Wednesday, November 14, 2012


This summer is when we finally woke up from all the trauma and despair. For me, it happened in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. I went with Amanda Bales to help her move her worldly possessions to Columbia. We drove down together, listening to Radio Lab podcasts and commenting on our parts of the world. I was reminded that I had a brain, that I was interested in things. That at one time, I was going to be a writer.

That night we stayed with her buddy, Murphy. He had a pretty typical bachelor pad. A couch from the 80s, all that woven plaid stuff. Some fake leather recliner with the ass part all worn, the kind that makes you sweat even if it isn't 99 degrees. Which it was.

It was that night when I bought, for the first time, Shiner Bock in a can. Also that night, Murphy got me high. We sat in his yard, some scorched earth and grass, while he cooked havles of chickens on his rusty grill. There was music coming out of the window, from the ipod player, and the wind was hot. The kind that steals your breath. Or just feels like someone's breath. I looked at Amanda and told her how much fun I was having. How happy I was at that moment. And it was happier than I'd felt in two years, or two and half years, or however long it's been.  She laughed at me.

As the night came on, I smoked more. I drank more. I listened as my artist friends talked about life; they talked to me like I was one of them. And then I went to bed. There I was, all boxers and tank tops in some dude's bed with an oscillating fan blowing that hot air up and down my tingling body. I smiled. And I cried. I could feel again. I was relaxed again. And I looked at my body on those mismatched sheets on a crooked bed in a hot house. I was sexy. Or, at least, I felt like having sex.

This may not seem that amazing to you; you probably want to have sex all the time, like most people. But I haven't. I haven't felt that in years. I've wanted to feel that, and there were times when I got close to nearly feeling it. But not the intense hunger I had before. When I was 21 or 25. Something about that night made me come back to life and feel like the me I used to be. The Traveler. The Artist. The Human. The Individual.

Not too many weeks later, Cyrus went into the hospital for what we thought were seizures. Mindy and I turned into preemie parents again. She stays with him while I feed the cats, pack some clothes, swig some whiskey, and buy everything on a McDonald's menu at 1:00 a.m. Then we sit in darkness and stare at our son. Nurses and doctors come in, so by the time we get to that disgusting pile of calories, it's cold. So we have to eat it faster to get it down. Then we sit on those long, uncomfortable couch beds and stare. Stare at our son attached to cords and tubes. We don't look much at each other. When we do, we cry and say not again. We can't handle any more. Please. No more.

But then he was fine. Again. And school was starting. And that feeling came over me again and maybe more than before. I was tired of hospital rooms and heavy eyelids. And crying and worrying. I decided to let myself feel all the things I'd wanted to for years. I allowed myself to be myself.

I looked at Mindy and saw her as my hospital partner. Cyrus' other caretaker. The person who lived in my house. The one who was sad with me. The one who made me sad.

I bragged during the whole experience that our relationship stayed in tact, that we were unscathed, that we still loved each other. And we did. We do. But we had to. We couldn't have done all that alone, without someone to understand or cry on. Without one to be strong when the other couldn't. How could anyone do that alone?  But now that it is over, or mostly over. Now what?

For months I've been withdrawn because I'm lusting after you. I'm falling in love with you. All of you but my wife. Some more than others. I've destroyed friendships and burdened others with too much talking, or too many awkward looks. I've brought our marriage to its knees. I just wanted to feel again. To feel young and unburdened. To forget everything.

Then things were okay.

And then daycare called today to say that Cyrus "checked out" for 40 minutes. To say that he wasn't really even looking at people when they said his name. That he just stared out from behind glassy eyes. To say that he just decided to try to sleep on the cold tile floor.

You all say that we've gone through so much more than most people. You all say we're so strong and that we're great parents. We are great parents. But we are no longer great friends. Or coworkers. Or daughters. Or lovers.

So, just like that, we'll all go back to sleep.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Christina Rides Again

I'm happy.

It happened last night when I was in the bathroom. I know, it's not that romantic a thought, but as I was regretting the Chipotle burrito with hot sauce followed by leftover Thai with hot sauce, I smiled and nearly laughed. I was overcome with happiness.

The change was gradual. Over the past months, though I hadn't thought about it until last night, I was making small changes. I quit watching real-life dead people shows and started watching The Office. We went on a very small vacation. I also started playing Super Mario 3 on Wii while listening to music. I rode my bike to rugby practice. I played rugby. I spent a day in the park with two friends drinking whiskey and coke.  This morning I weeded my garden. The other day I edged it with a new weed-eater we bought. I've been playing my guitar and singing.

You see, these are things I would've done before, but there was something different about them; I felt lighter. No, that's too easy. It felt like everything I did was comforting and special. Like, every little household activity is a privilege, not an obligation. This morning as I played in the dirt and sang 90s dance music, I thought, "this is lovely."

Last week I worked at my friend's farm; it was beautiful.

Yesterday Cyrus ran through the yard while Mindy worked on her flower beds; it was beautiful.

Right now some ugly robins are playing in my sprinkler; it's beautiful.

You see, it's not like before. Before, those things would've happened and I would've thought:

Farming=something that people do
Yard work=something that people do
Birds bathing= something that birds do

 And though I haven't really done the one true thing that Christina needs to do to be complete (a little taste of it right here, maybe), I've done most of them. So it's coming.

Mindy also seems happy. She likes her job and her boss. She's eating healthier. We both are.

But this summer I have time to myself. I've had just a week without students and without toddler (he's at daycare) during the day. I don't have students this summer, but I'm still working. This is the first summer in 4 years that I haven't had to scamper and hurry to get a job to keep some small amount of money coming in. In the past that was archaeology, and then last summer, because of Cyrus, I worked at my friend's farm and watched him the rest of the days. It was hard work all around, and since the summer before Mindy and I sat mostly unemployed and with a new, very fragile baby, it seemed even worse.

But here I am. Watching birds bathe and plants grow. The house is clean. 

Oh, I know, there are still horrible things out there; they are still happening to people I love. But I'm able to separate that from myself now. And maybe that seems indifferent and cold, but I've done my time in the Sadlands. Now it's time to saddle up and ride outta there. Until that shithole is covered in my dust.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Two Years

There are lots of awesome new developments in our lives, but I'm not very good about writing about those. Here is the latest baby news:

Some friends lost their babies. So did another friend. Some friends got pregnant. Some friends had a perfectly healthy baby.

I guess that about covers it.

Did you guys realize that it was two years ago yesterday that Mindy was admitted to the hospital? That's right, Cyrus' birthday is fast approaching. Now, we're starting to hear this, "Two!? Doesn't it go by so fast!?" NO. It does not. The time has not flown by. It has creeped its way along the ground, stopping occasionally to sleep or nibble on some...fuck, I haven't written in a long time. You get the idea, we've had it rough. So, don't say that shit to us, how it all just flies by.

But it's not near as terrible as it was. Cyrus is starting to put food in his mouth. So far, it seems he hasn't figured out that it should be eaten, but he loves flavors. Crazy flavors. He can walk, but he doesn't. He doesn't get mad when other kids take his toys. He doesn't take their toys either. We figure he's really laid back or, well, something else...

It's the something else that we've managed to forget about for two years. We were so focused on the here and now: time to tube him, time for meds, time for a doctor appointment, time for bed. But now we're getting more relaxed. And we've learned from experience that when you feel comfortable, you find out horrible news. If there is this type of news for us, we won't really find out for a couple of years, I assume.

I've managed for so long to block all that out. But, for the fifth time, Cyrus was born at 1 pound 13.5 ounces. He was 25 weeks and 3 days gestational age. He had seizures, for sometimes 45 minutes at a time. Amazingly, I'm able to forget these details. Finally.

Being reminded is rough. It pisses me off. It makes that weight lower onto my chest all over again. It gets hard to breathe.

Again and again.