Last night I dreamed it was the new school year, and the first day of 2nd and 5th grades. Scarlet hated 5th grade. She was separated from her friends and yelled at all day. Des never came home on the bus at all. For some reason, my parents had to pick him up from school after he was brutally bullied and abused (physically and maybe sexually) by an older kid. We had no idea how badly he suffered. There were police reports and doctors and all I could think was, “I hope it wasn’t bad because I hope it doesn’t change my baby.” Those are the things you think about yourself, but more – your kids. I didn’t want him to lose his magic and luster. I didn’t want him to grow up in fear and trauma. And I couldn’t still myself/my heart. My fists perpetually clenched.
I would never rest again. I can still feel how I felt, in the real, slower heartbeat, brilliant California light of morning. And it was a dream, but many people’s reality. I don’t know.. that I’d survive it. I don’t think.. that bully boy would survive. Not in my real life. And that feeling of never being still again. Roaming the countryside in utter fear, terror, and inexpressible anger. How would I cope?
I don’t know how to tell you that I don’t think I’m dying – at least not in any way other than that we’re ALL slowly dying – and I’m not and have never been suicidal, but sometimes I fear, “Well this is it.” What if I forgot how to daydream and play and feel at home, and at ease? How will I find my place in this circle and cycle? In my family and in the world? Have I already lived 1,000 years? My hair, my face, and my soul – have they lost their luster? What is my place – within this world – but what is my place within myself? In the still of the night and the still of my heart?
When I was newly 16, my aunt took me on a 10 day trip throughout upstate New York and Canada. It wound up being a super, natural, supernatural experience – in which I started out depressed and ended up 100% transformed. I’ll never know what exactly happened – but I think it was about finding the beauty and power of humanity – and I credit that to myself, and other people along the way. A lot of that growth and magic happened in Toronto. I went again when I was 22, and it wasn’t the same. And I couldn’t tell what had changed – was it Toronto; was it me?
When I was 23, I went to Monterey. I had only met Cassidy once before – two weeks earlier – in JFK Airport. It was my first time to California and my first time to his place and we did it in massive style. San Francisco everything, beach sunsets, the Pacific Coast Highway, whale watching, and growing and changing. Aching and loving and hurting and trying to find our way.
We went again, 15 years later, yesterday. We came into town from a different direction and I couldn’t, for the life of me, orient myself. I had held this place on a magical pedestal for 15 years and I looked and looked and couldn’t find my way. A way. It felt like amnesia. It was disorienting and frustrating. Finally with detective work on my phone – and hacking into my old email account – I found the name of the hotel we had stayed at and we walked through the doors and into the breakfast nook where we had had a light breakfast at dawn. Then we had had a magical whale watch (story another day) and I got the worst sunburn of my life. We ate ravioli and then made our way back to San Francisco. Yesterday, in present day, I had to find my way back there.
Not to live in the past so much, but to connect it to the present. To relieve myself of the immense burden I rightfully put onto my memory. I’m glad I finally found the familiarity, even if it has changed, and so have I. I’m glad that real life magic is just that – real. It withstands the stones and storms of time. It’s more subtle than whale watching orchestras, and is sometimes about the squeeze of a hand across an ancient breakfast nook. Often he is still, and so are we.
Sometimes, in the still of the night, I can’t get my mind and body to still. These are the steady hands that hold cameras without tripods for 14 hour days. These are the body parts that play tricks on my kids while we FaceTime – by contorting my features into an unblinking monster face for so long, that they shriek with laughter thinking the FaceTime froze at that exact time. In the still of the night, I fret over suspended Twitter accounts, Scarlet’s social life, nightmares about my beautiful son, global catastrophe, and fears about aging. I dream about losing teeth, losing hair, losing ground, losing love. And I lose my steady hands and steady heartbeats.
I can hold still for so long, but the murmurs and echoes run deep within my skin, and beat within my heart. I can hold unusually still, but only for so long, until the distant beats call to me – of unsettled dreams and terrors and unfulfilled promises and brain remnants I can’t release. Rather than flow into a lazy and luxurious river and rhythm, it seems they drop – erratically and brokenly into an ever-widening puddle – not unlike a broken faucet in a sink that won’t drain.
That night in May
The stars were bright above
I’ll hope and I’ll pray
Your precious love
Well before the light
Hold me again
With all of your might
In the still of the night”
I’m linking up with Finish The Sentence Friday (FTSF) for another great prompt. This week’s topic is “(Unusually) Still (photo prompt)” And there’s still time to write yours. Link up HERE.