It's been a long, hard, good-bad week and now I am knee deep in what looks to be a crazy busy weekend.
But, as my Da used to say, "Sometimes you just have to ride, sugar. Sometimes you just have to be that dog in the car that just enjoys the ride he gets."
And I do. I'm trying.
Last week, I said goodbye to my workmates, Piper and Julie, and welcomed my new partners, Jin and Fawn. I didn't plan on crying when I said goodbye to Julie, but we both broke into tears as we hugged goodbye. She was the one who recruited me away from the hospital four years ago. And it's been a gas, gas, gas. Piper and I said goodbye more sedately. She is a very proper, very undemonstrative woman and our goodbye reflected that. I had a lump in my throat, though. She is recovering from cancer and so far, so good. I just...have a bad feeling that she is not long for this world. Can't put my finger on it, though. Just a feeling, a gut feeling. With Julie, it's different. She left to move to Mexico with her new husband on last Wednesday and she was smiling, beaming as she carried that last box out. But our goodbyes were hard. We promised to stay in touch. Maybe we will. We've seen each other almost every weekday for the last 4 years, have laughed so hard together that we both started hiccuping. And couldn't stop. Which just made us laugh all the more. We also cried together more than once. When that little child didn't survive after his mother's boyfriend threw acid on his face. We had seen her boyfriend's barely concealed rage, seen her ineptitude in protecting her child and alerted health and human services. But they played nice at the home visit and they didn't remove the child. He died and Julie and I sat together in my office, holding hands, tears streaming down our faces, remembering how he had asked me if I could take him home please.
Julie and I spent many, many days counseling at girl's clubs, helping groups of girls in court appointed therapy. 13 year old girls who dressed like street hookers. 14 year old girls who slept out in sheds in their backyards to avoid the creepy touches of their crack addicted mother's boyfriends. 12-15 year old girls who we took to the ballet, Shakespeare in the Park, to get library cards. Girls who stole our pens, our hair clippees, our hearts. Girls who were too old for the courts to help and too young for the police to notice unless they became runaways. Girls who started out all sly and smart assed and then slowly, slowly ended up whispering that they they loved us. Smart big professionals making good money. Helpers in society. I learned not to counsel them to call the police (nothing would happen) but told them to just try to hold on, to work to avoid danger, to dig deep inside themselves to find that place of strength to endure until they could escape...not to a life on the street or the arms of that 46 year old pimp who told them he would buy them all the Taylor Swift cds they wanted...but to college, to apply for grants, to find a way to climb up and out instead of down and stuck. My story of being disowned by my mother and clawing my way up seemed almost unbelievably easy compared to their hell, but I told them over and over again that if you never look down, you will never fall too hard. To just keep centered on that dream of getting OUT.
I've already seen that Jin and I may be able to forge a good friendship. Fawn? Not sure. She is a true career climber and I think that when she realizes that this job is hard on the heart, she may bolt. We'll see. I've been surprised before. She is just so....very...blonde. And so very....perky.
And I wonder how they see me, a 50 something woman who is too sardonic and a little jaded. Will they like me?
The home front has been difficult too. Bing is to leave for one last seminar next week. Going to Washington D.C. to meet with other Fulbright scholars. Her back was improving, but she woke up early last week and could barely put weight on her left leg. Her back ached awfully and she couldn't feel her left foot at all. Numb. She went to the doctor and the MRI showed nothing more than what she already has, so her doctor suggested that she try a medicine called Lyrica.
I adore Lyrica. I can't take it because it fucked up my rheumatoid arthritis meds, but the two weeks before that happened and I was on it? I was in paradise. No back pain. No arthritis pain AT ALL. And I slept like a baby, never waking up from the time I laid my head down until the alarm went off in the morning. When my knees and wrists began swelling up like water balloons and I had to go off Lyrica, I wanted to cry. I think I did cry a little.
So when Bing told me that her doctor put her on Lyrica to help with her pain, I was so happy for her. Told her that she was going to LOVE being on this.
Well, she hasn't loved it. For one thing, it knocks her out at night. I mean...LOOPS her out like crazy. She woke up in the middle of the night a few times, whispered that she had to pee but was too tired to get out of the bed. When I jokingly whispered back that she better get up because I wasn't going to get her a bedpan, I realized that she had already fallen back in a deep sleep. When she awakened in the morning, she lurched around like a drunkard, eyes bleary, stumbling with fatigue. She said the pain never really went away, the meds just sort of knocked her out so hard that she didn't give much of a fuck. She is going to stick with Lyrica for another few days, but is disappointed that it wasn't the miracle drug that I promised her it was.
I see her worrying about even going to Washington, D.C., let alone India in January, see her worries that she will no longer be able to travel the world the way that she dreamed she would.
But, she is improving this weekend, I think. We went to the Dollar Store today and like always, came out with three huge bags of incredible deals and it cost like...twenty bucks. Well,now. Good times. Good times. We went out to lunch at a new Chinese place and it is now our favorite. We watched Michael Phelps perform some miracles in the pool and that runner from South Africa (blade runner) stun a stadium with his bravery and sheer endurance and refusal to hear the word NO.
Last night, we made the kind of love that two people achieve when you know each each others bodies like the back of your own hand. The gentle dipping and weaving, stroking and simmering until the heat exploded and boiled over and we fell back glistening with the other ones sweat. And then the best part: the holding each other and talking until our tongues were tired and our eyes drooping shut.
I spent the morning gardening with Liv by my side. There has been a brief reprieve in the broiling hot weather, the high was only in the low 80's today instead of our usual triple digits. We watered and yanked weeds and talked about her dreams of being a famous mathematician or scientist or Olympic swimmer or math teacher or set designer or roadie for a band. We sprayed each other with the hose and laughed and shrieked and dodged. Poor old Socks decided to come join the fun and then pouted like a four year old when we gently sprayed him with the hose and he felt like we had taken his dignity away. (He is a scottie terrier and his self esteem is always an issue....) We came back in the house after toweling Socks and each other off to find that Bing had made some peanut butter brownies for us.
Since Liv attends a parochial school, there is no need to shop for clothes. She wears her uniform. But, we went through her catalogs and ordered a few Autumn clothes. Tomorrow,we will head to Goodwill and as always, I will be stunned at all the incredible clothes that she finds. I guess when you are 5'6 1/2 and thin as a rail, the pickings are pretty decent. She talked me into shopping at Anthropologie tomorrow too. This means that I will pay a small fortune for something like a tee shirt with fringe. But, she asks for so little.
Tomorrow, we are also going to see this:
Really looking forward to that. And then coming home to grill chicken breasts, peppers and corn on the cob. Evenings on Sunday are perfect for television. True Blood followed by Breaking Bad. We will tape The Newsroom and watch that on Monday. We've also ordered last season's Dexter and that should be coming soon.
Life is life, you know? Some days you feel as if all is okay and things will be fine. Other days you feel as if things are sort of slipping through the cracks and you are a bit panicky, but...oh well. You put one foot in front of the other. You wear that dark blue dress with the white polka dots that makes you feel really really confident. And you go on until the walk you are faking becomes the walk you are walking.
And the funny thing? In ten years, you will look back at the simple things you are doing today and think to yourself that IT WAS SO FUN. I look back on Liv's toddlerhood and it seems as if it was so idyllic, so incredible. But when I was living it, I remember whole days of feeling scared, worried about money, worried about that cough she had that would not go away. And I would put on that chambray shirt that I loved and read a really good book and I would go on. And it would get better.
Life does that. You move mountains. You jump over small puddles. You stand on your own and it feels so good. You buy a hamburger and what the hell....you supersize it. You smile because your kid needs to feel secure even if you don't. Sometimes you sit in the back yard watching her chase fireflies and the beauty of it all seems almost unbearable. Other times, you sit in the back yard watching her chase fireflies and you don't really even see her because you are trying to figure out how you are going to pay for that new transmission that your car needs.
Being present in your own life helps.
Sometimes you wake up and it's hard to walk on your left leg.
Sometimes you can't wait to read that book.
Sometimes you blow out those candles on your birthday cake and you remember how you were so high at your birthday last year and so alone and no one even made you a cake.
Sometimes you order your daughter a new dress from Pink Ice and a new pair of leggings from Delias and some Chucks and you can hardly believe that she has turned into this sort of person who really cares about what she wears. She no longer wears those lime green corduroy overalls for five days straight because she loves how soft they are. And of course, she likes that lavender tee shirt too and wears it with the overalls and clashes like hell.
And then she decides to wear her rain boots all day long.
So, truthfully? She's the same person but now has good taste in clothes. Enough good taste that when she plunders your closet for something to wear, she jokingly tells you that you dress like one of those movies in the 40's about a woman who comes into Humphrey Bogart's detective office and asks him to trail her husband who she thinks is cheating on her.
And then when she sees your face, she carefully smiles and says, "I love it that you are so...vintage!"
So, she borrows that leather belt of yours and wears it over a long tee shirt that is now a dress.
Sometimes you try to imagine how you will manage when she goes to college but it hurts too much to go there, so you force yourself to think of something else. Like the electric and water bill that will be sky high because of this awful summer drought and heat.
And sometimes you just have to ride.