Monday, October 6, 2014

Gonna Get Back Somehow


"Renew thyself completely each day; do it again, and again, and forever again." 
-Chinese inscription cited by Thoreau in Walden
 

I haven't stayed up late in quite some time. Keeping late hours- that used to be second nature to me. But life alters and thus you must alter with it. So, late nights have become a luxury. One I am engaging in now, because tomorrow I am granted the gift of unalarmed slumber. 

I sit here in my hug of a bed, enveloped in the blessed thrill of clean sheets. A simple joy that I have been able to appreciate since forever. Today was not an easy day. I woke up to disappointing news, accompanied, ungraciously but quite ceremoniously, by dreary and daunting clouds. I knew this news was vastly approaching, but nevertheless was unprepared for it. I reached for my phone in attempt at a lazy plea for comfort and found myself seeking that comfort from a man in whom comfort was personified in a voice, a glance, an embrace, mere presence.

The oddness of this completely un-calculated emotional maneuver is that his comfort hasn't been mine to access in quite some time. No, I haven't been anything to him in quite some time. Because I broke him. Well, I think he was quite broken already when our lives became entangled. But whatever whole fragments there were left inside of him, needing to be salvaged, I broke. So naturally, I am not anything to him now. And yet, in my minor distress, I sought comfort in him. Unprovoked.

I was not always kind to him. I always thought I was.

Thunder, again. And I love it. It is frighteningly alluring. I light all my candles and put on an Audrey DVD and the night is mine. On a night like this, I am remarkably adept at being alone.

I used to stay up late most nights. This is a strange habit for one so fond of slumber, and yet, there was always something alluring to me about being awake when all the world slept. Tonight, in this particular season, it is simply because I don't want to miss a wink of summer. Right this moment, my eyelids are imploringly heavy and I am betraying them by evading sleep but I need catharsis. 

I feel like I'm stuck in the deepest, most unforgiving abyss of lostness with no ladder, no map, no compass, no direction (home), no hope. I truly don't know where to go. 
When I write, I feel more myself than when I'm doing anything else, except for praying. But I haven't been praying lately either. And that is because I am utterly ashamed of this pathetic place in which I stand. How can I expect to climb out of my bleak surroundings without humble communion? If there is anything to which I can attest, it is to the panacea-ic power of prayer. But I write and write, because I am desperately trying to connect back to myself. I am trying to locate the person that I have lost somewhere. Maybe, subconsciously, I stay up so late because it is in these numb hours that I am susceptible to self-inflicted emotional autopsies that are more revelatory than anything else ever could be. As I scalpel the intricacies of my being, what I uncover terrifies me. I have no grasp on anything concrete. My future is tenuous. That which I want the very most, I have little control over achieving. All of this undulates within my chest and the coldest corners of my brain and I want to sink into nothingness for a little spell so I don't have to think about it or worry about it anymore. I want to stay in nothingness until someone can organize my future and construct me a map and then tell me what the first step is to pulling myself out of this unrelenting deepness.

I know how I want to seem. I want to seem whimsical and carefree and pleasant and vibrant and intelligent and feeling and charming and aware. I want to seem giving and righteous. I want to seem self-assured. I want to seem those things because I want to be those things. On some days I am one or two or three of them. On some days I am none of them.  

I struggle to be true to myself more than I wish to admit. What is it I want out of life? I want four walls with joyful living and humble remembrances inside and I want a strong, protective tree in the back yard, or front yard, that provides just the right amount of shade. And I want to read underneath it's branches.

But that is not all.

I want to saturate my life in all that is lovely, all that is of good report, all that is virtuous. I want to hear a piece of classical music and know its name and its measures like I know my own skin. I want to be well-read (not just because I've read all of F. Scott Fitzgerald's books) and know by heart the most beautiful lines ever written in the history of literature. I want to be able to recite them with the same familiarity as my own name. I want to not just appreciate art, but recognize it; sympathize with it. Once, a long time ago, I saw van Gogh's "Irises". I had read his biography and thus was able to recount where he was and what was going on in his life when he painted it. I loved the satisfaction that came from knowing that. Goethe said, "One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and if it were possible, speak a few reasonable words", and how fervently I agree with him. The days that I seek out those realms feel the most complete, the most worthwhile. It is dichotomous that I feel most grateful for and yet at the same time most encumbered by the time that I am given. Grateful, because I think it is a precious gift. Encumbered by it, because I rarely use it wisely, and I feel inundated by guilt because of it. The irony of all this is that I have no one to point a condemning finger to but myself.

I want to cherish virtue. I want to cherish it like I cherish my cameo collection. I don't understand why I stray so far from this, when it is such an adamant beating of my heart. Or maybe it isn't and that is why I stray so far from protecting it. 
In my heart of hearts, I want to uphold it to the most miraculous degree. But I fail. I fail miserably. I even abandon it sometimes. And yet all the while I know that in doing so I am betraying my identity. When I reach those precipices of spirituality that ascend me to the peripheral heights from which I have strayed, I am comforted, inspired, and assured. I stray from those feelings and from that elevation when I am reckless and negligent with my spirituality, my virtue.

I want to radiate intelligence. Not the kind that is overbearing and useless, but the kind that makes other people think differently. I want to understand what is important, and I want to always be learning. Learning about the world and finding new ways to understand it in all it's living complexities. I want to be intelligent enough to appreciate differences to which I don't relate. Indeed, and in deed, I want to "be the change I wish to see in the world". I want to never for one breathing second take for granted my ability to envisage. 

Above all, I want to never forsake that part of me that yearns for closeness to my Maker. 

And so I bid farewell to this night on bended knee and with bowed head, hands clasped together as if they are each other's only hope. And in silent and earnest fervor I plead: "Please help me get back to where and who I need to be, I beg of You..." 

Peace and Love. 



Monday, August 11, 2014

Night Rider


"I ask not for any crown,
But that which all may win.
Nor try to conquer any world,
Except the one within."
-Louisa May Alcott

I was terrified to ride her. But not terrified enough not to. We began at my favorite hour, when Night begins its quiet capture of Day. On the back of a painted horse, I breathed in the free night air and let the sounds of Outside accompany my heart’s nervous trepidations. We trotted up and along, down and through, under and between, as and until the declarative darkness of Night arrived. The sky had no secrets then. It bore its stars like an endless string of heirloom pearls. What a beautiful awareness it was, to have that honest, open sky above me and such a powerful creature beneath me. I wanted to be as present as possible, quiet and sentient of another beating heart beneath my own. What is it called, when your remaining senses become more attuned to their surroundings because sight is no longer the prevailing sensation? Besides the stars, all I could see were the silhouettes of equine ears and the whispering branches of trees. But I could distinctly hear the sounds of the hour- the wind jete’ing through the leaves of those branches, the brushing of the blades beneath steady trots of hooves, and of course, crickets- those sentinels of the night known most familiarly by their song. I was keenly aware of the uneven rhythms of my heart which beat against the steady pulses of the cool, dark air on my face. I thought of the creature beneath me. I wondered what kind of soul she housed in that majestic form of hers. Was it really so different from mine? I had entrusted my safety to the will of this wild and beautiful beast, and that made my heart tremble. But then, what of her? I was an intruder in her existence, a timid but earnest stranger thrust upon her back exuding mountainous expectation with the commanding force of a breath. Perhaps she and I were like creatures. Maybe, like me, the heart inside her trembled for its own reasons; terrified, like me, of the things she wanted most. The more I contemplated these things, the less fearful I became of her will, and by the end of our ride, she had warranted my trust.

Until that night, I had never ridden a horse before, and as it is prone to do, my mind ran rampantly with the potential perils of the occasion. Horrors involving all manner of equestrian calamities revolving around rebellious hooves and my helpless cranium galloped across the plains of my mind without any provocation other than the free agency of my synapses. Fortunately, my synaptic proclivities are also wondrously adept at the converse (how remarkably well-rounded they are!) and can contrive extraordinary scenarios based very minorly in reality and with very little provocation as well. So, as it were, the coetaneous emotions of terror and excitement contended for my affections, and the visions of me galloping atop that horse, barefoot and bare soul with mysterious night air in my midst and wildflowers in my wake triumphed over the ones involving my pulpy cranium. It should be noted, however, that I was not embarking on this deliciously terrifying adventure alone. I would have a companion who knew both the horse and the terrain like they were mere extensions of his own being. He was ever attentive and kindly obliged when I requested* (*begged) that he please guide my reigns along with his own because I did not have the confidence to guide myself. That there was someone with me who possessed every needful thing to protect and pilot me was the final panacea for all my reservations. Our ride was hours long and each minute that passed was a beautiful one. My fear never really subsided altogether but it was quieted somewhat by the knowledge that my reigns were in the hands of someone far more experienced than I. It wasn’t until the whole thing was nearly over that I realized… He had relinquished control of my reigns without my knowing and I had been guiding myself for a great portion of the night.

As would be nearly impossible during such an experience, introspection came effortlessly that night and provided a personal truth yet unknown: Those few hours were a metaphor for the whole of my life. You see, there are avenues I want to pursue with all the fire of my heart; things that I know will bring self-actualization, unparalleled fulfillment, personal progression and identity capital. And the thought of them excites me. But it also terrifies me to the core. Taunting pangs of insecurity gallop across my soul similar to the ones like that of the horse’s hooves trampling my skull to oblivion, and once again, all those things I hope for- those soul-awakening things- continue to sit lifeless and unadorned deep inside me where all my fragmented pieces of self commune. And yet, despite the enfeebling thoughts I had that night, not only did I get on top of that wild and kindred creature, but, with some help, I guided the night. I was excited and petrified and unsure, but by the end of it all, I had fallen in love with the whole experience. Just like that ride in the dark, I would not be alone in the things my identity craves. There is a Master of all my life can be, who knows my destination- all its perils and all its promise- and can guide my reigns and lead me there with all the wisdom and direction that only an omnipotent being could. This experience was so much more than just one of life’s niceties; it was a glimpse from Him of something I very desperately needed to know: that I am made for better things than those I am engaging in. And I hold within me everything that I need to pursue those better things. 

There is a force more ferocious than fear, and more persuasive than insecurity, and that is the pull we feel toward the un-embarked self. Fräulein  Maria sings: “All I trust I give my heart to; all I trust becomes my own.” I think there is much wisdom in that. By Night’s end, I had branded that horse with my trust, and because of that, I learned an invaluable truth about myself. Without braving that experience, who knows how much longer it would have taken me to discover it and how much more of my precious existence would have been spent idled away because I could not learn how to quiet those voices so derisive to my progression and champion them with the even quieter ones that tell me to never stop reaching. The expansiveness of life is inherent within all of us, but it can be so easy to forget and neglect that sometimes. I will forever be in debt to that painted horse, that cover of darkness, and those guided reigns for reminding me.

Peace and Love.





Friday, June 6, 2014

Treat Me Nice(ly)


"Say hello all over again. Romance me, take me back to the beginning."
-Deer Tick

I keep having realities far better than anything I could ever dream up. Before this one escapes my memory, I must catalog it here.

The promise of summer holds so much within it's anticipation. Longer nights painted with steely skies and stars that echo all the dreams inside your rib cage you want to set free. If I didn't adore the sun so ardently, I would say that summer nights are my favorite gift of the season. 

I met him last year in absolutely un-lyrical circumstances, but, as "the times they are a'changin'", so must our meet cues. As I am want to do, I became enamored rather quickly. He built things with his own two hands, and grew things like vegetables and beards, and was far wittier than I. And, perhaps the most compelling of all- underneath all that unequivocal man-ness, beat a heart of which I found a most alluring likeness to mine. We walked different paths, very different ones. But it seemed as though some of the blossoms along my path were the same ones that bloomed along his. So, for a little while, we gathered those and they created something like Walt Whitman would have written. It didn't stay, as our two paths wouldn't allow for that. But I always enjoyed my time spent in his company.

A few weeks ago, I saw him again. Sometimes, we human beings are generous with our memories of those we once knew quite well but who have since become versions of strangers as paths part and Time's chords strike on. And then, when you meet again, you find that your memory has conceived them more as perfectly affected instruments of your reveries rather than the real, flawed, human beings they are (which, for the record, don't lend themselves well to idyllic constructions of our past). Whenever this happens to me, it is a sobering kind of thing. I can't help but feel as if I've lost something. This time, though, my memory gifted no virtues that were not deserved, for it could not have fashioned him any better than what he wholly and tangibly was. I think the dormant butterflies in those blossoms we shared a year ago were awakened; I felt their wings flutter inside my belly and make me feel indebted to be a girl. I'm not quite sure if he had changed or if I had changed, or if we both had, but the air surrounding us was different. 

I rarely find or make occasion to stay up late anymore, as I have become quite fond of the soft simplicity of sleep, but that night the entreating outside and his company were far more appealing to me than any luxury slumber could grant me. We sat and marveled at the moon, and talked about the remarkable expansiveness of life. (It sounds deeper than it was.) My feet were cold and he warmed them. And I remembered how exquisite it is to be a girl when you have a good man beside you, warming your blood and teaching you things you never knew you always wanted to know. 

The quiet morning persisted, and he said he would go, so that I could get some sleep. As coyly as I could feign without inherent coquetry (i.e. batting eyelashes) betraying me, I told him that I needed him to kiss me first. And just like music, he put my face in his hands, and he did just that. And my perseverant eyelashes were granted repose as I closed my eyes and lived inside of those kisses. He said goodnight and goodbye, and I left the outside and crawled in to greet my slumber with warm feet and smiles in my bloodstream. Before I closed my eyes for good that night, I read his parting words: "You are very lovely. The waxing moon agrees."  And I will live off of that, I think, for long after summer's gifts have waned.  

Peace and Love.

Image source : http://hippiebethany.tumblr.com/post/83816923463/we-feel-by-the-moon

Monday, December 2, 2013

Anything That's Part of You


“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies... Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die.

It doesn't matter what you do...so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that's like you after you take your hands away.”
-ray bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

I define truth as anything you believe to your core. It doesn't matter what evidence or lack thereof is there; if you feel it in your bones, that’s all that matters. Disclaimer: Among all the “i” words I have used to describe myself, “incredulous” is not one of them. Here are some of the truths that have shaped my view of the world and are to blame for how I exist within it:

1) Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise. (Something I always believed but that Les Mis was able to so eloquently encapsulate in one succinct phrase for me.)
2) Nothing is too wonderful to be true. 
3) Heaven awaits me at the end of my days.
4) A heart that breaks is a heart that is genuine. Adamantine hearts do not reap the joys of susceptible ones. 

I learned these truths from a teacher most remarkable. There is something truly magical about the relationship between a grandmother and granddaughter, and if there was a Truth #5, it would be that there are some lessons only to be learned through that sacred kinship. Though each of those above Truths was learned over the course of a lifetime in her presence, I can think of a very specific moment in which she taught me the value of having a heart that breaks. It was a late summer afternoon and my world as I knew it was over, for Oh Delilah the boy did not love me back. At 23 this is the worst kind of tragedy, you know. The only thing that brought any semblance of comfort that day was her. I called her and let my tears and grievances flow freely. And though she was miles upon miles away, having her on the other end of the line was better than having anyone or anything else in tangible proximity. She listened on as I disbosomed every cardiologic malady ever to plague me, cursing my heart for being so breakable, and wanting things so deeply, and for never being averse to ANYTHING. At that present moment, ambivalence seemed like a decadent indulgence only afforded to a elect breed of beings, of which I was not, of which I wanted to be. After she was sure I was completely depleted of tears, she granted her unrivaled comfort on my desperately despondent, if not positively melodramatic, soul. With a soft breath she bestowed Truth #4: “Someday you will be grateful you have a heart that beats so hard. Because some day you will realize that the world has so many things for you to love. How bleak an existence would life be with an ambivalent heart? My darling, your world will be so much richer, if you can just learn to embrace that ever-loving heart of yours.” And just like that, everything was warm again. She had, once again, painted my world with the a bright hue of hope. 

Years have passed since that seemingly tragical afternoon. The wound she stitched up with her words that dark day has since healed and the scar is hardly traceable now. But what remains is the memory of her softness being the only thing that could mend my brokenness. And that is what she has always been for me. I have been blessed with a father who epitomizes the principle of unconditional love. And in his case, my grandmother is the tree that produced the apple which fell hardly far at all. Every little girl needs someone in her life to shepherd her far away from aphotic places like self-doubt and insecurity and instead take her by the hand and guide her to the effulgent pathways of which Impossible is not a destination. She did that for me, and not just that abysmal afternoon, but always. Perhaps it is only a discernment granted to the ever-peering and oh so biased eyes of grandmothers, but she somehow managed to see all the exquisite possibilities of what my life could be. She had this magical way of making anything and everything seem as if it were completely within my grasp, if only I would reach for it.  

I lost this sweet paragon of womanhood recently. No one is immune to the lulls of senescence and it had been thieving her away little by little for quite some time until, finally, it ransomed her completely. And now, as Edna St. Vincent Millay once wrote, “the presence of her absence is felt everywhere.” My thoughts of her are peaceful ones, as my hope in a blessed life after death anchors me. What aches are the memories like that summer day- moments where the orchestral cadences of the universe all seemed to decrescendo and all that existed, all that was heard or felt, was her and her warmth. I think of moments with her and am simultaneously suffused with gratitude and grief, for how blessed I was to be a part of the world when she, too, was part of it, and how foreign the world now seems without her. Admittedly, there have been a few grim moments since her passing where I have questioned the earth’s ability to muster even a little bit of the magic it bore when she was alive. You see, her simply being a part of it made the world a beautiful place to be. 

The thought has arisen that my future children will never meet her. As if the task of stewarding human beings wasn't daunting enough, I now must embrace the charge of creating a world for them where they won’t be forsaken the privilege of knowing her-  simply because they didn't arrive here sooner. I suspect that when I tickle their arms and sing to them 26 reasons why they are loved (one for every letter of the alphabet), she will be there to soften my touch and sweeten my melody. When we play a raucous game of cards and I let them cheat, as they positively will seeing as how they will be born of me (more arboreal inclinations… Me: tree, Them: apples), I am sure she will be a visitant spectator. When their eyes twinkle with mischief and their laughs restore my hope in humanity, those will be echoes of her. My little ones will never get to comb her alabaster hair or hear her tender voice. But if I am soft, if my touch is gentle, if my words are the avenues by which they find their most remarkable versions of themselves, if I somehow find a way to make them feel that there is no safer place to be than sitting close to me, then they will know her.

How do we fill the aperture that is left by the passing of someone whose life was so instrumental in our own? When you can’t have them back, how do you preserve their existence? There is something that I have learned from trying to elucidate all this penumbra of loss, and that is this: though we can never have our loved one back, we can hold fast to the very best parts of them. Those very portions of their souls that they lent to us every now and again- we remember those and we cultivate them within ourselves, and that is how our loved ones endure long after they are gone. Perhaps the best way for me to honor my grandmother, is to tune my heart- that heart she always believed in so much- to beat the way that hers did. There are so many lessons I have learned from her, and not enough pages in the entire expanse of the universe on which to catalog them all. And I miss her. Oh, how much I miss her. But how deeply grateful I am that I was hers, and for the legacy of womanhood she has left for me. If my walk of womanhood matches even a fraction of hers, well then I will have exceeded the measure of my creation and done her memory a great honor indeed.


My sweet, sweet Grandma Honey, as she was aptly called, was the eidolon example in my life. No one was gentler or more accepting. She radiated kindness in every moment of her existence, her commodious heart ever-bestowing. Her life was not without opposition, but she championed each turn with grace. And I am part of what she has left behind. I am one of those things that she touched and was thus made different- better. 

She used to tell each of her grandchildren that she loved us to the sky, and you know, there is something reassuringly beautiful about thinking about her loving me from that very place now. 

peace and love.


Friday, July 19, 2013

Forget Me Never






“We're after the same rainbow's end,
Waiting 'round the bend.
My huckleberry friend,
Moonriver, and me.”
-henry mancini

There is this thing about me. I do not feel things passively. Feelings usually pass through me like thunderstorms. Whatever the emotion, it is almost always either a conflagration or an abyss. I’m still trying to figure out how to make this work in my favor. Anais Nin said, “You must not fear, hold back, count or be a miser with your thoughts and feelings. It is also true that creation comes from an overflow, so you have to learn to intake, to imbibe, to nourish yourself and not be afraid of fullness. The fullness is like a tidal wave which then carries you, sweeps you into experience and into writing.” So maybe I shall pour the buckets of rain from all those thunderstorms of emotion into a 645,876,053.67 page exposition on my life. Get stoked for that.

Despite my lack of dog, which, I always have thought was the ultimate defining characteristic of adulthood, I have really been feeling like a bonafide grown-up lately. (At 29, one might say, “It’s about damn time”, but I’ve always been somewhat of a late bloomer.) No, it is because I have found myself aware of blessed moments at the exact moment I am existing within them. And this has become a beautiful part of being alive. I’ve confessed my avowal to the Kurt Vonnegut quote about recognizing happiness at its exactness; well, the more aware I become of both the trivial and grave tragedies of life, the more I come to realize that those blessed moments- the ones when your heart beat slows in effort to make them last just a little bit longer- they exist if only for the reverent duty of providing the balm to help us convalesce through the ones whose sole purpose seems to be to break us.  

I am lucky. I can count on only one hand the times when life has given me "storms [I] cannot weather", and not enough hands on which to count the ones that have caused cartoon-like phosphenes to linger in a dreamlike crown around my reality. So I am grateful for that. But shame on me, because I have allowed too many of these moments to pass me by without acknowledging them in the best way I know how. So, I do that now.

Capture my heart for even a second, and it’s quite possible you will have it for the rest of my days. Mine is not a love easily dissuaded. And though I confess that it is not such a magnificent feat TO ignite my ardor, there is something sacred to me about the honesty of a child’s love. It seems to me that they love as Neruda did: “without knowing how, or when, or from where… Simply, without problems or pride… because [they] do not know any other way of loving but this.” There is one of these sweet little souls who captured my heart years ago when he “lasso’d” the moon and presented it to me with his tiny, open arms. If there is a grown-up version of this boy, I’d like him to please come find me so that I may give him my whole world. Anyway, boys have a tendency to forget their tenderness of heart as they get older and figure out what it means to be the world’s definition of a female counterpart. But for whatever reason, this one hasn’t yet forgotten. Bedtime rituals in his home consist of a song, a prayer, and a story which usually lulls him and his sweet little sisters off to dream big things in their little beds. When it came to Boy’s turn to pick a song, he requested, "the one about the moon that Brittany used to sing to me". So, I sang, and he hummed along, and then when it ended, my little huckleberry friend said, “Brittany, that was kind of tender for me.” Oh, my. Jane Austen once said that there was no charm equal to tenderness of heart, and I don't know that there is even one fiber of my being that would protest that. As those few moments of my life were irrevocably entwined with that precious little person’s, I kept my eyes closed, and held on to them for as long as they would linger. Something about closing one’s eyes during an experience solemnizes it, after all. Those few precious, blessed moments softened and strengthened me all at once and it was so sweet a feeling that even I- the girl who reads the dictionary- would not attempt to describe it. I would, however, venture to say that Boy and I at least have proprietary rights to the moon after all this.

^ That unlabeled feeling. It most certainly did not pass through me like a thunderstorm. It tip-toed in and didn’t pass through me at all. It remains. And when I remember it, it quiets the chaos and it slows my cadences and I am reminded that goodness is just as real as the barrage of depravity fighting against it. Part of the beauty of being an individual is that our realms of awareness differ from person to person. How very much I cherish this new found awareness of the sanctity of what can be found within a few blessed moments. I used to think that to be impacted, I had to experience that thunderstorm of emotion. But thank goodness I'm 29 now and I know better. 

Peace and Love.
Image: http://mynewlifeinsavannah.blogspot.com/2012/09/a-sad-moon-river-in-savannah-passing-of.html

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Girl: Happy

 
“Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all.” 
-emily dickinson

Kurt Vonnegut once said, "I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim, or murmur, or think at some point, 'If this isn't nice, I don't know what is.'" I thought of this quote not long ago during one such moment, and I did just that- it wasn't an emphatic exclamation, but a contented vocalization: "I'm happy." And that was the first time I can ever recall recognizing happiness at it's exactness.

Sometimes life can be debilitatingly hard. There are moments, days, weeks, maybe even months where one just wants to be rescued; rescued from themselves and the ties they have bound themselves with. Those times, though desperate, are necessary because they make the simple and quiet moments when life is effortless and quietly wonderful so much more poignant.

I have been away from this little space for so long. And I've missed it desperately. And I feel as though I've neglected something that is trying to blossom, but has been deprived of it's sunlight. Among things I consider sacred to my soul, writing is one of them. Short of music, and prayer, it is the thing that guides me closer to wherever and whoever it is I am supposed to be. So...
Dear Me, Please accept this humble apology for neglecting that thing in which you find so much purpose, enrichment, enlightenment, and serenity. Love, Me. {Apology accepted.}

In the midst of being appreciative of those quiet, happy moments, here are some simplicities that because of which, I can truly say,  
"I'm smilin' in my blood." :

{spring has sprung}
Here's why I love spring: not only does it awaken things long since lost under the abysmal bleakness of winter, but it emanates in it's very essence the promise of that beauteous season which follows it, my beloved summer. It is the most hopeful of all the seasons.


{new sister!}
Little Brother #1 (also referred to as Heartstring #1) got hitched last weekend! He and his new little lady had their very first dance to {my} Elvis' "Can't Help Falling in Love". So happy I now have even one more reason to love that song. I wish them all the happiness that life has to offer. From the bottom of my heart I do.

 {grapefruit}
Aka manna from Heaven. Lately, these citrus-y delights have been twitterpating my tastebuds like nobody's business. I'm so enamored.


{chanin}
Due to all the nuptials as of late (my little cousin Biffers got married too!), I've been able to spend hours upon hours with the woman whose every move I wish to emulate when I'm a grown up. My Aunt Chatzie is just the best kind of woman one could ever dream up. She's lovely (with or without Bare Minerals), she has simple and sophisticated taste, she's funny, she's practical, she's loving, her house is always clean and her food is always delish. Yes, if I am a quarter the woman she is someday, I will feel quite satisfactory. I love her just oh-so-much.


{hope}
One of my most favorite childhood poems ever is the one by Shel Silverstein which goes a little something like this:
"Listen to the Mustn'ts Child,
Listen to the Don'ts.
Listen to the Shouldn'ts, the Impossibles, the Won'ts.
Listen to the Never Haves, 
Then listen close to me:
Anything can happen, Child. Anything can be."
I think that one of life's most forsaken amenities is hope. And even I, the most idealistic and hopeful of creatures, have at times abandoned it. But lately, it's been my constant companion. And I'll tell you what: my days are brighter and my nights dreamier. It's a tragic guarantee that life is going to disappoint us, at times. But, as my beloved Eponine so implored with her last dying breath: "Rain will make the flowers grow."

Peace and Love.

Image source: http://marinasalumeart.blogspot.com/2010_08_01_archive.html



Wednesday, February 8, 2012

By and By, Part II (For Uncle Brad)


"I am hanging in the balance
of the reality of man;
like every sparrow falling,
like every grain of sand."
-Bob Dylan

Three years ago on this exact day, I met with an emotion never before introduced to me. I still don't have a name for it. It was a concrete intangibility of anguish to which, until that moment, I had always been a stranger. The emotional repercussions of man's tenuity against the inevitability of his mortality are never uncomplicated. I still haven't been able to quite repair the pieces of acumen that were broken that day. 
One day at a time, I guess. 

Here is the entry I wrote for the contest I mentioned back in September. It didn't win (ugh.), so now I can publish it wherever and however I wanna. I publish it here, today, in my private public space, in honor of my dearest, darling-est, uncle. He has impacted me almost more in his absence than in his existence. Here's to always missing you, Brad. You are loved.


I once read this quote from Anais Nin: "Love means abandonment... Either be abandoned or abandon first." Impulsively, I disagreed; something that brings such fullness to life certainly cannot be characterized by loss. Then, as I considered all the synonyms of that four-letter-word that I have encountered in my innumerable and varying affairs of the heart, I realized love can mean many different things: infatuation, completeness, joy, surrender... Ah, "surrender". Maybe that is what Ms. Nin was referring to. For when we truly love, we surrender. We surrender safety to vulnerability and the possibility of sorrow and pain. We do this because something innate within us believes that it will be worth the risk. Why? Because the goodness that permeates our beings from allowing ourselves to truly and honestly love, that champions the fear that comes with realizing that with one heartbeat, we could lose it; we could be abandoned.
  
I count as one of my most cherished possessions a weathered Post-It note. On it, this message: "Brit, Use this money to fix your car. You are loved. -Uncle Brad." What that small piece of paper lacks in tangible matter, it makes up for in consequence. He was our bachelor uncle; charismatic and smart and handsome, and the kind of funny you don't quite understand when you're little, but as you grow up and understand it, becomes the kind of funny you wish you were. My fondest childhood memories of him stem from day trips to the beach and helping me find sand-dollars, "sheet rides", checking my brothers and me out of school for a trip to Knott's Berry Farm, Popsicles for breakfast, money for the neighborhood ice-cream truck, and protection from the other neighborhood kids who had bigger squirt guns than I did. Never, no never, has anyone so fondly held the title of "uncle" as did my Uncle Brad. My adoration for him accompanied me into adulthood: In my early college years, he provided comical substance and emotional sustenance with his letters, birthday cards, and phone calls. Nothing stands as a more poignant reminder though of the kind of heart he had than does that aforementioned Post-It note, which initially clung to a $500.00 check. He absolutely did not have that kind of money to give away. But he gave it anyway. Because he had a niece with a broken car and thus a broken spirit. Indeed, if Uncle Brad loved you, surely you knew it.

When I think about the innocence of my childhood, I miss it. I mean the innocence that comes with naivety, with not knowing: not knowing about grief, not knowing about the demons to which all humans are susceptible. I miss the innocence that comes with not knowing that your family won't always be as it is then, that they won't always be how they are, and that they'll never be anywhere but with you. When I was his little niece, being flung in his arms in a wrapped up sheet, belly laughing and full of glee, I had no idea that lurking within and taunting my beloved uncle was that shadowy adversary, Addiction.

I remember when I found out. That was the day my childhood innocence was shattered because my family became susceptible, and I surrendered. I was sixteen or so and we had just gotten to a beach house for a family vacation- a total Smith Fest. I ran downstairs to go say "Hi" to my favorite of the bunch. I found him- fumbling around and babbling incoherently. "He's trying to be funny", I thought. I threw my arms around him and greeted him anxiously. But he peeled my arms away and pushed me aside.  "Very funny, Uncle Brad...". I laughed and smacked him on the back. He turned around, with a glare I've never seen on his face before: "Leave. Me. Alone." Paralyzed by bewilderment, I probably stood there for a whole minute before I could even move. When my mini-coma elapsed, I made my way up the stairs, slowly at first. By the top I was running into my mom's arms, flooded in confusion and tears. She and I left the beach house that day and she explained everything on the drive home.We returned the next day, after my dad and other uncles had given him an ultimatum: your fix, or your family. He chose us- of course he did. For the week anyway. I left that vacation with a changed heart. I loved him more than ever, but he wasn't the uncle from my childhood anymore. He was feeble, and I had never viewed him that way before.

When I was finally old enough to grasp his relationship with his drugs, the negative space left by the erosion of my childhood innocence was filled by grown-up compassion. Of course, he made me angry at times. Livid, even, as I witnessed how much his choices hurt our family. After countless stints in rehab, I couldn't understand why he wouldn't just recognize the damage he was doing to all of us who loved him so adoringly. But Addiction is not a fiend easily thwarted, is it? I was ever-hopeful, though. I hoped against hope for any semblance of rescue from that relentless and malignant foe which held him captive. Any interactions I had with him were seemingly positive- but he was mere traces of himself. There was a sadness about him that hadn't existed before. Or, maybe it had. But that exquisite protector, Childhood, had blinded my innocent eyes to it.

Christmas of 2008 was the last time I saw him. That was one of those times I was angry. If only I could do it again, I would have surrendered that anger and just let myself feel the love that I'd always had for him. If only. I was sitting on my grandma's couch. He walked past it from behind, and stopped. I glanced behind me, uttered an artful "Merry Christmas", and turned back around, not granting him anymore of my time. 's Christmas spirit at it's finest. Two months later I was back at school, relishing in the social delights of independence, when my phone rang. It was my dad. He asked me if I could talk, and there was nothing in his voice to give me pause. I stood up and slowly made my way into the hallway towards my room but only made it as far as the doorknob: my knees caved, my grip around that doorknob loosened, and my body wilted to the floor.  I sat there barefoot on the unsympathetic and arctic tile, and fell prey to my indomitable tears. He was gone- another one of those four-letter-words. My darling and doting and drug-ridden uncle was gone. 

His funeral was the most foreign experience of my life. "Everyone's here but Brad", "He should be here with all these people who love him", "He's late- typical", "Oh that's right, he IS here- he's in that...box", etc. It was a convolution of thoughts I will never be able to apprehend. I was able to sneak my own private goodbye at the burial service. I remember none of the words I spoke, only feeling, literally, like my heart was different. I was changed. All that love and hoping in his behalf- it had made me more "me".
  
So yes, I would tell Ms. Nin (if she were still here and I had the good fortune of conversing with her): "You were somewhat right." Because though I've loved much and loved often, it was through Love's abandonment that I learned that love is most pure when it is unprejudiced. I know this because I loved him more in his debility than I did in his seeming sobriety. In all my pretenses of love in those aforementioned love affairs, unfeigned was never a word I could claim. Uncle Brad taught me that it is only through love unfeigned that we are able to understand ourselves better- to become more of who we are meant to be. Through being loved by and in loving my frail uncle, at the ripe old age of sixteen, I learned that the real meaning of love is that it will make you hope for better things. Despite all the pain that his addiction bred, I never stopped hoping that he would heal. Now that he is gone, I have learned that though all the love in the world cannot change the "bestowed", it can change the "bestower". I now choose to love openly and honestly; however susceptible that makes me. I surrender to the possibility of abandonment because I know that in letting my heart beat as it will, as much as it will, for whomever and why ever it chooses, the hope for something better that will chime with each heartbeat will echo over the fear that I very well could lose the "bestowed" forever.

Peace and Love.
Image source: http://www.bridgesofhope.org