Eclipse Trips

My daughters and I decided to drive 539 miles to see the eclipse in totality.  It was a trip that I really couldn’t afford, but I couldn’t really afford not to see it either.  

My girls and I make a point to go out and see every full moon.  It’s our thing.   When we were living with my ex boyfriend on the prairie, the full moon was our saving grace.  We would gather out under the willow tree and stare in amazement at the beautiful clear sky.  And we would talk.  It was beautiful.  You could see the Milky Way so clearly out there.  But the full moon in that setting was a sacred sight.  It became our little tradition and we have kept it up even now that we live amongst trees.  We just drive around the prairie to see it.  This tradition is what I named this blog after.  Our ‘little moon talks’ were one of a few good things that came from the experience of moving my kids into a man’s home who had no intention of loving us or being a part of our family.  Ironically, my little family grew a lot closer because of that experience.  Those talks were the needle and thread, that stitched together the fabric of our bond.  

So this once in a lifetime eclipse was non-negotiable.  We had to see it in all of it’s glory.  On Sunday afternoon, we got in the car and started driving south.  It’s kind of scary to venture out on a big road trip as a single mom.  I grew up with a very safety conscious dad who used terrorism as a means to educate me about the world.  So my mind was repeatedly going through every possible disaster as I drove my old crappy car down the highway.

I had booked a hotel in a small town just a few hours from the eclipse destination.  I had googled the town and it looked adorable from the pictures.  We had our swimsuits packed and ready because this Southern Indiana hotel offered such amenities as an outdoor pool and continental breakfast!  It was a name brand hotel, so I figured we were safe.  Besides…I saw some pictures online and it looked cute! 

When we arrived to the hotel, a twelve year old boy took my credit card payment and advised that our room was around the corner from the office.  We drove around the building and my heart dropped.  The pool was full of trees.  Of the two cars in the parking lot, one of them was covered with bungee cords, duct tape, and spray paint.  I had the terrifying feeling that we would end up much the same way had we actually stayed there.  There were sketchy people inside one of the rooms, peaking out from the curtain, probably sizing up my children for human trafficking purposes.  We didn’t even go inside.  We went back to the office and asked for a refund, to which the twelve year old host acted as if he hands out refunds all day long.  I’m sure he does.  Unfortunately, he ended up charging my card again before issuing a double refund.

I panicked.  I was about 6 hours away from home.  I had very little money to work with, and the refund was going to take five days to process.  We drove around until we found another hotel that looked a little bit better from the outside.  When we walked in, an older gentleman with stained up sweatpants and a ripped up tshirt ignored us for a moment before looking up and offering a room for $68.00.  I didn’t see any other options, so we booked it.  This hotel smelled like burning garbage.  I’m not sure what a meth lab smells like, because I have never smelled one before, but I’m sure there were at least a few of them operating in that hotel.  We locked our door and I laid our own blankets on top of the bed.  I tried to remain calm, but inside I was panicking.  I couldn’t stand the smell, it was unlike anything I had ever smelled before.  

I posted my situation on Facebook, partly because I wanted people to know where we were in case we came up missing.  And partly because I thought my eight year old daughter nailed the situation when she said that hotel was straight out of the television show ‘My Name Is Earl.’  

I was ecstatic when my childhood best friend who I haven’t seen in more than a decade responded saying that she only lived 45 minutes from our hotel and to come over because she had spare bedrooms ready for us.  I had tears in my eyes from the relief I felt after hearing from her.  I didn’t even know she was living in Southern Indiana.  We gathered our belongings and b-lined out of that disgusting mess.  This time, a refund was refused.

It was surreal, arriving to my old friend’s house in the middle of the night.  Her house was beautiful and she had two safe, clean bedrooms ready for us.  I was so thankful.  I was also excited that my girls got to meet her.  The last time I saw her was at my baby shower when I was pregnant with my fourteen year old.  

In the morning, we headed out early.  We took all the back roads through rural Kentucky.  We drove through the mountains and down curvy roads that wound around through mountains and rivers.  We saw endless horse pastures and golden yellow tobacco fields and homes that should be in magazines.  We listened to good music and had conversations about the meaning behind their lyrics.  It was a glorious day.

When the eclipse came, we were in the parking lot of a high school in Bowling Green, Kentucky.  We had our glasses ready and spread a blanket out in the shade of some pine trees.  It was so cool to watch the sun disappear.  When the moon had covered the sun completely, and darkness fell into the daytime, and the birds went silent, and the crickets started chirping, I looked over at my girls.  They were smiling and enjoying the adventure of it all.  I thought for a moment about how far we had all come, not just in that crazy trip, but in life.  I got really emotional and started to cry.  I’m not sure what exactly I was releasing there in the big shadow hovering over Kentucky, but it felt good to let go.  And my girls got a good laugh at their sometimes overly sentimental mom who drove eight and a half hours to cry through the Great American Eclipse.  

The trip back took an extra four hours because of the heavy traffic.  My girls never argued.  I never had to yell at them.  They only ever complained about that hotel room, which was completely understandable.  

In the past couple of months, I’ve had certain people in my life question my abilities as a mom.  My own mother told me that driving to Kentucky was irresponsible of me.  My ex husband had tried to demand custody of my younger daughter, saying that he could do better than I do.  Sometimes I let these people get into my head.  But after taking this amazing trip with my girls, I really don’t care what anyone else thinks. Those little ladies are my family and I couldn’t ask for a better tribe.  We are complete and content, just as we are.  


Empath Love 

In my experience, people in general can be selfish and shitty, even if they do smell like roses. If you ever happen to catch my attention, you should know that I will hold on fiercely to every wicked thing about you. I will polish your dark side like fucking diamonds. I will rearrange the aesthetics of your very essence, pushing back your demons and pulling forward the pillars of light around your soul.  

And you will see yourself through my eyes, and for the first time, you will fall in love with the scenery of your own shadow.  But sadly, you will assume that my perception of you is only the result of my own ignorance, because deep down you believe that you are nothing more than shit. And even though I can only smell the sweet fragrance of roses inside of you, your focus will remain on the stench of everything you think you are hiding from me.  

And you should know that you can’t hide those hideous treasures from me. I have deep caves inside of myself that are darker than anything you could ever imagine. And that gives me the power now, doesn’t it? You will mistake my kindness for weakness. You will feel my graciousness and then believe that you are somehow entitled to it. You will think you have me on lockdown.  You will assume that I must be under your control because all you can feel is the warm light that I have painted you in.

But you can’t win a game that you aren’t familiar with. My eyes, and the way that they see you, are my own. You don’t own my focus, or my power. And as soon as you start to believe that you do, I will set a fire to the garden of roses that I had so graciously planted in your piles of manure. And I will walk away with one last picture of you, seeing you as nothing more than a pile of shit. Your delusion will become mine. And my delusion will fall into your precious little box of big regrets.  

If you ever learn to plant your own damn roses, I would love to stop by and smell them. 

The Captain Or The Carp

My friends and I have always compared dating to fishing. We considered ourselves the captains of our fishing boats, searching through vast waters of bars and websites and sporting goods stores, searching for that big catch. We’ve wondered if maybe there was something wrong with our equipment. We’ve blamed the weather, the water, and the boat for a low harvest. We have caught fish that left a bad taste in our mouths. We have caught fish who weren’t big enough. We have caught smelly bottom feeders and the coveted King Salmon and everything in between.  

Then I realized that I am the fucking fish. I keep biting on these damn catch and release lines. I keep getting reeled in, sometimes because I am hungry, and sometimes because that bait tastes so damn good. The thing about good bait though, is that it’s always tied to a hook. After being hooked a few times, I’ve learned to be more cautious with my lips.  

I’m torn between wanting a passionate love and a love that will last forever because it’s safe. In my experience, to find a love that is both magic and mundane, is even more rare than seeing a fucking narwhal.  

I have however, found magic inside of the mundane. I am very skilled at creating my own love stories out of relationships that consisted of everything but love. Sadly, those stories were never enough for me. When the fog cleared and reality rolled in, those stories left me drowning in disappointment.  

Maybe the key here is to search instead for the mundane inside of the magic. Perhaps catching that elusive fish who doesn’t want to be caught is the fish most worthy of catching. When he thrashes in the river, fighting for freedom, but incapable of ignoring my bait… that is the fish that captures my attention like no other. I need passion. I need to feel pulled in against my own will. But I also need to know that I have caught something good and trustworthy. Once again, I am transformed into the angler.  

And this is why I’m single. I need to be the fish and the fisherman. This is essentially a balance of power. I want the big fish, the smart fish, who has spent his life avoiding being caught. I also need to be the fish. I need to know that we both put up a fight, because that is the only way that I know how to tell when it’s real. When we want so badly to resist…when we both grow tired of tugging on the line…but neither one of us is capable of giving up…and then all at once, we both surrender. That is the only process I know of falling into something that is worthwhile.  Love is a war of the heart and I have nothing but respect for the battle.    

Today, I am a fish out of water.  

Sunday Sundae 

This weekend was a bonus weekend for me. The girls stayed with me because their dad had to work all weekend.  

My eight year old and I danced until midnight in our living room last night. It was the first time in almost a month that I had truly felt joyous. As we broke it down to Lady Gaga’s just dance, I dropped some pretty awesome relationship advice on my daughter. I said, ‘Honey, when you get older and a boy breaks your heart, remember to dance that boy right out of your mind.’ She just giggled at my silly advice and kept stomping around the room. When I tucked her in, she told me that she had a good time dancing. I did too.  

Sunday morning, I was driving my girls to meet up with their dad when my eight year old started freaking out and yelling that there was a lizard in the car. I actually started to worry that she was hallucinating or something. We don’t have lizards in Michigan. I pulled over only to find that we absolutely do have lizards in Michigan and one was in my damn car! I tried to catch it, but it scurried under the seat and is possibly lost there forever. My nature loving eight year old was over the moon. She has texted me twice now to see if I caught it yet.  

After the lizard situation, I dropped my girls off at the restaurant where their dad and I used to have breakfast every Sunday when we were married. Only this time he was waiting for us with his new girlfriend. The one that tried to steal him away from me years ago when we had just begun dating. This was my first face to face encounter with her since their little reunion. I think I handled it well except for when I literally walked away while she was telling a story. I didn’t feel like listening about her trip to Florida. I just wanted to get the hell out of there. I don’t know why I struggle with these things. I just do.  

After that I met up with my mother and niece to go to a painting party. It was my mother’s first attempt at spending time together in several years. She has been trying so persistently to be nice to me. I was excited for the chance to heal our relationship. But as I listened to her complain and criticize people through out the entire ride to the party, I found myself thanking God that I had hit that roach in my car on the way. She is draining. But that is all she knows. She has no personality. She has no social skills. She is just a big energy-sucking, negative vortex of criticism. But she’s my mom and she is trying. So I tried too. And I do love her. She is just broken. I know this, because I am a little broken too. The pot helped. Having my sweetheart of a niece there to buffer the awkwardness helped too.  

We also stopped to visit my grandparents. I fucking love my grand parents. My grandpa showed me his patch of canna flowers, and pointed out that they were taller and better looking than my grandma’s patch of canna flowers. This is because he planted them deeper than she planted hers. I think they were both beautiful patches of canna flowers. My favorite thing about today was watching my grandpa smile when I told him about my daughter’s lizard debacle. His eyes filled with pride as he told me that she gets her love of nature from him. He said he was just like her at that age. I love that about her, and him.

And the cherry on this Sunday Sundae? The guy that I had ghosted on Friday… The guy that I have been trying to get out of my head for nearly a month…messaged a pathetic ‘Hi there,’ today.  I didn’t respond. I just danced like a mother fucker and smiled while my feet scattered around the room, to the bone chilling voice of Sharon Jones.  I danced that boy right out of my mind and it felt good.

This was exactly the kind of weekend that I needed.  

Man Overboard!

I blocked a guy today. It wasn’t easy and I know it’s immature. In some ways it hurt, because I really liked this guy and still do. But in other ways, I think it was easier than trying to explain the 5,000 knots in my mind to someone who could never make sense of the mess. I took the cowardly road. I know for a fact that he would never have done that to me. But in my defense, he was the guy who made me feel like a Godess one day and invisible nothing the next. And that is the cruelest shit you can do to a person.

My heart is a ship sailing into oblivious adventure. This guy was playing twister, with limbs stretching out from the shore, but never really giving up the sand.  

That guy mistook my kindness for weakness.  

Fuck that guy.

The Crab and the Kite

So I spent the past week rambling through Northern Michigan with my ex-husband, our two daughters, and a three-legged American bull dog. It was a crowded 900 miles altogether, packed into the extended cab of a Silverado with pillows and blankets and Capri suns. I was nervous about this co-parenting experiment with the guy whom I spent the entire decade of my twenties with. We have always done little dinners or day trips every once in a while. We’ve done holidays together and apart. We have also had some challenges over the past six years, since the split. I wasn’t sure how this was going to play out. This was our first week long family vacation. I was hopeful, but apprehensive about how this trip would feel, to me or the kids. It’s a little strange to spend a week as the family that we used to be, but that no longer exists.

It couldn’t have gone any better. Everyone was happy. Our fourteen year old daughter had no service on her cell phone. She played scrabble and laughed so hard, she had to hold her belly. We had a family joke, where she said that I looked like a Susan and her dad looked like a Brad. Then she joked about making ‘Starter Pack Memes’ with our new names. Like the Brad Starter Pack would include a vape pen and Jordans and some shitty techno music. The Susan starter pack would include tarot cards and cats and cheap leggings from Dollar General. We made up names for the girls and carried this cheesy joke through the whole trip. I think that joke will end up being our favorite souvenir.  

My eight year old went fishing, and impressed her grandfather with the ability to bait and remove her own hook. She smiled so much, her cheeks hurt. I think ‘Brad’ and I both enjoyed the scenery of watching our girls play together, and discover the breathtaking beauty of Northern Michigan, along the Lake Superior coastline. We had real, family conversations about the steady stream of changes in all of our lives, while hiking through a wild wonderland of beautiful waterfalls, sandstone cliffs, and forests that could heal your soul.  

We got to be those nerdy parents who sat by the fire and shared dating advice with our fourteen year old daughter while we drank some two hearted ales, just miles away from the actual river that beer is named after. Our daughter got to engage in a very entertaining conversation about how we met, and the things that we went through, and how she came about, and how much we loved her. It was the kind of conversation that could have never happened, had we stayed together. Because her dad and I have dated other people off and on for the past six years, we both have a lot of knowledge to share in that department.  

There we were, in our old tattoos that used to read each other’s names, now covered up by a crab and a kite, explaining how dating was different in the nineties, and how some things will never change. My daughter must have been impressed to receive dating advice from her divorced and relationally dysfunctional parents as we sipped just enough alcohol to take the edge of the awkwardness off. But I will bet you, she will remember that night for the rest of her life. She will know that her parents love her enough to plan a crazy divorced family vacation for her. And she will tell her children one day of the time we hiked to Mosquito Falls, uphill both ways, with a three-legged dog and a family that stayed a family even though it exists in different households and in different cities.

Now that the trip is over, and life is back to normal, I am filled with gratitude for the way things turned out.

 And I am very proud of the fact that my children will continue to benefit from a truce that turned into a genuine friendship.

Girls Growing Up

“Be good to her.  She’s rare.”  ~r.h. Sin

My daughter is exceptionally beautiful.  I’m not just saying this because I’m her mom.  She is fourteen years old and she turns heads everywhere she goes.  People always tell me that she should be a model.  I’m not saying this to brag.  I’m saying this because it is terrifying to have a fourteen year old daughter who walks in front of me at the grocery store while creepy old men walk by, staring her up and down like a piece of meat.  They don’t even notice the madness in my eyes while they are so obviously drooling over the little girl that I have nurtured and protected since she was a seed in my belly.  I could dig their eyes right out of their fucking heads with my bare hands.  

She met a boy last weekend while we were on vacation.  He won’t stop sending her pictures of her name drawn in the sand with hearts around it.  I like that boy, he is her own age and lives miles away from us.  I don’t like the soon-to-be eighteen year old boy who keeps inviting her out for dates.  She thinks he’s hot AF, as she and her friends describe him.  I want to grab an ax and go all Paul Bunyan on the pedestal these girls have placed him on.  He looks like a complete douche to me, and I think he should find a girl his own age.  

I’ve done my best to educate her on soon-to-be eighteen year old boys and their intentions.  I’ve tried to encourage her to love herself so fiercely, that any guy would have to prove himself undeniably for a piece of her heart.  But she’s fourteen and full of hormones and hungry for life experience.  

I was a fourteen year old girl too.  I get it, I do.  But I can’t help but to realize that my grip on her is fading.  Every passing day, she is less mine and more her own.  I’m learning how to replace leading her with guiding her.  And it’s so fucking hard, but I know that she will be grown and gone in the blink of an eye.  

She’s completely oblivious to the creepy old men.  Her eyes are fixed on their sons.  And I want so badly for her eyes to be fixed on her own dreams.  I want her to fight vigorously for a future that suits her, one where she lives happily with all of her greatest aspirations attained.

I see pieces of myself in her, and it scares the hell out of me.  I always took the wrong roads, the hard roads.  I want so badly for her to hear my voice, to see my fingers, pointing her into the direction of least resistance.  But she is my daughter and her will to make her own road is unwavering.  

It’s an odd thing, giving precious life to a child and watching them take it into their own hands.  I needed more time.  I will always need more time.