I want a divorce!

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This was written to be delivered at a local storytelling festival. I’m not now participating in the festival, but thought it was still worthwhile sharing here. Note-this is not written in a journalistic style. It was written for a performance, so as you read it, imagine me on stage acting out some of the scenes!

‘I want a divorce.’ With those words my world crumbled. He told me – in that raspy Texas accent that I found so endearing – that he didn’t love me, made a mistake and wanted out of our marriage immediately. In fact he had already begun legal proceedings. I was gob smacked and didn’t know how to respond. How could this man, who I loved so much, tell me that he had made a mistake, that he didn’t love me after all? Why was he being so cold, mean and heartless? Was I too fat, was I not worthy, wasn’t I enough? The pain was unbearable.

He was a pretty single-minded man, washed his hands of me and left his lawyer to handle matters and that was that.

For months I would lie on my bed unable to sleep traversing all those feelings I guess one goes through in these sorts of situations. When things got too much I would try to take my mind off it by counting the flower petals on the hideous wallpaper in my room. Hideous blue and yellow flowers in the middle of candy stripes….yuk! Months passed and I had held out some faint hope that he would realise he had made a mistake. Of course this was a fantasy.

In the UK on November 5th every year we have a tradition of marking the day Guy Fawkes attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605. Communities make massive bonfires and burn an effigy of Guy on top. That year we made a guy in the image of my husband. We stuffed a pair of jeans and a sweater full of straw with a cowboy hat on top and put it on the bonfire. I have to say it was a little cathartic!

I found myself saying to myself, ‘It would be so much easier if he was gay, he’d come out and I’d be able to forgive him and move on!’ Instead, I was lashing out at him….”I’m going to sue the pants off you, you bastard!” So he lashed back at me with the threat to have me subpoenaed. I begrudgingly signed the divorce papers.

It took me time to realise that we do not have to be victims of our own stories… our stories are a way out of our suffering. We hold the power to change our story. Eventually I knew it was time to rewrite my story. I turned a corner. I stopped counting the hideous flower petals and painted the walls of my room. I began to see that I had to grow up, stand on my own two feet and gradually take back my power. I learnt to love and value myself rather than letting someone else define my worth. For the first time in a long time I enjoyed being single. Just at that point a new love walked into my life.

I didn’t hear from my ex husband….aptly named the ‘Wasbund’ for many years. Mutual friends would keep me abreast of his life from time to time. He had returned to the USA after serving in the Peace Corps and had gone into politics in Texas. Years later I get an email from him. It said ‘Dear Miranda, please know that I wish you nothing but the best.’ WHAT THE FUCK! I haven’t heard from him in 9 years and that’s all he had to say! I ignored it.

The very next day, I arrived at work and opened an email from a friend in the US with the link to a news headline – GAY TEXAN MAYOR COMES OUT AND FLEES TO MEXICO WITH HIS ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT LOVER. Could this really be the him?

I fell off my chair, ran into the bathroom, sobbed and had to be coaxed out by my bewildered colleagues.

He IS gay!

YAY!

I was vindicated! It wasn’t my fault after all!

The thought crossed my mind that maybe I should sell the story to the National Enquirer, make pots of money and celebrate this news in style! Like I said…it was just a thought!

The greatest act of compassion on his part was letting me go all those years ago. Despite everything that had happened, in an INSTANT I forgave him.

Next, in what I can only describe as an out-of-body experience, I felt a mass fall through my body and I was free of the chain of events that had choked me for so many years. I found the power to let go of an abusive family relationship and a shitty boss who I had let rule my life for far too long.

Forgiveness gave me freedom and has since become a mantra for the way I now choose to live my life fearlessly. Coming out, leaving all your hopes, dreams, family and community behind takes a HUGE amount of courage. Despite everything that had happened it was easy to forgive him.

I responded to his email and over the next few years we renewed our friendship. We’ve taken vacations together. We even took him and his partner to their first Pride parade in London. I can’t deny the joy I feel whenever I seem him express his sense of freedom openly. I knew I could count on him as one of my closest friends when, several years ago, my mother was killed in an accident, he dropped everything and flew to the UK to help comfort us in the aftermath.

One of the proudest moments of my life was to be a witness as my friend married the love of his life and we became a family. If anything I love and admire my ex husband all the more for standing up for his truth. Together with our husbands, (in the words of Sister Sledge), WE ARE FAMILY. It is as it should be. My story, OUR story proves that love truly does come in all shapes and sizes!

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Mexican Independence

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The weekend of Mexican Independence is arguably the biggest annual celebration in Mexico…especially right here in San Miguel de Allende.

The Mexican War of Independence marks the end of Spanish rule in 1821. Led by Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla who was the priest in nearby Dolores. Father Miguel led a secret group who planned ways to overthrow the tyrannical Spanish government.

Inspired by the Age of Enlightenment and global liberal revolutions, the educated elite of New Spain (as Mexico was then known) had begun to grow tired of colonial relations. Political events in Europe also effected events. Charles IV and Ferdinand VII abdicated in 1808 in favour of Napoleon Bonaparte.

In the same year, in Mexico City, a coup against the then viceroy was unsuccessful. This led to small groups of conspirators meeting in other smaller cities where they planned how to rise again. After being discovered in 1810, local banded together and joined arms together on 16th September 1810.

Over the course of a number of years the movement for independence went through several stages but eventually full independence was achieved on 27th September 1821.

Independence celebrations are taken very seriously here in San Miguel de Allende because it was here that General Ignacio Allende (a native of the town) joined the army as Hidalgo’s chief lieutenant and led the army to several victories. Sadly, Allende was not able to enjoy the new independent Mexico as he was captured and beheaded. The town was renamed in his honor in 1826. Today he is celebrated as a national hero. His home is on the corner of the Jardin and is now a museum-well worth the visit.

Celebrations over this last weekend have been loud and proud! We’ve had fireworks, reenactments, parades and non stop parties going on around us for the last 3-4 days. Mexicans REALLY know how to party hard! On Friday I watched hundreds of horses and their riders come down the hill below our apartment in full cowboy dress to join one of the parades – quite a sight…especially as most of the horses struggled to get across the cattle grate which is directly below our balcony!

Today, Sunday, it’s strangely quiet here. It seems all the chilango’s who have visited from out-of-town have departed again and normality is returning

 

For the love of a father

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OK, I admit it….I’m a little bit of a Trekkie fan! Last week we went to watch the latest movie – Beyond. The character I’ve loved forever is Spock – a noble character with massive integrity and a sense of humbleness and grace. Perhaps the most loving character of all.

Leonard Nimoy – the actor who played Spock all these years – passed away last year. Earlier this year his son released a great documentary in tribute to his father’s legacy. For the Love of Spock charts the ups and downs of this father-son relationship alongside Nimoy’s career in Hollywood – through a very raw and authentic series of interviews. The pair were estranged for several years while both seemed to need to figure out elements of their lives separately, but when his son’s wife was diagnosed with cancer, it was Leonard to opened his heart to his son once again. They enjoyed a fulfilling few years reconnecting before Leonard’s passing last year.

I found the film deeply moving…for reasons that I didn’t expect at first. It’s no secret that I’m also estranged from my father. It’s been a tough few years which came to a head shortly before we moved to Mexico. For my own sanity, I needed to let go of a relationship that has been controlling and toxic for far too long. It felt like the most loving thing to do for both of us was to walk away. This hasn’t stopped me from continuing to love my father. While I’ve worked through all the ‘what if’s,’ in the back of my mind of course you always hope that things can be worked out one day. Who knows if that will happen…I’m at peace either way.

I wish there were more people like the Nimoy’s who were so open about their relationship and striving to heal with it. For now, I’m grateful for their example!

Family Time Part II

WOW what a long Summer! Our final destination before heading back to Mexico, was some LONG overdue family time in Godalming and time with friends in the London area. It was great to catch up with so many family and friends.

The highlight has to be the Ash family reunion which brought together family we haven’t seen in years. Debbi and Martin are home from Thailand for a while and Liz and Ben and their brood recently moved back from Burkina Faso for some time. Rebecca and the kids were home from Russia for the Summer. Graham, Sandra and Sarah came up from Somerset for the day and the Highs travelled from North Wales and Manchester. What an international bunch we are!

A great way to finish our Summer of travels. Feels like a world away now!

 

One night in Toledo

After a scorching week in southern Spain we began our long journey north again. We were heading for Toledo which is the old capital just south of Madrid. Our drive north took us through mile after mile of olive groves, up to a plateau where we drove through undulating fields of scorched golden grasses.

Eventually we made it to the magnificent town of Toledo. Capital of Spain until 1563, Toledo is now a well known day trip for tourists visiting Madrid. Built on a steep hill, heavily populated with churches, convents, mosques and synagogues, the city is a feast for the eyes. Looking quite gothic it feels like a day here just doesn’t do this magical place justice. I wish we had given ourselves more time here – and at a time of year when it’s slightly cooler. Apparently the city once had a reputation for being somewhat pious and austere, but now a new wave of restaurants and tapas bars are breathing modern chic into the place.

We arrived at the height of the heat and retreated straight for our lovely air conditioned hotel rooms. Having driven 5 hours that day I was ready for a nap and left Matt and Susan to explore. The heat had really got to me by this time so I wasn’t up to much until after dark when the day-trippers had left and the city took on a new magic. Having enjoyed our last supper we meandered back through the narrow cobbled streets to our hotel taking in the spectacular flood lit cathedral and town hall. An early night for all as we had to pull out of the city at the crack of dawn the next morning. I have a feeling we’ll be back here again before too long.

And with that our time together with Susan came to an end. An hour later we were at Madrid airport where we parted ways. Susan flew back home to Mexico while we continued our drive back up to Cladech in France. We drove through the Pyrenees, stopping briefly in San Sebastian before crossing the border and on home. A mere nine hours after leaving Madrid, we pulled up at home.

The Alhambra

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Perhaps one of the most famous places to visit in all of Spain is The Alhambra.

Dating back to AD 889, layer upon layer of diverse cultural history can be found within it’s walls. It was well worth dragging ourselves out of bed early to be one of the first in line to visit that day – or so we thought!

Arriving at the palace visitors centre to pick up our pre booked tickets we were shocked to discover masses of people queueing up in front of us waiting their turn to get in at the appointed time. We waited patiently to get our tickets and through the turnstile before hot footing it (literally) up the hill to the Nazarene Palace to get through the door before our time slot expired! We made it – phew.

Being the height of tourist season meant that the palace was packed. I don’t do crowds! Although this wasn’t my first visit to the palace, it has been over 30 years since I was there as a child. I didn’t remember too much from that childhood visit so I was really keen to take it all in this time. I have a feeling the palace is best visited in the low season and while it may be cold in the winter….the quieter corridors and walkways must make for a more pleasurable experience. Still I did the best I could to take it all in.

However…sorry I’m on a rant here….if I see one more person with a selfie stick….I will snap it. There were SO many people taking selfies that it really got in the way of the enjoyment of the place at certain points. The takers seemed more interested in themselves rather than the beauty and history surrounding them – such a shame. Nevertheless, a visit to this beautiful palace is very worthwhile and not to be missed. Just take your time, let the crowds pass and drink in as much as you can.

The Generallife gardens are a feast for the eyes and senses! Occassionally I’d take a seat, close my eyes and imagine what it must have been like to walk here in years gone by. What stories do these walls and plants have to tell?

A visit to the Alhambra truly is worth the time and while it’s a challenge to take it all in – it’s magical, mystical and other worldly. Simply stunning.