Love, take it to the mattresses.

There’s a subtle shift that occurs after two people realize they’re standing in the moment of finality. It’s as if the world whispers, “Don’t blink or you’ll lose the last moment where you know who is standing in front of you.” The moment of truth, arrived, and this is what it’s like to not know each other anymore.

She slept on mattress on the floor—the same mattress I had purchased after the heartbreak before her—when I passed by the hallway packing the last of my things. I thought, “She has a place to rest her head even if she sleeps near the ground for now, but she’ll get a frame to lift it back up.” It was that same line of thinking I had after the initial shock of the I’m-going-to-leave-my-marriage realization; I’m doing the right thing for both of us in the long run even if the short run scorches our feet.

I’m sleeping on an air mattress tonight in my renovated shoebox in Alphabet City. It’s been quite some time—5 months to be exact—since I’ve been comfortable in my own space. Despite the obvious disarray from the move, I’m free to be free. Although, if I’m truly being honest, here, that uncomforted space issue started one year and five months ago. While I’m being honest, let’s face it, freedom is never free.

Shopping for mattresses is a lot like soul work; you have to know yourself well enough to know what you like, how much you’re willing to invest in your comfort, and not rush it. I was upsold on the first overpriced mattress, a firm with a pillow top, like many other things during that period in my life. Later, I was also talked into tossing it for a terribly old, piss stained, non-pillow top mattress, by a girlfriend attached to most everything except me. After she hurt me in the most despicable way possible, I was sans mattress, not that one fit into my inherited vagabond lifestyle in the first place; couch surfing required less capital and emotional investment.

Futons, the minimalist way of resting your head, was the way to Zen. Mattresses were heavy and laborious constructs of luxury that I didn’t need. No, out with the old and in with the new. I acquired a different, vibrant, soul enriching, school of thought, and the only way to happiness was through the suffering–and, let me just say this about suffering; there were some painstakingly difficult nights of sleep where my back was concerned. Futon people don’t have significant romantic relationships. They just can’t, really, because a futon person is in a transitory state of living that no one wants to catch.

With the first indication of love interest, I tossed that sucker and bought a new mattress, firm, for her back problems. Solving her problems, giving her comfort, and making certain she never woke up in pain, was how I spent the next four-or-so years. Sleeping on that firm mattress, built to sustain the strength of the spine, it occurred to me that this firm mattress was not mine. I purchased it, yes, but this was not where I was supposed to rest my head.

I left her the firm mattress, which was now on the floor with her. I had my freedom, so I marched into Macy’s listening to the divorce theme song “Dog Days Are Over” by Florence + the Machine and I plopped down on that plush Euro bed mattress.

“Can I help you?”

I smiled, big. “Yes, I’m in the market for a new mattress.”

“Feel like testing out the others?”

I closed my eyes, briefly, and despite being internally sold on the one I was on I shook my head yes.

She led me to different makes and styles of mattresses, and I obliged because I had never taken my time before, until we made a full round and stood in front of the first choice; the queen plush Euro bed. “Do you know the comfort level you want?” She asked.

“I do,” I replied. “I want to sleep in a cloud.”

“So this one seems like the perfect fit.” She pointed.

“Yes.”

We made small talk as I spent an extravagant amount of money on my mattress–MY mattress.

“What’s the reason for the purchase today?” She looked up from entering my credit card information.

“I was married for four years and the trade-off was the firm mattress.” I paused and felt a tremendous amount of fulfillment. “Now that I’m teetering on the brink of divorce, I want to rest my head in the clouds.”

The cloud-like mattress arrives on Thursday, so for now I’m making do with the air mattress. I’d rather be like one with air than two on an old piss stained non-pillowtop, firm, break-my-back-for-love type of mattress. So, while we may be strangers and prefer different mattresses, I know one thing to be true about myself–I prefer plush.

 

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NEWSFLASH: Toilet Paper in bulk, the leading cause of divorce.

If I haven’t written in a month or so, forgive me.  There are bigger mind-numbing issues at hand like say my pending divorce; the untangling of my life from another.  Between school, work, house selling, divorce dissonance, and the splitting of hairs, I’ve not had much sanity to sit with myself and pound feelings out onto a screen–not that sanity has ever been a writing device.  Alas, here I am attempting to tap into the irreverent confessional known as this blog.  I’ll spare you the shit show.

There’s really a lot to learn from  marrying someone and then divorcing them, and even more to learn about the person they loved and married and subsequently grew to despise during divorce.  Take for example the status progression of orange juice:

MARRY ME—

‘No pulp’ for me, please.

Oh, you like ‘lots of pulp’?

No problem, let’s get married and we’ll buy ‘some pulp.’

I WANT A DIVORCE—

Open fridge, stare at ‘lots of pulp’ orange juice.

Shut fridge, go to brunch with friends for fresh squeezed.

There’s also a Costco effect that happens within any single person struck with the realization that they must walk away from someone they no longer love.  In Eat Pray Love, she had this moment of epiphany in her bathroom–crying, kneeling, begging God for answers.  In Personal Velocity, Greta is at the kitchen table and its her husband’s cheap shoes.  For me, it was standing in the wholesale warehouse of Costco looking at a mountainous shelf of toilet paper in bulk.  The concrete below my feet felt of ice because it was December, and floor insulation is rendered an unnecessary overhead cost since it doesn’t generated any sort of significant revenue per-square-foot for a place that uses such a discount strategy as Costco.  There is a distinct moment of panic–kind of like a hot flash–that occurs when a simple and underwhelming task of buying toilet paper suddenly overwhelms you and becomes not so simple, and thus defines your life.   In a snap, you’re back but not the same person that wandered down aisle six in search for the 600-count roll of industrial strength toilet paper.  No, you left that person–whoever she was–in the frozen food section sampling the mini pigs-in-a-blanket.  This person, standing in front of a ridiculous barrier of paper products just wants a single roll of toilet paper from a Bodega in Manhattan.  This person has no reason to buy in bulk, and truth be told, never thought of herself as a buyer of bulk, a drinker of ‘lots of pulp,’ a homeowner in dirty Jersey, or a pigs-in-a-blanket eater.

This person is going to leave her marriage.

Life is a mix tape.

Over the weekend I discovered a mix CD that an acquaintance made for me.  Thinking back in the history of my sometimes fleeting, sometimes lasting, and always significant connections, there have more often than not an exchange of  music in whatever new format.  Perhaps, that is the nature in which my life veered as first a passion and then into a career that makes people express themselves in the medium of sound.  The dualistic side of me also expresses sentiments in words to which books are given earlier and found much later – in transition – when needed.  On this mix was a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” by Letters To Cleo.  Truth be told, it’s a really great cover and I’m a complete and utter hater of covers, mostly.  But, this particular cover started playing as a day of Spring seeped into my Land Rover’s windows during a drive around Washington Square Park. One of those much-needed soul-lifting type of days injected with Vitamin D from the long-lust sunshine of Spring warding off Winter’s discontent.  The weather is just right, the sun kisses your cheeks, and the world wraps its arms around you, for just a moment, to let you know that everything is as it should be.

It was in the verse, “Now here I go again, I see, the crystal visions / I keep my visions to myself / It’s only me / Who wants to wrap around your dreams and… / Have you any dreams you’d like to sell? / Dreams of loneliness… / Like a heartbeat drives you mad… /
In the stillness of remembering / What you had / And what you lost,”  I found perspective.  That moment left an indelible imprint in my soul; the moment I could now put a name to this particular song, a face, an experience that would forever be conjured up in any future playing of the song.

There is nothing easy with the ending of a connection, really, and if it’s too easy to disconnect  then perhaps you should look around at the company you’re keeping.  The point is…you never can fully disconnect because you absorb them into you.  But, that won’t stop you from trying to abandon them (and perhaps you will).  After all, life is a mix tape.

A Sea of Broken Windows

In the intensity of people you’ll often times find a misaligned suffering in which if you’re not careful could pull you under.  An amorous disposition here would likely result in a near drowning in the immortal songs of Jeff Buckley.  You hear the warnings of lifeguards, you see the no swimming signs, and for a minute you stand with apprehension and watch the sea swell and then break upon the shore.  The velvet of the sand beneath your feet massaging from ground up and basking in the sun of contentment should be enough to keep away a vehement desire to swim in an erratic ocean.  Digging your feet into the sand, there you go, running into choppy waters.

The mightiest of all emotions, passion, overwhelms reason every single time.  I’ve told people that there was only a small but significant window of time in which your mind has a chance to save you before you fall into the abyss of love.  But, at that juncture freewill is rarely exercised so you tumble downward.  You would think, I presume, since those are my fighting words that I would be exempt from love foolery.  Alas, I am not.  I am clumsy at best and vying for a second-coming of naivety.  Despite this awareness, I break windows. I just hope the cuts heal in time to collect the sea glass.

 

May you stay forever young, but age gracefully.

Liz Phair wrote her most successful album, Exile in Guyville, in response to The Stones’ Exile on Main Street album.  I remember reading an interview in Rolling Stone about her around 1994-ish where she wrote song-by-song a response to what she claimed.  The wannabe rockstar in me roared, “Hell yeah, that’s awesome!”  I think about that moment every time I hear either of those albums, so I thought why not use this as a writing exercise.  Phair’s antidote was well-played, so I figure I could pick no other than prose royalty, Mr. Bob Dylan.   So here goes…something…to Forever Young.

May karma catch you coming or going and be fleeting

May you not always get what you wish for

May you always give to others but not more than you can stand to lose

May you have a choice of an elevator to the stars

So you don’t have to slip and fall

May you age gracefully

Gracefully, Gracefully

May you age gracefully

 

May you grow out of your righteousness

May you grow to be humbled

May you realize you don’t know all the truths

And sometimes dark surrounds you

May you learn to be vulnerable

Learn when to sit down and cry

May you age gracefully

Gracefully, Gracefully

May you age gracefully

 

May your hands finally rest

May your feet be propped up

May you marvel on the strong foundation in high elevation

When the winds of youth hit your face

May your heart always be joyful

And know your song will not always be sung

(You don’t want Bieber to cover it)

May you age gracefully

Gracefully, Gracefully

May you age gracefully


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Musical Memory Meme #6: My brother Mark Bradley

He can sing a mean Fergie.

 

Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Running of The Bulls With Inconsistent People.

A lot can be learned in the consistency or inconsistency of a person; where they are, who they are, the direction they are headed, their vehicle of getting there, and whether or not they’re a hitchhiker.

Historical data wouldn’t necessarily say that I was a good driver, per se, but I’m confident in the forecasts.  I’m much better as a passenger, really.  Even better as a backseat driver.  I’ve never hitchhiked, unless you count the one time I was doing one of those charity walk-a-thons and hijacked the tailgate of a pickup truck until a quarter-mile of the finish line, but I have picked up hitchhikers – which could be considered more dangerous.  Inside our windowed instruments of transportation cohering to the road, protected from the incontinence of those afoot, we know our intentions are to drive. The unpredictability of the accidental passenger diverts our attention, but the pull of the story lures us into picking them up along the way.  At least if you’re a driver like me.

I make no excuses for my dualism, and what you see is always what you get.  While I may always change, I try to remain consistent with others as it’s the form of trust that speaks louder than a promise.   This has brought into my life the stability to simply “be” and be loved as I am, and the consistent people surrounding me, albeit crazy in their own right, my support system

Being with an inconsistent person is like being at the Running of The Bulls;  conflicted excitement of adventure, risk, and chaos, until you become the casualty. All it takes is one trip before you have a bull’s horn through your heart. If you’re mostly consistent then you’ll have people to help you when you fall, otherwise you’ll get trampled on running for your life.

Eventually, you’ll want to grab the bull by the horns and jump into the vehicle of consistency because…well…how else will you get to the hospital?

 

A Decade without Jeffrey; the Weight Is A Gift.

A lot can happen in a decade. Time passes and a great many things happen, but yet at times it seems as though no time has passed, it was like yesterday. I’ve thought much about this over the years as I coped with my grief. How could I hold onto every single detail of Jeffrey without succumbing to the deep sadness it brings; the loss of my brother. The coarseness of his short black hair, the slenderness of his feet, his voice as he encouraged me; characteristics of him that haunted me as I longed for him to come back to life.

I won’t deny that Jeffrey Lee Ben’s death was an unusual circumstance, nor will I reveal any major developments in his case. The story hasn’t changed; he was missing for five years until 2006 when we retrieved bits and pieces of his remains from a mountain in Clayton, Oklahoma. Jeffrey wasn’t given a proper burial and all we ‘laid to rest’ fit in a shoe box; my brother’s beautiful growing body deduced to something so small. However, the focus of this piece is not to discuss his exceptionally painful death, rather to share the mindfulness his life has brought into the world.

Over the years I have been led by the lightness of my brother’s being. The weight of his death pales in comparison to his bright light. His life was an inspiration for which I grew. When hatred and anger soil my soul, it’s Jeffrey’s extraordinary smile that cleanses it. When there is sadness or grief, his long arms tuck me into the shiniest of places. Where there is disappointment or insecurity, his voice echoes sentiments of comfort through my hollowed soul. When life gets the best of me, Jeffrey writes encouraging notes in everything. After a decade I learned that when I’m mindful of everything, the easier it is to see this weight as a gift.

Jeffrey Lee Ben

(8/23/1982 – 1/29/2001)

Disappointments That Push Rejection’s Plow.

” I think all great innovations are built on rejections.”  – Louis Ferdinand Celine

There has always existed within me a severe disappointment that fertilizes all which grows with rejection.  It will likely never flourish, but who the hell would choose to plant their seeds in a shadow of doubt?  Exactly, no one.  Within the drought is where the hardened soul gains perspective on expectations and picks up a plow to cultivate the soil, sow some seeds, and replant.   It’s in the awaiting of harvest that you realize it could go either way…fruitful or depression.  So now that you’ve done all that’s within your power, stop wasting time and energy in something that doesn’t want to grow.

I read a blog post the other day that really put rejection into perspective.  The author states that rejection is a sign that something doesn’t fit.  The example used: “Say you’re shopping for shoes. You fall in love with a stunning pair of boots. You try them on, and the toes pinch a bit. But they’re so achingly beautiful, and surely, you think, the glove-leather will stretch.So you buy them. And every time you wear them you find yourself crippled in less than an hour. When your shoes don’t fit, it hurts. But it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. It means that they don’t fit.”  (READ BLOG POST)

If you think about it, life is a series of disappointments and rejections that direct you to the center of who you are.  That is if you have a fairly decent navigational system, which I hope you do.  But, when you flourish throw disappointment and rejection back to the wind, change direction, and just know you’ll more than likely meet with expectation along the path.

Blake’s Fallen Hero.

I’m an adult, I’ll finally admit this.  But, when Blake is upset I curl up in the fetal position and cry because he is sad.  I can’t explain how my little brother’s emotions become my own, but when he hurts I hurt.  It begins with sharing, which is not something he does easily so I know he trusts me.  His speak of Jeffrey, our deceased brother….his hero, is unique in the sense that he rarely speaks of him at all so when he begins I listen with all my soul.  The thing about Jeffrey was that he was ‘the man of the house’ and he took Blake under his wing like his very own son.  Blake was, with all intents and purposes, his.

I can not describe the difficulty of telling Blake, that very tumultuous day, that his hero was missing, gone, vanished, and I had no explanation at the time.  Seven year-old’s are smart, whether you credit them or not, and in an already confusing situation a seven year-old can question a lot.  A simple “He’s missing” doesn’t bode well, so heading into life and death territory may seem like a mature topic.  But, these were not usual circumstances and eventually it had to be done.

Blake was forced out of childhood into topics even adults shouldn’t have to endure.  He held his mother’s hand as she laid paralyzed with grief in bed, begging God to take her instead of her dear son, Jeffrey.  He braved through morbid conversations that no seven-year old should be privy to.  Blake held my heavy head as I cried my eyes out into his shirt for Jeffrey to be alive.  He just assumed the responsibility, but I should have assumed more of the role than I allowed him to take on.  After all, I was the oldest.

There’s a connection between he and I.  Without Jeffrey, I have overcompensated to fill that void.  On occasions, like tonight, Blake confides in me his pain. How he wished Jeffrey could have stuck around, but I remind him how special he was to Jeffrey.  As a matter of fact, Jeffrey was the only person that promised mom he would take care of Blake when she found out she was pregnant.  I know if he just pays attention, he’ll find Jeffrey is just a few step ahead of him.  Luckily, I’m their big sister so I’ve got it covered, but there will never be enough coverage for a fallen hero.

I love you, Blake Allen Miller, and more than anything I hope you know that Jeffrey loved you more than anyone else in this world.  You were/are his soulmate. XOXO.

 

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