two hundred & sixty one: fight

i don’t know why i didn’t think of this word in terms of arguing…i mean, there was a lot (a LOT) of fighting that went on in my childhood, between my parents, between us kids, between parents and kids. and goodness knows i’ve had some awful fights with pocketbrit.

but what this word made me think of was the the sense of fight we have in us. as in fight or flight. as in, that instinct that kicks in, that lights a fire in us. that sense of fight that sometimes ebbs away, when we become very old or very sick or very hurt.

*

the first association i had was to a song i really love, and i don’t really know why i love it like i do, why it speaks to me like it does. it was maybe when i heard it? what i was going through at the time? i don’t know. but the chorus of the song says “take me to the bar/where a sweet voice in the back of my skull, says/take me to the bar/and see if i can fight…take me to the bar/where a sweet voice in the back of my skull, says/take me to the bar/and straight to bed all night.”

and i guess i just pictured someone who had just been through a really, really hard time. who has not been up to their usual tricks, who had been on their own, who had not been themselves. and they are asking to be taken out for the night, as a test almost, to see if they can do it. if they still have that spark, that fight. and then, knowing how difficult it might be, that they’ll go home, exhausted, to fall straight to sleep.

i could relate to that, i guess. that sort of testing of oneself. in the early days, i felt like that a lot, about nearly everything. how will it be to go to the grocery store, driving a car, taking a shower, getting my hair done, getting a pap test, knowing what i know? how will it feel to work? how will i mother? what will it be like to see my old friends, the ones who knew my parents? will i still take on ignorance, like the person at the bar in the song? can i still fight?

everything felt different after remembering, every single thing, although i looked exactly the same in the mirror, and i couldn’t guess how i might be with it all. i’m still figuring it all out.

*

last summer or maybe fall, pocketbrit and i wrote a scenario (and then recorded it) about our first meeting at the sea; i wrote the first day, and she wrote the second day. in them, i came to her, and we rented a little cottage from a little old lady who left us her two dogs. we slept in two twin beds in a loft at the top of the cottage, and went for walks with the woofers, read, drank gin and tonics, took turns cooking meals, went and retrieved my lost luggage at the airport, and just got to know each other.

in her scenario, while we watched the sun set from the porch swing, i fall asleep against her shoulder. when she shifts, i wake up in that utter jet lagged confusion that comes when you don’t expect to fall asleep, and she puts a cushion on her lap, and pats it, and without any fight, i lay my head on it, and go straight back to sleep.

i don’t know why it’s my favourite part of that recording, when she says that. but i love it. just the thought that i could (and would) do that, the trust in it? her gentleness? i don’t know. but it brings a lump to my throat, tonight.

*

our old tabby cat’s life force has been wavering for months, but now, it is close to his time. the sass and the fight has left him, in his wake only a bony, confused body, cloudy green eyes, matted fur. he doesn’t clean himself anymore. he seems to forget where his litter box is, and is starving all the time (or has forgotten that he has just eaten?) he can’t jump or chase anymore. we used to delight in teasing him (and having him tease us back) but not now. he spends his days following us around, meowing plaintively. napping in odd places. still wants us close but not always sure how close.

but he still purrs, so so loud. and he still lets us hold him like a baby, and blinks his eyes slowly when we talk to him. we’re giving him all the bacon and yogurt he wants. we just mop up after him. we don’t want to argue. our fighting days are long over.

 

backposted, written june 16/19

two hundred & fifty nine: sweet(ness)

this one made me think of pocketbrit, coz i often bid her goodnight by telling her to sleep sweet. and i am way way too sad to write much else tonight but it did make me feel a swell of love for her. we both have such trouble getting a reprieve from the meanness of our brains, especially at nighttime lately, and she has had an absolute shitpile of a weekend and will also have a pretty crap day tomorrow…so i hope she is resting. deeply and peacefully, quiet and safe.

on nights like tonight, when i’m missing her extra, it helps to imagine her tucked under the covers, soundly asleep, five hours ahead. there is a sweetness in thinking of the overlap of our nights, our stillness, knowing she is across the ocean yet under the same moon and stars and rising sun. i don’t know why it helps and catches my breath but it does, it just does.

two hundred & fifty eight: passion

for some completely bizarre reason, i thought of passionfruit. and how gross and goopy and slimy a fruit it is. i want to like it, but i don’t, can’t get past the texture and the fact that we eat the seeds. plus the weird super sweetness of it.

and that’s all the associating i can do for tonight, despite having a lot of other far less innocuous things to say about this word.

two hundred & fifty six: spoiled/spoilt

a common insult at our house was to be called a spoiled brat. which we got called if we didn’t express enough gratitude. so that’s what i’m thinking of. and how my dad has probably said something to that effect to my mom, or maybe to whoever will listen: that they clearly weren’t hard enough on me, because i’m an ungrateful, spoiled brat. i can see his lip curling now.

two hundred & fifty five: sympathy

i don’t remember how old i was when i realized that there was a difference between sympathy and empathy, but i do remember that i identified strongly with empathy versus sympathy. to me, it seems that sympathy is a sort of passive, removed, unembodied pity for someone else’s misfortune or pain, while empathy is actually sharing in the experience of their feelings. i don’t know if we can always control how we feel, or how removed we are from feeling it. but to me, sympathy reeks of condescension, privilege, and almost like a show of emotion that is for the consumption of other people. like, oh i feel so bad for them, oh my gawwwwd, it’s just so awful. as opposed to actually feeling their pain, being able to relate to it, and wanting to connect with another human being.

i don’t know if i’m making sense at all coz i’m two gins and one gravol into my night, and because i’m sad and thinking about how my mom has had a complete and utter lack of empathy (or sympathy, come to think of it) for the fact that i’m devastated by what’s happened to me and by her rejection of my experience. and how so much was for show, even back then. it’s easy to make a show of caring, isn’t it? but to take the time and effort to connect to another human, to feel their hurt and their pain? not for the phony, or the faint of heart, or those so deeply buried in denial that they will sacrifice their own child.

 

two hundred & fifty-three: commitment

even though i haven’t posted here for a really long time, most days, i have looked at the daily word. and wondered if this would be the day i started again. if this would be the day i could scrounge together my courage to post. i know no one really has noticed, no one but me, but every day, my silence here has prickled and poked at me, mocked me, shamed me.

it has been a really, really hard go these past several weeks, friends. i am tired of hearing myself say that, but it’s been really true. again. fuck.

i have been so so ashamed for not being able to follow through on this blog. well, my follow-through on many things has been shit, but on this blog especially. because the commitment i made about writing here was to myself. it was about engaging in a routine, in a healing activity, in a daily practice. my commitment was to creativity, to get writing again, to shoot photos again. to reflect, even if just quickly, on this list of words, and what they mean to me.

and, i also committed to sharing this blog with my best friend, who lives really far away, who suffers similar pain, whose body bears similar and also different hurts, whose mind, like mine, bites and tears at itself far more often than not. i am sad that i have abandoned and failed her, too.

*

the year i fell in love with a woman, i couldn’t have wed her legally, even if i wanted to (which i didn’t; i thought marriage was a bullshit patriarchal institution and i had zero desire to do it, to the chagrin of my family and friends). back then, queer folks had commitment ceremonies. and they were emotional, and beautiful, and sad all at once, because they were unrecognized by the law. it was a political and social act with little clout.

but by the time we had shacked up and bought a cat together, all canadians could legally wed. and for the first time in my life, i wanted to get married. i wanted to bind myself to her legally. i wanted that stupid piece of paper recognizing us as a couple. i wanted to put a ring on it. i wanted to procreate and live happily ever after. i wanted to make the same public commitment to her that my friends were making to their opposite-sex partners. i wanted a wedding cake (and she wanted a different one…so we had two, haha).

it was a very good party, we were told. not for us, as our mothers only united long enough to ruin things mightily, but hey, you can’t win ’em all.

*

in my spinning and my pain, i have managed to orchestrate a divide between my young daughter and i that i fear i can’t repair. she has been going through some really hard things, and i haven’t been there for her. i have been judgmental and harsh, prickly and impatient. we argue all the time. i have not liked her very much lately, because she dares to request that i be her mom, and i can’t handle it. i haven’t been able to handle much of anything. and i see how i have failed her, how she has steeled herself against my rejection: in her body’s language, in her lack of turning to me, in the tone of her voice, in the tilt of her chin.

i have detached myself from her, from everyone i love in a variety of ways, big and small, because i have been caught in a wind tunnel of self-loathing and hurt. and i hate myself the most for doing it to her, coz she’s only little. and she has interpreted my psychic absence as disinterest about her. that she is not important. that she doesn’t matter. i hate me for it.

just now, after writing all of that, i curled around her sleeping body, and i soaked her pillow with my regret and my shame and my guilt and i whispered all the things i don’t have the courage to say to her yet, and also all the things that she doesn’t ever need to hear: my apologies. my mistakes. my fears.

and then after that, to the rhythm of her heart, i whispered my commitment to her, which is really a commitment to myself: to be gentle. to be gentle. to be gentle.

two hundred & thirty two: slope

okay wtf is with the math terms? first angles, then slope? (ps my lovely pocketbrit will surely take issue with my saying math, apparently it is maths, plural. the brits are a weird fucking people, i’m just saying.)

i’m not even sure i have a photo for this. i’m trying to think of a one…there must be at least something, somewhere. okay, but as i started to write i had a couple thoughts about hitting the slopes…shit, the last time i went downhill skiing was ten years ago, a couple months before getting pregnant with our daughter, when i went on a cross-border bus trip with my friends. highlights of the trip: not the slopes, but 1) the amazing caesars they served at the chalet, 2) the absolutely horrifyingly amazing country music bar we went to after our first day of skiing (which culminated in me hugging the toilet, i seem to remember) and 3) cross-country skiing, on our last day, where the snow sparkled like a million diamonds in the brilliant sunshine. i was sweaty yet cold, exhilerated but exhausted.

not very exciting, but it’s what i’ve got.

two hundred & twenty nine: sea/ocean

this is a huge one.

i mean, it’s the whole reason we’re here, with this blog. coz it’s where we meet, most every night; or when we’re feeling sad or scared; when we’re lonely and needing to feel close. the sea is where we go.

*

i had my first flashback in a very long while tonight. it was not expected and it was vivid and it was horrible. i was on my own with our daughter (who thankfully did not notice i was losing my shit, i was in the bath, trying to steam it all away) but i had pocketbrit with me on chat.

and, like so many times before, she stayed with me. didn’t leave. kept talking to me and the wee one. held us close, at the sea. hand in hand, she waded into to the cold water, alongside my small one who wanted to wet her feet. and then, when her little teeth chattered, pocketbrit dried her off, and got her in warm fuzzy jammies, and took her into her lap and swung with her on the porch, back and forth, back and forth, until she was asleep on her shoulder, face buried in her neck.

and then she brought her into the warm, and laid down next to her on the sofa, with the fire burning low, and went to sleep, too. after telling me a million times how proud she was, how much she loved me, and after crying her own tears for what we all had to endure.

i fell asleep with the both of them too, for a couple hours. i woke up in a dark room, with wet cheeks and a huge lump in my throat. i was dreaming, i don’t quite know what about, but it was a good sad, it was safe, there was love.

*

i truly don’t know what i’d do without our cottage at the sea. i had no idea a place in our minds could be so real, could help me feel so close to someone, so comforted, so loved.

i go there often: on my own, sometimes, but mostly to spend time with our young parts. sometimes we go to throw stones into the surf, to rage and scream. sometimes we go for long walks on the beach, small hands in larger ones, to scout for puppies we hope to steal away from their owners so to cuddle them in front of the fire. some afternoons we just go and set up puzzles on the table, or put a movie on for whoever wants to watch.

so much napping happens on the worn grey sofa at the sea. so much snuggling. and a lot of swinging on that old worn porch swing, where soft cushions and fuzzy shawls and blanket cocoons abound.

i swear it’s a real place, our place at the sea. it’s certainly real to me, and i think, to her. i can hear it, if i close my eyes. can smell the beeswax candles, the sprigs of lavender on the mantle, the wood crackling in the fireplace. i can see the gentle orange of the flames flickering on my eyelids, and can sense its warmth. and when we text each other, urging the other to tuck in, to stay close, i feel that too. and our code for i love you: two squeezes of our hands. all of it.

the sea has saved me. i don’t know how much more plainly i can say that. i don’t know what i’d do without it. and i don’t want to find out.