I always lock doors. I love when a house has an alarm system. I watch out for anyone in our neighborhood that lingers. I have fear in my heart.

When I was a tiny toddler my mom’s dear friend Ellen loved me. She took me in her arms everywhere she could. She had a bright smile, shiny hair and a kind easy laugh. I was in elementary school when Ellen’s two teenage children were murdered.

I think I was 7 years old. My mom told me the story: Ellen’s son and daughter had walked home from school, to their house in the country, think wide open spaces, deep woods, dirt roads. A man was in the house in the process of robbing them. There was something about a gun. There was something about her son trying to protect his sister. There was something about a bed. There was something about the daughter being found naked and dead and bloody in the shower, I was told she was trying to “seduce” her attacker, her murderer. It wouldn’t be until much later that of course I knew, this poor girl was raped. And there are more details that my memory protects me from.

I like doors locked. I watch people everywhere I go. I listen to my gut. I have fear.

I haven’t seen Jonathan in many years now. We were brought together on game night at a friend’s house behind the railroad tracks. I was wearing a tight color-blocked vintage sweater I had bought in Topanga Canyon. We played cards on the floor in a small Washington town, killing time being flirtatious, fearless and full of fear all at the same time. Was I 19? Maybe, but I felt as wise and awkward as I thought I’d always feel forever.

I volunteered to take Jonathan home but on the way I surprised him and drove us to the old library park. We got out and walked in the quiet warm dark night, under tall trees that I had played under since I was small; talking and laughing about all the things we both liked. I would have some of the most memorable nights of my life under stars and tree branches with Jonathan, but I knew nothing at this moment but the new magic and glow that comes so fast with swirling hearts. Forehead to forehead we kissed for the first time and at that exact moment the sprinkler system came on and we were sprayed on all sides, water whipping at our bodies we ran to the parked car, falling into childish perfect giggles.

A year later our affection had been tested, worn thin and raw like wearing an old sweatshirt on a sunburn. Jonathan and I met up at a friend’s party. We ignored each other for as long as a wait at a bus stop. We found ourselves outside on the front steps catching up, our mutual friends stepping over us as they came and went, giving us the eyes- you know the ones; the ones who’s eyes know you and know that maybe this is the worst idea to see these two people, sitting together in the dark, mostly alone. We bolted from their devastating judgmental glances to my car and drove to the old cemetery on the hill. Jonathan was dating someone new, I wasn’t. But that didn’t stop us from kissing each other, pressed against a large tree amongst the graves. He asked me if I wanted to run through that graveyard naked. He not so much asked but proclaimed with wild eyes and “yes” in his heart, “Why would the dead care?!” So we did even though he got more naked and ran farther than I did.

If you had told me that we would be slammed together by sadness, longing, and lust for one another again, I would have replied- Um. Yes. Of course. This time I was in a relationship with a man that wanted to marry me, that I was so different from, who wanted to change the way I dressed, and walked and talked. The only thing I remember having in common with Robert is that we both loved the Beatles. I was ripe and looking for distraction from this trashcan I had found myself living in like it was “love” and Jonathan called.

Under a sky so twinkling, so lit with the universal charity of stars, so close to diamonds on velvet that you could almost touch them, we sat in a tree over a swampy stream. Talking and kissing he reminded me who I was by just being who he was. He knew my heart and he held it with an angel’s protection. It wasn’t the first time but it would be the last time even though I didn’t know it then.

I haven’t seen Jonathan in many years now. I think he lives on the east coast in a city I’ve never been. I hope that he still laughs easy, reads voraciously, and shares his love and tender smart heart so generously.

 

 

Yesterday, after reading a post by Sayward and a conversation between Joanna and Kristin on twitter I felt compelled to write about my life and my relationship to food and body image. I grabbed a small notebook and a small black pen and began scribbling what quickly came to mind. Here it is:

I’ve always been short, tiny sometimes, small. At 4’11” um, barely because I recently was reminded I’ve been lying for decades because I’m actually 4’10″ish. Somewhere along the way I rounded up and believed it.

So, lies. The lies we tell ourselves: beauty standards, mothers, fathers, siblings, extended family members, everyone has opinions with struggles and stories of their own.

My friends and I made deals about how little we would eat in order to reach the goal of “skinny”.  This was in the fifth grade. We’d coach one another on what we could and could not eat. I remember never having the willpower to follow through, eating ice cream or my mom’s chocolate chip cookies (picking out the walnuts because I hated the walnuts and even though my mom knew this she baked them that way because my stepfather liked them. His needs came first, I learned that because my two brothers didn’t live with us. My mom catered to him, not her own children.) So cookies, candy, ice cream, cheese, too much of everything. We were supposed to only eat yogurt for lunch or something? The details are foggy but it was very restricting and harmful.

I hated the way I looked. I thought I was fat and quite ugly. Like, particularly unattractive. I caught my reflection in a three way mirror while school shopping for sixth grade, I was alone for a moment while my friend and her mom were in a large Nordstrom dressing room together and it hit me when I saw myself. I was so so ugly. Hideous. I swallowed whatever pride I had at age 11 and thought, well I’ll do the best I can but I’m starting with a very low standard. My whole body, mind, and heart hurt with such pain, such disappointment with the definitive label: not pretty. Odd and short and red haired.

I latched tightly to fashion. I had an eye for putting clothes together. I could mask myself- distract people! It was a great idea. I also turned to music, reading and trying to be a good friend. But, the damage I had already done to myself would show up in my words, my gossiping, and more. My pain would effect others. It would take me awhile to see this and do better.

So fashion and personal style, it was one of the only things in my life my mom ever gave me praise for, was a hit. People said I was cute! Creative! Yay! So expressive! Acknowledgment! I was seen! And not ugly when dressed cute! I road that for a long time. Looking back, I almost dressed clownish. Painted clothes, bright colors, hats, ridiculous and distracting. I lost myself without even knowing it: Rainbow Brite Armor. What even was my personal style, interests, abilities, like and dislikes? Who knew. By the time I was 16 with my first job, as a literal clown and face painter at a local amusement park, I had fulfilled my destiny. Hilarious.

My ego was that pretend inflated game that I used to cope with life. I felt invisible for so long, my heart was attracted to dark and unavailable people because I believed so strongly that everyone leaves you eventually anyways. I listened to Tori Amos and the Cure and my boyfriend was the darkest and saddest vampire you’d ever seen. I wouldn’t have sex with him, he cheated on me, broken hearts, knives, threats of suicide (him, not me, that wouldn’t come until my early 20’s).

When I was a small child I took ballet, tap, jazz and later rhythmic gymnastics. It was in the gymnastics class that I started to shine (for myself). I realized I was strong, I wanted to live playing on the rings, which I was quickly told are not for girls. This was also the class where my coach would inappropriately touch all of us little girls under the guise of “spotting”. Cupping our breasts, bums, and vaginas when he knew the few parents who came to watch wouldn’t see. Brazen and destructive sick fuck. I was pulled from the studio by my mom when I told her where coach had placed his hands on me and asked innocently, is that weird? She was horrified. That was the end of dance classes.

Sports were few and far between for me after that, a little volleyball (but, hello- tiny girl). The thing is I was good at the stuff I wasn’t “supposed” to be, weightlifting, pull-ups, push-ups, these were “boy” activities so I wasn’t encouraged, more like discouraged of course. I hated running and all of PE, high school was spent getting notes to get out of class at all costs. I joined theater where I could dance, take up space and be loud because it was celebrated. I built sets for the productions and starred in my senior musical while engaged to my 24 year old boyfriend at 17 years old. I mean, who the fuck let the latter happen? (p.s. I didn’t sleep with him either.)

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I don’t know how to wrap this up. I’ve lived a lot of life since then, but yesterday this is where I stopped to go take a shower. Maybe I’ll scribble some more soon and see what comes out. I mean, there’s this one time I punched through a window because a boy locked me in a shed…

 

 

Lamb

Left eye invisible

Right eye grew a little plant

crusted over in the night

green and white

She took his fragile lamb when he came to her

Someone had to take care of him

No bra under her white tank top

confident and embarrassed at the same time

At the bottom of the stairs

line of men waiting for more to drink

All the gentle moments

She hid away

dinner with friends

wondering how to show up

She drifts

and dreams of Nina Simone’s knees

Bees

She turned to face the doorway

filled with bees

on the other side

people that don’t stop at signs

She’s the one who’d free the moth from the curtain

He’s the kind that would trap it

She asked all the broken girls to come along

She wouldn’t leave them behind

She likes fountains of music

knows it’s time to let go of blame and neglect

She’s spicy and has a spine that you envy

She wants the curve of your heart

the edge of your wings

the smoke in your eyes

the plume of your hair

to speak from the bear

be in love like wolves

lie under blueberry bushes

Later you’ll find her

walking in the middle of streets

seeing everything with meaning

again

for the first time

beneath talkative rain

Curse 

Standing on death

cutest curse

she ever felt

was in a sleep

under a planet

gifting souls

who mate

by fate

no frills

no tickets

little people

blocking

making her wait

twists of dough

sweetened cake

warm her insides

not her heart

pulsing wit

handstands in sand

everything lands

under an unkept tattoo

Poem D

Four merging quickly woke me urging me to get this down

Tap tap tap in the night

I heard John Lennon singing with a fading Beatles background and the song went,  “Thought I saw a thought pass but I didn’t stop to catch it because I thought that it would last”

Whispers of I don’t have time to see you, I won’t be seeing  you

But I missed you before I knew you were here

and

I’ll miss you while you’re here and continue missing you when you’ve gone

Small robots took over her mouth and talking tounge so we all set out on boats to offer our support

Sometimes

Beachy polaroids flipping in my fingers

Did you see I took photos as I kissed the sand and next I kicked it in your direction?