Fall back with me
one hour, for free-
season changing, daylight waning-
stay in bed and see.
If you want more
there’s hours galore-
night extended, time suspended-
this is what they’re for.
Oh I would walk with you
through the mulberry grass
’til our toes were painted blue
and your fingers brush my hand.
Sit me down by the tree
when our legs don’t want to stand.
You can strum, I will sing
in our new two person band.
But you don’t play that song,
not for me,
what the music all was for.
Let’s just let the hours go
though the bird calls in the day.
Let me feel, with eyes still closed
that you’re mine and here to stay.
But you don’t spend you time,
not like that,
what the magic all was for
New York is a line at the airport taxi-stand, 50 people long, filled with strangers each going somewhere but incapable of considering the prospect of coordinating destinations with the somebodies around them.
New York is a special machine for fixing traffic lights, making its way down 7th Ave.
New York is two homeless people cuddling between a clean-looking sheet on the steps of a church. Fast asleep, at noon.
New York is a large glossy coated dog who represents his owner the way flashy cars do in other urban landscapes.
New York is a mother walking with her son in a stroller that is being pushed by another woman with darker skin.
New York is an entire wall filled with beautiful doughy bagels, nonchalant in the normalcy of abundance.
New York is a group of construction workers watching the final minutes of a Knicks/Heat game through the floor length glass windows of a 24-hour sporting goods store. Continue reading “New York Is”
I was halfheartedly listening to the radio a few days ago when a woman, finishing up her interview, declared flatly: “God is on my side.” I punched the radio off and sat in the silence wondering why those words provoked such a powerful irritation in me.
I used to be vehemently atheist and outspoken about it, but now the word “God” doesn’t offend me the way it used to. Now I allow myself the luxury of faith and the gift of prayer. But I still cringe with the irritation of the atheist at the incredible hubris of someone who dares to declare that they know God and hot his endorsement. It feels like the worst sort of name-dropping. It feels like a secret that loses its power as soon as the words hit the air. It makes me sad and angry at the same time.
A “side” is a terrestrial thing it is a construct of the physical world, it does not apply to the divine interconnectedness of life. God has no side, it is deep and round and dimensionless. It is incapable of choosing one person or one concept at the exclusion of another.
God– whatever that means to you– does not confine itself to a single person or even a single idea. God is not binary, God is not the winning team of a rivalry, God is not the big brother that can beat up your enemy’s big brother. If there is any “side” of God, it is Truth, and truth exists in all of us. God is on your side only in that there is only one side. There is no Point and Counterpoint, there is only baseline. Continue reading “The God Side”
Here you are right at my feet
you’re unassuming solid sweet
You fit so tight and so complete
That I forget the void beneath
From where I stand I can’t quite seem
to get a glimpse of underneath
the better then, to paint you with
an easel to support my myth
You lay there still but still I slip
You look like someplace I could trip
We met and then I lost my grip
Look out below- manhole- I flip.
I’d like to take your picture and then put it in a frame
I’ll like to show my mother and imagine our last name
I’ll smooth out all your edges like a giant lucky dime.
you’re nice in two dimensions and I’d like to make you mine
Here you are right at my feet
you’re unassuming solid sweet
You fit so tight and so complete
that I forget the void beneath-
oh what is the unknown degree
to which you twist your depths to reach?
what sewer line or power cord
are you designed to feed the world?
You make me nervous
shiny surface hidden purpose
Look out below. Manhole. I flip.
Get in your car. Wait for it to warm up, like he would do.
When your impatience catches up to you, 20 seconds later, put the gear in drive and head onto the highway, north. Pass the 7-mile and 8-mile and 11-mile exits and the accompanying suburbs thereafter. Don’t check your phone or pick at your hair or worry about how long it will take. Listen to public radio and hear what they have to say, or put on the same CD that’s been in your console for two years and sing along to Ella Fitzgerald, or turn everything off altogether and see what your brain turns the silence into. Pass the outlet malls and fast food signs and let the hotheads of the leftmost lane pass you. Think about what you will do when you arrive.
Turn off the highway and take a right. Pass the final gasp of the commercial uniformity and pass the turn-off for the landfill/skihill and pass the Springfield Inn and the empty restaurant with the baldly desperate sign that says “Eat Here or We’ll Both Starve!” Take a right again. Drive down the one-lane road beyond the mustard yellow house and the fake pond and the lonely-seeming houses on what some living memories knew as farmland. Take a left. Watch out for the pothole and go down the final stretch, maybe sneak a look at yourself in the rearview mirror and decide what song you want to end your drive on. Right where the road splits, don’t take either fork but a hard left up a dirt road that is actually a driveway. Curve up past houses that are almost-but-not-quite it and park your car at the gate by the 60-foot pine-tree. Get your bags out of your car, straddle-step over the fence– careful not to rip your pants– and walk the path in the snow to the front door that you have always felt comfortable letting yourself into without knocking.
There he is.
He may patiently wait while you take off your shoes and greet the dogs and set down your things. He may listen as you comment on his beard or lack of beard or work coveralls or t-shirt– in this weather? Or he may stride past the frenzied pets to your watchful side and hold you so long and so sweet that you almost cry even though you’re not sure why.
You made it. Here is this man, tucked away in the woods even though they said all the good ones were taken. Here he is and you have found him. Let him make you coffee and put some logs on the fire. Let him spread some of his peace onto your heart and, for god’s sake if you’re smart, let him love you.
one Three years ago, I lived in a gleaming sterile 42-story building in midtown Manhattan. Big as it was, it was dwarfed by the Empire State Building behind it– New York has a way of offering a ready reminder that you can always have more. I never wanted to live there in the first place but I’ll admit I came to enjoy the one-on-one yoga classes, the incredible views, and the perspective that comes from living in the middle of a very big something. It was fabulous but shallow. I resented my affection for it. When my marriage started failing, I left.
two The little brownstone in Brooklyn was the epitome of hope and innocence. I believed I would check the box of legitimate adulthood by living alone for once– one short month to be exact. In that time, I’d get out of my system, whatever it was that wasn’t working, move back with my husband, and everything would be back to normal. We’d laugh about it later.
When I made the arrangements with the renter, she said “I’ll be a nice girl from California and you be a nice girl from Michigan and lets just trust each other, ok?”
It was wonderful to insert myself in a space that someone else had made theirs, it didn’t require much imagination to consider that I could make a home like this too. To this day, the smell of Dr. Bronner’s dish soap reminds me of my nascent singlehood. But I had to be out before the end of the month and, with travel for Christmas and New Years, that meant I was moving again just three weeks after moving in and no, I wasn’t ready to go back to my former life.
three Feeling adventurous and pressed for time, I moved into a basement apartment before leaving New York for the holidays. It was farther from the subway, and the quarters were dingier and dirtier, but I was testing my boundaries and I thought it would be cool to live with artists. Moving sucks but this wasn’t so bad. I could fit everything but me and my bike into a single cab and so I cycled behind, unloaded, and poof! I was moved. Continue reading “a portrait of divorce”
Somewhere between the meetings and the writing and the car rides, I learn something that surprises me– I don’t actually want to shave my head. I want to want to do it, but I don’t actually want to. I know that if I do it, it won’t be free– it will take some sort of emotional toll. I think back to my little prayer the other night and I just don’t feel the need to take from myself more than I’m willing to give. I don’t want to have to recover from today if I can help it. If the means to the end of balance requires me to imbalance myself, I don’t trust it.
I especially don’t want to do it now, on new years, for the same reasons that I did want to before. To perform an act like this, on a day and in a way so steeped in symbolism and expectation would all but guarantee my failure.
In the miniscule space between the question and my decision, I’m already almost floored by how effectively I distracted my over-conscientious mind into obsessing about this question. What a ruse! What a joke! I spun an impulse into a thesis statement. All the reasons I told myself were true to a point, but the core of this desire was sheer and sharp, razor blade desperation. I guess I’m not desperate right now.
Three years ago I started the path that began with a divorce and has stirred my restless soul around almost a dozen different residences (you can hardly call them all homes). When I lost most of what I had, I gave up the rest. I had nothing and nothing to lose. But I’m not there anymore. I have a life, I have a lot to lose. It’s taken a lot of time and a lot of work to build the shaky foundation I’m navigating from now, and I know firsthand how much easier it is to destroy something than to create it. Let me be gentle with myself right now, let me not throw away what I have, even if it is just, you know, hair. Continue reading “Volunteer State- Part 5 “Suffrage””
I leave the solitude of my cabin and spend some time in Nashville for New Years Eve. I’m not quite sure how to properly honor the occasion but I do know that I want to see more of what this city has to offer.
I’m self-conscious with my haircut and half-wishing I had already shaved my head in order to practice dealing with its awkwardness in the company of strangers. I can’t tell what exactly it is that I want out of this night. To make friends? To flirt? To have some great epiphany? No way to guarantee any of them but my choices of how I spend my time will make some outcomes more likely than others.
I go to an OA meeting, I take myself out to lunch, I write and drink coffee at a downtown cafe and almost order a cookie. I know where that leads and that is one thing I definitely don’t want for myself today.
As it gets dark I walk around and into a trashy-yet-self-aware “boogey bar” with some of the best free live music I’ve ever heard. Now you’re talking. After awhile I float down the street and into a karaoke bar. To sing karaoke in Nashville was the one cultural goal of my trip and here’s my chance. The bar is pretty much empty and I get picked right away to sing “Bobbie McGee.” I love that song but its hard to sing and Janis is so weird and I as self conscious so I don’t make it through very many of the la la las. Why did I even pick that song? It’s so much longer than I remember, I wish they’d cut me off. At least I did what I came there to do. Continue reading “Volunteer State- Part 4 “Song””
I drive around a lot, partly to get groceries, partly to explore Nashville, and most especially to resume my “reading” of Eat Pray Love in the car. I left the windows down when I arrived in the dark that first night and the rain that so soothed me on my marathon nap also happened to soak the interior of my car, which now smells mildewy and suspicious. No one hurt but me and me hardly hurt, no big deal.
I drive to Nashville and am surprised by my lack of curiosity. Maybe it’s the grey day, or the good book, or the pedestrian-free sterility I see all around me, but I have no desire to leave my car. I finally park but wait to withdraw my keys until the end of a chapter. And there, as I gaze out the window listening, a large metal sign loosely nailed to its post swings in the breeze to face me and invites me to read it. “Parking By Permit Only” it says. I smile. I didn’t want to get out of the car anyway.
I drive all the way back to the small town near my little cabin, and I pass a few easy at a coffee shop. A woman– apparently a regular– enters to compliments about her hair. She announces that this was the first day she’d worn her hair “down” in 5 years. She’s had cancer. She lost it all, and now it’s back. Such talk to announce in public! My ears perk. Everything seems to be about hair. I see it everywhere. I am self-conscious of mine already– I can only imagine how I’ll feel if I actually shave it. I am so thin-skinned. Will this make me stronger or pierce me? Continue reading “Volunteer State- Part 3 “Spiral””