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Ode to The Baby

I’m sorry. I really apologize for this. I have turned into one them. One of those grandmothers who won’t shut up about their grand kid.

The physical, emotional connection I instantly felt for this kid equalled what I felt for my own children. Okay maybe not that much, but pretty fucking close.

I can’t get enough of holding him. He has big, weird dark, blue, alien eyes and he’s starting to make weird faces. He makes circles with his lips and when he starts to fall asleep his eyes go back in his head and he starts looking around the room like he sees something we can’t see. Suddenly he will smile, like an invisible force is making him laugh. Supposedly he’s not supposed to be able to smile at this point, but it sure does look like a smile.

His new thing is grunting. It reminds me of my Dad. My brother used to call our dad, FrankenDaddy because he said cajun words with a guttural deep voice. When The Baby turns his head and arches his back and lets out a long, strong grunt, it really sounds like he’s saying, “arrête ça.” 

Sometimes between feedings, he just stays awake, cooing and complaining and sticking his tongue out and looking around and flinging his hands up then around and down on the matt  while his feet go in then out over and over and over.

I could watch him for hours. Every day there’s a new thing.

I love to give him a bath. I don’t know why because he cries the whole time. There’s something about getting him all clean and wrapping him up in a warm towel, fresh from the dryer and holding him close, talking to him, consoling him, then putting lotion all over his skin, putting him in some fresh clothes and bringing him to his mom, smelling all fresh. I love it.

Yesterday Lori came back from The Baby’s second doctor’s appointment. He warned her about not getting enough consecutive hours of sleep. She scoffed at the idea since The Baby eats every 2-3 hours and in between he lies in his crib grunting and vocalizing, keeping her awake.

“Give him to me.” I said. “I’ll do it. Just put his little box in my room and as long as we have enough food, I’ll take care of him all night and you can sleep.”

We had our own little sleep over. I fed him at 10:30pm, then he lay awake looking around and doing the arm thing for a while. When he got fussy with gas or stomach aches, I picked him up and help him close until he farted or pooped it out. Then I’d change his disgusting toxic waste and he’d sleep for a while. After the 1:30am feeding he slept a bit longer. During one of his diaper changes, when his little pee-pee felt the cold air, he spewed out a steady stream of pee, arcing onto the bathroom floor, while squirting onto the towel a disgusting splurt of chicken-poo looking swirl. The little shit. I disinfected the bathroom while he grunted in his little crib box.

By the time he woke up again, it was about 4:40am. We were down to his last bottle of breast milk and I was worried that if Lori didn’t wake up soon and pump, I’d have to go into the formula reserves. I didn’t want her to be upset for breaking the breast milk cycle. So, first I tried to text her, “Time to pump?” Then I bundled up the little monster and put him in the crib in their room. I knew he’d function as a mini-alarm clock. Before long, he’d start grunting and making noises and she would wake up.

Sure enough around 5am, she came into my room, came next to me and hugged me for letting her sleep so long and then she went off to get more milk into bottles and I went to sleep.

Now, I find myself with conflicting feelings about being in Lori’s house. She’s obviously glad I’m there. She joked the other day that I can’t move out until The Baby is 3. But it’s been three months now and my psyche is desperate for my own space around my own things.

When I hold The Baby in my arms and Lori is getting much needed rest, I feel certain that I’ve done the right thing. But other times, I can’t believe I still don’t have a job, I’m not sure I really like this area and I’m worried about how long it’s taking to get some independence. I miss Lafayette like crazy and I’m not entirely sure I’ve made the right move.

I guess we’ll see.

 

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The Baby Cometh

Since I call my daughter’s 9-year old The Kid I guess I’ll call the new one, The Baby.

The Baby arrived two weeks ago yesterday. They woke me up around 5am saying, “It’s time.” I was in charge of The Kid and we took our time getting up, eating and packing snacks before heading to the hospital. When we got there, they were still doing preliminary exams and stuff and Lori was feeling some intense contractions.

The Kid and I flitted in and out based on what Lori wanted. We hung out in the spacious, glass-walled waiting area overlooking the small mountain range that flanks Newberg. We found some puzzles on a bookshelf and started working on one.

After Lori had an epidural she was understandably more chill about having us around, so we got to visit a little longer.

I was surprised at how worried The Kid was about Lori. He actually said, “I hope she doesn’t die.” I tried to calm his fears but he’s pretty smart. He knows that women do die in childbirth sometimes. We talked about advances in medicine and all the technology in the hospital and the small probability of something bad happening. It seemed to help, but he’s a pretty high strung kid.

After the fourth or fifth puzzle, I called for and update and was told that she was pushing.

It seemed like a couple of  hours later that Lori’s husband finally came through the doors and beckoned us in.

On Lori’s chest lay the little creature, wrapped up in a blanket with elephants on it.

The Kid was relieved to see Lori alive and well. He gave her a big hug and examined his new little brother.

I took The Kid home for a break and took a nap then we went back for an extended visit. I took tons of pictures, later posting black and white versions on friend face. They were awesome. I’m just sayin’.

Lori and The Baby came home the next night. The first two nights were horrible. Lori was breast feeding and apparently her milk wasn’t “coming in,” and The Baby wasn’t getting enough nutrition. He cried all night and Lori and her husband got no sleep for two days straight. Lori was beside herself with sadness and confusion and I felt helpless. There was nothing I could do but comfort her.

On the third day she went to see her lactation consultant and got some advice and techniques involving pumping and things got better as The Baby got more nutrition. Finally her milk “came in,” and The Baby started sleeping more. When Lori gave up on the idea of 100% breast feeding, we started using bottles to deliver her pumped breast milk and things got a lot better.

Now, he’s up to 8 pounds (He was 7 and 9.5 oz at birth.) and he’s a big pa-tot.

We take turns feeding The Baby and when they let me, I take over as much as I can and they get to sleep.

Last night I stayed up with him until 5 am feeding him, holding him and sleeping next to him. It was amazing.

Lori is still struggling with hormones and postpartum bullshit, but there’s this adorable little monster with pretty eyes and funny faces and amazing changes every day to look at. So that helps.

 

As for me……well, that’s another blog. I might have some pretty whiney blogs coming.

Can’t Write

First I was too busy to write. My daughter had her baby. Beautiful baby boy. I was so caught up with helping her and entranced in the beauty and wonder of his little face, that I couldn’t find a few minutes to write all about it.

Then the monster hit. It’s about time, really. I can’t even find the words right now. Apathy. Sadness. Despair. I want to hide under a rock where no one can see me and doesn’t care where I am.

The weight of not having my own space is heavy.

Mr. Canada hasn’t been exposed to this yet. I don’t think he understands. He said he would come here if I asked him too. He doesn’t understand that the very condition that would make me need him is the same that would prevent me from ever asking him to come here.

I’m not sure he gets it. If he thinks I need help, I think he should just come without being asked. I don’t know if he could handle this anyway. I don’t know if I want to be this Marie in front of him.

I started seeing a therapist. She wants me to write down my mood ever day. I’m seeing her again Friday. Maybe that will help.

Dispatch from East Van

I’m sitting on Mr. Canada’s bed. He’s making dinner. Shrimp on skewers and a mango salad. There’s fruit margaritas chilling in the fridge. His cat Pixie is splayed out on a chair. We’re watching season 1 of Sense 8 so we can watch the new one.

I drove in Thursday night and spent the day Friday cleaning his apartment. My way of nesting I guess. I got rid of a lot of cat hair. We spent most of the next day in bed, watching Home Movies and laughing and eating.

We went to Granville Isle and got oysters again. They were amazing.

I really like being here. I feel at home. Comfortable. I wish I could stay here. Life with Mr. Canada is easy. We have fun together. There’s no problems, no arguments or misunderstandings or tension. Well, of course he does piss me off time to time but so far, we always manage a way to get past it. Maybe I’m just learning to chill out.

When we walk through East Vancouver we like to pick out the condos and houses and apartments that we like, bickering over architectural styles. We walked up and down Commercial Drive and he took me to a great Italian deli we went to the last time I was here. They make the most amazing sandwiches. Our search for ice cream turned up empty so we stopped at a grocery store and got waffle cones and chocolate ice cream for later.

Lori is going to go into labor any minute now. I’ll be back in Newberg soon with my air mattress bed and garage office. I’ll have an 8 year old to entertain and a new baby to help with. And of course a job to find. And hopefully soon, my own place.

But for now….I’ve been informed that dinner and margaritas will be ready in 15 minutes. And the Sense 8 binge will continue.

I’m quite content.

When Your Ex is Doing Better than You and You’re Trying Be Cool

My son Shawn and his dad (my ex), Mr. K have had a pretty rocky relationship. We always disagreed about how to raise him. I think it’s one of the reasons we divorced. The divorce was hard on Shawn and he’s struggled with needing to be on good terms with his dad for several years.

So, when he told me recently that Mr. K was flying him out to Atlanta for a father-son week, I was happy for him.

I talked to him today about the trip. They had a great time. They went kart-racing and fixed cars and went bar hopping. Shawn met Mr. K’s new girlfriend and said she was an accomplished professional with an expensive condo and a cool, nice person. “She didn’t try to hard to get me to like her,” he said making comparisons to Mr. Canada who didn’t make a good first impression on him.

I was genuinely happy for him. I knew he needed this to happen. And it sounded like Mr. K was finally happy, too.

I listened to him on the phone going on about his great weekend, trying to hold it together. I could feel my mood teetering from ok to not so good. I had been feeling pretty discouraged the past few days and leaning towards a nice little depressive episode.

Then he told me this: He said one night he was out on the balcony of Mr. K’s apartment, smoking a cigarette. One of Mr. K’s friends found him and began lecturing about how he shouldn’t smoke and he should quit. Mr. K came out and said, “No. No parenting this weekend. This weekend is just for fun.”

“He said that?” I asked Shawn.

“Yeah,” he replied. “He never once tried to be all passive aggressive or anything.”

“Wow.” I said. “I think I’m going to cry.”

When I got off the phone, I got into the shower and did just that.

Why was I so sad? I tried so hard for so long to get Mr. K to see that he was too harsh, too strict and too serious all the time. I did everything I could to encourage him to cut the kids more slack. To see them as human beings. To lighten up. To laugh.

Those last few weeks and months that we were together had been brutal. The man I left was certainly not the man who proclaimed a fun-only weekend. Maybe I was sad that he could get to that place without me. Maybe he needed to rid himself of me to be happy. Maybe I was the one who was holding him back. Maybe he was right about me.

I stood in the shower and let the hot water pour over my body. My daughter’s shower. An air mattress in the next room where I’ve been sleeping for about 2 months now. A table set up in the garage where I retreat to job search and be by myself. I had no money and thousands of dollars of debt. A car that needed repairs and no job. I felt like a loser.

He was fine. He was making good money, a new girlfriend, living in a big city, having a great time with our son.

I felt the weight of his past judgements on me. I was flighty. I didn’t make enough money. I made stupid mistakes. I was a failure. I wondered if he had been right all along. I wondered if I had made a big mistake, leaving everything and coming to Oregon.

I pulled myself together and tried to stop crying. I didn’t want Lori to see me like that. It was mother’s day too. I went for a walk and explored under an old wooden train trellis, finding a security breach in the back fence of the public works yard.

That evening, I talked to Mr. Canada and confessed my feelings to him.

He was kind and complimentary. He told me what I needed to hear. He thinks I’m great.

But so did Mr. K when I first met him.

This July will be 5 years since we divorced. I guess that’s not enough time to be completely healed. Because today I feel like I found out that he won. I know I’m not supposed to think like that. It’s not a competition blaa blaa blaa….but that’s how I feel right now. He won. And he was right. Without me, he flourished. I’m still just the idiot flying by the seat of my pants, winging it and somehow hoping that something will magically change along the way.

 

Another Bullet Point Update

I don’t know why I haven’t had the urge to write long, self-absorbed paragraphs lately. Maybe it will come back to me. So, here are some bullet points:

  • I’m still in love with the Canadian. He drives me nuts sometimes. I often find myself thinking, I want this to work out. I want to like him but why does he have to piss me off so much? He likes to argue and debate and he often takes a stance that he doesn’t even believe just to watch me get all flustered and indignant. And I take the bait every time. And yet, I can’t stop thinking about him. He’s incredibly kind to me. I crave being with him. I love being with him. I love his big eyes and his smell and his height. I  love the way my head fits just under his chin and the way his kisses the top of my head when I hug him. I love the things he does to me. I love how positive and happy he is. I love his impatience for bullshit of any kind. I love his confidence and his cooking and even his cat.

 

  • I’m running out of money. I have shockingly little money left to my name and lots of debt. I’m at the point where I’ll have to start negotiating with my credit card companies soon. I’ve applied for as much public assistance as possible, but I need an Oregon plate and license for some of it and that will cost about $300 and I can’t afford it. I’m still getting weekly unemployment and I’m pretty sure I’ve applied for every possible writing, photography or graphic design job in the Portland and Seattle areas. My next step is a self promotion piece that I can mail out maybe.

 

(Ok, so the bullet points are turning out to be actual paragraphs after all.)

When I thought about moving here, I thought, I’ll do anything. I won’t settle for something in my field. But the thing is, people want to hire people with experience no matter what the job. A secretary job requires experience being a secretary. Same for administrative assistants, sales clerks etc… I found a lot of opening for sheep herders. I don’t know how to do that either.

Last time I looked for a job it took 3 months. I keep reminding myself of that. It’s only been about a month. But I’m not in my own apartment and I have a lot less money now than I did then.

  • That being said, I’m trying to remember the true key to happiness: gratitude. I know I sound like a self-help book, but I think there’s some truth to the cliché mantra. It’s always a glass-half-empty/glass-half full-thing. I have a place to live. My daughter seems to be ok with me being here. She’s been understanding and patient. I have some money. Not much, but some. I have my health, so far. I’m stocked on anti-depressants for a while. I found a free therapist that I’m meeting tomorrow. I made myself a little workspace in the garage. I have Mr. Canada who is positive and encouraging and is ready to marry me at a moment’s notice. (For now.) I have skills and talent and experience. It’s a long way down to rock bottom. I’m not even close.

I might try to drive up to East Van soon and maybe stay with Mr. Canada for a week or so. I just gotta keep plugging away and hope something comes along soon.

Bullet Point Update

  • I’m still seeing Mr. Canada. I cried in front of him during my last visit. We had a fight over the comedy of Bill Burr. That being said, I still like being with him. I think maybe, I might possibly have a future with him???
  • I love Vancouver.
  • Last weekend I got through border control coming and going with no problems! That was very exciting.
  • Lori, my daughter is a little over a month away from her due date. She looks like a fertility goddess. She walks around with her voluptuous, hour glass figure….giant boobs and protruding belly, always in a long skirt with a different graphic t-shirt stretched over her stomach each day.
  • The mother-daughter role is weird at times. I helped her put her socks on the other day, the way I did when she was 4. Then that evening, I sat with the kid at the table waiting for her to serve us our dinner. She’s an amazing cook.
  • I’m feeling very claustrophobic and in need of control and privacy. I desperately want to be around my things, by myself.
  • Apathy and discouragement are my biggest enemies and I wish, as I have for most of my life, that I was a more driven, ambitious, positive and energetic person.
  • I’m scared.
  • Everyone who said it was beautiful here was right. There’s so much to photograph and see. I like being around such spectacular nature.
  • I’m obsessed with the green moss.
  • Mr. Canada thinks that he can handle having me stay at his place for a week or more and rearranging his apartment. I think he has no idea what he’s in for and I’m scared to take him up on the offer.
  • I still haven’t found a job.
  • It’s raining. Again.

Mr. Canada, Pixie and East Van

Mr. Canada took me up to his studio apartment. I was relieved not to be met with the smell of cat litter or ammonia. I finally met the infamous Pixie who I instantly began calling Mr. Kitty because I had become accustomed to saying that name in Lori’s house. It took me a minute to correct myself.

The place was simple and cool with a great view of the city and mountains. It was pretty clean. I could see that he had just mopped the floors and the bathroom and kitchen were spotless.

There was, however Pixie’s long, white hair….everywhere! Over the course of the weekend I had to simply adjust to its presence. I think I had some in my lungs by Sunday. I half expected to cough up a hair ball when I got back.

I did come to love Pixie, though. He’s an old, spoiled, soft as silk, all fur, pure breed, hot mess who basically spends his life sleeping in corners and meowing for either food or attention. Mostly attention.

We went to a liquor store for wine and while we were there one of his good friends called him and when I told her hi from beside him, she asked to talk to me. She told me how much Mr. Canada loved me and how he talked about me all the time.

“I’m so jealous of the story of how you two met…..it makes me want to slit my throat,” she joked.

“Awwww…….that’s the nicest thing anyone could say,” I laughed.

I showered and pulled up a bar stool that he had on his balcony next to the stove and drank wine while he cooked. He made duck breasts and potatoes cooked in duck fat. It was easy and fun being with him. He talked the whole time. Mr. Canada’s a talker.

I looked around at the surroundings I had seen so many times through skype, sitting in my apartment in Lafayette. I couldn’t believe I was really there. Just over a month ago I was in Louisiana and here I was sitting next to my tall, dark, handsome boyfriend watching him make me dinner in fucking Vancouver, Canada.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The next day, we walked out for coffee and he made me breakfast.

And then I had what may very well be one of the best days of my life.

He drove me out toward Granville Island, isn’t really an island. He took me through some cool neighborhoods with high rise after high rise of new condos. I’ve never seen so much housing in a city before. What do all these people do? I wondered. He drove around until he found a good parking spot and we walked towards the island and market. It was a gloriously beautiful sunny day. Just cold enough to have a jacket on. Not wanting to stumble around with my camera bag, I brought one body and my purse, putting a couple of small lenses in it.

Nevertheless I was as goofy as ever and Mr. Canada took great delight in laughing at me.

“I’ve never seen anyone have so much trouble getting out of a car,” he teased.

The island was filled with New Orleans-like eclectic shops. It was well designed without one big open area that might attrack large crowds. It was touristy, of course but Mr. Canada claimed that Vancouver-ites shop and eat there regularly. It had a nice flow. There was an art school, a conservatory and a few theaters. I found a shop that sold umbrellas. Just umbrellas. It was beautiful. I want to own an umbrella shop.

The willow trees are a different color here in the pacific northwest. They’re very tall and a shade of neon green. Almost yellow but not quite. They almost match the color of the moss that grows on everything. I’m quite taken with them. And there’s cherry blossoms everywhere. I always regretted not going to D.C. during the cherry blossom season but now I see them all the time. Why don’t we have cherry blossoms in Louisiana?

Mr. Canada took me through the island commenting on things here and there. Pointing out good restaurants and places he’s been. We spent some time looking at house boats and dreaming of living in one some day.

I like being with him. I like being with him more and more. We often walk arm in arm or holding hands. He turns to me and kisses me often and sometimes I can’t stop looking at him, which I think makes him a little uncomfortable. I’m not sure. I want my body to be close to his all the time. I can’t get enough of his energy and warmth. We laugh a lot and have fun together. Life with him is easy going and relaxed with lots of walking and talking. Sometimes more walking than I can handle. Either I’m horribly out of shape or I need to get my heart checked again. Every time I have to climb stairs, I feel like I’m going to die. But Mr. Canada is patient even while teasing me.

We’re better in person. We need to be with each other. The ways that he gets on my nerves and upsets me over the phone are easy to mitigate when he’s next to me. I just punch him in the arm or shove him aside and he comes back and holds me and kisses me and says, “What?” or “Whhhyyyyy?” in that weird whiney way he has.

We got a pot pie from a place that Lori insisted we go to and ate it together in the market. We perused shops and I bought a Canada sticker and magnet for my collection. Sometimes he would hint at buying me things, asking me if I liked this or that. I commented on the things I liked and didn’t, warning him, “I have very particular taste. You can’t shop for me.”

“I’m figuring it out,” he claimed. But he knows I don’t want him to buy me things. He knows I have issues with money in relationships. Besides, as I keep warning him, I’m just going to lose anything he might buy me.

We found a little place near the water with lobsters, crabs and oysters in bins of water, fresh off the boat. Mr. Canada was delighted with the prices and suggested we have oysters for dinner. He knew all the different kinds and what their names meant and what they would taste like. My mouth was watering over the huge lobsters, imagining a giant pot of them, boiled and thrown onto newspaper on a long table and eating them like crawfish. I want to have a crawfish-style lobster boil!

We walked back over the bridge and through some lovely neighborhoods with meandering walkways and inviting landscapes. I marveled at the elegant architecture and we discussed which styles we liked better. We walked on the edge of the bay, viewing the city and sailboats and waterfront condos with modern, colorful doors and big windows.

Then we went back to the oyster place and Mr. C picked out two dozen oysters with my contribution based on the appearance of their shells. The guy who helped us was very odd in both look and behavior. He was all business and tense, untying the bags and spreading the oysters out to count them carefully. He barely made eye contact and never smiled. As we walked out Mr. C said, “Thanks man.” The dude didn’t look up. “Thanks a lot. See you later,” he tried again with his insistent politeness. The guy finally looked up and said, “Oh, yeah, ok, yeah.”

Crossing the bridge we had seen a fisherman with a big, fresh salmon below in the harbor. He was holding it up showing an older Asian couple as they looked down and took pictures. When we walked back over, the couple was on the dock, the woman gesturing profusely, trying to communicate. We stopped and watched and the fisherman put the spine with some meat still on it into a plastic bag and gave it to her. She used classic charade methods to explain that she was going to make a good soup from the gift. They all took a picture together.

“Shall we go to the car?” Mr. C asked.

“No, I want to stay here for a couple more hours.” I joked.

He took me to Kits beach and we walked along the shore and in the neighborhood, again comparing taste in house designs. I liked more contemporary looks. Mr. C tended to like an old English style. The beach was weird and different than the Oregon coast. Lots of big rocks with kelp and barnacles and crows every where. It was beautiful. The sun was going down and we could see Stanley Park across the bay that was filled with tanker ships moored, waiting for their turn to deliver their contents.

I could see why someone would want to live in this amazing city. No wonder the border officers were worried about me sneaking in to stay. I wanted to stay. Portland’s got nothing on Vancouver. Portland seemed boring compared to this.

We left the beach and he drove to the grocery store to pick out supplies for a charcuterie board he promised to make me for dinner. When we were in Portland we had ordered one at a bar and I was very disappointed with both its contents and presentation. Mr. C later told me he had been proud of my instincts. So, he was going to do it right.

We went back to the apartment and I showered and changed and watch him shuck the oysters. He told stories about working for Gordon Ramsey. We watched Home Movies and ate oysters on the patio table he had relocated inside. I was in heaven. We drank wine and he sliced and arranged his creation. We nibbled and laughed our way through the spread. We were supposed to go out to a bar but Mr. C can’t hold his wine so we stayed in instead.

We laid in bed and watched t.v., making out and pushing the ever-needy Pixie off the bed.

That night I slept like a baby, turning over to snuggle with him or putting my arm around him.

The next day we slept in then went out for coffee again and he took me to an Italian store and bought a large sandwich-like creation. This was on Commercial Drive and I experienced the same feeling I had when I drove in but this street was even more remarkable.

Coffee shops on every block (not Starbucks, but little, individual cafés), restaurants from every culture and nation on earth, vintage stores, import stores, a butcher, a tailor!….a fucking tailor! Block after block of interesting businesses, organically assembled. This was no River Ranch! This was no planned community. There were dives and graffiti but also high end boutiques. I bought a pair of boots at a vintage store for $40 (that’s 30 American dollars!). We went into a childrens’ boutique and I saw a pair of toddler pants with a big fox on it that I knew Lori would love.

“Are you going to get it?” Mr. C asked.

“Yeeesssss,” I said as I turned over the tag to see that it was $26. “Noooo.” I then cooed. No article of clothing that will be outgrown in a matter of months should cost that much. I was walking out when he grabbed it and took it to the counter and bought it for me. Lori loved it.

We walked up and down, people watching and teasing each other. I was head over heels in love with Vancouver. I had never been anywhere like it.

“I hate for you to leave this place,” I told him.

“Well, maybe you can move here then,” he said.

I just sighed. Not that I wouldn’t want to but it’s not easy to immigrate to Canada. I wasn’t sure how we could make it happen. Yet, when I think of him leaving this wonderful place to come to Portland……it seemed like a tragedy.

Mr. C often jokes with me about getting married. Mostly, he claims because he knows it makes me squirm. When we were on the beach, he said it again, that I could live there if I married him. We stopped and I hugged him close and looked up at him.

“What if I said yes and I wanted to get married tomorrow? You’d do it?”

“Of course I would,” he said.

“You’re really that sure?”

He looked down at me and kissed me.

“I told you. I know this is going to work. I’ve never had a doubt in my mind.”

“You’re so stupid,” I said. (This has become a running joke I say to him anytime he expresses his confidence or unconditional love.)

He laughed.

But I don’t want to get married again. Or at the very least, I’m not ready.

Walking back to the car, arms around each other, the sun in our eyes he said, “I could see you staying close to Lori and the baby and the kid for about a year or two then maybe coming up here to live.”

“You think we can sustain this for a year or two?” I asked.

“Yeah, I think we can,” he said.

When I think of all the wishy washy, flighty men I have attempted to date over the past five years. Mr. Houston who said a three hour drive was too far. Pumpkin Patch who couldn’t give up his Baton Rough girl, the guy from Gramercy who couldn’t be bothered to drive an hour and a half….etc…etc….

There I was in Vancouver, Canada walking with a man who I was crazy about and talking about our future.

Maybe I finally found my Mr. Moon.

We went back to the apartment and I gathered my things and we carried them down. We said goodbye by the car and I held him tight, putting my head on his chest.

“I’ll see you Friday,” he said.

“Yeah, that’s right. I’ll see you Friday, boo boo.” I said.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

At the American border, the car got searched again and they asked me lots of questions again. They were surprised I had been let into Canada with all that stuff.

I think Mr. C and I should have special speed passes that we can put on our dashes.

At the very least, I’ve got to convince Lori to let me put all that stuff in her crowded garage. For once in my life I’d like to go through a border without being questioned.

 

The Border and Vancouver

I have to admit. I was worried about crossing the border. For one, I had a bad experience (read that story here). For another, I had all that stuff in my car. I didn’t have a place to put my belongings at Lori’s house so my element was still stuffed with boxes and a t.v. and a chest of drawers and paintings and all kinds of shit. It looked like I was moving because that was I had just done.

Mr. Canada advised saying that I was headed to Alaska. He said border control heard that line all the time from Americans. But I’m a terrible liar. That claim would be followed by endless questions that I would have make up answers to on the fly. I can’t pull that off. My policy is: Tell the truth if for no other reason than it’s the easiest to remember. Especially when speaking to government officials.

I got to the border crossing and approached. There was only one car ahead of me. I came up to a large, green traffic light so I pulled up just behind the van ahead of me.

It was my turn, I handed over my passport. The man asked me to remove my sunglasses.

“Are you allergic to stop signs?” he asked.

Apparently I wasn’t supposed to take the green light literally. I was supposed to wait behind the light. He then proceeded to ask a plethora of questions. The usual stuff. Narcotics: no. Guns: no. Etc…etc….Then he asked about all the stuff. I gave him my story.

“Have you been to Canada before?”

“I have not,” I said.

“I didn’t think so. Well, since this is your first time, we’ll give you a proper Canadian welcome. Pull your car up over there and the officers will show where to park.”

It was the Canadian version of “Step aside, m’am.” Here we go.

I went into a large, lovely building with high ceiling and lots of modern, wooden and stone interior treatments. A woman asked me more questions then said they were going to look in my car. “Do you have anything you’re concerned about in the vehicle?” the officer asked.

“In what way?” I asked her.

“Like valuable or breakable things.”

I thought for a minute. “Well, I have camera equipment……and oh, there’s a t.v. in there……….and a computer and I guess some dishes and stuff……”

They went out to my Element and asked me to have a seat. When I was sitting there I thought about how I had jammed a bunch of small stuff on the passenger side. I went up the counter and said, “Excuse me, I forgot to mention, if you open the passenger side door, everything will fall out.” I laughed a little. The officer didn’t laugh and she informed the officers outside through her walkie talkie.

I sat and waited with nothing to read or look at. I was a little nervous but not I’m-stuck-in-Tel-Aviv nervous. The worst they could do was ask me to turn around. I was five hours from Portland, not on the other side of the world.

Coming back in, they asked to see my phone and for my password. Luckily I had recent texts from both Mr. Canada and Lori about the ultrasound she had earlier that day, both corroborating my story.

The tall, blond stout woman called me up again and said they were letting me through.

“If you’re going to come through the border again, you might want to find a place to put all that stuff,” she said, completely straight faced. “It just looks like you’re trying to move here.” I smiled as she said it and agreed. “Yeah, I think I’m going to do that,” I said with a laugh and she finally broke out with a little smile.

I found my way back onto the highway and followed Nigel’s directions. I was in Canada.

I drove into Vancouver around 5ish. It was a sunny day and I could see all the mountains, topped with snow. They put Mount Hood to shame. I drove in on Hastings street and was blown away by the row of weird and delightful shops. It was compact and thoroughly interesting. I could have pulled over and spent hours on that one street. There was something organic and wonderful about the line of businesses. It was like New Orleans, but not quite. It was like no other city I had been to. I suppose it might be more European but I’ve never been to Europe. I was instantly falling in love with the city.

I was having trouble following Mr. Canada’s directions, especially since he didn’t give me distances between points the way Siri and Google maps does. And my Element was sputtering a little. My silver box does not like going up inclines. I think it misses the flat streets of Louisiana. So, I pulled over and checked the oil, basically the only thing I know to do when my car is acting weird. Then I plugged in Mr. Canada’s address and let my phone take me there.

I found it easily and let him know I had arrived. He wouldn’t be off of work for another couple of hours. I went for a walk and found an empty chinese restaurant for some hot tea and a couple of spring rolls. I knew Mr. C would be mad if he knew I was eating. He, of course had cooking plans for me.

I walked around a bit more until Mr. C told me he was on his way home. I got my stuff out and took it to the entrance of the apartment building and sat there like a vagrant. Just then, his blue car pulled up and he walked up to me.

“Who is this stray dog waiting here?” he joked.

I got up and hugged him. He was dressed up for work in dress pants and an argyle sweater vest and yellow tie.

He smelled beautifully familiar and his lips were as sweet as ever.

Looking up at him, holding him tight, his hands pushing me hair away from my face as he smiled down at me, I felt a shiver come from somewhere inside my stomach and travel up to my head.

I was really falling in love with him badly.

Every time I met him again, I was a little farther gone.

Mr. Canada had me under his spell.

 

One Night in Seattle

It was my turn to visit Mr. Canada. It’s a five hour drive to Vancouver, so I was going to go up early Friday and leave Monday. Then I got an interview request for Monday, so I’d have to drive back Sunday. That’s a lot of driving for what would essentially be one full day with Mr. Canada. So, I decided to drive up to Seattle Thursday to break it up. I found a hostel a block up from the Pike Street Market. You know the famous one where they throw the fish? It was only $31 for a bunk bed.

At first, I wasn’t going to tell Mr. Canada what I was doing. I don’t know why. I thought he might worry about me the way he did when I was on the road trip? I thought he might give me an opinion about why it wasn’t a good idea or try to convince not to do it? I didn’t tell him until I had booked the room. I mentally prepared myself to defend my decision and politely tell him that it’s what I wanted to do. When I told him he replied, “That’s a great idea, baby.”

I read it and thought, Huh. Interesting. Why was I expecting him to react differently? I realized, my fear wasn’t about him. I was still thinking like the woman married to Mr. K. I was expecting the kind of reaction he would have had. I’m still not used to being respected as a grown woman, I guess. I mean, let’s face it, I do a lot of stupid shit that would justify concern from anyone. But it’s nice to be treated otherwise. I’m learning that I can be myself and be respected at the same time. I mean, not that I have a choice in being myself. It’s all I got.

Sometimes I’m reminded of what they told me in that divorce recovery group I attended years ago. For every four years you were married, you should give yourself one to recover or some such bullshit. I don’t know if that’s true, but I know I’m still adjusting to not being in the sphere of influence of Mr. K. And anytime Mr. Canada does or says anything that feels like he might be judging or controlling or trying to influence my behavior, I jolt and react and bring out the old frog in the pot analogy. Now when he tells me something he teases me saying, “I’m not trying to frog-in-a-pot you,” with that weird Canadian accent.

I took my time that Thursday morning, hanging out with the kid, washing clothes and packing and didn’t leave until 1-ish. I arrived in Seattle after dark, fighting the downtown one way streets, trying to find the right parking garage assigned by the hostel.

I made it to the bustling hostel, took a shower and went out for a drink. I settled on a sushi place and had an amazing octopus carpaccio dish. It had some kind of frozen, shaved, orange stuff in the middle. The combination of flavors and textures was delightful. I was reminded of what Amy had said once, that the food at Pamplona was losing its edge. Tasting this dish, I thought she might be right. When Pamplona served octopus it was sliced on a plate with a dipping sauce. That’s it. This dish put them to shame.

When I got back to the hostel, I was the only one in the room of four beds. I wondered if, like at the one in the Gila mountains, if I was again the only person there. I talked to Mr. Canada on the phone for a while then went to sleep listening to my rain sounds on headphones.

Eventually, two quiet Asian girls came in followed by a loud girl who took her little lamp and swung it every which way making a spot light through out the otherwise dark room. Maybe she was high. In the morning, the Asian girls got up and moved around like quiet mice. I caught a glimpse of one putting lotion on her face. The loud girl got up and left the room saying into her phone, “Well thanks for telling me.”

I got up and showered, not saying much to the Asian girls who didn’t make eye contact. I checked out and put my stuff in my car and went to explore the area.

I liked Seattle. It was more like a real city. My daughter Lori chose the Portland area over Seattle because she said she didn’t like it. Walking around, I couldn’t understand why. It was full of cool, international shops. The market was fun, if not touristy and overpriced. That’s to be expected. There were flowers and chinese pastries and delights of all kinds.

I decided to walk out to the ferris wheel to see how much it would cost to ride it. I remember seeing it from the airport years ago when I was on the way back from Indonesia. I walked up to the counter. It was only $14 but there was a long line. I didn’t feel like waiting.

Mr. Canada and I had once considered using Seattle as a meeting place since it’s almost exactly midway between Portland and Vancouver. Seeing the city and finding the cheap hostel, I was beginning to think it might be a good idea. We would have fun there. Maybe I would ride the ferris wheel with him one day.

I headed back to my car, climbing steps from the waterfront back up to 1st street. I found a cute little coffee shop and stepped in for a shot of caffeine and a bagel.

It was really hot inside the shop, so I took my coat and sweater off, fighting with the sweater like the ridiculous klutz that I am. My tank top was not hiding the bright pink, floral print bra underneath, so I quickly pulled up the front and tugged down the back.

Across the room, I saw two older men reading newspapers at a long table. By the way the staff talked to them, I guessed they were regulars. They were both tall and distinguished. Well dressed and confident. One was black and the other was a balding Indian man (I think). I amused myself by watching them as they letched after every woman who passed on the street or entered the café. They looked my way a couple of times as I tried to keep my tiny bra in check. I just laughed at them. What a couple of dirty old men, I thought.

I checked myself, wondering at the fine line between the harmless amusement their behavior inspired in me and the fear and disgust it might have just as equally caused if a few details of the instance had been different.

Oh well.

I made it back to the car and asked Siri to help me to the I-5 north. Mr. Canada had given very specific instructions to a less busy border crossing. I got some gas and a snack, made sure I knew where my passport was and headed out, finishing off the audiobook I had begun on my road trip.

Next stop: The Canadian Border