Monday, April 6, 2009

of coconuts, difficult truths and soft, safe places to land

you know that old saying, 'when life gives you lemons, make lemonade'? i don't think life has ever given me a lemon.

a lemon would be too easy. too yellow. too cheerful. a lemon isn't difficult; it's something i can squeeze the juice out of with one hand and then use to lighten my hair and garnish my cocktail.

nope. life has never given me a lemon. it's given me ... well ... coconuts. something hard and lopsided and ... well ... hard. while other folks are drinking lemonade, life (wearing what i imagine is a lopsided grin) hands me a coconut and says, 'here. crack this.'


these should be, by all accounts, the most beautiful of days. spring has sprung in california - cool. bright. blue as far as the eye can see - and i'm delighted to make its acquaintance again. everything seems greener and fresher and more alive somehow.

except me.

i've been in the strangest places lately. stuck between here and there but never landing for long. no longer one thing, not yet another ... belonging to all and none and waiting for my body to register what my mind has just begun to recognize ... everything is changing.

it's got me thinking a lot about the people and places, near and far, i once loved most. it's both difficult and lovely to know that lives, relationships, even shows go on without me.

there are things i miss so much, i ache. and there are things i ache to have missed. babies and weddings and plays i would have been perfect for. a cap knitted just for me. happy hours. donna summer sing alongs. stray cats. a dog in the window.

whether separated by inches or miles, the distance is not to scale. and the question that begs (the question no one ever asks) is 'why?' and i wish there was a short and simple answer, but the truth is, the end of a relationship is rarely short or simple.

we search for reasons; work through the betrayal we feel, and still find it difficult to believe that situations, relationships, people we love could evolve past us ... we move along, caught up in the day-to-dayness until it becomes clear that something more is required. and it feels sudden and heart-stopping. i know.

it's never a sudden realization, of course. and that's what's so hard to face. even for me. especially for me.

the truth must be told among friends and so i must admit that there was nothing really wrong with the way things used to be. i've had men who loved me, jobs i've enjoyed and good, fun friends. my life has moved along on its own. simple. occasionally eventful. sweet, even.

and i wasn't unhappy. which is important to know. but 'not unhappy' is no way to go through life. and if the truth is told, simple and sweet are not enough for me. i want my life to be the way it never was. different - whatever that means, and - hopefully - better. by my own design.

which is a difficult admission for a girl people see as patient and kind, with the perfect demeanor to calm all the fuss. but i am also a girl who bruises easily ... who will go along, get along, let someone hurt her again and again and again because its not so hard to take and doesn't make anyone else feel bad.

or at least, i used to be that girl.

not that anyone would have known it. i hide things well. or maybe i don't. maybe people just didn't look closely enough. they couldn't see that the thing that seemed 'so sudden' was bubbling underneath all along.

i've been silently screaming that for 40 years. it's only now that i can hear myself. it's only now, that i'm listening.

and here i am ... creating the life i've always wanted. and no part of it is easy. for any of us. and the resulting chorus in my head is loud and painful and sometimes sends me back into my shell. i have to force myself back out into the open.

it's painful as hell, and scary, too ... nurturing this life i want to live into being ... opening up the space to find the things that better suit me, to find people i can love without feeling like i'm hurting them by loving them the way i want to. and in the midst, i make mistakes and say the wrong things and ache with the constant newness of it all.

no matter how silly and positive and carefree i may seem.

and more and more ... i find safe places to land ... the tiny cs office ... the theatre ... the steps to the beach ... disneyland ... meg and jennie and lynda and michael and brian and laurie and bj and jk ... lullabies ... pancakes ... and just about anywhere with c and the girls ... and it becomes clear to me that i can do this and i am going to be just fine.

life is too short to keep everything so well protected and unsaid. no one person is the ultimate person and no one is the smallest and weakest person. we're all the same size. some of us just choose to live our lives on our own terms and not care what anyone else thinks.

(there are times, i must admit, when i want to rush ahead and see how everything unfolds. i want to know that all the pain and uncertainty is leading to something meaningful. but then again, i don't really want that, do i? do i?)

there will still be small days and smaller minds to deal with, but they will be fewer and further between, now. i am done listening to the the voices who say, 'cruel,' and 'selfish.' the truth is, no one is harder on me than i am and i have been punishing myself more than i should have. more than i deserve. i can see that now. and i'm just about done with that.

the truth should be told among friends and so i should tell you that i am impulsive and sentimental; i am willful and sometimes, i don't listen. my responses will sometimes be hasty, the arguments poorly formed. but i am a very smart girl. and sometimes, a very sorry girl.

and if i come to you seeking comfort and instead find you repeating back to me the ugliest, most secret thing i believe about myself ... if i open up and you make fun, calling forth the most hurtful ideas of me tucked into the way-backest part of my head ... if you put me in a position where i have to choose between what's right and good and what you want ... it will not end well.

i'll have to fight hard ... against the instinct to disappear ... against the desire not to deal with you again (because if i've learned anything about choices, it's that avoidance is a bad one - possibly the worst of all) ... against my willful anaesthesia ... and i'll continue to move forward with a sense of responsibility for my own happiness.

(and i'd like you to be a part of it. really, i would.)

events of the last few years ... the last few months ... the last few days ... will leave their mark - nothing permanent, like the freckle on my hip or the tattoo on my ankle, but a mark nonetheless. and i am working my way through it.

it would be nice to know that tomorrow will be better. and easier. and happier. and brighter. but i don't know that. what i do know is that tomorrow will be.

and still, i choose to believe that everything i experience is exactly what i need for my strength in the future. i choose to believe the jolts of the last few weeks will soon subside, with no lasting effects, save for the reminder that things are not stable, linear or predictable - i am always in flux.

life, after all, is about balancing, not about being balanced. the sense is exhilarating and reminds me of the fragility of life; nudges me to appreciate each imperfect, teetering moment i am alive ... giving me a sense of my own place in this swirling universe.

and tomorrow, i'll wake up and there i'll be - one day closer to cracking open the coconut and finding that the meat is rich and the milk ... oh, so sweet.


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