrist. A $6000.00 concussion and sprained wrist. The nurse brought the discharge papers and trailing behind her was a tall figure, my angel of mercy, Adam. “My babysitter is at your house with the kids. We’ll get you out of here and safe at home.” His voice was soothing and comforting and I was relieved he had come to my rescue – again. Then I realized I was in a flimsy hospital gown that didn’t leave much to the imagination. I pulled the sheet a bit higher across my chest. “Right, I’ll just wait outside while you get changed.” I noticed the red tinge on his cheeks as he ducked out of the room.
Once home I changed into a comfy pair of pajamas and brushed my teeth. Adam got me settled in my bedroom. “The kids are sleeping. Katie is in Hannah’s room. The doctor said I should wake you every hour to check on you. I’ll be on the floor in Noah’s room if you need me.”
“Adam, you shouldn’t sleep on the floor. You should . . .” my voice trailed off since I couldn’t think of exactly where he could sleep. My mind was too fuzzy to come up with an alternative.
“I’ll be fine. Don’t worry about me, just get some rest.” He reached down and his hand brushed my hair. Waves of warmth radiated through my veins. “I’m glad you’re okay Kim. When Jessica called, I was so worried. It’s a good thing you have such a hard head.” I smiled at his attempt at a joke and the actual distressed look on his face. It was kinda nice to know he cared.
“Goodnight Adam. And thank you.” He turned off the light and I drifted off to sleep dreaming about ladders and bicycles and dead bugs and angels dressed like dads.
I woke up with a jolt, feeling a large presence next to me. Slowly turning my head, I saw the chiseled features of my very own angel of mercy, softened by the early morning sun peeking through the window. Holy peanut butter and jelly. I sat straight up, instantly regretting the rapid movement. What was I doing in bed with Adam? And why was my head throbbing so much? It started to come back. A ladder. An ambulance. A concussion. But why was Adam in my bed? Or actually, on my bed.
Next to me, Adam stirred and his eyes slowly opened. “Morning. Kim. Oh no. Kim.” He rolled off the bed, easily since he had only been lying on top of the comforter, and stood over me, face flushed and absentmindedly running his fingers through his tousled hair. “Kim, I’m so sorry. I came to check on you and I must have fallen asleep. Sleeping on the floor all night wasn’t very comfortable, well I thought I would just rest a bit on the bed before I went back to Noah’s room. I didn’t intend to fall asleep. I’m so sorry. Nothing happened I promise. I would never take advantage of you in this situation.” He was rambling which I might normally find adorable but with my throbbing head I just wanted him to stop so I lifted my hand in the universal STOP sign.
My voice came out very quietly. “It’s okay. Really. Just, could you get me some aspirin?” He nodded and rushed to the bathroom and I heard him rustling through the cabinets. I didn’t even care about the messy room or what he might find in the cabinets (except maybe the flavored condoms that Heather gave me as a joke when my divorce was finalized). I let out a silent prayer of thanksgiving to the gods of peanut butter and jelly. I was alive and for the first time in over a year I hadn’t slept alone.
We met on a hot August afternoon. It felt like a hundred stars exploded. It was love at first sight. We spent our days exploring the world and our nights soaring to heights unimaginable. I was certain that our destiny was sealed in the universe. But the fates had another plan for us.
The funny thing about climbing is that at some point you have to fall.
I get cranky when I don’t get enough sleep. I also get cranky when I’m really hungry. To be fair I get cranky a lot. I think I might have been born to the wrong parents. I mean, if the tiara fits. I’m just saying, for someone who seems so down to earth and affable I sure am cranky a lot. Go ahead, put a pea under my mattress and see what happens.
The measure of love is only the distance between two hearts.
The party invitation was timely. With her newly single status came a stylish updated haircut, new wardrobe and a slight increase in confidence. She smiled as she walked to her closet. Even with the new additions, there was plenty of empty space, a somewhat sad reminder of her past life with Bradley. She quickly erased him from her thoughts and pulled out something new, searching for a pair of heels that would complement the silhouette of the black and grey dress in her hands. A shiver of delight ran through her at the thought of just buying a new pair – something not practical, something Bradley would never approve of. She smiled. Yes, this new life would suit her very well.
A Gods of P B & J Story
I stepped back and admired my handiwork, feeling very pleased with myself for my newly acquired domestic skills. Okay, so it wasn’t exactly Van Gogh worthy, but cake icing wasn’t a science. You could read “Happy Birthday Noah”. Sort of. If you squinted. And knew what you were looking for. Dammit, I knew I should have bought a cake at the store. This is exactly what happens when single mothers try to overcompensate for deadbeat dads who leave their families to chase their dreams to the other side of the country. Needless to say, my life was complicated.
To further complicate things, my BFF/single dad partner in crime/angel of mercy Adam had kissed me on our last kid/adult playtime outing and I had no idea how to process that. Neither of us had spoken about it. I almost thought I had imagined it. But no – I remembered the feeling of the rock-hard pecs under my fingertips, the soft, supple lips and the playful wink just before he trotted off to finish our game of hide-and-go-seek. Nope. Not a dream.
I had desperately wanted to talk to someone, ANYONE, about it. But any of my friends would only have wanted juicy details and turned it into some sordid little event when clearly it was something far more substantial. Right? Oh, I really needed the girls from Sex and the City for a little one-on-one sit down right now. Wait, they wouldn’t do. I needed the girls from . . . where were my representatives from the single moms of America? Why do all the television shows portray single life as a big party? How am I supposed to get advice?
On cue, Adam walked into the kitchen. “How’s the cake? The kids are having a great time but I think they need their sugar fix.” He chuckled as he got closer to the counter. I tried to hip check him but he was too fast. “Does that say “Happy Birthday Noon?” I scoffed at him, taking a knife to the icing. “Of course not. It says Noah. Clearly. Can’t you read?”
My friend Heather came to my rescue. “Adam, can you take these out to the kids?” It was a fresh tray of chips and dip. She could see the relief in my eyes although she didn’t know exactly why. As soon as he was out of the room she was by my side. “Okay, spill. What’s going on with you and Mr. Hottie?”
I looked at her and rolled my eyes, quickly averting them to play with the icing on the cake. “Seriously Heather, Mr. Hottie. You have a nickname?”
“Well, we used to call him Mr. X. But since you’ve become his best friend we decided to go easy on you.” She smiled as she exited the kitchen carrying a pitcher of Kool-Aid. Did they seriously have a nickname for Adam? And did they think he was a hottie? I mean, he was, but was I BFFs with Mr. Hottie? Oh, this was so out of my comfort range.
I went out to assess the kidling situation and saw chaos in my living room. It looked like a grammar school convention had erupted. Adam was in the middle, smiling and playing with all the kids like he was one of them and I couldn’t help but laugh at the sight of him. My ex would never act like this around the kids. I loved that Adam could relate to them on their level. Leaning against the door frame I watched him, and thought to myself, “Kim, you’re in serious trouble.” What have the gods of P B & J gotten me into now?
It was slow to begin. A snide word here, an icy silence there. Soon there were excuses to be alone; running errands was faster, grocery shopping was easier, everything was better on my own. We found ourselves on different paths, mostly in the same direction, but never crossing. We so easily deceive ourselves into believing that harmony equals happiness. Slowly our life together began to unravel until what was left was the tiny threads that had once been the only thing holding us together.
She was more than my big sister. She was my best friend. When we were little she took care of me, watched out for me, as only a big sister could do. She was always there for me. She taught me about boys and sex. She showed me how to use make-up, how to walk in high heels, and how to be a girl. She stayed up with me when I cried all night after my first broken heart. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for her. I would follow her blindly into any battle without hesitation.
When she got her diagnosis, she was still the brave one, reassuring me. Telling me everything would be okay. We stayed up all night and cried together, knowing nothing would ever be the same. Gradually things shifted and I began to take care of her. I was always there for her. I made sure she took her meds and her sheets were clean. I drove her to her doctor’s appointments and chemo. I laid next to her in bed so she wouldn’t be alone. There was nothing I wouldn’t do for her. She was more than my big sister. She was my best friend.
Today I said good-bye to him, before we even had the chance to begin our life together. It only took a moment to shatter our world, in the blink of an eye everything changed. A red light. An inattentive driver. Crunching metal. Shattered glass. It happened in a second yet I saw it in slow motion. The wounds will heal with time but the grief remains, a haunting reminder of what might have been.
She learned that life is not a fairy tale. There are no happy ever afters. Too late she found that she would rather live in denial than risk the unknown.
I was born on the Cusp of Magic. Translation: I’m a Gemini born so close to Cancer that the lines sometimes get blurred. Is this a good thing? I guess that all depends on how much faith you place in astrology. Truth be told, I don’t want to admit I believe in that mumbo-jumbo but when it comes down to it, I want this cusp thingy to fit me to a T. Why? Have you ever read those zodiac descriptions? It’s your own personal P.R. campaign. I suppose anyone can twist them to fit their personality but don’t we all want to be exactly how they characterize these signs? They have so many positive qualities and even the negative ones get spun into something more desirable than they really are. Like this: “Geminis can be wishy-washy, readily changing mood or focus. This favorable quality makes them flexible and adaptable.” So, am I wishy-washy or am I adaptable? It’s all about perspective.
Prudent is not a word I’m particularly familiar with. I mean, I know what it means. I’m just not entirely comfortable with actually using it in everyday life. Or even ever really. Both the word and the action. I’m more of a leap before you look kinda person. Speak before you think. Which hasn’t always turned out exactly well. I have a board on Pinterest full of very funny posts, most of which describe exactly how messed up my life is. (Really, there’s a link on my sidebar if you don’t believe me.) Mostly because I’m not a prudent person. I’ve tried to be respectable and responsible and it’s just not for me. Sure, I can carry it off but it’s not all that much fun. When I look back at my life, as messy as it was, I sure as hell don’t want to describe it as prudent. I’d rather use a ton of curse words and say that I lived my life with no rules.
We are fighting again, it’s become a daily routine. He says something, I say something. I react, he reacts. He yells back, I yell back. It all blends together now. He says he’s through. It’s not the first time he’s said it and I doubt it’s the last. I roll my eyes and turn my back on him. He says he’s leaving and not coming back. I tell him not to let the door hit him on the way out. He stomps to the door. I regret my words. The door opens then slams shut. I pause, mouth open waiting to speak an apology that now need not be said.
We knew. When we decided to get married we knew what we wanted. A nice house, not too big, but just enough to fit a family without a huge mortgage. Two kids, preferably a boy and a girl, but we weren’t picky. Jobs that allowed us the ability to grow professionally and gave us flexibility in our personal lives. We saved every penny we could for the future. For our children, for the vacations we would take, for the college educations, for the weddings and the unexpected things that might pop up. It was the unexpected things that caught us off guard. We always planned for things that would happen later. We always said we would do it later. We never dreamed “later” might never come at all.