Sunday, November 1, 2009

All Saints Day/Day of the Dead

Well, I survived one more Halloween.  I gave out candy at my parents house and while doing it, I noticed that the costumes weren't as lavish or creative as we've seen in the previous years.  The only thing I could think of that would make it that way was the simple fact that people can't afford those kinds of frivolities anymore.  The costumes were a sign of the times.

After giving out candy, I headed home.  I walked in my door and looked at the box that contained the new desk chair my parents had bought me.  It's been sitting in my living room for the past week, just waiting for me to assemble it.  So, I turned on the TV, watched the movie Austrailia (who doesn't like Hugh Jackman *swoon*) and started to put together my chair.

This week, I did some amazing house cleaning.  I removed all of my ex's dishes from the cabinets because I went out and purchased new ones.  I didn't care for the white, flower covered crockery he had, so I took it out, replacing them with cobalt blue glass plates, bowls and saucers.  I also removed the ramshackle collection of utensils too, I went out and got all new knives, forks and spoons with an amazing swirly, circular design on them.  So, all of my ex's dishes and utensils are officially out of the way.

Sitting on my living room floor, putting my new desk chair together, I thought about everything.  I realized that my last desk chair, well, my ex had purchased an uncomfortable, stiff backed and how else can I put it, cheap desk chair.  One of the arms started to fall apart almost instantly, and it was uncomfortable, it was like sitting on a pile of bricks, so when I went with my parents to pick out the new one, I chose a very fluffy brown leather chair that reclines.  But, as I was putting it together, I thought about how I, me, no one else, had gone out, purchased a very heavy box of dishes, a fairly heavy box of utensils and lugged them up the stairs into my apartment and I did that, all by myself.  There was no grocery caddy, no helper, just me.    And there I was, sitting on my clean living room floor, putting together my new chair, all by myself, no man thinking he's mister handyman pushing me out of the way.  I was the one who went this week and had my tire repaired because it had a nail in it.  It was all me.  I had done all of it.  I was the one who put the groceries away, I'm the one who cooks my own meals, I do all of my own laundry.  I dictate where my life is going.  No one else can.  I just think that's cool.  For the very first time in my life, I'm making the rules.  Somehow, that just feels amazing.  And peaceful.  For the first time in my life, I feel free.

Then I thought about school.  No one has sat over my shoulder and told me what to write or how to write it.  I've gone to see my professors on my own, I'm the one who has gotten every single A, and there has been no one to form my opinions other than myself.  I'm not taking dictation anymore.  I've called a few people, asked their opinions to better inform myself, but other than that, it's just been me.

I watched the film "The Women" starring Meg Ryan and Annette Benning the other night, it mirrored a bit of what I've been going through, and in the film, after Meg Ryan's character runs in to Bette Midler's, she finally realizes she needs to ask herself, "What do I want?".  I found that to be a very poignant moment for myself.  To sit back and ask, what do I want?  I'm still percolating on the big picture, but I realized I wanted a few things.
  1. To finish my education.
  2. to live successfully on my own.
  3. to be able to look in the mirror and like what I see.
  4. to earn the money to fly 2500 miles to tell a man I think he's the coolest thing on two feet and hug his kids.
  5. to embrace my inner rock star and not worry myself with the judgments of others.
That's a pretty good list to start with.  Having conquered some demons and had a moment to revel in my self-worth, I went to bed with a few pages from a Kenyon novel.

When I woke up this morning, I remembered that it's All Saints Day or Day of the Dead.  It's the day to remember all the people that you love that have passed on.  First, I thought about my dear friend Izzy.  I had spent every day of the summer of 1984 being my sister's shadow, ghosting around a waterpark called Schlitterbahn because she had a summer job as a lifeguard there.  There was a young man, 21 years old, that worked there with her, his name was Israel, but we just called him Izzy for short.  He was tall, and had the most amazing hazel eyes you've ever seen, emerald green, topaz and aquamarine all swirled together to make something beautiful.  He was a fun guy, and to a 12 year old, he was just the kitten's whiskers.  When I couldn't be with my sister, he would take me around with him.  I'd sit right below his lifeguard stand and we'd talk.  Besides being with my sister all the time, that summer, Izzy was my whole world.  I grimaced when I heard the tales of his drinking and recklessness when the older kids would go out together and when I saw him, I made sure to get on his case and tell him to be more careful, that he was precious to me.   But with the summers long gone, he fell in love with a girl who lived right down the street from us, Kristine.  And, one evening, a week or so after she said she didn't want to see him anymore, he sat at her kitchen table, and as Kristine walked in the door, Izzy put a gun to his head and killed himself.

I remember the day my sister walked in and told me Izzy was dead.  My knees buckled and I fell to the floor in tears.  I hated Kristine for rejecting him because I would have snapped him up in a heartbeat.  I questioned time and time again why he couldn't see that I loved him more...but he saw me as that little 12 year old, so that probably wouldn't have entered his mind.  It borders on the ludicrous that a 12 year old could feel like that, but hey, it is what it is. Now, that I'm 38, Izzy, had he not been so incredibly stupid, would have been 47, just a year older than my ex.

I looked up at the ceiling of my apartment and yelled at Izzy today.  I couldn't help but cry and ask why once again.  But, had Izzy been around, I doubt I would have had the adventures I've had.  Even so, I miss him a lot.

Then there's Janet, Gina, my grandparents on both sides, Aunt Sissy, Uncle Bill, Aunt Betty, Uncle Lonnie, so many people who I've loved so dearly but they're gone now.  Today is the one day I can say that I love them, miss them and all their special gifts.  And how each one of them, in their own regard, helped me get those dishes and utensils up the stairs, that sat and gave me strength to tighten the bolts on my new desk chair.  They are the ever-constant reminders to keep moving forward.

It's the Day of the Dead...and I'm very much alive. 

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