For the past 5 years of my life, I have had somewhat of a secret… I don’t have many of those left these days, but for me my romantic relationships have always been something I have kept pretty much to those that know me personally. This was probably most evident when Courtney Halowell passed away. We had been living together for nearly a year before he passed, and when many of his friends arrived at his funeral, they were surprised to meet me, surprised to know that he had a girlfriend, surprised we lived together and shocked by the lack of romantic declarations and kissy faced photo’s we’d put on Facebook. Almost as though our relationship wasn’t legitimized because, “for a girl who markets herself as a “model” how do you not have a million photos of you and the person you love?” In fact we only had two partial photos. If you notice there are in fact very few photos of me with other people outside of large party pictures. It’s no accident.
It’s the one part of my life that I have kept just for me, for a number of reasons… my first marriage was VERY public, and very publicly messy towards the end. I always hated seeing couples argue on facebook, I felt it completely unnecessary and disrespectful. Conversely I find those private moments you have, the curled up on the couch comfort, the kisses between flipping burgers on the bbq in the yard…those are OUR moment’s, moments I’m really in, moments I’m not trying to loose to my cell phone, my social media etc.
I’m not going lie, this past year in review has had some major ups and downs, the sordid details of which I’m glad to have not posted on Facebook. A year from now I won’t have some awful argument pop up in my memory feed, “Facebook memory – that time you argued over couch color and ended up sleeping on it” If you know me in real life, you know this past year has been rough, in many, many, ways. (much worse than couch color)
So why come out now?
Well… I’ll start with some quick backstory:
5 Years ago, our marriage reception was supposed to begin at the site of literally one of the largest fires in Santa Barbara history Deemed “The White fire” it was accidentally set ablaze by a kid who threw camp coals into a trash can, a week before our wedding. The fire burned nearly 2,000 acres before being put out on Thursday, our wedding scheduled for Saturday.
We didn’t call it off, we relocated, at a huge price, and while the smell of smoke lingered it was still no match for the hoards of mosquitoes that came off Lake Cachuma at the start of our reception, or the searing heat that melted our wedding cake, or the fight that broke out, or our close friend splitting his head open tripping over a chair, or the camp host who almost sent a guest to jail for a DUI at 3am.
Fortunately, anyone who didn’t leave early because of the heat, drank enough to forget many of these details, mostly because we ran out of drinking water.
Our DJ played the wrong song for our first dance, some romantic 17 minute long equivalent of “Innagadadavida” which I had to stop after 4 minutes because I was absolutely roasting in my over-sized ball gown, and 90 degree weather (and did I mention… I got fat) after being a model since age 19 I finally decided to eat… everything…thought I could loose 40+lbs pre-wedding no problem… also kill the man that did my hair…
My husband hates this rendition of our story by the way. He still remembers it as a magical day, where the weather was warm, and perfect, and everyone had a great time, it ended with great stories, and us being married.
Fortunately our ceremony went beautifully, with one slight misspoken word during our vows. We wrote letters to each other, and placed them in a box with a bottle of wine to be opened “One Year” after our marriage. Our minister slipped up and said “Five years”
So this bottle was bought hastily at Total Wine, for probably as about as cheap as we could get away with. $35? (for us at that time was a lot)….may be vinegar by now…
Hey you have cancer!
My husband and I had always planned to renew our vows at the 5 year mark, but this last year had been tough on us, emotionally, relationship-wise, financially, in virtually every way you could think of. I have been off work for a year on disability for severe depression, and a month before our 5 year wedding anniversary I was diagnosed with cervical cancer, which caught early enough is no big deal for most women, but I hadn’t had a pap since I was 16 years old. I would be checked for everything else under the sun regularly, like a normal woman should, but when it came to that word, I shy’d away. I had been through some trauma at 16 so I always associated a pap with something much more painful, so I opted out every time, which doctors didn’t press on much because most cervical cancer is slow growing, so if you miss a Pap here and there, no big deal… 16 years of opting out, and tomorrow I am opting in to surgery to remove my entire cervix, (and we will see, possibly more), along with the possibility of loosing my ability to have children, hysterectomy, chemo the whole nine yards, this is step 1 and hopefully the only and last step.
I Do, Over…
Before finding out about the whole cancer thing, my husband and I had done a lot of soul searching, been having a rough time. I’ll leave it at that. We weren’t sure what our next step was, but when life goes from complicated, to life threatening, you begin to look at things differently. I looked at my life, the people in it, the people that stood next to me, talked to me, the people that were kind to me, that helped me and not hurt me, and although my husband and I had it rough, he was still there. Standing next to me, fighting for me, even when I didn’t want to fight for myself. The man that propped me up, my navigator when I got lost. I had gotten to a point in my life where he was the only person that could still find me, the only man who loved me enough to dive into the pit of hell and hold my hand. Walk through fire, stand strong, take an emotional beating, and get out of bed and go to work every day for what? For us, and once more he did it silently, gracefully, letting me make mistakes, never forcing me to be what I wasn’t, we would fight, and I would cry and like the fiery latin woman I am, I could be the destroyer of worlds and he would stand strong, let me finish and try and find the words to calm the storms.
We decided to start over. A lot had happened both good and bad after 5 years, and Matt was, is still here, he never ran away when things got hard, he only fought harder, and being married to me is a difficult, if not impossible task.
I’m messy, passionate, unpredictable, and stubborn. Not only that but its a hard task to be a guy who isn’t a typical “car guy” married to a woman who has spent her whole life drenched in it. Matt is a science guy, a thinker, an engineer, a planner, a man who is passionately curious for the truth.
Marrying a “car chick” without being the typical “car guy” is tricky. To tell men “you should be talking to her, she knows more about cars” that takes balls. It takes a level of commitment and trust that I could never find anywhere again ever. Talk to my wife he says, when it comes to “hotrods, motorcycles, off-road, pin-stripping, art”… and “talk to my husband” I say if you want to know about “physics, science, the universe, quantum theory, intergalactic travel” together, we got this shit covered. Passionate opposites.
We decided to go to Bali. I had always wanted to go but it was always just beyond our reach. With some help from family, we made it happen. This time I wanted to have a ceremony that represented who we were. I didn’t want to try and have the trendy “camp wedding” with mason jars on the table, and burlap. I didn’t want to do what I did before, which is what I felt like society was looking for, big cake, big dress, dance floor, dj, drinks, catering… I wanted to have a ceremony that was about two fiery people. A celebration of the fires we’d been through, and the people we were going to be, two individuals, together for life.
Say YES! to the Dress -linked – Quick Shout Out to Nordstrom (NOT SOLICITED) – This might make you cry…
Balinese Fire Ceremony
When Matt and I first re-met (we had known each other in high school but lost touch after a while) we met camping, and over the fire we talked and got re-acquainted quickly. He followed me as I drunkenly stumbled into the river for a brisk night “swim” while our friends laughed, and I watched him spin poi (flaming coals on chains) Yes that’s my husband:
So when we talked about a vow renewal a renewal by fire seemed fitting. Camp fire, fire spinning, we are both fire signs, and our relationship has been through hell and back, and of course our first wedding fire disaster. We are fire people.
We chose The Five Elements Resort in Bali for our vow renewal because of their beautiful location and the fact that they are one of the only places in the world that preforms an ancient fire ceremony, one that was so dangerous to do it was ceased for over 350 years. Sign us up. It was the most beautiful healing experience I have ever had in my life. It is the perfect summary of the balance of love and determination that marriage takes. It is far beyond the pristine, virginal, white wedding, where everything will always work out in the end. It is hot, and messy, and sensual, it is what marriage is really like, and it ends with two people that no matter how hot the flames may grow will still be there side by side. Come what may.
Tonight we are drinking that bottle of wine we put in a box on our wedding day, before I go in for surgery tomorrow, I don’t care what it tastes like, because I will be drinking it with the man I love.
June 1st 2018 we renewed our vows, and it was perfect.
In 2002, I spent 14 days locked in a concrete cell. I was put in nothing more than a thin cotton shirt, and a pair of shorts with holes in the seams. The cell they called “observation” for those deemed to ill-behaved to be out and about with the other girls. I was 16 years old. It was winter in Provo Canyon Utah. The room had 7 concrete walls and a steel door with a small window, in which one could be “observed” through. There was no toilet, no shower, trips to the bathroom were supervised, and showers I gained only when I was conscious enough to respond “yes” when the attendant came by. I was given high doses of sedatives, not because I was acting out, but because I didn’t understand the rules I had just been placed under. The first days in solitary before the drugs, I ran in place, did push ups, sit ups, spent parts of the day doing math in my head, reciting poetry, singing songs, which did not go over well with staff…
The room I was in had only one other window besides the one on the steel door. It was a drafty skylight on the ceiling, 20 feet above from where I sat on the cold hard concrete floor. When the drugs they gave me kicked in, I lost the will to run in place, do push ups, sit ups… all I could do was sit, and during that time, the temperature dropped drastically.
In my haze it was all I could do to sit and stare up at the ceiling, and watch the snow begin to fall on the skylight, fall and drift, fall and drift. My body violently shivered, my lips became chapped, then I noticed my toes, my fingers, begin to turn white, then blue, then purple. I took turns shoving my hands in my mouth in an attempt to keep the feeling in them, warm them any way I could.
It was then I realized, there was nothing I could do about this feeling of cold. My body ached from days of shivering.
And so I retreated to my mind. “What is cold?” I thought. “What is feeling?” I wondered. I took deep breathes, in an attempt to calm the shivering. I focused my mind on what it was that made me shiver, and set it aside. Then I focused on toes, my hands my body, and decided, that being cold was a decision, I had made in my mind. I embraced this notion, “yes, I understand body, this is a feeling, a warning system, and right now there is nothing I can do” I refocused my attention, to my breathing, to holding my body still, to ignoring the stinging pain that shot through me. I moved each toe, I gave each digit gentle massage, while controlling what I though about pain, what I knew about cold. Until suddenly I was just there. I was in a room with my body. Cold was a thought, this is not cold enough to kill me, so I need to push out this feeling, and attend to the needs of my extremities.
I did this until I fell asleep, deep in meditation sitting up against the wall. I learned that my mind is more powerful than my body, and that after a while if you can sit with yourself, find the power within, there is no such thing as cold, there is only you, there is only ever you.
Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening –
Poem by Robert Frost
“Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”
I wish my title mouth could give you a brief description of what my life story has to say.
I wish my bruised ego showed on the purples of my face and I could show you what’s behind my sleeping eyes…those dreams I’ve been plagued with like disease.
I wish you could take that away, I wish I could take them from you…
I wish my fate was written like it is in the palm of my hand, all faded and unreadable, so I remember not to rely on that kind of thing.
All I wanted was to paint the sky, the way it looks in your eyes, all the brilliance of blue and the sadness of grey, those hues I wish to only paint away.
I want to replace the devil with a sweeter embrace.
I want to hold the world against my heart again, with its stabbing sadness and bleeding sores and I don’t care if its love infects me to have a friend…
I’ll say goodbye, if it means I get to say hello to you again.
It’s not a somber thing to loose a thing you never stood to gain.
I see the light in your darkness, and the darkness is my friend so I reach for him too, only to be lost in that cold embrace.
They call me winter, they say I make the summer sun shone brighter but my pale skin hasn’t seen the world in days.
You say you like the way my capillaries play. They gleam because I have you under my skin.
I wish you could see the space behind my eyes, the synopsis that light my way, I wish I could use their embers to carry a torch into the symphony of passage ways I see when I look at you.
Days like this pass quickly, and I unfortunately am familiar with their somber song.
It goes like this:
Everyday is the same, driving down the steady lane
Until a stranger stops you in your tracks and uses their hands to use your heart
They usher you to far off places, regions unexplored by the bravest soul
So they don’t have to die alone.
What a selfish thing to do.
They dive in the shallow end, and we dive with them, as helpless fools,
we loose our hands to destroy our fall,
And there we end, two fools in shallow water, trying to breath the blood bath we’ve created
Life’s messy, and when I swallow the taste of iron and water it fills my soul, and allows me to sleep.
It’s just a melancholy dream. A macabre and distant play that haunts my dreams shadows my face.
A drowning and a dying I don’t care to erase.
When my mind wanders and I hear an unfamiliar sound above me I begin to worry about unrealistic daydreams… like bears fighting on my roof.
Or the concern that I can’t draw a bear because I can’t conceptualize its face…
But the real worry, naturally, is it’s weight on the slates of the rooftop.
How will the planks sustain such a quarrel between two such fearsome creatures?
I worry about the gravel, the sharp stones atop the tar burying themselves between the soft skin of each tender pad. It would truly be a source of annoyance, and furthermore a sore spot ripe for infection that could possibly lead to its ultimate demise.
For it’s own sake, someone should really get those bears off the roof…
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She levitates delicately above the blue haze of her consciousness.
Taking only fleeting moments to indulge her senses in earthly pleasures.
With eyes closed time passes slowly.
Everyday blurs into the sameness that fades and drags her inevitably back to ground.
Cars hum by,
tires kiss wet asphalt,
the wind gently rustling her hair, tangling her thoughts,
sweeping with it cold that kisses across bitter chapped lips
Where does this road go?
Will everyday make it’s long procession slowly
into a quiet oblivion,
an oblivion that will turn greens to gold and wither away with the passing days
She loftily yearns for the brightly burning passions of her youth, but the memories are sharp,
jaded by the fiery sting of hard won battles, wrong turns and scars.
Time stands still.
Hours hang meaninglessly leaving wide gaps between what once was
and what will be.
It’s time to push the clock forward.
The radio repeats the same song, skipping and fading into low slow static.
The static creates a hum
that lulls her back to sleep,
back into closed-eyed levitation,
where does this road lead?
Mellow beats jive my soul, force my mind to shake down intent on a treaty between grinding and swaying of smooth hips, sliding hands and wet lips. We will try and keep these secrets between us and arrange to dance another day.