La Llorona Finds Me Again

Image: Volcano Santa Maria near Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, by Daniel Mennerich, cc.

Public service announcement: everyone should subscribe to The Poetry Foundation’s (free) Poem of the Day email. Yesterday’s was this apt stunner, Deborah A. Miranda’s “Advice from La Llorona.” Pro tip: take the usually less-than-a-minute each day to read the poem out loud. It makes a difference. (The foundation has an incredible rags-to-riches story itself, if you haven’t heard it.) Continue reading “La Llorona Finds Me Again”

Grief Is an Undertow

Image: Undertow, by Richard Binhammer, cc.

Until a few weeks ago, I was, with relative success, dodging the grief. Apparently, you can’t do that, no matter how many books about bike touring you take out from the library or evening obligations you stack up or even courses you start watching about portrait photography because you’ve convinced yourself that will be some component of your trip as well.

Nope, none of that will quite bury it. At least not for long. So grief overtook me. And it felt like swimming as a kid, your small body understanding for the first time the meaning of the word “undertow.” Sweep went your feet, and down went your middle, and thrash-twist-grasp went your arms. Bob went your head, and you were back up, flailing toward the shore. Continue reading “Grief Is an Undertow”

Another Start (Because There’s Usually More Than One)

So, sure, I had my heart broken. I felt unmoored and adrift for weeks, sobs coming and going, going and coming. But some little (very little, initially) voice in my head kept calling out this corner of my mind—this corner where, though I was too balled up and bleary-eyed to see it at first, a door suddenly stood just ajar. A sliver of light crept out from under it. When I finally managed to blow my nose and notice this door, I recognized it, just barely.

Long, long ago, in a faraway land called Claremont, California, I went to college and had the thrill of a liberal arts education in a place that looked to my wide-eyed Midwest self like somewhere people only vacationed, couldn’t actually reside in. I was encouraged to think strange thoughts and stretch my suburbs-shaped mind. I fell in love with questions and not answers and with the electricity of the seminar discussion.

I ended up a Humanities major, with a self-designed environmental studies focus, and I wrote a heady thesis on the role of storytelling in determining whether climate change was real. Something grasping at that effect, anyway. I’ll skip the details (you’re welcome), but an idea sprang from that project that’s stuck with me in the ten or so years since: I want to ask strangers about the weather. Continue reading “Another Start (Because There’s Usually More Than One)”

Kind of Sort of the Start of Things

Image: Literally the largest smile I managed in a week visiting my family in Chicago back in March. Wow, was I a DRAG. But Mom and sisters look great! Thanks for playing photographer, Dad.

Two months ago this past Friday, a man I love(d) deeply broke up with me. Out of nowhere. Nearly three years gone in a night, two of them living together, and poof. I’ll spare the reader the details my family and friends have suffered all too repeatedly and graciously, but suffice it to say that, though I still don’t understand it and still feel sad and hurt, in my more generous moments, I’ve concluded he didn’t quite know what he wanted or could manage out of a good relationship, perhaps even life. He had this stubborn wall around his heart that prevented him from loving me well or even letting himself be loved as well as I loved him. I’ll always hope he works to break down that wall. The world would be a better place for it. But I can’t and shouldn’t do much about that from where I sit now…. I think I’d like to leave it there.

Meanwhile, I have cried more, and more uncontrollably, than I ever have before in my life in the last couple of months. I have gone to work and done very little work some days, done incredibly much work others. I have seen friends. I have visited family. I have journaled. I have cleaned and reorganized the apartment, hung a few new things on the walls. I have binge-watched the new season of “Master of None.” I have overeaten. I have undereaten. I have drunk too much wine and danced around my living room. I have written a thing and read it before a generous room of strangers (god bless Hugo House’s Works in Progress open mic).

More than anything, I have tried to dream up a new story for myself out of this. Wow, that sounds nice. Read: I am distracting the shit out of myself with a new hobby and fantasies of running away. Er, pedaling away. Yes, that new hobby is biking. Or “bike touring,” as I’ve gathered from the pages and pages of books and websites I’ve read to educate myself on what I’ve determined will be my escape hatch in a few months’ time. Continue reading “Kind of Sort of the Start of Things”