Live, and not a Little

We’re going to right the world and live. I mean live our lives the way lives were meant to be lived. With the throat and wrists. With rage and desire, and joy and grief, and love till it hurts, maybe. But goddamn, girl. Live.

Sandra Cisneros

It’s been such a long day that I’m just now taking a lunch writing break. I have a wallpaper changer that puts quotes on my desktop, and this one hit me where I live. I remember reading The House on Mango Street when I was at HSPVA, and it was my first introduction to chicana literature.

Cisneros has never been married or started a family, saying that her writing is her child and she’d rather live alone. I have never identified more with that sentiment, because trying to write about my own life and the things that happen in it cause me to retreat into a dark room and just think it out. Right now my mind is consumed with Dana, Argo, and letting go of the white-hot pure love I have for both of them, because I thought they were the people with whom I’d LIVE! like this. Rage and desire, joy and grief spilling out as Dana and I made our way through a marriage that weathered hurricanes and adventures with Argo that made her realize that I am indeed a badass and could be an even better one with her… or so I thought. At this point, letting go of all the toxicity in both relationships is what is allowing me to LIVE!

I want that peace and solitude to create passage. It is not lost on me that I have said many times that I slept deeply in the belly of the Argo, knowing my passage was safe. Now I’ve left the Argo and jumped in the water headfirst, and I’m not very good at diving so it was more like a belly flop that continues to hurt my stomach. Things were said and done that were unforgivable on both ends, so why not find my own path? I may not be a great diver, but I was small and weak as a child, so I’ve had swimming lessons since I was six months old. Preemies are actually really good swimmers because they haven’t forgotten the dolphin reflex they used in the womb. It strengthened my legs, and I am sure that it is one of the reasons I can walk….. badly, but still. I have the tools to walk my own path, bring myself out of the deep, and have the courage to go boldly into the valleys of my own vulnerabilities.

I have a quill tattoo on my left forearm that drips blood, based on a quote that has been attributed to many people… writing is easy. You just sit down at the typewriter and slice open a vein. [Editor’s Note: Dana used to be married to a woman named Carol. She took one look at my writer’s tattoo and said, “aren’t you right-handed?” I laughed so hard I nearly fell off the couch because it was such a great #dumbassattack] My tattoo reminds me every day of my tensile strength. All of the people I interact with bend me to a certain degree, but at the end of the day, I feel unbreakable because of this space. I can think through everything, including all of the mistakes I’ve made, and over time, it looks better. It feels better. I have more compassion for myself when I think, wow… did I really say that? Blog entries are slices of time that say how I’m feeling in the moment… how I am LIVING! As Emily Saliers wrote in the song Ghost, I dance the edge of sanity I’ve never been this close. And maybe that’s all living really is. Being willing to dance the edge of sanity to get real emotions, real experiences, life-altering mountain-tops you never thought you’d reach because you can see the valleys and look how far you’ve traveled up. Having this blog is a straight-out miracle. I’ve gotten a lot of flak over it, but usually it’s from the same people who adored my writing until they could see themselves in it, as if I couldn’t write as truthfully and beautifully about them as I could about the people they read about when they stepped in.

For instance, Argo and I were horrible to each other, but I will always write about how much of a miracle it was when she found me. We probably won’t speak, but that doesn’t erase the past and how much I needed her at that time in my life. She provided me with reasons to think I was bigger than I was- capable of doing more things with my time than I was currently capable of. That I could think bigger. She was right- I fell in love with absolute honesty and trust, and I ran away from it like a house on fire. I torched her so many times that it’s no wonder she has such shitty opinions of me now and I have to live with that idea. But to open up to me is fraught, and I would say the same of her. That’s how we were so capable of learning each other’s hot buttons in the first place. Our trust issues were immense, and instead of taking care of each other, we turned on each other and it was just World War Three, with my wife caught in the middle of trying to keep the peace and trying to get me the fuck away from her all in the same breath… because once that trust was broken, it was broken for good.

And yet, a line from Wicked comes to my mind when I think of Argo- I don’t know that I’ve been changed for the better, but I’ve been changed for good. I will never be the same after this. Not in a million years. I once told her that her tapestry was in the great museum of my head, that even though our relationship was in black and white, I could see her in color.

So that’s what I hold onto in order to let go of anger. It wasn’t all bad. It was one of those experiences that I needed to have, my soulmate in the Elizabeth Gilbert definition that there are these people that shake you out of your current reality and aren’t designed to be permanent.

There will never be a time when I can say I don’t love her, because you can love people and dislike them all at the same time. We do it with family members and friends all the time. Like, I love you but i think you’re being a total jackass right now. It’s definitely been said to me many times. Cognitive dissonance is one of my specialties. it seems I can hold eight opinions at once on any given topic.

For instance, I would give a limb to see Dana again, bury my face in her neck and cry and apologize and want to kick her ass into next week simultaneously. And that’s just how relationships are, when you LIVE! When you FEEL ALL THE THINGS! It’s horrible and messy and completely divine. We are perfect in our imperfection if we can let go enough to let others see them and respond.

It gives me something to help other people, and I truly take it in that there are people that feel good about helping me… this ecosystem that spans the country because I’ve lived in Portland, Houston, and DC…. Internationally if you count my friend Randy, who checks in from Qatar and I get a little thrill every time Qatar appears in my stats.

I nicknamed this blog “international television” for a reason. People read me all over the world, and in some small way, I hope that by laying out my brokenness and grief I am helping them not to feel so alone. Sometimes you break open to let light in…. when you really, really LIVE!

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