A couple dozen crows migrated above me, cackling and cawing. It felt like it had been for me, their clawing for palms to rest upon and flapping through mangled stems, fighting its resistance, to get one un-cured olive. My eyes were fixed on the lack of scarcity in the sky, on the birds, wind, reaching trees, the color blues, a flickering plane, a fiery star. It had to be for me. These aimless occasions were muddled together for my view, and I was watching. It took all of ten minutes before the night birds cleared out. I myself went back home but not without dwelling on the moment wholeheartedly. I wonder what they had been thinking, what story their wings played back as they pushed through the night time gust and subtle breeze. The sunset with a mixture of cerulean and azure, but the sky was not yet void of light.
I found my way to the banister to catch my thoughts. I’ve been thinking a lot. Much has changed, yet, so much remains the same. In this case, I’m not sure what I’m more afraid of. What remains? Or what has gone? What is for me, and what no longer belongs? These matters never make their way out of my brain, so I feel quite clumsy, letting them spill out onto these pages. Even the thought of hoisting them up to the heavens reminds me that there may be an answer and so I’ll swallow them hard, these questions, and wait for the next bird migration. And what if I were to play a little game with myself? To take a think about my queries. Something tells me that I might be okay. There will always be an implied danger when gazing skyward and, more specifically, up at birds. Not knowing what will trickle down, and yet still knowing exactly what it may be, naturally. It’s a reach, BUT maybe it’s the same:
The culmination of my thoughts lifts me until they’re perched above my head, minding their way, rocking back and forth like a buoy in a sea of trees. But the risk (of looking up) is always worth it. Much better than the inevitable time for such thoughts to flock away (or your bird). And voilà, words have such a way of journeying through on behalf of your tender heart.
Alas, I have my answer: That no matter the question, “if it’s for me or the wind,” I simply don’t want you to go. And so if I must watch and wait, sit back from a distance; that is how far my love can go. It can grant you the freedom you need (something I was afraid to give you before because I wasn’t sure you’d return). And maybe you never fly back to me my bird, I’ve found joy in writing you back into my life, seeing you in the mundane from this bench, and understanding that your flight doesn’t harm me. I feel proud of you, my careless crow, for forgetting about me long enough to frolic through your freedom. For instinctively knowing you may always land in my thoughts. Now I understand what is for me. The patio lamp must be turned on as the light evades the sky and the heat my dinner. But I’m no longer bitter or void of view, as I said, I understand what is for me. I’m rekindled with a passion for you that I need to get off my chest and into yours, I need to show you all I’ve learned. My burdened heart won’t move from this seat, my gosh I am so warm. Because here is where I’ve remembered and reclaimed you, I dare anyone to move me from this seat. It is mine, fit for my body, for the slanted dance it does as I lie back thinking of you. What power I’ve allowed you to have, what strength I have bestowing it onto you. Our moment has been had, here. I am content. Now I must go nourish my gut, to pray for another silent moment with you, to warm my body yet again as we wait for you.
Something has changed today. The cars are hushed The breeze is bold The sun is diluted for my eyes to hold. And I can smell the chlorine, the sap, and the fertilizer. I can hear the fountain, the conversation, the bees. It tastes like a childhood morning, full of nothing to do and going outside with a handful of sunblock. Something has changed. I recognize the tune to which these branches sway, it’s a day I’ve lived before, with you. It feels like today you love me, like today, you’re sure. The sun is kissing me violently in place of you. The polish on my toes is crimson and chipped kinda like the love we hold But today something has changed. Maybe it’s in your heart, or our color, in the air, but I’m confident I can feel a change. The good kind! The kind where my heart is dancing and singing and fluttering and skipping, Where I feel gentler to people, and they are kinder right back. A change that makes everything come alive. I can hear the fork being put down after a big bite of salad in the apartment across the courtyard. And my neighbor has opened his door to let the new puppy out before she makes a mistake. The squirrel who just stole my sourdough loaf now braves through the loose palm trees. And a tall woman walks two black labs pissing and yapping to the jingle of the beat tied to their collars. Everything is a little freer today. I can hear a tow truck hustle a broke down chevy across the back bay next to a turtle who’s looking to have lost his way. Someone’s teacher is taking off on a flight to San Fransisco for the weekend While a couple bikes across the cobblestones as they’ve come to do every Saturday since they lost their home because today is the most familiar day. A day where if everything hasn’t changed, I know something is. Something has. Something has really changed And I wonder, can you feel it? Have you enjoyed the sound of this morning, or is it still reluctantly calling you? Won’t you listen? Won’t you carry on back to me through the energy and conversation surging through the streets? I know you can hear the footsteps and the dishwashing happening right outside your door You hear the horns and sirens, baby’s crying and TV’s laughing. Now look outside, watch the stray cats gleam in the sun as the nearby children disturb them Roll down your window, smell the city’s stench as you drive, and let it remind you of when you were passing through to me. Of touching this day with me, Because today is the perfect day to forgive all you have yet to forgive. To remember all you have tried to forget. I can almost hear the forming of your voice come through every cadence of this afternoon Not one sound too loud, all remain at a whisper, waiting for you to finally shout, “I STILL LOVE YOU.” Will you do it? Will, you finally take the stage and profess your love as you did today, on a day like this, but before. I’m waiting and listening I’m watching and praying That your voice seeps through before this day comes to an end, Yet again, Like before.
There is so much to discover over the edge. And if I could just reach it, if I could just walk forward with a spirit of expectance and float away from all that buries me, maybe I could expand myself endlessly. Wet soil grounds me, but when it settles, I become immovable, and that’s something to be inspired by, yet still, it feels like an unremarkable quality. Because how does one move when so unaware of what truly inspires her soul? You are something that inspires me. The impressions of you well up through my body and rise me to my feet again. Loving you sends me over the edge in the best way. I want to bury myself in you, burrow my damp skin into the crevices of you. To kiss your taut lips is to sip from the convalescent lake, to drink in your taste – wet and welcoming. I don’t see God in these ways, and maybe that’s why he’s taken you from me. Or perhaps that’s the landscape in which I’ve chosen to drown in because it’s really you who has taken yourself from me. You who has abandoned my most profound need, who has failed to understand me on the deepest level – in the same ways I’ve been unable to know my own self and anyone else at that. I know I can be so immovable, but you didn’t have to leave. Why would you choose to let me go? Maybe loving me was a storm, but stick around because so much life comes after it pours. So much is restored after the fire. Come back just because I love you. I am enough for you. In my river you can float, over my mountains, you can soar, deep in my wilderness you’ll come alive, and amongst my bushes, you’ll burn with passion. Come exposing your light to the breeze, sway onward, let it move you closer and closer into me until you’re resting deep within until the outside world is unrecognizable and lost feels like an embrace of something new.
My darling, I promise you it’s safe now that a new season is on its way. One that can be trusted with the promises of orange, the elation of yellow, and the familiarity of green. All the colors are here for you. In this season, winds are strong, and only what’s rooted can remain. The old falls off, and the newness is beckoned. Birds beg for branches, and critters refuse emersion until it is time. What I have to offer is nothing without your gaze, your view, your longing. Don’t you hear me calling? Don’t you feel a part of you is missing? I will let a million people drown in my lake until you come. And when you do, I will dry these bones just to be filled with only your presence. Stop running from me, my love, stop driving down a road that will never lead you home. I am your home. You belong with me. When that happens, when you find yourself needing to come home, I’ll meet you in the middle, outside of my element, and into your arms. Until then, I’ll be immovable, belonging to nothing but this earth, secreted into the ground, standing taller than a thousand trees (so you can find me). I want you to come and see me, to travel past your valleys of vengeance, around your boulders of brokenness, and into my wilderness away from your mistrust. Forget all that is familiar and all that lingers in your head. It’s time to accept the new. The world needs us together, I have no doubt in my soul.
Tell your heart I’m sorry and that our season of love is here, that it was waiting.
When he left me, I somehow was able to remember you. And now that I’ve recognized, I see how he’s been a reflection of you. He drove me to sunsets, I first did that with you. He drove me to the edge, I first threw myself over for you. When did it become unsafe? When did I make the decision to never come close to an edge ever again? Whenever it occurred must have been the day I made the distinct choice to never confront what I couldn’t understand. But now, somehow, I’ve remembered you. I can recall life before I feared separation from every person I came to love. I now reminisce about the times before purposely withdrawing myself because I feared no one would beg me to stay.
I remembered those drives with you. Pulling over to feed the birds, sometimes from the palm of your hand, because I was getting older and had far more to fear. Needing you to buckle me in, and to make sure I caught glimpses of the ocean on the right, between the trees and passing of a Sunday morning Amtrak. Getting out of the car seemed more challenging at that age without you. So, I’d pretend to be asleep, persuading you to pick me up and hold me like fathers do. I imagine you would have done the same if I simply asked because I was precious and delicate to you, and you would have carried me anywhere. Then after you would lug me over the threshold, gently, and lay me down.
I would wait all of three seconds before waking from my fake slumber just to see you before you closed the door and I actually went to sleep. Some nights I would lay awake thinking about our day of driving. How we listened to songs with no lyrics and a dizzy rhythm that sometimes made me car sick and so we listened to whatever I wanted. I thought about feeling so safe seated right behind you and how I would thud my foot on the back of your seat to remind you I was there. You had softly asked me to stop, and I remember that hurt my feelings. But moments later, you were making plans to veer from the route to get us candy, and I fell in love with you all over again. Those drives are what I hold onto because I’m not quite sure why we ever let go. And I guess the real guilt is the feeling that really, only I did. I don’t know what happened after that, I grew up and got kinda scared. No one felt safe, not even you.
He drove me to sunsets, and we passed our relationship peaks in the car, just like you and I. By then, I had already forgotten you, so I rejected his need to continually meet the end of each day. Night after night he’d beg me to get in the car with him and chase the sunset. So I would go, but I couldn’t feel safe, and so I would find some way to ruin it, to forget that it had actually been the only thing in life I wanted back. But still, he’d return, no matter how much I fought, he always sought an edge, something to fascinate him and take his breath away. He marveled about how nature could make him feel so small. Its allure crushed him, yet that was his ecstasy. But I couldn’t recognize such strength, and I would go on not remembering you. Sometimes he was the version of you I didn’t want, I realize that. He was hard to grasp, unable to be saved, yet welcoming of my every attempt to try. You both craved my love in desperate ways. I thought I had to choose, so I left you and found him. But I couldn’t elicit those drives with you, my love for you, and so now he drives on without me. Now I can’t captivate him like I captivated you. He doesn’t forgive me or admire my growth the way you do. When I cry, he doesn’t pick me up and place me safe in his arms, he doesn’t see me as delicate or believe me, or trust I’ll get better like you promise. I think he forgets about me sometimes and replaces me with bigger and better dreams. You always made me feel like I was your most notable dream come true.
I’ve really messed this up, dad. And all because I couldn’t bring you back. Why was I able to so easily forget you? To forget the girl I was when I was loving you? I suppose I felt that kind of love wasn’t meant for me, unreal in many lights. I saw you broken and hurt, misunderstood, and abandoned. And a little girl should be careful about seeing her father in such a way that might make her forget. She might forget that pain is only what makes us strong and that her protector will always be the strongest man she knows. He will always hold her and uplift her. He will offer his arm if hers stopped working for a moment and remind her where to look when she claims life has no more beauty. I remembered how I needed you sometimes to carry me the rest of the way when I was all out of my “know it all” things to say when I admitted defeat and couldn’t love another man. I remembered what really mattered, that I loved and was loved by you.
My sweet soul, how beautiful and majestic are you. You are the most beautiful soul I know. You’re the only song I know, my favorite tune. You belong up here with all of this beauty, it’s been calling you to complete you. Here you are, there you sit, in whichever cocoon you have self-created for yourself; a blanket, a car, his arms, your baptismal tub. You are never trying to become a butterfly, and that’s why you are the most fearless person I know. You understand that dying is the most beautiful way to live. You are a poet, the way you speak and love others inspires many. Our soul carries the fortitude of light, gives the inspiration that inspires the greats. And that’s what you are, my sweet, great. Simple. True. Enough.
There is no elaborate explanation, no spiritual language that disconnects you from others; no, you are tangible, physical, others can reach and hold on to your spirit. Although such distant mountains draw you, you aren’t them, grand, you are the grass, you are vast. Who you are goes on in the hearts of all you love, and you love all. You are the welcoming, rustling, nimble straight established in the ground, able to be plucked and pocketed, carried, and stored away. They aren’t the big picture but what makes the landscape entirely, what gives it color and proves there’s life. You are proof of life to so many around you. You are as human as you can be, swaying and singing and letting what must be – be, what must go – go, what must stay – root, what must die – wither, and what needs you to take from you. When I think about our abuse, it reminds me of the mountain’s exposed parts, raw and meaty, sunburnt, and bleeding. Your abuse hurt you and, in many ways, shut you off to yourself, made you feel as though you hadn’t been enough to heal the pain imposed onto you, because that is who you are, a healer. You are a divine craftsman. You understand that there is always a bigger story being told, and you are a storyteller. So you don’t worry about the cuts and bruises that surface from whacking weeds of a new path. The splinters that bubble from woodworking or the burns from the stove for a new recipe. You don’t worry about the soreness from carrying your sister or the blisters from walking miles towards your lover. It doesn’t concern you the breath you loose from deep-sea diving to save the ocean from its predator or the bite marks accrued from running with the wolves. All you concern yourself with is the healing of your world. And when you come home and wrap yourself in your cocoon, it is known that the cure is within you. And so you sit. You transform. You are unwounded, and that’s inspiring my darling, that’s what has set you apart and set you up on this mountain. You are the most beautiful soul that I know, you are the only soul I claim, my favorite.
I think I’m going the right way. I have been here a million times before, but just with her as my guide. Strawberry Fields on the left, two verses of “I just can’t give up now,” and then it’s a right. You drive parallel to the park before swinging under the light and hitting a left turn through residential. We lived in an apartment complex growing up. That being said, it was a common practice for us to spend the weekend surveying houses as if they were imminent realities and not just delusion, as if it were a holiday, and the custom was paying homage to people with mortgages. To be so without yet so sustained, a state of mind I would venture to live in, a fantasy. The state of mind that is never satisfied with where she is. But I think it was vital for me to see, the longing, the waiting, and the eventual letting go. Day by day watching, dreaming, and secretly knowing precisely what was needed. I was about four years old when we lost our home and ten years old when I watched her conceive a new one. Perhaps she wanted this particular house, fourth on the block, grayish blue, with wood wrapping around its borders, painted white. But I turned out far too sentimental for her cyclical surveying to be anything less than intentional healing from the most significant conception she’d ever lost.
One day we stopped in front of that extended blue house. I can’t even imagine what she was going through the day she scheduled a house tour for the two of us. I followed her lead as I sauntered into what I believed would be my room and fantasized about how things could be, all the friends I would finally have over. None of which are my friends today. Even then, I knew it wasn’t a reality written for her or me. Children of divorced parents seem to very quickly learn about the needs of others and the imminent submission of their own. It’s a transcending viewpoint, growing up to witness the woman your mother becomes. She’s bought a home since then, with a new husband, and almost like I was 10 again, I watched her hang a slab of paint on the wall and cherish the place it would live in her home. It was her way of keeping the faith and establishing no doubt in what she wanted to create.
I wasn’t always so admiring of her. Growing up, I hated my mom for silent reasons; we both knew it was more profound than disdain. Even then, though, later down the line, she’d transform into somewhat of a God for me, as I followed her lead and felt lifted in her belief of me. She was and is everything I ever wanted to be but that I was too afraid of becoming on my own, too fearful of change. When I was unsure about whether the boy who first entered me would be my husband, she assured me he would not.
“You will be the possible wife for many men, but it doesn’t mean they will be your husband. “
Even though I loved him deeply, it wouldn’t matter. Her words could infect my mind, and in a matter of months, I would tell him goodbye with a voice and demeanor so sure and wise you would have mistaken my words as my own – but they were hers, and she was right; she’s always right. He’s engaged now to a woman that suits him, but the point is her words were law, and I was willingly devoted to them, no questions asked.
Eventually, there is an inevitable process that comes along and strips you of any comfort, it feels like it’s stripping you away from her, especially from her. And just when it feels like you need her the most, like the purpose of your life is on its way, and with her anything is possible, a subtle shift chokes out her words and fogs your vision. Still grasping her hand, you nudge her forward, ahead of you where she belongs, better than you, wiser than you, everything you could never be. But she keeps falling behind, the one you once watched gracefully stride ahead of you is slowing down right beside you. And the truth that I have discovered is that it’s not that she’s falling behind because she is and always will be the most graceful woman you know. But it just may also be true, that so are you. That maybe she was a woman just like you who has had to suffer and survive. You realize that it was you telling yourself that you were stunted and couldn’t be trusted, it was you who elevated her law and her being above the clouds, who fully and wholeheartedly relied on her intuition.
But eventually, you need your own.
And so some days I mourn her presence. I feel the shift beckoning. The reality is underway, the legacy slowly rising, and the little girl maturing. I must need her in a different way and step into our new role of her needing me. Heat flashes pang, her body betrays her, hormones flood her emotions, and she craves rest exponentially. Your mother needs you in a way that warrants you as an adult, as a woman who can conceive her own life and dreams, to see community and purpose in others, a skill I never thought I had. But now the day has come, and one day I will be the mother she has been to me. One day she will grow old, and she will step into the new phase of her own womanhood. And when that day comes to pass, it’s me who must carry her legacy. This moment was always destined to happen. After decades of watching and relying on my mother and avoiding the inevitable change, it’s here, the severing, the let go, so that I may find my own way. So that I may take all that I have learned, and establish my truth, dream up my own dreams. But of course, I miss her and the childish parts of me that still require healing try and hold on. The phone seems to ring longer than before when I call her and need her right away. And although her advice is still the most beautiful sound I know, the most calming and reassuring message to rest on, there is now a deep knowing in my soul that I just can’t abandon. One that is more true to my own direction. I think she feels it too. After all, it’s the same process she had to go through.
The women who lineage before us leave footprints in our story so we won’t feel lost. I still feel lost. A big part of me even rejects the notion that I am ready. But the shift is occurring with or without my permission because nature knows and trusts its own course, only the foolish try and direct it, control it, give it meaning. She believes in me, and that’s all that matters. Deep down, I believe in myself too, and that matters more. The other day I wrote two words on a post-it and stuck it on my mirror.
If I was going to do this, like really do this, it would be done in the most honorable and efficient way I knew. I was going to place it on my mirror and watch it every day. I was going to facilitate a cyclical routine that ensured our eyes met periodically. To establish responsibility for what I create in this world and in myself. I would walk past it every morning, conceiving a new home for myself with only love, one that housed peace, honesty, wisdom, and faith just like my mother did with the grayish blue house, fourth down, on Diamond Head Dr.