february 8th

Today I met with a woman named Sally. She bought me a coffee with cream and told me that fifteen years ago, she stopped delivering babies and quit her job at the hospital to open a cafe, because sitting and talking and warming your hands over tea are the kinds of things that really heal you. She told me that there is a space that opens wide between an event, and a reaction. 

"You can feel the space, if you try," she told me. She pressed her index fingers together, and then slowly moved them apart. "An event: the child throwing hot lasagna on the floor and then crying about having an empty plate. And the reaction: yelling at the child, and tossing their tray into the sink with anger in your heart. There is a space. Within that space, that moment, is the possibility for stillness. For mindfulness. For heartedness."

I nodded, and took a drink from my mug. It reminded me of the ashram. Of the inner ocean. How quickly we forget. How easy it is to smash your index fingers back together and move swiftly from event, into reaction, into reaction, tumbling forward on a landslide of tangled emotions. 

Here, I breathe. I can feel the space opening wider.

february 7th

There's a man sitting at the table outside of Joe's Coffee Shop talking to himself. He's talking about a baby shower and a vibrator and how he needs to buy cigarettes. He already has a pack of cigarettes in his font pocket, and one in his back pocket, too. I wonder what happened in his life that put him right here in this moment, talking into an empty styrofoam coffee cup in front of Joe's. I wonder what I'll be talking into in twenty years.

I haven't used this space like I intended to. I used to write so frequently, but lately we've had fire beneath our heels and so many things to hold gently, to hold fiercely, to hold. So many thing that have filled us close to tipping with joy; so many thing that have emptied us, and left us wanting, and wondering, and worrying. But we're always moving forward. Because so is she. Growing long in her baby skin. 

The toy store is so close to opening, and as with all things that take time and money and risk, we're beginning to fret. We have most of the stock (and entire room full of cardboard boxes and wooden tea sets and tiny shopping carts). We still have the rent to pay, and the insurance, and the bills, and the credit card. And it's going to be a while before we see profit, if there is any. We might stay open for a month or two. We might close. We might lose everything. It was a stupid, quick decision after all. But we are building our wings, I guess. 

I have every reason to be worried, and I still find myself with a soft half-smile. I've been thinking a lot lately about the Ashram, and how I felt there, and have realized that I can feel like that here, too, in the thick of all the fire, and the smoke.

The man outside of Joe's is laughing at his lighter. He flicks the tip once, coughs, burns the tip of his cigarette. He inhales. He laughs again, packs up his side bag, and walks away. I'm sure I'll see him again tomorrow. Maybe one day I'll ask him about himself. Probably not.

when it snows

Dear T,

How are you? Are you feeling well? I hope you’re warm, wherever you are. You’re away from home, it seems, tucked away between mountains as white and clean as the sheets that used to hold us. Is it snowing there? Is she being gentle with your heart? I hope so.

There’s a candle in our living room that’s scented like a warm tobacco pipe. It reminds me of you, even though you didn’t smoke. I struck a match this morning and lit the wick to burn the smell of eggs from the air. January has been slow, and sweet. Sweeter than most months lately. Earlier on, just after the new year, Ken planted his feet and decided to stay. This certainty has been on the tip of my tongue for ages, it seems - even since he signed the contract, two years ago. But now, we’re staying. Now, I can taste it. This is it. We’re home. And I can finally breathe again.

I think you might have been friends, you know. You and Ken. In another life, maybe. A life without my body between the two of yours. You could have been in the desert together, brushing the dust and the sand from each other’s backs. You smoke blackberry tobacco from a pipe in this other life. Maybe that’s why the candle reminds me of you.

Now, it’s late. I’m drinking ginger and peppermint tea, and Ken is listening to a Game of Thrones audiobook from one headphone. Aspen has woken once and will surely wake another time, arms extended and reaching into the darkness of the bedroom, searching for the skin of a shoulder, or a breast. And I’ll go to her, as I always do. I’ll lay beside her and say, shh, sweet pea, I’m here. You’re safe. After a while, she’ll sleep again, until she wakes once more.

It’s late, and I’m thinking of you. But not in the same way I once did. In a different, older kind of way. Less of a wanting, less of a hunger, more of an appreciation, of a settling, a certainty. You're far away, though. Like when you wake and remember a dream only for a moment. And then it’s gone, just like that. You’re the dream I sometimes remember. Sometimes, when I light a candle, when I see a man standing on the top stair of his porch, when it snows.

Oh, when it snows. I hope it's snowing there. I hope you're thinking of me.

xo

Your friend.

the running kind

something strange is happening to me. I am content. settled. there is no reaching forward, no fitful sampling of professions, of lover’s lips, of hobbies, of cities. I am the running kind. I always have been. I fold my wings for a while, nestled sweetly between the road lines of a map. and then, an itch blooms at the back of my knees. and just like that, I am ripe with wanting. I wonder what's next, what else, what if, what more. never satisfied. always running. recently, i woke and realized that I have not been running toward something, but away from something, desperately trying to out-adventure my own unhappiness. no matter where or how far or how wide I spread myself about the globe, still it found me. that itch. that wanting. because it was with me all along. I woke and realized that I needed not more money or enlightenment or points marked on the map, but more contentment. it's what we all need, really. I wiped my eyes and looked once more, not outward this time, but within, and there it was. I felt a great settling in my bones. every tired piece of me sighed. content. here, in this town. here, in this home. my god, this beautiful home! this beautiful town! I can breathe again. I have never felt such a profound and total peace. how I hope you can find this, too. you, the running kind. you've been home all along.