Whenever I hurt myself
My mother says it is the universe’s way of telling me to slow down.
She also tells me to put some coconut oil on it.
It doesn’t matter what ‘it’ is.
She often hides stones underneath my pillow when I come home for the weekend.
The stones are a formula for sweet dreams and clarity.
I dig them out from the sheets,
She tells me what each one is for.
My throat hurts.
So she grinds black pepper into a spoonful of honey, makes me eat the entire thing.
My mother knows how to tie knots like a ship captain
But doesn’t know how I got that sailors mouth.
She falls asleep in front of the TV
Only until I turn it off.
Shouts, “I was watching that!”
The sourdough she bakes on Friday’s is older than I am.
She sneaks it back and forth across the country when she flies
By putting the starter in small containers next to a bag of carrots.
“They think it’s ranch dressing.” she giggles.
She makes tea by hand.
Nettles, slippery elm, tumeric, cinnamon.
My mother is a recipe for warm throats and belly laughs.
Once she fell off of a ladder when I was three.
She says all she worried about was my face as I watched her fall.
Listen to Sarah Kay’s poem “Getting Older” and a conversation about craft with Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz as featured on the podcast “Live from the Amy Clampitt House” for the Indiefeed Poetry Podcast here.
I have no words for this Ted Talk, other than… gratitude.
Gratitude to the very special friend who put me onto Sarah Kay by sharing her performance of ‘When Love Arrives’ with me (do yourself a favour, scroll down to the bottom to watch it). Mel and I were sharing a bottle of wine and waxing on about how and when love shows up in our lives, whether you can make a choice to fall in love or whether it is something that happens to you, against your will even. And I’m not even talking about That Big Decision to marry and commit until the death do’s etc. I suppose it’s possibly a rehearsal for what that might be – for some, at least.
We decided it was probably either or both, depending on the circumstances – and the people involved. But even now, I can’t help wondering if by making the conscious decision to love someone and enter into a relationship with them isn’t in fact the relationship safe route. And maybe it is – but is that the point? Is that when it actually works out? And isn’t that what we’re looking for? We certainly have been taught to think that we should want it. And we all know the marriage certificate alone isn’t quite enough these days. Something happens before that. There’s more to it than that.
Interestingly, I was at a Hen’s Day for another very great girlfriend of mine this weekend, and again another fabulous woman (not the bride-to-be, I should clarify!) shared her story with me about how she made the choice to fall in love with her best friend. She quite despised him up until that point (which, I know, sounds like the makings of a highly successful sitcom, right?). But it made me wonder – is this something that women do, and not just in their thirties, but by their very nature? Do we feel like we have no other choice than to make the decision for ourselves and our unknowing – but soon-to-be-willing – partner?
If so, this idea doesn’t feel very natural to me. My brain is a little unsure as to the workings of my feminine heart, particularly at the moment, but I tend to think I often don’t have a choice in matters of the heart. I also have never quite been able to shake off those relationships that ‘made sense’ or were ‘good for me’ – constantly questioning should they be reconsidered? revisited? reignited? hanging around in the back of my mind like that fucking tub of ice cream sitting in my freezer that keeps nudging at my guilt and saying, ‘I’m still here…’
But I can put those broken nerve endings back together and find that spark again, right? I can be one of those people who says:
You there, yes, you – come over here for a moment, would you? Oh god no, not you – you’re a bit pale and needy. No – YOU. Yes, thank you. Now, let me see… You look nice. You smell ok. You sound like a human being. Ah excellent, is that some lose change in your pocket? Ok, good. And how’re your privates? Everything in working order? Just in case motherhood ever starts to amuse me. Brilliant – I have decided I think I’d rather like to fall in love with you. How does ‘life’ sound? Or perhaps let’s start with 10 years and go from there, what do you say?
Yeah. I could. Couldn’t I?
I know – I’m hilarious. Of course, it’s not that simple. But perhaps some people just know what is good for them. And then they actually take action and go for it.
I hope they know how inspiring that is to watch.
Sarah’s wise words of advice…
Step One: I can
Step Two: I will
Step Three: It’s not just the old adage of ‘write what you know’, it’s about gathering up all the experiences and knowledge that you’ve collected up to now in order to help you dive into what you don’t know.
Righto then, here goes…
Ten Things I Know To Be True
1. I just ate half a tub of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. I bought it two nights ago when I was drunk. The probability of buying ice-cream had I not drunk the three double-shot gins and half bottle of wine is significantly lower.
2. My chocolate-peanut-caramel-swirl-ice-cream chaser was a packet of fruit Mentos.
3. I felt guilty about eating both of these things about ten minutes before I even peeled myself off the couch to get them from their respective safe keeping spots. I know I can’t have these things in the house otherwise I will eat them.
4. Both times it was definitely a choice, and yet there is a small part of me that feels I was being held hostage by the processed sugar gods.
5. I need to let go of my negative relationship with food because I’ve just wasted the first five of my ‘ten things I know to be true’ list focusing just on that. Either I’m really unintelligent with nothing in particular to say – in which case I should shut down this blog right this second – or I’m wasting my time on distractions and negative thoughts and not getting on with things. Important things. Like life. I only came to this realisation, however, after watching both the videos I have shared here.
(Right. Watch this, here I go…)
6. Music speaks to me in a way that I imagine religion speaks to its devotees. (ah, well done, that’s deep…)
7. Writing makes me feel like I am home. (Now I’m surprising even myself – that’s actually true. I should write a whole lot more than I do. Shoulda, coulda, woulda, shut it…you lost it – this just got boring…)
8. I wish I had half the courage to believe Sarah’s first step, in order to do step two, so that I can achieve step three.
9. Number 8 is actually bullshit. I’ve done it before. I could/should do it again. I am clearly choosing not to.
10. I miss love frequently…and yet perhaps I should be open to the fact that it may not be good for me. And perhaps that’s a good thing to know and take action on.
And then there’s this…