Thursday, October 20, 2011

Big Girl Pants.

When I started this blog, I vowed to let the world in on a time in my life where I not only had to deal with the pain of my husband living thousands of miles away, but I had to learn how to change my light bulbs all by myself. It was a blog intended to show my weaknesses, but also serve as a way for me to recognize my strengths. Yes, for a few weeks (okay, months,) after his departure I cried a lot, was heckled on a train by strangers carrying vodka, and spent an obscene amount of time plotting my survival route in case of break-in/rape/fire. (In that order.)But then something sort of beautiful happened...the blog took on a life of its own. The more I wrote, the more I began to explore themes of family, love, life and grooming. It sort of stopped being a blog about my growth, and I sort of stopped thinking that I would come out of this a bigger person. I was going with the flow...blogging about dinner parties and gorillas (deleted that one,) and about nothing that actually had anything to do with me. I didn't know if I was becoming a stronger woman, and I didn't care.

And then today happened.

I was in my boss' office when the earthquake happened. Maybe it was only a 4.2, but I was sitting under a bookcase, and when books started hailing to the ground like literary bombs, I panicked and rose from my seat. I couldn't walk. The floor seemed to be rolling side to side and I went to my knees thinking: "Well, if I die by book it would be pretty poetic." I'M A WEIRDO. Anyway, it was about 6 seconds, tops...but 6 seconds is a lifetime when you are truly afraid, truly alone, and truly nursing a welt on your head from a binder of theater reviews.

I didn't cry, like the time I cried in front of the Comcast guy. Instead, I shakily got to my feet and then updated my facebook status. Piece of cake.

I can handle anything.

After sitting through a long photo shoot for an upcoming production, I packed my backpack wearily, dreaming of a hot shower and cold pizza. Waiting at a crosswalk, I felt someone rubbing up against me, and I ACTUALLY PRIDED MYSELF on not turning around. I was feeling so smug that a little awkward contact with a psycho in Berkeley didn't even ruffle me anymore. I was a city girl! I saw a grown man poop on a sidewalk once! I am so chic and aloof and unable to be shocked! It took me getting home to realize that my rubbing stranger had actually opened two pockets of my backpack, cleaning me out of everything in there. Taken: a pack of gum, vanilla lip gloss, 4 pens, a highlighter, AND OH, MY WALLET WITH MY WHOLE LIFE IN IT.

I sat down heavily in my living room, my heart feeling like lead and my fears mounting by the second. And then I picked up the phone, canceled every card, called the DMV, called identity protection agencies, all while remaining calm. It sort of amused me the way personnel act when you call in theft:
Operator-with-a-southern-chipper-twang: "How are yeeew doin' this evenin' Mrs. Cattle?"
Me: "Oh. Sorry, it's Cottle actually. And, I'm fine. Good, thanks."
O-w-a-s-c-t: "What can I doo fer yew then?"
Me: "Um. My wallet? Was stolen? And I need to cancel my card with you?"
O-w-a-s-c-t: "Oh my Gah! I'm sooooo sorry!"
Me: "Oh, don't be." (awkward laugh) unless you stole it!
O-w-a-s-c-t: "I can assure you ma'am, I DID NOT."

They are very nurturing in bank land. In fact, I was so good at holding back the tears that I laughed loudly every time they signed off with a jaunty: "Well, have a GREAT day!" Yeah, sure Sara-Jane from Kalamazoo. I'll have a fucking excellent day now that some perv has all of my identification AND MY MONEY out there in fucking Berkeley, THANKS.

Anyway, as soon as I set the phone down after my last protective call...I calmly dialed Brett, told him the wallet was stolen...and then I cried.

He frantically started giving me helpful instructions: "You need to call the banks, do you have a passport for ID? You need to call the DMV.." I wearily moaned in to the phone that I had already done it all. It was done.

I did it myself.

I have never heard the line go as quiet as it did tonight.

The thing is, I'm not a princess by any means...but I had sort of given up on myself- not realizing my own strength and that I am capable of being independent...(in the best possible way.) I married a man that took care of every bill, that laid out my vitamins for me every morning, that anticipated every need or want I might have and met it for me before I knew it was what I needed. The old Melissa would have laid down in the street after her wallet was stolen and vomited or something. This new one...a new one to both of us, still did the dramatic crying about feeling "violated," but SHE GOT SHIT DONE.

It was a moment I remembered what this "Wife Experiment" journey is all about. It is a journey to self discovery- to realizing that, while I need and love Brett deeply, a little light bulb change is not going to send me in to a mental hospital. I can do ANYTHING.

I got in to the shower after the ordeal of the day, intent on power-washing my way out of my misery. I leaned against the cool tile in my bathroom, letting the hot water soak its warmth into my very soul...AND THEN ANOTHER EARTHQUAKE HAPPENED.

And I fucking got out of there like my tub was suddenly full of flesh eating gremlins. I. HAD. HAD. ENOUGH.

C'mon. Nobody is that strong.


  1. Um...Melissa? You're somehow inspiring and adorable and strong and beautiful and huggable and hilarious all at the same time. I loved reading this.

  2. Um, Tara? THAT is the best compliment ever...especially coming from such a gifted writer like you. You made my night! Thank you for reading...I miss you!!!!