When I Dreamed of Working From Home, This Isn’t Quite What I Had in Mind

I just attended my first online church service. The sense of community was as strong as ever, although the congregation experienced each other’s presence as words on screen in the comments column rather than handshakes of greeting in the pews. To me, it was every bit as comforting as a live service, and good to feel the virtual presence of “church family.” As usual, our pastor came through with a message of love, kindness, common sense and respect for science, that comes from the brains God gave us, to think and take care of one another.

So, first, gratitude. For health care workers on the front lines, and for everyone doing their part by practicing “social distancing,” hand washing and taking care of themselves, which in turns reduces the risk to others.

Gratitude that, although Angelic daughter is tired and sleeping a lot, she’s ok. I think the sleep is a manifestation of her exceptional emotional radar – she picks up on the anxious vibes, and how they come from worries about illness.  That goes straight to the core of her grief and worry – if Dad got sick and died, and now lots of other people are getting sick, what’s going to happen to Mom and me? Are my Uncles and my friends and my pastor and my church family OK?

I’m trying to be a source of calm for her.  I’m OK, so far. I’m allowed to work from home starting tomorrow. I filled the freezer two or three weeks ago, stowed bins of canned and dry goods and some olive oil over the last week. I already had enough toilet paper stashed to give some away to a home in need. I keep hand sanitizer around the house anyway. I keep reminding myself to be careful, not to cut or sprain anything, because the ER won’t have room for me right now.

Then I get on Facebook and see local bars and restaurants urging people to come out for St. Patrick’s Day and making unsupported claims about alcohol and coronavirus.

What fresh hell is this? What madness, what impenetrable level of science denial, could possibly be behind people actually encouraging others to go out and infect themselves, so they can merrily move on to infecting others? Is it fatalism, or just stupidity? I understand business owners who fear losing their businesses altogether, but are you really willing to put the economic survival of a bar or restaurant above actual survival of human beings?

At least the message about “flattening the curve” has reached a lot of people. Why bars and restaurants haven’t been ordered to close yet is beyond me. Must I link to op-eds by medical professionals pleading with the public to stop buying masks, stay home and stay the hell out of the way?

OK, I guess I must:

Young and Unafraid of the Coronavirus? Good for You – Now Stop Killing People

Boston Doctors Plead Don’t Be Cavalier About Coronavirus

In my area, good ideas about how to support local businesses have circulated – things like buying gift certificates online, etc. One local business has figured out a way for patrons to make a donation that they will then use to purchase gift certificates from other local businesses and to hold a place on a list for a future “all clear” party.

Hate to break it to you, guys, but as far as I know (and I’m not a doctor or scientist – but docs and scientists, chime in here – oh, wait, you won’t have a spare second to do that until at least September) there is no such thing as an “all clear” on a virus, until an effective vaccine is ready and everyone has been inoculated. Or until everyone who is going to get the virus gets it, and most survive it and become immune, thereby conferring “herd immunity” on those who remain. If you have the medical credentials, please correct me if I’m wrong about that.

So where does that leave us? All I can say is where it leaves me:

I’ve been a germ freak for years. So I was already really into washing my hands, and giving dirty looks to people who don’t cover their coughs and sneezes.

Then came the caregiving years – I found myself performing previously unimaginable personal tasks for my parents and my husband. Gloving up and sanitizing for them, not for me.

So now this: I feel reasonably calm. If I learned anything from losing Dad, Mom and Mike, it’s this: “in the end, only kindness matters.”

The sun is still there, behind the shadow. Sending love and hope and prayer for strength, safety and stamina for health care workers, affected families, and those at greatest risk, I remain,

Your uncharacteristically calm,

Ridiculouswoman

Image by Jan Haerer from Pixabay

In the Meantime, Carpe Diem

How better to spend whatever remaining minutes I may be allotted than to participate in an open mike night of storytelling. Since it has become apparent the apocalypse has begun, at least in part (I think we can tick the boxes for war and plague, anyway), I chose to carpe the damn diem by getting up in front of an audience of about 80 or so Friday night to tell a story – a compressed mash up of pieces of my memoir –  one incident among many of my ridiculous moments during Mike’s illness.  I wrote it out beforehand, memorized it and signed up as the first to brave the open mike at our local community center to “tell,” as a “teller,” which are what people who do this kind of thing are called, apparenty.

I had an absolute blast – I hit a few bumps, when I didn’t realize the “ting” of the gong was just the one minute warning and not the cutoff, but the takeaway is, I could get used to this.

I decided to do it because last year at the Midwest Writer’s Conference, I pitched my book to an agent who ultimately didn’t offer representation, but told me my pitch was the best she’d heard in a long time and asked if I did spoken word performance. So, OK, pivot – I’ve always loved performing live in front of an audience and if I can’t get an agent for my book (haven’t even had time to try sending out queries, much less essays, lately – got to get back to that discipline) I might as well try packaging it for live performance.

Below is the “script” of the story I told Friday. It really is written for live “telling,” but you’ll get the idea. It’s longer than my usual posts, so I leave it to you if you choose to read through it.

I did get some compliments and expressions of astonishment that it was my first time storytelling. One woman flat out asked, “did you f–k the Bulgarian?” No. Twenty one years older, fat, husband dying – remember? Not that I didn’t fantasize about it, but come on, seriously?

Anyway, here’s the tale. I’ll definitely be signing up for the next open mike as soon as they have one, to relate another of my ridiculous incidents . Hope you enjoy.

______________________________

I told Mike, “do not, DO NOT, shovel that walk.”  Mike had an extreme obsession about shoveling. He would set his alarm for every two hours during blizzards, suit up and go outside to shovel the driveway at 2 am, 4 am, 6 a.m., even during Snowmaggedon, when the wind was blowing 60 m.p.h., so hard that it would all just come right back again.

The “do not shovel” morning was in 2016, when we had three inches of snow followed by rain followed by a hard freeze.  The driveway and walk were coated with a kind of heart-attack broûlée. And it all was due to melt the next day. So I told Mike, “don’t you do it.” And I hopped in the Subaru and left for work.

I worked five minutes away at the time, so I could come home for lunch. That day, when I did, I saw that Mike had shoveled the front porch and the walk to the driveway.

I was furious.

Because Mike was 13 months into the 18 to 24 months he had been given when he was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer. Exertion like that could kill him. Why would he risk dying before he had to die?

Maybe it was an Alpha Male thing.

Because a year before, when I was 54 years old and weighted 35 pounds more than I do now, I fell madly, schoolgirlishly and very obviously in love with 35 year-old Bulgarian carpenter –  right in front of  my dying husband – which was reprehensible, ridiculous, sad, embarrassing – and funny.

When we were confronted with the certainty that Mike would die within the next two years, I thought, what are we going to do?

I know! LET’S REMODEL THE KITCHEN!

Mike spent a lot of time in the kitchen, cooking for and cleaning up after cooking for our angelic, autistic daughter. He was a stay-at-home Dad. He spent his days toiling away on hideous, multi-colored, striped, 1970’s indoor-outdoor carpeting, blackened with decades of grime. He spent hours washing dishes in a harvest-gold double sink. He cooked on a cheap department store stove with no hood that barely concealed the mouse highway running behind it. I just couldn’t let him die without ever having had a decent kitchen in our house.

So, I found a contractor and signed the checks. I hadn’t figured on falling madly in love with the crew chief. But I did. I don’t know what came over me – I couldn’t help myself. He was young and strong and he knew how to do everything, He had black hair and green eyes and a magnificent deep voice. And I didn’t care that he was getting paid for it – it still mattered to me that he listened to, and actually remembered everything I said to him . He did what I asked him to do- eventually- and he never yelled at me. Anyone who has been married for more than twenty years knows how rare that is.

The day of the Alpha Male shoveling, when I got out of the Subaru at lunchtime, I grabbed my cheap plastic grocery store shovel and tried to shovel the driveway, just to keep Mike from doing it.

And the Bulgarian appeared, and grabbed my shovel.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m going to shovel a path, just a path on the driveway for you, Annie.”

“Oh no you’re not. You smoke. Nobody who smokes lifts a snow shovel on my property. Don’t you do it.” And I was sort of dancing around in front of him (and he’s at least 14 inches taller than me) trying to block him from shoveling the smoking-man-killing heart-attack snow with the ice on top, but he shovels right by me, and then he stops and looks at my plastic grocery store shovel and says, “Dat’s not a shovel.”

And he marches right back into my kitchen and through the door into my garage and grabs my good stainless steel garden spade and starts hacking away at the smoking-man-killing heart-attack snow with the ice on top while I’m following him down the driveway shouting at him, “please, please stop! It’s upsetting him – (meaning shoveling was meant to be Mike’s exclusive domain, even if he intended to die doing it). Please stop!”

“God Dammit! The both of you! I can’t come home from work and find the two of you face down in the driveway and neither one of you with enough strength to call 911! Jesus! Everyone wants to give Mommy something more to worry about!”

And I jumped in my Subaru and drove off, back to work, still cursing. And as I drove away I saw the Bulgarian turn around and give the strangest look, as if he didn’t understand – or as if he did, all too well.

He knew I had a crush on him. At first he was embarrassed, and then he played along, and then he just started openly making fun of  me, in a subtle, Eastern European kind of way.

Like the time his drawers came off.

Three weeks after the kitchen was finished, I had loaded the heaviest pots in the middle, rather than the bottom drawer, because that’s where Mike wanted them. When the drawer fell off its rails, like I knew it would, and then the bottom one did too, the Bulgarian came to fix them.

When he squatted down to look at the drawers that had fallen off,  he looked up at me with his gorgeous green eyes and he said with that magnificent voice, “Annie, what have you done to my drawers?”

Which is quite possibly the best set-up line I had  ever been fed.

But did I say, “Why, my dear, as you well know, to my infinite regret, I haven’t done a damn thing to your drawers. These kitchen drawers, on the other hand, came off all by themselves.”

No, I didn’t say that. I just blurted out,  “You didn’t stop smoking!!!” Because it was after New Year’s and he still smelled of cigarette smoke, even though he had told me it was his resolution to quit.

The Alpha Male incident was the last time Mike shoveled, but it wasn’t Mike’s First Last Thing. There was his last birthday, his last Thanksgiving, his last Christmas.

The first time I realized I was witnessing a last thing was before all of those, in the fall, when I came home and found Mike on the roof.

He could barely stand up for ten minutes and he had hauled the ladder out of the garage and climbed up to the roof, intending to clean out the gutters – one last time.

Mike lived long enough to cook his last pot of spaghetti sauce and his last batch of chicken soup in the new kitchen.

And now, when I rinse dishes in the big new white farm sink, before I load them into the new stainless steel dishwasher, I see Mike there, by the new stove with the new hood, doing what he loved to do – cooking something for Angelic Daughter.  And I also see the Bulgarian there, puzzling over how to cope with some weird previous do-it-yourself modification from some past owner.

That kitchen is filled with memories of love, kindness, bravery, humor – and forgiveness – for, and from, two men I loved.

Yours,

Ridiculouswoman

 

What He Said

Here’s a different take on fasting, or giving things up for Lent. To me it’s a description of how I want to be all the time, not just in the forty days before Easter.

The quote below appeared today on the Edge of the Atlantic, one of the blogs I follow.  I’m not Catholic. I haven’t made a habit of attending church on Ash Wednesday, or “giving something up” for Lent.  So when I looked through my followed blogs on the WordPress Reader today and found this, I realized it expressed what I was going to try to express, and did it much better than I ever could:

 

via are you ready to fast this Lent? (take your pick) — Edge of Atlantic

I’ve been trying to stay in my lane, and to avoid investing my energy into worrying about things I can’t control. Instead I’m thinking about how I can control my response to both small everyday frustrations and the monumental, unrelenting shit storms that seem to have enveloped our planet. These past weeks, it just seems like it gets worse every day.

Losing Mike and living as a widow has helped me understand, “this too shall pass.” It has made me want to remain unperturbed by everyday stresses and to learn to be still and silent enough, to find sufficient serenity, to tune in to more eternal things:  love, compassion, gratitude, simplicity, patience, joy, reconciliation, hope, kindness – prayer and God.  These things don’t pass with the passing moments of each day.  I want them to reside with me in each present moment, and stay with me as that moment passes to become the next.  It’s far more difficult than it should be, and unsurprisingly, I fail at it much more often than I succeed. I succumb to petty worries and mundane stresses. I lose patience. That’s why I appreciate reminders like Bill Schulz’s post today. They help me regain my perspective.

Angelic Daughter is my guiding star. I admire her more than I can say, and I am more ashamed of succumbing to impatience with her than I am of any of my other many faults. She marks one of life’s milestones tomorrow. Today she described handling an uncomfortable situation by using a strategy we had practiced. She solved the problem of feeling anxious in one environment by asking to move to another, at a place where choices like that are available to her. She continues to assume more responsibility for the moments of her day – being on time and prepared, adapting to different types of transportation and advocating for herself if she needs accommodation, as she did today. She does all this without dimming her angelic, compassionate, loving, emotionally intelligent self one bit. The strategy she used today worked, and she’s realizing that she has more control over things that bother her sensitive, autistic self than she used to, or that she believed she could have. My pride in and boundless love for her is wrapped in hope.  May there be a future in this world for Angelic Daughter, where people choose compassion, kindness, good stewardship for the earth and all that’s in it, love and reconciliation, and where we work together to solve problems that touch us all.

I hope your present moments are infused with calming little bits of the eternal, and may those  moments bring you peace.

Yours with gratitude to God for the gift of a daughter whose spirit is far more naturally generous than mine, and who inspires me every day to try to be a better person, I remain, your one-moment-to-the-next,

Ridiculouswoman

 

 

Shipwreck

Over the weekend, as I was polishing what I hope will be the final and definitive version of the query letter for my memoir, Detour in Cancerland, about caring for my husband as he faced his terminal illness, I heard a song I hadn’t heard in decades, and I heard it in a new and shattering way.

My book is about my ridiculous behavior during Mike’s illness – when some kind of temporary insanity gripped me and I developed an absurd infatuation with a carpenter 21 years my junior, who was in our house to build Mike the new and beautiful kitchen he should have had all along, the kitchen that I was desperate to give him before he died. This crush was some wild form of deflection or denial about what was happening – that Mike was dying, would definitely die, and leave our daughter and me, without him. Mike knew and understood that, and he forgave me for it, as I had forgiven him, over an over, for things that he had done that most women would have used as grounds for divorce.

As I was trying to condense the complexity of all this into a “hook” in the query letter, Spotify played me Heart Like a Wheel. I had only ever heard the Linda Ronstadt version of it, and not the recording by the writer, Kate McGarrigle, and her sister, Anna, so I was hearing that version for the first time that day.

As a lonely, self-pitying teenager – the fat, smart girl who was never asked to the prom – I played Ronstadt’s version (which omits the second verse, about death), over and over, a bazillion times. When I heard that second verse for the first time this past weekend, I suddenly understood the song from a completely different perspective – that of a person who had loved me, out there on that sinking ship, feeling alone and lost and full of regret. I felt my late husband’s love for me and our daughter tearing him apart, as cancer tore him from us, too soon, and how this love left him floundering on the sinking ship of his incurable, merciless disease:

“Some say a heart is just like a wheel
When you bend it, you can’t mend it
And my love for you is like a sinking ship
And my heart is like that ship out in mid ocean

They say that death is a tragedy
It comes once and it’s over
But my only wish is for that deep dark abyss
Cause what’s the use of living with no true lover

And it’s only love, and it’s only love
That can wreck a human being and turn him inside out
That can wreck a human being and turn him inside out

When harm is done no love can be won
I know this happens frequently
What I can’t understand
Oh please God hold my hand
Is why it should have happened to me

And it’s only love and it’s only love
And it’s only love and it’s only love
Only love, only love
Only love, only love”

Kate McGarrigle

Love can wreck a human being and turn him inside out.

No true lover.

For years, Mike and I both felt left without a true lover, for all the complicated, personal, tangled, hurtful reasons a long and difficult marriage can engender. But we stuck it out. And the toughest thing of all was that we found each other again with so little time left – each on our own sinking ship, out in the middle of an ocean of regret, reaching for each other one last time.

Our love survived the shipwreck, and carries on, a slow, steady current streaming through an ocean salted with pain and yearning.

Mike used to say he wanted to be buried at sea. I couldn’t, or didn’t know how, to do that for him. But after hearing that song in this new way after all these years, I’ll never get the image of Mike on a sinking ship, and me reaching toward him, but not able to save him, out of my head.

Staring at the sea in my mind’s eye, cherishing every piece of the wreckage, I remain,

your steadfast, loving, forgiving and forgiven,

Ridiculouswoman

Ship image by ArtTower from Pixabay

______________________________

I have updated my new page, “27 Things,” with a list about widowhood. My head’s been there these past few days, after that song, and revisiting the book and querying, and not knowing if I even want to anymore, and all of it.

Hot for Handyman

Apparently it isn’t just me.  Falling in love with your carpenter (electrician, handyman, whatever) is a thing. (Spoilers coming).

Kate Reddy, Allison Pearson’s protagonist in How Hard Can It Be? (sequel to I Don’t Know How She Does It – women of a certain age will enjoy both) has flashes of lust for her kind handyman, or as much of him as is visible sticking out from under whatever he is crawling around fixing. Grace, from Grace and Frankie (Netflix), the story of two older women whose husbands leave them – for each other – after 40 years of marriage, fell in love with her remodeling contractor years before, while still married. After I had begun writing my memoir of kitchen remodeling and falling in love with the Bulgarian while caring for my terminally ill husband, I read Wally Lamb’s I Know This Much Is True, where there is a brief but striking, and very moving (to me) portrayal of how the central character, Dominick, reacts to his Mother’s terminal diagnosis by deciding to remodel her kitchen, and a more in-depth portrayal of his life trying to manage care for his mentally ill twin brother.

Kate’s handyman knew long before Kate did that her husband was cheating on her. Grace actually consummates her love for the long-lost-and-found contractor, but he is caring for a wife with dementia. And the Mother in Lamb’s book puts a stop to the kitchen remodeling project after her son removes just the first panel of wainscotting, asking for something smaller – time and companionship – an ice cream sundae, instead.

The lives of these fictional characters resonate with me, because aspects of their imaginary experience reflect my real experience, and help me feel less alone.

I studied Jung in college, including the idea of “synchronicity:” that “meaningful coincidences” or simultaneous thinking occur between people who have no real connection to each other.  I got deeply into the idea of archetypes and the “collective unconscious.” Later in my life I experienced a kind of real-time “collective unconscious,” when performing improvisation – we called it the “group mind.”

I’ve written before, I think, about how I don’t believe in coincidences. I think people come in and out of each other’s lives for a reason, and that we encounter animals, things and events in our daily lives that signify more than just their objective descriptions. Those “events” may include the sudden impulse to turn on the TV or radio, or change the channel, only to find a song, or a program, or a line of dialogue that has special, surprisingly familiar meaning. Mike used to refer to the energy behind all this as “the gods,” and we would share with each other frequently what we thought otherwise unremarkable things were trying to tell us.

One thing the universe sure as hell is telling me is that “hot handyman” is an archetype, and there’s synchronicity going on about older women, cancer, grief, loss and resilience. It’s saying jump-start the stalled querying, Annie, and go for it. Collect rejections for your memoir proudly and keep going, because older women are having a significant moment. “The gods” (that loving, creative energy that Wayne Dyer talked about on those PBS specials) have hit the reset button on the the archetypes of the “widow” and the “crone” and freed older women to reinvent and redefine how they are perceived and what they can, and will, do. And what Grace and Frankie do in the two and a half or so seasons I’ve binge-watched so far, with lots more to go, is variously hilarious, shocking, and empowering.

I’m halfway through the first year of my 7th decade, and I never felt better. I’ve got a fantastic job and a great new haircut that makes me feel fab (and I don’t even care about how it reveals the bald spots – it’s so easy – just skwunch and go!) I haven’t been working out since I started the job, but I have a cool stand-up desk and make a point of taking the stairs a few times daily. I’m hoping to get back to the dumbbells next week.

Angelic Daughter is still having a very hard time processing the things I say about “carrying our sadness about Dad with us while moving forward to have happy lives.” Sad and happy, simultaneously? Hell, it’s hard enough for me to understand. But we’ve got things settled so she’ll be getting out more, meeting new friends, looked after by kind people at a place that is bright, beautiful, and welcoming. She’ll have lots to do to keep her busy, and, I think, happy, while I’m at work. Whew. Cue great night’s sleep and corresponding ten years off face, plus a few points shaved off the blood pressure.

Now where’s the handyman?

With hope, I remain, your

Ridiculouswoman

Image (I cropped it) by skeeze from Pixabay

Rumi, Barber and a Searing Sunset

I get too many notifications from Twitter.  My muted phone keeps waking up brightly every few minutes, urging me to interrupt my work and look! Look what (literary agent, publishing house or lit mag) just published, or look! Look at the clever swipe (celebrity) just took at (idiot politician.)

But Wednesday, when I reached to swipe away the latest text, I was surprised to find a notification of someone quoting Rumi, Mike’s favorite poet and spiritual inspiration. The quote, as presented, seemed to force a rhyme, and made me wonder about the translation, but the spirit was clear- love transforms pain.  I Googled several of the words used, and found a version that sounded more like the Rumi I came to expect from the many times Mike read him aloud to me:

“Through Love all that is bitter will be sweet, Through Love all that is copper will be gold, Through Love all dregs will become wine, through Love all pain will turn to medicine.”

“Hmm, cool.”

I put my phone down and got back to work, becoming so absorbed in writing that I was nearly late for meetings. I made it through the meetings quelling anxiety, because the they threatened to consume all the remaining time allotted to keep up the expected pace of production for the day. I forgot about the Rumi quote as I raced to finish my work, which I did, with two minutes to spare. Clock out.

On my drive home, I talk to Angelic Daughter via bluetooth (hands free!), except for the 10 minutes or so on the toll road, when conversation threatens to distract me from my primary task of avoiding being mowed down by crazed drivers flying by me, weaving lanes at 20 mph above the already generous speed limit.

Once safely merged, the quote came back to me, and suddenly a big spiritual sandbag of loneliness dropped heavy on my chest. I turned up the radio just as I remembered that Rumi quote, when I felt that sandbag land, and heard the opening notes of the Barber Adagio for strings.

“Oh, way to pile on, universe. Thanks loads.”

That piece was used in the movie “Platoon,” in a scene of devastating loss that ripped me up, and that music is forever associated with that scene in my mind. The Rumi quote makes me think about Mike. The Barber Adagio makes me remember tragic loss.

Now I’m sobbing on the speedway. After a few minutes spent brushing tears off my cheeks and blinking a lot to maintain visibility, the truck that had been looming to my left, so I couldn’t see anything in that direction, pulled ahead, revealing a spectacular sunset in progress. Intensely pink, with a shelf cloud seemingly lit from under, brushed by “horsetail” (cirrus) clouds, the whole ceiling of it cut off by a straight line cloud break with a strip of clear, baby blue sky beyond.

“Oh, my God,” I thought. “Look at that, Mike.”

My phone’s camera couldn’t possibly do justice to that blazingly beautiful pink sunset, and no photo could evoke what I felt in that moment.

“All that is copper turns to gold.” Pain is a kind of medicine. Rumi wrote a lot about living with suffering and pain, and learning from it. Mike wrote about his suffering as a kind of companion. Pain reminds us of love. Love turns pain into medicine. Mike wrote that Rumi had reminded him “that we all die and it doesn’t even matter because this our affliction is only a sigh. God is close to us. Endure your affliction and he may even reward you.”

Mike’s physical pain was “managed,” except when he was laid down too flat, when it was excruciating. His emotional pain was profound – having to say good bye to the Angelic Daughter he raised, having to leave her here without him.

My pain is muted in comparison, but it is real – the pain of seeing her still struggle to accept that he is gone, trying so hard to understand the abstraction of “his spirit energy and love are always with us.” Sharing the ache of our ongoing search for how to live fully without him.

I thought I had that under “control,” lately. I thought I’d made “progress.” Rumi, Barber and that sunset smashed that notion – the idea that I could compartmentalize grief. I’m grateful for that. I needed a big, sloppy, snotty, sob – accompanied by the moaning sound the sobs bring up from my core –  a kind of howling.

Love “turns pain to medicine.” Love tells me to embrace grief and understand that it isn’t going away. It’s just woven in, to my life as it is now and will be from now on.

With storm wind howling today, I remain, your muted, grateful, still-learning-from-love-and-pain-and-love,

Ridiculouswoman

Visitations: Non-Christmas Carol Versions

My dreams are either weird, or so real they wake me up sweating, laughing or crying.

I recently had two dreams that stuck with me – the first, a weird, “what the hell was that?” –  the second, a visitation.

First: I was downtown, late, on a dark, deserted street under the el (elevated train tracks, for you non-Chicagoans.) This was not a place anyone should be, late at night. Angelic Daughter was with me. I have no idea why we were there. The Bulgarian came out of a red door in an old office building, onto the sidewalk, then into the street. He was talking to a woman while he helped her pack her car. I overheard him say he and his wife were expecting a baby.

In the dream, he looked at me, and recognized me, but didn’t acknowledge me. I smiled, because I knew he was afraid I’d butt into his conversation, and wanted me to leave him alone, which I thought was funny.  Angelic Daughter was standing closer to him, and said hello, calling him by name, and he responded to her kindly before disappearing back into the building.

I have no idea if the Bulgarian is married, or if he is, or is to be, a father. He was very private around me (can you blame him?) But I had thought occasionally how great it would be if he had kids. He was kind and patient. I thought he’d make a great Dad; and if he had sons, they’d be adorable, burly little black-haired mini-Bulgarians, running around the unnecessarily childproofed basement the Bulgarian finished for Mike and me.

Damn, he looked good in that dream. Like the picture above.  But except for the black hair, he doesn’t look anything like that diver. No beard. He said he had tattoos, but I never saw them.  He was not as lean.

After he disappeared, I was suddenly in some dark, scary, back alley parking lot.  Leaves smouldered near a wood fence. I tried to pat them out with my hands, but couldn’t, so I tried to call the fire department, but didn’t have an address.  I panicked because I left Angelic Daughter alone while I went to look for the building number.

Freudian, much? Lost? Terrified, leaving Angelic Daughter (for a new job?) Parking lot – Stuck?

I have shaken off my ridiculous crush on the Bulgarian, but it made me feel less alone. Without it, my subconscious thinks I’m down a dark alley, in a dangerous parking lot, putting Angelic Daughter at risk. And something’s burning. Yikes.

Second dream: a visitation and a smackdown. I deserved it.

When I started my wonderful new job, the company introduced new hires in a weekly meeting, asking us where we were from, what our role was, and for a “fun fact.” My “fun fact” was that I attended the same high school and had the same English teacher as Dave Eggers. You know, Dave Eggers? McSweeney’s? A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius? The Circle?

Crickets.

I’m several years older than Dave Eggers. But apparently he’s old enough for my young coworkers not to be familiar with him.

So, I did a bad thing.  I pulled out my Chris Farley connection. My young colleagues lit up when I said I had performed with Farley. Which is true. I was on an improv team with him, nearly thirty years ago. When he showed up.

I don’t like name dropping.

Neither does Farls, it seems.

I dreamt Farley was helicoptered in to perform in some black-box theater as a ringer for the next show.  He walked through the space toward me and spoke to a woman standing next to me. Then he looked straight at me, as if he didn’t recognize me. Or as if he did, and wasn’t pleased.

I got the message. Stop dropping my name. You didn’t really know me.

Which is true. He lit the sky I happened to be under for a few months, and then was off, to light up other skies over other people. Then he was gone. A meteor, a bright flame. Flamed out.

Sorry, Farls. This is the last time I’ll drop your name. But the dream was so real, and so funny.  You looked sculpted and fit (real Chippendale’s dancer!)

I’m sure that’s what Farley looks like in eternity, if he wants to.

May your dreams be filled with loving visitations, or little smackdowns, if you need them. Or a handsome Bulgarian who has found his own love and happiness, I hope.

Still hoping for some love and happiness to return again in my life, I remain,

Your stressed out, grateful for the new job but worried about Angelic Daughter, gaining weight and not worrying about it enough,

Ridiculouswoman

Diver Image by rodolfo_waterloo from Pixabay