Broken Records

It’s crowded in here, my head full of too many people, too many voices. Too many feelings, snippets of lives moving in and out of my consciousness, or sometimes just in, to set up camp in my head and stay a while. These souls haunt me still, these people I knew once and think, maybe again someday, because I still feel them, I still send them light and love and hope when they pass through. We have conversations, communions, spiritual therapy sessions of sorts, untangling knots.

Always their knots, not mine. I don’t know who can help me untangle anymore. My husband is supportive, audacious, enterprising and exciting, but not a therapist. I suppose I have to hire yet another one, the what, fifth? sixth? Depends on who you count, I guess – I go through them eventually, reach the end of their usefulness or insights. Outgrow them as they tell me I could be a therapist, I should be one.

And am left on my own again with the voices of the past, broken records playing, once more with feeling. So this is my therapy, finding my own voice among the din.

The Bridge

There’s a bridge in South Africa, as everyone on the planet with Windows 10 who likes nature scenes found out yesterday. So I’m not alone in this knowledge. But I feel like it’s meant for me, this picture chosen to appear on my screen. The bridge in South Africa, a land tied inextricably to the mixture of black and white, a land of unspeakable pain and breathtaking forgiveness – the bridge that crosses.

A river runs below, but that’s almost incidental. It’s the trees above and the ropes that surround and the wood plank support that pulls me in. I feel my feet on the bridge, the warmth of the sunlight through emerald leaves, and my hands on the ropes.

The intricate, looping, arched ropes. Even if I wanted to jump from the bridge, I wouldn’t be able to – beautiful, strong, solid thick ropes block my fall, curved patterns that stretch along the length of the bridge.

There’s no jumping off then. No going backwards, either. My only choice is to breathe in leaf-tinged sunlight, 

and cross.

First Day

I am here, about to receive my new keys to my new kingdom. And the power they have invested in me is humbling. I have discretion, they say. I hold the possibility of a brighter future in my hands for hundreds of lives that I will touch, who will come to me for guidance. And if I just believe in them, maybe, just maybe, they might continue on in confidence and pride to do amazing things with their lives. On this first day, I feel the responsibility. And I am beyond thrilled to be here at last.

At the end of this year….

I end this year wiser, having learned much more about myself and what the reality of my dreams looks like, feels like. It’s the feels like that’s what’s important. Who cares what it looks like? Only I know what it feels like when I know I’m following my path. Only I know the joy of watching my now-sober husband, a man so different from me, be so perfect for filling the hole in my children’s lives. Only I know the pride in watching them thrive. Keeping my eyes on the prize and they are the prize…may I keep my sight clear this year.

I miss him

I miss my husband, the man who used to loll happily on the couch with me, discussing the day’s events. I miss the man who knew more news than me, who was connected to the universe. I miss his easy smile, his gleeful insistence that yes, he could do that amazing stunt we just saw or eat that disgusting thing in one bite. I miss his surety that he would succeed, if he just kept trying. I miss him stepping outside for a one hour conference call, at 10 pm or 10 am, didn’t matter. I miss him reaching for me in the dark, holding me close.

I hope that man comes back to me someday, after a long road and a hard journey. I’ll try to hold on to that hope through this long, lonely night.

 

Happy, happy new year!

Goodbye, 2013. You will be remembered as the year of new beginnings and revelations. The year I claimed my work as my own. The year I claimed my own power. The year I got what I thought I wanted, and it ripped my heart into pieces. The year I learned how to protect my own heart. The year I learned what true love looks like. The year my love came to me, because I listened to my instincts and followed my own twisty path.

Time for 2014 to begin. The year of fertility and fecundity, of prosperity and perception. The year of new threads added to the tapestry of our lives. The year of intertwining.

I don’t feel broken anymore. I feel ready to conquer the world. I feel like the best me I can possibly be. And thank God for that, and for the blessings of this year.

May all your dreams and wishes come true in 2014!

 

The Cocoon

For the past 20 years, there has been one constant in my life, through all the transitions of adulthood. There was always UCLA. I’ve been there longer than half my life, at this point. At 17 years old, I visited the campus for the first time, during February of my senior year. I had already applied, sight unseen, along with all the other schools i thought might also be good for me (for various reasons), including UC Berkeley, Tufts, Brown, Washington University in St. Louis, Northwestern, and Yale. I applied to them all, even though my high school guidance counselor thought I didn’t have a chance with many of them (what the hell, by the way?). And then in February, I went on a college tour with my dad and stepmother to visit the places to which I had applied.

We started with Tufts. I loved Boston from the moment I landed there (it was my first time), but hadn’t applied to Harvard out of loyalty to my family’s Yale connections. So we left the city and visited Tufts, and I found that as a high school senior, I knew more about the class I visited than many of the college students. They seemed slower than me, and the campus seemed very small, so I crossed that one off of the list.

Next was Yale. I spent the night there with some girls in their dorm hall, and was intimidated by everyone’s intensity. It was also 30 degrees below zero with the wind chill. But I was just excited and happy to be there, and did love the campus, and knew it would be a challenge. Plus, they had a world-class reputation for theater. So it stayed on the list. Then we visited Brown in Rhode Island. It felt like a small town, but an incredibly fun, funky, intelligent one. It stayed on the list, too, even a bit higher than Yale because it seemed more nurturing and less intimidating. Plus, the entire ethos of creating one’s own major strongly appealed to me.

Then came Northwestern, which was beautiful and had huge, welcoming dorm rooms, but was knocked off of the list the second I heard on the tour that all freshman take the same courses. I strike my own path – this was definitely not for me. We skipped visiting Washington University, since I had visited St. Louis many times – my family’s from there, and I was born there. I felt like I knew what it would be like; it was safe.

On a trip later that month, I visited UC Berkeley, and didn’t see what all the fuss was about. It seemed dingy and uninviting, and even though my boyfriend at the time dreamed of going there, I couldn’t see myself there at all. And then, on a 75 degree February day in 1993, I visited UCLA.

I fell in love completely and instantly with the campus. It was the perfect mix of old and new, of world class scholarship and exciting new opportunities. I loved Los Angeles, too. I loved that a movie world premiere was held in Westwood on the day that I visited, and I watched Clint Eastwood get out of his car for In the Line of Fire.  The campus was a dreamworld, and I wanted to be part of it. I got into every college I had applied to, and there was no doubt that I would choose UCLA.

And I always thought I would leave. I went to Washington DC for a time, and thought I would go back. But I had met the man who would become my first husband, and he didn’t want to leave LA. So we stayed, and after a couple of months (basically, just one summer) of turmoil after my graduation, both ended up with jobs at UCLA. Over the next twelve years, we both stayed there. He worked, being promoted a number of times. I worked and earned two graduate degrees. And at the end of it, we had grown apart and separated – the same month I left him, I graduated with my PhD and he was laid-off and left UCLA.

I moved back to LA to be closer to the campus and cut my commute, and for the past four years, have created my own career path in the University. It has cocooned me, sheltered me, absolutely been a major part of turning me into the scholar and poet and woman I am today.

But yesterday, the cocoon cracked open, just a bit, and sunlight started to shine in. Because I was told I’m no longer able to forge my own path here, I have to conform to the path I’m supposed to be on. It’s looking more and more like it’s time for me to find a new path, now that I have a strong partner to walk with me wherever I might want to go (for my faithful readers, you know who I mean).

After 20 years in my cocoon, it might just be time to fly.