Be a Unicorn

I started this poem in 2016, right after my divorce. I finished it last month. I call it “Divorce.”

Lonely tastes like dust

Bitter steel

Turning into rust.

Lonely is the sound of pain

Glass shattering

Blood stain.

Empty is a cold embrace

Fake lover

Taking space.

Empty screams like a siren

Chasing dreams of love away

Don’t come back again.

Alone says courage, my dear.

All of this will pass.

And you

Will still be here.

This year, I made it through Thanksgiving and Christmas relatively unscathed. I made it through my Max turning 18 and my Shane turning 21. Even though my kids are now adults, it’s pretty clear I will never stop momming them. It just means being a mom moves to another more complex and a more expensive level. Next week is New Year’s Eve and I’ll make it through that as well. I’m very happy to say “peace out” to 2019. It’s been an action-packed year. I’ve said goodbye to expired relationships, appliances, and too many sweet friends, gone too soon. I’m ready to say hello to 2020.

It’s been five years since the Wasband and I split. When we were getting divorced, some of my friends told me I would “have no problem” meeting someone else to be with but guess what. As it turns out, that wasn’t true. And also, being with someone else is not the remedy to a divorce. Or to anything, really. I’ve learned that it’s important to be happy and fulfilled alone. You can’t be mean enough to yourself to effect real lasting change in your life. You can only do that by accepting and loving yourself. I’m getting there. It’s a journey, not a destination.

Tonight, for Christmas/Hanukkah, my mom gave me the awesome gift of a stuffed unicorn named Cinnamon. Tonight, I am happy to chill with the unicorn Cinnamon Girl, a glass of good Pinot Noir, and write a little bit. Alone. Tonight, I’m proud of myself for being courageous in the face of feeling lonely and empty. I’m still here. And I’m pretty damn happy.

I hope that if you feel empty or lonely you can believe me when I say those feelings are just reflections of thoughts you labeled yourself with and you can kick their ass in the journey to being the best version of yourself, alone. To the brave, badass, beautiful you who doesn’t give a f*k what anyone else thinks or expects of you. I think you should be proud of yourself for how far you have come. Because you’re amazing. You’re a damn unicorn.

Go where the love is

When Max was in Cub Scouts, he was working on the requirements for one of his badges. We were going down the checklist. “Max, do you know where we keep the emergency telephone numbers?” “Yes, they’re on the refrigerator,” he said. “Good,” I said. Check. We kept going down the list. First aid kit, care of bleeding, choking, etc. He assured me he knew it all. I said, “Max, do you know if you have an escape plan for the house?” He said, “You mean if there’s ever an earthquake?” I said, “Yes, or a fire.” He said, “Yes. I’d get the hell out of there.” Check.

On October 26, 2019, we were evacuated from our home as the Kincade Fire burned to the north of us.  We had been packed and ready since the Tubbs Fire in October 2017. But as the high-lo sirens blared and the police drove through our neighborhood announcing, “This is a mandatory evacuation,” I began to panic. My Max said to me, “Mom. Stop. Breathe. It’s okay. We are going to be okay.” I packed myself, my mom, and two dogs, Tommy and Lilo, into my car. Max took our other dog, Atticus, and all the musical instruments he could cram into his car. And we headed to my dear friend’s home*, south, away from the fire.

The next day we watched the videos and television footage of the fire burning towards our home. We watched as fire engines drove up and down the streets of our neighborhood. We watched as firefighters and first responders set up their command center in the county park half a mile from our house. We watched as firefighters fought flames back in the backyards of our neighbors and friends. I started crying. And Max said, “Enough, Mom. You’re done watching this.” He closed my laptop. And he hugged me. And he told me we would be okay, we would start over if we had to. He told me he had saved money and we could use it to begin again. My then-17-year old son who has always been an old soul, became a young man in front of my eyes that week. He took care of our family. And for that, I will always be grateful to him.

We went back home five days after we were evacuated.  

When I look at my sons, I am consistently grateful that I didn’t fuck them up. Or if I did, that at least they made it to adulthood as good human beings. Someone once told me that mothers and sons share cells and that those memories create an innate, intuitive bond between you. I’m sure it’s the same for mothers and daughters. Which, I think, means that by however many degrees of separation and cellular memory, we are all connected. Mothers and fathers and our children. All of us.

When fires burn towards you, get the hell out of there. Go where it’s safe and your tribe will love and take care of you. Know that badass, brave firefighters and first responders will risk their lives for you to come home again. They are part of your tribe, too. Maybe remember to say a prayer that they get to go home to their families.

I hope your holidays are beautiful and bright. I hope you are at home and safe. And if you’re not sure, I think home is anywhere and everywhere love is. So, I think that you should go where the love is.

*Thank you, merci, arigato, Rene, and my beloved tribe, for taking care of us.