We are allowed to show up. We are allowed to take the compliment even when we fall short of our own standards.
We are allowed to determine the standards.
We are allowed to talk about how hard it is to love ourselves. We are allowed to enjoy our own simple company. We are allowed to release our grip. To revel in the small days. To have just one or two good friends.
We are allowed to think of our family, whatever its shape, as worthy of a crest.
Maybe the talisman doesn’t save us after all. Maybe something suitable just happens to be within reach at the moment we need to be saved.
When it comes to rescue, coincidence can look a lot like fate.
Several months ago, I “threw my back out.” An uber-intense workout involving a particularly brutal instrument of torture called Jacob’s Ladder twinged something in my lumbar region. Within hours, pain immobilized me.
If I hold a room the way the sparkling statue lady does tonight, book-touring her paleo-pedicure-CrossFit happy meal of neoliberal feminism, how will I use my voice?
I too could propitiate the gods of privilege. I might tug loose one rough thread of the story and call it struggle. Might forget to notice who inhabits the room. And the design of it. How thick the walls. Who cannot breach them.
I am learning to show up even when I want to stay home.
I am learning that wants can’t always be trusted
but often intuition can.
I am learning that I don’t need to know how it will turn out
in order to make a make a move.
I am learning that no one else knows either. Continue reading “decomposition”
He drops his backpack by the door and heads out. Whether the temperature hovers at freezing or rises to a swelter, he and his friends find each other. Sometimes I block the way and steer him back to his violin for a round of scales. The neighborhood kids bang on the door every three minutes, “Is he done yet?” They loop around the breezeway on bikes and scooters. A few come up barely past my knee. A few are already shaving. When he’s free, they all charge off down the hill, hollering ever-changing rules to an ever-evolving game that winds through this labyrinth of stairwells and parking lots.
I shut the door and head to the kitchen to rinse out the lunch containers.
Divorced at 37 and still single at 43, parenting a surly tween, stuck in the suburbs, jammed into a 5-story development abutting a freeway, and working a desk job for a paycheck that barely covers groceries while a white supremacist and a Russian oligarch run the White House.
Little holes in the bag of rice gave it away. Three and half years living in this place, and here was the first sign of uninvited guests. On our next trip to town, we stopped at the hardware store for traps. Despite Bug’s insistence that we buy the $39 ultrasonic pest repeller, I opted for Tomcat traps. A four-pack for four bucks.
We smeared on peanut butter and tucked it into the cabinet corner. The next morning, we heard a snap. Big brown eyes, white fuzzy belly, limp broken body. “Oh, he’s so cute,” Bug said sadly. Into the weekday rush we crammed this death. We shrank it down to fit. School, work, a morning meeting and already late. I dumped the trap, mouse and all, into the garbage. Another dab of peanut butter on a clean trap, and off we hustled into our overfull day.
At the end of January 2017, the chilling term “alternative facts” entered the public lexicon. For a brief moment, reading humans around the world collectively remembered a literary dystopia that looked uncomfortably prescient. George Orwell’s 1984 rose to renewed prominence in Amazon’s bestseller list.
Now in the first weeks of March, 1984 has fallen out of the top twenty. In its place, Portraits of Courage by another clown of a president for whom, at this moment, we would trade this entire administration plus vital organs and firstborn children to have back in office. Also up on the list? The Five Love Languages. In the midst of rising fascism, romance still drives the bus.