All the turmoil and all the transition, all the heaviness of 2012, began to . . . ease. Damian and I were back in sync, share-parenting like old pros. We traded favors, and emotional support. We shared the car, and our hardships. We instituted a bi-weekly baby-free breakfast date – our “State Of The Waits” meetings, as we call them. That’s where we talk about our amazing son and coordinate our parenting strategies. And also, we talk about our relationship. And back then, back in December, we agreed that this trial separation was no longer a trial. We were both happier, by leaps and bounds. And Waits was happier too, with each of us carrying so much less stress.
And I began to fall in love with this new life. Simple as that.
I realized how isolated I’d been up in Portland. How one-dimensional. Trying to be something I’m not, maybe? But here in Santa Barbara, I was all over the map – farmers markets with my baby boy, cocktails and board games with old friends, fancy musical theatre with my father, beach walks with Waits collecting sea glass, late nights out and live music, late nights in and old records, vegan brunch with my very meat-and-potatoes boss, helping an old friend go vegetarian, helping a new friend navigate dating, gardening and kid-talk with the other parents at preschool, and lots and lots and lots of all-alone time. I was dynamic; I felt like my old self again.
But who knows, maybe it was just the incredible SoCal sun, making all the difference.
Oh December. Oh holidays.
I grew up pretty poor. And right now I’m pretty poor (poor and privileged – a very strange place to be, indeed). But I remember so vividly how every year my mother (a single mom) would take me shopping in December. We would pick out a toy, and then drop it off at the Toys For Tots program. Every year.
And I wanted to do that with Waits. I wanted him to understand the importance of giving (he chose a truck, this year). It seems like the less I have, the more I feel compelled to give. Isn’t it funny how that works?
A few days before Christmas, Jo and her family came through town. They could only stay for the afternoon, but man, it was so good to see her. It made me realize that in all my Santa Barbara dynamism, there’s one great big glaring hole: a close “mama friend”. There’s just nothing like really connecting to a woman who’s right there in the trenches like you are, ya know? And it was so good to see her! (did I already say that?) And the kiddos had so much fun running around the back yard and devouring passion fruits and tangerines, and then gluten-free vegan pizzas, mmmmm.
And as for Christmas day? I was alone. By choice. I don’t really celebrate Christmas, or at least I never did before I was married. So this year I lit Hanukkah candles with Waits, and took him to visit Santa, and helped organize a winter solstice gathering (that’s the one I really celebrate). But Christmas, it’s just not my thing, and it’s very much my in-laws thing, so I was fine letting Waits spend the time with them.
I knew that being alone on Christmas would be sad, and that’s just what I needed. Is that weird? I spent the entire day crying and feeling very divorced, and writing – I did some really amazing writing that day – and it was one of the best Christmases I’ve ever had. So there ya go.
On New Year’s Eve, Waits happened to wake up at 11:58 pm, so I pulled him out of bed and was able to give him a big kiss to ring in 2013. Perfect.
January, coming soon . . .