We roll out of bed tired but happy. Thunder in our feet and sparks in our heart. I wait for you. In all moments I wait for you. Perhaps I ought to walk right up to you and shake your hand. But where do I find you? In my tidy nest devoid of dirt where do I find you? I find reflections of you in fire, in a certain afternoon stillness, in the singular glee of a small child swinging.

I look for you everywhere. I feel your energy, perhaps glimpse a movement of your hand, but still I can not find the entirety of you. Then I remember it is because I am you. You are breathing me, dancing me, nursing and regulating me just as my cells are embraced as such by me. Do my cells pray for me? Do you feel my tiny movements, are my thoughts transmitted to you, great holy wild, centrality, entirety, totality?

I know the answer is unutterable.

So my thirst to know you grows. My hunger for these words, vivid. Where do I find you? My hunger will lead me closer, closer, deeper, brighter. I have met you before, in the sun, the spider’s cobwebs, the meeting of two hearts, even in this LED realm, an extension of synapse and thought.

You are here in all of us. We are here in all of you. Many base camps. One summit.

(Keep climbing, you whisper)

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Dear reader, wherever you are, familiar or soon to be, I want to share some of who I am with you. With me. I am grasping in the lotus bath for my roots. I am sidestepping the dishwasher so that I may speak the truth.

I admit that I feel as though I have entered new territory, new crowds, new lands. I am not who I was before and yet I am forever still me. Who is this essential me? The blue eyed one who sat in the old wooden shed behind our house in the sun shower, warming her wet feet by the warmth of the dryer, stunned by the beauty of this golden light streaming through a cobweb. I am SHE and she is forever. I believe this was my awakening. My initiation into the mystery school of life. A school I am still learning to attend, to avoid skipping classes, remembering why I wanted to be here in the first place.

Much as happened since the last passage of my life here in the written world when I would write for hours into the New York night. Love drove me onwards, an unshakeable faith that what I was looking for was real because I could imagine it, and that once I found it, it would bring me home.

It has brought me home.

Strange how after wild adventures the comforts and familiarity of ‘home’ emanate an almost eerie silence. So simple and serene. My days biking erratically around New York, Chinatown, Greenwich and the East Village are done, at least for now. My days pacing the brown mud and grass of the Delaware river valley, meeting the deer and the stag and the opossum and the fox and the bear with the moon rising over the river with the salmonberries – they are also done, for now.

This last year has been wild and abrupt and completely confronting. Slung shot across space-time, I am now in California. And when I think about it, this place has called me for many years, just like New York. It has a completely different song, this land. The life of the desert is buried deep under ground, the animals just as ancient as those from the East, the rougher, sturdier, more robust plants rising up confident in their protection and strength – the cactus, the oak, the pine.

And it’s true that motherhood has changed me. I walk through my day differently, see differently, receive and give of myself differently. And yet I have ALWAYS yearned for this. I think becoming the ancient MA both softened and hardened me. I am less willful, more fluid, and yet a little closed and contained simply for the fact that my openings to implode with inspiration and emotion are narrow. Good. There is enough chaos in parenting as it is. (I admit I often yearn for that old drama, though.)

So what do I want to say now?

I want us to remember the limbs of cloud climbing across the neck of the mountain. The slant of the sun illuminating rock geometry embedded in the mountain. The yolk of the sun piercing our planet even as it falls towards the horizon. I want us to remember that we will not see all of this, someday. That perhaps we are not even seeing it today. I want us to remember that seeing is believing – you are alive, you exist, we are here together, you are not alone. In this lotus bath, these dish washing days, we are human. Can you believe it?

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The wind dances with the olive tree and I am me again. Just a girl in a tea house. Somehow even the way the water sits in its bowl feels new to me. I am fully present. Free from the gamboling, questioning, tumbling, exploring, sweet madness of my child. How majestic this experience – I must remember to stay youthful but also to guide him with my limits, the world’s limits, the boundaries of safety and home. I am exhausted by the musculature of it all, and relieved by the sudden peace.

I am on a new path. I hesitate to share too much, but compelled to excavate. What is there to excavate? I yearn for that full feeling of having so much to share, my fingers dancing across the page as I witness myself witnessing what it’s like to be human. Is the darkness too dark? Is the shadow too shy? Would we rather just have hope? Is there worth only in the light? I know this not to be the case. I know that to enforce a white light all is bright attitude can be shaky. It’s not all that. Some call this spiritual bypass – leading to unconscious actions, false Prophetessas. And so, instead of surfing the light and diving the dark I am balanced in the midst. I am taking my heart by it’s sleeves and wrapping myself around it. I am determined to love it where it hurts the most. I am devoted to deconstructing this shadow, transmuting it, so that others may do the same, so that others might be free, too.

It seems that we hide much too much. We paint as pretty so many tidy squares of our lives. What do I want to share? How do I want to serve? I want to remind you that we are living breathing dancing on this earth. Each footstep is a prayer. It’s actually happening. Us, on this brief, wild planet, now. It doesn’t work any more to hide from the more challenging aspects of life, those moments that ask us to show up in all of our glory, all of our misgivings and imperfections. Parenthood has been that crucible for me. For others, it will be intimate relationships (that has certainly been a crucible for me, too), our relationship with our parents or authority or the system.

Really, all of it is relationship. All of it is about how we are showing up. How are we relating? Who is this Me doing the relating? Are you who you say that you are, or even who you want to be? I know I yearn to be sweeter, loving, slower, conscious, to feel that divine enthusiasm that once coursed through my veins with the world at my feet. Then, I felt as if my ego had all the power in the world to change things, to have its stage, to dance like a blazing star across the sky of humanity. Oh, youth. Now, I feel a quieter urge. It is the urge to live a different truth – the truth of the sweetness that lies in all of us. The peaceful warrior, the disciplined, firm, loving, present, earth keeper. This is the real me. The stripped bare, clear as day message, the call to prayer, to action.

I will show up to this call, because I know who the caller is and for them, I must listen.

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By the way, welcome to the new Paper Castle! Wow. What a change. I am excited for this new outfit… a little modern, a little shaman. Hey 2016, I’m liking you a lot.

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It’s been years since I felt this same urge, an inner issuance, an impetus, to write. The lines string themselves along my spine until I feel bound by them. They won’t let me go. I remember learning of a writer who worked in fields of cotton, perhaps lupine. She would get wind of a poem rolling in like wild horses on the breeze, drop everything, and run. If she didn’t race to her typewriter, her paper and pen, the poem would be gone. The words rolling on for some other conduit to collect.

Though these last years of child bearing have wrung my heart and lifted it up again, I am not without desire. ‘Never let go of that fiery thing called desire,’ said Patti Smith. She comes to me quietly. Her coat is familiar to me though I don’t wear it much any more. Occasionally I’ll try it on and turn before the mirror, but I can’t keep it. Nor Dylan’s hats nor the shoes of Henry Miller. I once ate their food and drank their liquor. Patti once held my pen (the pen so expensive it was the most lavish thing I owned – a gift from my sterling, spontaneous godfather) when I asked her to sign my copy of Just Kids. She turned it in her hand, replacing the shaft with a twist into the lid. ‘Nice pen,’ she said in earnest.

Where is it’s ink? In so many years my world has been turned upside down. From the north east we have migrated to the south west. I miss New York. I’ve always missed New York. California has it’s own magic that I somewhat cautiously receive into my heart. New York’s charm was immediate for me – the endless shift of the sidewalk facades, shops and restaurants coming into new ownership, boarding up, renovated; the svelte tide of the traffic pulsing through its veins, yellow cabs like popcorn along the aisles of a dark living cinema. I loved the life on those streets, the way you could pull on your shoes, a coat, drop keys in your pocket, and go. I loved rolling on my bike through the East Village, Chinatown, Greenwich.

No matter how much I say, I can’t quite get to the memories, to the stories I have absorbed and intuited from those walls and those streets. Perhaps this is a gift – all I have experienced in my life lives now in my stories. And I can only tell them by approaching them, deciphering their impressions, these watermarks on my being, the few crumbs that remain after a decade long feast. California’s arms bear a different musculature. While New York is a dancer, California is a man. The bear, the bison, the whale. Heavy, hairy, wide bodied and gruff. There is a Hemingway elegance, with a Joan Didion passion. I am still reading its pages, dappled with oaks and palms, the sun setting over a salty sea. I miss the song of that city, but this music is my melody now. And I am glad – the emanations ripple through my being and package themselves up in the corners of my body. The harvest grows, and my soap worn hands long to dive into this earth, these memories, the moments of my life worth remembering, worth retelling. For now, I’ll settle into California’s leather armchair and soak up the sun as it sets by the mountain. This – this is a life worth living.

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It’s almost seven on a Sunday evening and I find myself losing the plot. Who am I? Where am I? What am I supposed to be doing? Isaac is making dinner and Julius is crying for a car or a bike or a wheel or something. When I am with my son, I am okay. When I am with my son, I am also not fully myself. I notice how much I put on my happy, brave face for him. I am not always brave. I am not always happy. I think before I had a child I felt more permission to grieve and process my feelings behind closed doors, in the morning over white lined paper, a cup of steaming tea on the arm of the sofa, socked feet curled under me. Now I don’t know if I own any socks, nor where they are. Now, I rely on coffee in the morning and alcohol at night to re-balance some semblance of equanimity.

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I woke up to an email about Patti Smith’s new book. I also woke up with the lyrics to Adele’s Hello repeating over and over in my throat. Hello from the other side. I must have called a thousand times. My angels, I feel I have left you. I feel I have dropped my phone in the primordial bath and you have no way of reaching me any longer. I don’t know why my heart is in a box, why I wear this dark hat. The most beautiful men love me deeply, one I gave birth to, one whose DNA flows with mine in this Seraphim child. What have I done? How far I have traveled to find my home. To find a place outside of me that feels in alignment with my soul’s calling. Ojai – I love you. You are amplifying all of my faults, all of my dreams, all of my yearnings, and how much I am slayed by everything you are showing me. My ego thrashes about before the mirror each day, telling me I am not there yet, I am not enough, I am not lovable, I am washed up. I stand there defiantly and look myself in the eyes until I see who I really am, and can safely walk out the door.

Patti wrote a book called The M Train. It’s about the transience of time, of our lives, the truth of this strange universe where nothing ever stays the same, and loss is just as real as love. Adele’s tearful wails trigger my own. These artists, they remind me what’s pure, what’s really real. Although loss is as real as love, it is only by recreating it, refashioning the broken bits of glass into something worth remembering, something beautiful, something whole again. We must stay authentic. We must share what it’s like to be human. It’s not enough, this surface dance. The surface of the pond is only one thread in a tapestry of creation. How deep is your love?

I haven’t been being very loving. Not to myself, not to my beloved. I am hiding. This shield serves the wounded me, the open sore whose origins I cannot recall easily. Why am I hurting? Because my loved ones leave, because they aren’t perfect, because they don’t always do what I want them to do, because their rough edges chafe against mine. I hurt, in this bright light. You are wresting through your jungle, and I am stumbling through mine. Meanwhile, we are doing our best to raise ‘decent humans’ amid the incessant effort and distraction of expansion that bringing children into the world entails. It’s not that we don’t love parenting, the process of it is beautiful, even elegant (!) – but it’s painful. It’s exhausting. Maybe that’s just me, perhaps because I was never the kind to be patient, or steadfast. I’m one of the most generous people I know, but then again, maybe my idea of ideal parenting requires a saint-like level of engagement?

I steal a moment to write this, and still the dogs bark and the boy imbibes his father to play, and the sun sets over the coast and the mountains fall dark after hours of clouds dancing upon them. The pasta comes to a boil and the doors slide open and shut and life goes on. Always changing, asking of us to play, bringing us to the boil, sliding us open and closed.

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The battle is so intense. Half the struggle is sitting down to this blank page, to the chaos of Resistance. I need to be gentle with myself. What will come out? I have no idea. That’s half the fun. Half the resistance. But I don’t believe it anymore. It’s time to step up to the plate and. just. write. Because I cannot breathe without it. Fuck you Resistance. I know you will be with me my whole life. But I will rise up and face you each and every day. I will do my work because I must. Because I have no other option.  

New Years Gaiagraphy Report, 1.2009, Peter Champoux

 

Listen.

Listen.

Listen.

This is the message I hear from the chords of my souls music. Perhaps they are angels, perhaps the echoes of a land long forgotten. In this God-forsaken city I have never felt so lost. The hummingbirds visit me almost every day and I’m reminded to keep floating, in the colors, the joy. Never be caged. A hummingbird will die in captivity. I’ve been gasping for air between these four white walls, not knowing where to turn or run to. There is nowhere to run to. Driving around in a car doesn’t do it for me. More sitting, more separation.

I am coming home to my Self. My intuitive wild woman self who does not accept this city. In New York I could walk anywhere, ride my bike to the river or the park, sift through the fascinating people who bring their cosmic spark to the sidewalk. I miss the animals and the angels there. In Pennsylvania I would leave the warm threshold of the house and walk to the forest, breathe in that ionic air and the scent of the sweet grass on the neck of the wind. In four seasons I would walk. When it snowed, the canal was marked with the tracks of skiers, the water frozen over, the boughs doughy with snow.

Deer tracks, fox prints, the gaze of a black bear meeting mine. The circling hawks and falcons. The great open grasses and the moon hanging over the river. God I miss that land. The land which fed my body as it grew another body, my first born son. The land which held me as I mourned my first miscarriage. The land which celebrated me and welcomed me as my life turned on in it’s great arc around the sun. On that river bank my body caved opened to offer my son to the world, in that house, on that land. Like so many deer had done before me, depositing their young into nests of soft grass in the dark.

I will always be inextricably linked to that place. I am in a great desert now, wandering aimlessly, sometimes chattering like a mad person with the flames at my throat. I have no water, no food, my soul is starving, gasping for air. Listen. Listen. Listen. I am going deeper, deeper into the space between the spaces. This is undoubtedly part of my journey – for reasons unknown to me as yet – and it has been one of the hardest chapters yet. What am I to learn from this pain, this separation? I am learning more about what I want, where my inner compass points. And that is enough for me. This knowing. This listening. These chords.

This song.

 

“The doors to the world of the wild Self are few but precious. If you have a deep scar, that is a door, if you have an old, old story, that is a door. If you love the sky and the water so much you almost cannot bear it, that is a door. If you yearn for a deeper life, a full life, a sane life, that is a door.”  

 Clarissa Pinkola EstésWomen Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype 

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It’s been a long time, this heavy trawling of the oceans floor. I’m so tired. So close to the bottom of the barrel. But I believe I have reached the edge of my being. And good. My fears have nothing to do with what society has taught us we ought to be afraid of – of wilderness, and chaos, and darkness, and the lands  beyond. In fact I am afraid of mediocrity, of apathy. I’m not even afraid of disappearing anymore. I yearn like a caged animal to reunite with the forest, the river, the wilderness.

For the first time, I have discovered Women Who Run With the Wolves. Finally. These words are a balm to my bruised ribs, sore from slamming myself against the constraints of my space. And I realize, I am beyond that space now. Rest. Stop trying to be in this space, this space of domesticity and normalcy. I am a wild woman. I need the dank dampness of the earth’s ground beneath my feet and the smell of the forest and the stag in the cornfields in the full moon light.

This is what I miss about where we once lived. A house on the edge of the wilderness. Very few people live there. Most people stayed in their homes with the safe lamps and the TV screens glowing. When we first moved from New York I was the same. I was terrified of walking in the dusk along that path. But at the end, when I was pregnant and full of the mystery of life, I would trek alone through the snow up to my knees to the edge of the forest and breathe. Just me and the land, the gentle sweet spirits of yesterday, the thin legs of the deer, the hot breath of the bear.

Now where we live I don’t see the bear, or the deer, or the fox slinking along my back fence, the snow falling quietly as my warm house envelops me. The gentle steady river where I buried my placenta, where I buried my sorrow, where I let go of so much. Now, where we live, I hear the train and the cars and the motorcycles and the fuzz of electricity everywhere which interferes with it all. There’s an apartment block next door where families of children look in through our fence and families of adults’ eyes dart quickly to our deck before shutting their doors.

Power lines criss cross the sky and vandalized grocery trucks trawl the streets fishing for dollars – Coca Cola, brown onions, bags of Doritos. The ice cream truck, another shark. We go to the ocean and it washes away the dust that gets into pores from the dry square of yard. There is no garden here. The sea’s power enlivens me and reminds me of the thrust of nature. In the waves I am part of the flow again. I push thoughts of Fukushima and dead seals from my mind and stay grateful for what we do have. I feel exhausted, and yet I want to do so much.

I can do nothing. In this place, there is only the still knowing of my own heart. The anger is a fuel and shows me there is work to be done. I can channel this anger, this sorrow, this grief into forging new paths. I keep hearing the instruction within me to go to the shamans, to go into nature, to go into myself, into Spirit, and listen. I soak up documentaries and photos and books on this wilder way, and suddenly I know where I’m going. North and East and far, far, away from here.

Female emotion isn’t seen as ‘safe’ or even normal, but hidden away in bathrooms and bed covers. Female rage even less so, hardly acknowledged, never honored. My rage is so strong it shatters me – and I know I need to pick up the pieces again. My sadness is a clear message that this is not it. I am brave, and vulnerable, and honest and real. That is who I am. So I pack my bags and head for the hills. I am free – always free – to follow this call.

My lover boards the same psychic train and we remember what we came here for. It’s not for the money or the notoriety or the objects in our home. We are here to live fully, listening to the hum of our song as it recedes and returns from within. It’s been a long time since I heard this song in the moonlight. Today, I am relearning its words. My instrument – my body. The song, my soul. Breath of the bear, thin legs of the deer. This is my song, my medicine. Me.

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The Indian ragas play from the room next door and the air is cool and damp in LA. We eat porridge with macadamia nut butter and Spanish bee pollen, drink cardamom coffee and exalt the beauty of our life together. I’ve come a long way. It’s funny, creating. How free do we feel to create just for the sake of it? I am coming to know myself again. Through all of this business called life, I am arriving at the threshold of who I am, who I might become.

In Paris the idea of having just one child ignites me with inspiration. I was born into a large family, but who says one isn’t the new three? Suddenly the idea of traveling to India in a few years, and Bali, and having the freedom to write and produce my novels, my work, my soul work…  gives me fresh eyes and a canvas rises up in my mind. I’ve always been interested in walking a different road to the one more traveled, dancing to the sound of my own heart with its unique tune. I knew I wanted to experience the adventure of having a child. When I google female authors who are mothers, it’s fascinating to discover that the greats mostly had one:

“It was only when I was working on a book investigating what it means to have, and to be, an only child that I realized how many of the writers I revere had only children themselves. Alongside Sontag: Joan Didion, Mary McCarthy, Elizabeth Hardwick, Margaret Atwood, Ellen Willis, and more. Someone once asked Alice Walker if women (well, female artists) should have children. She replied, “They should have children—assuming this is of interest to them—but only one.” Why? “Because with one you can move,” she said. “With more than one you’re a sitting duck.”

I know how hard it can be to juggle one’s self with one’s family – we have historically carried so much of the care taking. I’m intimately familiar with this challenge, and so I am called to galvanize myself and others by supporting women around motherhood, to be a source of encouragement for women going through that monumental transition. Is it because I am Leo that I care so much about what is here in my soul, that wants to be expressed? I need to LIVE my truth, to live these hushed dreams. My artist self is so thirsty, so longing to see the colors that dance in my soul, to paint this world anew and see the beauty that sometimes I forget is there. Perhaps I can be a better mother, a better artist, a better support person for the people in my life and the world, if I am true to myself.

I’ve often felt afraid to speak my truth, for fear that perhaps it would isolate me or that you would leave me alone and forget about who I am or could be. But I’m already slipping through the sands of time. If I don’t speak out, it’s done. Life is already happening. Each new second is replacing the last and I am not being myself. I want to inspire everyone to live their dreams, whether that is parenthood or a new life or a new novel or a year in Morocco.  I just want to be true. I just want to be authentic. What does that mean now?

It means being honest about my feelings. I love being a mother, but gosh it’s hard. God it’s tiring, and frustrating, and full of surrendering the things I have loved most. I love watching my son grow, and yet I know I don’t want to go through the intensity of this again any time soon. I want to sleep through the night. I want to write for at least an hour without interruption. I want to be able to travel to far away places without the regular exhaustion that bringing a small child entails. If I had a lot of money, a big house, a lot of hired help, I’d consider having more. If I didn’t have this giant swell of an ocean pressing against my being telling me to undress and undress and get more and more naked, I would consider being someone else.

I can’t be someone else. I can’t do the two or three kids in the house on the quiet street with the shady trees and the school lunches. I don’t think I can be happy there. Not without some massive sacrifices. Not while I watch my partner achieve things beyond his wildest dreams. I know women before me have done it, and they have been happy to make those sacrifices, but something tells me that’s not what I really want. It’s been fascinating discovering what I really want. And always as I press against the door of what I think I want, it doesn’t open, so I turn around and see a quirkier, different path that feels more like home. Thank goodness for that.

I have to be true. We have to be true. It doesn’t make sense to me to hold these facades any longer. I feel them all around me in the world, too. So many people pretending, trying to make something happen, trying to get a result. I don’t buy it. I just want to be real and see your realness too. Your true self, your quirky, poetic, dancing colors. That’s it. I’m stripping. Life is too short to be someone else, to live by the books, to float along without diving into this ocean within. Life, thank you for showing me the options. I’m not sure I like anything on the regular menu, so I’m coming into the kitchen. Show me your spice rack and I’ll show you mine. Let’s cook up a storm and rewrite this tired song because the melody haunts me (and thank goodness for that.)

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It would be a lie to say that I’m not trying to piece myself back together after becoming a mother. I’m not sure where writing starts and motherhood ends. I’m writing this standing up with the laptop on top of the fridge. Nope, not anymore. Now I’m writing this at 11:33pm on the green velvet couch while everyone else is sleeping and resting. I delete my frustration, close the computer and start again the next day. Here I am again the next morning, trying, trying again, to be happy.

Why do I write? I write because something calls me to sit here and type at these keys and organize my thoughts into something other than grocery lists and the housing market. I write because I miss the woman I used to be, the artist who never envisioned herself as a mother, who didn’t have the patience to be a mother. I write because I’m trying to sew her back into my life, trying to find some way to meet with her everyday over coffee, because I miss her. Our relationship is so charged that I put it off and put it off, this meeting, and then when the time comes, I drink and eat nervously and wonder what she’ll think of me. What I’ve become.

I’m trying to make space in my life to be happy again. Happy beyond the happiness of marriage and parenting, where my patience is now monumental. I seem to have become a woman whose daily actions are those that my artist self resists. Ordered and restrained and forward thinking and mundane, really. Sacred mundane. Washing, cooking, rocking, singing, playing – not so much actually. Why don’t I play anymore? I suppose I feel too jaded to play. So sad.

So I write to start playing again. I write to carve some time for myself every day. I write to get back in touch with a part of myself I have let calcify, for fear that she might ruin everything and turn the house upside down and be too dramatic and too emotional and too unstable. The child within me. I suppose I have tried to be the grown up, to do the things that grown ups do and move on from those frivolous times. How BORING.

What do I miss about you, artist?

Where do I begin. I miss the way you walk, the way you see things. I miss the way you don’t give a damn. I miss your ideas, your dreams, your favorite foods, the black coffee you drink. I miss your fun. I miss your sense of style. I miss the way you love your lover. That look in your eye and the spark in your heart as you connect with what inspires you. What inspires you? He asked last night. All I can think of is the straight open road, and motels, and bad diner coffee, and gas stations. I want to be on the road again, throwing it all to the wind. Baby in the back or not, it doesn’t matter. She wants to read again, learn again. Turn the volume of the music up, up, up.

I’ve become more mature, that’s for sure. But maybe she has grown up too, through this whole motherhood business. She’s definitely been watching and learning right alongside me, except now she’s pretty pissed. Angry that I haven’t let her have a voice. Like a sultry teenager, I’ve been driving her away with my rules and rejection. But she is my flesh and blood, she is part of my soul. I need her! So I make her a playlist to sing her back into my house. I tell her I will listen. I promise I will pay attention when she calls me away from the sink and the kitchen sponge to be with her.

Why do I resist her like I have? I passed a street tonight called Normal Street (literally) and she sensed my desire for balance and equanimity and stability and security, but before the thought became a feeling she said ‘PFFT. Normal!?’ How BORING.’ The glittering freeways crawl like rivers of metal and we keep driving. She’s the only person I care about impressing these days, so I’ve decided to listen to her more. I like her. If I can bring some of her spark to my mothering, and some of my salt and earth mothering to her life, we might just be okay. We could live together, even work together! Baby steps.

Tonight she sits on my couch and eats an artisanal donut and vibrates with the energy of someone exciting and new. She feels she is a little more welcome here. We listen to Fiona Apple and Cass McCombs and melancholy, triumphant songs. Candles in the Rain. Dark Paradise. I feel relief just to have her in my space again. This relationship I have to her is as complex as any passionate love. It’s wonderful to discover who she is again, to hear her stories and sense who she has become while she has been away. Where has she been? I am fascinated. What will she make of today? We are learning to trust each other, two women, respecting these lives we’ve created in parallel universes, bringing our hands back together again, salty and rainy and sticky and alive.

I started this post with the words of Annie Lamott in my head – “Before I became a mother I couldn’t write if there were dishes in the sink. Then I had a child. Now I can write if there’s a corpse in the sink.” Not sure what there is in my sink right now, but learning to let go of those endless ‘shoulds’ and focus on the truth of what’s important to me in my lifetime, my body, my soul. Anyone else out there feel like they’ve been ripped in half post-partum? I miss the old me, yet respect the new me. Oh, life. 

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It’s 80 degrees and sunny in LA and I miss New York. I miss the stinky garbage and the hot concrete on those shady streets downtown with the wisdoms scrawled into them. I miss the buzz, the other buzz that isn’t the nine lane freeway buzz and the threat of drought in the air. I miss the red brick facades and the ladders coming down off the balconies and the trumpet players in Washington Square Park.

I’ve been here six months now and I’m realizing how hard it has been to move. We had New York on our own terms. We’d come in and come out. Oh, the out and oh, the in. We loved returning to the intersection on Canal and West Broadway, spotting the rebels, the mavericks, the kooks out for their first walk in days. We loved leaving, too. I will never forget when you first took me to Pennsylvania. I fell asleep in your lap and woke up to the smell of river and grass and damp sweet heavy night as they wound down the window.

We stayed the weekend while hurricane Irene blew through, scattering leaves and twigs and felling a few trees across the canal. The air was pregnant that summer, every summer. We had coffee and pancakes and I took photographs of you in your all black long sleeve pajamas and bare feet, reading the inscriptions on your bottles of flower essences, feet on the coffee table, your face like Michelangelo.

Just a month or so later, we were back and I had a few rental houses lined up for us to look at. You picked me up from the airport and had a hot roast dinner and a rollie cigarette ready in the passenger seat. We drove through New Jersey and across the majestic Delaware in Pennsylvania and stayed at your brothers house for a long weekend. We drank Prosecco on the old porch and danced barefoot indoors.

A year later, I would walk the tow path along the canal and tell you how high the corn was growing. You were traveling, playing your music to different audiences every night, and I was traveling too, along that beaten dirt and gravel path, watching the subtle changes in the landscape, familiar with almost every tree, almost all the grasses. I would run my hands along the tops of them as they swayed in the evening breezes, the moon high above the river bed.

The next year when I miscarried, I sought solace in that forest. It was only when we mounted the hill before descending into the valley that I felt free to grieve, to enter that dark forest of grief within myself. I swam in the river a lot, at first afraid of what lived under the mud within it, and then grateful for its constant presence, its soothing cool in summertime, the green pressing all around, the wide dominance of it in winter with the shards of white ice and snow floating down it.

I hated having to burn oil to warm the house. I didn’t love the water pressure in the shower. We never found anyone we could really relate to out there, no one really like us. But god did I love it there. I didn’t want to leave. Not one bit. I still don’t. But I have. I have left and it was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. I was pregnant there, walked the deep snow with my heavy belly and heard only my breath and my footsteps in that snowy cover. I loved the deer and the safety I felt. Always safe, always welcomed.

Snow Canal II watercolor/paper by B.F. Postel

Julius was born at 919 River Road. I was born, too. I think part of me is still embedded in the floor boards there where my first born burst out of me. I left her there. Maybe she will never leave. It is her house as much as anyone else. Will we return one day? I don’t know. Will we truck all of our belongings across country again? God that was an effort. But in this moment now, I fantasize about it, about moving back to New York, back to that house where I was born.

I always wanted my children to have that forest, those animals. I sense we will return someday, I’m not sure when it will be. Maybe in our old age, maybe in a few years. A sense of belonging. I’d love to feel that. That wild city, those gentle hills. They will be with me forever. Until my reunion (or a resolution) it’s you and me California, you and me.

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