Graveside

19 years ago today, I watched dirt pile over my best friend’s casket. I watched as what was left of her was lowered into the ground, inch by inch, the physical space between us mounting. I loved her, I did. 

Since that time, I’ve visited her grave often. I talk to her. I smile at her. I cry with her. I’ve moved away and still I sit with her when I’m home. Sometimes, people ask me if I still have friends or family in my hometown, and I want to say that’s she’s there. I want to raise her from the dead, keep her going. 

Last year, for the first time, I heard her whispering to me. I felt her presence. I experienced the games she still played on me. Now, you may not believe any of these experiences, you may think that dead is dead, but I know it in my core. I know she’s always around, wreaking havoc. Kokopelli girl. 

Today, as I was sitting in the sun at her grave, and I saw 2 blue dragonflies fly around us, finally landing on her headstone. Dragonflies are the sign of my spirit animal, my patronus. They mean I’m on the right track, where I need to be. That I’m doing the right thing. I had my angel sitting on the headstone at the same time, and I felt watched, guarded, protected, loved. I looked at her headstone and said, “i release you.” And she was no longer lingering, but the love and protection were still there. Peaceful girl. 

And always, I carry her heart. I carry it in my heart.

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My Lex Luther

There was a time when hearing your name

Chilled my blood and raised my anxiety. 

I’d look around, watching for you,

Nervously hoping to avert your gaze,

Or worse,

Your criticism.

Bully. You terrified me. 

Somewhere between high school and graduate school,

Between apologies and catching up,

Serious illnesses, breakups, and career milestones,

We became friends. 

Worlds apart but closer than many of my colleagues. 

At first, I was skeptical of your remorse,

Wondering if it could possibly be real.

I’d built you up as my vindictive, diabolical arch-nemesis. 

My Lex Luther. 

Somewhere between there and here,

From high school to reality,

You’ve become a cherished ally,

Prince Charming when I was at my lowest,

Treating me to the ultimate luxury,

My body riddled with cancer and chemo,

Distracting me from the fear of death,

Of truly missing out.

The Southern California sun kissing my pale skin,

Carbonation from my first taste of champagne dancing on my tongue,

Sand between my toes, 

your fingers interlaced with mine,

And you, worshipping at my temple,

Delight and care and kindness washing over me, making me whole. 

You restored my confidence.

You showered me with celebration for my recovery and health. 

You glued back the pieces you broke within me so long ago.

And then, like clockwork, you were back to business.

From your cruelty to your kindness,

Our hatred to mutual admiration,

The United States to the Arab World,

You’ve made me feel and made me strong.

Happy Birthday. Every day. 

Upstairs

Over the weekend I walked by that place where you first opened up about your dad, where I got to know your girlfriend’s past, where we talked about pasta and laughed about movies. When we talked in This Is Spinal Tap quotes. It was 5 blocks from the Thai place where you taught us your signature move, craning your neck awkwardly to get a server’s attention. Where we celebrated you selling your first Hummer and plotted our revenge against them. The apartment above the Chinese place, next to the gay bar. Right on the main drag in my favorite part of town. Half a mile from our apartment. Close to where you could buy Saucony and cannoli. And we did.

I remembered the night you fell apart, when we couldn’t find you, when we were so worried. The night we had to carry you up those stairs and bathe you when we got there. The night we all fell apart, before we knew we had. I remembering noticing your extensive porn collection. I’d never seen anyone own porn. I remember giggling about it with your girlfriend, while we ate cold spaghetti. 

I remember the night we took a cab from our house to yours, loading up percussion as we went, drums first then bass, heading to a show in the east. How we unloaded the percussion while parked on a hill. How the bass amplifier head smashed my big toe into smithereens. How you cared for me that night. How you gave me booze and cigarettes. How you apologized every day afterwards. Including my wedding day. Including the week before you were gone forever. 

I remember smelling Chinese food coming from the floorboards the night you relapsed. As I sat with your girlfriend, bawling, worried not only about your sobriety but her own. I was mesmerized by the both of you, coming up from such depths, pushing one another to be better. Silly and tender. And we sat there, watching all of it melt away, in silence, smelling Chinese food. Oh, to turn back time to that moment. The silence. The despair. The hope for the future, it was still there. 

I remember swinging by that sign, with our hazards on, hugging, saying farewell before our long drive north. That was the last time under that sign. The last time we’d smell Chinese. Before it all changed. 

I’m not sure how I got so close to you so fast. How I felt so connected to you. I’m not sure why you tried at all with me, even after the divorce. We no longer had ties; I expected you to choose him over me. But you never forgot our friendship in the living room above the Chinese restaurant. You always remembered my birthday. You always reminded me you were there. 

Are you still?

Momena jaan

My dear, sweet love

We met so close to the pain

You became my refuge

A refugee from my life

You, my safe harbor.
You taught me the love

The effortless, unfettered love

Of humanity

That only an other

Could bring to an other.
Spice Girls, dancing

Secrets, makeup

Dress up, history books

Best friendship.

Innocence. Adolescence.
My sweet Muslim woman

You taught me its beauty

I will preserve your heart

Your past, your future

Defend your honor.
I swelled with the five pillars,

Was embraced by divine love,

Grew from your nuances,

Benefited from your acceptance,

Bowed to Allah.
Never have I ever

Felt more Christian

Until I spent considerable time

With my Muslim family.
I stand for you, your family.

I pray, I cry, I beg for your safety.

Persecuted there, now here.

And yet your love abounds.

If only eyes were open to your humanity.
We are all brothers of Abraham,

Sprung from the same loins,

Pray to the same God,

Vow to uphold the same truths.
Now, we must band in brotherhood

Against all jihadists,

Muslim or Christian alike,

Banded in militant love,

Protecting the divine.

Letting Go

5 years ago today, my life changed in an instant. It started very similar to the way this morning did: I went to a yoga class prior to heading into work. I recall hurrying into the office, still with my yoga clothes on, as I was going to head out to a little coffee date with my co-worker–an intern with me at the county health department who shared my office with me. I’d gone for 2 years not having an office mate, and I was happily surprised that it was a lovely, thoughtful, kind, funny, brilliant woman I had made friends with in my graduate program. We spent a lot of time talking, sharing stories, getting to know one another, and learning. She was a devoted mother, loving wife, and someone who understood the place from where I come. We shared the same crippling pain. The same stories. We both bonded over Sleater-Kinney (my obsession with them, her having played in a band with them), over crazy and colorful socks and outfits, over experimental punk music, and so much more. She awoke the girl inside of me who loved wearing rainbows and bubbling fountains.

Deanne and I were friends through the public health program, as our passions for transforming the world and really giving back to the place we left coincided perfectly. There was an electricity to her, an infectious quality to her smile, that reminded me of my dear friend Ashley. When we started working in the same office following graduation, our friendship and connection quickly deepened, as she helped me understand the reason why my ex-husband was an addict…that it wasn’t me. She taught me something most people in the United States don’t know: that addiction is a great mask for deep pain. She taught me this repeatedly, even sharing with me her troubles with addiction and self-harm. She told me that her saving grace was her small son, whom she loved dearly and wanted to be a catalyst for change so that he didn’t have to grow up in the world with which she was familiar. Brave, vibrant, passionate, funny Deanne.

Upon returning to my office from yoga, I noticed that my recorder was on my desk. This is the recorder I use for key informant interviews and qualitative research, especially when working on mixed method evaluation. I had loaned it to Deedee for her key informant interviews and case studies for a project she was working on with the health equity council. There was a yellow sticky note on it, reading, “thank you for sharing. xo D”. I waited in the office, checking email and finalizing a grant report for her to come for coffee. For her to come to the office. She never came.

In a text message from our other friend, the third part of the triangle that was my friendship group from graduate school, I read the news that Deanne had taken her own life. She had left behind a wonderful, loving husband and the sweetest 2 year old you’ll ever meet. A 2 year old who will never remember for himself the woman I came to call friend, who I had as a confidant and companion as I embarked on my therapeutic journey. Her encouragement made more of a difference than anyone before, because I truly saw her as a person who had made it through the darkness and into a place where she could cultivate loving relationships and even dream of a world better than the one we had experienced. In such a dark time in my life, she was the light at the end of the tunnel. 5 years ago today, that light was suddenly snuffed.

Deanne’s funeral was the first place I had ever openly grieved. I remember the wave of emotion coming over me and, for the first time, not fighting it as it washed over my entire body. I only knew a couple of people there, and they tried to comfort me in all the ways they knew how. I was inconsolable. I realized early that I was not just grieving for the loss of her…I was simply beginning to grieve all the pain I understood that lived inside of her. I could understand so fundamentally why she did what she did that I lost it. How devastating must all that pain be for one little body…and yet, I have all of the same. One by one, as my dear friends and confidants disappear to the pain, I realize that my little body is simultaneously scared to share the pain with another and also has fewer others with whom to share the pain. The load grows heavier and yet I plod on. And yet I try to process through it so that it doesn’t take me too.

Deanne was a soul sister, and every time I look at her beautiful son, I feel her soul again. Every time he smiles, I feel her alive inside of him. And that wakes me up. I wish she could have held on, I wish she could have asked for help. But I understand where she was, and that place is a place I struggle to reach out from as well. That place where she was is the place that, when shared, I have terrified people to the point of them walking away for good. Sometimes, it doesn’t feel worth it. Too risky. 5 years ago, Deanne taught me I need to wake up and work my ass off to process this pain. 5 years ago, I started to make progress on my therapeutic journey. And 5 years from now, I will be in a place that makes the dark place feel less dim, less consuming, less powerful.

I miss you, DeeDee. I am so glad you are free from this pain, but I wish you knew the pain others have shared with one another over your loss. We miss you, but we are a community. A community who loves your son and husband fiercely. A community that celebrates life and asks for help. A community that no longer shies away from the difficult emotions. A community you created. A community that is better for your child than it was for us. I only wish you could be a part of it. For you, for my gratitude, for my connection to your soul, I light a candle. For you, for his love, for his connection to your soul, your son released balloons into the sky–to try to reach you. You’ve made a difference in our lives. In many ways, you’ve made THE difference in mine.

Love,

Blonde

xoxo

 

the best person I could have grown out of

Friday, I had to get a dialation and curettage procedure performed to remove and replace my Mirena IUD. For those of you who don’t know, a D&C is a common procedure when it comes to abortion and miscarriage, and it is performed in order to clear something from the uterus. For me, I had a situation where one end of my IUD perforated my uterus. It has been painful the last couple of months, and I am glad to get it done. However, it means that I am feeling gross, helpless, and all around “icky” right now.

When my appointment for this surgery was changed to a date when my parents couldn’t be here, my boyfriend TK stepped in and offered to help me out. He’s a natural caregiver, super loving, and an all-around nice guy. However, in all his kindness, I realized how much I don’t want him to take care of me, how I don’t want pitying eyes every time I groan in pain…that feels like history repeating itself.

I was once married to my best friend. He and I are completely twin souls. I think we’re so alike that it’s scary, and so alike that it’s volatile at times. He pushes me, he pulls me, he hurts me. All in all, though, he has healed me.

To The Man Who Married Me, All Those Years Ago:

I have so many things to say to you. We talk often, and yet we move in such different circles, such different spaces, such different paths. Do you remember the days when we tried to cram our paths together? The days when we tried to align our lives? Can you believe that we sat in McMenamins Raleigh Hills Pub 2 years ago today, finishing the paperwork that would diverge our paths for good? In that moment, I could not imagine my life not being your wife. I know I talk all the time about how miserable being married to you was, but in complete honesty, you were the best person I could have grown out of.

So, today, I will write you a small thank you compared to the thank you that you deserve.

  • Thank you for all the times you came off stage, dripping with sweat, to hug me. It made me feel more than special
  • Thank you for listening to my secrets and holding them in your heart
  • Thank you for caring for me all the years I was sick. Thank you for the rides to the doctor, for holding my hair when I vomited, for waiting on me hand and foot, for cancelling plans because I didn’t feel like it, for sleeping near me when I couldn’t get out of bed for days. Thank you.
  • Thank you for making the best meals in the entire world. I was completely spoiled.
  • Thank you for changing your diet in order to save my life. Thank you for changing my life to make me the Paleo Queen I am today.
  • Thank you for margaritas on the 4th of July, for coffee dates on Sundays, for Framboise, for Moet & Chandon White Star, for Red Bull & Vodkas, for Tom Collins, for Ruby, for Sangiovese, for Gruener Veltliner, for Gluhwein.
  • Thank you for sharing your music, your world with me.
  • Thank you for showing me what friends should be like by making the best friends anyone could ever ask for.
  • Thank you for pushing me
  • Thank you for continuing to go camping and hiking with me when all I did was complain.
  • Thank you for the whims–the spontaneous drives to Disneyland, or LA, or Seattle, or the Coast.
  • Thank you for teaching me to cook.
  • Thank you for continuously reminding me of my greatness.
  • Thank you for taking me to see the bands you really didn’t like.
  • Thank you for the Reddit links on the days you knew I needed a smile and you couldn’t be there to give me one.
  • Thank you for teaching me to ride a bicycle
  • Thank you for moving to Portland with me and then giving me an appreciation for the city when I thought all hope was lost
  • Thank you for the Basshunter dance parties, the wine/salami/cheese parties, the chocolate mousse parties, the big fires.
  • Thank you for Mafia Wars, for Grepolis, for GemCraft.
  • Thank you for London, Prague, Vancouver, D.C., Las Vegas, St. George, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Barcelona, Zaragoza, Bilbao, San Sebastian, Reus, Santander, Bierritz, Bayonne, Hendaye, Vienna, Dresden, Frankfurt, Bratislava.
  • Thank you for the hugs, the laughs, the tears, the dreams shared, the friends shared.
  • Thank you for telling me I didn’t deserve things that happened to me.
  • Thank you for telling me I deserve better.
  • Thank you for being the Bea Whisperer.
  • Thank you for always appeasing my family, even when they were insufferable.
  • Thank you for always appeasing my friends, even when they were insufferable.
  • Thank you for being there for me, even when I was insufferable.
  • Thank you for sitting through years of Bridget Jones’ Diary
  • Thank you for letting me go when all I wanted to do was hold on.

I am the happiest I have EVER BEEN. I now know who I am. I am not that little girl you once married on top of the hill in Presidio Park. I am not that girl who giggled in front of the fire in Idyllwild. I am not that girl who was afraid of everything. But you know who I am? I am that girl who drove 8 hours on whim to see some guy come out of a club I couldn’t get into. I am that girl who challenged a guy to a smoke off when she knew she couldn’t win. I am that girl who giggles for hours about nothing. I am that girl you saw glimpses of. I am that girl who dances to Basshunter by simply twisting her body over and over again. I am that goofball girl. And now I can be her all the time. Thank you for nurturing that part of me. I am so grateful for the man you are and have been so that I can be this woman.

Thank you for being here for me through the worst so that I can be at my best.

You will always be loved by me. Thank you. Thank you for setting me free.

I cannot express the gobs of hearts I am pouring out for you across the world right now.

GOBS.

–Blonde.