I would consider myself a strong woman.
At age 8 I crawled up an aluminum slatted slide that was clearly made for only going down, sliced my knee open and hobbled the five blocks home while bleeding. I still have a scar to prove it.
I withstood my formative years being teased and called "sarah pees-her-pants" because of a kindergarten pants-peeing incident only to shake it off and garner a new nickname in 8th Grade - "Charmin" - thanks to a bra-stuffing incident.
I went to college in the 90s, chopped all my hair off so I wouldn't be identified by my "beauty", and withstood all unecesaary, stereotypical lesbian jokes that comes with that.
I got hit by a car while riding my bike. I have two tattoos. I gave birth to a child, naturally.
So, yeah. All in all, I think I'm a pretty emotionally and somewhat physically strong woman. No, I don't do ironmans, or climb mountains, or push huge tractor trailor tires around parking lots for strength training. But, I don't crumble in the face of hardship or humiliation or a challenge. My history has shown me that when I set my mind on something I don't stop until it's accomplished, no matter what. To me, that's strength.
This year was one of my strongest years to date. I left LittleVirgo for a whole month to start writing a novel while living on an island 20 hours drive away from her. I had to put my 13-ish year-old beagle to sleep during the first two weeks I was on the island, away from her. Then I decided to uproot my life and hers and live on the island without any idea of what happens next - away from everyone.
The first month here, on beautiful Guemes Island, was the honeymoon. There were more sunny days than rainy days. The cozy cabin we're living in for the summer oozes charm out of every nook and cranny, and there are actual nooks and crannies. Everything was new and exciting and novel. So what if there were ants in the house. It's an island, right? The ferry is 30 minutes off schedule? Whatever. It's part of the island charm. LittleVirgo and I were going to be the belles of the island for sure. People would honk and wave and think, "There are those two adorable girls from Boulder." We'd have the loveliest days walking to the beach near our cabin, and learning the tide tables and identifying sea life. And even when it rained, we'd just put on our boots and keep going.
Now it's the nearing the middle of month two. Honeymoon over. And this strong woman, who, for many years has looked adversity in the face and sang, Hear Me Roar, would rather yell fuckingFUUUUCKdamnitshitallhelldamnitassholeheadFUUUUUCK at the top of her lungs.
Turns out, moving to an island by myself is harder than I thought.
On the drive here, during a snowstorm outside of Bozeman, Montana, the winshield wiper blade I'd just had replaced blew off its arm, leaving one functioning windsheild wiper, the passenger side of course, and one metal arm scraping across an ice-filled windshield. Normally, I'd have the man in my life or my dad replace it for me. Neither of those things are an option so I taught myself how to install a wiper blade in a snowstorm. Damnit.
The cabin we live in is so unbelivably charming I could eat it for dessert every night. Seriously, it's probably been the inspiration for a nautical poem where the wife stays home and tends the fire (woodstove) while ye husband is out to sea. She paces the porch awaiting her gentleman to return home and alas, sees him off in the distance trudging up the road from Cook's Cove, where's he docked his fishing boat and sings him an ancient mariner's tune. But, it does have a bit of an ant problem. I thought I'd nipped it in the bud during week two by investing in some ant traps filled with, what seemed to be, ant heroin that had every ant in a mile radius beelining it to these traps, lapping up the clear liquid. They were supposed to live just long enough to take it back to their queen, kill her and the rest of the ant colony, and that would be that. Ant genocide. It was quiet for a day or two, but little by little, they've been reappearing. LittleVirgo has even created an Ant Can where she puts ants that she catches with her fingers. Just when I think I've got them all, a new little black ant crawls out from under a rug and I clench my fingers. FuckingAssholes!
I hired a part-time nanny for LittleVirgo back in February while I was getting everything in place to move to the island. She seemed great on paper. Long story short, she wasn't. After confronting her for purchasing movies from iTunes and not being repaid for these movies, she quit on me with no notice, leaving me and LittleV to freelance together. Oh, and she's in full-on "mama i wanna heeeeelp" mode all the time. If I'm sitting at my laptop typing she's got her fingers between mine typing too. I love LittleVirgo, but Mama's gotta work and pay the bills. Shit all hell.
And speaking of LittleVirgo, she's coming into her own out here on the island. And again, I type this next part with all the love in the world for the little girl I gave natural childbirth too, she's driving me batshit crazy. I love her. I do. She's a spirited, independant, stubborn, strong-willed child. She's me, at three years old. It's a minute-to-minute practice of patience with her. Especially because now it's on 24/7, where as before, I shared time with her Dad. (Note: I'm not going into how we share her time now. This post is not about that. Thanks.) So we're together all the time, singing the "Frozen" soundtrack and Baby Beluga, playing with a family of slugs she's adopted, and collecting every seashell on this island. There have been plenty of nights after lights out, which is hard to explain to her up here above the 42 parallel where daylight lasts until 9ish p.m. and there are no lights to turn out, that I've taken whatever the alcohol du jour is, found safe haven on the front porch and closed the door behind me, leaving her to figure out sleepy time on her own. Really, I want to yell GOTHEFUCKTOSLEEP, but I exhale and drink my wine.
I ran out of firewood to keep the cabin warm. I could pay for a half-rick (I think that's the measurement, anyway) of wood, but I'm kind of cheap. I don't have a truck to go pick it up. I don't want to pay delivery cost, and quite frankly, I just keep forgetting to do it until the day here and there that it gets a bit chilly at night. Tonight is one of those nights. It's been in the upper 60s for a week or so, even on cloudy days, and I've gotten used to not needing anything more than an extra blanket at night. It's been raining for two days, and the wet chill set in this afternoon. There's was one huge chunk of wood in the rack, that if split up, would be a good four-hour fire. So, I hauled it out to the wood-splitting stump, stood it on it's end, told LittleVirgo to stand back because of course she's on my tail, picked up the ax and heaved it over my shoulder and totally missed. I tried several more times, always reminding myself to look where I wanted to hit, but I couldn't figure out which side the ax felt more comfrotable on, which side should I swing. I kept throwing it over my shoulder and then launching it into the wood and it would get stuck. Obviously I wasn't hitting the grain right, I deducted. After the tenth swing with no results, nearly dislocating my arm, I looked over my shoulder at LittleVirgo who said, You look funny mama, and nearly launched into a poem of woodchopping profanity. MOTHERCHUCKINGFUCKINGWOOD.
In case you thought every day on an island was a perfect, glorious day. It's not. In case you thought I was just living it up out here, cruising on sailboats every day and kayaking through coves and along shorelines. I'm not. In case you thought a handsome man was delivering fresh seafood to my door, he's not. And don't even get me started on the absense of dating out here, or how I look like a harried single mom with dark circles under my eyes and and a tantruming child in tow every time I see a good looking man. Yes. I'm living a dream. My dream. Don't get me wrong. I love it. So much. But for once I find myself not feeling so strong. Wanting to stomp my feet instead of roaring. Wanting to curse the Universe and my lack of strength instead of praising them.
Turns out, life is easier if you just stay put in the comfy zone. That's not me though. Never has been. I'm sure I'll revisit that old Helen Reddy tune someday and roar again. Right now, I'm gonna keep creating new explicatives and perfecting my profanity. Sonofabitchassfuckingpissantshittingcocksucker.