3rd Draft 2.20.18

If you want to read the First Draft of this look here and if you want to see the 2nd Draft here. Please comment below on what is missing, what is unclear, what is great, or what needs refining? I am looking to be better in all areas of writing and your assistance would be much appreciated.

 

I am asking that you take a close look at me. You will see that my light brown hair is colored to hide the ever increasing number of grey hairs. I tell myself that I am not ashamed of the aging, but I wrinkle my nose up in disgust as another breaks through my scalp. The skin of my face is pale, marked with sun damage, large pores and freckles and rises over high cheek bones.  I like it–it’s mine and it’s not likely to get ‘better’ or more youthful no matter what my skincare line promises. I have earned all of the fine lines by lost and misplaced sunglasses. I have been gifted the acne, in various stages of healing, by my ovaries. I have hazel eyes–those are a gift, too from my grandma through my dad. If your gaze was to drop to my shoulders, on the right is a large tattoo. It covers most of my shoulder blade and is a twisted pine clinging to a rock cliff with the sunrise or sunset behind.

Scars are always stories, and tattoos are the scars you choose. So the story goes like this:

In the land of Michigan, where a young man and a young woman met, fell in love and married, not long after they welcomed their first child. A girl with hazel eyes and big feet (she grew into them). After four short months into this little girls life, this new father and new mother and new baby moved from the land of Michigan to the plains. And then they would move in another year, three after that, six there, seven in another, and to another until this little girl with hazel eyes found herself a girl with average sized feet (I told you she grew into them) and a high school diploma. She set out in a economy car and moved and moved and moved and moved again until she was 27 she didn’t have the same zip code for longer than six months. Now if you imagine that this kind of moving sounds bohemian and adventurous, good on you—in fact stop reading, just go on thinking that I am some charmed roving soul. If your thought was, “that sounds exhausting” then please continue and perhaps put on the kettle, we may need the tea.

Migrancy or nomadic life is no blemish on my parents, they followed their own Divine path and it lead them from prairie town to seminary back to prairie towns. So hear me when I say that what they did was not wrong, but it did leave me with scars. That is the thing about scars, about pain and about memory–in them is not always the easy labels of “right” or “wrong,” they don’t have villains with evil at the core of their being, or heroes with hearts of gold.

I explore this idea more in: I hope to Never see you

Moving left me with the inability to settle in and start sending out the oh-so-necessary-shoots from my soul, so that my roots could tangle and mingle with the souls that shared it’s location. All of us are organisms that thrive when we are strong in our own understanding of self and strong in our connections with others who are also strong in their understanding of self. Like aspen groves we grow up lifting our life gathering leaves toward the heavens and below supporting each other in a network that feeds and sustains all. Well, that is the ideal sense, I think, we may act more like gnarled old oaks and grow tight in our grains and lonely in our post.

On days when I am particularly wistful I think, “I want to be a stream planted tree, I want deep roots and to be supported by my neighbors and to support them.” But moving made root dropping difficult. I whined and bucked at the fact no one gladly turned over the soil of the community and let me push my self down through dark and fertile  silt to nourish  my soul. I spent a fair amount of acrylic painting disterra’d trees, floating with no earth, but also no sky to look to for Life. I dated boys with families that cling to the land that their ancestors had turned over with pride and plow, but I could not even graft myself to their rootstock. Each move felt like another scar raised against my soul. Until my thirties I thought very little about what was necessary  to ‘be planted,’ I just wish that I had been. What great effort those around would have had to exert to allow me an easy planting, until I wrestled with my scars I resented them and their deep local roots.

Scars are stories and tattoos are the scars you choose. And I found myself at 30 years old faced with a thought and an image. A tree gnarled by the work of digging in, and growing where theirs is little soil, but the wonder of seeing so much of the heavens. I made the choice to have that image inked forever in my flesh, to remind me that home is not always given easily to us, but home is available when we invest in the world at the end of our fingertips–the people, the communities, the environment that is all around us. Those gnarled trees and the plants that cling to rocks do the centuries long work  of making a place habitable for others by breaking the barriers micro cracks at a time. I had this sense that as a person without planting in easy places, I have been tasked with making the way for others. My work is not to be a solitary tree in a rocky place, but to reach out to the company of other misfit trees whose seeds have also been blown to this high place and then the work becomes ours. We do not get the ease of the Michigan climate or the wideness of the plains. We are made by wind and journey and the rocks that we wind our strong roots around, slowly but surely making way for others to be planted and to flourish.

I carry the shape of my journey, and I would not push any to follow it themselves. I can tell you when you stop trying to be easily planted and instead dig in, you will find the sunrise and sunset is sweet at these elevations.

1st Draft 3.6.18: I hope to never see you

*Trigger warning, assault

I can’t remember your face and that used to really bother me. I told a therapist once that I was terrified I would run into you in public spaces and I wouldn’t know that it was you, because try as I may I can’t remember your face.

I remember your hands a bit. I remember them fumbling with my bra straps and opening the condom. I remember the weight of you. In my memories I remember you occupying space and that you spoke and that you left my room so easily, but, where as the memory of so much of you was hid from my memories, the pain you left behind was not.

I couldn’t even say the word for years. Rape. Date rape. Assault. I would call it a one night stand. I would call it a mistake I made. I held all that weight and guilt as my own, it makes sense that it would come out eventually. There I was in the arms of another lover, we were falling apart, in part because I was unraveling from the turmoil within. I started to sob, “I said no, I said no, I said no” the words tumbled out marked by tears. The lover had no capacity to hold it and soon he was gone.

But the word was out, and I could not go back. The questions changed once I gave it a name, once I called out the violation for what it was. No longer did I ask, “what sort of woman am I, that would let this happen?” Instead I was asking, “what sort of man are you, that you really thought this was the way to start a relationship?” What sort of person feels their right to be pleased trumps the right to hold onto a sacred sense of my being? What kind of person leaves scars with such ease and such precision?

For a while in my thoughts your were two dimensional. The flatness of your character made it easy to fold your faceless memory up and store you with the likes of other shallow villains. You must be bad through and through. You must have no spirit, no soul, no empathy, no goodness; because what sort of person does evil things? Evil ones, and as I am not evil that put me over here and you far over there.

But you are not a fictional character. You are real as I am real–and our realness is what put our lives in a collision course of choices, our embodiment is what made this wound on my heart possible. Our realness also makes it impossible for you to be a paper villain. While you do not have a face, you gave me enough details to know that you were part of a family. While I suppose it is possible that you were born from villains, it is more likely that you were just born as a son, trained in the family business, living in this city and  has hopes and desires and scars and triumphs.

From: Draft 2.20.18 “That is the thing about scars, about pain and about memory–in them is not always the easy labels of “right” or “wrong,” they don’t have villains with evil at the core of their being, or heroes with hearts of gold. In the vilest of my memories the one that hurt me is still nuanced, a person with soul and strengths (I assume), weakness and scars of their own, motives of love and motives of malice–what they did left marks across my heart, but who they are is more than the sum of the pain they left in their wake.”

Is this what forgiveness looks like? Is your face erased so that if I saw you, you would have a second chance to see me as the real person that you hurt? Or has my face disappeared too? Perhaps the wound on your soul and heart has been eased by the passing of years? Perhaps you have asked all the questions about “what sort of man am I?” Maybe you have repented and asked God to clear your account. Maybe.

But I still hope to never see you again.

2nd Draft 2.20.18

If you want to read the First Draft of this look here. Please comment below on what is missing, what is unclear, what is great, or what needs refining? I am looking to be better in all areas of writing and your assistance would be much appreciated.

 

I am asking that you take a close look at me. You will see that my light brown hair is colored to hide the ever increasing number of grey hairs, I tell myself that I am not ashamed of the aging, but I wrinkle my nose up in disgust as another breaks through my scalp. The skin of my face is pale, marked with sun damage, large pores and freckles and rises over high cheek bones,  I like it–it’s mine and it’s not likely to get ‘better’ or more youthful no matter what my skincare line promises. I have earned all of the fine lines by lost and misplaced sunglasses. I have been gifted the acne, in various stages of healing, by my ovaries. I have hazel eyes–those are a gift, too from my grandma through my dad. If your gaze was to drop to my shoulders, on the right is a large tattoo. It covers most of my shoulder blade and is a twisted pine clinging to a rock cliff with the sunrise or sunset behind.

Scars are always stories, and tattoos are the scars you choose. So the story goes like this:

In the land of Michigan, where a young man and a young woman met, fell in love and married, not long after they welcomed their first child. A girl with hazel eyes and big feet (she grew into them)–after four short months this new father and new mother and new baby moved from the land of Michigan to the plains. And then they would move in another year, three after that, six there, seven in another, and to another until this little girl with hazel eyes found herself a girl with average sized feet (I told you she grew into them) and a high school diploma. She set out in a economy car and moved and moved and moved and moved again until she was 27 she didn’t have the same zip code for longer than six months. Now if you imagine that this kind of moving sounds bohemian and adventurous, good on you—in fact stop reading, just go on thinking that I am some charmed roving soul. If your thought was, “that sounds exhausting” then please continue and perhaps put on the kettle, we may need the tea.

Migrancy or nomadic life is no blemish on my parents, they followed their own Divine path and it lead them from prairie town to seminary back to prairie towns. So hear me when I say that what they did was not wrong, but it did leave me with scars. That is the thing about scars, about pain and about memory–in them is not always the easy labels of “right” or “wrong,” they don’t have villains with evil at the core of their being, or heroes with hearts of gold. In the vilest of my memories the one that hurt me is still nuanced, a person with soul and strengths (I assume), weakness and scars of their own, motives of love and motives of malice–what they did left marks across my heart, but who they are is more than the sum of the pain they left in their wake. (But I still hope to never see them again.)

Moving left me with the inability to settle in and start sending out the oh so necessary shoots from my soul, so that my roots could tangle and mingle with the souls that shared it’s location. All of us are organisms that thrive when we are strong in our own understanding of self and strong in our connections with others who are also strong in their understanding of self. Like aspen groves we grow up lifting our life gathering leaves toward the heavens and below supporting each other in a network that feeds and sustains all. Well, that is the ideal sense, I think, we may act more like gnarled old oaks and grow tight in our grains and lonely in our post.

On days when I am particularly wistful I think, “I want to be a stream planted tree, I want deep roots and to be supported by my neighbors and to support them.” But moving made root dropping difficult. I whined and bucked at the fact no one gladly turned over the soil of the community and let me push my self down through dark and fertile  silt to nourish  my soul. I spent a fair amount of acrylic painting disterra’d trees, floating with no earth, but also no sky to look to for Life. I dated boys with families that cling to the land that their ancestors had turned over with pride and plow, but I could not even graft myself to their rootstock. Each move felt like another scar raised against my soul. Until my thirties I thought very little about what was necessary  to ‘be planted,’ I just wish that I had been. What great effort those around would have had to exert to allow me an easy planting, until I wrestled with my scars I resented them and their deep local roots.

Scars are stories and tattoos are the scars you choose. And I found myself at 30 years old faced with a thought and an image. A tree gnarled by the work of digging in, and growing where theirs is little soil, but the wonder of seeing so much of the heavens. Reaching out to the company of other misfit trees whose seeds have also been blown to this high place. We do not get the ease of the Michigan climate or the wideness of the plains. We are made by wind and journey and the rocks that we wind our strong roots around.

I carry the shape of my journey, and I would not push any to follow it themselves, but I can tell you when you stop trying to be easily planted and instead dig in, you will find the sunrise and sunset is sweet as we dig in to rocky home.

First Draft 2.22.18

There is blood and my neighbor is holding a bag that contains a hat. As I come closer someone asks if I live in apartment 307, and my mind tries to rapidly piece the scene together. I glance at my balcony and wonder, did he fall or jump or was pushed? “The ambulance just left,” another neighbor says. I some how dial the numbers to my boyfriend’s phone.

“It’s my brother,” I say, “He fell down the stairs in our building, he’s been taken to the hospital.”

I can’t drive or think. He had been doing well, his job, his friends, his spirituality, he was making plans for his next adulthood step. But I could not keep him safe or sober.

I am allowed into his hospital room and sit beside him. His face is rapped loosely in gauze and occasionally a small rivulet of blood traces past the edge of the bandage. They are waiting to see.

Waiting to see his blood alcohol level go down.

Waiting to see if he passed the concussion test.

Waiting to see if he needed plastic surgery for the gash in his eyebrow.

Waiting.

So I sat there waiting too. I eventually cracked out his name and touched him. He spoke, disoriented and broken, “I was pushed from the stairs. The devil did it. Pray for me.”

I did pray. I had no reason not to believe that the devil wasn’t just tripping men with laundry baskets that evening. I also knew that he had drank more than enough to “float a battleship”

I do pray. I know what to do with my lips and my heart, I just didn’t know what to do with my hands. Because you want to pull your hands back and keep them to yourself, to disconnect and save yourself the heartache. You have moments that you know the person without their addictive behaviors–their eyes are clear–but but sometimes the shadow is just caught in lashes for a moment.

I read about an experiment with those rats addicted to cocain, and how they recovered best when surrounded by other happy rats. I don’t know if the happy rats ever were scared. Or if they felt guilty when they didn’t try harder to connect.

Years have gone by and my brother is better, Maybe the happy rats really helped. Most days I do not still hold the baseball cap with blood, mostly I think of hopeful things.