“Everything She Does Is Beautiful, Everything She Does Is [Insert Word Here]

c8b343806f156c9e9098520e21b476dbIt’s 3:17 PM, Eastern Standard Time. I’m currently resting against a mountain of pillows in an old camp shirt and my underwear, with my bad leg hanging off the side of the bed. And this is how I will spend the rest of my Saturday. My room has been carefully crafted to be my own haven. It’s like an apartment in my parents’ house. And this is exactly why. Pain, of any kind, has shaped my life in more ways than I can possibly describe. Depression and anxiety, Borderline Personality Disorder and an unhealthy relationship all warped my vision and molded my way into this twisted little…golem that I am. Whether or not progress has been made is controversial. Some days are better than others. And then we have not just days, but entire weeks, where a series of events combined to create the perfect mixture that completely blows up in my face and shakes the weak foundation I seemed to have constructed with my new coping skills. What do I do now? Well, first, I PMS like it’s nobody’s business. I have been on a mood-swing rampage, up and down like a Katy Perry song, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde-ing my way through this week. I cried the other day while watching a program on the History Channel with my dad about pencil-making. Because it was so beautiful, intimate, complicated and yet, simple at the same time. No, because I am an emotional wreck. Let me start the week off and explain where this whole train of thought is going…(there are a lot of cars on this sucker, just a heads up!)

Monday- I had to drive Thomas to campus so he could buy his textbooks for the upcoming semester. Piece of cake. Well, if that cake were rotten and molding. Thomas’s campus is down the highway from us, like a 45 minute drive, not so bad really. I didn’t know that I would have to pay the toll though, and with the last scrap of cash I had we continued down the road. Once we got there, I had to walk, with my bum leg, clear across the main mall of the place to get to the bookstore. Alright, I’m inside, there’s air conditioning so it doesn’t seem so bad anymore. All we have to do is get his books and get out. Well, it would be that simple, if only Thomas knew what books he was buying. Countless time on the sample laptops, and struggling to find the world’s most well-disguised staircase, we bought the necessary textbooks, headed back to the car (another trek, this time with 30 extra lbs) and left. Well, we weren’t done. I received a scholarship from my church, which I had to pay in person at my school, conveniently located down the road from Thomas’s school. It’s like smack between Thomas’s school and our house. Well, once we were there, I took care of my parking issue (I couldn’t register my car without certain clearance…psh, whatever!), we were forced to walk back and forth, up and down and then clear across campus (again! Different campus but it still counts to my leg!) to put my scholarship money towards my bill. After that, I was exhausted. I hurt to no end and I was pissed beyond all reason, well, because, that day was a lot for a whole little!

Tuesday- My trips down the Interstate weren’t over. I had an appointment with Dr. Glover, whose office happens to be located right next to my school. Lovely, right? Head down there, get what I need from her (okay, she’s a legit doctor I swear!), and then head home to do what? Sleep! Sounds like a nice time, but for me, sleeping can be the enemy. I laid down at about 2:00 to take a nap and didn’t wake up until about 9:00. That’s your night’s amount of sleep, and I just spent it all in the daytime. Um…what am I going to do when the house is dark, my foot is hanging cold and frozen off the bed because it’s too sensitive to put under the covers and I just want to sleep like a normal person? You guessed it, I tossed and turned, finally giving up to get up around 5:30 the next morning.

Wednesday- Ha! Okay, this is probably the worst day of the week. It’s interesting that it happened smack in the middle of the week but, I guess it was supposed to be the peak of this week’s adventures. Throughout this week I was receiving messages (which turned into texts) from Bridget, one passing a message to Allison (since they are no longer speaking) and the rest were just conversational. Like I said a few weeks back, when we hung out the first time, I wanted to become her friend so I guess I sort of did. Anyway, things escalated like the virus from the See-Through Zone on Bravest Warriors. I tried to throw a blanket over it but, alas, my attempts were for naught. It (the friendship/peaceful negotiations) was lost and the ship (see, that’s where my head gets sort of turned around, not really sure what the ship actually refers to. The friendship? That moment? The situation? I don’t know but trust me, I didn’t forget about it) had to be abandoned. I got way to emotionally invested and involved, Allison did some things that pissed me off, hurt me and just, insulted me. I called her, yelled at her for it, then talked to Bridget for a while. As usual, I thought I had handled it pretty well. I was really upset about what had happened, but I was pretty confident that I handled it to the best of my abilities and could do nothing more. Well Mouth, tell that to my Brain. That night, I woke up every hour, almost exactly on the hour, distressed, scared…it was a big ball of emotions that was stuck like a hairball in the back of my throat. I couldn’t get it to go away. But that’s not all! Step right this way folks, and listen to the rest of my atrocious day! I had an appointment with a pain clinic that morning in the city in the hopes of finding someone that would treat my CRPS. I’m still flaring, with no doctor to treat it, and no relief. I get there early, they call me back, the usual appointment stuff. When the doctor, actually a resident, came in, he threatened to cancel the appointment that I was already sitting in the office for because I had a positive tuberculosis test in June. I had it done for school (you know, the litany of forms to fill out), but a positive test doesn’t definitively mean you have tuberculosis. Those things can react to being scratched, sweat, sometimes even just wiping the blood away after being injected. In other words, I do not nor have I ever had tuberculosis. And this dude let me drive all the way down there and then tried to cancel the appointment. Why didn’t you read my file, the reams of paperwork I sent to you beforehand at your request, before I came? You would have known then and would have saved me gas and time! He runs out of the room, talks to his overseeing, and comes back in, dangling a face mask in front of me like I’m radioactive or something. Alright, you’ve already lost points. Can you redeem yourself? He sits down and starts to take my history, but as he writing stuff, he’s not listening. He’s trying to follow what I’m saying and is instead putting in his own dates and notes where he wants to. It was confusing me to the point that I just let him do it after a while. The CRPS wagon has seen it all. I’ve been to so many doctors, hospitals, specialists and clinics that I have literally lost count. I don’t know where I am on the list of people who treat this disease. And now, neither does he, because he wanted to say I had the most recent nerve block in 2013, when my last one was really in 2010. More points being shaved off by the judges, I don’t know if he’ll recover from that one! Oh, he won’t. Because next was the physical exam. And doctors who have treated this before tend to know that you have to be super gentle, almost like you’re examining a black mamba with scorpion spines all over it. Residents? They are like handing a 5-year-old the Queen of England’s finest crystal. They are rough and impossible. I was crying by the time he was finished. As he’s stripping his gloves and leaving to discuss things with the doctor, he tells me that a topical cream might be the best option for me. Well, now the tears are flowing twice as hard. I’ve tried every trick in the prescription book. I’ve done pills, patches, creams, TENS, physical therapy. I’ve done it all. And no one, and I mean no one will give me the big guns. They aren’t taking me seriously as a patient. They aren’t letting me help in my own healthcare and I get so frustrated, pissed off and just crushed every time one of these appointments goes south, I can’t participate without becoming hysterical. Mysterious Doctor (the one Resident has been visiting every 5 seconds outside the door) comes into the room and reexamines my leg, this time telling the resident that you have to be super gentle. MD (haha, Mysterious Doctor) barely touched me during the entire visit. Resident, on the other hand…argh! Then, after what felt like no time at all, he decides I need another nerve block done. I took a deep breath, swallowed my freshly sprung tears and calmly told him that the last two I had didn’t work. Well, he calmly reported, they didn’t include temperature changes so there’s no way to know they hit the correct ganglion. No interest in the fact that it didn’t work, no interest in the fact that my back is also in pain, no interest in the fact that sometimes procedures like that can actually make CRPS spread, or become worse, no interest in the fact that he knew nothing about my case. I sent in all of that paperwork, I did all of that calling and back story, the work, the research on myself, to find out dates and the who, what and where, only for you to already have your mind made up about what you were going to do before I set foot in your office. Thank you…no, you know what? Fuck you. Oh, his final parting words? I will need a clean chest x-ray to prove that I don’t have TB before they can do the procedure. This was my Wednesday. Okay, I’m lying, it didn’t end there. I tried to meet up with Jackie for lunch because she works in that same area. She told me it would be fun if I didn’t mind waiting. And wait I did. Her lunch break came and started, and started to go. Without Jackie. Text: Is there somewhere I can be so you don’t have to trek as far? Reply: I don’t know if I’ll get out on time today. Text: Tell me now, should I leave? Reply: Convoluted reason about why she’s late. Text: Same message as before. Reply: Yes. Okay, see I wouldn’t have had as much of a problem with the whole outcome of the situation if she had just said it was a bad idea in the first place. I wouldn’t have been offended if she said no. Instead, I waited 2 1/2 hours of my life, sitting downtown, waiting for her to tell me she wasn’t taking her lunch break on time. Awesome.

Thursday- Because of my miserable day on Wednesday, I was just expecting everything to continue to sink deeper into the mud. Well, surprisingly, I was allowed to come up for some air. Devochka, one of the pages at the library, was supposed to hitch a ride from me when I went to my usual appointment with Allister because she had some business in that area. No problem, she paid me gas money, we’ve done this before so it’s all good. Well, Allister canceled my usual time but was still planning to have group. Devochka didn’t care and was willing to hang out like it was our usual Thursday. I picked her up, we drove down, had lunch, got coffee, walked around the mall. I felt semi-normal for once in a really long time. And part of the reason was just because she listened to me. I whined and complained, I confessed all my deepest thoughts and regrets about this whole Allison/Bridget situation and Devochka heard and understood every thing I said. She was there for me, when no one else was. I can’t describe how much I needed something like that this week. She wanted to stick around and hang out longer, but I knew she had to go somewhere so eventually we split ways. Rather than hang around and wait for group, I just headed home. I wasn’t sure group would actually make me feel better. Sometimes it only succeeds in pissing me off. And trust me, it’s not like that was super hard to do this week. I disobeyed orders, mostly Devochka’s (even though once I told her my reasoning, she totally got it), and headed home. Once at home, I didn’t really have any better of a time but at least no one else was physically injured in the process (there are some people I would really like to punch right now).

Friday- After a better night’s sleep than the night’s before, I got up, took Thomas to an event he and his friends were attending, then got home and had no clue what to do with myself. That’s where the crying about pencil-making comes in. I ended up hanging out with my dad most of the day, then picking Thomas up, feeling every emotion that is listed on the Facebook “feeling” option tab. Not cool.

And now, we sit here. My pillows, my laptop, my phone and the endless expanse that is the Internet. Now, what does any of this have to do with pain? The weak foundations I mentioned a week ago (ha, no it was earlier this post), were rattled and seriously damaged by the storm that was this week. I think a lot of it was caused by internal pressure (PMS), but a lot was outer. I don’t have strong friendships. Because of my past (I sound dramatic), I don’t know how to form the best bonds with people. When those bonds are tested, most of the time, my first instinct is to break them. It’s to break them and run as far away as humanly possible. However, not always the best option. Especially since I had a gimpy leg. I’m not going to get very far. When it starts affecting my sleep, we’re having problems. My physical pain, like I mentioned before, is through the roof as well. Random points in my body hurt, as well as my back and my leg. And it seems like no one is able to fix it. I’ve always relied on the physicality of CRPS that made it easier for people to accept. But, they don’t. There are no physical signs, except outward symptoms, bone loss and the patient’s description of pain. When that patient has a history of psychological problems however, what are we supposed to do? Believe her? That would be…well, insane! The pain this week is tough, but at this very moment (I can’t speak for any other day of the week), I’m tougher. I’m not going to let idiots disguised as doctors dictate whether or not I am successful at what I do because they believe I am in pain. I’m trying, trying, not to let other people so very close to my internal organs so that when the timer goes off, they manage to hit every single one of them at once, causing total internal failure. There’s been a lot of pain this week. But there sure as hell as been a lot of Lucy, too.

“I Find It Hard To Tell You…It’s A Very…Mad World”

images (1)“Struggle is futile.” I feel like there is a little, evil mastermind sitting on my shoulder, constantly whispering this in my ear. I manage to make it out of the cave, into the sun for a few blissful minutes and then whatever tentacled, growling monster resides there drags me back into its depths. I’m suddenly surrounded by darkness and feel like I’m suffocating. I’m never going to see the sun again. None of this will never succeed. I watched 12 Monkeys the other day (twice, I couldn’t help it, that movie was so good!) and the Cassandra Complex was mentioned. Shoot me, this is not my first time using Greek mythology but hey, the Greeks were on to something. Cassandra was a fortune teller that could accurately predict the future but was cursed in that she couldn’t tell anyone. That meant she couldn’t prevent it in any way. What could is seeing the future if you can’t change it? Thomas then took the liberty of explaining the different categories of time-travel (of course, making me feel like the worst Whovian ever!). Back to the Future, where you create an alternate universe that seemingly only changes your life and those in your life, though you are the only one with any knowledge of this change, Dragon Ball Z (hey, this is my younger brother defining this…) where if you change anything in the past, even if for the better, you will alter the future but it will ultimately cause the same thing, just in different circumstances, and then the pointless time loop, like 12 Monkeys. What if we have found some sort of time travel, but instead of actually moving through the definitive “time,” we’re just causing our own Cassandra complex? It’s a mix of the DBZ time travel and 12 Monkeys. We’re trying so extremely hard to prevent symptoms, to anticipate them, to know what to do when they happen, and then, once they do, we end up repeating the same behaviors. We revert back to cutting, starving, isolating, and whatever else it is that is typical for one to do while having a breakdown. The cycle spins so fast that we feel we’re going slow. Doctors start to think we’re doing it on purpose, and refuse treatment, blaming the patient rather than the disease. Family members blame the disease at first, but as the future lapses back over the past and symptoms are repeated, the person is then to blame. They aren’t trying, they aren’t working hard enough, they don’t really want to get better. Why would anyone choose this sort of life though? Where people constantly desert you as soon as they sense the dysfunction, where drugs haze your brain so much you forget how to spell words like ‘dysfunction,’ or where you put your glasses, though they’re sitting on your face, where you have to admit to first dates and old friends that haven’t seen you in a while that you’ve been institutionalized for this and that and that there is a possibility it might happen again. Why would we choose that for ourselves? We didn’t. Instead, by the power of the Fates, God, whomever is in the Heavens watching over the uninteresting and unimportant lives of the parasitic human beings that overpopulate the Earth, we are trapped in a soundproof box, watching the future play out from a projector only we can see, as everyone goes on with their uninteresting and unimportant lives. We are left banging on the glass, left trapped inside with only ourselves for comfort, like Cassandra. We know the future. We can anticipate like no one else what is going to happen and when. But we are powerless, in the end, to stop it. No matter the coping skills, no matter the support, no matter the treatment. It is futile, little evil mastermind, it is.

“When The World Gets Too Heavy, Put It On My Back…”

strength-training-tipsWrite. It’s been on the tip of my fingers, the tip of my tongue, the pen pressed figuratively to the paper for the last two weeks and finally, finally, I can sit down and do so. What has happened in the last two weeks that has prevented me from pouring out my heart and soul? Well, pain. That’s about it. Pain is such an amazingly evil thing. It’s empowering and dehumanizing at the same time. We embrace it and shun it. We’re taught that without pain, there is no real triumph. Then, on the other side of the coin, we’re told that with pain comes suffering, and we should pity those that suffer. How can you have it both ways? I’ve been really irritated and frustrated with society as a whole these last few weeks because of the huge price tag CRPS forces you to pay when there is a flare-up (by my crutches, I will try and use the newer name from now on!). The staring, the sleepless, pain-filled nights, the constant, unending grip it seems to have over every aspect of your life. And the other people. There is no way to explain to other people the depth and breadth of your own suffering. And I know, pain only becomes suffering when you indulge in it, when you let it, but I don’t know how to not indulge in this because it is so all-consuming. Every single aspect of my life is being affected by this flare and because of that, I’ve been really irritated. Like, PMS but x10,000. Urges to cut, urges to die, the list goes on and on. I have those normally, but they’re much weaker. They’re farther off in the distance, harder to see, and much easier to deal with than they are right now. Body image issues are a huge thing too. The staring is constant. In robotics, some Japanese dude (no lie, he really was Japanese) came up with this theory that people avoid/have an aversion to things that aren’t exactly human because it’s their basic instinct for self-preservation. When we were still shlopping through the mud, things that weren’t normal-looking were usually diseased so we learned to stay away from them for survival. It’s called the Uncanny Valley. Look it up. You’ll be amazed at how freaked out you get when you see some of those robots. Anyway, I think the Uncanny Valley still holds true for actual people, not just robots and scary CGI, like The Polar Express (although the movie is really sweet, the animation is pretty weird). People stare at veterans missing limbs, at little kids with cerebral palsy in wheelchairs, at people on crutches who broke their leg playing soccer. I mean, the list goes on and on. We’ve gotten a little better because we’re sometimes brave enough to ask what happened. But the curiosity, it seems, is never innocent. There’s always a deeper meaning. They always want to know if it’s contagious, if they can catch it, if they’re at risk. Logically, most people know that a broken leg isn’t, but instincts tell them otherwise. I was in a doctor’s office a few days ago and a woman came in wearing a shield (the kind that covers your mouth and nose). She was there for an appointment and when she went back to see the doctor, the woman next to her said loud enough for me to hear, “why is she wearing that mask?” with disgust. Well, lady, she might have cancer and has a higher risk of dying from infection than you do! Anyway, the point of all this was to say that people avoid those of us without limbs, or “normal” looking features. I’m whispered about, pointed and stared at, and all I’m wearing is a boot. It could be so much worse. Becoming a freak of nature (besides the fact that I already felt like one) has not helped my mood in any way possible. I don’t sleep because of the pain and that affects my mood to the point where I get cranky and moody over every simple thing. Hence, my confusion over the pain situation. Why are we told that? Pain leads to strength but at the same time pity those that are experiencing pain. If it leads to strength, why should we pity them? Because they didn’t ask for it? Well, they didn’t ask for your pity either. No one likes receiving that. At least, no one I’ve met. I do think pain makes people stronger, if they can muddle through it and survive. Some people don’t survive. Some people can’t handle it. Does that make them weaker people? No, I think maybe their burden was heavier than others. And that’s what I mean. It’s not right to try and quantify something like pain (even though I just did it -_-). People experience things in different ways. What I may think is traumatic and horrifying, someone else might find fun and entertaining. I mean, hello, have you ever heard of a psychopath before? And to judge someone based on the pain they’re experiencing is insane. They didn’t ask for this. Who would do such a thing? They didn’t want the scars, the staring, the boot, the turmoil, the sleepless nights, the doctors’ appointments, the complications. They didn’t want any of that. They wanted a “normal” life, just like the one you’ve got. Instead, they were dealt this really shitty hand and then someone went and slapped down a draw four card (didn’t know we were playing UNO, did you?). Maybe they don’t know the rules. None of us come out of the womb knowing how to play this shit. None of us wake up one day and just automatically know what the hell we’re doing. Some of us pick it up faster than others, some of us never pick it up at all. I’m not saying it’s fair because nothing is fair. The dice are always loaded, the deck stacked against you but you still have to play. I just wish all the other players knew what was going on. I wish they knew the house rules and didn’t have to be so suspicious and cheat all the time. Just let me play the game and leave me alone. Let me do my thing and be done. Strength is pain redefined but I can’t redefine it if you just keep reminding me of the pain.

“I Don’t Wanna Fall Another Moment…”

downloadHumans have this thing called self-preservation. As far as I know, most animals have it. It keeps you from harming yourself, right? Like a built in protective measure, a survival instinct, a last ditch effort by your body that says “hell no, we won’t go!” Thomas asks me about it all the time. He uses it in the form of masochism, and how he doesn’t understand the ability to override that self-preservation and enjoy pain. Well, I sort of do. I’m not really a masochist in the traditional sense of the word (ya know, because aristocrats in the 1800’s were throwing the word ‘masochist’ around at teatime like it was no big deal!) but I used to cut. (I had to pause and determine what tense to put that sentence in). I enjoyed the hurt because it was sort of a physical manifestation of what I was feeling inside. And then other times I didn’t feel it at all, but I still did it. There wasn’t anything that stopped me. I was simply able to override the command to self-preserve and harm myself. Now, the thing is, how do you undo the command? I do speak Java, or any form of code for that matter, and humans are not as complexly simple as computers are. Once someone begins to tamper that survival instinct, does it remain like that, a flattened, useless piece of abandonment that helps no one when it is really necessary? Because if that’s the case, self-sabotage is redundant. The moment you enjoyed picking that scab or pulling that pair of scissors across the board stretch of smooth skin of your arm, you popped every champagne bottle there was ever to be. It’s like Minority Report, or the episode of Law and Order: SVU I just watched. Do past actions and thoughts predict future behaviors? Because if that’s the case, with people who self-harm, wouldn’t you have to break the pleasure found in harming, not in the act? Alright, I feel like Allister, wherever he is and whatever he’s doing, just stopped and palm-smacked his forehead in the most duh-Lucy-that-was-the-slowest-lightbulb-moment-I’ve-ever-experienced-in-all-my-career-as-a-therapist way. Deep down, I knew that. I understand that that’s the root of all therap-evil. But what if there isn’t a way to stop it? What if, like Frankenstein’s monster, there is no way to undo the lightning strike that brought the monster to life? I was contacted by Tasha today about coming to a get-together to start celebrating her birthday. Obviously there’s a chance Mara will be there. I’m actually excited that Tasha contacted me. I want to be friends with her, I want her in my life, but I’m not sure I’m actually ready for contact (of any kind) with Mara yet. We had that phone call about Levi’s accident and I was a wreck for like a month. And that was just a phone call! I don’t know what would happen if I saw her face to face! The war council was approached, strategies were discussed and a battle plan was agreed upon. However, rather than stick with that and be satisfied about the whole thing, I’m back in my head, swirling around what once was, what could be and all the other whats in between. I started absentmindedly deleting followers on Twitter and came to Levi, whom I thought I already deleted. Nope, I didn’t. Well, as is Internet etiquette 101, I played the let’s-see-how-far-I-can-click game. I ended up on Mara’s Facebook page, scrolling through the public pictures, reading the updated posts, looking at the glossy, web life she’s portrayed to the world. Ultimately, I am happier without her. I am better off, stressed less, have more money and just in a better place. But, (and it’s a big one), I also have to (reluctantly) admit to myself that I had good times with her, that things weren’t always terrible, and that that was a major chapter in my life, filled with milestones that I won’t get back. So, that being said, am I destined to pull the scab on, to continually create pain the absence of physical harm so that I can satisfy that anti-primal urge to self-destruct? Even the messages from my body are confusing. My foot flared when we got off the plane last week (I think because of all the pressure changes and sitting for so long) and hasn’t calmed down since. In fact, it’s gotten much worse. It’s creeping up my leg, slowly but surely, sensitivity and all. I had a few dreams where I was missing my right leg from the knee down. CRPS was always likened to phantom-leg syndrome because that’s what it is described as but with your leg still attached. Well, I know exactly what they’re talking about. I’ve never felt it more than now. My leg has betrayed me. It’s gone rogue. It’s joined the enemy. But I can’t decommission it. I can’t get rid of it. I can’t make the pain stop, or even lessen, no matter what I do. A few days ago, it was pretty easy for me to just accept that another flare-up was in full effect, like the heat of summer, and that’s just the way the world worked. But now, with the pain increasing, me staying up night after night because I can’t sleep, my mobility slowly decreasing…something has to change. I absolutely refuse to go out like this. I read a blog a little bit ago about a girl who was questioning whether or not she was holding on to her dreams too tightly. Was CRPS making her grip harder to something that was impossible because she knew it was impossible? I’ve changed my future plans and goals a million times in an effort to adapt and stay in a lane that is at least moving, even if it’s at a snail’s pace. What do you do when that self-preservation is suddenly kicking in and your need to self-destruct, your need to crumble are at odds? Both are so strong, both so willful, resourceful and passionate in their plight that they will never give. I’m going to end up like the U.S. and Vietnam. Still at war. Always at war. Even if no one knows it.

“I’ve Drawn Regret From The Truth Of 1,000 Lies…”

Coos Bay, Oregon-San Francisco, CA 180Vacation. A break. Time off. It’s supposed to be a chance to relax, kick back, lighten the load and enjoy the view, right? Well, mine was…sort of. It was a time away from not having a job, or no education. It was a chance to get away from the suckish hellhole that my life usually is. Some of the time though, vacation was a constant reminder of all the problems I have. It was a reminder of the shit I have to deal with and have yet to deal with. I don’t even know where to begin on this long bus ride (because that’s what it was. A bus ride, a few layovers and a very scary flight to Chicago) of a vacation…

Seattle: We left Monday. Everything went fine. Excluding the fact that the shuttle to take us to the airport was 45 minutes late, which wound my mother up like  a toy screw. She was so frazzled when we got there, everyone was frustrated within the first 10 minutes of being in the gate. We got on the plane, exhausted (it was like 4 in the morning), and flew, connected, and flew again (with some time zoning problems in there) to Seattle. The city was amazing. Modern, cool, edgy, everything about it just screamed young and upcoming. And apparently that’s what it was. Thomas and my mom ditched me and my dad to see the Space Needle (I don’t do heights. Let me repeat: no heights) so we sat and just sort of watched the city pulse. It was awesome. The air was cooler, no sirens, no horns honking, pedestrians crossed the streets with sense and reason and trucks and cars stopped and started with the lights like they were supposed to. It was fabulous. Even the policemen, the few I saw, were on bicycles, that’s how low-key this place was. Nice way to start us off.

Portland: On the way to Portland, we stopped at Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Hood. They were absolutely stunning. I’ve never seen snow-capped mountains before, not like that. And it was epic. Obviously we took a bunch of pictures, and then we were back on the bus. Now, the drive to Portland is way longer than I seemed to have calculated without any sort of map or knowledge of the area prior to this trip. I assumed all the cities on this journey were relatively close to one another, a few hours at the most, making the time on the bus minimal. Ha! We lived on that bus. And the trip, which we’d booked through AAA, was mostly older people. Like seriously, everyone on the trip had at least, 30 years on us. At least. I don’t have a problem with driving, really don’t. When I’m doing it. This was a jerky bus, that was not under my control, that forced me to be seated in a tight space for extended periods of time, with people that generally annoyed me. By the time we reached Portland, I was pretty sour on the whole thing. The city was nice, but lacked the personal charm of Seattle (I apologize if any of you live in Portland. Just wasn’t my cup of tea. Plus, like I said, I think my opinion was a little skewed). We went on a dinner cruise and toured the city a little bit, then it was back on the bus the next day.

Coos Bay and Eureka: Coos Bay is a small town in Oregon, that allows gambling. We stayed overnight in a “family-friendly” casino (please, can anyone explain to me the point of bringing little kids to a casino when they aren’t allowed on the floor?), where I found a relaxing outdoor hot tub, that I kinda wish I was sitting in right now because that would be absolutely wonderful. Well, now that I think about it, maybe not in this disgusting humidity. There, the weather was perfect for it. We didn’t tour the town, I didn’t even leave the hotel. Eureka was pretty much the same thing. There was a pretty house in town that belonged to some important guy that got rich off the Gold Rush in the 1800’s but other than that, the town wasn’t supposed to be a point of interest on the tour. It was a place to stop for the driver to rest until our final destination. The house was stunningly beautiful though. It took this guy like 14 years to build it and send for his ever-trusting fiance, who lived in Boston at the time, but she came, they got married and lived there until they died. It was rather sweet.

San Francisco: This city was made for me. There is nothing way to put it. We got there and Thomas, who had been telling me about the auras he sensed throughout this entire trip, explained that this city’s aura sort of matched mine. We were there for two days…not long enough. We toured the pier, Chinatown, Japantown, saw the sea lions, the Golden Gate Bridge, saw Alcatraz (didn’t actually see it, like go over to it but we viewed it from shore), it was incredible. There are no words to describe how much I would have been willing to stay in that city. Then, things started heading downhill.

I don’t know if it was the exhaustion from being on the trip. I don’t know if it was being forced to spend so much time with the same amount of people in such a confined manner. I don’t know what it was. The first night in San Francisco, my father drank, what I considered, an excessive amount of wine. I got upset, he got upset, we all got upset, but the problem remained unspoken. No one said anything about it. It hung, like the stench of alcohol on a sleeping man’s breath. Stale and disgusting. We made it through the exhausting ordeal with our transfers being cancelled and then home, where my dad drank steadily throughout the day until we actually lost him. Thomas came downstairs and asked where he was. I found him outside, asleep, on the deck, in the dark. He was totally asleep. It took a lot of convincing, but I got him back inside and arranged on the couch to the point where he wasn’t going to roll off or anything. I don’t know what to do. As I write that sentence, it’s like the hallway clearing in high school just as the bell rings. Lockers echo as they slam shut, doors latch and papers scatter to settle in the emptiness that you’re left in. You’re alone, completely alone, and yet there are hundreds of people surrounding you at the exact same time. My father could be an alcoholic. I don’t want to say he is, because he doesn’t believe he is. I am so quick to label things, to put judgment and names to everything. Sometimes, I want that. Sometimes, I think with names and labels, it’s a little easier to manage because then I at least have a thing to address. I have something to talk about, even if it’s just a concept. It’s a concept with some sort of identity. When I put on a label that weighs 50 lbs. and my dad can’t swim, then drop him into a 300-ft. deep swimming pool, well, then labels become a problem. And this problem isn’t my own. It’s a communal problem. Like hepatitis in the local watering hole. This doesn’t just affect me, my parents, Thomas…it affects all of us. My dad is at an age where part of me feels like it isn’t worth doing anything. He’s comfortable, he doesn’t believe anything is wrong so just let him be. But I want my dad around. I want him to walk me down the aisle, I want him to kiss his grandchild on the forehead after the nurses clean all the birth goo off. I want him to be here. I mean, wasn’t that my biggest fear as a child? Wasn’t letting go and losing someone one of the hardest challenges I have ever faced? Oh, wait, I’m speaking in past tense. It is the hardest challenge I have to face. There isn’t a past tense of this. I am still randomly overwhelmed by moments where I remember that the greatest (and sometimes the worst) people in my life are mortal. We aren’t demi-gods, with a chance at immortality if we perform heroic acts. We aren’t going to live forever because that’s what we promised our daughters so they would stop crying for the millionth time. It doesn’t happen. Nope. False. Denied. Those Greeks, man. They knew what the hell they were doing when they wrote all those myths. They nailed humanity right on the head. I feel like Icarus, flying too close to the sun. I always make wings of wax, flying on the belief that things are fine and that my dad, hell, my whole family, everyone I love, is going to be okay, and then something dramatic happens, and my wings melt. This time, it was his drinking. I was coasting while we had a good vacation and then his sobriety brought me down to Earth once again. I can’t keep letting him, or myself, lie. There’s no point. I’m not fooling anyone. In the end, the wax will melt, and I will fall. I might as well pack a parachute.