I laugh way less since moving .

Take for example that most of the mundane things New Yorkers complain about are simultaneously interesting and common. The smells in certain subway cars some days are sometimes worth mentioning in order to watch people make disgusted faces. The fights seen or gotten into or recorded on buses are probably actually hilarious. Disagreements in politics can be caused by genuinely entertaining issues and lead to watching YouTube clips of young people dancing (sometimes phenomenally) on trains. Even plain complaints–ugh, there was one of those annoying people leaning on the whole pole just now, who had one butt check on each side–serve as points of bonding with the majority of people every New Yorker will ever meet. Because we’ve all been there, but that doesn’t make it boring to hear someone else’s telling. It’s probably actually hilarious. The City has a good sense of humor like that. Laughter is the best medicine, and so the City can stand a dense population. It can muster being a deeply communal space. And at my core, I do long for communal living but I never had to know it.

Don’t get it twisted. In the case of New York City, I do not mean to universally equate communal with friendly or hospitable although New York City is a friendly and hospitable space *for me.* I mean communal as in communal. Millionaires share seats on trains with homeless people. When a Duane Reade is open 24 hours it is because that’s the only way to efficiently serve the number of people sharing it. Fire escapes in the back of buildings publicly serve as nurseries and laundry rooms and places to smoke or write or read and New Yorkers stay sharing semi-private moments with neighbors across allies. We learn to appreciate and respect each other this way. Even when we hate each other. Because for all the Fuck Yous I’ve screamed at cabs cutting me off in crosswalks, I’ve always trusted the cabbies and me to work it out evenly unscathed.

That’s why I’m surprised I took for granted the the traffic patterns in Manhattan’s mixed-use neighborhoods, like the one I lived in. When getting from point A to point B on foot in mixed-use neighborhoods, I never stopped walking and I consistently jay walked safely. The timing of the lights, the speed of the cars, my own speed, the position of the trees and hydrants and stop signs and food carts in space are all synchronized so that the urban ecosystem basically dances, encouraging everyone to be efficient and not hold no one else up either. That’d just be rude.

Not every place is going to possess this kind of space. I think more should. I think respect and sharing should be forced on society at large by society at large. But in the meantime, outside and away from my NYC bubble, I need to learn intentionality. I need to learn how to build community where I must and join community when I can. I need to learn patience and how to basically chill. Also how to laugh more regularly. With or without the mundane.

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with a dose of deconstruction

If there is a single core to my belief system, it is that pure Love birthed the universe and is the only essence uncreated. At my core is a search for acceptance, beauty, truth, and light. At my core is a longing for rest and peace. At my core is the desire to be free. I found out in my own way and own time that freedom in love ≠ free love. I fell down a slippery slope. Something broke inside. I stayed stuck, I felt trapped.

***

Beginning in high school, when I refused to considered making out with other people cheating, I didn’t understand monogamy as the only model for love. Nonetheless, one afternoon during my young adult life I had a wedding ceremony. My father and his wife, both my ex’s parents and some friends bore witness to an I do that I believed and an I do I trust my ex believed. And after the ceremony, my habits went unchanged. Because even before the ceremony, we discussed what fidelity meant to us in context of the vows we both repeated. We agreed to keep doing whatever with whoever as long as it only ever went that far. (And when does it ever go only that far?)

I fell down a slippery slope.
Something broke inside.
I stayed stuck.
I felt trapped.

I was with my ex for as long as I was because marriage is a sacrament. I thought of us spiritually as one body. The daily fights, the nightly tears, the tactics used against me that the failing couples therapist dubbed intimidation techniques, the looped conversation meant to absolve him of all guilt, my perpetual lying–I struggled in my suffocatingly real belief that this was forever my earthly life.

As I understand it, pure love is not a mere emotion, but is the very fabric of creation. So, yes, we are called to love each other, and we can certainly be in love with more than one other at once. But that emotive love is essentially a choice. The idea of polyamory holds that we cannot expect a single sexual-romantic partner to provide us with everything we desire, so why not get it on with a second or third? Or, for that matter, a tenth or thousandth? I get it. I’ve been there. I’ve preached it. I’ve lived it. I’ve been cut by it. I have scars from it. And I’ve come to understand the concept as shallow. Within its periphery is an outrageous entitlement: We will fall in-love-with and be in-loved-by as many people as it takes to have *everything* we want. Under the surface is a dangerous implication: We cannot be expected to take responsibility for our own joy, or worse, we are incapable of taking such responsibility. Concealed within is a sort of blasphemy which removes g-d from any piece of our fulfillment. And the arrogant proclamation that poly practitioners are more evolved than the rest of society is smugly displayed.

If I do have a life mate, I am sure now of putting that work in. If we become ready this side of heaven, I wanna struggle with him daily to become one flesh. I wanna understand he will never be enough for me and I will never be enough for him, and I wanna be ecstatic that we are each other’s onlys anyways. I want to respect and support him in all things good or decent while calling him out on the unjust and immoral. I want to accept his love, respect, support, and correction without condition. I want to wake up every morning with a renewed commitment to fall in love. I wanna fuck him like a bunny til my tits drop past my knees and yet never get sick of his body alone. I want to continue to gather my strength from within and above to be used as sustenance during the moments when I lose faith that we will make it. I want the fairy tale. With an added dose of reality, and a quieter strength. My whole life I’ve been afraid to admit this, even as a child, even to myself.

We all have a freedom of spirit to find. And the road to it lasts our lifetime over. I still feel the moments of betrayal. By myself more than by any ex. But I can’t dwell because over two years ago I had a revelation during a Sunday morning mass. We never intended to keep our vows of fidelity. And, despite what he had said, he never desired the raising of children. According to Catholic doctrine, and the unparalleled freedom I felt at this epiphany, that means we were never actually sacramentally married. So I left.

Am I proud to have lied before g-d and a dozen witnesses? Am I happy that I mocked the sacred? Would I take it back if I could? Those questions are as empty as I find polyamory. What has happened has happened. I fell down a slippery slope. Something broke inside. I stayed stuck. I felt trapped. I am still healing as I continue to stand up and move.

Retrograde

We have to learn our own value. Society won’t teach us. The media won’t teach us. Women mostly stay stuck in a patriarchal mindset that pits us against each other.

I wanted romantic partners to teach me.

I wanted sex to be the outlet.

I wanted what wasn’t for me more often than I wanted myself.

I am learning. I am growing. I am becoming. And it is going to stay hurting. Perhaps even after I finally finish forgiving my mistakes.

I wonder sometimes about a man perpetually near to my heart. Despite the fact that his current relationship is going on two years. Despite the fact that he met her even while I was hoping we would work it out. Despite the fact that he began talking about her on social media just one week after I made it clear that I was done trying. She obviously remains a better match, but I can’t help thinking sometimes he’s the one I missed. Because, despite no longer fantasizing of a happily ever after that involves him, I still remember the precise roughness in the palms of his hands. And we still check for each other with a frequency that lets me know a tenderness existed.

It’s always everyone’s fault and nobody’s. Coming off of a non-monagomous marriage, I didn’t have the self security to understand love. Coming off of years of heavy sado-masochist sex, I didn’t have the drive for anything remotely wholesome. Desperate to control anything, it was not going to be him.

There’s an absence becoming an in between. There’s an absence that will become. There’s an openness long neglected. There’s a capacity to trust kept perpetually dormant.

When I fall, it is never short of fast and deep. When I fall, I have been terrified of the meaning. When I fall, I lie to the faces of those I fell for through what I fail to do. When I fall, I eat my own emotions until dishonesty yields to a recklessness I always saw coming.

We have to learn our own value and build each other up.

I am beautiful. My body has worth. My recklessness has been dialed down significantly. And I allow myself sometimes to wonder if we had met today instead of back when, what would have been the outcome?

What could have been never should have been or it would have been by now.

I stay standing. Sometimes tall.

There’s another piece still sticking. To make explicit what I’ve known inherent was a mere first step in processing. Getting drunk off wine the strongest second step I didn’t stop to think of. A Being Mary Jane binge this evening a chosen third. And I wonder if crying will come as an additional piece. I believe it must eventually if old patterns stay. But I am trying to break most of those anyway and am thus far blessed to be without the snot-nosed, puffy-eyed look I doubt I would allow a witness to bare.

I have begun to learn to bend. It is why reckless may no longer be an accurate descriptor after all.

I have begun to seek patience.

My inner hopes remain the Ace of Cups and Mercury finds itself nearly out of retrograde again.

I have to learn my own value.

I am building myself.

soothing heartache

A little more than a year ago, my east-coast-bestie picked me up after work because he thought someone might need to. An hour and a half later I sat on my fire escape drunk off wine, drinking wine, and chain smoking yellow American Spirits; speaking in turn to each additional person I trusted on speaker until I had run through the list four deep. Then I de-friended a few folks on social media and proceeded to cry a lot.

Before I understood the depth of sacramental vows or the fact that my longest partner to date never actually wanted children, I believed myself to be married. I wanted children. I wanted to be married before then. We were already living together. He said okay.

Before and after the wedding with twelve in attendance and a $50 dress from the vintage store, he had way more money than me and worked way less for it. Still, I paid for what I wanted, and often for what we needed. I didn’t get a diamond ring and the wedding band was inexpensive. He didn’t buy me gifts aside from on major holidays, and Valentine’s did not count.

More to the point, I agreed not to have children after all. I stayed in NYC with his family the vast majority of major holidays. I didn’t care if he had extramarital affairs as long as I was allotted that same privilege. I forgave him for the fights and for every time he implied my family was beneath him. I fell right back into him after the first time I left because he was upset and I was codependent. I didn’t ask for a whole lot from that man. Just that he quit fucking one particular woman. They were engaged less than a year after he told me he wouldn’t so I left for good. I handled the news poorly and for the most part alone.

I’m sure his narrative would differ as I’m sure hers would too. And there’s always more to it no matter who’s telling.

Around 2 this morning I was vomiting. I was at my sister’s house surrounded by family. I had been laughing the entire day. I felt the best I have emotionally since arriving back again a month ago. I wasn’t stressing my job or my finances or my love life or my social life for a solid 12 hours running. Even vomiting at 2 in the morning didn’t dampen my spirits.

Preferring weed to alcohol and preferring liquor to wine, the vomiting had me thinking about the last time I was good-and-honest drunk on wine. Maybe it’s the Christian symbolism or maybe it’s just coincidence, but it seems there’s something about wine soothing heartache–whether I’m cognizant of the heart ache at the time of the consumption or not. And I have to say, surrounded by a family celebratory because it’s Saturday–unaware until the first quiet moment of alone that my heart even ached–is a much better look than crying alone on a fire escape. And for that, I must give props to Phoenix.

come thru

My home had been a come thru point. With an apartment in the City, an openness to the open consumption of weed, alcohol, and cigarettes in said apartment, irregular work hours, no roommates or significant other, and no shame about the state of my face, body, or belongings when folks dropped by unexpectedly, it made sense. Not that I didn’t venture to a friend’s place or meet someone out on occasion. But, especially in the last few months before moving, I never had to leave my apartment to socialize. People came thru.

To be honest, and I do apologize for it, I took my popularity entirely for granted. I never even thought about the relationship dynamics created because people came to me instead of the other way around. I never thought about what it takes to put oneself out there every time I got a phone call You home? I can be there in 10. It never occurred to me that folks could roll up in countless spots, take a break from their living situation absolutely anywhere outside their own home, call up anyone they knew when an appointment finished early, so it mattered that they chose me. To be honest, I haven’t been humble enough in my friendships at all

Having to reach out to people to see what’s up and then get my ass to their homes is a new experience for me. It’s one I didn’t realize was obligatory until yesterday. It’s thus an experience I haven’t tried on. But having seen the light, I’m now convinced it’s a primary reason I don’t have substantial friends in Phoenix.

The last time I didn’t have friends was 4th grade. With my sister now living a 40 minute drive away, I could be in danger of becoming that ten year old–wandering back and forth across the recess blacktop aimlessly–all over again. That’s someone I’m not willing to be. It’s been dead for two decades for a reason.  So, without further ado, I’m about to learn how to be one of those people who comes thru. If this wasteland of a desert folks wanna call a city has done anything for me, it’s promote growth. The humility it takes to be on the flip side of the friendship is a lesson I’m about to learn, practice, and master.

I just need to figure out this driving thing and come up with the money for a car too…

The homies, the old crib, the now dead cat (RIP)

The homies, the best baby, the messy crib, the now-dead cat (RIP)

back to basics

I sat on the edge of a bed in his apartment struggling to explain to my tattoo artist why I didn’t think I was going to get any more when my girl friend intervened with a simple observation. Basically Calla’s turning into a middle aged woman in Phoenix. While this is a truthful enough explanation–I’m gonna turn 30 next year–it doesn’t feel like the whole truth or like nothing but the truth. It may very well be true, but that doesn’t make it the only truth. It may be the least complicated truth to understand, and yet there is always a truth already deeper.

IMG_1182I suppose the burgeoning shift in tattoo attitude can be dated to the moment I realized the irony emblazoned on my upper right arm. To symbolize desertion of an isolationist attitude (as well as the deconstruction of institutionalized patriarchy), I have a battle axe inked above my elbow. A couple months ago I found myself laughing out loud at the commentary I have for it. A *battle axe* representing full female empowerment within a community of sisterhood, and not the defensiveness or offensiveness anyone not intimately familiar with Buffy the Vampire Slayer is bound to see. Despite the irony I saw in this (and in the We don’t want our believes permanently in place as a definitive statement on belief), I still expected to get more tattoos.

Until about a month ago when nothing to prove became my only mantra and I realized my tattoos have always been about pretending in the tangible where there wasn’t any. Take my left ring finger, for example. A broken peace sign having originating as a Greek lambda rests above my knuckle. I got the lambda done because of some puppy dog eyes in her face and an insecurity in my heart. Less than a month after that didn’t work out, a friend attempted a cover-up and we both learned finger tattooing is not for the faint of heart and should be left to the professionals. I justified the fresh ink all but falling out by proclaiming I can’t hide from my past. And as true an idiom as this may be, I don’t need every single observant cashier asking what’s up with my finger for the rest of my life.

IMG_1183Struggling with this concept of proving myself while I was in New York, I decided against the tattoos I had previously decided on. But it wasn’t until actually taking in that one Lil Wayne album cover the other day that I understood the depth of my decision. If the art team of Tha Carter III had provocation in mind, it worked on me one time recently. I was not offended at the image of an inked baby, I was offended by my own arrogance. To think that spiritually I am something other than a child who can barely begin to know whats good. To think that everything of this earth is temporal, but in my vanity I try’n ice it into permanence. To think that I am made of, in, for, and by an Uncreated Love but this product could use decorative improvement. I can’t with myself sometimes. Today, I have 11 tattoos and the number can only go down from here.

IMG_1181Saturday I will start the year-long expensive process of getting this little fellow zapped off. I have been trying to make peace with it since before the cover-up fail, before the break-up, and before it was even inked. And it’s time to realize I’m not meant to make peace with it. I’m not meant to have it. And while I wouldn’t miss a good 9 out of my 11 tattoos at this point, the time and cost of tattoo removal is prohibitive and the little number on the very finger I’d still let someone else claim with a ring one day is the only one I *have* to see fade.

Lately, I wear less make-up. I’ve actively decided to have polished nails only on weekends. Perhaps the explanation is just that I am now, more likely than not, in my middle years. But it feels like this has all to do with me letting myself glow for the first time. And maybe that’s all middle age is, a time where I can learn to love myself absent condition and just as g-d made me.