Conversations with a Human Heart.

Category: to guide you home.

the moment at hand.

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Yesterday was amazing—for no other reason than I allowed each moment to be exactly what it wanted to be, what it needed to be.

I gave each ounce of my day the space to grow in whatever direction it felt so inclined.

I ignored the desperate cries of the past, begging me to visit, to indulge myself in the regrets and memories I so-wanted to say goodbye to. I avoided eye contact with an eager future, vying for my attention, enticing me with its what-if’s or could-be’s.

I sat, instead, with a baffled present, delighted with the novelty of having me all to himself. As the day rolled on, I found myself intoxicated by his ways—his steady stride, his happy melody, his willingness to see me through every single second, no questions asked. I fell drunk on the attention he was willing to give.

And the more love I gave to this present, the more gifts he showered on me—the more magic I found hidden in my day. The longer I stared into his intense gaze, the more I knew how little anything else mattered.

Things are just things, but honest moments… fuck if I know anything better.

This was a day which held nothing unique as far as events are concerned, but I can’t remember a day I felt more full from, more satisfied about. The present moment and I had something special happen, and I’m pretty sure we’re going to start going steady.

 

this post was grown on the gram

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russell brand: a new conversation.

I don’t do bloggy-style write ups on this page; not for any reason other than I wanted this space to be a piece of my creative quest.

That being said, a friend of mine recently shared this video of Russell Brand. It’s a montage of him speaking in various interviews and conferences.

And it was exactly what I needed to wake up to this morning.

Fucking brilliant.

the heart explosion.

heart explosion

Sometimes I’m so full of love for this world that my heart tells me secrets. She sends wishes to the universe, explaining that she would like to fill right past the point of to-the-brim. Because my heart knows that past the point of to-the-brim, she would likely explode in every direction to litter herself around the smooth edges of this spinning sphere.

I’d watch pieces drift, like pollen, until every last bit of this living drum had taken new residence outside its cage.

As the dust of my splintered bones settled at my feet, I’d glance at the gaping hole—the scar of a free heart.

I’d wait with longing eyes, wondering what exactly I would do now that my heart is so very gone. But I’d know—not in my heart of course, but in my stomach—that longing eyes won’t bring those scattered pieces back.

So I’d step out on my quest for a piece—any piece would do—of my exploded heart; a keepsake, a treasure, a token of my humanness. I’d walk city streets and country roads. I’d pad soft, struggled steps through desert. I’d scale trees.

I’d search with an anxious brain spinning. She’d chatter worries into the wind: you’ve neglected this heart of ours, child—and now she’s in pieces without her home. 

With these words I’d worry too; and my steps would find themselves quicker—called upon to rescue a broken heart. With these words, phantom pains would bubble up inside my chest and for a moment I’d be sure she had come home.

But not until I peeked around a maple would I see it: a heart fragment—resting, pulsing, praying—in a leaf, an offering to the ancient woods. And when my eyes captured the subtle, tiny beats, I’d realize the pain had vanished. There was no heartache to coat with worried words after all.

I’d stand next to the oak as my eyes drifted shut.

I’d tell my brain to hush and I’d tell my body to slow and I’d feel them. I’d feel every last beautiful bit of this exploded heart; and without this brain to confuse her direction, without this body to muddle messages, the heart-sad and the heart-pain would be gone.

Only love would remain.

 

 

the laughing heart.

there are few voices more remarkable than bukowski.

What it Means to Love a Libra.

truelove (1)

I wrote this piece on my 30th birthday. Expecting this milestone to play out in a romantic, special, bells-and-whistles kind of  way, I was disturbed and disappointed to find myself with elaborate plans that had fallen tragically through and a head cold that left me couch-bound.

Though my man tried to salvage my broken now-30-year-old heart, I realized how complex and challenging loving me can be. Loving a libra—or loving this libra—can be tricky work. It can also (I hope) be a little bit of magic. 

This was posted on elephantjournal.com the day after my 30th and just this week passed 100,000 views. So, in honor of its own special milestone, I share it here. Thank you to each and every one of you who have read (and re-read) this little piece of my libran heart.

“We love the things we love for what they are.” ~ Robert Frost

A Libra longs for partnership, it is her heart’s forever-wish; but to love a Libra, you must love her completely.

A Libra will need space; she’ll need freedom to be who she is in any given moment. She wants to suffer, celebrate, hate and adore who she is. These things are always changing and often conflicting, because she’s constantly discovering new pieces of who she is.

She’ll never tell you something critical straightaway, instead she’ll sit with it until the perfect words ring true in her heart and ever-so-carefully move into her mouth. Even then, she might write you a letter. Because the intensity of her feelings can make the speaking of words such a task.

She loves words. She loves the magic they hold, the way they can free her (and so few things can).

So to love a Libra, understand that the words always matter—they are the brush strokes of her heart. She won’t lie, she’s no good at it. She won’t brag, for she holds words in too high esteem. Your words must never be cheapened through unfulfilled promises or patronization. If your speech is unkind, she’ll remember and the words will never hurt less.

She’s an artist, through and through. But a Libra, to survive in the world, must find her medium. The words, or paints, the delicate, mindful crease of a freshly-made bed—it’s all art to her. Beautiful pieces of anything. She needs objects and sounds and smells and textures to resonate with that place deep inside that says, “Yes. That’s it, now it is exactly right.” To love a Libra, you must know this.

She’ll need her art like you need your breath—without it, she will lose track of who she is.

You must watch the curve of her mouth; her lips will purse (ever-so-slightly) and when they do, you can rest assured that her mind wanders because her heart is not still. You’ll notice her eyes are far away; in that moment, you must let her go there—to the place where the words find their way to the air—but not for too long. She’s always in danger of escaping for too long.

She seeks stillness.

A Libra will love her body. She’ll hate her body too. But you must love it, you must always love it. You must look into her eyes and smile. Move her hair from her face so you can get a better look. You must touch the places that hardly get touched: her neck as she does the dishes, her collar bone as she types at her desk, her hip as you stand in line at the grocery store. You must weave the ordinary with the erotic. Slide your hands firmly over every inch of her skin as if it were the first time you’ve ever touched her. You must touch her. She’ll crave your embrace and wither without it.

She needs romance. And so many kisses.

She needs to be whisked away to see the world and she needs a comfortable home to return to.

She’ll cry. A lot. She’ll cry and you won’t know what’s wrong. She won’t tell you what’s wrong, not at first, because she might not know. There will be times when she simply needs to feel sadness, she needs to feel the struggle of being alive, even when you both don’t understand.

Whatever it is, she feels it more.

The weight of her fears, her curiosities, everything: of being human, of responsibility, of hate and violence and injustice, of beauty and lightness and breath, all of it. It frighteners her, but amazes her too. So she’ll need time and space to explore, to dance and to fall apart, because there is nothing more lovely than a Libra experiencing the world. She sees magic where others do not. She needs to believe in magic. Ferociously.

And when she finally turns 30—when the leaves are changing and she feels most herself—you’ll be mindful of her feelings; because, even if it isn’t a big deal, it is a big deal and the tears that stream for no particular reason come from a place of shame in her heart.

To love a Libra, you must celebrate; you must celebrate her, life, the amazing, the plain, everything and anything.

To love a Libra is to love the very essence of love, warts and all.

There’s a delicate balance—a perpetual tug-of-war—between feeling fierce and complete against feeling soft and frail. Always trying to reach that impossible balance, she never quite knows who she is.

To compensate for the not-knowing she’ll please everyone around her. She’ll accommodate others and fix situations until you resent her for it; but, to love a Libra is to see that her self-sacrifice, no matter how destructive, is how she loves. Her bleeding heart is how she finds her place in a world that can be unkind; it’s the way she can claim some shred of control—she believes that kindness is what matters most.

A Libra needs you to push her toward self-care. She’ll never choose her needs first, so you’ll have to teach her this craft. You’ll need to teach her that putting her needs before others is not the same as selfishness, because she sees selfishness as ugly.

Ugliness scares her.

Loneliness too.

Her heart will break often. Her heart will feel lonely and sad about many things, but you must never be the one to break it completely.

To capture a Libra’s heart is to capture her heart forever. There are no partners more committed, more attentive than your Libra. You mustn’t ever take her for granted though; for a Libra’s heart will grow uneasy when neglected, her heart will close and you risk never finding your way in again.

Her heart knows the secret to everything. Protect it.

breakfast-at-tiff-250x189Sometimes she’ll feel lost. She’ll need hot tea and blankets, black-and-white movies, and no conversation. Other times, she’ll need people. Parties and midnight walks and deep, frenzied conversation—she likes literature and science and philosophy best. She likes whiskey too. To love her, you’ll need to know that.

She’ll need constant reminders that she’s a lovely being, that she’s loved—better yet, adored. She needs mindful smothering, she needs adventure. A Libra wants autonomy, but can’t stand the thought of being left alone. You must learn to accept her, even as a contradiction.

She’ll require decisiveness, as she has none of her own. She’ll surprise you with spontaneity and you’ll admire the commitment she shows to her heart’s content. But if she has time to think, any decision will be painful—be it where to eat, what to wear or who to love. This will frustrate you, but you must try understand. For her, there is no such thing as an obvious choice.

Loving a Libra means loving love itself. She loves everything about love: the connection, the discovery, the heartache, the ecstasy, the very idea of love—it’s all the same. She yearns for the safety of partnership, but she thrives on the excitement of love’s uncertainty.

She wants passion.

She can see the good in almost any person, but in a lover she requires intelligence and humor. There is nothing sexier than wit.

She hates discord, because it makes her feel vulnerable; but to love her is not to worry too much, because she believes in forgiveness and trust—enough to repair almost any injury done to her. When you fight with a Libra, she’ll be certain that every fight is the end of everything and this will destroy her a little; you must remind her that every argument is an opportunity for growth—it is the beginning of a new everything. Loving a Libra means knowing there are few things more important than make-up sex.

She loves falling in love, so to love a Libra you’ll have to fall in love time and time again. She’ll require perpetual evolution, and inspiration, and a little dose of sin.

To love a Libra you’ll need to see the good intention that she always has in her heart; to ignore this well-meaning piece of her is to deny her a personal truth. She cannot survive without this particular truth. When she’s awful, or rude, or arguing because she’s right—and she’s usually right, because she’s a Libra and it’s in her nature to be fair and just and indisputably right—you must breathe. Then trust her tears and her words to be true.

She cares too deeply to ever inflict intentional harm.

But if you witness the flash of anger in her eyes, you must let her rage. For gentle, compassionate Libra will storm fiercely in the face of injustice. You must allow her the space to be a warrior when her heart tells her it is time to fight. You must stand beside her, admire her devotion and believe in the cause—see it for what it is, a manifestation of her heart’s deepest purpose.

Believe in her and she’ll believe in you too.

She might be cast as an introvert. She might be tagged an extrovert by those who know her best. Neither matters, as long as she feels connected to what surrounds her.

When a Libra is happy, she can take over the world. She need only be equipped with the proper music, laughter and her smile.

The trick is in keeping her there; for in that moment is an ocean of contentment that only her huge heart can appreciate. If you can keep her in the moment, you can keep her forever. But the Libra mind will drift and worry. It will linger on the wrong that cut her too deeply. She will scrutinize over the words you used, or the words that went unspoken. She’ll wonder about security and what each embrace or touch or quarrel will mean in the long-term; to love a Libra, you must gently guide her back to the now again and again and again.

Libra blossoms in the joyful now.

She believes in the goodness of people, in magic and (above all else) in happily ever after.

To love a Libra, you must believe in her for everything she is.

A Love Story

the apple of his eye

Growing up, my grandfather’s house was a second home for me.

Though it was just a mile or two away, going there felt like a whole different place—a vacation place—where children shaped the environment more than the adults.

Grandpa’s house smelled of cigars. It rested on a hill with a pair of trees planted between the road below and the covered front porch. The porch, with its rust-colored finish was cool, even on the most abusive summer days.

The house was a ranch-style, with a long, dark hallway leading to the bathroom; as a child, I felt like there was something mysterious about those hallway doors. In the wood grain, so prominent, I saw faces of twisted characters; but this was Grandpa’s house, so there was nothing to fear at all. Grandpa became a tamer of sorts, and these faces his trophies.

The basement collected—that was its only role. A wood-burning stove, a pool table, a pinball machine, a piano with sporadicly silent keys. Figurines were tucked away in every corner, old license plates hung from exposed metal beams. Machinery and tools. A freezer with a supply of fudgesicles that knew no end. But the basement collected people as well; grandkids gathered to play make-believe games—treasure hunters, concert pianists, and bar flies. Grownups took over at times, shooing the little dreamers upstairs or outside.

This was a space of cluttered magic, of unadulterated imagination.

Outside we built forts. We played “secret code” and saved the world with our metamorphic powers—I was ‘Pantara,’ who could change into any feline. We had a flimsy pool every summer where we were swept away in whirlpools. We had swing sets and woods. We had joy and innocence, a safe space to be kids.

Grandpa’s house meant love—it meant I was the most important person in the world.

“You’re my favorite grandaughter, you know.”

“Grandpa, I’m your only grandaughter.”

“I know. But you’re still my favorite.”

I was at the center of his heart.

And before me, there was her.

Though I never got to meet my grandmother, I feel as though we were always connected. Something of her flows through me—her spark, her beauty, the thing that he fell for.

Grandma Lucy died shortly before I was born, but Grandpa talked about her until the day he died. As he got older, his stories became more and more sentimental, as if the burden of her loss only intensified with the passage of time.

He refused to remarry, though I remember a ‘friend’ for a brief while. Grandma Lucy was his wife, he never needed another. And I always admired that—a love so proud it couldn’t be eclipsed, even in death.

grandma lucyI’ve devoured photographs of her; I studied them, looked for her inside, like her eyes would tell me something secret—most of them from the period in which she was bed-ridden.

But even when she was frail and sickly, even with cigarettes resting gracefully between bony fingers, she was magnificent. I could see it—the thing he treasured so fiercely.

Theirs was a love that I wanted.

Love unshakable.

I think a part of my grandfather died with her; I think after that day, a piece of him was ready to go at any point—not because his children and grandchildren weren’t enough, but because she was that much for him.

And so, I loved my grandfather and he loved me. We had our own proud love, right up until the days I visited him in the hospital; up until the moment I took the glasses from his face, washing them in his room’s tiny bathroom, before placing them gently back upon his nose; up until the moment I saw him in the hospice room, thin and barely recognizable, such a distant figure from the bear I knew; up until the moment I kissed him on his forehead, knowing it would be the last moment I ever felt his skin; and up until the moment he took his final breath, from that same hospice bed, on February 14th.

I returned home to my parent’s house that evening to find my father asleep on the couch—he had sat vigilantly, watching each breath subtract from the total his father claimed ownership of.

My mom sat on the couch and I thought for a moment that we could talk about Grandpa’s death casually, as though sobbing wasn’t necessary, like we had actually been prepared.

But we weren’t. I wasn’t. I choked on the feeling for a moment, letting it irritate my throat, before the tears began to silently trickle.

My mother looked up at me from her armchair. And softly, so softly, “At least he got to be with Grandma Lucy for Valentine’s Day.”

It was as if air had returned to the room with her words. I stopped feeling quite so sad. A familiar, quiet joy permeated my heart. This, I thought to myself, is what it means to let go. 

I have missed him and have cried many tears since he’s been gone; but I know that the proud love we shared helped carry him through until it was finally time to go home to her.

And years later, I still feel him; and I’m still the apple of his eye. I feel his smile when I need it. I feel his pride and his heart speaking to mine. 

The connection remains.

He can see the woman and mother I’ve become. He can still see her spark, her beauty, that thing he fell for. And knowing that I have this piece of her—this piece he loved so fiercely—has made all the difference in how I’ve said goodbye.

Beautiful Friend, the End.

gunnardog

And just like that, it was today.

‘Today’ was delayed often these last few weeks because there were good days between the bad days. Days they wanted to look to, as if an unforeseen source would regenerate his tired frame.

It was sunny, crisp and November—a little warmer than you might expect. This fact made it more difficult for her, she thought, like the earth should have begun its grieving too.

A few days before, she had watched her father from a bathroom window. They were neighbors and shared a garden. The stately dog, with an ancient expression, was resting in the grass and she lost her breath at the sight.

A final space for him had been set—a space next to his sister, who they lost a few months before—and he stretched, perhaps intuitively, on that designated space. He lolled, watching his best friend prep the garden for its winter slumber.

When she welcomed ‘today’ she hadn’t known; she had started her morning work, sipping coffee. She had anticipated ordinary. She had planned to write and read—her expectations for nearly every ‘today’ she met; but this one was interrupted by a text from her mother: If you want to see Gunnar, today is the day, unless Daddy changes his mind again. I know you already said your goodbyes, so it’s ok. 

And so, she reluctantly pulled on her shoes, not processing the approaching goodbye, not in any real way.

As if defiantly, Gunnar was having one of those good days. Nothing like the days he spent asleep, or unable to control his bowels, or with labored breathing, or unable to walk without his now-spindly back legs giving out. No, this day his eyes were bright and kind—that’s the thing she loved most about him: his sad, kind eyes.

His gaze met hers and he sat down. She fell gently to her knees and touched his forehead to hers. She rubbed his ears the same way she had since he was a puppy and he groaned softly because it was his very favorite thing. She whispered to him as tears rolled silently from her cheeks to his fur, that’s a good boy, Gunnar. You’re such a good boy. 

She felt the touch of her mother’s hand on her shoulder and it was time to let him—his soft ears, his kind eyes and his sweet spirit—go.

They exited through separate doors—she didn’t want to watch her father carrying their beloved pet to the truck. Approaching the steps to her own home, she waved to her sweet boy. He sat happily and proudly, smiling, from the back window of the pickup as it pulled slowly away.

Two hours later, she woke to a gentle buzzing on the pillow beside her. The bedroom was dark and heavy—a mixture of sadness and sleep. Her phone: a missed a call from her mother.

Her farewell had been final.

She walked slowly to her boys’ bedroom window—the one that overlooked the gardens.

She looked out to see her father. Finishing. Smoothing. Removing too-large pieces of rock. Making the edges of this forever-space as clean and perfect as they could be.

She watched her father turn the family gargoyle—the one they had named ‘Joe’ when her oldest was only two. A final gesture. He turned the big statue until his wings and face watched over Gunnar’s sleeping body. Protecting him, keeping him some sort of company and she knew it was the most beautiful gesture she had ever seen.

As she watched her father put his tools back into the shed, she saw the flurry, the first one she had seen this year.

And it was done—he was gone.

And the earth mourned with her.

________________________________________________________________________

Originally posted to elephant journal in November of 2013; you can find the original here

What it Means to Love a Musician.

drum

 

“Without music, life would be a mistake.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

When you fall in love with a musician, it will wash over your insides like a force you’ve never known. You will marvel at its impact and find yourself changed in its wake. What was that? you’ll ask, and there he’ll be: your very own, bonafide music-maker.

You’ll fall for his presence, his charisma and confidence. You’ll feel powerful and sensual and creative when he’s near, like glitter has been embedded into everything in your waking consciousness—quite suddenly, you will see the world how it was meant to be seen. For if ever there was a connection to the ethereal, therein music lies the conduit.

A musician doesn’t leave music on the stage, that’s his special power: it pumps through miles of veins. Stretched end to end, his veins and arteries can wrap the globe, so it’s no wonder that his very pulse stirs you so. As he moves through rooms, it fills the space around him. As he sits still, it buzzes over skin. Music is in his heart, his speech, his gait and his smile.

That’s what you’ll fall for.

And if you’re lucky enough to find a music-maker who is kind and intelligent and witty beyond his charm, you’ll hold onto him. You’ll wonder where he came from and why the universe chose you of all people to be his.

You are the musician’s wife—you are as backstage as it gets.

You’ll bear witness to madness and magic.

The life of a musician is a many-fabled thing. He spends more time driving, handling gear and waiting than he does playing, partying or tending to fans. Fettered by a battered van, stretches of highway and rest stop after florescent-lit rest stop, the musician knows boredom as intimately as adventure.

But to see him off on these experiences—tedious or incredible as they may be—will weigh heavily on your heart.

You will say goodbye to him again and again; at first, it will seem easy, and soon after, impossible. Your heart will tighten days before his departure, protesting as forcefully as she can. You’ll face resentment and a fear you didn’t know you could harbor. You will feel stupid for being so sad and despise yourself for not being stronger—but gone is gone, no matter how many miles separate you, and you prefer him here.

You will learn though, that you don’t have to fear the road. Anticipation will outweigh the absence. You’ll feel the distances extend and recoil as he weaves across the country—that’s how connected to his heart you will be.

So to love a musician, you must learn to be alone.

You’ll be the man of the house in his leave. You’ll take out the trash. You’ll fix things, you’ll cook, you’ll clean. This will be necessary. When he’s on the road, you will attend soccer games, run school drop-offs and pick-ups, read bedtime stories and do nighttime tuck-ins alone.

You won’t stop from the moment you wake up to the moment you sleep. You’ll wonder how much you are capable of handling, then realize it doesn’t matter much because these things have to be done. This is what it takes to love a musician—these are the ways you support a dream.

You’ll hoard moments to share. You’ll be prepared when you receive that quick-phone call; but when the moment comes, you’ll feel rushed and silly and ill-equipped to make him understand that life at home is wonderful, but he is conspicuously absent. You’ll choose words delicately—he needs to know he’s missed without arousing guilt. You’ll stumble a bit when you follow his tour narratives with domestic odds and ends that feel small and unimportant in comparison.

But you’ll understand over time: there is no such thing as unimportant. Tour will exhaust him and he’ll forget what normal feels like. You are his normal, and he needs to be reminded of you.

After a few dozen farewells, you’ll begin to appreciate it more: the quiet, the freedom to watch as many old movies as you and your cat can stay awake for. You’ll use sleepless hours to write and sip tea and think about the future you’re making with your music-maker.

When your eyelids grow heavy in the earliest hours of the morning, you’ll button up the house—checking and double checking that you and your children are safe for this night. You’ll retire to a big, empty bed with cool sheets. You’ll sleep a little closer to his side. You’ll imagine crawling into his shirt pocket and you’ll button yourself up, close to his heart.

Your own heart will unfold like truth while you dream; she’ll speak to the stars on your behalf, asking them to erase the miles between you.

And when he returns home from the road, you’ll follow him around the house like you haven’t seen him in years. Like you’re sure that at any moment he might disappear before your eyes. You’ll appreciate all over again what the house feels like when it’s infused with his music. You’ll notice details: the way he stands, the way he positions his body while he cooks—always weighted a little more to the left. You’ll notice the way he smiles when he talks about band pranks, great rooms and memorable fans.

It means late nights—impossibly late nights.

But when he’s home, late nights mean hours of laughter—to the point of tears—and intense conversation. You’ll solve problems big and small. You’ll talk about your kids, about human nature, about culture and science. You’ll make connections between his knowledge of music and your knowledge of literature. You’ll talk about his career—you’ll know his thoughts and options so intimately, you’ll treasure them as your own.

You’ll know not to base successful nights on money-earned, but on attendance, reception, on how the room felt. Because it is the craft that matters. Hone the craft and the rest will follow. You must trust the process—more fervently than even him.

Love a musician and love the unpredictable, the chaotic and the untraditional.

Loving a musician means loving his work, even when it’s inconvenient, even when it isn’t lucrative, even when it seems crazy, illogical, impractical. Understand that without the art he is not whole. Abandoning the craft would be abandoning a very piece of himself—the most honest piece he has.

Offering your heart to this man means knowing that the 30 minutes of practice, the 15 minutes of Youtube research, the not-talking during the four-minute song he chose for the car ride, these minutes matter.

They’re the meditation, the grounding, the breath required to sustain a healthy sense of connection.

Time changes; you must accept open-ended timelines and an inability to commit to long-off engagements. Appointment times, lunch times, meet-for-coffee times are soft suggestions when you’re running on musician time.

Love doesn’t necessarily translate to traditions like marriage and honeymoons, because ‘tradition’ will take second seat to exploration and expansion. If this isn’t a deal-breaker, you’ll have a wild, beautiful, intense romance with your music man. You’ll celebrate each other without ceremony (again and again and again).

You’ll experience passion and spontaneity alongside depression and heavy contemplation. The art will abuse you as it abuses him, but then he’ll be rewarded with a breakthrough of any degree and you’ll both forget that anything was difficult.

Ever.

To love a musician, you must share him. You must share him with the brothers he call bandmates. These brothers are undeniable family—family that loves, family that bickers—and you’ll take comfort that they’re on the road together.

You must share your musician with total strangers too. This can be difficult, but hold it in your heart that he returns to this home, always. And the time you invested in having the space he returns to tidy won’t go unnoticed. When he drops his travel bags to the floor for the cat to investigate, when he removes his shoes with animated grunts and sits on the couch you’ve watched a million movies together on, he’ll sigh deep from his belly and you’ll know he has been waiting for this moment since the minute he left.

He’ll be home and you’ll smile and laugh and kiss that kind of over-the-moon, I-can’t-get-enough-of-your-taste kind of kiss. You’ll laugh and say, that was crazy, right?

But you made it. This life is crazy, but you’d hate to know crazy with anyone but him, even on the worst days. Because he makes your crazy seem less crazy—somehow tolerable, or normal, or incredible. And you’ll look in his eyes and say, I love your crazy and miss it when you’re gone.

He’s here and you both made it. Just like you made the last run work, the last few years, the growing pains, the sadness, the tired days and nights. Just like you made it through the band changes, the band break-ups, the sacrifices required for success.

my moon. And when he plays close to your home, it will be essential to get out to see him. This might seem silly, as it’s part of the reason you fell in love with him after all. As years pass, you’ll accept that you can’t make it to every show, and you’ll grow comfortable in your routine. You must make the effort; you must always make the effort to go out and see the magic—the gold he spins from simple wool.

While you watch, you’ll fall in love again. You’ll feel so much pride that your rib cage will splinter trying to contain it.

You’ll be so in love with him that you’ll hardly be able to wait to get him home that night, where you’ll stop sharing and selfishly devour him instead.

After the load-out is complete, and you make the sleepy drive home, you’ll realize you aren’t so worried about sex after all. All that matters is that this man, your man, is lying next to you.

The man that crowd watched is home safe and he’s drifting as you drift to that heart space between waking hours.

The next morning, you’ll go about your day. You’ll sip coffee and write a little. You’ll listen for the sound of his footsteps on your bedroom floor, but they won’t come. Loving a musician means falling in love with morning hours because those will be yours—for a musician will chase sleep as fiercely as he chases success. He won’t know it, but you’ll watch him sleep. You’ll smile as he turns over and you’ll listen to the cadence in his breath.

In his lifetime, there will be good shows and there will be bad shows. Just like you’ll have happy-lover days and bad-lover days. So long as you remember that you love each other, so long as you remind him that he loves to play, all will be right in due time.

You’ll find excitement like you’ve never known and frustration like you’ve never felt.

You will experience life in neon.

You’ll hate everything about this life, only to contradict yourself a moment later with crippling gratitude because you’re so in love with this man and the life he’s brought with him.

When you love him, impossibilities and all, you are an unsung hero. You will not be cheered on by the throngs of fans, but you and he will know how you salvaged his career, just by being there. And when foundations crumble, you will save him again. And when spirits wane, you will save him again.

You are the clean-up crew, the architect, the engineer, the muse.

You are the partner of a musician, a sometimes-preposterous feat.

You will—through loving him—know an unshakeable love.

And on the good days, your happiness will permeate the darkest crevices of this insane life. Your ability to celebrate one another will explode any doubt you’ve ever had and you’ll dance together as the smithereens fall around you like confetti.

This is love, you will exclaim to the world—and anyone who looks in on you will know it is so.

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This piece originally appeared on elephantjournal.com. You can find it here

 

 

Conversations with a Human Heart.

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The piece to follow originally appeared on elephantjournal.com. You can visit it at its first home here

“Sometimes I’m terrified of my heart; of its constant hunger for whatever it is it wants. The way it stops and starts.” — Poe

In my weakest moments, when I succumb to her worry, I am sure I will die of a broken heart; not of unrequited love, but because my heart breaks slowly for herself.

Last night, the familiar sensation inched down my sternum and burrowed itself inside my lungs. The delicate intercostals did their best, but were permeated with ache—the sting that moves so gracefully through this tender cage and nestles into these porous lungs.

If it wasn’t awful, it would all be quite beautiful: the way the pressure bleeds down tired limbs, the way the tightness weaves slowly, symmetrically, toward a constricted center. A sinister ballet, choreographed to the timid beats of my center.

She bellows out, my heart. She pleads, not tonight. Not again, not tonight. She quickens in anticipation. She knows the pain creeps on—determined, resentful and proud.

The lungs, they’ll make way over time. They’re delicate and shy and don’t care for confrontation. They need to be nurtured. They need space—so much space and light and air and all of the beautiful things that I imagine as absent in this thoracic cavity.

And the thought pirouettes through waking consciousness: My heart chakra is a vacuum.

So the pain, it moves inward. It moves now from those obedient intercostals to the delicate lungs and it moves slowly, with grace, to wrap itself around a courageous heart. She’s brave. Belligerent. And terrified. Stuck somewhere between desperation and admiration, I use up each ‘wish upon a star, blow out the candles’ kind of moment for nights that aren’t tarnished with frustration.

When the pressure finally encapsulates this living drum, she still cries out, but her tone has changed somehow. Ringing truer than her words is her pitch—the quality shifted, turned untrustworthy; and I mourn another loss.

I hate her at times for what she’s done to me, for what she’s made of me—subservient, dependent, changeable; just as she quietly hates a piece of me for having this disease. It’s tiny, a mere sliver, caught in the side of her left foot. She doesn’t notice it most days; but then, it gets aggravated and she wonders how she’ll ever get along with it—how can she possibly endure?

I’ve witnessed similar slivers of harmony with her; but much of our time is spent arguing over the constitution of joy. The moments of continuity—though rarer than we’d like—remind us of our vintage selves. We celebrate when these shadows arrive. We dance together—strangers unaware, but for the radiating joy that can be glimpsed through hazel eyes.

She beats, though inconsistent in pace, even when this body of ours defies our unified wishes. It is in those allied moments that I know the meaning of pride. Though her tempo may waiver, she’s not yet concerned with keeping up with the world; for now, she settles for more reasonable markers of success: a morning without sadness or an evening without fear. The forever-goal. The exception.

With these fickle, waking hours, her beats quicken and slow as the messages that move between us expand and recoil like breaths. The conversation is not always clear, it rarely comes easily. But even when we quarrel, each evening she waits. And when the sleep finally comes, she unfolds in hopes that dreams will dissolve the memory of our pain.

I see it clearly on undisturbed nights, the image of perfection I’ve craved for so long. Not the teenaged-version of starved beauty, but the heart-longing. The song she taught me so long ago: freedom.

But it escapes me now, I can only sense the edge of that melody. Residual energy. The psychic imprint.

human-heart(2)The first sound—the ‘lub’—is made by the mitral and tricuspid valves closing at the beginning of systole (SIS-toe-lee). Systole is when the ventricles contract, or squeeze, and pump blood out of the heart.

The second sound—the ‘DUB’—is made by the aortic and pulmonary valves closing at the beginning of diastole (di-AS-toe-lee). Diastole is when the ventricles relax and fill with blood pumped into them by the atria.”

But none of that makes sense to her or me or anyone anymore. Her song is not the same.

Her lub used to comfort and ground when the strain of being was too much to bear. Her DUB used to free, melt through the darkness to let the light pour in.

On the good days, her irregularities aren’t a flaw or symptom. They’re tracks—changing rhythm, key, cadence—somehow unified. All undeniably hers, her beautiful productions, but she longs for that final song—the one to which I used to feel connected; the one he can hear because it spoke to his heart too.

Other days she betrays the words that are delivered by this tongue: I’m fine. It isn’t so bad tonight. And I can feel her shrug, disgusted. In retaliation, she weeps and she struggles and she pulls me down below the depths of what is comfortable, tolerable, safe.

She demands her audience. She screams a song, distorted. Like something feral, she lashes out and I’m left to define and redefine my commitment to her. Remember why all of this work matters, I say to the space I’ve found myself in.

Today I try to care for her, as I try to care for me.

Loving this heart means speaking to her, even when I’m unsure she hears my voice.

Knowing this heart means trusting. Believing that in her deepest fibers, she still sings a song and the song is just for me.

And then it becomes quiet. The message she sends with every beat arrives:

You must listen, actively listen. You have to sit still and listen. Be patient. We must heal in a way that is raw and full of discomfort; but it can be beautiful too, if we let it. We must accept the agony of growth with the ecstasy of being. Remember what it means to listen, and to speak my truth—because I know fear like you know fear. Even in pain, harmony can exist.

There are lessons deep inside her chambers. The heart has four, but they don’t know that; they are unaware of an identity independent of the whole. I imagine them as drifting voices. A vignette of song and pulse.

We must recognize what makes us independent, then cast it away to allow for magic. We are music makers when we surrender to the rhythm that drums steadily inside of us. It’s there. We need only listen and trust.

When I give myself over, she sings a new song. Her new song is gentle, yet imploring. She sings of honor and trust and faith. She sings of honesty, of reckless truth.

There is irony in clinging so fiercely to a freedom. Imprisoned by the notion of what was, what should be.

Let go, she whispers.

Freedom doesn’t mean traveling anymore. It doesn’t mean skipping between concerts or breaking up with lovers. Freedom means knowing that a physical affliction does not have to destroy a spiritual bond. Freedom means seeing her and I as chambers of the same beating drum.

Some mornings  I wake up and realize the pain is just physical. She isn’t distressed, isn’t confused. And on these mornings, I whisper to the DUB, thank you—not so loud as to startle her, just loud enough. So if she is softly resting, the words might find their way into her memory of me. On those mornings, I let words spill from my center, words she sends to the open air up above—words like these—to remind me that she longs to restore this marriage too. In those beautiful moments, she can sit with it, composed and firm, as it inches toward her sacred space.

And so, this heart has been on my mind a great deal lately: her physical function, her spiritual implications, how she grows and heals.

My heart has hurt a little; pulled between what my spirit wants and what my body is willing to give, she struggles.

This helps.

These words.

This intention.

Acknowledging the gap that I (we) want to mend.

This helps—always (always).