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I’ve driven hundreds and hundreds of miles already this year. My drives have been from The Retreat to MKL or to the ruins of the cozy house. Of course, it’s wonderful to have time with MKL, but most of my trips north have involved my sifting or just sitting in the ashes or managing some detail of recovery. In other words, these drives have been taken with a heavy heart.

Yesterday, though, my drive was different. Instead of turning north, I turned south on the highway and headed for New Mexico to meet up with K for one night in a town about midway between us. As soon as I hit the unfamiliar blacktop of I-25 South, I felt free. The sky opened up to a vast blue and I felt tearfully excited that I was going to see my girl.

It was a lovely, easy drive, with Truck most eager to hit illegal speeds. It was warm and sunny and I had Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers as musical accompaniment. I blew kisses to the many herds and singleton antelope I saw along the way, they being my comfort and shamanic power animal, so often appearing in my travels.

While I’m not choosy, particularly when it comes to New Mexico skies, I prefer a few clouds to add some extra drama, but the clarity of the day, with a three-quarter moon resting in the crook between the mesas, made for a liberating trip. I love how, heading south from the Retreat, the Spanish Peaks appear suddenly before me, welcoming and enticing. Across the border, after Raton Pass, a New Mexico snow-capped mountain range peeks out from the west horizon, dipping behind the brown hills and reappearing unexpectedly in a slightly different place a few miles down the road.

Once, years ago, when K was in high school, she was having a rough patch and she said, “I just want to get out of this state.” And I said okay. So we got in the truck and drove to Wyoming, thrift shopping, exploring, and stopping at the hoodoos at sunset to clamber around. That change of scene, that change of state, was just what she needed. A day with her in another state was just what I needed right now. I’ll share pictures in the coming days.

And now we return to Monument Valley, and I am proud to share with you this image of my companion, my partner in disorganized crime, my travelling home if times get unspeakably hard, in short, my truck. I love my truck, and Truck loves road trips, particularly when they involve some form of off-roading, which our sojourn in Monument Valley did. Valley Drive, the road that runs down through the monuments, is red dust and bumps, and Truck was in her element. (Truck can switch between genders depending on the circumstances. Sometimes Truck feels female and sometimes Truck feels male. A transgender Truck. And in response to some ridiculous sentiments I have heard over the years, not all women who drive trucks are gay.)

This is my fifth Toyota pickup (shameless plug). Toyota pickups are the only vehicles I have ever bought when I was the only one making the purchasing decision. My first one was baby blue and a stick shift (which I didn’t know how to drive.) They’ve saved ex-Pat’s life twice (as he destroyed them). And my last truck is now Kelsea’s. She loves it so much that she even wrote one of her college essays about it. We’ve traveled through blizzards, fires (stupid me), and floods together. When you find something in life that’s that dependable and loveable, be it a person, an animal, or a truck, stick with it.

IMG_0067
Monument Valley, Arizona.

Quote of the day: “I love the smell of Waffle House; it’s the smell of freedom, being on the open road and knowing that ninety percent of the people eating around you are also on that road. Truck driver’s, road-trippers, hangovers–those who don’t live that monotonous life of society slavery.” — J.A. Redmerski…….. (but I call it Casa de Waffle)

Daily gratitudes:
MKL
Dogs with their heads out the car window
The conjunction of a planet and the moon this morning
When the antique store is open when I’m walking home
Watching little kids play soccer

Not us, not for a while yet, but this lovely seagull was. Before we can fly south, my baby girl has to go to the northwest. And we are trying to be with her for Thanksgiving, so she does not find herself in a similarly pitiful and dismal freshman year Thanksgiving as I did. And at least we will be by the chilly sea. So, it’s time to not spend, pay off some debt incurred from wedding and college and house stuff, and then MKL and I can get back to warm, white sandy beaches, and he can properly analyze palm trees to his heart’s content as we listen to the tropical breezes whisper through the fronds – one of my favorite sounds There’s lots of beauty to be had in this life every single day. And my mother would have called this a “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” picture – it was one of her favorite books.

Exit Sky Right
Topsail Beach, North Carolina.

Quote of the day: “Only those who dare may fly.” — Luis Sepulveda

Daily gratitudes:
Catching the end of “The Birdcage”
The few remaining hibiscus blossoms outside of Union Station
MKL’s eyes
Railroads
Awesome sweatpants

And that my much-loved blog friend, the late Patty’s beloved daughter survived her head-on collision. The other (intoxicated) driver sadly did not, and he and his family are in my prayers. Patty’s daughter and I have never met, but I wish I could be there to mother her. I know her mom is watching over her – she was an angel in this life, so certainly she is a powerful one in the next.

A work ethic is one of those things that you either have or you don’t.  I don’t think it’s something that’s learned.  I think it’s inborn.  I’ve known people whose parents were incredibly hard workers who think they can just skate by.  I’ve known people whose parents were functional alcoholics who have a remarkable work ethic.  I’ve known people with no goals of their own, who worked on the coattails of others, with the appearance of a work ethic — that appearance being a sham that dissolves as soon as they feel justified in not working for one reason or another (disability, a spouse’s success, their own twisted vision of entitlement).

I’ve always had a strong work ethic.  Always.  I don’t remember complaining about homework, and it always got done.  Money was not always the motivator.  When I was too young to do paid work, I volunteered.  I was one of the youngest volunteers they had at the hospital, and by the time I was done, I had worked so many hours that they didn’t have anything else to recognize me with – no one had ever volunteered that many hours before.  I had a few babysitting clients once I was sufficiently aged (including Damien (yes, really) the child from Hell) .   Then I started shelving books for my Dad after school (still not of legal working age).  At 17, I got my first “real” job, working in a restaurant, having had no previous restaurant experience.  And the rest is history.  I’ve either worked or been looking for work for the last 30 years, with the exception of the year I took off when Kelsea was two/three.  I’ve was my family’s sole support for the last ten years, and for many years off and on prior to Kelsea being born.

Even with my upcoming gainful unemployment, I am going to try to work for myself, and I’ll have the half-time job still.  Yes, I am tired, too tired and too old to try to start working for someone new in a 40-hour a week job with 2 weeks off a year for good behavior.  But I can’t stop working, not because of the money, but because if I’m doing something I like, I really like to work.

When Pat did work, he worked in bars, motorcycle shops or poker rooms.  In bars, he had always been drinking when he came home.  Ditto with the motorcycle shop.  And poker rooms.  My point is, all his work was playing.  Especially poker.  That IS playing.  Not working.  Playing poker for a living is PLAYING.  That always irritated me.  It wasn’t working, it was playing, and he didn’t always come in ahead of the game.  And I was working.  I was the drudge.   Yes, I was probably jealous, but injustice pisses me off.

Kelsea had a meltdown the other night about how much work she had for school.  I’m sure some of that was hormones, and she’d been doing the wrong thing for the project she was working on (she’s always had a little issue with not reading instructions and assuming she understands what’s wanted), besides the fact that it was a ridiculous assignment (even in my opinion).  Part of her tearful rant was that she never has time to do what she wants – she’s always in school or doing homework.  She never has time to be a kid – and this from a kid with only one afterschool activity.  Nothing she is learning feels like it pertains to her future goals.   I sympathize completely.  Though I did tell her she might be surprised at what does pertain to her future goals. 

At any rate, it was painful to hear her echoing my own sentiments about working herself (myself) to death.  I don’t know it it’s an attitude shift that’s required on both of our parts, or a life shift, that will help us feel like we are not just toiling to the grave, but actually living our lives joyously.

Where’s the balance?  And am I glad that I (and she) care about doing good work?  Yes, I am. 

But still, I sigh.

I know I promised fewer whiney posts about divorce, but hopefully this won’t be too whiney.  I feel compelled to continue my tale of newfound singledom (with no slight to Mr. GF because he’s awesome), at least from time to time.

This morning, for the first time in 19 years, 4 months, and 17 days, I woke up single.  Not “single” as in “alone in my bed” because that’s happened lots and lots (and lots.)  “Single” as in I am not a married woman anymore.  Wow.  Weird.  To say the least.

There was no real sadness, which was interesting.  I guess I was expecting some.  It didn’t help that Pat had yelled at me over the phone on Sunday night.  It didn’t help that he had blasely accepted the check I gave him for $34,000 yesterday with barely an acknowledgement, and certainly with no acknowledgement of the past 25 years.  Or maybe I should say that those actions DID help – they helped me NOT feel a sense of sadness.  Those actions showed me what our marriage had become.  A business arrangement, and not an overwhelmingly pleasant one at that.  And that he still can’t understand that if you love someone, you don’t yell at them, you talk to them.

If anything, there was a vague flutter of relief.  I can’t explain it.  Maybe that I don’t HAVE to do….what?….I’m not sure.  Just that I am not under his control anymore.  I was so very, very controlled.

Of course I miss things.  I miss Kelsea every day.  I miss my dogs.  I miss my cats.  I miss watching the moon set over the mountains outside the bedroom window.  I miss listening to the cows mooing in the night.  I miss the sound of the creek when it starts to flow in spring.

Every freedom has its price.  Every slave has to pay for her freedom. 

Now, I have my freedom.

 

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