Walkabout: Day 58, Orange sun in a low arc

December 16, 2016 ~ Friday

7:15a Morning Pages ~ Blue Cypress Lake, Florida

Well, I attempted to be the rescuer, but I was fortunate enough to have the kids decline. (Every time I call them “the kids” I think of Rob’s Mom. She always referred to us as the kids. It was endearing. :)) Julia has not had a moment alone in days, and she wanted some time to herself today. I totally got that! So while she takes time to herself, I get to do the same.

I am sitting next to the boat launch, a tiny inlet off the lake. The sun is rising orange before me, just off to my left. It shines orange in the water and gives an otherworldly feeling to its immediate surroundings. I hear fish splashing in the water, bird wings flying and bird voices calling. I love this place.

It was chilly after the sun set last night; very chilly. I put on a long sleeve athletic top and Edward’s TKE sweatshirt over the top of that. I wore my black silk pajama bottoms and my slippers too, along with my ear cover, once I tucked myself into the sleeping bag.

It felt good to be cooler, after all of the sweaty night I spent on the kids’ couch. It is still cool now, though I know that will change as the sun rises.

Speaking of sunrise, I noticed her low arc this morning. Based on the position of the setting sun last night, I had expected a certain position for the rise, about 180* opposite. But that was not the case. Of course! The days are shorter now, so the sun would not travel the full arcing distance of the sky anymore. It will be interesting to observe its path today.

Justice is in my lap in the camp chair, and I am having to contort myself into all kinds of positions in order to accommodate her and to write at the same time. But I don’t mind. I have had to make all kinds of adjustments to accommodate her on this trip. But it has been well worth it to have her with me. She is a wonderful travel companion.

The mosquitoes are out this morning. A few have landed on me, but for the most part they seem uninterested. I have not had any issue with the fire ants.

I had to make just a couple of small repairs to my tent, but she is also holding up like a champ. There is a thin layer of sandy residue on the inside of her walls that I will want to sweep down and out at some point, when the tent is more empty.

The temperature here will be in the upper 70s today, with a chance of spotty showers, so I have reloaded some of my more important items back into the car. I want to minimize any effort I need to make, should the rain come today or tomorrow.

I was told that Becky “repented” for the way she treated me, and that I have been invited to the funeral and celebration of life services tomorrow. I am relieved, but I also have a dilemma.

I am sorely angry with her still, though I am pleased to report that is passing. I don’t want to see her, and I don’t want to forgive her yet. But I need to. I will keep working on that and praying my way through it.

Just got the call from Cameron. Julia doesn’t feel like she can be alone with the baby today. Gigi to the rescue! lol 😀

Walkabout: Day 57, Blue Cypress Lake

December 15, 2016 ~ Thursday

3:45p Morning Pages ~ Blue Cypress Lake, Florida

I have not been writing much, focusing most of my energy and attention on Cameron, Julia and Grayson. Julia was released from the hospital today, so I had to leave the apartment. They were concerned about Justice being around the new baby. I don’t think they were afraid she would hurt him, it’s the hair and dirt I guess. They don’t know if Grayson will be sensitive to it. I understand.

I packed up and cleaned up this morning around 11a. I made camp near Yeehaw Junction at Middleton Fish Camp off Blue Cypress Lake. It seems to be a fairly popular spot. My tent is just off the water, but it is shielded by a line of mangroves.

I had to be careful not to pitch the tent near the fire ants. There are quite a few mounds around, especially near the tree line, which is, of course, exactly where I wanted to be too. lol

I drug out a lot of my stuff to do some re-organizing as I departed in a bit of a hurry, not expecting Julia to be released so early.

Edward had invited me to a lunch date today! I almost missed it, since now I had Justice in the car, and it was already 73*. But it was also overcast, and I found a parking spot in full shade. Lucky me! He had offered to spring for my Yankee Oysters at Waldo’s, and I sure didn’t want to miss out on that. Especially since I had not eaten all day.

I picked Cameron up from the hospital for work around 7a, and he looked pretty ragged. He said they had hardly slept all night long. Grayson was full on crying, and they didn’t know how to help calm him. They tried everything, even called the nurse for help a couple of times.

I went into rescue mode, offered to come hold the baby so Julia could try to get some rest. Grayson was asleep by the time I got there, and he was perfectly quiet for me.

I think Julia may have gotten an hour of sleep, between the nurse, patient advocate, and TLC program rep visiting. Poor girl. I would stay to help tonight and tomorrow too, as long as they might need me, but I have Justice, and they would have to relax the rules for her.

I am actually feeling a bit of a chill! The sun is lowing and not so hot anymore, and there is a nice breeze coming off the lake. I will probably want to move into the tent before too long, and perhaps finish my three pages there before I have a bite to eat.

I have leftover fries and coleslaw from my lunch, and I think I will mix the slaw with my leftover black beans from yesterday afternoon. I am back in conservation mode, trying to make up for my recent REI purchase and what I want to spend on a little Christmas too.

Having Justice is going to make navigating the next couple of weeks in Florida a challenge, but I am up for it.

I love the sound of the lapping water here. I put on my rain fly, just in case. The forecast calls for an overnight low of 67* with a 55% chance of rain. I really need a good night’s sleep, and I loaded much of my stuff into the tent, so I didn’t want to take any chances. I am kind of tired of drying out my things. lol

But honestly, I am happy to be camping again, on my own, not crowding the kids but being close enough to help. I am on my own time table again, for the first time since I arrived last Friday, almost a full week ago. I feel happy and content. I have cell service and a 3G network here, so life is good. No burn ban, so I can even build a fire in the evenings.

I don’t know if I really want the kids to ask me back or not. The fussy baby would get to me after a while, and Cameron and Julia are fried and could easily be triggered. I would hate to do something to upset them. I also hate leaving them alone in this condition, and I really wish I could do more to help relieve some of the pressure, or at least help them get some rest from time to time.

But hey, my job as Gigi is pretty cushy right now. It can hardly get any better.

We’ll see how the mosquitoes get, but so far so good on that front too. Nothing like my time in Charleston. The wildlife here is pretty incredible too. Lots of birds of many types, lizards and butterflies. So peaceful and beautiful. I will be sad to spend the rest of my time out elsewhere. Which reminds me, I need to call tomorrow and get my permit to camp at Fort Drum next week-ish.

Walkabout: Day 56, Home?

December 14, 2016 ~ Wednesday

11a Morning Pages ~ Vero Beach @ Cameron’s apartment

Grayson Joel Morrison made his arrival into this world yesterday! He weighed 7 lbs 13 oz and was 18 in long. He is totally fabulous and was greeted by very many adoring fans.

Cameron and I took Julia to the hospital on Monday to be induced. Her appointment was at 4p. They had her balloon going by 6p and started the pitocin drip around 11:30p.

By 6:30a she was at 3 cm and they broke her water.

She started pushing around 5p in two sets, the first about thirty minutes, followed by thirty minutes of “rest”, finished by another thirty minutes of pushing. Cameron supported her head, her sister (Jessica) had one leg, and I had the other. Her mother (Stacey) was right there by her side.

It was such an amazing experience, watching Julia give birth to my grandson. She was remarkably strong willed and careful to do everything right. She loves Grayson so much. Cameron choked up with tears. Jessica and I cried too.

We were the A Team! We were cheering and supporting Julia so much they had to tell us to quiet down. lol

[2019: I had every intention of settling down after Grayson was born. I had selected the Pisgah National Forest area as my new home, which would be central to family and loved ones in Florida, Alabama and Virginia. As you will read in upcoming journal pages, I indeed completed my walkabout in Brevard, North Carolina and quickly went about figuring out how to best return to the “real world”.

Until the next hair-brained idea captured me. But I will save that story for another day. 😉

Three years later, the Universe has brought me back to Vero Beach, where I once again celebrated Grayson with our family last night. It is an honor and a joy to share the daily pace of life with people I love, and I will cherish this time as long as it lasts. I have every intention of establishing myself a home base here, and enjoying the fruits of my labors among my people.

But this I have learned: You never can tell what the Universe has in store for you.

And the question I asked myself three years ago still hangs in the air today.

Who are my people?]

Walkabout: Day 55, Happy Birthday Grayson!

December 13, 2016 ~ Tuesday

[2019: My grandson is three years old today, and he continues to be a reminder to me that I have something greater than myself to live for.

I did not write any morning pages on this day three years ago. Instead, I put my own desires and ambitions on the back burner, and I was very present with my family. Grayson was the reason that gave me permission to set out on the road. I did not want to make the same mistakes I had made before. I did not want my family to be unaware of how deeply I loved them, and I wanted to let the sacredness of this experience to envelope me entirely.

So instead of sharing journal pages today, I will share the chapter from my book (GO: Sacred Solo Travel for Women) that visits the hours surrounding the birth of my grandson. Happy Birthday, Grayson!]

Chapter Twelve

Vero Beach ~ New Life

“Julia’s mom and sister are coming over this evening,” says Cameron. “I thought you women should meet before you are all together in the delivery room.”

My son has the most wonderful sense of humor, in which his wisdom shines.

I have been looking forward to spending more time with Julia and meeting her family, but now I am nervous. The ordeal in the hospital was unnerving, and I am second-guessing everything. Maybe I don’t belong here after all. Maybe there is no place for a wandering soul. Maybe blood bond is just an outdated concept that no longer has a place in the real world.

Julia’s mom, Stacey, and her sister, Jessica, bound into the apartment with arms full of items for baby Grayson’s room. The house is filled with chatter as the ladies fawn over all things adorable and cute and precious. I feel a little jealous. They have been with Julia through the whole pregnancy, through every milestone, every scary moment, and every relief. There is nothing I can contribute now. There is nothing missing from the nursery, nothing needed by the time I got here.

Jessica has two boys already and plenty of advice for Julia, who is full of nerves. It is sweet to watch big sister with her little, lifting her chin and reassuring her with her matter-of-fact and knowing tone. I feel a pang that I don’t have that kind of relationship with my own sisters.

Stacey is assessing the home and making sure all the final pieces are in place. She has an easy smile and bright eyes. She instantly warms to me and remarks how much Cameron has matured since the news about the baby. “We are very proud of him,” she tells me. “He has come such a long way.”

We sit around the coffee table, and they tell stories about meeting Cameron and his early dating bloopers. “Do you remember the time you …” and they laugh. It is obvious they love my boy as much as their girl, and I am grateful that he has found another good family to belong with. I am being welcomed into this circle, but I still feel like a stranger here. I’ve missed so much.

Later that night, when the house is quiet and it’s just me and my son together on the couch, I reach for a shred of significance.

“Does Grayson have Christmas Eve pajamas yet?” I ask.

“No, he sure doesn’t,” said Cameron.

“I want to buy his Christmas Eve pajamas,” I say.

Cameron smiles at me. Christmas Eve pajamas have been our family tradition since he was born. “Okay! That would be awesome,” he says.

I smile and pat his shoulder. “You are going to be a wonderful father, Cameron. I am so very proud of you and all you have accomplished to get ready for your baby.”

“Thanks, Mom,” he says. “I love you. I’m so glad you are here.”

“I love you, too, son,” I say. “Thank you for having me.”

Grayson Joel Morrison arrives on December 13th at 6:28 pm.

Julia was a champ for a first-time momma, and her cheering squad may have gotten a little over-zealous. My son beams as he sees his little boy for the first time, and I watch him wipe a tear from his eye.

I watch Cameron and Julia holding their baby boy together, filled with love and adoration. I am whisked back to the day my own son was born and the first time we held him, filled with awe and wonder. I wipe a tear from my own eye. The brand new baby boy is swaddled and suckled in the intimate moments after his birth, and I fade myself into the background.

The nurse enters and asks if it is alright to open the door. “Your guests are getting anxious,” she says, grinning gently.

“Yeah, my phone is blowing up,” says Jessica. She holds the screen up so Julia can see it, laughing and saying, “Grandpa is demanding to be let in.”

Stacey helps Julia sit up in the bed, pulls her gown around her shoulders and situates the pillows behind her back, trying to make her comfortable. “Okay?” she asks. Julia nods, then she looks at Cameron.

“Are you ready, babe?” asks Cameron. Julia smiles and nods at him. “We’re ready,” he says to the nurse.

The nurse opens the door, and the waiting area spills into the room with the new son as the center of the universe. He is cuddled and coddled and kissed and passed from one adoring set of arms to another. He meets uncle and papa and auntie and bestie and the room is filled with jubilation. I am swept into the celebration. I feel like my heart could burst with the joy of it. I belong here. This is my new family, too.

Finally, as the last visitors flow out of the room, my son walks to me holding my new precious grandson. He holds him out to me, cradling his head, and I gather him carefully into my arms.

Grayson is smiling. Bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh. I see flashes of Cameron overlaid in his bright eyes, and I smile back at him. I hold his face close to mine, and I say to him with syrupy sweet animation,

“I walked all day and night to find you. First, I traveled through the seven levels of the candy cane forest, past the sea of twirly-swirly gumdrops, and then, I walked through the Lincoln tunnel.”

“Did you just quote Elf to him?” Cameron laughs.

“I did,” I say, beaming back at him, unashamed.

Walkabout: Day 54, Who are my people?

December 12, 2016 ~ Monday

10:30a Morning Pages ~ Jaycee Beach, Florida

I am so torn in my heart right now. When I divorced Rob, I felt I could divorce much of his family too. Like I no longer had to be weighed down by all of the negativity. I could just maintain friendly rapport with the people who did not hurt me, and the others I would just see when I came to visit, or not at all.

Then this happened with Papa Bob, and I thought about Grayson. He will never have a chance to meet and know his great-grandfather. And it occured to me how foolish I was to think I could divorce Rob’s family. We share blood.

The blood of Rob’s father flows through Cameron and Grayson. There is no getting around that. So I made a conscious, painful choice to belong. Only to be summarily shut out. I could not choose to belong. And my heart is wounded by these people once again.

Now I am confused. Is family worth fighting for? And where do you draw the line, if it is? Do I try to maintain and rebuild my relationship with Rob’s family? What about Edward’s mother and children? Do I keep trying to reach them? Or do I just accept that I have no family. Who are my people? Do I just form my own tribe? What stories are preserved and passed along?

I felt like the Universe was leading me in one direction, but now I feel crushed and unsure. What I am supposed to learn from this experience?

Walkabout: Day 53, Course correction: I choose healing

December 11, 2016 ~ Sunday

7a Morning Pages ~ Vero Beach, Florida w/Cameron & Julia

I am feeling flabby after my days with Melinda and the indulgences I made with her – and since. I need to get back out and run today, or at least take a long, brisk walk on the beach. I need to get out and move my body. I need to stop the even small indulgences with alcohol.

Alcohol belonged to my adolescent self. Gigi is not a habitual drinker. She loves and cares for her body, and she wants to leave a legacy. Why do I keep making this harder than it is? Just do it already.

I made dinner for the kids last night. It felt good to be back in the kitchen. I didn’t have all of the tools and quality ingredients I usually prefer, but it was nice nonetheless.

And all I made was taco salad. Except! Julia was craving enchiladas, so I used that sauce instead of plain tomato sauce. It was so much better!! I consider this a permanent upgrade.

I still need to tally my finances from week seven and see where I stand. I need to make some decisions for Christmas. I need to take care of my car too. And I need to get the wet tent out before it creates a musty sauna.

I am feeling more sure and stable today. I am feeling more like my best self is emerging.

Who is my best self? Is she the hiker/adventurer I have met over these last seven weeks? Or is that just another version of my dysfunctional avoider?

I want to pick up a new address book, and I want to collect the birthdays of the most important people in my life. I want to be like Tom and Susie, with real, true friends all over the country and world.

How do I connect with people so this type of bond is formed? So they can actually feel my love? So we can genuinely touch each other?

I am tired of being the only one to carry around this deep, abiding love while everyone else is oblivious that I even feel a thing. Their hearts would burst if they knew how much I love them.

My journey has led me to this: There is legitimacy in the gender roles, no matter how outdated they may seem, no matter how the world shuns and grinds them down. We need providers, and we need nurturers and healers.

When I operated in survival mode, I operated as a provider. All of my self-worth hinged on what I could achieve. I did not have time for the luxury of relationship. I had work to do. I abandoned my role as nurturer and healer in favor of being the provider. And I expected everyone else to be able to heal themselves without me.

I don’t want to live like this anymore. I want to have meaningful relationships. I want to nurture and heal the world, the people around me. I want to find and enjoy authentic connections. My death bed achievements may write a good biography, but who would read it if no one cared? Am I the kind of person who is worth getting to know? Then I need to invite people in.

I never again want to be shut out of a hospital with the people on the other side of that door being unable to comprehend or believe that I am there to love and serve.

How will I support myself? How will I create a new home for myself? What do I do about the Mom factor? I have to believe these questions will be answered on my way.

What is my way? I believe the Asheville area is right for me. I believe I need the cool, crisp air in the fall, the snow in the winter, the flowers in the spring. I believe I need to live closer to my families in Florida, Virginia and Alabama. I believe I need to write and that I can somehow support myself as a writer.

I believe I need to collect family stories and to record my family tree and ancestry. I believe I need to be more invested in people, places and nice things, to make friends with my physical body, and to tell the story of my insides with my words.

My way is to live OUT and very present with the world. I need to stop running and avoiding and embrace the sticky, shameful mess.

Why did I use the word shameful? Where did that come from? Shame is toxic. It does not belong on my shoulders – nor anyone else’s. We do not embrace shame. We reject it.

I completely love and accept myself, exactly as I am and exactly where I am.

I have a lot of people to get to know! A whole new family is coming into my life! Welcome, Fletchers!

Walkabout: Day 52, I wonder if my brand of love is acceptable?

December 10, 2016 ~ Saturday

3p Morning Pages ~ Vero Beach, Florida

Hurting people hurt people. That’s just all there is to it. I woke this morning grateful that I still had an opportunity to see Papa Bob, to enter into the suffering of the family.

Cameron talked with Rob and got info on his room number for me. Rob texted Becky to ask when it would be best for me to come. Becky told him that Bob was fairly unstable and that they were minimizing visitors, and that I should not come.

I was sad that I would not be able to see Papa Bob, but I wanted my family to know that I was here and that I cared. So I went to the hospital anyway.

I did not try to enter his room. I only tried to catch someone’s eye, to let them know that I was here and that I cared. Becky saw me and asked if Rob had not called me. I explained that he did, and why I was there.

She seemed to appreciate it, and I hugged her and asked if there was anything I could do for them. Do you need coffee? Lunch? Do you need me to catch up your laundry? Dishes? No, nothing, she told me.

Okay, well I won’t keep you. I will just go on back to the waiting room and try to catch Kathy on her way in. Kathy had left to shower, and I wanted to acknowledge her personally.

I had no idea that my very presence would be so disturbing. I know they didn’t want me in the ICU room, but it never occured to me that they did not want me around period. That came as a shock, but I don’t guess I should have been surprised. I had forgotten just how aggressive this family could be. I was even asked to leave the waiting room.

I’m licking my wounds and trying not to feel hurt about it. I don’t know why I thought my presence would be a positive thing. Becky accused me of being selfish. She said the only reason I was there was that I was looking for a pat on the back. She told me that “for once in my life” to think about someone other than myself.

When I said I was there because we share blood, she said NO, we don’t. She wanted me gone. Entirely. I was completely unwelcome. I remember now why loving this family was so very difficult.

I wonder if my brand of loving is unacceptable. People don’t accept my love because I am distant. I feel like I make efforts to show that I care, but they are few and far between, and people can’t feel a love like that I guess.

I guess I need to be more active with my love. Do more. Be more present. I can’t keep my distance in love and expect people to be able to know that it is real and deep and genuine.

And I have to stop making excuses for myself. I have to figure out a way to be better at demonstrating my love for people. “Maybe if I didn’t have to work so much, I would have the time and energy to do more.” And that’s true, but it’s also an excuse. In the end, being fired or disappointing a client is one thing, and it is painful. But being shut out of a hospital room is another thing altogether.

The question remains… Could I even jump through enough hoops to be accepted? I guess I have a deep-seated belief that the answer is no. So why try?

I’m in a sitting nook just off the beach. It is cloudy and windy and chilly, so I have retreated from the actual ocean. I can still hear the waves crashing, see them in my mind’s eye, but I’m not out there in the elements.

Yeah, but I should be. What do I care if I get dirty or sandy or what not? I should be out there.