A Toast.

To the ones we’ve lost

To the ones we’ve loved

To the ones who left us

And a nod to all the rest.

To the one with deep sea eyes

And thunderstorm laugh

Whose bloody red heart

Is inside my chest:

Happy New Year.

Don’t fuck it up.

xo

He Was Wearing a Red Shirt

I had the worst dream of my life last night.

In all my 39 years I have never experienced a dream like that one.  I hope I never will again.  Give me demons, give me suffocation, give me any of the other dreams that have scared me awake in the past.  I’ll take them gladly, in exchange for this one.

I woke up choking on my own sobs, absolutely breaking down in my bed, somewhere in the middle of consciousness.  When I finally looked up and realized I was in my room, I cried louder but this time they were big, hot tears of gratitude and relief.

It was only a dream? I walked over and checked on my kids, placing a hand on each one to feel them breathing.  I sighed.  I stood up and paced around fora while.

In my understanding, dreams are not just thoughts we have while sleeping. They are another level of consciousness, an alternate reality.  In sleep we travel to the dimensions we cannot reach when we are awake.  Dreams represent the subconscious mind, intuition, possibility, and the unknown realms.  Sometimes they offer solutions, sometimes they offer us greater insight into ourselves.  Sometimes they destroy things in us that need to be destroyed, and that we are resistant to releasing, in order to move us forward towards our highest selves.

Consider me moved.

Recorded in my dream journal for future exploration, or maybe just to get it out of my head.  It could have easily been real, and I will always be grateful for the moment I woke up.

 

 

 

Inked

If you got a tattoo

For me

What would it be?

My eyes? My nose?

A beautiful rose?

No…

I think it must be

A star, or better

A whole constellation

Yes that’s what it will be

A constellation on fire!

More permanent

Than ink

Than a supernova

Than me or you,

Ancient

Ignited

Eternal

Within, without,

Above, below

Primal, ethereal

True.

So would you?

Still Life [version 1]

She grew up here, in this garden.

Rooted in the soil, watered by the rain and heated by the sun.  Not nourished by the sun, exactly, as she had never been brave enough to expose herself to its light.  Not refreshed by the rain, exactly, since she never let it touch her face. But this was fine.  This was life.

She was a tightly closed bud with delicate yellow petals, and even shut into herself like this, she was a wonder to behold. Every day people walked by the garden on their way to – she didn’t know where – and sometimes they’d stop and look at all the flowers and plants.  Their eyes were always drawn to her, because she was tall and graceful and otherworldly.  Still, they could not truly see her, as she remained tightly shut, afraid to let in the light.

One day, a man stopped on the sidewalk to peruse the flowers, as people often did.  He noticed her like all the rest before him, for she was tall and graceful and otherworldly.  But he didn’t just look at her and walk away.  Curious and inspired, he knelt gracefully beside the garden, leaned his face over her, and began to whisper in a voice so low that only she could hear.

He told her she was lovely – a treasure, if truth be told.  He told her she was a gift too precious to stay so tightly shut.  He told her she was unique, and he had never known another like her.  He told her it was safe to look upon the sunlight – that even though it might seem scary to expose her true self, the risk would be worth it.

When he was satisfied with all he had said, the man stood up, brushed the dirt off his hands, and walked away.

She – the tightly closed bud with delicate yellow petals – stood tall and motionless, but the man and his remarks touched her deeply.  His words echoed in the raindrops that fell heavy and loud over the garden that night.

The next morning, she decided to face her fears, and she began to stretch out her long, lovely petals. For the first time she felt a bit of the sun’s warmth inside her and she knew she could never be shut again.

Over the course of the day the beautiful yellow flower opened herself completely to the bright sun above.  She allowed herself to be vulnerable.  She allowed herself to be brave.  In doing so, she revealed her nearly indescribable beauty to the world around her, and she made it a better place.  People now stopped to photograph the garden and several of them gasped at the ethereal, glittering light that seemed to radiate out from the tips of her petals.  She was happier than she had ever been.

She had bloomed.

A few more days went by and the once tightly closed bud, who was now a fully realized golden garden goddess, began to notice some changes in herself.  Her leaves were drooping a bit, her petals sagging and falling off.  She knew what was happening, but she hadn’t expected it to happen so quickly.  Just as she was pondering her newly wilting countenance, she felt the cool of a shadow over her.  It was the kind stranger who had awakened her days earlier, come to whisper to her once more.

Ever so gently he leaned down and again spoke in a voice that only she could perceive.

He told her she was lovely, but more than that, she was brave.  He told her that her courage had transformed the world.  He pointed out that ladybugs, bees, and butterflies had been attracted to her radiant aura, her honey-like scent.  He told her about the crowds of people who had come to see her.  He told her he had painted a most incredible portrait of her and he thanked her for her gift.

When he was satisfied with all he had said, the man stood up, brushed off his hands, and walked away again.

By nightfall, the beautiful flower had wilted completely to the ground.  She lay there, cool in the dirt, and pondered her long life shut away from the sun – and her short but glorious time under its rays.  It was worth it, she knew.

She had been closed off for so long, until a magnanimous stranger simultaneously enlivened and doomed her.  His near-silent, secret whispers had provoked her to the edge of her greatest fears.  He had introduced her to the sun.  Oh! – the hot, beaming, delicious sunlight – and how it playfully danced and glided over her magnificent petals.  That was her favorite part.

She prepared herself for the slow and peaceful fading back down into the earth that had born her, and she considered the irony that in destroying herself she had finally learned what it was to live.

Her life had not been the garden, or the breeze, or the people walking by or even in how long she stood there, afraid and tightly shut.  No, all of that was simply existing.  For the tightly closed bud with the beautiful yellow petals, the meaning of life – and the measure of it, too – was in the blossoming.

Choose the Wolf.

The dialogue in New Moon when Bella tells Jacob, “I’m not like a car you can fix. I’m never going to run right.”

Every woman has felt that/thought that/said that.

Especially when presented with a choice in partner who is the antithesis to a former abusive partner. A partner who is kind, generous, unassuming. Who doesn’t raise his voice or play mind games. A partner who seems to genuinely listen. Who laughs at her jokes and remembers the name of her favorite movie and brings her flowers for no reason.

No reason. But there has to be a reason.

She searches his romantic gestures for explanation because she’s never had love without lies, without strings, without a catch.

Being face to face with a person who is solid, who is good, it’s startling. It is uncharted territory. It’s for someone else, because someone that great could not truly love someone like us. Suddenly we see with clarity just how dysfunctional our previous partnerships were.

In the movie, Bella chooses Edward. Edward, who crushed her spirit, who left her in pieces on the floor.

It was Jacob who healed her, who brought life back to her empty shell of a body, who pointed her towards the sun on the grayest of days. When she called to him, he came. Always. He was faithful and loyal and true.

She chose to spend her (eternal) life with a man who broke her.

Why am I writing about this? Because it’s on tv right now and I just watched Bella say those words to Jacob and it struck me how similar this is to real life. I’m annoyed by the romanticized abuse, the willful walk towards pain, narcissism, sadness.

So many women (men, too, I suppose) choose the love they think they deserve instead of the one the actually DO deserve – the one that will allow them to become their best selves alongside a partner who nurtures and encourages them.

I want to say to everyone reading this: You deserve a Jacob. Someone warm and understanding who treats you like the treasure you are. Do not settle for an Edward just because he’s pretty or it hurts to let him go. Better it hurt once, for now, than every day, for the rest of your life.

Given a choice between a vampire and a werewolf, always choose the wolf.

Echo

Sending little notes

Emotional bread crumbs

Into the ether

Straining eyes and ears

For the slightest response

As if a ghost –

A vapor –

Might take the bait

And, hearing my words,

Whisper them back.

Goodnight

I want to die an old woman

Smirking in her sleep

Dreaming about all the rules I broke

All the hearts, too.

I want to have been several women

By then,

Having lived myriad lives

The thought of dying only saddens me

When I think

Of disappointing myself.

Weep Not for the Memories

Driving today with my elder son in the back seat, a Sarah McLachlan song came on the radio.  I smiled and sang along.

I will remember you/Will you remember me?

Don’t let your life pass you by/Weep not for the memories.

There’s a surface meaning to the song, as with any song, and at first I was only thinking surface thoughts.  Swiftly transported to a simpler time in my life – high school and early college days – when love was messy and dramatic and fascinating and painful and I wanted every part of it.  I also thought about my brother, (who is probably Sarah McLachlan’s number one fan), because he used to burn me CDs and make me notes on what to listen for.  He’s an audiophile, I can’t hear the things he does, but I still loved getting CDs from him, and I listened to them dutifully and repeatedly.

As the song went on I started thinking about the lyrics having a deeper and more profound context. I imagined a conversation with my Grandaddy Curtis. He’s been on my mind the past few days.  I see him standing in front of me, smiling.  He was always smiling.

“I will remember you”, I say.  “Will you remember me?” He nods at me silently. It’s like a verbal handshake – a pact – we make.  “Weep not for the memories,” I say to myself.  I miss him, but I am not sad.  I have been loved more earnestly and well than some people will ever dream, and I can only be grateful for it. Sarah kept singing:

You gave me everything you had, you gave me light.

I leave the imaginary scene and focus my attention on the road ahead.  The sky looks a shade or two grayer than it did this morning.  I’ve heard it said that for as long as you are remembered and loved by someone you never die, not really.  Your love becomes your legacy.  So in my imagination, Grandaddy and I made a deal to keep the other alive, through love and conversation.

You know that age old question – “If a tree falls in the woods…”?  Well, let me put it to you another way.  If a person exists – if a human life is lived – and there is no one to bear witness – is it truly lived?  What proof is there to point to that person, what certainty can we have about them?  I suppose the answer depends on how much you think existence has to do with things like community, connection, love, family, and legacy.

Isn’t that what every person wants?  To be remembered?  To have mattered?

Existential crises are a part of the Human Condition.  We all, whether we realize it or not, whether we want to admit it to ourselves or not, yearn to matter.   I believe with all my heart that this is why we are driven to create.  Most of us (maybe all of us), usually from a young age, feel a compulsion to make.  Writers, painters, singers, dancers, even people who create in different ways, like businessmen and inventors, all respond to the familiar call to make something of their lives – and by extension, of themselves, of their time here.

To be honest I think this is (at least in part) why some of us have children.  We want to leave behind something of significance, and we want someone to bear witness to our lives. We want some assurance that the stories we grew up with – the recipes, the traditions, the places and people we love, even the dimples passed down on our father’s side – don’t cease to exist when we are laid to rest in the damp, dark earth.  We hope that the generation we raise will be better than us, we hope they aspire to greater heights, we pray they will work as hard as we have to make some kind of mark on the world, to give their contribution to the collective.

We want it all to mean something.

It’s futile.  It’s absurd.  It’s romantic and brave.

And isn’t it a lot like writing a manifesto in the sand?  We toil and sweat and bleed and give of ourselves, mining the depths of our hearts to produce something raw and true and worthy.   The tides of time will likely wash it all away eventually.  We know.  In the back of our minds, we have always known. Yet we can’t seem to help ourselves.

Stranger still, there is inherent value in the markings left on the beach, even if they aren’t seen or acknowledged on a global scale and even if they only last a fraction of a second.  Ironically, the value isn’t as much in the words as it is in heart and motivation of the person desperately scrawling them; not as much in the thing created as in the creating.

Sounds like one big, terrific, cosmic joke.

Perhaps the punchline is this: Love is what lasts.  Love is what transcends. Only love.  Real love is eternal.  It exists here and it exists in the after, and it is the only thing that does.  So really, all this creating is nonsense, and all our sleepless nights and working lunches and grand projects are useless, except for the loving.  Who we love, how well we love them, whether and how we express it, where we allow it to take us, how much of that love we pour into others and into the universe is what bleeds over into the cosmos and echoes in the night sky after we are gone.

I’ve heard it said that for as long as you are remembered and loved by someone you never die, not really.  Your love becomes your legacy.

I will remember you.  Will you remember me?

 

 

 

 

p e r s p e c t i v e

When you’re sitting down there on the floor, all cried out and delirious, eyes red and swollen, flicking the lamp switch back and forth, mascara smudged all over your face and you just can’t see that it doesn’t matter if he has her or she has him…

You can’t see because right now you’re just deep in it, you’re thinking about boiling bunnies and you are still turning the goddamn lights on and off while blasting Madame Butterfly through the speakers and wearing his cologne because he shattered your heart…

You were Alex for him, a damn good Alex too, until he decided Alex wasn’t what he wanted and all the things that made you exciting and intriguing now make you a human land mine and he’s afraid of taking another step…

I want you to know that it doesn’t matter if he lied or broke your heart or used you or made you feel cheap, that he spat out beautiful bullshit with a Cheshire grin, it won’t matter after this momentary break or in any other instant after…

It won’t matter because you’re not Alex. Alex was never who you really are, only a part you played once, someone who fit his mold and expectations, who made him feel important, a woman who thrilled and intimidated him, a woman he callously dismissed and discarded…

It won’t matter because the truth is evident now, you can see it and taste it and feel it, that fire burning in your gut, that voice that tells you you’re stronger without him and you were made to handle tough things, the one that dares you to prove it to yourself…

It won’t matter because – plot twist – you’re Glenn Fucking Close and when this moment is over you’re going to stand up, put your pants on, take a long drag off a longer cigarette and go eat some over-seasoned salmon on the balcony of a hotel where the sheets cost more than most people’s dignity and you will never shed a tear over him again…

And that, my dear, is perspective.

Misdiagnosed- A Memory

This picture (below) was taken a little over a year ago at Children’s Hospital of Atlanta. We had taken Wy to our local ER and that visit quickly turned traumatic, as we were told he (95% likelihood) had leukemia.

Leukemia. Cancer. The ER doctor said words like “morbidity” and “prognosis”. I didn’t cry. I remember clearly that I, quite uncharacteristically, did not dissolve into a heap of tears. I was angry. Indignant. I came here expecting to hear he has the flu, and now you’re spouting life-expectancy statistics? I was mad. At who? I don’t know. Everyone?

It was close to midnight. I called my dad. We drove home, left our older son with family, packed a bag and traveled to Atlanta to be seen immediately (around 3 am) by an Oncologist. It was a quiet car ride. I texted my Doctor friend and my Mom (who is an RN) the entire time.

In my stomach I felt sure the doctor was wrong. I don’t know how, I just knew he was. Wyatt had fought through so much just to be born. Just to be our son. He can’t have gone through that kind of hell in order to live, just to die two years later. It wasn’t possible. I believed he was well. Sitting in the back seat of my father’s sedan, I felt an overwhelming peace. Wyatt was ok. My job was to be calm for him and to gather information, so that’s what I would do.

Still, it was a tough couple of days. Blood tests, screaming, scouring Google, waiting. Sitting in the Oncologist’s office a few days later we waited to find out the lab results. Wyatt gave in to his exhaustion and fell asleep on the palm of my hand. I was exhausted too. I started giggling. I think it was that nervous kind, like when you laugh at a funeral. None of us had really slept in days.

Thankfully, Wyatt was cleared as quickly as he had been diagnosed. We weren’t given much of an explanation, and frankly I didn’t care for one. I wasn’t mad at the ER doctor and I wasn’t upset at what my family had just been through.

I remember this string of days with enormous gratitude. So much gratitude, it probably seeped from my pores. My big little guy was healthy, and all was right with the world.

This whole fiasco is on my heart today as Wyatt has been very difficult this weekend. I am reminded of how much I cherish him, and how quickly things can change. I take a deep breath, regain composure, and hug him tight. I’ll take a temper tantrum over a night in the ER every day of the week.

Wyatt and his beloved Doggy