Thursday, September 27, 2007

Never pass by

About a block away from where my children used to have day care is a post that flashes a crossing warning for school kids. It’s not normally something that would capture my attention but I noticed it the first time when I dropped my kids off at daycare. The post was covered with plastic flowers, ribbons, photos, small toys and teddy bears piled up at its base. About four feet up was a piece of cardboard about 2 foot square with a picture of a young girl, dark hair with a slight wave and black eyes shining with the glee of being, her broad grin both loving and mischievous, a missing tooth telling the world she was probably in first or second grade.

Scrawled around her photo in a deliberate, pained script were phrases of love and sorrow, beliefs of a better world and the certainty of an ache that would never go away. One cold morning, the horizon tinged with scattered hues of autumn, I stood reading those words, tracing the outline of her face with my fingertip as I gently wiped the grime of traffic from her photo. I could not touch her, my fingers merely moving across the projection of what she had been and what her family wanted me to know of her, a stranger passing by and taking the time to hear their lament. The story was clear and sad in that rarified fall air. I could not touch her but she and her family had touched me.

Months later, the post was clear, everything stripped away so that only cold steel reflected the colors of passing cars rushing into lives indifferent to what had been there before. City workers, I thought, ordered by some mindless bureaucrat to “beautify” an otherwise ugly strip of pavement where drivers blazed by with single-minded intention and kids crossed in peril. My sadness grew; not just that the memorial had been taken down (and for no good reason, I thought) but with the thought that she was now forgotten as life marched relentlessly, heartlessly along.

Today I was supposed to go visit the grave of my son who passed ten years ago but unfortunately, my head was down and I was swimming upstream, fighting mindless bureaucracies, driving with single-minded intention, heedless of love or lament or plastic flowers laid out to remind me of my own ache. It’s not that I had forgotten (not a day goes by when I don’t think of him) but I was too busy rushing headlong into every challenge that presented itself. Every time I hit the canvas, I got up for more, bloodied but resolute, angrier and more determined. The fire in my gut told me that I would end up victorious and in some ways, I had. Unfortunately, that fire took what I needed to sustain in my heart. Fighting made me as ugly as the boulevard that cannot sustain the memory of a life cut too short or families who bother to build a monument to love.

Rekindling the spark in my heart, I’m reminded that my own memorial does not reside on (or in) a post, or in a graveyard. Three beautiful children I’ve raised, the love that I offer to MBS and her three beautiful children, his spirit, love; his spirit thrives. Indeed, it's that energy that commands me to share the abundance, his legacy, not the stone in the ground, the bit of cardboard that says nothing and everything.

That and then sharing even more with MBS and her three beautiful children is as good as any pyramid or a cathedral. Noble taught me many things, the most important being that I need to stop and read at those places where teddy bears have been piled up and plastic flowers have been sewn lovingly into the fabric of a painful memory, that there are many more important things than to answer each petty battle with a flint face. He taught me that the fire in my gut diminishes the light in my heart and for that, he will always be loved; he will always give me pause and require me to stop and stand on the side of a road to weep.

About a week ago, I noticed that the pole had been done up again. Fortunately, for the same girl. The fire in my heart blazed as I considered how a family had taken their own fire and turned the decree of one more heartless bureaucrat into fuel for their hearts. Good for them, I thought, and my mind turned from where I was going to where I had been. I was no longer driving by with my own mindless, heartless direction but set on a path that did not ask me to fight or react out of anger but just do what needed to be done, accumulate teddy bears and plastic flowers and place them all where all could see that my love would overcome the need to fight. I miss my Noble so much (and such an aptly named child!) and tomorrow, 10 years and a day after I last held him in my arms, I will stop on the side of the road and weep.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Times They are A-Changing

Yes, it’s been over a month since I threw up my last post (yes, the allusion to vomit was intentional) but I’m not back because I believe I owe an apology. My life has been full and happy and exciting and for that, I refuse to offer amends. What I will offer is an explanation for why Patriside has been and the promise that this little space won’t be as bone dry like it’s been the past few months.

Some of you (the three or four of you with the questionable taste for reading me) have no doubt noticed mention of MBS, My Binary Star, the love of my life. Despite my innate skepticism and atheism, I’ve tossed the term “soulmate” around without irony or sarcasm. From the first moment I chatted with MBS (a giddy and delirious conversation that stretched into the wee hours and was reluctantly terminated in deference to the need for sleep) I knew she was special in a way that rocked my world, opened my heart and mind, special in a way that far exceeded anyone I had ever met before.

When we finally met a few weeks later, all my hopes and dreams were confirmed. MBS came to Manitou Springs (a 4 ½ drive from her place) to meet me at the legendary Loop Mexican restaurant. I got a small table near the window to watch for her and as long as I live, I’ll always remember the vision of her crossing the street to meet me. My first reaction was total awe, her beauty was stunning. Almost immediately after that I was hit with doubt and fear: how could a woman this gorgeous have any attraction for me? Then, sadness as I worried that our weeks of connection on the phone, text messages and emails would be washed away into a bad memory hole as she got a good look at me and said, “You’re a nice guy Jim but not really my type…”

Fortunately that was not the case (and other than finding me attractive MBS has exquisite taste) and the rest is, as they say, history. The moment I met MBS that night online, my life changed, for the better. My lifelong dream of an eternal passion with an intelligent, beautiful, sexy and loving woman looked like a possibility. Our first weekend together made it abundantly clear to me that not only was my dream within my grasp but that woman I’d always dreamed of would also be my best friend. The entire weekend felt as though I’d spent glorious hours reconnecting with a long-lost kindred spirit, it felt as though we’d known each other our entire lives.

Every time we get together it just gets better and better. Since late February we’ve been together over a dozen times (I just returned from 4 days with her and her children) and the more we’re together, the more our passion grows – and the more the longing aches as we pine for one another, crave to be together.

So it should come as no surprise to ya’ll that we’re going to be married. January 5, 2008 at our house in Pagosa Springs. Yes, I’m leaving my cool little town of Manitou Springs and realizing another long time dream of mine, moving farther into the mountains. I’ll be moving there in mid-November and will bringing the kids down in late-December to start school there in early January (the week MBS and I will be married!). We’re blending our family: MBS has 3 girls of her own (ages 12, 9, and 4) so it’s kind of a Brady Bunch situation. This blog started off with the subtitle “A single full-time dad figures it out” and that was changed after X and I went back to shared custody because I felt dishonest referring to myself as “full-time dad” (even though it can feel full-time). Still, when I’ve bothered to write, the emphasis of this blog has been, by-and-large, my life as a single dad. Obviously, that’s about to change and MBS has suggested that my writing will soon reflect the trials and tribulations of a newlywed husband and father of a blended family. One assumes that hilarity will ensue.

My reluctance to write about MBS had to do with a silly superstition that writing about relationships automatically jinxed the works. With a wedding date set and absolute certainty that MBS will be the last happy thought I have as I shuffle off this mortal coil, it’s clear I’m far beyond the influence of a jinx and my superstition was, yes, silly.

The view from our deck in Pagosa Springs

Time to change this blog. I am head over heels in love and about to be married for the final time, forever, for good and all. Hopefully I’ll be writing more about this new love and new life, my new family, my new locale, my new lease on life. There’s a lot to say and I’m glad to be over my irrational fear (and I firmly believe that fear is the opposite of love). For those intrepid few who have stayed with me, these upcoming months should provide a lot of material for me to gab about here.

And to my newest reader, MBS, these next few months will express some small measure of my love for you. The times, they are indeed a-changin’ and baby, so much for the better. The change here will (I hope) document our journey together towards a magnificent forever.