Love in the time of (political) cholera.

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I was living in downtown Oakland California when Barack Obama won his first presidency. I was sitting at my computer hitting refresh on CNN every few minutes, waiting, waiting, waiting for the inconceivable to happen. Would a black man really sit in the most important of chairs? Would he put his coffee on the most hallowed of desks? Would a black hand hold the pen that had the power change the world with its ink?

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I didn’t need to look at the computer screen to know when the results came in. I felt it. The vibration in the air built slowly in to a wild frenzy, the streets filled up with hooting and hollering, the town levitated. I have never in my life experienced the energy of an entire city in a state of joy. It was unbelievable. It was victory for a community that had never won, had never looked at a man of power and seen their own reflection in his determined but weary face. I will never forget what the streets of Oakland gave to me that night. The memory has and will continue to sustain me in times of confusion and loss. It held my head up in November when people voted with hatred and fear not heart, it moves my feet forward when the road ahead is so badly lit and it gives me precious hope today as my country does it’s damnedest to rip itself apart, limb from limb. I have seen how powerful we can be when united over love, I know what we are capable of when our arms are linked and our hearts are sure.

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Over the past year I have culled a certain type of person from my life. I unfollowed, unfriended and divorced myself from the people that started showing signs of supporting Trump and those like him. Rather than engage in discourse (however heated) when they posted or said the frightening crap that is now commonplace, I just cut them out. In hindsight this was a terrible mistake. I stood on the tracks and refused to look in the direction of the coming trains, somehow thinking that kind hearted truth would prevail. What I didn’t know was that truth had become so fluid, murky and fleeting, like the smoke from a trash fire.

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I was not the only one that allowed the election results take me by surprise. I sat smugly in the echo chamber of my curated life, so sure that ignorance wouldn’t win. And I was wrong. Not just concerning what was about to come but that those who facilitated it were purposely ignorant or nasty. Yes, the loud and hateful few that pushed the alt-right agenda and it’s yucky counterparts are comfortably ignorant, that is a fact. And damn nasty to boot. But the rest of those people did what they did because they could see no other way. Just like the people of 2008 Oakland, the states filled with our disenfranchised, poverty stricken Americans, felt so removed from the shiny prosperity that everyone but them seems to enjoy. Is it really that surprising that a reality tv star would seem so appealing to so many? He speaks their language, plays on their fears, offers that quick, unbelievable fix that so many crave. The demographic that supports Trump is largely poor and undereducated, two things that when put together equal desperation.

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It is a twisted and strange thing to me, this elevating of such a crass and obvious liar, but when all the cards are laid out, I understand how it happened. When quicksand is slowly swallowing ones life, it is hard to blame the person who takes a hand from the devil. Choices that are made in desperation tend to be ill informed. Albert Einstein said, “An empty stomach is not a good political adviser.” There are many ways to go hungry in America.

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As Trump continues to populate his White House with crooks, morons and oddities, each one more rank than the last, we the people hold our breath. Even his staunch supporters look on with confused expressions, refusing to make eye contact, that cocksure posture beginning to slump. America has become the most watched reality tv show ever, all of us waiting to see who gets voted off the island. We’ve been punked. We’ve been slimed. We are a laughing stock. What on Gods green earth do we do now? The only thing that America has ever had in spades in foolish pride. So let us use it now. Let us take pride in our land, the vast stretching glory of northern America proper. There are immediate battles that can be fought by us here and now. Some have watched and some participated in the stand off against the DAPL. Most recently 500 veterans were called to create a human barrier between police and water protector, 2,000 showed up and within a day the POTUS handed down what I think of as a stay after months of peaceful resistance. Information continues to surface concerning the ETP’s plan on ignoring the ruling but in the mean time, victory. How sad it is that we have to fight so hard to wrest American soil from a such bloody, greedy hands? But we did and we will. Together. Standing Rock is proof positive that united we achieve the impossible. There is power in small groups with pride, however foolish, in our country.

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Whether we like it or not, our eyes are open now. We see how our flyover states have been ignored, how we have stopped truly seeing the people around us, the needy, the uneducated. If for some reason you don’t understand how we got here then I suggest taking the time and figuring it out. We owe each other that much. It is our great privilege to be citizens in a country that baked the pursuit of happiness in to our constitution. A part of that right is responsibility to the country as a whole, not just the prosperous parts. And we’ve failed at that. But we are not beyond saving. I look around me and I see the peaceful protests at Standing Rock. I see woman protecting other women from harassment and ribald assault. I see good men doing their part in this battle as well. I see the hard war on black lives coming under the spotlight. And for the first time in so very long, I see people not looking the other way.

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It’s not perfect, it still needs so much work but we the people can drop the foolish part and feel the pride alone. The kind of pride that comes from participating, from helping, from understanding and most importantly, from forging unity where there was none. I felt so frustrated, so lost in all of this until I forced myself in to action. There are so many things that we can do when we work together. Be it locally, globally or somewhere in between. We are so powerful when we unite. Let’s take comfort in that. Let’s get to work. Let’s fill the streets with the energy of love and the pride of a people together as one.

In lieu of forgetting.

All the things, he had them. And it was real, I know it was. It was real because I felt it and still feel it, so long gone. For so many months the only reality that I wanted was forgetting. And since there will never be forgetting there will have to be remembering.

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In such a short time everything that happened changed me so completely, in many ways I was weakened but also altered into something new, like a forging in fire. It wasn’t romantic as all that however. It has been made perfect by time and the mystery of the whys and how comes. But it wasn’t romantic. I wanted it to be and so it was. I guess I could have done that with anybody if the moon was just right and the perfect music played. If he had stuck perhaps the love thing would have faded, not perhaps, probably.

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That love thing running like a horse away from the stable into the field, feeling freedom and the dust churned up by pounding hoofs. And somehow I still need to remember, despite the hard stop, despite the wickedness of it all.

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If I stand in the face of it and make it look at me while I look at it, maybe the pull will soften and I can imagine myself giving in to some one new.  Maybe but maybe not. Memories like a stampede and time like the slowest clouds moving in the hottest sky. Fuck it.

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Kingdom Come

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I often think about where you go when you leave. Are you forever walking away, leaving me with a memory of your face and the imprint of your back, descending eternally into the distance. Perhaps there is a town somewhere in city I have never heard of. And you live there. In my worries you are in a box and it is dark, time moves but you don’t. When I let myself wonder, the weight presses my shoulders forward and my gut in on itself. Sometimes there isn’t the strength to push back and the ideas rush at me with the down pour staccato of my life in rewind. The woods and the boy with the bow and arrow aiming with the kill shot. The best friend growing pale and cold beside the ocean, alone. The dad, deeply drunk, and holes in the walls. Dead black boys and city riots, hearts on fire with hate. Men in desert fabric holding dull weapons, swinging at necks in the name of god. When I close my eyes I see these things.

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I think about a brother, I try to stop the clock in my mind and build a stillness. But I cannot. And these things stack. These notches busted into me with the ax of experience. Even from the vantage point of time and new chapters I still cannot figure out where you go when you leave. You are in the heart of another girl. You are in your apartment watching tv, alone. You are dead. You are looting, fighting, giving up, giving in. You are disintegrating in the dust. Maybe it doesn’t really matter. Gone can mean so many different things but still be the same thing.

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Knowing that the grand design of life has avenues beyond what I can see. Straight lines away from the unknown and into a deeper understanding of what we are here for. Things that I won’t see until I round a corner and step onto the gravel of that new day…this possibility puts some guts back into my body. And for the first time in this life, I find myself hoping that there is a God. And that there is someone bigger than me who wants goodness for us.

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Since I do not know where you are I will imagine this. Trees for miles that end at a bottomless sea. Animals to ride, animals to eat. Forgiveness and charity for you, from you. Friendships so deep that you will never know the end. Love so passionate, a heart blue with flames. You will never be afraid and in your mind will be all of the knowledge that we seek so tirelessly. And you will look at us with patient eyes because I may not know where you are, but you know exactly where I am.

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*All images are via tumblr, not mine, if you see an image that belongs to you please contact me and I will site you or remove it.  

Heavy The Head

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“I want the truth, even if it wasn’t what I had thought it was.  Even if it wasn’t what I wanted it to be.”  Kee Aliens

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On this road to clarity and happiness, every omen, every tea leaf, has been thoroughly frisked for meaning.  All of the stones are up turned and words that alone meant nothing, examined.  I have made life into some sort of fruitless archeological dig.  I have felt that if I kept visiting every oracle that the great truth of my life will be revealed.  But it isn’t.  Only the untruths are showing themselves.

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I have learned that what feels and looks like love is most likely a carnival.  The loveliest of smoke, the cruelest of mirrors.  And without reserve, I will always buy the ticket.  The show is forever worth it.  I have found that most of my words, the ones said and the ones said to me, are no armor against life’s bullshit.   I cannot talk or think my way out of a world that has no language.  I have seen with my own eyes how a highway dead ends and a wooded path that can take you to the Emerald City.  Nothing makes sense and nothing ever will.

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My journey home, a trip taken in desperation, brought me a precious couple of gems.  One of them I was given by an old friend whom I respect without limit.  He said to me that love is not a debt paid or time owed.  Nobody has any obligation to love you romantically longer than they do.  We insert ego into something that must remain untethered to be real.  This is something that I have always felt but never admitted to.  Romance is romance, not a promise of permanence….

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The second jewel was this:  When a snake bites, the only cure is to suck out the poison.  And I am a snake that bites my own tail.  And I am the antidote to the wound that I inflict, on myself, on others.  I have been tearing myself apart all these years.  I produce a false shine and turn on myself with the slightest sign of failure.  There is nothing real in that action.  That hunt only brings in bad meat and a broken heart.  And so, back to the drawing board.  Another reinvention.  This one, hopefully, a clearer version of myself.  Something with a little peace and quiet.

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And the crowning jewel, the icing, the prize, the kings ransom…..love is all there is.  Old words.  Ancient sentiment.  But fresh and true none the less.  My weaponry in this battle is greased with love.  Love for myself.  Love for my friends.  Love for those that storm the fields against me.  It hurts, to be this open.  It hurts, to have loved and lost.  It hurts, to forge into the darkness with no light.  And I am afraid.  And I will be brave.

This, I swear.

This last turn about the sun….what a ride.  What a strange walk in a stranger land, following the trail of the darkest, most dangerous version of love.  I can’t see the future, I am not even sure that it’s there.  I don’t know if I am broken or whole.  I am old and salty, naive and busted wide.  I guess I wasn’t specific enough about what I wanted.  Strong, wise, heat, bows and arrows, skin and sweat, balls, guts, truth.  I should have been vividly more specific.  I should have used those words.  And since I didn’t then, I will now.  You will not find me next year buried under casual carelessness, at the mercy of a broken wild thing.  Please consider this me, going on record.

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I want bravery.  In myself, in him.  We will look at each other and never turn away.  No matter the ugly, no matter the fear.  We do this and are rewarded with all of the beauty that the eye and heart can hold.  We do this and broom the dirt of sadness right out the fucking door.  We fight together and laugh at our enemies because no one thing can defeat our army of two.

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There is no need for you to love hip hop or know every word to every D’angelo song.  I only need you to love me like a G, a warrior.  To know every scar, every mole, every curve on my body and be able to sing it.  To know my heart, know my mind, and roam it’s peaks and valleys with the spirit of a pioneer.  I don’t care if you can field dress a deer,  just as long as you can feed me.  I don’t care if you can build me a house, just as long as you promise to always keep me warm.  I don’t need a man who acts like a gangster, I need one that is a gangster.  Quiet, strong, like wood, like stone.

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I need him to care enough about me to care enough about himself.  The body, a temple.  The mind, an ever expanding landscape that we travel together, that he is brave enough to wander alone.  I want books on his shelf, food in his cupboard.  Clean sheets on our bed, blankets soft and warm.  Seven pillows.  Age will change us but our bodies and minds will remain strong.  I want a fella that is tough enough to fight beside me, for as long as we both shall live.

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Push me, force me, dangle me off a cliff.  I want to be uncomfortable.  When you do this it shows me that you think I can be more and do better.  I never want to grow soft or bored.  In return, I will do this for you.  I will twist you up and spin you until up is down.  And if you crash, I will dust you off and tell you how lovely you are.  And then help you try again.  Because together we are unbreakable.

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Fuck me.  Make love to me.  I want to know every part of you.  And you will know everything.  I will keep no secret.

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Don’t ever leave me.  If I give you my heart, I promise that there will be no greater love.  There is nothing else out there better.  I will grow and change, you will have a thousand dimensions all in one.  And if I fail you, there will still be no greater love.  Do not turn your back on me.  I will break.  No real man ever wants to see a woman break.  If I give you my heart, you are it’s keeper.  It will be your job to protect me, even if it’s from you.  If I trust you, do not break that pact.  For me to love, for me to trust, is my deepest battle.  And if I win that battle and give myself to you, then you must stay.  And if you don’t want to stay then leave me where you found me.  Leave my heart whole.  There is someone out there that wants me whole, so let me be.

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And this, I swear.

These Dreams

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Spare a little candle
Save some light for me
figures up ahead
Moving in the trees
White skin in linen
Perfume on my wrist
And the full moon that hangs over
these dreams in the mist

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Darkness on the edge
Shadows where I stand
I search for the time
On a watch with no hands
I want to see you clearly
Come closer than this
But all I remember
Are the dreams in the mist

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These dreams go on when I close my eyes
Every second of the night I live another life
These dreams that sleep when it’s cold outside
Every moment I’m awake the further I’m away
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Is it cloak ‘n dagger
Could it be spring or fall
I walk without a cut
Through a stained glass wall
Weaker in my eyesight
The candle in my grip
And words that have no form
Are falling from my lips
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These dreams go on when I close my eyes
Every second of the night I live another life
These dreams that sleep when it’s cold outside
Every moment I’m awake the further I’m away
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There’s something out there
I can’t resist
I need to hide away from the pain
There’s something out there
I can’t resist
The sweetest song is silence
That I’ve ever heard
Funny how your feet
In dreams never touch the earth
In a wood full of princes

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Freedom is a kiss
But the prince hides his face
From dreams in the mist

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These dreams go on when I close my eyes
Every second of the night I live another life
These dreams that sleep when it’s cold outside
Every moment I’m awake the further I’m away
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These dreams go on when I close my eyes
Every second of the night I live another life
These dreams that sleep when it’s cold outside
Every moment I’m awake the further I’m away

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Let It Burn.

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In my bed, a bed that never saw your body, never drank our sweat, or felt you rise at dawn.  In my bed a fire lit.  It started in my belly and stayed there.  It burnt my guts.  It took my heart.  Nightmares, tears, panic, all of the things that came from your disappearance, fuel.  All of it, fuel.  I burned until the only thing left was ash.

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The odd thing about nothingness is that it never truly is nothingness.  Buried within is always more.  More pain.  More hope.  More.  While the fire emptied me out, some strange well filled me.  I wonder about it now.  I’m a pile of ash and still I breath.

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That bed, the furnace with my dreams of love a smoldering collection of wood and smoke warming every inch of my life.  I seek sleep in it now and it feels like a war.  A thing that is winning and losing, together.   I lay in it, tossing,turning, allowing myself to think of you, willing myself to forget.  But I never truly want to forget.  We can paint over it, we can turn it away when it begs to crawl between the sheets, we can put a million miles between this day and that,  but the burnt earth will never forget.  The scars of this fire will be seen by every man and woman that passes through our scorched worlds.

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A friend told me today that he a had moment in life where he opened his eyes to a room filled with flames.  In his left hand was a match, in the right, a gas can.  In that moment you can do only one thing.  Let the mother fucker burn.  All of it, down to the ground.  You with it.  We hold onto some moments with a religious fever.   And to watch them burn is a baptism.  Sacrosanct reckoning.

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A dunk in the river, a dab of holy water, none of it compares to the righteousness of fire.  And so I am grateful.  I am reverent of this bed that now holds the bones of a new woman.  To me it is a nest.  And I am a phoenix.  The pillows are seeds and the blankets are feathers.  And I will be a phoenix.  I will be hot to the touch.  My hurt will be the wings that keep my soul open, wings spread wide, despite fear, despite the weakness of this new skin.

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It is easy to look back at lost love and regret, hate.  I will never do that.  In my chest is a small, wood cabin that exists only for that love.  It is where I keep forgiveness, respect, and true love.  As my body ages, this house will not.  There is a bow with arrows on the wall, a red hot stove, and a bed with sheets that are always turnt down, waiting.  It is fire resistant.  All great things are both fed by heat and strong enough to withstand the match.

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This one’s for you Gyspy.

This is what I think when I think of love.

This is what I thought of when I thought of love.

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As a child it was a bird that landed in the window and flew away when I reached out to touch it.  It never stayed long.  I learned that to look at it was to scare it away.  To move towards it was to force it into flight.

I taught myself to view it from the corner of my eye.  And we lived in harmony this way.  And when I tired of that I would rush at it, flapping my arms, daring it to leave.  The fear of something is almost always worse than it actually occurring.  And sometimes this was true.  Is true.

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If my windowsill felt empty, it was only because I couldn’t stop looking at it.  Even in the dark I knew that there was nothing there.   And that space was so big and me so small.

When I think of love now I think of warmth like tropic salt water.  I think of immersing myself under the waves and feeling calm within a thundering wash.  I long for love to be the harbor, even though I am the storm.  I can’t be protected from the weather that is inside of me.  And in this place lives a tiny child who runs at the bird to scare it away and dies as she watches it soar.  A thing for others but not for her.

This is what I do when I let it all go.

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I know that out there in that vast space around me is a love that stays.  A love that forgives, forgets, and saves.  I know that out there I will find a love that holds me close and leads me towards my fears, not away.  That love will shine a light on my demons and expose them as dust bunnies and shadows.  And in return I promise love that I will always keep the light on.  The door will always stay wide to the wind.  And though I will never be whole, I will always be ready to try.

This is what I say to love when in sits in the windowsill, wings spread.

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I am sorry.  I never meant to chase you away.  I was taught that when I reached for you that you would leave.  And because of that I sat still, grew scared, and then lunged.  Thinking maybe this would be the time I could hold you in my arms.  I was wrong.  I need you know to know that your beauty has forever changed me and I will stare at my window and see your shape and hear your sound for as long as I live.  In my heart I know how lucky I am to have been so close to you and I am grateful beyond words.  I believe in you and admire your flight; it felt so wonderful to see the world from your perch, even if only for a moment.  You taught me to be brave and true.  You taught me that love is not something you can hold.  It is something that holds you, flies when it likes, and visits you when you least expect it.

This is what I think of when I think of love.

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I long for the day when I can sit in the same room with love and it stays.  It hears me cry and rage, and it stays.  It says to me that I will never leave you; I will never give you a minute of loneliness.  I will be by your side no matter how scared you get.  I don’t need to fly away because I am yours and you need me.  You are mine and I need you.

This is what I think of when I think of love.

Jerome Witkin-Native American-1974

The Tethered Heart

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Why is it important for me to project the tiny light of my mind out into your life?  It would be far easier to mark up my journal with misspelled ink stain and blue verbage .  I would not feel constantly compelled to check my stats or to hope for your love.   But if I didn’t do this, didn’t reach digital fingers out towards you, there would be no way for us to talk on this level.  I wouldn’t be able to look back on myself with the clarity that only time and distance provides.  And most importantly,  there would be no spy glass over my heart.  And I need that.  I need to look in.  I need you to look in.tumblr_mliegeh3901qaiyl9o1_500

It is common to find me standing on the podium of untethered selfishness.  I write this in reference to my stance on family.  For many reasons, some relevant, most imagined, I have always functioned like a person with no natural family.   In my mind there is no blood waiting to catch my fall.  So I had better not fall.  The ledge, however thrilling, is just too dangerous for me.  In the past I have lept, landing firmly on safe ground or terribly, on my back, on a granite slap.   There is nothing unique about my struggle.  I want love.  Sometimes I get it, sometimes I don’t.  As I age the wanting becomes just as interesting as the getting/not getting.  What used to tear me up now brings a strange kind of knowledge.  You will hear the same silly saying whenever love fails.  “They are doing the best they can.”  I have said this myself.  I don’t believe it.  It makes literally no sense.  Doing the best you can means not intentionally damaging someone.  It means being fair and using your heart, not your ego to dictate your actions.  The wisdom I earn from the giving and receiving of pain is this…we are only as good as the love we give.  And if ones heart is eroded with regret and fear, the ability to be bigger than your demons is nearly and tragically impossible.  Now, stay with me here, I have a point, I promise.

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I held a baby.  The child of my soul sister.  This woman has been a part of every great moment in my life.  If not physically, then mentally.  She has broken my heart and healed every wound that life has seen fit to give me.  When we fight I don’t sleep.  No matter how many years flow between us we remain insanely too real with each other.  There is no artifice.  And she made a baby.  Being so far away made me think that this would be like any other baby.  Cute, fussy, and thank god I don’t have one.  And then someone shoots an arrow through your heart.  And you are made inhuman with a love so all consuming that there is no fire hot enough to burn it out of you.  Your cells meld together to become one giant heart beat that threatens to crush every iota of hate and loneliness in your soul.  And you let them, you watch in amazement as they roust the devils from your head and send them screaming out the back door.  I am forever altered by this.  I, thus far, have known no greater love.

The Red Balloon by Albert Lamorisse-1956

Rendered blind and dumb by love is a new feeling.  Wording my way around hurt and hope is my specialty.  I can strike the tallest of men down with my mouth.  I can talk myself into and out of anything.  I can lie.  And I do.  I told myself that I didn’t need a family, at least not in the commonly known sense.  I erected a stone wall around the idea of home and left it by the sea.  I only visit when I require pain.  And yet if finds me here, now.  Unbeknownst to me a family was building itself in my life.  Despite my better efforts, home came to me.   Just like the surprise I felt at meeting and instantly loving this little creature, I am shocked by how beautifully my house has designed itself.

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And now I have the greatest knowledge of all.  Nothing matters in this life aside from being front and center to all of the things that come your way.  The shit, the joy, the love, the pain, they all bind us to the dream of who we hope to be.  The demons guide us just as fundamentally as the angels do.  I hope to be the bearer of love, the drinker of wine, the writer of words, the dancer with the lightest of feet, and the keeper of this love so absolute that time or distance will never come close to touching it.  There is nothing perfect about how we came to be and I forgive myself for thinking it should have been.  Welcome to the world Oliver and welcome back Josi.

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Graceland

She said losing love is like a window in your heart.  Everybody sees you’re blown apart.  Everyone sees the wind blow. 

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Hearing a beloved song from the past is like a surprise visit from a dear old friend.  And if that friend were carrying a suitcase filled with dusty souvenirs and decrepit childhood memories….I would curl up at her feet, slowly open the case and look inside.

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I am thinking of the new year.  We all want to hit the reset button, start fresh, start clean.  I have to be a bit different about this one, however.  If I waited until January to reboot, there would be no me to work from.  Everyday has to be that new day.

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There have been so many moments lately where I am so aware of my/our/your loneliness.  How badly we want to connect.  How desperately hard it is to do so.  We just want to be seen and chosen by the person who will fill the crevices in our hearts.  My friend put it perfectly when she said, ‘all I want is for someone to say, you, I want you.’  I see so many empty souls robbing the hope from those who dare to place themselves in the path of love.  If you happen upon me, thumb out, on the lonely highway towards love, don’t pullover unless there’s room for two.  These hyenas disguised as Lyons are ruining all the fun.  Just as I have often wished that peoples insides matched their outsides, I long for honesty in this pursuit of love.

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And if you offer to me the truth, I will offer to you the vastness of my heart.  Nothing less.

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On my walk to the post office today I heard “Graceland” by Paul Simon.  A door in my mind flew open and all of the worlds weather rushed in.  I felt the chill of time gone by.  I was burnt by the heat of teenage silliness.  I was lulled to sleep by the quiet blues of rainy days, so many.

Maggie Rizer in Jean Paul Gaultier Paris Couture Bride by Craig McDean-Vogue-October-2002

 

And my traveling companions, Are ghosts and empty sockets, I’m looking at ghosts and empties, But I’ve reason to believe, We all will be received, In Graceland