Thursday, May 30, 2013

hello: baby wisdom

Tonight at the gym, after exchanging smiles from a distance, an 18-month-old waddled up to me and hugged me from the knees down.

He clung to my knee and lower leg for a good minute while his mom tried to peel him off me.

The whole time I just stood there, quietly delighted that a small human being was holding onto me, clearly from a place of sensed connection, possibly from a place of no-need-to-over-analyze-it love.

It destroyed me a little bit. It destroyed me because it reminded me of the whimsy and joy and good and random beauty all around me that lately I have been failing to observe.

I loved everything it represented.

I loved it all.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

4 Year Anniversary...with my house

This seems about right. 

"The roses are blooming and I smell the sweetness.
Everything desirable is here already in abundance."

Feeling sentimental on the fourth anniversary of owning my house I googled "poems about home." That seemed to bring up only other sentimental nonsense, so I decided to just visit my old standby, the daily Writer's Almanac poem. As usual, it seemed to speak to things I was feeling - not entirely, but enough.

I've thought about the making of a home, the lives within a house, the transformation of a home space: the life of a house, for nearly every day since I became an owner of a house. It's an unusual adventure, "owning" a place (& space). What does it mean to own a material object that has held other lives and stories? This old house has sat in this very spot, though the world around it has changed tremendously, for 104 years. I am 29 years old, which is a sneeze in the life of this house.

It always feels like a huge responsibility. Some days it feels like a burden. When I see people eating grapes off my fence or stopping to admire my garden, it feels like a gift. I often find myself saying hello to the house, or looking back upon it while I wait for the bus at the stop right in front, or driving towards it from a different street so I can catch it at a different time of day/in a different light. It feels like a friend on those days; a friend I am still figuring out. 

After a weekend of transforming the garden - and planting over a hundred perennials divided from my mother's garden & childhood home 8.5 hours south of here - I am reminded how much it feels like an extension of myself.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

give up the ghost

It's been raining on and off for most of the day, and I sit in bed now with the sound of rain hitting my roof and many thoughts swirling through my head. This weekend I saw many, many people I love.

I want to say right away that things are mostly fine.

I think that statement can be true, while it's also true that there is a heaviness that has been resting on me for some time, which I have noticed possesses a certain ebb & flow in its intensity.

It can also be said that sometimes my inclination to write comes from a place that needs to process...or make sense of things...or just acknowledge the absolute joy and terror and raw beauty and pain of being human.

So go away now if you can't handle another post about feelings.

here's a picture to give you a break from words
A few things happened this weekend:

- I spent more time processing and grieving with my roommate. Our conversations have been difficult and important. I am glad we have each other.

- I saw a former love and dear friend who is in the process of transitioning from male to female. Nearly two years have passed since we last saw each other, and much has changed (clearly!!) Being with her brought many old emotions to the surface, as well as many new. I have much more to process with this one, but something interesting comes to the surface: as much as things have changed, the minute we were together I found that thread that has always connected us as strong as ever. And now I miss her and long to be around her more (and will get the chance to). I didn't realize the thread was unbroken OR that I missed our friendship, until I saw her - changed as we both are since our last encounter. I didn't realize how I was lacking the closeness that is unique to the friendship I share with this person, and now I am hungry for it.

- I went to a housewarming party for some friends I have nearly lost because of my fear of running into the friend that connects us:my former love(r) a person I don't have words for. I arrived late to the party, fearful he would be there. Instead, shortly after I arrived, a conversation with a few people led to the fact that he had moved away, just the previous day in fact, to start a new job in the west. He had moved away. He was gone. The news, I was shocked to discover, was like a punch to the gut. I haven't seen this individual in nearly a year, and yet the knowledge that it's possible I won't see him again was surprisingly painful. I spent the remainder of the party in a dreamlike state, trying not to think over and over again he's gone, he's gone, he's... 

- All of these things filled me with nostalgia and again (like earlier this week) sent me looking for the remnants of past loves. I thought of two women I have recently and not-so-recently cared about, and my heart was full of pain and regret that bridges are so burned that I an unable to call either of them, even to just ask how are you? This weekend I longed to know how everyone I've ever loved is. I longed to apologize. I longed to acknowledge our shared humanity and thus human errors. I longed for fresh starts.

This weekend I was hit in the head and heart with slightly altered versions or unexpected discoveries about past loves. One was not who she used to be; one was just plain gone.

I was confronted with how much things can change and stay exactly the same. How we can think we have moved on from something, and then it shows back up (in one form or another) and the presence of it takes your breath away. How the memory of someone and who they were to you can be more haunting then the reality of them.

The question of the weekend was: do we ever really get over someone we used to love? 

And, what is getting over and moving on, anyway? 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Asking for a friend...

Have you ever woken yourself up with the memories of past, lost love and then been unable to sleep because of how haunted you feel?

If this happens to you, just a tip: don't read even one old love letter.

In fact: hide them all. Hide them in case you are haunted again.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Words to Live By

Every morning we are born again.
What we do today is what matters most.

Present-moment living is everything right now.

The buds on the trees. The greens of the perennials poking through the surface. When this Lucinda Williams song comes on my Pandora station as I wake up. The grass getting greener every day. My bright red shoes, worn two days in a row. An email exchange with one of my favorite writer's husband (both of whom I met!) A welcome mat that looks like a watermelon (impulse buy). Opening the windows throughout my house. Perfect homemade granola (batch 1 and 2). A kiss through the computer-screen from my favorite nephew. My neighbor's dog resting her head on my hand* as she exhales peacefully. Sorting seed packets. Three new dresses, all of which make the saleslady raise an eyebrow (crazy patterns and color!) Starting and ending the day with a poem.

*one of my all-time favorite things

Sunday, May 5, 2013

A Lesson and A Memory

This has been a long, hard week. I've noticed that grief seems to change the nature of time. As I've tried to be very available to my roommate, days have blurred into each other, minutes of sitting together have turned into hours, and my sleep has been deep yet dream-filled. I wake up not sure if I just went to bed or if I have been asleep for days. And I'm still tired either way.

And then there are also the strange moments of learning that some people will and/or can meet you in grief, and some people won't and/or can't. No judgements here, as I certainly remember a time in my life when saying the words "I'm sorry for your loss," felt too scary to utter. I had a friend in college who lost her mom five months into our freshman year (and therefore five months into our friendship) and I carried a certain kind of guilt for years for not saying upon first seeing her after the funeral "I'm sorry for your loss." So much guilt that I blurted it out one random summer day when we had already graduated and she had long-forgotten (or never realized) my friendship fail. Still it's been surprising for me to witness what people in my roommate's life are just avoiding her altogether or are calling me to ask how she is doing. Call her. Ask her.

Then there are the people who ask me from a safe distance how she is, and when I give an answer or react in the way that isn't expected, they remove themselves from the situation quickly. Like for instance, my boss. I consider my boss to be an understanding person, and through our many one-on-one meetings I have determined that we click rather nicely and have a strong professional leaning towards personal relationship. However, when she came over to my cube on Friday morning, I think the weight and depth of the loss had finally hit me. In an attempt to be strong for my roommate, I had only let the experience sink in to the shallowest depth. Friday morning something happened (more on that in a bit) that shook the experience right to my core. I felt Rachael's loss fully.

So when my boss walked over to ask how Rachael was doing, I had just been thinking If anyone asks me how I am, I will surely burst into tears. Don't ask me how I am, don't ask me how I am, don't ask me how I am...

She interrupted this thought bubble and worse than asking how I am - cause it's all relative, I am fine really - she asked how Rachael was, which was just too much. Instead of words coming out of my mouth, tears starting rolling out of my eyes. I have never burst into silent crying so instantly.

Possibly stranger than my breakdown was the fact that upon it starting, my boss hot-tailed it away from me. In fact, it was almost comical how quickly she fast-walked/ran away from me. I had barely squeaked out a "It's hard," when she had already rounded away from my cube and out of sight.

Wow, that's what you have to give, lady?

Interestingly enough, after I got my shit together, wiped away my snot and tears and composed myself just a touch, my new colleague Melissa walked over from her cube 'next door.' Melissa and I have only known each other a few months, and yet she boldly walked right into the storm and asked me if everything was okay as she had "overheard something." (A nice way of saying: I heard your breakdown that made our boss run away.) Melissa coming right over to see what was wrong made me start to silent sob all over again, but interestingly enough she just stood right next to me and let me work it out. She didn't say anything but she stuck around to let me express "how hard" this has been.

And so I have been learning all week who can meet you in grief. Sometimes it's not who you expect.

As for the Friday experience that pushed me into a vulnerable enough space to openly cry in front of my boss and coworker, it's hard to explain, but try I shall.

Friday, May 3rd I woke up and it was grey and snow-raining. I was cold. I wanted real spring. Spring is a season of nostalgia - it makes me long for home and childhood in a very strong way. The grey-snow-rain-nonspring-spring put me in a weird headspace and warped my nostalgia.

Add to this that on Friday, May 3rd I was going to get my blood drawn. For my whole life I have gotten my blood drawn every 4-6 months to make sure my hypothyroidism medication is functioning correctly. As a kid, going to get my blood drawn meant mostly one thing: pancakes with Dad afterwards at Uncle Bill's Pancake House. I think the tradition started as a way to give me something to focus on beyond my fear. Regardless of how or why it started, it transformed an icky experience into one that I actually looked forward to and cherished.

Despite having gone alone to get my blood work done for the last decade, there was something about the weather, the week, and the winding, labyrinth-like hallways of the hospital, that made my aloneness in this task especially jarring this particular day. I sat alone in the blood lab and waited for my number to be called, and thought about all those lab waiting rooms I had sat in with my dad. I thought about all the mundane details including: the overly confusing parking ramp that always both led us in and got us lost; the sanitized smell of the hospital; the over-the-top childish and cheerful -but actually deeply terrifying - murals in the waiting room; the jar of lollipops I eagerly eyed; the cartoon bandaids that marked the completition of the task. This May 3rd hospital was different, but the biggest difference was my distance from those waiting rooms of my childhood. I felt the distance, the time & space; I felt it deeply like it was a canyon in my chest.

The seemingly most insignificant parts of becoming an adult can actually have the most significance.

I was so overcome with my emotions, that I had to turn away as the nurse drew my blood because I didn't want her to see the tears forming in my eyes and assume I was scared. I never had a chance to develop a fear of getting my blood drawn because my dad was always right there beside me, and pancakes were always my reward for getting through. So the tears forming were not exactly from fear. Rather, I was far from my past, aware of the passage of time, and at the doorway to my own grief for the things we lose when we grow up.

It was a long, hard week. I want pancakes.