It is too early to tell

For some reason I like it here, Big Bookstore have to travel through several miles of concrete sprawl to get to and it is hot today, July hot in May, mug wall choke dust in the throat.  I don’t mean to and won’t complain.  It was so cold for so long I’ll take anything that doesn’t jangle my bones or prick my fingers with the tiny stars.  Just with July hot in May the heat fumes are surface stuck and release on impact of rubber to tar.  So traffic feels a long time extra and your destination not totally worth it when you arrive.

But here I am, came to write~came to blog.  Something I can do, one of the only things there is, just for me.  For no one else to feel the fever dissipate up and dissolve off the muscles behind my collar bones.  For me no one else knows about.  For me to see me, or to not, or in this case, admit I don’t know what I am looking for at all.

I leave therapy less certain than when I arrived but feeling better anyway.  No, there’s no reason to dredge it up, but in the middle of last night still there was childhood anxious and afraid ringing its hands.  Twisty gut and heart pound.  I want to blame it on Brasil but know that Brasil is not the cause, is more the cure.  Ten years of avoidance, insecure attachment looks ambivalent as hell when you’re doing the dance~

Or sexy as hell, and the boring premature let down orgasms that come with that lame same ol same ol pretend there’s more to it than that nonsense.  Time waste. That’s what I have to show for 10 years?  I smile and even my therapist agrees, the ambivalent defense at once also mechanism of my own vision. Enough so that I also built–no man could stop me–my dream come true~

And that’s what scares the shit out of me now.  If you were here would you pathologize it?  Is this my own self sabotage?

It’s true I am so fuckn ready 

to cut and run.

Chugging along concrete stop starts too much traffic for even switching lanes.  Feels right, feels exactly like exactly where I’m at.  No more time to waste.  Go, and don’t look back.  Only this, this one singular precious life~ 

And in the imaginal space the image is wayyy up, cliffside, upon the precipice, on the edge somehow, again?  Beholding the all the all the all there is to see.  Way down happy valley below, a place I have come to in journey before, soulscape of him and me.

Of what could be my whole new world?  It is too early to tell.

this doesn’t change a thing

IMG_1441

Writing to write feels good, thankful for this.  My little outlets, little corners of privacy all my own.  Back of an alcove used to be a cave some time ago I must’ve lived a thousand years back, my herbs drying in the eaves beneath twig rafters of private shelter built into back of an earthen dome.  I told vern i will put a garden in your back and by the end of the summer you will believe in fairies too.  We stood for ten minutes not talking much just mesmerized by the magic hour light in the tall pines.  Me part gnomey hedge witch part tinker bell who lives just up from you on hobbit lane~

I am so tired.  I love a man who lives 3000 miles away.  I didn’t think I loved him and pushed him away for three weeks actually telling him for us it was done.  He said when I did it this doesn’t change a thing.  I couldn’t not think I’d made a mistake so finally i reached back out and then i guess it was four or five days after that, right in the middle of the day not thinking at all about him, actually sitting w a friend, right there in the middle of nothing related I realized I loved him.  It was just all through my body every doubt and uncertainty gone.  I did not hesitate to tell him.  It is the first man I have loved in 10 years other than Josh.  He loves me too and it is weird for us if I have to guess, for me for sure and him too, to know what to do.  He said come to me. It is good timing to love him and not be able to go to him, it being tax time and getting my papers right as I can with my non-profit.  I throw myself into the days I don’t hear from him and have to pretend in my heart it doesn’t matter and boy do I get my numbers and dry paper shit     D O N E.  It feels good, feels somehow life giving, to switch lanes like that and be able to come back knowing I don’t have to hide or defend my feelings or figure them out, just be and back burner us for a bit, til we find each other again, and it rolls ever on.

He will come to me later I know this, but family is his priority now and in the meantime he has time to finish school.  I respect both of these things.  I do not know if he will come to stay.  I think the fact I love him is important enough to consider compromising how to make it work because in 10 years love does not happen easy, not if you’re busy living, and getting after life how I do.

It is good to have days off, next week I’ll travel down the Shenandoah on that Appalachian line that is back bone of the east and home to me.  I love that part of the country and more am eager for where I’ll land when I’m done, even though those mountains, the smokies–other side of them driving in frenzy zig zag is what got me feeling the tug w e s s s t across all of Tennessee…that was 2011, how I drove and drove and left the smokies behind and that dirt at the edge of the Mississippi river timeless and liquid and immobile and me running hard driving hard not knowing where i’d sleep that night, the dirt in the orange of the dirty dirty terrible mug of the Tennessee sky.  My brother and his lady were just married and lived there in nashville, they’d just moved before I’d left to go on the road, and I wanted to go stay awhile with him, stay and love his wife, really love her before I left and she was first pregnant at that time, too.  We talked about me staying there with them, this was before they broke up of course and the heart slaughter that so often equates d   i   v   o   r    c  e, and sometimes i wish more than i know that i’d had that chance, by the time i was home it was too late, they were done but didn’t know it yet but you could feel it to be with them, and it was hard to see over or through the walls between us all by then, too

So somehow maybe i knew all that even back then and i ran, and fast as i could i went until it was big, past nebraska and arkansas i ran, with heat stroke from running through both, until finally it was texas big

The sky i mean, which the first time you see it that bigness is like a taste of the sky, if you could i’m saying–like taste the sky–it tastes like the lightest hint of sweet sweet lightest cream, but a big pie slice of it, that taste, because it’s everywhere, all you see

I miss things and the way they used to be, and also, this is the sacred center of mist dream, the part where what was is no longer and what is yet is still yet to be

Vern takes me to town to drop my clothes off at the thrift store.  It’s in a part of downtown where magic still runs down the boards, it showed up for half a beat, i thought to film it, i’d only film it and send it to him i thought further, which i didn’t want to do, then it was gone.  Instead in the thrift store the synchronicity is stronger than any I’ve had, and I know I must quiet myself, I must pray.

And my life, dear god my precious life, I will go wonder over and wander a minute, silent and quiet and seeing what I can see

and when I return I will do more work, because when it is that you hit a stride in life where what you love is what you do it is not work it is showing up each day to see what life paints out there on the artist’s line.  And I will travel more, and i am eager to see what that means, where i will go

That said I have a finish line I am determined to hit. Sometimes it is ribbony and wistful, waving in the wind.

And sometimes like now I can’t see where it is.  So I’ll travel on and trust instead in what’s to come?

Year 42

It’s ancestor season, and now that Beth’s gone my life is settling into the kind of re-translation that only happens when those closest to your soul can be with, and witness, all of you.  In this I am so blessed.

bethie me

We woke up last Monday tummies still full from Thrasher’s and Dumser’s my head just full of salt.  The final week of second seeeaasunnn did not disappoint and I was mesmerized by the Timing of Beth’s arrival with the peak week of October sun.  It was new moon that day, we went to the community garden, and sure enough basil and late bloom lavender coming in.  Besides the thyme that is the centerpiece in my garden, I couldn’t have two other herbs that are closer familiars so for them, untended, to be so fertile under the final harvest cycle’s moon…

Again.  The dizzy way my heart is touched by the smallest blessings, and in these walking tiny miracles, I place all Faith.

It has been a year of horrible fuckery and I am not in the least talking about culturally.  The fertility moon that kicks off growing season I got to lead the ritual of marriage in a sacred Los Angeles oak grove for the single sister in my life that tends the darkest depths with breadth and width the same scope as me.  Later that night full moon dreamy white on the valley center of fields of flowers and trees, while at their wedding reception, I got the text from my A.M.Y. that her brother had odeed.   It was 10 days after Gretchen, my recovery mentor of 14 years, the women literally responsible for keeping me responsible to the woman I am and continue to become, had died. With these back to back losses so close to the heart of my own very personal walking resurrection…Honestly I don’t remember anything until July, the new moon prior to first harvest, when I tapped out and went back to earth for a week.  To remember how to breathe.

Beth knew my Gretchen very well.  Was in fact a mentor of sorts to her.  Today on facebook–Beth also is an avid devotee of FB, which re-opened my heart in a way I didn’t expect to beauty of that platform, the gift of 2018 and having a 10 year documentary of my own life, and the life of like everyone I have ever freakin loved and cared about–right there in digital form–anyway digression aside today on FB there was a picture of me at the white wolf sanctuary where she Gretchen spent so very much of her time.

This I found while the ancestor candle burns on my alter, giving so very much love and thanks to her.  Her memory, her legacy.  My deepest honor.

white wolf

White wolf pic.  Wolf medicine is teacher.  The wolf pin forgetful gave me, on the medicine bag my A.M.Y. made me years ago.  Reminds me always–since my awakening to the women’s work came in the form of Women Who Run With Wolves–that God blessed me to serve the world with this good work, at least my little corner of it.  How I actively work each day to make and remake it because if you were given a gift the best way to say thanks is by using it as much as you can.  How none of it would have happened, all those years of only trusting my inner guide as my light towards the women’s work, without Gretchen.  Always:  keep going.

One of the axioms of the women’s wisdom way is cycles of 7.  Seven years ago right now I was living in my car in Norcal, just starting my California Adventure.  About to total that car, on the phone with Gretchen, driving up the 101 in the season’s first rain. Spinning out and getting knocked out, coming to in oncoming traffic. It was how Mama California initiated me in.  Forced me to give up everything with which I’d came.

In March I’ll complete my 7th 7 year cycle.  Year 42 will complete. I am living, actively, my best life ever right now.  I look around, my world.  My Tribe.  Lord mama my Tribe.  How deep.  How real, true.   How sure and sound.  Guess what? Being human includes an awful, awful lot of fuckery.  It just does.  White wolf medicine.  Medicine of faith, and unconditional love.  The medicine of teaching, which is just being open with how you live.

Choosing this, day after day.  Faith so often is very simple.  I think of my mom.  The ring she gave me on my first year sober anniversary.  With the feet.  Bc, feet don’t fail me now.  Feet don’t fail me now.

Just keep going.

No matter what~

 

That is the meaning of Love

Srsly, two ads to skip through on YouTube?  And blog platforms selling space to third parties on your own site.  I think back to living on the road 2004. Brown sign road trip dropping out in the high elevations outside the Flatirons, west outta Boulder, Colorado.  We didn’t have internet phones then no one did.  We got around North America–south across Canada in the midwest, down Baja, Mex, in the south south west–all with a map.  And much instinct.  We learned about the metal tenseness at the base of the neck, that blinging pulse in the temples as signs:  DO NOT. GO. HERE.  NO.

This is when I discovered how good it is to be your bare self out there, how and why to lose your cleanliness to Nature.  How important this is. Power of fire against body that’s being made fresh by running snow water and from sleeping beneath stars. I was ten days at least up there bathing from tupperware tubs and cooking on the grill or propane burner or in live flame, and before that, there’s a river out of Fort Collins I swam in daily, and few showers between all this.  Sounds gross maybe to you but I am telling you, this part’s key.

It is Wednesday when I start this post, early morning.  I wake up to an unexpected cancellation and the space of S P A C E, ol Catfish got Van Morrison calling me you know, all sorts of Irish mist on the air and random internet radio or youtube music to match.  Tich nat hahn finds me, then, same flow.  It is right, aligned with the living heart that’s living its way out through me.  Now it is Monday and I will delete most of what I wrote Wed and Fri too.  Or not delete, just, file.  I am grateful I am writing this much again. I have soo freakn much cooking now under the surface, lots of hot coals baby and how coals what keeps the fire burnin all night long. And it’s been a while for me since the pitch of all that is pinned in place by the W o r d s and ohhh, the sea…

Roosevelt National Forest, Colorado, at a campground called Kelly Dohl is where I learned of the relationship to the W O R D S and nature, I dropped out and learned to speak e a r t h You carry Mother Earth within you. She is not outside of you. Mother Earth is not just your environment. In that insight of inter-being, it is possible to have real communication with the Earth, which is the highest form of prayer. In that kind of relationship you have enough love, strength and awakening in order to change your life. Fear, separation, hate and anger come from the wrong view that you and the Earth are two separate entities, that the Earth is only the environment. That is a dualistic way of seeing…  Tich Naht Hanh

After TNH and Van Morrison and catfish who run the same songs often, well then I found a pic from my homeward journey across Gateway 50, 2015.  Little two lane that runs from Sacramento to the Atlantic.  I grew up eyeing the sign in my little beach town that says Sacramento, CA 3073.  So for sure I drove it home when the winds picked up there in Laguna Canyon and told me to go.  Which is not the same story as this.

I went back to my sacred space today! and guess what no one was there! Haven’t been there all summer blughhh.  Except four did come ambling down with this awful telephoto lens camera and all the all the all the tourists showing up like this, these days.  But I heardfelt them coming then sensed at the birds and eel grasses thick as rope and slick got away and hid among the tidewaters where they could not see and then they, like most, decided ah nothing to see here and ambled off back from where they came.

I cannot believe how fast the summer went. I lost time, a bunch of it, after Gretchen and Joey though.  That just only now feels like it’s making some sorta space and sense in my heart, to be honest.  Like the sweet burn of breath when I am alone and confront September, the grey tones and blue green grey of only in Maryland in this certain place shade of blue green grey.

homeward

route 50 east, Colorado, 2015

On my way across 50 in 2015 coming home I had a spiritual experience again in Colorado, this time at the Continental Divide. On that trip, knee high in snow, standing among the fourteener’s I had this pristine reckoning with how much, how quickly, can change.  Then the next day how I watched the terrain slowly, steadily flatten out, and surely, I was east.  

I knew because I know her speak.

So to breathe in and be aware of your body and look deeply into it, realise you are the Earth and your consciousness is also the consciousness of the Earth. Not to cut the tree not to pollute the water, that is not enough. We need a real awakening, enlightenment, to change our way of thinking and seeing things. When we recognise the virtues, the talent, the beauty of Mother Earth, something is born in us, some kind of connection, love is born. That is the meaning of love, to be at one.  Tich Naht Hanh

 

Anyway I’m grateful for my soul tribe

Husband came to town. He stayed with me the first night even though the festival gave him a room for the weekend.  It was grey and partly rainy during the day then just gray and thick when he got here and by then night had, too.  We went to the island and bonfired and in the middle of singing Dylan–which cmon really when was the last time you sang Dylan around a bonfire so wholesome you know?  The mosquitos bit a sudden certain way, and the wind changed and I knew it would storm.  Get up we gotta go I said and by the time we were in the truck big droplets of rain were on the windshield.

From there on it’s sorta been Hurricane? Which is…tense.

In the morning I sewed a button on his shirt.  We made shmry jokes about proper husband wife roles.  After talking binary breakdowns and being severed from the earth’s one soul standing on our feet in the kitchen drinking coffee and honey tea for over an hour.  Wife showed up about an hour after that.

Mostly I am thinking today about love, and lovers, and I have had dear dear friends who are also long term lovers, and separate from that, long term friends, too, friends, I can look back on over the years and say wow, all this time…  And oh my god I don’t fail to fall more and more in love with these people, sometimes or maybe especially when I am not at all expecting it.

I’ve had some power times this year with a number of these soul fam people.  And how it always surprises me, those red hearts falling out of the sky over their heads into my heart, shoot blasting out of my heart, too, back at them into their hearts, but also back past their own heads, zipping red and pink gold glitter across the sky.  And the little round fireball of explosion of them this sets off in my own heart all over again for me to carry around of them.  Too.

Anyway by now we’re all at the folk fest which has many tents and is big in a small, charming way. We dance and experience music across the globe and different acts from around the state.  Husband is made for emceeing and he ought to host husband night back home in the city in one of his spots.  For real.  Repping his people it’d be right.  We eat and walk and yes dance more, me and wife, and mostly laugh a lot and I talk my big tripped out rambles at her which is part of what we do and then like, my Hank Williams side showed up and it’s all blue grey twilight out and so did the rain, too, then, show back up.  So we were on the way out,  listening to the Treme gospel brass band twirling our umbrellas, and I felt so zany and high all the way back to the tall pines.  We shmrrd on the couch and ate more food and then I kept falling asleep while I was eating, too.

Then yesterday was yesterday nymphs on the windy wild island but that is for us, not here, because like I said. W I L D and

I so wonder what this storm will bring.

Anyway I’m grateful for my soul tribe~

me an wife

Here’s wife and me.  When we were younger.

what i’m listening to rn put a light on generationals

September Love Song for My Elder Who’s Gone.

Like, no one ever said it would be this hard.  Grief.  Grieving.

Grieving  is one thing.

Living life an entirely other.

Here’s a weird thing.  The neurosis of writing.  Every time I take to the words again after it’s been a while I hear my haters.  My imaginary haters!!  HAA!  How funny is that?? Like they don’t even have faces for god sakes just like, outlines in thick black like a cartoon drawing of gray globs around my heart.  But those drawings sprocket rain and whispers above my head several inches if I am too still for too long once I start to write.  A spot there above my head and one in my heart that both fill with loud dark noise.

September blue so good it’s bad for how it breaks my heart.  Or rubs me funny where old heartbreaks left their permanent mark.  Meaning ok, so.  Besides being different, entirely, grief and living sometimes are the exact same.  September the sparkled blue of a draped naked sky, sky hanging there odd oneness of only itself. Gahhh September at the sea.  It takes my breath.

After the last sabbath this year I will close down Wild Women Wisdom because I’ll be teaching.  I am up to write in the late part of nearing dawn night, because the owl was hooting and it is first time barn owl’s been out my window since before it grew hot and so I sat and felt into the tall trees out the screen, felt into the sky vast night.   On Saturday after dusk in the garden cutting herbs we heard screech owl for the first time too, and immediately I made my friend a rosemary crown and we called that magic down.

Usually owl puts me to sleep but as can happen other times her insights flooded me and the words came on, and tomorrow is Beautiful Friday which is likecreative Red Tent day and so, here I sit.  I would like to write on this platform more and hope to, too, since my other site is almost done.

I was leaving the convention center Tuesday night thinking about Fish Powell and Boardwalk Elvis two very different but equally iconic elders in beach city.  They both died this year, Mayor Powell just last week.  I was at the convention center because that’s where people in recovery go in September.  Next thing I knew I was driving the loop in the tall pines because I needed to cry and the hush sound in the tall pines of insects and muffled stars is the first full stillness I ever knew and it still and always provides me at nighttime that same soothe.  Anyway I needed to cry because I missed Gretchen so dang bad but it took til all the way til I got home sitting in the driveway with the sunroof open in my car, engine turned off, for them to come.  Just the star breath that the pine needles breathe and my tears which hurt but felt like peace.

Because in her absence I just can so, so see who she helped me create.

I cried when Boardwalk Elvis died, too.  Just a bit, because it wrenched.  It wrenched in my heart because I know what it means when icons die.  EXPECT MUCH CHANGE.

boardwalk elvis

Boardwalk Elvis receives the key to the city, a week before his passing in June.  Image I saved from the Coast Dispatch, sorry don’t know which photographer to credit

 

September, beach city where I first fell in love with death. In that way that love and obsession get mixed up as the same.  I wrote about this once.   The first September I ever lived here clean, I couldn’t help it, I had to write about 1995 and eating spaghetti downtown at one of the carny’s I met working on the Pier.

She was a crackhead and that premonition gut chill I had after dinner and the thick throated back of the neck sweat I felt around drugs for the very first time.  The charm of quaking blue, those ten million different shades of sea and sky September days that fool you into looking past the wisp steel grey warnings that slip in side by side.  Winter’s sneaky tells.  It was the first September ice grey day and the first time I ever remember salt turning on me, too.  The distinct brine that always made me a little high.  How that inlet brine on a cold sky when humidity suddenly drops away will turn to sulphur and make you feel a little sick.

September you Fool.

And also, how nice it is.  I mean how bittersweet but real, so joy-ringed at the edges I am to see you.

My goofy heart.   Gratitude’s a funny sage.

Don’t waste a day of this, I so often used to think when I’d get off the phone with her.  I’ll never not hear-feel her voice in that certain special way in my heart. Somehow Gretchen always made me feel so powerfully equipped to live the best out of each day I get to be alive in life.

Anyway, I mean it, September. It’s good to see you.  Sky’s the limit’s a September medicine, too.   It’s damn good to have that back, because it’s true.

 

images this week, where i live

Sometimes that means listening to someone else’s problems. Amy’s Five Things.

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“My Amy” or “A.M.Y.”, and me, OCMD, 2015

My Amy.  Who routes me ever back to me.  Who taught me to walk Honesty, and Begin Within…

and most of all, Begin, Again.

Just so I’d have something, anything, to give away to her that made some sense.

That could soothe the crazed hairiness of both our ever chattering brains.

Amy lived underneath me on Wash Ave, when I was still in college in Chestertown.

The first time we met she wanted my number because I shared in a meet-in about how I’d gotten a card in the mail from myself that day.   That little anecdote, according to her, suggested to her that just maybe she wanted, as is said in those recovery rooms, “what I had.”

Only other young sober person back then.  The ordinary miracle? Life moved her in, crying ass baby, barking ass dog, right there into that spot I lived at on Wash Ave, just underneath me.

Her foot sounds on the stairs of that old farmhouse turned apartment building, chaos and pounding her way into my all the way at the top little attic pad.  I was 23?  24?  I’d hear her coming and pray the same quick prayer, every time:

Direct my thoughts and actions.  Help me be of service as you’d have me~ Said in my mind, said in a flash, right before she’d burst in.  Plug her baby monitor in.  Light up a smoke.  Sit down with me at the kitchen table where we’d light endless cigs.  Again and again.

Those were the days I could and did live on kale, black beans, apples.  Coffee and cigs. Brown rice and granola. $17 a month spending cash.

Amy said to me yesterday, “I just keep telling them ‘the five things.’”  We’re on the phone, I’m coming out of Cambridge, Gateway 50, heading east and ocean bound, home.  Returning from the city and Artscape, the street festival where I have memories which go back all the way back to being just knee-high.  I don’t know what five things she’s referring to, but she shares a memory of our early years, the Wash Ave days, back when her now college freshman daughter was 18 months old and her only kid, back when Amy and me were the only young, sober drunks in that whole town.

I am weepy with the fullness of this, with reflection, as my Amy explains the five things she daily tries to impart to the young girls she is mentoring.  The other reason I was over there, on the other, urban side of the Chesapeake, was to attend the bridal shower of another soul sister who used to sit around that same Wash Ave kitchen table with me all the way back then.  I will return to Chestertown in September this year to be a bridesmaid in her wedding.  Her celebration Saturday was the most meaningful, traditional celebration of a bride-to-be I have ever attended.  A circle of heart felt laughter among women, strangers who knew each other or didn’t, connecting over the ways our common living-ness connected us, or didn’t.

Amy tells me the five things arose from one of those kitchen talks, and I am nodding before she’s even done explaining them, the good kinda salty body remembering.  A brimming, chesty nostalgia connecting me to Shaman Bob, who came as clear as if he were still alive and stood between me and my soul sister at her bridal shower on Saturday as she and I connected tearfully over her own memories of her own spiritual path, of when and how it all began back in Chestertown, all those years ago.  Shaman Bob, who will always be my first real spiritual mentor, who I continue to thank and connect to when I light those candles and pray my morning prayers, because he was the first to teach me that spirituality is about just that: Connecting.  To the sense, the experience, of infinite human spirit within.  To seeking to share that connection, to embody it, to It being something you can impart.

How it all comes down for me today to connecting to that when each new day comes on.  To beginning that connection, all over again.

After she is done explaining her five things, I can’t help it.  I have to tell her.

What those girls need, honey, is steadiness.  I’m not so sure it’s about what works or what doesn’t as everyone is different, I’d say it is about picking something that works, and committing to it.  I see Amy then in the same minds eye place as I saw Shaman Bob over the weekend.  I see her and it is almost two decades ago, she is barely 21, she is a child she is a mom, she is raising herself.  She is raising me.  She comes pummeling into my kitchen, Wash Ave hip jut so sharp it could take out an eye, cigarette already lit before the last ones out, talking, talking smoke and shit and stress and laughter until the smoke and all the words are run all the way out.

I tell her, that’s all I did.  You know these girls they just need steadiness where they’ve had none.  Something they can return to, it’s what I needed, you know?

I don’t say, it’s what Life gave us, to give each other~

Instead.  Yea just pick something that works, anything that does. Begin within, I am thinking. Be honest with yourself.

Begin again~

…And keep sticking to it, taking action.  A little bit of foot work that they can rely on, that’s what they need.

I see my own self, lighting a candle in the morning when I go to my meditation chair, my sacred space.  Thanking my ancestors, thinking of Bobby Ray. Thinking of staying the course.

You get what I mean?  I ask her.  Totally she says.  And I do love your five things, those are really good ones I add, and the energy changes, and I can sense that it’s nearing time to hang up.

Til the next time, then.  Amy’s Five Things:

  1. Read your literature
  2. Call your mentor
  3. Pray
  4. Go to a meeting
  5. Be of service (sometimes that means listening to someone else’s problems)

 

IMG_6811

 

Far more addict-strong

Upriver only a few fields away from where I used to swim in her who made my hair thicker with mermaid clumps of salt than the Mamas Pacific or Atlantic ever left me–I went back to the Chester, this year.  It was May.

I had left for good in 2008 but have certainly been back to Chestertown since a share of times.

This year I went back to be a member of the community there.

chester

Chester River, May 2018

A community I was threaded into, in ways that happen only by voice and sight day after day of the same hearts of the same humans, by voice and sight of the same hearts of the same ten different kinds of buoyant summer green that make up the ten thousand secret brambled edged forests walls specific to a place–the special upper bay highland heart that easily whispers to anyone willing to hear the coded whisper words of long ago still in that land–the way community because of Chestertown is a word for me all about the day after day exposure to the dazzling mundane of sameness.

The sweetness of living life.  How real community threads you forever to something meaningful, because of how it becomes forever part of inside-you.

I had to leave there to understand the value of this. Which brings me back to what it looked like, in 2004, the first time I did.

It was the final Harvest moon the night we first slept in the trailer on the Alsea, our new home.  We is me and my partner in 2004 (you have to read the last post to catch up on this.)  The final harvest moon fell on my lucky number that year, October 28.

The night I had a massive meltdown.

On the brown sign trip that landed me there on the central coast, I had also been running from the demon of addiction even though it had been four years since I’d drank or used.  The first time I ever cut a friend off because their using had gotten really bad happened with someone I’d met in geometry when I was 14.  We carpooled sometimes together with a mutual friend, our first to have her license, and later when we were sophomores, we’d stay after school to get tutored and smoke cigarettes in the boys room.  He always told me when someone wrote anything about me on the wall in there and more than once wrote stuff back about different guys on my behalf. These were the days before we ever tried drugs.  He ended up killing himself instead of going to prison in 2003 when we were 26.  He was looking at pictures of us when he did.

I had a wicked time with that.

A recovery club is church for the fellow who’s been to hell here on earth and wishes to make it all the way back before he actually leaves here for good.  The club on the central Oregon coast that first received me had three vets and a biker dressed like a vet sitting around a table when I first walked in, the room so thick with cigarette smoke that the whole night still sits clouded at the edges of my memory like a scrap of brought back dream.

I walked into a room in that club and sat down with those all-in-cammy-green all-long-hair guys, and told them about my homie and how his suicide was chasing me down.  It was just me and them in the whole place.  I didn’t know enough about addiction then to know how really real this actually was, how suicide from drugs was eating on my soul, only that my love and partner back at home in our single wide didn’t deserve me acting it out on him.  And those actual war vets–Vietnam era vets, accustomed to not receiving respect in ways I’ve seen change since the decade and a half that’s passed since then–artilleried back at me story after story of death and loss, grime and grit.

Addiction.  As I’ve said before.  One hell of a wicked fuckn war.  I’d gone to the club that night because in the midst of said meltdown, I bargained with Life to help me feel sane again by promising that I’d ask the first woman I saw there three different times to become my mentor.

Now My Amy (my first recovery mentee, who first rooted me and always does back again to my community in Chestertown) and me often used to joke about how the person sitting across from you in one of those club rooms is the reflection of you right now. That is what was on my mind that first night, those guys that surrounded me terrifying me enough to walk out sure we had made the wrong choice to land a while there in dreary Oregon, coast always socked in with tree-foam liquid on the air.

The guy across from me, the vet biker who wore the denim jacket with the POW patches over his green (–recognizing that the green on all these guys might indeed just be a product of the way imagination mixes with my memory, as the time goes by–) what he shared with me were some super cracked out stories about being on LSD.

His name was Rich and he had that wild, crazy-eyed way of speech with words full of wisdom and full of nonsense at once.  He was the kinda person who intimidated me because it meant having to take the time to pick out which words from which.  At least for me it meant picking out the wisdom, because otherwise I always felt like maybe he was making fun of me a little, talking just a bit over my head.  And Rich talking acid at me scared me, because by the time I’d had that harvest moon meltdown in our trailer on the Oregon coast, I really had begun to think I might be, at least a little, losing my mind.

And secretly, I was certain that if that we’re actually happening, it was at least partly because of all of the acid back in the day.

Rich was the first of a small group that would become my community on the Oregon coast.  It is a community I still visit and still count myself a part.  I think maybe, as I follow word by word to get all this down, that the reason he’s coming back to me tonight is because despite that night increasing my doubts about being there in Oregon at all, he was the one who assured me on my way out the door of the recovery club:

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Alsea Bay, December 2017

Come back.  Yes, there are women here that are strong in recovery and good for you to know.  

Which was exactly what I needed, because in those late fall early Oregon moments, even no drugs or drinks in my system for four whole years, when it came to recovery my brain was far more addict-strong.

~

what i’m listening to: old old woodstock, van morrison, off tupelo honey

 

 

 

 

A lighthouse, of sorts

The first time I left Maryland to live someplace else was also the first time I left Chestertown, where the river is the first who ever spoke to me its shhhh shh river talk tinkling over my skin breezing breath of fragmite and sea grasses up the back of my neck underneath my hair, river talk meandering along the brick-made streets of that downtown there, Chestertown-yellow light of late leaf fall, Chestertown if spoken right with long breath a word itself sounding like river talk, Chestertown, the upper-central heart of Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

This was in 2004.  I’d been by that point living in Chestertown for six years, taking four of those years to finish what shoulda been two and a half years of college because I dropped out twice due to drinking and drugs.

I was four years clean and sober in 2004 when we went off to live in the forest after a calling to worship only the earth and her natural rhythms.  Worship used here by me to mean to live by.

Me and my then partner, a Chester-townie, did that for five months. Lived by, according to, the earth, on her.  In her national forests across the United States and in parts of southern Canada, and in her coastal hills on Baja, Mexico, too.  Later, also we lived her in a city way, how the earth will rubble and struggle and speak concrete up into your feet  through concrete streets.

It’d been three months and we’d made it to Brookings, Oregon.   We were camping a few days on the banks of the Chetco river. The Chetco banks aren’t up to ya knees stuck in mud thwuck like the rivers on the eastern shore but instead are made entirely of river stones and you drive your vehicle right on to them.  Where stone becomes roots into moist earth along the Chetko the forest is sitka spruce and western hemlock, cedars and douglas firs.  The kind of blue green lines of pines and conifer breath that make you certain it’s the tree bows conducting the breezy river song.

Brookings is a coastal town and it was a holiday weekend and we had stopped for fish and chips and a cop pulled us over for failure to stop before a right turn.  It can be hard getting stopped when you’re out of towners in a small town and look like hippies and act like hippies and in the come down off that somehow it hit us, it was time to get practical.  We’d been on the road three months and had enough money left between us to get an apartment and nothing more.  So before we even got back to our home, our tent planted on the Chetco stones, we grabbed up a free circular and started looking, as you still did back then, in the back of the paper for places to live.

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We were on my brown sign road trip.  The one I’d been saying I would take since the first time I’d hit the road in 1997, when me and my best friend Mandy and Mike-rest-in-peace-Shue (no really he’s one of them souls you always tack that Rip part on to bc funny as he fuckn was and as always down to ride, his body while he was still here was never not home to a tortured inside,) rode an 11,000 mile circle around the States.  There are brown signs alllll around this land, America, this place so peopled with personality and conflict, passion and emotion, history and love.  Brown signs that tell us a little about the history of what was here in specific spots, what happened before we ever thought of the place to begin with.  Memories in the land that’ll be here long after we pass on by.

So I’d been saying I’d follow that no path but those brown and cast iron signs to more signs ever since 1997 with Mandy and Mike.  And now here we were, in Oregon, where they’d been leading us since northern California up the 101.  It was the next day and we left the Chetco and its little town and little newspaper and scary local cops, certain it wasn’t the place we were supposed to stay.   About a hundred or so miles up the coast we followed another historic sign.  It led us to the Heceta Head lighthouse.

Over my years of interest in soul and spirituality, and specifically depth development, lighthouses have become metaphoric.  A momentary light, a seconds long misty and nascent glimpse of your own inner journey.  The fleetingness of security, but security all the same, in your own footing, when you get just a flash of clarity on your own path and of your next step when you honestly can’t see where you’re going.

On the central Oregon coast specifically, fog is a primary weather forecast and the Heceta Head lighthouse dates back to the turn of the 19th century.  It’s on ground considered sacred, a place with living story specific to the details of the region for the Native American tribes that sustained on its shores. It also holds legends of hauntings and folk tales related to the settlers that replaced those tribes.  I remember still the whole-bodied reverence that made me feel complete in my skin standing there, peering up from the beach at the bridge with the 101 behind and above me, the light house on the cliffside up and to my right.

We explored the shores and structures of Heceta Head a while, then to soothe my anxiety about our “what next” given the dwindling funds, my partner and roadie made a call to a distant family member he’d met only once who lived north of the lighthouse by less than an hour.  We were twenty somethings, it was 2004, we were accustomed to oodles of noodles and didn’t think twice about skipping heat in the winter in our long johns. We could live in some forests for $5 a week.

By the end of that call we’d been offered a place to live.  Rent would be several hundred less than what we’d planned to spend, so we stretched the little bit of travel cash we had left to make it north to Seattle, where my homey Larry let us crash on his floor for six more weeks in Belltown.  We lived simple in the woods for three months, then wore our chords and hiking boots to walk the city streets and take pictures, or stop to write or read, in a place that every so often will land a lighthouse day and shine the majesty of Mt. Rainier back from the far horizon.  But is just as equally clouds and grey.

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In Seattle we walked.  Everyday.  To the famous waterfront market there or to Chinatown, to old town and Pioneer Square or else all the way to Queen Anne which wasn’t all the way rich yet, just for the adventure or a sometimes couple dollar meal.  We lived for six more weeks on our buddy’s floor, and flew home to Maryland for a visit and family wedding, all for under a thousand dollars.  It was pre-internet and a novelty for us even to use a debit card or think of owning a credit card.

When we did, finally, move to our new place on the central Oregon coast, it was into a trailer where the Alsea River mouth becomes the Alsea Bay.  We had no money at all, sometimes not even food, and couldn’t find jobs the first two months we were there.  But in our canoe on that river the ocean dolphins would sometimes break the water next to us, traveling in smooth silver lines, the whole way around the bay.   Up the river just three miles the Alsea Highway led us right into the heart of a national forest, and we learned to forage chanterelle mushrooms and cook meal after brand new meal using them as our main ingredient.

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I was so stressed those first two months my memory is stuck on crying myself to sleep more than once, and a sick, crazy feeling in my guts, and soaked corduroys and rain dripping off the hood of my rain jacket onto my glasses.  I beseeched the Great Love, or whatever it was that I believed in and felt and followed from my bones the whole time we lived in the forests and on the road, weeping and promising swearing to It that I’d ask the first sober female I encountered in the nearby recovery club to be my mentor.  Believing that I could bargain my way back to the reward feeling that everything would be ok.

Faith, as I have since learned by living, isn’t actually about trusting that the outcome will work out in your favor.  It is actually about how you walk when you have no idea the outcome that’s in store.  Walking through my real life with a willingness to believe that I’ll be taken care of, no matter what.

Gretchen is the name of the woman who’d become my mentor, and she was in fact the first female I encountered at the club three times.  I was a full on kinda crazy when I met her, and she became the one person in my life who for a decade and a half–years and years in fact after I’d up and leave the Oregon coast and continue traveling–to always, no matter what, remind me every time to be true to my self.

She was a lighthouse, of sorts.  Always leading me back home, within.

And there’s a relationship, I’m realizing, of that sort of consistent, if only momentary re-commitment of clarity and light within, to faith.  Similar to how the words always lead me, not knowing how I’ll get there, but if I trust the process of laying each one down how I do always get there, soundly, to peace.

Faith is not so much about the steps you are taking as much as it is, maybe, about how graceful we are in not resisting having to take steps forward, anyway.  Even when we can’t fully see.

 

 

 

Sun down on the summa

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The first day I pulled into that town colonial-known cuz it’s river was a “headwater” of the Chesapeake, I was still a drunk (in fact in the center of a mean red haze continued that same night on the docks in Annapolis where I was waitin tables) which made it so those funky catfish mudbanks grabbed my heart and tortured me with love so hard  I swooned.

Look there’s one thing we drunks do and it’s romanticize, so let me tell ya.  I never really left the Eastern shore again after that first day and I am telling you 100%, it was cuz of the river, it got in my heart.  It was 1998.  I’d just turned 21.

It was even river-named, this headwaters place, called Chestertown.

Chestertown not barely the only place in those upper highlands dirty with the knee high grit of pleasant living bay blues, but it had a special hold on the wilds left there in a way south Baltimore docks had long ago at least in part lost.

Nah.  Not #lost, just, forgot.

South Baltimore docks being the part of native land that my Maryland family was originally from.  Grit our birthright, what the wild had replaced…you understand?

It was, by crow flight, what?  5, 6 miles? 10?  Across the Bay, to where my dad’s family was born : them old private Kent county points I ain’t gonna name and #sellout here.

It was also not barely the first time I’d been in love.

That first day I pulled into Chestertown I was still with this guy named Joe. He lived in #Eastport and I stayed in his room, all of us in that pad of his working at the rum place right across the Eastport bridge, on the corner there, downtown.

Makes me smile to think on those good days long gone because 🙂 God damn!!  If there was one thing I was good at back then it sure was #fuckndrinking.

Anyway, my sobriety turns adult this year.  That’s right.  Not a swallow of alcohol in me in 18 years.  Well, I mean except for that one time at the Hotel Imperial I chugged water from what I thought was my glass but actually it was someone else’s and full of vodka.  And also at the hostel in Baja, Mex, when I thought I was grabbing for and chugging a coke but actually, #TECATE.

Anyhow.  Also, the amount of years it’s been since I got out of high school now is equal to the age I was when I quit the drink.  23.

Meaning.  Lately I’ve been thinking how this path I’ve been on is adding up.

And anyways, since I come from a story-telling on the back porch laugh til your sobbing crying people, and because the words are how I process so my inside and my outsides make sense, I figured that with all this damn thinking going on it might best be time to start writing, again, instead.

So.  I give you The So Much I Would Have Said.

ctown in naptown

A blog in memory (and honor of the legacy) of my first #soulfamily #elders, both whom now have passed.

Gretchen, Bobby Ray~

Thank you.

~

image 1: sun down on the summa, #knowwhatstreet!?!??! #ocmd 

image 2: ctown crew in naptown, sometime in 03 or 04, or 06-08

~

what I’m listening to: The Dead South, In Hell I’ll Be in Good Company