Forever tuning

And so it was that when I was about 13 I went to see Adelaide the psychic whose name my family had been passing around for a while and she told me two things which stuck with me all the way through until that time when I was trying to make the decision whether to break my engagement with Chris and be with James or listen to my mom and stay the course through the uncertainty and into a marriage which by now of course would have already ended.

The first thing Adelaide told me was that one day I’d be writing a book, and the second thing she told me is that one day a man with blue eyes would say goodbye to me and I might never stop crying.

As fortune would have it, I looked for that blue-eyed boy for many years, hoping for a love that was so deep I’d cry forever at its loss, thinking that perhaps she was speaking metaphorically or that the goodbye would not come to pass.  So when one month out from marrying Chris in the foothills of California, I saw vibrantly-blue-eyed James at a bus stop–the night after dreaming I was swimming in pure bliss with a blue-eyed man–I retrieved James’ dropped Blue Book, thus starting an awakening within myself from which it became obvious that uber-cerebral Chris was for a “me” that didn’t exist anymore.  It was 1992, three years after my parents divorce, 2.5 years after the earthquake destroyed the dome the emotional fallout from which saw me drop out of college, and mere months after Chris and I had moved from Maryland back to Davis, CA–the college I’d dropped out of–so I could finish my degree; life was finally becoming stable again after such a long time.  But there I was. 

I do not feel I can adequately express how frightened I was during that time.

I would not be able to encompass what it feels like to be financially dependent on someone with no place to go yet knowing your soul won’t let you stay; I wouldn’t be able to explain what it feels like to go through days of being petrified, shaking and unable to eat, hearing your mom scold you for not marrying him anyways.

I would not know how to condense a lifetime of self-doubt into one event, from which one choice is accepting the truth of yourself and causing hurt, disgust, and personal hardship, and from which another is accepting a life of ease, making everyone else happy, while you slowly suffocate.

It was as if Life was trying to kill me and, in order to survive, I had to constantly be looking over my shoulder.

And I guess it isn’t an accident that today, summer solstice 2017–the longest day of light, a pagan day of power, 25 years out from this event which shaped me in ways that each day I’m still recognizing–I see two FB friends are “interested” in seeing a screening and discussion next month of the movie Thelma and Louise and in just seeing the movie title, I’m instantly back in Davis California, sitting on the floor of the living room of the house I shared with Chris watching Thelma and Louise for the first time.

Because the past becomes what we are, and the entire world is really just an orchestra of forever-tuning instruments.

For Adelaide was right.  I did lose that blue-eyed boy and did go on to shed what-felt-like a million tears.

But I didn’t cry forever.

Because sometimes there are moments when we face going against the tide, believing ourselves weak and frightened for the feelings we’re having; and sometimes those very same moments are actually portraits of ourselves standing alone in our own power amidst a crumbling world.

Messy lives and miracles on my birthday

When my mom turned 40, she had an epic meltdown in the upstairs bathroom of our geodesic dome house on Hazel Dell Road, crying and rocking herself in the bathtub while relaying how disappointed she was in her life, and the myriad things she thought she’d have accomplished by that age that she didn’t. We were having a party later that day that people would be driving from all over Northern California to attend so I remember feeling like it was important to bandaid this situation so she could get out of the bathtub, don some clothes, maybe some makeup and come down to her own party. There just seemed little sense in adding THAT disappointment to the mix, and it really felt like her meltdown/“existential crises” was just a little too much to handle from the cold water of an upstairs bathroom on party day.

I don’t do epic meltdowns. I don’t do “I’m aging oh my god what the fuck?!” birthday bathtub celebrations.

But sometimes I do have crappy moments.

Yesterday was a day when I felt discouraged at its end. I’m a sunny person but sometimes events are such that you come home after yet another long-ass day and your house is a mess and you’re too done to spend quality time with your ecstatic-to-see-you dog and your goal of starting your Etsy store by your birthday is moot and the fridge is only filled with food long-since salmonella-free and literally you just want to do your laundry for your birthday, and—fuck it all to hell—you start to believe that you’re a failure. That it won’t ever get any better. That you’ll always be the shitty-looking-house-always-working-never-spending-time-with-your-kids-no-time-for-shopping-or-laundry middle-aged lady prone to donating her precious time to unknowing pet sitting clients because of the vortex of personality where such acts must never be spoken of or touted even in the slightest.

I was moody, and my disappointment that Livy hadn’t tidied up was palpable. And she felt bad, and was apologizing, which made me feel both better and worse, for while I want her to contribute to our team, Livy is a quintessential, artistic slob who is forgetful and not bothered by mess. She’s also an epileptic with anxiety and depression who is the sweetest, wisest, and most compliant child you could ever know. She would have cleaned up had I asked but I didn’t ask; she also would have done it half-assed because she doesn’t think in details and you can’t teach your child how to do stuff when you’re never home.

About ten minutes after arriving home, I had sullenly adjourned to my room, when Livy bravely poked her head in and asked me if I felt good enough to read something.

It’s about God, she said, and I really think you’ll like it. Then she sent me the attached story (link below); and it hit me to where I was in tears while reading it, for its own beauty but also for the efforts of the child who had offered it to me, so delicately knowing how to soothe the tender spots inside me.

Afterwards, she and I sat and talked about so many things, things she’s felt guilty about (a particular instance where she may have inadvertently hurt someone’s feelings), my own derailed relationship with my mom, how complicated loving someone can be, how complicated loving yourself can be, and I told her about a little girl I’d seen in a princess dress about an hour earlier, at the burger place I’d gotten us dinner at; the girl was like Livy–fair skin, dark curly hair, attentively looking to her dad for how to evaluate what to think and how to feel–and upon seeing her, I somehow flashed on something atypical for accolade-averse me, which was “I did a good job with my kids.” I loved them so hard, and wasn’t always their friend, and taught them how to think bigger than their own selves, and suffered with them the complex and incredibly-painful journey of learning how to love the world while also loving themselves. Teaching them, even as I was learning it, that the world is so paradoxical that sometimes the greatest act of love you can offer someone is withholding your loving non-judgment when they’re being an asshole, and that it’s actually okay to let someone be in pain so long as you believe they’ll come out the other side of it more loving towards their fellow humans.

And we snuggled and hugged, and I told her what a miracle it is that we even exist (that, at the Universe’s inception, matter hadn’t followed known laws of physics to become annihilated by anti-matter), and I thought of how strange it is that the small stuff can so easily impede our ability to appreciate and be grateful for what we have and who we are.

For certainly Livy and Julia are something to celebrate. Certainly I am something to celebrate. Certainly we all are. And working too hard and existing in mess is small when our entire world is like a miracle, when matter itself exists beyond all probability, and when we’ve been gifted with the opportunity to learn how to live in harmony as a collective soul, growing and merging in obvious youth within a Universe itself expanding amid a potentially-infinite number of parallel universes.

We are nothing and everything; we are moment, and infinity, we are the struggle and the victory, the paradox, The End, and we are the miracle, birthing ourselves anew with each hardship–fingertip in water glass–immersed in darkness with a soul that still carries on in its search for Light.

 

90436http://m.funsubstance.com/fun/90436/read-this-or-at-least-skim-it/

 

 

Zoe

IMG_1055.JPG

So I’m sobbing by the side of the street just west of her house, remembering

that late night I drove her home and we saw the streets and businesses flood.  The windshield was submerged and the world inundated, and we all leaned forward in our seats to better view the spectacle, and there was a sweetness in the car.  The two older girls–Zoe and my daughter, Julia—laughed about work stuff, and my younger daughter fangirled over Zoe’s husky voice and vibrant kindness, and as Nature humbled us together, we lived in this weird moment of an impeccable Now—weary-travelers united, safe and warm; almost grateful for the storm’s ferocity–and when we get to her house, she dashed out of the car and I watched her retreat, and could see exhilaration as she ran through the squall towards her front door.  Like she was a kid again.

And I know pain and desperation, so, most days when I pass their house, I utter a blessing for them, because she’s 16, in high school, and rides her bike (in all weather)—2 miles to school, 1 to work, then 2 back home—to a full-time job because her mom struggles with alcoholism and often needs money for rent, and her deadbeat dad yells at her for being irresponsible and she can barely keep up with her schoolwork, and the thing that makes her totally freak out was the time her mom couldn’t pay court costs and she feared her little brother would be taken away because the thing that makes Zoe the happiest in the world is when her little brother runs and jumps into her arms when she comes home for the night.

And most days I feel hopeless to help them, so I say the blessing (my wish) as I quickly pass, hoping to the God or the Universe or whatever freaking energy is out there that they succeed, and that their hardship can be eased and lessons learned quickly, and strength acquired and anxieties culled, because I want to protect this little family, and would give anything to make it so that their struggle can subside long enough for them to craft something beautiful.

Most times I pass quickly because pain is so palpable.   But not this night.

This night,

I see the white lights of their Christmas tree sparkling through the window. And there is something there, inside me, as I pass, that makes me slow and consider my own little family’s razors edge–depression and suicide, cruelty and betrayal—culminating now in my youngest still happy and alive, and with me no longer afraid of hardship, and, all at once, I’m stopped on the street and I can’t hold it in and my breath catches in short gasps.

Because pushed up to the front window, curtains parted, white lights perfectly spaced and sparkling was that tree saying, “Come home to me,” and I could almost see her little brother run into her arms, and feel her mother fighting the good fight, and sense Zoe’s strength and humor, and even hear her palpable kindness as she generously chatted in the car with Julia’s younger sister.

And it was all just so fucking beautiful.

And, alone in my car, in the dark stillness of winter, the air smelling of snow, parked to the side of the road, I covered my face with my hands and sobbed, and felt so much joy.

Because hardship is potent and obvious and feels as if it will never end, but that night, next to their wood-frame house in Marmalade—reliving a moment of ironic gratitude for a rainstorm’s ferocity–I felt maybe my wish had come true, because as I sobbed in the car, my breath heaving, we all became weary-travelers, humbled together, and there was nothing more triumphant and beautiful than seeing us all try so hard to make a better life for one another.