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Witness: The Journals of Meghan McDonnell

Volume Ten

Meghan McDonnell

Copyright 2018 Meghan K. McDonnell

Smashwords Edition

Titles by Meghan McDonnell:

Minor: Volume One

Novice: Volume Two

Limbo: Volume Three

Elsewhere: Volume Four

Faithful: Volume Five

Vespers: Volume Six

Onward: Volume Seven

Sojourn: Volume Eight

Ingress: Volume Nine


All names and identifying characteristics have been changed to protect the innocent and the guilty. I have solely recorded my interpretations and opinions of all events. Certain place names have been changed. Aside from minor edits, all else is as I wrote it at the time. If you’re new to the journals, welcome. If you’re a veteran, thank you for coming back for more. You’ll find links to songs, books, films, and more throughout the text, and a playlist at the end.


July 2005

August 2005

September 2005

October 2005

November 2005

December 2005

January 2006

February 2006

March 2006

April 2006

May 2006

June 2006


July 2005

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The office is an icebox and I have a head cold. It’s perfect outside. The sun can’t get through the thick panes of glass in the windows up here.

I barely slept a wink last night. It was the double espresso I drank in the evening. I tossed and turned all night. Carson and I are meeting for lunch. I’m meeting with Sofie’s friends Grace and Julie tonight to plan her bachelorette party.

I’m reading Alice Hoffman’s The Probable Future. It suits my mood and what I’m going through. Wedding season is around the corner.

I’m trying to “reroute negative thinking patterns,” a suggestion from a natural health book.

Elizabeth called me last night but made plans to get drinks with friends while we were on the phone. I’m sad about her. I wonder about her priorities.

Cassie called and we talked. I am blessed to have her. I won’t see her until the Ryan Adams show next weekend.

Love, Meghan

Thursday, July 28, 2005

I got a good horoscope from Rob Brezsny: Emily Dickinson had a boundless imagination and an intense craving for privacy. She wrote nearly 1,800 poems but kept them to herself, stashing most of them in a trunk belonging to her maid. Only seven of them were published while she was alive. Why did she hide the brilliant and prolific outpouring of her soul? No one really knows. Let’s make sure you don’t follow her example, Cancerian. In my astrological opinion, it’s high time for you to begin revealing at least some of the incredible beauty that you conceal from the world. When you look back at this period in your life 40 years from now, maybe you’ll say, ‘That was the turning point, when I stopped being such a closely guarded secret.’ Brezsny wrote that straight to me.

I’ve been walking.

I met Grace and Julie at Tini Bigs to plan Sofie’s bach party on Saturday. They are lovely girls and I had fun. It was a gorgeous afternoon and I decided to walk from lower Queen Anne to the Roanoke, a good three-mile trek. I listened to music, left messages for Claire and Skyler, talked to Mom and walked until I had blisters.

Work has been painfully slow and cloying. I am obsessive in my thoughts. It can be good when applied appropriately but usually it is not applied and instead ties me in knots.

I can’t stop listening to Rachel’s and Death Cab’s song “A Lack of Color.” The lyrics: “This is fact not fiction for the first time in years …” I am in my own world.

I left work early today to meet Sofie and Grace at Sofie’s dress fitting. She looked graceful and lovely. I got misty. I like Grace. She is soft, sweet, and subdued – not at all how I view myself lately. We looked at bridesmaid dresses and she described the one she wore to her sister’s wedding. She got to choose her own and she bought it in Paris. When she said “Paris,” it sounded like Mars. She followed with “I go there a lot.” She pops over to France on the regular.

On my walk to the dress shop from work, I realized I may be flooded with intense memories because I have branched out from habits and strayed from Capitol Hill. I’ve been venturing to territories in the city that I haven’t been to since the Lucas era. With the heat, it brings up more memories.

In the bridal shop, as we thumbed through dresses, I wondered if Carson and I should have had a larger, more traditional wedding. I thought of weddings and marriages. News of Lucas’s impending wedding has me thinking.

Reading the Brezsny horoscope made me think of the mental ruts I get into. When Lucas and I were so young, we couldn’t deal with being together or apart. From the start, I sensed I wouldn’t be enough for him, but deeper, I don’t know that he could handle me. The inadequacy and timidity I felt around him, the inability to express or be me came from my depression, but it also came from sensing that I was too much to and for him. My intensity and depressions and love affair with life and the world and words and art and people and humanness may have been too daunting for him. Why does it matter to me now?

I have my life. I have gone years with none but the occasional thought of him. Now I’m trying to make sense of it but to what end? Why was Lucas such a filter for me? Why can I not talk and write about it and move on? Why can’t I sit with Cassidy or Elizabeth and get perspective? Because they will say to me, “You are married now. You have a different life. That is the past. Don’t go to those places. It doesn’t do anything.” I know this all too well.

I’m trying to uncover and unearth who I am, where I come from, what has shaped me. I am riddled with questions about my depressions. I want to know how they affected the trajectory of my young life. Where am I now? My biggest fortune in life is Carson. And what of our dreams?

I can’t stop listening to Rachel’s “Esperanza.” It is too beautiful.

I need to read more things like that horoscope. I need to forge ahead and believe in my purpose. The purpose gets muted and dulled by too many nights out with friends. I want to live deeply and passionately. I have a few people in my life who kill my voice. I have to hold fast and assert myself. I can’t get beaten about the chops by the unfriendly and people unconcerned with enriching themselves and living on a higher plane.

I look at my dreams now and they are the same dreams I had at 18, at 20, at 22. I’m older and more aware of the hand I play in my own fate. I have not wanted to fulfill my visions and artistic hankerings so repletely in years.

Last time I believed somewhere deep in me that I would act and write all my life, I was ensnared in depression and unhealthy behavior and in a relationship that damaged me to the core (with Lucas).

I need to reassurance that I am no longer the shrinking 19-year-old, screaming inside, overfilled with misdirected passion and a sense that I’m at the breaking point.

I feel distant from others. I need Carson to be in this with me. I need him to be my partner in adventures and goals.

Carson has valued me and made me feel worthy. He invites me to be who I am. He has never crushed me.

I need art. I need to go outside. I need to be in touch with the source of life: what is great, powerful, and mysterious. I need to create and go places and hike and believe.

I want to feel less alone but I need time to myself. I need time to put myself on paper and project myself in theatres and into camera lenses. I am at my least self-absorbed while engaged in these.

I stopped by the 5 Point yesterday before meeting Grace and Julie. I saw one of my favorite bartenders there for the first time in years. She had moved to Los Angeles for a couple years and now she’s back. We talked about getting older and wondering when it all starts, though it began long ago. I talked about weddings, babies, and houses. It makes my head spin.

I’m looking at the big picture. I know it all happens in the moments, the details, the day-to-day. Can’t someone sit with me and say, “It is okay. It is okay to feel these things. It is okay to step off the rollercoaster and look at it all: past, present, future”? Can’t someone agree with me and say, “It is intense. What are we doing? There is meaning but we go through points where all is obscured. We need those times as much as we need the intermittent clarity. It’s okay to question things without questioning yourself for why”?

I want to be heard. I want to be understood. I want someone to identify with me. I won’t let go of my perspective. It is unique and it is mine and it is worthy. I am open to suggestion, sometimes to a fault. I listen to others and I believe them, even to the detriment and betrayal of my own knowing. I can’t do that anymore.

There is a very sound woman who listens to me well. Her name is Nina. She is one of my mirrors. She is real. She knows me. She knows my past. She knows my hopes and she is on my side.

I write in here and get riled up and it’s like, “Okay, you’ve written. Now go take on the world.” I leave the paper and pen and return to aimless thoughts. What would a Dictaphone of the day’s thoughts sound like? All the tapes: the garbage, the good, the ideas, the memories.

I laughed and smiled while I walked downtown earlier. I looked at people while listening to music on my headphones. I pretended that every person I looked at was saying, “I just want to be loved.” It was hilarious when paired with certain people’s facial expressions. I saw so many people and they collectively said, “I just want to be loved.” People waiting for the bus, crossing the street, drinking coffee, a doorman greeting tenants. So many people and all kinds. I got immense pleasure from believing they were all collectively thinking, “I just want to be loved.”

The sentiment faded somewhere near 5th Avenue and Westlake. Memories and realizations came in. I need to write poems again. I want to advance action without so much thought. I don’t want to be plagued by worry and irrationality. I need to get home to my husband.

Love, Meghan

August 2005

Monday, August 1, 2005

I am a leaky faucet. I’m depressed but it’s not a fitting word. I’m crying. I’m feeling. I am confused. I don’t know how long this can continue.

I broke down on Saturday after reading through an old journal from May 2000. I called Cassidy and asked if I could see her. We met yesterday at Allegro.

We sat in the sun on the deck. We talked and I read to her and cried. We talked about Lucas and Aidan and our lives. We talked about the past. Cassie said we live lives now that are so different from the ones we talked about and imagined we’d have.

I asked why I am thinking of Lucas. She said because I really loved him and that never goes away. I asked her what it means regarding Carson. That’s when I cried. Cassie replied, “Not much.” Cass said she knows Carson and I are meant to be together but that doesn’t mean I’m not my own person with my own feelings.

Cassie suggested I call Lucas. I thought I couldn’t possibly. But maybe I will. Would it put this to rest? I told Cass I thought I’d moved on and put Lucas behind me. I don’t think it works that way. We are meant to move on and live our lives but life does not go in one neat, continuous line. That’s what surrounds me: this sense of life and how strange it is. What does it add to and mean? I want to talk to Carson.

I cried last night and he comforted me. I laughed when he read aloud to me from Prescription for Nutritional Healing because after I said, “I wait until I am too far gone and into it to realize I need to make changes because I am depressed,” and on cue, Carson read, A depressed person will usually not realize how much of a problem it has become until they are at the bottom. Carson helps me. He is compassionate with me.

Cassie and I went shoe shopping for the weddings after coffee. We sat in the sun at Teddy’s and played cards. I ran into Jane from Poor Italian days. This morning, I ran into Emma. These are signs. I don’t know what they signify. But I am swimming through my past, reminiscing, and two people walked directly out of my past and into me today and yesterday.

Emma and I work in the same building and I’d wondered how we hadn’t seen each other yet. I want to get coffee with her, catch up on our current lives, and ask her about the past. I’m allowing myself to marinate in it but I will have to come back to the here and now.

I don’t know why talking to Lucas seems like it would help. I haven’t seen or talked to him since a few days after my wedding.

I could handle feeling this low if I felt there was a flipside to it, a reprieve or creative manifestation. I told Carson that though a darkness casts itself on my thoughts, I am not stupid or delusional. I see things as they are, through my own lenses. Sometimes my thoughts become unhealthy but I know what’s going on.

Carson wonders if it’s a backlash from going off the anti-depressant. I said whatever it is, I have to address it. I need to be around people who support me and make me feel good. Some of our friends don’t fit those criteria.

I have three more hours of work. Let it pass fast. One symptom of depression: time drags.

Love, Meghan

Tuesday, August 2, 2005

Am I manic and depressed? I feel inspired and then low. I get inspired throughout the day at work and on breaks. I get sad as evening nears.

Carson and I went to his parents’ friends, Clint and Roxanne’s, for a barbeque last night. Clint’s son Phil is going back to Iraq soon. Phil has three kids and a darling wife and I don’t know how they do it.

I talked to Marlene, a friend of Steve and Annabelle’s from way back. She randomly told me about an old flame of hers. Clint and Roxanne’s guests told lots of stories last night but Marlene specifically talked to me about coincidences. I told her it’s strange that she brought it up because of what I’m going through. I said, “It gets stranger and harder to determine what people mean in your life. Sometimes my life feels like a lot of lives strung together.”

Marlene said, “It gets more mysterious, the older you get.”

When we got home, I told Carson I was thinking about calling Lucas. It weirded him out, the way I said it more than what I said. I felt bad. I told Carson I wanted to tell him because it would feel wrong not to. I need to get out of this past-cloud.

I talked to Sadie. She’s home from New York and will meet Cassie, Nina, and me at Teddy’s tomorrow.

I’m at B&O Espresso. I called Lucas’s folks’ house. I spoke to his future wife. He wasn’t home so I left my name but no number with her. I don’t know if I’ll talk to him. He’s getting married in a couple weeks, on the same day as Craig and Sofie. I wish I knew what was happening to me.

Carson and I are going to dinner at Elizabeth’s to see her and Marcus.

I’m listening to “1952 Vincent Black Lightning.” We downloaded it last night. Someone used to play it on the juke at the Hitching Post. We listened to it while heading west on 520 the other day and I cried, believing it the saddest song on earth.

I’ve been reading old journals and I can’t figure anything out. All this writing over the years, and I’m still me, struggling with the same things. Why this sudden need to talk to Lucas? It doesn’t make sense. What is my foundation? I am unsteady and depressed. Lucas can’t change that. He never could.

I discovered “Full Moon Over Dallas” by Shawn Smith. I dig it. I’m listening to Michael Penn’s “Out of My Hands.”

My life feels like pages and pages, new music, too much time in my head.

When, if ever, will I overcome the sadness that comes back and sits heavily on me? How far have I come and why does this life feel unfamiliar to me when I most need familiarity and comfort?

I cannot contain all this joy and sorrow. I cannot let it go either. I must brave this time alone until I rise back into the living world. Is this a curse? Isn’t there a comfort in that I come back to these spaces?

I don’t know what to write but I can’t fathom not writing. What do I do with this? It is painful. I cannot sort it out. The sun makes me cry.

How can the sun, that I have seen countless days, bring me memories? How can the smell of cigarettes put me back in time, when I’m around them and their smell all the time? Where is God in this? He pervades it.

I am not in my own skin. I’m confused. Does God want me to feel this deeply? I have moved through sheer pain before. I will again. It’s tough to stand and face this.

I’m intensely interested in other people. I look at them deeply. I observe them. They are each unique, with their own rich wells of experience.

I’m amazed that I went through months and years at different points, feeling like this, with little to no relief. This coldness, this shakiness, this lack of vitality and comfort in the world. Coldness and fear and fragility.

I need to finish the book I’m reading and get home.

Love, Meghan

Wednesday, August 3, 2005

I’m crying at work. I don’t want to think about my emotional response at upcoming weddings. I love “Out of My Hands” by Michael Penn.

Is my soul working something out? I want to believe I’m solely depressed. I want to believe I am meant to feel things so I can grow and become a real person. I want to believe I go through this to develop fodder for creation.

I have nothing to do at work. I am listless. Even when I have work to do, it feels unimportant.

The sun makes the day beautiful and it’s early so there is a mist in the distance up by the higher stories of the buildings.

I wish I could go camping and hiking.

I need to get back in the saddle and find work that satisfies me. I’m lost, but in a real sense. I’m not so much floundering as seeking. I feel the downward tug but know I will come back up again as the cycle starts anew.

Love, Meghan

Thursday, August 4, 2005

I talked to Stephanie. We were at a loss for words. She and Hudson are getting married on Saturday. She’s nervous but said it’s a nice change from stress.

I talked to Joanie at work today about the weddings and Lucas. Joanie is moving to Oregon in the fall. I will miss her.

Sadie met Carson, Cass, and me at Teddy’s yesterday. The sun beat on us for hours.

Cassidy brought up Lucas and it made me nervous, questioning tact, since Carson was there. But she brought it up to indicate that it’s not a dark, dirty secret. Cass thinks I should get a hold of him.

While at Teddy’s, I began to think Lucas was not strong enough to be with me. That’s the wrong way to put it. He’s a good person. He has depth and integrity. We live differently.

I am outspoken and fiercely loyal. I explore the deeps. My rawness drew him to me and led him away. It was too close to the heart for him.

I think about the questionable people Lucas surrounded himself with. I remember moments of doubting Sadie and Skyler in college, too, not knowing if I could trust them farther than I could throw them. This is terrible to write but tinged with truth.

Sadie told me I remind her of Jackie O. I’m flattered. Kirsten from Bellingham told me that, too. Sadie told me I’m graceful. I thanked her because, as I said last night, I have female friends from Carson’s circle who remind me on a regular that they see me as graceful as a knock-kneed colt.

I found a new monologue from A Day in the Death of Joe Egg.

Last night at Teddy’s, Cassie looked at me and said, “How you doing, honey?” I almost lost it. I knew she wanted to know. I’m surprised I didn’t burst into tears.

For the first time in my life, I understand why people distance themselves from pain and choose not to look at things that make them weepy or vulnerable. I’ve done that and still do it in ways.

One must get through. I don’t want to walk through life blind and afraid to be open.

In The Probable Future, Alice Hoffman writes a character, an old doctor. He breaks down regularly, unashamed to cry in public. Why bother hiding it, he figures. An older woman dies and when I read the ending, it was a mysterious, beautiful abyss that I gazed into and that gazed into me. Wondrous.

I sit in awe of what I don’t understand, but I love and need this lack of understanding.

Cassie sent me a beautiful card. She wrote, You are too good for us. She believes about me what I believe about myself. I can never be too good for the angel Cassidy.

I’m overflowing with love and life and I don’t know where to put it. But I don’t know where to hide, either.

I want to connect with people at the wedding this weekend. I want to put my thoughts and energy into Stephanie and Hudson. Their wedding represents so much to me.

I know Carson is a gift. He’s my partner and encourages me on my quest. He holds my hand.

Love, Meghan

Tuesday, August 9, 2005

8 p.m. Coffee. I hope it doesn’t keep me up all night. I’ve wanted to write but I am wiped out. My body is uncomfortable and I have been sleepy and cranky. One wedding down, one to go.

After I last wrote, we went to Clever Dunne’s with Sean, Missy, Marie, and Scott. I left early to pack for the weekend.

Marie picked me up early on Friday and we drove to meet Stephanie, her mom, her sister Stacie, and our friend Olivia for manicures and pedicures. We ran errands. When we got to the Wyeths’, I expected Hudson’s mom Sandy and her friends to be bustling about. But no. Sandy and her friend Carol were laying in the pool, sipping vodka tonics. We asked if we could help and when Sandy and her friends insisted it was taken care of, Marie and I joined in the relaxation. We had a lovely afternoon. Carson and Scott arrived and drove us to our hotel room, where we got ready for the rehearsal dinner.

We drove back to the Wyeths’ to mingle and talk. For dinner, Bill and Sandy’s friends served us. Then came toasts. Steph gave us bracelets, jam, and cards for bridesmaid gifts. Hudson gave Carson and his other groomsmen engraved flasks. As the night wore on, we danced and, against our better judgment, drank whiskey. Stephanie, Olivia, Marie, and I danced and skipped around a tree.

We got back to the hotel at 2. Marie and I stayed up, talking and smoking in the courtyard until 4 a.m. She imparted a personal experience of violation to me. I was horrified but glad she trusts me. We talked for ages.

We woke late, hungover and struggs. We busted it to our hair and makeup appointments. While we got our hair done, someone delivered a dozen roses and a card to Stephanie from Hudson. I left to get food and coffee for everyone after my hair was done and came back to do makeup.

Everyone looked so beautiful. None of us are makeup women so we felt funny with our made-up faces. But people looked gorgeous.

We drove to the venue to put our dresses on. We had snacks and mimosas. Stephanie poured a splash of Champagne into Stacie’s glass.

Once Stephanie and the rest of us were dressed, the photographer took shots around the property. It was gorgeous there – peaceful, beautiful, pristine.

We roamed the grounds, helped set up, and waited for guests to arrive. It neared 5 o’clock and we got into places. I stood between Hudson’s cousin Rachel and Marie. Callie, another bridesmaid, was on the other side of Marie. We clutched our bouquets and tissue.

It was a beautiful ceremony. Stephanie’s grandpa officiated. He rambled and got evangelical but it meant a lot to Steph to have him marry them. Hudson was handsome. Stephanie looked stunning. She is beautiful inside and out.

We chilled with our friends. Dinner was delicious. Then toasts. Tristan (Hudson’s brother), Liza (another bridesmaid), Stacie, and Jake all spoke. Car and I may kick ourselves till the end of our days for not speaking. We are made for that sort of thing. Hudson and Stephanie deserved our praises on their wedding night. Carson cried with regret on our drive home the next day.

We moved to the dance floor. Hud and Steph cut their cake. We danced for hours. I was sticky and sweaty and didn’t care. Late night, the guys built a fire. After the dancing died down, we sat around the fire in Adirondacks. Hudson and his guitar teacher played and sang.

Carson and I slept on the hard ground in a tent with a blanket.

I had fun with Whitney that night. She is becoming a friend, slowly but surely. It must have been hard for her to come into the group, to now live far from home and her family.

I enjoyed Emily that night. We laughed.

It’s become hard to ignore that Eloise is not fond of me. For now, the feeling is mutual. She treats me poorly. I catch her looking at me with an expression that says she can’t stand me.

Eloise and I talked on Sunday morning at the venue. I said, “Well, give me a hug before you leave.” I opened my arms.

She looked at me and said, “You have ash all over your face.” (The morning campfire sent debris our way.) Eloise disdainfully wiped my cheek and walked away to talk to Marie and hug her goodbye. Well then.

Carson and I stayed for breakfast and watched Hudson and Stephanie open gifts before hitting the road for Steve and Annabelle’s.

I did laundry and napped. When I woke, Steve, Annabelle, Craig, and Sofie were there. I was beat. We drove home and went to bed.

Last night, we went to Baltic Room to meet Craig, Sofie, and Eloise. Carson said he can tell Eloise is uncomfortable around me.

If it’s any consolation, I saw Chandler that night for the first time since the fateful incident at the Roanoke when he called me out. We hugged and said, “I love you. It’s cool. We’re good.”

Wonder of wonders, Tanner went to Stephanie and Hudson’s wedding and told Carson that their talk before Carson’s and my wedding eats at him and has for the last few years. Tanner said he doesn’t regret voicing his opinion but that he regrets not supporting Carson and me after he said his piece. He invited Carson and me to his wedding to Molly. Tanner told Carson that he wants to get to know me but he fears he blew that because of his behavior a few years ago. He hasn’t blown anything. It’s not too late.

Tanner told Carson, “One of the reasons I came to Hudson and Stephanie’s wedding is because I wanted to see you and reconnect and apologize.” I like fences that can mend. Life is too short and it’s not easy for anyone. Can we love and forgive each other? Yes.

At Baltic room, we danced and drank vodka tonics and talked about Craig and Sofie’s wedding.

Ryan Adams plays tomorrow night and we’ll see him. Carson and I have been stressed about the upcoming week, with Craig and Sofie’s wedding on Saturday.

I can’t wait for boundless time with Carson and a new pair of running shoes so we can get in shape.

We’re going to Mexico with the Stoppards (Mitch and Jackie) and Bedfords (Joe and Whitney) in October. I can’t wait. Our first “adult” trip, where the aim is to be on vacation, not party.

Cassie sent me a book about the art of the mix tape and the significance of the cassette. That cutie is full of surprises. I can’t wait for my night out with her tomorrow.

Elizabeth and I have been talking more and want to see each other. I miss her.

I’m anxious for things to slow down.

Carson helped Dodd move earlier. I visited Sofie and Craig and saw their wedding programs, which are gorgeous and unique. We talked about the wedding, then unusual places and events. Craig busted out his collection of Time-Life Mysteries of the Unknown books. I love that shit.

Craig and Sofie are great. I am fortunate to know them and we make a great family.

My former acting instructor, Alicia, left a message on Saturday, asking if I’d be an actor in another class she’s teaching. It’s a technical class (“on my side of the camera,” as she said) for a camera crew but she needs actors for a saloon scene they’re shooting. She said it could be six plus hours, doing the scene over and over. I was thrilled to hear the message. I called her back and left a message on Sunday. Alicia said she wouldn’t ask anyone else until she heard “no” from me but I haven’t heard back. I’ll call again tomorrow. I hope I can participate.

I love the new monologue I’m working on from Joe Egg. I need to enroll in a new acting class.

I should go find my husband.

Love, Meghan

Monday, August 15, 2005

Craig and Sofie’s wedding was beautiful. I’m on break so I’ll keep it brief and catch up.

Ryan Adams cancelled his show so instead, we met Cassidy at the Market on Wednesday. We went to Alibi Room for drinks and cards. We walked to Il Bistro for dinner: mussels, calamari, bruschetta, and wine.

After dinner, we met Hudson and Stephanie. They’d spent a couple nights at a resort and spa and stayed in Seattle for the nights leading up to Craig and Sofie’s wedding. We met Emily, her sister Gina, Gina’s husband Joel, Dodd, and Liza.

Cass and I played Russian Bank. We talked about what’s going on for her. She cried. She was tired and wanted to go home.

Cassidy said, “I’m not looking at or dealing with things. There’s too much else going on.”

She said she doesn’t have time to indulge how she feels but she could use time to write, relax, talk, and get things off her chest.

Cassidy doesn’t have the physical ability to release it through vigorous physical exercise right know because she’s healing from knee surgery. She didn’t feel like being there, tired and sad, around other people. It’s the company. My and Carson’s friends are lukewarm with Cassie and she has made countless efforts. It makes a statement about them.

I heard Cassidy ask Emily, “How was Stephanie and Hudson’s wedding?”

Emily said, “What? Oh, it was fun.” She turned the other way, covered one side of her face with her hand, said, “Anyway …” and talked to Gina instead. For real.

Cassie is the most loving, fun person on earth and these kids are missing out. I walked her outside before she went home.

I was restless at work on Thursday. I cleaned the house that night in preparation for Carson’s folks. I did five loads of laundry and baked banana bread, wearing an apron and pearls.

Carson and I are meeting the Stoppards and Bedfords this week to discuss Mexico plans. I told Carson that our mantra for the next two months is “thinner bodies, fatter wallets.”

I took a cab to Ballard on Friday morning to get a manicure with Sofie, her mom, and Grace. I met Sofie’s sister-in-law Louise. She’s a beauty and very smart. She’s going to grad school for engineering.

We got our nails done a few blocks from John and Kim’s rental so I stopped by because I knew Mom and Dad were watching little John. I caught them as they were leaving for the house to look at the remodel progress.

I told Mom she sounded short with me on Thursday night. She said her feelings were hurt because we were supposed to go to a reading given by the author of the book she gave me for my birthday. We didn’t. Mom said she knew Carson and I would be busy this summer and understood. I need to see Mom and Dad more. I want to plan a night for Mom and me to get coffee and dessert and go to a play or art gallery. Or we can get our nails done and have a day together. Things are winding down and we won’t be spending nearly as much time or money as we have been now that weddings are behind us.

Today I realized that I work in an office but don’t have medical or dental insurance. I could make more money waiting tables again. I visit Craigslist multiple times a day.

After nails on Friday, Carson picked me up. We ran errands on the Ave. I was disappointed to learn his folks wouldn’t be coming over as planned. We got ready for the rehearsal dinner and went to Craig and Sofie’s for Champagne with them, Sofie’s brother, Louise, Grace, and Bennett.

We drove to Bandoleone for dinner on the patio. Annabelle and I sneaked off to the bar to smoke a few times. She cried all evening.

I made a point to learn everyone’s names and their relationships to Sofie. Their officiant, Sofie’s friend Lydia, is awesome. She and Sofie traveled Thailand together. Lydia’s husband David is from Burundi. Lydia learned Swahili, his native tongue. David told us about his family: thirteen brothers and sisters who all have children now. He is closest to his younger brother. He told us his family thinks he is “lost.” I told him that’s because they miss him and want him to come home.

I talked to Sofie’s Uncle Ray. Steve told me he has a developmental disability. He’s very sweet and needs to get out from under the thumb of Sofie’s domineering grandmother.

Dinner was great. Then toasts and gifts. Craig gave Carson a tie for the wedding and a belt buckle with a lion on it. Craig chose a lion because he said Carson has a strong presence; people are magnetized to him when he walks into a room. Sofie gave me beautiful silver earrings with green stones. We stayed until 10:30.

When Car and I got home, we sat at the kitchen table and discussed the family and the evening. I showered and we went to bed at 1.

I must go back to work so I will recount Saturday later.

Love, Meghan

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The wedding. I picked Sofie and Louise up at 7:30 on Saturday morning. We drove to Grace’s for hair and makeup. Grace, in her usual sweet and perfect way, had fruit, pastries, tea, and coffee for us. The women doing hair and makeup from a local salon were darling. Grace had her hair done while the other woman applied my makeup. I went downstairs to wait for hair while Sofie had her makeup done.

Louise and I were on the couch watching 10 Things I Hate About You when one of the many cell phones rang. Louise asked if we should answer it and I shrugged. The phone rang again and someone yelled from upstairs, “Can you answer that?”

Seconds later, I heard someone coming downstairs and the sound of a bad fall. Sofie’s mom was crumpled on the landing halfway down at the turn of the staircase. Sofie came running, stooped to her mom, and bawled. Sofie asked her mom if she wanted to move but we all agreed that might be a bad idea.

We called 911. Firemen and an ambulance arrived. She’d broken her ankle.

Sofie was beside herself and cried for so long. The rest of us continued with hair and makeup, show-must-go-on style. Sofie had to wait to prettify because she kept crying.

I know accidents happen but this was weird. We do things subconsciously for reasons that are not obviously explainable. It’s self-sabotage or a need for attention; acting out when you’re out of sorts.

I like Sofie’s mom but she’s different. She’s unstable, depressive, and on pills. And like many others who go through depression (myself included), she can be victim-y and needy for attention.

It makes me think of my sheath knife scar. I got it at survival camp while beaver-cutting a tree. Emily, my instructor, thought I did it on purpose. I was appalled by that at the time but maybe there is truth to it, hidden impulses.

After hair and makeup and the ankle debacle, I drove to check Craig and Sofie into their hotel and then to the venue.

Carson, Bennett, Grace, and I got coffee. We arranged flowers and bowls of fruit on the tables. A few family members trickled in and it was time to get dressed. Sofie’s grandparents and her Uncle Ray arrived so early that I felt bad. They sat in chairs for four hours before the wedding began. I waved to Ray when they got there and he made a beeline for me. We talked for a few minutes until his mom told him to come back and sit with her because we were “busy,” which wasn’t true. Sofie’s grandma has her son and husband on a tight leash.

Sofie, Louise, Grace, and I went upstairs to change when the photographer arrived. It was hard for Sofie that her mom wasn’t there. Her mom had to have surgery on her ankle because of a pinched nerve.

Sofie looked breathtaking. She was stunning. She is kind-hearted but my word for Sofie is graceful. We walked downstairs for photos. It was surreal to see her and Craig look at each other, she in her dress and he in his suit. Sun streamed through windows. They hugged each other and cried. We took several candid shots. As more guests arrived, we hid upstairs and helped Sofie out of and back into her dress so she could pee. The coordinator told us it was time.

He led us to the basement and up an elevator on the other side of the building. We lined up. Sofie’s dad told her that her mom was doped on medication. Sofie cried again. We began the procession.

It was beautiful. The sun beat through the windows as they married each other, hot and bright. The guests were doused in sweat. I looked away several times, wincing at the sun’s brilliance. The evening made me realize that I am not much of a sweater. Cosmetically, I’m grateful. But I wonder what it means health-wise.

After the ceremony, everyone hit the beer and wine. We mingled and talked and a few of us sneaked out for cigarettes. The gents went to a bar around the corner for whiskies.

Dinner was served. We sat with Hudson, Stephanie, Sofie’s grandmother Ruth, her grandfather Tom, and Uncle Ray. Ruth gave me Tom’s wine and begged me to drink it so he wouldn’t. She told me she and Tom are moving from Louisiana to Kentucky. Ruth said, “And Ray may be going into a home.”

Ray sat between us and said, “I don’t want to go to a home!”

Ruth clucked her tongue and said cavalierly, “We’ll see.”

One minute I’m celebrating my brother- and sister-in-law’s wedding. The next, I’m thrust into a Faulkner novel.

Carson stepped on stage and clinked a glass to start the toasts. He gave a lovely, heartfelt speech. He cried and it made me cry.

Carson told a story about when Annabelle walked into Carson and Craig’s room when they were little. Craig was watching Carson sleep. When Annabelle asked what he was doing, Craig replied, “I’m waiting for him to grow up.” A tear-jerker. Carson thanked Sofie for making Craig and his happiness complete.

Then Annabelle took the mic.

The tension in the Hall family was palpable. But Annabelle did great and had the room in stitches. She said that after a few glasses of wine a couple nights before the wedding, she was watching a special on Willie Nelson. Nelson said he wrote his best songs while drunk but threw them away in the morning. She said she’d done that with her toast and wished she hadn’t.

Annabelle said, “My life has been so screwed up. When Craig was born, he changed all that. He became my new life.”

She mumbled away from the microphone, “Carson, too,” which made people laugh and clap.

Before she ended her toast and walked away, she said, “Where is Craig? That asshole …” getting more laughs, then a tremor of discomfort from the crowd.

Annabelle amazed me up there. She’s a natural performer. She was funny and warm and real. It made me think that if she’d had a different upbringing, she could have been a stand-up comedian or an actress – a great one.

Real quick, I’m listening to Rachel’s. I can’t listen to anything but heart-wrenchingly beautiful, moving music with strings and piano. No folky, acoustic favorites for me. I’ll get back to that. But for now, I need rich, layered, orchestral, decadent, florid, haunting, glorious music.

After Annabelle stepped down, Grace took the stage. She was poised and polished.

Grace said, “I asked Carson and Meghan to give me ideas about how Craig has been changed by Sofie. Meghan wrote to me and she has such a way with words that I am going to read to you what she wrote to me verbatim.”

I felt flattered.

Sofie’s dad spoke. He said, “Well, I have to disagree with Annabelle. She isn’t losing a son. She is gaining a daughter as we are gaining Craig into our family.”

Steve toasted. He was sweet and eloquent.

After toasts, cupcake eating and dancing commenced.

Eloise said that my dancing fascinates her. She said she can mimic Stephanie and Marie and the ways they dance, but not me. Was this a dig or a compliment? I’ll choose the latter. Eloise complimented me throughout the evening and I hope it’s a turning point, one that means we can be close again.

We danced to Indian music. Eloise told me her mom was impressed by me, that Eloise had told her about me but she had no idea I had such a presence. Eloise told me her mom said, “You’ve talked about Meghan before but what you said didn’t prepare me for her charisma and striking personality.”

I walked by Ray and asked him if he liked to dance. He interpreted this as me asking him to dance. His face lit up and he said, “Oh, sure! But wait. I have to ask Mom.”

Ruth was in conversation with Lydia when Ray approached her. She sighed, looked up as if to consider, nodded and said, “Alright. But only one,” holding up an index finger.

We danced for a couple numbers and Ray enjoyed it.

After the crowd thinned, we loaded cars with gifts and décor. Tom, Sofie’s brother, Louise, Carson, and I dropped boxes off at Craig and Sofie’s. Carson and I drove to meet our friends at Kell’s at the Market.

When we arrived, a small group had gathered. Eloise looked cozy with Sean’s friend, Billy Rains. We’ve known he digs Eloise but he’s moving to Hawaii.

I saw a man standing in the alley, wearing a t-shirt that read I’m just here to get laid. I pointed it out to the guys and that was a mistake.

Minutes later, the guy walked up behind Billy, grabbed his earlobe, and said, “I saw you looking at me. What are you, a faggot?”

As Billy turned to see what was up, the guy punched him hard in the face. Billy and Hudson were out of their chairs in seconds and they jumped the fence of the patio. A fight ensued. Bouncers broke it up.

Billy’s mouth was bleeding. What the fuck?

Chandler was there and we had another come-to-Jesus healing.

On Sunday morning, Carson and I picked up lunch and coffee for everyone and took it to Craig and Sofie’s to have while they opened gifts.

We drove with Steve to visit Grandpa Clarence in the hospital. He’s better than he has been for weeks and it’s a miracle. Clarence had been on life support for a time. We talked to Grandma Betty and drove to Steve and Annabelle’s for dinner.

Sylvie left a message for us last night. Cassie said she has been talking about “baby dancing” and “car wash,” games Carson made up and plays with her. Her message had Carson and me rolling: “Hello? Where are you? Huh? Where you are you are?” Sis came over and listened to it and was hysterical.

Elizabeth got back from Sun Valley. She kissed some guy and is going to break up with Marcus. She left for Lake Chelan today.

Last night, Elizabeth said the thinks Mom doesn’t like herself much. That breaks my heart. Why would Elizabeth say that? And is there any truth to it? My mother is a phenomenal woman. I need to spend time with her and tell her so.

I’m inspired. I’ve been cherishing this secret of acting. I hold this desire close with a weird feeling that I can make it happen.

I was in a crummy mood today. My period started yesterday and I marvel at how mild it’s been re: mood and cramps. But the moods hit today.

I’m getting together with Meredith tonight. I love our time together. I wanted to see her when I was going through my weird Lucas stuff. It has waned since I went to Stephanie and Hudson’s wedding but Lucas pops in and out of my mind.

Lucas is a married man now. He married Maggie the day that Craig and Sofie married. I wondered if it would bother me or if I would think about it last Saturday but I didn’t. It came into my head, but not disastrously.

I am rich with thoughts.

We’re camping at Salmon La Sac this weekend and I can’t wait.

I have a renewed infatuation with my husband. There is an ebb and flow to all sorts of areas in a marriage. I am blessed to have a man like Carson.

I pray to be more involved in acting projects. I pray to send my writing to more places, like Jane mag.

Vanity Fair has an essay contest for a writer who best answers, “What’s going on in the minds of America’s youth?” If I can publish a piece and get called back before year’s end, I will sing to the heavens.

I believe in my power-wisdom-beauty. I give thanks.

Love, Meghan

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

I have no reason to work for the law firm I work at. There are openings for Lola, a restaurant on 4th Ave. At the firm, I make $14 an hour with no benefits. I have no interest in working in the legal field. I am not crazy about the schedule. The work holds no importance. I can’t bear working in offices for mediocre pay for years.

Waitressing at a non-smoking place makes sense now as it did not in Bellingham. I can take acting classes, go to auditions, and work on writing to publish. I intended to do these things and now that I am doing them, the flexibility of waiting table is justified. I feel a strange freedom.

Meredith and I talked at Septieme last night and it inspired me. I told her I feel different because I believe in myself. I always have in a small secret way. But now, it’s real and it grows. I believe in my goals and that I can achieve them. I saw Matt Warner while we were there but didn’t say hello, for no other reasons than awkwardness and that we were both there with another person whom we had come to talk with. I want to track Oliver down.

Love, Meghan

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

I get scared when I don’t write. I’ve written ideas and notes elsewhere so I don’t feel like a stopped bottle.

A couple weekends ago, we went to Salmon La Sac. Last Saturday was our third anniversary and we went to Jessica and Justin’s wedding. They had a loving ceremony and beautiful reception.

I’m reading Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. It gives me “heavy boots” as the main character, Oskar, says. It’s my new favorite term. The book is, of course, beautiful. Foer’s thoughts and way of writing remind me of my thoughts and how I would like to string them together for a novel. Eloise loaned me the book after she finished it. We’d given it to her for her birthday.

I’m trying to track down a copy of The Artist’s Way for Eloise because last Wednesday, she talked about feeling a lack in her life and she knows she needs to write.

I looked Foer up on the web at work earlier. His wife is a writer, too, with published work. I read an interview with her and when the interviewer asked about her husband, she said something like, “I’m not going to talk about that. There’s nothing to say about that.” It sounded abrupt and bitter and made me wonder if it’s a strain on their marriage to both be writers. He’s beloved and adored and I wonder if she resents playing second fiddle. Her writing may be good but her husband’s is incredible.

I want a new job. I can barely stand being there. I think too much. I want to write and act.

I saw Emma a couple weeks ago in the lobby of our building. I went up to her floor and we talked about the past and where we are now. I need to call so we can get together for coffee. People from my past have been resurfacing. I left a message with Tilda’s parents last weekend. We went to Aunt Jane’s to say goodbye to my cousin Beth last Sunday. She’s going to Portland State University.

Mom and I talked about Evelyn Blackburn. Evelyn told Mom that when she was newly married to her first husband (a real dick), they were stationed at a military base in Oklahoma and every morning she would wake up, walk to the living room, smoke a cigarette and think, What have I done? (referring to the man she married). I love this image. I can see it clearly. I feel linked to Evelyn and I identify with her. She had a short, disastrous young marriage before she met and married Charles and they created this wonderful life together. It makes me think of Car and me. Carson found me and saved me from an unfulfilling life.

On the way home from Aunt Jane and Uncle Steve’s on Sunday, Mom told me that when I was in seventh grade, I wrote a paper that was a disaster. It made her wonder if I had learning issues. They sent me to a specialist (a specialist of what I’m not sure) who hooked wires to my head and ran tests. Maybe I am special (oy). I don’t know. Teachers have commented on my issues with sentence structure: “Good ideas but not very organized.”

I’m smart and a born writer. I laugh and feel unsure about these comments over the years. I’m different and I’m alright with that. Mom said it reminds her of Dad. She said we’re unique and we stand out. I like that we do things our own way.

Stephanie and I had a couple intense, emotional discussions at Salmon La Sac that Friday night and on Saturday afternoon. We cried. Carson and I are driving to have dinner with them on Thursday. I am happy she and I are friends. She came to Seattle last Friday out of the blue and took me to lunch. She is struggling to get her bearings in her new marriage. I know she and Hudson love each other but I get a sense that it may be a hard road for them.

While at Salmon La Sac, Stephanie told me that she and her dad have a gift, an ESP, where they get senses and see things. She told me she knew Hudson would come into her life because she had prayed for a strong, godly man. She said she knows that in her 40s, she will own land and that she will have a camp for kids. She said she doesn’t know why but she doesn’t necessarily see Hudson there with her. I don’t know if it means separation or death. Stephanie wonders if they should have dated longer. She’s having doubts. I can’t tell if it was the wrong choice for them to marry or if we all struggle to determine who we are and where we are.

I cried that Friday night as we sat in hammocks on the porch. I told her I can tell that she has a real relationship with God. She didn’t agree but it’s hard to tell with her. Steph is a mystery. I value our friendship. It’s only been in the last year or two that she has come into her own and said what she thinks and feels. She told me her uncle molested her years ago and we talked about it at the cabin.

Stephanie and Hudson are at his parents’ cabin all weekend. I may go up on Friday. Carson has to stay in town with a pager for his property management work. I don’t want to be away from him but I love seeing Bill, Sandy, Steph, and Hudson. Stephanie and I will raise our kids together.

At Salmon La Sac on Saturday, Carson, Stephanie, and I drove into Roslyn for coffee, the paper, and a bottle of whiskey. When we got back, we sat on the Island Oasis Pool Float in the river with Marissa and her friend Avery, who is a doll. We lay in the sun all day, drinking beer and whiskey. Steph, Marissa, and I took a dip in the icy river, lathered ourselves in Dr. Bronner’s peppermint soap, and rinsed off.

Avery told me about a 21-day trip she took on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. She told funny stories and surprised me when she said she likes to shower when she’s drunk. I told her I do that, too, occasionally and I’ll do it in the dark and shave my legs – an awful combination. Avery is a Trivial Pursuit lover and we’ll square off.

Elliott came that weekend with his girlfriend Mia and two of her children, Bryce and Michaela. Bryce and I became fast friends. He’s so sweet. He’s shy but he warmed up to us. It broke my heart because Avery’s boyfriend, Chet, told me when Carson and Jake went around a bend in the river in floats, Bryce said, “They’re never coming back.” His dad is a jerk and he has abandonment issues. Throughout the weekend, he would say, “I can’t do it,” about all sorts of things. It crushes me to hear a young child say, “I can’t.” God knows how that sentiment can grow in a person.

Scott got crazy drunk from the whiskey. He passed out before sunset in the loft of the cabin. We messed with him and when we got back to the porch, Bryce said, “Let’s go poke that guy again.” I took him back upstairs and we pressed our hands into Scott’s back as though it were rising dough. Later, Scott threw up and I held a flashlight while Carson and Stephanie stoically cleaned it up.

Earlier that day, after lounging on the Island Oasis, Stephanie and I climbed rocks and sat on a ledge overlooking the river and cliffs. We talked more and cried more. I told her about my thoughts of Lucas. She told me that Hudson sometimes doesn’t treat her very well.

The thoughts and talks I’ve had over the past month bring me to this burgeoning awareness that though we may love deeply, we don’t know how to be with the one we love. Two people can love each other so fiercely but they may not get along. They love, but they are too different.

It amazes me that Carson and I have the marriage we do. We’re in love. We love each other very much and we have this friendship and consideration for the other. We’re companions. We’re not light with each other’s person. We protect the other.

I told Stephanie she must love herself. She must respect herself. It all stems from there. I will remind her.

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