Sunday, July 21, 2013

It used to

Escrow on the house I shared with my daughter's father is closing tomorrow.  My fiancé and I went there tonight to pick up one last load of my things to bring back to the condo that we will share starting August 1.  On the drive back, Katy Perry: Wide Awake started playing.  Felt appropriate.  Just for good measure, I put on Lupe Fiasco: The Show Goes On, which was the song that came on the radio almost exactly two years ago when I left the house right after I'd filed for divorce.  There was a part of me that was happy my ex was still living in it these past two years and my daughter got to spend time where she was born and learned to walk.  Now an empty house, I walked through it one last time.  I remember agonizing over the color of mint green to paint her room and the care I took picking out the pink glass door and cupboard handles.  I stepped into my tiffany blue bathroom with deep soak whirlpool bathtub and remembered my nightly luke warm bath I sat in with the jets going to help my back while I was pregnant.  The perfect mother of pearl fixtures.  It's not mine anymore.  I said good bye to the lamp hanging over the kitchen sink and the one that hung in the staircase in the hall.  When I stood in the backyard, I remembered so many times two very tired and new parents had cracked jokes out of desperation and uncertainty.  I looked behind me and saw my ex watching me from the downstairs window.  I told him I bet I could hit the street if I threw a lemon over the back fence and he immediately laughed and remembered our private joke told so many years ago.  Then I started to cry.  I told him I was sad to leave the dwarf pomegranate tree that my dad had given us that was planted in the backyard and he promptly dug it up and put it in a pot for me to take.  It was not a small act of kindness.
And now I'm sitting at my desk in my newly redecorated room with my fiancé's furniture, crying and eating a Hostess cupcake.  It all feels so different now, but it's really not.  Not much has changed.  I feel like we've added some new people to the family, but everyone is still together, aren't they?  This past week I'd gone to Virginia to meet my fiancé's family and fell in love with his mother.  She told me that she considered me her daughter and she wanted to be my mom and I cried like I was 6 years old again. We took a trip to Washington DC together to meet my younger sister and her family who now live in Pennsylvania and the new resident mom and dad took care of us all and my heart was so full.  I flew back early to get my little girl and my fiancé flew back a few days later.  When he arrived, my ex picked him up and my fiancé helped my ex move.  The next night, my ex and his father helped my fiancé move in with me.  Yes, you read that right.  And of course I got to listen to the boys laugh and tell me how much they like each other the next day.  One big crazy family and I wouldn't have it any other way.
Although the night my fiancé's furniture was being moved in, I had fallen asleep early and as the men were moving in the furniture, I heard my ex's voice in my dream state and I thought I was still in Laguna Beach with him suffering from my concussion.  I started to panic.  Was it all a dream?  Did I not have a daughter?  Were we still married?  Had none of the past 4 years happened?  I struggled to open my eyes and saw him walk past me.  I closed my eyes and a part of my brain was comforted by the sound of his voice.  Wasn't he the one who kept me safe?  I opened my eyes again and saw his dad walk past me in the dark (I was sleeping in the family room as they were moving furniture). Just then my daughter woke up and started calling my name from her bedroom and I snapped back to reality and ran to her room to comfort her.  I'll admit I stayed in her bed to stroke her hair for a few minutes until she was asleep and we were both calm.  The next day I went to my ex's new apartment with his girlfriend to have his sign some paperwork for the sale of the house and nearly had a panic attack walking back into the same apartment complex we used to live in.  The couches were there in the same spot.  The same bed frame and comforter was in the bedroom.  It's strange how things can have an impact on you when you think time has healed them.  Maybe it's because we were so happily married when we were in that apartment together.  It was the golden years of our marriage.  But I think that's a good place for my daughter to stay now with all of that positive energy. She was conceived there, after all.
I'm not sure what I want to say now.  I'm feeling overwhelmed by so many different emotions.  I'm relieved to have the house sell, but sad to see it go.  I'm excited to be engaged again, but scared of history repeating itself and having my new husband look at me one day and tell me I'm ugly and he doesn't want me anymore and I don't act the same when I'm pregnant.  But I can't let fear stop me.  Instead, I'll sit here by myself and cry.  Cry because I'm sad and scared and disappointed.  Sad because the finality of the house selling feels like a weight on my chest and it should be a burden being lifted.  My love keeps me warm.  My daughter remains the light of my world and I'm so excited to give her a little brother or sister one day soon.  I am still adjusting the love I have for my future husband and how considerate and generous he is towards me and my daughter.  I think I'm still adjusting to my relationship with my ex, which still has love and a deep understanding for each other, even if that includes being separate and respectful of our different choices in life.  We are still united for the sake of our daughter and I'm so grateful we try to be flexible and considerate with each other's schedules as well.  When you have kids together, there really isn't a redo button, is there?  You remain together and you attempt to redefine your relationship under these new terms.  It's a task that feels impossible, but we are doing our best to make it happen.  I think we're doing a pretty amazing job.  I think we are the most functional dysfunctional group of adults I've ever met.  Same team, right?  Same team.
But now I have a new family to adapt to and I'm dealing with my own struggles there.  My wireless network "NoBoysAllowed" no longer applies.  The bed that kept me safe the past two years now belongs to my cousin and my fiancé's enormous Cal King now fills the floor space in my room, along with his monstrous dresser.  A few months ago he replaced both of our couches with new ones, but I kept my dining room set.  He even bought my daughter a new bed.  It doesn't even look like my house any longer.  I guess that's the point, isn't it?  It's our home now.  Soon we will take engagement photos and those will hang on the wall along with pictures of me and my daughter and me and my sisters.  Every time my eye is caught by my diamond ring or I go to take out the trash or fold the laundry and it's done, I'm reminded that my life is so different now.  It's changed and for the better.  I just need to take a deep breath, appreciate what I have, and move forward.  I've been alone so long that I'm struggling trying to remember how to be with someone and depend on another adult.  How funny that two years ago I was struggling with the exact opposite situation.  Looking ahead I wonder what I'll be struggling with in two years...a new baby?  I smile just thinking about it.  We can hope.

Monday, July 8, 2013

I like my cucumbers with sugar and vinegar

I never seem to tire of marveling at how life moves in cycles.  Go to brunch with your girlfriends some time soon and just listen to what everyone has to say.  I'm single, my boyfriend lied to me, we broke up, we're happy again, mine is pissing me off, I had a fight with my husband, I'm happily married.  Me? I'm engaged again.  I'll let that "again" echo in your head for a moment.  How many times does this make for me?  Well, it's the third I said yes to.  Maybe fourth if you count that first promise ring when I was 21.  It was a pyramid of tiny diamonds and he bought it for me in Vegas one weekend after a big win.  Next there was a marquise cut 1.5 carat blue sapphire.  Then I got a really pretty princess cut diamond promise ring set between two sapphires--a ring I saved for my daughter for her 16th birthday.  My engagement ring that time was a really pretty .80 carat princess cut blue diamond.  Not that a handful of jewels and gold ever brought me any good luck.  They all took their turns using me and ultimately leaving me in the end.  Now I have a beautiful one carat cushion cut diamond in a halo setting with a ton of tiny sparkles around it and down the band.  Same color and higher clarity than the diamond I'm saving for my daughter, but twice the size.  I wonder why I keep all of these memories in my head.  They don't do any more good than the rings ever did.  So here we go again, right?
I don't know how I feel about all of this.  There's something mixed in with the supreme court decision on gay marriage that's bothering me.  I've been married twice and I'm working on number three.  There should be some shame in that, shouldn't there?  That I've been such a miserable failure at picking men in my life, but somehow because I'm straight and willing to sign the legal documentation again, it's ok.  I'm forgiven.  My friends are willing to throw me a shower and I'll spend a bunch of money on a wedding again and we'll pretend I belong in that white dress and this time it's going to last forever and nothing and nobody was a mistake.  What a nasty word.  Certainly my daughter wasn't a mistake, was she?  Does it make it better that I'm still friends with her dad?  Lord knows I try to act as though it does.  When we have lunch together once or twice a month, I look into his eyes and a part of my heart still cries for what happened to us.  This last time he looked at my engagement ring and told me how pretty it was and we talked about him proposing to his gf that he's been with for over two years now and I wanted to cry.  I don't know why.  I like his girlfriend. I love my fiance.  Hell, I still love him, but not in that way anymore.  But the cycles of life continue and here we both go, just like 10 years ago when we met and I was engaged to my first husband and he was sleeping with some teenager.  I guess some things don't really change.  Except now there's a little brown eyed girl with wavy auburn hair that looks suspiciously like both of us.
But I've found a new man to love me and my daughter and now everything is supposed to be ok.  Everyone says he's an upgrade, which I'm sure is supposed to be a compliment, but manages to piss me off when I hear it.  Like I'm investing in a product instead of a person to better my life or situation or some shit like that.  I don't know, it just sounds like someone is being insulted here, whether it be me for my previous bad taste in men or my exes for not being good enough.  If anything, we were all just young and stupid and I know there were so many good intentions that when someone insults my ex, I still feel my lower lip tremble and I want to punch someone, but I'm not sure who.  I can tell you that my ex is one of the smartest guys with the quickest sense of humor I've ever met who has flawless taste in everything and can fix pretty much anything electronic.  My future husband has the biggest heart and ability to relate to people that I've ever encountered and has showed me the kind of love that I thought only children were capable of, all while managing to be attentive to his job, family, and friends with careful consideration and thoughtfulness that would impress women of any age.  They're just different.  But maybe I'm different now then I was 10 years ago too.  Maybe instead of looking for someone to make me laugh and be an asshole with, I need someone to love me and be considerate of my feelings and what I need to be happy.  Not that anyone is happy all the time.  I argue with my current man just as much as I argue with my ex.  In fact, I was joking with my ex that I like him just as much as I did when we were married.  He said he hates me now and then and I laughed and said, well, we hated each other plenty when we were married too.  That's just relationships for you.  The difference is that my fiance's interaction with me is voluntary, but I suppose my ex's isn't if he wants to see his daughter.  I like to think he still cares for me and likes me, though.  Maybe it just helps me to think it all wasn't a waste if we can still be friends.
I wonder what everyone would've thought if I'd had fallen in love with a woman instead of a man this time around.  It's been a very interesting few years for me.  I did a lot of watching a listening.  To my horror, I found that it was more acceptable to be a complete failure at marriage than to be gay and be with one person my whole life.  What a double whammy to be divorced twice and end up with someone of the same sex.  I don't talk about being bisexual very often because of the stigma that society puts on it.  I like to say that my biggest secret is that I keep secrets, and I suppose this is one of them.  I think the part of sexuality that scares people is the threat it can pose.  When you're a straight woman, other females may be concerned that you're going to steal their boyfriend of husband.  When you're bisexual, they become concerned that you're going to be inappropriate with them.  I've never heard anything more retarded in my entire life.  Honestly, who do people think they are that they're so concerned that all of a sudden women are going to start groping other women just because they're gay? Get over yourselves.  The same rules of attraction apply to the opposite sex as the same sex.  The interesting part for me is that I'm attracted to a larger variety of men than women.  I'm quite picky when it comes to females.  I remember being pregnant with my daughter and being almost exclusively attracted to women and craving cigarettes and vodka (none of which I indulged in).  I like to joke she'll be a biker lesbian (unlike her lipstick lesbian mom?).
Honestly, it must be so hard to be gay. I feel lucky that I'm attracted to both men and women.  I met a really special woman who happened to be married.  What if she were single and I had ended up with her?  Would the world be tolerant if we were engaged instead?  I doubt it.  But because a man put a ring on my finger, it's ok.  I get to have another baby and my white dress.  I feel terrible that instead of being happy for finding someone special in my life, I'm busy being angry for all of those people in the world who do not have the chance to celebrate and be encouraged.  I sit and think about who I'm attracted to and how I view people and I know 100% that it's not up to me.  I don't know why I'm attracted to certain men or women.  I can't control it at all and I wouldn't want to.  It's such a hard thing to figure out who you are and accept that.  Imagine having the world tell you that you're wrong.  How you feel is wrong and what you want is wrong.  There's that urge again to want to punch someone but I'm not sure who.
Sometimes I feel like I don't respond to stereotypes and categories well because I don't belong in any.  I'm half white and half Persian.  My baby has a hispanic father.  My fiance is black.  My first husband was Jewish and most of the guys I've slept with were white.  I feel like my vagina is representative of the UN.  Go ahead and laugh.  I don't see people as color.  I don't see gender either.  Whatever part of me that was supposed to parse out the population into boxes for race, religion, age, sex, and preference somehow didn't develop and I'm glad it's missing.  I remember the day my female friend told me that she was transgendered and would be a he from now on.  I told him I loved him, no matter what name or pronoun he wanted me to use.  He was a sexy bitch either way. And I still believe it.  When I sit down and try to compare my view of the world against most people's, I find that mine doesn't quite match up.  I'm more unconventional.  I don't think I want to apologize for that.  Most days I think people should lean a little more towards my direction with some blurred lines.
I'm writing this thinking about how difficult it must be to date me.  After all of the things I've been through and all of the things I've seen, I have some unique opinions about the world and my place in it. I think it's perfectly normal to give my ex a key to my condo and have him pick up my daughter.  I smile when I hear him and my fiance joking around while they wait for my daughter to wake up and I work in the other room.  Most days I don't care what anyone else thinks of me, but there are times when it's refreshing to hear one of my friends make a comment about my personality and know that the real me does shine through all of the facades and grand productions that have gotten me through the last few years of my life.  Since I've become engaged, a few of them have expressed excitement that their married friend was going to return to them.  Apparently while the single Elitist was a hot partying mess of good stories, the married version was much more comforting with home cooked meals, hot chocolate, cupcakes, and movies on the couch.  While it was fun posing as Samantha for a while, I am certainly Charlotte deep down (although I do write like Carrie, don't I?).
I'd like to think that through all of this, the one thing I've learned is that you don't exchange personalities or habits for others based on your relationship status.  Your path to happiness comes directly from figuring out who you are and accepting that, period.  It doesn't matter what anyone thinks about the world or your place in it.  You need to follow your heart and make choices that make you, and you alone, happy.  Learning to love yourself is the hardest lesson I've ever had to learn.  From my sexuality, to how I feel in relationships, raising my child, making friends, and dealing with my place in the world in general. I want to tell you that I'm happy.  I deserve to be happy.  I'm in love and I'm going to get married and hopefully have another baby.  I look at my beautiful ring on my finger and feel very grateful I have such a caring man in my life, but I'm struggling.  How do I truly celebrate when there are so many people out there who do not have the same chance to experience what I am?  Don't we all deserve the chance at a heartfelt proposal, white linens, toast, wedding cake, diamond rings, and all that nonsense?  Even if we've had our hearts broken.  Even if we love the same sex. Even if you're a different color.  I do.  We all do.