grief is a spiral

i realized the other day that spinster summer is more than halfway over. the first half went pretty smoothly. it seemed to fly by, really. maybe it was a mix of having the opportunity to see jared a lot (because i spent the first six days in boston with him, & then i only had about two weeks by myself in kansas before i flew back to boston to spend my birthday with him) & the novelty of having all the alone time i wanted. but now i am in the big stretch of not seeing him for a month, & some of the excitement of having the house to myself has dissipated. it’s getting more difficult.

i threw myself a little birthday party on saturday so i could spend some quality time with friends in kansas. i wasn’t anticipating a rager, because 32-year-olds, as a general rule, don’t really rage a whole lot. i also don’t know that many people in lawrence, & at least half of the people i do know are out of town for the summer. plus lawrence is a weird place. you actually have to be kind of popular to get people to schedule you into their busy weekends. maybe it’s a college town thing? or maybe it’s just a life thing. i was competing against a couple of going away parties & whatever it is more fun-loving people get up to on weekends, so it was pretty sedate.

jaimie offered to make me a birthday cake. although she is trying to maintain a gluten-free diet, she said that cakes are “how [she] best expresses [her] creativity.” she asked me for flavor & them suggestions. i offered chocolate, vanilla, hazelnuts, & cats.

this is what she came up with.

the cake part is shaped like a zine. half of it is chocolate & half is vanilla (though the chocolate got greedy & colonized the vanilla half a little bit). the creature is in fact a rice krispie treat molded into the vague shape of a cat & covered with fondant. it has fondant ears & tail & frosting features, including claws.

detail of the cat.

jaimie says, “i’m not a sculptor, okay?” she thinks it looks like a hairless pig rat. i think it kind of resembles jaimie’s dog, wallace tucker. he’s a terrier/chihuahua mix who grew up in a meth lab. after the meth lab exploded & his original owners were hauled off to prison, jaimie adopted him.

the cat is wearing an ice cream cone birthday hat with a sparkler in it. i refused to light the sparkler because i am still traumatized from setting my hand on fire lighting sparklers at kickball last summer. so jaimie lit it.

the cake with the sparkler lit.

i feel that i should mention that this cake is enormous. & literally only six people stopped by for my “party” (which is about five more than i really expected). only four of us ate cake. so i have tons of leftovers. they’re taking up an entire shelf in my refrigerator. thankfully, jaimie is hosting a barbecue/potluck this evening, so i’m going bring the leftover cake & also all the leftover beer that has been sitting in my fridge. i just don’t drink beer when left to my own devices. i don’t drink any alcohol. that’s definitely not a bad thing, but it does make me wonder sometimes why the hell i pay for recycling service.

people singing happy birthday to me.

the day of my party was in fact charlotte’s tenth birthday. if she were a person, she’d be getting ready to enter the fifth grade! she’d be able to write cursive! charlotte shares her birthday with my niece, malachite. she’s nine. halfway to adulthood! they really do grow up so fast. my sister may disagree, since she’s the person who has had to shepherd malachite along to turning nine, but i feel like she was just born last week.

malachite was in fact born exactly two weeks before my dad died. so the anniversary of his death is coming up on july 30. it blows my mind to think he’s been gone for nine years. i had just turned 23 when he died. now i’m 32. weirdly, jared’s father’s birthday is the same day my dad died. his mother’s birthday is the same as my ex-husband’s. people are sometimes surprised that i’m so good at remembering the birthdays of people i don’t even know that well, but it’s easy for me because there are weird clusters of significant dates in my life.

i guess nomy lamm is performing in lawrence on july 30. that’s where most people i know here are going to be on the anniversary of my dad’s death. i am still mulling whether or not that’s where i want to be. it could be good to be with friends, doing something potentially fun & definitely outside the confines of my usual routine. but it might be kind of stressful.

to be honest, i don’t really feel a lot of feelings on days that are associated with my dad–his birthday, father’s day, the anniversary of his death. i haven’t felt a lot of feelings about him in a long, long time, because i guess my philosophy is to just not have a lot of feelings about things i can’t help. but i do sometimes wake up in the morning or space out while reading a book & think, “i haven’t talked to dad in a while. i should call him.” then i remember. i wonder how long a person has to be dead before that fact finally sticks in your brain.

charlotte as a baby.
my dad, about two years before he died (the second to last time i saw him).

Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

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