Conversations with a Human Heart.

Believe them.

 

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One of the earliest memories I have living in this beautiful, lively, charming mind of mine is of a man exposing himself to me in the middle of a clothing store. I wandered through the rings of hanging clothes, searching for my aunt when I came upon an old man, holding a little girl’s dress by a hanger. He had the clothes draped in front of him and as he got closer, he moved the hanger to the right, showing me a wrinkled hand, slowly stroking an erect cock, right there, in the middle of the aisle.

When I found my aunt, I didn’t say a word about what I had seen. Because he was an adult and, to my knowledge, grownups didn’t do bad things to little girls wandering through rows and rows of pretty outfits.

I wouldn’t recall this event for years, but when it came rushing back I held the pang of confusion in my throat in the same way my six year old self had on that day.

When I was a teenager, a friend’s older brother climbed into the bed I was sleeping in, pinning me between him and my then-almost-boyfriend. As he tossed and turned in his drunken state, he moved his hands across my side, my belly, my breasts, my ass.

I stayed in that bed for mere minutes, an eternity longer than I wanted to. I spooned my then-almost-boyfriend tighter and closer, hoping somehow the unwelcome guest would vanish into the darkness behind us.

But he didn’t.

He continued to grope a trembling body as I dug my nails into my then-almost-boyfriend’s arm, pleading silently for him to wake.

But he didn’t.

I twisted and turned, trying to pretend I was asleep—embarrassed of the situation I had somehow put myself in, dying and screaming inside, wishing I was home with my mom.

And when I finally found the courage to break free of that wretched center, I ran out of the room, down the stairs, and sat alone in a dark living room until my then-almost-boyfriend stirred awake.

That monster of a man yelled to him as he made his way down the stairs to me, incoherent somethings of admittance. “I touched your girlfriend, man. Yeah. Sorry, man. I was just trying to touch her, man.. my bad. That was my bad,” as if the injustice belonged to then-almost-boyfriend and not to me.

At 18, I asked for permission to use the restroom—a code so many of us used with the ‘cool teacher’ when we wanted to excuse ourselves to the dark room for a smoke. The cool teacher obliged and joined me a few moments later, lighting up inches from my personal space.

He spoke of his desire, of my appeal, of our could-be-amazing future fuck. He used his ‘cool teacher’ hands and ‘cool teacher’ lips to graze parts of my body I had hoped to reserve for a suitor at least 30 years his junior.

I didn’t scream or hit him, I didn’t do any of the things I would imagine and reimagine for every day after that day. Instead, I froze—not wanting to make things awkward for my assaulter. Because he was my teacher and, to my knowledge, students weren’t supposed to be disrespectful in such violent ways.

When the ‘cool teacher’ finally made his triumphant steps toward the door, he stopped with his body halfway over the threshold. He didn’t ask if I was OK, but made a final plea for his student to “consider making an old guy really happy.”

I didn’t consider it, but I did consider his wife and kids when I made the heavy-hearted trek to find help. Because all I wanted in that moment—in those moments before, in every unwanted-advance of a moment since—was help.

And what I got when I finally cried out was disbelief.

What I got were stories from people who knew better than me.

What I got was a teacher pledging public allegiance to my attacker.

What I got were uncomfortable stares.

What I got were deafening whispers.

What I got was time—so much time—to feel broken and tarnished and tied.

I know my stories aren’t unique. It’s what makes this moment, this reckoning, so painful to witness. I know a mere 2% of rape and assault accusations are eventually determined to be false.

Two. Fucking. Percent.

I know I believe women when they stand up—however shaky, however timid, however long after the attack took place—and ask for help.

Believe women.

Believe them.

BELIEVE them.

 

 

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until I lasso the moon.

prozac

artist: unknown

 

Sideways, I’m spinning stories until they’re lassoed around a waning moon—quickly, quickly now, before she disappears.

I secure them proper like—the honda knot, hangman’s knot, that fucking fisherman’s eye—each splitting thread of a reluctant noose. I try spinning anywhere, spinning nowhere, spinning in and out of line until the stories refuse to be spun a moment more.

These stories.

I take your stories and his stories and his stories, too. I take her stories, most of their stories, until the outside stories look like my story, the one I’ve been dreaming for all thirty-something of these years.

And for a moment I think I’ve got the pulse of it all—this blistering human collective—until a grand mal moment unravels each darling thread from a tipsy-turvy crescent.

She’s a propellor now, moving further from this crooked sphere.

I’m an anchor now, treading neck-deep in this unforgiving earth.

These stories.

Though I know tantrums are unbecoming in a world bloated with nice-to-meet-yous, I rage against the poppy bloom—a prayer for fields lit red with the fires of transformation rather than the savage whispers of pacifying petals.

A crimson wild enough to resurrect the moon.

For tonight, I suck back with force to wipe clean the stained glass of a wicked history; the story of the girl blurs as the story of the woman comes into focus.

Lines dissolve and the word “habit” lingers in a charcoal sky.

These stories got away and mother moon is disappointed in me again.

to the moon… and back.

moonlover

image: hollie chastain

When we come home, I’ll be the one with freckles—still splashed across a childlike, joyfully dimpled face—who dances away from her past with every banjo-encouraged step.

I’ll be the one who smiles and hugs and laughs with the strangers she’s finally remembering as her own, a tribe reunited. I’ll be the one who pauses in the middle of that crowded space, a look of equal-parts-concern and equal-parts-elation for the happiness that she’s been gifted tonight.

When I come home to you, you’ll see a girl—nameless and faceless—before you see your oldest, dearest, somehow-all-grown-up friend. You’ll react to a liberated stride in that bar room before you recognize a smile.

When you see a familiar gaze attached to this being you’ve so confidently approached, you’ll celebrate inside before you touch her shoulder. And though you’ll never know the spinning eternity I experienced in the moment I faced you, I’ll never stop trying to describe it—an entire decade of lost happiness surging through an unsuspecting heart.

I just can’t believe it was you.

When we come home to each other, we’ll entertain “forever” in that first embrace—holding lifetimes warm between pressed torsos, holding memories tight between clenched fists and eyes, squeezing the very breath of this impossibly beautiful moment as if it’ll somehow slow time.

When we return to the safe space of home, we’ll have no idea what we’re actually returning to—the second chance; the worthy fight we’ll embrace in the years to come.

When we finally make it to that perfect day, let your heart move you across that well-worn hardwood floor.

Let the ancient memory of me guide you home. To us. To love. To the moon… and back.

 

promise you’ll let me go.

 

Original Printable 18 x 30”

“The Leonids” by Felipe Posada

 

If you need me, I’m going back to the space between illness and wellness—that magic place where reality bends in the periphery until it snaps, sharing fractals of what you thought you knew and so much more of what you didn’t… but someway, somehow, most certainly did.

The place where the least sense makes the most sense. A language the heart finally understands.

And in this place, the micro-things in an un-micro body wage an infinitesimal war for their infinitesimal lives. An infinitesimal existence that somehow eclipses the purpose I half-assedly proclaimed for myself in this thirty-second year. As their duty to the greater good drives every moment of their microscopic lifespans, I’m here, glancing—left and right and left again—worried the invisible-but-must-be-there, rushing monsters will sweep me away when I take that first barefooted step out of bed and into the chasm of what could be.

“What could be,” it seems, is always at the cost of what is—a relocation, a moving on, a letting go. And “what is” happens to be the street address of fear, who isn’t so easily evicted.

But in this cosmic space between health and frailty, in these twilight hours of existential expansiveness, I find myself falling, somehow dancing—tiptoed, turning, tapping, twirling—through the stained glass version of what very well’s supposed to be.

Though single frames, cut in on themselves, there’s a harmony to this moving montage. A comfort in distortion, an uncertain certainty I’d never know in the normal place. Because when shapes move outward from an unknown center, I see them in unison—and one by one, all the same—a streaming vision of multiple everythings. And instead of sun rays, I feel stories shoot from fingertips, eyelashes, toenails, and lips. The birthplace, the life-giver, the soulshine mama, who radiates with a setting love.

These, mind you, the same realities that in normal time and space would criss-cross and intercept each other—an intellectual rape of what simply is.

And the taste changes in my mouth in this normal place as I consider how much easier it was elsewhere; I danced in on a stellar plane, and watched with glimmering eyes, the true things, traveling away from this small, single frame. Parallel lines, pregnant with stories. Moonbeams shot from peepers. And all the tales, all the assumptions of what this life should probably be, arranged themselves in a hopeful spectrum—a vision of art and love and possibility.

So let me go back to that place.

Where November is the new date of due. Where unkindness can’t penetrate a sweet, fleshy armor. Where there’s no need to ask, as the yeses already rain from the skies. Where certainty, though uncertain, is reliably so.

When the moon comes for me again tonight, promise you’ll let me go.

everything & everything

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sometimes everything is like whoosh—the rush of blood when you’ve caught him from across the room. when you look up to see that he’s there and he’s yours and it’s the most incredible, fantastic, ridiculous thing you can imagine. but it’s true and you see him and you think, fuck. how’d it ever get this good?

sometimes everything is like ugh—when the weight of your day has finally made its way to your knees as they buckle to the ground. when you can’t imagine doing anything more than dragging yourself across the untidy room, curling apologetically against a favorite leather chair.

sometimes everything is like swish—it’s the tears that collect in your throat, overwhelmed, because you’re breathing in so much unreasonable beauty that it seems absurd that any person (let alone you) should be allowed to exist in a world such as this, a universe full of extraordinary everythings.

sometimes everything is like thud—it’s the bottoming out of a heart as the news finally makes itself heard. it’s the conversation you never dreamt you’d have, but there you are. and there it is. and now everything is real and it hurts to inhale.

sometimes everything is like yow—it’s the white you see when bare fingers are licked by hungry flames. the flash you feel when inanimate comes in wretched contact with animate. when anger throbs in little digits, or not-so-funny bones.

sometimes everything is like tic-tic-tic—the persistent seconds, the ones you hold with such ridiculous conviction. the moments that slip through fumbling fingers, ignorant of the plans you’ve half-heartedly claimed to be yours. these, quite often, are the same moments you secretly scorn yourself for not committing to with every beat of your patient heart.

sometimes everything is like #^@%$!—as you listen to the sounds of your neighborhood infiltrate the peace in your home. it’s the feeling of a break-in, a storming through space you’ve so carefully cultivated with love and good juju. it’s the contrast of a neighborhood, deteriorating like tinder below your well-worn porch, against the little darlings you’ve tucked in to bed on the floor above.

and sometimes… sometimes everything is like nothing—the absence of love and fear and motivation and worry, the missing words, the empty cup, the inability to try or do or fight for one second more.

mama said there’d be days like this.

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I peered though the haze of a difficult day as the sky darkened to an oppressive yellow.

locals emerged from homes, sticky and restless, as an alien landscape lowered itself from the skies. another realty imposing itself on the streets and shopping centers of an American wasteland—a three dimensional double exposure.

I watched as cell phones and gaping stares were aimed high at the roiling clouds who boasted an unsettling palette. we sat with bated breath, waiting for a force unknown to make her move.

and then… the thunder.

the mothership did not arrive, no. but a storm, fierce and graceful, did. and with her she brought the promise of relief, a letting go of a summer’s temper.

tonight the clouds have cleared and the sky’s restored to an earthly hue. the crickets, tentative in their efforts, sing lullabies once more. “rest easy, child” they beg. “the spell has passed, the streets are safe. you’re failing here no more.”

—this post was grown on the gram.

because, really… cats.

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I’m leaving this place.

I’m saying farewell to the mean streets of complacency, goodbye to the relentless dwellers of unhappiness isle. you’ve had enough time to vent and expound and corroborate. you’ve had enough space to lay it out, to hit ’em hard, to beat ’em down.

you, with your dribble… your misdirected rage. I’ve been made to feel small for my compassion, all because you need to dish “lessons” on the regular. you’ve all but pushed out the beautiful parts of this wild and delightful existence.

your influence ends with this sentence, you bastards. my good nature is worthy of more than this filth. because my soul’s got bigger plans for this life.

so, I’m gone. solar winds carrying a fragile heart to higher plains, I’m seeking fresh air again—the kind of breathing that keeps you nourished, well-fed on oxygen and joy. because there’s so much more than you want to believe in, so much more. your battle with resentment is no longer my burden. I’m free.

there are riches in this place and I refuse to shrug gratitude. I refuse to engage with the naysayer army.

when’s the last time you noticed something grand? the smile offered (free of charge, mind you), the way the trees bend along the river as you pedal by, the smell of summer in a too-tiny house filled with laughter, an ocean who wraps her fingers along a loyal shore. and cats. because, really… cats.

this post was grown on the gram

what love is.

love is

love is the thing that keeps us safe. it’s the thing we remember the longest and feel the deepest and try the hardest for.

love keeps us spinning—a revolving top at the eye of calm and joy and fear and grief and ecstasy.

it’s grit and velvet.

love is recalling a first touch with every touch. it’s releasing the torments—lies we’ve fed ourselves and wounds we’ve endured at the hands of others—because we know the promise of more exists within us and around us, an electric static in the ether.

it’s trying when you’ve got less than nothing left.

love is celebrating the inhale with a gracious exhale. it’s stillness wrapped in overload and falling as we rise.

love is evolution; a good-intentioned revolt against a self who hasn’t lived.

love is a ceremonious risk of hearts and bodies in a world that sometimes forgets to nurture. it’s a gamble between the comfort of existing in the safety of what is—with all its intricate inadequacies—and what might be.

love is imperfect words melding with mismatched tempos for a song indescribably pure. it’s the explosion of time contained in a single kiss; the recollection of a moment you call home.

artwork: “danced out of existence” by vanitylife

 

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bury me with the lilacs.

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I had an angel wing surgically removed last week, the burden of one thousand lifetimes extracted with it. feathers plucked, one by one hundred, two by two thousand, three by angry fistful—blood, flesh, and soft memory encrusted.

it rests between a lilac bush and the house of my former self—where insects and swallows make use of the remains.

unceremoniously I watch these little pieces of me vanish to an existence of usefulness I could never afford them. the vestiges of a former life built into new things, pretty things, the composted soul, renewed.
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billie & me.

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billie understands the way you should organize a bookshelf when the sun’s left his post. the way crickets should punctuate the crackle of vinyl. the way humidity should resurface the skin—a mustache of moist, a free feeling of funk. the way a stemless glass should rock—so sweetly in the palm, so gently near the tongue. the way darkness should saturate the windows, the way tomorrow should be made to wait.

because tonight is for me. and it’s for billie.

it’s about the sway of two strangers who’ve quite forgotten which decades they’re supposed to call home.

this post was grown on the gram