My Life from Movies~

It seems that my imagination…what goes on in my mind to help me manage this life…has ramped up.

Almost any situation I encounter has a counterpart from various movies I’ve watched over the years.

The big picture of all of this is me in the middle of a romantic comedy.

I’ve always loved watching romcoms.

Chuck used to watch them with me.

Within the big picture romcom, scenes and quotes from other movies interpose themselves.

This past week I headed to Louisville KY to visit a dear friend/wid sis/AF wid/AF veteran. She and I met a few years ago in the 3rd year of my Odyssey of Love, and we’ve maintained our friendship.

I was coming from IN where I’ve been visiting Chuck’s mom.

Part of this story that I want you to know is that I was listening to a playlist that I’d created for my Odyssey of Love from tunes sent to me by a few hundred of the community that follows my Odyssey.

I’d asked them to give me the names of songs their loved one loved, or that they loved together. Or just their favorite tune.

Frickin’ amazing. Really.

And these were the tunes I was listening to a few days ago as I rolled down the backroads of Indiana. Windows open. Tunes blaring. Me singing with them because I’m making a point of doing that. It’s my new challenge. Feel the energy of singing. Which I haven’t done since Chuck’s death a little over 6 years ago.

Cruisin’ along…

My pink car draws up to a 4 way intersection. Which is a normal thing to come upon on any road across America.

But, as I sat there momentarily, scanning for oncoming traffic, my mind drifted to the movie Castaway, with Tom Hanks. Specifically the end scene where he sits in his truck at a 4 way intersection in the middle of nowhere, looking thoughtfully in each direction. 

The movie ends with that. We have no idea except we kind of do which direction he takes.

I turned right, heading to KY. Not a big thing.

Except that, as I made that turn, for the first time since Chuck died 6 years and almost 5 months ago, the thought kind of appeared in my mind that I’m driving into my future…

As my car settled onto the road, into my mind came the scene from Practical Magic where the sister, Jillian, is driving east to help her sister, who’s just been widowed. The scene changes from night to day to night again, as she drives. Open road in front of her.

I considered to myself how I’m way over defending how I widow. Trying to convince people that I’m okay, in the midst of a world that is not at all okay. All the bullshit we hear, you know?

And into my mind came the speech made by the President in Independence Day…

We will not go quietly into the night!

We will not vanish without a fight!

We’re going to live on!

We’re going to survive!

Today, we celebrate our Independence Day!

Here’s the thing.

I’m devastated, living without Chuck. This life isn’t better than the life I had with him.

AND

I’m by god going to continue doing what I do. I drive my Odyssey of Love. I wear pink. I carry Chuck with me in every way possible. I honor him and his memory everyday. I reach out to those I meet in order to create community. I keep my heart open, even in its’ shattered state. I’m not broken. I’m not carrying baggage with me in the sense that I’m emotionally broken. On the contrary, I’m the woman I am because I’ve refused to allow others to dictate how I do this. If, at some point which I honestly don’t believe will ever happen a man comes into my life, he will be strong and confident and sure enough in himself to honor Chuck with me. I know how to love. I’m really good at being in a healthy relationship with a man. Any man would be damn lucky to have me. I’m a fucking warrior goddess.

Love is what fuels this life of mine. The Love left for me by Chuck. The Love I’ve created for myself in a nationwide community. All of this right alongside of the pain and devastation. 

It isn’t enough.

But it, by god, is what I have and I’m going to keep doing it.

I will not go quietly into the night. I’ve been fighting to survive since 11:25 pm on April 21, 2013.

I’m writing my own script for this movie I’m in~

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Missing Him on 40~

I’m on the road again.
I left Arizona, headed to Arkansas, a few days ago. Or maybe it was a week ago, now. I’m kind of tired after driving some long ass days.
Tune up on my car. New tires, brakes on my rig, PinkMagic, fixed.
Our daughter was road tripping to Arkansas with me, to see the opera camp where I work for the summer. It’s my second year back there, as the groundskeeper.
We were planning a fairly easy trip, stopping to visit family in Denver, taking our time.
Well, as they say…
The best laid plans of mice and men…
We were only 200 miles out when we heard a loud pop from the rear of my trailer, followed by smoke billowing out, and brake fluid trailing behind us.
Fortunately, I’d just pulled off the highway, so that we could drive the main drag of Winslow. You know….
Standin’ on the corner and all that.
Again, fortunately, I have roadside assistance and called them and they sent a tow out to us. He quickly diagnosed major problems and I followed his tow truck, very slowly and carefully, to his garage.
Where he removed the drums and discovered that all rubber parts had melted and all metal parts had turned to dust. They dissolved to the ground as soon as the drums came off.
Not good.
But better than what could have been, which was a fire from the massively overheated brakes, which could have easily burned my rig into nothingness, and taken the car too, I suppose, since it’s all so small.
Scary shit.
We ended up camping out at the garage for 3 days and 2 nights while they sent for parts and worked on the brakes.
High Chaparral Garage in Winslow, AZ; the best people EVER. They went above and far beyond what was necessary to keep us safe while there and take us back on the road.
Hooked us up to electricity so we could sleep comfortably. Put a large mat outside so we didn’t track grease inside PinkMagic.
Worked diligently on the brakes. We were right on the famed Rt 66, so people stopped in to say hi and take a tour of the inside of my rig.
Gave us great tips for exploring the area while we were stranded.
We’d go downtown to the corner and drink chai while watching the world go by.
Before leaving, even though it was late at night and we were all tired, the wonderful guys at High Chaparral tightened up the spare, power washed my car and trailer, signed the back of it with loving words, gave us hugs, told us to keep in touch…and away we went.
During our stay at the garage, I met 2 other widows who were 5 years out, as I am now. We spoke of the ravages of cancer and how it changes lives.
Because I was stationary, albeit unexpectedly, I had the opportunity to speak on the phone to a radio host with a program called Bringing Love to Life, about my Odyssey, and my marriage to Chuck.
Because we were stuck, so to speak, for the time we were, timing was set into place that brought us to a rest stop further on where we met a young couple, themselves stranded, trying to get to Montana to see the young man’s dad before his dad died of liver cancer. Remembering that desperate feeling, we were able to buy them a tank of gas, some groceries, and give some cash to help them on their way.
It’s the kind of thing that Chuck would have done, and all I asked in return was for them to remember the name Chuck D.
Our continued travels took us from Arizona to New Mexico to Texas to Oklahoma and then into Arkansas, and every mile along the way was filled with memories of my and Chuck’s travels, what seems so many years ago now.
How is it possible that it is 5 years since his death?
Next month I’ll have been on the road alone, as a widow, longer than he and I were, together.
That thought messes with my mind.
He is everywhere along Rt 40, through the middle of our country. He is at every roadside rest stop, at the picnic tables where we’d stop to eat lunch. He’s at the national monuments and parks, where we’d visit to learn local history. He’s in the wildflowers growing in the median strip and in the flat lands of west Texas with the huge sky overhead.
He is everywhere, in memory and in my heart.
I missed him for the entirety of 40.
I miss him on that road and every other road that I drive.
And I also know, more than ever, after the experience in Winslow, that his legacy is strong and vibrant and that our Love story is as strong as it ever was, and that I am doing just exactly perfectly heart wide open what it is that I am destined to do…
Live this Odyssey of Love. For him. For me. For all my widow brothers and sisters and their ones. Live it for all those I meet along the way, for all those whose path I cross or who cross my path.
Just, quite simply, live the Love that he left behind for me.
Fiercely. Strongly. Powerfully. Confidently.
Always.

Not So Mindful Meanderings~

As we drove from Oklahoma to Illinois today, I allowed my mind to wander.  Yes, it was a vain attempt to ignore the godfuckingawful pain that was searing my…well, my entire self.   There is no language for this grief over the death of Handsome Husband.   My hand on the steering wheel was steady.  My thoughts?  Not so much.  In a nutshell (hmm, I wrote that word before realizing that it actually carries some literal meaning these days):

I need to contact the DAV to find out if they can provide an Honor Guard for Handsome Husband’s memorial service in October.

I need to call Handsome Husband’s old boss from P & S to ask him if there is any way possible (there must be!) to arrange a flyover of a C-130 during the service.  Handsome Husband flew as a flight engineer on a 141 during his time in service  and was present as the last one was placed as a memorial at MAFB.  The 141 was replaced with the 130’s and I’d love to honor my husband with the flyover. Hopefully, Kenny can help.  Or at least lead me in the right direction.  4202_1099629931296_1243102705_30408968_2984897_n

Speaking of memorials, I need to contact the base about placing a brick for Handsome Husband at the 141 memorial.  We’d visit it each time we were at MAFB and I know he’d be thrilled to have a brick there for him.

Must call his last boss, the one I called (and continue to call), Satan.  Thank him for being such a spineless asshole and allowing the two bitches in his office, under his command, to be unprofessional and lacking in standards and any sense of ethics.  Ask him to please pass along to them my thanks for making Handsome Husband’s professional life so fucking miserable that I was concerned on a daily basis that he would suffer a heart attack.  Thank him profusely for being so unethical and so heartless and so careless of morale that it caused Handsome Husband to email me from work one day and say that he could retire in 3 weeks and what did I think and I said “go for it” and he did.  Because of you, Satan, we had 4 incredible years on the road together, making beautiful memories and he died on the road instead of being stuck at a desk or at the hospital, enduring cancer treatments that would have gone nowhere.   P.S.  I still hope you burn in hell.  Along with those two bitches. (Yes, that’s harsh.  No, I don’t care that it’s harsh).

Oh, man.  Handsome Husband would not have liked me to blog about that.  Good thing he isn’t around…

Here we are in Illinois.  Tomorrow Indiana.  His mom.  His family reunion.  The storage unit.  I’m seeing nothing but pain here.  And not the pain that I’d feel when we went to Indiana together and I didn’t want to go because I’d rather be out on the road.  This is pain because how the fuck and why the fuck am I going to Indiana without him?  How the fuck is it that I’m in Illinois, staring out at these cornfields and he isn’t next to me?

How the fuck am I going to do this?

Back in the saddle moments..

Yippee-ki-yay and all that-we’re back in the saddle again, which is to say Happily Homeless is on the road again!! Can you tell I’m excited?  Its been a couple weeks now-we hightailed it out of NJ as expected-dr appt in Philly, and awaaaay we, well, a week or so has passed, so, away we went!  Being on the PA turnpike doesn’t truly qualify as traveling for me-the road has ruts in it from the numerous times we’ve trekked our way out to Indiana.  But what did give me the possibility of a thrill was that we were going to continue west as soon as we did our time there!  We spent the first night on the road in Pittsburgh, at an Air Reserve Base-how beyond lovely to have a comfy bed again (as opposed to a 50+ year old fold out sofa…) Our week in Indiana is a posting all by itself, which I assure you will be written forthwith, and then it was nothing but road as our Ford Escape made tracks to Springfield Illinois and Lincoln country.

What an experience it was, visiting Abe Lincoln’s tomb-my reaction took me unawares.  His tomb lies at Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, which is a beautiful place in its’ own right.  The outside of the tomb-impressive.  Walk inside-gorgeous marble walls, and be greeted by a smaller version of the statue that graces our capitol in DC.  Start your walk through a circular corridor, marveling at sculptures depicting Lincoln at various stages of his life, and then, step into the quiet of the room and be confronted with a crypt bearing his name.  I felt like I’d been sucker punched, and the tears were immediate.  I’m not sure why.  Yes, I’ve read about him in history, yes, I admire him, but, wow, being in the presence of his tomb, making him so very real…it was an awesome moment, as so many of my moments have been in the last two years.   It made him seem so real all of a sudden.  If you’re ever in the area, go there.
     From Abe country, we really, really started heading west, as we traveled through Missouri and passed through Mark Twain country.  We didn’t stop, though I’d like to return at a future time.  Always have loved Twain’s humor!  This is Pony Express country-where those brave (or nuts) young men of old spurred  their ponies to deliver the mail throughout the West, and there are statues aplenty to remind you that, at an early point in our history, sleet and rain and snow were the least of their problems in delivering the mail!  Can you imagine being on a horse, a galloping horse, for the hours they had to pull? (10 hours in the saddle, day and night, for $25.00/week).  No unions then for protection and workers’ rights!  Weather, hostiles, unmapped territories-we had some tough people back then!
We’ve stayed off the beaten track as often as we could, as usual-that’s what allows us to really see this country.  As we were moseying along, we opened up the sunroof and overhead was the sight I’ve been dreaming of since last January when the fucking cancer made itself known-nothing but blue, blue,  puffy clouded, wide-open skies of the West! Oh, the joy, joy, joy!!!

Over the high plains of Kansas we meandered, seeing nothing but the amber waves of grain we sing about, standing in appreciation but not a lot of awe at the highest point in Kansas (4,039 feet). The owners approach the entire idea with a great sense of humor-fun to visit!  And, when you’re making hotel reservations on the internet, you never really can tell how honest they’re being with their pictures, so let’s just leave it at that as far as our stay at the Days Inn in Goodland, Kansas.  Bad review on their site upcoming…

And then onward wagons! to Colorado-past the stinking to high heavens (as my mom would say) stockyards of the eastern part of that state, to the beauty of Rocky Nat’l Park and Estes Park near Ft Collins and a visit with my dad (who has a really good, if cheesy, sense of humor), and a drive south that brought us to Pueblo, CO (no need to stay here, though I did see a magazine that says 4 medal of honor awardees are from here).  Today, we’re pointing our car in the direction of Alamosa, and the Great Sand Dunes tomorrow.  We were there last year, and it ranks as one of our favorite places.  It is also the place that brings my brother Kysa to mind, and I’ll be scattering the “remains of his cremains” while there.  He’s been a very quiet passenger in the side compartment of the door, but I think he’s ready, and I am too…

Handsome Husband continues to heal.  He has been using frankincense oil on the surgical site on his upper thigh, and it has helped tremendously-hooray for natural remedies! And I haven’t had to employ any Rescue Remedy since NJ-no more anxiety attacks, blah, blah, blah-now that Cancer Boy is cancer-free!  And he’s just back to being plain ol’ D-and I love that!! So, all you peeps out there in America, keep your eyes peeled to the road-Happily Homeless may just show up where you are!!

Being in the Kentucky moment…

We’re finally out of Indiana and here in Kentucky! Gotta say, it was a bit stressful being there. I feel like an alien in so many ways, or at least a fish out of water. I’m accustomed to energy around me, mental stimulation, debate, interaction–and most of that is, unfortunately, sadly lacking there. And, honestly, you can feel the whole bible belt thing going on, and that is very alien to me! I have spent many years feeling a great spirituality in the work I do, and don’t care much for organized religion. Actually  I get the same reaction to organized religion as I do to the sound of  fingernails on a blackboard.  l’m happy for those who have it, but please don’t put it on me! Tragically,  I’ve  been surrounded by it lately. Further intensifying the experience is that there is no water pressure at the in-law’s, so you just do the best you can with stringently rinsing the shampoo out of your hair, until you realize it isn’t really working and after a while, your arms hurt, so you just say screw it and get out. Plus, there is a peculiar odor to the water–sulfur–the whole rotten egg thing,so you have to hold your breath when you take a shower,and you can only do that for so long, and you don’t want any of it to get in your mouth, so you just get out with a film of soap on your body and a film of shampoo in your hair.  Oh, the joys of in-law visiting…
We were sleeping on an air mattress-positioned in the only place it would fit,which was up against the sleeper sofa,which,thank goodness,we weren’t sleeping on (remember the Seinfeld episode where Elaine slept on one at Jerry’s parents house and she had to go into traction almost? Well, same thing here). So we slept on the air mattress, next to the sleeper sofa, and everytime we moved, it banged against the sofa, which then banged against the door, which would knock against the frame–you catch my drift. And if it kept knocking against the door, would the in-law think we were up to no good on that air mattress? Without going into gory detail, do I need to even discuss having, how shall I put it, normal marital relations while at the in-laws? It just is NOT going to happen! I’m sure you can all relate.

So here we are in Kentucky–we travelled through southern IN today, and it was beautiful, with rolling hillsides, Southern style homes, very pretty. Very much bible belt again–we got prayed over twice today. I would very likely be considered one of the ones to be prayed for by many strict religions (I am equal opportunity irreverant!), so I’m happy to give anyone the opportunity to pray for me. To switch back to yesterday, and Indiana, I get the whole elderly thing, bless their hearts, and the thing with being ill as you get older or things happen to you. But after visiting various ill/elderly relatives, and discussing cholesterol, knee surgeries, catheters, various bloody things that made me queasy, etc, I told Handsome Husband that he and I are allowed no more than two minutes a day to discuss any health issues when we’re on our own, and that’s it.

So, no more visiting relatives of varying degrees for a few weeks–Handsome Husband told me yesterday that he is taking me to Graceland for my 51st bday! I have long been an Elvis fan, having seen him in his last concert in ’76, at the Spectrum in Philly, where, and don’t be too jealous here, I got one of his SWEAT-STAINED SCARVES! Hold me up, girls, I’m fainting! I may have made the ultimate mistake earlier this evening when I informed a very nice man, who is VERY southern religious, when he invited me to church tomorrow, that I was going to have my own religious experience when I visit Elvis at Graceland. Oops!

So, beautiful evening, enjoyable company, and here I am at our hotel with the man I love more than anything, on our grand adventure, state shopping to figure out where to settle! I hope all of you are well–I think of you often, and carry you with me…..

Traveling the PA mountains moments-

Traveling through the mountains of western PA always brings to mind how easy we have it in this day and age. I imagine how it must have been for the pioneers, wagon trains and all-at the end of the day, they had to set up a safe perimeter, a place to cook, organize everything–all we have to do is find a hotel, and the worst that happens is we don’t have an in-room fridge! Much easier!  

  

Handsome Husband is Hoosier born-

We’re here in Indiana, visiting my husband’s mom until Saturday. The true adventure really won’t start until Saturday when we head for KY-I haven’t seen any states south of here. We’ve had days of incredibly intense thunder and lightening storms, rain, rain, and more rain!  Looking forward to sun and warmth-

I’ve always found it humorous-when we come here to Indiana, where  Handome Husband was born and raised, he becomes all Indiana.  His speech slows to a drawl, he loses his good grammar (using don’t instead of doesn’t, things like that!).  He practically sticks a piece of straw in his mouth and props a foot on a rail! I think I’ve got a long ways to go towards losing my Jerseyness-I talk quickly, I move quickly, I think quickly -and none of that seems to fit in here. We did get to the library yesterday so I was able to get on the computer, and I found a book to read while Handsome Husband had his computer time.  This is a big change for me-no books to read on the road- and that is going to be a huge adjustment. We don’t have the room for books in the car, however, so I’ll just learn to deal with it.
When we off-loaded the truck, it became immediately apparent that the storage unit we had rented was way too small! I had visions of driving the truck around Muncie, aimlessly looking for a place to store our, as George Carlin would say, “shit”. You start to realize that maybe that really is all that most of it is!  I was almost ready to open the back of the truck up and hold a yard sale then and there.  Fortunately, there was one larger space open, and we got everything into that, and turned the truck in.  What a nightmare that could have been!
Missing all my angel sisters, thinking of Tapestries of Hope  and what’s going on, but very much realizing that life is full of changes, and this is a big one for me, and its a good one. So glad that there are so many ways to stay in touch with everyone.  My much bigger change is going to be in learning to slow down, in my thinking, and in my doing.  Indiana is a good start for me–right?

This? Or..