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Archive for the ‘endings’ Category

My essay In Falling is published here, through the Shambhala Publications 35<35 project, personal essays from Buddhist practitioners under the age of 35.

http://www.35u35.com/submissions/in-falling/

PS’s & dedications:

*so so so much gratitude to the lovely Ms. Meredith Arena for loving me through this madness

*loves to my sister Cindy for listening out loud at the EXACT right moment

*congrats to my brother Chris for the courage to share and be himself in the world

*and always to OWL, for saving & enriching my life

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Notes from the Laundry Pile. Written a year ago. Published 2 days ago.

http://depts.washington.edu/stratus1/

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This morning I said goodbye, one in a series of farewells as dear friends embark on tremendous journeys. In the past weeks I’ve also gotten home at 9:30 in morning, greeted 4 am by finally closing my eyes, introduced OWL to hot fudge sundaes, and developed a pre-summer Tom’s tanline across my feet.

Today I ate scout mint ice cream in the park after breakfast. I walked home in a snowstorm of purple petals. I thought about my 5 friends who’ve moved away in the past year, and the trailblazers who went before. Struck by the notion of moving without running away. Letting go and dying. Unopened boxes in the closet. What it means to stay.

I cooked rice. Steamed beets and a head of orange cauliflower. Made tea. Listened to Porcella.

And I don’t have much else to say, other than to offer gratitude for the good fortune of friends and for the ease of an unedited Friday afternoon.

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Something inside is starting to give, a deep sort of opening without words. A sadness and a letting go. And maybe that space is making some room for something else to come on in. On my evening travels I walk past a black cat strewn across the back of a couch who peers out a picture window and gives a lazy nod in my direction. On the next block an orange cat drops his head and rubs the side of his face across my shoe, his body curls around my calf. I hear a woman talking with a heavy southern draw, and notice there’s a TV on in the next room, and one in the basement, but I can only hear her voice through the closed kitchen windows at the back of the house. An ordinary life in an ordinary night. These are the words I write in my head in between my breaths.

At home, a flash in the dark kitchen startles me, reflecting white off the pans where lentils and quinoa simmer. Across the street a man photographs the earth, the view blocked by a fence and shrubs and rise in grade, while another steps in and out of the way. A white sheet flutters in their hands. One of the men is in all black, the porch light catching small flecks of the shiny material of his jacket, his latex gloves highlights among his dark mass and the night. The back of a truck opens, wheels scrape across the street, and the crinkle of thick plastic hovers over the city sounds of planes and bikes and people on their way out. I light a candle. And incense. And on my couch with the window open to the cold air, I bear witness to the moving of the body. Concrete to bag to stretcher. Brakes lock in rapid succession. Wheels cross the street. The click of truck doors.

And then I cry.

I don’t remember sleeping, or even thinking, just laying very still and quiet until the cat came in at 2:30 am and I let him out.

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I light incense on the shrine in gratitude of these recent experiences and chose a lotus stick as a reminder of non-attachment, to reconnect with my Thursday yoga practice where it unfolded again and again in my heart space, rising pink and cream from the mud. Then without even a tiny bow I promptly retreat to the kitchen where I don’t have to see it or think about it or breathe it in. I chop the drained tofu as the zucchini simmers in butter. The lingering touch of kissed lips held for days fades quickly. I dig out a leftover red onion wedge, slice it and add it to the pan.

Funny how openness applies to the potential of beginnings but not to the possibilities of a short life, the arrival of an ending.

I add the sauce and tofu, stir and season, set the lid in place and reduce the heat, and walk into the living room, the air heavy with the scent of my life in motion. OWL quietly watches the PBS NewsHour from his mushroom perch at the foot of the couch, giggles at me and nods his head as I walk by. A small smile cracks in my tightness. The sweetness of sadness without a storyline, the joy of OWL’s happily crinkled nose, of coming back to the simmering food on the stove, the rising smoke of the lotus. The sweetness of Practice.

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The present was the first to go, an abrupt drop off the face of the earth as I thrashed in the chaos of new motherhood and a husband who stopped sleeping in the house and drove deep into every historic insecurity I held with words so sharp they can still sting.

I look out over my past, and I can barely see myself in it. All my thoughts and experiences and successes and growth and failures and risks were just erased, as if they don’t get to come with me and be a part of who I am right now, in this very moment.

And now, I see the future that I always thought was just around the corner slip away too. I loose myself again as I see it played out with other players. I watch my son in someone else’s life, recognize his mannerisms and moves, and wonder what I can give him. Because when I try to visualize my future, I can’t see anything. I held on and out for this future that will never happen, no matter how many corners I turn. It never was and now it’s gone for good. Another thing to let go.

The present.
The past.
And the future too.

Tears fall all through yoga as I twist and flow, release from my hips and my low belly. A feeling of sadness and mourning without a story. Images come and go, like clouds through my mind, dissipating as quickly as they appear. Release without blame, without guilt, without the storyline. Tears all through dharma class as I wonder if I have the strength to make it, to be fearless and wise, to relate deeply, to find compassion and joy.

Today I stand on the verge of tremendous change, but I don’t know which direction to turn and explore. A new curiosity arises as I wonder where the path, the continuation that builds the future moment by moment, is leading. It’s a passive curiosity, but for the first time in a long time I feel like I’m in my life.

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We set a date. The 16th of December. Life and death and funeral all in one. It’s the right thing to do, and well past time. I was disappointed that the 18th was Saturday, when the courts are closed up, since it seemed fitting that it should end 5 years and 6 months to the day, or 8 years and 7 months to the day of the beginning-beginning, whichever one counts in the end, if any do.

This is what I want. It’s Closure, Moving Forward.

I don’t know if anyone really thinks about the ending. I remember so many details about that first day – the bus ride to Georgetown with my friend GR, my red cashmere sweater and chunky black shoes, his baby blue pants, talking about the Pixies, how he asked me for my phone number so he could ask me on a date (“with dinner and a movie and kissing at the end”), a stolen kiss behind the club, the drive home in the back seat of his 1963 Dodge van next to the drummer’s passed out girlfriend, my twisted ankle….

And I remember so many and so few details of all the in between, which I suppose reflects the successes and failures in equal proportion. Either way, I am not repeating them here. I am not a fan of recaps even though I can play scenes from my life in my head – real and imagined – over and over again to the point of exhaustion and depression. And my point is that there was a lot of living even when it wasn’t exciting. Or perfect. That we did bear witness to each other’s mundane and extraordinary. And that in some ways there’s more intimacy in watching someone pick out fruit or learn to cook or demolish a wall or garden in the rain or sign a dissolution decree than there is in anything else. That the day-to-day is where we live, moment to moment, each and every one of us.

In the clarity of this defeat, I see myself and where I hold on. I resist who I am because I cannot let go of what I am not. I see it again and again – here in this day, there in the past long before I crossed paths with then-husband, and in the future where I am always raw and incomplete and never enough.

I long for something rough, and pull out From the Burnpile.  The cello and Madigan’s voice match and settle my mood while I cook rice with stock, turmeric & chipotle onions, and saute carrots with leftover spinach (with cinnamon!) and black beans for dinner.

I’m trying to write you a love song
because I know it’s time you heard one
I’m trying to write you a love song
because somewhere you know you’re someone

Come tell me about yr dreams coming true
I need you to
Come tell me about your dreams coming true

The snow has laid down blankets and the cold air forms ice as the wind sweeps the trees clean and the sky drops more flakes, alternating between perpendicular and sideways. I watch it swirl like a breaking wave, change direction, and gust in sheets to the south. The window rattles against the wind. The cat is curled at my left thigh and purrs when I brush against his coat. OWL sleeps peacefully through the storm, maybe with good dreams about our afternoon walk in the whitened landscape in his red snow suit, a knee-high gnome with his green car in one hand, hairbrush in the other.

But I can’t write the love song. I can’t seem to right the story. All I can do is crawl into the bed and pull the covers over OWL’s body as he sleeps, his cool feet finding the side of my colder right thigh, and weep.

Future happiness included, of course.

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