I was having this mental pity-party-in-my-head yesterday as I was helping Lamar and his family paint our parent’s house. Seems like I’ve been doing a lot of painting lately, first with Melanie’s a few weeks ago, and now this. But I don’t mind the painting itself, and Mel, Trish and I did have a good time.
This was a little different. It was one of those family get togethers with a mission. Kind of like when you’re a college student and you pay your friends in beers and pizza to help you move, except they were going to pay us in soda pop and tofu burgers or some abomination. They should’ve paid me in antidepressants. I like my family, really I do, but I get on with them best in smaller doses, the smaller the better, like one on one is best.
I wanted to man the stand all day, but Lamar, Nina and I did it in shifts, which is only fair, I guess. I got into this funk thinking what the hell am I doing with my life helping my parents paint their new house and they feed us tofu burgers because of Dad’s weird vegetetarian thing that he’s been on almost 40 years now.
Then I’m at the stand watching as some yahoos are rifling through the pumpkins with a couple of pre-kindergarten brats. I always take my laptop with me to the stand. I had downloaded my email earlier that day but hadn’t gotten to it yet. I see a familiar “from” address and it hits me as familiar but odd, and I look and it’s from—guess who—it’s Shar.
So strange, since the last time we talked was when we were dividing up our belongings and I was moving out and putting my stuff in storage. Strange because I was just planning on going to get that stuff come November. I had no idea where she was or what she did after I left. I don’t know if she stayed at our place or moved in with——————–someone else.
I don’t know if it was undercooked Tofu burgers or an emotional reaction to receiving an email from my ex, but I got this bad feeling in the pit of my stomach as I started out reading her email. It had the prerequisite “I hope this message finds you doing well” BS. Whatever you say, Shar. But as I read on, the pity-party-in-my-head broke up and found some other host to occupy.
No, it was not a “let’s get back together” letter which was what I was fearing. I’ve heard things, and let’s just say, it never works. And I have to tell myself repeatedly that if that option ever comes up to decline. Never, ever, give it a second chance.
But it wasn’t like that at all. Turns out her dad has Alzheimer’s. This isn’t good because her mother has been in a wheelchair since Shar was a teenager due to a horseback riding accident. Her mother is sharp as a whip, at least she was the last time I saw her, but needs care because she’s paralyzed below the waist. But with her dad going downhill mentally, well, you get the picture.
Turns out Shar couldn’t take it in Albuquerque anymore, so she quit her job, sublet the duplex, and moved out only a couple months after I did. And like me she moved home. To Cortez. All this time, for over a year and a half now, she’s been living in Colorado just like I’ve been, me at the home of my birth, she at hers. Me at my farm, her at her parent’s ranch. Me on one side of the Rockies, her on the other. Just like it was before we ever met eachother.
She’s been caring for her mom and the horses and enduring her senile dad. And if that isn’t bad enough, here comes the really bad part.
Her parents have a cabin up by the reservoir near Dolores. Since they weren’t using it anymore, they decided to rent it out. Since her dad’s judgment isn’t so good, he must’ve rented it out to some idiots who aren’t used to living in society because they totally messed up that place, not just left it a mess, but let their dog poo and pee in the house and never cleaned it up. Never cleaned it up. The mattresses had poo and pee, shit everywhere. It was just unbelievable how these people lived. So Shar and her brother and sister have been going up there when they can to help clean up this piece of condemnable property.
After reading this, my heart really went out to her. Sure, we ended 25 years on a really bad note, but she didn’t deserve this. No one deserved this.
I was glad to be inhaling paint fumes and eating Tofuburgers. Because as bad as I thought that was, at least I wasn’t doing what Shar was doing.