“Stay alive” Bob Marley

With less than a week away, I cancelled my New Year’s trip to Jamaica. It sounded adventurous, to climb the blue mountain peak alone at night on New Year’s Eve and watch the sunrise on New Year’s Day but the fact was I wasn’t going to be able to do it within budget. No Backpacking/hiking trip should cost over $1k but after 6 weeks planning, it became clear to me that no foreigner, particular a lone American woman, would truly be welcome to live like a local. The cost of living may be inexpensive there but I would always get the American Price. A 50 Cent bus ride would cost me $20. Free beaches would charge me a fee. I hate the idea of haggling for everything I eat and Everywhere I Go. So much so that I was no longer looking forward to this trip. So I took a friend’s advice, took a hit on the plane ticket, and will spend another New Year’s Day with toes in the sand with good people rather than alone on a Mountaintop. I still look forward to hiking the Canadian Rockies for my birthday amd I may be squeezing in a few dance trips in between. So Merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah, Happy New Year, to all of you. And Bill, my dance partner and precious friend, no New Year’s Eve swing dancing for me this year. Not without you here.

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May your past be the sound of your feet upon the ground. Carry on. ~ Fun

A friend posted on social media today that it was painful to live in a world that no longer needed her. I responded, “What about your needs?” But martyrdom is a hard habit to break. I’m still working on it. And I may not be a Buddhist like my recently passed friend Bill but even the mindfulness therapy championed by Dr. Hayes is based in eastern thought. Modern Buddhist practitioners are a source of inspiration and stability. One ACT/Buddhist theory that Bill shared with me before he passed was that the reason people are so unhappy is because we cling to what we want: not just material things but circumstances and relationships. Rather than accepting that everything changes and comes to an end, we mourn for its passing rather than celebrating that we had it at all, rather than giving thanks and moving on. Well, Bill, I’m sorry but I miss you. And he would say “Stop saying sorry. Say ‘oops’.”

Bill’s best friend got back to me with details for the memorial service and confirmed my gut suspicion, that he took his own life. It’s hard to fathom this world getting “the best” of someone so enlightened and loved. It shakes what little faith I have left. Local swing dancers are hosting a “Dance like Bill” contest Friday night. They made it a “strictly” instead of a “jack and jill”. Not to insult your dance intelligence but in a competition, “strictly” means you have a designated partner. For “jack and Jill”, partners are chosen at random. I posted on the event page asking them to change it to a J&J since Bill WAS my partner and I don’t have anyone else to dance with for that competition or any other. Although the idea of showing up to an event with those Scenesters that never gave me the time of day as a dancer to begin with, and watching them all try to imitate my partner, especially when Bill and I would have been dancing together in Vegas this week…I’d better not go. I’ll just get angry. 

Time for my biannual four hour round trip to the VA hospital in Orlando. The flagship of VA hospitals. Clean and efficient; where lab techs are all sharp-shooting former combat medics and never have to fish for my veins; and where I don’t have to fight the toilet paper roll in the bathrooms. But fatigue is still a bastard and driving back I nearly fell asleep at the wheel again. Maybe it was the sun through the sunroof pressing down on my shoulders while my memory fantasized about them being pressed into a pillow. I’d like a pair of hands on me but the fact is I don’t have 7 hours to spare for a booty call. A friend pointed out that when your booty call hangs out for that long, that counts as a relationship. But the B.C. doesn’t love animals and that’s a deal-breaker. Although I want to point out that ruling out psychopathy strictly based on someone’s affection for animals is faulty. The Sociopath rescued a cat. Still, I can’t seriously consider someone who pushes my dog way when he comes looking for a pat.

Speaking of the B.C., he has been wanting to come over. First he said he needed to do laundry. A few days later, he said he needed a back rub. But I’ve been struggling with Bill’s passing and I don’t need a friendly poke, I need a friendly ear. So instead I sit outside alone on my back patio holding a water hose stiffer than the B.C., burning brush under the light of a full moon. Leaving the sliding door open to Let the Smoke in.  If asked, I will say it is for cleansing but the simple fact is the house smells bad. My roommate slow cooks black beans and ham which sometimes smells delicious, other times it smells like rotting pork. Tonight is the latter. Plus he burned rice. Again. Wine sounded like a good idea but it clings to my burning throat so I let it go flat in my glass.

The Flake is sniffing ‘round again. Via email since I won’t pick up the phone. I told him about Bill, briefly, and he offered to be that friendly ear. My inner voice felt so loud as it yelled “BUUUUULLSHIT!” that I’m almost surprised he didn’t hear it.

​“I wanted everything I never had…” ~  ‘Alive’ by Sia

They played that song in my ballet class and I began crying. Softly, in the corner so perhaps no one noticed. Even now, just thinking about it…”I’m still breathing…” yes, but is breathing enough? Existence, survival…

“I saw my life in a stranger’s face…”   Is this akin to seeing your future in another’s eyes? Connecting so primally, at least for me, and you can only pray it’s mutual. I found myself asking “How soon is too soon to know?” To know in your bones that you want to nest under the skin of the one who crept in on their own, your heart like a dark, unlocked bedroom and they slip quietly under the covers and make you the ‘little spoon’. And you want to stay like that.

Or is it a reference to happening upon our Mirrors? Not our literal mirrors but a stranger who reminds us of ourselves. Recognizing ourselves in strangers? I saw a woman days ago who was built like I am right now. And I still thought she was beautiful, which is a thought I don’t apply to myself. And evidentially, from her body language –tugging at her shirt, shoulders hunched as if to hide her generous breasts—‘beautiful’ was a thought she did not apply to herself either.  

“You’re taught to cry in your pillow…”   Have I mentioned that sometimes I cry after I orgasm? Don’t worry guys, it’s only after sex-with-myself. It’s at that peak when you open your eyes and know that the person you just ‘used’ is not and will not be yours. That ecstatic moment which you fantasized about, possibly repeatedly, has never and likely never will happen. At the peak of orgasm, I feel acutely alone.

I’m leaving for my bucket-list trip to hike the Highlands for my 40th birthday this weekend. Note to self: Don’t get shit-faced at a pub on your bday. Not a foreign woman traveling solo, celebrating a milestone without anyone accountable to her, no ‘wingman’…could be a bad idea. I joked to my former roommate (still don’t know what to call him) “How do you say ‘Put on a condom’ in Gaelic?”

“No.” was his response.

I thought it was funny. He’s neutered so aside from swapping body fluids and risking the spread of STDs, he doesn’t use one.

Eight days alone, trekking and biking countless miles (I wonder if there is an app I can download on my phone to track my distance. Just out of curiosity). What is there to be worried about? “Are there bears in Scotland?” someone asked me. I said “I don’t think so. But there are sheep. Possibly rabid, blood-thirsty sheep. But I have a set of hiking poles which can double as Kali sticks. Yeah, I’ll just go Muy Thai on some sheep ass!”

“But I survived.”