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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.

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 (home bums, as we say. The stationary homeless) 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 of the 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, “Fuck you,” to a tweaker. Life is beautiful. Live it.

Daily Dose – Harmony

via Daily Prompt: Harmony

He’s taken down the oyster shells

That hung on the back porch,

and the photos from over his work bench.

He’s begun to empty the kitchen drawers

of keepsakes

and papers,

opting to throw out the old anniversary cards.

He said he’ll have to sell the chickens,

but, by the way he’s been leaving the coop open

I think he might just rather they wander off,

like he told the dog to do

when he defeatedly opened the  door, late last night.

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He forgets, at times,

whether or  not he’s already had his pills,

with no one to help him keep track.

He’s facing his own mortality,

before reaching sixty,

and his wife,

high school sweetheart,

decided it was too much

for Her to bear.

Long gone is the harmony

of living side by side under the guardianship

of mountain sentries,

relentless and proud,

as she turned out to be,

however,  without beauty

but all the ice,

demanding, in the divorce,

that he sell what was to be his final resting place,

their children’s fairy tale castle,

so she can have half the money.

 

Daily Dose – Climbing

via Daily Prompt: Climbing

Since yesterday we’ve been steadily climbing up out of the Midwest into the land of terrestrial giants, cloaked in eternal winter. The emergence of hazy blue and white silhouettes on the horizon never loses its magic, no matter how many times I make this trip. Since childhood I’ve been enchanted by the impenetrable landscape, a Kansan toddler already filled with the desire to migrate to higher ground at the first opportunity. My sisters and I made grandiose plans to live in remote cabins where we would write thrilling novels and befriend the local wildlife.

One of my sisters only left Kansas for one month for a job that ended up falling  through. She lives in our detested father’s hometown. My oldest sister turned 30 last month. She left Kansas at 22 and moved to Iowa with her husband and they’re still there.

I don’t mean to bring everything back to them, but they still account for more than half my life’s influence and experience. They’re such a looming shadow, blaming me for our family’s strife. Yet I’m the one ascending. I’m the one following the sunlight to destinations that feed my soul something other than the bread of bitterness. All this beauty still brings to mind the stark contrast of my ugly past.

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The mountains make me feel more whole, and even in the prolonged cold I can breathe more deeply out here. The trouble with being from Kansas is, you can only get halfway across the country when you run as far as you can go.

The Adventures of Fish

The trip has begun! As is typically the case with a carload of friends, hilarity ensues. Anal RVs abound, Great Fun lies ahead in Uranus, as well as a fudge shop (I’m not even kidding. This is the schtick Uranus, MO uses to promote tourism) and My Cows is serious business here in the heartland. 20170414_130541-1

We stopped to visit some fellow beached travelers who, incidentally, just got their ship seaworthy once again and they may join us on the way back. The stop off turned into a camp out, complete with a snapping turtle, cows and scary stories.

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Life lesson, boys and girls, when people are inebriated (and/or trippng their faces off) near cows, everyone Will step in a patty at some point during the evening. That’s just life, I guess. But if your dog likes the smell of cows and is going to get back in the car in the morning, just tie her up for the night.IMG_20170413_144911

Fish takes one last look back at the house before setting out.

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I’ve heard of fish as big as dogs, but dogs as small as Fish?? IMG_20170415_071843.jpg

“Did you get it?…I’m not in a patty, right?”

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Nothin like hot dogs for breakfast to combat a hangover. This guy drinks like  a…Right, well, a fish.

 

 

 

 

Daily Dose- Timely

via Daily Prompt: Timely

It comes

at the perfect time,

a shift in life,

a mind ruffled by breeze

in need of physical motion.

Phases of my life can be defined by events and locations,

whereas sitting still

causes things to blur together,

like a piece of paper

too soaked with water color, pooling in one place

so that all the colors meet in the fold

as a brown puddle

rather than a beautiful rainbow

spread from one edge to the other.

When in doubt,

transition,

hopelessness or fear,

mountains can contextualize the smallness of your life,

and sky scraping trees,

massively gentle spirits,

allow dismissal of pain and discord.

In times of elation

and satisfaction, too,

mountains raise your soul into the sky,

muscles burning,

heart pounding,

alive among jagged rocks;

a soft and delicate life

invaluable

and finite,

yet capable

of infinite peace.

I love heading West

where all the world’s suns

set.

Daily Dose – Pleased

via Daily Prompt: Pleased

It’s the oddest thing, but I wasn’t  sure how to respond to today’s prompt until about 1:55pm when the doctor read the list of symptoms my husband and I worked on to prepare for my appointment, and she looked up and asked, “Do you think you’re bipolar?”

We discussed what that meant, technically and scientifically, and what that meant as far as my life. And I’m pleased to say, yes, yes I do think my wetware is malfunctioning.

I don’t think I’m impatient, bitter, spiteful, angry, clinging to my damage, ready to fight at the drop of a hat, lazy, unmotivated, reckless, contemptable and incapable of happiness. I think I have a problem that has been out of my control for years, buried under the rubble of an ugly childhood and a nasty relationship. It’s like being freed from prison after years served for a crime I had accepted guilt for. My parents never would get me help. Only mandated talk therapy, never psychiatry.

“We can’t teach a pill abuser that pills are ever the answer, ” my father said. What he meant was, if they” fixed” me they would have to find someone else to blame.

For years I believed medication was a bandaid, maybe even a crutch, but it wouldn’t help me deal with the real issues myself. I maintained this point of view through three nervous breakdowns and the collapse of the “successful life”  I had built. Only after I got with my now husband did I pursue therapy for myself. My husband, my therapist and I laid rope over some treacherous slopes and I followed the lines through emotional frostbite and social amputation over summit after summit. I moved away from my therapist and my husband and I continued the painful process of rebuilding or, really, building for the first time, on a foundation of aforementioned rubble. And then we hit a wall.

A wall I try and try to rationalize. A wall my husband keeps insisting I try harder to break through. And finally, after all this time, after all the filth was cleared away enough to even recognize this long standing obstacle, we have a name for the last thing standing in our way. It’s no longer a vague and shapeless monster that rears its head every two or three weeks and hurls me headlong at my husband’s throat, fangs bared. It’s a creature with a face and a name and, like any demon, that’s all I need to know to banish it.

I have the information I need to make things right, for my whole family. You see, I can choose the lifelong uphill battle for myself, but that wasn’t my husband’s choice, and it certainly wasn’ t the choice of my children. I owe it to them to try another route, and I’m more than pleased to finally know the name of the road I’m on. Left turn up ahead.

Eleven Years Past

It was yesterday eleven years ago I first almost died. And that was just the start. What was is it, seventeen days later? Yes, because it marked our one month anniversary as  a couple. Instead of spending it together he spent it getting his wrists sewn shut and I spent it with my mother, who sat with me in the car and told me she wished he had succeeded at taking his own life, before going inside with me to meet the social worker assigned to our family by Child Protection Services.

But let’s back up. I liked him the first time I saw him. I couldn’t tell you why. He wasn’t particularly handsome, in fact he was rather goofy and twice the size of the rest of our freshman peers. We were fourteen when we met and he had this electric charisma. I wanted him to think I was the most amazing person in the universe. And he did. We began to exchange emails and write notes during school (I miss writing notes). My parents can be loosely described as cultists and I was kept on a very tight leash. I wasn’t  allowed to talk to boys on the phone, much less have a boyfriend, so we rocked out the little Romeo and Juliette bullshit.

And then he got put into foster care, October tenth. We still emailed, and he would use his foster sister to get me on the phone when we could manage. It was torture, but in those early days we formed a profound connection – orphans of indifference, children desperate to feel loved and understood, yet constantly getting crushed under the heels of those expected to care for us. We validated one another, gave each other hope and a reason to live, through a time in life that’s hard enough even with the proper support. I was his Pumpkin. He was my Sunshine.

He was supposed to come home on Valentine’s Day. I brought a bag of candy hearts to school.  We had joked about his affinity for awful candy and how he thought it would be great to be showered in candy hearts as he walked into the room. I planned to facilitate that dream. I was giddy when I arrived at school, refusing to share my candy with my friends, eyes glued to the doors. I jumped every time they opened. But he was never the one who strolled into my waiting place. The first bell rang. Our group began to dissipate. My best friend stayed with me until the late bell rang. I dragged myself to class, crushed. I gave the candy hearts away.

The next month seemed to take forever, his case getting pushed, then rescheduled at the last minute, his mother needed to sign this paper or attend that class. She divorced his stepfather and they let my golden love come home.

It was one of those electric grey days, where the clouds hang heavy and everything seems extra green in the odd light. I walked out of school with my eyes on the ground, feeling hollow and hopeless. I nearly tripped over a bike tossed on the sidewalk and looked up in irritation to see who had left it there. And there he was, smiling at me softly though I could see the torrent of  joy pushing at his lips and sunburst eyes. I flew to him and he wrapped me up in an eternal embrace. No words were great enough for the feeling of our hopes actualizing.

He asked me to be his girlfriend “for real,” a couple days later and I gladly accepted. We stole every moment we could find, writing long notes and emails when we were apart. Nothing made us happy but one another. We started listening to each other’s favorite bands, finding deeper meaning in every lyric, quoting them and writing  them on one another’s arms. We shared books and poems and a thousand little inside jokes. He was all I cared about.

What I couldn’t understand at the time was that he didn’t care about me. He cared about the validation I offered him, sure, but more than anything he cared about his drugs, a passion he shared wuth me. I had turned fifteen that winter, while waiting for him to come home. He barely made it to fifteen.

April tenth, two thousand six, he said he wanted to get high with me. He talked about getting high all the time, how great it felt, how it was his only true release, how it made all the daily bullshit irrelevant and made life worth living. I wanted to be a part of that more than anything. Kids, there’s a lesson to take away from all this- when your drug addled teenage boyfriend is determing proper dosages of his mom’s high potentcy anti psychotics for ninety pound girls, based off how many he likes to take, don’t trust the math. Also, when you don’t feel anything thirty minutes after the first pill, don’t finish off the handful.

Those lessons left the school with me in an ambulance that day and sank in over the next week as I sat in the adolescent psychiatric unit of a nearby hospital. This was also how my parents found out I had a boyfriend.

While this wasn’t the end of me, it also was not the end of many things that should have died that day. And it was just the beginning of my pill addiction and my family’s relationship with child protective services. Only twice have I seen my father come unglued outside the safety of his house. The first time was in that hospital, during our family meeting with a psychiatrist in front of whom my father accused me of trying to end his marriage with this “little fake suicide routine.” I was back in his house three days later, under tighter lock and key than ever, not even allowed to close my door when I undressed. My friends felt bad for me and kept me medicated, especially after April twenty seventh.

My boyfriend didn’t show up to school again. I asked around. No one could tell me where he was. Until I asked the boy who had been closest to him since they were ten years old. The boy who, in an interesting twist of fate, would marry me eight years later. My now husband told teenage me that my teenage boyfriend had tried to kill himself the night before with a bottle of prescription pills and a steak knife. He locked himself in his room and mixed his blood with shaving cream, then wrote his lamentations with it on the walls. He ended up getting tased for his trouble. Five days later he turned fifteen.

We continued our fiasco as he moved twice, both of us running into child protection and police issues,  running away together, on and off drugs, in and out of trouble, into a new school district when my parents tried to get me away from him, ironically at the same time his mother moved them to the next town,  after my summer in military school, into our junior year of high school when I found out once and for all, none of it had meant to him what it meant to me. I found out at dinner with my friends before the homecoming dance, my reluctant virgin status had him taking advantage of my parents’ policy of locking me away every night. How would I ever find out? But I did and I had never been more shattered. All the time, energy and tumult we invested in our teenage saga and he was plowing sluts after I went to bed in my parents’ house, waiting to see him again tomorrow.

Like everyone who lived past their teenage years, in time I learned, everyone is an idiot in high school and nothing you do then is as important as your child brain imagines. I went to college a year early and managed to wreck my life just fine without help from my first love or his drugs. I think he just got out of prison recently. He always wanted to join Kurt Cobain in the 27 Club. That’s three hundred eighty six days away for him. I wonder if he’ll succeed?

Spring makes the animals go wild. And life goes on, children. Hold on tight and try not to make too many permanent decisions.