After Monday’s revelations, I was shaking and crying and angry and hurt and completely at a loss as to what I wanted to do. Suzanne’s spiteful unloading happened after I said that tenants have rights and I thought I maybe needed to act like a tenant instead of a friend. I was willing to compromise on my “lifetime” lease turning into a lease for a year or two, long enough to give me breathing room for a radical readjustment of my plans and maybe to find a job and housing, but apparently that was completely unacceptable and made me an evil person, taking advantage of her, etc. etc.. Oh, and I’d be hearing from her lawyer.
Still, regardless of her opinion, I was a tenant and I did have rights. Did I want to fight for them?
What I wanted was to breathe.
No, what I really wanted was a bath. So I called the Finnish Hot Tubs down the street and scheduled a hot tub for an hour later. I’m going to guess I spent the intervening hour mostly crying and/or texting people to say, WTF? But in the hot tub, with occasional sprinkles of cold rain hitting my face, I had time to think about what I wanted and what I needed. Mostly I thought about how I wanted to feel.
Going back to R, I felt horrible after the fight we had that began our long estrangement, not just because of what he said to me (bad) but because of what I said in response (also bad, arguably worse.) At one point, I told him I should have had an abortion. I immediately apologized at his gasp and clarified that it wasn’t because of him, who’d always been awesome, but because I should have known I wouldn’t be a good mother, but you know, I don’t think he heard either of those things. That was where that fight was at, though — mutual unkindness from two people who had never been unkind to one another before. I was hurt at the time, more hurt as the months went by and it became clear that he considered my behavior unforgivable, but I also had to be ashamed of my own words.
I didn’t want to have that feeling again.
Regardless of Suzanne’s words, I didn’t feel like I had done anything wrong. I accepted her invitation to live in the tiny house. Along the way, I helped her organize the shed (multiple times), paint her kitchen, and clean out Greg’s office. I cooked for her, took care of her animals, cleaned up cat vomit and kitty litter, drove her places when she needed a driver. Did the mile walk to the pet store and carried a 14 pound bag of dog food home when her petsitter let her know that Riley was out of food just a few weeks ago. Hell, made coffee for her on quite a few mornings. And lived in a space that had been unused, dirty, gaudy and half-finished before I moved in and did the work to turn it into an adorable home. If I wanted to wage war, I had the sense of righteous indignation that could make it happen.
But I didn’t want to live in a state of righteous indignation. Nor did I want to live in a place of fear, worrying about the future. Nor did I want to wallow in hurt. So as I floated in the hot tub, I thought about what feelings I wanted to be living with for this next uncertain period of my life.
And I decided that what I wanted was to feel clean.
It felt like such an odd word choice. What does it mean to feel clean, emotionally? I wasn’t looking for literal physical cleanliness, obviously, floating in my hot tub, but some kind of spiritual cleanliness. I decided that what it meant was not letting the negative feelings — hurt, anger, fear, that oh-so-familiar triad — stick to me. I wanted to let go of them, as quickly as possible. And I didn’t want to do anything that would keep me up at night questioning my own behavior.
I wanted to feel clean.
And the way to do that, I decided, was to go.
So I got out of the hot tub, dried off on my t-shirt, having forgotten a towel, headed home, and started making plans. I checked rental car places & U-Haul, I looked at maps, I opened my cupboards and thought about all the things people own and how they accumulate. I thought about staying until I’d eaten all the food in my freshly stocked refrigerator — probably two weeks worth, including a whole slew of veggies purchased at the farmer’s market on Saturday — and rejected the idea entirely.
On Tuesday, I borrowed the wonderful neighbor’s truck, got myself some U-Haul boxes (six of them, total, the size of my life), and started packing.
That afternoon, I was texting with my brother, aka the BBE, and told him, ”I think I am going to bite the bullet and just rent a car for two weeks. Then I don’t have to strategize about what will fit before I have the car, can take a day to just pack it up and make sure that the things I most want to bring fit. And then I can not push like crazy on the drive, which given how sleepless I am feels like a safer choice. Means more hotel rooms on the way, of course, but I feel like spending that money is a smart choice.”
His response boiled down to, “I’ll see you tomorrow. Pick me up at the airport at 2:30.”
So on Wednesday, I again borrowed the wonderful neighbor’s truck, drove to the airport, drove to the car rental place, and then drove home, the BBE following me in a Ford Explorer SUV.
To a home that would only be mine for another two hours.
Someday maybe I’ll write more about that, because it’s got enough stories for a blog post or seven, but not yet, not today.
By 5PM, we were on the road. We made it to Redding that night, crashed in a hotel that I already don’t remember the name of, and got on the road first thing in the morning.
We stopped at a fantastic dog park in Susanville, where Sophie got to play ball for a good long time, then made it to Reno for lunch, where we ate Korean fusion food on an outside patio on a beautiful sunny fall day, Sophie at my feet. Then we went to Trader Joe’s and picked up muffins to make our mornings fast and efficient, plus candy to keep us going through the long afternoons. Then we drove. We ate dinner in Elko, poke bowls from a Japanese fast food place, sitting in the car, then stopped at the Utah border for the night.
Today, we started with an excellent outing in Salt Lake City. Memorial Grove Park has an off-leash dog area which includes dirt trails alongside a creek. Sophie had so much fun. She ran around, exploring the undergrowth and the running water, while the BBE and I walked. The weather was fantastic, a crystal clear perfect fall day, and the air had that delightful crispness of autumn. We encountered a few other dogs, but all interactions were friendly and respectful.
Afterwards, we stopped at a Venezuelan restaurant right down the street and had GF empanadas for lunch. Hu-u-u-uge empanadas. If I’d known how big they were going to be, I would have gotten us each one, but I thought they’d be regular empanada size, so we had two each. We did not finish. But Sophie was delighted to share the shredded pork and chicken from the leftover filling.
Now we’re on the road, headed to Grand Junction, Colorado, and I’m writing while the BBE drives. Yesterday, when I was still in a state of… not quite functioning… he suggested that I could get in the back to lie down and try to sleep while he drove. I did and wound up not sleeping, but with Sophie on my lap snuggling with me for probably a solid hour. (She is not typically a dog that snuggles.)
I felt so safe. So protected. I don’t think I’ve tried to sleep in the back seat of a car since I was a little kid, and I felt a little like a little kid again, but in a really good way. Not helpless, but cared for.
When we were leaving Serendipity, I had six boxes left of my lifetime supply of tissues. I wanted to bring all six boxes, so I could cry all the way across the country, but the BBE told me I could only have two. So far, I have used approximately six tissues from the first box, and one was for a sneeze.
Because, much to my surprise, I’m not actually feeling that bad. In fact, yesterday, when I was investigating my own feelings, I thought, “Is that — relief?”
And it was.
But this post is long and I am tired (– my writing moved from the car to a hotel room in New Castle, Colorado with a break in-between for some pretty good chicken tortilla soup and a visit to an impressive dog park in Grand Junction –) so I will write more about that later. I just wanted to reassure anyone worrying about me that I’m doing fine. And of course, write down all the highlights of this trip for myself, so that twenty years from now, I can be reminded of eating messy empanadas on a park bench, and Sophie splashing into the creek, and laughing with the BBE about the door-less public restrooms. Oh, and playing Find Uncle W with Sophie in the tiny riverside park in… was that Elko? I’m forgetting the details already. But it’s been a pretty intense week, so…
More soon, I hope with photos!