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the love memo

Mom and Li'l D“take care of my family,”
said my then-future husband
as he hugged
my ex-boyfriend

thus began
a 900-mile drive
northward
with my ex
to introduce
my son
to my
dying
mom

i know
from experience
this is the part
where you interrupt
in horror:

WHAT.

men and women can’t be friends!
exes can’t be friends!
it is against
the natural laws
of … uh, well,
nature!

is that so?

i’m glad
i missed
the memo

there is far
too much unlove
in the world
to willingly observe
those rules
that limit
love

this post
inspired by
a monday chat
with ra

ra-d wrestle

making new comfort zones

ten months ago,
i took my older son
to meet his new teacher
at a new school

he was nervous.
i told him i get
nervous, too

impossible thingstoday,
i took him
to a birthday party
at a park, where he
drank lemonade
from teacups,
breathed sugar,
and ran circles
around his
classmates–
his friends

i breathed thanks
that, though he’s known
some hard times, he
still doesn’t know
what it’s like to be
one of the odd ones

to him,
“safety” is
(blessedly)
the norm

i have grown
with my son
this year Read more…

The grace and joy of “for”

I’ve had such a monumental heart-shift recently, it may well take me weeks or months to articulate it.

It will almost certainly take thousands of words. At its core is for: the difference between being for and against, but it runs much deeper than that handful of words conveys.

What a felon looks like. Also, love.

What a felon looks like. Also, love.

A piece of this shift showed up in conversation I had with my friend Ra a couple of weeks ago. I told her how I’d written a post called “I believe you” while she was in prison. I mused aloud about how one piece of that post was difficult for some to grok: the piece where I suggested I was for her, not against him, in sex assault cases. As I wrote then,

It’s not my job to adjudicate. In any case, I’m not interested in weighing his guilt, threatening or cursing him. That doesn’t change anything–not for the better, anyway.

In fact, I believe focusing so keenly on all the details of any one him, speculating about him or castigating him hurts not only you but all of us. We blind ourselves to the whole picture because it’s easier to speculate on one lurid detail: one him. We’re so busy ogling the accident on the roadside, we don’t see the crumbling bridge ahead of us. Nothing gets changed that way because we can’t change something that’s already happened.

I’d like us to stop talking about any one him and start talking instead about how to help you. How to lift you up in healing. How to let you know we are here for you, listening to you, believing you.

I’d rather focus on building than destroying.

I now believe those words a million times more intensely than when I wrote them last January. A trillion times more, even, or to the infinity-eth power.

I also understand that there are a billion more ways to destroy than I then understood, and that I perpetrate some of them daily.

Listening to Ra speak of prison and parole, I am overwhelmed by the tragedy of all the lives destroyed by the United States prison system. Less and less do I believe we send people to prison for reform, or allow those freed from the physical walls of prison to ever be free.

Mackorah Debenzie 2011

Mackorah Debenzie 2011

Somewhere in my heart of hearts, some part of me used to believe people who went to prison deserved whatever they got, for however long they got it. Then, on a long car trip with my beloved Mackenzie some years ago, she waxed eloquent about how dehumanizing that was. I still dehumanized others after that conversation, but Mackenzie’s insights started me down the path of questioning some of my basest assumptions. (Thanks, Mackenzie. ILU.)

With Ra and Mackenzie’s words in my heart, a quote by Ellen Degeneres then made my heart sink as I thought, “That was me.”

So when I read Ra’s most recent post this morning, I cried. Of course I did. It’s the epitome of what I’m struggling to articulate; it’s for, through and through.

Ra is not against Ellen, but for love. For hope. For books, and literacy. For seeing the inhumanity with which we treat prisoners, whether they are within or outside of prison, and for accepting the humanity of individual prisoners, seeing each as herself instead of one indistinguishable piece of an identical whole. For compassion. For love. For for.

I am for all of these things, and for Ra, and for you. I am for you reading Ra’s post and spending some time today contemplating and then basking in the sweetness of sitting with all the many things you’re for.

Hug-starved

About a month ago, my friend Ra texted me something that’s been on my mind since.

She said there was a Saturday evening aerobics class in prison. People who attended didn’t necessarily go because they wanted to do aerobics, but because they wanted to see other people. They wanted to be somewhere with someone, or many someones, with whom they had some kind of kinship …

… without having to seek or arrange a time and place.

When I lived in Japan, I was mobbed with hugs daily.

Those hugs were the tiny-armed hugs of the tiny-armed people I taught. I cherished those hugs, but I felt more and more starved by the day for hugs from adults: people who saw me as I truly was and loved me all the same.

I thought of myself as hug-starved, and I was.

I felt so alone.

yukata plus obi

Since having my second son two years ago, I have become so much more a hermit than ever before. Read more…

At home in New Orleans

On Tuesday, I landed in New Orleans.

I was greeted there by a good friend I’d never yet met in person.

(That happens with blogging. When you’ve already met in heart and mind, the physical meeting isn’t really the first meeting.)

Lisha picked me up outside the airport. We chatted comfortably as she took me on a two-hour tour of her beloved city.

image

Read more…

thud

A few days ago, my friend Ra wrote “you choose your choices.”

It’s the kind of thing I read and realize I have too many words no words only one word for: thud.

When I first read about how Ra and her husband used the word, I thought something like, “I appreciate the loving use of this word-like object, but it is not a real word and it will never escape my lips or fingertips!”

(Really, though, it wasn’t too silly and small. It was too big and too raw, this single syllable capable of saying so much. Also, I ended up using it no more than four minutes later. Some resolve!)

I do think we choose our choices. I also think that we can’t understand all consequences of our choices when we make them, and that sometimes the choices we have are so spectacularly crappy they only barely constitute choices at all.

And I think of Ra, But I trust you! You’re one of a handful of people with whom I’d entrust those two little tornadoes most precious to me!  

auntie ra

Auntie Ra & Tykenado Numero Uno

And I think, The whole world is inside of you and ahead of you! With your loving strength you will shape it.

And I think, The whole point of “thud” is that these little thoughts and scant comforts
are extraordinarily small compared to the love and dreams and aches
encompassed by that misleadingly small word.

If you don’t yet know “thud,” I suggest you acquaint yourself via the link above.*

For all I vowed–for a matter of seconds–that I’d never use it, I expect to use it liberally henceforth.

(Besides, it’s a much better word, all around, than “henceforth.”)

* I also recommend you acquaint yourself with this lovely post,
featuring sweet words for kids as well as bits from my tiny tornadoes.

Categories: Friends, Love, Reflections Tags: , , , ,

Three Things Thursday: Ponies, unicorns, and better things still

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