Posted in Life stuff

Father, mine and someone’s

Today, six years after losing my dad, I’m sharing my coming out story again. This is also a reminder that we can make connections that take us back to these special moments. I danced with a gentleman several months ago who was too young to be my dad but reminded me of my father in many ways. I hope his children know how awesome their dad is.

Stella Samuel - Author

He wouldn’t have danced with me, my father. The day he gave me away, I told him we were only having dinner, not a full reception. Ours wasn’t a traditional wedding anyway, so skipping the father-daughter dance wasn’t a big deal to me.

Dancing wasn’t the only thing he wouldn’t do. He wouldn’t have read my screenplays, but he’d happily watch the movies once some Hollywood director ripped apart my words until the idea behind them was all that remained. He would laugh though. No matter what we were doing so long as it wasn’t dancing, he’d laugh with me. A quiet all-knowing laugh that would leave me wondering if my laugh didn’t quite hit the rhythm of the joke. And he’d talk with me.

He’d ask questions, wonder where my life was, where it’s going, and what I needed from him to reach my dreams. He’d listen to my…

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Posted in Life stuff

It does get easier…I think

I was told yesterday as we sat outside with our toes in the sand and tacos and beer between us, the sense of loss I feel all the time doesn’t usually bubble up until today.

So, we were a day early yesterday hosting our annual celebration of life lunch. I woke this morning, and it hasn’t hit me yet. Not like a ton of bricks anyway. It’s there though. Almost like a cloud over my head. Eeyore’s voice saying he’s okay when everyone really knows he’s not. The images are still there. The moments. The tears. The long talk before his final breath. The Temptations song on the radio – the one I can’t place anymore. It’s all there.

And there is another sense of loss too. The idea that someone alive is also gone. Dead. Out of reach. That’s there too. This is why I gather friends each year to celebrate life instead of sitting and mourning. Because I have so much good in my world right now, so much I wish I could share with my dad. But he’s not here.

I reached out to a good friend yesterday and started the conversation off with, ‘This is a problem I’d normally ask my dad about before anyone. I called my mom, and she was helpful. But I need to ask you too.’

You see, we can still live. We can carry on. And we can recognize where we are when we are there and what kind of support we need, even when our support is gone.

In the six years since losing my dad, my little redhead has grown to a smart, curious, eager young man who still has my father’s grin and hair. My youngest daughter shares her deepest secrets with me, and it’s this kind of communication that took me years to accomplish with my father, but it’s also the kind of communication we had all through my adult years. My oldest is now a teenager in high school – with a boyfriend. My world has been turned upside down and is starting to settle, but these past two years, I needed my dad more than ever. The fact that I am still here and still thriving, still striving to be the best I can tells me my dad did a good job. He raised me with integrity. With respect. With kindness.

He’s not here today. But he – and my mother, but she’s here and I still lean on her – set me up to live. To live beyond their influence, beyond their lives, beyond his last breath.

Six years after telling him I will be okay, and he could go, I can say with all honesty, I am okay.

I miss him with everything I am. But I give him credit he deserves because I am okay.

I am okay.

We all suffer great losses. Death. Divorce. Empty Nest. Sobriety.

A new life.

A new life is on the other side.

If you’re like me, often in a dark place, often missing what you once had, missing someone, wondering what could have been, wishing someone could see you now, wondering how to carry on after this huge change, just move. Just move. Forward. Sideways. Up and down. Move. Each day. Every day. Move.

This is life.

We live. We lose. But while we are still here, we can carry on. And we can do it with an intensity we’ve never had before.

 

 

 

Posted in Fiction, Peek into Stella's Books

Chapters of 34 Seconds

Do you want to read the Prologue and first two chapters of 34 Seconds?

Sign up for my newsletter and grab the first two chapters plus the prologue for free.

PFFTTTTT…..

Clearly this post isn’t done! And it’s getting likes.

And you can sign up. And I think MailChimp is set up to send you a link to the chapters. But I kept pushing this post out…and out…and out because I wasn’t ready.

Clearly, my calendar caught up with me. It’s no longer a scheduled post I need to find time to write…it posted! Just like that.

But it’s okay. I’m okay, And you’re okay too.

And I’m human. So I say sign up – but I have no link.

I’m not ready.

So I’ll put this on my calendar for another few weeks and see if I will be ready then.

In the meantime, thank you for your patience and acceptance for simply being human.

And if you really want the chapters…I’ll send them to you. Just message me. 🙂

 

 

 

Posted in Life stuff

Tuesday Morning

Yes, of course, I remember. But instead of the usual where were you on that fateful day post, I’d like to share some things I remember about the days following September 11, 2001.

I remember kindness. I remember patience. I remember people all around me in grocery stores, on the road, at the mall pausing to smile, to connect.

I remember being American.

I was recovering from a breakup…it had been a while, but we talked often. We’d healed. She’d moved on. We stayed friends because I wanted her in my world. After a few hours at work, I called her, and we headed to downtown Denver and sat in a bar across the street from the World Trade Center which was decorated in a huge pink bow because the walk for cancer was coming up, and Denver turned everything pink in preparation for October each year.

Everything was quiet. She talked about the potential of being recalled into the Air Force where she’d spent eight years. But more than our experience together, we were with community. People in the apartments nearby hung American flags from their balconies, something their building probably didn’t allow on a normal Tuesday. The bar was pretty close to empty, but the few of us there talked. We tried to smile. We didn’t ask what one another did for a living. We didn’t care about which neighborhood we all lived. No one seemed to notice the two lesbians sitting with them. There was no judgment on the beer we ordered. No small talk. It was calm, quiet. But more than that, everyone was respectful.

You see, in moments duress, sadness, in moments of attack, we are all connected.

We paused to recognize our own humanity, our commonality. We don’t do this every day. We are all too busy. Some of us feel a sense of entitlement. We honk horns at lights while a mom in front of us is trying to reach a sippy cup for her crying toddler in the safest moment she can find on the road. We complain if the cashier at the grocery store talks too long to the customer in front of us because we are in a hurry to move on to the next task. We are impatient. We are sometimes cruel. We taunt and tease. We poke fun at the expense of others.

We are human.

In those days following September 11, 2001, we weren’t all that different at all. We were human. We were patient. We were kind. We took the time to compliment one another, to recognize something good in each other. We were humans – together.

Each year, I look for that again.

I see it sometimes. I see in where I live. But sometimes we fall off this wagon of commonality and forget to pause and reflect. Sometimes we forget we are all in this together. Sure, we don’t all share connected lives. But we all live. And we all die. While we’re here, we love, we hurt, we anger, we laugh. We smile. We feel. We want, desire, and yearn for various things, and though those things may differ, we all know that feeling of passion and desire.

We win. We lose. We try. We bother.

And sometimes we don’t.

This week and into the next, and if you’re up for a challenge, the weeks to follow too, try to get back to this place. If not every moment of every day, at least one moment each day, do something kind. Make a difference. Show some patience. Share a smile. Tell a joke and make someone laugh.

Remember.

Remember we are on this rock together. We won’t all agree. But we can try to find a commonality each day. Each day, let’s try.

Every year I remember all the lives lost. All the nationalities. All the Americans. All the people left behind.

Today, I share this song by Melissa Etheridge about Mark Bingham, one of the many heroes on Flight 93.

Things have changed since Mark and Todd and others forced Flight 93 into a field in Pennsylvania rather than into its target. Mark could marry who he loved today. He’d probably have a hugely successful business and a proud mother today. It took him years to come out and years to be open…today I bet he’d be a happy advocate.

Instead, he and the others on that plane will forever be heroes.

 

Posted in Life stuff

It’s Okay, I’m Okay…

As authors and writers, we are used to rejection. It’s part of the gig. But each submission that comes back with a we read your piece and though it’s lovely, we won’t be using it message, does send some of down a path of self-mutilation.

No, not really mutilating ourselves, but our minds and sometimes our work. I’ve had pieces rejected by one place only to have those same pieces picked up by another place soon after. I have the same piece rejected over and over while only giving rights to publish an accepted piece once. I know I am not the only writer to look at my work after feedback and say, well, of course, it was rejected. It’s shit. Utter shit. Was I drunk and desperate when I hit the submit button?  And I’ve had good pieces that for the life of me I can’t figure out why I’m stuck reading others’ utter shit while mine is sitting in some recycle bin.

The reality is the grass is often greener after some time and space from a piece of creative work. I submitted to an anthology a few months ago. I disliked my piece, didn’t have the time to work on it as I should have, and even more, I knew all of this when I turned it in but still took a chance. While rolling that dice and calling on red, it feels so good…the risk, the chance, the wondering what could happen. And then when you hit the wrong color and the wrong number, you lose. That’s it. Plain and simple.

Loser.

For this particular submission, there were about a thousand entries, and remember, I knew mine needed work. I didn’t even like the title. But when the announcement of winners came back and I wasn’t on it, it was sad. Even though I knew all I knew, I was disappointed.

Just that. Disappointed.

You see, it doesn’t matter if we expect it coming, rejection isn’t fun no matter how you roll the dice.

So, I’m here to lift you up and to remind myself: It’s Okay, I’m Okay.

Rejection from a person, from a spouse, from a lover, from a co-worker, from a boss, from a friend who chose to do something besides hanging with you, from anyone judging your creative work sucks. But it’s okay.

You’re okay.

I’ve been learning a lot about control lately and how our emotions control us instead of us controlling our emotions. Don’t assume you are not of value because someone said no to you. And ask yourself, if that same no keeps happening, is this someone you want in your life anyway? If I keep submitting the same piece to the same editor, should I expect a different response one day? If we keep asking the same friend for a cup of coffee at the same shop feeling rejected each time, should we be looking into asking someone else or asking if coffee is not what our friend enjoys?

Rejection doesn’t always mean we are horrible at what we do. Sometimes it just means we are not a good fit for what we want to give. Learn to be a better fit. And never give up on your dreams. It’s Okay. I’m Okay. You’re Okay. We are all Okay.

Keep believing and understand if you have heard no recently, it’s okay. If you’ve said no recently, it’s okay. Really, it’s okay.

 

 

Posted in Life stuff

When Life Happens

Last week I bought a planner. And 36 colorful pens!

I don’t think I’ve had a planner since 1998 when it was cool to walk around with a large leather-bound object looking important as if you had so many things to do you had to carry a tome with you from place to place. Remember those days? We’d open our planner in front of a client or even a friend and push it to the edge of a desk because the 8×11 paper inside the 11×15 book was too large to spread out on one desk. God forbid your counterpart was looking at their planner at the same time, right?

Twenty years later, planners in the face of cell phones and digital calendars and task lists or Post Its we can digitally place on any screen are becoming a thing again. And they are smaller. Not cell phone small, but not desk size either. And they are filled with ‘You can do it’ messages. The first forty pages of my new planner are all about how planning my life can help me to reach my goals and realize my dreams. My potential comes out of prioritizing my tasks. The last ten pages of my new planner are instructions on how to use the planner.

I hate to say it, but I don’t have time to read fifty pages of how to be motivated through the use of planning and how to use a book with a calendar and task list. My biggest issue in my life is I have too much on my plate. On all of them. And I have too many plates spinning above my head. Sometimes they fall, and I get a headache because let’s face it, a porcelain plate hitting my head doesn’t feel good.

But I’m using my new planner. This was my first week. And I’ve decided I can spend a few minutes each day reading the fifty pages of planning-know-how over time. I’ll even plan it by putting it in my calendar.

With that said, this week I have learned I tend to prioritize a certain way. Tasks I consider small and less time consuming come first. Last Wednesday, I scheduled thirty minutes to call Apple to figure out why my book is still not on iTunes. An hour and a half later, I was stressed because I have every minute planned and I’d lost an hour. This happens daily.

So, in my first week of planning and prioritizing, I’ve managed to get a lot of little stuff done. But the three things which take the longest, the three things I devoted hours to each day, aren’t getting done. I’m behind. I’ve set goals, but I’m not meeting them.

I’m sure the first forty pages of my new planner addresses this, but I’m not reading it yet because I have yet to find that spare moment. So, next week I’ll plan differently. The little stuff matters, right. Yes, but not at the expense of the big stuff. I’ve written a lot this week. A lot of little stuff. Some blogs to schedule. Some ideas. Some emails. Some short stories. Some essays. But the big thing I wanted to do was to finish my next novel. In order to do that, I need to change the way I am thinking about writing and editing this big thing.

It must make it to the planner, and I must also do the work too.

So, just how does one catch up enough to get the little things done with enough time to tackle the big things too?

I don’t have the answer yet, but I can say with my new planner, I am looking more into my days and how I manage them. And even though I’m not yet accomplished, I am learning about myself and how well I manage – well, me.

Peace, Love, and Planning

~Stella

 

Posted in Life stuff

Be an Architect in Your Life

I am my architect, are you?

I don’t often post motivational blogs, but in an effort to post more and with a better schedule, I’m starting this week off with a #MondayBlogs #MotivationalMonday post.

Really, this is the result of much self discovery and a snapshot of battles we all struggle through. Some of us survive while others do not. I have two friends who divorced and are mending. I am so in love with the idea of them and have muddled through the swamp with them to find they aren’t muddy at all. They are discovering themselves again and opening to loving again because they have decided to be their own architects. For them, this means they will control how they communicate, the love and the anger they put out there for the other to receive, and how they want their new world with one another again to look and feel.

I am the architect in my world.

I create what I would like to have in my life and I control who I allow to live in it with me.

It’s funny to think how much I have changed, how much I am the person I used to be, and how much I was willing to tolerate because as my world changed and evolved around me, I became more and more unaware of my own surroundings, and that changed me.

One of my children spoke to me about negativity in their world earlier this week. We face it so often. Anger on the road. Frustration with those around us. Impatience in the grocery store line. People in our world who don’t know how to communicate effectively all project negativity onto our path.

How do we stop them?

                                   How do we build our own world without these things?

The answer I gave my daughter was kindness.

Kindness is the path to greatness.

But it’s not all that simple. And it’s not easy.

“I used to love her, but I had to kill her.”

Those were the words I heard once when I called my lover’s phone by accident.

My lover.

My support. My rock. My I do.

‘I used to love her, but I had to kill her’ is the title lyric from a Guns and Roses song. I remember the song. I used to jam to it when it first came out. The line ends with something about putting her six feet under and still hearing her complain.

This is not the world in which I wanted to live.

“This is my love song to you…” these are the words which start a different song I hear often. When we argue. When I’m upset. When she’s upset. When we question the world around us. When we wonder if we’ll make it. When she wants me to know I am her lover. I matter. I am important. I am loved and wanted.

We get to build our own world. Build one you want to be in. Build one you want to live in. Build one where you will thrive. Build your world where you are loved, supported, accepted, and able to be who you are.

It took a lot of building to create a new world where I am comfortable not only with myself but with those I allow inside. Be your own architect. Don’t fear letting go because once you do, amazing things open on the other side.

 

So, I’m not really motivating here, in my motivational post, but I wanted to share because I am still hit with negativity every day. And I put a wall up to it. We will always have those in our loves who bring us down, those who want nothing for us but to bring us down, but it’s how we build our worlds and support systems that will make the biggest difference in how we handle that negativity.

I have days I don’t know how I am going to make it. I have days I want to curl up and cry all alone because no one could possibly understand. But I know you do. You get it. Because you have those days too.

It’s not always easy to get up once we are down.

Building a world which can carry the weight of negativity and the power of grief is the key to surviving the times when we are so far down it’s difficult to get back up. Creating a support group, or a tribe as I call those, those people who are there to lift you up and hold you until you are steady, brings us up to a place where we can not only survive but thrive as well.

Getting out of survival mode is fucking hard.

Yes. It is. I said for many years I was in survival mode week in and week out. I had a small tribe. Those I called when my migraines were so bad I couldn’t stand in the kitchen long enough to cook macaroni and cheese for my children, but I never leaned on them for much else. I never told them about the song my lover had as a ringtone for my phone about loving me one time and then killing me another.

Breathing day to day is tough, breathing moment to moment is tough when you are only surviving. We go from task to task, day to day, week to week, waiting for something new, a change, hope, or the one thing our world truly lacks.

Reach out

Building a new world and being your own architect includes building a tribe. We need infrastructure and a team who will carry the weight we cannot when times are tough. Find those people for your personal tribe. And invite yourself to be in theirs as well.

Be an architect in your world. Plan your world out so you are loved. Plan your world so you are free. We are out here to support you and hold you up. Just come find us.

Peace, Love, and Life.

~Stella

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Fiction, Peek into Stella's Books

.99 Cents Sale

It’s funny sometimes how I run promotions and forget to tell people

34 Seconds is on sale for .99 cents right now on Kindle and Nook!

Grab yours and don’t forget to leave a review once you have read. Reviews are like collectible coffee cups or Precious Moments figurines.

They are moments that matter.

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Make it the most wonderful day. Hug someone. Or share this blog because that’s like a hug too.

Spread kindness like glitter and smile.

Okay, I’ll stop telling you what to do…

~Stella

Posted in Writing

Father, mine and someone’s

He wouldn’t have danced with me, my father. The day he gave me away, I told him we were only having dinner, not a full reception. Ours wasn’t a traditional wedding anyway, so skipping the father-daughter dance wasn’t a big deal to me.

Dancing wasn’t the only thing he wouldn’t do. He wouldn’t have read my screenplays, but he’d happily watch the movies once some Hollywood director ripped apart my words until the idea behind them was all that remained. He would laugh though. No matter what we were doing so long as it wasn’t dancing, he’d laugh with me. A quiet all-knowing laugh that would leave me wondering if my laugh didn’t quite hit the rhythm of the joke. And he’d talk with me.

He’d ask questions, wonder where my life was, where it’s going, and what I needed from him to reach my dreams. He’d listen to my complaints. Funny, I don’t complain about the same things today as I did then. I wish he knew. I wish he knew me today. I could tell him I am closer to the young woman he used to know. Not the teenager who fought him every step of the way. Not the teenager who’d been raped and feared not the consequences but rather telling her father her secrets. All of them. The small girl who picked clovers while singing the song wondering if they were red clovers or merely the color red and clovers separately and the young woman who wanted acceptance, not just tolerance, needed to find that place of warmth in her father’s arms again. I was that girl again, not the in-between girl, while dancing.

But the dance, the journey, began long before. Not in a field of clovers but in the sound of the blooms coming out to live free.

Honeysuckle sweetened the sour air outside my father’s house. Closing my eyes, I inhaled the scent of nectar while twisting the ring I wore on my right hand. Unless he’d seen the headlights from my car rising up through the dust, Dad wasn’t aware I was there watching him. His silhouette in the light of dusk only lit up when he inhaled the carcinogens from the cigarette in his left hand. As had been threaded through my childhood and adolescence, music filled the air. Dad had built a wall unit to hold his stereo several years back. The massive stereo, as esteemed as a family heirloom, was the centerpiece of the room. When we weren’t watching the latest Thursday night sitcom, music was on. It was how I’d spent my childhood. From sitting on his lap as a young girl to adulthood struggles, the soundtrack to my life was Dad’s music. Irony closed in on me as song lyrics spoke thoughts of loving her. Pursing my lips together, I smirked at the song. Tommy James and the Shondells was a band I’d been singing along to since I could make sounds. This was an album my father listened to again and again. When times were tough, when stress was overwhelming, when sadness took over his emotions, the lights went out, a match struck, and Tommy James sang of love and clovers.

This time was no different. I had run. Life doesn’t allow us to run long or far, but it didn’t stop me from trying.  I had to get away to find my support. To find myself. The only thing I’d realized from my choice to run was my life wasn’t a choice, and I needed to be true.

After spending five days in the hospital with her, I’d said my final goodbye. Her death was an awakening to me. Every beat in the song of clovers reminded me of the rhythm of her heart. The one I used to hear with my head on her chest. But only while it still beat. Beneath the tiny feet of squirrels sounded a crunchy autumn of the past, and hanging in the air, the crisp spring scent of honeysuckle mingled with sounds of musical waves leading to me stand in a doorway wondering if I had the strength to tell my father the truth.

“Dad?” The door squeaked as I opened it. A light went on as if his fingers were on the switch waiting for me.

“Hey.” It was all he could say to me.

I did call him collect from nine hundred miles away to tell him I was safe. My dependence on him ran deeper than tolerance.

“You’re home,” he said.

“I am.” Neither of us dove into the conversation we needed to have.

“I’m sorry I left,” I said with a cracking voice. “Maybe we can talk?” The question in my tone asked to be Daddy’s girl again.

“Are you okay?”

“I am okay. It’s been a rough few weeks. She…”

Tears fell from my jawline to the floor. I’d hidden too long. I was exhausted from hiding. Afraid of showing my weakness, I sat. The couch fabric scratched my skin as I pushed my body back. With elbows on my knees, I stared at the carpet below. It was a cesspool of dark hues and stains. Yellow light from overhead dulled the browning cigarette smoke laden carpet below my feet and reflected on the cobwebs draping the walls behind my father’s chair. Our conversation was about as pleasant as smoke stains seeping from the walls.

“I lost a good friend in a car accident, too. When I was your age, I mean.” He was trying. At least he was talking.

“Dad?” My voice cracked each time I said the word. “I’ve lost everything.”

“You have your health. And your job.”

“I’m nineteen. Of course, I have my health. And I wouldn’t have a job if I were back in school.”

“I’m not going to feel guilty for this. You want to go to school, sign up. But study something that will get you a better job than you have now. You need to be in business. Or computers.”

“Dad, I love theatre.”

“Fine. Study business. Join a theatre. If you can get a job in theatre, great. But you need a backup plan. You need a future.”

“I don’t want to argue, Dad. I want to tell you about my trip. About me. About what I experienced. About her.” A tear slipped from my eye, running as fast as I’d run before, soaking into the carpet leaving another dark spot.

“How about you tell me about that tattoo?”

“It’s Pop-Pop’s guitar.”

“You’re never going to get a good job with a visible tattoo.” His words bit. Word after word, sentence after sentence, the space between us grew larger. There was no way we’d ever find commonality.

The music had changed. The silence built between us as lyrics changed from loving her to new days coming. Change. People changing. I had to keep trying. We had to find that place again. That place where I climbed up onto his lap and wrapped myself into security and everlasting love.

“She…” I sobbed. “She wasn’t just a friend. She was my girlfriend.” The words came out faster than my mind could think them.

“What? What do you mean?”

“Dad.”

“The tattoo? You got it for her?” He looked closely at my leg. Names surrounded the shiny guitar still covered in healing ointment.

“No. I got the tattoo for me. I play guitar. Music, thanks to you, Dad, lives in my soul.”

“She was your girlfriend? You’re gay?”

“Yes, Daddy.” In my mind, I’d already crawled up onto the lap I remembered as the warmest and most loving place in the world.

“Well,” Dad said. His eyes didn’t leave his father’s Gibson Sunburst on my ankle. “We finally have something in common.”

“You have a tattoo?”

“No.” The silence sang louder than Tommy James. Dad stood, took two steps, and wrapped his arms around me. “I like girls, too.”

Crimson and Clover played from the wall speakers.

 

Over and Over.

Now he’s gone, my father. But I got to dance. And we laughed. The music blared, disco, then The Temptations, and Sister Sledge. I danced with a man who was not my father. A man who took time to show me steps even my father didn’t know.

“I don’t know how to two-step,” I said bending my neck to view the white hair towering over me.

“It’s three steps,” he said. “Two to the right, one back.”

“Then why is it called two-step?”

“I don’t know, but I’ll show you how.”

I hadn’t danced with a man in many years. But we connected. Sure, it was the Manhattans for me and the abundance of beer for him. He led me to believe the forty years between us kept him young on that floor.

“Forty years! We don’t have forty years between us!” Light above my head dulled as I closed my eyes imagining my twenties as if they were yesterday. I hadn’t moved like this since that time.

“Well, I know you’re a lot younger than I am, whatever the difference is. You’re keeping me young,” he said. My body spun into his. I was getting the hang of letting him lead, which wasn’t an easy feat.

My wife came over with another drink for me and looked at him with a crooked smile. “Your wife wants to know if you want another one,” she said.

“I’m exhausted. Yes, I need another one.”

We sat and laughed. His wife was beautiful. And funny. She and my wife connected. But on a different level. In their world, they could be neighbors. Friends.

Another song came on, and we danced. Sometimes all four of us, sometimes just me and him, and for some songs, I stood back with bourbon in my hand watching my wife’s body do something it does so well. Her movements were like ocean waves. Closer to me, then pulling away leaving me wanting another ride. Between the lights and the music, the bourbon, and the elation, I allowed myself peace watching her dance.

“This is our song!” he grabbed my hand, so I could dance another one. We didn’t have a song. He barely had a name, at least not in my world. But we had a connection. One that I missed because I hadn’t had one like that in the years since the clovers.

For one evening, I connected with someone’s father. And I remembered mine.

 

I lost my father about six years ago. Our relationship struggled for many years before I came out to him. It struggled after for a bit as I tried to find my place in the world. But with three children and an amazing partner, I’d like to think he’d be proud of me today. I settled many times until he died. Then I remembered Kris, my first girlfriend, who never thought we’d ever see gay marriage and who never did because a car took her away before she left her twenties. And with Dad’s death, I decided to live again. In 2012, I promised him I’d publish my novels. And I have. Irony never ceased between Dad and me. The last book he read was Jaws when I was a baby. But, today, I still write for him.