I am currently in Redding, California having just arrived with my two best friends, it’s almost midnight. Not sure if I should rush the keys to get this started? This is Chapter One by the way.
Well it is now after 8am and I decided to sleep, once in a while it is necessary to replenish the body and soul. My best friends Andrea and Julie did deserve to sleep I felt too after the long drive in from Sacramento, they were very tired even though I did the driving. My friends had asked if they were going to be immortalized in my book, well there it is my loves. Why in God’s name am I in Redding, California? Commitments. This is my first time here, however when I told my Mother where I was headed she assured me we had driven through previously. The truth is I have driven through a whole lot of places and most I could not tell you where.
Now back to chapter one. I have given this a lot of thought as to where to start with writing a book. Do I start with my childhood? The present? The in-between? I decided to surprise myself and just let it flow.
So a bit about me. I am a very busy lady. I have a career that I love, children still in the home, several out of the home and even 4 grandson’s; one who is actually 7 today, January 6, 2018. His name is Vincent, named after my oldest and only brother who is four years my senior. I call the grandson Vinnie and last night we were celebrating at the local ice-cream shop until after 8pm- the reasons why we were driving in the wee hours of the night, well wee to me because I like to sleep. Now I also have several animals, two dogs (one is my 19-year-old daughter Cassidy’s but you know how that works), one cat and 15 chickens. Furthermore I do a lot of extracurricular activities- I am of service. Service to a fellowship that has saved my life, a twelve-step fellowship and that’s all we will call that. This means that I do meetings and give back what was freely given to me, because I appreciate the life that I live today to the fullest. Of course with the kids comes school, extra-curricular activities for them from sports to Girl Scouts, thankfully I just have one left in school with all of that stuff; but of course now we have the grandchildren to step-up with their activities and grandma cheering on the sidelines. Why not just toss some Autism in there with the youngest daughter Irene, who is now 16 and all the gifts that has to offer too.
With all that I still had time for coffee. What does that mean? Well if you read the preface you know I met a man, his name is Michael. Now I don’t know the actual day he sent me a “friend request” on Facebook, but I do remember it well. I may have actually tried to play it cool and not accept it instantly? May have? We had several interactions with comments and by April 15, 2016 a few things happened, he sent me the first of many instant messages and I texted my two best friends who are here in Redding with me now that I had met the man of my dreams who I will be spending the rest of my life with. Of course I followed that up with the fact that I hadn’t actually “met” him yet, but that we had interacted on Facebook and that was enough. You have to really know me to know how funny that is and how much I really meant it. I am a very funny person by the way! Luckily for me I would meet Michael a few days later on April 17, 2016 at a meeting and get my first hug; I know that date because I was busy getting an MRI and was late to my usual spot.
By May 23rd I felt I had enough evidence to formulate a few theories. He was single and I wanted to meet him before someone snatched him up and I sat there wondering what if. What if is huge by the way! What if I never asked? If I never asked I would never know and so I summoned up the courage to ask him if he was single. If he was maybe he might be free sometime during the summer and wouldn’t mind having coffee with me. Yes that is how it went. I asked him and because I am very busy, we are both busy people, summer seemed like it might be tangible. It also seemed far enough out that if it wasn’t viable I actually didn’t have to go. So I sat and watched him through my computer, very patiently I might add because, well it was just coffee. I can’t downplay this, I was jumping out of my skin waiting for summer to come!
As the story goes everyone has at least one good book in them. Or so I’ve heard? So I guess I am going to give it a shot. I made a commitment to myself that I would start writing, or as in this case blogging everyday on January 1, 2018- it is now January 4, 2018. Better late than never as I always say! The ridiculous thought to getting a late start would be just to wait until January 1, 2019 because I already missed the mark I set for myself, that would be my head talking. So on with the show!
I am determined to make this a love story, my love story. The journey to love myself. Christine- a Blogging Goddess; and the road that it took to get her there. This has been a bit of a twisted road and at times a not so pretty one either. One that those who have somehow been a part of my path might not actually appreciate the words that I clack away on the keys. If you heard me typing that is the exact sound- clacking. Those people would more than likely be my family by the way. For that reason and many more this will be the first entry of the New Year on my blog and the last entry delivered to my social media account on Facebook. I will unlink it after this post.
Family of course chooses to remember things in a different manner at times. A more bright and cheery picket fence, all is well on the outside don’t look on the inside manner. That is how I was raised. Hush Christine, don’t you dare! This is my recollection though, a reflection of my past. At this point I really am not sure how much of my childhood I will delve into. Let’s face it though, it is what makes us. Or it is what formed me into the woman who I have become. Am still becoming. The choices that we make from our youth will inevitably steer us in the direction we go. Whatever that direction is, either good or bad, all choices lead somewhere. Not only that, we also have to deal with the fact that sometimes “stuff” happens in our childhood that is not the norm, this said “stuff” that happens in our childhood may actually influence those same choices that we will eventually make long into adulthood. Whatever the case, I survived the choices that I made to be here today to clack these keys.
Today I am grateful that on the journey that I have taken I finally came to the realization that I am an Addict, a very grateful one. An addict in recovery. That self-realization has allowed me to grow in ways that I never knew possible. It has allowed me to live a life I have never in my younger days would have been able to dream. It has opened me up to possibilities I never would have imagined. I could go on but I am sure you get the picture. She, I, am unstoppable!
Now by this title you would guess possibly that this is a love story between a man and a woman, or whatever floats your boat. It is that as well in a way. I am in love. I have been in love before but not like this. My idea of what love looked like in previous years we will get to eventually in this saga of sorts that I plan on jotting down over the next 365 days. It has never looked like this though. Some very close to me know that I had thrown the towel in on love a few years ago, on partnership and companionship altogether in “that” way. I had grown weary of the mundane games of the opposite sex and I have never been into the same-sex. That’s not my story. Weary enough so that I shut down and closed myself off towards advances of all types. Not interested was the sign that was emblazoned across my forehead, with a smile of course. Please don’t think of me as a shrew. I had just come to the point in my life where I was very happy alone with myself, raising my two girls who amazingly enough through perseverance managed to regain custody of and still have a few years of parenting with them, being a part of my grand-children’s lives and let us not forget the dog Snoopy, the chicken’s which I have no time for all their names (yes I name them), the cat Hermes and all of the friends I surround myself with. That is the love that I had chosen to fill my life with. I am enough.
Wouldn’t you know it though, at the point in my life when my only goal was to reach 20 chickens in my flock, which ironically three years ago today on January 4, 2015, I received my first four chickens as a gift from an old friend; there he was. It was as if one day I opened my eyes and voila! No seriously that is how it went. He sent me a friend request on Facebook. Now the truth of the matter is that I may have seen his picture previously with a mutual friend. I am not sure which came first, the picture with the friend or the friend request? When I saw that picture though my heart skipped a beat. Who am I kidding it skipped several beats. It would be funny to say the rest is history but just like anything good, that took some time.
The reality is it is not the end, it is just the beginning. We just spent our second New Years together this year, this one actually in the same physical spot. Although my heart goes where he roams and boy does he travel, I manage to lead a pretty full life myself that takes me places too. We both have very full lives from careers to family and friendships; all that matters is that we have found each other. At least that is all that matters to me. So I hope if you stay with me you find some enjoyment, some wonder and some tears. As for me I will have all those things and some healing too. I hope.
The Chicken Lady
I just wanted to slip a little note in with these gifts, I hope that is OK. I hope you take the time to read it. I tried really hard to get everything on your list, I think I did. Not sure if they will give it all to you or split it among the other boys at the receiving home? I spoiled you as best as I could. If I could have walked in and given it to you personally I would have, I would have loved to meet you. Maybe one day I will?
I don’t know why you are there? I don’t know at what age your life was turned upside down? When you started to wonder why me? Why am I here? If you are thinking these things my heart goes out to you! Just like it does to the boys I gave away. The boys who I couldn’t hold it together for before they were even born.
I started picking Angels from the tree a few years ago, when I could afford to. I choose the 16 year old boys, because he was 16 when I started. When I was walking in the mall one day and saw all the Angels on the tree. A 16 year old boy jumped out at me and I was compelled to pull his name. So here I am writing a note at Christmas wishing you the best.
Hold on to this time! Look around and make some lifelong friends! It doesn’t have to be all bad. I promise if you hold out and use this time to grow, to learn what you don’t want out of life and what you do, to use the system and take advantage of all that it has to offer your whole world will open up! Look around, there is another 16 year old boy getting just as spoiled as you- two of you! One with Jordans and one who chose simple Nike’s- you are my boys! Merry Christmas wherever you are! I hope you have had the best life! It was all I could give you! Life!
The Chicken Lady
I have not had the time that it takes lately to sit and clack the keys, that’s rather unfortunate too as I have so much swirling in my head. At this moment though, I am sipping my coffee on a beautiful Sunday morning, the chores are done- which means the chickens have been fed, the dogs are outside and have eaten as well and my sewer cat is out roaming the streets somewhere in front of my home. Irene my daughter is sliding through the house in her slipper socks on the hardwood floors humming one of her favorite tunes while she intermittently hops in my bed and pulls the covers over- before she starts her routine again for another round.
This little ditty is about her, my daughter Irene, I am her best friend. I am her only friend as well. I am the mother of an Autistic child and while she may look like your average girl on the outside- she is not. More importantly you may think she is just like everyone else- she is not. What is normal for some is not for others. Irene is different. She is sixteen and has no friends but me, no real friends. No one. She is humming in her room right now, it’s the sweetest sound ever. We are getting ready to go on an outing, one she actually wants to go on, not one I have to drag her on. It is winter so she will be wearing her earmuffs, which really protect her from the sounds of the outside world. I cannot tell you how many sets we have gone through.
I try really hard to get her involved in outside activities, to expose her to the outside world I want her to participate in life one day on her own. I hope she participates one day on her own. We are in Girl Scouts, Swimming, Knitting Club, Kindness Club, and even a Youth Advisory Council. Some of those I push her into and some of those my darling daughter has chosen on her own- to my amazement. It has taken years of Social Skills classes, for the both of us, for her to come out of her shell.
She’s still there, in that shell mostly though and that’s ok. She’s in her own little world most of the time. My job as her parent, the parent of an Autistic child, is a little harder than the parent of any other child. Why? She IS different. She does not know the value of a dollar and will give it away, all of it, if I am not constantly reminding her of how to gauge her money. She does not know of friends, real friends, or those who want to be kind to take something from her. The world we live in will take it from her. It will take all of it from her if I let it- It will take her innocence.
I know I can’t protect her from everything, but I can try. I don’t go out often and when I do it’s calculated for short periods of time. I do not take her everywhere either, she doesn’t want to go and she doesn’t have to. She is sixteen now and can stay home alone, but I don’t like to leave her for long. Alone. More importantly I need to keep my eye on her when I take her wherever- why, because I am her mother. She is not your average sixteen year old girl, even though she looks the part.
Irene has shot a gun, a rifle if you will and she has been kissed; all on one outing, that I trusted the kids around us to let her go with. That I listened to those parents around me say it will be ok, she will be fine, let her go have fun. It only took one hour if that for all that to happen- her first kiss, from a boy she didn’t know and still doesn’t. From a boy she doesn’t even recall his name. That is not how I wanted her first kiss to be. That shouldn’t be how anyone’s first kiss is. I should not have found out six months later in an office where things were being discussed and words like depression and medication were being hurled around. That is how it happened though. I know better.
I was chatting with a mother last week about these very things. She knows my story because she lives it too. We get to comfort one another because sometimes people around us don’t understand, especially when she looks just like every other sixteen year old girl. She’s loud sometimes, she panics, she cries and yells; these happen much less than they did before. Now she has moved on to pulling her hair out-I don’t even think she is aware of it. Depression, Anxiety, Autism, ADHD are all wrapped up with the sweetest smile you will ever see humming the most beautiful sounds. I was meant to be her mother for a reason, I was chosen.
I started these words in the morning, but took a break to do some things she loves. We went to Apple Hill, and to a few of her favorite stores. She doesn’t even like apples, or the buzz of the place and the people around. She enjoyed today though as it was quiet and the people of the season had already come and gone; French fries and Honey Stix, that’s it, all she wanted. Sometimes I will take a drive, yes an hour away for fries and honey just to get her out of her room and the house. Today we got to enjoy the company of him, who doesn’t mind us too much either.
The Chicken Lady
My son Alex left our little city of Sacramento, California a year ago yesterday, well technically I live in Carmichael but does that even matter. What I know is that in the year my son has gone he’s become gainfully employed with a career he loves, bought a new car, and moved out on his own. He’s become a man. Life goes on- just keep going.
Saturday Morning with Coffee and Chickens
I’ve been staring out in the yard as I watch the sprinkles start to slowly come down, the chickens are huddling under the coop from the weather. No matter what, life is good.
There has been a lot of the “what” going on lately and yes I will write about just a bit. I write for me, not for you by the way, I love it. I digress. I’ve been able to show up and be present to bury an ex husband recently, spend a lot of time holding his hand and watching TV before he passed, see a family I haven’t seen for 23 years, make an amends, and be there for our two children and their choices not to see him throughout it all. You know, that whole life on life’s terms thing. All this has been really odd by the way, it was as if after I appeared he didn’t want to die, even removing himself from the DNR. David lasted just over another month, he was only 49, his heart failed five years earlier, his pacemaker was no longer working now, kidneys and lungs failing too, he shut down. He was one of us.
I’ve been pretty lucky where my children are concerned. I have been able to be reunited with most and have them in my lives; even been able to raise a few still. I am a prime example of what not to do for them. They have witnessed and learned from my choices what they don’t want out of life or at least I thought they had, there had to be one.
My son Alex, seems to be forging his own way, still partying at 23. You know, it’s legal now. We’ve had the conversations, no you can’t plant “tomatoes” in the back 40, no you can’t have a party here, I don’t care how old you are, and so on. This is my house, I still have young girls here, what they see, and what I do matters. I don’t want them to think it’s normal to work, party, eat, play video games, and repeat. It’s not. That is not the life I want for them so that is not the life I will show them. How you speak to me, how you treat me, what I accept, what I tolerate, look the other way at and invite into my life and my house will shape my children forever. I know this to be true from my own childhood.
Alex just never seemed to get it and still hasn’t. I can only hope he does soon. Maybe I am a hard ass? I can’t co your shit, I refuse, not even my children’s. It took my own mother a long time to learn that one, I was a terror. Who really knows how to be a parent right? We learn as we go, or at least I am. I have taken pieces from my mother, people in the rooms and a memory of what I don’t want myself for my children. That is all I have, along with faith, hope, honesty, open mindedness, willingness, trust, gratitude, humility, and LOVE, just to name a few.
This is uncharted territory, my son has left, not just my home but the state. I asked him to go, gave him options, of course none of which he took. He is forging his own path, I can only pray that it is a good one. Not the path that I walked for so long, the path that his father chose and who I just buried. As for me, I will continue to show up, do what I do, and stay grateful.
The Chicken Lady
Just a note-This day is one of the best days of my life! This is a year old, my girls have now as of today, October 2, 2017 been in my custody for 5 years. I have almost been in my older children’s lives as long as I was gone. The picture of when they were young, Cassidy was just visiting having already been removed from me along with her brothers and sister who I would go 10 years without seeing. It’s also shortly before I would leave altogether. Happy Birthday Mom- it is never too late!
Sunday Morning with Coffee and Chickens:
Faith in today, October 2nd….
As I sip on my coffee watching my chickens mill around the back forty searching for grubs and enjoying the fall leaves; I know how truly blessed I am. Usually I have the back slider open, my computer sits right next to it and I can hear the sounds of my yard, I love that. This morning however there is a fall chill and even though I love that more, there is a grandchild sleeping on my couch. So I type these keys lightly and keep the chill out for him, ever aware of how different my life is today.
October 2nd is a huge day for my family, it’s my mother’s 72nd birthday. My father is celebrating a huge milestone, one of which you have to know him to know. Today also marks 4 years since I stood before the judge and earned the right to have custody of my young girls, who are not so young anymore.
This was no easy feat, having been gone for as many years as I was out of my children’s lives. I was there sometimes, but I was never really there, and for many years I was not even there; you know. I did not have the support of my family when I decided to regain custody, my biological family that is, and understandably so. I knew though, I knew I was done; even at over 3 years clean back then, they did not. That is Ok, I’ve got a proven track record of what I was like that mom knew all too well.
Imagine my shock when the court clerk gave me a court date that landed on mom’s birthday. I actually asked for a different date out of fear, they said no. It was meant to be. I came to believe quickly that it was a sign, my Higher Power knew what was going on long before I ever had a thought of it. This would be the best gift I could ever give my mother, the gift of being a grandmother not a guardian. The gift of her daughter becoming accountable, responsible, and present in her children’s lives. Although that is not how she saw it then, I knew, and she does now too 4 years later.
I remember an affirmation that was given to me by my family the weekend I made the decision to file for custody of my girls. My NA family. Divine Wisdom Guides You, I believe that and have faith in that.
There are no coincidences in my life, everything has happened and will happen for a reason. I have faith, and I pay attention to the little things that I consider signs. I didn’t always….
The Chicken Lady
It is a Saturday morning and my coffee is almost done- it’s still dark outside since the time change has set in with the month of September being more than halfway over. I really need a cup of coffee though so hold on just one moment…. Perfect. Now because of fall my chickens are not even thinking of stirring about. The girls, my chickens, get a break so to say during the cold months. They like to go to bed early, wake late, and egg production seems to slow -it’s called mother nature. Although I could hang lights to ensure my egg count doesn’t drop, I prefer the natural way and have a couple of chickens who are year round layers to keep my family afloat.
It seems like life is just like that, a change of seasons. As I get older I seem to appreciate life so much more where previously I took it all for granted. No longer though. Now I stay in the moment and take everything I can in; especially time with those I love knowing how fast it can all be gone. Around here is a sad day for many I know including myself for someone who has been taken in the blink of an eye way too young- but that is not my story to tell and those thoughts I will keep to myself.
This story is about a man who lived quite a few years- his name is Steve. While he is no longer here his life is a celebration. The days he enjoyed outside the walls of a prison that confined him for so long are all, every one of them, a miracle that many of us had the pleasure to witness. I heard about Steve long before he came home so to speak, home to us and the circle I run with. Now if you have ever read one of my stories you know the circle I speak of- it is worldwide. One of the gifts that I get by hanging around this circle is enjoying to the fullest the people I meet and the journeys that we walk together.
I met Steve on day one at a meeting and gave him a hug, but he didn’t remember me. How could he? Steve had what to him probably seem like a million people wanting hugs and pictures. We loved on him how we do. I myself just took the hug and said welcome home. Steve looked like he was shell-shocked and I didn’t want to be just another person walking up to take a picture with him.
I remember watching on Facebook Steve getting his first phone, ice cream and so on. Next thing you know he was on Facebook with his own account and later would join Instagram. We became “friends” so to say, social media friends. Shortly after that we started chatting. We had some of the most funniest conversations, I am sure he had funny conversations with everyone, but these were mine. It seemed as if Steve took to social media like a butterfly takes to wings, he just took off. Steve took to life that way too. I can’t begin to imagine the life he had behind the walls for so long, that is not my story. However my truth is I have imagined it and took part in it considering the choices that I made for a while and those that I kept close to me lived it for me-some still do.
This made me appreciate Steve’s journey so much more, I watched him with complete joy. Someone made it out and was living life to the fullest! I watched him everywhere with everyone, there were a million pictures taken with Steve, it seemed to be a thing.
Steve used to call me a superstar in our conversations, of course I told him I was not. “The famous Chicken Lady,” he would say to me and, “when would we meet?” A friend had called me the Chicken Lady once and it stuck so I used it often and still do to this day. Social media can make it seem like people may be famous I guess if you have been sheltered for so long and start to live through your phone. He was glued to his, it was very funny. In seconds we would be chatting from Instagram to Facebook and back again as if he forgot what he was doing and our last conversation. My cubicle life at the time made room for that, but not so much anymore by choice.
By a series of events that happened one day on September 22, 2016, things being cancelled and so on in my life I had a free night and Steve had asked me to join him. I said yes. We drove forever for a meeting, one was closed so we just kept driving around Sacramento until we found an open door. We talked of tacos, women, how I had kissed more girls than him, and relationships. I shared quite a bit with him and in return he did the same. We laughed so much that night. I had never heard Steve’s story so to say and he really wanted me to hear it-so much so that he interrupted the meeting and asked if he could share. I had never seen such a thing and of course he was obliged. At the end of the night I took him to his home and we laughed all the way there too, the conversation never stopped for a second. We had the best meeting in that car, just the two of us, both addicts sharing with one another.
Before leaving my car that night he told me how happy he was to finally meet a superstar-the famous Chicken Lady. I said what are you talking about Steve, you are the superstar my friend-the man, the myth, “the legend,” and it was me who was happy to spend some time with him. Someone who finally made it out! We chatted for a bit later that night and laughed some more. His last message to me was at 4:23am in the early morning hours. Steve went to sleep and never woke up. I was in disbelief when I heard the news, yes on social media. I don’t know why but I messaged him simply-Steve. He never answered me. We did finally take that picture that night-his last selfie, at the last meeting he shared at where I got to hear his story. At times I still wear his sweater, it keeps me warm on cold nights and I place his picture on my family altar for Dia De Los Muertos where I celebrate those in my life that have passed. Those that I love.
The Chicken Lady
This little ditty was written a year ago today, September 3, 2016. In my attempt to capture my previous reflections I am pleased that the social media site I use frequently assists me in this endeavor-Facebook. I’m not sure how much longer I will use this site, for me I sometimes feel I am just about done with it. However Facebook allows me to connect with people all around the world with a certain circle I run with, so for now I stay. I will always stay in that circle though either way- no matter what.
Just one more side note, it’s actually a Sunday now but I will not change the text. I am at my little beach house again, as I always am at this time of year. I’m with different people- it’s a different season in so many ways. I’m still blossoming.
Saturday Morning with Coffee and Chickens
A change in season’s is just what I needed…
I love the fall, it is my absolute favorite season out of the four. It calls for sweaters in the mornings, good coffee, a drive up the mountain to Apple Hill, or maybe even the ocean. I love the ocean when it’s cold out.
The tides, just like the leaves falling, remind me that everything keeps changing. I am learning as I get older, to just roll with it too. There are no guarantees, I would like to think there are though. Is that just me?
If we are lucky, we keep going, growing, learning, and living. The past, my past, was just but a few moments strung together that lasted a little longer than the average day. What’s funny though is, I can look at it now as a season. Those seasons of my life are long gone, they hold memories, some good, and yes some bad. They have taught me a few things that I will take with me on my journey though, thankfully.
Fall is here, it’s my favorite and I am just going to enjoy this season of my life!
The Chicken Lady
It’s early on Saturday morning and I have to hit the road soon. So soon that the chickens are lucky they got replenished water and feed before I left and my coffee has barely had time to steep in my little French Press. The taste is not half bad though. How could it be? No matter what I do I take the time to do it right. Yes even when I am in a rush. The dogs are staring at me as if I forgot about feeding them, I have but will handle that soon. I really just wanted to put these thoughts that have been swirling around in my head down on paper before I travel. I would like to think that will not take long as well, this story has been percolating since Tuesday night. My truth is Saturday has now turned into Sunday morning. Most of this was written yesterday but the full life that I embrace today sometimes takes precedence over words-the words can be written later. Life is about living and I am going to live it-now on to the story.
Have you ever had that one person that you just meshed with from the first encounter? Like peas and carrots. Well many moons ago in another life I had that. I met her. Her name is Yolanda and that is what she goes by now, she will always be Nani to me though. No I have not changed any names for the sake of privacy and I heard someone once say, “if you don’t like what I write, you should have lived differently.” This is my story and I digress-I do that sometimes. By our second encounter, within moments she had me seated in a chair and was dying the tips of my hair blonde, I am a brunette. I remember Nani saying my hair would look, “tuff,” she was right. Boy did I look different. I usually looked out-of-place wherever I was, but I always fit right in.
We would rapidly become inseparable; her husband Jeff even let me in and I would say even trusted me. Now with the lives we were living at that time trust was abnormal. I trusted them though and they were my home, wherever I was. I would go here and there, often alone, but their door was always open to me and just a phone call away from no matter what city I was in. They did have a home when we first met, but with the choices we make their home disappeared just like mine had along with my children years earlier and hotels and motels were now a way of life. We had become nomads. I remember on one occasion where I was in a situation where Nani just happened to walk up, I was in a hotel in a rather frightful disposition that had gone all bad. There were four or five people who had come for me and maybe even a bat, little old me, all men and just one woman because-well we were equal opportunity people back then with not a care or code in the world. Someone had thought I was after her man and I was going to pay a price, well that was never the case but with my looks it was always what they thought. The truth is, if I was with your man it was because he was as crazy and willing as I was to commit a crime-no questions asked or a hesitation in the world, just go. Nani knew them, more importantly, she knew me better than that and had the clout with one word to put an end to that in an instant.
After that incident I got in the car with them and took off for a ride that would not stop for quite some time. Let’s face it, I was the only licensed driver out of all of us. There was another captive-we will call him Ed because that is his name. At times we would have another passenger in our little caravan but that was more of a burden than anything, a babysitting job if you will, so he did not travel with us often. Heroin addicts can be such a handful. That’s what everyone was but me, I was the tweaker who just dabbled here and there with THAT. Amazingly enough Ed had a beautiful mansion of a home in Truckee, California and more property in Southern California, but we never managed to make it there often and spent most of our time in hotels-we were just busy people doing a whole lot of nothing with our lives.
As much fun as all of that sounds, sometimes you get tired of the life. Well I got tired, literally tired, and instead of leaving with Ed to Truckee I grabbed the Hilton’s pillows and took off to another spot to sleep-I always had spots. I loved Truckee by the way and the house, at the time though my job was to keep Ed interested and not necessarily with scrabble; with my smile and sweet conversation-nothing more. I was good at what I did no matter what I was doing.
I would leave one way, Ed would leave another and within two hours our friends were incarcerated. That was the end of us practically. After a series of rather unfortunate events ensued and the dust had landed Nani would do 6 years in the penitentiary, Jeff would hang himself in the Amador County Jail on his way to prison, Ed would be on his own to be manipulated by others not so kind as us, and I would land in recovery one more time- not the last time.
After a few more times in and out I stayed in the rooms. It was actually Ed who was now clean and extended a helping hand to me when I finally landed thankfully and gave my life a chance. As soon as I could I found her and took care of her with all the stuff you do for a person who was in prison. I was good at that too. I had hope my friend would follow my footsteps, like I had followed hers once- that we would be peas and carrots again. She used to tell me she could no longer hang out with me because I would be the one to send her back to prison with the crazy stunts I pulled. Nani had done 10 years earlier in the penitentiary – we were not nice people. She was now the one doing time and I was out living. For some time I held myself accountable- if I had stayed, if I was driving, if I was watching him none of that would have happened. I have since made peace with all that and I know it was just not my burden to bear. It is the choices that we make that take us on the paths that we live.
Well my friend came in and out of the rooms that I stay in. For a while we were like peas and carrots again and her daughter even followed her into a different life. That meant her grandchildren would start living differently too. Nani did not stay, but her daughter did and maybe that was all that was supposed to happen. They are my gifts that I get to watch from afar. I have seen them grow up, re-unite with their mom, and continue to have beautiful lives- they are teenagers now.
My friend just got out-again. August 6, 2017 she was released after serving 6 little months. I had hopes she would want what I have- a new way to live. I sent her all those things we send people who are locked up, I even sent a few letters. I can’t drag or chase anyone in here with me, I don’t have that kind of power. I can hope and pray for them, that is all. The silent prayers that people prayed for me for so many, many times throughout the years, through their tears.
I saw Nani August 22, 2017, 15 days after her release- I had to. The description is not pretty, visible holes in her chest and legs, her voice already more raspy than normal, when she kissed me my lips still could taste the Carmex she had slathered on trying to stop the cracks, it wasn’t helping. I had called first, I knew where she was and yes I still went. When I called that kid I used to watch- her nephew who was like my brother was there and when she started crying on the phone and her voice had changed, he asked who it was. She said Christine, he didn’t even know who that was because that is not what I went by out there. When I changed, I changed everything, yes even the name I went by. As soon as he figured out who was on the phone I could hear his words, “tell her to come get us and get us into a program right now!” He meant it, she laughed, I knew it wasn’t going to happen.
When I left her on the street in front of that house, we hugged and laughed. I showed her the picture of the man I am in love with and told her of some of the adventures we had been on. I let her know my kids are good, even her god-daughter my youngest Irene. I had hopes this would spark something- it didn’t. Her boyfriend had now walked up, he was about 20 years younger than her, I knew him too. You could see the fear in his eyes. Would I take her away with me? Would he lose her? She told him to go inside, he said no and stood afar just watching us. I am sure he thought if he went in she would drive away with me and she would be gone- like I had done so many times with her in the past in my previous life. Just gone.
As we said our final goodbyes, yes laughing through the tears I noticed my glasses in her hand. With all the hugging, laughing and crying in those brief moments you would have thought we were one person, we had become enmeshed again like peas and carrots. I didn’t want to let her go and I don’t think she did either. We did though, let go, I finally let go- that is no longer my life and hasn’t been for some time. As I turned to walk away I laughed and said I need my glasses, they were still in her hand. They were hers, I pulled mine out of my pocket and they were exactly the same; little red Dollar Store glasses. What are the odds?
The Chicken Lady