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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

30 Nights of Solitude

Last night was my third evening home after 30 nights of solitude spent in a bed far far away. A month was long enough for me to form an intimate relationship with nocturnal privacy, where my thoughts were free to roam naked down the carpeted halls of my mind, bumping into only myself on the way to the bathroom. “Excuse me. Oh! It’s just me.”

It was a luxurious fling. A sprawling self-indulgence of fluffed pillows, and scrolling paragraphs — the creamy night light lulling my lids, my hands releasing my darling tome beside me, his pages butterfly-breathing beneath the ceiling fan, sharing my bed and my dreams.

This is where the needle scratches across the record because I’ve returned home to the city, where solitude is but a smoky memory, having been replaced with suspicious night riders thumping past my windows, their base set to 10, vibrating my crib and my nerves. Really? Is it necessary to massage the entire neighborhood with your music?

My husband Mike, sweet and hushed, snoozes on the left coast, while our two small dogs swim between us like escapees from Alcatraz looking for land, thrashing about and licking themselves, making the most disgusting mouth sounds—and beautiful Bella, our sleek Siamese, perching on my chest to steal a sip from my water glass. Her padded little paws feeling like steel fingers driving through me. Ouch! I should kick them all out of my bed. I don’t know how they got to be so spoiled.

And one mustn’t forget our firstborn, ending his graveyard shift by burglarizing our refrigerator, setting our two-Chihuahua alarm off, jarring me from my slumber, while hubby, conditioned to the sounds of sonny’s pre-dawn home invasions, snores peacefully beside me, the same way he did when our babies woke up in the middle of the night all cranky and foul-smelling, wailing into my clean nighty — wiping their mucousy little noses all over me. Curse these mommy ears, trained like sonar to detect the slightest of sounds! Will they ever let me rest? Will I ever be that person who can sleep through a normal night without having to resort to sound machines and sheep counting?

The morning arrives on time — benign and balanced, reminding me that I have an open invitation to clear away my bed-head blues and begin anew. I smile up at the ceiling, because I’m home and I get to go for a morning walk, listen to the birds…and drink coffee, leaving behind the exaggerated frustrations of the sleep deprived.

Sleep is messy. No! Being human is messy. Hell, it’s all messy! Good thing I’m resilient;)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tinker Toy Traumas

My time here in Massachusetts is coming to a close. This Saturday I’ll jet south to where palms sway, the sun restores, and little dogs dance around my ankles. I’m a bit in denial — trying to slow down time, for although I can’t wait to get home, this Worcester girl is a bit reluctant to leave.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s been a roller coaster visit click clicking me to the apex of heightened suspension — pausing just long enough for a quick-eyed glance around, and then hurling me into a tummy-tossing drop — but still, I’m back in line for more. There’s something about the thrill of the plunge, the blurred faces zipping by that connects me to where I’ve been and where I want to go.

I’ll board my plane, but I will never really leave this place of grainy footage and R-less accents, and as the HD version flickers against my contemporary soul — adult Leah, has discovered that everything remains somewhat the same, although modified by time and the generous distance that I’ve allowed myself. I know that leaving was necessary for it offered me a panoramic view, and now I’m able to see that Worcester is not only benign, but an endearing part of who I have become — my tribal home.

I’ve come to understand that Paris or grotto, Mordor or Shangri-La, it makes no difference where we come from, for the most frightening places are within our own minds, where tinker toy traumas torment our lives and spawn crippling fears; stunting our ability to reach beyond ourselves.

Worcester, I publicly apologize for placing the blame of the culpable on your pretty little head. And even though this visit has been squally and raw, I know that neither sun nor rain comes in judgment, but rather by natural course — and that all things, both dreary and bright, were, and are, just as they should be.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Love in The Looming Shadows

There’s a bit of enchantment in the air. It could be coming from the trees, dressed in scorching colors, tossing acorns and apples — shamelessly showing off, or from the cobalt sky as it poses behind the flashy trees, my two pretty sisters, vying for attention. Or perhaps the universe is feeling generous; directing the angels to make haste — sprinkle the magic!

I imagine it’s all of the above, plus a little more: I believe I’ve finally embraced the reality that grief and grace are partners, one taking while the other gives, paradoxical lovers brought together by brokenness and sincerity — I get that I’m actually equipped for this bi-polar journey, where hope rises like the sun, giving birth to the light, and then drops below the bruised horizon, plunging my soul into darkness — for a season. I finally understand that there is a place within my being which grasps the great mystery —that we are timeless spirits, kin to the divine, and that we have within ourselves the resources needed to not only persevere, but to see the invisible, and embrace the eternal.

I experience this magic when I invite Love to guide me through the looming shadows, ministering to me through nature and nurture, sending me serendipitous messages like a secret admirer — a random song pouring like a poem into my soul, subduing me like a strong martini. All things are needful, motivated by love for love. And my path, although strewn with thorns and often blanketed in gloomy skies, is somehow a place of safety…a wayward home away from home.

Ah yes, I speak these things while the sun is high and the calming sway of the martini lingers in my blood. How bold of me to speak so plainly of this enchantment, knowing full well that the ordinary will soon revisit me, leaving dry heaves and dead leaves as the only evidence of the magic…yet still, I will believe.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Confusing Cocktail

Have you ever begun a journey, intent on one destination, only to find you’ve been detoured to another? Such was my journey to Massachusetts last week. Yes, I’m here — physically, looking about in wonder at death's fiery brilliance; colorful trees canopy the city's narrow streets like leafy umbrellas splattered by nature's palette, and I can't help but wonder if the leaves know that they’re dying.

I came here with a purpose in mind — a sole purpose. How foolish of me to imagine that I could predict my purpose. For one thing is often a cover for another — the bait and switch. And here I am now, sitting stunned, and softened like a slice of clay that has been kneaded into a supple clump.

The shock of it all is still with me. I can’t seem to move past it. My cousin Jimmy is gone. I try to conjure his face, his being, that curly hair, distinct voice, eyes that painted the world with grace and humor.

The first paragraph of my last blog haunts me: “I’m heading up to MA for a spell. I have a vital mission—a delicate assignment appointed to me by the angels and I’m certain that all of heaven will be watching and cheering. And that’s how it should be—packed stands of roaring fans, cheering on brave souls with holes in their shoes.”

This photo causes my breath to hitch…

City Hall

This is where Jimmy worked for the last 26 years.

And who would have known that I was coming to say goodbye one day after his birthday, and to recite his eulogy to a crowd of stunned fans.

I’m drunk on a confusing cocktail of loss and grace. The grace is as thick as honey, reflecting light from afar…perhaps a place where newly departed souls go to catch their breath. But then that muddy wave of loss hits, washing over everything, coloring the world in gray.

I should have known that his soft heart would betray him, for it was too weak to carry him into his golden years where silver–haired sages gather to share costly secrets. He took a shorter route, heading up rather than across, and now he knows what all those white heads don’t know—what we ponder as we pound the pavement. He knows it all, and somehow this knowledge comforts me.

It is just enough to keep me from despair.

A Vital Mission

I’m heading up to MA for a spell. I have a vital mission—a delicate assignment appointed to me by the angels and I’m certain that all of heaven will be watching and cheering. And that’s how it should be—packed stands of roaring fans, cheering on brave souls with holes in their shoes.

I grew up in MA, and each time I return I feel I’m on an archeological dig, searching for familial clues, finding bits and pieces of evidence scattered like chalky bones throughout the city. Home. Worcester MA, where I toddled the gritty sidewalks in my size twos, holding Ma’s hand, the church bells pealing out the years, stopping me mid-play to ponder life’s secrets: Will the world end in my lifetime? Can God see everything I do? Am I late for dinner? I was as deep as midnight—as awake as noon, my eyes always watching as the potter’s blade cut into the clay.

I’m not a pessimist or a realist; I’m a wakeful dreamer with both feet on the ground and a good eye for detail. I see the danger, the blood on the wall, but I also see the light. The irony. The humor. The Love.

From a distance life seems so simple, like theories placed in cotton-lined boxes, carried by cautious couriers—unbreakable. But reality chews holes in your theories, rarely offering you the consideration of a cotton-lined box. No. Life is nitroglycerin carried in your own trembling hands. The great experiment whose outcome is yet to be determined. And tremble we do. But is that so terrible? For our trembling bears witness to our desperate need for something greater than our frailties, and accompanies us as we surrender to the vastness within, where we are linked like DNA to our one true love.

Angels, I am honored to accept this assignment. Humbled actually. Ma, I’ll be there soon.