On this day, 10 years ago, your life was turned upside down. A decade ago, you sat on the bed in that two-story house on 71st Street, in Kansas City, at 9:30am, and your husband threw his wedding ring at you, telling you that he was divorcing you. He told you to leave the house immediately, and that the car that was leased in his name could be turned over to you for $500.
But, he had only left $80 in the account. He was generous enough to give you that.
None of this was really a surprise. You were in hell, and so was he. You were a wreck, and your marriage was a complete disaster. The stories over which we could reminisce are enough to make you laugh, and turn more gray. You were as bad a wife as he was a husband.
A week before this had all gone down, you mentioned that you couldn't sleep and felt anxious about his behavior. He casually reached in his pocket and offered you a little pill. That surprised you, but it shouldn't have. The woman who he was after had a mess of those little pills... and that's what happened - he left you because he found another relationship to pursue... with his secretary. Trite? Yes. A surprise? Not in the least.
At any rate, you got through it. Your parents were a huge support. Your father told you that this ordeal would be like eating an elephant. He recommended starting with the backside. They bought you a bicycle that you rode for a few months instead of driving a car. And that was the best therapy there ever could be for you. I have often wondered how in the world you rode all over the city at all hours of the night without a single person messing with you. You rode a beautiful, bright orange, expensive bike (I haven't found the bike size, color, or model since), but I believe that your guardian angel was working overtime. Also, you screamed and sang really loudly a lot when you rode around... so there's that...
Your apartment was on the edge of a very bad part of Kansas City. One bus stop away, actually. And the hookers would get off the bus at 2 or 3 in the morning, arguing with their pimps, or trying to get one more trick - depended on the night. Your cat, Ellie, stayed with you and was your best friend. For a year, you stayed right there.
And you got through it. You ate the elephant, starting with the backside.
You kept telling yourself, for years, wow! In ten years you'll see. Who will I be 10 years from now? Surely, I will be rich, and have a zillion recordings, and probably live in Paris - or maybe Beirut or Madagascar, or somewhere exotic... in an apartment with crown moldings and floor to ceiling windows. Definitely overlooking something old and cobblestoned. I'll be overwhelmed with lovers and expensive trips... you get the picture.
And, though this isn't a date that I feel an urge to mark anymore, I feel the need to honor my 2009 self and to take a close look at myself on the date that has been so important to me...
So, 2009 Rebecca, get ready, because the years after that day will be really stinking awful. Very bad people will come into your life, along with just some shitty ones. Selfish people, stupid people, stinky people. But along with them will come some who are now your very close friends. As good of people as the stupid ones are stupid. Acknowledge those people because they will see you to the other side of this.
You wanted it to happen quickly - in a year or two, you would be back to your old self. Sassy, smart, ornery, pretty. I'm sorry to say, but you left that Rebecca in your apartment in the 'hood when you moved. She's not you anymore, and that's just fine. Where you were going, you were going to need some new attributes.
We know about the following years of shittiness. Let's skip ahead to when the last of the shitty people fired you from their flute company because they had no idea what they were doing (Naming it the Seaman Storm piccolo is a good example of their complete incompetence. I still can't say it without blushing!). You had found a group of wonderful people, and the bad ones were falling away. This guy you had started seeing seemed really pretty alright. He has wonderful parents, which is a huge upgrade from your in laws.
One night, while this guy cooked you a delicious dinner, you painted a picture. And from that, because of one of those amazing people who is now your close friend, a book came, and from that, an International Book Award.
You moved to Austin with that guy, and things weren't always peachy. Sometimes they sucked. But they sucked in such a different way - because, at the end of the day, you talked about why they sucked. And you listened to each other, and tried to change. It was/is not always beautiful. But he is a wonderful person. I've chosen to stick with him!
Now, it's ten years to the day when you sat on that bed at 9:30am. You live in Easley, South Carolina, a place that, at the time, you never knew existed. Your house is eccentric and wonky - just how you like. You live and hike in the most beautiful mountains. You have students who practice and who love to play music. Though the zillion albums are forthcoming, you play music! A lot!!!! You create and sell art. You have spent abundant time in New York City, which is better for you than Paris, because you have loved that place ever since you were a child! You aren't at all rich financially, but you have enough. You have to color your hair now because it's getting gray. Your diet has had to change drastically because your metabolism is so much slower. You have wrinkles...so many things I can tell you have happened. Big, medium, mostly small.
And, most importantly, you have solid, wonderful relationships that are multi-faceted with incredible, interesting people. You are a much better judge of character! You aren't afraid to walk away. You aren't afraid to get in someone's face when they are bothering you or someone else. You have a better sense of what you're worth and what it's worth to do something. To do anything.
You. Are. Not. Afraid. You have eaten a few elephants and have lived.
Far from Madagascar, but I am sure that you will approve. People are everything to you, and though you insist that you are a recluse at heart, you really love the people in your life and are so grateful for their love and support.
I'll be visiting Kansas City next month, after almost a decade of being away. I'm sure to see you there, in so many places and in so many ways. Most of me is so excited that I can hardly stand it, but, I admit that I'm also hesitant. Hesitant of your sadness. Of your anger, of your... but mostly, I want to be there as I am in 2019, and give a huge hug to the dear woman I left there.
Rest in Peace, 2009 Rebecca Ashe. Know that better days come. Know that, from here, and from who you have become, good times will surely be ahead! And for the bad times that will surely happen, also know in your bones that you may not be ravenous for elephant, but now you have some good recipes, and you can handle anything!
With my love,