MINE

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Timothy Parker, all rights reserved, 2013.

I lie (asleep?) in a room full of beds…
A man (my uncle?) slips under the covers behind me.

Pulls me close?
Presses into me?

Is this a memory? A sensation?
Did I watch it happen to another?
Was the other, me?
Is she 4, 7, 11, 13?

I see the dark wood floors. The white ceiling. The door frame. The handle.
The hallway. The bathroom. The white porcelain tub.
The water running. My aunt in her nightgown.

The narrative remains unclear, but the ache in my sacrum is strong.
A pulsing. A defense. An outrage.

THIS IS MY BODY!

I lie on the carpeted floor. Knees drawn to chest. Feet pressing against my assigned partner. My job in this first chakra exercise is to push away, to claim, to say:

MINE!

But my voice, typically strong, cracks. Breaks apart.
I am struck by the absence of my own belonging.
Embarrassed.
Disrobed.

I return to explore my first chakra with the help of my therapist. Recover this violation. The foggy narrative.
Then narrow in on a clearer intrusion: spanking.

At 51, it’s hard to fathom that this trauma could still be lodged in my body. It was among the first that I consciously released with the assistance of healing practitioners some twenty years ago.

In fact, in my mid-thirties, I sat in this very cafe, drinking hot cider and enjoying a roll with jam, while writing the poem that claimed my body as MINE.

I’ve since lost my taste for sugary things, and now prefer everything bitter.
And yet, here I am, revisiting the same pain, in the same place, with espresso.

I sense the energy, once locked inside my sacrum, drain down my legs into the earth. It moves in slow currents like the flow of water beneath the ice on the river beside me.

Beyond the river is a mountain.
It defines and nourishes my view.
My strength.

MINE.

“be right back”

sshot4cbec224d6ed1A few weeks ago, I found myself downtown with a free hour in between appointments. I brought my work bag into the library and took a seat at one of the tables in the loft beside the non-fiction stacks.

Non-fiction is my favorite place to get lost in the library, and in life, but I only allowed myself a few moments in the 300s before sitting down to work.

I pulled out my day book and some materials that I had to review and sunk in, only to realize a short time later that I needed to pee, which in this particularly library is a pain in the a##–because the only public facility for this entire three-floored building, is down a hall, past a row of offices, through a heavy fire door, up a switchback flight of stairs, through another heavy fire door, and down another long hall, past the children’s room, and out into the upstairs lobby, which will set off the alarm, if you have any unchecked books in hand.

I didn’t feel like packing up all my stuff again, and lugging it along with me to the bathroom, but I also didn’t want to loose this coveted spot–at a table with an outlet and a view of the town and Mt. Wantastiquet. Still, I was concerned about leaving all my personal books behind because this library specifically asks patrons to leave behind the books they read on the tables so that they can count them and then put them away in their proper places.

So I rummaged through my bag for a set of sticky notes, and found one in faded yellow upon which I wrote the words, “Be right back,” and stuck it to my pile.

Later, when it was time to leave for my next appointment, I forgot to remove the note; and when I got home that evening, and saw it again, it made me chuckle.

Each night after, when I closed my daybook, I re-read the words: “Be right back,” and I left the note there, amused by life’s cleverness–reminding me, to come back, to myself, at another time.

Finally, last night, the note fell off on its accord, having lost all its stickiness.

It may be time to purchase one of those storefront signs to wear around my neck.

the stuff of dreams

Bee flower nest, National Geographic
Bee flower nest, National Geographic

In my dream, I am in a vibrant learning center, like the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Healing or the avant-garde middle school of my youth–spherically shaped with large open spaces.

I find myself outside the main chamber, octagonally-shaped, and flanked by halls. The place has the feeling of a bee hive, particularly with hum of activity all around.

I am to assist a group of 3 women spiritual teachers, one of whom is on her knees on the floor, outside the main chamber, in front of a long strip of white butcher block, upon which is a life-size tracing of a body, like those in the years I assisted at my son’s preschool.

I realize that this teacher and her colleagues are Spanish-speaking, so with the sensitivity gained from my time working with an international organization, I tell her that it will be okay if they want to speak Spanish among themselves in the morning when they are preparing; even though I only speak English.

The next day, I find myself rushing into the hall from yet another chamber, while the main room is buzzing with activity as it gradually fills with participants in anticipation of a presentation. The room is cool and carpeted, and it is dimly lit in preparation for a projection onto a large screen. Just like a Ted Talk.

I am late, or almost late, or about to be late because I am meandering outside this main room. Uncertain.

Just as I step toward the carpeted threshold, I am taken aside by a new presenter, a slight Asian man, a higher spiritual teacher. Scolded.

I am both ashamed and confused. I had thought I was only a participant, and I can’t fathom that I would be late as an assistant.

But then I am angry. He does not understand what it is to be a woman. To tend to ones menses, for example; which is what I had been doing. (In my waking life too.)

He matches my energy with his own, making some reference to my sense of superiority, calling me Fräulein, with both disdain and something else. Respect? Provocation?

Whatever it is, it charges my sexual energy and I immediately want to consummate this relationship; though in reality I am not physically attracted to this elderly man, except that he is a powerful teacher.

When I wake, there is a sense of the desire for union–of the masculine and the feminine; and also a sense of ascending among spiritual teachers; and the lingering confusion about my own role.

life is like that…

I wake up thinking about Kelsey.
She was my son’s favorite swimming teacher at the community pool.

Beyond her competency and kindness, I remember particularly liking her name because it combined both mine and my husband’s names–Kelly & Casey–which would have been the perfect name for our own daughter, if we had one, and if that name hadn’t already been a favorite of the man I loved before my husband. Awkward.

Life is like that. A bit of a comedian. My son’s first “girlfriend” from daycare had the first name of my husband’s ex and the last name of my ex.

I don’t know what this all means, but something, somewhere, must be paying attention. How else can I explain that our son was born on the anniversary of our first night together? Which just happens to be celebrated by Catholics as the Assumption of Mary. Which is only vaguely worth noting even with our mothers’ heritage; unless you combine it with the fact that my husband himself was born on the Feast Day of Mary and I was born on the Immaculate Conception of Mary–making our family a trifecta of the Divine Feminine; without even needing to mention that we happened to buy a piece of land and build a house across the pond from a summer camp owned by the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception.

But back to beautiful Kelsey who is the true inspiration of this piece.

What was stunning about the news that September, 2006, after the god awful loss, was the proximity. My husband and sons had been on that same road, just moments before, heading in the same direction. Toward that intoxicated driver. The one who confessed to shooting up 3 bags of heroin before he got into his truck.

Route 12 in Swanzey, New Hampshire, past the Cheshire Fair Grounds, is not a road our family typically travels. But there’s a Honda dealership down that way, and we had just received the bad news that our old car needed to be replaced, so my guys headed there to find one.

That new car, is now 9 years old, and yesterday, we got the same unexpected news, about it needing to be replaced, so we put in a call to that same dealership.

Kelsey Wells Forever 18
Kelsey Wells Forever 18

Which is how my mind drifted to Route 12 in Swanzey, and to the awful accident that took Kelsey’s and her boyfriend’s life. And to the roses that my son and I brought to the pool and weaved through the fence there.

Which wouldn’t have inspired this post, until I opened the newspaper and saw Kelsey’s picture, on the anniversary of her birthday.

“Ready to die”

cropped-cropped-cropped-cropped-v1_at_8001.jpgMy son returns to college this weekend so I’m thinking about death.
Mainly my own.
How everything good ends.
And how life is such a trickster.
Sucking us in by love, disarming us of our defenses, distracting us with the infinity of doing, and then VOILA–death! Ending. Finality.

Having a family is the worse (or is it “worst.”) Simply because it seems so permanent. Particularly in the trenches. Like the diapers and the feedings and the messes will never end. And when they did, I was HAPPY.

But now, I’m 51. With a second foot into the decade that took the lives of my beloved mother and the grandmother I adored.

Plus it’s winter. A particularly hard and cold and frozen week of January in Vermont. The darkest time of year. And in Paris, a bunch of people were butchered.

“We’re ready to die,” said the terrorists.

A friend relays that he had a moment on his mat this week where he felt that it was okay to die. Really okay.

I had that once too. On my knees. In the garden. Rain soaked. My hands in dirt.

What if we woke every day with this aim?

Without saving any love or expression “for later.”

To be ready TO DIE in each moment.

But not like this:

Farewell 2014

10309510_10152520651623746_3264191283948952743_n 2Sitting vigil with the last hours of 2014.

Excavating insights buried in life’s busyness before the year passes.

Presence:

You know how guys typically want to solve a problem rather than listen to it? How they prefer to fix it and move on?

I think we might be the same with our bodies, no matter what our gender.

I know I am.

When my body complains, whether with an ache or an illness or a tough emotion, I’d rather move the discomfort along as fast as possible rather than sit down and listen to what is being expressed through it; unless it insists, by refusing to depart.

Parenting:

Being “cool” was REALLY important to me growing up, but I don’t need to be the cool mom. In fact, it’s a red flag when my son tells me that his friend said I’m “cool.” Parenting isn’t a popularity contest. It’s a privilege and a vocation and a sacrifice–of coolness–every day.

Process:

I have learned so much, and I have so much to learn; and these two will always go hand in hand.

Just this month, I learned that although I practice conscious living (as a human being, a student and a teacher), I have a lots of anxiety.

I carry a large chunk of that in my stomach.

Instead of noticing that anxiety, and feeling into it, and listening to it, I distract myself.

51 one years and I’m still learning new things about myself.
That’s pretty cool.
(But how did I miss it?)

2014:

I danced a lot this year.
I helped launch a son into a semester break abroad.
I watched my baby grow taller than me.
I began co-teaching with my husband.
I spent 10 weeks away from home.
I endured an emergency root canal.
I missed Halloween.

I did not not finish “my book.” I took lots of stabs at it, from all different angles. I’ve despaired. There have been many more nightmares straddling the conflicting desires of privacy and expansion. The desire persists.

AND what about you?
What say you in farewell to 2014?