(Lake Michigan – March 2017)
Lately, words are not moving through me easily. Or probably more accurately, I’m having too much fun to spend my free time in front of a computer screen. The weather broke. The woods call me home. Spring is a baptism.
My sisters, my brothers, my nephew, my mother and father…I am busy loving my people and playing outside. I am busy traveling and studying. “Truly happy people are not happy all the time” (James Baraz) and it’s true. Difficulties arise…emotions cycle…it is the way of things. I’m learning happiness exists in allowing for duality. There is room enough.
My heart feels perched atop a very high branch on a very warm day in a very tall tree. The view from here restores strength to my tired parts and reminds me I am small – the magnitude of it all blanketing my ego in humility when needed. Existing in this space is filling me up – the Earth, the artists, and the people who love me are providing all I need. At once I am both formidable badass and softened clay.
That said, I haven’t been writing.
So please forgive my lack of original content, but I recently finished Melissa Febos‘ new book: Abandon Me and I loved it and I took pictures of some of her words…words that made me say, “yes, yes!” and now I’m going share a few of my favorite excerpts from her memoir with you. ♥
“And this is the biggest difference between my brother’s afflictions and mine: whatever the biological and historical factors, I still chose mine. And I chose to keep it a secret from the people who would have helped me. It is a pattern that has followed me all my life — from drugs, to sex work, to mad love. I have always chosen my poisons. The things that will hurt and grow me the most.”
“It is hard to reveal something you don’t understand. These records, then, are for me, too. I manifest my scars tangibly and set down my story in words because I fear that otherwise I could drift through my life like a ghost–driven by unseen motives. I could crash into walls without ever feeling a thing.
She touched my scars [tattoos]. Then she pressed her mouth against every bare place, perhaps wondering where she might mark me. Being reached for is a frightening thing, touch sometimes a painful revelation that one exists. What relief, though, to be seen, even in some small way. It is a gamble on whose odds I bet, however trembling.
The 1947 portrait of Billie [Holiday], the one I will wear on my body for the rest of my life, is an image of a woman in her cups–an unlovely thing in many ways. It is also an image of opening; her head back, lips parted, throat flexed to the light. She is exposing herself, yes, surrendering to some greater power, but it is no passive act. Her surrender is a fight, and under those lights–that straining neck, those closed eyes, that open mouth–she blazes with it. If these scars are a way of remembering, are the marks of lessons learned, then this scar is a reminder to open. Of the strength it takes. Billie’s mouth never closes, and she reminds me to face that light, to bare my blazing throat. Let them see me.”
“A good gift relies on the giver’s knowledge of their subject. It answers desires that are only legible under close observation. […] The pleasure of receiving gifts has little to do with their beauty or material value. It is their mirroring. The perfect gift reflects the giver’s knowledge of our desires and so carries the precious proof of being known. […] Love is so often a wish to have our wants seen and met, without our having to ask.”
“Despite or because of this, I became obsessed with being wanted. Sexual desire was the easiest to elicit–a strange power that I could exercise but not control. In college, I became a sex worker. Years later, I wrote a book about having been a sex worker. But none of these things were sex. Nor did they ever seem connected to my actual experiences of sex. I had done things for money that would shock most people, but of actual intimacy and pleasure, I had a small catalog. I had loved a few times and never made love with the lights on.
I was so young when I started acting the part. After I quit the dungeon and the drugs, I came back to a self who had been buried under those masks. I discovered that I did not enjoy sex with lovers whom I did not love. Or was not at least beginning to love. And even then I never forgot myself. I discovered at nearly thirty-years old that I was shy.”
“Jonah [of the Bible], whose name means dove, is not brave. He simply exhausts all his other choices. The only thing left to choose is God’s will. And even then, after proclaiming his prophecy, Jonah shakes his fist at the Lord. His destiny does not give him peace. It enrages him. It is not what he wants. He begs God to kill him.
But God doesn’t kill Jonah. God’s mercy doesn’t often come in the form of erasure. […]
How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? the pastor implored us. Maybe he meant: stop fighting. It’s supposed to hurt. Grace is not sweet, and mercy is not getting what you want.”
“It is true that every love is an angel of the abyss. Every lover is a destroyer. I had to be destroyed to become something else. To become more myself. But this freedom? It is worth it. It is worth everything.”