Three years of marriage, and what do we have to show for it? We have no house, little money, and no kids to show off on facebook like everyone else our age. Your job takes you far away every fifteen days, and I am alone here in this sad excuse for a city.
So, what do we have?
You have the unique gift of righting every wrong in this world; one hug fixes everything. Absolutely everything.
And you have a particular look when you take in all of my imperfections; a silly smile always followed by a kiss, as if my flaws were chocolates.
You have a laugh that tickles me in all the right places, so tickling you is my favorite game… And though you tell me not to, somehow you have the patience not to hate me when I do anyway. That patience can get us through it all.
You have a song for everything, and we make little dances to them wherever we go. We’ll go everywhere, don’t you know?
Your heart is so big that I crawl inside it every night, cuddling each little bit of you. Even from afar, I call it home.
You are magic, my love, and I have you. And I have everything.
My reflection winks at me when I’m not looking.
I swish and drop my dizzy head,
and while Colgate blue and red make purple,
my reflection does a sassy hair flip too.
I search the mirror, seeing spots and dimples and droops,
and my mind does not enjoy that at all.
Tugging, pushing, lifting, twisting, and sucking;
I do not get along with my reflection,
and my reflection could not care less.
Two becomes ten tries at tidy in no time at all,
but nothing is true.
And hiding under fabric doesn’t fool my eyes.
And my gut weighs heavy in my head.
And I can feel the jiggle of my thighs clog my arteries and slow my heart.
And all the while my reflection winks at me.
And I ache to be my reflection.
So, that camping trip that I told the internet about, despite my husband’s warnings of bad juju and unwell wishers? It almost didn’t happen. I was at the brink of blaming my big mouth and locking myself in a room without access to ANYTHING because yet again something wasn’t going to work out. I was utterly overwhelmed. I mean, have you ever felt that rushing wave of absolute desperation and emotional exhaustion; when it seems like everything that can go wrong, does? That letting go into a pit of dark spiraling? That sinking drop stomach flip roller coaster almost-upchuck? That’s what I felt when my husband told me that he was going to have to go back to work three days after getting home from his 26 day shift; subsequently having the potential to ruin my birthday camping trip and apparently, my sanity.
It sounds terribly melodramatic and irrational, but when you’ve had the kind of upsetting year and a half-ish that we’ve had, even the smallest disappointments can seem worthy of full-on, albeit unwarranted, depression. In our almost three years of marriage, we haven’t been able to get our feet on the ground enough to really do much for ourselves. Our savings, decisions, and time have mostly revolved around my stepdaughter, and while neither of us regret that for one second, it certainly hasn’t been easy peasy lemon-squeezey. To give a bit of perspective; this time last year we were being told by a new judge that none of our evidence or witnesses mattered because a kid should be with the mother DESPITE EVERYTHING. -And that is a seriously loaded EVERYTHING.- It takes awhile to come back from things like that, and it makes you want to find someone or something to blame.
Fortunately, the camping trip was saved in the nick of time by old faithful: talking it out. We made the decision that his job just wasn’t cutting it (26 days in the middle of the ocean is bonkers), and magically, as rare as a rainy day in the desert before global warming, he was offered another job the next day! So we were in the clear: clear, open, mountainous camping spaces! WOO! HOO! (Which is almost exactly the sound that Chilean foxes make. No joke. We heard a few of them while we tipsily froze our asses off in cheap sleeping bags. Best birthday ever! WOO!)
We weren’t allowed to have the campfire barbecue we had planned because Chile has been going through a destructive and seemingly unending bout of forest fires this year, so we survived the three days on flour tortillas, cheese, onions, peanuts, granola bars, and wine. Unsurprisingly, the meat we brought did not survive the trip (fortunately there are no menacing creatures in Chile, just a lone lost cow that we mistook for a creepy man stomping through the campsite until we flashed a light on her). Conversely, we were very surprised that one bottle of wine did survive. I didn’t look in a mirror once in three days, and neither of us were phased by the lack of cell service. All in all, it was a birthday success.
My husband’s new job started the day before his birthday less than a week later (yes, our birthdays are six days apart). We had planned a big “Dirty 30” kind of celebration with all of his friends, but we had to cancel. He had to leave the day before his birthday, he traveled all night on a BUS, and he spent the actual day of his birthday travelling in a sketchy, tiny airplane to the middle of the pacific. I didn’t hear from him until three days later, and even then he could only talk to me on whatsapp for five minutes. He told me about the lady on the trip who spilled water all over his computer bag that contained the hidden birthday surprise I had made him out of PAPER. Though, understandably, he was more worried about the computer, it was, all in all, not so much of a birthday success.
After that week of ups and downs, I have defiantly come to the conclusion that all of the jinxing/juju superstition business is all in our heads. Our minds really are powerful things, and if we want to believe that the world has it out for us, then it will. The camping trip certainly had its hurdles, most of them hunger oriented, but because we were so happy to be there at all, they didn’t matter. Similarly, his birthday party cancellation wasn’t the result of talking about the plans too much, but rather an inconvenience that we calmly worked around; he’s just going to have his party a few weeks late when he gets back from his new job. Attitude is everything. – And that’s a loaded everything.-
The funniest thing about this whole juju experiment, aside from cows and dirty 30 surprises being drenched, is that one of my husband’s friends showed up at the house for the birthday party. Somehow he had read the cancellation message, but misplaced it in his mind? I wonder if he thinks he jinxed the party. I’ll have to ask him next week, and I’ll let the internet know.
Out cute, yet somewhat stinky campsite.
Sink into my reality,
like hungry fingers into peanut butter;
American and thick; a bit sticky like a genuine smile,
Dip in deep.
Take some of me.
There is love in every measure.
There is crunch too; rough bitter spots; fears and tears and insecurities mixed around by children playing at being adults.
I am free,
but not my reality.
Taxes and tragedies grow out in gray hairs; stubborn and stark.
Lines draw lasting emotions on my splotched skin; sun, wind and rain thoughts and feelings.
Bills and bombs and goodbyes.
Can you see me?
The sweat, the sigh, and the spirit?
Take a bit,
but just of me.
I will give me gladly.
My husband likes to blame successions of disastrous or unfortunate events on people who do not wish us well, therefore, we are not supposed to tell anyone about our plans. Apparently, the haters will hate with such fervor that they physically send enough bad energy to eff everything up, or they literally do witchcraft to get the job done.
As a case in point, his ex, and most unfortunately the “mother” of his child, sends so much negative juju in our direction (we did take her to court for custody, to be fair) that she can be to blame for almost anything that doesn’t go as planned (such as aforementioned custody situation). This is true especially if things still don’t look up even after we have done a sahumerio in the house: a pagan cleansing with catholic undertones and obnoxiously expensive candles, stinky magic dust, doodads, etc. Even thinking about her brings bad vibes into our lives, so she is definitely never to be informed about anything involving us (AKA: Reason why my social media is as stalker proof as possible). In the past, she has also actively fucked with our plans, so this is also just common sense.
*Just to be clear, this girl is not your average baby momma. She’s a narcissistic psychopath who has completely separated her child from a loving father in the most painful way possible. But that’s another story… or a thousand… that I won’t get into because I want my day to not be cursed by her black magic.* “LOL”, but really.
Anyway, my husband is not the only Chilean who believes this, nor is he the only one who’s mother had him cleansed by a priest at some point in his young life. It is very common for people to believe in witchcraft and charged energies. In fact, the contrast is so extreme between Chilean beliefs and the average North American ones, that I often find myself struggling not to laugh at some of the things I hear. And, BOY, have I heard some things.
*Side note! I was raised without religion in the northeast, and my grandfather, my childhood hero, was a scientist. I dabbled in many a religion, and have finally accepted that I am an atheist hippy who respects everyone’s right to believe whatever they want.*
Almost everyone I know in Chile has personally seen or met witches, elves (more like demonic leprechauns), ghosts, angels, and/or the devil. Some have even told me about possessions, visions, UFO sightings, and astral projection. Every single time I am told about one of these encounters, I am faced with an awkward situation because they are told in absolute seriousness and I absolutely believe there is a logical explanation.
One time was particularly uncomfortable because I was the lone nonbeliever in a group that was partially comprised of my husband’s family. Everyone was telling tales of ghosts smoking cigars at the foot of the bed, exes who were full-blown possessed (again, literally), and dreams that actually came true, when someone claimed to be psychic.
I thought to myself, “thank goodness this guy isn’t part of the family,” and, “FML, keep it together, girl”.
He proceeded to elaborate, explaining that he can see people’s auras and deep dark secrets. In spite of myself, I got kind of nervous because, who doesn’t have deep dark secrets when in-laws are involved? Nevertheless, I “allowed him” to read my aura. He said it was lilac, meaning that I have a kind soul and love to help people.
Never mind that we had just been talking about my volunteer work with underprivileged children.
Everyone oohed and awed, and I held on to my poker face as best I could. No deep dark secrets were readable in my empty, Godless heart, so I could rest assured that my husband’s uncle would never find out how creepy I think he is.
Months later my husband and I ran into the psychic in town. He asked my husband for money because all of his economic endeavors had failed miserably, and he was becoming desperate.
Despite things like the incongruity of being a psychic and not avoiding economic ruin, or having “spot on intuition” and at the same time obsessively overthinking everything anyone says (that one is a family member), I have become much more open minded about spirituality and superstitions over the last five years in Chile. I feel a bit better after using a sahumerio on the house, and I do believe there is a certain power in the energy we give off. I still have trouble believing that elves and ghosts exist, but I have great respect for the cultural context from which they came.
Perhaps, I have spiritually matured, but I still want to test this whole superstition about telling people your plans. So, big, great internet, I am going to tell you that my husband and I are planning on going camping for my 28th birthday this weekend. If it doesn’t work out, I’m going to have the entire internet to blame.
All at once and without explanation, just as in my dreams, the sun and moon began to dance in circles through the sky. With precise intensity, the spinning painted patterns in my vision, distracting me from the uneven beating of my heart.
My father came to stand by my side and brace us both for whatever was about to come, and my dog barked timidly outside, looking in at us from time to time. His restless prancing made it clear that he was also bracing himself against some force that even nature seemed to be unaware of.
The beams and swirls of light started devouring any empty blue spaces left in the sky, and the orbs that I once recognized as sun and moon were now, in my line of vision, larger than a house, than a hotel, than a skyscraper…
In the distance, families were running through the trees like wild animals with no direction but away. Deer flew past them in their elegant way, and for a second I could almost hear them laugh at the awkward jaunt of humanity.
My world disappeared without a sound.
My eyes struggled to recover from the blast, but once they did I saw small specks of white slowly fall to the ground, as if paint were peeling off of a ceiling that had been stared at too long. The sky began to return to a state of baby blue bliss as the specks kept falling until they conspired to be snow.
The families that had once been fleeing the unknown, were now frolicking and floating between glittering trees and ice. Fear matured into freedom, and families became forest.
I turned to my father to read his reaction, and his stare was blank. We seemed immune to the bubbly aftermath of change. Even my dog seemed confused by nature’s fluke. We were three faint smiles pasted against a white backdrop, and our confusion lingered long after the snow stopped falling.
Carefully, as if every surface were made of ice, we walked towards the happiness in hopes of understanding. My dog walked before us in his protective nature, and we took our time to get there. After all, no one knows what they will find when they are searching for happiness.
So, here are the facts:
So, clearly, I have a few disorders, or at the very least I’m a wee bit neurotic. My mental health lies somewhere between the face my cat makes when he gets his claw stuck on something and his instinct to eat tape and dust bunnies. Although, it’s probably worse because I just related my mental health to my cat.
Somehow, I’m really not all that worried.
C’Est La Vie!