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  • Juliet Anonymous

CHAPTER TWO - RED FLAGS

Learning to let shit be messy.


How to not think about a person? It’s impossible, no? When their smell suddenly wafts by you inexplicably, even after they’ve been absent for days. Or a lingering memory of a kiss… several kisses… all of them tantalizing. You can’t. You just can’t. Every breeze, every breath, every song reminds you of them, transporting you into a world of fantasy.

I’ve been working very hard to keep my feet on the ground with all of this. To remember that Romeo is a person. A very real, flawed, and, honestly, a controversial person. To remember that with our ideological differences, what we’ve been through in the past ten years, and what we want out of life, there is a very good chance we won’t work. There are so many red flags, the path to one another looks like a Chinese New Year parade… but still, I dream… Of that comfort, that incredible level of connection we experienced with one another almost immediately after a decade of zero communication... Less of sex now, but of intimacy. Talking in bed, touching… his hands, that I jokingly referred to as mitts. The thickness of him. Wiping beads of sweat from his forehead. Is it possible a connection that strong, that impervious to time, place, and situation, can withstand such drastic differences?

The past two days have been challenging. Single parenting is hard, said every single parent ever. I know, Captain Obvious, but the hard didn’t come right away. In the first weeks of separation I was on a high. Finally, I could be with my children the way I wanted to be, without the feeling of Paris watching and judging, shaking his head when I had moments of frustration, or when I simply cracked an off-color joke. (He married a New Yorker, you’d think this wouldn’t have been an issue, but it was.) It was fantastic. I felt free, like I was finally becoming the mother I always wanted to be.

And then reality set in, or Little’s Terrible Twos… either way. Paris picked them up from school and dropped them off at 3:30, well before I was done with my work for the day. I thought I might be able to regroup, but Little was on a tear, running around the house, chasing the dogs, putting their food in the water bowl, and screaming like an angry drunk every time I tried to contain her. We are currently in the long, arduous process of potty training Little, keeping her nude from the waist down when she’s home. So, to add insult to injury, when she gets really furious, she pees wherever she’s standing. And don’t get me started on poops. I’ve never seen someone more emotional over taking a dump. It’s like fucking Raging Bull on a toilet, and despite numerous check-ins, she always gets off too early, and ends up pooping on herself and the floor, while screaming. Then, if I can’t get to it fast enough, the dogs get into it, eating it, as I scramble to clean and contain Little, all while shouting my bloody head off.

Big wasn’t feeling so hot, and as much as she tried, was little help. A hinderance, actually, as she decided now was a good time to confront me about the fact that she feels she isn’t “treated very well.” So, while mopping shit off EVERYTHING and soothing Little, I was trying my damnedest to understand what a weepy Big meant by this. What I could gather, was that she feels she’s treated like a baby and not given enough responsibility. This was not what I expected, but damned if I didn’t need help.

“Great! Well, I can give you that right now. Can you please take [Little] into the bedroom and entertain her so I can make dinner?”

“Sure.” Big perked up, took Little by the hand, and lead her - screaming, of course - into their shared room, and shut the baby gate behind them. Great. Fantastic. Thanks, Big!

Within ten minutes, Little had escaped, and was running amok, climbing on the furniture, and trying to rip pictures off the wall.



I have a tendency to be passive aggressive. It’s an awful trait, and if I could, I would pay thousands to have it surgically removed. I don’t know where it came from. My parents, maybe? Either way, it was a trait Paris and I shared, one bringing out the worst of it in the other, over and over, like a crappy ping pong match. I hated him for that, but I hated myself even more every time I let a snide comment slip, especially when it came to Big.

“Well, so much for that added responsibility, huh?” I said, and before her face fell, my heart plummeted. It wasn’t her fault her little sister was a psychopath. It wasn’t her fault I was a single parent now, stuck with both of the the family dogs, a boatload of work, and twice as many bills to pay. It wasn’t her fault her parents had split up, fracturing her entire concept of home and family. None of this was her fault, and here I was making her feel like shit because she couldn’t keep a tiny maniac confined behind a flimsy baby gate.

I tried my best to calm down and regroup - even when Little threw most of her food to the dogs and peed in her high chair - but I didn’t do very well. What I did manage was a solid heart-to-heart with Big after I was finally able to put Little to sleep. All I could tell her was that I’m trying, and I will get better at this. I believe that. I know that. I will. But fuck, it’s a shit show right now.

I put Big to bed early, hoping she would feel better in the morning… hoping I would feel better in the morning, and we did. Thankfully, Little always wakes up cheerful in the mornings, or I don’t know what I would do. I even had time to bake a banana bread before Paris came to pick them up and take them to school. (Yes, a banana bread at 6AM. After spending the evening sweating and yelling like an asshole, I was determined to get something right in the mom department.)

And then, just like that, they were gone. The apartment was quiet… well, except for Puppy.

A little background on the pet situation: Paris and I always had a dog, sometimes two. At the time of marital extrication, we had “Dog”, a 2-year-old chi-weenie I fell in love with when I was three weeks away from delivering Little, and “Puppy”, a 10-month-old lanky beagle I spent too much money on when Paris needed cheering up after losing three potential job opportunities in a single week.

“Dog” is yappy and moody, but she loves me fiercely. (I call her my butch girlfriend. She even lifts her tiny leg when she pees. I smile every time.) And Puppy is just a gorgeous animal. She’s perfect, adores the kids, and is just a complete love, but good Lord is she a pain in the ass. She sheds like an alopecic moose, and chews up everything. Toys, trash, the carpet, the TV remote, you name it. I even caught her about to devour the brand new, 150 dollar vibrator I had just purchased for my new, single life adventure. Much like Little, it took months to house train her, and even now, she still has accidents.

And lastly, there’s “Cat”, a gorgeous calico that pretty much lives on the deck and uses the toilet. She is the most low-maintenance, well-trained creature in my life right now, and I just love her to death.

So, I’m finally enjoying the peace of a morning to myself. I pop my AirPods in, put Puppy on the deck, and blast the music, so I can have a nice, meditative workout without having her in my face, or hearing her clawing at the patio door. (I can still hear her, but I'm letting it go. I can live with this.)

I take a shower, slather on my breast lift cream, and give the ladies a little high frequency treatment, trying to convince myself there’s hope without a surgical breast lift. (There isn’t) And then it’s finally time to work.

I spin a fucklot of plates. In order to sustain a career as a writer you have to have multiple irons in the fire all the time. Most of them won’t go anywhere, but any one of them could, and if you’re not playing every angle, there’s a good chance you could be left without a paycheck for a long, long time. I’ve been there. I am there, but thank goodness I have some big deals rolling in. In addition to that, I recently launched a new business, and - again with Captain Obvious - starting a business from scratch is really hard. I love it. I love it all, really, but it’s a lot of work.

When Paris and I initially separated, it was hard enough to get work done. Then Romeo happened, and fucking forget it. I couldn’t focus on a damn thing, except fantasizing about Romeo, texting Romeo, wondering when I was going to see Romeo, and ultimately shutting down all communication with Romeo… So, dear Nurse, I think you understand just how important it is for me to be able to catch up on things now.

So, I turn on the Roomba vacuum my mother graciously gifted me for Christmas, and sat down to work.



Within twenty minutes I smell the unmistakeable whiff of shit. And when you’re used to having as many creatures in your house at one time as I am, you know whose shit is whose. It was Puppy’s shit, but where the fuck was it?


I nosed around the house, but everywhere I went, I could smell it. Was the stench trapped in my nose? I couldn’t see the shit. Was I imagining the shit? How could the shit be everywhere and nowhere at the same time?


And then I saw it… what was left of it anyway. A flattened smear of Puppy poo on the welcome mat, and a trail leading… fucking everywhere. With a gasp of horror I realized the Roomba had rolled over the shit and tracked it all. over. the. entire. apartment.


Before I could clean it up, I was texting Paris.


“I love [Puppy] to death, but I can’t keep her. This is way too much for me.”

I had wanted to keep the dogs together. Hell, I had wanted to keep everyone together. That’s why I paid for two rounds of marriage counseling. That’s why I hung on even when every cell in my body said, “LEAVE”, and that’s why I had gotten Puppy for Paris in the first place. To cheer him up… so I could stand to stay with him. But, I realized in this moment, part of this journey is letting go. Admitting what I can and can’t handle. And that might be the hardest part of all.


I’ve always prided myself on keeping it all together. Getting everything done. Keeping the house clean. Being on top of it. Being able to deal with anything and everything... But why? What’s a bit of mess? What’s a missed appointment? Some dog crap on the floor and a shit-filled Roomba? What would happen if I let things get messy? If I didn’t hold it all together all the time, and gave myself permission to fail? To not be perfect? And that goes for everything. My home, my job, my kids. What if I just said, “Hey guys, I’m doing my best, and this is what that looks like right now.” Or even crazier, what if I said, “You know what, as much as I would like to, I just can’t handle this right now.”

That’s the hard one. Big even said something like that last night. About how she feels like she has to do everything that’s asked of her. Like she always has to step up. But we don’t, do we? And we shouldn’t. Sometimes stepping up can actually be bad for us.

Which brings me back to Romeo, of course, and the parade of red flags. He might not be the best thing for me. But, then again, he might. I just know that while I’m on this journey, I have to be brave enough to see both sides. The good ones. The put-together, tidy ones I want to see, and the “bad” ones. The messy, demanding, more-than-I-can-handle ones. I have to give myself permission to see and be it all, and, ultimately, be willing to get to the end of this month and not show up on the 24th. I have to be willing to do that, or I’m not living honestly, and I haven’t gown.

Shit… this is going to be harder than I thought.

Sincerely yours,


Juliet

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