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Archive for March, 2009

Life in Moments

Most of the time, the concept of time completely alludes me. Minutes can seem like mini eternities, and often hours come and go in the blink of an eye. So, I find myself living in moments. Some moments are days of something, and others just nanoseconds, but I take them all and one by one they create the cocoon of my life to surrond me.

Sometimes, these moments look like trying to make deep eye contact and smile at everyone I pass. I call this sometimes afternoon and sometimes community.

Sometimes, it’s a moment called harmony and it’s spent sitting cross-legged on the floor of a bookstore, where I caress the spin of every book and try to soak up it’s secrets. I sit there in silence trying to learn a lost language, and my heart is filled with this moment.

Or last night, I had a moment called balance, where I drove through blurs of trees and street, with my best friend listening to broken hearts sing us to peace. And as my heart gravitated to my throat up from my knees where it usually falls, I found myself holding my breath to both keep the moment and my heart from throwing through tears in my eyes. And found that maybe when all you have are the headlights of your car and the stars from heaven lighting the road, well, maybe then you’ll find your way.

And sometimes these moments are like a great sadness I call anything from grief to suffocation. And sometimes I laugh through the sunshining days, only to find that when I lay down at night, my heart, unachored in my chest, falls to hit my spine so I can’t stand, or my lungs so I can’t breathe, or my ribs, so I wonder if it won’t just fly away. So, I lay in my moment and pray simple breaths of, “Help me,” and try to breathe focused enough to close my eyes and find a moment of rest.

So, my life is that of moments, long and short. And though they are sometimes laugh moments, sometimes cry moments, sometimes yell and double middle finger moments, I’ll take these moments over hours and minutes that traipse on past me, unconcerned with me at all.

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Rain and Sandy Bones

I’ll tell you one thing, some days are just hard. There’s nothing more to them. Today is hard. My bones feel like sand and I can hardly stand upright. These days are odd, because I am a strong woman, or at least, I’m supposed to be, and I can list things all day long that I can do for myself.

I can cook a pretty damn good meal; I can check the oil in my car. I can change light bulbs, clean lent traps, check air filters, clean the hair out of the drain, hold a baby the proper way, multi task homework, making a cake, and cheering up a friend. I can write most papers under 8 pages in no more than 2 hours, articulating clearly a point, which I may or may not care about, and get a good grade.

I can do a lot of things.

But, one thing that seems to allude me, on this rainy day, with my sandy bones, is not melting when a friend who is no true friend leaves a comment after not hearing from them for 2 months. I can’t help but melt. I can’t help but want to call, or at least comment back. I can’t help but to want to forgive and forget that I’ve been used, abused, and treated poorly. All I can remember is the time he grabbed my hand, kissed it, and told me he was there. Because he’s not. And I can’t help but feel completely frustrated and devestated at it all.

Being a strong woman seems to crumble on days like this. On days where I stare out blankly on cloudy days and watch the sky cry like a waterfall and the only thing the stops me from crying too, is the fact that the phone rings at work, and I have to answer. “Kimberley Manufacturing” seems to be my only grace.

So, then, there’s no direction for days like today. Inbetween days when I don’t feel confident, sassy, and bold. Days when I don’t even feel gentle, caring, and charming. Days when I feel something of an unresolved, syncopated poem. One that doesn’t quite carry the beauty of it all, but at least isn’t contrived. Cosmo fails me today. Bitch fails me today. Because I’m neither woman. I’m just trying not to fall apart because my bones are made of sand. And the only thing the rain seems to be doing is making my own tears turn my bones into something sort of moldable, and potentially beautiful if you have the knack for it. But, today I don’t. Today I can’t. Today, all I can do is wet the sand.

And I guess, that gives it a little more substance. And I guess, that’s something.

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I read the entire Twilight series in about a week. The only reason it even took me this long was because it was during my Fall finals week, and some studying must be done. I came in as a skeptic. After all, I’m an English major, and I can smell a poorly written book from miles away. You’ll need more than a few cheap tricks to impress me. Needless to say, I am a bit curious, if not downright nosy by nature, so I had to read these books that everyone seemed to think were the next Harry Potter or Romeo and Juliet. I had had a guy friend of mine swear to me that I would hate it. He said he could kind of see why so many girls had the hots for Edward, but he was sure, in not so many words, I would be above that. That I would read Bella as a weak female character and unimpressedly throw them aside. I have to admit, I would have liked to have been so couth.
And I was unimpressed. At first. I read a few chapters at a friend’s house while waiting for her to get ready and shrugged and the dullness of it all. The only redeeming quality I could think of was that it took place in my beloved Pacific Northwest. But, then it happened. Thoughts of Edward Cullen and Bella Swan slipped into my normal reverie like they had always been there. They were there like the lyrics to “MmmBop,” dancing with smiles, knocking at my heart with knowledge, that soon, I’d let them in. And I remember letting them in, that in that concession, I felt like I had slightly failed my Dorothy Days, Gertrude Steins, Susan B. Anthonys, and my sisterhood as a whole. But, as I sat on my bed, and thought of all the women I loved and respected who gave in, it seemed rather harmless. I had a friend who was nothing short of a strong woman who swore that redeemed her belief in romance. My feminist best friend was to be found at the midnight book release of Breaking Dawn. I mean, it couldn’t hurt, could it?
A few days later, I found myself in a frantic depressed state. I couldn’t eat. I was listless. I was on the verge of tears at any moment. I would stop after walking halfway up my stairs and just stand there thinking, “Why?” And why? Because Edward had abandoned Bella, and suddenly like an unexpected winter storm in April, everything froze, and I (and Bella) were left alone.
And I absolutely abhorred the weight of it all. I refused to tell most people that I was reading them. Friends would call to hang out, and I would make up some lame excuse, never wanting to say, “The thing is, Bella and Edward are just more important.” I felt an enormous sense of guilt about the effect it had on me. I would spend time, sitting cross-legged on my bed trying to intellectualize my way out of the spell. I would pick fights with my other friends who loved the book, in vain hopes that I could convince them I was beyond that, my feminism was surely more developed than all that. But, every argument would end with a tiredness in bones and a mumble of defeat, because there was something there that was not in any article of Bitch: A Feminist Response to Pop Culture, or even Bust: Women With Something to Get Off Their Chest, but it wasn’t enough for me to forgo Edward and Bella. Neither was enough. I was left feeling as I often do, feeling strange and lost, and holding on by simple strings of faith and hope.
But, where did that leave me? I read articles in Bitch outraged at the characterization of Bella and the creepy relationship that now so many girls longed for, and I chuckled to myself, because I am always in this in between place of trying to figure out how to be a woman of stronger stuff than Bella without completely letting go of the hope that anyone should love me fiercely forever. And sometimes you have to chuckle at yourself because it feels awfully unfair to always be told in not so many words that you have to choose. You can be a strong woman, all of who you are, but you’ll probably be alone, because the only way you can be all of you, is if you forget ever being in a relationship, because that would put you under a man’s control. And if you want the benefits of inlovedness, you’d better be willing to sacrifice who you are. And I know this is a lie, somewhere deep inside of me. But, it’s hard to know the dishonesty of it in a large way that gives you goosebumps and makes you jump up and yell. Instead, it feels more like a small itch of a lie, that most of the time is just there and unnoticed, but every once and a while, it creeps somewhere like the bottom of your foot and you think it might be the most irritating thing in the world. And even then, who has a cure for itches? All we can do is itch is until it goes away, but then often we’re just left with red skin and the memory that we were awfully lied to and there’s nothing much to do about it.
Part of me wants to believe that the intense trust between Edward and Bella exists. Just like part of me wants to believe that I can be strong and gentle, loud and quiet all at once. But, I’m continually being told to pick one. I can’t be a strong woman in love. I am either a feminist or not. So, I’m searching for an in between, because I believe there has to be one. I believe there’s something ok in seeing something beautiful in Edward and Bella, and I think there’s something ok in seeing something wrong in Edward and Bella.
So, until then, and in the between times where it’s far too hard to face it everyday, this is what I pray for. I would like a little escape that’s far enough a way to see as many stars as my eyes can hold. A place where there’s room for trees to grow tall enough to kiss the clouds and stretch their languid branches to hug each other, hold each other, all the way. A place where the sky is so blue that it’s no longer a color, but a feeling in your soul that whispers like a grandmother, “Oh baby, we love you here; we want you here; we need you here.” And the wind laughs and tossles your hair playfully, and the only reason it’s cold at night is to bring our bodies and stories and hearts as close as we know they should be. And when I laugh, the wind carries it up to the trees and the clouds and they hold it gently, like a newborn, and speak in quiet whispers, because my laughter is so light, so beautiful, so free, so new. And if I cry, each tear is dear, and they hold the tears as tightly as they hold me, the stars, the trees, the clouds, the wind, and the lady in the moon weeps with me, her and her man. And by the end of it all, we’re breathing together, singing together, weeping, and laughing together, and it’s all one great sound that before I go, with a kiss in the forehead, they bury that sound, like a rushing river in the depth of my soul, so no matter where I go, I have it and them with me. And I would imagine, it would be enough, to give me the courage to take deep breaths and try my hardest to find my in between place.

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On Portland.

Upon arriving, something was released. A creative spirit that I have been fighting to find again for a while. I wrote on everything. In journals, text messages, word documents. I wrote in my head, on my heart, with my hands, with my soul. And it didn’t even matter that for 22 hours, I was stuck on Mt. Hood, because even though I was near tears and trying not to have a panic attack, I looked up at the sky full of stars that were laughing with wonder and trees that were reaching as high as they could to tell jokes to these giddy stars.

Here’s some of what I saw:
It’s like this.
There are power lines racing us on the highway and in between them you can see the choppy expanse of the Columbia River. And the distance between Oregon and Washington she creates is like that of trying to send wings to a fish that loves a bird, yet somehow, the sun knows it’s possible and preens between mountains to watch possibility jump on to dreams’ sinking boat and bail water out fast enough to stay afloat. And wind mills sit upon hills, clad in white and simple strength and pass along new and old love stories to each other, because, you see they don’t spin by wind, but by love. And right now they tell this story. One time there were girls who found sanctuary in the quiet waters of each others’ hearts, and as friends are, these girls were that and more. And their hearts were maps to places yet discovered and held great love yet given. And the wind mills wait for these. They tell each other in strong whispers and quiet songs.

On a drive back from Portland, listening to Rocky Votolato, there are grey clouds and clear skies who meet overhead to show us that opposing forces can, at some perfect times, lay in bed together and share common stories of heartache and harmony.

That’s all for now.
Sweet heart, slow heart, find your way home.

Still, I came back to Oklahoma and it rained. I felt like Oklahoma was saying, “Whit, stay a while.” And while it is different than Oregon rain, I’ll still take it. Portland rain is slow and healing, but midwest rain comes in a fury or two, because sometimes you have to wash everything away and start from scratch. And so I lied in my living room last night, alone, with only light from the movie 27 Dresses and hard, healing rain in the background, I felt strangely whole, yet still lost. But, that seems to be the way of us. Strangers, sojourners, and truth seekers.

I am just a nomad, sojourning towards home, as I carry home with me. (in my heart).

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