Tuesday, September 29, 2009
I was talking to a woman I greatly respect and admire yesterday (don’t try to figure it out—nobody who reads this knows her, really). She has been married for over forty years, has three children that are grown and gorgeous grandchildren. Her husband just finished beating cancer last year. In January, they are getting a divorce. Nothing bad or mean going on, no affairs, just want to go their own ways (she more than him, I think) and live out the rest of their lives in freedom.
It seems like I get story after story (often directly from the horse’s mouth, sometimes from a third party) of marriages and relationships falling apart. Marriages that have been established for decades. DECADES!!! Some torn apart by affairs, other simply because they are done.
I remember the moment I chose Chad. Really chose Chad. We were in a small rough spot—not that rough, but the honeymoon period was over. It was very clear to me that I could walk away and say we were done and not have to face the issues we would have to face (every couple has their own issues and imperfections that are specific to them) or I could choose him. I truly looked at it from every angle. The bottom line came down to the question, ‘Is this the man I want to spend my life with, even if these issues don’t dissipate?’ The answer was a resounding “Yes!” From that moment, it wasn’t a thing of irritation or frustration with me or fear. The exact opposite happened. Everything became simple. I’d made my choice. I knew who I wanted, who I would spend the rest of my life with. And even though I’m sure it sounds like it, it wasn’t a green decision or something based off of fairy tales. I knew exactly what I was committing to. There was no question, and there still isn’t. I would have walked by his side the rest of my life and not looked back. That doesn’t mean I think every moment would have been perfection or even close, we still live on Earth—those delusions left me years and years ago.
All these stories I hear and all the marriages I see leave me hopeless. I don’t see a marriage (straight or gay) that I want—some that are close, sortta. It leaves me feeling that you are never safe. Never. You can put all the work, all the love, all your everything in a marriage and then forty years later, the other person can shrug and wave half-heartedly as they drive away.
All this has made me have new mixed emotions about Chad and me. On one hand, he threw in the towel similar to these other people. However, he did so in the most loving, supportive, and caring way possible. It seems, he also knew what he was capable of (whether that will change in him or not, I don’t know). He said he knew he would get to where he’d have to leave one day and he knew he should do it sooner rather than years down the road. While I think he made the wrong decision, I have to respect his modicum of strength and honesty and love for me in that choice. Doesn’t make it hurt less or change what I want and my love for him, but still. I also have to be thankful that he gave me the best years of my life and showed me love I never dreamed I’d even get a taste of. So, I’m truly afraid that a person is never safe. However, I believe I’ve tasted as close to the fairy tale as you can get on this Earth, and it truly is worth everything—even the agony in its wake.
Monday, September 28, 2009
By the time all the students had unpacked and gotten settled into their bunkhouses, it was lunchtime. The long narrow cafeteria held none of the charm of the rest of Boyer Lodge. It’s sterile off-white walls and yellowish linoleum floor brought back the smells of the nursing home his grandmother had died in when he had been twelve, causing his upper lip to curved into a grimace. For over a year, his mother had taken him and his sister to visit their grandmother every Sunday. Levitt hadn’t been able to suffocate his guilty feelings of relief at her funeral.
He had a theory that his year in the nursing home played a part in his career choice. If he ever had to spend any duration of time with an old person, it would be too soon. He had decided long ago that if he ever got old enough that he needed to reside in a nursing home, he would wander out in front of a semi as it barreled down I25—that or take a drive up to the mountain and then drive off.
Levitt knew from experience that the first meal was always the most subdued. The majority of the sixth graders had never been away from home for any extended period of time and looked around timidly as if expecting some form of evil to be inflicted upon them. By the time dinner rolled around, trepidation would have given way to giddy hyperactivity as the taste of freedom had settled in. As it was, the most that could be heard was the slight tremulous whispers over the scrapping of wooden chairs as they scooted closer to the tables.
He supposed that he intentionally blocked from memory how his stomach would ache and rebel against him for over a week after he returned home from outdoor lab. However, as the too-yellow, too-crunchy looking macaroni and cheese was placed in the center of the table in a family style serving bowl, it all came rushing back. He heard Ms. Needle groan audibly beside him and he turned and gave her a commiserating scowl.
In an attempted to block out what seemed to be a mustard flavor in the mac and cheese, Levitt forced himself to mentally go through the day’s schedule.
Now that the preliminaries were over and the students and high school leaders had all split up into their core groups, the evening and the following several days stretched out in one endless pattern. Each group spending two hours in some ‘class’ about wilderness or the environment, or planetary rotations before rotating to the next (he still hadn’t been given a sufficient answer that satisfied his pondery over how the solar system related to the rest of the outdoor lab curriculum—other than the fact that the planets were indeed out of doors).
The only real alteration in the schedule was the evening program. They were typically his favorite part of outdoor lab. In a surprising move, the district typically secured quality entertainment that was advanced enough to please both the kids and the teachers. Tonight’s guest was a storyteller who dressed up like a mountain man and told stories as if he were back at the turn of the nineteenth century, complete with firing a musket in the middle of the stage—always causing the kids and a few of the teachers to scream in surprise. Even though he knew it was coming, every year Levitt would jump in shock despite his fingers gripping firmly to the bottom of his chair. The man went by the name of Grizzly, and Levitt always suspected that he was a gay, but no matter how many times he went to the gay bear bar in Denver, he had yet to see Grizzly there. Of course, he would look quite a bit different dressed in a red flannel shirt and leather suspenders as opposed to his deer hide jumper and coonskin hat.
Luckily, it was the college interns that spent a semester at outdoor lab who taught all the lessons, the teachers only had to travel from group to group making sure the students were behaving and that the high school leaders weren’t wandering off together into the forest in an attempt to get back to nature in their own fashion. Nearly every year there was at least one new relationship formed and consummated by the end of outdoor lab, despite the teacher’s best efforts. Levitt let out a little shudder as the picture of pimple-faced Derek and two-ton Allyson caught in their tender moment in the middle of the supply closet last year rose unbidden to his mind.
True to form, the teachers had barely been able to hear each other’s complaints of the tuna casserole dinner over the roar of the students who had just returned from their day’s adventures. There had been half an hour of cabin time between dinner and Grizzly’s presentation. Levitt, his fingers already grasping the rim of the folding chair, jumped and let out a yelp that caused the students around him to turn and look at him expectantly as he felt something tap him on the shoulder. He jerked his face around to see Mrs. Needle, who flushed lightly at his reaction.
Her croaking voice attempted (and failed) at a whisper. “Ms. Whittaker has a horrible headache.”
His eyebrows rose as she stared at him expectantly. “Uhm, I’m sorry. Should she lay down or something?”
Ms. Needle shook her head, her fire-engine dyed curls bobbing around her face. “No, she doesn’t want to miss Grizzly’s stories. This is her first time up here, you know.”
Impossibly, Levitt felt his eyebrows creep further towards his hairline as he stared at her.
Nonplussed, Ms. Needle attempted a smile, her coffee stained teeth lacking the luster to achieve the desired effect. “Could you please be a dear and run up to the lodge and get her headache medicine?” Levitt opened his mouth, but she continued before he would make a noise. “It’s in a prescription bottle in her lavender bag in the bathroom.” She flashed him another smile, this one not quite reaching her eyes before turning back around without saying thank you.
He sat there, he neck crained around as he glared at Ms. Needle’s mammoth retreating backside. Without looking back to Grizzly, he let out a whimpering growl and shoved himself off his chair and headed toward the back door. Just as he turned the handle and gave a push, Grizzly’s musket fired, filling the air with a reverberating explosion. Levitt’s hand slipped off the handle and slammed into the doorjamb as he jumped in fright, his nail catching on the edge and folding backwards. His growled expletive was drowned out by the student’s continued screams as Grizzly reloaded the gun.
Levitt was fifty yards away from the little log auditorium when he stopped shaking his hand and being angry and realized he was in the middle of the wilderness with no one else around him. Pausing momentarily, he looked around him. The lights shown from the windows behind him, silhouettes passing in front of it as Grizzly paced back and forth. The rest of the cabins that encircled him only stood out as darker shapes against the grayness of the forest. He didn’t know what he expected to see, Grizzly’s namesake running towards him, zombies rushing from the forest, or a sasquatch swooping him over his shoulder and carrying him back to his cave to rape and have him for a snack.
Squaring his shoulders in an demonstration of bravery he didn’t feel, he focused his eyes on the Lodge in front of him, it’s outline against the starry sky transforming it from a warm log cabin to the castle in Transylvania awaiting it’s next victim to wander haplessly in.
He paused momentarily as the stars caught his attention. They were so crowded, there seemed no room left for the sky to occupy. His fear briefly shoved from his mind, thoughts of Jason rose unbidden. Thoughts of making love under the stars, the warmth of the grass under his back as Jason rose above him, sweat glistening on his forehead.
Letting out his breath in a huff, Levitt sneered as he chastised himself. Jason had never made love to him under the stairs. It was bad enough to agonize over all the things he longed to do with Jason again. He didn’t need to add things that never occurred to the list.
His frustration with himself, and the pang that always accompanied thoughts of Jason, carried him to the base of the steps that led up to the lodge before he remembered that he was afraid to be out by himself in the night. With another quick glance around him, he tore up the stone steps, two and three at a time and flung open the door of the min-castle before he stopped in the doorway, trying to catch his breath in deep irregular pants.
The room was in darkness, but Beth Boyer’s face was lit up in moonlight that cascaded through the window behind the grand piano. Levitt’s breath caught in his chest as his eyes met her green ones—momentarily making him feel that he had been caught in a childish moment of terror. It took a moment for him to realize he was merely looking at her portrait above the fireplace—that she wasn’t actually staring at him, or judging his fear for that matter. His eyes narrowed, but the face of Jack seemed to be cast in the shadow of his mother and Levitt couldn’t discern his handsome features.
Without realizing he was reaching for it, his fingers flicked on the switch and light flooded the room, giving light to Jack’s hidden countenance. Surprised at the relief that filled him, Levitt headed toward the stairs to go up to the bedrooms. All this fear was making him rethink the desire to spend a week up here without the kids.
He was halfway up the stairs before he realized he hadn’t turned on the light that would illuminate the second level. He glanced up to the railing at the top of the stairs and yelled, his voice low and guttural. Frozen in place, his skin tingling, he stared at the burly figure that seemed to be staring down at him from the other side of the railing. He couldn’t make out any features, the figure more darkness than shadows. He appeared to be wearing a wide-brimmed hat shoved over a bushy main of hair. The breadth of his shoulders and the girth of him seemed to suggest a giant of a man.
As if coming from somewhere else, Levitt heard his own voice break the silence. “Hello?” He was surprised how steady he sounded.
At the sound, the figured seemed to lean forward over the railing. Simultaneously, Levitt backed down the stairs, never taking his eyes off the man. The absence of a response scared him even more than the man’s presence. Waves of anger seemed to radiate off him in Levitt’s direction.
He felt his hand slide over the light switch as it trailed on the wall. Without a thought, he flicked it.
Instantly, the second floor was doused with light, the wooden surfaces once again warm and welcoming.
For a second, Levitt thought he must have glanced away as he turned on the light, but he hadn’t. He was sure of it.
Sure of it or not, it didn’t change the fact that the man was no longer there.
One second he had been leaning over the railing glaring at Levitt. The next, he was nowhere.
“Hello?” This time, his voice was high, and caught at the end of the question. The lights and the warmth of the house weren’t able to diminish the coldness that seemed to be seeping through his blood.
With a glance behind him and feeling like a dumb blond bimbo in a slasher flick, Levitt continued up the staircase, pausing on each step to call out once more. When he rounded the bend in the staircase, he once more peered behind him and then rushed up the remaining five steps.
Stopping on the edge of the top step, he peered both ways down the hallway that lead to each of the bedrooms. “Hello?”
Deciding he was truly being ridiculous, he took another breath to steady himself and then turned to the right and walked towards the bedroom, only pausing momentarily to step around the place were he thought he had seen the shadow man.
After glancing at the sink’s counter and then on the floor in case he was missing something, he decided he had picked the wrong bathroom. Peering cautiously back into the hallway and seeing nothing, he rushed across the hall and into the other bathroom directly opposite the first one he checked. The lavender bag sat by the sink in all its tacky glory. The prescription bottle was on top of the pile inside the bag, and Levitt stuffed it roughly into his back pocket as he turned to the doorway, again tentatively poking his head out into the hallway. “Hello? Anyone there?”
Again, no answer.
Feeling foolish, his heart pounding in his ears, Levitt rushed from the bathroom and flung himself toward the stairs—reaching out to grasp the banister to help himself make the turn. No sooner had he turned the bend in the stairs than he felt the malevolent eyes on his back. Stopping so abruptly, he almost fell, he turned back around and looked up at the spot on the banister where the man had been.
Nothing. Just warm wood railing surrounded by amber glowing walls. No man. No shadow. Nothing. However, even as the stared at nothing, he could feel the same anger radiate towards him.
Once again covered in gooseflesh, Levitt swiveled and rushed the last few steps and threw himself into the living room, racing towards the door. Just a few feet from freedom, he skidded to a stop, the pounding in his ears reaching a level that felt close to explosion. Slowly, his eyes straining as they peered to the right, he turned his head to look at the dinning room, half illuminated by the lights in the living room, half in shadow. There had been a movement. Right by the doorway. He’d seen it. A flash of red. Like the flowing hem of a skirt as it rounded the corner just out of sight. He glanced behind him towards the stairway. Still nothing. Turning back around he took a step towards the dinning room.
His chills gave way to a rush of irritation. “This is stupid. I saw you! I know you’re there!” He sounded as if he was chastising one of his students. “Quit trying to scare me. I saw you!”
He waited, his foot partially raised, eyes narrowed as he peered into the shadowy dinning room. With a violent exhale, he took a few determined steps that brought him to the dinning room doorway. “Fine! Have it your way!” In a swift motion, he shoved his head into the room, expecting to see Ms. Larson standing in the corner of the room, in a long read dress, a sheepish grin on her face.
All that greeted him was a china cabinet flush against the wall. His eyes swept the room, only momentarily pausing on the portrait of Beth Boyer in her crimson gown as he looked back and forth. The only motion in the room was his chest heaving as he tried to catch his breath.
He was a few sparse feet from the entrance to the auditorium before he realized he had even moved. He glanced behind him. The yards between he and the lodge vast enough to obscure most of the path in darkness, yet not enough to hide the glow coming from the front door that was still swinging back and forth from the effort he had bestowed as he rushed from the house.
Everyone turned to stare at him as he rushed into the room, Grizzly pausing opened mouthed in mid-story.
Levitt felt his face flush hot as he met the eyes of the students and teachers as he made his way to the middle of the far wall where Ms. Needle was starring at him agog. He made a flicking motion with his wrist, and Grizzly began to speak, taking several words before he managed to get the gruff baritone to return to his voice.
Ms. Needle glared at him in distaste as he knelt beside her, extending the pill bottle. “What took you so long? And what in the world is the matter with you, you’re covered in sweat?” The corner of her mouth curved tauntingly. “Afraid of the dark, Mr. Patterson?”
Without a response, he shoved the bottle into her opened palm and crossed to the opposite wall, sinking to the floor, his legs crossed. He turned his gaze to Grizzly, certain he wouldn’t hear a word of his presentation the rest of the night. As his did, his gaze momentarily slid over Ms. Larson, who gave him a knowing nod and raised an eyebrow in his direction.
He lay in bed, his naked skin chilled against the cold sheets. He’d lain there for well over an hour, refusing to play Spoons with his fellow teachers around the dinning room table, claiming to have an upset stomach.
Their loud, raucous laughter gradually died down and the stairs creaked as they made their way up to their bedrooms.
Twenty minutes later, as he heard their muffled goodnights to each other as they finished their pre-bedtime rituals in the bathroom, Levitt once again questioned his earlier excitement over having a single room. He pondered requesting to sleep in one of the other teacher’s rooms. Maybe on a mattress by the door.
As rattled as he was, he couldn’t bring himself to do it. The vision of Ms. Needle’s smug expression as he’d rushed out of the dark night was enough to make him hold his place.
Besides, he was just being stupid. He’d let the ambiance of the place get to his head. That and the stories Ms. Larson had told him earlier in the day. He had always been overly-dramatic and prone to over-reacting, and he knew it. That was what this was. It had to have been. He hadn’t seen anyone. If there was something there that wanted to harm him, he would have seen it. And, if by some ridiculous turn of events, that something was invisible, it had had him all by himself. It if was going to hurt him, it would have done so then.
Listen to him! Thinking about there actually being an It. There was nothing here. Nothing but a lot of really old ghost stories. Nothing but an old, beautiful house. Sure, one with a creepy past, but just a house, nonetheless.
He wasn’t sure when he’d fallen asleep. In fact, he hadn’t realized that he’d actually managed to fall asleep at all—at least until he sat straight up in bed, his heart once again seemingly trying to rip itself out of his chest.
He glanced around him in a panicked fashion, unsure what he was looking for. Unsure why he was even afraid.
What had woken him? A dream?
A dream. He’d had a dream. Must have.
Looking around the gloomy room, eyes attempting to take in every centimeter, he found nothing that caused him a second glance. His heart beginning to slow, he gently stretched himself back onto his mattress, shoving the pillows up around his face, covering his ears and pulling the blanket up to his chin.
After what seemed like hours of staring at the ceiling in wide-eyed terror, he felt his eyelids grow heavy and after several more struggling moments they closed, blocking out the room and whatever ridiculous demons his mind was trying to conjure.
Whether hours had passed or merely instants, Levitt felt his body stiffen and he let out a strangled scream as his eyelids flashed open to another pair of eyes drilling into him, only inches away from his face.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Today, for some reason, is a Saturday like Saturdays were the first few months after he left. I don’t completely know why. I’ve intentionally stopped counting Saturdays, numbering the hours and weeks since he left. Maybe someday, I won’t even remember the time of day. It has taken everything in me to not break down today—multiple times—once in the middle of a massage.
It’s been a week. A week of hearing other people complain and hurt. Some hurts so real and deep and huge that I don’t know how the person continues to function. Others seemingly trivial and made into issues of pain that really should only be a pin-prick. Either way, I have heard a lot from people who are hurting so desperately. They say that misery loves company. In part, that is true. In another part, it’s not. I don’t want my pain to be compared to someone else’s. It somehow makes it less mine if others are going through similar (more or less), and not in a relieving kind of way. I’m tired of hearing people complain. Tired of people that are hurting. I’m tired of hearing myself complain. I’m tired of myself hurting.
Since I have told myself that I am not going to see him for a long time, I’ve had a sense of relief. That is gone today. All I want to do is see him. See my best friend. The person I love the most. I miss HIM so much.
I went to see Love Happens with Jennifer Anniston last night. I didn’t want to see it, but I wanted to be with KE and MS, so I went. It was really good. Not a sappy romance in any stretch. It was about dealing with death and trying to figure out how to keep living and going on after a death. The three of us spent the movie in tears. I’ve been through so many deaths, and this just feels like one more. And I don’t know really how to burry it. I don’t want to. He’s not really dead. He’s not gone. If I wanted, I know I could call him and he’d meet me in an hour if he wasn’t working. He wouldn’t second guess, he’d just say that he’d do whatever I need him to do. But that doesn’t change the fact that death happened. Who we were together died—was killed. Maybe part of him did too. Maybe it didn’t. But, I know part of me did. How do you move on after death? How you find your wholeness again when so much of yourself has been ripped away?
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Picture Day is a much bigger deal for a teacher than it is for a student. I didn’t really worry about picture day as a kid. I didn’t care. However, whatever picture I take today haunts me until this time next year—and there are no retakes for teachers. The picture will be on the ID I wear around my neck for three-hundred sixty-five days. It will be hung in the vestibule of the school for all to see until this time next year.
The picture I had last year was one of the best school pictures I had ever seen of myself. I wished I looked as good as that picture everyday. However, the picture two years ago was scary. I looked diseased ridden, sallow, and haggard (and I’m really not exaggerating—even I couldn’t figure out why I looked so horrible—and I’m pretty quick to see what doesn’t look good about me).
So, this morning, I put some effort into getting ready—not more time, but more effort. . . or at least more intention. I’m a little tremulous, however. Two nights ago, I was rubbing the corner of my right eye, it was itchy. By the time I went to bed, it was swollen. You don’t notice it if you look at me momentarily, but if you look directly at my face, at my eyes, you notice that my right eyelid is about five times thicker than my left, which causes it to fold against the skin under my eyebrow in an unappealing way—the resulting effect resembling cat-like features. And not in the sleek, lion kind of way. As if a feline eye wasn’t bad enough, the skin on and around my nose is still pealing and voraciously hanging onto my face due to the weeks that I couldn’t stop sneezing and blowing my nose.
Put all that together with the coffee stained teeth, the mohawk on a thirty-one year old, and the very nice dress shirt. You have a teacher who appears to be undergoing species-reassignment surgery, practices cat-like reflexes by clawing at his nose, a fake yet satiated grin on his face that comes off as a pained grimace, while trying too hard to retain his youth and edgy appearance but fooling no one. This will be one page in the yearbook that will cause children to scream and laugh and parents to embark on a search for a more stable educational environment. “Smile”
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
I am ready for this season to be over. Over and done, whether I conquer the season, fall prey to it, or simply survive it. At least it will be over. Summer is my favorite, mainly due to the simple affection of the sun. Winter is always difficult with its early nights and lingering cold. However, typically, my happiest emotions come during this season right now. The chill in the air, the changing of the leaves, the autumn colored scarves and sweaters and jackets. All foretelling of one thing. Christmas. Decorating the tree. Wrapping paper color schemes. Dinners with the ones I love the most. Unwrapping the last few gifts under the tree Christmas night with puppies and the man who I thought would be there for the rest of my Christmases. It’s when I feel the homiest, the most rooted to my life and to my connections. When I really see all the good and beauty that has been bestowed upon me and that I have worked so hard for.
The further away April becomes, the more I have to admit, I saw it coming. Not really. I felt it coming. Each moment was becoming more and more special, as if my soul knew there was only so much breath left and I needed to relish every second. Somehow the clearer this becomes, the more it feels like a death to me. Like something that not only won’t return, but can’t. No matter how much I long for it to rise from the grave and hold me, tell me it loves me, the voice has deteriorated and the arms have lost their compassion. The lengthening nights and the growing cold only serve to accentuate what was and what isn’t. I’m not sure how to face what had become the pinnacle of my happiness when each occurrence whispers icily, thrusting words and memories that have flown from me. Whether I loved someone who wasn’t there, someone who didn’t know how to face who they really are, or someone who simply discovered I wasn’t enough to stay for, I guess the distinction doesn’t change the absence. Doesn’t change what is. Doesn’t change the fact that I’m not sure how to keep moving without becoming someone hard and ugly. I cower from the days ahead. If they hold more tears, more numbness, or even some laughter—they frighten me. Each crisp dark morning, each cold solitary night, each tradition and ritual that passes all forcing upon me the life I finally was allowed to live and the existence in its quake.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
(BTW, if someone feels the need to inform me how much fat is in Swiss Miss and compare it to Snickers, you need to resist the urge. While I am typically fairly docile, my temperament seems to be changing, and I’d hate for you to be the first recipient of latent hostility.)
Sunday, September 20, 2009
So, I had a lunch date today, that turned into an all-day date that ended eight hours later. Yes, I’m going out on dates. Not looking for the next Chad or that ‘right’ person. How could I? I’m not looking for a relationship. Just need to keep living and try to have a few minutes where I’m not consumed by his absence. The date was with a 40-year-old guy with close-cropped grey hair. He looked younger than me however. He was so good looking that I was a little intimidated, and kept wondering why he was enjoying hanging out with me. However, it was very fun, and I plan to do it again. It’s strange to go on dates when you are grieving over and still in love with someone else and know who you want to spend your life with. However, I’m honest about where I am and what I am going through. “Missing you is just a part of living life, and I’m living out the life I’ve been given”—Amy Grant.
Last night, I went to church. I was part of church. I was asked to take part in a panel (kinda like The View), where we discuss topics in front of the church and then they discuss them. The topic last night was Faith and Doubt. (And no, it isn’t a gay church.) It was a pretty amazing experience. I told my story and then discussed my views/thoughts/questions around Faith and Doubt. I don’t have many friends that are Christian (especially straight Christians) and that I can turn to when I need them to pray for me and not think they are going to spend the whole time praying for me to get my eyes opened to my sin (yada, yada, yada), except for P & C R-L, so it was pretty revolutionary to be able to take part in such a church service and be given the chance to share my views/thoughts on God and living a Christian walk and be taken seriously by church going people (even those who aren’t comfortable with how I am living my life).
I am constantly amazed by the strength in women. The other guest speaker was a woman in her late-forties or early-fifties. Neither of us knew the other’s story, and she didn’t tell all of hers (that she ended up telling me after the service). Earlier that day, her husband (who is a preacher) of twenty-some year, father of three nearly grown children, left her and the family. He’d been having an affair and decided he was going to go with this other woman because she was a better Christian and lived a more Godly life than his wife. Seriously, if I wrote that in a book, it would be rejected for not being realistic—nobody would actually say that. Uh, yeah, they do. She told me this through tears, all the while attempting to comfort me in my pain. I was blown away by her strength and courage by even being at the service on such a day. However, maybe, like for me, it provided a sense of escape and relief to discuss things from a third-party perspective.
What was also amazing was how many straight people (I was the only fag in attendance) came to me after the service asking for my opinion on certain things (things that had nothing to do with being gay). From parents asking me about how they are handling difficult situations with their children (drugs, atheism, etc.) to other asking what I felt about their stances and beliefs on God. It was a little surreal. Fifteen years ago, I could have sat up there and felt totally qualified to handle their questions and righteous enough to address their spiritual concerns. I had all the answers. Today, I have no solid answers and yet it seems I find myself in the position of giving spiritual advice, life advice, etc, fairly often. Very, very strange. (What is more strange is the people that ask are very aware of both my gayness and my struggles this year. Just based on this year alone, I can’t imagine why someone would want to hear what I have to say.) It is all very humbling and honoring.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Somehow, I think I get the maddest (not quite the maddest, but close) as I ever am at him is when he is with me all night. It seems like long, full nights of sleep are non-existent during the week and not all that prevalent during the weekends if I have massage clients in the mornings. And while last night’s sleep wasn’t overly long (at least I didn’t get up at six) it was desperately needed. And there he was, in my dreams, all night. Instead of waking up refreshed and one day closer to sanity, I wake up exhausted, desperately sad, and instantly forced to deal with everything all over again. And, for some reason, dreams tend to affect me a lot—I have a hard time shaking them. Whatever emotion they evoke stays with me throughout the day.
I started watching the Vampire Diaries (which I already LOVE). The lead actress plays a role whose parent recently died in a car crash. In her diary, she writes that today was going to be the day where she becomes somebody new. No longer will she be the sad little girl that everyone feels sorry for.
I have had thoughts like that, and I even try it sometimes. Just get over it. Don’t be the guy who got dumped by the man he wants to marry. Don’t be the guy that is sad all the time. Don’t be the guy that blibbers on and on. Be someone new. Start over. Be free. You can do anything you wanna do. Anything. The world is open.
I really have tried and still do try at times, but it is tiring. At it leaves me feeling even more lost and hurting when it all comes rushing back and attempts to make up for lost time. I don’t want to be this person. However, I don’t be to be some new person either. I want what was. I want to be who I was. I want to stop sounding like a whining, bratty five-year old.
Friday, September 18, 2009
There have been many times where I hurt beyond what I thought I could manage. Times I questioned God’s very existence and even more when I questioned his love. Times where I’ve questioned my own sanity. Before this period, there has never been a time where I wasn’t sure how to just keep going. Keep going on. There was always something to go on to, something better if I only kept putting one foot in front of the other. Well, I still keep putting one foot in front of the other. Keep wasting other people’s oxygen. Keep eating, sleeping, waking. I keep going in order to see my family, to be with them; to do my best to be a friend to those I love (and I haven’t been doing very good at that lately), to see if the book gets published or not. However, for the first time, I’m not still going with the intent of the something wonderful waiting for me. Every step I take is a step away from the wonderful I had. Every breath is another moment longer, separating then and now. Each day is another day full of pain (even when I don’t talk about it—yes there are times I actually pull that off). Each day is a reminder of the beautiful life I had and mirror of what I am left with.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
So, yes, I know I’m a fool. I know that I’m stupid. I know I shouldn’t see him. But, it’s not like I’m not hurting and missing him all the time anyway.
He’s growing up (sorta). Just like he said he wanted to do. Buying furniture, things that are his—stuff he’s never done before. Becoming more stably himself I guess, all while free to go out, be fun, be wild, and work overtime. Growing up and ever farther from me.
I keep thinking that maybe I’ll see him and go, ‘huh, what was I seeing in him?’ Hasn’t even come close to happening—where it obviously is happening more for him each time he sees me.
Just like on our very first date and every day after, each moment with him is fun, comfortable, exactly where I want to be. He has always felt like home. He still does.
The bottom line is this. I know I’ve thought it before, but it is more real now than it ever has been before. I wasn’t enough. Something in me wasn’t good enough for him or not enough of what he was looking for. Even today, once again, another person said, ‘Look at you, you could have anybody you want.’ Obviously not.
As much as he has all his own reasons that honestly don’t have anything to do with me, it still comes down to I wasn’t enough for him to want to stay, for him to continue loving me, to continue building a life with. I wasn’t enough. I’m still not.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
It is nearly unbelievable that twenty-one years ago my brother was born. How different everything seemed when I was ten. It is equally as unbelievable that that little baby now has a baby of his own. Blows my mind. In some ways, it makes him older than me. In some ways. I can’t help but wonder what the family life this new little one will grow up in. So different from what his daddy and I were brought up in. It’s overwhelming and powerful.
As I knew I would, I am struggling as the dinner and movie evening with Chad draws close tomorrow. Talk about life being different than you thought or hoped. Too many feelings, too much everything. Words don’t cut it.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Here are two of my issues (ones that won’t surprise anyone that knows me, and ones that constantly battle within me with each other): As much as I fight it, I still have this core belief that I have to be perfect in every way to be valuable or worthy of anything; I also have an anger that can flare into a monster when I feel like I am being reprimanded or told what to do or chastised like a child.
Such was my feeling this morning when I read the comment on last night’s blog about that I wasn’t making very good decisions in what I blog about when I talk about my massage business. (How many times can I say ‘about’ in one sentence?) First and foremost, I realize that the fire that went through instantaneously was a tab bit over-reactive (and I’ve sat with it with it for about an hour—again going through my retarded amount of introspection and questioning). In all actually, the comment (no matter who it was from or what their intent) is just, and wise, sound advice. One that I could heed and learn from. However, as I am not five (despite how my blibbering on must contradict), I was fully aware of what I was writing and what possible consequences might be. I am confident in my massage business and skills, and I have been blessed to have a great client base with fairly cool people—some that have actually become lifelong friends. On the flip side, this business comes with clients (mostly 1st time clients) that are creepy as hell and at times make me feel unsafe in my own home and completely gross me out. These were clients that we were taught of quite frankly in massage school (which, by the way, if I haven’t mentioned before, was the hardest school I have ever gone through—much harder than my degrees that I hold). Those clients know who they are and are ones that I won’t see again anyway. However, when you’ve already cleared your evening and adjusted everything to fit that, you force your way through the massage and get it over with. There have been a few times where it has been bad enough that I have stopped the massage—however, if possible, I makes myself go through it.
On the other side, there is the question of this blog. A question I have thought about many times. I don’t use wisdom in the typical sense with what I write. There are some things I edit and adjust to protect others (and sometimes myself). However, (and I know it is reactionary to a childhood where I kept EVERYTHING inside and never felt known) I told myself when I started that I was going to use this as way to sort through things, and, at hard times, make my pain and hurt a little less by sharing it—even if no one is reading it. And while creepy, gross massage clients aren’t a source of pain, they always make me take a step back and realize that there are things we have to put up with in order to survive. I was speaking to one of best friends last night and she was telling of similar things she and her husband are doing in order to stay afloat—not their first choices, but reality nonetheless. The other part I promised myself in this blog is that I wasn’t going to pretend I was perfect. I can be petty, childish, egotistical, selfish, doubtful, rude, judging, and at times a plain bitch. While I don’t (or at least try not to) wallow in those aspects, they are there, and so be it. Welcome to life.
So, talk about an over-reaction to a simple, honest, true, anonymous comment. But there you have it. And, as always, while not how I wanted to spend my morning over coffee, it is helpful to be forced to take a look at your life, intentions, choices, and reactionary emotions. And while my gut reaction (even before the resentment of being reprimanded) was an over-whelming sense of guilt that I had to change and fix everything immediate because I was bad, I actually am okay with what I wrote and what I feel. And if my clients read this (they know if they are creepy or not) and are offended, so be it. I don’t set out to offend people in this blog (and most of the time, go out of my way to not—despite how it may look at times [be glad you’re not in my head]), but neither do I make anyone read it, and I write for my own sanity in many areas—an attempt to deal with the pain and hurt of certain things, and the silliness and surreal moments of life I never expected, as well as celebrating the joy and funny moments that life gives to make it bearable—which, in a strange way, is exactly what this is.
Monday, September 14, 2009
There are times when I give a massage where the time just flies. The body is receptive to the massage, the music is perfect, and a rhythm of give and take begins to flow. That’s not every often, but it is always fun when it occurs. Most of the time, it feels natural and simple, but is hard, sweaty work. Then, there are others, where it seems to last forever, the feel of the skin beneath your hand literally has you trying to disguise your gagging in pretend coughs or yawns. Times where no matter how much you wash yourself afterward, you wanna take a potato peeler to be able to get the feel of their skin off yours. Thus was the case. I almost stopped the massage five minutes in. I didn’t think I could get through it. However, I remembered that I was broke. That my brother’s birthday is this week and my folks’ birthdays are next week. I made it through ninety minutes—though it felt like hours.
After, I ground my coffee bean and set the timer for the coffee maker to start brewing while I’m in the shower tomorrow. I’ve noticed that my typically fairly white teeth are not quite as bright as they used to be—I’m sure this addition to my morning routine is a deathblow to one of the few physical features I have confidence in. However, you should smell my fingers right now. No, really. They smell amazing! You would totally wanna suck on them. Not like you didn’t before, I suppose, but still.
I won’t go on and on, but as I have said before, this week the anger stage came back, and what a relief it has been. It has been the first time I have been able to breath in weeks. However, today, while I miss all aspects, I ache for my best friend. I seem to have forgotten how to talk, really talk to anyone else—or maybe simply lost the desire to do so. I wonder if I will ever really feel whole again, like part of me isn’t missing.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Sunday’s with Chad became my favorite day of the week—despite starting work the next day. Sundays were our grocery-shopping day. Ninety percent of the time, we’d make dinner at home, curl up on the couch with the TV (especially when it was an all-day marathon of ANTM) or a movie, and fall asleep to Iron Chef. As they were pretty tame and boring, they were probably his least favorite—but for me, they were more than I had ever truly dreamed about (at least more than what I thought it was possible to have).
I don’t say this to drive home that today is Sunday and I don’t have that any longer—that I don’t have him. It just is what it is, and Sundays are now different. Typically they are family days now. However, we got to have Gavin yesterday (yes that is the reality of our lives now), so family day was yesterday.
I woke up this morning after sleeping for eleven hours. I still feel like crap, but much, much better crap than before. I am tempted to go into detail of what entails bad crap and good crap, but I won’t. I stayed quite busy today (sadly no massages—which is bad as my paycheck is gone now and there are still bills and it all comes down to what I can or can’t make in massage for the rest of the month—unless people go into overtime clicking the ads at the top of the blog—and as they were advertising stuff for sinuses earlier today, I doubt that will happen). I was with friends and got to be with my bff for a few hours today, which was great. We went to the mall (not to shop for me!), where I preceded to knock a bunch of stuff off the shelf in an upscale boutique as I tried to check the price of their American Crew hair crap I use. (They were a dollar more expensive there. Fancy, unstable displays must be expensive.) Next we went to an exclusive shaving store for him to get some stuff. I promptly begin talking to the pretty assistant girls about ANTM, gossiping over which girls we thought were crazy or a bitch. As I walked out of the store, I was still fagging out, my head craned over my shoulder, and I slammed into the glass wall of the shop (which made a huge crash and shook tremulously). It’s amazing KE takes me anywhere with him.
I will soon return home and watch the pilot of “The Vampire Diaries” and then cuddle with the dogs and fall asleep watching Iron Chef.
I am wanting to get my brother a small little video camera (we’ll see if I can get more massages this week—his birthday is on Wednesday—so I doubt I can pull it off). There need to be videos of Gavin. He is truly the cutest baby I have ever seen. He is a month and a half old (so we know that he isn’t actually talking) but he has started mimicking what we say. He now says ‘Hi’ quite clearly and frequently. We have videos on the cell phone, but that’s just not good enough. And, bath time yesterday was one the best moments of my life. (Gavin’s bath time, not mine. Mine tend to be more boring as of late.)
Speaking of my brother, he was taping us talking yesterday while Mom and Dad and I prepared dinner. As I have stated, my allergies are not so happy with me at the moment. He made this montage of me blowing my nose. I had never heard myself blowing my nose. It was horrible. I blow my nose all the time. No wonder Chad left. I can’t believe he stayed so long with such atrocious sounds coming from the man he slept with.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
coffee beans roasting on an open fire, sinuses plugging up your nose, heart-broke ramblings being vomited on a blog, and romance dying like a rose
The pain behind my right eye is throbbing and the snot building up in my sinus cavity is threatening to shoot the eyeball out of the socket and make a three point shot into the potted plant across the room. Yep, the joys of allergies has taken a turn for the dramatic the past day or two. Come on frost! (Then warm back up and be summer again.)
Fall was definitely in the air today. I hate the sun going down earlier, however, I always (usually) love this time of year. I start to think about Christmas and putting up the tree, which always (usually) makes me about the happiest person in the world. Right now, I have serious reservations about putting up the tree at all. Bah humbug!
My last bit of news for the week. . . a coffee pot came to live at Brandon’s house today. It’s so pretty and black and stainless steeley. It’s great. I opened up the bag of coffee beans that I have to grind and took a big wonderful whiff. I hate that I am old enough to love that smell. The coffee maker will loose it’s virginity come Tuesday. Monday is still gonna be a Starbucks day (I really do miss Caribou—it can just join the list of the things I miss—Bah humbug!).
Thursday, September 10, 2009
So, I get home from work at 8:30. I was supposed to have dinner with an old friend tonight, but when I got to work I was reminded that we had Back to School Night. Oops. None of my kids’ families ever show up anyway, but I still need to be there in case. Anyway, I got a call for a massage this afternoon and we agreed after work would be fine. I love getting massages before I go to bed and I love getting money to pay the mortgage, so it’s mutually beneficial.
By the time 9:15 rolls around I decide to text and see if he is still coming (this is a new client). He sends back a message asking if I mean if he going to be late to Boulder. I write back that I’m not really sure what he means and that I was under the impression he had a massage appointment with me. He wrote back and said he didn’t realize that was my number and that he was only a block away. Several minutes later, I get another text asking if I was crazy. I wrote back that I am only crazy sometimes—I thought I was being funny. After awhile he wrote back and said he was really nervous. I wrote back asking him if he thought this was a different kinda of massage than I thought it was. He said he knew it was a real massage, that he was just scared. By 10, he said he was too afraid (there were several minutes between each text). By this time, I could have walked the dogs and gotten into my sweat pants, or been half way to $85. Strangest thing ever. Well, not ever—but this was a first. I started to wonder if he was the one that was crazy. Maybe a good thing he didn’t come over. Getting chopped into to little bits is so not worth $85. Have I mentioned how much I love being single and paying the mortgage by myself? Oh, you didn’t know I was single? Where have you been?
While having Chinese (Thai, actually) tonight in-between school and back to school night, I was reading the paper. In said paper, there was an ad. I never read ads and I don’t know why I even noticed it. It was advertising Voodoo. For failed Romance. $200. It said it was better than Psychics because it actually gets results.
So, please send money. When Chad ends up back in love with me, I can rest easy because I know it’s all due to an old rotten chicken foot on a string. I feel real good about myself that I can’t have that importance or lure of an appendage of fowls.
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
Tonight is a big night. Not a big as say, oh. . . the Titanic christening, the development of the atomic bomb, or the birth of Hitler, but a big day nonetheless. I went grocery shopping, by myself, and made dinner, by myself, and am getting ready to watch America’s Next Top Model, by myself. Yeah, I know, pretty big, right?
I guess it was spurred on my by a text from my dearly-dashed-away-love texting me today to remind me that ANTM was starting tonight. The first time I saw that show, Chad and I were staying several days in the hospital. He had just had an emergency appendectomy, and ANTM was on an all day marathon. He already loved that show; I never wanted to see it. I fell in love within five minutes. Ever since, it was OUR show. He left me in the middle of the last cycle, and he still came over every week to watch it with me until it was over. I hadn’t decided if I was ever going to watch it again, until I got the text today. I am going to watch it. I love it. I have to continue. I have to watch it. I have to be strong. I have to face big and little moments without the person I chose.
In that frame of mind, I went to the store and made dinner. The first time since April 18th. I can’t say it was fun, or that the meal turned out that great, but it is done. I’ve gone to the store by myself (we even had a song we played every time we’d go to the grocery store—it was our fun song—Sandcastle Disco) and I’ve made dinner for myself. Of course, in that process, I came across a gourmet cheeseburger cookbook he got me for Christmas that he lovingly inscribed—we were going to make a new burger every night there was a new Project Runway (we had very straight tastes in television)—in case you hadn’t heard, that show has already started. There have no burgers made.
I have reentered my angry stage, which is a blessing. It’s like I can finally catch my breath for the first time in three weeks. I hate that being angry with him helps. I hate that I have to be angry at all. I just hate most things right now, I suppose.
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
I am on a date. On a Tuesday! At Racines. I’ve been so desperately wanting a salad since the middle of Out Door Lab (don’t worry, it’s covered with deep fried goat cheese), and my tummy is about to satiated. The sun will soon be setting and the romancing hour will begin. As I am sure you realize since I am blogging during this date, the date is with myself. And while I do typically enjoy an audience, I don’t really think too much romance is going to occur during dinner—not that I’m not in love with my computer. Speaking of love, as I drove home tonight, I passed the Starbucks that eats so much of my money every morning. I glanced at it and thought, ‘I love you.’ The thought was filled with so much passion and relish that it actually made me do a double take. Did I really mean that? Do I really LOVE Starbucks? The answer came back an unabashedly reverent YES! As long as I make a little cash offering every morning, Starbucks will love me back, make me feel warm and full, contented and cared for. It won’t love me for two years and then leave me for self-discovery or something. True, I will soon be purchasing a coffee maker of my own so that I can stop the cash hemorrhage, but it is love nonetheless.
Today was the first day back after Out Door Lab. I was less prepared for school today than I was the very first day of school. I felt like I hadn’t taught in years. Of course, this sensation wasn’t helped by the fact that my principal saw me in the office about five minutes before school started and asked if I was ready for the meeting with my new student. To which I replied with a very professional, ‘Huh?’ Turns out I had received an email discussing said student while I was up in the mountains. I found the will to blog while I was there but not to check my work or personal email. Hence the return to school with the free-student-with-purchase gift. How I love being prepared.
And speaking of school, I watched Mr. Obama’s speech with some of my kids today (granted, I did run to the bathroom, so I missed about three minutes of it, but whatever). Let me say this. I have decided that I truly don’t like or trust our president and that he scares me—however, this is not a new feeling for me about presidents. And I hear the ‘lesson plans’ were fairly blatant in their inappropriateness—however, none of us at our school ever even saw these lesson plans. And, I will admit that every second of the speech seemed self-serving and I agree it’s a brilliant political move that could affect young voters for the 2012 election. However, outside of being dreadfully dull and cliché, I don’t really understand the big uproar. He’s not the first president to address schools and students in this manner, and nothing he said this time could in any way be construed as negative. If someone wants to give me a legitimate, concrete example of how this was a negative speech, I would interested in hearing it, as I just can’t see it (other than the self-serving aspect previously mentioned, but I hardly think that is a new political tactic or one that Obama came up with himself). I think it would serve those that have reason to fear Obama to throw hissyfits at more opportune times before everyone believes they are just ‘crying wolf’ again. And speaking of crying wolf, is anyone else as ridiculously excited to see the movie 2012 as I am? Oh, I just realized that coincides with the election. Hmmmmmm…
Monday, September 07, 2009
Here’s a word of advice. If you go to a massage therapist, please make sure you’re clean. Not that you took a shower in the morning and you assume you’re okay. Just take a moment and make sure before you walk in that you are really and truly clean. I don’t want to tell what brought this on. It was enough to live it once. Just make sure you’re clean, because you don’t know what your massage therapist may be going through, and the last thing he or she should have to deal with is a client they think is happy and clean and then finding out they are not. Really, life sucks enough. Don’t add to it. And while we’re on the topic, if you don’t have back hair, yet somehow manage to have three to five random hairs that are over four inches long, CUT THEM OFF!
Moving along in the life sucks category (I made it almost twenty-four hours since my resolution of avoiding certain topics—fuck it), I had decided I needed to get a roommate. Let’s just say I am drowning financially. Drowning. It wasn’t enough to be drowning emotionally and mentally, money needed to be drowning to make it an nice even three. I thought I had a friend that was going to move in, but he his now planning on moving out of state. Good for him. Whatever. So, I thought I should probably post an ad online. On Friday night, I did. I described what kind of roommate I would like (leaving off that I would appreciate if they were rarely here), how much I would charge in rent, and letting them know about Dunkyn and Dolan. Ever since, I have just had this sinking feeling. Just an ugh in the pit of my stomach that kept telling me that something wasn’t right. Maybe it is wishful thinking that Chad would come back (don’t forget to breathe in the midst of your laughter), maybe it is just denial that my money situation is as bad as it is, maybe it’s because whoever this person is would come in a murder me in my sleep—what a pitty. Regardless, I took the ad off today. The ugh feeling is gone. I would have had to continue to do massage anyway (which would have been harder with a roommate—difficult to relax when someone is tramping around on hardwood floors), so I figure I just need to find a way to do even more massages than I was doing. So, no roommate for Brandon, I am free for the love of my life to return. A-Hahahahahahhahahahahahahahhahahahah
After over an hour of getting the students unloaded and turned over to the care of their high-school bunk counselors, Levitt and the rest of the teachers got their own luggage from the back of the bus.
Before they had finished, Ms. Larson, who had introduced her self to the students as the principal of Boyer Lodge, rounded the rear of the bus and approached the teachers, her smile tight, yet friendly.
“Welcome, teachers! I am thrilled to have Scott Elementary with us this week. I know that the school year has only just begun and there may be issues that arise, as many of you don’t yet really know your students. I just wanted you to be aware that we at Boyer Lodge are here to assist you, as well as your students.” As she addressed the teachers, her eyes passed over each one appraisingly. The corners of her lips turned down in judgment as she took in Ms. Needle’s substantial girth. “I know you have been used to the accommodations at Fort Wentworth, sleeping in a cabins next to your students, but things are slightly different here.” Her eyes traveled back to Levitt, her gaze holding his, “While you are here, you will be residing at the Lodge.” She made a slight gesture over her shoulder toward the back of the valley. “It’s quite a trek, especially with all your luggage,” again judgment clouded her expression, “but I dare say you will find it well worth the trip.”
At Ms. Larson’s words, Levitt’s eyes widened, and in the first time in the memorable past, he felt his breath catch and his heartbeat quicken. He tore his gaze from Ms. Larson, redirecting it onto the lodge.
Although winded, the short hike to the house didn’t seem to take long at all. Before he knew it, he was there, standing at the threshold. All the other teachers had gone in, the door shutting behind them.
He wasn’t sure what to make of it. Why did his heart feel like it was preparing to rip from his chest? Why was sweat beginning to stream down his back? Why did the hairs on the back of his neck stand at attention? The last time his body had felt so alive was the first night he had seen Jason standing naked in front of him.
With a shake of his head, he repositioned the strap of his duffle bag and forced his hand forward to grasp the brass door handle. Before his skin made contact, the door swung open. Emitting a short yelp, Levitt stumbled backward, nearly loosing his balance.
“Mr. Patterson, I do apologize.” Ms. Larson stood in the opening, her hand pressed against the inside of the door. “I didn’t realize you had not followed the others.”
Levitt stared at her stupidly for a moment, unable to force out words. She stood in front of him in what was clearly meant to be an old-fashioned dress, faded blue and brown gingham. For some reason, he hadn’t even noticed what she was wearing when she’d met them at the bus, but now, surrounded by the house, the dress stood out like a beacon.
As if feeling the need to explain, she motioned downward. “I always dress the part the first day. I think it adds the history and charm of the place. After dinner, we’ll bring the kids up here and give them a tour.”
His eyes rose to hers once more. “We get to take a tour?” Again, he marveled at how his heart pounded in his chest.
Ms. Larson cocked her head, as if she could hear the beating of his heart. “Yes, although I’m afraid it is the watered down version.” The pink tip of her tongue darted out to lick her thin lips. “However, while the other teachers are unpacking and resting for the moment, I could give you the real tour if you’d like.”
Feeling as if speaking would cause him to shatter, Levitt nodded and stepped through the threshold, his luggage dropping with a loud crash on the gleaming hardwood floors. Jumping once again, he turned, expecting to see Ms. Larson glaring at him in condemnation. Instead, she was already halfway across the living room, heading towards the large picture window that looked out over the valley and the mountain ranges in the distance.
He hurried to catch up to her, but stopped abruptly when she turned, placing her hand on the ancient grand piano sprawled in front of the window.
Her voice was low, causing Levitt to lean forward to catch everything she was saying. Her tone wasn’t that of a tour guide giving a rehearsed speech that had been reiterated on countless occasions. Twinkling in animation, her eyes narrowed as she too leaned forward, the tremble in her words promising a tale that shouldn’t be missed.
“The Boyer’s were a rich banking family from the Midwest; they moved to Denver in 1904. This,” she made a sweeping gesture to the room, “was their summer home, although it became their primary residence later on. It took Mr. Boyer four years to complete the mansion, at least in theory. Beth Boyer’s family was the source of the money and she was accustomed to things being how she expected them. She was never entirely satisfied with the interior of the lodge. The most modest of assessments say that she had Mr. Boyer, Charles, completely redo the interior of the lodge no less than twenty-three times.” She stepped around the piano to caress the amber wood paneling on the walls. The tip of her finger traced the checkerboard crisscross pattern. “This, they say, was the original design Mr. Boyer created. She made him tear everything out and redo it to match when they had first moved in.”
Levitt’s voice was so low, he was surprised that she could even hear him, “She had him redo it over twenty times only to do back to the original?”
She nodded conspiratorially.
Her eyes held his, refusing to break away. “Depends who you talk to. Some say she was just a bitch who enjoyed castrating her husband. However,” he voice somehow lowered even farther, “I am inclined to believe the theory that her son’s death prompted the final renovation. I think she was trying to re-create the past.”
She motioned to a portrait over the fireplace in the center of the room. “Beth never recovered after Jack’s death. Most believe it was the reason she killed herself—even though it was over twenty years later.”
Levitt had walked over to the painting and had been reaching out to touch the frame, but turned at Ms. Larson’s words. “She killed herself?”
She didn’t say anything, only started up at the portrait.
Turning back to look into the dead woman’s face, he felt a chill run down his spine. “How?”
Ms. Larson didn’t answer, and Levitt lost himself in studying the painting. The woman was beautiful but severe in appearance. Her midnight black hair pulled back into the high bun on top of her, causing the already thin face to have a pinched and hard look. Her chin was lifted, in pride or defiance; the artist seemingly hadn’t been able to decide. Shoulders were thrown back squarely, covered in a rose colored shawl that hid most of the dusty yellow taffeta dress beneath.
Levitt jolted yet again as Ms. Larson’s voice spoke directly behind him, inches away from his ear. “Shot herself in the mouth with her husband’s rifle.”
He turned to stare at her, wide-eyed. “With a rifle? Is that even possible?”
She shrugged. “In Jack’s old bedroom,” her eyes lifted to the floor above them and then returned to Levitt. “You can still hear her walking the halls at night, pacing from room to room. Searching.”
Typically, such a statement would have made Levitt let out a burst of sardonic laughter, but a wash of ice cold water seemed to rush over him. “You can hear her?”
“Oh, yes. Among others.”
She nodded. “Don’t worry. Nothing ever truly bad. Just noises and voices, things out of the corner of the eye. Sometimes a little push or a grasp on the shoulder.”
He stared at her, as if waiting for her to laugh and slap his arm letting him on the joke.
She simply looked at him, her eyes never wavering.
Doing his best to shake off his chills, he turned his attention back to the painting. “Is that Jack?” Beside Beth Boyer stood a young man. The piercing green eyes the only resemblance of his mother. His skin was fair, nearly porcelain, and his blond hair was careless and wild. Although in a different form, he had inherited his mother’s beauty. If it hadn’t been for his angled bone structure and muscular frame, his beauty would have seemed feminine.
“Yes. That’s Jack. Jack Joseph Boyer.” She stepped beside Levitt and peered up at the couple in the painting. “He didn’t even reach his seventeenth birthday.”
Levitt lowered his eyes out of reverence for the boy. “How?”
Another shrug. “No one knows. The family handled the burial and told family and friends after the fact.”
He looked at her quizzically. “They didn’t tell them how he died?”
She shook her head.
Levitt waited for more of a response, but it seemed Ms. Larson deemed that unnecessary. After a few moments, his gaze returned to the painting, inspecting the curve of the boy’s lip and the hint of expansive chest peering through the neck of the white flowing shirt.
With a puzzled expression, Levitt turned to Ms. Larson, who was staring at him unapologetically. Taking a step away, he voiced the question that had just come to mind. “Why is it just Ms. Boyer and Jack? What about Mr. Boyer?”
Ms. Larson’s lips curved into a crooked smile, she gave him a nod of approval, as if he’d reached the mystery in an acceptable amount of time. “There are several portraits throughout the house. Some just of Ms. Boyer, many more of Jack, and a couple more of mother and son together. There are none of Charles Boyer, nor of Alice.”
“About a year after Jack’s death, Ms. Boyer gave birth to a little girl, Alice. From all accounts, she never even held her daughter. Mr. Boyer adored her and hired a nanny to care for her.”
“What became of her?”
Ms. Larson turned away from the portrait and motioned towards the doorway opposite the picture window.
Levitt peered through the opening, taking in the huge formal dining table and the massive painting of Beth Boyer on the main wall, the same severe expression on her face, this time her long raven hair cascading over a vibrant crimson dress.
“This is the dinning room.” The pride in her voice was evident, as if she had personally been responsible for the preservation of the homestead. “Everything in the house is original. After a few years, Ms. Boyer had all the gas lamps switched to electric. It was one of the first homes within a hundred miles with indoor plumbing.”
The dinning room was equally as grand as the living room. Both were roughly the size of Levitt’s entire apartment, and more lavishly decorated than he could afford over a hundred years later.
The rest of the tour went quickly. The rest of the rooms were small and less intricately decorated; however, every surface was covered in wood—planks and logs. Nothing had been painted or wallpapered, every inch shown out in a warm earthy glow, giving the house a living, palpable essence.
They skipped the bedrooms that the other teachers occupied on the second story, Ms. Larson instead taking him directly to his bedroom, which was directly over the living room and looked out over the valley below.
“Since you are the only male teacher this week, you have the luxury of having a room all to yourself.” She glanced at the other empty bed that took up the remaining space in the tiny room.
“Thank goodness for small blessings, I suppose.”
She gazed at him, her eyes narrowed. “Don’t you want to be here?”
Levitt felt his face flush, as if caught in a truth that wasn’t appropriate to share. “Honestly, no. I don’t really feel up to this week. However, I am excited to stay here in the lodge. I’d like to spend a week here without the kids sometime. Just exploring the wilderness and enjoying this gorgeous house. No responsibility. No bad memories. Nothing except just being.”She shook her head slowly. This time, her smile left Levitt with a sense of foreboding. “No bad memories? Mr. Patterson, haven’t you been listening? Why ever would you think there are no bad memories here?”