I live with my 2-year-old daughter and my husband who is tired of my grief, in a small house in College Town USA.
First Summer Without Her
It is the loneliest summer ever…and my first summer ever without my older sister. She died in a car accident 11 months ago. She was 9 months pregnant. Whenever I see something exceptionally beautiful, I think it’s her.
The Distraction Is Saving Me – by: Odette
It is Saturday morning, about 5am. I couldn’t sleep at all. I’ve literally been awake all night…so now I’ve given up trying. I really have nobody to tell, and if I get it all out through writing this, then maybe I’ll be able to rest. I cheated on my husband 2 days ago and I’m still trying to feel bad about it.
It was so random I almost wonder if Meliah had something to do with it.
I was on a walk just to get the heck out of the house, looking at the trees, looking for Meliah. The leaves were glinting and golden in the evening breeze that was starting to pick up; a breeze that promised summer storm clouds were on the way. Meliah used to pull back her soft, dark blonde curls in a low ponytail. She was getting a few wrinkles around her mouth and laugh lines by her hazel eyes.
This time last year, only a few days before her car accident, Meliah and I went on this same walk together down my street. She was excited about her son. He was kicking inside her lovely belly, and she let me feel the min-blowing thumps. We walked slowly past all the quaint student houses accessorized with cobblestone paths, fairy lights strung messily between trees, and lawns littered with cars parked on the grass, beads dangling from their rear-view-mirrors. I told Meliah how strange it was to be the mom with the little one and the husband on the college party street. She told me I needed to get the hell out of this neighborhood and live in a “normal” suburb where I didn’t have to put white noise on to keep Zoe from being woken up by college parties. I said I didn’t mind the energy. We brought her prissy little, but surprisingly loud, dog, Lika, on our walk. Now as I pictured Meliah laughing and grumping about her work, tugging Lika back on a hot pink “Legally Blonde” leash when she tried to chase a cat, I was utterly aching for my sister who was never coming back.
I looked carefully at the swaying leaves, wondering if Meliah was somehow a part of them like I had promised our younger sister she was. I closed my eyes with my face to the sky and just listened to them rushing and rustling…sometimes calm in the breeze, then suddenly wild in the wind. My clothes and my hair moved with them. I wasn’t worried about anyone seeing me standing there with my eyes closed. The streets have been so empty and quiet this summer. It’s been a ghost town.
I heard a dog bark and I was confused for a second because I thought instantly of little Lika, even though of course it wasn’t her. Then I was blindsided by the loud thud of something hitting my head. I had to catch myself and kneel to the ground with pain.
The endorphins kicked in right away and the shock stung more than the pain. I supported myself on the grass with my hands and looked around me to see what happened. There was a large stick next to me on the ground. And now a very freaked out guy was hurrying, half stumbling towards me while his crazy dog was running around his legs and barking. The trees were blowing harder now and I wondered if the branch that hit me blew from a tree. But then this guy was shouting “I’m so sorry I’m so sorry. I didn’t even see you there!” and I guessed that he had done this somehow. The shock was then eclipsed by anger with a tinge of embarrassment, and my immediate reaction was to shoo these loud busy figures away from me so I could recover. But when he kneeled down in front of me, fending off his excited dog with one hand and holding my arm with his other, I saw through the haze of head trauma that I definitely wanted him to stick around.
It is pretty crazy what happened next but l’ll have to tell you tomorrow since I can hear Zoe singing in her bed. But I will say this. I’m buzzing because the guy was the kind of good looking that you see in movies. The kind that you don’t even think exists outside of a screen or a story. His name is Jake and he seems to have some sort of a crush me. To be honest, I’m used to guys liking me but I also know that I’m probably some sick bet with his friends, the MILF down the street. I don’t know and I don’t really care.
I won’t say right now exactly what happened, except that it was INSANE…and I’m totally excited and utterly horrified at the same time…but more excited.
I can’t tell my friends what happened because they all love my sweet husband, Chris and they will hate me for doing this. My younger sister will tell me I am making a huge mistake and will probably try to “help” me. But what I don’t think I could make anyone understand, is that everything has just been too stagnant lately and too depressing to be ok. Constantly trying to cope and cope has been exhausting. But that now that things are suddenly way too exciting to actually be OK, the distraction is literally saving me. Meliah would have understood. She never judged me.
I’m going to let myself feel more joy than guilt because I need this.
What Happened Next (Going Inside) – By: Odette
I think I left off where I was crouching in the grass on the side of the road and holding my forehead. I remember I looked up towards my house, thinking I should just get home and get Chris to help me. But when I faltered as I stood up, Jake grabbed my arm. He looked alarmed and said to come in to his house which was right there and I could sit down for a little while until I felt better. I said OK, sure, and through the haze of confusion, I picked my way over his cobblestone path with great interest, that this was a very unusual day.Continue reading “What Happened Next (Going Inside) – By: Odette”
It Started Out As A Joke – By Jake
We see the cute mom from down the street go for a jog every day and my roommate, Chad, is always pointing her out and saying stupid shit that I won’t repeat here.Continue reading “It Started Out As A Joke – By Jake”
Learning New Colors
I realized what was going to happen if it let it, and I started to reevaluate things.
What if this kid was stupid and not worth my time? He reappeared with a little pipe in one hand and a bottle of gin in the other. Ok. This was not what I was good at but it was different from the boring usual day of life, and I was more than ready to give it a try.
“You’ll need to put lots of tonic in the gin for me to be able to drink it” I said, starting to feel a bit worried that there was no where to put anything except for on the floor and I was sunk in his couch cushions like I was drowning.
“Here, come in my room because I have a table in there.”
I hesitated. I mean, what if he was some psycho and here I was thinking I was the one in control, but maybe he was. This made me grumpy. I looked over at the front door, then back at him standing there in front of me. He squinted at me and said, “What music do you like?”
“Oh you wouldn’t like it” I said. “It is some group from the 80’s called, New Order.”
He said, “come here” and turned and walked back to his room. I heard Bizarre Love Triangle start to thud through the house from his room…instant joy. I used my jogging leg muscles to get up from the couch and I headed over to the music and leaned against the doorway of his bedroom, still holding the ice-sock to my head. He had placed the gin, tonic and weed on top of massive text books that were on his computer desk. There were 5 different types of Rubix Cubes stacked in a tower next to his computer. One was made up of all silver stickers. I picked it up and studied it with interest. How do you use a Rubix Cube when the stickers are all the same color? I didn’t ask. I put it back carefully on top of the tower. His bed was large and tidy with a standard navy comforter stretched over some pillows. There was an actual mini-fridge next to his bed, doubling as a bedside table, and some phone chargers scattered over it along with what I suspected was a retainer case.
He pushed his rolling computer chair towards me and I came inside his room and sat on it while he poured the drinks. “Lots of tonic” I reminded him. “I don’t really like the taste of alcohol” His lips turned up at the corners and I wondered what he thought of me. I had no idea of what guys thought of me these days. I knew that I was still said hello to on every aisle of the grocery store by random people, but I never knew if that was just because Zoe was so damn cute. I also didn’t know what my perceived personality was anymore. I knew I used to be what my old boyfriend described as witty. But now I got the sense that I was just a pain in the ass.
I had a few sips of the drink with my free hand and it was strong. I sighed. He couldn’t even get the drink right. He did get my expression right though because he took it out of my hand and put more tonic in it and then handed it back to me. That made me feel more relaxed. I like it when guys figure shit out and then do something about it. I wasn’t sure where to put my ice sock. Would it be rude or gross to put it on his desk? He seemed to read my mind and just took it out of my hand and put it somewhere…I don’t even know where.
Is it lazy if I don’t want to write what happened next? It feels like it needs to be just for me.
I’ll tell a little more. I told him I liked the new Taylor Swift album because it was all folk songs and then that was immediately playing. It was actually a little test because most guys don’t like Taylor Swift. But he was making it clear that whatever was happening right now was all about me. That was a familiar feeling from a long time ago.
I feel like this is all pouring out of me. I’m currently sitting on my bed with my laptop. It is 1pm and I had to check to see what day it is (Wednesday) as days, moments, feelings are all still running together these days. Zoe is watching, Dinosaur Train. I can see her little head on the couch from my doorway. Chris is at band practice. I’ll finish this later. Oh and if you are wondering, I didn’t know his name until I inquired while leaving his house in a bit of a daze. He in turn got my name. He also asked me when I was going to come back as I gently closed his front screen-door behind me and made my way down his front porch steps. I just laughed. Good God it was fun. And all these new emotions are drowning out the other ones that have been way too loud this past year. I am telling myself that is a good thing. Let’s go with that for now.
He was out there again this morning. I just drove by him. I’m too nervous to even look at him again, never mind stop the car and talk to him. Talk about a relationship regressing.
Speaking of regressing, something kind of weird…Zoe hasn’t called me mama for a while. It has probably been about 2 months. I figure it is just a phase but it is kind of weird. Also, she could do her letters and numbers at 14 months which is totally genius-baby (this child could be on Ellen). But she seems to be loosing interest or forgetting them. Also at 18 months she memorized all of the states from her United States puzzle we do together. She is loosing interest in this too. Of course there is no info online about genius 2-year-old’s forgetting letters and numbers they already learned.
I need to probably just focus on her and not on Jake down the street. Right now Chris is in the living room drinking a beer and playing a soccer video game online with some random people in like, The Constitutional Monarch of Euroguay or somewhere in the world. He can’t pause it to talk or answer me about my concerns with our little Zoe, because it will mess up his game.
Chris just called in from the living room, “Whatcha Doin?”
Me. “Um writing an email.” I can’t say I’m writing a secret blog about the college kid down the street.
When did I turn into such a liar?
OK, after I wrote that post yesterday evening, Jake figured out a way to see me again. My cat was mewing to come in the back door but when I let her in she went shooting through my legs like something had spooked her. When I looked out to see what was bothering her I saw a dog run through our back yard, and I realized it was Jake’s dog, Milo.
Let me start though with what was going on before that. I had just finished writing last night’s blog post and I went in to the living room to talk to Chris. He was playing his soccer video game that I can’t interrupt so I just sat there with the iPad. I was feeling kind of anxious. I hadn’t been feeling anxious for a long time but I think this weird regression thing with Zoe and also the approaching anniversary of Meliah’s passing is starting to severely mess with me. Also the fact that I had did something that could destroy my marriage is starting to turn from a fun distraction, to becoming quite severely stressful.
I thought about taking an Ativan and mentioned this to Chris. Then I told him that I might get a beer from the fridge because I had never heard of anyone having a panic attack while drunk before. I’m not a big drinker. Beer gives me a headache but I really try and stay away from the beta blockers as they work so well calming the grief and peeling the squeezing fist away from my heart, that I crave them. Anyway, so I was on my way to get a beer to try that route, when I heard my cat mewing in the back yard and that is when I went and saw Milo running around.
So I went out of the back door after him and quietly shut it, then hurried off into the dark calling to Milo in a hissing type of whisper. But he kept going around the side of the house and he squeezed through the front gate in impressive form, almost like a cat would. I opened the gate to follow him, to try and catch him and get him back to Jake somehow, but there was Jake, standing under the gold streetlamp out front of our house. Milo just ran up to Jake and I saw Jake slip him a dog treat. So I drew in a breath and walked up to them both and said hello with a nice smile.
I wrote a long, detailed, awesome story about what happened next because I was so excited about it. The gist of it is that Jake really wanted to see me and didn’t know how to get me to come and talk to him. So he plotted to have Milo run around my yard to get my attention somehow. I’m glad Milo didn’t eat my cat.
He said that he couldn’t stop thinking about me. He wanted to see if my cut was healing and when he moved my hair to see, it was like an electric current running through me just from his fingers brushing against my skin again for a moment.
I think I’ll post a piece of the story tomorrow night. It has our dialogue in it. But I want to end this post by saying when I went back in the house, glowing like the street lamp, I didn’t need any beer or Ativan and I realized that the most frighteningly effective drug for my grief, is Jake.
This weekend I am going to talk to a girl in town who has a little boy with autism. I just want to ask her some questions and find out which doctor she takes him to. The online autism sites I have been devouring all say, “early intervention is key in recovery,” over and over again. So I realize I can’t wait to see if this “regressing” business is a phase that will pass.
My parents want us all to go to their lake house but Chris probably won’t want to go, and also my parents and I will be stumbling around in a grief-haze since it is getting so close to the anniversary of Meliah’s and baby Lisa’s passing.
I’m also going to call my younger Sister, Astrid, in Williamsburg (Brooklyn) NY. I want her to send me a new mix of mp3’s. She is the music Goddess. I haven’t seen her since Meliah’s funeral. She deals with things in her own way.
To take my mind off everything I’m going to try something I’ve never done before…make soufflé. That should at least get a bit of a laugh out of my parents.
p.s. On Monday I will post the excerpt from my story that I promised I would post.
Here Is The Short Excerpt From The Story That I Promised You…
OK, here it is…Jake and I are standing under the street lamp with Milo. Chris is inside the house playing video games.
How are you doing? I’ve been thinking about you a lot.” he said.
He’d been thinking about me a lot. “Oh, I’m fine. My head bump was no big deal. It is pretty much healed.”
“Can I see?” He said.
I looked nervously at the front window but I could see the TV through the curtains and the little soccer man was running around the screen. So I walked up to Jake under the street lamp glowing gold all over us and pushed my hair away from my forehead so he could see the wound. He moved my hair and his fingers were warm and electric and comforting. I remember how good he smelled and it was hard not to step closer and just breathe him in.
He said. “I don’t think I’ve gone one night since then without thinking about you.”
“Oh, I’ve been so busy with the family.” I heard myself say.
“Oh! That’s cool” He said. “Well I guess me and Milo are going to head home”
“It was good seeing you.” I said.
“Yea, you don’t even know” he shook his head looking at the ground, pushing his hand through his short dark hair.
“What don’t I even know?” I said, my heart pounding happily again.
“I just have wanted to see you and wanted to see you and here you are now, finally, and you are just like, whatever. But you know, you’ve got a life and a family. Why should you think about me?” He had his knuckles to his chin.
I took a minute to gather my thoughts. It was weird to see this kid acting as if we had a real connection, as if he really had been thinking about me every day.
“I have been thinking about you too.” I said. Until this moment I had been trying mostly not to think about him too much. I figured I had made a fun but dangerous choice on my end, and on his end was probably a MILF joke to him and his friends. I thought that our connection was a one time thing. But now, perhaps not? He cracked a little smile at his toes.
“We should hang out again” I said with a weird pang of regret ringing inside me, knowing this was not the right path for my marriage.
“OK” he said shrugging at the ground. “I’ll drop by sometime.” He nodded and smiled at the ground.
I kept staring at him but he wasn’t making any eye contact. This totally beautiful guy who could have any beautiful girl and who should have no interest in me whatsoever was acting like I had something over him. I thought to myself that he must have really created a story about me in his head that I could never live up to.
“Um, yeah OK.” I said, then I imagined him knocking on the door while Chris and I were putting Zoe to bed or something. “Send Milo over first” I said.
“I can do that.” Then he said, “Do you have a phone number?”
A phone number? This felt too much like a potential problem. “No” I said. “But give me your last name and I’ll friend you on Facebook.“OK” he said. “It’s Nead. Jake Nead”
“OK Jake Nead.” I nodded. “I’m going to go in now.”
He nodded too and he and Milo started walking off down the street to his house.
“See ya Jake Nead!” I called after him.
He turned and we beamed at each other, then he turned and walked home.
I looked up at my front window and John’s little soccer man was still running around the green field in circles. I made my way back through the gate and round to the back door and in the house. I walked through to the living room and sat on the couch and opened the lap top. Chris didn’t ask where I had just gone off to, and once again there was nothing between us except for the, tap tap tap of the controller. I typed in, Jake Nead and I suddenly felt significant in the small living room.
“Didn’t you get up to get a drink so you could get drunk instead of taking an Ativan or something?” Chris said.
“I changed my mind. I don’t need it anymore.” I could breathe with no shelf. I enjoyed it and breathed deeply, calmly. My heart was pounding happily but not racing with anxiety. It was glorious.
Jake’s profile came up as private. It did show that he was from Oregon. His cover-photo of the mountains looked spectacular and my mind went right to visiting those mountains with him. I sent him a friend request then shut down the laptop and went to bed.