In Storage

It’s okay.  It’s temporary.  I have so much to do – so many things to figure out – these details don’t matter.  I can make do with anything.  I don’t really want anything, so I might as well be happy with this.

 

A year and a half ago I moved home.  Not just to my hometown.  Home.  I live in the bedroom I grew up in.  That is my space.  I also get the nearby half bath.  The room is fairly large.  The bathroom isn’t bad.  I was (and still am) grateful for the free accommodations.  How many people have a safety net like this?

 

What made me stop and take a deep breath was that my mother hadn’t bothered to make space for me.  I assumed the space was there.  My parents lived alone in a four bedroom house.  The minor detail I had somehow missed on my brief weekends home was how thoroughly they had filled it.  Both closets in one of the bedrooms are filled with Christmas décor.  Boxes tower in front of a built in dresser.  The hallway is stacked with totes.  I had two days to settle in before I left for a networking trip in D.C.  I considered my options, and the fact that I had two more hours to return the U-Haul that day, and I unloaded my stuff on top of their stuff.

 

That was a horrible idea.  I quickly become overwhelmed by spatial chaos.  I can arrange people and projects without a blink, but a messy desk can paralyze me.

 

When I had my own apartment in Denver everything had a place.  I took the time to organize, settle in, and even decorate a little.  My apartment felt like home.  I enjoyed having people over.  Sitting on my couch was restful.  I could watch tv without feeling like I should be doing something else.

 

In retrospect, I can see which “homes” only felt temporary to me.  The messier my living space was, the less organized, the more stark, the less I felt like I would stay.  And I rarely did.  I typically moved every 6 months.  When I stayed longer I would make half-hearted attempts to make my space more functional.  But a few places, like the apartment in Denver, truly felt like me.  I spent time making them feel like a home that reflected me and provided the cozy functionality I prefer.

 

I have made some half-hearted attempts here.  I have gone through sections of the room – donating, trashing, shredding, organizing.  But I get bored, distracted, or put off by the temperature.  My room used to be an attic.  In the summer it is hot and humid.  In the winter it is frigid.  My closet door, closed to contain any streams of heat created by the space heater, opens just long enough for me to throw in the clothes I don’t think I’ll want for another week or two.  Any clothing used on a more consistent rotation gets strung around the room, where I can reach it without risking a toe to frostbite.  That closet could have been the inspiration for The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.  If I pushed through the clothes I’m sure I would find snow.  And even with the heater on I am rarely in the room more than 5 minutes in the winter without climbing under the blankets.

 

But my bigger problem is just having too much stuff.  My room holds abandoned mail, the random spices and kitchen tools I have retrieved from the basement boxes but might want to use again before I move out, my winter clothes, my summer clothes, my books, my sewing projects (including my sewing machine and containers of fabric), my photographs, my writing notes, my jewelry, my movie collection, my hiking boots and pack, the out-of-season window air conditioner, jars of hand lotion, my gym bag, my workout gear, a crate of tote bags (it’s an addiction), empty crates for future organizational projects, and a half-formed pile intended for goodwill.  The walls are bare other than a rectangular frame designed to hold my larger earrings and the sapphire blue shower curtain I strung across my window to block out extra light after a particularly bad migraine.

 

The bathroom is not any better.  Half of the closet is filled with sheets that don’t fit the bed I am using.  I’m not even sure the fitted sheets still have elastic, but my parents have yet to concede that any can be re-homed.  The rickety over-the-toilet shelf can’t hold more than a few magazines or a bag of cotton balls.  My own belongings dot the countertop, and a collection of wall-plaques lean against various shelves and walls, exhorting anyone in the bathroom to enjoy every minute as though it is their last.  Or something like that.

 

It is a cluttered disaster.  It is a warehouse.

 

It’s okay.  It’s temporary.  I have so much to do – so many things to figure out – these details don’t matter.  I can make do with anything.  I don’t really want anything, so I might as well be happy with this.  I repeat what I thought when I moved in.

 

I was not looking for a home when I moved here.  I was looking for a place to stay until I decided what will come next.  I just needed a space to store me and my things.

 

But as I am reconnecting with myself I am becoming aware that being here is holding me back in a way I had not foreseen.  I am not being me.  My whole journey of self-discovery is making it impossible to live this way.  I cannot sit in my room and not see the details around me, or see them and not care what they add up to.  There are things that I want, and this isn’t it.

 

This is a good thing.

T&W

I have been in a pressure cooker. These past several weeks I have felt like cracking. I have many trials looming.  My work load is incredible.  My free time is consumed with helping my girls with their homework; running them to their jobs; taking them to their activities; and keeping milk in our fridge. I have been overly tired. 

Don’t ask about the cleanliness of the house, the existence of home-made cooking, or why the laundry is hip high. 

I am barely keeping anything domestic together.

I have trouble sleeping with all of my work stress and worries.

Added to my turmoil:  I have a new love interest. This is just what I was searching for right? 
Isn’t this why I have injected myself into the petri-dish of the internet dating world?
 
I discuss all of this with Amy.  I confess to her on our much needed road trip that I find myself looking forward to his e-mails, text messages and our dinners. I am finding that I am not afraid of him.  I find him too agreeable and accommodating.  I find he can take any side of an argument and flip it and then land full circle.  I find he makes me laugh.  I find that he makes me think about things in a different context.  I find I am truly attracted. 

(I secretly wonder if I give him anything back.)

I find it endearing this man stocks his fridge with milk— for me.  I do not feel a guilt or a want to reject any of this man’s presents.  I find that I really want to spend time with him. I know how often I use time as my escape and my excuse. 

I find extra time like I find extra money stuck in the pockets of my well worn jeans.

I am closing my eyes trying to feel this out.  I do not know if I am projecting my doubts.  Amy says I have to say something or nothing is going to change.  I am not sure if I want to know the answers to my many questions.  I don’t want to talk out loud.  

If this was an E.K. or a Porsche Man my response would be:  So what, who cares, big deal.  I have work to do. 

Now I am bordering on a real caring.  I am not so sure footed.  I seem to be paralyzed.

Today I am poking at this thing with a stick.  I am wondering if it will suddenly jump up and bite me.     

***************************
We all know I boarded that plane to Cabo alone.

We all know I had to hail a cab.

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

I can let the reminders of disappointments tarnish anything. 

But this is the point:  I still don’t trust myself.  Are my doubts self-made?  Or are these doubts evident by their very existence?

I wonder if I am like a John Knowles’ Gene. 

These dried leaves; this tired dirt.  My dirty imagination.

It would be so easy for me to wreck it before it starts.  A child kicking over a younger sibling’s sand castle.  He, of course, can do the same.

We can just call someone else.  He will call his bond girls.  I can go up the street to Grill 111.  He will be sitting at the edge of the bar and he will ask me where I have been.  He will want to know if I am ready to date him.  If he has changed his mind I can send a text to a Mr. V.P. I can let him know that I have changed my mind.

For me there is no joy in any of these potential conquests.  I cannot speak for him. 
I am afraid to ask where he finds his joy.

I can only disclose that I don’t want this season to change.  It’s me on the swings with Trent seeing how far we can put our feet into that 5th grade sky.  It’s me and my four year high school crush is asking me to homecoming. It’s me and I am at the drive-in with my college sweetheart and our heat streaks car windows.  These relationships broken and interrupted by youth and time. 
Not out of a weariness, a worn rejection, or a relationship flaw.  

I keep these thoughts to myself.  I am not ready to talk out loud.  I don’t want to face another  moment where I am at that ticket gate or hailing a cab.   

Instead of asking him questions I take that road trip.  Its wine on the edge of a dock in Cedar Point, North Carolina.  I spread my work all over in my upstairs suite. They cook my dinner and feed me breakfast.  We learn new words playing scrabble.  We fall asleep together on that big comfy couch watching late night movies.   I shoot pool with a guy named Shane and I scratch on our eight ball.  I eat oysters with horseradish, jalapeño, and saltines.  I want Jeff to explain how I need to top this rooster creation with cocktail and hot sauce.  I drink blue moon and suck on that sticky orange.

I listen to Cher, Train, Mumford & Sons, Pink and all sorts of Amy’s pre-selected mixed music.  I visit my sister and she takes us to lunch.  I tease my niece Janis—I threaten to pop her balloon.  I dress up like bat woman, wear leather pants and go to that school carnival.

I drive most of the way back in silence.  We limit ourselves to a simple sharing.

I don’t want to know the future.  I don’t want the telling of any fortune.

 

 

 

Dolphins

I wonder about getting old.  I want to have my mind and body about.  During this time (I tell myself) I will be able to focus on slowing my pace perhaps.  I will have more time for books, my writing, my garden, photography, learning languages and travel.  The children will be grown and gone. I find myself thinking about age when I never use to.  This occurs when I find a stray grey hair mixed in my red.  I see the wrinkles around my eyes. I wonder how they got there.

I know what I don’t want to be.  I don’t want to grow moldy and cancerous.  I don’t want to get sick or to be bed ridden. I don’t want my home to smell of medicines or urine.  I believe I have a say in all that.  If the Divine has other plans I can fight those pre-written scrolls like a Hemingway.  I don’t care what those men wrote or if the translations were accurate in that Holy book.  I can shake my fist at any sky and curse any sickly fate.  I have this faith that the Divine will forgive me of my pride and moxie.  Maybe I am too vain and conceited.  But somewhere I have this sense that the Divine will not be able to help itself because it knows my heart and my thoughts. 

I am too adorable for it not too.

I don’t want to become sour or smell like cigarettes mixed with baby powder.  I don’t want any rotten teeth or for my cuticles to grow over my fingernails.

When I get feeble I will want to revisit days that I have experienced in my mind.  I want to focus on the great days.  I will be a Walter Mitty in my own secret right.  I will re-call the day of the dolphins.

I am on a teeter totter of being financially broke.  My parents gave us a week in Florida at spring break.  My girls are so excited.  I am sitting at my desk rubbing my eyes.  Stacks of bills are surrounding me.  It is so damn bleak and cold outside.  This Michigan grey sucks me until I just want to curl up and go to sleep.  I need new brakes on my car.  I am formulating a budget to drive us down.  Food, gas, activities.  I know I am so fucked over if the car doesn’t make it down.  Worry grows like the vines that cover my back porch in summer time.  The girls incessantly talk of swimming with the dolphins.  I know it is a near impossibility.  The cost of this activity borders on the insane.  I keep our options open.  I don’t want to disappoint them.  It is so hard for me to say no.  I know enough not to promise.  If it is meant to happen it will.  I give them my best, “We will see.”

We have room in my car for one more.  I believe it a waste not to allow others that can fit in our little car to cop a ride.  The girls fight for each of their friends.  I let Katie, my oldest, invite a friend.  My decision is based on logic.  To the two younger ones it is arbitrary and unfair. 

They soon get over it and start packing their bags.  I put a padlock on my money worries. 
We leave late after my work day on Friday.  In this 24 hour drive I get us to Kentucky and I need to pull over to sleep at a gas station.  Chubi, the friend, is perplexed.  Why aren’t we getting a hotel? 

My simple response: “That isn’t how we rock and roll.  We unload when we get there.”  I do not mention the real reason: this luxury is a waste of activity money.

The cramped space and hours in the car make us irritable and cranky.  I am downing 5 hour energy like vodka shots.  My tiredness evaporates when we hit the Sunshine state.  Warm weather, blue sky and sun is my second wind.  Their moods burst. Everyone seems to forget about the long hours and our unwashed bodies.  The colors are bright blues, linen whites, yellows and oranges.  Palms and wet land grasses.  We are looking for alligators and all the windows are down.  I love the wind on my face and hair. 

We forget we are tired and smell bad.

The timeshare stay is routine.  We have done this our entire lives.  We check in, unpack, and I am always off to the grocery store.  I let them stay and swim.  There are other children and good looking teenaged boys.  They scatter.  I take a dreaded trip to the grocery store.  Another three hours of work for me.  I love them so I don’t care. 

These days lounging at the pool spoil me.  During the late evening the parents all get in the community hot tub.  They all introduce themselves.  All are couples.  We define ourselves by where we come from and what we do:  Canada, Wisconsin, New York; Housewife, Doctor, Teacher, Mechanic.  Topics of conversation that are safe prevail. Where to go, what to see, what restaurants to frequent, and the sharing of any really good vacation deals.  I can do this banter and talk for a day or too and then I am spent.  It’s trivial and I am not really good at it for very long. 

Two days of nothing and my restlessness prevails.  I cook, make them snacks, we do day trips and my girls love to shop.  I love Key West and want some adventure.  I propose a drive to the Keys.

They grunt and groan.  It’s another five hours one way in the car.  We leave early at 4:00 a.m. and my closing argument is if they sleep they won’t know they are in the car.

The drive on the interstate is a stretch of an amazing green and blue.  We stop at the dolphin aquarium.  No openings for a swim (and if there was I couldn’t afford it).  I feel their disappointment.  I mentally exchange thoughts with a natural unknown.  It borders on self-pity, anger, and a whine.  “Really, you need to help me out here.”  My logic is based on my good heart and all this shit I have had to dig though.  Throw me a bone.  I am sick of all of this life’s problematic shit.

The girls are too good for this.  O.K. Divine I am right down here and it would be nice if you would just really listen to me. 
I imagine for a minute—-for your aches and worries you spoiled little brat—-and like a parent giving a wailing toddler a toy.

It comes in the form of a beautiful bikini clad blonde. 

She is holding a road side, card board, sign: Ski Doos.   

We are just past Marathon Key.  I hit the brake and veer off.  I am facing a plywood, road side, biker bar.  My questions are numerous.  How much? How does this work? Where are we allowed to go? 

I book two wave runners and we are off to subway to eat a $5.00 lunch.  The kids moods are more up beat.  I am looking forward to this open sea.  We have one rented hour.  We have never driven or ridden such a machine.

The three teenaged girls are on their own ski.  I am paired with my youngest.  We hop on and slowly pull past the dock and an island of southern key grass and shrubs.  Just waiting on the skirts of the open ocean are a team of dolphins.  They head at us and are within inches of our reach. They bob and squirt.  They duck in and out.  There is a baby.  It is a afternoon of ocean play with these wild creatures.  We are under that mile high bridge.  The colors are aqua blue.  This color is so bright I am convinced it can’t be real.  The ocean water covers us until we are sticky with salt.  The air is so warm.  Our freckles pop and three of us look like we are blotched with splattered paint.  Their screams of delight, the roar of the jet skis, the dolphin play, the air, the warm water, and that Florida sun bathe and tan the other two.  We are snaking in and out from under that movie making bridge.  We have that high speed adrenalin rush.  My hair is wet and wild. 
I feel more than free.

Our hour is up.  The girls conspire.  Chubi says she’ll gladly pay.  I fear they are booked.  What continued luck.  Cash changes hands.  We hit the sea and that salt.  The dolphins are there waiting for our continued race and play. 

It’s like they knew we were coming right back.

This feeling.  This day.  This two hour slice of sunshine. It’s after our night time excursion into Sloppy Joe’s.  It’s after we view men dressed like women, the 90 mile Cuba marker and that Hemingway house.  It’s not until the girls are fed, tired and sun worn until they pile into the back seat creating a mixture of arms and legs all folded together.  I don’t know where one child starts and the other one ends. 

The road back goes dark on our trip east and north.  I am left with my random thoughts.  I am amazed how this night black hides the day of whites, greens, greys, and aqua blues.

It wasn’t until our drive back that I could melt, digest, contemplate and realize. This string, this cosmic being, this existence is no coincidence. 

Today it heard me. 

Giving us two perfect hours on it’s sea.

Definition.

I am a work in progress.  I always try.  I know I fail.  I know I succeed.  I have this vision of the person I want to be.  I am my harshest critic.  I often find myself asking others what they think about a this or a that.   I have a lot of questions of myself and others around me.  I don’t know why I think I deserve the answers to my questions—-but I want to know and I believe I deserve the answers.

I don’t know why people are afraid to give me truthful answers even if they are ugly ones.  I try not to judge.  I try to hold myself accountable.  I have ugly thoughts too. 

I like to share my thinking with my friends.  I don’t understand people who are not into explaining their behaviors.  I don’t understand those who do not self-reflect. 

My motivations, I think, are genuine and pure.  I really just want to understand things and how they work.  How do I fit here?  My thoughts are constantly flowing and changing.  Why am I here?  What is it am I really supposed to do?  Who am I to be?  How am I to get there?  Where do I find all the answers to these questions?  What am I to you?  Why do you want pieces of my time?  What is it I love about you?  What is it you love about me? 

Let’s discuss vices…………..

I want to live in this world and enjoy it.  I believe that others forget to enjoy what is before them.  They spend too much of this life thinking about living in the next one.

I don’t want the opinion of others to worry or define me.  I hate strings attached to presents.  I value freedom of expression and choice.  I don’t like cruel words but I understand there are times we must use them.  I try to be good and kind.  I work hard because I feel I must and I enjoy it.  I like the feel of an accomplishment.  I love the feel of a well earned vacation even more. I try and bite my tongue and not talk ill of someone.  I fail horribly.  I don’t want to disappoint those I love and hold dear.  I know, at times, I disappoint.

I have pride that comes from independent self-reflection.  I have been told I have too much.  I suppose, if we were living in caves, it would be more acceptable if a man’s pride overshadowed my own.  I am looking around.  I don’t see any more caves. 

I am content with the phrase that one must have pride to rise above it.  I want to ask that man why he can have more of it and I cannot.

I don’t get a response to my question.

I crave knowledge.  I wish for wisdom.  I want my beauty and humor to add to this world.  I love laughter.  I know it can be hard to do the right thing.  I love and crave creativity.

I look to others for inspiration and hope when my thoughts get dark. 

What kind of person am I meant to be?   I want to add light to other’s lives as well.

I don’t like racism or stereotypes.  I find myself putting people into categories.  I want to love like crazy. 

I try to remember this simple fact: everyday when I awake, I am given another page.

 

Leaves.

I was tricked into being hauled into this state when I was seven.  I remember the move well.  My mother’s bribe of a Michigan adventure.  I do not know which one of my parents contrived the excellent idea to leave the warmth of the West for this northern snow.

Snow, when you live in southern California, is just something you read about in books or see on T.V.  It becomes a fascination, especially, around Christmas time.

It wasn’t like my baby sister and I could really say, “No, we’re not going to get in the car.”  Little kids panic at the thought of being left behind.  Between you and I, I had this secret fear of the orphanage.  My father had a day of stationed Naval duty at one and took me in tow.  The nuns gave me orange pop to drink during my afternoon of play with orphans. 

I decided I didn’t want to become one.

Soon we were surrounded by boxes, the big moving truck, and a visit from my Uncle Ron to help my dad drive us north.  We were facing this trek across states to reunite with a family I had only heard about in stories.  Most of these people I did not actually know.  We were stuffed into a green station wagon and the very last to be scooped up and squeezed in was our yippee Mexican Chihuahua.

These were tortured days in the car even with the company of a little sister and our bat like dog. I found myself doubting these stories of relatives and snow.  Thoughts of losing my friends created stomach aches.  Soon after we entered into this great lake state I was missing my prickly backyard and the San Diego beaches.  I yearned and missed our games and make believe play that took place at the end of our cul-de-sac.

After my first Michigan winter I came to a very simple conclusion: this trade to see snow was a raw one.  I know the Chihuahua, if it could talk, would have agreed.

I hated Kalamazoo, Michigan.  This place was not the same.  This new house still smelled of paint and dry wall.  The builder kept showing up to fix things.  I didn’t care for his scruffy beard and curly hair.  I didn’t like him around my mother.  One of the rooms had ugly orange carpet.  Our backyard wasn’t the same.  We had mud for a lawn because the landscape wasn’t put in. 

These Kalamazoo children were not the same.  There was a creeper that lived at the end of this street.  He was grades ahead of me.  He was always trying to kiss and wrap his arms around neighborhood girls.  There was a time he tried to grab and kiss me at his house.  I remember he tried to wrap me up in a blanket.  I just got all hot and sticky and could barely breathe fighting myself out of a fuzz ball laden net.  He wasn’t my San Diego Robbie.  My childhood best friend.  Robbie and I played together, we walked to school together, we had all kinds of out door adventure together.  Robbie was real and safe.  We were a metal lunch box team.  Kissing Robbie on his lips or cheek was as natural as punching him in his arm, going barefoot, collecting lizards, playing in the beach sand, and riding our big wheels and bikes up and down our street. 

This Kalamazoo boy was odd and unnatural.  His watery eyes matched his filmy touch.  This boy exposed me to my first glossy playboy.

Kalamazoo lasted only a year.  I was grateful to leave it.  I was now going on school number three.

I learned it takes time to make new friends.  It can be odd and lonely to eat lunch in a room full of kids that have known each other for years.  I learned how to sit back and read a room.

Maybe this is what fueled my incessant love for books.  Reading new adventures was a way to deal with these hard changes.  I survived this prison with books.

I blocked out the misery of my third and fourth grade.  I just never really got along with girls.  They didn’t like the things I liked.  I was too thin, quick and wiry.  I hated dresses and liked to wear my hair short.  I loved the outdoors and sports.  Boys picked me to be on their teams.  These constant school changes made it hard on my math skills.  In some subjects I was more advanced.  In others I was behind.  Sometimes I had to stay in at recess to catch up.

The fall of my fifth grade brought me Trent.  I loved this boy.  He loved me.  He came in the form of sandy hair that held a front left colic.  He broke out into this cocky toothy grin whenever he saw me.  His face would turn red and he would stutter.  I loved his smile.  I looked forward to him everyday.  I found that he would always be looking at me.  He would always wait for me in the lunch line.  He was the most popular boy in our class; the most popular boy in our school.  He loved to help me with my math.  He wanted me to succeed.

I was always on Trent’s team.  He let everyone know why.  The girls hated and envied me.  I loved every minute of this fifth grade existence.  He made my heart pound.  I could hear it in my ears.  At times, when he shot me that smile, I couldn’t breathe.

After that year my parents had their discussions.  I was put into a different school district again.

All these transitions.  All these books.  All these changes.

And all this god damn Michigan snow.

These changing leaves.  Michigan molting it’s greens into bright yellows and pumpkin oranges that change into barn reds.  These bursts of sun colors burning themselves into dry crackling browns.  Their flames lick the tree branches bare.

My professor told me this is how relationships work.  They come in seasons.  I didn’t need him to remind me of it.  My childhood was, and is, a constant reminder of this natural fact.

Just because changes are inevitable doesn’t mean I have to like them.  I hate my Michigan summers folding into ribbons of fall that package harsh winters.  I am tired of shoveling all this god damn Michigan snow.  I hate these chapped cracked hands holding my mug full of hot chocolate even when it’s mixed with peppermint schnapps.  I hate having to pay for AAA roadside assistance.

I want to catch my cottage summers and leaves of fall and press them into waxed paper.  I want to preserve them like I preserve my family photographs.

Maybe this is why I do not like to change the location of furniture in a room.  I do not like to change the make and model of my car.  I keep the same employment, never fire employees, and never switch jobs.  I like to wear my jeans as worn and tattered as my shoes.  I like to put my keys in the same spot.  I like to sleep on the left side of my empty bed.  When I find a breakfast place or restaurant I like I frequent it.  I order the same meals off their menus.

I know many people. I do not have many friends.  The ones I have I treat like glass.  When I find something I cherish I have this desire to keep it close.  I know winters will come.  I am helpless to stop unwelcome changes.

So I dream.  I dream of a season that stays a Michigan summer or sunny fall.  This I could continually love.  I smell apple pie.  I am drinking cider spiced with cinnamon and rum.  He is warm and waiting in my night-time bed.  We both share bedroom whispers and conspire to succeed.  We both agree on the terms of the chores.  We both listen to each other.  Firm and kind words are used when we disagree.  Compromises are easy because he is so damn witty and intelligent.  He cares about my day.  I care about his.  His words are kind and encouraging.  He wants to help.  So do I.  We eat our dinners together.  He sees my flaws and hears my secrets but he doesn’t use this information against me.  He only wants to sit next to me.  He has that cocky grin and kind eyes.  I am envied by the other girls. I don’t have to move.  Maybe I would iron his shirts.

I know loving him would be as easy and natural as waves that lap California beach sand.

I feel I have experienced a life time of these god damn Michigan winters.

 

 

 

My Shavasana

“I am exactly where I am supposed to be.”

 

That was one of the quotes handwritten on the wall of the yoga studio.  I disagreed.

 

Yoga and I don’t actually get along.  I mean, I LOVE the way I feel at the end of my practice, but every twisted, unbalanced minute of the actual practice drives me nuts.

 

I used to practice quite often.  The drop-in classes were easy to make a couple of times a week, and then I hit the jackpot and lived with an instructor in training who led my friend and me in practice every weekday morning.  After two and a half months I still held a grudge against it.  When I moved I gave it up.

 

Last fall I joined the Y and started going again, but only sporadically.  The stars had to be perfectly aligned, and the excuses had to be hard to find, before I would trudge out with my mat in time to make it to the 6 a.m. class without getting lost on the track on the way.

 

But today a friend was having a bad week.  She is underemployed and recently single.  And because she is recently single, she is about to be kicked out of her house.  And today her car broke down.  And she really wanted to go to a free yoga class.

 

“I’ll go!”  I just felt like I should.  I went earlier in the week and it was fine.  One of my most enjoyable practices ever, actually.  I could definitely suck it up for a friend who just wanted some company.  So I pulled up the event on the yoga studio’s homepage.

 

108 sun salutations in honor of the first day of fall.  WTF? How did I get myself into this? I hate to do six in a practice.  108? Seriously? Balls.

 

But it got better.  When we walked into the studio I realized I had missed the line that said it was HOT yoga.  I didn’t even have a towel with me.  Awesome.  Well it could be great, right? I’d never tried hot yoga.  At a minimum the workout would have to be great.  And it was only her second yoga attempt ever, so I could talk her into leaving at the halfway point if it came down to it.

 

It started out great.  Downward facing dog, step to the front of the mat, mountain, fold, half-way up, fold, chaturanga, upward facing dog, downward facing dog…. The positions slowly awakened.  I liked the feeling.  We don’t do sun salutations at the Y.  But it was so HOT.  On about the sixth salutation the sweat was pouring off of me.  I said the same thing after Zumba this week, but it turns out I was wrong then.  THIS redefined pouring off of me.  It didn’t take long before a sweat trail led up the middle of my mat and onto the floor in front of it.  Fine.  Suck it up.  But it kept spreading.

 

The next few salutations passed quickly.  Then I started to lose my grip on the mat. As I lowered into chaturanga my left hand slipped out from under me.  On the next rotation my right foot slid to the edge of my mat.  As I worked to maintain my balance and complete the poses my inner arms began to tremble.  I couldn’t push up into upward facing dog without bracing my legs or bowing my knees outward.

 

Enough.

 

I’ve had enough injuries, I wasn’t going to set myself back by tearing a muscle in my arm or twisting my bad knee again.  I sat back on my mat and breathed.

 

I had made it through 26 of the 108 salutations.

 

Beside me, my friend was cranking.  As I watched her struggling to learn the poses and committing to her practice I knew I couldn’t ask her to leave at the halfway point.  I resigned myself to restarting at the end of the break.  When the break came so many people had left they asked us to move up in the room and fill in the spaces.  I did one more sun salutation before accepting that I was done for the night.  And now I was in the middle of the room.

 

I slid my mat to the end of the row and sat cross-legged.  I had an hour to go.  I opted to work on my meditating.  I have a hard time with that, too, but my head felt better for the yoga, even if the heat was threatening to boil it.

 

Best. Meditation. Ever.

 

I don’t know if it was a heat stroke or what, but meditation has never felt so… so.  I don’t even know how else to explain it.  My head was everywhere and nowhere.

 

I was thinking about all of the people I have practiced with in the past.  The instructors with their bits of sermon-like wisdom, the friends who keep me pushing myself, the roommate who gave up his mornings for us, and the couple who practiced on the mats beside us at one of the gyms but always checked on me and my back.  It turned out they ran a spine clinic and could immediately tell that I’d had a disk out of place that was still giving me trouble.

 

I was reflecting on all of the positive sayings on the wall about working through it, accepting your place in the world, and embracing the positive.

 

I was parsing through the past career and personal decisions I’ve made.

 

I was asking why I dislike yoga so much.

 

And I got some answers.

 

People can be awesome. Sometimes somebody else’s words open up a whole new perspective. Some things just are.  You do the best you can, you make a decision, and you move on.  And sometimes, even when you know a decision is looming, you can’t worry about it.  You will get to it when the time is right.

 

And I came up with two reasons why yoga is so difficult for me.  The first is that it’s just difficult.  I have to focus on my entire body in order to practice effectively.  I can’t just turn up the music, read the news, and turn up the energy level in order to succeed.  I have to concentrate.  The second is that it makes me feel guilty.  I feel like a failure when I practice.  Instead of appreciating the 10 poses I do well, I worry about the poses I don’t do well.  Tonight I was side-tracked by how many salutations I didn’t do until somewhere in the middle of my meditation, when I thought about how many I did do, and how 20 more sun salutations than I’ve ever done in one practice before is a pretty sweet achievement.

 

I worry over my practice because it isn’t as peaceful or as natural as it is for everyone else.  Which is ridiculous.  If there’s one thing yoga is all about, it’s finding your own practice and not worrying about the person on the next mat.

 

“I am exactly where I am supposed to be.”

 

Tonight that saying connected with my practice and my life.  When my meditation ended I was still smiling.

 

At the end of a practice the instructors turn the lights off and everyone assumes shavasana, or corpse pose.  The pose has you lie stretched out with your hands at your sides.  It is a pose of relaxation intended to rejuvenate your body and spirit.  It is incredibly uncomfortable on my lower back. The couple with the spine clinic advised me years ago to lie with my feet on the floor and apart from each other, but with my knees bent and touching like a twisted scarecrow.

 

When I got into position for my version of shavasana, I thought about how much more relaxing it was to be in a pose that worked for me than to struggle into the pose that works for most people.

 

Maybe yoga won’t be my favorite thing.  I’ll keep it up because I can feel the benefits, but I don’t want to struggle with it anymore.  I will accept my 26 sun salutations for the achievement they are, and I will let go of the rest.


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Oil.

I have many vivid night-time dreams.  I often think about my night-time world.  These weird, amazing, and disturbing mind messages.

When I had a major exam I would dream the content in my sleep.  I have dreamt conjugating verbs in French.  I have dreamt calculus.  I have dreamt my mother and father speaking in Spanish when we all know they have never learned a word of it.

When I was pregnant I dreamt what my babies would look like.

When I had a major trial I would dream my questions and cross examine witnesses on the stand.  I would make my closing argument to the judge. 

When I was contemplating divorce I had a lot of conversations with the Divine.  I was really pissed off about my life circumstance.  I would get mad. 

This life is not what I had signed up for.  This worse was not even a contemplation.  I didn’t know this worse could even exist.

This wasn’t something I deserved.  My love was supposed to conquer all. 

My anger turned into tears.  Tears turned back into anger.  Anger and tears then turned into cold fear. 

Fear that I wouldn’t be strong enough to leave.  Fear that I would wind up dead.  Fear that I would end up financially destitute. 

I even tried discussions with the Divine.  That night I remember pouring out my pathetic little heart.  I did this like I have never poured out anything before. 

And that night I had this dream: Our big beautiful house was underwater and being washed away.  The water was filling up the home.  My girls and I were in it.  It was more than scary.  It confirmed all of my fears.

Will I lose everything?  Yes, you will lose everything.

I thought about that all day long.  I was getting use to this idea.  The concept wasn’t all that bad.

The next night I had another dream: I was surrounded by an insurmountable wealth and beauty.  I was at this most luxurious pool.  I was there surrounded by Tiki torches.  My mind was telling me this was a new house.  This was a bigger and better house.  I was in a better and safer place.  I felt no fear.

I knew I was surrounded by a wealth I couldn’t even begin to comprehend or understand.

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

This is the beauty of our mind. 
How do we want to look at our situation? 
******************************************

I was discussing money with a very close personal friend.  How the love of it can poison a love or a relationship. 

When suddenly the treatment of an individual becomes much less important than wealth. 

It’s when you are at the bottom of the Grand Canyon and the stock market tanks.  When you come out and he is screaming profanity at you because your mutual stock portfolio that held $100,000.00 plummeted to $20,000.00. 

Take it to another extreme.  Your loved one is constantly monitoring it.  Who gets it? Who earned it? Who has rights to it?  Your value or worth is directly associated to it.
And the rehashing of that profanity and stock market crash every time he gets to remembering it (which is everytime he continually monitors it).

(Ok love, why didn’t you try calling a stock broker when we were at the bottom of the Grand Canyon?)

I think about all of the choices that I make with money in mind:  Where to park, what college to send my children to, what trip to go on, what clothes to buy, what food to eat, what charity to donate to, where to live, what people to associate with. 

I think about all of those hard questions:  How much do we want to give to our children?  How much do we lavish on our spouse?  What gifts to buy or not to buy for a loved one?  How much to save?  How much to spend?  How much to invest?

I think about all of the stories about money: the Biblical fable of the man that buried his money instead of investing it, Charles Dickens’ Scrooge, the man that turned everything he touched into gold, and (one of my favorites) Jack and the Bean Stalk.

The power money has.  The evil that comes from it.  The food, warmth and good it provides.  The stories we tell about it. 

A poison or an elixir.

But what I really find so fascinating is that it is so very character revealing

Give it to a man that comes from nothing.  Take it from a man that has everything.

I am happier here in this spot.  I know more about things than I have ever known before.  I have seen these men with their masks off.  I see them as they really are.  I see myself as I am.  I know my real worth.  I know of my potential.  I know what it is to have.  I know what it’s like to not.

Nothing scares me.  Nothing can hold me back.  It’s all up to me.
I have the moxie to jump out of a moving plane.

And I believed in the Alchemist before it was written.

My night-time dreams tell me of an undiscovered oil.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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A Family History

My maternal grandfather died when my mother was 9.  At the time, her older brothers were 14 and 12, and the younger twins were 5.  My grandmother had to figure out what to do.  She found work.  She paired up with another woman going through the same upheaval.  She put just enough food on the table.  She got her kids through high school.  She only went on one date after my grandfather died; she said he wasn’t her husband.  She knew no one ever would be.

 

My paternal grandmother got married before she was 16 to a man decades older than her.  After three kids she fell in love with someone else and left them all behind to start over.  A few years and three more children later, her first husband died and two of her children with him came to live with her.  And her alcoholic, occasionally abusive husband.  He couldn’t hold down a job, relatives helped keep food on the table, and their fights had a deep impact on my father.  Over the years my grandmother would leave him when it got to be too much, but she could never make the split permanent.  When he died they were still together. I was 5 at the time.

 

My mother’s first husband cheated on her with her sister-in-law.  They divorced when my sister was just a baby.  He poured sugar in the gas tank of my mother’s car.  He rarely paid child support.  She worried that he would be high during his parenting time with my sister.  My mother washed her hair with laundry detergent for a while so she could make ends meet.

 

My parents were set up on a blind date by my father’s cousin.  After they had dated for a while my dad came over drunk and fell over a footstool.  My mother kicked him out and broke it off.  He came back and made amends.  My oldest sister remembers one other time when my father had too much to drink and my mother threw her wedding ring at him, losing it in the snow.  I can count on one hand the number of times I have seen my father have a drink.

 

My mother runs our house.  She likes things to be a certain way.  She is efficient and thorough.  She stocks non-perishables and household items as though every store in America is closing tomorrow.  She has her own set of tools.  When my mother starts a project, she finishes it.

 

When she asks my father to do something around the house he stalls until she stops nagging him and does it herself, or the nagging escalates to the unavoidable.  My father is super nice.  He is also incredibly inefficient.   He hesitates.  He is overly cautious and unsure of himself.  He leaves the house for thirty minute errands and returns hours later.  He often behaves like a child, refusing to call home and tell my mother where he is going in case she asks him to come back.  He does not do his own laundry, and he only cleans under duress.  My mother hates that he would always rather watch tv than walk the beach.

 

He swears my mother is the love of his life, and he will never leave her.  My mother says she is too old to start over.  I think there is love between them, but neither one seems to respect the other.  I don’t want their marriage.

 

My mother made sure I can take care of myself, and I am proud that I can. I own more tools than most of the guys I have dated. I taught a couple of them how to drive a stick. My summer jobs during middle school included painting rooms and cutting lawns around the neighborhood. I held my own in a career dominated by men, and I learned how to be a hard ass in order to do it. I drive everywhere because I like to be in control of my ability to leave.

 

My mother’s dating advice was “use them and abuse them.”  Her worst fears came true when my oldest sister’s husband was arrested just before he tried to enact a plan to shoot my sister for a life insurance policy.

 

I want to date and fall in love and get married.  But he had damn well better be worth it.  I don’t want an alcoholic or a murderer, and I don’t want a man who doesn’t respect me.

 

I can take care of myself, so any man I am seriously involved with has to be worth my time and attention.  Because I will take care of him, too, but I want a relationship where we take care of each other.  I want to know I can rely on him.  I want to know he is a good man.  I want to believe him when he says he will handle it.  I want to trust him enough to commit for life.

 

I want the kind of marriage that makes me never want to date anyone else again.

Humanly Positive.

In Evora, Portugal sits the Chapel of Bones.  I walked under the inscription: Nos ossos que aqvi estamos pelos vossos esperamos (more or less:  our bones are waiting for your bones).

Such a pleasant thought. 
A granite carved reminder that our time here is definitely short and meaningless.

I remember this day and the dread that surrounded it.  On this vacation I was making hard decisions.  My mind was formulating plans.  My heart lacked color and music.  It was impossible for me to act anymore.  I am a very poor actress.  I was wondering a lot of “whys.”

It was really a norm.  This impatient, self assured way of his choosing or deciding just to be mean for meaness sake.  It felt like water that seeps in from the soles of well worn shoes.  Gone is the comfort they once gave. Their worn out flavor brings on feelings of resentment. Knowing myself, I know I did not create or cultivate this response.  Cobblers couldn’t fix it.  The only thing left to do was to try this trip walking barefoot.
 
It started with him parking so close to another car so I could not open my passenger side door to exit the vehicle.  I had to crawl over to the driver’s side and as I lifted my head he proceeded to slam the diver’s side door in my face. 

He did these things often when I said or did something he did not like.  A habit which was more common than routine. 

In this holy visit he was disrespectful, not only to me, but also to this place and to those bones. 

I felt no hate or any disgust.  I did not give this type of behavior back.  What I did feel was a complete tiredness.  It washed over me again for the millionth time.  I was guilty of allowing this behavior to continue.  I had no way of stopping it.  He couldn’t control it.  How could I? 

This thing that had it’s own shape and dimensions.  

It just always was my fault. 

I have learned that people are who they are.  We might be able to influence them slightly, motivate them to be a better person, or evoke a feeling of caring, some sort of trust, or good humanly bond.  Maybe we can convince themselves, in our small moments of greatness, to aspire to be better people. 

(then we have to be careful about a jealousy or an envy if we become too dynamic) 

It is up to each of us.  Whom do we want to be for ourselves.  More importantly, whom do we want to be for other people.

What are we going to leave in our wake?  What do we leave behind if we can only control our responses to such individuals.

I want to approach each thing as if I have never been broken.  I want to smile to that stranger and to talk to that store clerk.  I get to know the parking attendants.  I know the books they are reading.  I try not to focus on my worries and my insecurities.  I want to listen and to take in the small joys or stories of my clientele.  I want to try and guide those struggling in the chairs in my office.  I want to really help.  I want to really make some sort of difference.

I want to be good and kind.  I want to be positive.  I want to love and nurture my girls with good and positive words.  I at times, do not deserve them.  I want to go out of my way and do the best that I can for those I sincerely care about and love.

I want moments with a lover that I crave to revisit.  I want reciprocity.  Experiences of learning and growth.  A feeling and caring that will grow and have deep roots.  I don’t want to judge.  I don’t want to hold back out of fear.  I want the beauty of sincerity and simple truths.  I want a combined approach that we each recognize that these moments together are fleeting.  Such experiences should be expended to propel us higher and make us better.  We have little time here.  Good should not be withheld or wasted.  A sharing of a day because we simply crave and desire to share it.

I want to keep those weeds of meanness and hurt out of my garden. 

 

I want to keep it out of my soul and out of my life. 

 

 


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Future Life

With each man that I date and truly like I have a hard time saying goodbye.  It is as though, for a moment, a window opens and I see the future we could have had together, if it had only been right.  And even though it isn’t right it feels like it could have been good enough.  And when we say goodbye I feel myself saying goodbye to that future as though I am being pulled backward through a long tunnel.  I feel disoriented; much like Scrooge must have felt with the ghost of Christmas future.

 

It is as much the fear of what will come next, without that imagined future, as the sorrow in the parting that keeps me clinging to the shifting walls.  Regardless of the reasons, they stretch beneath my grasping fingers and shake off my fingerprints.  And that entire future just disappears.  It will never exist.

 

The sadness of letting go settles over me every time.  I don’t want to keep looking at futures that will never form.  I want one of them to be real.  I get attached to them as though they are.

 

The sadness lasts until I find a moment when letting go makes sense; when I see the world for the vast space that it is, filled with endless possibilities.  I offer up my hurt and my hope and I wait for the world to make it right.  Sometimes it takes days, sometimes it takes years.  It depends on how much I believed in my invented future.

 

I like variety.  I crave adventure.  It is the feeling of moving forward that keeps me satisfied.  I know these things about myself.  They are true.  And they are only part of the story.

 

As the weight of these goodbyes has begun to register, I see that a part of me longs for stability.  I don’t like that my entire life is subject to the whims of the next week.  I want a career.  A home.  A family.  I assumed that if I built my career I would be happier than if I sat around waiting to find a good man.  But my career is nowhere to be found, and I am still hoping to chance upon a home and family.  It always felt pointless to chase after something that is never guaranteed.  Despite my efforts, however, it turns out a career isn’t, either.  And I think it is time for me to look for everything else.

 

I need to design my future life.