Monday, February 1, 2016

A Well Plated Dish

You deserve the petty life you live at home with your parents. I hope you think of me when you use the cookware and eat off the plates. I hope someday you become a man that cooks a meal for a girl. After you've eaten, she will help you clear the table and I know she will compliment the plates.

Even if you don't tell her that you stood like a buffoon in Bed, Bath and Beyond while your fiance chose the set for your wedding registry. Even if you don't tell your that you took them from your shared storage unit knowing damn well that they were important to your ex-wife. Even if you don't tell her that each of the four place settings were purchased by someone close to your ex-wife. Even if you don't tell her that its the first time you've used them in 15 years because you've been living with your parents even before you got divorced. Even if you don't tell her all that, you will know. And that moment, that great dinner and conversation will be a little bit tarnished.

But you know what? That's one experience I don't have to have. At first I though you had taken something from me, that I had been robbed. As it turns out, you gave me a gift. You gave me a reason and permission to get a new set of dishes. Something perfect for me. And someday soon, when I make that handsome, charming and sweet man a meal, I will be proud to serve my chicken pot pie on my brand new plates. Without history or tainted memories, I can serve a meal and be complimented on my dinnerware. It may seem petty and insignificant, but when the moment comes, it will be a sigh of relief for me and a sharp inhale for you.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Act II: You Left

It was like a scene from a movie.

He said goodbye to our friends. One at a time, leaving me for last. When he looked at me, all I could see were two deep emotions, sadness and love. I promptly told him not to look at me like that, turned my head so I wouldn't cry and stood up to hug him goodbye. 

He wrapped me in his arms and I wrapped him in mine. We held each other like we didn't want to let go. No words, because none were needed. We both snuggled into each other trying to soak up every second. I felt him take a few deep breaths then we parted. He looked at me again and I sat down. He said goodbye to everyone and headed out the door. 

Holding the door open for him is our friend and my best friend in the whole entire world. The kind of separated at birth, are you SURE we aren't related?? kind of best friend. As he disappeared from the doorway, descending the stairs to his car she looked right at me and inserted babysitter voice. She said "If you don't go down there, you are going to regret it for a long time and I don't want to hear about it all night." Now, she and I have never been nasty to each other, so I knew she meant business. I retorted with "I don't have my boots on, I'll never make it." She was quick to say "Slip my shoes on and go! You are going to miss him." 

So I did. I slid my feet into the slightly too big slip on shoes. I felt like a complete moron. I was wearing skinny jeans with socks and slip on shoes. I am sure I was a sight to be seen. But I was fairly confident that he wouldn't be looking at my feet. My turn to quickly descend the stairs, feeling much like Cinderella about to lose a slipper and this time with a plot twist of chasing her prince. 

I thought for a moment, I wasn't going to make it. When I got to the bottom of the stairs, he was already getting into his car. I turned the corner as he revved the engine, so naturally, I ran. I slowed down as I reached the driver's side. I tapped on the window and smiled. He started to roll down the window when I gave him the the come-hither gesture and he promptly opened the door. 

Out of breath and nervously I said, "I was pushed out the door, told that if I didn't come down here that I would regret it for a...." 

There was no finishing that sentence. He looked deep into my eyes, smiled, placed his hand on my cheek, pulled me in and kissed me. Time instantly stops, I cant think about anything other than the feeling that washes over me. Its like serious narcotics, the best I've ever had. We hugged, we kissed, it was magic.

I looked at him and said "This will be the hardest six months of my life." All he said was "Focus." Then he kissed me again. As we parted ways, I pulled my scarf to my face as the tears bubbled to the surface. Walking behind his car, I turned and looked back. He was looking at me through the back windshield. We both waved. The lump in my throat grew and this time I couldn't swallow it.

I ran back across the parking lot and up the stairs. As I reached the door, all I wanted to do was crumple against the wall and sob my eyes out. But there was nothing to hid behind. I watched him pull out of the parking lot as I opened the front door. My vision blurred, entire body shaking with emotion. All I could think was where is my best friend?

When I found her, she was in the bathroom with the door open. Neither of us cared. I sat on her bed. She asked if I was going to cry, telling me that its okay. All I could do was nod my head. The tears flowed, I was heaving the uncontrollable and ugly cry that's so beautiful at the same time because it came at the right moment. She sat next to me, held me and we had a Grey's anatomy Christina/Meredith moment, because she's my person.

I was having so many emotions all at once and that was okay. I was so happy that we had the weekend we had together. I was so sad that he was leaving. And I was so scared about what the future held. Scared because it is unknown. Scared because I already didn't want to lose this opportunity with him. Scared because I could feel my life starting again and it felt good.

The curtain closes on a scene that we've acted countless times. My person and I are sitting on her bed with tissues and listening to Taylor Swift. We are Taylor Swift-ing our feelings out, because she has a song for every emotion.

It was like a scene from a movie. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

I can't help thinking this is how it ought to be....

The first kiss, not one of those heart skipping, time stopping, breath taking kisses. It was awkward in the best was possible and new. It didn't lack desire at all. But still, it was different. It was a "I can't believe I get to kiss you", kiss.

The second kiss, my brain finally understood "we get to do this!" That's when my heart skipped, time stopped and you took my breath away.

You were fully in control and I liked that. I'd wondered what this moment would be like for what seems like eternity. To feel your warm hands on me, your strong arms pull me close. I can only explain what happened, because putting the feeling into words seems a little impossible.

This isn't your typical lust story. We've known each other for years. Always had an easy friendship; very few expectations and a whole lot of trust. We've seen the other person through what each of us thought was some pretty dark times. We've been excited for new relationships, new opportunities and triumphs. We've listened and given advice (solicited and unsolicited) when those new relationships came to an end, when we felt like life had kicked us and we were down, and when we just needed to bitch.

Through all of this, our friendship grew stronger. We grew closer in the unique circumstance that we met and became friends. We also remained the most platonic as humanly possible. Reinforced by willpower, integrity and respect (qualities I'd like to believe we both pride ourselves on), we maintained this relationship status through late night talks, several snowed in drinking and gaming parties and specially made yummies for the tummy (non-dairy of course).

Now, we are faced with an opportunity we only imagined in our wildest dreams. And of course the way our lives would have it, the opportunity would knock at what seems to be the most inconvenient time.

But is it?

After spending a night with you, that I pray will never be erased from my memory, you are packing up your belongings and heading South. Embarking on a solo, character building, and exciting journey into the next chapter of your life. Although it's a new chapter, I hope that the theme of me will continue from the chapters before. Perhaps this time with a slightly stronger role.

As the pages turn in this story and you continue the trails and tribulations of searching for your leading lady, I hope you wake up and find, I've been here the whole time.

Because you belong with me.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

When it pours

Areal Flood Warning for the Portland Metro area and, well, my eyes. 

The phrase "when it rains, it pours" can be literal and figurative. And then there are times when its both. 

El Nino, its a thing and well, the Pacific Northwest is experiencing a year predicted to be more intense than '96/97 and let's just say that was a bad year....

So we have some flooding here. Like cars are up to their headlights in standing water in downtown Portland kind of local flooding. One county and all its incorporated cities have declared a state of emergency with several others following suite. Although I have only two years of experience in the field of emergency management, this is adrenaline inducing and I'm a junky. Okay, so no emergency management director wants to hear that, but the other explanation is less flattering for me. Coordinating resources and managing flow of information gets me going - how ridiculously nerdy...

While that is all exciting and I'm chomping at the bit to be doing it. I am disappointingly unemployed right now. So none of this is my responsibility. I don't GET to do any of it. But that's okay. I've got my own emergency to manage. I have my own resources to coordinate and information flow to maintain.

                                  -------My flood of tears, emotions and exhaustion--------

Yesterday, it poured. I mean drenching Florida type, monsoon rain. Did I mention a flood warning? It happened to also be a logistical nightmare of a morning. Not just everything I needed to accomplish, but also the literal traffic. Who would have thought that standing water on highways and rush hour would prove to be problematic, anyway? 

It's one of those days when you have a dentist appointment. Now, I don't particularly dislike going to the dentist, but show me someone (other than the dentist) who likes to be there. I mean, they ARE getting paid.... I happen to have my niece for the day. And while 2 1/2 year olds are tons of fun, they are not very good at sitting still in a chair without anything to do. So, I asked my dad along to sit in the car with her. They could, well, listen to the rain??

As we set out on our 35 mile trek to the dentist, it became abundantly clear that we would never make it on time or even close to on time. Traffic was at a standstill on I-5 in the middle of Vancouver. So, I called the dentist office, explained the situation and canceled the appointment. I was informed that I would need to provide a $50 deposit to be able to schedule another appointment. The receptionist asked for the payment promptly. I reminded her that I was driving and stuck in traffic and ended the call. 

My dad, niece and I took the next exit and began to backtrack toward home. My dad requested that we stop at the store for a few items, since we were already out. I obliged and decided to stop for a spontaneous sausage biscuit from a location that shall not be named. :) It's of the upmost importance to keep toddlers well fed. Low blood sugar = well, tiny demons. I also swung through for some coffee for me. Because, well, no caffeine = a much larger demon. 

Well fueled and caffeinated, we headed to the grocery store.  We shopped for what we needed and took our time, because life is too short to rush when you don't have to. Besides, my niece was completely content to drive her racecar shopping cart anywhere we needed to go. We paid for our morsels, loaded the car and drove home. I thought for a moment that everyone was particularly quiet on the drive home, but chalked it up to it running errands unusually early in the morning. 

Dad unloaded the groceries and I retrieved the little munchkin from her carseat and gathered all her toddler accessories. Have you noticed how much they come with?!?! That's the kind of relationship I have with my dad. Very in sync. Most of the time we don't even have to talk about what we are doing. We just help each other with whatever task is at hand. 

Fighting the urge to sit down and rest (two more hours until nap time), I began to tidy up the house. I was feeling oddly anxious and nervously restless. Cleaning always calms me, because I can see results. I know, nerd alert. It was a short period time before I heard my dad walk into the room from behind me. There was something in the way he walked. I looked up and immediately reached for my phone. 

I could see that he was pale, actually he was extremely ashy in color. I noticed that his brow was damp with sweat and his breathing labored. His energy was anxious and nervous as well. One look at him, and I knew he was having a heart attack. 

He promptly said, "Alright, Shaunee let's go to the ER." I made him sit down because well that's what you do. And he taught me years ago that the bigger they are, the harder they fall. 

He doesn't particularly like ambulance rides, but who does (again, aside from the men and women who serve our country as first responders)? I told him that he would be traveling via ambulance as the phone rang in my ear connecting to a 911 dispatcher. I provided the necessary information including his history of heart disease and implanted defibrillator.

Our trio waited patiently on the front porch, anticipating their arrival.Within three minutes of beginning the call to dispatch, the big red truck as my dad put it was parked in the street in front of the house. The "big red truck" followed by an ambulance with lights flashing made quite the scene, especially for my niece. The look on her face was priceless and heart-wrenching at the same time. With eyes as wide as saucers, she took it all in.  Papa, as she refers to him, explained that these people are here to help him and make sure he is okay. The usually full of life and always having something to say, bright-eyed kid, simply nodded her head in agreement and watched what seemed like ten people arrive on her doorstep. 

I gave a brief history and pertinent information to ensure nothing was missed. Without an up to date medication list handy, my quiet cling-on and I escorted the kind paramedic to dad's room to jot down his list of meds. As the paramedic left the house, the tiny voice began to ask, "Papa be okay, Shaunee?" "I'm scared." I apologized for her being scared and reassured her as many times as she asked. As with all small children, they understand way more than they can tell us. So I made sure to explain everything that was happening. I buckled her into her carseat, asked her to just wait a moment and we would be on our way, following Papa to the hospital. 

I conversed with the paramedics to confirm it was a heart attack, and the hospital he would be transported to. I was asked to take it slow and not try to follow the ambulance, they would be transporting with lights and sirens. Although I understood, my little backseat driver assisted with a play by play and enthusiastic encouragement of me to drive faster. "There goes, my Papa. Gotta follow him." "Papa be okay."

Then she requested to call Grandma. You must understand that my parents haven't been married in a very long time. However, by some miracle they have managed to be cordial. For the sake of the children, of course. So, we dialed Grandma, handsfree of course. As my mother answered, kiddo's sweet disposition shone through in a moment we all needed most. "Hi, Grandma!" "Papa be okay." I couldn't help but tear up. Naturally, I had lost sight of the ambulance and was honestly in a state of emotions where I had to ask my mother for directions. Without too many details, let me assure you that I did not think that would ever happen in my lifetime. 

After talking to Grandma, she asked to call her Momma. Everyone wants their mom when they are upset, no matter how old they are. I dialed my sister. "Hi Momma!" "Papa be okay?!" This time she said it with a little bit of questioning this time. Again, heart-wrenching. But her mother, without skipping a beat, kept her composure and said "Yeah, baby. Papa be okay." Her mother was already on her way to the hospital and would beat us due to her location and traffic. 

With no more distractions, the little racecar driver put it in fifth gear. "Where is my Papa?!" "We gotta follow him." I reassured her that we were following him and he would be at the hospital with Momma when we got there. 

With all the wind, rain and traffic, we slowly and carefully arrived at the hospital. After carrying stubby legs all her accessories and my purse through what seemed to be a full tour of the hospital prompted by two individuals providing misinformation, I finally arrived in the waiting room where my sister sat patiently. 

She, fortunately, arrived in time to meet our dad in the emergency department and ride in the elevator with him to his next destination. The only information she had was that the doctor said he was having a massive heart attack. So, there we sat for what seemed like eternity. Finally someone emerged from behind the door looking for us. We were giving slightly more information: he had a blockage, a bad one. They took him into surgery immediately, removed the blockage and placed a stent. He would be staying in the hospital for three days. 

All afternoon and evening I sat with him, took care of him and waited semi-patiently for the cardiologist to come around. After what seemed like prying information out of him, I had a full picture of what happened. 

This was my dad's fifth heart attack. So, not our first rodeo. However, this time came closed to being the last. My dad suffered a STEMI. This is a ST-elevated myocardial infarction. Reading the EKG with assistance from the ever helpful RN, John, it was determined that the issue was in the bottom right on his heart. A rupture in a vessel can either lead to bleeding out or a blood clot. Obviously, bleeding out is bad. Clotting of blood is normal, should happen and if you don't then you bleed out. However, when a clot forms and it is too thick or large enough to block the entire vessel, well, you get a heart attack. 

He was in the emergency department for a very short period of time due to the seriousness of his condition. He was taken to the Catheter Lab immediately. A groin catheter placed and a procedure to clear the blockage and place a stent was completed. When I finally got to see him, he was resting comfortably. I spent the afternoon and evening with him. Around six thirty, I left to go home, take a shower and pick up things to stay the night. 

As I got into my car, started my engine and turned on the radio, my eyes began to flood competing with the surrounding gullies and sidewalk drains. The main entrance of the hospital was blocked due to excessive water causing me to drive in circles to exit the hospital and giving me a little more time to myself to think and release my emotions alone in my cold, wet car. 

I drove home singing along to the radio, trying to see through my tears and the very wet windshield. I took a nice, long, hot, shower; changed my clothes and backed my overnight bag. I drove back to the hospital crying and singing the whole way there. 

My operational period was over, I was tapped out. I made my bed, made sure dad was comfortable and caught a few winks of sleep. For me and the Portland area, Tuesday, December 8th can be summed up by feeling dumped on by tear/rain drops, a landslide of emotions and a sink hole that I'm not sure I'll be able to crawl out of for a while. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

A Great Place to Be... ?

You come home after spending a few hours of quality time with your mom. You walk in, dinner is ready. You make your plate, sit down and devour the light and flavorful salmon, wild rice and broccoli you prepped earlier that afternoon.

It's the perfect amount of food. You are satisfied. You wash your plate, put the food away and begin your nightly routine of winding down for the night. You've changed your clothes, washed your face, brushed your teeth and are crawling into bed.

This isn't a new routine, but it's in a new place. Once your have mentally checked the list of nightly routine, slight uneasiness washes over you.

Isn't this a great place to be? It seems a little picture perfect, doesn't it? A home to come back to, a mom to spend time with, dinner ready when you walk in the door, a nightly routine, a bed to crawl into?

And suddenly, you are smacked with reality.....

You spent the morning watching your beautiful, hilarious, and loving niece. You spent the afternoon rushing to complete errands to ensure you are on time to another of your mother's preliminary appointments before the double mastectomy. Once you arrived home, dinner was already ready and mostly eaten, so you ate alone even though you live with your dad, sister, brother-in-law and that beautiful niece.

You crawl on to your albeit really comfortable makeshift twin sized bed of plywood, pallets and a mattress with a much needed memory foam topper located in your sister's dining room. To your left is a metal and plastic self-assemble closet where you have strategically placed your belongings. You have zero privacy and change your clothes twice a day in the bathroom.

Why? Because you are getting DIVORCED.

Well, this certainly isn't where you thought you be at 27 and the road that got you here isn't the one you thought you would take. So you learned that life rarely works out the way you think it will. And maybe that's just it. You can't just think about it, you have to make an effort and take action.

Maybe this is a great place to be, after all.