Today, I am going to attempt to define the indefinable – the relationship between myself and my Beloved Nephew.
I’ve had many people question me, as has he, on the type of relationship it is, because we don’t actually share familial genetic ties. And there are some things I’d like to set straight.
First off, there is not now, there has never been, nor will there ever be, any type of romantic relationship between my nephew and me. This is not something that is even remotely possible, as we are family, even if we are not bound by blood. I am The Aunt, and he is The Nephew. Period. So anyone thinking anything of the sort, needs to immediately stop.
The Nephew and I originally met through his mom, Midnite, who became my heart’s sister. We met through a group that we both used to study in, & ended up best friends for many years, until she passed away from cancer in 2009. It was during our friendship that BN started calling me The Aunt.
Since neither of them had any blood relatives in North Dakota, I adopted them into my family. They were truly the first of my Chosen Family, & came along with me & mine for holidays, whether to my house, or to my parents, it didn’t matter, as my parents always have said “With Love, there’s always room for more”.
When Midnite passed, BN and I held each other together. If not for each other, I’m not really sure either one of us would have made it through the grieving process sane. It was pretty rock bottom for both of us.
We spent a lot of time hanging out, listening to music, talking, crying & laughing. My kids starting referring to him as their brother. My ex-husband (who I was still married to at the time), didn’t even mind that he came over & hung out at the house all the time, & he hated pretty much everyone.
When I went through my divorce in 2011, BN was my rock, listening for hours on end while I cried about feeling like a failure, tortured myself about wondering whether I’d ever find love again, and bitched about all the reasons I knew the divorce was the right thing. He backed me up every step of the way, told me I was stupid for putting myself down, & comforted me with ice cream when necessary.
Beloved Nephew is my soul mate, in most senses of that word.
He understands me in ways that most do not. I can talk to him about anything, and everything. And he can do the same with me. There is never any judgment on either side, only unconditional love.
There are nights when we sit on the phone and “game” – meaning, he plays his game, I play mine, & we talk over the phone. We’re not online, just on the phone, talking about whatever. Sometimes we’re playing the same game, sometimes not, but it doesn’t matter.
Other nights, we can be talking on the phone & doing completely mundane, household things. One night I was washing dishes & he was making himself supper – at 11:30 at night, because we always talk late at night after he gets off his shift at the nursing home where he works. There were moments of complete, comfortable silence, while we each went about our tasks. Silence that I broke to tell him that “You know, if I was doing this on the phone with anyone else, they’d hang up on me, thinking I was ignoring them”.
But it’s true, just knowing that he’s on the other end of the phone, even if we don’t speak, some nights – that’s enough. Strange, but true.
We discussed this on the phone last night (before I fell asleep on him, sorry ’bout that, Nephew!), and neither of us can ever remember a time that we’ve been angry at each other.
Not ever in all the years we’ve known each other.
That’s just weird, even for me.
If Beloved Nephew were to fall in love tomorrow, I’d stand at his side & be his “Best Wo-Man” at the wedding, after, of course, making sure that the Significant Other was worthy of his magnificence.
If I were to fall in love tomorrow, I’d want him to be my Best Man.
BN knows things about me that no one else does, simply because he’s been there, through hell and back, with me. Through some of the worst shit I’ve endured in my life, he was always there.
He’s also helped me celebrate some of the best things to ever happen to me in my life, like being published – not once, not even twice, but three damn times. Once for poetry, once for a photograph, & once a whole blog post.
The same as I’ve done for him.
I’ve watched him grow since his mother’s passing, into a strong, confident, capable, compassionate & brilliant young man.
And even though he now lives across the country, we still talk at least 3 times a week, and sometimes more. He is my best friend, and an irreplaceable piece of my heart.
It is difficult, if not impossible, to put the totality of our relationship into words. People just don’t get it.
BN is family.
He is Best Friend.
He is Soul Mate, without the romance.
He gets it.
So, in the end, I guess that’s what really matters. He gets it – just as he understands me, I understand him.
And the rest…doesn’t really matter, does it?
This evening was beautiful.
I spent some time outside, knowing it was probably going to be one of the few, really nice days left of the fall weather.
I mowed, & planted my lily bulbs for next spring.
I got back in touch with the heartbeat of the earth, and with my own.
And while I was working my hands in the dirt…I was thinking about “Things”.
How many “things” I have.
How many I care about.
Whether I care about “things” at all.
And I came to a conclusion.
The only things I truly Care about…
All have a heartbeat.
My family, chosen and blood, my friends, my 2 cats.
Everything else can be replaced.
But not the heartbeats.
Those are finite.
I’ve lost a few of those over the years, and a handful just within the last couple of years. They are irreplaceable. Gone forever, they exist now only in my memories, and in the memories of the others whose lives they touched.
And, sometimes it hurts, knowing that the only way I can connect to the heartbeats I love so much is through the phone.
This is why I’ve thought about moving closer to my Beloved Nephew.
At least being there, I know I’d be near someone who truly wanted me to be there. Someone who values my heartbeat as much as I value his. As Chosen Family, and my best friend, our friendship is one of those irreplaceable things I cherish.
And here… Well, after everything that’s happened here, I do have a couple of good friends, but no romantic life… and pretty much only painful reminders of heartbreak and rejection. Not exactly a rousing endorsement to stay.
So, I’m going to pack my heartbeat up in cotton, and pad it against breakage for the coming cold months. I’ll work on savoring the moments I get to have with those I cherish, even if it’s only over the phone, and get rid of a few “things” I no longer need.
There’s plenty I can do without.
I’ve had self-esteem issues for as long as I can remember.
When I was very little, I had no worries. I was a total tomboy, who didn’t care what other people thought of me. I was happier dressed in clothes I could climb trees & get muddy in. And often did just those very things. I climbed up & down a cliff behind our house on a daily basis, snagging my hair on tree branches, and chewed my nails down to the quick, making my mom lament of me ever being a “girly girl”.
She has often told stories about how she would wait until we were literally on our way out the door for church to get me in my dress, or I’d get something on it.
But, little girls grow up, and as they do, they eventually start to care about how others see them.
I was no different.
By the time I hit 6th grade, I cared about how I was perceived by my peers, as well as by adults.
Alas, also by this time, we’d moved from Iowa, where I had friends, to a small town in North Dakota, where… not only did I know no one, but I was a complete outsider.
I was, and still am, a nerd. I read a lot, was good at school, & got good grades. I wasn’t a troublemaker. I’m not good at sports (my nickname in volleyball was “jello-wrists”, no joke) except for horseback riding, and our small town lived for its sports. I wasn’t considered pretty enough to garner the “pretty new girl” attention, & I didn’t have the “right” last name.
All of these things pretty much signed my social death warrant there.
In high school, at 5’7″, 125-130lbs, I was considered the “fat girl”.
I smiled here because I knew it was almost over.
My saving grace through high school, was that my best friend had faith in me. She was a total extrovert, who moved to our town when we were in the 8th grade. She was good at sports, & was/is gorgeous & skinny. And she believed in my writing.
She sort of adopted me, & pulled me out of my shell, got me to leave our small town, & we went on adventures to other towns where we fit in much better, & made our own fun.
Even with that, I still stood in the shadows. I was always – “Oh, you’re S’s friend, right?”
*sigh* yes, I’m her friend.
I did make some friends of my own, separate from her, we did each gave our own groups that we’d hang out with, occasionally. And I did have boyfriends from those other towns that had no connection to her.
But I never felt as though I was enough.
Every relationship I’ve had has ended with me feeling as though I wasn’t enough for the other person. I always felt as though I was lacking, somehow, because of how things ended. Every. Single. One.
I’ve never really, truly, felt good enough.
And that includes my writing.
I’ve had certain friends tell me for years that I should write a book. That my words are worth more, that they have value.
I’ve always kind of just pooh-poohed the notion, telling them that I write my blog for me, to get the words out of my head.
After all, friends & family are supposed to say nice things to you, right? They’re supposed to back you up no matter what, right? Even if it’s trash?
Nephew… You live too far away to smack me on the back of the head right now, so sit back down.
I love you.
And I’m not done talking yet.
Because right now, I’m standing on the edge of a cliff.
I’m terrified – and exhilarated – and about ready to puke – all at the same time.
Because… I’m taking a leap of faith, & I’m going to try to build a pair of wings on my way down.
A little over a week ago, someone that I’ve admired & respected from a distance for a long time, but who has had zero idea that I existed, contacted me.
We started talking, & in the course of becoming friends, I introduced this person to my blog. They liked my writing, & started telling me that I should write a book.
I told them to talk to my Nephew, because it sounded like an echo.
My self-esteem still needs work – I know this.
I still look for acceptance & approval from others on my work, whether it’s my writing, my crafts, my remodeling I’m doing on my house. I’m never sure that what I’m doing is good enough, and I flounder in indecision about the choices I make unless I get feedback from people I trust.
I don’t know if it’s just a Gemini thing, or just a Jen thing…
Even today, when I spoke to one of my coworkers about the possibility of me writing a book, she called me crazy. And I immediately started to doubt myself.
It’s easier to believe the bad stuff.
The woman in the mirror every morning looks at me with bleary, disbelieving eyes.
The woman in the mirror at night usually tells me it’ll be better tomorrow.
I’m hoping there’s a bad ass bitch hanging around somewhere in the background who’ll kick both their asses, smash the mirror, & yank me up by my collar one of these days.
Till then… I’ll be shoveling sand.
Yesterday I worked on my kitchen.
I’ve been tearing it apart for days, preparing to repaint, ripping off wallpaper, scrubbing walls, repairing busted plaster, cleaning up old grease & fuzz (can we all say GREASE FIRE?? Geezus) off the tops of the double oven & cupboards.
And, after 10 hours of painting, cleaning blinds from the windows, moving fridge & stove repeatedly, I ended up with this.
It might not look like much difference, but it really is. It’s now all a soft, dove gray, except right behind the sink, where I’m working today to put the back splash.
Far from finished, but I’m getting to it. There’s a lot more painting to be done. The cabinets will be getting painted as well, but the doors have to be removed, the pulls taken off & replaced. And I’m doing it alone, so it takes time.
And….. I had a phone call yesterday that – fucked me up for a while.
My mom called.
I have such trouble typing this, because I haven’t really let myself deal emotionally with it, yet. And I can’t allow it to take me over right now, either. So I have to push it down, bury it in a box deep in the back of my brain, for now… Until I can think about it without losing my shit.
My mom’s baby brother’s cancer is back.
My Uncle J’s esophageal cancer, which we all thought was in remission. has come back – with a vengeance. It has spread. To lungs, back, bone.
There’s a period at the end of that sentence.
I’m leaving that for now.
My head is so full of pain and rage about this… And I can’t.
I won’t let the pain and rage win.
I’m going back to the kitchen.
Autumn is here.
I know, the Autumnal Equinox is still technically 2 days away…but, this happened today:
I was driving home, down 16th, which is a 40mph street, & had my window half open to catch the breeze, when this happy, little wanderer floated in and landed on the back of my hand.
I picked it up, & held it like a touchstone all the way home, reveling in the leathery feel of the leaf’s skin, the crisp, sharpened edges, the slightly cupped curl it created as it rested between my fingers.
I love fall…
I love the way the air feels like a lover’s caress on my skin, gentle & warm most of the time, but with the occasional swipe of a rough briskness.
I love how rich all the colors seem to get. The deep golds, the burnt oranges, the bloody reds, the almost-black purples. Even the crunchy brown after the leaves have fallen, & lie dead on the lawn, waiting for the rake to sweep them into piles for bagging.
I love the smells that permeate the air, the sharp smell of burning fireplaces in the evening, the fresh earthy smell of wet dirt after it rains, and the air is cold enough to bite, so you have to bundle into a hoodie, the spicy scent of the fall’s leaves as I crunch through them when out on a walk.
Those leaves remind me of my favorite flowers – carnations, & how they smell like spices & sex to me. Such an innocuous, and seemingly innocent little flower, so normal and unassuming, and yet they entice me to stick my nose deep into them, dragging the scent within my lungs from their lacy petals, so reminiscent of lingerie it almost seems indecent to have them just sitting out in the open where everyone can see.
Next time you get around a bouquet of carnations…close your eyes, don’t look at their plain-jane faces…close your eyes & use your other senses. Get your nose up close, smell the sweet cloves, the spicy wash of something almost exotic, run your fingertips over the petals, feel the lace edges…and you’ll see what I mean. It can be a sensual rush.
And to me, carnations are such an Autumn type of flower because of that spiciness…reminding me of the leaves as they fling themselves from their trees.
Wild little things with plain faces and beauty inside, if only you look… throwing themselves out into the world, searching for a place to land…