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Ferrying the Sun

The path of humanity winds through darkness, and all must strive to illuminate the way, that more may find happiness.

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If you believe strongly in something, to be true to yourself, it  is your obligation to speak on your beliefs.

I remember sitting on the street one night with my husband, playing music, and one of the older, homeless regulars scampered past, looking at his socks and sandals, muttering about the light. Later in the evening someone stopped him and he said, “I can’t stop now. It’s getting dark; isn’t safe. I must prosper the light. Always prosper the light.” And he scuttled off. At the time I just found it amusing, but I find myself telling that story more and more.

We live in a moral dark age. Everyone simply seeks pleasure and money, and those who can find neither often comfort themselves by spreading their own darkness, snuffing out whatever light they can affect. This is my biggest concern, my soap box, if you  will, because the easily extinguished light, is often that of a child.

I put myself places I never should have been as a result of naivete brought on by a dark upbringing under a rock of fear. I crawled out from under that rock ready to believe in the ultimate light bearing properties of the world and discovered, in fact, I was raised in a pit of seclusion out of my father’s fear, and I met and understood all the dark, leering faces that drove him into hiding.

It’s been a ridiculously long and difficult journey, but I’m in a new place now, where I recognize the need for “prospering my own light,” without hiding in a way that makes illumination impossible. I can’t participate in a world of dusk.  At best it’s fluorescent lighted soul selling, just for the comfort of an elaborate box I do nothing but stare at a tv inside. At worst I perform  whatever selfish action will dull the aching lack of my own light source, whatever form that takes. I’ve seen many, many forms. Most just seek meaningless human contact and intoxication, but we all know misery loves company and the deplorably miserable can be frightfully creative.

I find myself unable to choose any of the templates of adult life I was raised to see as “the options.”  I floundered for a while, being a good little grown up and doing what I was “supposed to do.” I now understand the general unhappiness of the average human being. I deconstructed my reality, my self, am still tearing down my perceptions and it’s like tearing down wallpaper in a room I’ve never left, only to realize the long coated walls are, in fact, windows, and beyond them lies a dazzling view. Do you know how happy you are capable of being? Do you know how thoroughly you could fulfill yourself? It’s so much easier than anyone imagines.

When was the last time you saw a robin wearing a backpack, or a fox snapping strategically angled  photos of itself to make its coat seem to look the best. We preoccupy ourselves with the art of being less animal and cut ourselves off from all the meaningfulness of our lives. All you have to do to be happy is denounce the need for Stuff.

My catchphrase has become, “There’s a reason I live in a bus.” The only way life makes sense to me is apart from your loudly self indulgent society, that prefers to stay silent on all the nasty things lurking, often visibly, beneath the surface. The unhappy world of ignorance and property. Give me glistening forests, exuberant streams, fierce beaches and infinite skies. Give me music, the open road and the other barely civilized human animals who spread light from coast to coast.

I’ve been broken, I’ve torn myself to pieces, I’ve been wrong and dark and silent. And now I can also say I was strong enough to face those truths and reignite my spirit; build myself as a new creature and live a life I can wake up each day, glad to find myself facing.

Hug your children. Listen to them. Get off facebook. Say, “You’re wrong,” fearlessly when it’s needed. Life is beautiful. Live it.

Did I Already Use Summertime Sadness?

It’s such an easy title to choose.

There’s a listless discontent to the hot,

dry grass days of summer.

Cicada hum

and cricket strum

on lazy days of sweat and endings.

Summer saw my exodus

from the first life I built myself,

of the good intentions of another summer’s missteps.

Late July we spent in bed

waiting for the sun to set

so we could rise and drink til we fell.

Little did I know you were the way up

and one summer turned to the next

and saw my second son rise,

cast light

on the sadness that’s been the one thing

I could always count on.

He saw his first year end

In sweltering disappointment

That meant nothing to his tiny mind

And everything

To our dreams,

Overcooked yet again.

Another summer comes,

Dawn’s on sugared strawberries with fresh cream,

Hot nights with too few fireflies,

And the tail end

Of another one of my breakdowns.

That summer seemed only to mark

The beginning of a mental loop.

We sit towards the finale of

Another season of heat and dried up hearts,

And my first son

Is gone.

This is the summer of his departure,

As though no mid-season would be complete

Without some sort of devastation.

I don’t know when I’ll see him again

But maybe,

With a little hope and a better handle

On that pervasive sorrow

And all its mothers,

There could come a summer,

This next year,

Of reunion and peace.

What glory that would be

In the time that used to mean freedom

And a welcome break

But became only

Summertime sadness.

 

Home

I make custard in the morning
And imagine what it would be like
To have a home.
A true home
That is only safe,
And warm
And full of light.
Every home I’ve ever had,
I’ve shared with monsters
And now I borrow kitchens,
Where I feel the least broken
And the most giving;
Bathroom mirrors
Where I try to see the best
But nothing feels right
Until I settle into the hot streams of water
In borrowed showers ;
I try to stay out of the way
And think of the places that almost felt like mine
But I’m always homesick
For the woods.
Ironically,
The wildlands holds fewer beasts
That mean me harm
Than any four walls I’ve known.
The sounds
Are hauntingly beautiful
And every textured inch
Teems with life
And the trees don’t need to know my name.
I’m not the praying type
But I pray the day will come,
And soon,
That we can return
To the only true home
We’ve known.

I Just Want to Write

Every time I turn on the computer to feel the satisfying clackety clack of the keys flowing under my fingertips, I feel the acute absence of pen and paper. The lack of subject matter. The emptiness of the moment. I don’t know how to relax.

During the nothing years of my adolescence when my father kept me prisoner in my windowless bedroom, counting down hours until he would appear to tuck me in in the dimly sunlit eight thirty evening, creativity and angst abounded. My pens came full of poetry that fell out onto the page the instant the two met. I would go into a trance and emerge with volumes perched on my knee, neatly penned, occasionally signed in the blood of my elusive artistic self. Now the trance doesn’t come. I’m left sitting in a residue of the future that prison built. The lights are too bright and the words are miles in the past, my memory a fog of self preservation that leaves me frustrated rather than safe. I lived from one self created disaster to the space new abusers built in the between, then on to the next. I never thought of myself as “one of those girls” but now everything is fine for the first time in my life and it tastes like an overused dishrag. A little too dingy, feeling like pruned fingers and no idea what to do next.

Sit down. Take a deep breath. What is there to say? So much. So, so much, but the memories elude or hurt me, the words live in that world of waking dreams I can’t enter intentionally and I’m left, perched on the edge of the chair anxiously looking for something else to do. When I can’t find it I feel empty. Listless, discontent and useless. Who am I if I don’t even know what I want to do? I want to write. I want to write, goddammit!

 

I’m awash with partial memories. I want to write a memoir, to get it all out in prose as a form of artistic exorcism, but the memories are so murky and out of sequence. Maybe I’ll just plunge into them, little excerpts within chapters of my life.

There was one sweltering, sunny chapter five years ago. On this day at that point in time I had been out of my abusive relationship, that taught me what a tweaker was exactly, for five days. I was staying in the basement at a friend’s parents’ house. My two small children and I were sleeping on an air bed in a small space no one used, and my friend’s sister was babysitting the kids as an act of charity while I tried to find work and housing. Their parents wanted to know how long we would be. I was nervous, awkward and tense.  I had no idea how long I’d be. I had no experience being a single mother. Well, that’s not exactly true. I had five days’ experience.

Ironically, it was my estranged father who swooped in and helped me leave my ex. I called him and he arrived with his truck an hour later while my ex was at work. The neighbors watched us, and called him to tell him I was making off in the night with his kids and some tall, bearded man. He hoofed it back, but we made it. He was furious I had taken the car. I stayed with my father for one night. He kept calling my son by the wrong name and had me sit between my one and newly three year old and clean the table as they ate. That first night, after the kids went to bed, he asked me why I had told his family he raped me. I couldn’t even begin to touch that subject and simply broke into silent tears as he berated me for my lascivious rumour as I shook, unable to speak in my defense.

You see, my father has decided there’s no molestation except rape. By this logic, anything nonpenetrative is not a trespass in the eyes of my father’s own personal god. The deity of his imagining who finds my father one of his only true disciples, the one who should have been chosen as pastor those twenty one years ago when the congregation chose an older man instead of their youth pastor, and ruined his dreams of serving god before an audience. He boycotted the church and retreated into his Westpoint delusions, taking his family to church on fort and turning that one semester at the military academy into his time “boxing in the army.” He taught his daughters the fear of that place where military and religion meet, and further served his pious ego. How tall stands he before all others; how tall stands he before god whom only he truly knows. And his godless daughter tried to ruin him with her lies because he didn’t come to his bastard grandchild’s first birthday party. That’s the only reason he can see for the story.  I stayed with my friend the next night and that summer was the last I spoke to my father.

All I want is to write. Why are the horrors so much more colorful than my growing handfuls of positivity? Someone said, “Namaste,” to me this morning. I laughed when he left. I may have called him a dork. Is that unkind, or is that just the type of realism that burns in my fingertips, begging me to let it out? I just want to write….I just want to write

Quietly Waiting

“But I don’t have any stories that aren’t awful,” I whined.
“Then be quiet and listen,” he said. He promised one day I would have good stories. One day, the life between the shit and the present would have had time to grow, slowly stretching out into my childhood dream of just being free of my cage and doing as I pleased.
The truth is, a lot more shit happened, but not only shit. Some really amazing things happened too. But… I realized, in the midst of accomplishing long standing goals and seeing years’ worth of plans become reality, I never really learned to be happy and some of the shit that still happens is a direct result of my mentality.
This is the phase we’re in. I can tell better stories now. I have experiences aside from the ones that make people’s skin crawl to hear about. There was that time we got sucker punched by the ocean. The time we met that other family that lived in a bus and we got our own sugar gliders. There was the guy in the middle of nowhere Wyoming who gave us a thousand dollars. I realized acid isn’t scary at all and, in fact, my beloved mushrooms are far more sinister. I learned there are girls who hold their liquor far more classlessly than I, and that even a little wine can lead to shattered elbows, or something like that.
But in the midst of living, you have to be able to “sit with your feelings,” as they say, and I still hate that. And past damages and decisions reverberate and, until I learn to deal with old trauma without being traumatized anew, this is cyclical.
How do you learn to live with certain consequences? Certain reverberations. I live right now in a state of mourning the way things are. We’ve reached self loathing, I think. I’m grappling with my brain misfirings and yes, I know, as much as it feels like more acid will make everything just make sense, that’s far from the truth. I’m back on the medication ship with a cbd lifeboat and now what I feared in the beginning is another part of my new reality – not having the pills now is way worse than the pre pill worst. And the bad parenting I so loathe? I’ve done plenty of that.
How do you live with That?? Genetics are a beast too, but hot damn how does one recover in the midst of fucking up a child? In my experience, and my husband’s and pretty much everyone else we know, the adults barrel forward, admitting nothing, until the kid in question is old enough to be blamed for everything. We’re improving on that method, but every angle of working through parenting fuck ups and plain old, “I’m too insane /depressed/manic/exhausted to parent right now, just eat the Lucky Charms for dinner and wait it out,” is miserable. Spoiler alert, when you’re eighteen and think creating the family you wish you’d had will make your life all better, you’re Wrong. And, if you’re a decent human being in spite of being debilitatingly stupid (or just naive, if we’re being generous), round about your mid twenties you’ll fall onto the rough patch of, “Dear god what have I done?”
Sorry can be a really big word. No one ever really used it at me. It’s one of my only comforts-I am a mother who says she’s sorry. I am a mother who is always honest. It’s the least I can do.
And while I’m stumbling along, trying to figure out what “mental health ” and successful parenting look like, I’m quietly watching for the good stories. They’re waiting in the elephant plants where the kids like to dig, in odd places amidst bus breakdowns like Kaycee, WY, and right now stories are just days away on the Pacific coast or, at the very least, more practice sitting with my feelings is floating on the surf.

Anxiety Fangs

I feel like such a douche with my coffee cup and my vape taking up both, white knuckled fists like a terrified child clutching my comfort objects. I’m going to be late. Puff. I took the wrong bus again. Chug. What if the bus I’m expecting isn’t actually coming? Puff.
I wish there were vape pens specifically for cbd, so when people saw they knew I wasn’t just another trending smoker. This is medicine. Puff. And the coffee – chug- well, that’s an addiction and it surely doesn’t help with the neuroticism. Chug.
Medication has helped a lot in the past year but we came out west and I haven’t established medical care yet and now I’m out of pills, and as I stand here, sucking down canabinoid vapor and gulping caffein, I’m remembering one of the reasons I was so anti meds. The anxiety from before is now full on fear. If I stop and focus on it it’s easy to see there’s no real source, no horrible outcome looming one false step away. But that knowledge doesn’t make me less afraid. I feel like I’m in a horror movie – the part where they’re establishing the characters and setting, and we watch these ordinary people having ordinary days before the meat of the story, not knowing it’s all about to unravel and disintegrate. I don’t even have to catastrophize. Although, recent worst case scenarios have run through my head as I walk past pit bulls and that screaming guy being chased off campus by security, so today I’m wearing my steel toe boots. Composite, actually, but they got a dog off me once.
I wasn’t always like this. In fact, it took me nearly 30 years to feel so much fear. I guess, as a child, my dad kind of had the whole monster market cornered. It didn’t seem like much could be scarier than him. I left home at seventeen and told myself those fears were behind me. Little did I know, not facing old nightmares leads directly to new set ups for failure and trauma. Well, I learned that lesson, and then I started to get honest with myself. That’s when things got scary.
Imagine running from a cougar in the woods. You fall, break your leg. You know your life is on the line and you have to keep moving. Your brain will deaden the pain for you a bit so you can survive. But you stop. You look at your leg and think, “This is fucked.” You can feel it. The more you look at it the more aware you are of the damage and just how badly it actually hurts behind the adrenaline. You have two choices now- try to remember how you weren’t noticing before, try to forget and limp on ; or turn and face the creature in the forest, whatever new injury that might mean. Either way, if you survive, you have to drag yourself out of the trees bearing these wounds.
That’s how life feels now, except I’ve exhausted option one. I can’t forget. I can’t keep blocking out the pain, one because it leads to a compound injury and two, because the trauma has now piled on too great to ignore. Feeling the breakage is now a defense mechanism, there to remind me not to let myself be attacked again. The thing is, after people close to me turned out to be hungry mountain lions, anything could be, as far as I can tell.
‘How would I know?’ My throbbing “leg” asks me.
And the forest is just the world outside my bubble. The grocery store tends to feel pretty safe, but if I have to talk one on one with anyone in the street or, heaven forbid, in a professional setting, they could bare their fangs at any moment and reveal themselves to be one of the beasts. I much prefer the larger toothed variety, the type that can’t hide their monstrosity. At least the creepy uncle is obviously creepy, the bitchy customer clearly ready to snap. It’s the passive aggressive grandma, the gossipy friend, the fake charming suitor who eat your soft parts.
See, my eyes are open enough to know danger is everywhere, evil is anyone, but I’m not fluent in the secret language of the universe that tells you, without a doubt, who is who and what is what, so I slink around like a shell shocked soldier, ready for a blast at any moment, a pack of shadow cats at my back, ghosts that followed me out of the woodlands. Facing them is necessary, but each new battle leaves me more beat down for the walk ahead.
If you ever met a nervous basketcase who told you they were this way because of anxiety, maybe this gives you some idea what they truly meant by that one small word. Maybe you understand why they thought they saw bared fangs when you smiled. Maybe you regret taking a bite… You didn’t realize how much a nibble could ruin.

Go West

It’s on. We’re in snow fence country again. Tumbled boulder and bluff country. It’s cold and rainy, yet the air is electric with the feeling of Finally having hit the road. We’ll have summer out West.
Four years ago I had my first summer in Washington. We moved at almost this exact time. It was cold and rainy then too, everywhere we went for nearly three weeks. I was antsy and miserable. There was so much I didn’t know.
I was surprised how chilly much of the summer was, and at the temperature difference between shade and sun on warmer days. You’re so much closer to the sky out there. It’s easy to feel ephemeral and connected.
The universe has been sending me messages. I will heal. I will overcome the shadows I had become used to. And the farther I progress, the more I’m able to open myself to shared knowledge; all that is or ever was or will be.
I’m ready to ignite. I’m ready to return to the mountains and the ancient forests of mystical alpine giants. There’s so much I know now. The rain doesn’t dampen my spirits this time. I stood outside until I was soaked this morning, and then kept standing. The wind whipped under my umbrella and tried to make me give up and I felt love. This is my world, wet or warm, cloudy or bright, playful or antagonistic, it’s mine for the joining. It is me and I am the dirt and the rain and the cold, mischievous wind. How can I be angry? I haven’t always seen life as a privilege but right now I’m a bit breathless at my existence.
Everything I’ve wanted, everything I’ve believed, everything I’ve dreamed for years, is becoming my reality Right. Now.
I am alive. I am all things. And I am in awe.
I love the open road.

Winter Sleeps…

… In the stratosphere,
Planning next year’s attack
On spirits and leaves.
The ice and winds
Hung long beyond my strength
And, though I tried to sleep,
Dreams evaded my hidden cave
And sent me wading into the snow,
Chest deep,
Freezing my heart
For months.
I hate the plains
And I hate my inner banter
And maybe I’m not so keen
On the girl in the mirror
But winter is finally passing
And she’s still there,
Staring me down from behind the glass,
Refusing to thaw
And seep into the ground.