I have been half-assedly practicing mindfulness techniques: detaching from the outcome; relaxing into the anger to come through the anger; attempting to view my ex through the lens of radical empathy; and anything else Pema Chodron suggests in the weekly newsletter she sends me.
But they aren’t working very well.
I am moving next month, to a smaller place. The good news: the new place is much less expensive. The bad news: Luca has informed me he won’t be coming with Franny and me since he won’t have his own bedroom. Understandable.
The really passive-aggressive news: Prince is demanding I drop off the kids to his house on the day of my move so he can take them for his share of winter break, instead of picking them up, like a reasonable person. Either that, he said, or I should just have the kids stay and help me move.
Which would definitely be cheaper than hiring a mover, so maybe I should consider it.
For good measure, Prince said he might take the kids earlier than planned, but would let me know when he and his wife get back from their upcoming trip. In other words: he has tied my schedule up in knots just to fuck me with me.
So, pursuant to this latest round of insanity, I have been having a hard time detaching from my preferred outcome of stomping him into little tiny bits. I don’t feel good about this, but the truth is, I am deeply entrenched in murderous thoughts. Pema Chodron, uber-Buddhist teacher that she is, would not approve. Actually, since she’s an uber-Buddhist, she’s above disapproving, but she would probably advise me to breathe, or relax into the anger coursing through my body, or some other noble technique that is not the least bit satisfying.
But let me share with you what was satisfying recently: Luca’s last hair cut with my friend and hair stylist Vivica.
* * *
Vivica blew her way out of her alchoholic household when she was 17, and worked a series of jobs (driving a truck being one of them) while she learned how to make art. She now does hair out of a room in her fabulously-appointed historic bungalow.
She doesn’t cut hair, so much as craft it, and she manages to do this while opining in her midwestern twang about the state of the world while waving her scissors around and sometimes appearing not to be actually looking at hair, but nevertheless, giving the best haircut of any stylist I have ever known.
Luca, who is OCD-fussy about his golden-brown lucks, will only go to Vivica. He sits in her chair instructing her how to cut his hair, and she tells him to shut up. They’re a good pair.
He has a new ‘do: buzzed on the sides and the back, with bangs gelled into an upward spike.
“Mom, can I get this?” he held out a bottle of gel.
“Why are you making your mom pay for that?” Vivica snapped at him. ” It’s expensive. Tell your dad to pay for it.”
“I don’t think he would.”
“Is he cheap? I HATE stingy rich people!”
I hid my smirking behind a magazine. I so loved Vivica at that moment.
“Mom, is my dad rich?”
“Uh…yeah,” I said.
“Do you think he’s going to leave all his money to Sarah (new wife)?”
“I have no idea,” I said.
“You shouldn’t be thinking that way anway,” said Vivica. “Find something you love to do, work hard, and make your own money. That way your dad can’t run your life.”
Luca was silent.
“Is he controlling?” asked Vivica.
“He’s a total control freak!” said Luca.
I was practically orgasmic by then.
“He’s not going to like this haircut, is he?” asked Vivica, with a grin.
“I’ll cut it even shorter then.”
“My dad drives me nuts.”
“So what are you going to do about it?” Vivica asked.
“I mean, I’d like to do something legally,”…Luca glanced over at me.
I knew what he meant. He wanted me to get legal custody back.
“You don’t want to get into any legal stuff with your dad, Luca,” I said.
“Just emancipate!” said Vivica. “You’re old enough.”
Luca’s eyes widenened.
“Yeah. Go out and get yourself a job and a place to live, and he can’t tell you what to do. But you gotta be prepared to walk away from the money. Can you live without his money?”
Luca, who normally is chock full of words, appeared to have run out of them.
“You haven’t answered my question.”
“Get a job when you grow up, Luca,” I said. “It’s the only way any of us can steer our own ship.”
“Listen,” said Vivica, conspiratorially. “If things blow up at your dad’s house, you can come live with me. I’ll put you to work for your room and board. We’ll go to the shooting range and I’ll teach you how to shoot a gun.”
“My dad would freak out!”
As Luca and Vivica chattered on, I reveled in the afterglow of bad-mouthing by proxy. All the things I could never say to Luca, and with such gusto, had been spoken by a non-word-mincing woman honest and subversive enough to earn my 16-year-old’s trust and respect.
I don’t know if Luca will ever risk being booted off Planet Easy Street so he can make his own decisions. But I do know that I, and the people with whom I surround myself, will have given him something that Prince never got growing up: a counterpoint to the Walmartian philosophy that it’s perfectly fine to smush people who have the nerve to get in between you and every dime within eyesight.
And that’s all I can do, really. Show him another way of being, don’t force my value system down his throat, and let him choose for himself.
And in the meantime, revel in whatever deeply satisfying cheap thrills come my way.