Updated: Apr 16
I was not very close with my Grandma until after she died. Now, sometimes it feels like she's all I've truly got. She left here when I was in-between a girl and a woman-- and she, a true lady. She was high society and had pretty things. I'm still stuck in that in-between, and I know now that she helps me quietly...removing the wedge... between me and her. Between me now and who I could ever possibly become. I trust in her. She had a career as a judicial officer in Salt Lake City. When I'm a bit too hard on myself, I remember. The Justice of The Peace herself adores and defends me.
I inherited two treasures from her arsenal of fancy things. A European antique mirror, and a delicate gold chain necklace. I wear the necklace often. My hands go to it. It's something to hold onto. When I'm sick or sad, defeated or trying not to laugh. I touch my necklace and say.. "Hey Grandma?"
We end up talking a lot.
I ask her what it's like to die. She always says... "It's kind of like being born" I tell her I do not remember being born and she's always surprised. "You don't remember being born??"
"Grandma... you do???"
"Yes child. When you are ushered in to this world it is understood to be the beginning. But many friends say goodbye and weep as you enter out from the womb. And they wish you luck but they know for certain...you will forget who you are."
Two treasures. Two small but important moments I shared with my grandma this life. One when I was a small child and again when I was a teenager. They never made much sense to me while happening, I just knew they were important. What was actually occurring was of little significance to the moment. It was setting the stage for a relationship that extends far beyond the world her and I knew.
When I was 5 yrs old I told my parents, out of the blue, that I wanted to have a sleepover with my grandma and stay the night at her house. This was an unusual request because it's not something we ever did. I didn't talk to my grandma or play with her ever. I just knew who she was. And I didn't actually want to sleep at her house. I just said I did. And so I did.
It meant so much more to my grandma than it did to me. I was terribly homesick. I slept on a feather pillow for the first time. My head sank into it and hit the bottom, my tears soaked through it. I felt so lonely in her strange elegant home with no toys and no sisters or brother or parents or noise. Just my head sunk in a pillow. But my grandma was so excited, and I remember I felt a sense of duty about that. Like I was taking one for the team. Saturday morning came and grandma made bacon for breakfast. The smell of bacon made me long to be back home, with my siblings watching cartoons and having hot chocolate and toast.
Years later when I was 15, I found myself back at grandma's house for another sleepover. It had meant so much to her so long ago that she arranged with my dad for us do it again. At that time I was struggling hard with depression, panic attacks and never wanting to go to school. I didn't have good friends, and had forgotten who I was. She took me out on the town. She laughed with me. She told me she would lend me her sexy silk pajamas and that would get the wheels turning again. I smiled a faint smile and laughed a dull laugh. And found myself later that night crying again into a sinking feather pillow...and the smell of bacon again the next morning. And the sadness that washed over me as a child, I was evermore aware of now. A longing to be back home... whatever home was.
As life blazed on it seems I kept on forgetting. Who I am. Who am I.
A year ago, I sat on a bathroom floor that wasn't mine, wrapped in a towel that wasn't mine, even though I had used them for many years leading up to that night. The night before I moved out of the place that was supposed to be "home" with a husband and two incredible, magical children. I sat on a floor that was so foreign and yet so familiar to me. I did not know all I was about to face. And thank God for that. I look back on that moment and wonder how I ever survived. How. How did I scoop up everything that made a home and take it away, and leave a house behind. I packed up everything by myself in one single day. I don't even think I cried. I just packed and taped boxes until there was a mound of stuff that I literally sat on top of in the garage, waiting there for the moving truck to arrive. A motorcycle peeled out of the driveway. I had nobody's blessing on this. Nobody's help. With my precious kids under my wing and all the art I created over the years, I left. Nobody could comprehend why. I could not articulate "why". And fuck trying to make them all understand. Forget them. For I had forgotten who I was so terribly, that I was sick in my bones.
I should mention about my grandma... she went through a lot. Her marriage to my Grandpa was infantile and explosive. Infidelity in retaliation to infidelity, until no one even knew who started it and no one planned on ending it. End the marriage first, yeah. Do that. Sure. It's very easy. Just sign some papers. Your heart will be fine. Split up the family. The kids will be fine. Pull the rug out, nothing's gonna fall. Just slip away, no one will notice you're gone.
Until you're gone.
Until you're gone.
Until you're gone.
It was a soft landing at the new place. Setting up camp again was almost effortless. Going at it alone was exciting and empowering. And that felt so wrong to me that I tried to make it more difficult for myself. Because I witnessed the pain others felt from my actions. I felt their anger, sadness and confusion. And I took every bit of it on. I layered it upon myself as if it was my duty. And was crushed accordingly.
"So you gone went and did it, you threw yourself to the wolves......
I'm so proud of you."
My grandma whispered. And I could barely hear her through all the noise. I wasn't so sure it was her.
You did this.
You did this.
Those word pierced my soul, and I was at liberty to make anything of them. Good or bad.
After living in a one bedroom place at the in-laws for over 4 years, my boys finally had their own room, and so did I. We got snow cones and went to the swimming pool every single day. That was a little pocket of happiness that I could retreat to because it was impossible to ignore that goodness was sprouting from the new soil. I'd been working as a food delivery driver as part of my quest to stand on my own two feet. It worked out wonderfully, but I was heavy. My great escape seemed nearly futile if I couldn't get a grip on my own decision. I lived in deep sadness and shame for a very long time. And those Saturday mornings...when my boys were away and I was delivering breakfast to other families who lived happily up on the hill, the smell of bacon crept through to remind me...that I had forgotten completely. Who I am.
Most nights at my new place I would lay myself in my bed at night and feel so frantic and disturbed. I couldn't catch my breath or stop crying. I felt so helpless like I was free falling through time and space and was never going to stop. On those horrific nights, I would quietly pray to God, with whatever I had left in me. "Grandma...will you please come stay the night?"
She came every single time. And I was filled with complete love and peace. She rocked me to sleep night after night as tears soaked my pillow. She came to help me remember who I am. Which is infinitely more than I had ever allowed myself to be before.
It's as simple as the sexy silk pajamas. If only I would have listened to her all those years ago and taken them for a spin. Pajamas that resemble a powerful truth. Just wear them. Allow it. Laugh and smile. Be who you are. Claim your power. Be bold and beautiful. Stop apologizing that you are you. Dance around. Have sleepover parties with your grandma. Celebrate.
I've been trying on the silk pajamas lately. I appear crazy, to have lost my mind a little bit. Which means one thing...I am remembering who I am. Who I am is far from normal or even acceptable but so so very exceptional. Little by little my art gets hung all over my walls, along with my grandma's old European mirror. When I hung the mirror in my room I stood in front of it and asked.
"What to do you think, Grandma?"
She said... "It is your best work of art yet. You....are...right where you should be, and you look incredible there. Go, be a lady."
My grandma used to make drunk phone calls to my dad late at night. She would give him the run around, talking nonsense about the cat next door, his father, and gun owners, never completing a sentence. Before she hung up she would always say.. "anyway...the point of all this sweetheart, what I'm trying to say to you is... I love you."
Hello?? It's 4 pm on a weekday and my hair is caught in my necklace. Sweat is starting to glisten on my neck and cheek bones. I haven't heard from my Grandma. I keep trying to talk to her. My heart is racing and I'm flush. I don't know what I'm doing. How am I going to take care of everything? What am I doing here? Who are these people in my life? Why am I hurting so bad right now? What is this pain?
"Grandma!! Does God make deals or what??"
I hear nothing. I get home and stomp up 3 flights of stairs so slow, the melancholy metronome of despair. Evening rushes in and out and the night has really come for me. I'm laying in bed and my heart is still racing from this afternoon. I'm sick and I'm worried. I'm so alone. I give in to the fact that I'm not going to hear from my Grandma. Her necklace is hiding away safe in a tiny drawer in the bathroom. Maybe it was all made up in my head the whole time. And now how am I going to get through the night?
The moment I surrender to sleep and as I drift away, I hear her laughter. It jolts me awake and I can't believe what I've heard. I can't believe she showed up.
"What's so funny...? Have you met God? Tell me about him. Please."
"Dear Granddaughter, have you NOT met God? Do you really think it is me who quiets your soul at night?"
I can feel her smiling, and I can feel her fading away. Before she is gone she whispers... "If you're trying to make a deal with God,
I love you... "
And she leaves me with myself right there, and I'm left with myself right here.
I was young and I had it all. No worries. I was cruising around town in my Lexus RX300, doing pretty much whatever I wanted. 18 years old with too much money to dispose of and a killer fun boyfriend who was always along for the ride. I hit the mall several times a week, buying new sweaters. There was a woman I always passed on the way there who stood outside a tire shop, asking the people of the highway for money. She had a black cat with her. One day I pulled over and gave her my lunch that I hadn't touched yet and a 50 dollar bill. The boys at the tire shop all yelled at me. They said "Stop!! Don't give her anything!" I thought that was so rude of them, even though I could see the look in her eye and I knew it wasn't good. I had a lot to give, I felt, in that moment. I had no problem giving it. Even if it was wasted, that wasn't the point. My candle stayed lit.
What is the point? I have been wondering lately, as I hear the echoes from afar, of some boys at a tire shop yelling at me to stop. A lot of time has passed, and I just shelled out my last two 50's. That makes 100 that I gave, people of the highway. And not to some strange lady, either. Might be tough to fix a flat in candlelight when all the tire shop boys have gone on home.
"You haven't even touched your lunch yet...are you okay?" When you are nothing but a blinking hologram. Flickering on and off, more and more, until you are barely there...but no one really thinks to double check. So you stand up...walk towards the door a bit unnoticed. You are halfway out and no one seems bothered by it. Then the small, quiet sound of the door clicking shut sends them running after you. Suddenly, you have done the wrong, when all you really did was slip away. When all you did was give in the wrong places. Because you had no problem giving, and giving, and giving. Giving in all the wrong places. Giving to the old lady who stood on the highway, whose face had no light, but you just didn't care, that wasn't the point, that look in her eyes. But that look, you took it with you, you carried it way too far.
Meanwhile Grandma was knitting me a sweater back at the cottage. She just wants me warm on cold nights. Her delicate little fingers twisted and spun and her two little hooks click clacked with the fire. And just as fast as she twirled the yarn, an old black cat pulled on it from the other side. Unraveling all she had done; every loop, every rung. She's not thrilled with me, my grams...that I keep bringing this cat home. It's always with me as I click the door shut, riding on my shoulders. I just say "whatever". Until night comes for us and I undress. Grandmother always double checks. She notices the scratches all over my back. I look into her eyes as she sees what has happened. That says it all. It is not the look of an old beggar lady. It is someone who loves me. It is disappointment.
"Look what I am trying to do for you..."
The sweater. The fire. The cottage.
I actually know how she feels.
I blow out the candle. "We will try again tomorrow." We go to bed and don't speak.
But right before we fall asleep, she starts whispering in the dark...
"It was rude of the tire shop boys, to just yell at you like that. They had no clue what was in your heart, my dear. Don't feel bad about what's in your heart. You have so much to give. What ever happened to that killer boyfriend, and your Lexus??? We gotta get those back...but newer ones, we'll do some test drives, don't worry. You have nothing left to lose..."
I was young and had it all. No worries.
I walked out of the American Hardware store saying to myself... "one more thing... one more thing... I swear there was one more thing I needed to buy here.." but I had to get out now. I had been carrying around tiny wires, bolts and screws in my cupped hands and they were biting my palm like little bugs. Warning me that this was never going to work. Trying to fix things this way.
My grandma talks strangely sometimes. Like, "you can run from technology all you want, but you'll only find yourself miles away in brand new jeans that were sewn in a factory by an automatic machine. And then you'll have to wander back...pantless." I wonder if my Grandma visits me sometimes as an angel, and sometimes as a ghost. Cryptic messages that sway from talking to chanting in a language I can hardly grasp... I think saying "change the default setting" or "isn't this where you had your wedding?" or "one more thing you are forgetting"
The life of a listless listmaker.
One more thing to cross off my list. Go for a walk to the cemetery. I had something I needed to bury there. But upon arriving I found it had already buried me.
The gravestone said: "I killed you with kindness. I killed ya."
That was one wild shot in the dark. And your aim....so impeccable!! That arrow drenched and dripping with ink. And me...what a blank page. Then I held on for dear life to the notion of death in your arms.
Wisdom from my angel Grandma; "There aren't many Christmas mornings...thank heavens...compared to summer nights and rainy Mondays. Hold on to those ones darlin'... there are a few more of those, and they are easier on your speedy little heart."
Ghost Grandma says to me "I have a present for you..."
I told my angel that I did in fact make a deal with the Gods.
Yes... I have a birthday coming up...and it's not the day that I entered this world, the world that I'm haunting Grandma, the world you left behind. It happened long before that, the birth of my soul. And I swear I could feel The Gods smiling at me...saying they had a present for me. My body still wanders the planet but my soul has somewhere else it needs to be.
"If you're making deals with someone...it's not God."
Well isn't that intriguing then.
I started digging. Flinging dirt behind me, right where Grandma stood, watching me quietly with tears in her eyes. I started running, far away from technology and all the blank rectangular screens. All those little blue screens didn't have place for ink. And I was just an open sheet of paper smeared with broken words. Everything can be wiped clean from a screen. You can change the default settings. But ink is forever, and I am paper. I'll always be paper. That is my default setting. Digging for that note that said "I killed you with kindness. I killed ya" searching for myself. Feeling the Gods inching closer and closer, smiling ever so deceivingly upon me.
They sang "Merry Christmas to you...Merry Christmas to you...Merry Christmas Dear Samaritan...Merry Christmas to you." And they presented me with a gift. Wrapped up dreamily with a shimmering red ribbon.
Inside it was all those bolts and screws. "It's time to build yourself a new you!!" Ghost Grandma and the Gods all chanted. "Instructions are all in the American Software system. Online."
And they left me there with that. It felt like way less than I was ever promised, but I tried to receive it with grace. Left alone with
said the Janglin' ghost
while I wandered back in my
Leaving a ripped up paper trail, the path of an offline soul. As I tried to build myself this way, more and more was taken away. How much more can you take away?? How much more??
"One more thing..." said God himself.
I found a summer night and rested upon it. The beauty of dusk rested upon me. In layers, we pushed the sun down under. Dunked it behind the mountain tops. Not to come up for air till tomorrow. And God himself had stripped me of every last thing. All had been taken from me body and soul brought down low. I didn't realize it until sunrise and it was one long dark night, but it was the best gift I had ever recieved. To be wiped clean. Factory reset, back to default, I was the prettiest unwritten letter. My angel of a Grandma approached me then. She said "I dedicate this morning to you...Happy Birthday. Take more from your troubles than what they took from you." And she cut the shiny red ribbons that bound me.
Be free, be a lady
Be still against the breeze
Be a message in a bottle
Stay a while out at sea
Fly under the radar
Be the secret you can keep
See the sun down in the eve
Let it hold you in your sleep
Rest inside your fondest dreams
One more page, one more, one more
Just read, and think, no hurry dear
to wash up to the shore
The riptide turns your pages
They are endless
And they matter
The water round you rages
The green glass bottle ages
While no time can make it shatter
with you inside
the waves you ride
the depths you go
only you will know
And that is perfectly okay.
Diamonds are forever; it's the people who change.
Let's start with the most dim and irrelevant thing and tilt, until we catch that elusive gleam.
The day I was born
The last night
Of a past life
I no longer mourn
Send out a warning
My seafaring soul
Give me back the morning.
The sun cut through my window like a blade and settled across my bed. Like spreading butter on toast. Good morning my dear, dear, dear, dear Samaritan girl.
hello my dear one where is your head?
The sun. That one gold coin you put in your back pocket to last you the night. That one gold coin you find against the pavement, at your feet. At dawn. Your head, thrown loosely on your shoulders to last you the day. Your diamond, babe. Time to give it away.
Not long ago, I gave away my last few 50 dollar bills.
Then I sold my diamond wedding ring to a man who paid me in 50 dollar bills.
It was on the same street corner where the old lady used to beg for change. The same street corner I gave my last one away. The street corner where I lost the last piece of myself.
I thanked the man for the 50s, and he apologized.
"hard times...I can tell...so sorry."
I told him not to be sorry. He ignored my plea, and continued... "so sorry...good luck miss."
No sir. Good luck to you.
On my way to the bank, I started doubting if the 50 dollar bills were real, and the man and his apology reflected in my rear view mirror.
A man and his sympathy, it must be a trick.
How real is this? All that I gave away and all that I now hold in my hand.
"As real as you want it to be my love. As real as you make it."
The woman at the bank who helped me deposit my money,
from my back pocket to my breast pocket...
she told me that when she got divorced she didn't sell her ring,
she gave it back.
I felt bad. I felt the swell in my throat and that gleam in my eyes. That sympathy that still stood tired on the street corner begging for change.
Begging for change.
Begging for change.....
Something had to change.
"I understand." she said.
"I'll be the judge... I'll be the judge."
There are men out there who will never understand...
Let them buy the ring
Let them sell it for more
and the more money they make
the more I am free
The happier the woman who might wear the ring
or the more they melt it back down to nothing
The less sorry I and they will all be
I'm not sorry
I sold my ring
For a change
Leave your old ring for the Diamond King
Or leave your crown with your apology
So you can totally be the girl
Whose waiting on some giant pearl
that's almost always never whole
but when it is, it knows your soul
and you can feel the gentle pull
a shift in tides
a new kind of bride
the glowing moon
you make your groom.
A diamond or pearl?
it's up to the girl.
It's up to the girl...
I'm the message in a bottle out at sea
I'm still wondering what my message will be
No matter who reads it
No matter who sees it
The words. What will they mean.
Every wave that crashes to shore whispers
The words...what will they mean.
A shark attack
The sharks I had been feeding
My bottle broke
The words were read
"I'm sorry, you are bleeding...."
Give me back my goddamn head
And I'll give you back your precious bread
and the tears we shed
and the blood we bled
could be ours until we're dead
we could beg for change
with the deranged
or put it all to bed,
In the morning,
a beam of light
it's not my diamond ring...
it's not my king...
But it is my kingdom
it is a little lighthouse.
And I am the keeper
The only keeper
I am the beacon
And I am the swimmer
My crown is the Catwalk
I am the reflector
I am the diamond
And I am forever.
"Good Morning, my dear one, are you still lost?"
The grass was as green as emeralds.
The sea and the sky collided in turquoise.
A ruby red stripe wound up the hightower...
And off in the distance, into the trees, onyx, all around.
Wilhelmina of the woods;
You have been found.
Your wandering days are far from over
But you're free to stick around.
Wilhelmina, all in black
Barefoot, and such a gem
We will never give you back
Or sell you off to them.