This strange winter has offered a lot of my favorite kind of days–the kind where the sun is blinding, an almost cold light, yet it warms the wooden floor beneath my socks, my large windows in this old house give me a 360 view of the white, bald landscape of glitter. The abandoned church across the intersection on my quiet avenue juts up white into the blue-cold sky. I can see it from here as I write. It was around 15 degrees this morning when I walked to my appointment. And pushing the frozen steps and treads behind me, the familiar feeling I so love comes back to me, as it always does when I walk, which began and became a sort of meditation for me over a year ago. My mind sort of starts to forget the temperature, and begins to notice the precision in icicles, the light coming up reflecting and drowning in the crystal, aligned perfectly yet different, on the silent porches I pass. The pines that overpopulate my little town are too frozen to feel the full weight of the mounds of snow on their branches, frozen in their bowing. And I watch for a few certain things: rhythm, juxtapositions, and the stunning mathematical symmetry–the geometry of nature. The perfectly aligned needles, the color they have faded to against the backdrop of a white wooden fence dulled by the season and weather, a whole other world of gray, and the skeletal branches of the burning bushes that line this one avenue like crayola brains, their branches now grayish brown and articulate and criss-crossing and of some design that is as old as the earth. The bird’s chorus, patterned to their chaos at that certain moment in morning. There is geometry all around us. And maybe it is just in this form or state of mind that I find it all so simple and yet sacred, there for anyone who sees it.
Once I hum along the streets to this rhythm of breathing and noticing and even pausing some times, that’s when my mind starts to open. And it occurred to me in a sort of unfolding a sort of truth I’ve known but never worded for something about the past couple years: I have been given a second chance–a second chance at giving this life a go, at becoming a woman from a new identity I held onto or dreamed up when all I was ended in that mental hospital, and kept leaving me for a year or two afterwards. It was death every day for a very long time. And this small part of me woke up every day and kept going, getting up every morning through the dark and then into the nothingness after the dark, and then into finding purpose, where I began making subconscious decisions as to what purpose I felt was mine–so many. I went from silence for over two years to a sort of coming to at the reflection of gray blowing branches in the puddle I moved around. How I had stopped and watched the sky reflect in it, and then I stared at the water itself and watched it stream down the avenue, and I heard it trickle into the gutter like a summer downpour. And that moment caught me all up, and I was alive again. I beamed at it, I smiled into the traffic I waited to pass, and I felt life breathe into me. That was 2 and a half years ago. That was my first moment. For a while after too, I began feeling delighted like a child over small things, and it wasn’t that I was grateful to feel after those years and I was just overexcited–it was that I was really experiencing all these new things as a new person. Without the dirt inside me. Without the shadows and the wary preoccupation with what I was doing wrong to deserve pain and shame.
And there is here, now. Right now. I wander around in the country or down by the water all the time, I am seeing these things with not old eyes but new. I am crossing the street to turn down yet another street, the simple map charted under me and before me, and I am something strange, something new. All things must change. Right? Or I am in the comfort of my house, listening to poets read about Hemingway and reading their own poems and loss and love and the stink of things sometimes. I play a lot of wordless music, and a lot of music I can see the patterns in–the geometric shapes of sound kind of like how it reads on a PC’s desktop. Sound does this for me–it takes me in a map. And those instruments and sounds and collaborations of say…Bon Iver’s “Heavenly Father.”
My point is, for a long time here, I thought of my old self as wiped out. She died, she couldn’t bare it and this “I” was left with nothing and had to start over. But there is something about who I was 35 years ago, maybe a little less, that I like to think…waited for these moments, the moments I have now. Enchantment. Curiosity. Openness. Love. Acceptance and joy, oddly. It’s like sometimes I am watching myself on the peripheral, watching me go about an afternoon with the women at the shelter, or choosing books or music at home, writing, piecing together more questions about myself and my beloved and crazy women of my life–how we connect; how I want to make their day better; or if I–heaven forbid this is new–deciding if I, I, I need someone. Even if just for a momentary comfort. Like simply telling someone “hey, I need you today….because….I’m like human or something….” Maybe some day soon I’ll actually let someone hold me. That’s kinda jumping the gun. But yes I wasn’t dead and gone–I was somewhere in the chaos of an unpredictable system; I was the result unseen and surprising in its coming, what I thought was my end was actually the symmetrical, mathematical philosophical biological psychological psycho-social answer to what the equation totaled out into–me, stepping farther and farther away from it to see the pattern in the making, the trajectories and points of instability. The girl or woman I was wasn’t getting smaller and smaller, no, I was getting further and further away from her–that core that poisoned me if I held on to it. I honor her, but she is down the spiral of the DNA, becoming a blur from this distance as I grow into something new and changed.