heaven and hysteria

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Jupiter.

That’s my planet.

(I told my dad, because maybe in a past life I believed that I could have a ruling planet. Some giant ball of gas and toxicity thousands and thousands of miles away that had some affect on me as a fellow thing made out of star stuff.)

Maybe it does.

Walking along this beach was the usual quiet hum of waves approaching. Dad was using his phone to tell me about which planets were what, because on this stretch of Florida land it was the darkest night I’d seen in years.

I could even make out the Milky Way.

Saturn was there.

Of course the Moon, peaking over the peninsula. (Oh! and some shooting stars, if you’re the romantic.)

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Spending time with family is parts heaven and hysteria. Love and love’s fun way of being with the ones that see you gain weight and grow up and live through life’s light and dark.

It is sometimes overwhelming to imagine the time of things — sitting in the midst of three generations thinking, “So many things happened just right.” And now I’m here, sitting with the people that brought me to this place.

I realize I read too much into a thing, but I also don’t want to pass up a good thing. Especially if it helps me.

Especially if a day is good.
Catching crabs off the beach,

drinking cold beer and wrapping up the hot sun.

it soaked deeply into my skin, the heat I can still feel.

I suppose it’s always new, whatever the tide brings me.

some peace to calm the worry,

with my heels sinking into the sand.

 

mosaic.

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Mr. Roger’s always said to look for the helpers.

I was a Mr. Roger’s kid. Maybe it was his kindness — his softness.

I can say now, as an adult, I value those words even more. Yet again we are left with a bunch of painful stuff. As Anne Lamott would say, “we gather bits of broken mosaic” — and that together it makes something altogether different.

This is a mosaic kinda place. So many times, broken into millions of pieces and put back together again. Maybe a few more awkward pieces to fit in — but it works, again and again.

I’ve been bursting at the seams to write this week. I’ve gotten to see so many faces and have been so many places. I again step into old worlds where I used to feel so desperate and clingy — to a place of great hope — and back again to my home where I get to gather up them pieces.

We have a hard time touching pain. “Show me where it hurts?” No. I don’t really want to, because you’re going to want to see it, maybe touch it, maybe tell me what to do with it. Sometimes you should. Other times, you just need to sit in it. Sometimes you need dig yourself out so that the sun shines on your face again.

This is where we all come in — this part right here.

Reaching our hands and arms in to that darkness; struggling with; hurting with.

Ultimately loving, but it takes us a while to understand intentions. It’s not that easy to be with someone or something that hurts. It takes our own skin and heart and bone. Do we really want to drag ourselves into it?

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Lately people have been asking how I’ve been doing. Words like great, good and ‘not bad at all’ come to mind. I am so lucky, first and foremost to have those words fresh on my tongue. Because truly, I’m doing well, to my knowledge.

And this is my season. There were my times where I broke down a lot. Questioned some deep and spooky parts on my soul and I still see them, from time to time. I still see some darkness. It is always there. Like I’ve written before, I am not strong enough to keep it at bay. Instead I’ve made it a point to embrace it like that old friend. It sits with me and we will devour pain and sadness together.

Joy arrives abundantly. Swiftly. Like the way a walk-in feels after a hot rush.

That is how it works. This is how I move. Which I do, quite often, from place to place.

I don’t know how people handle a situation as terrifying as that. With weapons and that kind of hate mixed with that kind of violence. A deep, deep wound by wounded peoples all over the place.

It should be noted that I am writing from comfort.
I can hear my heaters hum and I am sipping on hot coffee.
But I can say that two hours ago I was doing this on and off again teary/snot-coming-out-everywhere thing.
Thinking about my grandparents.
The places in the world that are picking up pieces.
Remembering all of the things.
Feeling all the feels.

The pieces you help pick up are part of that bigger thing, ya know?
So we need you keep picking them up. And I will too. Okay?

It’s never finished and nothing ever has the final say. Thank God for that.

And thank you for being there for other people and baking them casseroles or listening to music with them or scratching their backs. You are healers and all angel-like.

We see you,
and with that deep and still place,

I want to say thank you.

a southern year (in review)

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I drive on Highway 49 when I go to visit my family outside of Jackson, Mississippi.

It’s a highway I’ve known my entire life.
There’s the boiled peanut man.
Well, there are a lot of boiled peanut men.
There are also a lot of sweet potato men.

Antique shops. Roadside flea markets. Mom and pop diners.

It occurred to me, while driving this stretch of road yesterday, that it’s been a year since I’ve moved back to Mississippi. I’m very nostalgic about dates like this. Not only has this year gone by fast, it’s also been a whirlwind.

I still don’t feel like I’ve caught up just yet.

I’m also still struggling with my sense of place.
It’s been a hard season for me.

I was lucky to have a few months off when I moved back.
My mom, nonchalantly placing $20 bills in my shoes before she left for the morning.

I struggled finding work in Jackson, so I moved back to Hattiesburg.
Still, I find myself a little wobbly, and a little out of sorts.
So many people I know have found their niche. Their people. Their lovers. Their pets. Their homes.

I’m having a hard time figuring out what it is I want. What a luxury.

I sense that I am so close to learning something about me and my life. I have doors open for me, and a lot of doors I feel I’m left knocking.

Not religious enough.
Not healthy enough.
Not social enough.
Not southern enough.

It is a needy feeling, sometimes in my belly. Some days, I connect deeply, and others, I still feel so homesick for that thing I used to have.

I’m really trying hard.

I’m working a lot, and I’m carrying a lot of weight.

I’m carrying my past, present and future. All of which, looks a lot like me trying to fit a round peg in a square hole.

With that being said, I have felt so lucky to have all of this back.

What I lost, was tremendous.

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But coming back home, I gained something else.

My wild and precious community.

Who feed me.
Text me.
Employ me.
Pray for me.
Pull me in tightly.
And let me, by some miracle, into their lives.

It has been a wild, wacky year.
I broke a bone.
My roof caved in.
I started to build a home.
I forgot I knew how to sweat appropriately.
My dad got married.
My second nephew turned one and I got to feed him hotdogs.
I met a cat raccoon.
I got a bigger bed.
I planted flowers with my niece and nephew.
I started a tiny business and am excited and terrified.

Whew.

A few deep breaths, and I resonate with these words I have tattooed on my arm.

these things take time.
and I look in the mirror, with some weepy eyes, and proclaim:

yes!

surely,
they do. 

posture.

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I spent the latter part of this week wandering in my past.

I suppose when you’re around your family, all you have is the past. Who you used to be. Where you’ve been, and the ever-conflicting conversations about where you’re going. The same goes for the collective ‘they’.

It’s not anyone’s fault but my own that I think this way.

But I sat and processed a lot of ghosts. A lot of painful things and resounding conclusions that we are resilient and strong and capable.
I watched my dad pacing back and forth and reassured him that this was another adventure, not knowing quite where the road will end up, or how steep some days might seem. I feel as though this is what life is. A steady stream, moving you through God knows what.

Hopefully, at the end of the day, you have some peace and a full belly.

I look at my relatives who have seen and caused and worked through some traumatic things. I see us all as wounded. Not one of us here has been able to move through this thing unscathed — new people — new things — but their eyes are the same and I read that they are capable of seeing life a million different ways.

In all of this, I move in and out of my own past. I sit with that tired and heartbroken part of my body that is dying in its own way. I push my shoulders back, and I make more eye contact. A sign that all living things have the ability to open and close; add and take away. This is my season of standing taller, I say to myself. This is your body. Your eyes. Your scarred up arms and skinny legs. Use them. This is another way to show people you love them, to share with them your struggle of being wonderfully human.

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“Have you gotten taller?”

I hear that from people, these days.

Probably not.

Just my attempt at standing straighter, when possible.
Perhaps whenever it is that I’m leaning over the stove, and I feel the muscles in my lower back responding to this common motion, I think about adaptation and repetition. The parts of ourselves that grow stronger because it’s what we have to do. The lean. The constant pressure. Adjusting back into your frame.

Familiar motion.
Small moves.
Returning back into ourselves.

Maybe this is about posture.

How we hold ourselves up in all this gravity.

All I know, is that our stories aren’t fully written yet. That is both exciting and terrifying.
You will carry yourself and others toward the end, though.

And that is what I watched this week.

A family, carrying their own through another chapter. Another story.
Another adventure, with the past in its place, and the future moving forward,

standing straighter,

eyes wide open.

holy day

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baby laughs and sunday pot roast

a familiar memory runs through my veins.

the feeling of normality and ritual and calm wash over me,
regardless of the noise and the sound of toys scraping floor,
this was something I had been missing

ketchup, mustard and ice cream,
the things these kids are made of,
that, and their creative restless minds
learning how to build bigger towers
with more and more colors.

the sounds of mom clinking spoons on the sides of pans
dinner rolls, last to come out of the sparkly clean oven,
an inside joke from the years of waiting on bread.
we are always waiting on the bread.

I know that most see these things as they are.
I can’t help but to see them as something I might miss again someday.

so I soak it up when I can. 
and when I’m not toiling away at a day’s worry.
When I decide in my own heart that all of this is so very important. 

the pot roast.
the little head nestled under my chin
with mashed potatoes smeared above his
little lips drenched in drool and baby noises.

God, I’ve missed this.
The toils and the messes and the quiet afternoons.

baby laughs and sunday pot roast

a holy day if I ever knew one

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