Summertime and the Living’s Not So Easy

Happy Summer, Michael’s Loyal Readers!

I know it’s been a while since I posted anything in Michael’s blog. Truthfully, I have been a busy woman working way too many jobs and taking on way too many projects! They say everyone deals with grief differently and I discovered that my way has been to keep myself so distracted that I don’t have a single second to think, to process, or feel… It was the perfect plan. That is, until Summer crept up on me. The heat should’ve triggered my defenses. Last summer was the worst summer of my entire life.

Lana gets it spot on again!

Lana gets it spot on again!

This year, I decided to teach summer school again at Fullerton College. It was a lot of fun despite driving the 91 fwy at 6am to get there. Nonetheless, I love teaching the physical anthropology lab during the summer. I had some really great students. Every one of them a welcomed distraction. Unfortunately, the summer school semester ended last Wednesday. Thursday was my official first day of Summer. No job to go to. No projects to work on. No distractions. No bueno. Damn you, Summer. She used to be my favorite season. Summer used to mean time for family: Vacations, “Spring Cleaning,” BBQs, shopping trips for the house… My favorite time of the year! You might think that summer would have been the time that Michael got most of his writing done since we didn’t have to work. Nope. He never did get much writing done during the summer because summer was exclusively for Us. Our family.

Summer was our time to regroup and recover from the previous school year. Teaching is tough work, in case you didn’t know. Mind you, it’s fun. But, boy is it draining? Ask any teacher you know. Summer is what we live for when the classroom walls begin to close in on our spirit!  Michael and I both left our well-paying “office jobs” to go into teaching several years ago. It was our thoughts that teaching would be gratifying because we would be doing something meaningful and we could justify calling ourselves full-fledged “contributors to society.” In addition, it would give us the time and structure to enjoy our family. You know, what most of society hates us teachers for: “SUMMERS OFF!”

Teachers really earn those summers off!

Teachers really earn those summers off!

Well, needless to say, Summer isn’t the same anymore. This summer I am preparing to clean house, if you will. My baby girl will be going off to college this fall. (UCLA! Go, Bruins!) I am proud beyond words. I am also scared beyond words. Everyone keeps warning me about this “Empty Nest Syndrome” that I am to succumb to soon. Man oh Man, am I scurred? So, in an effort to create homemade distractions, I have decided to go through every room of our house and organize! Sounded like a good idea at the time. Until I realized that rummaging through seldom-visited drawers means running into hidden and painful memorabilia. Yee-ouch! What hurts? Well… let’s see. Yesterday I found an unopened envelope from “Some Unimportant Company” with a random phone number scrawled on the back written by Michael. I picked it up and looked at how Michael crafted his numbers. If you knew Michael personally, you’d remember that he had  very interesting penmanship – a cross between the cliched left-handed chicken scratch infused with the curly, whimsical lettering of The Cure. In any case, I imagined him on the phone talking to some faceless person on the other end and I could even faintly hear him repeating the number to that person. At the end of the conversation, Michael would do that chuckle that he would do and kindly thank the person. He was always so polite and sweet. I toyed with the idea of calling the number. Instead, I decided to let myself cry.

This process is very difficult. It’s so hard to determine what to keep of Michael’s and what to let go of. I’m almost ashamed to say that I still have his toothbrush; his shampoo is still in my (our) shower; his shaver sits on my (our) bathroom counter; I still can’t bring myself to wash the clothes in his hamper. I want to save every little remnant of Michael. I want to save that envelope. I want to save all his clothes. I want to save any piece of hair I think might have been his. But the one thing I really want to save can’t be saved any longer. Be patient, I tell myself. I’m slowly adjusting to this new life.

When Junk Drawers Attack

When Junk Drawers Attack

Today, I woke up determined to continue the process. I figure each attempt will make me stronger. In a junk drawer, I came across a card from Michael and Deja. It was so cute. It didn’t make me sad. It made me smile. In fact, I immediately put it on my bedroom mirror so I could see it every day. I also came across a letter he wrote me. It wasn’t dated but based on the content, I’m guessing it was written around the start of our teaching careers. He expressed coming to terms with our new adult lives and envisioned a grand payoff for all our hard work. His letters were always so sweet and well-written. Sigh.

I suppose I am going to come across more of Michael’s letters and random writings in the remaining weeks of summer… To help me with this process, I have decided to archive some of Michael’s writings here for all of you. So, please enjoy a touch of Calvillo Summer Reading!

Happy Summer, Everyone!

Michelle, 

The letters sparse, but the feelings run deeper than ever and everyday I am bursting with sentiment. Fie, the work week and falling asleep on the couch under the duress of exhaustion. At least our efforts are worthy and noble and long lasting (world domination one kid at a time), but the time for poetry and heartsong is sorely missed. The life of a student definitely had its pleasures – writing you daily: my attempts at a journal, emotional purging, honing my craft for you. I suppose the time still exists (video games), but my mind is lazy or tired or both and every time I write anything, whether it be this letter or a rap or a school related lesson, I regret that I am not writing a novel or a story or something that could possibly do us some good down the road (big house, maid who does laundry, trips, time). All in due time I suppose, no, all in due time I know (just a little more time, just a little more effort). 

Alas, my heart is my mind and my mind is your creature to do with what you will. The letters fewer, but the desire greater and every glance, every stare, every fumbling hug or bad-breathed kiss or silent drive, is a love letter of unfathomable sincerity. You are my soul turned inside out, made smarter and prettier and kinder than any human being has a right to be. I value this phase of our marriage, the smoke cleared, the confetti scattered, content and learned, still drunk on love, but not lost or dumbfounded by the unyielding power of dangerous emotion. Everyday there is growth and the invisible tendrils that bind solidify. It is scary to think that without you there is only darkness. Yet, I reconcile myself to the fact that we are completely comfortable in the other’s presence and the essence warming notion radiates like a lesser sun between us and recasts the future in perpetual light. 

Love forever, 

Michael 

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