"We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It's easy to say, 'It's not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.' Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes."
God bless Mister Rogers. i hope there are zip-up cardigans in heaven.
it's wednesday night now, and i'm back in nashville. was it just this morning that kristina and i woke up early and drove to the oakland airport? did i fly home today--there to here in four hours, as opposed to nearly four days here to there? i'm so tired.
the weight of my uncertain world fell hard on my shoulders upon returning home. i am immensely grateful for the blueskies and lilacs of the west coast, and for the flickers of feeling-myselfness of recent days. but the fog is heavy on the hills of middle tennessee now, and the roads are freezing. and i'm not quite sure what to do with myself and the knots in my stomach.
so i went to church tonight. we sit in a semi-circle on wednesday nights, and becca proclaims a quiet gospel. tonight it was measure for measure: you get what you give, and you're given more. and she said that we all have the same amount of faith. our cups are full. really. we can choose to lean into our faith, to drink from our cups; the knots in our bellies don't have to be our sustenance.
are prayer and faith synonymous? someone asked. we thought quietly on this.
and then becca asked me, anne, do you have anything to share about faith and your iona experience? and i said: um.
and then, words, like provision came. i remembered the abbey, the night of the service for healing, and all our candles lit like prayers. we were flickering faces, willing to shoulder the prayers of ourselves, of our loveds, of the world. i was so afraid to kneel, to have praying hands laid on me, as if the kindness and faith would unravel me completely. but i knelt despite fear (healing is such responsibility) and allowed myself and all the faces in my mind to be prayed for: spirit of the living God, present with us now, enter you mind, body and spirit, and heal you of all that harms you.
the words and the need have followed me here.
and just yesterday, i was quiet at the ocean. i allowed myself belief and peace then. the ocean is still in my hair.
Today I am alive. Kris and I drove to Sausalito, and we walked near the water. Drank good coffee. Watched the Bay. Wondered. I smiled bravely and remembered my 21st birthday in this same small town. Did I ever think I'd be back again? And so soon? I memorized the moments as we passed shops. An art gallery here. A watch store there. A boutique. Candy shop. Café. Chip shop. I remembered my quiet paper lantern prayers at Victoria Park in Belfast as I watched the herons and seagulls.
We raced through the hills later, determined to be at Muir Beach for sunset. We made it, and the cliffs were silhouettes to an orange-skied backdrop. I put a beach stone in my pocket. (remember.) We stood still until we were cold. Until it was dark. Welcome home, I told Kris. You've made it. Waves crashed hard and loud and constantly, with intermittent hushes between, like the silence of God and I breathed in California and the Pacific. Standing on the shore, I was awed by the fact that I've stood on so many shores recently. I've breathed Pacific and Atlantic, and I have put Irish and Scottish stones in my pockets.
Someday I'll build an altar out of all my beach stones, and I will say to myself, see? You were here.
Tonight, we drove into the city. Dinner and soul-staring conversation. I was not prepared to leave. Listened to zero 7 as we crossed the bay bridge, and I waved goodbye to the skyline.
I love this place.
oh my, this blog is looking awfully stark with no new entries. but i'm on the road, driving from nashville to san francisco with kristina. sparrow reminded me to blog while i was driving through the mojave desert this evening.
so. here i am. pitstop in bakersfield, ca for the night. we've successfully smuggled the dog in (the blanket my mom gave me for christmas wonderfully disguises all sorts of small animals) and i'm getting ready to crash after a long day of new mexico, arizona, and southern california. i saw desert and mountains and dinosaur statues. tumbleweed and blue sky. flying saucers and cows. and countless tasteless advertisements for all things indian.
tomorrow, we've only got six more hours on the road before san francisco. a whirlwind trip before i fly home early wednesday morning and take a history final as well as write an existentialist short story. ha.
goodnight sweethearts goodnight.
another night of the innocence mission in a dark, safe room, after a sweater and umbrella weather day.
tonight, i feel okay. it's such a dark season, this winter, and quick-ending days have a way of eclipsing hope, perspective. words have fallen short (when i haven't lost them completely) and i find myself in this heavy place. i stare straight forward a lot, not focusing on anything in particular. furrowed brow stares. (don't do that furrowing thing, becca tells me. you'll get wrinkles and you've got nice skin.)
i don't write. i don't feel much. think much. i get lost in the everydayness. (you nod. understand. this happens to you too. i know.)
but. tonight i feel okay.
i don't know about tomorrow.
i can simply profess the present, and i am doing so, like a small churchbell.
it's nearly 1 am. susan and sandy and i just finished a round of shithead. susan and i talked about our thoughts on the war--just long enough for us to get tired and nearly fall asleep--and now i am listening to the innocence mission.
bedrooms are safe with a candle in the corner and hopeful music. bed turned town (because i never made it this morning, like most mornings). familiar like rest.
where are we going tomorrow? where are we going?
i think i may just go to san francisco with kristina next week.
oh it's valentine's day now, isn't it?
i should call vicky.
"maybe you should blog," marlei said tonight, moments after my car spun around 180 degrees on the icy road. (i'm ok.)
yeah, maybe i should, i replied.
here i am.
the snow has fallen again, a heavy blanket on the yard, on our hats and hearts.
it's a muffled world which absorbs our worry, leaving only quiet things. like cardplaying in front of the fire. chocolate chip cookies. magnolia soundtrack and gillian welch. i'm glad susan is here to share in it all.
kristina is moving to san francisco in two weeks. we went out last night. listened to good jazz at f scott's. drank gimlets. i wore my long hair down. and the band was lovely. a beautiful girl in frumpy clothes on the piano. a tall, tall upright bass player wearing orange-ish corduroys, goatee and a grin. a dwarf playing drums with his eyes closed and mouth slightly open. a singer named liz, in a red asian top, who liked to repeat the name of the songs as she finished them. she played the sax well too. cole porter. nina simone. tommy dorsey.
we smiled a lot as we sat in the swanky lounge, wearing our lipstick.
a nice night.
marlei and i talked of dark days over tea and cafe au lait, sitting by the window yesterday. i watched the streetlights come on and a firetruck pass. she suggested psalm-reading before bed for peace. and i said that i've been doing just that. psalm 142 specifically, and the verse that says: when my spirit was heavy, you knew my path.
at church this morning, the psalm for the day was 142. and marlei was the reader. i sighed. the snow began to fall an hour later.
it's friday night, late, and i'm under layers of clothing.
susan has come to town, bringing with her a bit of belfast. yesterday was dreary and an irish kind of grey. misty-topped hills and rain. cold.
today was crunchy snow with snowcapped hills against a slate sky. everything silver.
i don't think i've ever nearly fallen asleep while blogging before, but i'm nodding off as i write, yawning profusely.
perhaps i'll write something exciting/entertaining/coherent tomorrow. yeah. tomorrow. for now, bed is calling.
february 2. my mother's birthday.
and i'm the baby daughter, age 24, 600 miles away from gift opening, candle-blowing, happy birthdays. distance is staggering on landmark days. but. it's alright. we talked on the phone. i am fully briefed on gifts received. how she spent the day.
and in these financially lean days, i don't have much to offer. in my head, i'm sending the best flowers, finding the most thoughtful gifts, flying up to her and sharing her cake.
but all i've got are phonecalls and words.
so. hello mom. i'm thinking of you.
today was unseasonable. seventy degrees and partly cloudy. breezy like spring. as i walked from the church to my car at noon, the air smelled incredibly urban, like concrete and dirt and dead leaves. it smelled like akron, ohio in october, when mom and i used to take the greyhound to visit grandma for my birthday. we would have layovers in cleveland, where i would play makeshift hopskotch on the dingy yellow and white checkered floors. i remember walking uphill under tall buildings to eat at a small diner-ish restaurant. i was so small then. my memories are snapshots: eskimo pies out of vending machines. personal tvs on the arms of black plastic chairs for soap-opera watching. the excitement of travel and anonymity and a long, wide-open road that would take me to my grandmother. take me to my birthday. take me away from everything but my mother; i had her to myself. we shared a bed.
we walked to the bus stop one day when i was 10. i was in a stone-kicking phase, always wondering how long i could kick a certain stone, before i lost it to a lawn or road or boredom. how far i could kick it from its natural element. mom obliged my game, and we kicked an akron stone along for a good twenty minutes like a team. we were focused, determined.
mom kept the stone, she told me recently. she put it (in all its nondescript greyness) in her purse that day and has put it in every new purse since.
stones like altars.
an altar called remember. ebenezer.
i remember the uncomplicated love i felt for a mother who would play with me, who would make sacred the celebration of my birth by pulling me out of my dailyness and bringing me into her world of mother and daughter, as we stayed in her childhood home with her mother.
i remember safety. security and goodnight prayers. mom's steady breathing as she slept next to me in the small bed. i stole the blankets.