Sunday, July 9, 2017

My Darlene...

So, a little over a year ago, I was visiting my friend, Jessica, to help her plan her wedding - to be held in Ireland in September.  Well, it just so happened to be Pride weekend in Knoxville and we decided to go and check it out for a bit.  I hadn't been to Knoxville Pride, but I'd thought about several times.  I didn't know if I would ever find her, but since I had already tried, unsuccessfully, for so many years following our split, I just kind of handed it over to universe.  If I ever did see her again, then it would happen without me making it happen.  But if so, I knew exactly what I would say.  When we headed over to the World's Fair Site, the home of Pride 2016, I knew there was a slight chance of seeing her, but I didn't give too much thought to it.

We (Jessica, me, and Patterson) parked in the garage across the street and walked across the street where we ran into Jessica's fiancĂ©, David. We all said hello and kept walking toward the gate.  Then we ran into my cousin, Deanna.  We walked in and grabbed a drink and decided to walk around.  As we walked, I noticed a VIP tent set up ahead of us on the left. We continued walking and then I kept focusing in on the tent and saw her sitting on a table scanning the crowd.  She's a great crowd scanner: me, not so much.  I immediately knew it was her. She suddenly looked at me and we locked eyes for a split send and I quickly put my head down, so my hair would cover my face and she'd be blocked from seeing my full face.  I was nervous.  I'd been waiting for this moment for more than 23 years, but I had to get it together. My thoughts racing, heart pounding, sweating, shaking, I sped up my stride to catch up with Jessica.  I would go talk to her and tell her what I've always planned, but I needed to put myself together.

As I tried catching up to Jessica, I looked behind me and there she was.  My lame attempt to keep her from seeing me had failed.  She was walking (with a purpose) straight in my direction.  My cover blown, still nervous, I turned and headed in her direction.  We both stopped in front of the other. "Hey! I said.  I've been looking for you!" "Yeah?" she asked and then proceeded to remove my sunglasses. "Yeah!" I said, "Every time I came to Knoxville, for many years, I'd try to find you. I even went to the Carousel (a bar that's no longer open we both used to frequent) a few times and ran into some mutual friends and asked them to give you a message for me.  Did you ever get it?" "No, I don't think I did," she replied.  "Yeah, I have been trying to get in touch with you to apologize for everything I did. I figured there was no way you'd ever want to see or be in touch with me ever again, but I needed to apologize." She just looked at me and said "It's okay, I wasn't even sure it was you, that's why I walked over here." Even though I had apologized and it appreared she accepted and brushed it off like it was nothing, I was still in some sort of shock.  I didn't know if she wasn't listening to me, or wasn't sure if I was sincere, or what, but then she just began talking - almost nonstop. So, saying what I had been needing to say for 20+ years, I shut up and listened.  She gave me a quick update of her current life, asked if I was in a relationship, (to which I replied, "Nope:They don't seem to work out too well for me"), asked what I was doing in Knoxville, asked how Shane and Shelby were doing, and just kept on and on. She invited me over to the tent to meet her partner, which I agreed and started following her. As we walked I asked to stop and get a selfie (because I never knew if I'd ever see her again).  She agreed.  I also asked her for phone number or email, because I'd like to stay in touch.  She started to tell me her email address, but I handed her my phone and let her type it in, (just in case I got it wrong, or if she didn't want me to have the real email address). She typed it in the notes section on my phone and we continued to walk toward the tent. I was going through a mental checklist of what I needed to make sure I could get in contact with her.  "Are you on Facebook?" "No," she said as we reached the tent.  Then she introduced me to her girlfriend. I shook her hand and looked at her and smiled, but I honestly have no memory of what her face looked like.  I do remember thinking that it seemed an odd match, but the thought was fleeting.

We then turned back to each other and continued to talk for a short bit.  I told her that I would bring my friends, Jessica and Patterson, over so she could meet them.  She agreed.  We started to part and  hugged each other. Tightly. As I brought her body closer to mine, she did the same. I felt her pull me into her just as much as I was pulling her into me. We both felt it and I knew it.  She started to release me but I didn't let go. I pulled her in as much as I could and pushed everything I was feeling into her. As she responded by returning to the hug, I knew I was putting myself out there - serving myself up to her on platter. I was going to have to be okay with whatever the result of that was. We separated and I put my sunglasses back on and reminded her that I would be over with Jessica and Patterson soon.  She acknowledged me then left and went back to the tent.

Oh my, oh my, oh my! I could barely contain myself and stay in the moment.  After all these years, it finally came true.  I found my first true love.  My first (adult) same-sex relationship. The partner who helped me care for my son and helped me bring my daughter into this world. Shelby's middle name, Ann, is from Darlene's first name, Anna.  When Darlene and I first got together, way back when, I didn't even know I was pregnant.  There's lots to go into how our relationship ended back then, but I'll save that for later. I finally found her though! Wow!  Now what?

So, I did what any reasonable person would do.  I sat down and immediately typed her an email, letting her know how much I had been waiting for that moment and included the selfie.

Subject: You

I'm so glad we got to see each other. I really needed this. There's so much I want to say but maybe it's best to leave things unsaid: I don't know...

You look good. Congratulations on your career and future fiancé. I wish you the very best and many, many years of happiness.

If you ever want to talk, find yourself in Atlanta, or just need an ear, don't hesitate to reach out to me.

You have, and always will be, my first true love. And I know you know that.

--Paula

Sup?!

Me!  That's what!  Been telling the world I'm 5'2.75" for 20+ years.  Turns out: I'm 5'4"! Go me!  This makes for a much better BMI.  I now have some of the hope I've been looking for. HA.

By the way, I'm working on a blog that's at least a year overdue.  Stay tuned, if you wanna know the latest in my world.  Meanwhile, go measure yourself.  You might be surprised of the result.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Today

Today

I am freeing myself
I am freeing myself of the longing and the want
Of the thing you will never have

I am freeing myself of the time constraints
placed upon us by your desires to drink and smoke
and not share in the things I want to do

I am freeing myself of the vast amounts of time
I spend thinking of you, worring about you, wanting you
wanting you to want me, wanting you to want what I want

I am freeing myself of the imbalance, the inequity
Of wanting things done your way
Without thoughts of me, or Us
Of wanting shared experiences

Today I am freeing myself of the lives, the hope, the caves, the lakes and plentiful parks
That live and thrive in Austin
That I so wanted to be part of, but you did not want me to take part in

I am freeing myself of your family
Whom I love so much
This, by far, will be the most difficult part

Today was filled with sunshine, the smell of honesuckle trees and dancing
Today lives were given and taken
Today decisions were made

Today, I free myself of my addiction
You

And also Today, I free you
Of Me

Tomorrow, I will start to heal

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Drama is Exhausting

I've not written in a long time because there's been too much to write about I couldn't possibly keep up.  I'm feeling the need to write now because there's so much weight on my shoulders and each thing is very important, worth its own merit and yet I'm feeling so stressed, taken for granted, used and abused, and probably some self pity for good measure.  Now, where to start...

1.  I moved out of Mike's house because I was about to have a nervous breakdown.  I was seriously having panic attacks because I couldn't bear to be there.  Mike and I have have so many differences, not to mention he's my ex-husband for a reason, and who the hell moves back in with their ex-husband?  I was so depressed being in that house, away from my friends, my jobs, my life.  I didn't feel comfortable.  As soon as the kids went to bed, I ran to my room to hole myself up for the night and avoid any contact with Mike.  I was angry with him for so many things.  I was also grateful that he took in the kids - but it's not like something I had to beg him to do: He wanted the kids.  He wanted the kids to live with him, and raise them and provide him with the family he lost when we divorced.  I, however, was not part of that package and could no longer put up with things.  I feel like I did my part, got Emma to a point where she sleeps all night, is easy to care for and all you have to do is feed, change and play with her periodically and she's good to go.  Ellie, on the other hand, is a constant work in progress and Mike is not a big help when it comes to being tough and providing the structure he requires right now so he'll need less later.  Ellie has Mike wrapped around his finger - he's his puppet and at this point Ellie is a master puppeteer when it comes to Mike.  It's very frustrating to say the least and any efforts I make are pretty much futile.

I still watch the kids and go to Monroe when Mike goes out of town or teaches on Saturdays.  So I'm still involved in their lives and I contribute financially by paying for Emma's daycare, so I don't feel like I'm just dumping the kids on him.  I do feel like he tries to make excuses for me to come out there when it's unnecessary.  So I'm handling that problem by looking for a sitter.  Driving back and forth to Monroe once/twice per week is costly in gas and puts quite a bit of wear and tear on my car - none of which Mike really cares about.  Dealing with ex-husbands, especially ones you share custody of grandchildren with, is pretty damn stressful.

2.  I moved in with Jay.  That's been a whirlwind of surprises, adventures, experiences - you name it.  This is actually the second time we've tried living together - the first time only lasting about a week, but that's par for our relationship.  This time is requiring lots of changes and adjustments and it's quite odd and awkward and I don't know if we're each very happy with each other and the situation. I often think about how things were different when we were first dating and the things that aren't okay now were okay then - because everything was new and fun and not serious.  But now that we are sharing our everyday lives with each other, things are different and things are serious. There are positives and negatives and I don't know really which outweigh each other at this point.  This second time has only been a few weeks, so we lasted longer than before, but some major changes are taking place and it's creating a distance between us - causing us to communicate less and not really enjoy being together, like before.  I wish things were different and I do hope they get better.  We've always had this "crazy love" that goes from one extreme to the other, but we always reunite.  The kind of things we're going through now are tough and boring - like regular life, which is what I want.  I want to live a regular (sometimes boring) life with a person who gives me as much love as I give.  But the things going on right now are stressful and I hope time will make it better.  Jay does make efforts but I worry about stripping him of happiness.  That makes me sad, because that's the last thing I want to do.

3.  I'm working for one of my doctors that I used to manage years ago.  I got her right out of residency, so I feel like she's my baby and I've stuck with her over the years - helping her out here and there.  About three years ago, she came to me and wanted to start her own practice.  I told her I would help her get it up and running, but I under no certain terms wanted to stay on and manage her practice.  I worked in healthcare administration for many years and I got so burned out, I was about ready to go postal on some doctors.  So, I got her business up and running - business license, created the LLC, got her credentialed, got CLIA waivers for in-office testing and so forth.  Then I found a replacement for me and I left.  She then decided to expand her business and did not reach out to me about it - which is fine, since I'm not her keeper.  But two years later, because certain protocols and procedures weren't followed and pursued by the current practice administrator, the practice is in pretty bad shape.  Like, it's to the point of I don't know if it can be saved.  So, she reached out to me about two months ago and told me everything that was going on.  I've been working diligently to try and clean up some messes that are a priority and then try to help her decide if the practice is salvageable.  This is very stressful as well, and I honestly don't know if I can save it.

4.  Ebony is out of prison. He's still in California, in a half-way house.  I spoke to him a couple of weeks ago and he said he has to pay restitution ($200) and do some other whatever whatever with his parole officer to see if he can come to Georgia - which could take anywhere from six to nine months.  That, is not very stressful, thank goodness.  I don't see Ebony as a threat and don't see him trying to intervene in the kids' lives any time soon.

5.  I completed a visitation form to go see Shelby and it was denied because I marked NO to the question asking if I had ever been arrested.  I actually have been arrested - like when I was 21, part of a bar fight, and everything was dismissed.  I actually thought it was expunged from my record because it's never shown up before in any background check.  I also marked NO to juvenile arrest, but I was in juvenile because I was a little badass teenager and got put in there for being "unruly."  I think I spent two nights in there or something.  But I thought juvenile records didn't count and were sealed?????  So, anyway, the denial came with an invitation for me to reapply with the correct information about my "criminal record." HA.  I guess they felt that bar fight and my unruly teenage behavior would pose a risk for the Folsom Prison staff.  Anyway, I completed the form again with all of that information and hopefully they will approve me.  I'd like to visit Shelby in November, if possible.  That's stressful.

Anyway, I'll close for now.  These are just a few top issues of the day, every day.  There are plenty more, but they are all minor compared to these.  I still have to deal with them, but they're not as taxing as these.  Sometimes I wonder if I'm ever going to be able to lead a peaceful life.  I honestly don't know if it's in the cards for me.  A few friends have told me that there are so many things I have to deal with in my life that are not a direct result of my behavior - which makes me feel better.  I try to determine which is which.  My life seems to have so many crises in it.  I wonder what I would do if there weren't any crises to handle.  Would I create a crisis, or am I capable of living a calm, peaceful life without all the drama?  Drama is exhausting.

To catch up on the latest with Ellie and Emma, just click on their Tumblr site. Here's a link, but it's also listed on the side of my blog under Kickass Links. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Short update

Well, they finally moved Shelby out of jail in LA and into the Central California Women's Facility.  I don't know if this is where she'll be serving the remainder of her sentence or if they'll move her again.  Based on the last phone conversation, it sounded like this might be a temporary spot for sorting people out and determining where they will go - based on their crimes and sentences and so forth.

Ebony was also moved.  We originally thought he'd be serving his time in the detention center but word has it that he was able to negotiate that he be moved to a prison instead of having to stay in the detention center - which is worse than prison.   I think Ebony was moved two weeks ago.  It looks like Shelby was moved yesterday.

They don't let them take much of their stuff with them when they transfer, so Shelby mailed me all of the photos I had sent her along with a few others, and asked that I send them back to her once she has a permanent address.  In the photos was one I hadn't seen.  It was a photo of her at the hospital, right after she had Emma.

She's looking a little rough, but at least somebody took this picture and she has a photo with her baby.

Another thing happened today.  The guardianship papers went through and the court granted us the legal guardians of the children.  This will allow many things to happen now (insurance for one) and it will also serve as protection in case Ebony and/or Shelby get out and want to just come snatch up the kids.  There will need to be a process they have to go through and reintegrate themselves back into their children's lives.  They need to prove themselves responsible adults - they work and can provide a stable household for their children and are up to no shenanigans.

So, that's where things are now.  I'm currently looking for an activity to get Ellie involved in - soccer or some sort of sports. He's a good runner, maybe something like track.  I'm also looking for something for Emma - like infant aquatics.  It'll be useful for us both.

That's about all for now.  I'm still trying to find a job and looking for a place to live in the city.  Mike and I will share custody of the kids, like a normal divorced couple with kids.  It's just not working out here.  The kids will be fine.

Everything will be okay.  Eventually.

Oh, by the way, check out the tool kit Sesame Street has for children with incarcerated parents:
http://www.sesamestreet.org/parents/topicsandactivities/toolkits/incarceration