(just a note: language of sexual trauma and regret in this post — be easy with you, ok?)
It’s late on a Sunday evening, and these are my morning pages, left till the end of this traveling day. Thunderstorms this evening: bolt lightening creasing across the sky, and claps of thunder so loud they stop the heart for a moment. Such a spectacular welcome.
Last night at this time I was contorting myself in an airplane seat — we were in the row right in front of the exit row so our seats didn’t recline, and there was absolutely nothing I could do to get my body comfortable enough to let itself fall asleep. I read and read, my eyes drooped, I yawned and the words on the pages blurred, but when I turned off the light and closed my eyes, my body held itself hostage. An old move. All I could do was adjust, adjust, adjust, adjust, but nothing worked, so I showed up at Logan a mess of sleep-deprivation and rage. Another old knowledge. Used to be, that’s how I’d arrive at Logan every time — returning to the East Coast after a visit home to Omaha while I was still in school, having spent a holiday or term break or several months living under my stepfather’s world order: no one ever got enough sleep, and the job of the female bodies in the house was to light around in a state of heightened anxiety and panic that was only released when he actually proposed to rape one of or when he exploded with rage. Then something in us could relax — we didn’t have to anticipate the worst anymore; it was already happening.
Today is National Coming Out Day — one day a year that celebrates the endless, sometimes joyous, sometimes boring, sometimes devastating process of coming out as queer, as gay or lesbian or bisexual, as trans* or genderqueer, as someone other than the assumed and accepted straight, gender-normative persons we tell ourselves we are supposed to be.
So, happy Coming Out Day!
The idea, once upon a time, was that this would be a day when we would support one another coming out to someone new — maybe we weren’t out yet to our parents, or to our grandparents, or to others in our extended family. Maybe we hadn’t yet come out to our dearest friends from high school or college. Maybe we weren’t out yet at work. Maybe we hadn’t told housemates or classmates. Maybe we haven’t yet actually come out to ourselves.
Good morning to you, over there. Are you warm enough? Keep that scarf on — don’t catch a chill.
I’m thinking about the people I love who are in the Northeast, who are in the middle of winter already, who have been without power, who are well under this new snow. I’m remembering why I left, and I’m nostalgic for the chill of it, the work of living there, how strong I felt, bundling up against the cold, digging out, stirring the coals in the woodstove and blazing it up each morning when I came down into the kitchen — add paper and kindling, then one log, then three, get it really going. Then I’d pour my coffee, settle at the kitchen table, write into the daybreak. No power meant no electric heat or gas, I don’t think, because those were electric-powered. Maybe the gas heaters would work, but we couldn’t use the fan to spread the warmth around (not that the fans worked all that well, anyway). Not living there anymore, I’m left with the romance of my memory, chapped cheeks, sharp and bright red, coming in to work at Stone Soup or Family Crisis, how I was bundled in a plaid barn jacket and boots, hair shorn, smiling at everyone in our shared burden of cold and ice and snow. I forget the deep depression I fell into every winter, the seasonal affect business, how the cold got into my bones and wouldn’t leave, how I felt I couldn’t get warm, not ever. That part I don’t miss, I don’t even let myself remember. I miss the deep dark of rural Maine, and, too, the way the night spread itself bright through the woods when the ground was covered with snow, how I stood at my bedroom window on full-moon nights and the backyard was as light as midday with the reflection back up from the sparkling, ice-coated white.
Be safe over there, friends. Send me some snowflakes.
Good morning! Here I am with you again — it’s been several days! I’ve been notebook writing quite a bit this week, and also sleeping a bit more than usual, so I haven’t had time for both the notebook pages and blog both.
Monday was the Solstice — the light is returning! Was there a way that you took note of the holiday?
(Have you seen this video of the lunar eclipse that coincided with the solstice? Look at that red — pretty amazing!)
Love this picture of Sarah Deragon's -- brings me right home. (Click on the image to see more of her amazing work!)
It feels like this was a very long weekend — partly because I actually weekended for most of it. I was off of my computer all day yesterday, didn’t sit down in front of it one time, barely even went into the office. There was baking and party-prep on Friday, Writing the Flood and then a wonderful gathering with good friends on Saturday, and yesterday was a full day off: movies and cookies (with a couple of errands thrown in, just to get out of the house).
During the errand running, we had to make a stop at OSH. When we came out of the store and back to the car, there was a young boy hanging out at the new Prius next to ours, opening and closing the doors. I came around to the passenger side of our car, next to him, said hello, looked for his people. He was there alone, and it became clear that he was developmentally delayed. The Mr went back into the store to look for his people, while I stayed at the car, wanting to interact with the boy, wanting to see if he’d come inside, wanting to make sure he didn’t back up into any parking-lot traffic. He would open the door, close it, then kind of cheer, delighted. He had a lovely face that kind of opened up into itself, is that right, or it was as though something was opening inside him that didn’t make it all the way onto his face when he was delighted, or worried, or pleased. An adult came our way carrying a box, and the boy said it was his father — I told the man we were worried about the boy because he was just hanging out in the parking lot, alone, and the man said that the boy had told him he wouldn’t get out of his seat. And so, not knowing this relationship at all and not being a parent, it’s pretty easy for me to judge the situation, think, “and so you listened to him and left your child alone in your car in a holiday parking lot?” He thanked us for our concern, and we, still worried, watched them go.
(to create is to resist!)
Today is going to be a good day.
Last night, a few people sat with me in the writing ourselves whole workshop space, and talked with me about how they can help me do the stuff involved in running this organization. I don’t know how much more I can say about that except how amazing and somewhat overwhelming it feels to have help — from many different sides.
(Just a little explicit language of sexual abuse in here: so you know it. Be easy with you. xox, Jen)
It would seem I’m having some trouble getting back into my regular blogging routine, after the road-trip break. If I were a smart blogger, I would have brought my camera with me on the trip, so that I could create posts out of photos — but with no iphone and a lightly-packed (at least for me) self, there was no camera.
I’m in a nostalgic mode — about a month ago, my ex-wife sent me a box that she’d salvaged from the storage shed we filled when we moved out to CA in 03. On Sunday, I spent the morning in my newly-designated creative space in the little back cottage behind our house, going through cards and letters and papers from up to 20 years ago. Among all the college papers and postcards from friends on their semesters away in foreign countries were: transcripts from the trial (after my mother’s husband was arrested for sexual abuse and incest); letters from my mom, both before and after the trial (and how different they are); handwritten letters from two very close friends when they were away in the Army (xox, you two); a couple old photographs; even a letter from my sister from before the ‘break.’ (How to find the language to talk about the experience of befores and afters — I often just use those words themselves, capitalized and fairy-taled: the land of Before and the land of After: doesn’t the terrain change that much? Of course, it’s not a hard and fast boundary between those two places, and going through some of the papers I’d saved, I found an email I’d sent to my sister during the DMZ time, after we’d broken contact, after I’d confronted my mom about what her husband had done, and she was still living with him. I forget about that part, about that terrain — a lot, I forget about that terrain.)