Once more with feeling.

For the past few days I’ve been quietly reflecting back on the message I wrote here three weeks ago. And today I came to the conclusion that I was unnecessarily vague.

So, in the interest of clarity, let me explain further.

A few days before Thanksgiving, my fiancé Troy broke up with me over the phone. This was less than six months after I abandoned my entire life in Boston to move to Nowhere Interesting, Mississippi – and start our life together.

I was in Connecticut, awaiting his arrival at the airport, because he had promised to join my family for the holiday. I had flown up a week early, per his urging, with one of our cats, because for the past couple of months I was feeling immensely challenged by my life in Mississippi, where I had no friends and no family. I was also feeling immensely challenged by the fact that just one month prior, Troy had come home from the doctor with the news that he had an STD.

I did not have the STD, nor had I given it to him. You can draw your own conclusions from this information.

Troy asked me to go to a doctor to seek help for my depression, which I did, to the tune of $300 per appointment. He was so adamant about my going that he agreed to pay for it himself. He went to a different doctor to seek help for his… let’s call them “bumps,” for the sake of euphemism.

During those few weeks, though, he was so great! He took care of me, talked to me, literally wiped tears off my cheeks. He sat on the porch with me in the evenings and we drank cocktails and discussed our plans for the future – our upcoming New Orleans wedding and the likelihood that we would be relocating from Mississippi and moving together to Connecticut. He started looking for jobs online and I started looking at Craiglist apartments. I looked past the bumps and I saw the man I moved mountains for, the man who I had gone ‘all in’ for, the man I wanted to be with forever plus.

My whole life I have struggled with depression. It is this perennial thorn in my side that never seems to ever quite go away. And I’ve, many times, felt effaced by that thorn – incapable of action, incapable of abatement. I often felt like the sadness would disappear me – make me invisible, or cease to exist, somehow. But Troy promised to love me anyways. And his promise was more than a promise – it was like gravity to me.  It was meaningful. It was enough.

Except, here’s the punch line: It wasn’t real. It was like a joke, almost. Because while I was on the phone with Troy being broken up with that night in November, he admitted that, during those four weeks, he told me only what he thought I would want to hear. And he told me those things simply to get me away from him, to Connecticut, where he could break up with me from a distance and it would be simpler for him.

He wouldn’t even let me come to get my own things. He shipped them to me – four weeks later – and I spent the entire holiday season in my mother’s spare bedroom, living out of Troy’s ex-wife’s suitcase that he had lent me for what I thought was a quick trip home for turkey and stuffing. He gave away my other cat without even telling me. And, obviously, he never paid for the therapy that he had insisted upon – the therapy that I needed because of the way that he had treated me.

When I was in my early twenties, I was married to a man who physically abused me. But my abuser, despite his obvious failings, never disrespected me the way that Troy did. Troy took the truth away from me. He made a fool out of me. Just when I was starting to feel real again, he disappeared me. He lured me 1500 miles away from my home, diseased himself, and then sent me out to pasture.  And when I called him up the next night to ask him why he did it, he didn’t console me – he laughed at me and he hung up.

I was always honest with him, always loyal to him; and, in return, he was my guillotine. And he was it on purpose.

I don’t love Troy. I don’t even know who that person is. And I am still only barely coming to terms with what’s happened – how my ability to trust in other people was, once again, forcibly eradicated, how I was folded up like origami just because. But what I can’t do is not write about it here just because somebody might find it to be impolite. Troy has been a significant component to the Leaf Parade narrative. This is just the latest chapter, and I am intractably honest, perhaps to a fault.

I used to come here to write happy things, but I don’t have anything happy to say lately. And I don’t feel like baking cookies, so sorry about that. All I have to say right now is that: I hate you, Troy. And I will, in earnest, until the day I die. You didn’t have to love me if you didn’t want to, you didn’t even have to be my friend, but you should have treated me like a human.

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Clean.

[Leaf Parade. Clean.]

Tomorrow is my twenty-ninth birthday. And I am in Connecticut, where I live now – alone – after harmfully careless things were done to me by harmfully careless people. One person in particular – a person whose face I can’t even remember from just four weeks ago, a fortuitous development that makes me feel happy and hopeful and clean.

Six months ago, I moved from Boston to Mississippi because the person I loved there promised me beautiful things, and I wanted to be a part of them.  Today, I want only to be a part of things that I know I can hold fast to – things that I know won’t betray me, or trick me, or trade me in for something easier. I gave Mississippi every single piece of myself – and in return, it spit in my face like I was nothing. But I am not nothing. I am a good and generous and loving person, and I deserve loyalty and honesty and good, old-fashioned, uninhibited respect. So tomorrow, for my birthday, I am giving every single piece of me that I once gave away back to myself. Because everything is good — I am good — and nobody ever gets to tell me otherwise again.

Good riddance.

I know it’s been awhile, but I’m planning to be back in earnest in the new year. In the meantime, merry Christmastime to all.

 

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Cranberry Meringue Pie.

[Leaf Parade. Cranberry Meringue Pie.]

A month into fall and we’re just barely creeping out of the summer weather zone here, deep down in southern Mississippi. After months of oppressive heat, it is finally nice enough to reasonably expect to spend some time outside. And I am slowly acclimating myself to that new reality, five or ten minutes at a time, in an old rocking chair Troy has set out for me in a shady spot of our backyard.

[Leaf Parade. Cranberry Meringue Pie.]

This summer was the longest summer that I have ever known, and I am eager to break away from it and move on to things that are a bit more my speed. Like pie — this pie. This pie that reminds me of fall and New England and everything that I miss in my life.

[Leaf Parade. Cranberry Meringue Pie.]

I’ve said it before and here I am saying it again — let there be pie.

[Read more...]

DIY Lavender Bath Bombs.

Hello, old friends. I’m back. I took the past few weeks off from blogging for a number of a reasons, the most important of which was the I freaking felt like it. But today I feel like talking to you all about something near and dear to my heart — bath bombs.

[Leaf Parade. DIY Lavender Bath Bombs.]

You might remember back to about a month ago when I mentioned that Troy and I were trying to sell our house and buy a new one here in Hattiesburg. That plan lasted only a few weeks before we decided that what we really wanted to do was keep our current house and make it pretty and practical and ours. Let the renovations begin!

[Leaf Parade. DIY Lavender Bath Bombs.]

We have a whole lot of work to do, and we’re starting with a couple of small projects, like refinishing our fireplace and some old furniture and light fixtures. But once all that’s done, we’ll be giving both of our bathrooms major facelifts. Which means that it’s time for me to make another batch of these Lush-inspired lavender bath bombs. Because I’m about to have a master bath that I’m going to want to spend some time in.

[Leaf Parade. DIY Lavender Bath Bombs.]

If you’ve never used a bath bomb before, you really ought to give one a try sometime. They are fizzy and fun — and filled with moisturizers and essential oils to leave you soft-skinned and relaxed. I love Lush hugely, but their products are very expensive and, since they’re all made with natural ingredients, I’ve been scoping out copycat recipes on this here old Napster Google machine. I based my bath bomb recipe off of a how-to I found on Emma Magazine, making some important substitutions (coconut oil for olive oil) and omissions (food coloring — no thanks!) Lush bath bombs retail at around $7 each, but this recipe makes 12 bath bombs for really just a few dollars.

[Leaf Parade. DIY Lavender Bath Bombs.]

With a dozen of these and a jar of my sugar scrub and you’ll be on the mend from any of life’s (seemingly) impossible grievances in no time.

—— [Read more...]

Cannoli Tart.

It was about this time of year when I visited Mike’s Pastry in the North End of Boston for the very first time. It was a few years ago and I was new to the city, but had already heard plenty of happy lore about the piles of pasta and bastions of almond-flavored treats lining the patios and shop windows of Hanover Street.

[Leaf Parade. Cannoli Tart.]

I had to wait in line a very long time before securing my giant cannoli, but it was completely worth it. I suppose I’ve had maybe a dozen cannolis in my life (and all of them brilliant, by the way), but this was a true gem of a cannoli. Very different from the grocery store treats my sweet-toothed grandmother used to sometimes buy for us to eat on the way home from an afternoon spent shopping. It was a cannoli certainly worth waiting in line for.

[Leaf Parade. Cannoli Tart.]

I’m a long way away from Hanover Street now, but still — the heart wants what the heart wants. So when Troy and I threw a cheese-themed dinner party this summer, I knew that a shareable version of this ricotta-rich treat was in order. Bon appetit!

[Read more...]

DIY Dishwasher Powder.

I am more than happy to purchase our household products in a store, but I get a real kick out of it if I can make them at home myself — especially when doing so saves a whole bunch of money. Case in point: My DIY laundry detergent I shared with you this winter. I still get this overwhelmingly smug and accomplished feeling every time I put in a load.

[Leaf Parade. DIY Dishwasher Powder.]

I’ve been here in Mississippi for three months now, but I’m still not 100% used to this dishwasher thing — running it, unloading it, the whole where-is-the-cheese-grater?-it’s-in-the-dishwasher rigamarole. But after we quickly emptied our first bottle of jointly-purchased dishwasher soap, I took to the internet to see what our other options were. And the truth is… there were plenty.

[Leaf Parade. DIY Dishwasher Powder.]

My favorite thing about this dishwasher powder is that it leaves the dishes really very clean. My second favorite thing about this dishwasher powder is that it makes use of Kool Aid — something I probably wouldn’t consume, but that I’m more than happy to put to work for cleaning purposes. Ahh, nostalgia. Since it contains enough of it in its ingredients, the Kool Aid takes the place of citric acid, an ingredient that is important here, but that is more difficult to find in stores than the other items. Clean dishes for a pittance. How satisfying.

[Read more...]

Cinnamon Knots.

I’ve been checking in to this corner of the internet less frequently lately, and that change has been a pretty intentional one.

IMG_0179

Make no mistake, I do not mean to give up Leaf Parade altogether — I’m just simply stepping back from it a little bit, letting it amplify –rather than fortify– my life. I’m not an extraordinarily social person, and so before I moved to Mississippi, I felt like I had all this extra time on my hands. Now that I’m here in Hattiesburg with Troy and he is a part of my full-time, face-to-face life, all I really care to do is spend that extra time with him. So I’m doing that — and standing by it.

[Leaf Parade. Cinnamon Knots.] [Leaf Parade. Cinnamon Knots.]

Lately, we’ve been most caught up with the local real estate. We will put our current house on the market next week, and so we’ve been up to our elbows in grout cleaner, power washing estimates, and Zillow listings. We have already fallen madly with one house, and are hoping to scoop it up as soon as possible. I can’t wait to live in a home that is truly Ours.

[Leaf Parade. Cinnamon Knots.]

And so, during the week, we put together easy lunches. And, in the evenings, we cook up quick, just-a-few-ingredient meals that we can eat the next night as leftovers too. I could share the details of all this with you, but it’s mostly just a menagerie of roasted carrots and defrosted, bulk-simmered spaghetti sauce.

[Leaf Parade. Cinnamon Knots.]

Instead, I’ll share with you just the really special things. Like these lovely cinnamon knots that were a Sunday afternoon project that had me daydreaming about hot, milky tea and Swedish Christmas pastries… This batch makes an awful lot of cinnamon knots — so be well prepared to share!

(Credit for the first three photos goes to Troy.)

[Read more...]

Blueberry Pie.

Let there be pie.

[Leaf Parade. Blueberry Pie.] [Leaf Parade. Blueberry Pie.] [Leaf Parade. Blueberry Pie.]

[Read more...]

Happy little Sunday things.

Happy Sunday reading!

[Leaf Parade. Happy little Sunday things.]

  • These Sweet Buttered Polenta Pancakes with Summer Berries. ()
  • On Depression, by Hyperbole and a Half. ()
  • These Chewy Potato Chip Chocolate Chip Cookies. ()
  • How We Decided To Travel Around The World. ()
  • This Chicken, Pancetta, and Broccoli Naan Pizza. ()
  • What picture would they use? ()
  • This Roasted Tomato and Feta Guacamole. ()
  • How To Live An Extraordinary Life, a la Jennifer Lawrence. ()
  • These Tomato Soup Cupcakes. o____o ()

[Leaf Parade. Happy little Sunday things.]

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DIY Sugar Scrub.

It’s been awhile since I’ve written about running because for such a long time after my injury this winter, I was either not running or running so inconsistently it was hardly worth mentioning. At first, there were too many snowstorms. Then too much traveling. Then — too many excuses.

[Leaf Parade. DIY Sugar Scrub.]

But ever since June, when I moved into my new home (which Troy generously stocked with a super fancy treadmill), I’ve made a point to make a change. And honestly it’s been tough. No matter how many marathons you’ve completed, running is really hard when you haven’t done it for a long time. And, for me, somebody who runs for meditation and not for thrill of sweat and heavy breathing, the added difficulty makes the whole operation not so fun.

But in the past 10 weeks or so, I’m finally closer to that place where running is fun again — a place where my body is no longer begging for mercy. I’m back to running 30-35 miles a week. And though those miles are super slow and not without water breaks, I am happy to be having fun again.

[Leaf Parade. DIY Sugar Scrub.]

My feet, however, are not having such a nice go of it. I have no better word to describe them than ‘gnarly.’ So this sugar scrub, paired with a long soak in the tub and my favorite Miles Davis record, is a pre-bedtime mainstay these days. You can use any essential oil that you enjoy or have on hand — I happen to love lavender. This sugar scrub is good for your feet, or any other bit of your body that needs some extra exfoliation — including your face. Sweet!

[Read more...]

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