About a year ago, sitting under some of the oldest trees in town (on the library lawn), their towering crowns carried my sorrowful soul up to the sky. I wondered what that small piece of land would look like when the buildings had crumbled and fallen, when the trees were back in charge, when the forest reclaimed the space from us. Would it feel holy to what came to tread there after? The soil, worn so smooth, barely there for the deep roots I imagined, spreading out beneath the sugar maples; countless footsteps having drummed out the ancestors' rhythms, passages in time. The land there feels sacred to me, in contrast to the land of the apartment complex I had just moved from, which I feel blessed to no longer live on - the fresh wound of the Earth reaching up and choking us all with its newness, like a ragged scar picked at, and not allowed to heal. With the melancholy of being between homes, it was from the library lawn that I pried two stones up out of the mossy soil, working my magic through the trees rooted so deep to the land in which I was trying to belong - how long had those two stones lay beneath that tree? Did I feel guilty? I filled the holes with different rocks before I carried the old stones away, one for me, two stacked for the boy (leaving room for him to grow). It put me in mind of how 'stacks' make me feel safe, be they of the library, or of stone.
For some reason, it made me think "I'll be a traditional Romni for Halloween" to let them see what it really looks like, when it's pulled off by one of our own, and to give them a taste of what the stereotyping looks and feels like. The flowered skirt, big earrings, diklo and braids, put on my bangles and beads, thick black eyeliner, and show them what it means - I'd offer to read fortunes, even bring my crystal ball...say things like "you know, Romani women have no closer connection to the divine than those fortune-tellers from other cultures, right?" Or "I predict you'll say something bigoted and insulting in the next five minutes." Do it right there on the library lawn, attract a crowd, and hit them with some truth. Pop said that blood had to pool somewhere...by resisting the stereotype, am I causing myself more harm than good? Muffling the Me that wants to sing and dance, get lost in duende? I get so tired of having to prove that I'm something other than what they all think we are, because while some of us are doctors, lawyers, educators, business people, many of our talents truly do manifest in song, dance, fortune- and story-telling, and we shouldn't have to be ashamed to express that - to put it in my pipe and smoke it, so to speak. I like to say I come from the 'wrong' kind of Roma, just to point out that their are the 'right' kind, as well.
So that side of my family were thieves and scammers, that doesn't define us all. So what if I can pick a lock and rob you blind while you're out getting groceries? So what if my grandfather's brother did those awful things to my cousin...well, no, that's Never ok...but it has nothing to do with our ethnicity. There are good and bad of all types of people, and we are no exception. Pops himself was the best kind of man, in spite of (or because of) his horrible upbringing. I met that nice lady who loves our culture because it was Us who forged her family's papers and got them out of Eastern Europe before all that awful history went down. Good for us. I haven't forged anything since I didn't want those progress reports in Junior High to reach my parents, but if something Truly Awful goes down in this country, and it would help save a life? You can bet I'd do it again. Honestly, there are so many instances where 'the better angels of my nature' remind me that I am a law-abiding citizen, and to perform a task it crosses my mind to contemplate would not only constitute a crime, but would jeopardize my standing in my community as an upright and trustworthy individual, and undo the good work I put in upholding that notion. Is there a way to use my less-than-honest powers for good? I hope to find out one day.
The boy and I didn't dress up for what I like to call Samhain that year - last year - as that was the night of our transition from 'crappy apartment on scarred land' to 'acquaintance's small house in a more rural area, much more to our liking', where we stayed for a month. Then we were homeless for another month before finding our current abode, which is working out just fine. Sometime after moving in, I wrote "At this moment, everything is alright. Is that what I need to come to the page, now? Is it that putting myself out there is more dangerous than it used to be? Are the things I type and choose to share dangerous? Define 'dangerous'...what am I afraid of? That's not the point. The point was that everything is all right. The rent is paid, the bills are paid, there is food. There is clothing, even though it is all in a gigantic laundry pile that I dread having to take the day out of my life to haul down to the laundromat, spend the 2 hours washing and semi-drying, then hanging it all around the house for two days until it dries completely, folding it, and putting it away. At least the boy is old enough to help, now, and pretty much handles his own. What a nothing to complain about. So, on the base level, things are good. I am in a comfortable place. Today. What's next on Maslow's Pyramid?"
The next draft was apparently rather similar:
It's not that I can't write, it's that I don't. I could sit down in front of this machine and kick out a jam at any time, it's that I don't make the time to do it. To put it on the calendar, to compartmentalize the creativity... We got pretty creative yesterday, with all the art supplies out. I'm glad - I've been wanting to shift that energy around for a long time, but it took 11 months (already?) to finally settle in enough to get with the proper organizing for this space. There's still lots of work to do, but the process is 87% complete, at this point, so maybe there isn't 'lots' to do, but more at the fine tuning of making it all pretty, now.So, I 'kicked out a jam' and wrote:
There was a certain nostalgia in the air last night...it was a warm, coastal kind of evening, Floridian to me. In November! And the radio was just ON, which isn't the norm. Made me want to run away with my own circus. The night where you call that old friend not to say anything, but to just have the line open between you, but because there is such a thing as propriety, you try and fill the space with words. Why can't we be quiet together?Once again, I don't know quite what I'm going for, here, I'm just throwing all my thoughts and feeling out into the ether, working through my own issues, and catching up with a bunch of blog drafts that I never finished, attempting to weave the disparate ends of my life together as a means. Do I add a tip jar to the blog as an attempt to pull in more scratch? Do I 'monetize' it, and clutter it all up with ads? Would that really generate any income? Do enough people enjoy what I slap down 'on the page' for it to make a difference? Could I figure out how to make it so? I've never done anything because it made others happy - I've lived my life singularly for my own enjoyment and personal, spiritual fulfillment...until I had a kid, then I added his relative joy to my equation, because, really, that's what parenting is about, if you do it with any level of competence. He's like my own personal Jesus (with apologies to Depeche Mode and Jesus freaks) - taking into account how I was homeless while I was pregnant, and all the doors of the 'inns' I knocked on were full, and wouldn't let me in. Since his birth, he has saved me, time and time again.
During my healthy yet impoverished pregnancy, I developed the theory that the Jesus mythology was supposed to make Marys of us all - suffering in holy silence while the war mongers murdered our sons by the thousands in their bloody, useless battles against themselves. Well, I wasn't going to buy into it. No one was/is going to hang My son on any cross for such nonsense. We are warriors for peace and harmony, love and community. Highly vibratory individuals who choose coming together in understanding as a way to elevate us All. Are you with me? Feminism is (finally) back on the rise, and the energies are balancing. 'God', in my experience, is gender-less. An all-encompassing energy that swirls around us, which can be moved with concentrated will towards a particular goal. There are Goddesses walking around in my Earthly domain, and I have seen them in their bodies of flesh - you have too, if you are open to their energy, women who stop you in your tracks the way they carry themselves, the power of their being radiating out from them in a powerful enough miasma to knock you off your feet with a longing to curl up in their laps, and return to that place where we all felt completely and securely nourished, protected, and loved. And where are my Gods? Hunter S. Thompson is dead, and he was the closest anyone came to that title role for me, other than my dad. I can only hope they are being raised by women like me, and the aforementioned Goddesses.
We need these children of balance in order for things to get better for us in a whole, global way. As a well-educated poor person in the Northeastern United States, I can tell you how tiring it gets to sit in a roomful of moms who have the privilege to talk about the tens of thousands of dollars they have to spend on their next car while my old clunker is sitting out in the lot with a smashed windshield and the front end about to fall out from under it. Or how locally grown organic food is the better choice all around, when I'm living on low-grade pasta, canned food, and half-rotten veggies (if I'm lucky) from the food pantry. These are lovely people, and I like them all. Neither am I judging by saying these things, I'm merely putting the situation in context, to show the disparity between our situations, and how it feels to sit among them and not be one of them, even though we are similarly engaged in bucking 'the system'. So they married well, or came from money, or worked hard, saved their pennies, and invested wisely. So some of them had a better support system, or a more advanced skill-set. It just strikes me that I end up in these situations where I am rubbing elbows with folks who are obviously so far out of my league, and that I'm trying to give my kid the same advantages as theirs. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. No matter how much of an outsider I am - or maybe because of it - I nevertheless insist that the world's problems will be solved by taking a wider viewpoint that includes All members of a community/society, because the next great thinker may just be some kid who had to figure out how to rig some duct-tape fix to keep his single mom's fridge running, or his shoes from giving up the ghost, or some other small crisis that ends up having larger, global significance. Can you feel me on this?
That's enough random rambling for now, and I have two other pieces I was going to work on to share, as well as another piece I wrote for a different venue. Let me know in the comments which you would like to see first: a continuation of the comical werewolf story I was riffing on for The Sunday Whirl, or a more personal essay concerning my experience with child protective services? Thanks for following along, and I hope you enjoyed the ride. Also, feel free to share your thoughts on either monetizing or adding a tip jar to this blog, or both. Which would you prefer? I wouldn't prefer either, personally, but a girl's gotta make a living if she wants to fix her car so she can get her kid to all those fancy classes that will give him a chance to compete with those who have all the advantages with which he wasn't lucky enough to be born. Selah ~