Monday, September 26, 2011

The Weekend

I had my fourth and final shower in my hometown yesterday. It was really lovely, relaxing and calm, with food, wine and good company. My maid of honour was there, with another friend from high school, plus all of my aunts. I received some really useful and wonderful things, the sort of items the Dude and I have been in great need of, but have worked around doing without.

The second half of that day was to include going to a tea event, where writers would read aloud from their books. My ticket was a gift from my maid of honour and I was very keen on going. I love tea and I love books. Whether or not to experience the two together was something of a no-brainer. The shower began at 11:00 and we were to leave for the tea at 2:15.

There were a couple people who couldn't make it, some mothers of young children, for instance. One child had a fever and there were other child-related issues. Another family member had to work. However, one of the ladies who couldn't make it was my father's girlfriend. She's a nice woman, and let us know was likely going to be late for lack of a ride. This was fine with me and with everyone else. My aunts were going to enjoy each other's company after I left and if she could get there before 2:00, she would catch me.

My dad, though, intruded on the shower with his own ideas.

The phone rang and one of my aunts answered it. The conversation appeared to be strained as I watched her sentences cut short and her words grow more controlled and careful. She explained the shower was happening now, that I was busy, that I had another planned engagement afterwards which everyone had been aware of. She seemed reluctant to call me to the phone, yet unsure how to handle the terse and angry barrage on the other end of it.

I realized I was likely the only person capable of putting an end to this tomfoolery, so I took the phone and listened to my father angrily explain to me that my obligation for some reason was to stay at the shower so his girlfriend could come, regardless of whether I had another place to be. Explaining to him that this would be essentially throwing away my maid of honour's gift to me and abandoning our shared plans, which was obviously an insulting thing to do and an unreasonable demand to be making, fell on deaf ears.

He looks upon his lady as an extension of himself, and my inability to accomodate her late arrival as a refusal to accomodate him, and any such refusal as a gross act of disrespect, a respect he feels is his due no matter the personal costs to me or others.

I kept my voice firm, my words detached and coolly rational, which is the only way not to be drawn into a futile and emotionally fraught battle with someone whose mental state is as shaky as his argument. He changed his tactic, and in the tone of voice he usually reserves for saying "young lady", he began, "Now, I don't want to ruin your shower, but..." to which I cut him off to calmly inform him he already had. Realizing he would get nowhere, he said,"Goodbye!" with the sort of finality an agitated wife might tell her husband, "Fine!"

I accepted his goodbye and hung up first, which was unusual. Usually he is the one to slam down the phone, but I think he had overestimated the effect of his goodbye, thinking I would rush in and try to placate him and please him so he wouldn't hang up on me, and he remained on the phone, I think, to wait for my remorse.

I'd have felt embarrassed, but I have not kept my father's nonsense a secret with those I'm close with. They know what he's like and I offered no apologies for him and no explanations. I stopped owning my dad's behaviour a long time ago.

One might say the tension in the room after that was thick enough to cut with a knife, but we cut the cake instead and all was well. My maid of honour was understandably horrified about the whole thing. It was her gift that my father had taken issue with, but the ladies were quick to point out this was his problem, not hers.

Our tea event went ahead as planned and we had a lovely time. The readings were really good, and the snacks were tasty. I got a book and had it signed. By 5:00 I was in very good spirits. Despite my father's foolishness, I'd had a relaxed, scrumptious, friendly and cultured afternoon. I was invited out to dinner, but being the introvert I am, I was ready to just go home and absorb my day.

I'm home now, feeling a little tired, somewhat out of sorts. This is not a negative thing. Being very social and travelling between cities so quickly, I just need to readjust and have a quiet evening to re-energize. Despite my fatigue, I am feeling deeply satisfied.

I also had a wonderful talk with my aunt while I was there. No matter how well you may know someone, there can often be layers to uncover about a person under the right circumstances. I think I have a better understanding of her, who she is, how she feels. It's the sort of way I'd like to be with my own mother, if she were here.

Overall, I had a great weekend. And I have five weeks till my wedding. It hardly even seems possible.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Family

Tuesday was the 12-year anniversary of my mom's passing. In high school, I took the day off the first year. In college I didn't; each class cost me money. I've never taken the day off work when it's fallen on a work day. It's one of those life moves on sort of things. There have been years I've realized it passed without notice.

But I was aware this year, probably because she's been on my mind more frequently.

My parent situation really, to put it mildly, bums me out. I mean, I've made peace with it and everything. I don't lie awake at night pining for a family I don't have. Well, I do lie awake at night, but that's not why.

There is the situation with my father. Many a person has encouraged reconciliation. And all those people typically are family or the odd friend who isn't aware of the history. I haven't had him in my life since 2006. He had this habit of disowning me for minor infractions, kicking me out of the house during fits of anger, telling me he never wanted to see me again. When I went to live with him after my mother died, he pulled this less than three months after her death, which was shortly after my birthday and around Christmastime.

He started disowning me at about 12/13 when I was in grade eight. It started when I stood up to him one day, after he screamed at my brother till his son collapsed into tears. The issue? My brother had been fooling around with my dollhouse. This sent my father into a rage and in a deluded blast of ignorance he unleashed verbal abuse onto his 10-year-old boy because he didn't want him to be gay.

My brother's not gay, for the record. He just happened to be fiddling around with my dollhouse, the way everyone did, boys and girls alike, when they passed by my room. It was neat. It had furniture and magnets. This was the day I took my first stand. My mother was pro-love and anti-hate and I had absorbed this belief and A. was pissed about the homophobia and B. was horrified at what he was doing to my brother. It's not like he hadn't spent our childhoods bullying us, but this was the final straw.

My father didn't live with us, and therein I took my stance. What right had he to determine if my brother was allowed to play with my dollhouse in my mother's house? And to torment him into the hysterics he had him in, which I could hear clearly through the receiver? Just no. My brother couldn't even hold the phone close to his ear. He held it away from him, still able to hear every furious insult, sobbing inconsolably.

I took the phone and I don't remember the conversation. I know one of us hung up on the other. I know he vowed I was no daughter of his anymore, and I know we didn't speak for half a year. I know this was a pleasant time in my life. I have very fond memories of grade eight.

The final time he did it, after having disowned me about, oh, I'd wager 10 times total, I was 23 if not 24. One of my aunts, who was rather instrumental in my early courtship, such as it was, with the dude back in our hometown, used to pick me up from his place and we'd have breakfast together and visit. My father caught wind of these visits and sought to commandeer them. As though after a weekend lover's romp, the person I'd most want to see would be my father.

He more or less intimidated my aunt out of picking me up and I had to call him and explain that this was not a time I wished to visit, that my aunt and I had plans, that this was a special thing, woman-to-woman. Not having a mother in my life, and being desirous of older female company, this time with my aunt was important to me. There was no getting this across to my father. He has this habit of seeing me as an extension of himself. You can hear it in his voice usually when he says, "My daughter." My daughter, the way he says my toaster or my house.

So that day, again, I was dead to him and never speak to me again and stay out of my life and I'm done with you and so forth. This man, who has begged borrowed and stolen large amounts of my inheritance, who has had me drag him around Toronto hammered at 4:00 after a day at Hooter's, and who gave up buying groceries and stayed out late drinking when my brother I were living with him in high school, felt that my wish to keep my own plans that afternoon was unacceptable behaviour.

That day I called him on it and made it stick. I've been happier ever since. He's long forgotten that day. It didn't really make the impression on him that it did on me.

He was put out that I wished not to be walked down the aisle by him. But really, it would be a facade. By necessity I've been on my own a long time. My aunts have carried me in my times of need as a teen and summers during college. But otherwise, I've been flying solo. And that's how I'm doing this thing.

People ask about my parents. I never know what to say, really. I don't enjoy making people uncomfortable for perfectly reasonable and normal questions. It's never easy to talk about. In my heart, I don't really have any parents. But that's something I'm really looking forward to in getting married: new family members, and new primary people who will be asked about, namely my husband, and eventually my children. Like I was saying, live moves on. And thank God for that.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Vacay

I think I need a vacation. I've taken some time off here and there, and I have three- and four-day weekends coming up in October and I have the week before my wedding off. But none of this is a vacation. Time spent not working is beneficial, but I need to actively relax.

I think about my work day in the evening. I feel out of sorts in the afternoon, thinking about work. Considering I don't have a high-powered job, I think this is a bad sign as I'm neither a perfectionist nor a workaholic. I believe in working to live, rather than the reverse, and that the personal life I have trumps my professional one in overall importance. So my focus on work is making me anxious and I think I'm getting burnt out.

I was just able to crack my wrist in a totally weird way. It's so rough. My right hand no long makes an easy fist and I've lost some power in my grip. Combined with the aches and stress, I think I could easily spend a week at a spa, letting them mould and rejig me back into proper working condition. If only.

I've often thought that if I had been born in an earlier time, I'd be dead by now. I had tonsillitis, pneumonia and appendicitis and I deal with a host of nonsense and a foolish sleep schedule that has never made sense. If the infection, the fluid-filled lungs or burst organ wouldn't have got me despite a lack of modern medicine, the tribe would have given the likes of me the boot by now.

Really, what I could use the vacation from is my body. Ha!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Lady

Today the Dude and I went to our tasting. It was a lovely meal that really pleased my palate. It's one thing I was looking forward to that has come and gone. In seven and a half weeks, the final one will come to pass. And then I'll need a new pet project. Actually, it'll be nice to get back to regular life. I'm pretty low-energy and don't keep really busy. Not having the wedding to plan will open up more of my time to do other things.

But back to this tasting, which had some moments of humour courtesy of this one woman who was also doing her tasting for her wedding. She was there solo and was hungrier for attention than she was for her meal. Cue the quintessential overly obsessed, self-absorbed bride who talks too loud and takes too long to hyperactively say nothing of importance.

The Dude and I were a table away and attempted to enjoy our own conversation, but we couldn't amidst the eager zeal of these gems:

"We don't want dancing. We have this theme about a nice night out, you know? Like at a nice restaurant? I love dancing at weddings, don't get me wrong, it's fun, but it's not what we want, you know? It's just our decision, we really just wanted a theme of a nice night out, so we're not having music. Well, we're having a harp, but at the reception, we don't want music. I mean we're doing a first dance, but we're not having dancing for everyone, you know? Because our theme is about having a nice dinner out at a restaurant."

"I liked the meal. I just have to check with him to see how we likes it. He will complain that it's not hot like I had it, but oh well! Too bad for him, right? The string beans and carrots were good, but I need to check if they're okay. I'll have to see. He couldn't make it, so I can't say for sure right now about that."

"I have to get going. I can't see the room right now. I have some things I need to do now. (Sighs) There is so much to do! So I can't see it now because I have to be going. But I can come back. I'll come back later and see it, is that okay? I really got to go, but it's going well, the planning, you know? You know, we just want to plan our theme around the nice night out. We won't be dancing..."

Sweet Jesus, if there was anything louder than her monotonous babbling, it was the bordom pulsing out of the temples of the coordinators. They stood to leave and she kept them there listening to her repetitive musing for 5 more minutes. All they needed to know is if she wanted to make changes to her menu.

I guess she's just excited. I mean, I am too, I just don't expect people everywhere to get jazzed about whether I'm having carrots or zucchini, or, you know, be so thrilled about my evening wedding that they'd happily spend all night there without being able to dance. Heh.

What a hoot.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Walk Of Hope

Today I participated in the Walk Of Hope. It was my second time out and I raised $300. It was emotional for me. September in general can be a melancholy time. September 20th is when my mom died. It'll be 12 years this year. In a few more years after that, she'll have been dead longer than I ever experienced her being alive. That's a sobering thought.

I have a pressure in my chest and a small pulsing knot lodged in my throat. Crying seems appropriate, but for now I'm going to write. I can cry later. And when I do, I won't feel so compelled to type anything. Tears from grief have a tiring effect. They lull you into a sort of complacency after you've fully let go. I suppose that's what tears are for.

I'm going to make myself a little vow. I'm going to try never to qualify the pain of someone's loss by how long ago it was. What is gone is gone, but love is love, and time means nothing. When someone experiences a loss they pretty much have no choice but to manage their pain. But ask anyone who's lost a loved one, or hell, lost their family from a divorce, or lost a relationship that really mattered. Years later you can still tell they feel it, you can see the cracks from where they've glued themselves together.

What I hate in contemporary society is this loathsome concept of moving on. Those who know nothing insist it means you should no longer care. That is impossible. Hearts remember everything, cliche though it may be to reference the heart, which is merely an organ. But it's what skips a beat, misses a beat, pounds and aches over loss. It's where the pain hurts.

I'm still mourning. I'm aching over losing someone I've not had in my life for 12 years. It causes me pain all the time, more often than I ever let on. I have my life, my home, my fiance, my cats, a real decent set-up all things considered. I work, I see friends, I enjoy food, I am happy. And behind it all, shelved within easy reach of my memory, is the grief.

This wedding has been bringing it out more often. Sometimes I'll sit here, like now, and I'll become overwhelmed with sadness I can't place. And when I really think about it, I always know where it comes back to. Unaccountable waves of sorrow arrive from one destination.

So I'll let myself think about my mother not being there to lace up my wedding dress, see me walk down the aisle, hear me exchange vows. Doing the walk today was a good feeling, but it was very sad for me. So now, at 2:30 a.m., I'll feel it.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

T-minus Two Months

And the beat goes on. Less than two months to go till I'm wed. To be perfectly frank, it's kind of blowing my mind. I mean, yeah, we already live together. We combined our finances months ago and it's been a success. We got cats together. We've moved together many times. In many ways we're already an established couple, so what's going to change?

The fact that it's permanent. Being common law means that when you part ways, you each take what you brought in and go. Some people think it's the same as marriage, but legally it's not. The law doesn't force you to take on the obligations of a commitment you haven't formally made. You also don't have all the same protections. It's different in that way.

It's also different in the way others view your relationship. Before it wouldn't be unheard of for our respective family members to assume it'd be natural for us to travel separately or consider we'd be fine with being apart on the holidays. Now since our engagement it's understood we stick together.

A breakup wouldn't be a breakup. It'd be a divorce. We're not just thinking about the next couple years, we're thinking about the rest of our lives. There's no potential dating or romance prospects on the horizon. It's all about nurturing this relationship until we die. This is the one person in the whole world that I'll rely on above all others. This is my lifetime go-to person for companionship, comfort and planning my future. And I'll be his.

It's a definitive end to an era of my life and I'm increasingly floored by it. I'm not getting cold feet or the like, but I'm really taking it in. It's the most serious commitment I've ever made. Picking a college and a program was something, but it just required a few years of my time. Choosing apartments has always been temporary. Getting kitties is about a 15-year commitment, give or take. The only thing that would be a bigger life choice than marriage is having children. Even if you change your mind on that one or it's not working out, tough beans.

When I was a girl, I thought I would marry around 25 and be a mother at 28. Now I'll be nearly 29 when I marry and who knows when I'll have kids. I'd like it give it at least a little time after marriage to get on that.

Seems to me a lot of people don't take having kids as seriously as they do getting married. I get when people can't afford a great wedding, they want a great wedding and they figure they'll wait and save up and have children in the meantime. Not my personal choice, but I don't have a problem with it. It's one road to Rome. But there are others who will have a child with someone and then want to live together and will fret over whether to risk marriage with this person when marriage is the lesser commitment next to parenthood.

Marriage used to be the first step in a life together. Now it's nearly the last. People want to be financially secure first, buy their home, rather than start with nothing together and then begin to build wealth, like our grandparents did. Of course our grandparents were expected to remain chaste till marriage, so waiting till later wasn't very palatable. Without that requirement in society anymore, people are more concerned with having the wedding they want. I guess it's the sign of a more affluent society.

For the Dude and I, it's sort of middle ground between the two. We're not financially secure yet, but by getting married, we'll save and build together rather than separately. But it hasn't been the first step. We've already been living together.

The Dude had this idea about being more stable prior to marriage, but it's really hard to live with someone and juggle bills while keeping finances separate and doing it in the name of a boyfriend instead of a husband, where your investment of time and effort is not necessarily going into a permanent shared household, but essentially just another person as there is no formal link between the two of you.

I really am happily anticipating the stability of marriage. Things feel secure now, but really that feeling only really came into being around the time we got engaged. I'm a planner and now we can really get planning: vacations, a house, children, the Dude's business, life in general. It's a final decision about our relationship: we're keeping it. Done looking.

I suppose I'm just musing. It's not just the wedding I've been planning. Lots of talk and discussion has been going into the planning of the marriage.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Home Love

The Dude's been home for a few days and we've been enjoying glorious nothing together. I often enjoy time alone and being out with friends is wonderful. But there's an entirely different social need that he fills, and no it's not just the bow-chica-bow-bow.

It's more of a feeling of home. This apartment with these furnishings and these kittens and myself only create so much home. The rest is the Dude and when we're together I feel like everything's the way it's supposed to be.

The little absences are planned in advance so I know they're coming, they bring home money, they advance the Dude's career, he keeps in touch reliably while he's away, and they're short. So they're bearable. But when he's gone, despite the house being cleaner, it's rather empty feeling.

When he came home Friday night he was a zombie. He had nothing to say, he was sweaty and clammy and his face was that of a man who needed a two-day nap. Now he's energized and we're thinking of small ways to spend the day. We usually only get one day off together per week, and lately we've been lucky to even get that. So this is kind of a gift. It really makes us appreciate each other's company being away from each other so much.

Some couples spend loads of time apart: separate vacations, military families, long distance relationships, jobs that take people overseas. I don't think we're built for that. Not that we couldn't take it, but that we both prefer to go to bed together each night and it just doesn't feel right unless we do.

We're getting married two months from today. It's a cozy thought to think of marrying a man who feels like home.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Jendra In The House

September is upon us. What used to be the new school year and mark the end of vacation has become the start of a new vacation schedule at work. I'm not sure how many days I have accumulated. I know that I get roughly four weeks per year. I also know I don't take as much time as I ought to. I have this nervousness about not having any time off available for god knows what might crop up.

Nothing ever does crop up. Things generally get scheduled around these parts. I'm not sure why I don't just take two weeks and do nothing. Well, I suppose it has to do with the fact the Dude doesn't get paid vacation and I'm not going to travel without him, and that's what I really want to use my holidays for: travel.

I want to go to France. I need to see Italy. I have a desire to visit Iceland. And the cities I very much want to see outside of those countries are Prague and Vienna. So five items of interest. I wish I could take two months and just make it happen. With a bank account to handle such an excursion, of course. Ah, dreams.

I've been mostly alone all week. The Dude has been away for consecutive business trips to help his boss photograph wind farms in small towns that are comprised mostly with truck drivers passing through, eating at diners where food is fried thrice. And now he's a couple hours away doing food shoots. He's home tomorrow.

And my IBS acting up has made me squeamish about leaving the house, and it's made my clothes fit poorly. All home and no people makes Jendra a... well, a hermit I guess, which is nothing new, but I don't like when it's not self-imposed. I miss the Dude. We're going to spend all of Labour Day together doing only things we want to do and generally basking in each other's company.

But for now... sleeping alone stinks.