Love and the Definition of Insanity

Sometime in the early part of my sophomore year of high school, on a hot humid day in Florida (not that there is any other sort), I found myself screaming a girl across the hood of ftmyersroadcar on the side of the road.  This was one of those moments, the ones that snaps in your memory and remains like a Polaroid clipped to a corkboard in your head. When remembered, it is as if I am right there, pumping with adrenaline, feeling the heat beating upon me and pushed beyond the limits, I knew were there, but suddenly and without any polite notice, had been obliterated between the unstoppable force of my stubborn desire and the immoveable object that was one beautiful girl’s core belief in a God, I had no truck with; at least not now, when He was firmly in the way of what I wanted…which was her of course.

In this moment, this girl I had wanted for so long, was so close, within reach and yet I could not convince her I was right and she was wrong (which of course she was).  I could not convince her that if her God was the loving force she claimed, he would not forsake her because she chose to love someone. Yet I was the wrong gender. She could not be swayed. Her hair had just been braided into almost waist long box braids, she wore a crisp white t-shirt and a pleated green skirt with a matching white stripe around its edge, her breasts heaved and she sighed the sigh of suffering only a girl who knew she fought a pointless fight, but just couldn’t stop, but then again, neither could I. Her brows were perfectly tweezed, her skin was clear and smooth, her makeup simple and clean. She was an insufferable controlled creature of femininity, reason and faith. She was always at her most beautiful when she was angry and I could always push her to that place where she lost her cool. I loved pushing her to this place where she was purely emotion, purely focused on me. I didn’t care if it was negative or positive attention, it was her attention and I had it.  When she broke her tightly wound control, I had won, the battle we had been fighting for what seemed like forever to my teenaged heart.  I was always the one that stayed even toned, who didn’t lose her temper and this was frequently the thing that made her the angriest but it seemed like she had finally won, and she knew it. I knew it.

11I couldn’t stop myself. I yelled about God and faith and love. I yelled about how much we had wanted each other for over a year, had flirted and edged so close and then backed away from this moment. I yelled that she made me feel crazy and I felt tears slide down my cheeks. We had each dated boys, unfairly to them, because it had all been a game we played with each other. See? I didn’t want you, I didn’t need you. Fuck you.  Lies. We had filled the space we couldn’t breach, with lies.

 

As I cried angry tears and yelled that I knew she loved me, why couldn’t she just let herself love me? I thought clearly for one precise and crystalline moment, I have finally broken, I have finally lost my damn mind. I am truly broken and I will never come back together again…or…I was in love. These were the only two options that made sense. Insanity or love. Maybe they were one and the same? I didn’t know then and I still cannot say I know the answer now.  I do know that the moment I realized I was not only in love but could love, was a life altering thing. For most of us, first love is an earth shattering thing and it was the same for me but perhaps even more so. I grew up with violence, neglect and so much pain and I really didn’t know I was capable of this terrible loss of control that hurt and yet I wanted like drug.  Once I knew it was there, it changed the world. The framework I saw the world through, from which I based my own sense of self and what I might be capable of, was blown to pieces, over the hood of a piece of shit car, in the face of a God I would lose too, in a land of sand and sun. There was a precipice there, I had always known it existed, and I had always feared taking a step too far into the abyss that was feeling, vulnerability and connection to lives that could and would disappoint, hurt and betray me.

While I have seen many ideas about how to define insanity (and there are plenty of serious diagnosis that are useful in clinical situations) the one that makes the most sense to me in the day-to-day flow of life is: “extreme foolishness or irrationality”. Whether it is delusion or the simple momentary loss of reasonable emotional faculties, this definition works.  What is more foolish than love, trust and the utterly irrational belief that one person has all of the power in the world to crush you’re very being with their simple (heartless!) rejection?

At that time, in the searing heat of the Florida sun, beside an old car on the side of the road, I realized I had finally fallen horribly and irrevocably in love. I had believed, up until this point, that I might not be capable of this particular human condition. I did not cry or scream or lose control in this highly undignified way, I was not this crazy screaming creature, fighting God for the hand of a girl who was as afraid as I was. I didn’t understand that she was afraid or even that I was as well. I didn’t understand that it was this fear, the loss of love, that was what finally took away my hard-won control and overcame the core of distrust I had viewed the world through up until this very moment. It was love, the type that defines all fist loves, the desperate pathetic, passionate headfirst into the rabbit hole kind. Additionally, as I was rejected for God and lost my mind to blind heartbroken rage, it became clear that I lacked all the tools necessary to deal with it. This was not the last time I would feel this way, just the first.

no evilI have always believed that we don’t know what we are capable of without knowing who we are when we are in love. In love we are the best and worst versions of ourselves, the most insane, terribly cruel, generous, selfless, truest extremes of our own personal spectrum. This is not just romantic love. Parents, soldiers, the closest of friends, all of these versions of love can push us well beyond what we believed we knew about ourselves. What we believe to be concrete facts about our personalities. Love shifts the paradigm through which we see ourselves the world we live in.  Some people seek these things out, the moments on the side of the road that change the world for us and many run from them as fast and as hard as they can. I cannot fault either but I will always be on the side of the former.

As I work on some other projects and am looking for the places in my life that utterly redefined the world for me, this one stood out. This is not about being a lesbian, which is simply the lens I see this crazy world of dating and modern love from. It is just about questioning what I thought was true, about me and the world. Remembering these moments reminds me of  how often I have been wrong about…everything. I love these moments, not necessarily the screaming at God and stubborn first girlfriends LoveLatte-in-post-half-widthpart, but the way the earth shatters and a new ocean spills forth..the moments that new land is discovered to explore.

Sometimes seeing it from a slightly different angle makes it easier to see and sometimes it changes everything. I am hopeful about the first and just arrogant
enough to believe the former is possible as well, but then again I always pick love so my sanity is, by my own definitions, up for debate.

 

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Mommy Game (Part One)

M

Molly had passed the first hurdle of two dinner dates with the couple. Her boyfriend Bran was beside her, but she was under no illusions about who was being evaluated. These people were his best friends and Molly liked them..cautiously.

She had tried to explain to him that she was a parent and the “other woman”. The way she would be judged was on a very different scale than what he was used to. Single white-collar men without children had very little to do with single moms that dated men that weren’t quite single or known for their smart choices in women. Please see Exhibit A, his current separation and divorce.

Suffice to say, they didn’t expect the best choices from him at this point and here I was, a possibly asinine choice…with a kid. Who knew what kind of crazy he had invited into their home. A general level of caution (at the very least) was just common sense. Additionally Molly was not necessarily likable, she was polarizing at best. People either really liked her or…they really didn’t. Personally, Molly was perfectly at peace with this reality but it was a fact that terrified her for her daughter’s sake.

It wasn’t even his oldest friend Aiden, but his wife Mia that was the real power (and therefore concern) though Bran didn’t seem to recognize how this all worked. The invitation to have Molly’s daughter come with her hadn’t come until Mia had met her and decided Molly wasn’t a total psycho. Waging-War-on-the-Mommy-Wars-830x1024

Mia was excellent at playing what Molly termed The Mommy Game and was, if not the center, a key player in her community’s parenting culture. She hosted gatherings, doled out smart advice and participated in all of the school events with a grace Molly found completely baffling and impossible to emulate. To Molly this was like doing magic tricks while performing death-defying feats of skill and bravery.

Molly liked Mia. She was the kind of mother she greatly admired. Kind and heavily invested in her children, she was still down to earth and intelligent. She seemed to be her own person, which many mothers seemed to lose within the confines of the title “mommy”.

As a rule, she didn’t trust these kind of women (no matter how much she liked them), because she couldn’t tell if they were real friends or not. She couldn’t tell if some small infraction would put her (and more importantly her child) into the “Do Not Touch” category. As a rule she avoided the whole game because nothing good came of it, she had learned this the hard way. In this arena she felt outmatched and defenseless.   Molly just tried to not make waves. Her daughter was the moon and the stars to her and that was enough. She’d rather be standoff-ish than a pariah, which could happen surprisingly quickly in the world of Mommy Land. This way she wouldn’t ruin anything for her daughter.

Rarely was it worth wading into the pool but Molly had found herself trying this time. Yes, these were important people in Bran’s life but there was more to it, which made it even scarier for her.

The couple’s surety and savvy was impressive but it was another aspect of this couple’s life that  floored her in ways that had nothing to do with boyfriends, The Mommy Game, or her general trepidation in such encounters.

TBC

 

Z is for Zany

Z

za·ny
zānē/
adjective
1. amusingly unconventional and idiosyncratic
noun
2. an erratic or eccentric person


As I mentioned before, I have been a lifelong lover of NPR and a devotee of WNYC, and that means I get my news, entertainment and conversation starters via that medium. One of my weekly listens includes something called The Moth, a storytelling podcast. I had been hearing strangers stories on,  for years and at the beginning and end of every one, there is an entreaty for more. You can call the pitch line, give a short summary of your tale and hope for the best.

Have you ever had a moment when it all seemed to make sense, as if you stood outside of yourself and could see beyond your own internal dialog? At my daughters 4th birthday, that is what happened for me, as I watched everyone enjoying the sunny day and good company.  I was momentarily overcome by seeing the proof of what we had built, this shining thing that was something I never thought I would have.

During this moment of internal jubilant peace, I decided to call and pitch the story of my journey between one child and the next. It had all spiralcome together for me, in one hippy dippy moment, becoming a perfect circle. I called, I pitched and hung up in a panic. I called Robyn and told her I had done this incredibly idiotic thing.

A week or so later, I got a call, they liked my story, they wanted me to put it on stage.

What follows can be read elsewhere in this blog, but I can not articulate strongly enough, how amazing this experience was.  If you read back you can find out more about it here and here. It has put me in the company of people I admire greatly and shifted my perspective yet again. I found a new fight/drug/meditation to make the world shiny.

I didn’t find space to talk about my job in this month, so here’s the short explanation; I run an office that focuses on Transgender health, we provide the counseling and medical care for the transition process. I started working there because another adopted family member Dr. Lisa, asked me to run her office and I have been there for the past 6 years. I tell you this only to provide some background.

I get to help people everyday, through some of their hardest moments, I have a beautiful, weird, safe and healthy family and on top of that, I got to share my story with the world on a show I have been a fan of for years. It’s been a pretty zany, lovely, heart-growing ride.

I told my story in The Boys city, with all of his clan in the audience. I think that moment will be in my personal jewel box until the day I leave this world.thestory

I told my story because it is hard to say these things over the kitchen table during a weekend visit. I told my story so that my children would always have it, which is a pretty big thing for a kid without anyone to remember her childhood story. I told my story for me too, so I never forget my blessings.

~~~~~ 5660_148666960751_609560751_3493031_2062122_n

I did this as part of a larger project, both personally and professionally, but even if some of that doesn’t come to fruition, I really enjoyed the challenge.  I found a lot of new stories while I explored the other people participating in  the A to Z Challenge, which has been awesome. I also learned a lot about the habit of writing and myself.  So, thank you for reading this and thank you for being a part of this process with me!

 

Y is for Yearn

Y

yearn
yərn/
verb
1. have an intense feeling of longing for something, typically something that one has lost or been separated from.
2. be filled with compassion or warm feeling.


When I was a kid there were no parties, there were no presents. The first gift I remember getting was a 12 pack of Play-Doh for Christmas, that I shared with my brother, and that was it. Later (from age 9 to 13) I lived with my mother’s parents and they did give gifts, in fact they were the giftsole expression of interest and love. During a therapy session I had told my therapist that my grandparents never told me they loved me or showed affection, she insisted that I tell my grandmother.  I assume she thought it would be helpful. I told her, and her response? “ We provide for you, we buy you gifts at the appropriate times.” That’s it, that was her response, except to add that I did not react properly to said gifts and perhaps I should address THAT with my therapist.  So lets just go forward with the knowledge that I have some issues, big, cringey. pathetic issues when it comes to gifts and celebrations. 

6180_138001065751_6851742_nWhen my daughter turned 1, I made it, a big deal. My kid would always know how precious I thought she was, she would always know how celebrated her life was. Once a year, she would have an awesome party with everyone that loved her. Around 60 people attended her first birthday party, I took out a small park to accommodate it. I know this is more about me, all of my insecurities, and perceived failings, but sometimes self-awareness doesn’t even slow me down. Rented tables, crafted projects, tulle, costumes and full menus are all part of my yearly homage to the life of my daughter and she knows she is the princess of her own little tale.3oncouch

Soon after Asha turned 1, I finally kissed Robyn, who had been one of my best friends for years and secret crush for some time. She (literally) ran away, or as she says “walked briskly”, but she returned and kissed me back. We got married and she legally adopted Asha, bringing her official momma count up to, 2.

AquabatsAfter the first year, that party evolved to be both a celebration of Asha and a greeting of Spring. It’s the one time we have a big party and see everyone, especially the people we rarely get to see during the rest of the year. The Boy and Gretchen came the first year and the third, but Gwynnie was still teaching classes and couldn’t come. When Asha was turning 4, I made sure it would work for Gwynnie and they were all able to drive down. Gwynns sister and partner drove out from Brooklyn too. Asha and her cousins were into The Aquabats, so they were also making an appearance, in the form of one doting mother, and assorted Uncles and Aunt.

We had just moved to a sleepy little town on the Delaware River. The kind of place that is filled with walking and cycling paths. The weekends fill the main drag with antique hunters, bikers in leathers, cyclists in spandex and families strolling with sticky-fingered children. It was the first time since I gave The Boy up, that Gwynnie would be in my house; also the first time I was proud of where I had made a home. It even had a garden and tiny porch!

Everyone came, everyone talked, laughed, and ate well. As Gretchen sat on the porch talking music with my broth-in-law, Gwynnie chatted with her sister in the backyard and The Boy chased his sister around while she squealed, I realized some deep shit.

 I could, maybe, let up on all of the heartfelt yearning, because..here it comes.. I had a family.

It was filled with people who didn’t have any blood connecting them, and there wasn’t a language to easily explain it to outsiders, but it was strong and fierce and mine. More importantly, it was my daughters’ and her brothers’ and they would both be okay, neither of them was ever going to be alone.kisses4yrs

X is for Chemical X

Chemical X
Sugar. Spice. And everything nice. These were the ingredients chosen to create the perfect little girl. But Professor Utonium accidentally added an EXTRA INGREDIENT to the concoction…. CHEMICAL X. Thus, the POWERPUFF GIRLS WERE BORN

In April 2008 my daughter was born. She was exactly 8lbs, had all of her fingers and toes, she was perfect. A c-section helped.Asha42508_zps40ff6b64

 

A small note about c-sections, I don’t understand why anyone would get one voluntarily. I’d choose the pain over and over again. My daughter was breach despite every effort to shift her. I was strapped down and I couldn’t hold this baby that I was getting to keep, it broke my heart. Thankfully it was a sad whisper among a joyful noise.

My room was filled with people and gifts and smiles. I couldn’t have asked for a better welcome for this new life.  Spring, sprung in during the time I was in the hospital and everything seemed to of flowered to welcome this child destined for sunshine and warmth. It was  a stark difference from how alone I was the first time, or how very sad I was then. Instead of loss and heartbreak, this was all about love and life.

5660_148663340751_3041154_nI named her Asha which means “Hope” in Sanskrit and “Life” in Swahili. It seemed apt. I think names are important, they are one of a mothers’ first gifts afetr life and I hope hers’ shapes her well.

When I spoke with The Boy after she was born, he asked how much she weighed (he was 8.6) and he was quick to point out he was bigger. I brought her up to see them when she was 4 months old. It was probably one of the easiest visits I had ever had, as the dynamic began to shift.

I was only a few years older than their oldest niece and nephew, yet I was not a peer for those kids or for the adults, it had always been an 1113_51130610751_8253_nunsettled place to find footing, along with all of the rest. Now, a decade later,  I was a mother in the true sense, and it was new unblemished ground.

4503_110684995751_3927311_nI still don’t know if it’s accurate to say that Gretch and Gwynn started speaking to me differently or if I just started listening better. The shift felt massive to me, but again, who knows? I spoke to them about baby stuff and they happily shared their experiences. I didn’t have this anywhere else, there was no mother, Auntie or grandmother to call with questions. I don’t want to give the impression that they were my go-to, because I was never that comfortable (which is on me) but they were a touchstone that I didn’t have anywhere else. I’m sure they would of answered had I been willing to reach out.

6180_143747750751_2056230_n

I was the first of my friends to have a child, and they assumed I’d just figure it out, I had always been that type of person. I do not know what parents did before Google.  I was at a loss and in the ER, for diaper rash, more often than I would like to admit. My daughters first year, like the rest of my life was a lot of trial and error.

When I had left the hospital with her, I remember thinking “What is wrong with these people? Why are they letting me leave?? I have no idea how to take care of this tiny person!”.

4923_117602705751_2372088_n

Most days, I still feel that way.

W is for Wayward

W

way·ward
ˈwāwərd/
adjective
1. difficult to control or predict because of unusual or perverse behavior.

I told Gwynn and Gretch about being pregnant and the reaction was….cautious. Wondering if I had thought it through, if it was the best decision for me, if I was ready. I was upset and wanted to take deep offense to this caution but after a few minutes (hours, days….whatever) of attempted self-awareness, I realized that they had every right to the questions.

storm coming

From their point of view, I had been flitting about for years, getting into trouble and then seemed to stabilize and commit while I was with Nikki. I started working decent jobs and stayed at one address. Then I just broke-up with her for no discernible reason, got rid of everything I owned and decided to move to China. All of this was within about 4 months of time and then I call and say, “ I’m pregnant! Surprise!…hold-up..why aren’t you excited??”

 

Secretbox (1)They had almost no exposure to my friends, which had shifted and matured over the years; they had no idea that the relationship that seemed to stabilize me was one filled with suffocating abuse and leaving was the best thing I had done for myself in a long time. They didn’t know, because I never told them any of this stuff. Like everything else in my life, if I was keeping this kid, I had to change my modus operandi. So I told them and asked them to trust me and to believe in me, despite all evidence to the contrary.

Despite my own surety that I was having this baby, I was a mess, because really, who knows if they are strong enough before they are tested? I had lived a rather selfishly fearless, wayward life so far and being a parent seemed more terrifying to me than any of the other incredibly risky hitchhiking-in-australiastupid things I had done prior.I had watched loved ones die, been beaten and betrayed,  I had hitchhiked across states, dove into ocean depths, taken candy from strangers, ingested unknown substances,ran with scissors, committed crimes,  fallen wildly and stupidly in love, lost everything, left everything and had often wondered where I might sleep that night; yet this idea of motherhood and being responsible for another’s life caused more fear in me than any of those adventures combined. I didn’t regret any of it, but I wondered if it was a foundation that another life should be dependent on.

belly 197

 

Wild Thing

 I little story of a not so wild thing…

lemon orchard

She was a wild thing, at least that is what the old man said whenever he caught her before she could eat the treats he left for her on the blue plate that looked like a piece of sky amidst the scrubby grass below the lemon trees.  Wild thing. She liked the way it sounded in his grumbly voice with the lilt of the deep south like syrup. She smiled, face pointed down to her chest, he thought he caught her but often she stayed even when she saw the fat cats creeping along the edges of the orchard, scouting for their master. When he finally made his slow way to her they would settle around her, so fat they resembled small soft rugs, like those hunted trophies some men had in their homes. The citrus scent of lemon, orange and lime would surround her as he stood a few feet away watching her. He would sit upon the old rattan rocker that was falling apart under one of the trees. He left it here for these moments, when she didn’t run before he could make it all the way to this last stand of trees where the grass and trees grew more and more wild as time flowed by. She finished the sun warmed cornbread and pleasantly sweet tangy barbeque chicken he had left under the glass cover to keep the ants at bay. She knew he had a sweet with him, he always did, as a reward for these not so chance encounters. She had spent precious hungry moments scrubbing herself in the cool spring that lay hidden back here feeding the orchard. It only smelled faintly of sulfur, but she had used orange peels and sand to scrub under her arms and in her hair. He had made comments, quiet undirected comments about the funk she sometimes carried like a protective cloak. She didn’t like it either, but it kept people away. Yet now when she came to the shelter of trees, cats and citrus she stopped at the spring. It reminded her of the before time, when she wasn’t alone, but only faintly like the scent of sulfur.

“I appreciate you waiting for me out here girl” He grumbled from deep within his wide barrel chest that hinted at the much larger man he once was.

He bent over with obvious effort and placed the small plastic wrapped square on the cleaned off plate in front of my downturned head. I watched it for a moment, resisting the urge to snatch it like the stolen scraps I often nabbed from forgotten plates on the patios of fancy restaurants along the waters edge.  Here in front of the old man I tried to pretend I wasn’t hungry. We both knew different, which is why he left me the sky plates with their bounty heaped like offerings to forgotten wood spirits. Sometimes he would bring old books filled with tales older than him, of fair folk tricking the unknowing, witches making unwinnable bargains and of clever children finding paths through the thorny brambles of the riddles meant to trap them. Sometimes, like today in the slightly cooler shadows of the twilight, he would lean back in the rocker and tell me of the places and people he and his wife visited around the world. He built and carved beautiful pieces of furniture in his younger days. As he spinned a tale of commissioned grandfather clocks meant for the grand homes of rich men in the North I gently unwrapped the pale brownie dotted with dark chocolate pieces. For once my belly was full, so I lie back in the scrubby rough grass and felt it tickle my exposed arms and legs with one arm cushioning my head and savored the sweet buttery confection the old man gave me to keep him company and listen to tales I replayed over and over in my head when I was away from this quiet place. His deep lilting voice flowed over me like the warm water at the shore where it washed up and over my feet and legs. His voice had become one of the things I trusted, that soothed me just like the oceans’ touch.

The sun set while he spoke and I realized that the sweet treat was nothing but crumbs on my lips and that his tone had changed. He was asking me a question and I had missed the individual words, lost in my content reverie. I looked up at him, with obvious confusion and he repeated the question.

“ What would you say to coming by a few times a week and helping with the cats and the trees? I ain’t as nimble as I was and I would appreciate some help now and then. You know the old shed back by the spring? It ain’t much but if you could see yourself giving me a hand I’d be grateful enough to let you stay there as long as you want. “ His words were like honey over sharp jagged rocks, kindness wrapped in glass.

I knew the shed, more like a shack now, with the voracious growth of the land taking it over quicker than this old mans physical decline. It had a roof and four walls and not much else. We both knew I had stayed in it on stormy lightning filled nights.shed The soft bedroll and boxes of crackers that appeared as if by magic between one visit and the next attested to the farce of my ignorance. The bedroll stayed and the crackers were replenished and I had found myself there more often over the last year or so, even when there was no storm to hide from. He had never said a word about it, but now he was asking for me to openly admit a need I never mentioned either. I wondered for a moment if this was how he had collected the fat purring orchestra scattered around me, tempting them with treats until they were too fat and content to go anywhere else. A quick image of my current situation flickered past me, lying on the ground, belly fat, skin warm and I almost snorted with a burst of giggles. I suppressed the undignified urge and rolled onto my side, looking at him through the, now dry strands of hair, partially obscuring my eyes.  He was looking at me, but not directly, eyes sightly focused off to the left of my gaze.  leaning back, like he didn’t care what my answer was but I saw the tension in his hands covered in paper thin skin, marked with thin white scars grasping the arms of the chair. We had both been alone for a long time and the thought of these bright comfortable nuggets of time becoming commonplace had us both on edge. The time he called the gloaming stretched like taffy between us, a time I knew from his books to be one of shifting and change. It seemed a good setting for the ground that seemed to be moving beneath me, though I knew it was doing no such thing.

I sat up, crisscrossing my legs beneath me. I thought that the serious question that was said in such casual tones shouldn’t be addressed while lying on the ground covered in crumbs. He waited me out, as comfortable with silence as he was with the one sided conversations we often had. He treated me like a skittish animal that might run at any quick movement, which was probably why we had gotten here in the first place. Endless patience for a broken wild creature. I had looked at him often when he didn’t know, spying in his windows from tree branches,  while he puttered about the house that even through the window, seemed empty without his beloved wife.  The house was scattered with beautiful pieces of wood, that he still carved, sanded and polished. I knew from his stories, that he was still asked for precious pieces that took so much longer to create now. He would take the sales once a year or so, not for the money because despite the spartan way he lived I knew he was comfortable and wanted for little. He sold them to know that he was still a part of this world, even if he never left the house, brilliant pieces of himself were sent out into the world to be cherished and passed down from one generation to the next. He and his wife never had children but I thought that maybe his work was that for him, a thing that would live on past his time here, a solid memory. I looked at him and saw the same loneliness I knew was in me. I saw responsibility that might trap me, each kindness building a debt I didn’t know I would have the currency to pay.  My hand found the fuzzy warmth of a receptive cat belly and as his eyes finally met mine I nodded my head, yes.

The stars had begun to peek through as his whole body visibly relaxed.

“ Well that’s settled, I’ll expect you in the morning to feed ‘em. Might even be able to scrounge up some breakfast for you, wild thing.” and with that he used the momentum of the rocker to propel himself upward to a standing position.  The cats made similar rolling motions and got ready to scout the way back home. As he turned and slowly walked back towards the glowing windows just visible through the trees I got up too.

“ My name is Eve, but wild thing is okay too”  the words came from me but surprised me as much as they seemed to surprise the old man, since he startled the slightest bit and turned his head back towards me.

“ Well that seems fitt’in doesn’t it? My name is Jacob.  I’ll see you in the morning, Eve the Wild Thing” He replied with a slight smile and turned, and continued his path toward the light.

path2I turned the opposite way and found the barely there path leading to the shed carrying the sky plate with it’s glass dome. I rinsed them in the spring and found my way inside the small room, and stopped dead in my tracks. The bedroll was up on a small cot, off the dirty floor where I had left it rolled neat in the corner. A quilt that was faded with age and washings now covered the whole thing. A shelf was now above the cot with a collection of books lining it. I walked over and  picked up the small sturdy carving of fat cat that stopped the books from tipping over. There was a small narrow bedside table with a bowl and ewer on top next to the cot. A slightly larger table with lovely, simply curved legs gleamed in the far corner with a single matching chair pulled up to it. On the side of the table that pushed  against the wall there was a small camp stove with a single burner, one pot and a tank of kerosene hooked up. Above the table were two more shelves, one lined with boxes of crackers, dried fruit, oatmeal and a single plate with one bowl, a fork, spoon and knife stacked neatly together. The second shelf held a lantern, two tall wide candles, a box of matches and a small stack of folded white wash clothes.

I sat on the edge of the cot, desperately clutching the soft warm wooden cat, my bare callused feet resting on a round braided rug that was yet another surprise. He knew, he knew I would say yes. I fought the panic to run, to hide, to forget about all of this kindness and warmth that might choke me, lull me into complacency, with tooth and nail I waged a silent war inside my head. I felt my shoulders shaking with the effort not to run into the night. Instead I forced myself to lie down, and wrapped myself in the soft quilt that smelled of lemons and sunshine. I fought against the fear, hating to let it win yet another battle. I forced my eyes closed but didn’t think there would be any sleep tonight.

My last thoughts were of an old woman smelling of that same lemon and sunshine mixture tucking me in and kissing the crown of my tangled head.

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