A grocery list to sum up an inspired, serendipitous, unexpected year

I can’t believe I haven’t posted anything since October. I have been back in school taking Creative Writing at the University of Montana. It has been inspiring, fun, invigorating, and, occasionally, still terrifying.

I have met new friends, who already feel like old friends. I have discovered and been buoyed by the support of existing friends to an extent I would never have dreamed. I am living smack in the middle of one of the most beautiful natural landscapes in the world, and it is home. My family remains batshit crazy, but it is supportive and loving and accepting. This is more than many people have, I think.

I am home now in Canada where I will be able to spend three weeks with my boys. I have time to work on my furniture business, with the goal of increasing sales on my Etsy shop, and regular participation in handcraft fairs and events. I am applying for the MFA program in Creative Writing at the University of Montana, to commence next September.

I have had moments where I was terrified and ready to give up. But for me, giving up now only means temporarily getting a real job and spending more time in Regina.  This is the magic of having taken the leap that I did. I know I can do it again, start again, detour, pitstop, take a breather, if need be. But I know that I am where I need to be.  And, wonder of wonders, I give myself pep talks. I read through old blog posts, and the confident, accepting, wise person that I sometimes am tells me to keep going, that I have been there before and I will be there again.

I do go places now, not just on trips.

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Hard is Happy; Misery is Easy

blue car

 

This has been a difficult lesson for me. I almost went back to misery, because it was the easier path. I have walked it for years, so it is well worn, and comfortable, and laid out before me like a monotonous, flat, and predictable highway. It pays generously, and its price is my soul.

Happy is hard. It is unpredictable. It is illusory yet always within reach.   It glimmers like a mirage, but one that, miraculously enough, inevitably becomes real if I just close my eyes and reach out. It is writing in the dead of night, hearing my children’s laughter, looking back at how far I have come.  It is financial insecurity, and excitement about what will happen tomorrow. It is planning an uncertain, shimmering-in-the-sunlight future of laughter and learning and writing and travel and adventure. But it is nevertheless terrifying, because there is no road or even a path. Sometimes a push from behind, sometimes just an aversion to the highway that would be the easy choice. But often a nudge from a friend, or a smile from a new acquaintance, or the inspiration for a new story is enough to turn me away from that wide, smooth, black highway, at least for today.

And I reach out blindly and pray for the strength and courage and asylum to choose happy again tomorrow.

The Soundtrack to New Beginnings

Music serves as an important emotional backdrop for beginnings and endings, and everything in between. And with music, as with life, we sometimes don’t understand what we are hearing until much, much later.  Now, I’m one of those people who often doesn’t listen to lyrics; although if they are great lyrics, I generally do. You know, anything by The Tragically Hip, Led Zeppelin, some of the semi-lucid ravings of Kurt Cobain.  Let’s face it though, most of the lyrics out there aren’t great lyrics.  And much like many of the mundane lyrics we hear day in and day out, the days pass, often with little of importance being said by or to us; sometimes things of importance are said but are not heard. And that is the way of things I suppose.

I think many of us have a soundtrack to our lives. For some it is quite conscious; mixed tapes in the eighties, CD’s burned off Napster in the late 90’s, and now playlists.  For others it emerges by accident, or at least by serendipity.  You know what I’m talking about: you hop in the car to take off for a road trip just to exorcise a bad week or month or year from your memory, and the radio is playing Martina McBride’s This One’s For the Girls.  Followed by Knee Deep by the Zac Brown Band. Followed by Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing by Chris Isaak (on a different station, obviously). I don`t know if the universe was trying to tell me or if I was determined to tell the universe I was embarking on one hell of a road trip, but that sendoff certainly didn`t hurt.

For people like me who are always seeing meaning and pattern and connection in the events of their lives, these moments are pivotal, defining even.  I know that there are dozens of “logical” explanations for how signs or symbols appear or happen or become noticeable only at certain times in our lives.  But I don`t think why it happens is nearly as important as the fact that it happened, and how it makes us feel. Does it matter that the song Red Red Wine makes me think of dancing in a bar in Banff when I was nineteen, rather than anything that actually has to do with that song, or its lyrics? Of course not.  What matters is that it makes me feel like a carefree college student that just wants to dance, instead of whatever haggard, beleaguered, or defeated version of myself I am wrestling with on any given day.

For six months now, my IPhone has been defaulting to play the songs on it in alphabetical order, and the song that queues up, repeatedly, is Accusations by the Skydiggers. Luckily, I didn’t get sick of it the first 400 times I listened to it on a cassette tape many years ago, which usually is a guarantee that I never will. And my kids don’t mind it either, which is saying something.

It has started to make me laugh now, when I plug in my IPhone,  or my bluetooth in my car just syncs up and starts playing it before I have a chance to decide on a musical theme for the moment.  Because regardless of what it`s about (I still don`t quite know), I know this:

  • it reminds me of a simpler time
  • it is upbeat and catchy, easily singable, and it makes my heart sing and my soul dance each time I hear it
  • it reminds me that no matter what is going on in my life, I can always make a new decision and start afresh (See my earlier post: Taking the Long Way Around)
  • It reminds me that people are going to think what they are going to think,  lie if they want to lie, and do what they need to do so they can sleep at night. And that is the way of things, I suppose.
  • it reminds me that no matter what else happens, there is still that little girl inside me with the mischievous glint in her eye and crooked smile. She is a fireball, she is courageous and full of joy, and when she comes out to play, there will be a story or six to tell.  I am Tara Ewashy and I can do whatever the hell I want. Because I`ve done it before and I shall do it again. Just watch me.

 

 

Accusations all around, you didn’t know this is nothing new

Accusations up and down you, now you don’t know what to do

Accusations confound you Graham says we need some proof

Accusations surround you why don’t you try the truth

Everybody wants to shake you up to put you down

Everybody wants to wrap you up and tie you down

 

Conversations well spoken you know this is nothing new

Conversations, promises broken, now I don’t know what to do

Everybody wants to build you up to pull you down

Everybody wants to tie you up and tie you down

Not me, not me, no,  not me

 

Accusations all around you

Accusations all around you

Accusations all around you

Taking the Long Way Around

Iphone 2013 218  Twenty years have passed, and in some ways I feel that I am back at square one. I have often wondered how my life would have unfolded if I had broken up with my boyfriend as I had resolved to do that sunny day in July.

I didn’t, and we were together for another ten years, complete with a marriage and two children. I knew that it was the right thing for me to end it, but I lacked the courage to do it. Was that wrong? I don’t know. But I do know that twenty years later, after two children, a successful career as a lawyer and a competitive golfer, and two failed marriages, I am starting over. I don’t feel twenty years older, so I guess I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.

Whenever I hear a song from The Skydiggers’ “Restless” album (I still play it all the time), it takes me right back to that day in 1994.  I can feel the wind buffeting me and blowing in my hair as I drove down the highway in the hot summer sun, convertible top down, music blasting from the speakers.

I was unhappy. I knew I was unhappy.  In fact, I was angry.  My boyfriend had harangued me before leaving the city, asking me why I was wasting my time taking a week off work (away from him) to play in the provincial golf tournament.  “It’s not like you have any chance of winning” is what he said to me.  Can you fucking believe that?  I ended up finishing second, one stroke off the lead.  Fucker. Even my best friend, all seventeen years of her, knew enough to say to me, “he doesn’t know what the fuck he’s talking about. You’re AWESOME.”  She’s still my best friend.

And after having two beautiful children and a handful of additional second-place finishes, I did eventually win that tournament a few years later.  (And no, he didn’t apologize. He never apologized. I eventually did something about that.  I left him.) I knew then that I needed to make some difficult decisions. And driving in my Jeep, in the hot July sun, to a golf tournament, I felt more like myself than I had for a long time.  To use an athlete’s expression, I was in the Zone. Everything made sense: my vision was clearer, the music was inspiring, I felt like I could do anything.  I knew what I wanted. I wasn’t even scared. Yet.

But I came home six days later (somewhat victorious), and I couldn’t even begin that difficult conversation.  How could I tell my boyfriend of three years that I had just never felt the same since we reconciled after a six month “break”? How could I hurt someone that I cared about but wasn’t making me happy? I remember how that felt. I feel it again now, often. Inertia is so much easier than closing your eyes and jumping.  We convince ourselves that there will be a better time to do it.  And, I have learned, that years, even decades can pass, while one refuses to make that difficult decision.  Does that make the decision any easier?

I am thinking not. Now, I have two children whom I love dearly, and whom I fear I will lose or damage irreparably if I follow my heart. I have baggage (oh god do I have baggage). I have two ex-husbands.  I have left four different jobs because they were killing my soul (some faster than others).

But I also have many things I did not have in 1994. I know myself, perhaps better than I would sometimes like.  I have succeeded at many things; in fact, most things I have attempted. I know now that I always take the long way around, and that’s okay.  Because even burdened by inertia and fear and the illusion of fitting in,  I know that I would have chosen the long way anyhow.  There is usually a lot more scenery, and a little more adventure the long way around.

It’s been two long years now since the top of the world came crashing down and I’m getting back on the road now

But I’m takin’ the long way – takin’ the long way around – I’m takin’ the long way – takin’ the long way around

Well I fought with a stranger and I met myself – I opened my mouth and I heard myself  – It can get pretty lonely when you show yourself – Guess I could have made it easier on myself

But I-  I could never follow – No I – I could never follow

Well I never seem to do it like anybody else – Maybe someday, someday I’m gonna settle down  – If you ever want to find me I can still be found – Takin the long way – Takin the long way around

Dixie Chicks – Taking The Long Way Around