In the end, we are all just souls. Divesting ourselves from our red blood cell cages and bending the calcium which whitens our bones. In the end, our trappings fall away like 4th of July bunting in the orange leaves of the fall. We are left, then, to fly. Toward starlight, toward sweetness, toward dust or heaven. To believe in the finality of the suffering and the joy we create – simply by being and then by not being.
We leave tiny tsunamis in our wake. Each footstep, though universally small, bends a blade of grass or moves a pebble. We amble along impervious to how we impact everything and nothing all at once.
Someone will always remember your name.
Sometimes we choose haphazardly, our actions. Never intending a permanent scars , but causing them nonetheless. We are not helpless to assist in healing, to cover our wicked handiwork in vines and flowers and make it into something beautiful. It is our choice to do so , it is our choice to accept it when it is offered. It is our to accept responsibility in our happiness, to forgive and extend tender mercies. It is also our choice to follow Kenny Rogers and know when to fold ‘em. We control our reactions, even if we can’t control the happenstance.
I turn these thoughts, these things, over in my hands and they slide over my fingers like water. This girl, who never believed in her worth, realizes what bullshit this self defeat. I touch, as I am touched. I inspire as I am inspired. I matter. I shake, I come apart, I come back together and in the beauty of all that are my choices. I fuck up with grace and live with bumbling humility. I strive to choose better, so I do. Bless this life and my choosing to be present. Bless yours, too, traveler. Your road and mine may intersect. I promise my best to you, but above that. I promise my best to me.
I think I chose you. I think I chose you when I was simply a floating star, waiting for a place to land. I chose you in your torture, in your spiral of doubt, in your selfishness. I chose you in your hands, in their warmth and in the way they would glide across the page leaving a universe in their wake.
I think I chose you from high above, when I was deciding where I would walk in life. I think I chose you for the things I saw in you. Things you never saw. Things you died quietly, never knowing. I chose you to become more compassionate, more caring, more connected. I chose you not because you could show me these things, but because you needed them, too.
I chose you and watched. I watched and learned and lost you. You chose and evaded and left me. But I refuse to believe that I chose wrong.
I am missing you today and I would choose you again.
new post up at A Vegetative State
come check me out as I fight and beat type 2 diabetes.
Clay is not a “writing our own vows” kind of guy and I respect that.
But, the writer in me, the one who lives in her head, swimming with words…well that girl is having a hell of a time thinking of stating the standard words everyone else states. If he would let me, I would say these words. I would hold his hands and most assuredly have the sea air blow bits of my hair into my lip gloss. I would hold back my own tears to tell him these things, to tell him that my heart is irrevocably his. But, he won’t. I will say them here, instead.
With this ring, I promise you all of the things I fear promising. Because in you, my safe harbor, my heart fears nothing. I promise you this heart, this body, this spirit. I promise you these things in all of their various states and I take yours in all of their various states. I promise in our wildest wealth or our most lean days of suffering that you will find me, by your side. I promise that your door will always be mine to guard. I promise to strive to give you my best, but to trust you with my worst. I promise I will treat your dreams as my dreams, your wants as my wants, your worries as my worries, your heart as my heart.
Til our days are no longer I am yours.
Where you go, I will go and where you stay, I will stay.
I find joy in an easel in the corner of my living room. It’s been there for years, unused, unfulfilled. The world spun, we worked, we played, we got busy and I hated painting. I wanted to love it and I wanted to do it, but the brush always had a mind of it’s own and what was in my head, never quite blossomed onto the canvas.
Then he signed me up for a painting class. I no longer question the timing of it, or why he decided that after so many years, that I should do what I had always said I wanted. But there I was, in a class. Other fledgling artists or craft-ists sitting in front of metal easels and blank canvas with pigments in tubes and unsoiled brushes. Sharpened charcoal at the ready. With a perfect blend of sunlight and studio light and a roll-up wall of windows looking out onto a courtyard of rushing water, trees and grass. I felt nervous. I felt quiet. I felt competitive.
Our first painting, simple shapes and shadows-reminded me of writing when I was a little girl. I made sure all of my poems rhymed. made sure all of my words, handwritten, were perfectly spaced on the page. But, just like my writing, the first painting fell flat. My instructor took my small brushes from me and grabbed one that seemed impossibly huge for the job. In two strokes, there was depth and promise. Whereas my hours of tiny little dabs had produced, well, shit.
He told me to always remember the economy of a brushstroke. Do not attack with a toothpick, what requires a baseball bat. Do not be afraid of your instinct. Be the bull in the china shop, even broken plates can be pieced back together in a mosaic. In other words, quit trying to be perfect and just be.
I looked at my other classmates and their paintings were variations of my own. Competition began to leave me, when I realized that there is no measurement of beauty. We are all just putting our own brush strokes on canvas. We are all just learning the economy of a brushstroke.
Our second painting, started with bottles and a coffee pot, apples and a vase. Shadows, curves, perspective. He set us free to draw.
My immediate reaction was a sort of panic, so closely similar to what I felt when I used to watch dad draw. I can’t do that, I will never be as good as he is.
As evidenced, above, I’m not the sketch artist that my dad was. Not by a wide margin. At this point, in almost every previous attempt at art, I’ve quit. But, not this time. My drawing, as inaccurate and as simple as it was, got transferred to my canvas. The process continued. As everyone else around me, simple colors covered the dark lines.
We mixed our own colors, watching the theory play out on the tips of our brushes. Layer by layer. But it is so hard, sometimes to see where you are going instead of where you are. To know that there is more than what lay on the surface. True of so many things. True of so many people. Some people arise from their birth looking flawless, some bloom into a beauty that takes more than a precursory glance.
Sometimes it takes years to notice the subtlety of the background, to know the nuances of where someone or something comes from. How that influences where and what they are. I loved painting this background, blending these colors. Making something only I could make. Not my classmates, not my dad, just me.
Something in the bones of this made me feel like I had wind in my sails. something in the way I could guide a brush made me feel like I could do this. Something made me think that anything was possible. I just had to want it.
I do, in a way that is foreign to me. Writing has always been a compulsion and sometimes, it just plain hurts. But these colors, these shapes, while scary to me, that I could some how completely destroy and distort them….they are joyful.
But now I can appreciate how shades and darkness provides depth to something that lacked life. I can appreciate that I may never have the intelligence that Clay has, the faith my mother has, may never have the heart my sister has, or the ability to love like my brother. I will never be the artist my dad was. But, I will have abilities and nuances and glories of my own and they will never be duplicated by anyone. I will be the artist, the person that I am.
And this will hang in my home as a reminder of where I’ve been, where I am and where I will go.
I used to date assholes. Almost exclusively, certainly with frequency and with alarming consistency. I had a hidden magnet with pointed me to true asshole north. I could, with startling accuracy, swing a dead cat in the dark in hopes of finding a date, and hit an asshole.
It was a gift, really.
My first boyfriend was named Steve and lived in the middle of nowhere. My parents used to drive me, begrudgingly, 1.5 hours one way to visit him on his mom’s cattle ranch. I was 14 and didn’t quite grasp the budget-busting capacity of daily long distance phone calls. Mostly in which we didn’t actually speak, as he was pretending to french kiss me through the receiver. He tried to finger me next to a dirty fish tank in his cousin’s apartment in a dingy part of town and I kicked him in the nuts. Ah, first love.
Actually, my sister will tell you that my first boyfriend was my imaginary boyfriend in the 1st grade, to whom I gave the totally believable name, Johnny Rickertail. In my mind, Johnny had a pompadour like Elvis and rode a motorcycle. In 1st grade. I was firmly convinced he actually existed and had the ability to disappear when other people would show up. Which, if you think about it, is also kind of an asshole trait.
The first boyfriend I had that made a mark on me wasn’t really an asshole. He was kind to me and said nice things, held my hand. We were very chaste and spent a lot of time together. He sang with me at my sister’s wedding. He had great hair and a beautiful smile. To this day, he is devastatingly handsome. And gay. This was news to no one but me, although I really should have picked up on his proclivities when he did my hair for our first date. It looked fabulous.
After him, I fell headlong and ridiculous for a boy I would never date. My heart seemed created especially for him, and in the middle of our complicated friendship I was sexually assaulted and he was diagnosed with cancer. Something in his cancer-induced suicide and in my stolen virtue created a brick wall around every part of me, except my vagina.
Thus, I entered my hussy stage (sorry mom). I dated. A lot. I dated a Navy boy who was sweet as could be…but was entirely, wholeheartedly and stupidly in love with someone else. I didn’t particularly care that he was, because he was cute and I was…whatever I was. That lasted a couple of months until he went on his WestPac and called me on my birthday to tell me he had proposed to “her”. I hung up and set his picture on fire in the back yard, using one of my birthday candles. I have always had a flair for the dramatic. Then, in a fit of vindictive malfeasance, I went out with a Navy Seal, who rolled down his window to scream, “HOOOOAAHHHH!!!” making me nearly piss myself. When I asked if that was something he normally did, he interrupted me by rolling the window back down and screaming “USFUCKINGA MOTHERASSES!!!!”.
There was the guy who came into the store where I worked, while I did my stint as Snow White. He brought me 14 dozen orange roses and 14 Mickey Mouse balloons. We had never met before. I went to coffee with him, because seriously, what the fuck? Turns out, he was certifiable. I think his name was Carl, but I can’t really be sure since he asked me to call him by his last name, which he insisted was Knickerbocker. I have my doubts. He took me to dinner the next night at Marie Callendars and had a half off coupon, only valid if I ordered a chicken caesar salad.
I ordered the pot pie.
He threw a soda in my face.
There were many others in varying shades of weird, gay or feloniously disingenuous. There was even one who asked me to meet his family, then introduced me to his wife and two children. She knew all about me, I hadn’t even known she existed. The fit I threw, right there in his living room, was epic.
The last date I went on, before I met Clay almost made me rethink the possibility of love all the way around. He was a very nice man, who used to come into a store I managed in San Diego. He was always well dressed and every day, he came in and bought a votive candle. One day, I was working alone and he asked me out to dinner.
I was flabbergasted and flattered. He was sweet, I said yes.
We made a date and he called a couple of days later to ask if I would mind driving, his car was in the shop. Being a modern woman, I found nothing wrong with this and said yes. I went to pick him up at his apartment and his room mate answered the door.
Said room mate proceeded to tell me that my dreamboat of a date didn’t HAVE a car. Strike one for lying, strike two for being such a douche that your roomie rats you out. But, I was already there and I felt obligated to go through with the date.
He came around the corner, looking dapper, if not slightly nervous and I felt my resolve to not have fun, waiver ever so slightly. Then he said the following:
“I made reservations at Jyoti Bihanga.”
me: “You made what with the where to the who now?”
him: “Jyoti Bihanga. It’s a vegan restaurant.”
me: “Oh, I didn’t know you were vegan.”
him: “I’m not.”
me: *blink blink*
Now, look. Veganism is a lovely way of life, if that’s your thing. But, if you aren’t vegan and you aren’t sure that your date is open to such things, it probably isn’t the most conventional choice for a first date. But, I agreed. Because, I am nothing, if not adaptable. We went down to the car and I hopped in. He waited, at his door, even though it was unlocked. He waited, at his door until I got out of the car and went around his side to open the door for him. Holy crap.
I drove the short distance to the restaurant, listening to him make a “pshew pshew pshew” noise with his lips. I can only assume this was to hide the loud and distressing whistle emitting from his nose.
We were seated in the restaurant where he committed another faux pas, which for some reason some men think is cute. He ordered for me without asking me what I wanted. I could feel a steady, nasty, angry heat rising up from my toes, which had been sexily stuffed into decidedly not vegan shoes. This dude was seriously starting to piss me off.
Our meal came, a series of grains and beans and other assorted vegan items. He promptly grabbed his knife and began to eat. Did you catch that? Just his knife. He ate tiny grains of couscous and spiraled, egg-free noodles and plump little olives brined with garlic, with only his knife. All the while, talking through knife-fulls of hippie food about how his dad used to give him showers with a fire hose. He described this in vivid detail, as his nose whistled over the sitar music and pieces of quinoa flew from his lips. He took great, slurping sips of iced tea, and belched into his napkin with great aplomb.
I sat, aghast.
When the waitress came to see if we wanted dessert, without hesitation, he bellowed, “Yeah, I want Jell-O.”
It is my firm belief that you do not order Jell-O at a restaurant unless the following circumstances have occurred:
You are deathly ill, in which case get the hell out of the restaurant and go home.
You are celebrating your 5th birthday.
You are celebrating your 95th birthday.
You are not in a vegan restaurant.
The waitress, poor sweet, undernourished and anemic little vegan thing that she was, had to inform him that gelatin of any kind is not a vegan product, therefore, they didn’t serve it.
Hell hath no fury like a freak denied his Jell-O.
He went nuclear. There was spittle. And cussing. Topped off with the grande finale of him pitching forward and throwing up his entire vegan feast on the table cloth. I beat feet faster than I have ever moved without something chasing me. My car simply could not get me out of there fast enough. He ran from the restaurant, waving his arms and screaming my name at my back windshield as I drove away. He called me two days later and told me I owed him $20 for my half of dinner.
Over 11 years have passed since I met Clay. Since I first saw his eyes hit mine in that way that is both magic and completely breathtaking and also acts like a mild laxative. That gut squeezing, slightly sphincter clenching realization that someone has wholly taken your heart out of your chest and is holding it in their hands. That sense of being split in half and glued back together with their joints and muscles holding all your weak spots together. That sense that you are never going to be the person you were before you met them and seriously, thank God, because that person kind of sucked.
He has never waited for me to open his car door. He has never yelled “ASSNITED STATES OF FUCKMERICA, BITCHES!” out of the car window. He is gentle with my heart, forthright in dealing with my bullshit and more than him loving me, he likes me. He makes me a more responsible, logical, realistic person, simply by his example. I catch him looking at the hand that houses the diamond he gave me. It sparkles with his promise. It is his birthday and I simply cannot give him a gift that equals what he gives to me, simply by virtue of his presence in my life.
Happy Birthday, Burke. I love you.
I am kind. Core deep and covered in blood, guts, layers of fat and tattooed skin, my kindness lay. It is nestled around the vertebrae of my spine, double helix within my DNA. My heart is an open and beating vessel whose first inclination leans toward kindness. However, I am learning as my years progress and my face settles into something less beautiful and more wise, that kindness is not the Gemini’s twin of being a doormat. However, it seems that some others maintain that illogical, algebraic formulation. Looks something like this:
kindness+ 2(purity) -inherent dickishness = doormat.
So, should behavior not fit into that known quantitative equation, the math suddenly doesn’t add up.
Anyone who knows me well, knows a few, simple hallmarks of me as a person. I am that person who will take your late night phone calls. Well past the point of my own exhaustion, just to make sure you are okay. I am the person who will send a random gift, have a texting marathon, email in between my clients, facebook chat, Skype into the we smalls until we have hammered out the details, set you right or at least made the dark a little less hopeless and a little more littered with stars. I mention this, not to herald myself or to ask that you send me “World’s greatest friend” mugs in bushel. I mention this simply to say, that of all the things I hate about myself, my ability to be a friend is not one.
It shocks me when I am blindsided by hostility. It shouldn’t, unfortunately as I wear the shiny scar tissue of the raped and the beaten.But still, even in the face of unspeakable violence and unspeakable violation, that kind heart of mine still expects kindness from everyone first. I give it first, I expect it first. Expectations are not for doormats. Doormats just lay quietly, expecting nothing and receiving less.
I expect. I suppose that, in and of itself rips my inherent kindness clean out of me as a fish on a hook. I suppose, that makes me an asshole.
So, recently, when I shared an opinion, privately with someone, closely related to a project they worked on for a very long time..when she told me she was okay with what I had told her in kindness; but more importantly in truth, I believed her. Because I err on the side of truth, always delivered in the kindest way I can muster. I expect that is what I would get in return. That’s not what I got. What I got was a message saying we were fine, then a very big, very public, very well publicized blog post regarding our private conversations and the resulting diatribe that I had somehow told her she was surviving wrong.
Words I had never thought and never said. However, I had clearly communicated in way that made her feel less than human. I was mortified. Not only that I had, even for a second, made her feel badly, but that she chose not to talk to me about it. Privately, just like I had spoken to her. I was absolutely defensive and upset and sickened. As anyone with kindness would be. Yet again, when I spoke with her privately about my feelings, I was disregarded. Immediately, her facebook lit up, calling to yet another audience to speak publicly about what I had brought to her with the absence of outside eyes. Then, she blocked me. Happy to deride my intentions and reactions (without naming me, but there was no mistaking that she was speaking of me) without the benefit of me being able to defend myself.
In essence, in saying this, I am airing my dirty laundry. Highlighting the inequity that kindness and truth telling affords you in a digital arena. But I am also just laying myself bare. I feel, I bleed, I hurt. My kindness, my friendship, my authenticity, is just that. Authentic. I do nothing as an affect. I say what I mean and it is my naive expectation that you are the same. That you are reaching your hand toward mine, not just your words on a screen to my words on a screen. Pixels aren’t assholes. Pixels aren’t best friends. People are.
I am a person and when you are cruel it pains me. I am a person and when you do not handle me with truth, wrapped in kindness, it batters me. Not in a delicious, ready-to-be-deep-fried kind of way, either. I expect kindness to my kindness, it would be life changing if you began to consider, delivering.
He slid his fingers along the surface of the rock, nestled under an inch of still water. His pulse sending shock waves along the undisturbed glass of the liquid.
I was familiar with that sensation.
He etched his initial, then mine in the green moss. His face never left its contemplative state. I wanted to shake him, watch panic or fear or humor or passion light across him. To show him how he left me with an affect, simply with his breathing. But the soft sun, fell weakly through the thick shade trees and obscured him. He was calm, always calm.
And I? Was left to wonder if I would ever be calm again.