Category Archives: Memories from the archives of my life

Best friends and quiet summer days

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This picture was taken two years ago this summer. Like all of my pictures I look at this and can remember that exact moment that it was taken. I was with my best friend Aaron, the same best friend who had opened his home to me when I had no where else to go. The same best friend that I met through my ex boyfriend and was so concerned that the end of my relationship meant the end of my friendship with someone who meant so much to me, but that never happened. The guy that I was seeing immediately after my breakup had taken me to this hidden spot along the green river just a couple of weeks before I took Aaron there.   This day was a much needed relief from the daily agony that I was dealing with in every aspect of my life. Aaron and I hiked to this spot, claimed two rocks and sat in the silence listening only to the rushing water going on right under our feet. We read for a while and chain smoked talking about life, having one of those conversations that only we could have. I took a lot of pictures that day and this is the only one of the scenery as I typically do not like nature photography.

I haven’t seen Aaron in about a year but we talk almost every day. We have been through so much together and I will always hold him extremely close to my heart. Aaron was a person who saw the real me hidden beneath the lost woman I was trying to be, he gently tried to pull me out of my shell before I ever even knew that I was walking around with said shell wrapped tightly around my neck. He was there for me, he pushed me out of my comfort zone so many times but in such a gentle way that I went with it. A year or two before this picture was taken he was beaten by a group of men while he was walking home from a club on capitol hill. They beat him to the ground spewing every homophobic slur you can think of and only ran away when a couple walked by and scared them off. He went to the hospital and called the next morning telling us what happened, we drove up to Seattle to be with him immediately.  I will never forget the look in his eyes behind the split lip, swollen shut eye and cuts all over. I cried while I cleaned him up and re bandaged him and he cried when he saw I was.

We may not get to see each other very often but I he will always been one of my best friends and I will always be there for him no matter where I am or what I am doing. Aaron was my rock for so many years when I was lost and alone and I have been there for him in the same way. I can say with full confidence that he is a person who helped me turn in to the woman that I am today and I will forever love and cherish him for that.

{TSF}

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Split families and graduations

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A couple of weeks ago Michael invited me to his sisters high school graduation. This would be the first time I would be meeting his dad and his extended family and I was understandably, incredibly nervous. But I sucked it up and I decided to make the best of it and try not to let my fears of failure overcome the situation. In the end it was a wonderful experience. I have never felt so welcomed by such a warm family in my life. The experience I had with my last parent-in-laws was not a good one to say the least and I was so nervous that this would just be the same old thing replaying all over again. His family is dominated by strong, intelligent and warm women who remind me a lot of my own mother. I was so relieved by the night was over but it was easy not to dwell on it as my heart was on something else entirely.

Michael’s parents have been divorced for quite awhile. Michael was in high school by the time they divorced but his sister was still very young. Immediately following the split his parents moved to different states and his father spent years of silence living his own life with the woman he left his mother for. One of the things I’ll always remember Michael saying about his dad was one day early in our relationship when talking about family, he said “my dad is a good person, just a very selfish person.” After years of distance for one reason or another his dad started coming around more, calling more often, visiting a couple of times a year and trying all around to be more involved. Michael was receptive to this and slowly they began to mend their relationship, Michael’s sister on the other hand has been hesitant to do the same. Being a woman who has gone through the same thing with my own father just years older I understand completely why she wouldn’t be too receptive to his efforts. However, this being her high school graduation he flew up to watch her walk.

The first thing I saw (lets just call her K) do when she walked up to the giant group of family in front of her all cheering and clapping was put a huge smile on her face and walk directly toward her dad. They hugged for a long time, she came close to losing it but did a good job of keeping it together. I watched them and I felt a deep sadness that I could not have had the same thing. This is a large family with a long history with this man who is their father but instead of separation and coldness they put smiles on their faces and welcomed him to join the celebration for their daughter. I’m not saying everything was rainbows and butterflies but every single person stayed quiet and polite, he even took a picture with K’s mom and him together. I think it showed hugely what their character is and I was so happy that K got to have her whole family together for this occasion. There were no pieces missing, every one banned together to make it as special of a graduation as they could. But through my happiness for her was a pain in my heart that I’ve felt for a long time.

My dad left just a few months before my graduation. I spent my whole life with an intact family, a father who was the best father I could have asked for and in an instant all of that was ripped from me a long with countless other things. I tried my hardest not to let what happened effect my school work and it didn’t, I graduated with good grades. My mom asked me if I wanted him to be in the stands at my graduation. I thought about this for a long time. On one hand I was so broken apart emotionally I hated him, I was angrier then I had ever been in my life, I was crushed that the father I had my entire life was gone and worst of all he was gone and didn’t want me to follow him. On the other hand, he had been an active participant in my schooling since kindergarten, usually more active then my mother. I didn’t want to think back years later and remember that he was not able to watch me walk, I didn’t want it to be my call that I didn’t let him come. So I gave my mother the ticket and I told her to give it to him, but that I didn’t want to know if he was there or not. I didn’t want to think about him on my day even though I knew that my mind would be on nothing else.

The day of my graduation was very difficult for me. I woke up in the morning with so much pain in my heart and I went to bed that night with even more. I broke down before we even left for the ceremony, yelling at my mother and bursting into tears. I remember walking down the street, trying to calm myself like I used to always do not knowing why I snapped on my mother but knowing that it really had nothing to do with her. Normally this kind of situation would have caused even more yelling and the entire day would have been ruined and I would be blamed for it, but for the first time, maybe ever my mom allowed me to have my breakdown and then talked to me calmly. She told me she knew this was hard for me and that she was sorry, she helped me calm down and we continued with the day. It is maybe the only major free pass she had ever given me and I will never forget that.

After the graduation practice all of the graduating class was standing out in front of the amphitheater waiting for the families to show up. Before long, families and friends started flooding in to take their seats and I looked for my small group consisting of my mom, sister and her family, my boyfriend and a friend. I didn’t see them right away but who I did see navigating through the crowd was my father, program in hand, pants neatly ironed. I saw him and my heart threw out an aching jolt and I turned away, hiding myself behind a crowd standing near by. That was the only time I saw him that day, I listened for his voice in the crowd as my name was called but never remember hearing it. That next time I saw him was about a year later when my niece was in the hospital having a kidney removed. He also said nothing to me that day.

My senior year of high school had to be one of the worst years of my life but I will always remember the effort my mom put into making my graduation as special as she could. There was an absence there that couldn’t be mended by any of us and we were all still learning how to live without him, but the day was full of every one else that loved me at that time. I am so glad that K got to have the memories of her father incorporated into the rest of her family for her graduation. No matter how she feels about him right now, one day she will look back and be forever grateful that she allowed him to come. I am to this day grateful that my father came, even if he made himself invisible like I requested just knowing he was in the audience means a lot to me. That will probably be the last one of my major life events that he will ever be apart of. I can’t describe the pain that brings me but I am glad that he at least did that even if it was more for him then for me.

{TSF}

Your not my summer love

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This was written almost a year ago on April 25, 2011. Right when we were in the midst of the daily struggle to stay you and I and not make it us. But now here we are almost a year later and I am yours and you are mine and I cant remember being this happy in a very long time. The world works in mysterious ways, and Im not sure how we ended up together but all I know is I wake up with a smile every morning and the only  time my heart aches is when its been too long since I’ve seen you. ❤

Reading through it now I’d say its a bit unfinished maybe one day I’ll give it the finishing it needs.

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I had a dream that I was alone floating in the middle of a vast lake. The sun was high in the sky and I felt its warmth on my face and the comfort of its light. The water surrounded me, cupped my body like a lovers embrace. Coating my legs, embracing my arms, covering my ears. I was peaceful and content listening to the slow breaths in my chest. I opened my eyes and when I turned my head to the horizon you were there. Just as peaceful. Just as content letting your body float in the lukewarm lake, next to mine. I had no fear, I had no doubts, I had no thoughts of the lake closing in, swallowing me up and taking me under. I gave the lake my trust, I gave it the power to hurt me, trusting that it wouldn’t.

I am a realist. I am a pessimist with cynical tendencies. My glass is half empty and my outlook on life is based on years of being hurt at every turn. I’m not one to follow my dreams. I’m one to evaluate those dreams, think about it for a few days, weeks or even months and give myself a well coordinated neatly constructed list of every reason those dreams should stay just that. But you’re a dream I want to follow. You’re a light I want to step into, you’re a challenge I want to take on. You’re a man I want to love and you’re a friend that could be my best.

And I could let myself love again. I could throw out the fear and swallow the doubt. I could take every memory of him and I, tuck it into a silk lined casket and bury it in the soft tilled earth. Not to be forgotten, but to be laid to rest. To lay that history to rest, but it wouldn’t be gone. No, never gone. It will always be there, buried in the cemetery of broken dreams and lost loves. It is harder then I ever thought it would be, painstaking and unforgiving but I can do this. Because you came into my life and Im not scared. Lying in your arms is like coming home after a long trip through hell. Its complicated and its wrong, its careless and hurtful but in every way it shouldn’t be there are ten more reasons it should be. And for you I could do this. For you I could let myself love again.

We aren’t summer loves. We weathered our storms when the world outside was weathering its own. You’ve kept me warm in cold dark rooms when I couldn’t fathom being alone. It started late one unexpected October night. It was like a fast moving train we were the only passengers of. It had no brakes, no linen covered seats, no luxuries just you and I and the cool fall air whipping through us. We sat in the doorway of the train chugging to no where and let our legs dangle in the wind, the light from the moon lighting our way, looking to each other for support through the turbulence. And I know all the words that were spoken. I know all the rules and boundaries that were set. I know that in the dark as we laid our bodies so close together we promised we wouldn’t make this anything that it couldn’t be. You intended on holding true to those words, as did I. I had no intentions on falling in love with you, I shook those thoughts off as fast as they would enter my mind. I couldn’t see myself loving you, making this any more complicated then two friends using each other for physical needs.

But after weeks of pretending not to notice the gentle stroking of your hand on mine, pretending to make nothing of your fingers through my hair, pretending not to notice the excitement in my belly and the fluttering of my heart I couldn’t ignore it anymore. Because with you, everything is different. With you, my heart feels light and my feet feel like they can take me anywhere. You speak your love to me through parted lips and shaky knees. You hold back when we have conversations of ending up together. You hide behind the complexities of our situation, you skirt around my questions, you refuse to let yourself love again. But Im determined not to give up.

I thought I lost you once. When I couldn’t keep quiet any longer and told the secret we promised not to tell.  I thought id lost you and that was it and this would be no more. My heart was broken and I cried for days. But you thought twice about it. Took some days to yourself and then you came back to me. It was New Years Eve and you called me so late in the night. We started the New Year making new promises of locking our hearts off from each other. But my fingers were crossed behind my back and I knew we couldn’t stop what was coming.

Memories from the archives of my life [daddy issues edition]

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This post was originally written on April 24, 2010. Reading through it now, I see a lot of things I would change and maybe one day I’ll rewrite it but at the same time, I feel like that would be disrespectful to myself and what I felt at that exact moment that I wrote this almost 2 years ago. I don’t write much about my father. This piece and the one that was posted just a few weeks ago are probably the only things I have ever actually written about him. I don’t know why that is. At first after everything had happened I couldn’t write about him because the crushing pain that he caused me was so great I couldn’t and didn’t want to roll those thoughts and feelings into one giant ball and let it flow through a pen. I wanted those feelings to die and to never have to feel them again, and I am glad that I made that decision. Like most things, the pain has faded over the years and to this day I would not enjoy sitting down and reliving those memories of exactly how I felt in that moment. This was written maybe 5 years after he had left and it was to make a very important point that when you leave your child at any point in their lives, you leave with the memories you had of them in that moment and take with you nothing of the growth and development that that child will experience throughout their coming years. And really, that is very sad for him that he will never know the woman I have and will continue to become.

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I saw your Facebook page the other day. You made it as private as possible, just like you made your life to me; private. But I went around that. And I saw the pages of your family. The family that you kept from me. the family that shares my last name, my blood. Unfamiliar faces glowing on the computer screen in the dimly lit room of my house. Reading through status updates and comments left between family, a familiar emotion washed over me. A feeling of sadness, of betrayal, of longing and understanding trickled from the top of my head to the ends of my toes; and even though Ive felt this before, it was more profound then ever before. I think it was at that moment that my inner self dropped the facade and allowed the understanding that you are happy to come in. I realized that ever thinking that you were alone, unhappy, or regretful was stupid of me. What the hell was I thinking? I suppose that scene in my head was built from denial, from still caring for you, for still hoping that you cared for me.

But that was a lie. You walked out of my life and straight back into the life that you lived 20 years ago. You left and you kept on leaving until you reached the red rock sand of Arizona. Reuniting with a woman that you knew 40 years ago. A woman that I will be damned to believe you only regained contact with after you dropped my mother and I. You linked arms with her, shook off the past 17 years of responsibility, of a daughter who needed you, and a day to day life that you despised and you settled on into a life that you finally got to live after such a long run in purgatory. I saw the brothers and sisters of yours that you hadn’t spoken to in over a decade. The parents of yours, elderly and fragile. The same parents that couldn’t accept us. Couldn’t accept my mother, the woman that loved you more than you’ve ever been loved before. The woman who already had two children; older children from previous marriages, from previous lives. The woman who laughs a little too loud at times, the woman who lived without a veil of lies, the woman who passed her Jewish genes to your only child. The child your family would have liked to christen, to baptize, and confirm; the child your family would have nothing to do with.

I saw the structure of a family tree that I have never had. Your family together from the in ground roots of your grandparents, to the sturdy trunk of your parents, and the leafy branches of your siblings. So different than the shaky branch that I call my own family tree. I saw a family that even though each and every one of you are fucked in the head in your own ways, you stick together. Being welcomed back into a family that you had exiled yourself from for the good of the family you chose. Going back on every thing you had ever told me about your life as a young person in southern California.

And I was once again reminded that I don’t know you. Not really; and I never have. It is still shocking for me at times to remember that I grew up living in a house with a man that I called daddy but was always distanced from by the solid concrete wall he’d constructed around himself. I can recount almost the entire life story of my mother. Of course not everything, I know there are things that she has chosen to keep from me, life stories and experiences that me, as her daughter does not need to know but I would have no problem constructing a time line, or writing an essay. But not you. No. Growing up i didn’t ask many questions of you and your life. I guess I could feel it in the air at a young age that your life as a child, as a young adult, and as a person that existed before me was off limits. Anything that I did ask you was answered with a simple vague answer, or the generic ‘I’ll tell you when your a little older’. I know most of what i know by asking my mother. You at least shared with her. She at least knew you a little more as her husband. But I cannot remember one time in my life when you recounted a funny story of something that happened in your childhood. Not once.

And then my thoughts of me not knowing you shifted to the realization that you do not know me. And you probably never will. You left at a very pivotal time in my life- really in any ones life. I was 17 years young, gearing up for my high school graduation, held together by the boyfriend that had already loved me for 2 years, and just beginning to think of what life after the safety net that is school would be like. You were not very present. And when you were you were encouraging me to go to school, researching colleges online and trying to help guide me in the right direction. I was at a confusing time in my life, trying to accept that i had grown out of the ballet slippers of my childhood and getting used to the idea of leaving the nest. I was a typical absent minded, self absorbed, defensive teenager of 17 and that, is how you will always remember me.

You don’t know me as the artistic, funny, capable woman that I am now. You don’t know that i love to cook, and that my mothers talent and know how was passed to me. You’ve never tasted the home made bread, or the bolognese sauce that I was particularly proud of. You’ve never walked in my door to find me bent over the cutting board chop, chop, chopping away, humming the melody of my life.

You don’t know that I’ve kept the same job for two and a half years. That I persevered day after day to gain the experience that i knew I would need to move past the telephone answering, appointment scheduling days of my early twenties. You don’t know that i listened to your advise. That i listened to every word you ever spoke to me and that I held those words close to my heart. You don’t know that i cherished every single one of the moments I spent with you as a young girl. The car rides to grocery stores, the games of catch in the front yard with the sun shining on us and the scent of cut grass hanging in the air.

You don’t know that I’ve found my talent in photographs. That after years and years of believing that talent escaped me, that I had nothing to call my own I finally picked up a camera and saw something different through the lens. You don’t know that portraits are my favorite, spontaneous and organic. You don’t know that I gifted myself with a beautiful camera, a tool that became my outlet. You will never be a subject. Never stand across from me and have your face become captured in a timeless four by six.

You don’t know what my house looks like. What couches, and wall hangings Matthew and I chose together. You don’t know that summer time is my favorite but that the rainy streets of Seattle make me feel at home. You’ve never sat at my table as a guest in my house witnessing the pride i hold on my face for the life we have accomplished together.

You don’t know that my feelings toward you have changed dramatically. At first it was nothing but a flurry of anger, of shock, sadness, hurt, and fear. For years a chip on my shoulder I held and anger in my heart but not now. I still feel all of those things of course at times. Mostly when I think of the blue eyed, courageous little girl of 4 that you abandoned. But now, my feelings are civil. I do not forgive you, I cannot forgive you and maybe I never will forgive you for what you did and I am angry that you stole the right for me to be happy for you. Because I could have been. You are my father, the only father I will ever have and through all of this shit, it helps me sleep better at night knowing that you are happy. That you have the life, now that you wanted then.

You don’t know that its hard for me to even say the word ‘Dad’. That the memories of my childhood with you are fading. That every happy memory I have of you is cheapened by knowing that you never cared. By knowing that you always wanted to get away. You don’t know that when asked my full name, my last name feels foreign as it exits my lips. That the name now makes me think of you, and the family that birthed you; not me and the mother that took that name 20 years ago. You don’t know that I would have kept it. That when Matthew and I finally tie that knot i would have held strong and kept your last name firmly planted behind my middle. In honor of you and being your one and only blood child. The only daughter that you will ever have. But now, I will take the name of my love, partially to start new with a solid foundation of a partnership, and partially to get away from the name that is not me. To change myself forever. To lay to rest the first chapter of my life for good.

But it gets easier every day. No longer do I think of you on a daily basis. No longer does the core of my being hurt quite the same way that it did in the beginning. Its easier now to push old memories and thoughts out of my head, out of my life so that I can focus on the right now. And I feel like now, almost 5 years later I am just beginning to heal. To be able to speak of you without tearing up. I am old enough, and mature enough to accept that I will never be completely healed. That the wound you created that November has a permanent place in my heart, but I am also mature enough to understand that that does not define me.

I remember the last time I saw you. In the hospital after my precious nieces surgery. Such a strong little girl, more at ease knowing that her whole family was with her. Including the tall, gray flecked bearded man that she called papa. The man that had become scarce in her life, without understanding why. It was a hard time for us, for the whole family. Not understanding why this precious child’s kidney didn’t function, why it was making her ill, and why they had to cut through the porcelain skin of a young girls abdomen to remove it. I was the first to break down. Trying so hard to become like steel. To be strong for her, to be strong for her parents- my sister. But as they wheeled her out of that room the sudden thought that she doesn’t fully comprehend what is about to happen was too much for me. And I did it, my eyes filled up and spilled over unwillingly allowing fear to take over me, shamed that I couldn’t just keep it together. And then you looked at me. You looked at me; vulnerable, and upset. Scared for that 4 year old and scared of the unknown, you looked at me; and then you looked away. And it was at that moment that I was able to throw away the maybes. I was able to toss the ‘he’ll come arounds’ out the window. And for the first time I could say; My name is Bonnie and my father will never be anything but a fleeting, transparent memory of my past. And then I was able to let you go.