It’s Really Real, For Reals.

It’s been a weird week.

I mean, they’ve all been weird since almost exactly a year ago, when I finally made the firm decision to leave a relationship that had, for all intents and purposes, been dead for the better part of a decade. Ever since that moment on Christmas Day, the second that I knew there was nothing left to salvage, my perception of the world and everything in it canted sharply at an angle and blurred. Everything since has happened in a kind of haze.

Every so often, while walking around in my fog, I have a moment of absolute clarity when I think back to what I left behind. It’s much like walking slowly across a frozen landscape in a blizzard, and every so often there’s a hole in the ice and I plunge, naked and afraid, into the icy depths. A sharp intake of breath and a moment of vertigo and I’m sucked back to a memory of my comfortable, 2000-square foot house in the sun, my familiar work environs, my BMX track, my known and understood life from before.

It’s a horrifying feeling, because every time it happens I’m at risk of missing that life. So I have to really check in with myself at those moments, and let the feelings happen, whatever they may be.

I do miss aspects of it. I don’t miss most of it.

I don’t regret anything.

I know that I need to give myself time, still. I know that I’m grieving. I know this because that sudden remembrance of what was is exactly the same thing that I felt when my friend Cliff died. I would wake up in the night, relieved, and think that his death was a dream, and that same jarring sensation of falling through the ice would happen when I realized he was really gone. It was a slap across the face all over again. The new reality is a life without what came before. It takes time to adjust.

Just because I don’t miss it doesn’t mean it hasn’t been a massive shift.

So, back to my weird-ass week:

My car was stolen from a parking garage about three weeks after I came to Portland. On Monday I got a call from the police that they’d found it about 13 miles away in Beaverton. I was initially thrilled, which almost immediately gave way to trepidation. I didn’t know what I’d find when I got there, but I was determined to bring her home.

So you might imagine my surprise when my actual reaction when I saw the car, and the condition she was in, was one of utter revulsion. I didn’t want to touch her, much less bring her home. Even though she was in OK condition on the outside (battery and a tire were missing, but otherwise the body was fine), the interior that I had carefully preserved for 14 years under seat covers was fairly trashed. There were stains on the seats, biohazard bags in the back, and an assortment of trash and food everywhere. She smelled really bad. I actually felt super nauseous, and would probably have thrown up had I been alone, but the presence of two police people kept me from embarrassing myself.

It wasn’t THAT bad. I could have driven her somewhere after getting a new battery and had the interior detailed. But I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t look at her anymore, much less sit in her. So I gave her to the tow truck driver, a very young man who said his family could use a second car. I felt utterly defiled. I don’t know how else to describe it. But I feel like I did right by both the nice tow truck driver and myself by giving her to a good home instead of sending her to the scrap heap. It worked out for everyone.

So yeah. That happened.

On a far less serious note, a couple of weeks ago my friend Steve told me about “barre” classes. More specifically, he’s been editorializing about how badly they hurt. Even more specifically, he drew a picture of his shredded thighs (he’s an artist) and the picture was so good that a brewery in Salt Lake City has asked him to recreate the drawing for a beer label, which is an appropriate place for pain imagery. Also, how rad is it that he does those classes?

So I signed up and went to my first class on Tuesday, because no one’s more interested in a little self-flagellation than I am. The whole thing feels a little BDSM. I mean, it’s a tiny, toned lady in tights shouting instructions at you to do things that make you hurt. Sometimes she comes over and grabs you by the hips or shoulders and moves your shit where it needs to be, which generally is harder and hurts even worse. She’s a little dominatrix, let’s not be coy here.

And Steve was right. I felt like my quads had been shredded by a cheese grater. My sore triceps forced me to lower my head into my hands to add shampoo in the shower yesterday. My abs have yet to unclench, and breathing hurts.

So I did it again today. 🙂

The other miracle that happened this week, and is likely never to repeat because I was my usual awkward self, is that I was invited to an all-lady Christmas gathering at the home of the partner of a new friend. It was actually pretty nice at first. I brought some food and wine, and I had a lovely chat with my host in the kitchen for a while before others arrived. She’s a beautiful lady, I think she’s about my age, and super into running and mountain biking and (gasp) barre classes.

But in keeping with the week’s theme, it was a weird evening. I never like meeting new women. It’s not their fault. Women my age have had a bit of a rough time of it. I feel like Gen X women are the first in their families to truly try to “have it all”, like kids and careers and marriages and upward ambition. So we compare ourselves to one another. We judge each other harshly, I find. I actually liked everyone I met last night, but I don’t think they liked me. It’s OK. I’m really no one’s cup of tea, and I’m learning to be comfortable with that. I think it will make meeting friends who I really do click with that much more special, if it ever happens.

I’m a 51-year-old glorified ditch digger who loves punk rock and riding little kids’ bikes, and who, through half a lifetime of relative isolation, has been rendered mortally afraid of trying new restaurants, riding the bus, eating in front of people, and kissing guys. What’s to like? I’m nothing if not a hot mess.

And It’s OK. It’s all, all OK. WEIRD, certainly. But it’s gonna be OK.

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