September 13, 1999
Breathing vs. Not-Breathing
A huge heartfelt *thank you* to everybody who wrote this weekend, re: Daughter #2. She's recovering from her accident, and plans to go back to school & her job tomorrow. "Life is too fucking short," she said delicately on the phone this morning. "I've got a lot of stuff to do before I die." Sheesh. I wonder who she gets THAT from? Taking an unscheduled day off from The Totem Pole Company today. (Yeah, I know. Lately I've had more "days off" than Katie Couric and Matt Lauer combined.)
No particular reason, other than the fact that I've been fighting a migraine for most of the weekend, and because I didn't sleep much last night -- I had that dream again, where I'm wandering around Lake Sammamish State Park looking for The Tots, and the old dude in the Park Ranger's uniform tells me "the park is closed, ma'am" -- and because I craved an extra *alone day* to putter around The Castle.
So I stayed home.
I've sent Franz out of town again for a couple of days -- he'll be gone until the middle of the week -- so I doubt that I'm missing much. Time enough, tomorrow, to worry about voicemail messages and corrupted CAD files and *pantyhose abrasion* (don't ask).
Today ... I'm going to veg.
* * * * * * * * * *
This whole thing with Daughter #2, the past few days, has stirred up a tidal wave of emotions in me. Guilt, primarily, that I wasn't there to hold her hand in the Emergency Room. Anger at that nitwit teenage driver, for plowing through a stop sign without thought or care. Fear, that the next time the phone rings in the middle of the night we might not get off so easy.
And sorrow, because my lovely sixteen-year-old daughter is growing up precisely the same way I did: without an "on-site" mother; with a father who is loving but emotionally disengaged; and with a predisposition to look for validation everywhere but within herself.
Apparently there was no alcohol or drugs involved in last Wednesday's accident: that's the good news. Just good old-fashioned teenage dumbheadedness. When I finally brought up the subject this weekend -- whether she and her friends had been drinking or using drugs that night -- she told me that she doesn't drink. At ALL. "I can't stand the taste or the smell of alcohol!" she said adamantly ... and you know what? I believe her. Her words just had a ring of truth to them.
Furthermore, she says can't even bear to look at a Rainier Beer logo. "It reminds me of everything that's ever been wrong in our family," she said.
I had to agree with her. Look at our family photo albums -- any of them, from 1980 or so, right up until 1995, when the Ex Hub went into his first rehab -- and in practically EVERY PHOTO you'll see a can or bottle or box of Rainier Beer, somewhere in the picture. On the coffee table. On the kitchen counter. Next to the birthday cake. Under the Christmas tree. (There is even a photo of Daughter #1 -- just barely old enough to walk -- standing on a dining room chair in her Winnie the Pooh overalls, holding her Daddy's empty Rainier bottle up to her mouth. I'm sure that at the time we took the photo we thought it was completely adorable, but NOW it just makes me want to throw up.)
"Yeah," I said to Daughter #2, "that logo is sort of the symbol of our family's destruction." And it's the truth. (Although -- if you were to ask the Ex Hub -- HE would probably tell you that an AOL logo was equally apropos.)
* * * * * * * * * *
So ... she tells me that she doesn't drink, and I believe her. On the other hand, she does admit that she is no paragon of virtue -- "Hey! I'm a teenager!" she said to me. "I'm allowed to screw up!" -- so it's not like I can just sit back and relax and quit worrying about this particular Tot.
There is the question of The Boyfriend, for one thing. I'm officially going to quit calling him "The Boyfriend From Hell." From all accounts, he has been more *there* for her, during this entire ordeal, than either her father or I have been able to be, for whatever reasons. I figure I should at least try and give the kid a chance. (Plus I remember how much I hated it when my dad referred to my first real boyfriend as "The Thug.") The point is that although Daughter #2 would probably find it impossible to believe, I was actually her age once ... and I remember what it was like to be obsessively, blindly, stoopidly in love. (Hell. I was still falling "obsessively, blindly, stoopidly in love" THREE YEARS ago.) I don't want to see her get hurt. I don't want her to make any of those adolescent-hormone-fueled decisions that impact the rest of your life.
(And I CERTAINLY am not ready to be a grandmother yet. Grrrrrrr. But that's another story for another day.)
Point is, I can probably rest easy for the moment about the drinking ... but there is plenty of other stuff for me to worry about. And the fact that I'm forced to "worry" about it from three states away just makes it all the more difficult.
* * * * * * * * * *
I suppose the main reason that I'm dwelling on all of this stuff today -- other than the fact that I desperately love my kid, that is, and the fact that I can only stand to watch history repeat itself up to a POINT, and the fact that daytime TV sucks -- is that I celebrate one year of sobriety this week. On Wednesday, as a matter of fact. Anyone who reads this website with any regularity knows that I am a NUT about anniversaries in general ... and emotional anniversaries in particular. And this one rates right up there as one of the BIG events in my life. I plan to be totally obnoxious, redundant, self-congratulatory and in-your-face about the whole thing, all week long. (Be forewarned.)
The point is that Daughter #2's near-miss last week helped remind me of why I got sober in the first place: because drawing breath every day beats NOT drawing breath every day. For me, it was a lesson that was painfully hard-won. And I guess that I want my kids to learn it in a *timelier fashion* than I did.
(It's like somebody said: Life is too fudking short. We've got a lot of stuff to do before we die.)
* * * * * * * * * *
David, as usual, has been a source of strength throughout this entire ordeal. (It's ironic. On the one hand, I want to teach my daughters not to become overly-dependent on a romantic partner; on the other hand, I want them to look at David and me and see a relationship at its healthy, goofy, symbiotic best.)
He was sound asleep the night the call came about the accident, and he's been trying to make it up to me ever since. ("I should have been awake to comfort you!" he said.) What he doesn't realize -- or maybe he does realize it, but he just likes to hear me SAY it once in a while -- is that he "comforts" me just by being David.
Yesterday we went to something called "The Solano Stroll," out past Berkeley. Basically it was another street fair -- the latest in a NEVER-ENDING SERIES of STREET FAIRS here in the Bay Area -- but it was tons of fun. We walked for miles, listening to bad rock music and good Caribbean music ... inhaling the fumes from pretzel vendors and West African barbecue pits and Starbucks kiosks ... buying tie-dye T-shirts and used paperbacks ... and generally enjoying the day, the sunshine, each other.
At one point we inadvertently got separated from each other. I'd wandered off to look at a display of hand-sewn Barbie clothes, and apparently I fell off David's radar in the process. When I realized he wasn't right behind me -- (what? a man not interested in BARBIE CLOTHES??) -- I felt a momentary squeeze of panic. The crowds were becoming oppressive at that point: I couldn't see him anywhere. I stood in the middle of the road, surrounded by this enormous surging crowd of people ... not panicking, exactly, but not wanting to be "lost," either ... and all of a sudden there he was, forty or fifty feet away. He hadn't spotted me yet, but I could see him looking for me, and there was an expression of such amazingly tender concern on his face that it blew me away. I stood there in the middle of The Solano Stroll, grinning like a fool, waiting for him to spot me ... and at that moment his eyes finally met mine, and you could read the relief on his face like a BILLBOARD, and we both sorta pushed and shoved our way through the crowds and reconnected and went on to enjoy the rest of The Stroll.
It was just one of those sweet, *connected* moments that define a relationship.
* * * * * * * * * *
But that's enough babbling for one day. I have some serious "vegging" to do ... and only a precious few hours to do it in, before it's back to the world of fax toner cartridges and little blinking voicemail lights. Time to unplug from the computer ... and plug INTO a good book, a good sandwich and a good nap. More or less in that order.
Talk to you in a day or two.
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