Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The fork series: Boy/man # 2

This one is a little harder to write about.    He was not 100% light, 100% dark or frog or prince.  In fact he was neither and both as most people are.    Picture the scene:  It is my second year out of high school and I had returned from my modelling adventures.  My tiny Durbanville world had expanded and all of sudden the pond I lived in felt very small.   I had registered to study at Stellenbosch University and would start class in the Feb.  I started waitressing at the Hard Rock café for cash as I decide I in fact hated modelling and just could NOT do another meaningless shoot again.   We were part of the opening crew and it was fun and exciting.    The GM had 2 housemates and they lived in Camps Bay.  We all thought they were rather glamorous and worldly compared to us Northern suburbs chicks.  The one house mate ran the bar but drank too much of his own stock to be sexy.  Remember Billy!  He later opened Ricks Café in town where he ruled the roost.   The other was dark and slightly brooding and drove a red Carmen Gia little sports car.  He was 25 to my 19 and had travel led extensively.   

SD was unlike any of the boys I had ever met.  In fact he wasn’t a boy, he was a real life man.     Working in a restaurant is a love hate job.  The slog of working nights and having to leave a perfectly good beach day or barbie.   Dealing with demanding and rude customers and late nights and sore feet.    But, that heady sexy vibe of working with young people from all walks of life.  Meeting people undecided about where they meant to be right now.  Sharing a common purpose of being purposeless and free for a little while.  Boys and girls and late nights and lots of energy and the nightly rituals of all having a drink together.    It’s a recipe for plenty flirting and then some.  Of course having many gay people in the business just made it that much more fun as there was always some party on the go.    After months of this flirty sexy vibe it happened and I fell hard.  I had to break up with Andrew and it was horrendously sad.   Breaking someone’s heart has got to be one of the shittest things a person can do.    The pull of that direction when I hit that fork was just too strong and I ran down the road and threw caution to the universe.    

 Tertia & I had also applied for a flat in Mouille Point with Kirsty and getting the lease and meeting the man meant goodbye Stellenbosch, studying, Durbanville.  A whole new direction because of one guy.  A new career path, place to live and a way of seeing myself.
The next 6 years involved plenty traveling all over and doing random jobs in foreign countries.   I waitressed, I tutored, I cleaned houses, I sold clothing in a store, I sold flowers on the streets.   I met amazing people and ate different foods.  I lived in so many different places as I knew my family back home were my base and my safe place to come home too.  At 20 I went to hotel school and studied for 3 years while still continuing to waitress and travel in between.    SD never settled but worked in various restaurants.   I knew he should probably get a real job at some point but at that stage it didn’t bother me.    We pooled our money and bought a 100 year old Victorian house in Woodstock.   We did all the renovating ourselves sanding floors and painting and building cupboards.   My very own house which I loved.    All our friends worked in restaurants too and Monday nights were when everyone came over to dinner to eat SD’s amazing cooking, drink wine, smoke weed and talk crap.    I loved most of that time but eventually I DID grow up and that lost searching soul that had issues and was just too intense became harder to picture as a husband.  Good for boyfriend material, bad for husband.    

1995 was another travel year.    After a few months in London saving some pounds we headed over to San Francisco which we both loved.   Our trip was planned for a year but we cut it short as Daniel was conceived.     Late night talks and wine and weed and traveling and instability are no longer attractive when you pregnant and want to build your little nest.   No medical aid or secure monthly income, not so much.  Of course I put my blinkers on, put my hands over my ears and we continued with our birth and wedding plans.    I assumed he would grow up when our baby arrived.  Silly delusional me like many other silly delusional women who think men will change once a child comes along.  The cliché of it all is almost embarrassing.    To cut a long and painful story short, I had the baby, a boy, my beautiful boy.   He found another young waitress he worked with to replace the now milky maternal me and had an affair.  (I found this out months later after we had broken up)   I had an epiphany one random day.  In fact it was the 6th of January and Daniel was 6 months old.   An aha Oprah moment that had come about after we had postponed our wedding which was to be the 15th of January.    He would not change by May (our new wedding date) or by the next year or the one after that.   He would not be responsible and take care of us and grow roots.   He would continue to search and always feel vaguely disappointed that this was life and only this.   I would never make him happy nor anyone else he would ever meet.   He was who he was.  I did it, I called him at work and called it all off.   I gave up on the dream of the wedding and the dress, my perfect family, I moved out of my darling house, I lost a ton of weight and half of my hair but I salvaged my soul and the distant promise of something better which I knew I was worthy of.    It remains the bravest thing I have ever done or will ever do.   

But it’s not all gloom and pain, that’s the beauty.  That fork had many amazing moments along the way.  SD gave me a love of traveling and an appreciation for diversity.   We had enormous fun together for most of the time until I got pregnant.     We loved our little house in Woodstock.  (I used half of my money to do my boobs years later!!)     He also gave me Daniel and his wanderlust means Daniel is 100% mine and I have never had to share him.   (As we speak SD is now aged 47 and on a yet another sabbatical in San Francisco!!)   I also learned so much about myself and my capacity.   My strength, my ability to raise my boy alone, my courage not to settle.  I won’t say it wasn’t excruciating and recovery came quickly.  It took years.   I also cannot say I don’t have scars on my heart that was able to love so abundantly before.  But I will say it’s all part of who I am and I am grateful for what I took from those 6 crazy, intense years.
PS.   You know how some frogs are arseholes?  He isn’t actually one of them.   He is not mean or nasty or horrible or rude or cruel.   Absent, lost and distant yes, arsehole no.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

So what the fork now?

Sorry, I just couldn’t resist that pun:  Fork as in fork in road, not the F-word!   My goodness!!   My beloved mother and husband want me to quit studying.   I don’t think I want to quit studying although the thought of another 5 solid years studying alone in my beautiful study is pretty scary.   Beautiful study as in gorg, not being sarky.   I have painted the walls a fresh lemony lime green and made blinds with turquoise blue, beige and green funky flowers patterned on them.   I have cool framed collages of old photographs on the walls.  Eighties I know but fun to play remember when with.    I have an antique oak desk for work and then in the middle of the room, a 6 seater wooden table which I study on or use for crafts with the kids.    I have a massive sign which I mosaic’d in mirror that says ABUNDANCE.  The irony of that word in one of the toughest years in my life is fodder for another blog post!  Alongside one of the large windows are 2 tall wooden shelves for my books, files and crafty stuff.  Perched on top is the stalk which reminds me of my 18 months spent doing surrogacy coordination.   My study is my happy retreat place. 

But I digress.  The studying.  I study for several reasons.  A sense of purpose and structure in a time when the rest of my life feels like mercury in my hands.  Slippery, uncontrollable, foreign.    I study because the subjects I learn are genuinely interesting and force me out my comfort zone.  I have to challenge the way I think and perceive things.  I have to broaden my world view and learn how others perceive and believe things.   I get to know new stuff, cool!     I study because it’s what I should have done 23 years ago yet I feel it’s never too late to do what we want to do.   I study for the future prospect of a career that gives me some independence.  The past 2 years have taught me that life is unpredictable and being totally dependent on anyone is not a good thing to be.  I have seen marriages as solid as the mountains crumble, people more alive and vital than anyone I know die.    I have had 4 friends lose their husbands:   an accidental tragic death, an affair leaving her with 3 young kids, brain cancer that finally stole him away and then a suicide from someone we all thought was happy and around forever.   I cannot foolishly presume I am immune from such things and I cannot live in anticipatory fear of them either.   I can be practical though and ensure policies are in place.   Wills and trusts are done and I have someone to raise my kids if need be.  I can ensure I am more independent.    Do I sound morbid?    When death comes so close to us and we see the hearts break of those we love, we cannot but help fear for our own hearts, our own families.

So these are my options:  I continue with Unisa.  The plus is the subjects are interesting, the flexibility and the opportunity to tailor make my degree is attractive.  My second major is psychology.  I can study in my own time at home and work around the kids.  I have already done the 1st year.  The big minus is it’s lonely and isolating.  The actual Unisa system is frustrating and it would take me another FIVE years.   For the next 5 years this is my life, every day at least 4 hours and then in exam time full on.   But I get to wear that graduation gown eventually.  I can only imagine the sense of achievement I would feel.  So proud of myself!

Option 2.  I go to Stellenbosch University.    Bonus:  A real life varsity with students and lectures on a campus.   Interaction, discussions, life, new people.   It would only take me 4 years but the subjects are more broad and I know the work I want to get into so not sure if that would work.   Non bonus is sticking out like a very old thumb on a very young hand.    Being stuck 5 days a week with the likes of Daniel, Robert, Prisca, Keagan, Carmin.  I love my son and his mates but in small controlled doses.    Could I really sit in lectures with 18 and 19 year old children every day?   I like young people and they like me.   I am a young 41 year old but I am still 41 and very much a mother.   When I went to hotel school I had done 2 years of modelling and traveling first and felt much older than everyone else.  At TWENTY!    I kicked arse though because I had that little bit of maturity and self discipline.   Shit, I just don’t know.   How would the lecturers view me?  Intimidating?  Irritating?  Embarrassing?   I speak to someone in the faculty on  Monday so will have a real think.

And then option 3:  I stop studying all together.  Give it up and decide what else to do.  I will probably get some kind of part time half day work.  I would like to earn some money again to feed my travel habit ad have that independence.     It’s sort of attractive, the thought of having my life back and not having to be so self-disciplined all the time.  Freedom!
What do you chickens think I should do?   What would you do?   I must say the fact that I have done this 1st year in one of the toughest in my life does inspire me to continue.   I got knocked over time and time again but I didn’t stay down and I didn’t give up.  For stubborn determined me that counts as something.    Oh what the FORK to do???

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Square peg Round hole

That’s how I feel about me and the general church.  Sjoe, religion introduced to this blog at last.  We had some good discussions about God and religion on the old blog.   I love Jesus but I just happen to love diversity and embrace all that is different.    I have always been one to question and seek and wrestle and ask.  I remember being 16 and Catholic and having this fat argument with why I couldn’t ask God directly for forgiveness.  Why I had to go to confession and speak to some guy who I wouldn’t be truthful with anyway.

I hate intolerance and I hate any form of discrimination.   I cannot understand why gay people should be defined by their sexuality to the point where they cannot marry their partner or have children.  Why people reject others because they gay, even beloved family.   I am embarrassed that the church in general doesn’t accept them, finds them abnormal and in need of a cure.  A cure?  Really?  Like they are diseased.  It’s just stupid.  

Yet I am drawn to the church too.  For the fellowship of others who love Christ and chase God.  For the worship music when I feel the holy spirit so tangible and warm and God’s love for real.  I love the church for the work they do for the poor and for how they step in to help when someone is down.  I love how God uses people to do what He wants and how he places compassion in our hearts or a driving need to do something or even just pick up the phone and call someone.  I love the hope that I have in Him, the strength that I can do all things in Him.  Ah, its such a cool rush!

I have come to the conclusion I just don’t have all the answers and I don’t believe anyone else does either. 12 years of being a Christian and still as confused as ever about heaven and earth and everything in between.   I think it will be a huge shock when we get to see so many different people in heaven.   People He created and loved and who love Him too.  Maybe not the same way I do, not the same recipe or formula but a unique path they follow.  Do I wish everyone knew Jesus?  Absolutely.   It’s such a pure love and acceptance and grace.  A way to step straight onto the palm of God without having to be or do anything at all.   I’ll never forget the day I decided to give Him a go and take the chance and the subsequent amazing ride we have been on ever since.  We complicate it and make rules and decide who should be allowed.   What is right and wrong and what still applies from the bible.  Which book counts, how verses are interpreted.   I suppose you can call me a fence sitter and sometimes I do envy those super black and white people who are so certain of what is wrong or right.   Life just isn’t like that, we are all so different and if God created everyone one of us and loves us all, I would imagine He would make many colours, patterns and sizes to fit his diverse nation of people on earth.

I know He created me to be this person who does question and I believe it’s OK.   The opportunity of travel where I have encountered all these foreigners with their unique culture and food and religion and beliefs.  Not superior or inferior, just delightfully different.    I will never have it totally figured out but I blame Him!  He made me like this with all my questions and my refusal to meekly accept what others deem as right.  He taught me unconditional love which means others have no conditions too.  I will listen and I have much to learn from so many but I cannot just accept everything at face value.

My God is like a patient Daddy of a 2 year old and tolerates my questions all day long.  He knows if I mess up it’s usually borne out of the right attitude, His grace is sufficient for me.  It’s enough for me.   His holy spirit is quick to tell me or warn me or chastise me.  Not cool Melanie, that was ugly.  Or not safe, or not kind.  Other times I feel that approval, that way to go Mellie feeling.  Sometimes I ask and I get nothing so presume it’s no biggie.   Like Halloween coming up when we get to use the funky bags Auntie Nina sent.  Thanks sussie!!   I am sorry for all the people in the know who get frustrated at my lack of accepting ‘the rules’ because square pegs don’t make the neatest patterns.  I have seen countless square pegs leave the church over the years because not fitting in becomes lonely sometimes.   They a little screwy like me yet they still love Jesus and I see the evidence of Him in their lives in so much they do.  Others just see the sin, the supposed rebellion and the way of life that is seen as wrong or unbiblical or unacceptable.   I am grateful for my church for accepting my squareness and grateful for all my many square gay loving Jesus worshipping tolerant non religious friends who don’t make their issues mine or take on my issues for themselves.  So back to the one biggie with no compromise:     Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your mind and all your soul, and love your neighbour as you love yourself.   Done.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The longest week of my life

Actually this has been one super frikkin long year!    So last Monday I woke up grateful for a new day with a new attitude.  My doc appointment with the 2nd neuro was at 1.45 so although a little apprehensive, I was good.  I had a shitty Sunday the day before and was so crazy angry the whole day.  Anger is a weird one for me.  I seldom get really cross but I had this mad rage which was a spill over of unresolved issues and a dark stinky mass had seeped out because of a silly incident.   I know its something I need to address, a conversation I need to have but I calmed myself down and apologized to all I had been so mad with the whole day.

I was sitting at my desk busy studying for my exam when the mutual friend of one of my closest friends called me to tell me that her husband had taken his own life and they had found him that morning.  Her funny, happy, loud husband who I had seen just the other day and was giving me advice on how to sew a sequined strip on Rebeka's dress.  My friend was in Plett with her daughters and all what I could think about was how to get her back down.  Plett is 6 hours away and obviously she could never drive in that state of shock.  I couldn't believe it, it seemed impossible.  It still does.   Fortunately her daughter's boyfriend drove them down and they arrived late that night.   Oh to see someone you love in pain is such a hard thing.  My amazing  friend who I love so much and have shared so much with.   Friends really do become family as we get older and our natural families live in various places.   As friends we share in births and weddings and parties.  We cook for each other and fetch each others kids.   Vicky and I have had amazing highs in the past 9 years and shared some incredibly tough lows too.   I was even privileged enough to be the doula at her grandson's birth. (She's around 13 years older than me)

The week has been so hard for her and her kids.  Three are in their twenties and her youngest is 10.   Her own pain and then watching her children in so much pain.  People were awesome though and everyone stepped in to help and love and cover and make endless meals.  We have seen God's love lavished on them as He has used various people in their path.   When he says His grace is sufficient, its true.  When He says His power is made perfect in our weakness, its also true.   The funeral was on Saturday and I was so glad his kids could look out at that packed church to see how many people their dad had touched.  All the funny stories of a man who never said no to anyone.  He was passionate about HIV and its effect on our people.  About people in general.  Those people in that packed church are a drop in the ocean of the lives he touched.    A suicide changes all the rules of grief and add so many other layers and dimensions.  The pastor handled it so well and didn't try and side step the issue.

Its only been a week but it feels like a year.   It is still a very long road to travel but this week spent with Vicky's other girlfriend has really reminded me how important female friendships are.  Of the privilege of being someone heart friend.   My friend is so strong and inspiring.   So real and raw and honest.   We are committed to walking this road with her, to prop her up when she feels she cannot take another step.  To get practical and figure out where to from here.    We love because we are loved and God uses all sorts of people to answer all those prayers and needs.  On Saturday morning I woke knowing the day would be really hard.  My 8 year old impulsively  brought me tea and ran me a candle lit bath.   She loved me and got me ready to love.  Saturday I could love Vicky and Saturday night Vicky could visit another friend of hers who had pranged her car on the way to the funeral and was devastated that she had missed it.  God loving me through Sofie, God loving Vicky through me and God loving Tandi through Vicky.  I love it.

PS:   Been told I had a second cyst on the same day I heard about losing Chris seemed a bit shit.  Seriously?  Talk about a blue Monday!    I will address that issue and go back to see him once I finish my exams which I write in THREE days!!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Fork in the road part 2: Boy number 1

I have had a few frogs in my time and I have also had the fortune of a few princes.  I have, thank God, married the ultimate prince of all and in February we celebrate 10 years of marriage.   Apart from the obvious stuff like wanting to smother him with a pillow on occasion due to how annoying he can be, we genuinely like each other, make each other laugh, parent effectively together and still get that delicious feeling in the pit of our tummies when we have the rare time in the morning for a real smooch goodbye.   (Most mornings its a very rushed peck or a garbled goodbye when one of us is in the shower)  I say this all because I don't want to be disrespectful towards him as I go back in time to the frogs and princes of my past.

I was a big fan of Eat, Pray, Love when it came out a few years ago.  I watched the movie yesterday and enjoyed it too.  One of my good friends hated it, in fact many of them did but it struck a cord in me.  Maybe I think too much, analyze too much, wonder and question.   I suppose her love of travel and her enormous brave spirit inspired me.  Her search for God and finding him in unexpected places.  I have also been enormously brave once and I am still rather awed that I had it in me as I was 25 at the time, a baby.

I am supposed to get to the boy bits but just one last mention of the movie/book.  She mentions how we learn and take a little from the people we meet and leave something in return.  Even my frogs are testimony to this and it made me look back with more gratitude and less regret.  On the 29th of June while drinking nasty Esprit during happy hour at The Pig & Whistle, I was kissed by Andrew for my birthday.   The date is significant because my birthday is in fact on the 9th of April but my cunning sister Tertia had devised the plan and told him knowing he would kiss me.  When I was in grade 8, he was in grade 12 he was one of the hottest surf guys at school.  WAY out of my age 13 league.  He is still hot actually and still surfs.  He looks like Rob Lowe but a little less pretty.   Being there and seeing him and that exciting 1st kiss changed the direction in my life.   It made the last 3 years of my high school and first year thereafter so fun.   We lived at the beach and my affection for the beach turned into eternal love. I enjoyed his family and my family loved him.  My parents and Andrew still keep in contact.  I don't see him as Gary understandably wouldn't like it and I imagine his wife wouldn't either but he gave me so much.   He taught me that beautiful people can also be kind and beautiful on the inside.   He made me see details in nature and marvel.   He also made me return from my trip in Madrid because I missed him too much and who knows what would have happened if I had stayed.  I was loved in a healthy and beautiful way by a person with no issues and I loved back in return.  100% prince.  Light, no darkness.   I would love my kids to date such a person in high school because it was all about being outside and being in the ocean and camping and braais and friends and family. I unfortunately ended things when I was 19 and met that frog/prince who would turn out to take me on another fork in the road on a 6 year journey with massive consequences, amazing highs and devastating lows.  In fact I will write about him next time as I don't want to make this post too long.  I will try not to take too long for the next post although technically I am supposed to be studying as I wrote my first exam in 12 days time.   Boy number 2 coming up...

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Introducing the new cysta Gertrude

I know I promised fork number 2 and I have been thinking about the various men (like 2, maybe 3) that I had met along my life and how they had changed my life and path.  We will get back to boys soon but I thought I would introduce Gertrude 1st.

So I wrote just after the MRI and told you my neuro thought it was a arachnoid cyst and most likely causing my probs.  Like everyone else I feel better when I have an answer, an explanation because then I have a possible solution.  I can kid myself I am in control of my life or at least co-labouring with God who created this fabulous me.   She called the next night to confirm and was also pleased that her suspicions were correct.  She squeezed me into her colleague the neurosurgeon who would be the one to zap it out.   I decided if my anxiety had a name it was only fair my cyst had one too and I needed something that would go with Agatha.  Some of my clapper friends tell me I may not name these things as I am giving them license in my life.   For me it comes back to that control thing.   Anxiety is hard to deal with, Agatha on the other hand is some old bitch that bullies me every so often and who I mostly have the upper hand on.  She's ugly, mean spirited and predictable.   So what would my cyst be called, my cysta.  Gertrude!  Perfect, I can even call her Gertie if I should ever feel any kind of fondness for her when I need to blame something on her.  I always think of the scripture:  Who is man that we are mindful of him.  Or something to that effect.   Who is Gertrude when I have God?  

Anyhoo, the day of seeing the doc I felt quite nervy so asked my close friend Heather to come with me.  She is calm and sensible and clever.  I had all my questions typed up.   After looking at the scan and showing me my 2cm cyst he told me he did not think it was causing my tongue breakdancing and also thought it was too risky to remove.  Possible probs:  pegging, stroke or paralysis.  Yay, not.  I felt so deflated, back to square one.   The whole scan and doc thing had cost me thousands and kazillions and now I was no closer.  At least he did say Gertrude was harmless and could stay.  I went back to neuro lady for more Rivotril meds which help.  I divide the 0.5mg tab in 2 so super low dose.  I also went for more bloods and took my scan to my psyche who originally prescribed the cymgen as she was consulting with 12 experts at an international conference.    Seems I am an interesting and perplexing case which is not something one wants to be medically.  As I make peace with leaving Gertie well alone the neurosurgeon called to say he had consulted with a more experienced neuro who wants to see me Monday and thinks he can remove the cysta.  WTF?  I thought she stayed?  Why does he want to see me?  Blech, quite bored of the whole expensive and time consuming experience.   I write exams in 2 weeks time and do not have time for all this crapola. 

As of now I am fairly perky.  The no can remove cyst week corresponded with PMS on steroids which has the tendency to cause self pity even if I have a pimple so the pity party was fairly spectacular.  It only lasted a day though, sulking is very boring.  Next week I will tell you round 2 of neuro vs Gertrude and then we can get back to talking about the one maybe two grand romances I had in my teens and twenties.  

PS, Gertrude looks like Roz from Monsters Inc