I would like to be divested of this idea of narrative,
that the plot of my life has turns it should or will make,
that I am arcing upwards as if toward a summit.
Let me instead be as directionless as a tree,
like pines flicking their feathery plumes outside
my window, whose thoughts are so large
and voices so long we cannot discern them,
who move so slowly no one can tell,
and move only to better taste of the sun.
Story is a tyranny: this getting things done,
how one event begets another, a logical sequence,
how end & meaning & purpose are the same.
Let me lose this word meaning. I desire
obsolescence, or to have a purpose incidental,
of which I am not aware; as a tree bends
to wind & searches for sun, and soothes us,
speedy beasts, with the blessing of being
silent, and living, and emphatically there.
THE RODIN EXHIBIT, Peabody Essex, Salem, MA
Here we have, among folds of fabric, a single hand. In this glass case, an arm. Notice the natural articulation of fingers. My lover adds more than the placards tell, happy to use his first degree for something. I honestly think it would be nothing if I left. I rest my chin on my hand and pull a serious moue in front of The Thinker, one of who knows how many. Rodin made molds you know, and cast and recast every image. The materials could change-- bronze, marble, plaster-- but the fingers are the same, the relaxed gesture. I've no makeup, and my fat shorts on, a faded tee from the Film Festival, but he'll use this image as a screen saver for months. Camille cast this arm again and again; her lover fused it to her body, or another woman's. I'm replaceable, you see, a human of a certain form, and another of the same mold would do as nicely. Calves and feet. A repeatable head. I'm indistinguishable from another.
Our little circular enclave stood out as one of the few places left in our university town where the college students lived in the small post-World War II Sears catalog style homes alongside some elderly couples and a few families with very young kids. For in spite of our college city being relatively small, urban sprawl was in vogue. And people were eagerly moving across the river to build bigger and grander homes or indulge in the amenities featured in the newly built apartment communities. With the fashion for the local residents being to complain about the drinking parties and wild nature of these football-crazed college students.
In our own enclave, the main complaint we had about these collegiate neighbors of ours, was the one guy who would practice his loud drum routine every day right during the middle of the afternoon. Sometimes he was right on the beat, yet most of the time, his rhythm was atrociously off. With him living right beside the elderly couple who rarely left their home - but were somehow always in the know when it came to the happenings in our neighborhood - one day my mother and I stopped by to ask them about their drum beating neighbor.
“What drum?” they asked us with blank looks coming out of their eyes. Leaving us to wonder if they were purposely being evasive out of some kind of neighborly loyalty. After all, this college boy’s drum routine had been reluctantly memorized by the entire neighborhood. But after prodding them some more, my mother and I realized that they weren’t being polite, they were actually that hard of hearing. Resulting in them not having a clue as to what drum we were referring to.
On another afternoon, my mother and I went shopping for shoes. We ended up in one of the nicer retail stores in the mall and went through the usual hassle of trying on shoes, sorting through the boxes to make sure we hadn’t misplaced one of the pairs, and then grimacing at the prices of even the less expensive footwear we were selecting. Sensing our dismay over the prices of the shoes, our tall and well dressed shoe salesman starting ringing up the items. Quickly informing us that “I can give you the good neighbor discount.”
Now it was our turn to feel blank looks overtake our eyes. For while we certainly appreciated his generous offer, we couldn’t fathom why he was referring to us as neighbors. Noticing our confusion, the friendly shoe salesman looked at my mother and me and said “Y’all live in the circle, right?” To which we nodded in affirmation. And our good neighbor discounts were applied, much to our unexpected delight.
We soon learned that our shoe salesman neighbor was half-Brazilian, but wholly Southern. With a penchant for hunting and other outdoorsman activities. And possessed of an uncanny ability to convince even a 15,000 pound circus elephant to forego her monthly peanut allowance. All in order to purchase a pair of high-end patent leather stiletto heels that she would never be able to wear. But could have the pleasure of gazing upon fondly from afar. He had played college level baseball before transferring to the university and was very devoted to his majorette girlfriend. However, when he learned that I spoke Spanish, the prankster in him decided to play the part of matchmaker between his buddy who was majoring in Spanish and me.
The problem with his cupid-like endeavors, was that he rarely let the truth interfere with his machinations. Resulting in me talking about my favorite Irish music groups to his friend, who spent the entire time trying to ascertain if I had confused him with an unknown twin or was in dire need of some serious medical attention. For contrary to what our shoe salesman neighbor had told me, his Spanish major friend wasn’t a connoisseur of “Celtic Woman”. However, unable to remain upset at him and his pals for very long, come Christmas Time we gave them a plate full of my mother’s tasty homemade oatmeal cookies.
With our house being on the end of the cul-de-sac, right alongside one of the main thoroughfares from the main boulevard to the university campus, our lawn was a conspicuous one. And, most of the time, my mother and I didn’t worry about mowing the grass. Due to our neighbor behind us kindly mowing it while riding on his lawnmower and trimming his own yard. However, once the city began placing more restrictions on dog owners, his wife decided she preferred a life out in the country where she could have her furry friends at leisure. Leaving us with plenty of grass in the yard and me being too frightened to mow the lawn for fear it would fall back on me and chop off all of my fingers.
Then one day, with the sun shining on a beautiful breezy afternoon, my mother and I decided to partake of the lovely climate by taking a long stroll around the block. In one of those rare moments where for some inexplicable reason everybody instantly gets along, we met two college boys who were eager to make acquaintances among their new neighbors. One had served in the military and the other would later be one of my mother’s Spanish students. Despite their youthful age, they had some insight into international affairs, which fascinated us. And after a while, they invited us to tour their home. Since we all were getting along so well, when my mother looked at me to see what I thought about their offer, I immediately agreed that we should take a look at their new environs.
Their house was impressively large and after bidding our farewells at the conclusion of our tour, my mother came home a few days later with the news that she had met their girlfriends. Being very pleased by how nice they all seemed; when Halloween rolled around we stopped by to see their costumes and show them ours. With us stopping by to say hello and discuss world affairs with them periodically after that.
Then all of a sudden I came home and I blinked my eyes. Something was different about our house and I couldn’t pinpoint what it was. It was looking picturesque with the flowers blooming and everything appearing so neat and tidy. Almost too neat and tidy. And after mulling over it for a while, it dawned on me . . . the lawn. It was freshly mowed and looking superb. My mother noticed it too. However, there was no clue as to who had done this unexpected kindness. We looked around for a note, a bill, or anything that would give us a hint as to the identity of the persons who had so graciously mowed our lawn.
Putting our two heads together, after some time, my mother and I finally realized it was the two college boys. Feeling so happy at their unexpected generosity, we took some of our caramel popcorn and other treats over to their house. Thanking the one who was there, as profusely as we could.
After a couple of years, we moved to the bigger metropolis about an hour away. Where our upstairs newlywed neighbors managed to shake the entire apartment building like a giant thunder clap while serenading us with the strains of their honeymoon. It was a far cry from our World War II era Sears catalog homes. And we had to bite our tongues a few weeks later when they announced to us that they were expecting. Perhaps, we thought to ourselves, we were overdoing it in our college town back home. And the college boys were good neighbors, after all.
the following is about recovering from self harm. please read in a way that will keep you safe. this is how they got to March.
I’m about 6 months clean!!!!!!! It’s been tough and there have been a few almost relapses but I haven’t, I’ve stayed strong and I’m so proud of myself! I never thought I could stay strong for this long! 🌱
After a traumatic event that occurred last December, I thought that it would never get better. I just want to say that I have been having more and more good days and I am so proud of myself for getting out of the darkest time I've gone through so far. And yes there are bad days but I know that the next day will usually be better. One of the sayings that really helped is that healing is not linear. You will have both good days and bad days. It will get better. It might not seem like it but it will 🌱
Going through a bit of a relapse but it’s ok because now I know that I am strong enough to get through it like I did last time. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from struggling so much is that I am so strong and can absolutely beat this and recover. PSA to anyone else struggling: you are strong enough too! I believe in you and I know that you are strong enough to beat whatever you’re struggling with! 🌱
The past few years (last year especially) have been incredibly tough for me but the past few months have been such an incredible period of growth and recovery and I’m really proud of myself and how far I’ve come. I got away from all the toxic “friends” I was hanging around with and while that was incredibly hard, I’m doing so much better now. I have a job I love at a doggy day care and I’m even 8 months clean. For the first time in a very long time I can honestly say I’m happy. 🌱
At the end of this month (March) I will be one year clean. I do not know the exact date, because I thought knowing the exact date would just make it so much harder when I inevitably relapsed. But I didn’t. Out of the nearly 365 days, not once did I self harm. I had some real close calls sure but over time I realized that hurting myself wasn’t what I actually wanted to do. Most of the time I just needed to take a step back and be gentle with myself, practice a little self care. I no longer needed to hurt myself in order to find a release of express my emotions. I have learned so much about myself, especially about how strong I am. I have come such a long way on a very long bumpy road but I am so glad I did and I am so unbelievably proud of myself. I also just want to thank you for creating this safe space for me to share my struggles and thank you for always giving encouragement. I am forever grateful. Thank you. 🌱