Firsts

Learning to live without you pushed me into a world where I was forced to ask, “Do you want to live like this?”

When I finally shouted from the rooftops, NO! My life took a shift

It took you dying for me to finally stand up for myself.

It took you dying for me to stop the cycle of abuse.

It took you dying to make me vulnerable for the first time.

It took you dying for me to demand respect from everyone.

It took you dying for me to be able to risk being messy with someone who wasn’t you.

It took you dying for me to finally be authentic.

It took you dying to open doors I never knew existed.

It took you dying for me to find authentic love like I had never known possible.

When you were taken from me, I finally found myself

–  run JKO run

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Tears

Today I cried. 

Like really fucking cried. Not that cry that messes your makeup but the kind that messes up your face. I sobbed. My therapist told me I needed to cry more. That in fact I don’t emote enough. I don’t think she knows me very well. 

The first few months I cried all the way to work, a 45 minute release that felt like it would never end. Then one day, a new friend asked me, “Did you just say casually you cry all the the way to Work?”

I realized then by the look of concern on her face it wasn’t normal. So for my therapist to say I don’t cry enough baffles me. I just don’t let anyone see me cry. I’ve never let anyone see me cry. The first and only time my stepfamily of 18 years saw me cry was the day I walked, let’s be honest ran,  into the hospital to find my dad dead. I lost my shit. Like academy award winning lost my shit. It scared them. I’ll never cry in front of them again. 

Today however, today I cried. 

It’s not like life hasn’t given me reasons to cry. Holy fucking mother of God it’s surprising I keep it together so well. TBH I don’t understand my composure sometimes. We could go through the laundry list of clinical reasons why my life has sucked and unless I told you wouldn’t have any idea. Some people who’ve known me for decades don’t know but let’s be honest I’m good at pulling my shit together. 

For instance when I lost my shit the day I cuddled my dad’s dead body I would go from sobbing to pragmatic in seconds. My messy tears mixed with irrational profanity screaming at my dad to come back to a tone and inflection that of someone primm and proper and of someone put together in seconds. 

However, today I cried. 

I asked my soon to be ex husband a question testing his ability to be honest. Finally, for the first time in months he was honest. Painfully fucking honest. That kind of honesty that as he answered I wished I could take back the question. I thanked him for being honest for the first time in six years and walked out of the house to the dumpster. Every step my legs felt heavier. Every step I felt a little less control. Every step I became a little weaker until I finally cried. 

Today I cried in the dumpster. Not literally inside the dumpster but in the wooded area that corralled the dumpsters. I stood between recycling and trash and sobbed. I sobbed the messy sobs where my face began to heat up. I sobbed the panic, painful tears that when heard can be felt by anyone who heard them. I sobbed in silence so no one could hear until I began to hyperventilate. I practiced breathing skills to calm me down so I didn’t dry heave. They didn’t work in time. In between sobs and hyperventilating I dry heaved up air. I dry heaved up pain and sorrow and misery. I dry heaved up regret and loneliness. 

Today I cried. 

I cried until I heard his footsteps. I calmed myself down. It must have been a good ten minutes of sobbing. I pulled myself together and turned around and in my oh so put together  way I gave him directions and told him I would see him later. He looked at me broken and scared. 

Today I cried. 

I walked to my car, shut the door and sobbed. I sobbed so you could hear it. I didn’t know I could do that. I could feel the tears in my chest. I could feel the tears in my soul. I wailed and didn’t care who heard because my car was my protection. 

Today I cried until I couldn’t cry anymore but I can finally say, today I really fucking cried.  

Getting support to start

We got a later start than I would have wanted to on Monday morning (6/12/2016) and that was ok because we have all of June to make this road trip happen. The original plan was to drive to San Diego spread ashes. Then drive to Temecula to see one of my best friends and then stay at another best friend’s house in Temple City (a part of Los Angeles). I really wanted my two girlfriends to give me a hug before this trip started and wanted them to meet my favorite blonde before we embarked on this travel adventure. I’m not the most amazing person at asking for support so being intentional about starting my trip with these two women was a huge step in self-care.

 

When made it to Temple City in 5 hours, which let’s be honest is great time especially since we ended up hitting rush hour traffic. We decided we would hit San Diego on the way back and see my girlfriend, Andrea and my brother on that leg of the trip. When we got ten minutes out of Temple City I texted Sarah and asked if we could take a nap in her back yard. Of course she said yes and wished us luck with her two dogs. By all accounts a miracle happened and I was able to get the dogs to chill out long enough for us to hop the fence, unlock it and spread out for a well-deserved nap. Our nap was ruined by laughter and talking but it was nice to just rest.

 

Sarah’s husband came home and we talked until Sarah arrived. It was a nice evening of laughter, talking, good food, watching the Warriors win the NBA finals (Go DUBS!) and just overall great company. I explained my trip to her because still no one but my favorite blonde and I really knew the process of the trip. Sarah was excited for us and provided the support that only 23 years of friendship can give. You know the kind that says, don’t do anything I wouldn’t do because I don’t have enough bail money and you’ll rot in jail. HA!

 

We left the next morning after a long hug and cleaning (my love language to say thanks!). We hit the road and headed for Vegas.

The plan of the final goodbye

Truth be told I’ve been planning this trip since April. When David and I began talking about summer vacations I decided I wanted to take Dad on a trip. When I was like 21 I started to do a research project for dad. I called the little town dad grew up in, Xenia, OH and spoke with the county clerk/town librarian for months. We went back and forth via email and she was amazingly helpful. I received copies of census records, death certificates, and property documents, anything you can think of to learn more about Dad’s history. I was going to put a big thing together for dad. That didn’t happen because as always, I got busy. I did process it with him and we had a great conversation about his history! I loved that conversation I learned so much.

 

We talked about taking a trip back to Ohio and up to New Hampshire, where Dad attended Dartmouth for his undergrad education. It was going to be a fun trip across the country. I wanted to stop in LA and see where he first landed when he came to California in the seventies and then just travel with him. It was slated to be an amazing adventure! He ended up getting married and my life as an adult took flight and college became a thing.

 

So in April when I hit that pivotal “four-month” marker of grief I decided that I needed to do something with the ashes that my mother had given me to take care of. David and I decided to take an anniversary trip and he was unable to take an extra 10-14 days off. He talked about taking 5 days off and he could fly back. That didn’t appeal to me so I left it in God’s hands. I prayed on it and knew that it would happen. Power of prayer is an amazing thing.

 

When my favorite blonde and I began talking about this ridiculous road trip we both quickly realized that this was going to be a real thing I realized I needed to put to paper the idea of what would this trip look like. The idea was to take the trip Dad and I had talked about and spread him along the way, minus going to New Hampshire because that’s a long way to drive. I knew I wanted to spread him in Xenia. That was the end game. Everything in between was up for negotiation. She and I came up with a rough plan allowing me to process as we talked and whatever came up became a thing. The timing of the trip was amazing. During the course of this trip the 6th month anniversary of Dad’s passing will happen and we will arrive in Xenia the day before Father’s Day. Truly like God wrote this out and said here ya go!

 

The plan is much less of a plan than it is a series of things that I think might work and things that pop up as we go.

 

  1. San Francisco, CA: When dad moved from Ohio he moved to Los Angeles and then to SF. He loved SF and had so many awesome stories to tell about it. He even lived with his brother for a hot minute. I was raised in the Bay Area, not SF but the majority of my childhood was spent in the Bay Area. I thought it fitting to start here.
  2. Las Vegas, NV: My father and biological mother played a lot of poker professionally. This was my dad’s favorite hobby, was really good at it and he was happiest when he could play cards. He taught me how to play poker and shuffle cards before I learned how to play Go Fish. It’s a thing in my family. So of course I wanted a piece of him to be in Vegas.
  3. Xenia, Ohio: This is where dad spent the first 18 years of his life. After college ended I don’t know if he spent time back there I believe he moved after. I know in his twenties he left and never came back. He wanted to go back. He wanted to show me his life, his past.
  4. San Diego, CA: San Diego is purely for me. I love water. I know Dad loved water so that was enough for me. I graduated from college in San Diego and he was the reason that I went to college. It wasn’t even an option; of course Jamieko is going to college. He made me secure with being intelligent, he encouraged it. He encouraged me to do so much! San Diego is often considered one of the most beautiful places in California. I’m going to Carlsbad because that is one of my favorite places and it’s closest to my college.
  5. Monterey, CA: Monterey County became home for Dad when he got married again. So of course finishing in Monterey is fitting. My mother asked if she could join and she had a place she would love to spread. Originally I was going to take him to the Monterey Beach Hotel because I know that the two of them went there often and he loved that place. I am excited she’s taking part in this process. One of my best friends said she’d meet up with us and join in the final goodbye. I’ll probably invite one more friend.

 

So that’s the plan and mini-reasons of why I chose the spots I did. Some of the stops I’m making where ashes will not be spread are of significance and I will talk about that when we get there.

 

I’m so excited that this trip is taking place! I am so freaked out that this trip is taking place! I am also so blessed to be taking it with someone who lets me be ME like Popi did. I can be messy without judgment and be encouraged to process and not deflect. I can laugh at stupid things, cry without having to be silent, have a serious conversation with, sit in silence, then laugh until I want to pee on myself again all in the span of ten minutes. I am excited to be taking Dad on the road trip we talked about for years. Here’s to saying goodbye ❤

– run JKO run

And it starts. . . as it ends

Sunday I had planned on spreading the beginning of Dad’s ashes at some point while I was in San Francisco with my favorite blonde and her mom. Let’s be honest I wasn’t going to tell her but decided last minute to tell her that was my plan. She was jazzed about it.

We got there in time for the event we were going to and so spreading the ashes before wasn’t an option. I had hoped she would forget about it. Turns out that’s why she’s my favorite blonde because as soon as we got in the car she asked where I wanted to go.

In true Jamieko fashion I panicked, I deflected and tried to avoid at all costs to follow through with this process. She gently encouraged me and we drove until I made a decision and that was what I needed. We ended up driving to Golden Gate Park. Let’s be honest I didn’t know that that’s where I was going to end up. Hell I didn’t even know that that’s where the Conservatory of Flowers lived. Tragic. I know.

It was dark and I didn’t know where to go. I was the person who ended up directing all the while trying to contain my inner freak out of the first step of this two week process. Her mom pulled over in a random spot which made me super nervous. Let’s be honest I’m probably the biggest “rule follower” that I know. So pulling over illegally in a closed park in SF to spread ashes (which is a no-no) was nerve wracking.

It was cold and yet I began to sweat as I opened the door to get out. I reached in her flowered bag and grabbed the sandwich size zip lock bag that Dad lived in and awkwardly got out of the car. My favorite blonde and I walked along the sidewalk as I rambled fluently speaking gibberish as she walked next to me making me laugh about my ridiculousness. We walked far enough out of site of the car and walked onto the grass. It was dark yet you could clearly the grass and the roots of the trees.

I hadn’t prepared for this. Period. I thought it would be easy and freeing. I think that would be the word I would choose, freeing. But here I was frozen with Dad in a zip lock and my friend staring at me at a distance waiting patiently for the next step. What the hell is the next step? I hadn’t thought this far ahead. Like do you say something? Do you throw the bag and run? Do you twirl in a circle? HELL!  Someone tell me what to do! First things first, open the bag.

I tried three times to dump the bag, squealing each time and dancing around like I had to pee. My nervous energy did nothing for my decision-making skills and did nothing for me except make me want to vomit. A few minutes later and on the fourth time I finally walked over to the area where the grass met the wooded trees creating a nestled cave and protection. I squealed and dumped the bag in a swinging motion in the hopes that they would magically fly away? Who knows. I was nervous and so uncomfortable that I was being watched. I tried to say something besides gibberish mixed with laughter. I have zero idea what I wanted to say, but let’s be real, I hadn’t planned on saying anything. It turned out to be something like,”Uh ok ta-dah!? Thanks? Bye dad.”

I walked over to my favorite blonde stood there and was at a loss. Like what now? Do you ask for support? Are the cops coming? Is her mom gonna honk the horn? Oh shit am I gonna cry? All, which made me too nervous to do anything except say, ok let’s go. She paused and expressed how it was ok to cry and we could take a minute. I think I took 20 seconds before walking to the car. She shook her head and followed me.

Her mom made awkward conversation asking about why I chose to spread the ashes on each step of the road trip and I started talking. I began doing my silent cry that I have perfected and thank the Lord Jesus she had to focus on not killing us so I didn’t have to speak anymore. I sat in the back and silently cried. My favorite blonde reached back and held my hand as I texted my best friends and freaked out via text. You know, the healthy way to emote.

So… that’s how this road trip began. Spreading dad at the beginning of where he talked about as a good thing. He didn’t share much unless I asked and I didn’t learn to ask until it was too late and he was too weak to carry on those heavy conversations. I am grateful for the years and moments that I did go into nosy Jamieko mode and pried into my dad’s very private life. I was told once by one of my black friends, that black people don’t share history. They don’t talk about the past because it already happened. That was my dad. Some things I believe are culturally passed down whether you ask for it or not.

This begins where it ends in the Bay Area… Thank you Stanford for keeping dad alive so long. Thanks San Francisco for so many fun memories for Dad and with Dad. Thanks for keeping him safe on this first step of this amazing journey!

– run JKO run

Interview this or that?

I have began multiple posts the last few months and yet they sit in my draft folder unfinished and unmotivated to reach that finish. Is it strange I’m ok with that? I feel like at some point I’m going to blow up my blog with posts from February, March and April. Yet here we are in June and none of that might make sense. Oh well such is life!

Friday was the first day of summer break. Well in theory Thursday  was but I did a favor for my supervisor and worked a half a day yesterday interviewing potential candidates. Interviews intrigue me. Not because of anything specific but just because you are often someone you’re not normally. You know? You’re nervousness seeps out, you’re trying to put your best foot forward, you’re trying to put yourself on display like some sort of show pig who wants to be purchased at the end of the county fair.

Being the one to interview is really interesting! Reminds me of how many types of interviews there are. How many interviews you do in your lifetime, daily even! You as a person who interacts with people interview people every day. Do you realize that? Your children to see if they are in trouble, your spouse to see if you’re still connected, your boss to subconsciously see how you’re doing in your job, your friends to find the right support, the list goes on!

The last few weeks I’ve been interviewing my entire life. That process has been intense! Almost like a life crisis without being upset about it. I was doing it very subconsciously at first but now I am intentional. Who in my life makes me a better person? Do I like doing this? Am I really friends with you or do you use me for support? Do you make me laugh? Where is my smile? A daily interview to ensure my self care and people I surround me with matches my lifestyle. That lifestyle goal solely to be genuinely happy. 

The death of my father taught me a lot. The major focus now is, life is too short to not be happy. Too short to be for everyone else. Too short to not laugh. My interviews aren’t for a job or for a potential spouse they are to bring my laugh back permanently. So here’s to the interviews that continue, to me being the interviewer and the interviewee. To the adventure of the next step of life!

Here’s to laughter. 

-run JKO run

Undefined Relationships

This week I’ve been approached by the idea of undefined relationships. I think the word relationship is such a loaded word. Like seriously, when I say relationship your mind goes directly to a place. I’m not sure what that place is but you see some sort of connection between two people. I’m not sure why I’m struggling with the word but it feels so foreign as if I have never had the choice to truly define a relationship and that is uneasy for me. So much so that I use it in quotes.

Relationships come with boundaries. Boundaries that can either live in the depths of your inner soul and you never share or they can be clear and defined and brought to the forefront of the relationship. Turns out it’s uneasy for me to have to define anything. What in the hell is that fucking about?

The one thing I have learned with my new relationship is that it fulfills something I didn’t know was missing. That frustrates me. I could even go as far to say that pisses me off! I think of myself as very self aware and the death of my father seems to have fucked me up more than I knew and like that with the changing of the seasons, hell the fucking changing of a shirt, I find something else out about me that I never knew.  How could I not know something this big was missing?

I have not truly sought out help. That sounds so shitty and pathetic. But I haven’t. I have worked through things on my own. I started running again. I talk to my husband. I have one or two friends who check in on me and I share with them but other than that I’ve been riding solo. Wasn’t until I reached out to an ex boyfriend this week who also lost his dad while we were dating that I realized I needed something else. I needed understanding. I needed clarification. I needed to be heard. All which I suppose is the hope of my connecting with this ex but since I haven’t followed through with that it hasn’t happened. So who knows if those needs will be met.

I think the fact that I haven’t sought people out and I have only turned to God has made me more vulnerable. More aware. That’s a good thing. So when my new relationship began to ask questions no one else asked it felt different. It felt intentional. I don’t know that in the 3 decades of making friends and having relationships I have ever had anyone be so intentional. Not even when, let’s be honest, someone was trying to get into my pants. That’s not to be misunderstood as my husband doesn’t care or I don’t feel loved by my best friends. It’s just different. I am loving it and so fucking terrified by it. It was/is clearly something missing in my life and I don’t want it to end.

It’s foreign. It’s uneasy. What is the saying? “You grow only when you get out of your comfort zone!”

So here I am building a relationship that is different from the start with someone I for sure would not have chosen. The intentions are so pure and probably for the first time this “relationship” feels pretty damn equitable in all things imagined.

So of course I search for reasons every other hour to end it. Classic.


-Run JKO Run