Sweetness

spirals

I had some old friends come into town last night.  One was an old friend who had since moved away, and she brought her two teenagers with her.  I used to babysit them when they still lived in the area, years ago.  My friend had come into town on other business, so she went out tonight and I hung out with her kids – not really kids anymore.  I found myself in this surreal and yet sweet circumstance, talking about death and religion, sexuality and mortality with these people that are mostly adults, just without experience.  I felt privileged that they felt comfortable enough to be so open about who they truly are with me, and yet somewhat amazed about how years mean nothing.  You can find kindred spirits in generations ahead and behind you.  The fourteen year old had told me that he had been looking forward all week to trekking up to the area and seeing me.  He still remembered me, even though he was just a kid when they left.

We ended up watching Cloud Atlas, one of my favorite movies.  They picked it out.  I think my favorite line, one that rings true even if it comes from a movie/book is this:

Our lives are not our own.

From womb to tomb, we are bound to others,

past and present,

and by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.

 

Happy New Decade

Red River

I turned 40 today.  Had a great weekend celebration.  On Saturday, a friend offered to make me a fancy birthday brunch – anything with croissants, fruit, and whipped cream is good.  Hung out and we went to a bunch of garage sales – it was so fun.  It happened to be one of those days where I found stuff I’ve been wanting to buy for awhile – a tea tray, port glasses, sake cups, and a few other odds and ends.

Saturday night I went to out with a group to the Free House.  I had friends from multiple spheres show up – friends I met at work, friends from my previous work, and friends I’ve known forever.  It was pretty awesome, I had a great time.  Stayed up really late.  For me, having a get together where people show up means so much to me.  That’s what I want, good times with friends.  It makes me so happy to have an evening with people I care about – and the ones who consistently show up are the ones who will never know how much it really means to me.  It makes me tear up, to be honest–because at my heart, I’m a bit of sap.  But it’s a good thing to love your friends. 🙂  I LOVE MY FRIENDS.

On Sunday, I checked my email and there was last-minute invite to go whitewater kayaking with some friends.  Since I’ve never done it before, I had to take advantage of the opportunity.  So at 9:00 am we headed up to the central part of the state to the Red River.  We got up there about three hours later, it was me and a couple of experienced guides.  This has been on my bucket list for awhile.

However, within the first half hour, I had a really bad scare.  I had been reckless and hadn’t adequately practiced my wet exits – I flipped and panicked.  I got a brief, horrifying glimpse of how incredibly easy (and terrifying fast!)  it is to drown upside down in a mere three feet of water, because I struggled with getting my swim skirt off.  Total rookie mistake.  As I was going down and yet resisting the inevitable, one of the guys helped out and managed to get that off.  It was over probably pretty quickly and I found myself standing by the capsized kayak in the river, shuddering and taking big gulps of air as water poured out of my nose.  My vision was blurry at first – my contacts had moved around a bit – but they reset.  But the worst thing was that we were already downstream – the only way out was to continue through.

Much like having to drive a car immediately after being in an accident, I found myself not being able to get completely get over it, because I was still in it.  I think I did okay, and the river was very beautiful.  There were many placid spots where we would pinwheel down the river in slow turns.  I got to see a river otter on a rock with a fat crawfish in his mouth, a bald eagle at fairly close range, and a variety of dragonflies.  But every time we got to a rock or a drop, I found it hard remain calm – I was fairly terrified of tipping over again.  Of course, I probably should have done it in a safe place, but I just didn’t feel up to it.  So next time, I will have to practice deliberately tipping upside down and ripping the swim skirt off.  It’s the only thing that keeps you in the kayak, you slip right out otherwise.

After three or four hours of paddling, we stopped at Zeimer’s Falls and one of the guys went on to get the truck – I was pretty much done.  I have no regrets, but I was really tired by the end of the day, so glad I got a ride back and didn’t have to drive myself.  It was probably good to get for me to get a little bitch slap from Mother Nature.  Always respect yo mama.

 

Never too Late to Learn

car

The picture of my little 15 year old car with bikes attached to it makes me so happy.  Truth be told, I haven’t had a bike in years.  And R has never had a proper bike, nor is she very confident in riding a bike.  The divorce kind of messed up my finances and then when I would research bikes it would be so overwhelming as far as price and things to consider that I just put it off. . .and put it off.   This weekend I decided that we would go get a bike rack (after all, there’s no way a bike would fit IN my car) and helmets.   As it happened, I decided to check out Craigslist and there were two bikes listed from the same address nearby, a “Giant Woman’s Bike” and a girl’s bike.   It had been posted 15 minutes prior to me checking.

I emailed them, we agreed to meet in a couple of hours and then the girls and I went and bought a bike rack, installed it, got cash, bought the bikes, and came home.  I love when things just fall together.  Of course, I still have to the girls how to ride.  I know that this is pretty basic stuff, but for me it’s a big deal.

As a kid, I was never athletic.  I didn’t know how to roller skate, or ice skate, or swim, and I learned to ride a bike at a pretty late age.  I’ve never been embarrassed about being tall, but I could never hide my age due to it.  When I did finally learn to ride a bike, I spent summers riding over to construction sites and toodling around after hours.  There was a new subdivision going in by us and it was fascinating to ride over there every day and see the silent progress, foundations being created, walls going up, walking around in the thick clay mud over newly created roads.  It was freedom to be alone and observe, though my brother often came with me.

My family knew books.  Books in proper bookcases with glass doors, and books in makeshift cinderblock bookcases when those were overrun, and books piled high in the upstairs hallway over and in front of the buried bookcases up there.  Reading is what I know and it’s easy enough to teach something that is part of your soul.

But bodies should be fed too, and some of my happiest times are being outside, watching ants crawl around the base of trees or watching the slow sap of pine trees ooze over days.  A bike gave the freedom to go farther, to explore quiet places where no one else is around, to listen to the wind in the trees, to make up stories of trolls under bridges and to watch the punctuated pattern of manmade things being created.  Strength gives you the ability to climb trees and sit up where the branches sway, a little bit scary and yet really fulfilling.   And late is better than never.

 

Figuring out what Love is

infiniteflowers

I was reading the advice columns today – I am always interested in what kind of problems write in about.  One was from a woman who had been dating a man for three years and they were going to get married.  Her fiancé was getting weirded out about the idea of having to “check-in” every day, and confessed that he was getting married because that’s the next step of the progression.  The woman was wrestling with what to do about that.

It’s timely, because one of the best quotes on love I’ve found is that it’s not a feeling, it’s an act.

“…love has to be practiced. It has to find something to do. Love isn’t just a feeling. It’s an instruction: Love one another. That’s hard to do. It doesn’t mean to sit at home and have fond feelings. You’ve got to treat people as if you love them, whether you do or not.”

-Wendell Berry

 

I would have to agree, it’s not just who you respect or trust or want to go to bed with, it’s about who you want to life with.  When I’m with my girls, we may talk or paint, play games or watch a movie, but there is always laughter and beauty.  Sure, there are days that I get annoyed, but overall, I look forward to spending time in their presence, because I enjoy their company, listening to their thoughts, reveling in their warm hugs.  And if I’m spending time with my brother and my sister-from-another-mister, or with my friends in Milwaukee, we don’t have to be doing anything.  I just enjoy hanging out, telling stories or listening to theirs, laughing or commiserating over the craziness of this world.  But I show up for them, and they show up for me – that’s how I know we’re close, we make the time to be in each other’s world for the mundane moments as well as the big ones.

Yet, when it comes to dating whomever, I wonder what are we going to do together?  Because it often jumps to the sexy time part, and though I love me some sexy time, that’s not the only thing in life.  What do I like to do?  What do I want to do in life?  And that’s the question I need to answer for myself, because it will affect who I connect with.

Love and Nakedness

b&wtorso

It’s that time of year again.  The sun is lingering in the days and the nights are full of frogsong and breeze, the time I get restless and want to get out and date again.  I’ve been thinking a lot about love and where I’m at with that.  Because the last few relationships I’ve been in, it’s gotten to a few months and I just can’t go farther.  I have fun and usually the person is wonderful, but since the phrase “it’s not you, it’s me” has been deemed as utter bullshit, I’m left with nothing.  Actually, it’s just that I can usually tell after 3 months or so if I have the potential to love someone and I still can’t seem to get there.

And yet, dear god, I love men.  Actually, I love people – it’s just that I don’t usually get a urge to kiss women.  Not often.  Maybe occasionally. 😉  Mostly men though.

But as much as I need my alone time, I love having companions and friends to do stuff with, to experience this existence with.  It’s boring without friends.   Because life it fleeting, and we never know when it’s over.  Maybe I have years, maybe I only have days. With my girls, full of luscious youth and eyes white and untainted, I can love absolutely and give everything away because it gives me such fierce joy to give so much, to completely love with abandon.  With my girlfriends, they may not even know how much I think about them, how much even the ones that are far away, fill me with smiles when I think of them.

I have a great life.  I have only had a few great loves in my life (including my ex-husband, though it ended), but they saw something beautiful in me – a beauty I couldn’t believe that I could possess, because how I could I be so sad if I was beautiful and anyway isn’t it conceited to think that way? – and yet in their eyes, I could see that they believed it, they believed in me.  So now, I try to give that back, even if I don’t always know how.

And the great thing is, when I invite people into my life, there is always something totally awesome in them.  I may not be everyone’s cup of tea and that’s okay – I don’t want people who don’t get me in my life.  Go away, you who hate me or whatever, I really don’t need you.  I need the space you leave to find the people of my tribe, the ones who have been hurt but yet can let go, the ones who know everyone has suffered in someway but it hasn’t killed their compassion, as Kahlil Gibran says,

 

From “On Joy and Sorrow”
 Kahlil Gibran

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

 

This world is full of love and cruelty, joy and sorrow.  And yet, what would the meaning of it be if was only one or the other?   What would we learn about each other, about ourselves, if it were not so?  So tonight, I will be grateful.  I don’t know my future but I trust in the universe, I trust in existence that it will be okay.  That I can love and not be loved in return – or that someone may want more from me than I can give – and it is still all as it should be.  Because by following my path, I always find kindred souls alongside, and it makes my soul sing.