Monday, June 20, 2011

Strangers Now

People are divorcing all around me. Close friends. Community folks. Complete strangers. All couples, once madly in love, now going their separate ways. I have this uncanny need to know every detail about their love story and subsequent break up, as if understanding these random pieces will help me predict my own marital future.

When did love leave and loathing arrive? Was it months or was it years? Was there a sign? Did she know he was married? Could you forgive him? Would you take those years of love back if you knew the ending? Are you scared?

I'm scared. That's why I ask all these crazy questions. I'm scared great love will turn into something hurtful and tragic. I'm scared there will be signs of growing apart, but I'll be too busy with my life to notice. I'm scared he'll leave and I'll be lonely, or he'll stay and we'll hate each other. I'm scared he'll have a change of heart. I'm scared I just might, too.

I was watching Storytellers the other night with songwriter Ray LaMontagne when he was talking about his marriage and how tough it was to stay connected. Even though he had been married to his wife forever, even childhood friends, he messed it up while on the road. He put it perfectly when he said, "I lost the plot of my life." He looked so sad and sincere and humbled by this revelation. He sang Like Rock & Roll and Radio. I cried the whole time.

How many of us have lost the plot of our lives? How many of us have lost sight of what is important? How do we forgive the humanness in others, which sometimes feels impossible, while also forgiving ourselves? How do we keep from becoming strangers?

Divorce reminds me of the messiness of love. We must rely on others to love us back and, sadly enough, that doesn't always happen like we'd like it to. No matter how many questions I ask, there's never going to be a perfect formula for doing it right. We just have to keep going and pray the hurt doesn't kill us along the way.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Sorting Out My Life

My mom has been cleaning out her basement, which means she's been sending box after box of childhood mementos my way. She has saved every piece of artwork, certificate, pen pal letter, medal, grade card, poem or graded paper that I took home. It's a lot of stuff. For someone not into clutter, such as myself, it's pure torture to dig through.

If there is any good that comes from sorting junk, I have found some common themes emerge from my childhood. First, I loved things with my name on it. I have pencils, bags and notebooks with my name everywhere. Heather. Heather Boehmer. Heather Dawn Boehmer. I must have liked the way my name looked in print. Ironically, I still kind of feel that way. My secret wish is to see my name on the cover of book, hopefully with "national bestseller" right above it.

Secondly, I was a prolific writer. I wrote letters to friends in the summer, random pen pals, journal entries, notes to family members, poem after poem after poem (all terrible, by the way), and many short stories. The writing wasn't terrific, but I was amazed by the kind, encouraging words of my teachers. "Keep at it, you've got great potential," one wrote on my paper. They believed in me before I knew to believe in myself.

I also realized how much my mom relished every part of my journey. She kept every word, every picture, every award. She was so proud of me. While I've written often of the struggle growing up with single, teenage mother, I'm not sure I've accurately conveyed what an amazing woman my mother is. She is humble, funny and kind. She has never, not even for one small second, given up on me, though my actions would have tested the most patient soul. I guess I'm thankful she's let me sort out my life at my own pace.

At the bottom of the last box I went through tonight, I found a poem I had written in the ninth grade with a green honorable mention ribbon stapled to it. I don't remember the poem or the ribbon, but it reminded me of the dreamer I used to be. Still am, I guess, in many ways. Here's hoping we can all grow into something special and keep working on the big dream. If it's super unrealistic, well, then I think you're definitely headed in the right direction.

Lament for the Non-Dreamers
by Heather Boehmer, 9th grade

They never seem to look beyond today
or wish for anything unrealistic.
A second of their time is not wasted
on such foolish measures
as daydreaming a tomorrow.

Their lives are synchronized into patterns,
which are colored black and white.
Their eyes are closed to all the magic and beauty
that is soundly sleeping behind the closed doors of their imagination.