Tag Archives: love

There’s still magic to be found

12 Nov

I don’t know what to say and most I know feel the same way. Some of us are silent, others are shouting, and most everyone is afraid. My Trump friends are elated, my Hillary friends are so angry their eyes are turning red, and the city of New York is openly weeping.

On Wednesday, I felt fear when I left work, and the streets were lined with police and protestors, and I felt the hum of violence in the air.

I don’t like being political because politics can be so petty. Two people, two parties, shouting at one another, trying to convince others to vote for them. As a student of history, as a Yogi, as a peace-believer and love-maker, this feels wrong to me; that when there are two sides the only result is a split, a divide that strikes through our systems in irreparable ways.

This goes against what I believe about people; that what sits within us is not so different no matter the nation or nationality. This belief was born when I went to Spain for the first time, at sixteen, and I stood on a beach with people from Italy, China, Switzerland and the US, and we were all teenagers who wanted to be liked – who wanted to explore, be kissed, to dance, get drunk and run the streets of the small town that we were visiting.

Some of us were more privileged than others, some of us more educated, some had happy families and others not so much, but in my heart I knew that we all strove for a similar thing – for the right to seek our happiness, the pursuit of it, no matter what it looked like on the outside; that was our youthful, motivating factor.

I have sat in shacks in Ecuador with families of 12, with 14 year old mothers, and I have stayed with friends in Colombia whose brothers were stabbed by gang members. I have spent days on farms in Bolivia, and  on small, impoverished islands where there are no options other than the sea. I have bused through Nicaraguan towns, and I have biked through the English countryside where I was the first American that some of the villagers had met.

I have lived in Illinois, Indiana, California, Colorado and New York – I have been both red and blue, and I  have always come to the same conclusion. That the ability to live a simple, peaceful life is the greatest gift of all. That fear is our greatest monster, and it’s one we cannot escape, and that people say they want, “change,” but to transform, to shift into a different way of being is never easy –  and is rarely peaceful.

That empathy is the alchemy to the world’s shadows, and so I will never stop listening, and traveling, and reading, and hearing both sides because I know beneath it all I am not so different from the other.

So friends, let us not fight hate with hate; let us not fall into despair because love does win, even the darkness. It’s the light inside of us and when it is ignited, we can let other’s ugliness enter it and they, too, will be warmed by our way of being – for there is still magic in this world.

On Wednesday, to soothe myself, I popped into my local bookstore because it’s the way that bookstores are supposed to be: warm, welcoming and well-lit. Unexpectedly, there was a famous female poet performing. She was speaking to the experience of womanhood, and when I looked into the audience I saw men, women and people of all colors, snapping their fingers, being moved by her words – funny, furious, violent and healing.

And I thought, no matter what anyone tells me, now, or in the future, if they say, “go back to where you came from,” I will smile and say, “okay,” because I’ll know that I am home.

 

 

 

A Tribute: What My Grandpa Inspired In Me

12 Dec

When I was 23 years old I picked myself up off the bathroom floor, bleeding, and made a vow to myself to change my life.  I knew then that I was becoming a person I wasn’t very proud of, and I knew that I could do better; that I was smarter and stronger than the circumstances I found myself in, even though there were things that happened in shadows and behind closed doors that had lead me to that very moment.

I don’t know how long I lay in that position but I do know that everyone I had ever loved lay there with me.  Some people had caused me to be there, while others had already walked away because they didn’t want to witness it.  However, the majority of those that I loved had no idea I was struggling.

Yet, one face rose above all other’s and it was my Grandfather’s.  The man who had loved me since birth; who read me the Sunday comics and told me any dish I didn’t want to try was especially made for Samantha.  Who tucked a giant Mikey Mouse in his bag when he returned from Florida so I could leap at it’s obvious discovery.

The man who filled photo albums of every silly play that I was ever in and who kept his old baby blue 1950 Thunderbird for years so we could drive around in it.  Who special ordered clay for our art projects and  who gave me my first camera.

He was the one who made me a necklace with one of his prized coins from the 1800s and was the first person who taught me the meaning of volunteering, taking me to the preschool where he gave his time and then filling with pride as  the children, “followed her around like ducks.”

He was the one who celebrated my love of books with recommendations and special editions and kept every letter I ever sent him.

His love for me was unquestionable, but even more importantly, I knew he believed in me.  It wasn’t that I felt the weight of his expectations, but that he had so continuously nurtured my curiosity, creativity, intelligence and passion for life.

I knew that I could not give into lying on the floor or any challenges that life had gifted me; that I had to get up because I could only face my Grandpa by looking him in the eyes standing up – even if I couldn’t at that very moment.

So I crawled out of the bathroom, and into the very slow, and humbling, process of transforming my entire life.  A month later I was on a plane, in a new city, and everything was so much harder than my 23 year old self could have predicted, but naivety is one of youth’s blessings.

Suddenly it’s years later, and I’m at another, less dramatic crossroads. Again my Grandfather flashed through my mind.

Per usual, he was telling me a story about a young man who rode his bicycle through France.  He said that, “he always wished he had done something like that,” and I knew in his way he was giving me advice about what he dreamed for me.

I hadn’t realized that I had carried that story with me for years, and when it came time to make a decision, deep in my heart I knew leaving SF and traveling was the right answer.

But now he’s gone and I’m so far away that I can’t attend the funeral.  A part of me cannot help but see this as meant to be because it was his stories, his traveling of the world, his sense of adventure that he cultivated in me that got me here in the first place.

So this is what I can do for him.  I can tell all of you that my Grandfather was the type of man that got people up off the floor; that gave them the support whether financial, or otherwise (though volunteering) that they could make something more of their lives.

That he opened up the world for others, through his art and stories,and that he fueled those he touched imaginations.

That there was no question of his love, integrity or friendship, and that he was easily loved and respected in return.

That the world is less without him and more for having him here.  And I know that any good I have inside of me, any inner strength, or anything that I achieve has been nourished by the person that he was and the gift of his love that I will always carry with me.

To All My Loves

24 Jun

All the men in my life have had different names for me.  With Trey it was Sammers and then it became Sambo (cousin of Rambo).  For some reason that one stuck and he still calls me that; that’s how I know he loves me.

For Robbie it was Rubes and then Stein, taking apart my last name to mark two separate relationships. That’s how I knew it was over.

Brian called me Bug, which was inspired by me shouting, ‘Love Bug,’ as I left his apartment one day.  I’ve never been very good with nicknames.  They’re always awkward – sticky paper on the tongue that I strip over to reveal a residue no one wants to be covered in.

We laughed about it, the absurdity of me calling anyone lovebug.  We were absurd together.  Our conversations mostly consisted of us passing the phrase, ‘I love you to one another.’  He’s the only one I don’t talk to anymore.  He squashed me.

Len never had a nickname for me and yet I thought we’d marry.  He was the first person to call me Samantha-only.   We broke up after four days of living together.

Next was Phil who again picked up Rubes.  I should’ve known it wasn’t going to work out; that you can’t let someone take you backwards to something that nobody calls you anymore.  I should’ve known that he was going to leave me for another because we never took each other very seriously.  Yet, we cried when we said goodbye.

With Vinay I became the Pantha and we tried to claw each other apart, so it never got past that.  When he told me he thought, “people were trying to kill him,” I knew it was time to go.

To Simon I was sexy, to Martin I was someone who never responded, to David I was Princess and to Galegher I was the girl who never stopped pining over his best friend.

Before and between all of these men there was Matty, and I was his Sam.

We had known each other since we were three and were each other’s supposed first kiss, though I don’t know if those count at the age of five.  I dramatically “broke-up” with him at age eight and we never kissed again.  I cried for days when he told me he was engaged, yet I couldn’t imagine life being any other way.

Nor could I imagine allowing another man to name me.  I was 27 and exhausted.  I felt that the little heart I had left was mine; broken pieces of me rattled within, and when I glued it all back together it felt too precious to give to anyone else.

Then I met Josh, and he looked at me said, “let me in,” because he knew he wasn’t getting past any other way.

For some reason I listened, though alcohol helped, and when I look back I know that’s why we ended up slow-dancing to Billie Holiday in my hotel room.  In the morning I turned to him and said, “Let’s pretend like we don’t know each other,” and he conveniently left his sweater in my room.

When he came back it was because, “it was his favorite sweater,” he kissed me, and suddenly I turned into Samanthy.

I didn’t think I could have another name: from Sam, to Sammers, and Sambo, from Rubes to Stein, ManthaPantha and everything else in-between.  There didn’t seem like there was anything else to call me.

Yet there I was being someone’s Samanthy and different words left my mouth.  It stifled me, so we opened up the relationship, making a path for me to call myself something – breath came easier.

Men continue to flit in and out of my life, but I am and forever always mine.

There have been too many names, too many moments, too many disappointments and at the end of the day as the years pass you learn that you are you and no one else’s.  You run, scream and slip endlessly away until there is nothing left to hold onto anymore and your liberated soul laughs at all the other selves you thought you could be.

My Family Story

30 May

The reality of seeing your Father having a stroke is less shocking than one would predict.  In fact, you don’t even know it at the time.  He goes silent, he gets angry and sits very still, as if some blinding light has hit him and he can’t stare into it or move.

It is very similar when he has a seizure.  In the past you thought that people shook with their tongues hanging out, but your Father goes silent.  He has Petit Mal seizures, deep glitches that occur in his brain.  The neurons don’t fire quite right, or misfire, or slam up against each other so his brain is reshaped and every time you speak to him you know this was not the Father that you were born to.

He asks questions and doesn’t remember the answers, he can’t say certain words and when he walks he uses a cane.  He is 62.

The man that you grew up with was lively and easy to access.  He had endless patience for your endless questions and would let you style his hair with big bows and hairspray.  Each night he would be the “bridge” to your bed, and would get down on all fours so you could climb across his back.  Sometimes the “bridge” would shake, or sway, or dip and you would gently tumble off, so that you could cross it again.

Now you rarely have conversations with your Father.  He’s easily agitated and at times you are frightened to upset him because when he goes past the point of no return there is no coming back.  This is how you get disowned for the first time.  On a frigid Thanksgiving night with him screaming, “fuck you,” repeatedly and your Mother threatening to burn your adoption papers.

The next morning she stands there small before you with grief pouring out of her every pore, and she says, “I’m sorry, please don’t leave,” but you do because that’s all you can.

You know that your Father takes 32 pills a day, you know that your Mother is ill in other ways, but this time for a long time you cannot forgive, and you ache for that small nuclear space that was once filled.

Days, weeks, years pass and you do not return.  They come to you.  You look at your Father leaning against a wall on Market Street, and you know that you can only hold onto anger so long because if there’s one thing you’re certain of its their imperfect love.

The next time you come home with a boy and you call him the buffer.  You can tell your parents are disappointed he’s there, but you’re too afraid to come back otherwise.  Each day they wake the two up you up with a sharp knock and a high-pitched, demanding voice saying, “we’re leaving in five minutes.”

They both look lesser to you and you feel bad that you’ve been away for so long.  The shower seems dirty and runs with rust.  The brown and tan striped couch is covered with dog hair, and when you go through their books you find one entitled, “Borderline Personality Disorder,” with your Mother’s name written in it.

This is how you discover that she’s trying, which is all you really wanted, so you decide to try too.  You sit across from a grey-haired man who you pay to listen to you.  After you pour your heart out he says, “be kind to yourself.”

You make him laugh.  Then make yourself cry and then spiral into a deep depression of your own making because you can’t bear to see all you’ve bared.

This is how you end up crying at work, to your boss, to your Associate Marketing Director, in the bathroom and at home.  You have this flood of tears that goes on.  It’s not the first time you cried this way, but you didn’t think you still had so much to grieve, “I’ve done this before,” you think, “I’m sorry,” you say again and again to yourself really because that’s the only person you still need to forgive.

So you visit again, and your Dad, who now uses a cane finally says sorry to you.

He says, ” your Mother and I pushed you away.  We scarred you, I’m glad you’re here,” and some deep thing shifts because you never thought a sorry would come your way.  You tell your Father he’s not alone, you teach him how to Skype.  The first time he does it’s from his hospital bed in tears because he feels like he failed you.

You hide yours, smile and say, “It’s not your fault,” which is a line you had used earlier to another person who left, and you wonder how you always end up alone in bed across men who are sorry.

But now, in this moment, your Father is across from you, on a screen with tubes up his nose, and you know each time this happens it’s worse because now it’s Lupus Anticollangant, Kidney Failure, Strokes and Congestive Heart Failure – before it was just epilepsy.

He says, “I just wanted to see your face for a moment,” so that’s when you truly forgive his failures, and life’s failure, and your own because that’s the only way you know how to go on.

A Prose Poem Inspired By An NPR Segment

11 May

How can I listen when you don’t love me, when you ask me to love myself before you can, as if I could do you something you couldn’t, as if I could taste myself the way that you have, with your tongue in my mouth I plead for less, or more, or something that I can grasp onto that would let me know I wouldn’t have to go on searching for something that you refuse to give of yourself.

We’re told that this is love, this giving, and that’s how I know we’re holding onto with; withholding from one another the pieces of ourselves that we cannot bear to let, yet when I hear your voice across a line, beneath a surface, I come to you again and again, throughout time and know you are undeserving of such a response, know that one day I will look at your face and wonder what I let go of; know that we will scream across a room, a distance, a separation of what we once had together.

Know that I will see your face with closed eyes and think of all the unwritten words, and I will know that I can’t but return again and again to that thing I gave you so long ago and wonder at the innocence that we once were.

How Far I Travel

24 May

How far I travel (to you)

My love, whose ceaseless hours

Punctured by the space I seek

to rectify through miles of white,

tasteless noise, inert, struck dumb

before the crumbled temple I kneel

 down with my mouth that screams

“enough!” I must go without for so

long, and it is such an effort

Though, in the laughing dark of

 melancholy I find you near me

 illuminating a being that I strive to be

 with you- a breath of infinite air that

 nullifies perception’s seductive mirrors

whom I cannot stop staring into.

Last Prayer – Inspired by The Cinnamon Peeler

16 May

Let us be each other’s scars so that we can never fully heal from the power of our words – let us carry touch through scent that cannot be covered – let our sound live in the city’s mist so that when we are shrouded we are enveloped by our own pleasure – be my wound that sits fat at the edge of the table that we lay upon.