They sent me to Oklahoma for work last week. It was no Guatemala, but I’ve found that I can turn just about anything into an adventure, even a three-day solo trip to danger-chart-topping Oklahoma towns. Plus? I’m my own most favorite travel companion, because traveling alone means I get to do whatever the shit I want to do and I don’t have to confer with anyone about what to get for dinner and I can take my happy, critter-loving, Snow White ass to the zoo and spend as much or as little time as I want staring at grizzly bears and meerkats.

And speaking of meerkats, I think they know something we don’t and I’m 85% sure it’s about an alien invasion that might be imminent. I spent a solid five minutes looking at the meerkats at the Tulsa Zoo and those little dudes spend a lot of time staring into the sky with a slightly terrified look on their little meerkat faces looking at absolutely nothing. I kept trying to figure out what they were looking at, getting down on my knees to see things from meerkat level, to see what the shit they were seeing in the sky, but there was nothing. NOTHING. No birds of prey coming to eat their little meerkat faces off, no planes, no trees, not even a fucking cloud, and yet there they were, a whole meerkat grouping staring at the sky in mild terror, glancing at me every now and then in what was either reverence to my Snow White status or a warning glance.

I even asked those little fuckers what the hell they were staring at and they didn’t tell me, but just kept staring at the space behind my head, into the blue, cloudless sky, and so the only logical thing I can determine is that meerkats don’t speak English and also, aliens are preparing to invade and the meerkats might be the only ones who can see them hanging out up there and no one is taking them seriously because they’re meerkats and so, when the aliens come, it’s gonna be me and the meerkats telling you that we fucking told you so.

Anyway.

I like zoos.

A lot.

Chances are, if I’m traveling to a new city and they have a zoo, I will find time to visit the zoo. That’s just how I work. If Megan and I had more time driving across the country, I probably would have dragged her with me to each and every zoo between here and Oregon.

Really, I just like critters and zoos are great places to hang out and stare at critters even though I do always have this slight nagging in the back of my mind telling me to release them all so we can go live happily ever after in some fairy tale land. How I haven’t managed to go on a liberation spree at the zoo is something I pride myself on because it shows I do have some impulse control, although the older I get, the more it seems to fade so my future probably involves critter liberation and also maybe prison.

Anyway.

The zoo. I like it. A lot.

At the Tulsa Zoo, you can ride a camel. So I did. Of course. The camel I rode was named Ella. She had beautiful eyelashes and was a very nice camel. I like it when I get to touch and pet and meet any sort of critter at the zoo, even (ESPECIALLY) goats, and I’ve never gotten to ride a camel before,  so I was pretty beside myself with Snow White glee at the chance to spend some time riding Ella.

ella

Along with Ella and the alien-invasion warning meerkats, I also spent a decent amount of time staring at a grizzly bear, a sand cat, the elephants and some arctic foxes.

bear

I was also nearly killed by a roving goose colony  at the zoo because geese fucking hate me. One tried to eat me on my 30th birthday, so it’s a whole thing, this goose versus me thing. And no shit, we spotted each other, these geese and me across from the snack shop, and I stopped and stared at them and they all stopped and stared at me and I realized I was going to have to pass them to get to the sea lions and the meerkats and so I did, but it was a very tense few minutes and all I could think about was how good the fat one in the middle one would taste for Christmas dinner.

geese1

geese2

I know it looks like the three trail geese in that last photo aren’t paying any attention to me, but I assure you they’re just acting distracted for the camera and the minute before I snapped that picture they were glaring at me with their menacing goose eyes. That one in the front is clearly their leader and he wasn’t going to play any games and wanted his intentions for my blood to be perfectly clear.

The rest of my time in Oklahoma outside of the zoo was spent working some solidly long days, but I did also get a pedicure and have a whole conversation in the parking lot of this strip mall with a nifty sort of bird I’d never encountered before. I got some weird looks from the locals as I was kneeling in the parking lot talking to a bird, but they live in Muskogee, Oklahoma and I do not give one single fuck what they think.

{ 8 comments }

In the aftermath.

by terra on August 5, 2014 · 9 comments

in Deep Thoughts

No one will be surprised if you go a little crazy in the aftermath of a failed marriage.

Maybe you’re even supposed to.

It’s like a wilderness reintroduction program, this post-divorce life. You were kept safe for so long, locked in this cage of togetherness and commitment and fidelity and all the other bits that come with a marriage and then, just like that, suddenly the door on your cage is opened and you’re staring down an entirely different life, an entirely different landscape, from the one you were used to, from the one you planning on inhabiting for the rest of your days.

Turns out, the wild is a scary place. There’s love lurking in places where you don’t even hope to find it, but it’s there, waiting for you, rattlesnake style, sending some slight sort of warning and then latching itself to you, venom and all. And really, how the fuck are you supposed to navigate that when sometimes you still have to check to make sure your heart is still beating, to make sure it didn’t just up and fucking quit?

It’s a lot, facing the world alone, as a person not attached to another person anymore. The world is big. There’s all these options, like you’re standing at this trailhead with 15 different starts and you’ve got to pick the path you want, you’ve got to pick the you that you want to be and you’ve made all these other mistakes, all these catastrophic turns and so you really, really want it get it right this time.

You stagger at the start. You’re dumbed from the cage, shocked by the brilliance of another’s kindness or the vastness of what’s still left for you to discover, by the adventures you thought you’d never have again, some terrifying, some perfect. There’s so much to figure out - how to flirt with someone, how to kiss someone who isn’t your husband after how ever many years of marriage, how to handle your shit on your own, how to pay the bills, how to clean the whole fucking house. You don’t need a fucking chore chart anymore. It’s just you, baby. Just you.

I used to put on this mean face when out at the bar sans husband because that seemed like the safest option. I’d push my hair behind my ear with my left hand, always, in the midst of conversations with men, just so they’d see the ring, know that this girl right here was fucking taken.

But I’m not anymore. I’m not married anymore, not really. The papers aren’t quite signed, but it’s coming and I’ll end this year divorced. Again.

I wondered what to do for a long time, how to move forward, how to do any of it, how to proceed, and the only thing I’ve figured out is that I just need to live. That’s it. It was hard to do at first. Really hard, but it got easier.

I feel pretty confident that love still exists, not just in general, but for me specifically. I spent a few months determined that love was an illusion and that I wanted nothing to do with it ever again, but that’s not fair. It’s not love that broke my heart.

Divorce is shit. I’m not gonna lie. It’s a fucking shitshow of heartbreak and awful and terrible things, but there’s this you somewhere in the midst of the us that you used to be a part of and rediscovering that person is a weird and sad and amazing sort of adventure.

I’ll be honest: I don’t know who I am. I have some idea. I know I laugh too loud and eat too much popcorn and that I’m a runner. I know I take my coffee iced with just a splash of soy milk and I’ve got four pets and a great big house and a job I really fucking like. I can tell you my favorite color and food and song and animal and season, but I don’t know who I am just yet, or even who I want to be.

I’m still just leaning my face out the front of the cage, trying to figure out which way I want to go.

{ 9 comments }

Reclaiming me.

by terra on July 17, 2014 · 12 comments

in Deep Thoughts

A marriage is, by definition, this partnership sort of situation where you join with this other person, keep your fingers crossed real tight, merge your shit and share a life. You become a unit. You’re an “us” and a “we” and a “they” and while you’re still you, you’re also still much more than that. You go out alone, anywhere, and someone always asks how they are, what they’re doing, why they aren’t there with you, and when everything is merged – your home and your work and your friends, it compounds it.

You don’t get to be just you very often, and that’s ok. You come to embrace it. You love this person, hopefully, and you’re probably maybe proud of the things they’re doing, so you fill people in on their life, because you can, because it’s your life too, and you get to speak to it as well, since you’re in this shit together, you’re one part of a pair, so you get to tell their stories for and with them, just like they tell yours.

So when it ends – and pretty much everything ends at some point – it’s a little confusing.

The word about the end trickles out slowly, reaching some corners faster than you’d like, and others much slower than you have the patience for. You never know, in half your conversations, who knows what. You wonder if someone is being nice to you just because they heard you’re getting a divorce and you get these looks that make you put on the bravest face you’ve got left and you smile, because really, you’re fine.

Everything is fine. Everything is ok. Really. Really.

Telling people is hard, because it’s like admitting failure and you’ve tried hard to avoid that shit, so when people ask about that other part of your pair, the part that left, the part that wasn’t in it as much as you were, you just say nice things about them and get on with your day because it’s far easier to be a nice person and to tell someone something they want to hear rather than to have a whole conversation about how your marriage is ending, about how you’re suddenly alone and starting over at 30 and some days, especially in the beginning, saying it out loud to anyone can be more than enough to make you feel like you’ve been thrown down the stairs six or seven times, dragged by your hair back up to the top each and every time.

And really, it’s hard to say it because it makes it real. You know it’s happening. You know it’s ending and ended, but to say it out loud to near strangers makes it that much more real and maybe you can’t take even one more god damn look that screams of pity and concern.

It’s fine. I’m fine. Really.

That’s a lie for a while, that whole bit about you being fine, until one day someone asks how you are and you say that you’re actually doing pretty fucking good and you realize it’s the truth and then you realize that maybe you haven’t been breathing for the past year or the past months or the past however long, because saying you’re good and actually meaning that you’re good feels like a whole new start, like the first day of the year, a fresh fucking snow, and you finally exhale all this shit, all this heavy, horrible shit that’s been taking your life and your breath from you for so long and you know everyone said you’d be fine, but you didn’t believe those fuckers, your best friends, the people who love you, but damn if they weren’t fucking right.

So it’s just me now, is the point, I guess. I’m getting divorced. I know that’s not news, know I’ve shared it here before, know I’ve written my fucking guts out about the pain and shit and the absolute suck of it all, but I’m ok. I’m more than ok.

Turns out, I like me. I wasn’t sure I did for a while, but now I think I can say I really do.

I laugh too loud. I overanalyze things far more than I’d like to. I love popcorn and chocolate and tulips and lazy Sundays. I’m a runner and a forest creature. I’m really good at drinking beers and scotch and I collect stray cats. I drive too fast. I want to explore the whole god damn world and I will, alone, with friends and probably with a man I love someday. I love food and my dogs and my home and my friends. My life – this solo life that’s now mine – is full of incredible people and incredible adventures.

And yes, it’s lonely sometimes. I can fill up my days and nights and weekends with friends and races and chores, but there are some moments when all I want is to not be alone, when all I want is to be a part of a known pair again, when I can’t get the fucking top off the hot sauce or I can’t get my necklace to clasp or when I wake up alone – again – and feel that aloneness all the way into the marrow of my bones. Those moments are rare, mostly, but they happen. They’re there.

I’m still me though. I’m still here, this person that I’ve always been, but different. This is me without him. This is just me.

{ 12 comments }

I’m writing about love and stuff.

by terra June 27, 2014

I’m over at the Hooray Collective today, writing about love. Here’s a snippet: You don’t get a choice in love. It happens or it doesn’t. That’s it. You can’t raise your hand and expect to get it like a hall pass and you can’t avoid it either. It shows up unexpectedly, stomping and kicking its way […]

0 comments Click for more →

Route 66, a few kicks, cadillacs, wigwams and a good corner to stand on.

by terra June 11, 2014

When Megan and I set off across the country, we had a little list of things we wanted to see and a rough guess of where we’d be staying each night. We had a tight timeline, but we were pretty determined to still see some crazy awesome things because America is big and there’s a […]

7 comments Click for more →