Fighting Pirates

4/26/20 Sunday

We take advantage of the empty places around us. Skateboarding on the sidewalks, scootering on freshly paved parking lots, paddling around the empty marina. Staying active, breathing cool clean salty air.

after-the-rain.org / Kayak at the marina

Being outside, on the water, the mundane becomes an adventure as we load our lunch into the kayak, paddle across the bay, and sit in the cockpit eating turkey sandwiches, pretzels, fruit snacks and oreos. The wind howls through the rigging but for the moment the sun is out and it’s smiles all around.

after-the-rain.org / Pulling up to the boat

We try fishing but don’t have any luck. Everyone seems to be hunkered down, even the little perch that we usually catch. Day’s focus changes to defending the boat against pirates. He swings gallantly from the jib halyard as I point out the imaginary attackers. An American flag marks our base and we make our stand with an empty flare gun and a paddle.

after-the-rain.org / Boy swinging from halyard

As the clouds move in, the wind picks up and the temperature drops. Our adventure for the day is at an end. We claw our way back to the ramp where it all began and start the process of heading back. Soon we will be at home. Soon he will look away and tell me he is tired. Soon he will turn around and I will see a tear slide down his cheek.

His mother’s restriction on visitation is ending. She has met the criteria for spending time with him on an unsupervised basis. We are rolling into a 50/50 parenting plan. It’s what we have been striving for, but when I see my son’s reaction to going back, I realize the struggle is not over. I guess we all have our demons, our own pirates. Today I watch my son fight his at the end of the dock. I’m with him all the way.

after-the-rain.org / Fighting pirates

Dancing with the Sea

4/12/20 Sunday

Gray fog, born of the sea. The invisible cold blows softly, a wet whisper. There is no escape its timeless breath. We close our eyes and acknowledge the ominous embrace, yet we do not accept, we do not yield. Standing resolute and firm, we fight the silent enemy with our greatest strength – each other.

after-the-rain.org / Labyrinth in the sand

In time the fog relents, burned away by light and warmth. We make the most of our opportunity. We express and create, love and connect. With gratitude, hope and longing, we lose ourselves in the beauty of the blue. It is appreciated if not understood.

after-the-rain.org / Drawing in the sand

The fog returns. Cold as before, the air shivers with uncertainty and risk. Yet this time we are not afraid, nor blindly optimistic. It is not the blue skies that are needed – it is knowledge, love, and understanding. Death and decay are a part of our world, but so is youth, beauty, and goodness. We dance not to reach the end, but for the sake of the dance itself.

after-the-rain.org / The dance of life

Blind In One Eye

3/13/20 Friday

There’s a particular bird that comes to the feeder at my bedroom window everyday. I’m not sure what kind it is, but it doesn’t look like the other sparrows, juncos, finches, or towhees. It’s also different because it doesn’t fly away like the others when I move about in the room. It just sits there at the feeder for much of the day, pecking at food occasionally as it feels like it. A few days ago I put my face right up to the window to check it out, and finally saw why it doesn’t fly away even when I’m so close – it can’t see, it’s blind in one eye. It spends much of the day perched on the feeder where it feels comfortable, keeping a watchful eye out from one side of its head for the other birds, and ignoring any potential danger from the other side of its head where it has no eye.

after-the-rain.org / Blind bird

The other day I dropped in to see my counselor. The divorce and custody battle have been taking a toll on my weary 47 year-old bones, head, and heart. Sara was able to put together a response to my motion to modify our parenting plan, which turned out to be a blistering 11-page list of grievances and accusations against me. Interestingly she also filed a response to the guardian ad-litem report, letting the world know she didn’t think much of that either. Bitterness, scorn, and rage poured through her words. I could picture her typing them, I’ve seen her eyes and facial expressions many times before as she lets them fly like arrows, trying to cut me down. However I did something she could not have expected. Instead of being torn apart I absorbed those arrows because as everyone knows love conquers hate. Instead of fighting back I let her know that I think she is a good person and that to me anyway our marriage was a good one for the most part, then I turned and walked away. This of course was an unforgivable offense, and has ignited an incredible fury which is confusing, surprising, disturbing and sad all at the same time.

My counselor told me a story of one of her former clients, a lady in her eighties who like Sara was also diagnosed with psychosis, and also a gifted artist. The lady had let her appearance go, and had arrived at her session dressed in an old mu mu, with wild gray hair, nervously peering out at the world through giant thick-rimmed black glasses. The counselor asked her to draw a self portrait. The lady took her time, carefully looking back and forth between her reflection in the mirror and her sketchbook. After quite some time the lady revealed her work, which was a talented and striking portrait of herself, not as an elderly lady, but as a beautiful young woman in her twenties, with long flowing auburn hair, no glasses. I guess sometimes we see what we want to see as we go through life. We can’t see both the good and the bad sides of each other, blind to a fault.

On Monday the judge decided that our son should keep staying with me during the week, and with his mom on the weekends, as long as her visits are supervised. I hope we can ease into a 50/50 shared parenting plan but these days I’m not so sure what to expect. Since today is Friday my boy is not here now. I see that my house is a mess, nerf darts and army guys again cover the floor, I love it. I see my tools by the door because tomorrow I’ll head to the boat. I see a piece of paper on the counter with a woman’s phone number on it. She gave it to me weeks ago. It never moves because I don’t know if I should call her or throw it away. For now I’ll turn a blind eye to it and concentrate instead on my dinner of roasted chicken, potatoes and vegetables. I’m starving because as usual when I write I forget to eat. It’s raining again and so cold outside it’s almost snowing. The schools are closing for 6 weeks starting on Monday due to coronavirus. Life goes on and it all seems so unpredictable. I trust the weather will warm up soon, I’m hopeful things will get better. I guess we’ll see.