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.

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.

Knock, Knock

Hello

My name is Healing.

I came here to allow your vulnerability, to show you truth, and to wrap you up in the warm blanket of trust.

Hello

My name is Forgiveness.

I came here to help you embrace your humanity, and to learn grace and non-judgement of self.

Hello

My name is Compassion.

I came here to give purpose to your pain, and to show you that we are all connected. We are one.

Hello

My name is Love.

I came here to speak wholeness into your fragmented spirit. To infuse your soul with divine light. To help you see that your worthiness is inherent, and peace is your birthright.

May we come in?

Burn

I used to think that love was a wildfire.  A hot, passionate, all-engulfing blaze, sometimes fleeting and often times destructive.  The kind of fire that consumes and takes everything for itself.  That exciting, fervid heat that tears through the dry brush of the heart, bringing destruction to all it touches and with it, a chance to start over from nothing.  A white-hot bolt of lightning illuminating the whole sky.  Electric.  A summer night’s kiss on the hood of the car that is so conductively charged, the engine might spontaneously turn over from the contact.

You think you might not survive it.  You’re not even sure you want to.

Now that I have more years – and in theory a measure of wisdom – under my belt, I still think that love is fire.

It’s the orange-blue embers that smolder in a deep stone fireplace in the heart of a woodland cabin.  Quiet, save for the occasional crackle and pop of the logs it slowly, methodically devours.  The kind of fire that gives itself to warm others, lights up the dark, soothes the world-weary bones that have been out in the cold too long.  It is the smoke billowing from a tall red brick chimney, signaling a safe place – a refuge from the elements.  The fire that though it may sleep for a night, is certain to resume its work in the morning radiating heat and lighting the darkness.  Dependable.  A gentle hand on the small of my back, reassuring me that we’re in this together.

Still hot, still potentially destructive, but a comfort to everyone who feels it.

You know it’ll always be there, no matter what you do or where you go, and there’s no satisfaction in the world greater than that.

 

 

 

Shame on Me

I never understood the phrase “what kind of fool do you take me for?” As a child it was strange to think there might be a variety of ways one could be a fool. Now I know there are innumerable ways, incomprehensibly vast are the possibilities.

A young fool, an old fool, a stubborn fool, a blind fool, an optimistic fool, a lovesick fool… You get the idea. I suppose it should be a comfort to us that we all will embody at least one of these fool archetypes in our lifetimes.

It isn’t. In fact, my ego bristles at the thought. The mere implication that I’ve been had sends me reeling. Yet, I rush in. I take people at their word. I believe love always wins. I’m a textbook fool.

Maybe it’s not that I mind being foolish. Maybe I just don’t like having it pointed out to me. There’s the rub. It’s embarrassing to have egg on your face and worse to have to clean it up yourself because the loud accusing voices have gone eerily silent.

Fools are hopeful, generous, and sometimes make stupid choices – but I always think they have great intentions. I want to open myself up and expose my intentions. Then I wouldn’t be called a fool. I’d be called a humanitarian. Maybe if I was understood I’d be better loved.

No… Foolish to think.

polaris

back then

before you knew you were a star

they tried to cover your brilliance

shroud you in silence

dim the light

it didn’t work –

my darling it never could –

you are bright enough

to illuminate galaxies

and your fire cannot be quenched

by lowly storm clouds.

your scars are constellations

aurora borealis

in your eyes

the moon itself hangs inside your chest

I come to you seeking;

wondering at your midnight sky

sleepily I lay down my head

eavesdropping

the deepest secrets of the cosmos.

Song 1

Have a drink and tell me again

You love me and that’s why you’re leaving

Cut me up, be the asshole

That makes it easier to back away

To not stay. Not wait.

Take a breath and tell me again

I’m a queen, that’s why you’re abdicating

I’m your moon, on a dark night

It’s so confusing when you decide

To turn them on. The lights.

Be the guy, say the line again

Send love songs like a Morse code mixed tape

Then exhale and SOS

The ship has sailed, times up

You want to bail, it’s not enough.

Get drunk and tell me again

You love me and that’s why you’re leaving

Love is more than just a feeling

I don’t want to give it up

I just don’t want to.

Haven’t you ever had anything good?

Anything worth waiting for?

Is there something in you that doesn’t believe that you could?

I’d give up everything if you’d let me.

Have a drink and tell me again

You love me and that’s why you’re leaving

playlist

I love you for

Endeavoring

To heal a heart

You didn’t break.

Keep trying-

It might just work,

It might just work.

Don’t Be Beige

Don’t be beige.

I scribbled the words excitedly in my journal like a 15 year old writing about her new crush.  So profound.  Or was it?  I can never tell with these thoughts that occur to me in the shower, or while driving around town, or while I’m half-watching Law & Order: SVU and half-making an imaginary grocery list.  (Does anyone else do that? I’d imagine it’s a normal part of life as a mom/household manager/toddler wrangler.)

Anyway… beige.  The walls in our apartment are beige. I don’t mind it.  It’s not particularly exciting, but it’s fine.  Beige is a neutral – one of the blending colors.  It’s a color that allows all the other decor to be seen. Beige is a good background because it isn’t memorable or noticeable. It does not stand out.

Don’t be beige is my new motto.  So what exactly do I mean when I say, “don’t be beige”?

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I mean show yourself.  Reveal who you are.  Don’t be afraid to live your life at full volume because you think someone else won’t like your song. In order to live a fulfilled life, you need to in full glory and magnificence, without any care for what anyone else thinks.

I think that people are comfortable being beige. Beige isn’t scary. I get that.  They feel beige is safe. It’s polite. It doesn’t offend. I tried to be beige, I tried to please people, tried to blend, tried to step back so others could have the attention.  While blending in and being beige may make others comfortable, ultimately living life this way ends in disappointment and regret.

Two major things I noticed while I was consciously camouflaging myself:

  • There is no benefit to me. – I gained nothing from stepping back, dimming my own light or quieting my passion.  Literally nothing good comes from silencing my voice so that someone else can speak.  I get no life experience, meet no new people, and receive no praise because no one sees me.  And ironically trying to please others didn’t make them like me more ore less.
  • There is no benefit to others. – The people who shine do that because of who they are. Colorful, magnetic, fun, talented. My beige-ness didn’t accentuate them. It only hid me. Worse, being beige causes me to miss out on contributing to the world in a way that only I can.

When I realized I wasn’t being my authentic self, I made a choice to be more colorful. I spoke up when I felt passionate.  I accepted invitations to parties.  I wore the sexy dress without worrying what someone else might think. Creatively, I have so much to give, and expressing that through writing, podcasting, and other venues allows me to contribute something tangible to the world.  My kids see me being silly and it shows them that they can be silly too.  I follow my own rules and beat my own drum and in the same way, peers and friends hear me telling my story and they are emboldened to tell their own.  It’s a beautiful domino effect.

These days, I have renovated my soul. There is no beige. I am memorable. I stand out. I am not a neutral, because I have a voice and I’m not afraid to be seen, and my home – and my whole world – is so much more colorful.