Somewhere in Flamingo Heights, the Mojave Desert, CA

Matthew: "Would you ever want to build a house in the desert?"

Me: "I would never want to build a house anywhere. Period."

Matthew: "Why? You love houses."

Me: "Too many decisions to make. I'd be paralyzed. I don't like a blank slate, I like working with pre-existing conditions and other people's decisions."

Matthew: "Oh, okay."

Me: "NO WAIT! Forget what I literally just said to you. We are gonna build a house in the desert and it will be an exact copy of my grandparent's house in southern Spain. That way I don't have to make any decisions and you get to live in the desert! Everyone will be so happy."

Later

Me: "Mom, I'm gonna draw Jefe and Jefa's house from memory since the last time I saw it I was 17 and then have you check it. I want to build it. Not really. Really. But not really really."

Mom: "Oh cool! Here's a photo!"

Me: "Oh, everything about my interior preferences makes sense now."

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Posted
AuthorSarah Reid
CategoriesMiscellany!

Remember when Zane turned 18? That was a relief. Remember when he turned 19? That was hard. Then he turned 20 and it felt very...manly. Well, today he is 21 and I bet you think I'm gonna talk about drinking. Nope.

(Zane's been drinking for a long time now, let's be real. If anything I'm relieved that he is now able to engage with all kinds of drinking, not just illegal, clandestine, risky, and most likely just straight up gross drinking)

No, today I am thinking, of course, about how the nature of my love for him has evolved over the course of his lifetime. Every one says that once you have a baby your understanding of what love is changes, and that's true for me like crazy. He was born and I fucking loved him like nothing else. For the first 4 or 5 years of his life my love was very biologically based and driven; his body and its safety were my primal and primary concern. Being nonverbal (for the first two years at least), our connection was not about the sharing of ideas or the richness of his innermost thoughts, it was about warmth and milk and softness - good lord how soft everything was in those first few years! The feathery, gravity-defying hairs on his head, his non-calloused feet and hands, the clothes he wore and the blankets he slept in.  I loved his bodily aliveness and would do anything to keep him that way. What hurt his body hurt all of me deeply. This is when I felt good at being his mother. I don't feel good about those glasses, but so it goes.

At around 5 my love shifted to a concern for his mind; his body became more of a house for a complicated, feeling, cognitively complex mind, and his emotional well being stole my attention. If he was teased or felt rejected or hurt by words or confused by the logic of the world it stung my heart and lungs to the point of having to catch my breath. It was excruciating watching the concepts of betrayal, embarrassment, and humiliation creep into his reality. Shame, regret - awful things to watch your kid grapple with. At the same time, it was completely heartening and joyful to witness the concepts of hope, self, universality, empathy, compassion, and ambition take over his worldview. This is when the responsibility of being his mother became intimidating in a way it hadn't been before and I began to question my abilities and capacity. My glasses got slightly better.

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Some time around 12 things drastically moved into the love/hate camp. We felt like we were being held hostage in our home most days, by our ineptitude and by his puberty.  I articulated for the first time, to myself and friends, that I loved my son beyond infinity and he was the best thing that ever happened to me and I hated being a parent. No matter how much practice I had I never seemed to get better at it. No matter how many times we thought ahead and tried to anticipate every possible scenario he would throw us a curveball that left us completely flustered and flabbergasted. Our power dynamic was constantly being pushed to its limits and we were exhausted all of the time. For his 14th birthday we made him a cake and wrote "Get Well Soon" on it. This is the time when I became aware that I was probably doing irreparable harm, this was going to be the time we would need to hash out later, when he was an adult, possibly with a therapist. This is when I was failing.

I don't have pictures of this phase readily available, and that's probably for the best.

At 16 or 17 I felt a return to the first and second phases, the bodily protective and emotional armor phases, as I sensed his bodily and emotional vulnerability in the world; cars, drugs, sex, right wing media, conspiracy theories, cigarettes, restaurant jobs, nocturnal sleep patterns, inertia, were all rushing towards him like they had being cooped up in a cage for his whole life and they couldn't wait to smother him in their harm. I felt a tenderness and empathy that I hadn't been able to tap into for several years, probably because we weren't under constant siege from his hormones anymore. This is when it dawned on me that while I had been in survival mode for the last few years I now had to prepare myself for that last push, the one where you help your child thrive and become big and whole and ready for the enormous world waiting for him, where you aren't directly battling the potential harm coming his way but hopefully equipping him to do battle with it, on his own. While you watch and see. Gulp.

 Rebecca Reid took this photo!

Rebecca Reid took this photo!

 Anja Schutz took this photo!

Anja Schutz took this photo!

The last couple years have been...fuck, I don't know how to describe it. There isn't a word (in English at least) for the mixture of mourning and awe his adulthood brings but there are many cultural metaphors for this phase and they are all profoundly accurate in my experience. I do feel like a mother bird watching her chick fly for the first time, hoping his wings work, realizing that if they don't it's all my fault. Fuck. I thought I would feel this way until he was at least 30 and that I would just be holding my breath for a decade, but I find myself slightly relieved and grateful to being moving into a new phase, one where I just simply trust him. I trust the strength of his body and his mind, I have faith that he'll live, and live well. I know that I did my best, but that it wasn't always the best for him, and that we will have a reckoning some day and I will have questions to answer. But I also know that we fucking love each other and since day one, that's all that's mattered.

 Anja Schutz took this portrait of Zane as part of an awesome series of portraits of men being touched, unknowingly, by friends and partners. It makes me feel woozy with motherly love.

Anja Schutz took this portrait of Zane as part of an awesome series of portraits of men being touched, unknowingly, by friends and partners. It makes me feel woozy with motherly love.

Happy Birthday Zane Reid! I miss you like hell and think you're the best thing ever.

Posted
AuthorSarah Reid

OH FOLKS.

It's been a year. A real doozy. It started out with what we have since coined The Hellacious Winter of Hell.  Then we got married and had a couple of lovely honeymoons (that was nice!). We had a fine and pleasant summer. And then this fall an old nerve condition of mine came back with a vengeance and has forced us to coin this winter The Winter of Pain (notice my absence around here? Doubt it. I'm a terrible blogger. Well, if you did I had good reason). So when it came time to start making Christmas plans I proposed something RADICAL. CRAZY. UNBELIEVABLE. I proposed that we not see any family, that we claim the Christmas as Matthew and Sarah's Christmas, a Christmas for making new traditions, new wonderful memories to replace last year's God awful ones, a Christmas for connection and appreciation of each other and our marriage and one that celebrates the strength and perseverance we found, together, this year. Matthew, a Christmas Hater, whole-heartedly endorsed my idea immediately, probably sure that I would come to my senses and revoke my offer in the next 10 seconds. But I did not. We told our families, who were disappointed but lovingly supportive, and we made some secret plans for us, and only us, to look forward to.

We had thought we'd just be at home by the fire. We'd dress our fiddleleaf fig tree up with some ornaments and drink eggnog and listen to records and sleep late and wear pajamas all day. Dreamy, right? But then our friends Rob and Laura told us they always to to the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs on the day after Christmas (leave the kid with grandparents in LA, drive on over) and unexpectedly Laura said, "You should come!!!" It was her obvious enthusiasm for the idea that made me actually consider it. Normally I'd think, "That's so nice and you totally don't want us to come so I won't even consider that sweet offer you are hoping I decline." But Laura is a no-bullshit kind of lady, my favorite kind, and I knew I could trust her invitation was sincere. So we said we would think about it seriously, having discovered Palm Springs this past summer.

We considered the fact that we normally spend thousands of dollars on plane tickets and car rentals and gifts flying to family every year and that this year we'd be spending almost nothing (I did spend a significant amount on cat tshirts for Zane, but that's another story). We considered the fact that the Ace Hotel is a hotel that both of us have been wanting to stay at for as long as we've known about it, even if it's like a satire of a parody of a Disneyland show called Hipsters In Their Element. We pat ourselves on the back heartily when we realized that the decision we had made in the beginning of the year to get a Virgin credit card meant that we would have free direct flights to Palm Springs and looked at each other and said, "Why the fuck not?"

As if it couldn't get any better than that I asked myself, "Why not go for Christmas? Like, wake up in a hotel room on Christmas?" I proposed this to Matthew anticipating a lengthy budget discussion and disappointing answer but instead I got, "Sure!" So I booked everything immediately, anticipating that he would come to his senses and revoke his answer in the next 10 seconds. And, fyi, we still spent less than we would have visiting our families. More importantly, I was so so so looking forward to a Christmas with just my sweetie; we so so so needed it.

As Christmas got closer I realized that Matthew probably thought that he was off the hook for presents, his least favorite part of Christmas and my favorite, but he was wrong. So I let him know how wrong he was and gave him a list of local stores he could go to, my girlfriends' numbers for guidance, and reminded him of my handy and helpful Pinterest board Presents You Can Buy Me (you should make one, it's kind of awesome to have). I had been getting him stuff for months, like I do, wrapping as I went along, getting giddy about waking up on Christmas morning with just a small pile of stuff for the two of us. Happy sigh. Once we got straight on the expectations we had only to wait for Christmas Eve and our flights.

The flight to Palm Springs from SFO is less than an hour and half. As soon as you are up in the air you hear, "We're preparing for landing." But we did manage to have one drink before touch down, aided by my first gift to him, the Carry On Cocktail Kit. It makes any overly priced airplane whiskey into a decent Old-Fashioned with only a slight amount of embarrassment to swallow with it. Such is the price of being a person who likes cocktails. We landed in the desert in the evening on Christmas Eve and got a cab to take us the 2 miles to the Ace (Palm Springs is very small and the airport is right on the edge of town). 

This is not going to be a post about the Ace, Palm Springs, or anything you probably actually want to hear about. It's beauty is not capture-able, in words or photos. The ridiculousness of how on the nose the Ace gets what hipsters want is not something to be described or illustrated. Google image that shit. Just believe this, it is a terrifically accurate compound of design, services, food, drinks, and people that appeals to people like, um, I guess, me. I don't actually think I'm a hipster, but I think I have the aesthetic sensibilities of some of them. The good ones. The ones with taste. Moving on.

We checked into our room with a patio and fireplace. We perused the mini bar, which we swore to not indulge in and which was half empty by the time we left. We giggled. We unpacked. I noticed that something was wrong. Something was terribly terribly wrong. It was Christmas Eve and we didn't have a Christmas Tree! How had I overlooked this glaringly obvious mistake? How could I think through this whole week and not consider the fact that we wouldn't have a tree? Not one to ever let anything get in my way when I want it, I started collecting things from around the room that I could turn into a tree. Matthew  passively let me, knowing that it would do absolutely no good to suggest I do anything otherwise with my time and energy. He's sweet like that. This is what I came up with.

AceChristmasTree

Let me break that down for you. That's a $75 dollar walking stick that Ace keeps in your room just in case you might want to pay them $75 for a stick. Thanks Ace! Perfect foundation for my tree, no? The linen was a little blanket for the patio, the hooks were already hanging on that conveniently slatted wall, the star is made of Kleenex, the garland is my scarf and the tie to a robe the make you wear when you join their cult, um, ranks, um, fan base. The round white things are Matthew's cotton swabs which he generously "donated" to the cause, the base is a wastebasket, and the skirt is a mesh bag nicely shaped like a half moon. I was beside myself as I put our gifts under the tree.

Having accomplished that I felt much better. Time for dinner. The Ace makes sure you don't need to leave the compound if you don't want to, and they also make sure you won't want to. We went to Christmas Eve dinner at their house restaurant called King's Highway. The whole compound is on the grounds of an old HoJos, so the Ace loving kept lots of the original HoJos restaurant intact, like you should, while adding a brilliant and perfect hipster layer over everything. It's embarrassing people, but it's stunningly awesome too.

King's Highway

We had, I'm not kidding, a kale and quinoa salad for our Christmas Eve dinner. It was so good damn that I just don't care that you are laughing at me right now. I'd do it again, you jerk. We had excellent cocktails. We looked around at all the families who come to the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs for Christmas and at all the beards. So many beards. The people watching was so good that we forgot to talk to each other. We looked at our map of the compound and felt like we were in a movie about hipsters and did some serious soul-searching. I'm gonna use that H word a lot, have you sensed that yet?

Ace map

We went back to our room, sat by the fire on the patio, read, snuggled, and eventually went to bed. When we woke up it was Christmas. And it was beautiful and we were in the desert. And we went and got Stumptown coffee at the restaurant and the Times at the front desk and sat on our bed in our pajamas and opened our gifts. You guys, it was perfect. Neither of us went overboard, we both bought thoughtful and meaningful gifts, and again, we so so so soaked up the much needed aloneness and togetherness the trip was bringing us. 

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Does it seem materialistic and shallow to squeal with every opening of every gift he gave me? I don't care. Gifts that people think about, even if they are tiny or inexpensive (especially if they are tiny or inexpensive), mean so much to me. My therapist say it has to do with my need to be seen and understood. I love her. For someone who would rather do almost anything than shop for gifts, he did good. So good.

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Happy sigh.

Mreading

This picture is upsetting, I know. Do you hate me? Sorry about that.

After we got tired of being so awesome we went to breakfast where we ate whatever the hell we wanted, which for me was elaborate french toast and mint-honey fruit and for him was probably something annoying like tofu scramble. There were an alarming amount of Santas sharing the dining room with us.

Next it was time for adventuring, as in meandering around the grounds for 10 minutes. It is gorgeous and perfect but both Matthew and I had do a significant amount of leaving our college degrees behind and sank into the experience without being bothered to be critical about it. My 20-yr-old self cringed, my 39-yr-old self felt happy and relieved.  Oh well.

Whew! That was exhausting. Back to the room!

 That's more like it.

That's more like it.

We spent the next couple days sleeping, doing puzzles, eating, reading, not watching the television, visiting with Rob and Laura, playing Scrabble, drinking, and doing more puzzles. I was in a considerable amount of pain due to my stupid face nerves and the dumb cold in my head that lingered the whole time, but doing puzzles got me in a zone where it all melted away. Wearing their cult robe probably helped too.

 Typical morning.

Typical morning.

 Typical afternoon.

Typical afternoon.

 Typical night.

Typical night.

When it came time to check out we reluctantly did so in this awesome lobby with its stuffed coyote and perfect leather chair. We didn't bother looking at what the mini bar cost us.

Days like these remind us that

It better be.

Happy 2015! Couldn't be worse than 2014.

xoS





Posted
AuthorSarah Reid
CategoriesMiscellany!

Remember when Matthew and I walked from our house to the place you get married in in Oakland? And then we waited and waited? Such a great day so far and it only got better. After being called to go to the Wedding Room we all piled into an elevator and went to the second floor. There is a little waiting room and office outside of the Wedding Room where we waited for the couple ahead of us to hurry it up and kiss already. They were an elderly lesbian couple who's only witness was a relative who wore a very large cross around his neck. Interesting. The stories we all have to tell about how we got to the Wedding Room.

We waited there for a good while.

 Nice lady.

Nice lady.

 The office looked like a middle school office.

The office looked like a middle school office.

 I called Zane. He didn't answer.

I called Zane. He didn't answer.

 Many people thought that Matthew and Kevin were getting married, which, to be honest, would kind of be awesome too.

Many people thought that Matthew and Kevin were getting married, which, to be honest, would kind of be awesome too.

 Kevin took lots of backlit Matthew shots as we waited for god knows what. So much waiting.

Kevin took lots of backlit Matthew shots as we waited for god knows what. So much waiting.

Finally, it was time. Kevin and Michelle sat, Finley-Ray tried to sit, and Jessica took photos. We had written vows but the clerk had stuff to say too. I don't remember it except to say that it was lovely, not canned, meaningful, and sweet. 

Oh right, this is where I explain how god-awful ugly the room was. We loved it. It was so absurdly ugly, how could we not? Really look at it, take it all in. Amazing, no? We even have an electrical outlet on the floor between our feet.

We had written our vows separately and had successfully kept them from each other. I volunteered to go first because I couldn't wait to say mine. I talked about a lot of things including always drinking morning coffee and evening cocktails with him. No one who knows us was surprised to hear that Matthew had the same sentiment in his vows. I gave a little fist pump and under my breath whispered, "Yeeeeeeees."

During Matthew's vows we both started crying. Truth be told, he cried a more than me, which is why I married him of course. We had both done a fair amount of preparatory emotional work in order to be super present and open during this day, not wanting to black out or not let it in like it deserved. I was all melty when I saw how raw and open Matthew was saying his words to me. Aw. Sigh. Gosh. Love.

Then the snot started dripping down our faces and not in a cute subtle way but in a "Hold the phone, I need a tissue immediately" way. Kevin and his handkerchief came to the rescue and we could resume after a good laugh. We exchanged rings (brass and from Etsy) and the clerk declared that by the power vested in her by the county of Alameda and the state of California we were married!

 Snot.

Snot.

 Rings.

Rings.

 Husband and wife.

Husband and wife.

 Kissing.

Kissing.

 More kissing.

More kissing.

 Sharing the arbor because it's so awesome.

Sharing the arbor because it's so awesome.

I'll tell you about after the ceremony next time!

Photos by Jessica and Kevin.

Posted
AuthorSarah Reid

Aw, remember when Matthew and I got married? That was so nice! Here are more photos of the day, which was perfect and amazing and lovely and perfect.

(Most of these photos were taken by Jessica and some were taken by Kevin and myself)

I had more anxiety about the flowers than was reasonable. Put me in a room, with or without stuff in it, and I will know what to do. But flower arrangements? Hell no. So I took a deep breath and just decided to apply what I know about interiors to the flowers and see if that worked. I allowed a bigger budget than I ever would normally ($75; I'm usually the gal who buys the $3.99 bouquet at Trader Joe's as long as it doesn't have primary colors in it) and went to the Oakland Flower Market. I knew I was wearing coral shoes and wanted coral in the bouquet, duh. After that, I just added texture, proportion, varying shapes, and colors that went well together. And now I want to be a florist.

As you know, Jessica was the only one with us at this point. She met us around the corner from the marriage office and we took some shots on the street before heading in. Jessica is a funny lady so I'm sure we are reacting to something adorable she did or said in this picture.

Walking on the streets of Oakland to and from the wedding was a surreal and oddly moving experience in that people who passed us, who were all strangers to us of course, were universally on our side: happy for us, excited for us, supportive of us. Boy, do people like marriage! I have a long history of feeling really conflicted about marriage as an institution and hadn't anticipated getting married before everyone in this country can, so my mind was doing a lot of adjustments as I was confronted by strangers who were so vocal about their approval when my own voice wasn't entirely there yet (and still isn't). Nonetheless, the walk was lovely and the people of Oakland made it lovelier.

This is the lobby and waiting room of the Auditor/Controller - Clerk/Recorder's Office (where you get married in Oakland) and that is our friend Kevin's big beard. See that TV screen behind Matthew's head? Those are numbers, like you get at the deli counter, that tell you when it's your turn to get married. Kevin and his Special Lady Friend Michelle had gotten there before us and had pulled a number so now all we had to do was wait. In this room. With a lot of other people waiting. To get married.

This is not a good photo of anyone or anything but it does show you the range of engaged people we were sharing the room with. That young leather jacket-wearing long haired dude? Getting married. That pregnant sweatshirt and flip-flop wearing lady? Getting married. That older dressed-to-the-nines lady with blue flowers? Getting married. That handsome pregnant couple with the 2-year-old wearing three dresses because she was so excited that we were getting married she couldn't choose just one? Not getting married, not yet. They were, however, our wedding party. Just them and Jessica. In order to be legally married you have to have 1 witness. In order to believe that you are actually married you need at least 2 friends to watch you get married.  

We had wanted to get married quickly, and to separate the legal ceremony from the family celebration of the ceremony (which will happen next summer). Kevin and our friend Casey had been instrumental in getting us through our Hellacious Winter of Hell so we invited them to attend and though her heart was there, Casey's body couldn't make it. While we missed our families, it felt very very right to do this thing on our own. I pinned my favorite picture of Zane onto the bouquet, which, yes, okay, admittedly makes it look like he's dead but where else was I going to put it, and the day felt complete knowing everyone was there in spirit.

And so we waited. For a long time. We danced with House Baby, and ate dried persimmon, and talked to other wedding party members, and honestly, just felt content. I don't remember feeling nervous. Just happy. And right.

This shot exemplifies what a quirky and delightful day it was. I look oddly huge compared to Matthew. There is a perfect stranger sitting next to me on one of the most meaningful days of my life. We are in a municipal building that is not to my taste design-wise (at all, you'll see). House Baby looks like a doll, a doll of a sedated psychiatric patient, that we brought as a prop so as to complete our family portrait. But we're filled with glee. And we are present. And we had been missing out on both those things for too long.

Eventually a very short older woman with a flower in her updo dressed in a long black robe called our number and said, "Let's go to the Wedding Room!" And we did. And I will tell you about that later.

 

Posted
AuthorSarah Reid