Sunday, February 26, 2017

Am I turning into someone I'm not?

The view from where I stood.

Some weeks are difficult not just because of the effort and the work they require, but because they throw everything you've been moving toward into question. Not an epiphany, more like an antiphany. A "this is everything that I don't want." Those are actually harder to swallow than plain everyday disappointments, especially if you've moved steadily in one direction with purpose. So you find yourself thinking you've erred, and erred terribly. Have I ignored the real me, mistaken myself for someone else? Have I sought security at the risk of any chance of satisfaction? Of freedom? I don't know what I feel right now, and I'm bothered. I will be 54 soon, and I STILL haven't found a way to make a life for myself in any real capacity, and still retain my passion for rising in the morning. Is it really only a choice of prison or starvation? Today, I feel a little defeated. I don't quit easily, but I'm in crisis. Where do I belong? What the hell can I do to feel that I've made reasonably correct life choices and feel enough passion to grow in that direction? What am I missing, what clue? Or am I so unable to know anything about myself that all I'm capable of doing is stumbling around in the dark? But, my gut is telling me what it's telling me, and I suppose I'll have to give it due attention.

Am I on the wrong path?

I took a walk out in the sun, put my feet on the soil in search of some sort of magic, mystery made of grass and loam and soil and seeds. I listened to what the wind whispered, but feel no more enlightened than I did before I struck out into sunlit solitude. I feel marginally better, so that's not nothing. I took photos of the beautiful West Virginia landscape, a lovely place even in the dusk of winter, a month before spring begins to assert itself. I've always felt the ghosts of something moving openly across the spaces here and seek them out willingly. But I've never been afraid of ghosts, have I? It's the living and breathing that chill my soul.

It's kind of buggy out here...

A melancholy meander

Saturday, February 25, 2017

An excerpt from my book.

The sound of the alarm was a grating pulse that served not just to rouse her from sleep, but to create anger and anxiety as a bonus. The start of the day ought to be more buoyant, she had often believed, and yet day after stultifying day there was that alarm, it’s clarion call one to suffering and unhappiness on a good day, genuine soul crushing misery on the rest of them. 

Her morning routine was inviolate, if she wanted to make it in on time. Coffee materials already laid out, cappuccino maker loaded and ready to go with the push of the button. Take meds while the machine warms up, heat up the milk, in goes the coffee, and a double scoop of chocolate, up the stairs and into the shower. Drink coffee, check email, apply makeup and shimmy into the outfit already laid out on the previous evening. Don’t veer an inch from this or lateness will ensue and the absurdly anal retentive write ups, lectures and being sniffed at and scowled at as though she had taken a crap on the entryway carpet in the lobby would be the reward. For the entire week. As though she were a nine year old serial killer. Persevere, her mind said. Hang in. It’s not forever. But every day felt like prison and she had to wonder if the whole endeavor was worth it in the end. Stick to it-iveness was admirable, and a recently acquired trait, but this might just be pushing it. The reward for living in dismal misery was becoming less alluring by the month.
Mostly, she wanted to run away, and far away. Islands, continents, light years away.  Nothing was turning out the way she’d imagined it would and she spent her lunch breaks just trying not to cry. Or punch someone in the throat. Her grip on restraint was growing weaker with every dismal day that passed.  Stepping out of her apartment she shivered, the weather had turned cold, the sky grey and there were little gossamer flakes of snow dancing on the wind. The ground had begun to grow white as more and more snow fell, turning the brown of winter into a glistening faux fairytale brightness. But boy, was it cold, and getting colder the longer she dawdled on the porch, resolutely she moved toward the car and hitting a patch of ice on the steps nearly found herself sprawled on the concrete. Sighing, she buckled in, and pulled out onto the street, pointing her car toward work and wishing to be driving to anywhere but there.

Sitting at the stop sign, she hated having to turn left onto the busy road that took her into town, she punched the ipod icon on her screen and the plaintive wail of Chris Martin filled the cabin of the car. She’d spent time overseas and had come to like Coldplay very much, she had some amazing memories from a little tavern in China, some Aussies with guitars who did an amazing cover of Talk and an evening she had photographed in her mind. She sat behind the wheel and smiled, remembering friends from far away. Everyone was there that night, it was a warm sticky evening and the memory had a boozy slurred haze to it. She remembers standing next to Amanda while Amanda’s boyfriend Skip was creating a magical musical net with his voice and his guitar, lost in the special spell that seems to come out of nowhere on evenings when everyone is connected, there’s an electricity to some nights, who knows why, but they make the pearls in the strands we reach for like a rosary when sentimentality wins the toss. She remembers stopping and looking around and thinking, remember this moment. Memorize it and call on it so you can remember these friends and this time.” She’s never forgotten it, and she calls on it now and smiles. The moment is shattered by the sound of a horn behind her. She’s slipped into reverie while everyone else around her is trying to get to their miserable jobs.  Sighing, she pulls out onto the road, hits the ice and spins and too late, sees the Dodge Ram barreling down on her. Reflexively, she throws up her arms, averts her head and squinches, but there’s no protection from the 2.5 tons as it punches into the front left side of her car, crumpling the metal like tinfoil, and even though it happens in seconds, everything seems to slow down. The impact spinning her around, the cracks seeming to creep across the windshield at a meandering pace, creating the little honeycomb pattern before exploding in slow motion in all directions, peppering her head and face, then the pop bomb sounds of the impact and the airbags, her head slamming into the taught pillow from her steering wheel, and then nothing.

White. Cloudy. A high whine in her head she can’t shake off, she’s unsure of where she is, or what’s happening, she’s sitting in nothingness. Slowly, the room takes a shape, four walls, a floor, a ceiling. But they weren’t there just a moment ago… She’s completely lost, eyes scanning frantically for any clue of what’s going on. She can’t remember anything. Carefully, she moves her hands down and leverages herself up, onto her knees, puts her foot underneath her body and pushes herself to her feet. “That’s odd,” she thinks. “I couldn’t do that before.” Before? Before what? “Wait, where am I? Before, what was before? Why couldn’t I do that? “ But she clearly remembers not being able to get onto the floor. Certainly not up off the floor. She remembers disability. She remembers pain was a daily companion, pain that rendered a lot of actions out of reach. She remembers her body locked up, immobility all through her moving parts, and surgeries to try to fix some of it. “Where am I, and what was before?”

There is no way to know how much time is passing, there is nothing but white walls and empty. A whole lot of empty. She walks around, and is it her imagination, or does the room change shape, or alter in some way as she advances across its center? A silent wind gusts suddenly, her hair is lifted, her skin is startled, and she realizes how still it had been before. She hears the sharp staccato click of shoes advancing and spins around to see a woman who could be the very picture of a human resources manager walking toward her. A slightly stout, business like black woman, about 50, short stylish hair sprinkled with silvery grey strands, a knockoff Chanel style Bouclé number, pantyhose, real Louboutin’s, pearl cluster earrings, and mischievous warm brown eyes. She smelled like Shalimar, the perfume staple of middle class women during the 1950’s. It is nostalgia of the highest order and is at once comforting and nauseating. It is her mother, her grandmother, it is hairspray, cigarettes and car rides. She wishes fervently that the smell would go away. Several heartbeats later, she realizes the smell is gone. She lifts her eyes to the woman, who is now less black, more, what? Eastern? Did she have hazel eyes before? How is that possible?  The woman smiles, extends her hand to the side and says “please Rachel, sit, how do you take your tea?”  Out of the corner of her eye she can see the plush white chairs, the table with the tea set on top of it. All snow white, gleaming artificially. Her legs fold of their own will and she sits with a “whoof.” She is too stunned to even utter the simplest question. The woman seems to be taking a perverse level of pleasure in this and says nothing, pouring the tea, which is the proper color, by the way, and lifting the honey wand, allowing a good solid stream of the viscous amber colored sweetener to slide into the cup before giving it an efficient stir and handing the saucer to Rachel. “Sip, dear. You may find it loosens your tongue and speeds this along.” She sips, her eyes fly wide and a little noise of pleasure leaves her lips. The taste is indescribable. Amazing. The perfect tone of tannin and honey, the perfect temperature, and some other element that she can’t identify that makes it heavenly. She takes another good swallow, thinks again, “heavenly.” The sound of crunching metal explodes in her head, chunks of glass rain onto her and a sickening grinding pain hits her body as her bones are broken in a dozen places, the smell of gasoline and burning rubber turns her stomach and the luscious tea heaves it’s way upward. With dreamlike slowness, she watches the diaphanous cup and saucer tilt away from her grasp and begin to turn in lazy circles as they fall to the floor in front of her, vomit chasing it on the way down. She has time to notice the scalloped edges of the cup, the slight iridescent tint of the nearly see-through porcelain as the light flirts with its planes and edges. She has time to wonder where the light is coming from; there are no visible light fixtures in this room. Time suddenly rushes forward with a sickening whoosh and crash! It all hits the floor and she sucks in a breath before finding herself sitting in a large field of green. Beyond disoriented, she jerks her head around to find herself gazing on her mother. Gone is the HR director, and in her place, in this place, her meditation safe place, is her mother.  The beloved face so familiar, yet not, as it’s been many many years since she’s laid eyes on her. Rachel lets her eyes roam over the face that she has loved for the whole of her life. A face that swam in her memory even long after her mother was gone. In the voice so familiar, her mother told her “go, look around. It’s your place. The one you live so happily in deep inside the recesses of your own psyche. Take a moment to enjoy it, I’ll be here when you get back. I expect you’ll have some questions.” She rises, again with an ease long gone, and looks around. It’s all here. The small waterfall, the stream, the open sun drenched field, and the tree at the center. Her mother sits smiling from beneath the tree, sun dappling her skin as the leaves sway contentedly, slowly, making that susurrating sound that has lulled her to sleep so many times. She moves to the stream and breaks the water with her hand. The perfect coolness, she doesn’t have to lift it to her lips to know it’s sweet and pure, but can’t resist doing so. The water that hits her tongue is much colder that the water her hand touched in the stream. Another memory hits her. The well water at her grandparent’s house, the middle of the night, drinking from aluminum cups, another 1950’s relic, the water was so clean tasting and achingly cold. She would stand at the sink and guzzle just for the sheer sensation pleasure of it. Sweet, cold and delicious.

This is her place. The one she goes to in order to center her mind. Ritual is at the heart of it. Bathe in the waterfall, walk to the tree, gentle hand on the bark and slowly walk around it three times, feeling the knobs and grooves of the tree’s surface undulating against her palm before stepping out into the brilliant sunlight. Lifting her face with eyes closed, the sun creates a hot yellow corona across her closed lids, the heat suffuses her skin and slowly, so slowly she begins to burn. It starts at her feet, catches slightly, then runs across her skin, crackling and dancing. She lifts her arms, and a column of fire rises, the sun lets go of a line of pure magma that races down to meet her own fire, crashing into her and pouring off her feet to connect to the molten center of the earth before rising up from another spot and arcing back up to the sun, a circuit born and raging with all the destructive, healing power of the most primal force known. In this moment alone is she at peace. It’s the only time she feels complete, when she’s burning with the heat of the sun and the soul of the earth.

She turns to find herself face to face with a lovely blue eyed man, eyes crinkled at the corner, smile lines and self deprecating humor in clear display. “Now then, shall we have a chat,” he said in a velvety British accent.

“Where am I?”
“Ah, starting with the mundane, are we? Well, I’d expected something more pithy or sarcastic from you, but very well.”
“You’re in the twain, my dear. That place in between life and that which comes after. This is one of those situations where the individual is given some manner of choice in the matter. You have some decisions to make. I thought you might find solace and comfort here, where you routinely have a ritual bathe and then set yourself on fire!”

“I hardly set myself on fire,” she said embarrassed at someone having dipped into her proverbial pool. “It’s a cable connecting me to the center of things. “
“I was using a meditation tool that suggested something like that that only as a rope or ladder. It didn’t feel right, so I changed it up some and the next thing I knew, I was creating an arc with the sun and the molten center of the planet. And besides, bite me.” “What happened to my mother? I like her better.”

“Well, you know I’m not really your mother, nor am I a middle aged woman. I’m not really a devastatingly handsome Englishman with milk smooth skin, but I notice you seem to be respirating faster, so Loki lookalike it is!

“Alright, let’s get the mundane over with, why am I here and for how long? What’s the purpose and what’s the agenda from here?”

“Down to business it is then, right. As I said, you’re in the twain. You aren’t quite dead, but might be. You aren’t quite alive, but could be. You have some choices to make my dear. And no, it’s not as simple as live or die. Not for you, I’m sorry. You are what you might call a sleeper cell, of sorts. That quirky little meditation you do? Not so random. You are a sword of the light. You come factory equipped with a fire inside you. Well, technically, you are fire. Banked for now, until you’re needed. Most of you burn with a righteous flame even when banked. Think Martin Luther King, or Biko. But not you. Well, you DO, but you’ve banked too hard. Not your fault my dear, pesky chromosomes have gummed up the works. One of us up here dropped the ball during gestation in the human womb, and for that, well, very sorry. But, there you are. You’re a creature of righteous fire that’s a little flawed. Still viable, so we’re jump-starting your engine, so to speak.”

“Are. You. Serious…?”

“Quite. Come now, haven’t you ever wondered why you’ve been drawn to what you’ve been drawn to your whole life? You are fire. Meant to burn with rage and cleanse with all the violence of an inferno. You are, quite literally hell on wheels!”

“Ok,” she answered. “Then why am I here? If I’m the flying sword of flaming destiny, why am I dead? Why am I in bits down on terra firma, and talking circles with you in my happy place? What am I supposed to do with all of that? Why bother telling me, or even doing anything with me if all I’m going to do is end up in a body bag?”

Chin lowered, eyes shrewd, he looked passively at her, head cocked and said “maybe I’m trying to unbank you. Maybe what we need to set our little sword of destiny to quivering so we can unleash you on said terra firma requires something a little more dramatic. Maybe what you need to truly want to catch fire is to die, because almost dying changes nothing, it’s dying that changes everything. For the record, you drive like a maniac you know? You take far too many liberties with centrifugal force and break speed laws with complete abandon! It’s a wonder you’ve had no accidents thus far. So, now that we’ve cocked our loaded flamethrower, let’s throw her back into the stream, as it were, shall we?”
“Say goodbye to your happy place my dear, you’re going back planet side but now you’re woke, as the kids like to say.” Quick as a flash, he leaned in and placed a whisper soft kiss on her lips, his tongue darting to the corner of her mouth before he stepped away and disappeared. The breath was suddenly pulled from her lungs and she felt herself being pulled backward, jerked off of her feet and falling sideways through the air then down, down.

The sound of the alarm startled her from sleep, she sat up with a jerk, reached out to turn off the alarm and a gout of flame leapt from her fingers to the phone, a tiny sputtering jet of hot orange that skittered across the glass and wisped out into the air, gone before her mind could register it happening.
Not a dream.
Oh God. Not. A. Dream. She threw off the covers and ran to the mirror, looking for any sign of change. She looked exactly the same. But there was something flickering in her eyes. Almost impossible to see, but something… unbanked he had said. A choice to make. The air warmed perceptively, she watched as her hair was ruffled by the current, the heat in the room rose and as she watched her eyes in the mirror, they began to change color. Golden flickers turning to red and then gold again.  She raised her hand in front of her eyes and saw tiny flames rise from her fingertips, wispy at first, then stronger, crawling down the skin of her hand. She shook it and the flames flickered to nothing.  She looked back into her fire bright eyes in the silvered glass and smiled, touched the corner of her mouth where his tongue had left a still burning brand. She wouldn’t be going to the office today.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The world is changing, and I'm on the transition team. I'm good with that.

Quote from Dr. Greg House that resonated and spurred today's post:
people get to draw this neat little circle. And everyone inside the circle is "normal". Anyone outside the circle should be beaten, broken and reset so that they can be brought into the circle. Failing that, they should be institutionalized. Or worse - Pitied. (or killed, I should add here, broadening the metaphor out to global levels)

I don't fear change. I don't have anxiety about social remodelling. I don't get perturbed about the notion of shifting demographics. I have no desire to make anyone over in my image, and am curious and enlivened by the differences in the people around me, feeling great joy in all the variety of experience that mentality has brought me. I have never felt an irrational urge to "go back" to a time that benefited me while oppressing others. I certainly don't hold that desire in high opinion, not just because it shows a marked lack of intelligence, but it shows a marked deficiency in character.

The simple fact is, I do not care. I don't just consciously refuse to get all bejiggety about the natural course of change that is the inevitable result of time and circumstances, I simply cannot feel panic over something that is not controllable by human hands. You see, I've studied history. All history, not just my little puny time and place. World history. And the takeaway from that study is that EVERYTHING changes. We are nothing like we were two thousand years ago. Well, some things have stayed, irrationally, the same. Fear of change in a segment of the population in spite of every single evidence that it is inevitable. I look askance at this mindset and I'm puzzled. Why? When faced with the clear evidence that change WILL take place, some people lose they damn minds, and I can't help but wonder what the heck is wrong with them. Talk about swimming upstream!

Many of these same people decry violence against them but applaud violence against others, especially if it's in the name of stealing resources. And this happens all over the world. Xenophobia is a human problem, not just in my little corner of the globe. This hate of other, of different in terms of skin, location, religion, and our willingness, worldwide, to decimate a population based on this fear is not noble, never has been and never will be. No excuses made will justify fear and loathing based on nothing but superficial attributes. Oddly enough, we actually know and admit this, but keep doing it. I can't help but wonder why?

I don't care much about social constructs, normality, status quo. I can't express strongly enough how much I don't feel bound by ANY other person's thoughts or beliefs on how behavior should be. I don't care... Even if I love you with all my heart, I still have no intention of letting you set limits on my life and will eliminate a person before I'll let go of the reigns on my personal pony! I think that's pretty obvious tho, if you examine my history. I don't owe anyone capitulation at the cost of my soul or life experience. And a person may indeed hold to this life motto and still function perfectly smoothly within society, break no laws and be perfectly pleasant to be around. I've got a long history of going my own way, and so far, I seem to be generally more self content than a wide swath of people I know. I certainly don't lose sleep over the idea that the world around me is changing and there is no way on God's green earth I would waste my time scrabbling in the futility that is in the action of trying to hold on to my little scrap of reality in a whirlwind of things I don't control. Rolling with it is something I like and have gotten better and better at.  Fear is not my default mode, and I look at people for whom it is and feel so sorry for them. It must be awful to be so myopic that you miss out on the majesty that is life as it is, in all it's messy, sloppy, changing glory. Filled with chaos and symmetry, pathos and pride. The only fear I have is that I'll be rendered incapable of feasting on it all before I die. I would rather go out in a blaze of glory than with a crippled whimper. We should throw open borders, these imaginary lines that don't exist on the face of our globe in reality, we should be free to roam much more than we are. Mingle, mix. Would we all slowly homogenize physically? Perhaps. That doesn't piss me off either. And the funniest thing is the people who get furiously angry over my absolute lack of concern for any of that. Why so angry? Why on earth would something that might happen 200 years in the future enrage someone now? Honestly, I don't understand any of that mindset. Missing out, not tasting every experience, being limited and held in check based on a stranger's ideology, that bugs me. Anywhere in the world that ideas are squelched or a group is subverted due to fear or irrational ideology bugs me. Skin color? Nope. Silly humans.

Imagine what life would be like if you focused that energy on learning, loving, trying outlandish new things, new food, travel, having deep conversations with people of differing ideology and actually listening to them, perhaps even living their life with them for a day. Imagine being more curious about how to solve science, medical health or infrastructure quandaries for all humans all over than to sit and panic about change, and then actually setting goals for that and doing something about it? Picking a fixable global problem, or even just in your own community, and learning about it, then working toward solving it. Imagine. DO something, anything, that requires effort, sacrifice and compassion and builds a network of people who aren't exactly like you. Do it, and the world becomes much less frightening.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Don't live the same year 75 times and call it a life.

Something inside of me has broken. I could feel it rattling around in there like a stone in a shoe months before it shook loose in a clangy jangle and dropped away. I closed my eyes one night and the world was muted in shades of grey, sharp jagged stabs of color nudging in from the edges, bursts of frivolity barely contained but the mist was ever present. I woke the next morning to find a new face in the mirror and color splashed all over the place like a rainbow homicide in my brain. The new me was younger, and older, all at once. Maybe she was just wiser. She had a familiar stubborn set to her jaw and those "I want" lines between her eyes, I hadn't seen those for so long.  She thinks differently too. She has no F's to give. None. Nada. She doesn't feel she owes anyone an apology because the world isn't how they'd imprison it to be. The world is what it is and she thinks you can either live in it or go away, but she's not gonna make excuses or feel bad if who she is doesn't tickle your fancy.

She is much stronger than I was. She looks you in the eye and doesn't flinch and she doesn't care if you don't like what she has to say or how she plans to live her life. Oh, and she plans to live her life. She will NEVER be too old to do any damn thing she pleases and she doesn't give a rip if you like it or not or if it's remotely practical or makes sense to you. She really really doesn't. She has pink hair and glitter on her face and she doesn't give a damn about age appropriate. She never has. I like her better than the one before her, the one who felt so confused and hurt and unsure. This one knows that the only way to live is to do it out loud, and do it until you die. That's it. That's the secret to life. You just live it. The only part of it all that's life and death are, well, life and death. Anything else is doable. EVERYTHING else is doable.

I'm not sure what happened or when or how it happened, when the grey lady left and the real one came back, perhaps as I said goodbye to the most beloved man in my life, the futility of caging my own heart ran out of me on the river of tears that I cried, so much grey gunk that had my engine missing and my carburetor clogged. I looked down on him as he looked up at me for the last time and it was as though he shouted at me "don't die then keep walking the earth, wake up, wake up!"
We all know, the world is full of ghosts and some of them are still alive. I have considered the matter and have chosen to just get on with the business of living, truly living, because life is not a dress rehearsal. How many more tropes can I pack in? They all apply.

I feel more strongly now and I don't mind. I burn more fiercely now and I don't mind. I believe in myself more deeply now and I. DON'T. MIND. I feel free and I am so OK with that. It's as though I'd been locked up tight and with a push of my will suddenly I wasn't anymore. I am here and I am worthy of everything that I deserve. And *I* will decide what I deserve. I will never stop because frankly, I don't have to. I get to decide. And if I don't like where I've landed, I get to decide to do something else.

I will speak my mind, I will say what I need to say, I will not be afraid to love out loud either. I won't settle for minimum. When it comes to love, loyalty and relationships, I was always go big or go home. I have rediscovered my bravery, my hunger, my capacity and will love as though I can't get hurt, and will survive the hurt if it comes, because it always comes and I always survive.

At the end of my time, I want to see skid marks in the dust, and know that behind me, in my wake, there is a big empty space where my presence was, and a whole lot of something I left behind in the chaos.    

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Don't open the door for strangers, and everyone is a stranger.

What drives us to be who we are, the way we are, the core of us that we feed daily, conscious or unconscious? When do we become "us?" Is there a moment, a key in lock and a click, tumblers sliding and the sound reverberating inside of the halls of our psyche, clang!  Are we born *us*? Do we toddle across the living room in our family home, shaking bowed legs hurtling us toward the open arms of our parent's, fully formed in the ways that matter even as the rest of our physical form struggles to catch up? Are the ways we think, the things that move us to tears, the manner in which we love, communicate, the things we hate... Are they already planted in that moment when sperm meets egg, dividing and growing and becoming a part of our DNA as surely as eye color and freckle count?

I dig deep, trying to think back to my past, to remember the me of long ago and contrast it against the me of now, burrowing into long dead memories, even the one's I'd rather not revisit, and wonder if I was doomed in many of the ways that shape my life, in choosing how I do, can I escape the things that don't serve me or am I chained to those as surely as I'm shackled to the other things about me that I can't easily change? Have I always needed so desperately to be in charge of me? Did I always buck and rebel against any suggestion that I do what doesn't suit my whim, have I ever been an easy, agreeable "go with the flow" person? I know that I appear to be that on the surface, but it takes little time in my presence to dash that notion. And yet, over and over I'm attracted to men with whom I struggle for control. A constant push and pull of dominance that no one ever wins. Or at least, in which I always lose. I've begun to question whether this is the universe attempting to pound something into my brain, that I am not suited to partnership. Perhaps I am not ever to find companionable comfort with another human being. That seems to be the story so far, anyway. That I seem to pair up every time with someone who is a poor match is obvious. But why? Or, is it just that everyone is a poor match? I sometimes tell myself that I have to be unencumbered to accomplish all I feel driven to accomplish, but other people do amazing things with a full family on their coattails, so it usually feels like a weak excuse. I can then only surmise that as I am the common denominator, I must be the problem. I remember being shy as a child. I remember a time that I was called upon in class and actually pulled the collar of my little cardigan up to hide my face (a darling yellow fuzzy sweater with white pearl buttons and little embroidered flowers, I loved that thing) But the idea that I might be shy would make those who know me raise their eyebrows, now. Even so, I don't say aloud even half my thoughts, keeping them tucked away, raging across my brain in a torrent of commentary. I used to talk much more and much more freely, express emotions as they formed. Now, I find myself squinting across the space between myself and my conversation partners, most of my words locked tight behind stilled lips. The world and relationships, I've discovered, are no place for deeply held beliefs or feelings, they will only be mishandled and then bludgeoned to death the moment you let them out. A heart or soul is most likely to die bloody if you let it out of your mouth and into the room with others. And I've discovered that the worst thing you can do is to openly love a partner with no reservation and full trust. They will carve you up quicker than Jack the Ripper and blame you for their betrayal.

I crave strength in a partner, yet choose it's opposite, mistaking flaws and silence for character. Then I have to fight like hell to make myself see the truth enough to gather myself up and go on my way. I've had to repack my suitcase so often I don't see the logic in even taking it out of the car at this point. Just keep driving. Was I always like this? We moved constantly, and I blamed that for my restlessness, my wanderlust, my ceaseless need for variety, my dissatisfaction with the status quo after a very short period of status quo-ing even when I thought I could agree to said status quo. But was I just made this way? Is it hardwired that I MUST meander, change up, seek novelty and newness? I wonder, will accepting that, will becoming comfortable with solitude (and I'm pretty much there, at this point) push me all the way toward the things I'm supposed to be and do? It feels that way. I've felt more real in the last few years than I have for a long long time, and aside for some friend and family action, I have been utterly alone. Not one trespass across my proverbial lawn and no change of that in sight. Maybe it's not a strong partner I need, maybe it's just me being strong enough on my own, accepting that and not feeling the need to apologize for it. I've always been impatient, demanding, courageous and curious. Maybe I didn't choose partners who dampen those things, maybe any partner dampens that, and in addition to those qualities, I need to add self-awareness and acceptance of my deeper self, and just get on with it. Maybe the things that make me who I am don't actually make me broken, they just make me, me.

Friday, December 23, 2016

The beat of a heart, just a little life ticking away

I’ve had much occasion lately to think on the subject of love. And not just romantic love, but ALL love. Anything that touches on the connection of two human hearts, that glorious thing that lifts us or crushes us, sometimes both at the same moment.

And loss. It’s been the theme of my life for some years now. Like many people, and in this I am hardly special or singular, I bear deep scars as a result of loss. The latest loss of my father is like a gouge the size of the Grand Canyon rending me in two. The love I felt, still feel, for him was beyond what my words can express. This loss, however, won’t leave a contracture on my soul like other recent losses that are shrouded only in grief. I knew he was going to leave us, and why. It doesn’t make it any less painful, but when the man you love most in the universe weeps in your arms and asks your permission to go, how do you deny him that mercy? Oh, I did at first, then relented and let him know I understood and that if it was what he wanted....  I eventually accepted his wish and he was gone mere days later. It felt like being eaten alive by pain. It hurts viciously still. But knowing it was his wish, his plan, on his time, on his terms, well… I suppose that’s one of the ultimate best-case scenarios. My father was always the one wanting to set the agenda, and those were his exact words. “What’s the agenda here?” Count on a Gazaway to stubbornly set their jaw and tell death what’s what. We’re gangsta that way.

The others were less natural or understandable. A gunshot that hit my heart from hundreds of miles away. That one hurt me deeply. I will probably never get over losing my friend that way. There’s nothing to even say about it other than everyone lost when she went away.

And the heartbreak of losing the one “true” love, well, nothing hurts so much as the betrayal from the person who got the tenderest parts of your soul. A friend sent me an article about how we probably won’t get to keep the love of our life, and how that’s ok. And I’ve had time to adjust to it all, the notion that great love is seldom enduring love. It honestly IS rare, and we live far too long to make it practical for the long run. Humans are what they are and exclusivity is not our strong suit. I get it. It’s what we’ve all struggled with since the beginning of time, attachment and procreation. Life long fidelity is rarely achievable. And in my own situation, if not for the circumstances, the lies, I might have stayed as he asked me to, and worked thru it with him. I might have become a better partner to him, had things evolved more honestly. 
But lies. Oh how I hate those. 
I’m unsure how I feel about any of the rest of it, even after being in the game for so long. The rules change too often, and my own heart is a fickle bitch on top of it. I want to love again. I denied that until recently. But yes, I do. I don’t know if I’ll ever feel any of that thrill that I felt falling in love with the only man I’ve ever been in love with, but I think I’ve got more butterflies in there somewhere, for someone willing to lyse thru the scar tissue and sit patiently with my heart until my wariness passes. I am skittish in the extreme and trying not to paint the entire male section of humanity with a tarred brush. I’m not there yet, but working on it.  I’m not easy to be with either. I’m volatile, exuberant and attached one minute, cool distance and absent the next. I’m inconsistent and often self-centered. But I never ask for what I don’t give in return, so maybe there’s hope.  

I’ve decided that loss won’t make me brittle, bitter or cold. It will make me better. It will make me kinder. I will try to live more genuinely. It will be a lesson in finding depth and understanding that life isn't a dress rehearsal. My deepest wish is that when I decide MY time is up, I can close my eyes on a life I was proud of, knowing I left something indelible behind. I know my father did, he set the example, and it doesn’t get much better than that. I am a Gazaway, after all, and we do this life thing like a boss.