In what feels like another lifetime ago, I was walking with an old friend back to the train. It was ass-hot outside, not normal for that time of year on the coast, and my legs were sticking together uncomfortably with each step I took; the blister on my foot threatening to pop if a squirrel so much farted near it.
“I don’t buy it,” he said, blithely as he kicked at a rock in our path.
“No?” I returned, twisting a leaf between my fingers. “I do.”
“No, I don’t think so,” he rebutted. “I’m fairly jaded.”
“I could have been,” I said, absently brushing a falling leaf off my shoulder, relieved it wasn’t a creepy bug trying to lay it’s creepy bug eggs in my ear. “But I’m not.”
We walked on in silence for a few moments – the comfortable sort of silence two people have when they know each other intimately enough to finish the other’s sentence; never rushing to fill a chasm of uncomfortable silence, because between the two of us, there never were such things. As I turned this piece of information – an answer I wouldn’t have expected from him – over in my mind, like I was examining a three-dimensional cube or a particularly exciting riddle, I realized I needed to understand his logic – we’d had similar childhoods, our lives veered off in our twenties, and were now in similar positions in our lives.
“So you’re saying that you don’t believe in the goodness of others?” I pried harder, determined to understand this betwixting bit of information.
“Not exactly,” he responded. “I believe that most people are in it for themselves.”
I mulled it over.
“How do you explain something like Band Back Together?” I asked. “There’s a perfect example – we have a pool of volunteers who work UNPAID to make the site a safe haven for anyone who needs it. And the readers? I’ve never, with the exception of my own personal blog, seen such a tight-knit and supportive community online.”
He thought about it.
“That makes sense,” he said, somewhat begrudgingly, as I sneezed three times from some nearby plant that was probably trying to take root in my nasal passages. “Bless you,” he continued.
“Thanks,” I replied stuffily. “Damn allergies.”
We walked on in silence, only interrupted by the rhythmic clacking of our footfalls against the sidewalk.
Finally, he spoke. “I’m going to try to live my life your way,” he informed me. “The way I’ve been living hasn’t gotten me very far – I need a new outlook.”
I stopped, forcing him, who was, despite the length difference in our legs, keeping stride with me, to stop too. I beamed at him before jumping up on top of him to give him a gigantic bear hug.
“You’ll see,” I said, beaming. “You’ll see.”
I was reminded of this conversation yesterday, after I wrote about my current changing circumstances. I don’t ask for help well, and I don’t do it often, because it makes me feel weak and needy. But I know that sometimes, the most important thing we can do is to be brave enough to admit when things just aren’t working; that I am struggling and not sure where to go next.
And while I was terrified to hit publish, because I know that asking for help on the Internet is rife with peril – not only am I showing you my vulnerability, I know that I’ve now opened myself up for greater and greater criticism. Much as I can pretend the nay-sayers don’t hurt in such a situation, they do. When I added the paypal donate button (under duress), I was equally terrified. The last thing I want to do is to be seen as someone who wants hand-outs.
But I’ve been overwhelmed; this time it’s in a positive manner. Your kindness is overwhelming.
Pranksters, you are my family. Like it or not, you’re a part of my family. And what you have done for me is nothing short of a miracle. I’m currently crying – not out of sadness, but out of happiness, because while even after I’ve hit rock bottom, the kindness of others is astounding. I’m taking ALL your advice, will be responding to your wonderful comments, and forming a gignormous Google document so that I can carefully plan out the rest of my life (or the immediate future – I don’t think “Marry Anthony Bourdain” will actually happen, so why set myself up for failure?).
From the bottom of my heart – thank you.
And once again, I’m reminded that the same light that shines upon me, shines also upon you. That we are all connected, we are none of us alone.
None of us.
Which is why I’m leaving you with this awesome photo (note liberal usage of soft-core porn lens):
Pranksters – I’d planned on telling you a hilarious story about my roadtrip, but some nasty divorce shit came to light yesterday and instead, I must write this post.
Hi, my name is (Your Aunt) Becky, I’m 32 years old, and I have never lived alone.
/hangs head in shame
I guess that’s what happens when you get knocked up at age twenty and move back home, proverbial (sadly not real) tail between legs, only to pop out an infant. Then, I was lucky enough to live with my parents until I met and got married, shortly after I’d graduated nursing school and passed the state board exam.
I was 24.
And while, for the past ten years, I’ve learned some stuffs about running a household, Dave and I had handily split responsibilities, which, while easier at the time, meant that I’ve not learned how to do it all. Not that I can’t, but that I simply do not know how to off the top of my head.
In totally related news, I am moving out to my very own apartment. It shatters me to tell you that, but for now, it is the right thing to do. Unfortunately, due to some circumstances – namely that is nearly impossible for both Dave and I to live together and be healthy – I will have to move soon – much sooner than I’d thought. But it is now impossible for me to recover and get healthy in my current living situation.
This is not because Dave is abusive or mean or that he’s giving me the old boot, just a matter of practicality, and I am planning on staying through August in order to get my finances in proper order and build a bit of a nest-egg. I have also found the name and number of an attorney in town.
- Do you have any necessary items for survival sitting around collecting dust?
- Is it worth it to take some of my purses to one of those eBay places to sell? I mean I have a shitton of great stuff that’s not going to be necessary any more and I’d like to sell it off where I can.
- Do you have any assvice for living on a budget – and how to create one?
- How to live alone when you haven’t, well, ever?
I hope that this is a chance for renewal, growth, and at the end of all this bullshit? I’ll be better for it all; for doing it myself and for saving myself. There’s no white knight out there to save me; I will save myself. But for now; for RIGHT now, I’m feeling pretty damn defeated. In three short weeks, my entire life changed.
In the end, I know that this change will lead to bigger and brighter things in my future, being self-sufficient and making it alone will make me a stronger person, and I will never again put myself in a position wherein I rely on anyone but myself.
Because I know I can do it – now it’s a matter of making it all happen.
Hope. I have hope. A week ago, I didn’t think I’d be able to ever see a light again.
July 14, 2012
After we’d exited the Studio B tour – WITHOUT my honky-tonk piano (I should add) – Dawn and I did a quick run-through of the Country Music Hall of Fame, which has to be one of the most gorgeous pieces of architecture out there before rushing off to get my peacock tattoo arm sleeve, of which I was now wildly vacillating about putting on my body.
I learned two things there:
a) Taylor Swift has a kick-ass guitar
2) The curator of the Country Music Hall of Fame frowns upon one LICKING aforementioned guitar, even after you explain that it “seemed like a good idea at the time.”
We sorta sped through the museum so that we could make the drive back to the tiny house on the semi-frightening road. We got back to the car, stowed carefully in the Hilton’s parking garage and made our way back to the tattoo shop, the gorge rising as I couldn’t quite recall WHAT, exactly, the tattoo would look like:
What was I DOING? Was I making another tremendous mistake? What if I’d actually wanted something else so people didn’t call me “Bird Girl” for the rest of my days? What kind of nickname is “Bird Girl,” anyway?
Dawn’s GPS decided to play hardball and direct us through routes that were all closed for construction. I was about ready to sink my teeth into the damn thing and make it my bitch, but Dawn handily wrestled it back from me before I could do any real damage. Fear makes you do weird things and I’d begun to question everything from whether or not I should get a tattoo or if I should date the guy sitting on the side of the road drinking what appeared to be malt liquor from a brown paper bag.
The tattoo shop – Archangel Tattoo – and neighborhood had finally, after a long, surreptitious and annoying drive, appeared before us, and, quite frankly, appeared a lot less scary in the light of day (but, really, so do I). Ready for my 4PM appointment, I steeled my nerves and walked into the shop, Dawn following behind, prepared to push me in front of the adorable dude with the twang so I could – at the very least – see if I really did, in fact, want a new tattoo, or if I was simply a walking divorce cliche.
The tattoo guy, Terry, appeared before me to show me what he’d drawn up.
“It’s really fucking big,” he twanged to me, like it was some sort of challenge.
“Fucking perfect,” I beamed. He’d taken what I’d wanted, researched it and drew up a peacock arm sleeve that would match my phoenix flawlessly. I felt, for the first time in weeks, as though I was exactly where I was supposed to be. A thousand pound weight dropped from my shoulders as I smiled a genuine smile for the very first time that day.
“I just need to redraw it for the right arm,” he said. “You guys wanna take a walk and go grab a drink or something? There’s a store about three feet away in that direction,” he drawled as he pointed vaguely east.
“Sure,” Dawn and I agreed.
We trudged out into the late afternoon heat, trying to avoid the raindrops that were falling lazily down upon us.
“I feel like this is something we needed to do – like we were supposed to do it,” Dawn announced as we dodged rain drops. “I feel really good about this.”
I smiled – knowing exactly what she meant.
Armed with a bottle of Diet Pepsi (apparently the South has 47 flavors of sweet tea with absolutely no diet Coke in sight)(also: I’ve never seen so many flavors of pig skin on display like people EAT that shit or something), we marched back through the lazy raindrops and waited.
“Come on back,” my tattoo artist called, leading me back to a room decorated from top to bottom with different types of local art, Lynyrd Skynyrd lazily singing about Tuesday “being gone with the wind,” the comforting buzz of the tattoo gun being used on another customer soothing my nerves. I noted on the wall that I’d happened to be lucky enough to be tattooed by Terry, who’d been winning tattoo awards left and right, or at least, that’s what the plaques on the wall stated. I suppose he could’ve made them himself, but he didn’t seem the type.
Carefully, he lined my arm with the peacock he’d drawn, the purple outline clearly stating that I would be getting not a half-arm sleeve tattoo, but 3/4 of a sleeve.
And thus I began a new chapter in my life – one that would involve taking big risks, learning to lose the fear I’d acquired through my marriage, while reminding myself that while I may feel as though I’m a motherfucking coward, it is not true. I will be brave enough to rebuild my life and do it with grace, dignity while allowing my freak flag to flap in the breeze – there’s no shame in being me.
Gratuitous – yet pointless – shoe shot!
After what seemed to be about five minutes – five minutes of mild-to-extreme pain, let me be clear here – my tattoo guy drawled, “I’m done with the outline – let’s go take a break.”
Out to the quaint front porch we went, where we sat in rocking chairs, rocking slowly back and forth, enjoying the sunset. I asked him the question I ask everyone who has been doing a particular job for a long while:
“What’s the worst thing that anyone’s asked you to tattoo on them?”
He chuckled for a good long while before answering, “I don’t know – most people want bullshit tattoos. I can only do so much with those.”
I nodded, having seen a fair number of particularly awful tattoo ideas. Of special note is the one tattoo I saw that had been clearly done out of some guy’s basement, in which Calvin (from Calvin and Hobbs) was peeing on the word, “X Wife.” Way to keep it classy, people.
Soon enough, darkness began to replace the waning sunlight and it was time, once again, to go back to The Chair. The tattoo pain was somewhere between my back – which barely hurt – to my feet – which hurt like a motherfucker, so while I wasn’t jumping to get back in the chair, I knew that he knew his shit and that my tattoo looked FULL of the Awesome.
I steeled myself for the pain as he began to shade the outline in.
By this time, I was clutching Dawn’s hand like it was a life-raft and trying to remember to breathe. I hadn’t eaten properly in two weeks and while I’m not prone to fainting, the pain had gone from “ouch” to “fucking ouch.” But hey, this was the only birthday present I’d be getting – aside from my “John C. Mayer’s Greatest Hits,” so I gritted my teeth and tried to go to “my place.”
I’d lost track of how many versions of “Free Bird” we’d heard throughout the hours (by this time, I knew it was “hours” and not “minutes,” because my arm now hurt like a motherfucker) when, once again, he announced that it was time for a break. Back to the rocking chairs we went, where customers ingoing and outgoing stopped to chat with me about my tattoo. Apparently, NashVegas doesn’t get a lot of girls requesting sleeve tattoos, which, SURPRISING AS FUCK.
By this point, I’d started dreading Das Chair – while my migraines have given me an incredible pain tolerance (THANKS, MIGRAINES!), I could now feel each individual needle as it went into my skin. I’d have made an appointment to finish that fucker the following day (my birthday), but the shop was closed. So it was now or motherfucking never.
It was about halfway through the coloring of my now beautiful tattoo that it hit me:
This was my only birthday present.
This was one of the last things I’d be able to buy for myself as I was going to have to start finding ways to make money so I could become self-sufficient and move out.
I was getting a divorce.
It was over – my future was a black question mark of uncertainty.
And through the physical pain, my emotional pain began to burble out. While I consider 9-10PM now my “crying hour,” I hadn’t expected that getting a tattoo in a shop full of big dudes would evoke tears. But come they did. It was like a torrential downpour as I performed my favorite party trick, “The Ugly Cry,” to an entire room. Oddly, I wasn’t even mortified – it just felt right to be able to mourn the “never will’s” of my life.
Soon, it was all over but the crying.
And that is how I will approach my new life, in the hopes that one day, someone may put on my tombstone: she was brave.