Thursday, November 7, 2013

the new house.

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I do love words that mean more than one thing. I am in a new house, literally: I finally got to move in. I am starting to unfold, nest, settle in. Picking up the pieces of things that fell away over the last few months. And I am in a new house figuratively, too. My new website is up. Some of my favorite posts from here have been, and will be, reposted on the new site. Traffic will go from here to there, but not from there to here. There are things here that I want to keep mine, to keep ours. This space has been powerful for me, and necessary. I may come back here sometimes. A shift happens. And I feel a little melancholy for it, for the early words, for the kinship and connection I've had here. I made it through because of who I found here. Thank you.

You are all welcome to come over to the new house for its virtual house-warming: www.refugeingrief.com. I would love to have you.

Thank you. I love you.

xo


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Thursday, October 3, 2013

in between

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Yesterday

at the giant Asian market

I only missed you.

Instead of finding it all so cool
aisle after aisle of fascinating things,
instead of being amused and annoyed
at your narrow culinary skills
or how unmatched our palates are

I only missed you.
I only missed you.

Grief was comfortable
I missed it. I've missed it.
It hurts, and it clouded my joy,
but it brought you here to me
so close



When can I unpack you
what box are you in?
With the knives, with the baking trays
With my running shoes.
Not just the wooden box packed close with special things
You're inside all of it

when I can cook again
even foods you wouldn't eat
when I can cook in my own space again
you will unfold from hiding places
stretch out on the new blue couch

when there is room
you will well up beside me
while this new and different life begins


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Friday, September 13, 2013

green river memorial

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Day number 5 on the road. I'd hoped to be there by now. But the road has what the road will have.

Today, leaving western Nebraska, a late start. My planning mind was off a day, and what I'd thought was the short day was, in fact, not. But it's alright.

This land is beautiful. So clear, the geologic record: I always feel like I am in a submarine, a submersible, not an over-land car. I am driving in the ocean, driving under the ocean. Saw my first herd of pronghorn antelope just outside of Elk Mountain, Wyoming. I stopped at the same rest-stop we did back in 2006. It wasn't a hard day.

And then. And then, the soil began to change. From yellow and brown to streaks of red. The land changed from ocean bottom to sand cliffs. The mesas rose in the distance. I switched the stereo from dance music (to keep me awake) to Robbie Robertson, because it seemed appropriate. I am singing Ghost Dance, thinking of our trip, of how we talked about the history of this land, what it's seen, what happened out here. And then.

And then, before I realize I am this close, I am on top of Flaming Gorge. I am here, where we were, exactly where we were, and Robbie Robertson's "Golden Feather" comes on the stereo. I am crying. I hear. I hear the stones you picked up, all those years ago, the ones beside your box of ashes here on the passenger seat. I hear those stones begin to sing. They do. They sing to be so close to home.

I do not want to stop. I do not want to stop. But they are singing. I have to give them back. They want to go home, and I have to let them go. I pull off the exit, crying, resisting. I do not want to go. This is wrong. Wrong to be here. But I drive. Past the place where we got gas. Past the place where we ate Mexican food, grouchy from too long on the road. I pull over as I hear (yes, I hear) your ashes beside me begin to speak. Ask to be released here. The stones have kept on singing. Your ashes, what is left of you, an excited impulse. I open the passenger side door. The pot of my one houseplant falls out, cracks on the pavement. I remove the stones. I remove the small bag of your ashes, and shake you out into the palm of my hand. Shaking. Shaking. There are big pieces here, not dust.

The stones are singing. We have been here. This is where we turned off. Where we drove off down into the winding gorge, where we cried over slaughtered skinned coyotes, where you drove the car over too-steep embankments. Looking for a place to camp. Where you spent hours the next morning finding just the right stones, the two heavy, white stones we took home, another 4000 miles back, to sit on the bookshelf, holding words.

And now - they want to go back.

I scatter you. A small handful, here on the grass between road and sidewalk. I scatter. And then I place a stone. Oh.

Oh, I see now. This is a gravestone. A headstone, a marker you yourself picked out, painstakingly searched for, the last time we were here. It is right. It is right. To scatter you here beneath a stone you chose yourself.

The other stone - offers to stay. To stay with me. One with you, one for me. A pair of matched stones, broken, but connected.

As soon as the ashes are sent, the stone placed, I am fine again. Calm. I feel you. For the first time this trip, my love, I feel you. I know you here with me.

And I drive down through the mountains, as rain begins again, down a road we did not drive. A path we did not take. You are buried here, my love. And I continue on.


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Sunday, September 8, 2013

light brigade

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today is 4 years and 2 months (by day).

By this time tomorrow (insh'allah), I will be loading two big cats into the van, clipping Boris into his palatial middle-seat bed, filling the cooler, leaving behind more of a mess than I'd probably like. Maybe somewhere around Wyoming, I will start to believe this is true: that I'm free.

It still feels overwhelming, and it still is overwhelming. Talking about it only makes me mad - only getting the stuff done will get it done.

There isn't anything to say, and there is everything to say.

But here is this: if you are inclined, please join the light brigade. Any time between now and our projected arrival date (Sunday the 15th at the latest, Friday the 13th earliest) - please light a candle for our safe voyage, our excellent adventures of the good kind, smooth driving, safe roads, calm animals - whatever good wishes you have. If you pray or meditate, please pray and meditate for us. It's a whole big wave of love that carries us across; I am leaning in to that. U.S. east coast friends, release me, send us good winds. U.S. west coast friends, make that big ol' catcher's mitt of receiving - we are coming your way.


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Thursday, August 22, 2013

same road, new road

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I have just realized my driving route is the same route matt and I drove cross-country in 2006. After about 90% of the same roads, same rest-stops, same campgrounds, I veer north where we'd gone south. Instead of south to california, I drive up through the place that was tops on his "life list" to hike and explore - a place he didn't get to go. Seeing the name of that area on the map as the first place I veer off our route - this is going to be alright.

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Monday, August 19, 2013

moving on.

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This last 6 weeks has been a blur. Three weeks from today, I pack up the animals in the new van and drive across the country. I'm too stressed to be excited. I'm too overwhelmed and tired to even think about that life. There is so much shit to be done, on so many levels: a business to launch, writing to be done, millions of details to cover. Oh, and packing and sorting, and figuring out how to pack and number boxes so they can be mailed to me later. Half my moving money disappeared in new van repairs. Expenses still coming just preparing for the move. Continually contacting potential buyers for what still needs to be sold. Realizing that this shit is happening SOON, and I am not prepared. How am I going to handle the cats on this trip? And what was I thinking getting a new car that I don't know well - just before I drive 3000 miles by myself with the dog and two cats? And what about and what and what - oh, it's a broken record of stresses, it sure is. And I am tired - of it all being on me.

I myself was a blur, for a little while, last week. Productive and focused. Feeling good. And then I stopped. Something broke. The nausea that had dogged me for weeks came home to roost, and stayed. I lost four days. I'm back now, at least part of me. My focus has not come back, and I can't seem to muster up the interest or energy for anything. I don't have a choice, though, with this clock ticking.

I went to one last movie in our town, and felt you there. I've felt you here a lot. Arriving with a sucker punch at times, and sometimes with just sweetness, letting me know it's alright. Driving around, really realizing that I am gone from here - no more physical prompts of our time, of our life. Goodbye, goodbye - it's all so strange.

And all of this - this stress, and nausea, and overwhelm, and exhaustion - it's grief. I mean, yeah, it's the stress of business and moving myself and 3 animals across the country, but still: grief is underneath it.

Waiting for the enormity of it all to get so incredibly big that it all gets small again.

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Saturday, July 6, 2013

a car is not a car

Cleaning my car today - more thoroughly than ever in the time it has been mine - getting ready to sell it. Cleaning out the inside, scrubbing off old dirt, I was imagining the kind of ad I might place:

Sweet, much loved car for sale. Most of its miles were earned on adventure: crossing the country from east to west and north to south, piling down dirt roads in search of quiet fishing spots or unmapped hikes. It got a number of its dings going places it wasn't ~quite~ designed to go, whether down steep river plains in the red lands of Utah, or trying to make a three point turn at the edge of the deep woods.

It has barreled down long farm roads, and pulled over to watch pronghorn antelope. It has sheltered its owners on surprise sub-zero nights when they were supposed to be sleeping in tents. From out of its trunk, it's offered the makings for tea on the side of the road at sunrise, even when not far from home. It's safely transported birthday cakes shaped like castles, and trains, and unicorns. It's carried groceries and seedlings, held countless cups of tea, heard many, many songs belted out by both drivers and passengers. It has heard so much.

This car has seen more births than deaths, though it has seen them both. It has carried its fair share of raucous laughter, peaceful silence, and screaming cries. It has held it all. And then some: wet dogs, kids being taken to prom, unhappy cats (in carriers). Mundane and ordinary, unique and beautiful.


What I wouldn't add - what I wouldn't add:

That I began to cry as I erased your fingerprints and the scuffs from your shoes. I know they're in there. I've never cleaned the car like this, so you are still in there. I found greasy smudges from the dog on the head of the seatbelt cover, and a flood of words and images came back to me: how Boris always wedged his head between the driver's side headrest and the window when you were driving, wanting to be as close to you as he could, how he'd done this that day, before settling down in the backseat. You said he knew where we were going, and was content to lie down a bit.

He does this now, still - his head between the headrest and the window, but not as much. He is more likely to climb into the passenger seat, laying his head in my lap.

We took this car so many places, you and I. Had countless - and not enough - adventures and road-side tea. We. We. We lived so much in this car, had so much life in here. I can still feel your hand slip under my thigh as you drive, even though I am the only driver now. You drove us to the river that day. Someone else had to drive me home. This car. This car has seen so much.

And it's okay to let it go. It doesn't work for driving cross-country with one big dog and two unhappy cats. Like so many things, once the practical news occurred to me, it became okay to let it go.

But still. But still. Today, at first filled with love for my car I don't think I've ever felt, giggling at how I might write the ad that sells it, adventure story and all, and then filled with so much longing, so much pain and melancholy. It isn't just a car. I find myself saying - if you were here, this wouldn't bother me at all. If you were here, this car would've been sold long ago, in favor of your truck and my alleged Vespa. But a car is not a car, and it is not just dirt I wipe away.

Anyway. This car has a few more adventures left for me, and I must get to them. 




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