Scene 1 – My new kitchen, middle of the work day on Thursday:
Me (humming the Flight of the Bumblebees and wondering how THAT became my theme song): “Man, I am THIRSTY. I should grab a nice, tasty beverage from my fridge.”
My Fridge: “You need to eat something.”
Me: “Says you – I’m not hungry.”
My Fridge: “All you use me for is to stow diet Coke and the occasional food for The Littles.”
Me: “One word: Divorce Diet.”
My Fridge: “That was two words.”
Me: “Yeah, well *sputters* SO?”
My Fridge: “If you’d EATEN something you’d have known that statement was, in fact, two words.”
Me: “Yeah, well, have YOU been through a divorce?”
My Fridge: “Nope. Still with the oven – we’ve been together since 1956.”
Me: “Well balls to you then, Mister.”
My Fridge: “No need to get hostile. If you ate something, you’d be less hostile.”
Me: “No, I’d be less hostile if you were the actual size and shape of a REAL fridge. You’re like the Napoleon of fridges – short man syndrome and all that.”
My Fridge: “It’s called “compact,” which you’d know if you’d EATEN anything in the last week or two.”
Me: “Shut your whore mouth. I just want a diet Coke. Can you let up for one fucking second about the “you need to eat” shit? It’s getting old.”
My Fridge: “You know you’re probably embalmed already by the amount of diet Coke you drink.”
Me: “So? Makes the mortician’s job easier.”
My Fridge: “That’s a dreary thought.”
Me: “YOU brought it up.”
My Fridge: “Touche.”
Me: “So are we done with this lecture yet? It’s been enlightening and all, but I gotta get back to work.”
My Fridge: “As you wish.”
I reach down to grab a diet Coke from the bottom shelf and, upon standing back up, thwump the back of my head on the door to the freezer, which was made well before anyone thought about safety or end user error. Rather than standing up and shaking it off, instead, I fall backward, prized diet Coke in hand, and adding insult to injury, bash my head against the chipped Formica floor and am knocked unconscious.
Scene 2: I wake up in a pool of my own blood and a throbbing headache.
Me: “That wasn’t very nice.”
My Fridge: “Neither was implying I had “short man syndrome.” That was UN-nice, which you’d know if…”
Me: “…I’d eaten? Sorry Fridge, but eating doesn’t exactly cure all that ails you.”
My Fridge: “Still, it was a mean comment.”
Me (growls): “You wanna see mean? WHY DON’T YOU LOOK AT YOUR FUG COLOR IN THE MIRROR? I LIKE TO CALL YOUR COLOR “DOG PEE ON PLASTERBOARD.”
My Fridge: “I don’t have legs.”
Me: “SO not my problem.”
My Fridge: “Go clean yourself off – you’re dripping blood everywhere. It’s unsightly.”
Me: “So’s your FACE.”
My Fridge: “Now that was just stupid.”
Me (wobbling off to the shower): “Yeah, well.”
My Fridge (calling after me): “Don’t you think you should call someone about your head?”
Me: “I have a therapist.”
My Fridge (trails off as I get into the shower): “That’s not what I meant – you’re woozy and look like you have a concussion.”
Me: “Oh NOW you feel concern – this IS your fault, y’know.”
Refrigerator goes silent, for once, as I sit in the shower, washing off the blood.
Me (mutters): “Fucking appliances… always out to get me.
The Shower Faucet: “Have you eaten yet?”
I’ve been asked by my pregnant friends what labor feels like, and each time, I’m stuck wondering how to respond. In the end, I always answer with something semi-true like, “strongest motherfucking period on the planet,” which is semi-true. It’s also completely wrong. Labor feels like, well, labor, and nothing else. Even after popping three kids outta my delicate lady bits, I’m not sure how else to describe it, beyond saying something completely unhelpful like, “It feels like labor,” alternately, “it feels like a thousand angry chipmunks gnawing your uterus.”
When the divorce talk came a-knockin’, my previously divorced friends offered me similar sentiments about what I could expect; excepting, of course, that none mentioned my uterus, which was thankful. That organ has seen enough. I was warned that, “it would be hard,” and that, “the first year would be the worst.” Of course, much like my labor speech, it was simultaneously unhelpful and the truth.
I sat the back of the U-Haul three weeks ago tomorrow, watching Dave and The Guy Formerly On My Couch moving, the weather unseasonably hot for a day in late September, working on my tan and watching my kids frolic in the yard I’d dearly loved. It was then that I truly realized that this marked the end of the life I’d had. I shed a few tears before lugging the rest of my belongings into the truck, wondering what the next chapter of my life would look like. I contemplated asking my aforementioned friends, but realized that they knew as much about what comes next as the squirrel who’d been intently staring at me while I tailgated on the U-Haul.
(hindsight being 20/20, I should’ve thrown a good-bye tailgating party and grilled out right there in front of The House Formerly Known As Mine – there are too few occasions that one can set up a grill in the street and roast encased meats)
We drove off, each car packed to the brims – some sent by my wonderful Pranksters, for which I am forever thankful, having those lifelines means the world to me – handily closing that chapter of my life. I didn’t cry. Not then.
At my new home, I pretended I was a pack animal, an alpaca, which probably doesn’t, in fact, lug things around on it’s back, but it helped get me into the moving mindset from, “I’m sweating (proverbial) balls and I think I just flashed my neighbors by accident,” to “I wonder if alpacas actually lug shit on their backs, because now I want one. I don’t know what they look like, but I think I need one as a pet. I bet they’re fucking adorable. I mean, even their name is awesome.” Soon, the boxes were all inside, ready for me to give their contents a home.
I spent the next two weeks unpacking, hanging pictures, decorating (badly), wishing I had more art for my walls because Pinterest had made me all, OMFG I NEED BEAUTIFUL THINGS MADE OUT OF THREE EASY KITCHEN INGREDIENTS (sidebar: Fuck you Pinterest for making me feel super NOT crafty), and slowly turning the empty apartment into a place I could call home. “Wow,” my mother said as she dropped by a few days after I’d moved. “You’re unpacking like it’s your job.”
I laughed, “I just want the kids to feel like my house is a home, too. It’s a big change for us all.”
Keeping busy was my salvation, even though there was a warning bell chim-chiming somewhere, a foreboding, “when you’re done with The Busy, it’s going to suck,” clanging.
Apparently, my brain knows me well, because once it was all over but the shouting (er, decorating), the truth sunk in: this wasn’t some white-carpeted (WHITE!) hotel suite. This wasn’t a vacation. I wasn’t going back to my old life. No, this was my new life.
And while it’s a hard thing to wrap my three remaining neurons around, it’s been… okay. Sure, there have been tears and fears (but not Tears FOR Fears because I am NOT an 80’s band) and doubts, but there’s been a lot of freedom, too.
For the first time ever, I’m living life on my terms. I’ve been given the opportunity to take the old, examine it, and toss out the bits of it that don’t work for me any longer and lovingly polish the parts that do. While it’s not an easy process, it’s an opportunity to turn something that’s shattered me into a life that is my own. The ability to take stock of what I stand for and what I don’t.
To put the pieces back together into a bigger, better whole.
While I know the process is going to be long and (at times) hard, I know that I can and will.
I’ve begun tossing the things pieces that no longer fit.
Starting with my hair:
Pranksters, I’d like you to meet Becky, As Herself.
My Mother: “Hello?”
Me: “Hey Mom, it’s me. I think I caught Dad’s cold.”
My Mother: “Oh no. He’s still sick!”
Me: “Yeah, it’s like that. I’m considering going into phone sex until this stupid shit is gone. I could make a killing if I could find the dudes with a fetish for chicks who cough and sound like Thelma from The Simpsons.”
My Mother (dryly): “Sounds like a great idea.”
Me: “Hey, work with what you got, right?”
My Mother (laughs): “Did you take some Tylenol?”
Me: “No, I don’t have any. I’ve been alternating between the heat and air, trying to get comfortable. Waging war on this fucking virus.”
My Mother: “Well, I have some Tylenol.”
Me: “I can swing by a little later and pick it up.”
My Mother: “Oh, I can drop it off. You live four seconds away.”
Me: “Wow. Cool. Okay. You sure?”
My Mother: “Can you meet me in the parking lot? My knee is killing me.”
Me: “Sure, no problem.”
My Mother: “See you soon.”
Me: “Sweet, thanks, Ma.”
(thirty minutes later)
Me (thinks): “Wow, she’s driving that fancy new car awfully slowly through the parking lot. I hope she at least put the Tylenol in a brown bag or something so it doesn’t look… suspicious. The last thing I need is my neighbors to think I’m a drug dealer. Wait, maybe I should play the part – I got some aviator sunglasses somewhere. I bet I could get one of those nose/mustache/fake glasses things so I look like I’m trying to be “in disguise.” Or I could go knocking on the doors of my neighbors, holding my baggie of Tylenol, so it makes me look all suspicious. That’d be kinda funny until the police came. I’d probably get arrested for the indecent wearing of sequins or something. I can never keep up with the laws about Being Gaudy In Public. And GOOD LORD OF BUTTER, Ma, can you LOOK any more suspicious driving through my parking lot? Probably not. At least, I don’t know how. Maybe I should get HER some of those novelty glasses or something so it REALLY looks like we’re being illicit. ARGGG! MA, DON’T RUN ME OVER.”
Me (walking up to the driver’s side window): “Thanks Ma, for bringing these by. I’m in some sorry shape.”
My Mom: “Well, I hope you feel better. (rustles around in her bag for a couple of seconds while I stand there, looking suspicious.) Here you go!”
Me: “HOLY FUCK, MA. We look like DRUG DEALERS.”
My Mom (laughs): “Go knock on some doors and see if you can sell the pills.”
Me: “MOM! I need to LIVE HERE. I can’t try to sell my neighbors TYLENOL.”
My Mom (giggles): “Yeah, I guess you should try and sell ‘em the GOOD stuff.”
Me: “What, like Ibuprofen?”
My Mom: “NOW you’re talking.”
Me (laughs): “All right, Mom, thanks again. You and Dad will have to come over and see the new space soon.”
My Mom: “Sounds good!”
Me: “Bye – thanks again!”
My Mom: “Be sure to get top dollar for those pills – they’re EXTRA STRENGTH.”
(she drives off)
Me (looking down at the bag): “Holy fucksticks. I’d better get inside before someone sees me.”
And THAT is how my mother became my Tylenol Dealer.