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I don’t think this is quite the right title for this post, but I’m struggling with how to express myself this time.

I am lonely for my daughter.

I am not generally lonely. I have a wonderful fiance. My niece is a great roommate. Thunder Cat is a good snuggle companion.  I have friends (if I ever reached out to them). But the loneliness of a parent for a child is a unique animal.  And the sense of missing a family unit is sometimes quite poignant – another kind of loneliness.

I have always been the one in the family who worked.  My ex was always the stay-at-home parent, even when I didn’t want it to be that way.  I missed a lot of Kelsea’s day-to-day growing up. I tried to make up for it by spending as much time as I could with her when I wasn’t working – except for the solo vacations to try to save my own sanity.

Now Kelsea is a teenager. We are going through the to-be-expected separation period. She spends most of her time with her friends. We still  have some small time together, but she stays at her Dad’s most of the time, because he’s closer to school, and getting her there doesn’t work very well with my getting to work. Some people say I should push to have her stay with me more, but that’s just not how we operate. We talk and text every day. She will be driving in a few months, and is so looking forward the her freedom. I remember that from my own teenage years.

But I miss the kid stuff. I miss our dedicated play time together. I miss our “famous chats” and our reading and snuggles and watching trashy TV and talking about anything and everything. I guess this separateion from the parent is a normal thing – just what happens when teenagers grow up. It must be preparing everyone for that day when they leave home and forge their own life, the one that you as a parent have been readying them for since the moment they were born.

Once you are divorced, and one parent is not with the child as much any more, the sense of a family unit dissipates like a wisp of fog. Gone also are those dreams you had, of being the proud parents seeing your child off to various milestone events, or attending school plays hand-in-hand. I am wise enough to realize that those visions, like many others I had, were more fantasy than lost reality – I know that by looking at the reality of my life within my marriage for almost 20 years.

Maybe I miss dreams that I never had a chance of fulfilling. Then again, I was always trying to fulfill those dreams on my own, even in my marriage, and not as part of a team. My ex and I, in hindsight, were never a team, never partners. That feels sad.

The tragic events that have happened recently in Colorado have made me all the more sensitive about how precious my daughter is, and how quickly someone dearer to you than the moon can be snatched away forever. In the blink of an eye.

I know Kelsea misses me sometimes. I know I miss her often. I know she sees the texts and Facebook messages I send her daily, even if she doesn’t respond, so she knows that I’m thinking of her always. We still have our mother-daughter traditions (she loves traditions) and we still carve out time for special things. But the days of being her best playmate, of her sitting on my foot and clutching my leg when I had to leave the house, those days are gone. And I miss them.

I loved spending what time I could with her in her childhood. It was like having my own childhood all over again.

I guess we all have to grow up. Eventually.

Kelsea with the whole world before her.

Missing Who

I miss the you who loved me
Not the you who left me

And now I cannot reconcile
within myself
that you hold both those yous
within you.

The you who loved
would never have
hurt the me you loved
the way you did.

I wonder who
I gave my heart and soul to?

I no longer know
which who.

The you who left
turned so quickly to
another who
one you could never
love so well.

I miss the you with whom I shared
not kisses, but breaths –
not passion, but realms –
not time, but worlds –
and I wonder
do you miss that you

Is the you who loved
now lost forever,
buried in an empty grave
by the you who left?

I do not know.

All I know is that
I miss


Well, today was my first day at my new grown-up job in Denver.  It was good – I think I’ll enjoy the job. I sense that it will really refine my writing skills and add to my abilities.  The people are wonderful.  It will be challenging.  In short, it’s all exciting.

The weirdest thing is being alone in this.  I have never before gotten a job, started a job, without having my parents around to share in that experience, to be my “boosters”.  It’s been years and years since I’ve had a job and not had someone to come home to, or at least share my day with on the phone.  It really emphasizes my sense of loneliness.

I couldn’t sleep last night – I was nervous, excited, my stomach was in turmoil, I was missing my parents.  I had a weepy few hours, and wished there was someone I could call in the darkness when I couldn’t sleep.  I miss that.  I guess I was kind of hoping….well, it just would have been nice. 

As I said, I had a really good day, but I was weepy again going home.  Sigh.  I know I am moving forward – no, upward.  But I am still sad.  And still hurt.  And still kind of lonely.

Tomorrow, I’m going to take the bus! It may not sound exactly thrilling, but I’m excited – something else I’ve never done before.

I feel like I’m a little kid starting school again.

Today’s guest poet – W.H. Auden.  (I believe I include this poem in an entry last year as a tribute to the poet on his birthday, but it is one of my favorites, sad as it is, and deserves another look.  I watched “Four Weddings and A Funeral” the other night, and the reading of this piece in that movie was amazingly moving. )

Funeral Blues

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the woods;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

Can You?

Can you not be happy
Until you feel that you have mourned?

Day after day, you are faced with your losses
Like a high-stakes gambler who has to
Drive a cab to earn enough money to get out of town.
Some days, loss is a vicious presence,
Others, it is a subtle shadow,
But it is always there.

Must you embrace it
Wrestle it
Conquer it
Before you can free yourself?

Before you can forgive yourself?

Before you can reclaim yourself
and your dreams?

I am sad to think
That you cannot separate me
From your loss
Because I know

I’m really struggling with these two concepts: alone and lonely. 

My friends have always thought of me as a loner.  Fortunately, not the kind of loner that goes on some rampage and then has neighbors saying, “Oh, she always kept to herself, you know, kind of strange and quiet.”  But the kind of loner who never minds going places alone, who prefers living alone to having roommates, that sort of loner.

Movies alone?  No problem.  I started going to the movies alone when I was 14 – I was in love with Star Wars and saw it over and over again.  It spoke to my wanderlust and romantic, adventurous nature.

Restaurants alone?  Sure!  That probably started when I was 16 – as soon as I could drive, I was out the door.  I was always comfortable hanging out reading and writing at cafes.

Bars/pool halls? Naturally.  If I was old enough to get in (or almost old enough to get in), I was old enough to hang out and to kick some pool-table-pattootie.

I travelled alone a lot for work in the old days, and so I had to get used to being on my own wherever I was.  I did.  When I started going to the Caribbean, I went alone, and loved it.  I inspired other women to try travelling alone.  It was a time for me to truly come back into myself from all the pressures of my life.

But after being in a relationship, and traveling with someone for a while, and learning to love and trust, being alone has taken on a different quality for me, and I can’t seem to reconcile with it.  As I’ve said before, I used to crave and cherish my alone time.  Now, perhaps I have too much of it, or perhaps I felt so loved in my relationship that now, when I am alone, I just feel lonely.

When I go to bed, I realize that I am facing the prospect of going to bed alone for a long time.  When I wake up, I am aware of the same thing.  I refuse to compromise for less than love.  Will I someday become comfortable with this?  I suppose I will adjust to it.  But I do not think that anyone who is capable of great love is meant to be alone.  That’s where I’m struggling.  I thought I could love well.  I felt well loved.  If either of those things were true, then why am I alone now?

I had spent so much time protecting myself from being hurt, because I was being hurt all the time in my marriage.  My last relationship taught me that it was okay to trust someone, to let that guard down, and really let someone in.  Now that that relationship has ended, I feel as if I was wrong.  Wouldn’t I have been better off keeping that sheer wall up, protecting my heart?  I can’t decide if I want to put it back up again or not.  It was certainly less painful.  I was comfortable in that space.  There were some areas where I was floundering, but I’d figured out what they were and how I wanted to handle them. 

Then my heart was captured and convinced.  And even though I know all the reasons that this relationship ended, it’s been over a month, and I cannot seem to accept it.  I cannot seem to come to terms with being alone now. 

Now I am lonely, not alone.

I know I have whined about this before, and a lot of cyberfriends have provided words of comfort and encouragement.  I appreciate that and I don’t forget those words.  Don’t feel like you need to provide me with more comfort.  Just bear with my whining, because it’s probably going to continue for a while.  At least at this point, I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, train or otherwise.

It comes out shortly after Kelsea’s birthday (which is December 1).  OK, it was a little late this year, due to extenuating circumstances, but really, many have said that it’s not Christmas until they see it.  Yes, it’s the Santa Hat.

I know that Santa Hats abound in all shapes, colors and sizes. 

But mine is special. I got it about 20 years ago at McGuckin’s, which, for those of you unfamiliar with Boulder, is the one of the wonders of the hardware store world, and the place that you go in this town to find the thing you can’t find anywhere else – whatever it is, they probably have it.

It has withstood the test of time in perfect condition, although after a dry-cleaning experience, the ball had to be stitched back on.  It’s beautiful – nice ruby-red velvet, good quality floof – and always makes people smile, comment and compliment.  I wear it constantly when I am out in public from the day it goes on until Christmas, and often forget that I have it on, so I am puzzled by people’s stares and smiles.  Until I remember it.  And it makes me feel special.

The hat carries with it a certain code of behavior.  For example, it’s much more difficult not to give money to homeless people when wearing it.  And I have to be very careful to be more polite and considerate in traffic.  I just wouldn’t do to have a woman in a Santa Hat flipping someone off.

My dear departed friend Andrew so admired it that he went out and bought an identical one that very year – which was wise, because I have never, ever seen them again anywhere.  There have been others, but none of the quality of ours.  He always got the same reactions I did, and he loved making people smile.  This is the first Christmas since his death, and I wondered what happened to his Santa Hat.  I hope it found its way to a good home.

As I said, it’s been hard for me to get into the Christmas spirit this year, so it took longer than usual for the Santa Hat to make an appearance, but it has, and I’m glad.  I like the smiles.  They brighten my sadness.  And I hope the magic of the Santa Hat will last for years to come.

I’ve taken a few steps back to the bad place tonight – who knows why, maybe it’s because Kelsea’s not here, maybe it’s the approaching lonely holiday, maybe it’s just that I don’t know what to do with myself.  But at any rate, Santa Hat or not, I’m pretty down.

Regardless, gratitudes for today: geese in flight, the Red Letter Bookstore where treasures abound, my Mother’s creche, warm weather today, finding my old film camera that I’d been looking for for a year – I wonder what’s on the film inside?

I was walking back from the truck to the cottage tonight.  The black lace of the trees was silhouetted against the sunset.  The waxing moon was rising above the big pine trees.  It was cool – definitely fall.

I have lived essentially alone now for almost two years.  I say “essentially”, of course, because Kelsea lives with me about half the time.  At first, it was a relief.  Later, it felt scary sometimes.  Still later, it felt boring sometimes.  Now that I have been a bit busier and less depressed, it is a bit of a relief again.

But tonight, I remembered coming home late from work when I was in high school.  My parents always left the lights on outside.  I parked around the corner from the house, and walked to the front door.   My parents’ house had a light at the top of the first set of outside stairs, and a light above the front door at the top of the second flight of stairs. 

Seeing that warm, welcoming light let me feel loved, and made me know I was home.  They never failed to turn the light on for me.  Inside, there was always a living room light on, turned very low, so I could find my way around.  Even though I had lived there my whole life and could probably have found my way around blindfolded.

Whenever Pat was late, I left the light on for him – except when I was angry because he said he’d be home hours earlier, or because he hadn’t called, or because I knew he’d been out doing something I didn’t want him to do.  Leaving the light off was my own expression of my anger.  I don’t think he ever picked up on that.

Do you remember the Motel 6 commercials a couple of decades ago?

Their spokesman was Tom Bodett, and I have no idea who Tom Bodett is or was, but I feel as if I should.

Their slogan was “We’ll leave the light on for you.”  I always liked those commercials.  They reminded me of my parents’ home and made me feel kind of warm and fuzzy inside.

At the cottage, if I turn the outside lights on, I also turn on the outside lights at the Big House, and so I don’t often turn them on, because I don’t want to disturb the Big House residents.  But lately, I’ve taken to leaving a light on in my living room if I know I’ll be coming home after dark.  With this single light, the cottage looks cozy, homey and welcoming when I approach from across the yard.

I know it’s not a responsible use of energy to leave a light on when I’m not home.  But I have made an executive decision that, living alone, it’s a small price to pay for a little glow of comfort.

Having had sketchy to no internet service on the road home, I haven’t had a chance to write.  But we are finally back in Colorado – the end of our Excellent Adventure Roadtrip.  And it was indeed excellent, from start to finish.

We covered Kansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and of course, Colorado.  We saw amazing things and met wonderful people. 

Now I am home alone, and Kelsea is at Pat’s with her dad, dogs, cats, aunt, uncle and best friends.  It was hard leaving her.  It was hard coming home to an empty house and work tonight.  I felt so loved by her for the entire trip, and now that I am home, I feel … so very lonesome.  I miss her perpetually pleasurable company.

It feels like coming down from a cloud.  But I wouldn’t trade a minute of it.

I’ve been living alone (with the exception of having Kelsea part-time) for almost 20 months now – wow.  Over a year and a half.  It certainly doesn’t feel like it – it feels like much less time.  I lived “alone” off and on before I met Pat, but that was a loooong time ago. He and I moved in together when I was barely 22. That was before I knew as much about myself as I now do.  And so, over the last few days, I’ve been doing some self-reflecting, and realize that I have learned a few new things:

I need to live with a dishwasher.  Yes, a fully automatic, quiet-whooshing, dish-cleaning godlike machine.  I suck at doing dishes, plain and simple.  I don’t have the patience.  I’ve tried the whole zen thing, of doing nothing but washing the dish, but it doesn’t work for me.  I have a tendency to adopt the Berea College Dining Hall motto from my Mother’s time there:  “If you don’t scrape it off, wash it off.  If you don’t wash it off, dry it off.  If you don’t dry it off, eat it off at the next meal.”  Bad, bad, bad dog.

I don’t like dust, dirt and pet hair.  It’s true I don’t like cleaning, but I like having the house clean.  It’s a small house, and not hard to clean, but I still don’t do it often enough – really, just when I have company coming over.  And it’s easier for me to bring myself to clean when I am not trying to convince someone else to clean with me – or find myself cleaning when someone else is just sitting around.

I have too many clothes.  I never considered myself a clothes horse, compared to most women, but with very limited dresser space (and NO closet space), I am coming to realize that I have too many clothes; the good thing is that I’m also finding that it’s easier to get rid of things these days.  And I find that liberating.

I get lonely.  This is new for me.  I always used to greedily relish my time alone.  Now that I have more of it, and I don’t have to be so desperate about it, I sometimes, especially late at night, get lonesome – and a little scared.

Having a TV is not the best thing for me.  When I’m home alone, it’s usually on, mostly for the faux company.  That habit keeps me from achieving a certain peace that I feel is at hand.

I don’t like cooking for one person.  I do like cooking for someone else.

I am capable of discipline.  I’ve always known this, but these days, with no day job to go to, I have to enforce discipline on myself. I didn’t say I was good at it yet, but it’s nice to realize that I’m capable of it without a set schedule.

I actually like living with the right people.

I love bright colors in my house.

I don’t really like going to bed early.

I like coming home to a quiet house.

(Even though I don’t love pet hair) I like living with animals – I miss that. It’s good to have a visiting pug.

I enjoy the sense of freedom and calm that living alone brings – kind of a secret smile, a subtle happiness.

I like sitting on the floor.

I am coming to love myself more and more.

August 2020


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