Friday, August 12, 2005

Fun For a Change

The 4th of July was fun this year. This was the first year it has been fun for several years now.

One of the reasons it was fun was because OF and I took a trip to the beach. The first picture on the left is the view from our hotel room in Lincoln City - very nice, especially considering I called about a week ahead of the holiday weekend, this was the only room left on the entire central Oregon coast, and it was only slightly more than $100. We had a big room, too, with a separate kind of living room area and a kitchen. Since we'd brought our camping supplies for the next night, we had a pan so we could cook bacon the next morning. Mmmm.....bacon!

Saturday night went out to a karaoke bar, a very sentimental place for us since that is where we, uh, got acqainted and then later that night, met, outside. That was when I found out he had a 1968 Mustang. I love Mustangs, have since I was a kid, and used this as a good reason to start up a conversation with that cute boy in the hat who kept ignoring me for some brunette. My question, "Does it have a 289 or 302?" sure got his attention, heh heh heh. Anyway, it was a fun, romantic evening and we had fun reminiscing and wondering where we would be now if we hadn’t met then. In the morning we ran on the beach together.

In the afternoon we visited my aunt and uncle who live in a small coastal town. Across the street from their house is the beach we named after my brother and dad. The second photo, at left, is me and OF on this beach. (My fiance, he is cute, no?) The name is not official or anything, it’s just how we refer to it. We scattered their ashes there after they died, which happened to both of them way too early in 2002 and 2003, respectively. The 4th of July was dad's birthday, and my brother spent a lot of time at the beach working and living at various times in his life. I have lots of good memories of spending time there as a kid. Our whole family loved the ocean. Their beach felt like a good place to be at that time of year to remember them both.

My brother and dad were both cremated, so there is no gravesite to visit. That's fine, but where do you go to feel a special connection, or a kind of closeness that is different from the everyday? That is unique? Sure, I've got memories that are always with me, I've got pictures and trinkets, but I need a place. I think it's a good way for me to deal with my feelings because it allows the opportunity to place my pain directly in the high beams and examine them. The only way I can alleviate pain in a healthy way is to face it head-on. This beach gives me a place to go marinade in my feelings, both happy and painful and whatever else. At first I don't want to experience it because it is so overwhelming. Each time I do it, I leave feeling much more at peace.

It seems to be working: This was the first year there wasn't overwhelming tightness in my chest at the thought of them; The first year I could enjoy the beach without terrible sadness overwhelming me and leaving me with nothing else to do but cry; The first year I felt more joy than residual anger at these losses. I am still very sad and I miss them both so much it still hurts, but there is more joy than pain and there was also a gentle sort of acceptance. I do miss them every day but those feelings have evolved into a kind of constant companion, with all the annoyances and relief anything constant can bring, but with a kind of familiarness. This was better than the feelings of missing them being a pure irritant. I'm very grateful for that relief.

Those were both huge losses and in very short succession. To add to it, I went through a divorce the same year that dad died. It was almost too much to bear. I needed my family so badly, but everything had changed, so much so that nothing seemed recognizable. I don't know how I made it through. A coworker of mine committed suicide, and shitfire, I entertained thoughts of jumping off a bridge more than once. But it was fairly fleeting, because somehow, in the back of my mind was the idea that there was still hope. There was, and is, plenty of hope. So thank goodness for that fucking Pollyanna attitude of mine, because I'm still alive! The past few years have been very, very dark, with a few noteworthy bright spots (e.g. I'm marrying a wonderful man in October! My daughter, sisters, and their families are healthy! My mom is doing well and is happier now! I have fabulous, dear friends that I treasure!).

Oh, you knew this was coming, and so here it is, the "glass half full" shit. I am blessed. It's true, even with all that pain and loss, I still have good things. That is what kept me going.

Allright, back to the weekend: Sunday night, we camped right near another beach. We had hobo stews for dinner and s'mores for desesrt....yum! I love camping food. I have to admit, when we went to bed my mind was full of thoughts like, "I wonder if there'll be a tsunami....if there is a tsunami, we're screwed.....there’s no way we’re getting out of here if there’s tsunami, there’s way too many people…there are so many kids here….I really hope there is not a tsunami…" These thoughts kept me awake for an hour or so, until I figured I could either lie there and worry about it and definitely not get sleep, or go to sleep and take my chances. It's not like I could do anything about it at that point. It's funny how that disasters are so fleetingly in the forefront of most people's minds. Will any of it really stop us from building our homes on the primary dune, or at the edge of a sandstone cliff? Probably not. Humans are such complex, yet fickle beings. That is what makes us so interesting and at the same time, infuriating. The last tsunami in the northwest was, I believe, in 1964 after the Alaskan earthquake. I could be wrong about that, but I think that is correct.

Like I said, the weekend was good, and we had such fun. I’m so glad OF got to meet my aunt and uncle. They’re wonderful, funny, sweet people and I don’t get to see them often enough. It was comforting to visit my brother and dad's beach, to set aside time to remember them and to feel close. I felt tension dropping away. I felt so comforted being washed over with memories, like I was being surrounded by love.

This will be an annual trip for us. It proved to be very healing.

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