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Melancholia

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Melancholia – (n) – The state of being melancholy.

I have been in a state of melancholy recently.

Maybe it has something to do with school being out, and having way to much time to think.

But, mostly, it is because I can’t seem to turn my mind off.  Oh, how I wish there was an off switch.  Better yet, I wish there was something I could do to wipe my brain.

As the “summer” progresses (being the school summer as technically we are still in spring), I find my mind going back to where I was last summer.  Things that I was doing.  Things that we were doing.  And that causes me to become melancholy.  Dates on the calendar, or events that have passed, or songs being played, bring me back to what at the time I believed was the most magical time of my life.  A new beginning.   A new life.

To paraphrase that song by The Kinks – “Melancholia will destroy you.”

Now, to get to work on developing that mind-eraser…

 

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Hey! Check it Out!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: From Above. From Above. Change your perspective on something. Share a photo of a subject which you shot from directly above. Last year, during a visit back home to Florida, my brother surprised Monkey #1 and me with a deep-sea fishing trip.  I virtually grew up with a fishing pole in my hands […]

When Your Past Comes Screaming into Your Present…

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I love Facebook.  Really, I do.  I mean I have gotten back in touch with friends I hadn’t seen in YEARS.  It has been great.  Back in the day, you had to wait for a reunion or something to reconnect with folks.  And if they weren’t there, well, you continued to wonder what happened to them.  Of course, there were those that you didn’t want to see again.  The ones you DREADED walking in and finding them there.   I have been lucky.  The one person in my life whom I hope to never see again (the high school boyfriend I wrote about in my post Just Turn Around and Walk Away) has yet to reappear.  And I am fine with that.  Grateful, in fact.

This morning, I pulled up Facebook to see what was happening in the lives of my friends and I had a friend request from someone from high school.  I accepted it and popped over to her page to see what she had been up to in low these past 29 years.   A person on her friend list made my past come screaming into my present.  No.  It wasn’t that evil son-of-a-bitch ex-boyfriend.  If it had been, I probably would have unfriended – and then blocked or something so that bastard couldn’t find out anything about me.  However, it was someone who was intertwined with the whole crazy situation.  The “other girl.”  The girl he was seeing while he was seeing me.

My heart stopped for a minute.  I hadn’t expected it.  Crap.  It’s her.  I couldn’t resist though…I went to her page.  I just had to see.  The curiosity was killing me.  How was she doing?  Was she with him?  Were there pictures of him?  Oh, Lord.  Please don’t let there be.  I just don’t think I could handle it…

So, I started perusing her pictures (Niiiiiiice!  Low privacy settings!)  She looked so happy.  Married.  Does triathalons.  Strong, literally and figuratively (DAMN!  How’d she get muscles like that?!?)  Full of joy.  And absolutely no reference to that crazy bastard.  Thank God.

I finally exhaled.  I think I had been holding my breath the entire time I was checking out her page.

And in that moment, I found myself happy for her.

In that moment, I found myself wondering he had left her as royally fucked up as he did me.

In that moment, I no longer saw her as my high school rival – my combatant – but, as a fellow survivor.

I don’t know if he ever laid a hand on her, like he did to me.  But, I know the emotional toll being “in love” with him had to have caused.  I know, because I lived it, too.

At the time, though, she and I didn’t blame him.  We blamed each other.    To me, she wasn’t a victim.  She was the girl who (at least how he told the story) convinced him at the last-minute (literally at the last-minute.  Like he called me from her house when he went to pick her up) to take her to the Duran Duran concert I had been looking forward to seeing for months.  She was the girl who (at least how he told the story) tried to convince him to take HER to senior prom, instead of me – after all, I had already paid for everything (because his mother had thrown him out of her house and he was living at my father’s house).  She was the girl (or at least how he told the story) who tried to convince the entire band that I was a man-stealing-slut who should be shunned, causing a rift between choir members (who took my side) and band members (she played in the band…HE was a flag twirler…no I am not kidding…).

We were horrible to each other.   We would scream at each other in the parking lot – calling each other the worst possible names.  She would prank call my house – and threaten me.  I did not refer to her by her name.  To me she was simply The Whore.  My senior yearbook has her name and face completely blacked out – while his has hearts drawn around it.

We both thought, “It wasn’t HIS fault.  It was HERS!  She deserves everything she gets!  The bitch!”

One’s senior year should be one of happiness and joy.  A time to make memories to last a lifetime.  Unfortunately, the lifelong memories left by that year are ones I really wish I could forget.  It was horrible.  Truly horrible.

I ran into them once, months after I turned around and walked away from him.  She had “taken him back.”  If I remember correctly, she gloated about it, showing off a ring he had given her.  And while there was no way in hell I wanted him back, I remember being angry he went back to her.  It felt like the ultimate slap in the face.  Not only had I been replaced…I had been replaced by HER.  Damn it!  Damn him!  Damn HER!  I hate them!

I had spent all these years wondering if she had married the asshole.  Not jealous, but scared for her.  Worried that his pattern of abuse had continued, and that she was still living it.

Today, as I lurked on her page and saw her smiling face, I felt relief.  Relief that she too had escaped.  Relief that she too had managed to pick up the shattered pieces of her psyche and go on with her life.  Relief that she was happy.

And in that moment, as my past came screaming into my present, I also felt regret.  Regret for having hated her.  Regret for having called her a whore.  Regret for taking it out on her.

It wasn’t her fault.  It was his.  He stole from us.  He stole our joy.  He stole our youth.  He stole our trust.

But, he will NEVER be able to steal from the strong women we have become.  Despite and in spite of him.

HELLS YEAH!

In Just Seven Days (and six nights) I can make you….

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Daily Prompt: Seven Days.

You wake up tomorrow morning to find all your plans have been cancelled for the next seven days and $10,000 on your dresser. Tell us about your week.

I am a simple woman with simple needs.

I don’t need fancy things.

I don’t need lots of things.

Except for shoes.  One can never have too many pairs of shoes.  Sexy, fabulous, high-heeled shoes.  But that is another story entirely.

I don’t need fancy trips.  Or fancy meals.  Or fancy theatre tickets.

All I really need is to be with the ones I love.

Creating memories.

So, given a chunk of change to do with what I please, I would go somewhere with the ones I love.

Maybe the Grand Canyon.

Or Disney World.

Or a week at the beach.

Just being.

And creating memories.

Well – and splurge on one fabulous pair of Christian Louboutin’s.  But that is another story entirely…

A Date Burned Into My Memory

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I can remember every detail.  Every experience.  Every word.

March 5, 1990.

The day my beloved grandfather died.

He was the only grandfather I had known.  Both of my mother’s parents had died before I was born.  But, my father’s parents made up for it in abundance.  I was the first out of twelve grandchildren.  The oldest child born to their oldest child.  I was extremely close to them.  They meant everything to me.  I worshiped them.  Through all the madness of my parents’ divorce, they were a force that kept me from swirlling away.  Just being near them made me happy.  And I couldn’t imagine my life without them.

Pop-Pop’s health had been failing for awhile.  He had been having small strokes for about a year.  Those aweful TMIs.  You could be just standing there, talking to him, and he would suddenly start talking nonsense.  A few moments later, he would be fine.  Well, as fine as he could be.  When his memory started failing, it was heart-breaking.  He was so insanely smart.  He read all the time.  He loved those big coffee table books on every imaginable topic.  You could ask him for information on just about anything, and he would reach over to a stack of books, pull out just the right one and then tell you exactly what page you would need.  It was incredible.  But, he had gotten to the point when even faces escaped him.  But not mine.  He always knew me.

I had moved about four hours away from home.  I hated being that far away, but as it goes, I followed a man – but that is another story.  As Pop-Pop spiraled even further, I would come home as much as I could.  I worked as a manager in a department store.  I would arrange my schedule so that I would open the day before a day off and then close the day after.  That enabled me to come home at least once a week.  I would spend the day at my grandparents’ home.  For a couple of months, it became my new routine.

My parents and I had planned for a few months to meet in Orlando the first weekend of March for a little visit to Disney World.  As the time drew closer, neither my father nor I wanted to be away from West Palm Beach.  We felt a little guilty about going off to have some fun, leaving my grandmother.  Yes, we knew there was plenty of other family around, but we both felt like we HAD to be there.  My grandmother encouraged us to go.  Said everything would be ok for a few days.  So, we went.  And we had a great time.  We managed to let the problems back home slip from our minds.

We got back to our rented condo late.  It had been a wonderful day.  We didn’t check in with Grandma.  We didn’t want to wake her.  And the three of us collapsed into bed, exhausted – but happy.

The call came early the next morning.  Pop-Pop was gone.  He had gotten up that morning, gotten dressed and was insisting that Grandma drive him to his tackle store.  The one he had owned and single handedly run for almost 50 years.   Grandma was fixing his breakfast.  Pop-Pop was sitting in “his chair” (the very Archie Bunker-ish recliner that no one else was allowed to sit in without prior permission).  And then he was gone.

I can still here the tone of my father’s voice as he choked out the words.

I started crying and did not stop for the next five days.

I still miss him.  Twenty-three years later.

The Storyteller

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Listerine, Ben-Gay, Rolaids, sweat, and musty clothes, jumbled up into a delicious fragrance of love.  I breathe deeply as I sit curled up in my grandfather’s lap.  I believe I am his favorite, and I feel his love permeating my pores.  His love for me flows out of him and into me with every breath I take of that wonderful aroma.

His lap is lumpy, and his chest is uncomfortable to rest my head on.  The papers stuffed into his two breast pockets are like concrete pillows.  He keeps all the receipts and papers and bits and pieces from his shop crammed into those two pockets – so full I am amazed they don’t burst.  Awaiting the one more thing that becomes the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back – more like the receipt that popped the pocket.

He is telling me a story.  Pop Pop never finished high school, yet to me he is the smartest man I know.  He weaves fantastical tales.  They are never the same – always different.  I am always the main character, usually a princess (my father’s pet name for me).  My companion is the animal of my choice, this time a turtle, the next possibly an owl.  We have grand adventures.  When the journey is complete, before I scamper from his lap, Pop Pop pulls a piece of candy, or if I am lucky a quarter, out of my ear.  I am delighted and I believe him to be magical.

Years later, as he is sick and dying, I keep these images in my heart.  He knows me – but few others.  He smiles at me and I am six-years-old again and want nothing more than to climb into his lap and have him tell me a story again.  Instead, I sit by him and hold his hand and breathe in that delicious fragrance and know that I am loved.

Food, Glorious Food


Describe the most satisfying meal you’ve ever eaten, in glorious detail.

Daily Prompt: Seconds!.

Food.  Isn’t it amazing how many memories are tied up in food.  Holiday dinners.  First dates.  Wedding receptions.  Funeral bunches.  A whiff of a familiar aroma can instantly take you back to that table, mouth-watering, ready to dive in.   There are certain foods that just by imagining it, I can virtually taste it.

Try as I might, I simply cannot narrow down to the MOST satisfying meal.  I must admit, I truly ENJOY food.  The taste.  The mouth feel.  Not eating just to eat, but savoring.  So, instead of the MOST satisfying meal, I thought of one amazing meal in my not so distant past.

About a month after my former love and I started dating, I accompanied him on a weekend business trip to Charlotte, North Carolina.  A big step in a fledgling relationship.  He is “food lover” as well, and he insisted we stop at a steakhouse that he is particularly fond of – located just off the highway in Greenville.   This restaurant was one of those steakhouses that makes you feel as if you are stepping back in time.  A time of Mad Men and four martini lunches.  The kind of place that you half way expect to look over and see Frank Sinatra sitting in the booth next to you.  Or at least Jon Hamm.

We began our meal with a martini.  Dry.  Bombay Sapphire Gin.  Very dirty.  Blue cheese stuffed olives.  The saltiness of the olive.  The sharpness of the cheese.  The smooth burn of the gin.  It seemed very appropriate given our surroundings.

For our meal, we shared a filet.  Two-inches thick.  Perfectly cooked.  Meat so tender, that despite its thickness – you could almost cut it with only your fork.  Meat so delicious, the sides were almost superfluous.  Superfluous – but oh so delicious.  Creamed spinach so good that I was tempted to use my fingers to make sure every last drop was consumed.  Creamy, buttery, fluffy garlic mashed potatoes.   Each bite an explosion of flavors and textures.

Dessert was a simple cheesecake.  No frills.  But perfection.  A cheesecake that rivals any found in New York.

I was intoxicated.  And no – not just from two martinis and a glass of wine.   Intoxicated by the surroundings.  Intoxicated by the tastes and the textures of the meal.  Intoxicated by new love.

And an evening I am sure to never forget.