Things aren’t just things.
They carry with them a weight and a flavor. In my life, more often heavy and bitter than light and sweet; but memorable nonetheless. And I cannot touch things without remembering the feelings associated with them.
The soft satin trim on a baby blanket as I tuck a childhood poem into a box for Grad School. The pang of panic as I stroke the edge of the rocking horse that added that scar to a forehead. That one I move into the pile to sell.
I’m a 48 year old woman who hasn’t yet experienced true partnership. And I don’t just want true partnership; my entire being aches for it.
Like a pregnant body or a heart with nowhere to send its cargo, things like us either die or burst never having delivered our respective gifts to the rightful recipients…and everyone loses.
It is clear at this point in my hastening life that I will never know what it is like to feel the warm, strong and loving arms of my partner embrace me while I cradle our child. That opportunity has already passed. I held them each alone and did the best I could. That would be lovely beyond words and I ache for it too, but this I have let go.
Walking With No Feet
Gentle men are like unicorns.
Elusive. Solitary. Almost impossible to find.
A gentle man listens carefully but has an opinion of his own. He nudges the status quo and encourages his partner to do the same. He is considerate and expresses appropriate gratitude when warranted. He takes notice. He makes eye contact when you are talking to him and hugs you when you need it. He is not selfish or arrogant or childish (hence…the word “man”). He communicates his needs and understands the needs of others. He views you as a priority. He is also human and makes mistakes but apologizes, learns from them and grows. The sight of you smiling makes him grin at the thought that you are feeling joy. He never takes advantage of you for personal gain – physically or otherwise. He lays his hand gently on your low back but doesn’t run it over your ass in public. And if he runs it over your ass in private it is only with care and with your permission. He is a considerate lover who wants to connect with you, not just fuck you. He tells you when you are beautiful and has the courage to tell you when your behavior is ugly as well. He is loving and fair and wise.
The Beauty of Ashland
While sitting with some wonderful people and talking about relationships a beautiful young woman next to me tearfully wailed “how am I supposed to walk if I have no feet?” This powerful statement was in reference to the gaps her parents left in teaching her how to communicate, feel, be present and open, etc. She felt literally stuck in her life circumstances and unable to move forward because she perceived she was lacking the proper tools. In this case, feet.
This statement has been weighing on me ever since; along with the pain she exuded as she made it. I know that pain all too well. I would hazard to guess that most of us have felt it at least for a small moment along the way. It’s excruciating.
But I can say from my personal experience and from watching those around me and listening to their stories that there is always something we can do.
I do not know how to describe this place to honor it properly. Or how to ever repay it for the kindness and healing it has shown me. But, I will do my best with my simple words so that, even for one second, you can ‘feel’ it, too.
Peace flags faded from sunlight hang askew from porch dormers. And the uneven steps prop bright colored pots full of chive, dianthus and chamomile which people pluck directly to season their meals; even the restaurants. Every porch is inviting with a swing and creations by local artisans crafted from metal and retimbered wood; punctuated with mosaic bird baths and resident blue jays who live out loud.
Pollen gardens invite me to lie in the grass in the shade of the nearby Redwoods and the bees are more interested in the flowers than in me so I just listen to the buzz of their wings; to the buzz of real living happening all around me.
The Last Train Out
De facto – adverb, adjective. actually existing, especially when without lawful authority
I am this; the de facto expert that I never wanted to be.
Last week, three women sought my help. I’m not really sure why. I don’t know if they just recognize it in me. Or if the news of my writing and eventual documentary have begun to circulate. But, I do know that each and every one of them has that wide-eyed look that I have too often seen in the mirror. It is as if they have just witnessed the death of a loved one when what has actually died is their sense of safety in this world and their belief that ‘it’ would never happen to them.
Too Ugly to Heal
I spent the weekend revisiting the City that I tried to make my 2nd Home. This time I visited it alone.
Yes, my flip flops were in the corner of his apartment on Dorchester in Brooklyn, and my satin robe with the pink trim was on the back of his door. There were tampons in the bathroom, nail polish on the dresser and art that I created adorned every room along with pictures of us together. And his key was on my keychain so that I was always welcome.
I visited often. But it never became the nest we both intended it would for me.
Moving about in this giant City was difficult for an empath. Too many people’s everything screamed like screeching brakes. It went right through me as if I were opaque and leaving metal shards. For five and one half years I tried hard to love it as much as he did; because he did.
The Gutter Guy
After posting a series of stories about Domestic Violence survivors last year, I was approached by several people to compile them into a book. I was hesitant because my personal experience is that we, as survivors, don’t really matter. That we aren’t important enough to others to read it.
But, some of these people were friends who had never admitted to anyone that they, themselves, had been abused and my writing touched them. Others were doctors who felt it would be a tool to reach women who had no voice.
So, I began.
More Than Enough
Hope walked through my door yesterday in white painter’s shorts splotched with color and anchored with earth. He was covered in ruddy leaves and muck and wearing work boots worn through the soles. His gray hair told me history and his smile lines knowing. He asked me if I was New Age which also told me his age.
I simply answered “I’m odd” to which he responded “I know.” And then we had a conversation.
It’s funny how the Universe delivers people and lessons. Just the night before I was lying in bed sobbing, my dear friend doing all she could to bind me to something hopeful when I was having trouble finding anything at all. And one of the last things she said before I shut out the lights (and my life) for the evening was “you have the power, no matter how diminished you may feel it is, to not only survive this but to triumph over it.” Who uses the word triumph anymore? Well, the Gutter Guy, in that same unmistakable sentence word-for-word in my doorway. So I settled back to listen because the Universe wields a mighty hammer ~ THUNK. Between the eyes.
"Send my hero my love"
Sometimes, I feel helpless. I wonder how I am doing as a Mom. My divorce is beyond hostile and I have so little financial means. I often feel as if I am failing my children somehow. I know that I work as hard as I possibly can to support two households and I provide the model for what a healthy, loving home should be. But, there are four beautiful people relying on me. So, sometimes, I just feel helpless.
And then a gem like this surfaces. When I asked Mackenzie today what the greatest lesson I have taught her is she instantaneously produced this letter that she keeps on her phone. Frankly, I had forgotten that I wrote it; but it’s beautiful and made me realize what a rock solid Mom I am every single day. With Mackenzie’s permission, I am sharing it.
As it turns out, I am not helpless at all. I may not be able to give them everything, but I give them this. And that is more than enough.
My First Breath ~ Again
Like most everything else thrown her way my daughter, Mackenzie, has handled the news of Ed’s death with wisdom and acceptance beyond her young years. While she misses him terribly she also knows that this happened with purpose and benefit we do not yet understand. This is the very same wisdom that brought Ed into our lives in the first place.
Mack had a catastrophic stroke in the lunchroom at school when she was 14 years old. Face drooping, arm and leg hanging, speech impaired, head throbbing, life-changing stroke. I will never get over the sight of her broken body and her last audible words that day, “Please make it stop, Momma.”
There is one universal thing that we all do as our first act in this world. Breathe. Some of us come to it naturally as if we have waited lifetimes in the womb to fill our lungs with air; embracing this change. Others need a violent smack on the bottom to bring it about. But, regardless of how we arrive we all start the same way. We take a breath.
I am finding during these past many days, months and years under extreme pressure I have apparently forgotten how. I am at an age when many of my friends are talking about biofeedback, yoga, and meditation as if to finesse the art. I would just settle for “in” and “out”. I’m not trying to finesse anything. I’m simply trying to remember how to do it.