Yellowstoned

And it was a shapeless voyage. Underplanned; underfunded. Like that time in my twenties when my boyfriend and I camped up and down the California coast. Freezing our asses off, we’d been whipped into submission by the frigid ocean wind, and—guided by whims— moved east, north, then back toward the coast in a zig zag of unrepentant spontaneity. We landed once in a campground a few miles off I-5 that was so dusty it’s dirt had never heard of rain and yet none of it mattered, being such a small fare to pay Life in order to feel free and unencumbered.

For our original Yellowstone itinerary had to be scrapped because of an unexpected June blizzard, but somehow the girls, mom and I get there and it’s morning—June 15 2008 (Fathers Day)—when we’re stopped at the side of the road watching a grizzly bear eat a baby elk. The snow had melted into the pasture and the bears fur blew in an imperceptible breeze, and as the tiny carcass (certainly still warm) became christened as the backdrop for our first trip after daddy moved, 6 year old Livy cried softly—“I bet the mommy elk is looking for her baby right now!”—in the tender, knowing way that was her trademark.

Because on that day, grief had pierced us. The whims of a man—my husband, their daddy—living 2000 miles away with his coworker and her toddler son reflecting back to us the rejection all humans are petrified to feel.

And I’d withstood the tears of my self and my girls from a year of events that cut the soul. Him using lawyers and anger to abuse my future; using callous words asked of children–“why can’t you stop being selfish and just be happy for me?”–to relieve himself of the shame of leaving his daughters. The girls hyperventilating in anxiety that mommy would also disappear; sobbing into my shoulder, “I miss my daddy” during PE classes full of classmates who could smile in the full privilege of being free from excruciating truths.

There are evacuations from disasters; floods, fires; where nature beckons us to face emotional foes via the tactical dances of physical structures; where something can kill you but it’s not personal, it’s merely the cost of doing business on a planet from which we also eat and survive.

And there are evacuations via tactical dances of psychology. Holes unrecognized moving dads into cold selfishness. Evacuations where something is threatening us, and nothing we can say or weep makes any difference, and we’re forced to accept that it is personal and the landscape of our emotional lives is altered via killing not just our way of life but also our desire to survive in this newly barren landscape.

And watching that field, my little girls and I felt rooted to those truths. Stuck by the still-knife of temporal events which repeatedly wound us until we remain inside them, as if walking beside the ghost shadow of ourselves.

Where the world has stopped being emotionally concerned in the slightest and wields “uncaring” as an emblem announcing they’re proud to be so.

So on that day—on that Fathers Day, on that first trip at the end of a dark year; on that slight hill, next to at least a hundred other spectators—I briefly joined Livy in wondering about that mama elk. And about the world that Mama and I live in. Wondering how we can see this harm and yet still carry it. Wondering about the inherent indifference of it all and how those of us who still care can find the strength to survive this world.

**************

The 1988 fires of Yellowstone twenty years before had made scars that settled into the landscape. In that 1988 summer, thirty-six percent of the park had burned—trees falling like sticks on each other to rest, afterwards, in permanent homage to the dignity of their past. That year, new aspen groves—waning in the park before the fires—sprouted up miles from their burnt foremothers. The seeds for the shoots had been carried on wind and water and popped up out of soil only days after the fires, so to now—in 2008, on our hasty sojourn through Yellowstone—they could grow proudly beside their ancestors like a lesson. As if Time is a benevolent gift which purposely withholds wisdom for a reason.

Standing near me, my mom—visiting from California for this voyage—lifted Julia in her arms to look at the bear. A pragmatist, mom had sprinkled the year with her visits, rounding out the too-obvious empty spot at our dining table, offering comforts for the day to day life that had kept bigger holes from forming, sharing platitudes—“God never gives you more than you can handle”—she didn’t know were set to the tune of a year with me curled up in the fetal position convulsing in sorrow. For not everyone feels called to answer the same questions about an uncaring world. Not everyone’s 7 year old with a red, puffy face will ask them, “But what if that baby just couldn’t run fast enough?” Sometimes God DOES give you more than you can handle. Sometimes God gives you more than you can handle and then calls you to make it palatable for the little being resting on your hip watching a bear eating a baby elk.

And this baby on my hip was heavy. Seven years old now, holding her stuffed panda Bibble who spent the last year going everywhere with us. Before this baby on my hip was born, I was afraid I wouldn’t love her as much as I loved her older sister. I couldn’t understand how it was possible to do so considering that her older sister had pulled me into desperate things from which I rose up to grow steadier. But this child on my hip would be born in sight of a mom fully in love, parenting myself by soothing my immature worries, evolving towards a better self I didn’t even know I could be. A better self informing my worries of their impermanent nature; a better self that rises to answer hard questions using the magic of knowing there are sights and sounds yet to behold if we can persevere through the agony.

And in the bright sunshine of that June day in 2008 that bear’s fur blew in the breeze, floating in air I didn’t even know was moving. The heaviness on my hip and in my heart cloaking the lighter qualities of this existence, qualities which fall under the spell of the great mystery of why we’re even here at all. Was it God? The Big Bang? The Big Bang being on of the greatest mysteries of all. If that event had obeyed the currently-accepted laws of our physical universe, it would’ve created matter and anti-matter in equal amounts, so condensed as to annihilate one another, leaving only energy. But that’s not what happened.

And my feet were standing on All of the unknowns. Near burned aspen groves that were direct clones of groves mammoths and camels had (probably) grazed on 10,000 years before. Under the worry and the dizzying brutality of a world we can’t deny exists. Unable to utter platitudes about God to placate via falsehood.

And suddenly Julia climbs out of grandma’s arms and crunches gravel to come closer and whisper to Livy, “Maybe that bear is also a mama with babies to feed.”

And I smell my baby in my arms. See the dirt of this planet under her fingernails.

And Livy’s looking down at her sister, and her red eyes give pause. Her small hands clutch her ratty, stuffed panda bear as her agony slowly opens the gift so generously offered by the sister she adores.

And it’s Father’s Day 2008 in Yellowstone, and we stand in a tree-filled meadow of green (under the morning ease of our effortlessly-generous star) within earshot of strangers, and foreign languages and motor homes, and tripods, and park rangers directing traffic, and wade through tangible experiences of predation, holding gifts of love for one another and our concern for our world now poignantly growing together inside the shadows of a burned landscape where groves of trees were now in full bloom.

Baby Blue Dresser

On October 17, 1989, I was riding my bike home from my Clinical Psychology class at UC Davis, looking forward to watching the Bay Bridge World Series Game 3—San Francisco Giants vs. Oakland A’s—on TV with my boyfriend, when the earthquake struck. The Loma Prieta earthquake. I didn’t even feel it.
 
The 5:35 game hadn’t started when the quake hit at 5:04, and so the many TV cameras recording pre-game excitement at Candlestick Park actually televised the earthquake to millions of people. It would, in fact, become the first large earthquake ever to be broadcast live.
 
Right after the shaking some fans assembled at Candlestick let out a cheer believing it was a sign that the series battle between two teams from the same metropolitan area was now christened by unseen forces but when power went out, murmurs of confusion rippled and within minutes, players were gathering their family from the stands as people were told to leave the park. Only about half the fans were in their seats at the time of the quake and had there been any more seated, their weight on the structure would have made the concrete less able to retain its integrity.
 
The earthquake hadn’t been centered in San Francisco though. It had been centered in the Santa Cruz mountains, where our home was. Or where our home HAD been, before my parents’ separation a few months before. During my first year at college—‘88-‘89–things had somehow crumbled and I’d come home on weekends over the course of the year to see dad crying in the living room and intervened on his behalf only to be informed that I wasn’t welcome to come home if I couldn’t support my mom’s decision to divorce. Then that summer—of ‘89, months before the quake—dad moved out, and my mom went a bit bananas—obsessively making my 13 year old sister do the Ouija board— until one day, shit exploded and my sister ran off to the neighbors house where dad came to get her from and we didn’t see or talk to her again for almost a year. In the interim, mom moved out of the dome on Hazel Dell Road—the last place we’d all live as an intact family—and I moved my stuff to Davis to live with Steve, while Dad and my sister (and brother, who was in and out) were living in the Hazel Dell dome.
 
When the 6.9 magnitude quake hit, my sister was in the house but my dad was up the road, at the well which was over a hill and not visible from the house. The earthquake rocked our geodesic dome so violently that it slid off it’s foundation and made the deck which encircled the entire span of the home’s exterior break away from the house. Once it was over, dad ran towards the house and screamed at seeing it, knowing my sister was inside but in trying to get in to find her, discovered he couldn’t because the back door we always went through wouldn’t open anymore. Everything had shifted, and was twisted in different directions, so the door was still a rectangle, but the door frame was a rhomboid, and wouldn’t budge. My sister was fine having found a doorway to get into but stuff was everywhere, windows broken, the house cracked and a complete wreck. Dad and Alex left—having to obv move out—and Jeff squatted near the dome for a few days but left to go somewhere and after that the house sat there alone, dark, broken and eerie.
 
The divorce wasn’t yet final so one weekend soon after the quake, my mom, my moms friend Mary, myself and my boyfriend Steve went to see it and retrieve things of ours that might have been left behind, one example of which was our family pictures and baby books, which were still in the ruined house inside the drawer they’d always been in when we lived together.
 
The smell of the house is what I would remember most for years after. The refrigerator had been slammed forward, and tipped and door open, was laying on the counter. The food that had been inside had been flung out of the fridge and lay rotting. The odor of this rotten food was mixed with the smell of my sister’s smashed fish tank—gravel, broken glass, Angel fish on the floor of her bedroom—and her broken bottles of perfume, creating an aroma of rot, and fish, and perfume that bled into the carpet and the walls.
 
The floors were sloping and rising, and almost spongey—clearly not on solid ground—and the house groaned and creaked.
 
One surreal thing I saw that day besides the physical destruction of a home I’d loved was a baby blue chest of drawers that my parents had put under the deck of the house to store. It had been my younger brother’s changing table and then his dresser but put under the deck of the house when it wasn’t needed anymore. The shifting of the house had caused the deck (still mostly attached to the house) to land on top of the dresser, and when I took a picture, one ten inch deck joist is visible and denotes just how heavy the entire deck itself was even while this baby blue dresser held steady as if in a strength beyond rationality. I’ve forgotten much of the intense/scarring feelings from that time but am glad I listened to the feelings that day because now I have this picture as both an emblem of our family history as well as evidence of the surprising resilience of forgotten ordinariness.
 
In the end, the insurance company (my parents somehow had earthquake insurance) eventually decided to lift the existing damaged structure back up and onto the foundation rather than demolish and rebuild. Geodesic domes are known for being earthquake resistant and in some ways, that was accurate. The home is still there—visible on Google—but they named the driveway/road something specific and when they did the address of the house changed too.
 
[On a side note, after the house was fixed and my dad and sister were moving back in, a tow truck driver bringing my dad‘s beloved ‘57 Chevy (that didn’t run but was his dream project that we’d moved around to all our various cities for 20 years) up the hill to the dome, ended up somehow not setting his emergency brake(?) and after he got to the top of the hill, the truck started rolling backwards with the Chevy still on it and flipping over in the field, destroying the Chevy.
 
I ended up with those family pictures, and still have them. Mom had them for many years after the day we saw the dome but when I moved to Virginia and James and I bought 6348 Tisbury Drive, she asked if I would take them because I was at that point pretty geographically settled and she wasn’t. Fast forward multiple decades—about three—and I’d (accidentally) find out that some came to believe I had the pictures for Different reasons which I won’t detail here but which is indicative of the misunderstandings that often accompany broken families. I’m certainly not hoarding these pictures; much of that life honestly feels like it didn’t even happen. It’s now just bits and pieces, enmeshed in a larger much-more complex experience]

Some tears for the Ocean

I’ve never cried so hard as that day in 2007 when James drove his moving truck down the street.

He was moving from Utah to live with his office assistant/girlfriend and her son 2000 miles away just a few weeks after we’d told the girls we were divorcing.  A divorce which blindsided the girls and I; I didn’t even get a lawyer.  James and Sarah probably began their relationship during summer 2006 when we dug out our basement and I unknowingly insisted he stay with Sarah and her husband Ryan in Blacksburg, Virginia (location of the main office) rather than come home to the unpleasantness of our Utah bungalow.  “Just stay with Sarah and Ryan; its so gross here.”  Naturally, he didn’t reveal she and Ryan had separated.

But on that day he moved, James’ dad was here from Virginia, trying to right the error of James moving.  I said right there in front of Bob, “James, don’t move out there to her and come visit your girls; stay here and go visit her.”   I needed him here and so did the girls.   But he wasn’t listening, didn’t want to; Bob and I talking to him was like trying to reason with a sinking ship.

That very day, Livy lost her first tooth in a bowl of popcorn.   It landed in the large steel bowl then sunk to the bottom and Grandpa Bob and the girls and I searched for it but hanging out down there like a groupie with the whitish crumbs of popcorn, we could barely tell the difference between food and tooth.  But we finally did, celebrating then the victory of finding a lost treasure, in one of those moments that stands there like a trophy.  A stop-action moment More than the sum of its individual parts.

And when he and Grandpa drove off in James’ UHaul, I wasn’t ready.  I didn’t want to see what was going to happen.  Wanted to cover my eyes like in a scary movie, so that my brain didn’t invite in through my eyes what I didn’t want to become part of me.  Both girls chased the truck down the street.  Down Garfield Avenue, where they’d grown up.  Where we’d gotten our first puppy.  Where Livy’d come Home from the hospital, where they’d played with the neighbor kids, and started school.  Where they’d donned costumes in the cold of Utah Autumn to go get the big candy bars from Chuck and Dave’s house next door; where they’d bathed in the safety of familial surety.  And James noticed them running, and slowed his truck and pulled over at the end of our street—next to the orange house he’d eventually move into after the break up with Sarah—and got out of the drivers side to walk around the back of the truck to where Julia and Livy waited like angels on the sidewalk.

And as I was watching this play out from the slight distance of looking outside of myself and my children, there was this moment like at the end of a movie.   Where written into the story is a single epiphanic scene that makes everything pivot to where suddenly something in a character clicks.  To where inside James something about his tender dad looking for Livys tooth has shifted him to the core of his being and he “UNDERSTANDS” and gets out of the truck to hug his girls and decides he doesn’t want to ever stop.   

I’m watching this scene of my own family from my own porch, knowing that the arc of this story would then be to forgive him this fucking shitshow of lying/ dissociation if only he would hug his daughters and not get back in that truck and drive off.  He’d walk back to where I am and tell me he’s not moving, he can’t do that to them, he’ll live here, and fly back and forth to see Sarah.  I saw it all in a flash of “please, god.  Please.” Because that’s what “not being ready” does to you.  It makes you stand on your porch and, in Grief and desperation, make deals like a grifter.

But he didn’t.   James hugged them both quickly then walked back around the truck, got in and drove off.

And that night I cried with the force of a heartbreak I can’t describe, as if something in my body was already living the sense of rejection my girls would feel, and the way they’d blame themselves.  As if I could feel my 9 and 6 year old babies archetypal pain and simultaneously their potential idolization of Sarah—younger, thinner; flashy, uncomplicated, the unburdened “winner”.   

I Could feel that I’d have to let my young, vulnerable babies integrate into the lives of people who didn’t care about hurting them.   

I was living inside the normalization of cruelty.  And rolling myself into the fetal position on my bed that night, I convulsed from the grief and the unrecoverable knowledge that my most beloved connection to both this earth and my own soul might never be whole again.  And that maybe neither would I.

********

[Sometimes I don’t know why I write things.  Writing is therapeutic but I don’t reside with this specific grief anymore and I’ve got other fires to put out.   

But the other day, the six year old girl who lost her tooth the day her dad left sent me the writings attached to this post.   A heart-centered, emotional child from the beginning there have been many moments where I did not think it would be possible for her to remain on this planet.  Yet she now writes with a voice that is both herself and her heartache.  She writes with a voice that is both the ethereal and also the days she wanted to die.

So when I say I don’t know why I write, I think maybe it’s because I’m standing on my porch looking down the street, and not yet understanding that the grief I felt inside and consumed by was actually love patiently waiting for this very day]

*********

I’ve said goodbye to many things in my lifetime; many versions of myself and what I thought I needed to be and have in order to feel happy.

And of course I never wanted that day he moved to happen.   For many years, I felt stuck with memories and reverberations of it to where I even begged God to make the pain go away.  For the foes were real:  How can I bring up my girls to be caring and whole in a world where I’m normalizing cruelty?   In a world in which the immediate pain of rejection is their family?  Because events scar us, and we never feel healed.   That isn’t exaggeration; just look around.

But waiting on the porch with me that day was the wisdom of a universe.  A universe telling me that love won’t always look like a dad doing the right thing; sometimes love will look like a grandpa looking for a lost tooth or two sisters running after a truck together.  It’ll look like a mom in the fetal position and—as years pass—like an older sister letting her sleepless, anxious younger one sleep in her bed and like that same younger sister writing words that make their mom weep.

Because on that day I didn’t know that the stronger and most-loving version of our selves is a stranger until that’s who’s comforting us into sleep.  For the truth of all of this—of humanity; of the deep reckonings that emanate—is that we actually have no idea how fucking beautiful we even are until we’ve had to fight for one another.

 

And yes, there was still pain after that day, and will be again.  The world will pose as both farce and cruelty and people will not be what we want them to be.  But on that day, the universe told me that “ready” isn’t a point in time, it’s a state of being.  For things are not linear when placed inside the heart, and from agony comes caring to where we can’t truly see one without the other.  Because in the end, our tears baptize us into the love we are and have, and inside the heart, what looks like a sinking ship is merely one arc in a story about the ocean. 

Sunset on an old self

I’m in my car, sweaty after a day of working hard, and surrounded by a bunch of shit like a mobile hoarder with a windshield so cracked it’s a Rorschach blot. And it’s the night I start reclaiming my ankles from the bloat shit-eating (from lack of time) has attacked me with so I’m headed to some fruits and veggies to begin the process.

And as I pull into the Sugar House Whole Foods shopping center, Led Zeppelin talks to me of sex and texting that guy later and navigating my car around the corner of the parking lot, I see a family outside of Jamba Juice. Mom, dad, two kids, at a table, drinking their frozen juice together as the sun sets.

And I’m 13 years out from my divorce—my kids can’t even imagine I was ever married to their dad—yet while the two little Jamba Juice kids float around dad in his white shirt and crossed legs, leaning back in the chair as if owning all things, there we are. James and I. Taking part in this ritual of “quality time.” Going to Costco on the weekend, buying stuff we didn’t need, pretending we weren’t pretending, making every stupid little thing an event like we were just killing time. Enforcing planned interactions as if we’d forgotten how to be alive and normalizing incremental toxicity‘s—me sympathetically listening, wearing kid snot and no sleep, as he complains about his business dinner in France, etcetc—until I’m overweight and crying in the living room at 1 a.m., giving everything to smother emotional holes for the sake of some labels. “Husband”, “wife”, “married.” For the sake of a romantic dream some boring asshole made up as if it’s a holy symbol of stability to commit to 60 fucking years of trying to be the same.

And when you’re handed a bunch of shit from parents and magazines and TV, your loneliness feels like a personal flaw. Your fear is you not being brave enough.” Every unfulfilled need you speak up about is you being “too sensitive.” And blonde-haired blue-eyed good looks in white shirts have this world to themselves; charming the outside world because they know that shit sells. A dad as coiffed and overconfident as the patriarchy—unapologetically sucking oxygen out of a universe he doesn’t have to share—while mom long-steeped in her gender role as pacifist revolves around him like a planet dressed in clothes and calling him “honey.”

Thirteen years. Not long enough to forget that Mr. Coiffed then goes home to criticize every little thing that disturbs the sanctity of himself. Which ends up being the fish almondine I make for dinner and the girls’ happy squeals which are apparently way too loud for him to hear his Xbox.

And as I pass this family outside Jamba Juice, I see the past. I see the pain, the effort, how I never would’ve walked away and am so thankful he cheated and left.
For you don’t know life’s set up for salesmanship and brutality until you’re outside of what you bought. Until your stable family life, income, and sense of self-worth no longer rests upon making excuses for cruelty and narcissism.

Because marriage itself isn’t the sanctity of anything; the sanctity rests with the ideal to be better, more alive people because of it.

And as I sit in my car making my list, the sun looks like it’s resting. Like having Journeyed across our lives its holding position for one last look. Catching sight as it does of a 52 year old women who works too hard and sleeps too little—whose self-care is akin to a shot of whiskey while crying softly in a bathroom—in a filthy car with bloated ankles, blasting Led Zeppelin and 100% Life, and Panning out from a Jamba Juice scene to view a former self with a search light of the soul.

Realizing as she does that marriage doesn’t always make you more alive while you’re inside it; sometimes it makes you more alive in the parking lot of Whole Foods on a June evening long after. 

“All Apologies”: Finding the Meaning of Nirvana

“I’m going to single-handedly save this marriage!” blasted itself into the void during our final years together. My brain just couldn’t last a second, at the end of the marriage, without wondering what new and inventive way I could come up with to fix his unhappiness. Because he was definitely unhappy; I knew that much. He told me all the time by criticizing the meals I cooked, the food I bought, the way I cleaned the house, and handled the kids. The gas I put in the car. The way I watered the grass. My ideas. I was surviving from one critique to the next in a mode where you don’t have time to get ahead or reflect and each day is silently punctured as if predated by the same animal who’d expect you to have sex later.

And initially I knew that wasn’t the way I should be treated and stood up for myself. Would point out that he had unrealistic expectations and that he talked disrespectfully to me. For a few months, I even stopped cooking altogether to teach him not to criticize my meals. But my defiance didn’t last. Some of us just can’t do it. The world is looking for targets for which an endless supply is found in the tender folk, and those who by personality won’t fight back. But I’m (pathologically?) easygoing, and as the oldest kid of two young 20-something parents, was born intuiting tension and calibrating my day towards relieving it.

And anyways we know when we’re up against an unreasonable foe. Because nothing works except our own hope that things will change and so I let go, and wafted through “easygoing” and “oh well whatever nevermind” until fighting for equality in my marriage turned into listening to his complaints and trying to be “better.” Doing what I could do to change myself—insidiously—until finally the inevitable happened and he left to be unhappy somewhere else.

At the end, though, I was gasping from the impossible task I’d assigned myself, and an event from February 2007—right before he first mentioned the word “divorce”—has become an emblem.

It went like this: our Dyson vacuum had pulled up some of the new Berber carpet that had just been installed in our remodeled basement. Berber carpet is hooked into tight loops and anchored to the bottom of the backing and, during vacuuming, a foot long strand had unraveled, making a noticeable gouge in the new carpet.

And I knew he’d be so angry at me. So I called the carpet place—in a panic—to tell them what had happened, and see if I had recourse. But I didn’t, she said, because right in the Dyson manual it says not to use it on Berber. And I was freaked out. Told her that my husband was going to be so mad at me. And she was very apologetic and wished me luck before we hung up. Then, Thinking quickly, I grabbed my hot glue gun, gathered the pulled up strand of carpeting and tried to fix the carpet back into place. It was near the futon; he might not even notice.

A few minutes into my glueing, the carpet place called back. I was in a hurry to finish the job before he got home—burning myself with the hot glue as I used a bamboo skewer to push the carpeting back into place–but answered anyways. It was the same woman I’d talked to, who now—sounding concerned—asked, “I just wanted to call you back and make sure that you were okay.”

She wanted to make sure that I was okay.

And it was weird to hear the worry in her voice, reflecting back to me the panic that had inflected my own. It was weird to only experience concern and worry for myself inside the voice of a better-visioned stranger.

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

What else should I be,

All apologies

I wasn’t a rabid Nirvana fan when Kurt Cobain was alive so wasn’t lost inside the falsity of idolatry. Which I’m guessing is what killed him. The visceral sense that he was disappointing everyone (because just being himself wasn’t enough) and people going out of their way to misunderstand—wielding their critique to even whatever emotional score they’re keeping track of—is a suicidal ideation punch card.

But the Nirvana song–All Apologies–calls me home to my marriage.

Kurt favored poetry over obviousness

I take all the blame, aqua seafoam shame.

and with soft chords leading to reflection and sorrow, orchestral strings juxtapose against roughed-up voices and lyrics, placing the song as the preamble to his suicide. “All Apologies” is knowing that folks only liked him for what they could get out of him. A feminist who hated racists and homophobes—regularly told both to fuck off—he was bought, sold, owned, and controlled by depression created by body chemistry, emotional isolation and a world where “Tell someone!” suicide prevention campaigns are blasted to HD TV sets playing fake life at unnatural volumes, Creating the void within which true feeling doesn’t register.

And everything about those days with James were an apology. I was sorry for what I did, didn’t do, was sorry for the girls, my inadequacies, for his unhappiness. Then after the divorce was sorry all over again for different reasons.

I didn’t yet know how we carve ourselves up. How we vulnerably write songs to impart our crimes to an angry world not listening, and leave Krist Novoselic searching for left-handed guitars after blasting our chins with shotguns.

I didn’t know the world invited us to jump into the maw, screaming at us for more and more, never once even seeing how sad fingers pluck.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

“Suicide doesn’t stop the pain, it just moves it” is what I commented on a Reddit post the other day. And I didn’t invent the quote but share it widely because I’ve been in that mental space and need to be reminded that the pain I thought I’d escape doesn’t end; it keeps going; whatever demons we’re running from will endure and trauma will hold our hands until we make friends with it.

And it’s 1 million years past being with James; after my marriage I had to get angry to keep the wrong people away and had to be alone to fully value events. I had to be quiet, and bear the unbearable, and clutch my vulnerabilities and disgust in equal measure like a treasure. I had to discover that “Tell someone!” was missing the entire first and most vital step of gathering tender folks about you.

In writing this song, Kurt’s asking us to remember the tender folk who too quickly get lost inside this madness. And in listening to it, I’m answering him, and as I do, feeling the stiff Berber under my knees and hearing the siren call of my better angels asking if I’m okay.