The Flowers That Bear Your Name Grow On The Roadside

Dear sweet boy, 

 

I miss you.  It’s nights like this when I have trouble articulating what the inside of my head looks like, that I miss you walking around in it.  It is still strange to me that you are gone, that I am older than you ever were.  I miss how you dismissed the parts of me that weren’t important, and magnified the me that felt authentic.  

I think of you walking around the Albright-Knox and how alive you were… I remember thinking how alive you were, how the colors lived in your skin, and how your philosophy of life was embodied in the art around us.  I remember the rain, and threading my arm through yours and laughing. 

Sometimes it is hard to Be without you to understand Being. I still haven’t found anyone else who shares our stupid sleep patterns, or our secret coded way of speaking.  I haven’t met anyone who can touch me with one word, because that word showed not only that you saw, but that you understood. 

 

I try not to think to much about the fever times.  Of our manic turns, our tragedies.  I try not to think about how hard it was for you to articulate some nights, and that even though I understood what you meant, the loss of being able to formulate it yourself was devastating.  I try not to think about how many times you talked me down from manic bad decisions and rash depressions.  Although that is part of our story too. 

I miss how bad you were at giving directions, and being annoyed at you for it.  I miss that you were so changeable sometimes, and that I felt breathless and slow to catch up.  I miss your judginess and your chiding, as much as I hated it.  I don’t think of you as a perfect star that had no flaw, except to me you were a guiding star, and I feel your absence as a loss that has left me adrift. 

It’s Valentine’s day in Buffalo already.  There is probably snow on the ground. If you were still around I would text you, because that is something I do now, and we would put on a chick flick and watch it together over Netflix, probably.  Oh man, you would love Netflix, all of He-Man is on there. 

I’m pissed off that you never saw the Transformers movie, had an iPhone or saw the end of the Harry Potter movies.  I mad that you didn’t officiate my wedding. 

There are so many feelings that I keep expecting to fade over time but you are still missing and the edges are still sharp. I’ve lost so much of you.  Aside from you yourself, all the AIM conversations, Myspace chats, and texts on my old phone, and I don’t have a recording of your voice and that vexes me.  

In many ways, I’m still trying to recover hope. I gave it up, and it’s not easy to coax back. 

I wish I could ask you for one more miracle. 

faith, hope and love. 

 

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That kind of luxe it ain’t for us…

I think about the concept of luxury sometimes, how it balances with meekness, with humility, with being “poor in spirit”.  (I note to myself: find out if “poor in spirit” means what you think/have been taught it means).  

The definition of luxury is ” a state of comfort or extravagant living”.  I love that definition, but I also see how people have linked it with concepts of wealth. Not to knock money.  It’s nice to have money.  It’s necessary for things in this world.  I don’t love it though.  I resent having to rely on it.  

My friend Kristen said on Twitter one day “#wealth need not be #money”, and I think that is the truest thing that I can think of.  Just like comfort need not be money, or living extravagantly need not be anything to do with riches. It’s something that Kristen teaches me from her Buddhism all the time, about pursuing beauty and extravagance that is divorced from money or finances.  My faith path says “But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.”  which to me really says that you can’t just think about godliness but also about being content, The passage goes on to talk about how we don’t bring anything but ourselves into the world, and leave in similar fashion.  I think I often think of contentment as being okay with what you have… but the definition of THAT word is ” a state of happiness and satisfaction”, which makes me redefine myself a little.   Like, instead of having to “make do”, possibly I need to not only embrace and be grateful for the immense amount of luxury and sweetness I enjoy in life, but also be willing to pursue and work at contentment in the same way that I pursue and work at godliness.  That being content is a virtue not of martyrdom but of celebration.  As I have been redefining this for myself, I’ve found it so much easier to be content, and that the contentment feels luxe.  It feels decadent.  It opens me up to how much I have and my privilege in life in ways that allow me to do something with that life and privilege instead of feeling vaguely guilty and trying to make up for it in other ways. 

As an American who is employed and is married to someone employed, I do live in a lot of monetary luxury, so much more than the bulk of the globe.  And yet the culture I live in would lead me to believe that I am practically impoverished, because I can’t do what I want all the time.  That to stick to a budget is a stigma of my class,  and that my pursuit in life would be a lot more money to obtain and maintain comfort.  In fact, I am quite comfortable.  My bills are paid, I live in a lovely townhouse, we can buy nice things,  we are never hungry.  We even do luxury things like go out to eat and go to the movie theatre,  head to the Onsen. 

I grew up with a family that really made very little money.  My parents worked hard to ensure that the situations that brought to us did not define us.  Our family had oodles of fun, did lots of exciting things, and sacrificed what many consider comfort to travel and experience and enjoy.  We were aware, a lot of the time, of our situation in life (as Jane Austen would have put it), and I think somewhere I did think “Ah! If we are doing this now, imagine what I could do with a NORMAL life, a NORMAL job, as an adult”.  Not understanding the balance of life, and how demanding a “Normal” life is of your money, resources and life essence.  But having a relatively “normal” life now, I am so grateful to be able to draw on that ingenuity, that gratefulness, that attitude of being able to make things happen and be generous even when you don’t have a lot of money… how to serve and be generous with other things and in other ways. 

And yet I still forget to buy into contentment.  Or I forget to allow myself to enjoy.  I get in my head and say that because I’m supposed to be content with what I have and I have so much more than most people that I shouldn’t get myself anything or shouldn’t treat myself because that is frivolous and stupid, and I judge myself really harshly for any non essential purchase, or when I get money and think about how contentment isn’t money so money can’t do good things for me.

This last week was snowy and it triggered my anxiety and my OCD and I built myself a mermaid bath, with a bath bomb and face mask and coconut body butter… and it felt so decadent.  I felt guilty as I dreamed it up… that money could go to something useful, that buying those things would be a luxury and luxury is bad and money is bad, and … and… and I remembered that enjoying what your hands have worked for is a virtue.  That you can practice gratefulness, charity, compassion, thrift, and still be allowed to do something frivolous just for the spirit feeding joy of it.  And there was freedom in that realization. 

 

So, just as wealth need not be money,  being content doesn’t mean never ever pursuing something you don’t have.  And just as you can’t buy happiness,  being happy with something you bought is okay too.  Just pursuing the balance,  seeking the joy, and being grateful and content and trying to share what ya got.  

…We crave a different kind of rush, 

raych

I cannot lift my cup to drink.

My hands are heavy with words which are spilling over and getting lost.

I will have to vacuum them out of the carpet.

I have the weight of them on my palms, and my fingers can’t contain them.

Times like today I am so thirsty, and the water is not clear.

While I was trying to sleep last night I could feel all the words pool around me.

They weighted my blankets, and I was comforted and oppressed by them.

Sometimes, I can’t get anything done, because my hands are full of language.

Sometimes, I have to drop all the words to be able to use my hands to place them.

Sometimes, I just have to let my hands be full, and sit patiently wishing for water.

Aside

Narnia Sky

Narnia Sky

Image

A short story, dedicated to Jessica and Kristen.

The first time we met, he was a pirate.  I watched him swing high above me on the rigging.  We sat together in the crow’s nest and looked at the stars.  I slept below deck in a hammock, listening to the sound of the waves.  The world was black and white, but you could see all the colors if you didn’t think about it too hard.

The next time we met, he was a song and dance man, and I was just a girl in the chorus.  Clean shaven and tuxedoed, he charmed everyone he saw, belonged to everyone who saw him.  Everything was technicolor and the lights were dozy and sweet.  Couples strolled down the sidewalks outside of the theatre, and dandies headed to the nightclub in the still night air.  We sneaked cigarettes and gin into the dressing rooms, and the entire troupe listened to his stories about his trip out west.

One summer we stayed in a cottage out in –shire. It was hot but there were plenty of diversions.  Our days were filled with picnics and croquet, and sometimes he’d glance across at me.  I’m pretty sure he’s the one who left the basket of strawberries on my porch.  At night, I could see the lights of his far off mansion, and plot what to wear in my hair that might tempt him to dance at the next ball.

For a while he solved crime.  I would bring him biscuits and tea, but he would ignore me.  His fingers steepled, his high brow furrowed, those clear eyes staring into the fireplace as if the answers could be sought among the flames.  Sometimes he would not be there at all, out into the grayscale night,  all sword cane and overcoat.  I never went along, but his partner would tell me all about it when they came back.

Soon, he was a cinema star.  Wearing shades so as not to be blinded by the popping lights.  Nobody understood him.  He went to Italy where no one knew him and met a small town girl from Wisconsin who just happened to be watching her uncle’s place in the village.  I remember the muted orange light as lovely… as if there were gauze over the sun.  I served him wine, but I only spoke Italian and he was watching the small town girl’s pert face ever so closely.

In the future, he will be a starship captain.  In the past, he was a flim flam man.  Right now, he’s pinning notes for his lover to trees, defacing the whole forest. I heard he stole his ship, or it stole him. When I think of him, it is hard to remember his whole face, but I recall all the parts clearly.  He is ravenhaired and ginger, he has an aristocratic nose and yet it arches too much,  his cheekbones could cut glass.  He’s is possibly 30 but sometimes he is is sixty. I very specifically know everything about the curve of his neck, and the way his fingers hold a glass.

He is curled up in my chair beside me.  In the light of the flickering cinema screen, I see him in the corner of my eye. I know it is him, because of the way he sits.

Sorrow

There is so much grief around

so much grieving

a pooling of tears inside my brain

which feels heavy

and I never know what to say

to anyone who has lost

has loss

is lost

because it’s never true what they say

it never gets easier

knowing that I can’t ever repeat

that lie

although death is the way 

of all flesh

the world is laden with dying

it’s difficult

and grieving is today

Being Awake Is An Unexpected Gift

in the midst of November 

I have feelings

unusual to remember feelings

thinkings

doings 

how the crunch of leaves

the pale milk halo of light

around the streetlights

barely morning

involves my heart somehow

there is the sadness

and wonder

childlike vulnerability

after bar stumblings

quiet walks in new cities

and each echo

feels like someone else

feels like me

and Being is suddenly

breathable

 

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