Category Archives: the ex

>33 Years: November 18, 1976 – November 18, 2008

>I met the father of my children 33 years ago today; it was the best and worst day of my life. I adore my children and yet the man who fathered them has been an intermittent source of incredible pain.

We met; maybe I can unfold all the intricacies later, but for now suffice it to say we met when I traveled from the city to the Adirondack Mountains to do some consulting on an arts project where he worked. He, whom we will call Richard, as it provides the perfect nickname, met me at the airport and we began an affair that very night, November 18, 1976. We continued from affair, to relationship, although never monogamous, to living together, to talking about marriage, to having two children, (girl and boy) and splitting up sixteen years later, having never married.

Today is thirty three years to the day since I laid eyes on him and after a decade and a half of fighting about work, ethics, child support, haggling over nickels for medical costs and losing a family court battle which ruled that Dick had no legal necessity to provide for his children’s college education, today I receive an email from Richard saying,
“My mother has come into some money and is willing to loan me the funds to pay off my child support debt in return for a document saying there will never be any contact between us, and all debts are paid in full.”

I nearly had to tie my fingers together so I wouldn’t email back,
“How weird, are you aware that this is our anniversary?”

But this man never remembered my birthday let alone the day we met; he recalls everything about himself and I believe this offer came because he needed to be free of the liens on his accounts and the stigma that comes from being a deadbeat dad. That moniker can’t be expeditious in securing employment and his mom must be sick of paying his bills.

But still I pondered the sense of humor and balance the universe seems to possess. I had at one time wanted to write a treatise entitled, Coincidence is my Religion, I know there would be some followers as I hear again and again from politicians, writers, TV characters, mechanics and chefs, meaning random folks, that the universe has a plan. But I love that it also has a seemingly raucous sense of irony.


>I am always looking for signs. Not, “right turn 100 feet ahead” but, danger; do not go on the second date. Quit now and avoid years of heartache.To simply, try the fish.

I do not sit inert waiting for things to happen.

I don’t throw bones or read prophetic books auguring auspicious days.

Instead I look at everything.

I believe that information abounds. Personal, private codes bounce along next to us waiting to cheer and embolden our lives.

I also have an MBA from Yale. I say this because I am a regular analytical, thinking person. I also have a complete croyence in magic, witchcraft, the vibration of the spheres; call it what you will. Serendipity or coincidence.

So today, I struggled in a humid funk attempting to put myself on a single, productive path. Watch me this morning. I am up early. I have stripped beds and have laundry piles, I have begun cleaning closets for the renters who arrive to assume control of my little country house a day after I return from a fortnight in Morocco, so I need to get organized. I am carrying two pills in one hand, a stack of books in the other. The cat is curling around my legs. And by the time I descend the stair, mind you, this is not a grand house, I have lost the pills and my train of thought. I now want to clean the porch. There is laundry everywhere from yesterday’s crisis (the cats had been using the laundry as a litter) and EVERYTHING had to be washed twice.

So I decide to make coffee, but on the way to get the grinds, I see the bird feeder needs to be filled and then the humidifier needs to be emptied and the cat box was overfilled and needs to be swept up. And once again I don’t know what I am doing. But I see that I put the pills down by the phone as I picked up the mail and magazines.

Well, that went well.

My mother spent her life telling me I was a slob. And I spent the first quarter century buying into her characterisation, and the second, being as my kids say, obsessive compulsive. (Think twice about educating them, really.) Now I want things neat, folded, clean, tidy, designed and – if I can achieve it without hiring out – fabulous. So I am whipping around and my wandering attention is taken by the small bird’s nest on the front porch.

It is a cup made of twigs and mud, all surrounded by vibrant green moss. I have seen inside these nests. They are lined with animal fur. Quite cozy, made by black-capped chickadees. Now there are three or four hatchlings vying for the same maybe 3-inch diameter nest. But they are very well behaved. When I come near they are quiet. How do the bird mothers teach them? When the mother approaches they open their mouths. I know it is instinct, but here comes the SIGN.

I see that there are two birds alternating attendance. One, and then other, not quite identical birds. I go to my bird book and see that both male and female chickadees do look the same and both tend the brood. My chest heaves. An involuntary sigh and sense of calm replaces the humid air that hangs on my shoulders and coats my hair still wet from last night’s swimming. It is the sign.

I had my babies with a man from a breed who was not a nurturer. He had fancy plumage and a cock-strutting walk; he did not always come home to the nest I so lovingly filled with animal fur and designer sheets. I too often bickered with him, squawked, and pulled his feathers and mine in humiliation and rage. It was me who flew home to the fledglings and filled their open mouths with goodies and words and magic. But when they were small and I was 42, I changed that.

I left the strutting cock and fell in love with a black-capped chickadee. A beautiful, strong loving bird who flies with me to do everything. He feeds children, and fixes the nest and still I often squawk at him. I did it yesterday for not noticing the wretched cat’s box.

And so when the calm washed me moments ago; I stopped in my tracks and intoned: THIS NEST – THESE TWO BIRDS WORKING TOGETHER ON YOUR PORCH is a SIGN! Notice how you have changed your life and sit down. And so I made a cup of strong black coffee using my favourite method, a folded paper towel draped over a big cup, and I sat down to capture a sign.