home. dec 19th - 22nd.

day one, a monday.

the preparation for this trip was pretty staggering.

in addition to all the errands, and work errands, i also had to pick up my ativan refill while i was at suck store. i was down to two, and it's something i don't want to not have in my knapsack at all times.

i told the cashier that it was the best $3.27 i've spent in a long time.

we didn't get in until 10 pm. the flight was cake, except for the part where i thought we'd left our id's at the check in. we got to tsa, and i forgot that i'd put both of our id's in my bag. what else is new? we went down and back to get them, but she said she'd given them back. right in my bag, where i'd haphazardly put them...

i'd had a beer at home while i wrote, and had a glass of wine on the plane, and except for a little white knuckling on take off and ascent, it was a breeze.

we landed, it was in the mid sixties, and the old familiar feeling of the first cigarette on florida soil returned. it's a mix of lightheadedness from smoking, and high humidity, and thick air. i was sweating in a long sleeve tee and jeans, immediately.

hugs all around, and into the car, and home. we stayed up talking until maybe midnight, and passed out.

day two, a tuesday.

i tried to sleep in, but failed. i've been logging my sleep, to make sure it returns to normal. it seems to be, already. i feel very lucky.

and somehow, not having weed isn't proving too difficult. life would be nicer if i had some, but i'm okay without it.

we went to grandma's for chicken fingers, which is always the welcoming lunch. it was awesome. we visited for a while, and grandpa smoked his cigar while i smoked, and we chatted idly. he asked about ever, so i told him about the path he chose to go down, and how glad i was that i got out when i did.

it was a nice visit. and then we left for mean grandma's. aubree's been giving me a lot of shit about calling her that lately, and this trip might break my habit. but i am still struggling with it. we had a heated discussion today about how much to spend on her/them. because i think it's retarded to cash the check for $35 (joint birthday and xmas) and turn around and spend what they give us on them.

what's the point of that?

so i spent $10 and she spent $15 to get them a gift card. which she'll bitch about spending, like she does every year. it's like, 'here, grandma. get whatever you want.' and somehow she is never happy.

big shocker. but i'll try to stop calling her mean grandma.

mom had a meltdown. well, two, really.

the first was before we'd made it over to grandma's. she'd snapped at them, because she was under a lot of stress, and was pissed at the way they don't take care of themselves. grandma has stopped bathing, and has been in the same clothes for four days. she'd fallen a few days before and mom wigged out, because she was still in bloodstained pants.

usually, grandma is so excited to see us that she has mom set her hair in curlers, and fix her up. but i guess that, because she's depressed and feels shitty, she didn't want to take a bath or have her hair done. much less put on clean clothes.

and grandpa is lazy, too, and also totally losing his memory, so he swore to mom that he'd helped her put on clean clothes after a sponge bath. and mom snapped, calling him out about it.

so we got there, not knowing any of this had happened. and when we went home, mom made the same comment she made this summer, about hating her life and not even knowing why she was alive sometimes.

and i've so had it with her attitude and unwillingness to reclaim her life that i started yelling at her.

'this is YOUR life. only you can decide what you will and won't do. and everyone is going to have to understand that you can't live for other people, and waste the time that you have here. if you don't want to do this everyday, then don't. if you hate your life, then change it. this is ridiculous. you can't be everything to everyone all of the time. so don't even try.'

she had a whole slew of arguments, while crying.

'but if she falls, he can't pick her up, and the emt's brutalize her, even when you tell them to be careful. if i don't do this for them, who else is going to? i can't stand to see her in pain. i try to teach her how to help him help her, by lifting herself up, but she's just too weak. if i don't go, no one else can. everyone works except for me.'

so i said, 'if grandma falls, they can call 911. really, they need to learn how to get her up again on their own. they can't be dependent on you. what if you're out somewhere, further from their house than we were today? you can't just stop what you're doing to go help. she falls once a week. it's too much, mom. and it's going to kill you. this is too much stress. you need a break.'

and that was when she admitted that she'd snapped at them and had a meltdown earlier in the day. she cried more, and argued more.

i told her she needs counseling. i've told her this before, because she refuses to deal with aubree's relationship, and refuses to accept her as she is. but i told her she's literally going to die if she keeps doing this all the time. her role can't be caretaker, because she's wasting her healthy time on this planet, and any one of them is too much stress on her. much less, all four of the grandparents.

let's face it. it fucking SUCKS. this is probably grandpa's last christmas. i assume that he'll make it to spring break, when we come back, but soon after that will be his funeral. but he wants to die. he is only averaging lucid moments a couple times a week, on a good week, and he knows his life sucks. he's going into a nursing home in a month, once they hide all their money. he doesn't ever know who my aunt is (his daughter - he hits on her sometimes), mostly doesn't know who my grandmother is (who hates him from years of abuse, and who confuses his lucid moments with him faking dementia for the attention), and only sometimes knows who my dad is. and my poor mom, who goes there a few times a week? he doesn't know who she is. this time he didn't know aubree, who he can usually place because she cuts his hair when she's living here, or visiting. he never knows who i am, because i'm never around.

and as for mom's parents, who it absolutely breaks my heart to see going down the short road they have left here? her dad has prostate cancer, gets his markers this week, and starts radiation in the new year. and grandma keeps falling, which can be the kiss of death. if she breaks her hip, it's all over. her doctor won't refill her script for antidepressants, which gave her back her will to live, and made all of her pain disappear. so now she just wants to die, and says so several times a day.

and grandpa's had a few close calls, confusing his pills for her pills. which meant that, one day, he took her oxycontin (super high dose, she's been addicted for YEARS). and he was too embarrassed to tell mom, because mom demands to be in charge of the medication, and he won't let her, because he can handle it.

he got really sick, and didn't admit it until after the fact. which would have really sucked if he had overdosed.

and he was in the habit of giving night meds in the daytime, which meant grandma was nodding off and sleeping all day, and up all night in pain.

finally, recently, mom set up their pills for a month, and he is allowed to dispense them daily. but, at the same time, he doesn't know what day it is.

it's a bad scene here. i made mom promise me that i wouldn't go to a hospital, a nursing home, or a funeral this vacation.

so far, so good...

i don't remember how the conversation with mom ended, but it certainly didn't end with mom saying that she's going to take time for herself, or get help, or come up to phila, or get counseling.

so the end was the beginning. i'm waiting a few more days until it happens again.

and then i went to dinner with brownies. which is always awesome. we talked for hours, trying to cram in everything we've missed over some seriously awesome burgers.

dad didn't tell me mimi was coming over that night, so i missed her. we made plans to hang out the next night.

when i came home, aubree was already asleep, and i followed suit not too much later. i finished the letter to greg that i'll never send, that i'd started the night we got into town.

day three, a wednesday

tried to sleep in again. failed again.

i woke up post mom's meltdown, to have one small one of my own.

revisiting the greg stuff, writing that letter out, and erasing three notes i had left in my phone, unsent, was hard. it definitely put my head in a different space. one that i haven't let it go in a while. and talking to mom about the shrink visit over morning coffee and my first cigarette, and about how greg started the whole thing, made me cry over him for the first time in a long time.

and there was a point in the day today where i was laying in the sun. and i should have been happy. i was happy. but it was a happiness with an underlying sadness. not a lot, like this summer. not enough to ruin a nice bit of time in the sun. i feel like it was a manageable sadness. like i finally dealt with a little of that leftover messiness, in a bite size chunk that i could stomach.

and like the discomfort i felt when i erased everything that was ever passed between us, it was hard to let go of the last shreds. at the same time, they'd been in my phone for so long, and i had not revisited them. so re-reading them made me remember the nights when i wrote them. and reminded me of why i erase everything. it was hard to feel it again after forgetting what i'd written, twice removed. it affected me more than i expected it to, when i set out to write one last note and finally be done with the whole fucking thing.

and, of course, because i dug it up to deal with it, today i picked at the scab a little. my mind wandered to sex with him. and i stopped it each time, but until i find something that amazing again, i think i'll wander there occasionally. and stop beating myself up for doing it.

it was good for me to process that last little bit. they were notes written when i was in my darkest times. they were written from a place of such utter heartbreak, yet i never used any words to tip him off to just how much he hurt me. and took pride in my ability to end the letter that i'll never send by telling him just how much he fucked me up, and that he shouldn't ever do that to anyone again. that i don't hold it against him.

but i also don't quite forgive him, either. going through it with mom was pretty hard. i couldn't talk about it this summer. only to aubree, and my friends. and not without losing my shit. but i just felt so embarrassed, after telling my parents that i met someone. i couldn't do it. and the story has changed so much since then, that i just now can give her an accurate account. and putting into such simplistic words at this point in the game felt both good and bad. both easy and hard. saying the words was easy. but hearing them come from my mouth was not.

but i did it.

and today, as if to prove something to myself, i played 'home'. because aubree and i both have had it stuck in our heads since we got here. and i was okay. because it is an awesome song.

anyway, we left from there to go shop with mom, and succeeded in getting a present for my brother and his soon-to-be wife before mom got a call that grandma had fallen again.

so a couple hours after we left, we had to stop shopping and beeline it over to their house to pick her up off the floor.

it was pretty awful. she was crying, because she was so helpless. when we walked in, she was on the floor and grandpa was in his la-z-boy, watching tv. i guess that, when she falls, she can't lift herself back up (no arm strength, no leg strength, and the reason she falls is usually because she can't feel her feet, so she can't get them under her to lift herself back up again), so she just waits until mom comes to help her. and so does grandpa. he'd tried for about 45 minutes to pick her up before calling mom.

i had to leave the room, because i was getting upset. i guess she sleeps without pants on, so she's in her diaper all the time. and that is something i don't ever want to see.

aubree and mom picked her up while i watched. it was awful. she got a nasty bruise on her leg from the fall, and that kicked off the whole 'this is why i can't leave florida' argument mom makes when we tell her she needs a break. i guess the couple times mom couldn't help, the emt's bruised her up pretty bad when 911 was called. once, they skinned her shin, almost to the bone. nasty.

and when she started crying, i went out for a smoke, until it was time to leave.

anyway, we came home after that, hung out for a bit.

i wrote the writer a nice letter, on paper.

then everyone left, and mimi came over.

i'd been looking forward to it, because i wanted to talk to her about meds and my situation, along with everything else that i don't talk to my parents about, and get her take on all of it.

i learned so much about her that i never knew. she was a midwife for ten years, which blew my mind. it was before she lived here, so it was before i was ever close with her, and i guess i was young enough to not know what that even meant. she birthed 175 babies naturally. she stopped doing that to get her nursing license, which is what i've always known her as.

i passed out early last night, again. well, early is midnight these days.

day four, a thursday.

i woke up, went to grandma's for lunch. pepper steak, something i make when i'm homesick for lunch at grandma's. i mimic it well. i mean, the original, that grandma made from scratch when she was able to cook. now they cheat on seasonings, and use packets of gravy mix.

i totally pulled off not one, but two, xmas surprises today. we got mom an iphone 4, which she has been hinting at, nothing approaching subtlety. did that before lunch. after lunch, psyched her out, making her go to the apple store while aubree got her phone switched out, and i got mine cleaned, instead of replaced, as i'd expected. i'm having charging issues.

came home. got sun for maybe 30 minutes. and went back out for dad's surprise, which was a surprise for us. we were trying to get a remote for his work van, and to have it programmed for him. only his van didn't take the programming. so now we have a remote that doesn't work. and we're thinking about how to move forward...

and now? dinner out. pizza buffet. haven't been for something like 15 years, when cici's was a brand new concept.

le sigh...

oh. and? i am a goddamned hornball. I REALLY NEED TO GET LAID. otherwise, i feel sorry for any parking meter that crosses my path.