There isn’t a moment when I am not thinking about my writing and how to get back to it. I think about all the streets I walked in New York City and how different my life is now. I often feel far far away from my creative genius because I am not surrounded by eccentric wildlings on numbered streets and decades old facades, holding infinite stories…
But you know what? I’m here now. And I am healed. I’m not her anymore. And that’s okay. I am tired of pretending that I’m not enough, not as great as I was, not as awesome. I am awesome. I am still her. And I have done so much in the last nine years. Nine years! I don’t want to keep living my life looking back and wishing my days away, wishing I could get back to that bohemian life when I wanted nothing more than what I have now.
Where am I now? I am perched in a house on a hilltop in a mountain town called Ojai, in Southern California. My sister’s velvet couch has followed me here and there is the brown and white cow skin rug from our friend’s loft in Soho, the first room Isaac and I shared together. She has come with us on our almost six year journey too. There are the plants we bought from the exotic plant shop on La Brea in Los Angeles, the store owner a mystical plant-whisperer sort, with his handlebar mustache and scent of pot. There is a fire burning in a stone fireplace, a three year old boy in a room of his own, a dehydrator humming while making yogurt, the whole wide world beyond this hill top.* I am alive. I am well. I am breathing.
I do miss the creative stimulation of my New York years, but I think this longing is a signal to go on some twinkling adventures. Permission to explore! Permission to have new experiences! I need them. I crave them. On Monday I took my son to the nearest Wholefoods for grocery shopping + dinner after surrendering to the easy road of parenthood. In becoming a mother I have become passionate (it is more an activation of a past obsession) about health and, well, perfectionism. I must be the perfect mother, my son must be perfectly healthy, perfectly untouched. This drive spilled over to my activism, too (I knew that when we moved to Los Angeles I would either become depressed, or a crazy activist. I became both.) Seeing films and documentaries about the state of the planet I worry about the future for my son. Writhing with discomfort I couldn’t stand it any longer without doing something. So I decided to boycott the plastic industry and work on reducing or eliminating my plastic consumption habits.
But heck. After a year of this I realized that raising a toddler without plastic is very challenging, especially for someone who wants to work, who wants to travel and leave the house every once in a while. My point is, in going to Wholefoods and getting a slice of pizza for my boy for dinner (“What was your favorite part of today?” “Pizza!”) I surrendered and let go to the life that is right in front of me. The beautiful, rich, busy life of raising a small human. No matter how hard I have tried to be perfect, I am not. And my critic could not handle this not-ness. But in surrendering to the imperfect perfection of it all, my critic can rest. It is perfect! It is enough! Look around you! Be in the now! The toys on the floor are beautiful! The ache in your neck, the ache in your feet, the weight in your eyes, it’s beautiful! Sure, you are not trudging through the snow on 2nd Avenue at age 24 any longer. You’re not having to ride the screeching subways and stand in lonely stations waiting to go home with no money and no love life. You’re not having to wonder what’s next (actually, yes you are and you do) and how am I going to afford to eat next week. You are a brilliant and prolific writer, yes, as you were, AND, you have been blessed beyond measure. You just haven’t been listening to your angels too much. You’ve been listening to the critic, and caving in to her demands.
You can never go back. You wouldn’t want to. You can return in moments of memory through the writing you have done, but you are here now. And you are still you! Look at what you have done and all the steps your feet and heart have taken to bring you to this moment. Trusting in the signs. Paying attention. Knowing when to leap. Leaping. Falling. Being caught by the most beautiful man. (“I want to heal your body…”) Walking. Lifting. Moving. Grounding. Birthing. Working. Changing, irreversibly.
Not able to be reversed.
Not able to be undone or altered.
Irreparable, beyond repair.
Irremediable, irrevocable. Permanent.
Unalterable, unchangeable, Immutable.
Carved in stone.
This ongoing life. These choices we make that change everything. Beyond repair. Indeed the becoming of Mother altered me forever. I am still integrating this shift. Still working my inner child and my inner artist in with this mother archetype. Who am I? A complex contradiction. A multifaceted, incalculable being. A woman who is always changing, never the same, not even the woman I was when I wrote the first sentence of this piece. I have said it so many times, but I never know what I am going to write about until I start plowing the itch within. Thank you itch! Thank you sadness. Thank you discomfort. Thank you longing. The longing has been here the whole time. One of my readers at Paper Castle Press (where are you Dan?) reminded me once that “You can never step in the same river twice.” Of course we are all rivers and you can never meet the same being twice, either.
I am different, and yet I am still somehow here, same as ever. Still focused inwardly and outwardly on some untouchable goal. Like a jewel whose brilliance I see in flashes beneath the ocean, but can never quite find in the dark once I dive. I know it’s there and I keep mining this vein of gold (perhaps now it is more of a diamond mine, made under great pressure) because the flashes of light are intoxicating on a hunt like this, in the dark. I don’t know any other writers who plow the depths of their being like this, aside from my literary godfather Henry Miller. But this is the writing I want to read the most. Raw, real, human struggle and triumph. On the page. Right here. So I’m going to keep going, because Henry isn’t around anymore and while he has left us a wonderful treasure chest of the jewels he mined from within himself and his own life, I feel the wealth of treasures inside me and I know I need to turn myself (gently) inside out to find them. Like a truffle hunter or a hawk circling for mice in a field, I am hell bent and devoted. The instincts are strong. The risks are few. The riches are infinite.
Thank you for coming along on this ride with me, whoever you are. I don’t know who I touch when I write, but at the same time, I know exactly who I’m talking to.
*Sounds pretty bohemian to me!?