When you and I are alone in this sacred little house, we are like binary stars, orbiting each other in a sweet, quiet dance. When you go to your room for a while and you get quiet, I say, ‘Butter Bean? What are you up to?” And you run to find me in the kitchen with a book in your hands, saying, “Pleeeaaaasssseee?” When I go to make you lunch and you haven’t seen me in a minute, I hear your little feet heavily plodding over to find me, your hands reaching up for me so you can watch me cook. I look for you, you look for me, we find each other.
When we get tired, we collapse into each other’s perfect softness,. The plushly-upholstered body that made you now holds space for your little body, kissing every little roll and sweet dimple on your knuckles. You find rest in me, and I in you.
The dance gets more complicated when we venture out into the world, and the ideas of others get in the way. Whether that be pantyhose and eyeliner on me, or noise level or personal space rules on you, other things compress what we are. We try not to bother anybody and just wait to be home again in our unpolished warmth.
I don’t think it benefits you much to schedule a bunch of activities or worry that you’re not socialized enough right now. For now, this house is enough for us most of the time, and we fill each other’s cups with learning and affection and play. We feel the ground with our bare feet here, so that when we do slip on our shoes to venture out, we stay warm until we return.
Thank you for being enough and making me feel like enough, too.
I’ve been working on myself. Meditation and divination and listening to my dreams. Taking responsibility for my actions and my health and my attitude. It’s been slow, but the changes are happening. And I can see them most when faced with problems I’ve dealt with before. Because when those cyclical things arise, I can either deal with them in the same way as before, or a new way. And when I see myself choose a new way, I see myself changing. But this is also when the changing aches.
The stretching and growing becomes painful, especially when you’re growing alone, growing apart. When you hoped it would mean growing up together, but it means tearing yourself away, leaving someone behind. Someone who is still a ghost in this house. Someone I still leave offerings to, bowls of rice at the family table, hoping it won’t make me miss you more.
We did it all wrong, lover. We should have been two trees. We should have been two tall trunks that decided to tangle our branches. But instead, we were two diseased saplings that entertwined, growing one stunted trunk, and now your leaves want to stay close to the floor while mine try to stretch out enough for the sun to kiss me.
I hope this doesn’t sound like I feel superior, because I really don’t. I just feel different, and you feel the same. And I’m really scared of the thought that if I were this person then, we might not have chosen each other. And now I’m that person, burning Palo Santo whenever you leave here, trying to burn the scent of your anger away. I’m that person who doesn’t know whether to try and ask for your help or just learn to cope on my own so your energy doesn’t burn a rotting hole in the couch you refuse to leave. I’m that person saying over and over that I can only fix myself, but desperately wants to fix you, too. I’m that person using every ounce of enlightenment I may have to not let you bring me down with you.
I know this season of your depression will end. I have enough foresight to understand that. And I know I can wait it out. But by the end of it, who will I be? How do I know there will be any room for you if I unfurl in this alone space until you come back to life? All I know is that until you come back from that limbo space, I have to be my own company. For me and for my son. I will tend the garden in my heart and create the space for you to do the same. I just hope you choose it soon.
Sometimes I fear this harvest
Not for me
But for you
The victory garden I planted in my heart
In the bowl of my pelvis
Drops petals from my fingertips
I am my own ecosystem now
But that means the symbiosis
Has become parasitic
Where our half pieces fit together
My wholeness threatens to separate
Tendons lying limp
We were once one
Now we are one and a half
But I am the one
And you are the pieces
You never planted your own garden
So you lie starving
Drowning in the glow of band-aid screens
While I reap
and miss you
The china I own was given to me on my wedding day. Though I’m sure you know I have many misgivings about the whole institution and culture of marriage and weddings, one thing I really do appreciate is the passing on of china. Beautiful dishes given to people who are starting new lives together is just the kind of tradition I think should be continued.
My china was bought by your great-great aunt, Inez. She never married, never settled down, but, instead, took care of her mother and sister. She worked for the telephone company for decades. And at that job, she took six dollars out of every paycheck and put it toward a set of china for her hope chest. There is nearly a full service for ten. The pattern she chose is called the “Old Charleston” set, with magnolias and a gold edging. A proper Southern set for a lovely Southern lady. She never had children of her own, but she loved your grandfather dearly. And when her favorite nephew had children, she told the family to leave the china to me when I married. I was never told of this plan, but I was so excited to receive the set.
Today, we had Grandma Ellen and Grandpa Chuck and Auntie Christine over for family dinner, and Grandma remarked that I was “getting out the fancy dishes just for them”. I told her I didn’t believe in dishes that don’t get used. I think Inez would be glad to know those plates come out every time family gathers in this house. They never go in the dishwasher, so family has to gather in the kitchen to wash them by hand, continuing to talk and share recipes and laugh.
Though I think wasting money on a wedding is ridiculous, I do think investing in something that will translate into family dinners around warm tables is a good thing. And I hope I can give you something that beautiful when you start out on your own.
Lately, the chill in the air in the morning has been beckoning me to itself. So I have felt the urge to put you in a bonnet and sweater and take you for walks each day as the sun comes up. Sometimes we walk to the river to see the ducks and wave to people who pass by, but these past few days, we only go to the cemetery.
I have always loved cemeteries. Some people argue against their existence, saying, “Taking up space with all those dead people seems such a waste!” But I disagree. Death seems to be the last thing you can’t argue with. Death is the only thing keeping that land separate, keeping the ancient trees growing, keeping the grass tended, keeping that space from becoming a parking lot or a mall or a set of cheap condos. It’s not even like a park, filled with distractions to keep kids occupied while moms get to sit down and gossip. It’s a quiet space to walk, to think, to meditate.
The juxtaposition of a child walking through a field of the dead is strange but somehow beautiful. When you struggled to be released from the confines of the stroller, I felt safe letting you roam, putting your hands on the bark of old trees, murmuring between the stones, pointing inquisitively at stars that marked soldiers. I explained what things were, and you softly responded “Oh,” as if you understood.
So I hope you know that I don’t want you to cremate me. I want a space. I want my body and my memory to perform my last earthly duty, to hold space for the future. A piece of earth for someone else to quietly walk. And I hope a hundred years from now, someone will walk a quiet child by my headstone and feel at peace.
I want you to touch me
The way a refined palate
Armed with ceremonious slowness
Takes a bite of creme brulee
The savoring an innate impulse
Yet a conscious act of devotion
Choosing jewelry for me
Knowing the exact shade of my skin
The way a host chooses the perfect wine glass
Swirling the crimson liquid
To find that one sweet breath
Before tongue meets gold
But don’t forget I am of the earth
My hands smelling of thyme from the garden
I am strong in my sweetness
So don’t mistake tender for weak
Pull me to you with strength
And even as you take your time
Know I am filled with want
And I will take as I give
There is a dichotomy of wants in me
Well-kept hands pouring fine wine
Men with lithe muscle
Women with berry-stained lips
Long, witchy skirts
Dusting the forest floor
Either side is a cry for hedonism
One in refined taste
Dorian Grey silks
And the other
A life of ease and split ends
Communion with the earth
Bodies unashamed to taste each other
Both seek that marrow
And I seek those seekers
Waiting for either deluge