Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Living the Questions and Sitting at the Crossroads

All that you touch
You Change.

All that you Change
Changes you.

The only lasting truth
Is Change.

Is Change.--Octavia Butler

I haven’t updated in awhile. I always want to write, but each time I feel ready to, another emotional upheaval unsettles me. In these moments, I’m always stunned into silence, trying desperately to maintain the patience to undertake the arduous work of collecting shattered pieces of myself and how I understand the world and put them back together in radically new, unrecognizable ways. Language leaves me; time is suspended. I have more questions than answers, and I feel as though I’m failing because I’m not finding answers quickly enough. But things that’ve happened to and around me lately have challenged me to revolutionize my understandings, goals, and desires in finding these answers.

This very moment—for a lot of reasons—marks an end of an era. About three weeks ago, my mother and my hero went into a coma and was placed on life support. She has a progressive illness, so although we’ve been expecting it for years now, one is never really prepared for it. Amazingly, but not surprisingly, she pulled out of the coma twice and she’s back home now (Mama is seriously one of the most fierce, kick-ass people I’ve ever known). But as I sat there holding her hand as she was unconscious and on a ventilator, something in me broke—shattered, really. Although I’ve confronted my own mortality because of a very serious situation with my kidneys failing completely, and even though I’ve lost very close friends in traumatic ways, none of this affected/effected me as much as the thought of “losing” my mom. Memories that I thought I lost came flooding back in a storm that only a buried past can create. The echoes of our giggles while we painted Easter eggs filled every crevice of my being ; and I felt on my skin the sticky heaviness of the humid South Georgia air as I thought of us sitting together on the back patio talking as two adults about our fears, regrets , and goals. I told her, or her body at least, that I love her, that I’m proud of her, and I asked for her forgiveness for my part in the years long silence that engulfed us, and made us grow distant. It was a crossroads collapsing the past, present, and future into a single moment, linking Jeremy with Tali, of my mother’s cis, descriptively disabled son with her (gender)queer , politically crip child. It linked a mother who struggled in silence against seemingly insurmountable odds and who passionately and painfully struggles to accept me, with the courageous, powerful woman who lives with regrets and unfulfilled desires that I think she’s afraid to utter to another living soul. I saw her more completely then than I ever had before, and as I held her hand in mine, I also held her complexities, contradictions, and powerful fragility gently and appreciatively. And in the process, I’m allowing myself to do the same thing for myself.I’m still picking up the pieces and figuring out where they all go.

My best friend of four very intense years is moving to India for at least six months, maybe a year, on Wednesday. Kate, Kali, Katherine. I remember very vividly the first time I saw her. She was working at a tea shop in a mall—a place where lifeless consumerism flourishes. She still doesn’t believe me when I say this, but she breathed life into that place as she stood there with a dignified presence that literally took my breath away. I approached her, and she simply said “Would you like to try some tea?” I knew then, and even more now, that this was the start of a profoundly deep connection that would change me forever. And it has. Kate is one of the first people—one of the only people, who have shown me what true friendship is, who’ve given love in its more transformative form, and unconditional positive regard in its most supportive. In some ways, as I said goodbye to her for the last time last night, I mourned the death of who we are individually and the relationship we have now as both of us have said to one another that when we meet up again, we’ll be totally different people. We’ll have to re-introduce ourselves then. And although we’ll stay in touch, we won’t be able to feel each other’s touch—something, I think, we both need. Significantly, though, we’re going through this together. She’s going to India; and I’m going to California—both (metaphorically) totally different worlds than that which we know now, and in the process we sacrifice our sense of place, belonging, and connection in order to go on to the next and necessary chapters in our lives. The pain we feel is real. And although we say to each other, “see you later, friend,” both of us know that there’s a certain permeable finality to all of this. We committed to each other that we’ll push each other passed our fears and delusions of safety that comes with not taking risks and making sacrifices that we need to in order to recreate ourselves, to  become something wholly else and unprecedented.  So, crossroads again: holding at once feelings of intense sorrow that the end we always knew was coming is finally here, with the ecstatic excitement that the new beginning is just around the corner.

And so I sit here at the crossroads, lost in torrential sandstorms, not knowing what’s on the other side or even how to get there. This is what it means to live the questions. The answers will come when we’re ready to receive them.

have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.
--Rainer Maria Rilke

To Mama: Thank you for being a mother and a friend and for showing me that strength doesn’t always have to be loud. I love you.

To Kate: Thank you for being a friend and a sister and for being an anchor through some really hard times. Faire well, my love. You have what it takes.  I love you, too.


Andie said...

i hate to trivialize the exhaustion that said "emotional upheavals" exert on you, but i'm so grateful you've mired through for the most vivid images and most articulate expression for the myriad of feelings you're encountering.

My favorite line is the emboldened "live the questions" comment. i will undoubtedly recycle that one.

i so cherish my windows into your experience.
A shared soul does not necessarily instantly intimate the instant perspective and scope we get to savor in our hours of laughter and lovin. These words are my portals into at least the topography of your internal world. A planet i so intensely care about.
Even across the coasts, i am glad our souls will still be able to connect..

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