Victory at Home

I was standing on Fulton street waiting for the Number 15 to take me to the corner near my home. The wind was brisk with an occasional chill, but the lifting of the hood of my sweatshirt over my head blocked most of it. This particular stop homes three buses headed out and about town. It feels quite familiar as all three round the corner coming out of the transfer station down by Van Andel Arena. I switch feet. I look across to Veteran’s Park where I danced with wild abandon at a Thursday night drum circle held after the Jazz concert at Ah-Nab-Awen park. The Main Library is behind that. I spent hours of research in those rooms. Everything I was looking at seemed familiar, but with a dream-like quality.

I came to the conclusion that I was but a drop in the puddle in their eyes, but in mine, I was so much bigger.

When I moved away from West Michigan in 1989, I had no idea who I was; broken, discouraged, full of lamentations. I had no direction or purpose. I molded myself into the ideals that I believed I was supposed to be. I became a fair wife, a devout church goer, a preacher of God’s love, a model citizen in every way. I provided Christmas for impoverished children, took them on camping trips, advocated for their protection always seeking approval from outside sources. I was miserable.

After the loss of Jordan, I began rethinking my life and the choices that had brought me to a point where I could no longer stay. My marriage was a disaster, my friends were there but they were all much younger than I so their freedoms were different. I still had no idea who I was or what I wanted to be or do. At 25 years old, I decided to find out who that woman looking back at me in the mirror was. I left everything behind. I cut ties with family, friends, acquaintances, and moved back to a small studio apartment in Kentwood. I married again but it crumbled basically from day one. I moved around the country for about a year, using Greyhound as my means of travel.

By the time I ended up in Arizona I was a disaster. I married for a third time. I found a group of friends that, for the first time, not only saw me for who I am, but encouraged me to be everything I was meant to be. I felt like a toddler whose parents delight in the antics of the little one, but at the same time, I was an adult. I radiated humor and enthusiasm. I decided I was strong enough to move, so I did. I moved across the country again to Tennessee where I lived with my father for a brief time. He was a miserable human being that rejected me just as fast as he embraced me. It was constant mixed messages from him which led to uncertainty and instability.

I found God living in a little church tucked away behind a natural shade of trees. I was told to go there and I’m glad I obeyed. It was like coming home. It was the first group of collective people that not only appreciated my wildness, but saught me out for companionship, help, and entertainment. I imagine it’s what being a rockstar feels like. What’s even cooler is that I adored every one of them right back. I couldn’t help it. I’d waited my whole life to know what it was to be me. I learned it at their knee. It was the most difficult day when I had to say goodbye to them and return to my hometown of Grand Rapids.

Only, it wasn’t my Grand Rapids.

It wasn’t the place where the broken little girl made up ridiculous fantasies of being the President of the United States or curing cancer with a brightly colored cardboard box and a stick found on the playground. This wasn’t the city where I dealt with childhood tragedies with self destructive behaviors. Nothing was the same, including the absence of the monsters that didn’t live under my bed but were under the same roofs as me. The dark secrets were held up to the light until their power whimpered into submission.

This city doesnt know me, power in my words, body thick with laughter, hair demonstrably wild, my secrets laid open to the beauty of rainbows once forbidden from my fingertips. This city is unaware that within its limits, there is a woman with courage as deep as a wristcutters truth, but as furious as a hurricane battering abusers with education. Grand Rapids has yet to understand that I, that had all along existed but had been nearly crushed by history, rose up to find my feet.

I’m standing in the middle of Division and Fulton in my mind, screaming with laughter at the pure wickedness of possibilities to be reached. This may not be my Grand Rapids, but it is my home.

Queen in Passing

grave

Solemnity spoke

The night I prayed would never come

has whispered hallowed night

a reclamation of eternal earth

the kiss of chilled winds blight

The hands I loved have now succumbed

The fiery pyre take flesh from sight

a resolution to embrace rebirth

your angelic spirit take flight

The young man and “The Pensive Woman”

The Pensive Woman, 1932 by a German Artist (I can't find the name of the artist)

The Pensive Woman, 1932 by a German Artist (I can’t find the name of the artist)

I rounded the corner from bronze dipped metal spoons that didn’t stir my soul

to observe a lost lamb separated by his emotions from the flock of chittering as a whole.

He stood slouched, small dreads pointing to the sky, bandana tied artfully at his temple

staring at the sculpture trying to understand something I couldn’t see; Sentimental?

I greeted him with gentle voice, encouraging interaction. I explained without pause

“I was in the other room observing several that didn’t move me because

The spirit requires recognition of matching vibrancy to vibrate frequently

Why this one? What drew you to her?” I asked the young man evenly.

He thought quick, deeply, spoke with certainty, “She’s so sad.”

“When art speaks to me, it speaks in bright colors because I’m, as a rule, glad.

Do you understand her sadness, too? She was created by a German in 1932.”

He wavered momentarily as his emotions washed his face quickly, efficiently.

For a moment, I thought I’d lost him as I waited patiently.

“She reminds me of how I felt when I learned my father had passed away.

I locked myself in my room, curled in a ball and cried to myself all day.

That he was gone was hard enough, it went against my every plan,

but I remember wondering, “Who’s going to teach me to be a man?”

His eyes looked at me just like hers. I gave him “Always Beautiful” as I abided

“You are not alone.” I comforted in synonymous tone as he’d confided.

He smiled while hefting the weight of a million gallons of un-cried tears

that will ebb and flow

wax and wane

light and darken his years.

I loved him deeply, truly

in all his pensive human beauty

as much as I admired that German artist of 1932

accidentally gifting me that one on one in bronzed blues.

After the Peter Mayer concert

Peter Mayer from Minnesota playing "Blue Boat Home"

Peter Mayer from Minnesota playing “Blue Boat Home”

Okay, so if you read the previous article, you know I REALLY love me some Peter Mayer. His music is considered folk but to me it’s just excellent. He performed back in February at our Sunday Service which was really incredible in and of itself, but his warmth really stood out in my mind. He really doesn’t get why people love that he plays guitar and sings. He loves that he can make a living at it, but it truly baffles him.

Tonight, while he was playing, he forgot some lyrics from one of the songs he was performing. He glitched. He apologized but kept going. I fell madly in love with him at that moment. Not the kind of love you give to a spouse or a best friend, but the kind of love that makes that moment stand out as truly significant. He was beautiful before as I’ve gushed and fan-girled, but that moment, a tiny error of perfection exploded his colors into rich sapphire blues, deep royal purples, and such incredible beauty of humanness that I got the leaking wellies.

I sat at the back of the sanctuary weeping with the knowledge that someone I listen to, someone I know only through music and a couple of random conversations, was absolutely human just like me. It was a profound moment as I heard him asking his Sister Hawk to teach him, his Brother Whale to teach him. As the concert continued he quoted Carl Sagan that we are “…starstuff contemplating the stars…” It meshed completely with what I tell the children when they don’t feel important. I tell them, “Oh but you are, my dear friend. We are all made of stardust and oceans. If we are all oceans, we fill the world with tears. If we are all stardust, we lose our shine. But if we balance between the both of them, there is no end to whom we can become.”

That moment of his human self felt like an emotional anchor snapped taut, that in that moment, I was breathing the same starstuff as my ancestors, of his, and of everyone in the room. It was incredibly moving to me. He was even gracious after the concert when I told him of how beautiful I felt that was. I gave him an Always Beautiful card I like to share with people who move my spirit. He accepted it. I don’t think I could have gotten any more happy than I felt at that moment. Thank you Universe for arranging the starstuff precisely right tonight.

Me and Peter Mayer after the show.

Me and Peter Mayer after the show.

Again, if you want to learn more about him, visit his webpage at http://www.petermayer.net or look him up on YouTube and you’ll hear why I’m such a fan of such a perfectly kind human being.