Last and First

It’s 9:30 in the morning and still grey—Seattle, I love you and your gloomy skies.  It’s the cusp of the New Year and while I’ve been pensive for a while, thinking about what this year has been and what next year makes pensive seem a small word.

In a certain sense, I’ve finally found my footing. I’m stronger than I was a year ago in many ways and I’m starting to organize again—both poetically, artistically and athletically.  I’m in a place where I can host guests and have dinner parties.  I have a car to pick up friends at the airport and I’ve helped my company nearly double in size.

In another sense, I still have no idea what I’m doing.  I still don’t know how to occupy emotional space with anyone else. I still crush on boys that are wrapped up in their own stories or for whom the timing is just enough off that it’ll never work. I still have heartache and loneliness. I burn my dinner and I’m socially awkward and I have bruised knees and tangled hair and can’t keep my laundry folded and in order if someone were to pay me only for that.

In other words, same old same old. Just a person, as any person is.  I am starting to think, even more strongly, that we are all replaceable.  That sounds self-deprecating but I really don’t mean it that way.  It’s just—we’re all so similar, even in our differences.  One of the strangest things about my father dying was how completely specific and, at the same time, how completely impersonal it was.  My grief is unique but every single person on the planet will either go through this same thing or die and their parents will go through the same thing.  Biological parents, chosen parents, the family we are tied to with blood or the one we find for ourselves—we all lose someone or are lost ourselves.  It put a lot of things in perspective for me.  So, heartache. So what? So, love. So what? So strength or weakness or sorrow or joy. It’s all this big roiling mass that we dip in and out of as our lives weave our stories.

I don’t know what 2014 holds for me.  This might be the year I climb a 12a. This might be the year I fall joyfully in love. This might be the year I start publishing again.  This might be the year I don’t get another tattoo. This might be the year I break a bone, the year I really start to bike around the city, the year I learn to drive standard, the year I learn to love broccoli, the year I start using hot sauce.  There are so many possibilities—it’s just a lovely, terrifying blank page. I realize, in writing this, that I have no expectations.

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A snowflake showed me how to live

A long time ago, in a child’s hand, I wrote that in 2010 I would be in Seattle.  Funny to find it’s come true.  Other things haven’t, (according to the same paper, I was going to be married, with 3 kids, and a veterinarian, because I love animals and animals love me).

In Seattle I have teetered between many things.  I desperately love this city, but I find the people difficult to connect to.  I feel at home and at the same time so far away.  I often feel as though I am tumbling through 25, holding a job without depth, writing less than I wanted to, and drifting aimlessly among people I barely know who barely know me.

Then something happens, and things get re-evaluated.

So much of my poetry concerns body, but with an absolute void where mine ought to be.  My poems circle around self, define self through others.  I often feel I need to be touched to be reassured I am alive.  For a time, I felt I was disappearing here- where I thought my definitions were solid suddenly vanished and I was left drifting and uncertain and veering towards depressed.  I took dance classes, I kept taking walks, I wrote, but until today I hadn’t realized how completely I’ve come out of that period.

Thanks to a snowflake.  (Of course, a symbol– but being part of my life doesn’t mean you are part of the internet. So I stick to the symbol.)  What dance classes couldn’t do I’ve learned with other help- how to inhabit my own body.  New Year’s Eve found me dancing wildly in sequins to the African drumbeats pulsing in our living room, surrounded by new friends and old, family chosen and blood.

This isn’t to say I won’t have a difficult time with some things that are edging on my horizon.  But today, for the first time in a long while, I felt a deep peace that was dependent on no one but myself.

So here I am, 2010, in Seattle.  A city I fall in love with again and again, and heart open, my body my own. Here I am dancing in a living room, dancing on a rooftop, dancing on the mucked floor of a cheap bar, my head tilted to the way I sway.  Even if someone is watching. Even if no one is watching.