September 4, 2012

“Friend, you’s married now!” In a buoyant and uproarious echo, my subconscious calyx of pain was broken and I was back. Back–back to life, back to my preferred reality, basking in the moon’s glow, and backed by some of the most gregarious, loving and riotous members of our chosen families. Oh, it was surreal!

On September fourth, I married [wipes tears] an incredibly beautiful human. I wish I could be more writerly and set the tone for those who were not in attendance, but neither was I–sort of. What I mean is, I was there–but it wasn’t me, well the same me who has since emerged to tell the story.

Some time ago, I wrote Tiny Deaths. A post reflecting my thoughts on a concept a dear friend pointed  out. Life, she instructed, consists of a series of “tiny deaths” we all must face to grow…”like a garden”. The best way I can describe my wedding week is to say it was a slow, pleasurably painful, blossoming. Transitional layers were shed, fresh new leaves were exposed and as I walked away from the altar, I felt open and alive in ways that escape this life cycle’s recollection. It was transcendent. It was so transcendent, that I’m still gaining perspective on what it all means for the journey.

I’ll be writing more about the wedding, the road to the wedding and my new journey as Ms. T. Allen-Cotto in the days, weeks and months ahead. For now, I’m going to bask in the glow of love.

 

Peace and love

Making Strides Part IV

I sat in resolute silence, double-fisting the mouse and the telephone. In one hand, the cursor hover over the send button, in the other was the telephone–my thumb positioned on the redial button. My heart ambivalently longed to recoil. I felt a shift, a sudden rush, a dam break. As my pulse and breath ran staccato, I hit the send button and redial whilst simultaneously roaring the kind of cathartic every-emotion-intertwined visceral bellow that I’ve only ever experienced in natural childbirth. It–the truth, was out in the world on its own. I was no longer host to the pain or the glory, it simply existed in its very own space and time. I felt free, it felt right.

Michael answered, “Everything will be OK.” He said, as I continued to heave and sob. In retrospect, I don’t think I wanted Michael to rescue and reassure me, as much as I wanted him to share and rejoice in the moment of our unveiling. It was our first small victory. The period leading up to and even after finalizing our decision to marry was marred by that which had ended. The Mercados were celebrities in our/their (still working that out) own right despite our worldly obscurity. We were the pillars of our little community, and our downfall was felt far and wide. In that moment, I felt I’d released myself from any further obligation to that relationship or the community. In announcing my upcoming nuptials, it was in my mind, unquestionably accepted and understood that from this moment on, my purpose and responsibility was to my new life.

I don’t know what Joe’s true reaction to the news was, some time had passed before we broached the topic and he was awkwardly evasive, per usual. Perhaps that truth also wades  amidst the many secrets of our undoing; walled behind a dam of their own, until beckoned for their inevitable unveiling. He never officially condemned or congratulated me, then or since (Michael and I married on September 4th) but, there has been a notable change in our tone, affect, body language and communication style; one which affirms with undeniable certainty that we are no longer, nor will we ever become again, who we once were. Reaction or not, we are now and forever living new and distinctly separate lives. It is the end of an era.

I’ve taken some “heat”, if you will, regarding how deeply sentimental I am and/or have been over the dissolution of my twenty year marriage. The criticism has run the gamut from questioning my readiness to marry again, to questioning my readiness to divorce at all.  And, if that isn’t enough to bog my troubled mind, there are my own unanswered questions. This has led to the realization of many unspoken truths about life, marriage, family and community; truths that will become the bread of my writings for much of the foreseeable future. But firstly, for the satiety of my own unsilenceable voice I need to say that this is my experience. The marriage was ours, his and mine–but the experiences of every moment, great and infinitesimal were at once shared but not. The complex processing of events that made, sustained and eventually destroyed us took on a life and death of their own in our psyches. I grieve the parts of my self that are now and forever lost, as much as I accept their death as part of my rebirth. You can’t plan for these things, you must simply accept them as a means to letting them go. And, if you’re writerly, dissect and analyze them for their own posterity. Still, they are of you, even when they are no longer yours.

Coffee, Anxiety and Reflection

I’m not having the best mental health day…past few days. I’ve had a heavy anxious chest and a flighty confused mind for the better  part of three days. Some of it is just the nature of the beast, but other parts are–dare I say, normal.

In just a few weeks–two I think, I’ll be married..married. As I’ve stated before, this is equal parts fabulous and frightening, as I have previously experienced the things love can’t conquer. The notion that we learn from our experiences is both a blessing and a curse. Oftentimes, I find the lessons I’ve learned have been hard and scary and not indicative of the norm. (Last time, promise) Or at the very least in stark contrast to what the ideal lesson/outcome would be. A recurring theme, trend, lesson if you will, has been that humans are haphazard and dangerous and pretty shitty. This of course, doesn’t negate the times when we are awesome and loving and compassionate, but it does take the sparkle out of those moments once the other side is revealed.

The LP seems in such a better, brighter place about our prospective futures. It’s as though one of us is preparing for battle and the other feels they’ve  just won an epic one. From his perspective, humans are also haphazard, dangerous and shitty, but the awesome is like a spoonful of sugar that wipes away all traces of the shitty. Mayhaps, experiencing the darker side first makes all the difference. For all of the big important lifestyle choices he and I agree on, we came to this place via very, very different roads, evidenced in the way we respond to the joint ventures. It’s been interesting to say the very least.

All isn’t woe and worry though, I have had a few moments when the shitstorm I weathered over the past two years becomes incredibly clear leaving me no other recourse than to look at my healthier, wiser, still standing, now-even-stronger self in the mirror and say, “Fuck yeah, I did it!” And, I did–even if in the next breath I feel a bit worn and wondering why I had to do it. Why did I have to find my strength in this way? And,  what did I trade for this “super power”? [Grimaces]

 

Peace and ponderings

Making Strides: Part III

Las Vegas, eh? Over the next few days I’d make many connections of the logical, metaphysical and Tameka variety as to the significance of Nevada as a beginning and end place. Moreover though, I wrestled with my conscience and wondered had I done my old and new relationships a disservice by not addressing the topic of my upcoming nuptials as soon as the shared locale was noted. Honesty and integrity as it were, would be integral in both the beginning and ending of said relationships; it felt like a call to act to, “Be the change…”

It could be said, as it has, by me, on more than one occasion, “Nothing is owed”. Surely, open communication was not a recurring theme in the end times. (And, in those in-between either, quiet as it’s kept). Was there really an obligation to deliver the news of my upcoming nuptials with a spoonful of sugar and not, oh…I don’t know– say, deliver the news via Facebook photo spread? Hmm? In the recesses of my mind, I could hear my grandmother say, “You are my child, and I taught you better. You know better, and when you know better, you must do better. Man may give you stone, but you must give him bread”.  Excuse me, which way is the high road?

On the eve of my catharsis, Joe visited with souvenirs for the children and me, tokens from his travels, it was nice–it was the last straw. I watched the young people finger their Vegas trinkets and I could hear the cogs spinning, I could hear them making connections and almost feel their internal struggles not to say, in their respective young adult and teen vernacular, something along the lines of, “Oh you went to Vegas too, we’re going to mom and the LPs’ wedding in a couple weeks”. No more games, this life is about one love, not one-up.

I didn’t share any of what was happening with anyone, I knew I needed to hear my inner, unadulterated voice on this one, and I listened intently as I crafted an honest and emotional, “Dear John”, to Joe. I will not share any of the details of that letter, but I will tell you all that it was the most succinct and sincere way to wrap up the loose ends of a long and beautifully complex past with dignity and even a gentle, gracious nod of hope for the future. I ended it with an invitation to breathe and then join me for coffee and conversation as we take these final strides together into our new lives apart.

 

To be continued…

 

 

Making Strides: Part II

I received an e-mail from Joe. (The preferred method of communication for anything that can go off-topic and end badly.) I’m paraphrasing, but it was something along the lines of him meaning to tell me sooner but… , and what he preceded to tell me was that he’d acquired a paid performance on what would have been our 21st wedding anniversary. I still brace myself for communication with him as he has haphazardly wielded morning stars throughout the chambers of my uncaged heart for quite some time now. As I continued reading, I came across the word, “Vegas” and suddenly began to feel ill.

Joseph and I have lived in Arizona for 8 and 9 years respectively, neither of us have ever been to neighboring Las Vegas–well, at least not during our together years. I’d make my first pilgrimage to Las Vegas last summer when I went out with a childhood friend to visit her family. A family whom I know well as they were my upstairs neighbors in NYC. There was also another reason for the trip, I went to scout out the location for my September wedding to the LP. Odd, how the Universe would suddenly, summon us both there…

I read the e-mail over a few times: head tilted back, deep sighs. My initial thought was, is nothing sacred? Subsequent and prevailing thoughts however, fell more in line with the way I live my 2.0 life. I took a few mental paces, and put it all in perspective. I wished him, “…a safe trip and a rockin’ set”. The following morning, having still not slept, I drafted an e-mail to our children and cc:’d him. I wished them, “A happy Inception of the Allen-Mercado Family Day…”. I went on to write a personal message encouraging them to each be their best selves. Y’know, do us proud, and all of the other stuff that comes with being part of a given family. I wanted them to know that while the end of our marriage brought change to our family’s composition–family is forever. (And woefully, is it ever–but, that’s fodder for another day.) In that instant, what our marriage was metamorphosised in ways that I can’t readily articulate, but it became so much more than I think I’d ever given it credit for. The end would finally justify the means.

Sure, divorce sucks! I mean, it sucks in ways that unmarried, happily married and even unhappily married people can not fathom. But, the only constant in the game of life is change, and sometimes that change comes in the form of the ways we define, family, forever, and the promises we made–so very many rotations around the sun, ago.

 

To be continued…

An aside: I do not normally stop talking–or in this case writing, to breathe. The subject matter in the Making Strides segment of this blog is rife with intensity; an intensity which was built over decades. While I understand that I do not have that long to retell it, and preserve the story’s integrity, timing is an integral part of storytelling for both the storyteller and reader. Thanks for your patience.

Making Strides: Part I

The desert sun rose today, shining brightly through the small east-facing cubed glass windows just as it always does. Coffee press to the left, a gift of unwashed dishes from my midnight marauders to the right–same as it ever was. But it’s not.  My shoulders were soft, not weightless but bearable; comfortable–it was nice. I dare not say I felt happy, as that would be hyperbolic, but I felt something that I haven’t felt since, well…since.

Yesterday, we did the child-swap, my standing bi-weekly reminder that things are different now, that somewhere along the way we ran out of disaster plans, that all recovery efforts were moot: futile–progress nil, mission aborted. We are divorced. Yesterday though, was an exception–a plot twist in the insipid tale of the middle-aged housewife abandoned for a young co-worker. (As a writer, can I tell you how much the banality of my own story pisses me off. I just knew it’d be my big break; my very own sell-out, tell-all novel. Alas the Universe had other plans.) A new story begins.

The summers were our time, family vacations, 3:4 birthdays and our wedding anniversary (now aptly named, “Inception of the Allen-Mercado Family Day“)*. It’s no wonder that now is a particularly tender time of year for all. This year, Yael’s birthday marked not only the passage into her teens, but an adjustment of mammoth proportion as she would now join the declining number (I’m just never amongst the cool kids.) of children of divorce. I turned thirty-nine this year without the usual bells and whistles, but thirty-nine is hardly a pivotal year, and Joe’s forty-third year fared about the same, I guess. Then, came what would’ve been, but could not be, so we reclaimed it.

On the eve of what would have been, amidst the flood of emotions surrounding that which has become and what will (I strongly hope) forever be, it all came to me. Yes, some, but not all has been lost.

 

To be continued…

Time, Time, Time…

Eleven something o’clock PM and I’ve just pressed twenty plus ounces of organic Yuban. In the not nearly far enough distance, Jordan bellows what sounds like a fusion of hip-hop and ska as Yael tries to eject Cosmo (resident “bad cat”) from her room. A daily exercise in futility.

My body is somewhat tired but my mind travels at the speed of knots. Mayhaps chamomile and not caffeine would have been the wiser choice. It’s been another emotionally exhausting day. I woke up anxious, crashed midday, and have been struggling to clock some tangible productivity since.

The LP took the day off so that we could spend some much needed time “together” on Skype and the telephone. We filled the waves with the comfortable nothingness we each so desperately needed.  Long distance partnerships can get tough. It’s been about 5 months now since we last saw one another and, I’ve just gotten word that our next visit will be only half as long as we’d initially planned. Y’know the thing about planning, yes? [Sighs and grimaces]. Me too, but it’s yet to stop me from doing so anyway. Truth be told, cramming all of the Living Social and Groupon junkets and deals into half the time is starting to look like an epic adventure! Particularly for someone who, in months, has gone no further –in proximity or socially– than the doctor, the grocer and the art supplies store. I just may have found the inspiration I need to begin taking and posting photos again.

There are just a few more BIG wedding things to take care of–big enough that the thought just forced my hand up to my throat where my speeding pulse is now palpable. It all seems to have happened rather quickly, although the final meeting with the planner showed we’d been at this since last July. I guess when you consider that we’ve [Clears throat and winks] gone through two gowns, five pairs of shoes, two sets of jewelry, four wedding bands, one wedding party member, and a few breakdowns (of both the mental and communicative varieties), it all makes sense. Long distance partners planning a destination wedding can get tough–OK, downright brutal!

In addition to all of that–yes, there’s more. I’ve been doing some heavy-duty life planning…mapping? Yes! Let’s go with mapping, ’cause that “p”-word can be a real “b”-word. Since the “d”-word –OK, OK… Since my divorce, I have been in a perpetual state of knee-dusting. Of course, I’ve made progress. I’ve grieved, and been angry, and forgiven myself, and repeated that a few times, but I haven’t made my full leap into Me 2.0. I’ve crafted a bunch of ideas in my head–big, well-thought out ones, too. But I’ve stopped there. The LP’s unwavering faith in me has been a constant source of encouragement and some recent guilt, as I’ve come to concede the need do more and cogitate less. Time, time, time…

Peace and patience

On Apologies and Other Ramblings

The cliche phrase reads,  “Love is never having to say you’re sorry.” Here, all this time I thought it was “Tameka”. Yes, I confess I loathe apologising (and the letter z). For the better part of my existence, I can get on well without it, but there are those other times when I’m not at my best and my propensity for histrionics, hyperbolic speech and an acute affinity for colorful language drive me to that awkward place where only those two words will free me.

But, this time it wasn’t me– [Happy dance with jazz hands]–it was my LP. (I wanna be like the cool kids with their cool acronyms, so go forward, Michael, the person with whom I share my life, histrionics, hyperbolic speech and dreams will be known as my/the LP ; life partner.) Michael had to say he was sorry. Let me just preface this by saying that he doesn’t share my ideology on apologising (or the letter z) and is actually quite adept at it, but today we shared one of those awesomely awkward growth/teaching/learning/bonding opportunities on lessening the need for ’em. Trust, I put much thought into not getting myself ensnared.

Cultural relativism–you’re probably thinking, (Or not because of my long writing absence and non-linear posts have thrust the LP into the seitan of this blog with no formal introduction) “What need for discussions of cultural relativism could two Native New Yorkers from the same basic socioeconomic strata and alma mater possibly have?” Oh puh-lenty! The need is plentiful and great. [Insert, girl-let-me-tell-you eyes here.]

I mentioned previously that the LP is my Prince of Disks, he’s like urban aristocracy and has very strident guidelines for all things proper-like, noble and just. Uh, yeah, well I’m flaky and crunchy and pretty far left of all o’ that there. The thing is, at the end of the day we see the same end–unity. When all is said and done we move to the beat of a shared drum, though the practice sessions can get right cacophonous!

This week we had to draw upon sociological teachings to blend the cultural ideals of “Stuffy” and “Crunchy”. I won’t get into the specifics of the issue at hand, (Respect for the young people’s private lives’, and all.) but, it came down to the rights or lack thereof for parents to govern young people’s bodies. And, guess which member of the summit got their first tattoo at 14? Right. So, we phone-tousled (LP still resides in NYC) and I became annoyed and abruptly ended the call, as I often do. But, something happened while I was in the shower calling him names other than Michael, and LP. I realized that we both had a point, and that the opinions we didn’t share with each other were both shared and thought to be “right” within our soon-to-be-adjoining community circles. As the impending “glue” of said circles, we had a shared responsibility to find harmony.

With the aid of chemical assistance, I slept on it and we resumed the summit this morning with fresh ears and that new, old phrase, “cultural relativism” and, although I engaged in a bit of histrionics by bringing up the case against female circumcision, all ended well. We each agreed to present our opinions as just that without negating or otherwise demeaning the other party’s stance, because we are BOTH right. And, boy do I like me some being right! This new, old approach lessens the likelihood that anyone will leave the discussion feeling they are owed or must offer up an apology. Hot damn! I guess love is never having to say you’re sorry–or y’know at least keeping it to a bare minimum. One down.

Peace and cultural relativism

Six Weeks and Cringing

If twelve year old me was fan-girl excited about the prospect of donning pretties and being the star of her very own fairy tale, she aged at the speed of progeria and 6 weeks before showtime, an almost forty year old me is rethinking the whole production. Color schemes, budgets and themes, I was all about it, I felt I’d crossed all of the t’s and dotted the i’s , so why now do I feel like I planned the perfect wedding for someone else?! I’ve always known and often admitted that I am a serial planner and a poor executor, but there was no grey area in this, I knew it was my wedding and that it wouldn’t,couldn’t, cannot go on without me. So what gives?

Michael blames “those wedding blogs.” In truth, I frequent just one blog and it’s been nothing short of therapeutic. It is comprised of stories from women who are much more like myself than the run-of-the-mill frill blogs. I thought maybe it was the moon or my ruling planets–shifting in Venus and already mildly erratic Mercury in retrograde; but, even on the days  when they align just so, I, sadly do not.

A few weeks ago, I dared say it aloud, “Cold feet”. Only– if I am being completely honest, I am hardly reticent to the idea of sharing my life with this beautiful person; it is the public display and, maybe even the public declaration with which I am struggling.

Much can be said about past experiences. Even as I willed myself from the beginning of this love to see it as a new life, the absence of ignorance– both blissful and not, has rivaled my best intentions. Avoiding phrases like second husband, second marriage, second wedding–referring to the former life, as such and the former life partner by name. All of these things I’ve done to set the stage for a novel beginning, one with a magically excised and therefore absent past (see: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) only to find, at the eleventh hour, none of it has worked. I’ll need to do the hard work. I’ll need to concede the past, admit defeat and jump again, with even more courage than before.

But, in six weeks?!

Thanks, Nora

I woke up today having one of the highly feeling types of days that generally lead me to languish in tears and self-pity. That didn’t happen. Instead, I brewed a couple mugs of the good stuff, and went blog hopping — checking in on some of my favorite reads. I’ve been remiss in my blog hops, or any pleasure reading in general amidst the throes of academia and general motivation anemia. I digress. In my travels– which ironically started with my favorite wedding blog, and ended at a fresh divorce post, I stumbled across this quote from the dearly departed, no-stranger-to-heartache, Nora Ephron:

And then the dreams break into a million tiny pieces. The dream dies. Which leaves you with a choice: you can settle for reality, or you can go off, like a fool, and dream another dream.” ― Nora Ephron

Up until now, I’d been reticent to write about my love life goings on. The abrupt–or not (fodder for another time)– end of my 20 year marriage, closely followed by an intense, rapid-fire romance left me feeling doubtful of my ability to make sound life choices. I vacillated between wallowing in the acceptance of a harsh reality and valiantly daring to “dream another dream”. In the end, I chose the latter and embraced the idea, that foolish as it may all seem,  I’m more courageous than complacent, and settling for reality was simply not an option for me–not in this lifetime.

In less than sixty days, I will marry my Prince of Disks; a beautiful human I once so rightfully loved at the wrong time. A fool like me, he dared to patiently build this dream for two at a time (a great length of time, across a great distance) when I no longer would or could. I can’t think of a quality more befitting a life partner, or a partner more befitting my new life. Thank you, Michael for trusting in dreams, and a great big, posthumous thanks to you Nora, for eloquently stating and boldly living ’em.

 

Rest in peace…