Numbers and Changes~

Chuck and I sold our home in NJ in May 2009 to go out on the road and travel our country together. 

No more rat race for us. 

Just time together.

We had just shy of 4 years on the road together.

He died April 21, 2013.

11:21 pm is when he took his last breath.

In so many ways, I did too.

Take my last breath, I mean.

My breathing hasn’t been the same since the hands of the clock ticked to 11:21 and froze.

At the end of May, this year, I’ll have been on the road alone for 6 years.

10 since I lived in a home with Chuck.

I’ve had more time on the road alone than he and I did together, in our Happily Homeless time.

Over the years I’ve frequently been grateful, in a very consuming way, that we didn’t have a home for me to return to after his death.

It would have been impossible to keep our home, financially and emotionally.

I know it would have been too painful for me to wander around the rooms and the beautiful yard, with all the memories.

And the very thought of having to sell all our stuff, appraise the house, sell it, all on my own, without him, sends me into panic mode.

So I’m glad I didn’t have to do that.

My dear friend/wid sister, Lorri, and I have had numerous conversations about how, after our person dies, we oftentimes end up living a life that is no longer ours. 

Sometimes we have to stay put because we have kids/family/responsibilities.

But sometimes, too, we stay where we are because we don’t know we can go somewhere else. Live somewhere else. Create a different life for ourselves.

And our old lives just don’t fit us any longer.

I’ve a few friends…Lorri is one of them…who have decided to explore a life living on the road, same as I’m doing.

A couple of them are widowed. One, a guy, is just tired of living life in the mainstream.

RVs, trailers, camper vans, conversion vans, tents, cars…there’s an entire subset of people living full time in various vehicles, working along the way.

I never want to own a house again. Ever.

I don’t want the responsibility and I don’t want to settle somewhere Chuck isn’t.

If he’s anywhere in this life of mine now, it’s out there in our memories of the road and I meet him unexpectedly at road side picnic tables, rushing rivers, and strangers along the way who approach me to hear my story wow look at all that pink!

This widowed life of mine, coming up on 6 years way too soon, is a life of contradictions, duality and, well, just surreal. 

How the ever loving fuck is he not here with me?

I just finished working my 2nd year at the Renaissance Faire, and, on the 22, one day after Chuck’s 6th anniversary, I’m heading east to Arkansas to work for my 3rd year at the opera camp, where I’m the groundskeeper.

I don’t know where I fit in this life without Chuck. Mostly I don’t think about it. I just live it.

What I do know is that when I sit inside my rig, PinkMagic, and gaze upon the pictures of he and I through our years, or read the notes he wrote to me, now covering the walls, I feel as close to home as I expect I’ll ever feel. 

In this world without Chuck, where nothing is enough, it’s enough for me.

It’s my cocoon, and wraps me in memory.

It’s my world~ 

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Widowhood and…Grammar?

Yes, tildes are a thing. Unlike exclamation points, which everyone learns in grade school, you probably won’t recognize the term, though you might very well recognize the symbol itself.

Lest you think this is a blog about grammar, let me clarify my why of writing about grammar points.

Both of them have played a significant role in my life for the past 5 years and 9 months since Chuck’s death.

Godalmighty. How is it possible that it’s been so excruciatingly long since he died?

Anyways.

Exclamation points and tildes

I stopped using exclamation points in anything I wrote, after Chuck died.

In paragraphs. In sentences. In idle comments.

If I was doing amazing things. If others were doing amazing things. 

I never used exclamation points. Ever.

In this last year, I actually did use an exclamation point, maybe 4 times, I think.

And, yes, the lack thereof has been, is (because I still use them very sparingly) directly tied to this damn widowed life.

All levels of excitement, for myself or others, left me when Chuck died, and that lack of excitement carried over in my use of grammar.

You climbed Mt Everest? You’re pregnant? You’re getting married? You succeeded at something? You’re in love? Etc. Etc. Etc...as the King of Siam would say.

It isn’t that I didn’t appreciate any and all of this for you…whoever you are.

It was, and still is, mostly, that I don’t feel excitement about much of anything in life.

I appreciate exciting shit, but I don’t seem to get excited about it, in that I don’t feel excitement.

Maybe because it’s all temporary, whatever it is that excites people? Maybe because I’m numb?

I don’t know. 

Which brings me to the tilde.

I, myself, just learned the word, even though I’ve been using the symbol forever. Forever being these 5 years and 9 months since Chuck’s death.

This is a tilde…don’t blink or you’ll miss it! (that makes 5 times I’ve used an exclamation point this year).

~

That wavy little line.

I use a tilde at the end of every thought. Not every sentence, of course. 

But when I’m finishing a thought, after writing a blog, or a comment, a tilde is totally useful.

Why do I use a tilde, you might well ask, instead of a period, like normal folks do?

Quite simply, I use it instead of a period because my thoughts and ideas and beliefs are continually changing, depending on the circumstances, and the use of a period seems so very definite and final to me. 

As if I’m saying well, here’s what I think and that’s that. Period.

Somewhere deep in my soul, a tilde resonates into my thoughts that life is so completely impermanent and changes on a dime at any given moment, and any plans I make can shift and change, and what I think I know in one moment may not be true in the next (because I learn something new), or a bomb might explode, or a shooting happen, or I might get in a car accident, or, I don’t know, yet another loved one in my life might be killed off by cancer, pushing my entire world into a tilt position, where every known thing slides off into oblivion.

Nothing is permanent. Everything is changeable, at any given moment. Thoughts, emotions, knowledge, life…might all be one thing at one moment, and vastly different 5 seconds from now.

Periods just have no place in my life.

Tildes, though…that wavy little line at the end of a sentence, signifying approximation, or a trailing off, with uncertainty behind it…yep. I relate to that.

I may or may not use more exclamation points this year. I’ve tried to generate a bit more enthusiasm towards people’s exciting experiences. Go me, right?

The tilde, though, my favorite grammar symbol, will always be a part of who I am.

I don’t necessarily view my use of the tilde negatively, however.

Maybe it’s so significant in my writings because it leaves the door open to…possibilities.

Which is what I’m all about, as I travel this Odyssey of Love, keeping my heart as open as I can possibly keep it. To new experiences, new friends, new places.

While a period, in my mind, conveys a closing of doors, and options. 

A period closes a sentence, and a thought. Done. Finito. 

And this life of mine, apparently, is not done. Even as my heart has shattered.

Somehow, I’m still here. And I’m living this life boldly, in as many shades of pink as I possibly can, every damn day.

Nothing is finished. 

Say yes to tildes. Possibly yes to exclamation points.

No to closing a sentence with a period.

How’s that for deep, true blue, self-analysis?!!

Let’s not go overboard on those exclamation points~

Casting a Double-Dare Spell into the Universe~

The mere idea of dipping my feet into the dating scene, no matter how lonely I am at any given point, invokes in me a huge HELL NO! The quantity of nightmare stories I’ve heard from the widowed community about the quality of people in that scene, both male and female and what they’re looking for…no, please. There is, I hear, that 1% chance of meeting someone, that wonderful someone who brings beauty to a lonely life, but that’s not enough to entice me into the quagmire. I’m still in love with Chuck, for one thing, even as my heart is open. That might sound like a contradiction to you…widowhood is filled with contradictions…but I believe that the heart expands to Love, and I can fall in love again, with the perfect man. Having said that, the perfect man would have to materialize in front of me, with immediate recognition in both of our hearts that…THIS.    It saddens me that there are many in the widowed community who feel that their widow experience has left them broken, and finding a person to accept their broken-ness seems impossible.  Honestly, I don’t see myself as broken or damaged at all. On the contrary, my experience shows that I’m good at Love, good at healthy relationships. Yes, I feel life intensely, I’m brought to tears by all that is real in life…reunions, watching people fall in love, commercials, the certain blue of sky out my moon roof, stars lighting up the Universe at night…tears are never far away. I live on a higher adrenalin level than I did prior to Chuck’s death, coming from the realization that life really can, and does, change on a fucking dime. But that doesn’t make me broken; that makes me conscious. Which I was before he died, so only more so, now.
No, I won’t join a dating site. But All Hollows Eve is coming upon us, at the end of this month and the following words are what I will write out on paper for that evening, that I’ll put in a lovely bowl, add bright yellow and orange marigold and chrysanthemum petals, an essential oil…maybe “future”, burn the mix and let the ash ascend into the night skies, chanting a spell all the while. I’m creating a witch hat for the occasion, black but with pink tulle and flowers strewn over it.
This is what I’ll write to the Universe that night…
…I’m a widow of 5 years and 6 months. I live full-time on the road, towing a trailer, and I’ve done this since my husband’s death. The car is pink. My trailer trim is in the same shade of pink. The shade was customized for me, in my husband’s memory, giving me courage to return to the road solo, following his death. I wear a lot of pink. Not a wussy, Barbie pink, but a Fucking Warrior Goddess pink.
I’m a recovered alcoholic of 30+ years and I’m comfortable around alcohol but have no tolerance for drunken behavior. I believe in being present and conscious about life and you can’t do that if you’re drunk and stupid. If you have a prison record, if you’re doing drugs of any kind, don’t bother contacting me. Bless your heart and all that and no judgement but I will not deal with that shit and the emotional fallout that comes with it.
I believe in romance and Love stories, because I had both in my marriage. Which makes me a romantic but not a fool.
I’m 60 years old and my hair is naturally bland dark blonde but I color it regularly in whatever shade strikes my fancy. Also, 60 is a lot younger than it seemed to me when I was in my 30’s.
God, I need to lose a few pounds so if you’re someone who exercises, maybe you’ll inspire me to get back to it. I’m a sporadic exerciser at best. But no gym rats, please. A healthy outlook on fitness is good.
What gives me sex appeal is not because I wear skimpy dresses and heels high enough to turn my ankle and a fully made up face but my strength and determination. My blue eyes show my heart. I know how to love.
I know that Love is an action word. Words are easy. I love the words, but Love must be shown, too. I do both and I expect the same of any man in my life. Tenderness and passion. If you’re the right man, you’ll get it.
My financial stability comes from temporary jobs. I’ve already done the 9-5 thing and temp jobs allow me to stay on the road. So, I’m not rich by any means. I can pay my bills but can’t afford to eat out very often. I’m uncertain how finances play out in the dating scene, or even in a relationship at this later part of my life, but I’m sure it could be figured out.
I’m unique because I’m a kick ass woman. Not aggressive, not a bitch, but assertive as needed. I’m kick ass because I make the decision every day to suit up and show up and show Love, when I’d just as soon stay under the covers.
Here’s how strongly I can love, and what a determined woman I am: I went with my husband as he was cremated, and I’m the one who pressed the switch to open the crematorium doors to admit his body. I did this as a final act of love and service to him.
My taste in music runs to bagpipes, tribal drumming, country western, 50’s rock and roll, chanting, whatever suits my mood. No rap, no heavy metal~
My beloved husband was a passionate man, an educated man, an AF veteran, well-traveled, and he loved me with everything he had. I loved him the same way. I’ll accept nothing less from any other man.
I want a man who is masculine but not macho. I hope you know the difference. I want a man who is romantic but not a weenie. I want a man who shows emotions but doesn’t weep all over the place. I know; it’s confusing. But there you go. Think McGarrett on the new Hawaii 5-0. Or Chin Ho. Yes, they’re fictional characters but the same could almost be said of my husband, because of how he was the perfect mix of all that I adore. Yes, I have very high standards. Bless your heart if that intimidates you.
In the movie “Practical Magic”, Sally creates a wish for a man who doesn’t exist, and sends that wish into the Universe. I’d love to believe that a real man, who is strong and confident in himself, actually exists, but I kind of also believe that my beloved was the last of his kind. You may or may not be man enough to prove that premise wrong.
I’m not at all interested in showmanship, though I do love performance theater.  I’ve got a good b.s. meter. I’ve heard from many of my women friends who date who tell me  that the minute they exchange phone numbers with a guy, they almost immediately begin receiving dick pics via text. Believe me, such pictures DON’T impress me in the least. Show me something real, instead. Show me who YOU are. Use some imagination, for god’s sake. I mean, seriously…who the hell came up with that idea and said yeah, I think I’ll impress this woman I don’t know, with pictures of my dick.  Jesus.
Because I’m a determined and strong woman, which I’ve always been, and more so since my husband’s death, I will accept no less than an equal partner, and be an equal partner in return.
If you’re a widower, please be assured that I am not threatened by your dead wife, any more than I expect you to be threatened by my dead husband. A heart that has known real Love only expands with more Love. I will always talk about my beloved husband, even as I love you deeply, and I fully anticipate that you will speak of your dead wife. If you have her cremains in an urn and you carry them with you, cool. You show me yours and I’ll show you mine. We’ll create a beautiful altar for them both, wherever we are, and each All Hallows Eve, we’ll invoke their names as the veil between their world and ours, thins. Maybe we’ll dance naked around a huge bonfire, with drums beating in the darkness.
If you haven’t been widowed, you need to be strong and confident enough in yourself to know that I’m the woman I am because I was shaped by many beautiful years with my husband. He will always be a part of me and my life and who I am. And because I loved him so passionately, was in Love with him, still am, honestly, that means I can love you just as strongly. Yes, it’s possible to be in love with two men at once. At least, it is when one of them is dead.
*Wimps and fakes need not apply*
I send this out to the Universe from a heart that has been broken and shredded from grief but a heart that believes in the power of Love, but also, with no belief that such a man exists in this realm. So, it’s, you know, a safe cast.
Here you go, Universe, I dare you.
In fact, I double dare you~

Love, on this Odyssey of Love~

Perhaps one of the most helpful things I’ve learned in a little over 5 years of widowhood is this…
I don’t have to be anything different, feel anything different, aspire to anything different…before going and doing whatever it is that I feel I must do to live this life without Chuck.
I don’t have to have hope. I don’t even know what hope looks or feels like.
I don’t have to have faith. Seriously, I have no clue what faith is, especially as related to religion. Which I shed many years ago in any case, with no interest in returning to it.
I don’t have to have confidence. Mostly, since Chuck died, the road I’m on diverges and changes at any given moment. I’m living a life completely removed from the life he and I lived, even as we spent our last 4 years living full time on the road. I started out on my own not having a clue, and, though I believe I present a fully confident face to the world, each day is another day of figuring it all out. Even if I have some of the technical stuff figured out, about living in a trailer, the emotional components leave me, often, wandering in circles.
I don’t need to feel any of these to do what I’m doing.
Then what do I need? What does get me through each day and each night?
I get that question a LOT.
It’s quite simple, at least to me.
Love.
It is only Love that keeps me driving mile after mile, getting up each day, and wrapping me in its’ embrace each night.
Love.
I stop and think, sometimes, what this widow life would be like for me, if I’d settled into an apartment after Chuck’s death, and I’m fairly certain exactly what would have happened.
I would have closed the door, drawn the shades, and the only thing that might have possibly drawn me to the outside world would be the occasional need for groceries. I would have had to get a job, so I’d have forced myself outside for that, and then retreated as quickly as possible to the rooms behind the closed doors.
Isolation would have been public enemy number one. It is for many of us in the widowed world,  I expect.
Instead, I bought my little trailer and painted it pink and began my Odyssey of Love.
It began as a tribute to the Love that Chuck left behind for me. It was a tribute to our Love story.
I added his name, in decals, to the back of my rig, in my 3rd year of widowhood.
In my 4th year, I realized that this life of mine without him was bigger than me and Chuck…bigger than the Love story he and I shared. So I decided to ask around my widowed community for who might like me to add the names of their person to my rig, PinkMagic.
Very quickly upon that thought was…it’s about our Love for them, certainly…but I want to honor those of us left behind. So I added the names of my widow sisters and brothers too.
My thinking continued to expand…
This Odyssey of Love was, and is, about all the Love left behind, and it’s about honoring those left behind, but it’s also, quite simply, about Love and all the power that is carried in those 4 letters.
I was workamping at Opera in the Ozarks and many of the students there, and orchestra, were coming to me to read Oracle cards for them. We’d have deep and insightful conversations borne of the cards they drew, and I started inviting them to sign my rig with messages of Love. We’d get pictures of us together after they signed it.
They wrote lovely poems and true messages of Love, cheering me on my way. They’d even write messages of Love to my rig, PinkMagic, thanking her for carrying me on this Odyssey.
All of this energized me, and I put the word out to everyone who follows my Happily Homeless is MoonStruck page, to send names of those they love and I’d add those names. Send a message of Love you’d like me to write and I’ll write their names on PinkMagic. People started sending auto paint pens to me so that I could write and write and write on PinkMagic and the words and names would remain, no matter the weather.
My rig is covered in names and words of Love. Front, back, sides.
As I continue my Odyssey of Love, driving along the roads of this country…highways, 2 lane roads, back country roads…people passing me by will see those names, read those names, find my blog and know the power of Love.
My god, the fucking power of these names and words of Love….the sheer fucking power of Love.  iPiccy-collage
Every time I glance in my side view mirror, I see those names. I step outside my rig and I read those names and I feel all the Love that those names represent.
I don’t know what I’d do with my life if I wasn’t doing this. It’s the only thing that gives me any sense of purpose in this life without Chuck.
And what I found out, as I began this Odyssey of Love 5 years ago, is that the only thing I need to do this is believe in the power of the Love that Chuck left behind for me. I only knew it intellectually when I first began, and that was enough to get me going.
It took me almost 5 years to feel it in my heart, to feel the connection to him in my heart, but that’s okay.
I still struggle with feeling it, but that’s okay.
I don’t need to do any of this perfectly.
I just need to do it.
Because ain’t nobody going to do this life without him, for me.
It’s all that I trust in, in this widowed life.
Trusting in his left behind Love. Trusting in all the Love that I meet on the road. Connecting with as much Love as I can, every mile.
Trusting that Love will continue to carry me.

 

Love…in Time~

Where, my Beloved, did you go,
That long-ago night when you left me?
Where did you go,
That darkest of nights forever ago,
But yesterday?
Watching as your chest quivered in and out,
Until it quite simply…didn’t.
And my heart that was your heart that was my heart again, and yours,
Shattered and splintered,
Even as it crystalized into nothingness and everything.
Even as my traitorous mind went blank, searching for memories of you and I and us.
Frozen in time.
Time.
That time.
You, gone.
Me, still here.
Grasping the starkness of my new world,
Without you.
Where did you go, my beloved?
As I placed my hand on your chest something I’d done so often…
And didn’t feel you place your hand over mine something you’d always done.
Two hearts. One heart. Your heart. My heart.
Your heart and your Love into my heart and Love magnified in me.
Where you went, my beloved, was into nothing and into everything that is my world without you.
Spirit. Essence. Heart. Soul. Green eyes. Strong shoulders. Warm embrace.
We became me, and us and who we were, became who I now am in my world without you.
Love.
Magnified.

Ghost Dancing Into the Forever of You~

I will sing you to me.
As the days and moments and years pass by,
I will sing you to me.
As I gaze up at the mighty Universe each night,
From wherever my pink trailer happens to park,
I will sing you to me.
And as my heart wanders this land,
Seeking you, not finding you
But wishing desperately to connect with you and to you,
Somewhere, anywhere, everywhere,
I will sing you to me.
The words of Love our hearts exchanged
As we lived our years and our Love story,
I will sing you to me.
Where are you, my dearest Love?
On this night when the veil lifts between me and you…
Where are you?
As my hand reaches through the veil,
As my heart bleeds for you
And I lightly touch your picture your compass your wallet your moustache comb
Seeking to feel your presence again,
I will sing you to me.
As our music drifts lightly into the night air and my feet move slowly in remembered steps and my hands lift to just the right height, where the breadth of your shoulders wait for my touch,
And I ghost dance with you under these stars in this Universe in the world you left, where I am now, without you, my dearest Love,
Through the years and the moments and the days that stretch into Forever…
Into the Forever, my dearest Love, where you exist and I don’t,
My body will move with you and, yes,
I will sing you to me, always.
Forever sing you to me into the Forever of Time…

My Two-ish Selves~

I oftentimes read posts/blogs of people who are grieving who speak about how they feel, after some time has passed, presenting themselves to the world in a way that isn’t real but that they feel is required of them.
In that, they don’t show their grief to the world.  For many reasons, of course, but they feel unable to show who they really are.  Which I totally understand.
Our world is unforgiving of grief that continues on for more than, say….6 months.  Okay, maybe a year, if you find some really empathetic people.
Other than other widow/ers, I mean.
I do get that argument.  We have to function, right?  Life goes on and we have to return to jobs and parenting and, I don’t know…everything.
And you just can’t be in a fetal position on the floor, or sobbing in your cubicle, or at the lunch table.  Or anywhere in public.
What I would argue is that those of us who present The Face to the world aren’t being fake.  We really aren’t.
We’re being functional.
It’s all still in there, bubbling right below the surface, humming along our veins as our blood pumps from our hearts to the rest of our bodies.  It isn’t that we’re stuffing it down, really.  I liken it more to the idea of applying pressure to a wound in an effort to keep the blood from spurting out.  We apply pressure to hold down the grief so that we can get our days done, our responsibilities…stuff and such.
We laugh if something is funny, we engage with the people we meet throughout our daytime hours.  Because that’s what life is and we’re still alive.
What I’ve found, for me at least, is that I can be what I just described, on any given day.  And every bit of it is authentic.
It’s just that, since Chuck died, even while I do all that, I’m also dying inside.  Missing him. Wishing him. Wanting him.  Sharply feeling his absence.  His gone-ness. Feeling empty. Even as I smile and engage with people, the hum in my blood, through my veins, with each pump of my heart, is….he’s gone, he’s gone, he’s gone.
I am two people since Chuck died.  Here and not here.  Smiling outside and crying inside at the same time.  Paying attention and hearing you and listening to my own inner conversation at the same time.
Both of these me’s are real and both show up daily.
This may freak out those of you who have never lived in this widow world, but I’m strangely okay with it, in my world of nothing being okay.  And honestly, I can handle this dichotomy, because I’m a Gemini.
I’m one person and I’m two people at the same time.  I don’t stuff any of the grief down.  It’s just that one of the me’s is the functioning out in the world person, and the other one is the me who is….I don’t even know.
But both of these me’s are real in every way.