Friday, December 25, 2015

Mama

I think that memories are gifts, so, Mama, I wanted to give you a batch of memories I have of you, memories we are still adding to, and tell you that they all mean so much to me.  I keep these memories in my mind's treasure box, and I want to articulate them to you to say how great a treasure you are to me. Merry Christmas!


I remember, Mama. When you’d take me to the creek and help me catch tadpoles.  And then we’d bring them home and watch them change into frogs in a glass bowl, watch them become something impossibly new.  I didn’t know it then, but seeing that slow evolution has given me so much more hope for my own transformation into myself...a hope that I might be in the process of becoming something impossibly new...possibly.

I remember, Mama.  When we would fall asleep on the couch with the fan on in summer time.  It wasn’t even that hot, but we loved the sound.  I remember the soft kiss of my hair blowing on my neck, forehead, and cheeks.  I remember the unassuming comfort and safety of having you close by, asleep on the couch next to me with "TV Land" showing I Dream of Jeanie, Bewitched, or Happy Days.

I remember, Mama.  You wearing curlers in wet hair.  I remember that you would sometimes forget the last one was there in your bangs before we left the house.  I remember you doing this over and over again even with the volume you hoped would come from said curlers would never stay.  Some part of me feels this was perhaps a foundational example of perseverance, that taught me repeatedly and from a young age to try, try again...even when failure happens along the way, over and over.  That even when failure is assumed and imminent...trying is the thing, trying still has value.

I remember, Mama. We walked a lot of places when I was little.  I always thought it was only because you liked it, and because I liked it to.  But years later I realized for a while it was because we only had one car, and dad took it to work.  You made it seem like a fun outing though, and it always was.  I remember our family-of-three moving a lot, and I always found it to be something fun, I didn’t know it was because we didn’t have money.  You always made it seem like a gift : I was getting a new room!  You have always made a lot of “have to’s” seem like “are delighted to’s” instead.

I remember, Mama.  That time we found a hummingbird with a broken wing.  We, together, took it back home and put it in a shoe box and tried to figure out how to heal it.  I remember seeing how much care you have for living things, just how much you go out of the way to help everyone, even a hummingbird who had nothing to bring to the table. 

I remember, Mama.  You could never help but buy anything with holiday decor on it at the grocery store.  I remember you’re affection for paper towels with decorative prints on them, and how those were for eating and not for cleaning.  I remember how you could never resist dancing a little bit when music would play anywhere, and if you knew even a few of the words, you could not keep yourself from singing.  I remember thinking that you just couldn’t help sharing joy with those around you, wanting them to feel the energy of it too.

I remember, Mama.  Birdy.  That imaginary, invisible bird that you would give voice to and would tell me was flying outside our window when we’d drive places.  I remember how much you love birds, how you buy expensive bird food to put out in various places in the yard, how you’ve always had a hummingbird feeder filled.  I remember how you loved to watch the birds and would run outside to chase away crows and birds of prey that came anywhere close to the smaller birds which you always called the “babies.”  Maybe this is a big reason why I’m am an emerging birder now.

I remember, Mama.  “Are you sure?” and “They Say….” and “It’s the principle thing.”  I remember you emailing me in college to tell me to wear a jacket or take an umbrella because you’d checked the weather for my city, although you were many zip codes away.  Just because you cared that much about me.  I remember how you could never take me to airports to drop me off because you were always sad to see me leave, but that you never missed picking me up.  I remember you supporting my love of traveling and exploring even though it would break your heart to see me walk off into the unknown.

I remember, Mama.  When dad deployed and we would only hear from him sporadically and only briefly and had no real idea of where he was.  I remember you acting like everything was fine, seemingly like you weren’t worried about...about that possibility that we just couldn’t think of, let alone speak of.  You tried to not act worried so I wouldn’t worry, and I did the same.  I remember us going to the airport together to pick him up, I remember that I cried just as much as you as soon as we got sight of him...I accessed a tear level that day I thought only you were capable of in our family. But, I remember.

I remember, Mama.  You having occasional disagreements with Dad.  I have always been so thankful that you didn’t make it seem like marriage was a continuous honeymoon stage, that you showed me that love was a real thing, a choice you make daily, and something that can last.  That it can be something sincere and strong, something you have to work at but something that works.  And, I want you to know, Mama, if I never get married it is NOT because you failed to show me what a wonderful thing it could be, because you have.  In fact, Mama, you are maybe one of the only reasons I haven’t completely closed myself off to the idea.  And, Mama, I know you would love to throw a wedding for me, so I’m sorry if I never give that to you.

I remember, Mama.  You showing me a nonsensical amount of love as a mother.  Sacrificing so much of yourself and your time to devote affection and attention on me.  I remember this driving me nearly out of my mind (still does sometimes), but the point is I REMEMBER it.  I know others, Mama, who doubt that their parents love them - and I never could.  Even in my darkest thoughts about myself, when I want to think that no one cares about me, I cannot, Mama, because no one could tell themselves that you didn’t love me unconditionally.  You would make the most wonderful Grandmother there would ever be.  Just know I believe that with every fiber of my being, and if you never become one, Mama, I hope you find other ways to get a taste of grand-motherhood vicariously.

I remember, Mama.  All these things you have been and still are to me.  I am glad to remember now and to tell you know while we can both remember together, and make new memories to remember in the future.  

Monday, December 21, 2015

wake



what do you call that moment
right before you wake up?
it is not quite “awakening”
but the foreshadowing of that,
the prelude.

it is said that eyes
are the window to the soul.
i’d like my eyes
to tell me what my soul knows
about my heart.
i’d like my eyes to open me up.

there are a thousand wings
fluttering in my thoughts
swirling at unpredictable velocities
up past where i can reach.
past where i feel safe.

they know the beat
of my own drum i’m certain.
i’d like them to teach me that beat
so i can march to it
& find any sort of rhythm.
(no matter how different).
(no matter how common).

why is it so hard
to keep our hands open?
to embrace empty?
the journey to meaning
seems so long without something to hold.
don’t you sometimes fear you won’t survive it?
i do.

i’m not trying to live “the” dream
i’m trying to live mine.
why does that feel irresponsible
and dangerously childlike?
do we each need to wake up
our inner child again?

but dreams are so unstable
fleeting and mostly impressionistic.
hard to grasp
and hiding just behind our eyes,
hiding in that moment just before we
wake up.

Friday, December 18, 2015

comforter






couldn't i just lie here awhile?
underneath the comforter
hiding from the morning light?
safer, with the impression of light
and calling it a life.

couldn’t i just sleep?
forget what day it is?
throw my watch away
so to make time stand still?
just to be in numb rest.
just to be.

but these days
i can’t sleep unless the window’s open,
unless cold air is blowing in,
making me something between
chilled through
and
right-at-home.

i’d like to let the flood in my mind
overflow
and go elsewhere,
(with or without chaotic care).
just to go anywhere
that isn’t my headspace.

because:
the words that get caught in my heart,
get caught in my mouth,
and sometimes just don’t make it out.
they die before they reach my lips.
and, like sinking ships,
become submerged artifacts -
lifeless & betrayed by their sails.

these days
i feel i’ve trained myself
to not have expectations.
because that is a dance
dangerously close to hope
and i’m not sure i know those steps,
i’m doubtful i have the rhythm required.

do pathways expire?
i wish question marks would.
i wish that that “yes” or “no” were ever answer enough.
i wish to learn to live the questions better.
i wish i could just lie here awhile
underneath the comforter.
comfortable.
but maybe that isn't quite living.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

glass


i can't see
except through glass.
so i'm always one level removed.
i can't tell
if this has hindered,
or helped my lack of courage improve.

once upon a time,
cross-stitched steps
would lead you somewhere.
but now i feel
i might see much better
with my eyes wide shut.

i tried to train myself
to stop blinking
because it seems tied
to my tendency for overthinking:
of thinking thinking thinking
which withers my foresight
into nearsightedness.

i've got hindsight
(a disease)
and the ever-present chant:
icanticanticant.
that's no "abracadabra."
that's no kind of magic
to waste a wish on.

these days
i feel i'm wishing
to prove myself wrong.
to find all my weaknesses
turned into something strong.
and to hopefully learn
the answers to questions along the way - 

how to be brave?

&
is my grey your gray?

Sunday, December 6, 2015

multi




Not too long ago, I chose to make a career change, which is a journey I’m still walking through.  It required me to move away from “home” into a rather opposite sort of “world.”  This made me feel both more myself – more at home in my own skin – and somewhat of a stranger to myself – at times, someone I don’t recognize at all.


Then, when I visit home, I’ve found it hard to know exactly who I am.  The person I was when I left is not gone, but is not exactly “here” anymore...so what does that mean?


I have had a somewhat silent fear about being fake in all of this.  Am I just play acting at life?  Am I just putting on a role based on my surroundings?  Because when I come home some part of the "new" version of myself is suppressed, and some "original" parts of me are brought to light.  Then when I’m out on the new path I’ve taken, those "original" things that come out at home among old friends lay a bit dormant.  Are parts of us allowed to sleep?  Or am I forcing them to drown?
 

I grew concerned that I wasn’t real anywhere, and hence wasn’t anyone at all.

I spoke of this confusion to a friend recently, and he shed light on it in quite a clarifying and comforting way.  He described his experience with it as having a core self that is always present, but that the portion of this core which is projected changes based on his environment - changes mostly based on the people he is around.  None of the portion is fake in the moment, but not all portions are projected at once.


The funny thing is, the first image that came to mind as he described this is those mutli-ink pens...you know the ones that have between 4 - 10 different colored inks in a single pen?  Not all that practical mainly because of their clunky form (so they aren’t all-too-pleasant to write with) but mostly because you only end up using 2 - 3 of the colors.


Anyways, this multi-color pen I felt a good image to what he described.  The pen is always a pen, but, depending on the needs of the writer, it will project a different hue.  Most of the time that is black or blue, and once-in-awhile the red is used, but very rarely do the brown, green, or purple get called to use.  


But isn’t this true of each of us?  We are always ourselves, but the part of us that we emphasize does change depending on our surroundings - mostly on who we are spending time with or the chapter of life we are in.  In the usual day-to-day, we mostly project 1 or 2 of the key parts of our character...every once in awhile a 3rd key component comes out, and then only very rarely some fringe components.  All our part of us, just parts emphasized differently and at different times. 

I think maybe what I am discovering now is that I hadn’t yet found one of the 2 key colors that most defines me, and that maybe one of my "original" key colors, is now becoming a fringe color instead.  Maybe we need a fringe-color shake-up every once-in-awhile.

But, I’m still the same old pen - still bent on scratching out words in the hope of living authentically.


Thursday, December 3, 2015

skin

 
the trouble with the skin we're in,
is that it is sometimes quite constraining.
and i'm not exactly complaining,
but mostly just contemplating,
how i feel that i am now
both within
and without.

turns out you can't just slip back in
to the skin you were in.
turns out that when you grow,
when you stretch
you shed that skin,
and leave it behind
and it dries out in the sun.

and try as you may,
and try as you might,
that old skin is now far too tight.
you've expanded,
and it has shrunk,
and it won't welcome you back,
it keeps you from fitting
back into yourself.

this leaves you feeling lost,
leaves you feeling 
you've given something up
at too great a cost.
and you are no longer
at home in yourself.
you are no longer at home
anywhere at all.

because this new skin you're in
doesn't feel quite right.
it hasn't bent to your curves,
or broken to your creases.
and your anxiety increases
each time that you move.

you force a hope that this stiffness
shall someday improve.
but the breaking-in is so slow,
you hardly notice its progress.
and you feel you're in quicksand:
just waiting and waiting.

waiting in uncomfortable skin.
skin that is still you,
parts of the old and
parts quite new.
but you don't know if you like it.
but you don't think you agreed to this.

this.
this learning to love the skin you're in.
this letting go of the skin you've shed.
loving the memory,
but not letting it haunt you.
letting the sun dry it out
letting the wind weather it
to dust.