the shape of sorrow.

July 10, 2010

maya loves to read on the potty, just like a few of the men in her family, no names mentioned. last night, she had picked up the latest westways magazine and was reading out loud (her fave thing to do with any and all reading material) about a king kong attraction opening somewhere here in southern california at one of the local theme parks. i have no idea which one, but the article mentioned king kong fighting 35 foot tall dinosaurs, and after reading it several times, maya asked me what 35 feet tall looks like.

what does 35 feet tall look like? i tried “a two-story house” but realized even with twelve foot ceilings it would not be tall enough. “a tall building downtown” was my next attempt but those buildings, at least the ones in downtown long beach, are much taller than 35 feet. finally, and non-sensically, i said “six of your papas standing on top of each other.” Lo and behold, as odd a visual as it was, she seemed to buy it, and nodded her head solemnly before moving on to the next article.

(today however, the questions resumed in the car on the way to camp. “mom? do you think king kong is taller than a 35 foot tall dinosaur?” i heard some fear there, in her little pip voice. her eyes were big and round in the rear view mirror. note to self: no king kong movies until she is ten.)

how do we measure events in our lives? the scales and standards and vessels used to mark literal mass don’t apply to the emotional weight we feel as we are experiencing highs and lows, the natural ebb and flow of things. i have been buried in this sort of conversation for weeks and months, with friends, family and loves who are looking to stand somewhere and have their experiences and feelings weighed and quantified so as to feel an anchor or reference of some sort. i guess at the base of it all we are looking for validation. and damn if every time i look for it, my anchor has shifted to a new spot, been moved, or disappeared entirely.

lately sorrow has engulfed me. i don’t write this as a woe is me, booboo kitty kind of thing; it has, simply, just been present. and i, simply, have been feeling it, deeply and intuitively and tearfully. i don’t want to rehash the past months with the usual suspects of recent blogs…death and lost love and goodbye youth and what oh what if all this work and soul-searching doesn’t land me somewhere beautiful and perfect?! all of that is there. friends have died – so many this year it is shocking and heartbreaking – love has changed shape, people have been unkind, disappointments have hit. but this sorrow, this one that is here again, to teach and remind and humble me, this is the sorrow that comes from the deepest gut and tenderest heart, and its presence flattens me.

i met someone recently – met him again actually, after many, many years of not seeing him – with whom i immediately shared some sweet moments and quirky conversation and a connection that felt authentic and genuine. we hung out a bit, swapped a few emails, a few more texts, and a handful of phone calls. it was easy to be quiet with him, and easy to be loud. he spent a bit of time with my family, and i with his. it was mostly simple, and potentially deep, and engaging. i assured him my side of the street was clean (thank you mel for that most perfect set of words) and he assured me he was cleaning up his side as well. i believed him, opened, and trusted. a few short weeks later i learned there hadn’t been any street cleaning on his part, and the balance shifted. and as much as it saddened me, i had to allow for the lack of truth, the emptiness of promises made but not kept, and i let go.

not because my heart couldn’t bear it. no, my heart is stronger than that. it is more that i realized my measuring stick, that internal system of checks and balances, has become delicately and finely tuned around the people in my life, their honesty. i am lucky and grateful to have cultivated and been graced by this set of friends who show such integrity as it pertains to truth and ownership. i am used to it, i count on it, and it is an enormous blessing. and when it wasn’t there, and i felt the ground shake with instability, i simply didn’t know what to do. so i let go. i let myself slip off the edge of a newly-shared platform, and thankfully, on the way down, there was my anchor. i grabbed it, hung on for a short week as it moved back and forth like a pendulum through waves of disbelief and sadness, and in the midst of remorse, i remembered who i am and knew to look for my own platform.

days later, i am calm and mostly steady. and i realize i can allow this platform of mine to shift around and feel a mile away as i move through various flights of fancy. because this week, as i enter, yet again, conversation within a relationship steeped in a long history – my relationship with rick, my still-estranged husband, the father of our beautiful daughter maya –  i feel my platform solidly under my feet.

and though the shape of sorrow i feel with ricky is deep and blinding and stretches in a million directions, i am able to see this myriad of points of sadness as an enormous star with dozens of arms ending in such points. and in moments, when i am remarkably and especially kind and grounded, i can sit in the exact middle of that star, lift each of those points, and wrap them around myself like a beautiful cashmere coat. for unlike the brittle disappointment of dishonesty, truth will always lead you to the next important place, will ultimately wrap you in goodness, no matter how scary or difficult. i am so grateful to still have such a lovely coat for this journey, to be wrapped in the warm embrace of an honest history as i continue to seek and discover. thank you ricky, for the truthfulness of a shared path, however rocky. i cannot imagine being here with anyone but you.

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ready, set, let go.

March 19, 2010

i don’t know what words are coming, the story that will be here in an hour or two. it’s often the case when i am writing, so i’m not terribly worried, but get ready for me being all over the place. because i am, literally, all over the place. that being said, i want to take a moment to note that last night when i sat down to start this, i was in t-shirt, cut off shorts and bare feet, the doors of my house were wide open, newly opened bursts of jasmine outside the open windows carried the scent that is honey and summer, and i was drinking a cup of vanilla coffee and soaking up the unseasonal, soft, warm night. it was so beautiful, and i was so grateful at the end of what had been an odd day.

yesterday was st. patrick’s day, and for this auspicious irish occasion, there was an 8am gathering in my daughter’s class of parents, kiddos, and one effervescent first grade teacher, to see if any leprechauns had snuck in overnight. there were greens sparkles all over the floor – telltale leprechaun tracks –  and chocolate coins and green rubber lizards and bead necklaces and green pencils and – you get the point. eventually class started and i left with my friend jilly. she realized she had forgotten something in the classroom, so she jumped in my car and i pulled over in front of the school to drop her there. five seconds later a motorcycle cop was behind me flashing his lights and gesturing to pull over. i had violated traffic code 22400, and was busted.

that’s a lot of set up for a traffic ticket (i know, yawn, get to the point), but to contextualize what happened, i want all of you to feel how sweet a morning it was. and then it just wasn’t, because a wound-up and seemingly angry man in a helmet and mirrored sunglasses put his face in my car window and yelled at me. he ticketed me, and left as i was speaking. really, mid-sentence, he turned his back to me, and so i said, to his back side, there is room for kindness, you could choose to be kind.

it wasn’t even 8.30am, and the aggression of that five-minute interaction was with me all day. it gave me such pause, and made me think of the people in my life… who i am drawn to, who repels me, how we weave our way through the world, and what we carry with us. i am so drawn to light, and buoyancy, and depth of soul. what do we give to others as we move through our lives? what do we get? how do we discern between what is ours to take, to take on, to give back, to share, to say no to? and how is it that people come in to our lives for a time, be it briefly or long-term, and are there, almost intuitively, with the nourishment we seek or need at exactly that moment? does like attract like? nice beget nice? or is the universe always aiming for perfect balance, giving us and taking away what we need and don’t need?

(this is, by the way, where faith, on a very small but powerful level, figures in to my life. i am not a religious person, but i have deep faith in the rhythm of the world. our greatest source of balance is in nature – our seasons, the cycles of the moon, the way our bodies attune themselves to environment and climate and circumstance and food. everything we need is in nature, but that is certainly another topic for another day.)

i have people in my life, such lovely, gifted, kind, fascinating people. in the past year or two (i think because somewhere in my heart i asked for them, in the most brave and authentic way i could) there is a handful of people that have landed or been invited in, people i never anticipated or expected. and what they bring to me – the learning and stretching and trusting and emboldened spirit i have kindled – lets me imagine how full this life may be.

next week i will turn forty-five. it seems like a mid-point, a very hefty, holy crap kind of mid-point. but it doesn’t feel that way. as i look back and look forward, it is with a strange feeling of being anchored and untethered all at the same time that i see the choice of things. that what we choose leads us to what we experience, suffer through, celebrate, feel deeply within, love, let go of. we are responsible for our choices, and therefore our lessons. turning thirty, all those years ago when i was still living in san francisco, showed me two really valuable things: that i can say no to whatever i need to say no to, and i can be selective – beautifully, fully, unapologetically selective.

years later, halfway through my forties, i am finally learning to ask for what i want – even those things that seem impossible or lofty or out of reach. i am learning to ask for help, for kindness, for love, for significance, for courage, for people who matter and love and will be here for the journey if they can be. i am learning to listen and hear – no matter how painful the words – what other people need and want and may not need or want from me. i am learning to listen, to my own voice, my own truths, about what i don’t want, and what i do.

here’s what i know. i want. i want a lot. i want to receive a lot. to give, a lot. i want to take things on that will challenge me. i want to let go of the things that don’t. the things that impede, or limit, or that bind because of fear, or doubt, or history, and pattern. if i am lucky, and longevity and health are what stretch out in front me, than next week’s friday could very well be my middle point, part two or three or four of who knows how many parts of this life of mine, gone and coming. i am grateful for what has been, and so hopeful for what will come. i am asking for so much, but i think not too much, as long as there is graciousness and gratitude living within me. i am letting fall away what needs to go, so there is room for what needs to come. i am ready, and set, and letting go.

snapshots.

February 26, 2010

pictures say a lot. sometimes a lot more than what i like to call the bla bla bla moi moi moi of all these paragraphs by all these women on all these blogsites. you know of what i speak – the many faceted, narcissistic and verbal meanderings of The Blogger. she sure is a chatty one, isn’t she?

so i am doing some snapshots. here are a few from the month of february, the wee month that always goes so fast. there will be more, i’m sure. because i love pictures – my own and those of my friends and family and complete strangers that i mostly stumble upon online. it is a window in, however cliche. and having just spit-shined my own and pulled the curtains to greet the pre-spring sunshine, i thought you all may like to take a peek. if it is all too indulgent, feel free to pull your own drapes shut.

tyler the fish

dinner

my sassy new belt

my sassy kid

night with junebug

beat up toes

twinkle toes

for a favorite friend

lucy's dream spot

lucy's dream

this really happened. really!

exhausted, determined me.

gorgeous she

swimming.

February 12, 2010

i started fortydeluxe for women. specifically, a group of women i asked some time ago to be part of a book project i am working on about women in their forties. i envisioned a place where we would all check in, share anecdotes, find inspiration, or empathy, bemoan our changing bodies and parental lifestyles. a place where women could come to see we are all in a similar boat – one that is perhaps a different shape, bigger or smaller, lavish or simple, but a boat all the same. floating on a shared sea, hitting rough waves, soothed by the occasional glassy calm, encircled and rocked by a similar set of currents. dare i say it? …a life boat.

so i had this picture. and then life got nutty and my business began to fall apart and i was scrambling to get work and i launched the blog with a small little posting to say I Am Here and Come Visit Me and then i wrote again, and again once more, and then some more on top of that, and suddenly it was just mine, this blog, and people – a few of them – visited, and asked for more, and left sweet love notes occasionally. warm, kind, lovely love notes.

as all these things are taking place, these life things, thoughts of the book float through my mind. this book that i love and believe in and have had on the back burner for what feels like so long because my life as a parent and worker bee is just so busy and full and time is this amazingly precious commodity that i miss and long for and realize i’ll have to somehow find more of to get done what i so desire to get done. wow. run-on sentence, long exhale.

january arrives and brings a week or two or three where rain storms and flooding and mud slides and tornado warnings are hitting california hard. i leave work early on a tuesday to pick up maya from school so i can pick up wonderful estranged husband from work so we can all drive together to orange county for an appointment with a pediatric eye specialist. i am one minute from having left the office and my car is being blown to the right and the rain is coming down in huge sheets and there is so much water on the street that cars, the non-SUV cars, are sitting in it up to the windows. it takes me forty five minutes of driving through this crazy ocean (yep! there’s that metaphor again) to make it to maya’s school two miles away. i’m on the phone with ricky, in moments i feel really scared, and there is no way i can get to maya and rick on time and no way we are getting on a freeway.

i find a parking spot, cancel the appointment, and duck in to a coffee bar that i love, to dry off, catch my breath and get warm. the cafe is strangely empty, there is water running down a few of the walls, and in this amazing moment, i am face to face with a woman i don’t really know, but who knows me, and who doesn’t want me anywhere around her life and her love, but there we are. she is so pretty and smells like freshly-washed hair and i am looking in her face and all i want to do is hug her, this woman who feels such animosity toward me. so i do. i hug her. a breath of time passes, and then she wraps her arms around my waist and hugs me back. she hugs me back. we talk, watch the rain, i have to hug her a few more times, and she lets me.

i am washed over by this feeling of utter joy and gratitude for who women are. i’ve said it before but seriously, can i shout it from the rooftops for just a moment, this saturating, awe-filled, inspiring place of being surrounded by the most amazing of creatures? in one breath i can name twenty women who drop me to my knees as i have the privilege of witnessing their beauty, brilliance, empathy and deepest soulfulness. their journey, singularly and collectively. and i get to be here with them, on this shared path where we cook, and create, and listen, and wipe away tears from our little one’s faces and the faces of our closest friends. where we love our men, our women, our families. we hold each other as we welcome new lives to this world, and we wrap our fingers around the thin wrists of those who are leaving us. we share wine with our neighbors, go-go dance in the living room with our kids, look in to each other’s eyes over the tops of coffee cups, and use our hands to soothe, comfort, excite, and express. we love. women love. and we love well.

you know what this means. i have a book to put together. for somewhere, these women, with their beautiful, aging faces, their time-shaped gestures, their clear eyes and clearer hearts, their gorgeous bodies and brilliant minds, need a place to celebrate and be celebrated. i think i’m just the girl for the job. say hello again to fortydeluxe, the blog. book coming soon? i’ll do my best.