Tag Archives: Texas

The Weight of Fog: Processing and revisiting the last two years.

I’ve always loved Texas winters. Our glimmering summers can be brutal and suffocating in their airlessness. Winter, at least when I was young, was tolerable. I could move, breathe, and be active.

Here on the immediate coast, winters are particularly damp and gray and in the past week, each day has been punctuated with fog horns much of the day as boats move up and down the Intracoastal Waterway.

Aging has a way of changing your views of these things. I don’t mean the obvious stuff like how it’s damp cold and it gets into your bones and it’s harder to warm up. I don’t mean things like the fear of slipping on algae-coated stairs or driving in darkness after 6 pm. I’m not talking about the pure physicality of the seasons anymore.

I’m talking about, yes, again, grief.

Once again, it is the anniversary month of the loss of Big Dog (January 13th, 2019), my father (January 12th), and my mother (January 29th). I survived the holidays and my isolation by working and keeping in touch with my family and friends. Early January was filled with distractions on the political front and I have had concerns with some personal relationship stuff.

But here I am, revisiting my older blog entries and memories and how last year at this time not only was I reliving the loss of my sweet, furry boy and my parents, I was also in the throes of a separation that only I and my husband of the time knew about. The looming death of that relationship seemed it might be avoidable. It wasn’t.

I’m feeling sick currently and can’t know (yet) if I am just suffering a cold, allergies (Cedar Fever season is starting), or the dreaded COVID-19. Results of a test taken Sunday should come back soon. Whatever the cause of this malaise, I am leaf-drifting back into my grief. Thinking of Big Dog. Thinking of Dad. Of Momma. Of Elise. Of Twenty-nine years. In the midst of the sadness, the days have, one after another, been foggy and drizzly. My floors are constantly damp. My dryer has died, so clothes hung to dry refuse to do so. These little annoying things make me angry at winter. Angry at loss. Angry at grief.

Why can’t it be over with already? Why can’t I just be done with it?

I remind myself this is a process. I stumble through little relationships with friends and potential suitors and find I am not able to be present for those people the way I should because this recovery process is so all-consuming. I am not unhappy most of the time. I am not happy most of the time. I am simply here and functional (sort of) and waiting to get back to being a full human being.

No matter how hard I try to peer through this dense sky around me to see what might be ahead, I remain clouded with doubt and distrust. I know, in my heart, not “all men are X.” I also know that I am just not capable of judging them with any kind of clarity or fairness, right now.

No matter how much I know I must move forward in all areas of my life (work, art, caring for my dog), I am often hamstrung by anxiety.

No matter the weather, I am fogged in.

This winter has been unpleasant for me not because it is cold, gray, foggy, and unforgiving, but because even on the blue-sky, sunlit days, I recall the past two winters of pain. Summer will bring with it still other memories (good and bad) of my first year alone and the turmoil of that season.

This is what age does to us. It loads us down with memories throughout the years such that beautiful days and ugly days alike become representative of pain and joy alike. Winter is no longer just chill and rain. Summer is no longer just heat and children playing in the surf.

Seasons can become weights. Perhaps they can become buoyant breezes again, eventually.

Moon Jelly Tide

A few days ago, we walked the beach on a cool, cloudy day. Moon jellies lay splattered about every fifty yards: flat, clear, mostly-harmless blobs in the sand.

Spring is approaching and the tides are bringing in spring things. Warm days lie ahead with increasing numbers of visitors appearing on the beach on weekends while weekdays remain quiet. Birds of prey are scooping up fish and field critters as the chills of winter fade and breeding season ramps up. Brown Pelicans are gathering again, drifting in from Central and South America to form ever-larger squadrons along our spit of land called Follet’s Island.

The wind is in its March wilding, blowing the house into shivers and rumbles. Day to day, the Texas coast simply can’t decide what season to express: Forties one day, eighties the next, sixties yet another.

Life feels upended.

Life is revealing its rough edges as harsh and unpredictable days often keep me from wandering the island while howling, ghostly nights keep me awake with the racing thoughts of my history, my future, and this precarious, ever-present grief.

Springtime. Beach houses. Dogs. New cars. Jewelry. None of these things patches a hole in a grieving heart or solves a personal problem. One simply feels a moment of appreciation of a new bauble, or a few months of joy in the glow of new adventures. In time, the newness becomes the reality of life the way it always was and one returns to routine. The glow gives way to the same internal and external battles.

Certainly, the beauty of the beach and its inextricable partner, the sea, is as soothing as anything can be. Stand at the shore on any given day—be it a calm day with a shore break so gentle that the sand seems to whisper in surprise when a wave falls softly on it, or a raucous, red-flag washing-machine before a squall hits—and one can find awe-inspiring peace.

Can. In theory.

Some days, clearing the mind and reaching over the water for that peace is like reaching across the sky to grasp the moon. Some days, life is upended and you are upended with it and all you can do is teeter at the water’s edge and listen to the whispers or the raucousness and hope to be set upright again.

On those days, I often don’t listen to the sea at all. I put in earbuds and listen instead to music made by landlocked humans. My mind’s eye sees things that aren’t in those restless waters: memories, dreams, past and current hurts. Some would say that is one of the greater of my many flaws. I am not letting the sea heal me like I should but am running from that healing much as I have run from my Faith in the last several years. In the end, I am little more than the jellyfish, lying on the beach, deflated and dying, having traded the healing music of the sea for the music of the unforgiving land.

But, that might just be okay, for now. Processing only what I can process on this Moon Jelly tide might be all that should be required of me right now.

When my husband and I bought our first home, it was with the conviction that it was our last home. “This is where I will grow old with him and die,” I told myself.

When the economic growth of the area accelerated and he decided he wanted to sell and move, I was devastated. After a childhood of upheaval, I sought stability and needed to believe my home could remain an island of such in the madness growing around me. In time, I realized it could not and accepted the move.

Our new home, twenty miles south and three hundred square feet smaller, was just a house:  nice enough, comfortable, but not that space that said, “Forever.” It was, however, an island. It sat on one of the highest lots in the neighborhood and when Hurricane Harvey struck last fall, the water crept up to the curb but never truly threatened us.

It was quiet, as well. Despite being in a small city that is embedded in the Greater Houston area, in fall and spring, when the air conditioning doesn’t run, it’s almost too quiet to sleep. I often found myself listening anxiously to my heartbeat in the early morning hours.

It was a social island as well. If one has children in such a neighborhood, one socializes. If one is “older” and beyond child-bearing years (like we are), one just smiles and says hello or maybe occasionally shares a dog anecdote or two.

If one were to ask me to describe my dream home, it would not have been this little house near the bayou.

Ah—but the bayou.

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I do love it. It is called a creek, but it is a bayou. You can call it a creek and you can even call it by its official name, Clear Creek, to make you feel better about the breen, silty flow that eases and oozes its way ever so lazily around Brazoria and Galveston county—but it’s a bayou.

I love it, in all its bayouness, along with the rest of this sometimes perilous swampland that is Southeast Texas. I love the birds, bats, bugs, and plants that take refuge in it. I love the year-round greenery, the mild winters, the Gulf breezes that smell of salt cedar and seafoam on stormy days. I love the signs warning of alligators and other dangers in the parks.

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And yet we have left the bayou behind in recent weeks. We’ve said goodbye to that reliable little house where Harvey tried but failed to harm us.

We have moved to where the bayous knit together and trail into the sea. We have landed on another island, one of salt marsh and seagulls and “Oh my God! But what about Global Warming?!” Now, I sleep soundly in a house that I truly love, listening to wave susurrations. I truly hope this will be my last home, but I can accept that it may not because my life has simply never been about permanence.

The bayou remains within reach. In truth, there is a shadowy bayou just up the road—just not “my” bayou. I am not far from Texas live oak, hackberry, chip-chipping cardinals, and complaining crows. There are new plants and birds to meet there as well. Perhaps I will leave this space here for a little “new bayou” chatter.

Nonetheless, watch this space for a new page link; this new island is just as chatty.

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