See You Next Tuesday

statue-of-liberty-torch-nycWith any luck my last political post will come sometime on Wednesday and will be about sweeping glass shards from the floor.

My moods during the last six months have see-sawed, as has my conviction that in January The United States of America will inaugurate its first female President. I’ve gone through heartbreak, confusion, anger, rage, grief. I’ve been horrified, delighted, uplifted. I’ve cried, both in joy and frustration.

If life is like a box of chocolates, during this election I’ve eaten everything from the caramel to the nasty candied cherry. I feel sticky, nauseated, and like I need to brush my teeth and eat nothing but salad for a week.

But…instead of watching the polls fluctuate and my anxiety escalate in this, the final stretch, I”ll be carousing around a foreign city with some fabulous females. I’m not bringing my laptop. I’m not checking the news. (Ok, I won’t be checking the new obsessively.)

I’m still worried, but this morning as I was packing, I had a sudden moment of calm. Perhaps I’ve entered the eye of Hurricane Election because suddenly I realized it was all going to be ok.

Because even if Donald Trump wins the election, the people who voted for him aren’t going to win.

I don’t mean their candidate isn’t going to win. I mean the reasons why they chose to fill in the ballot circle next to his name aren’t going to win.

You can’t make people disappear. You can’t choose simply declare you don’t ‘believe’ in homosexuality or marriage equality like you choose to ‘believe’ in the Tooth Fairy. LGBTQ human beings exist. They take up space and other dimensions. Marriage equality is a thing. Transgender citizens and same-sex spouses are not going to suddenly disappear just because a bunch of people chose to elect a vice-president who wants to shift federal money to ‘gay conversion’ programs.

You think millions of women are going to lay down and allow themselves to be groped and degraded and discriminated against because a bunch of people chose to elect a party which, for all intents and purposes, want women to just go away and bleed quietly from their wherevers? You can spout all you want about the ‘myths’ of systematic oppression or the wage gap. But they exist and they’re not going to disappear in a cloud of magical smoke. Women aren’t just going to suddenly go away and stop demanding equality.

Those who are voting for Trump on the basis of religion can pray on pious knees until they are bloody for God to smote their enemy. It’s not going to happen. They can prayer circle around women who seek out birth control and abortion. It’s not going to stop them.

They can deny climate change. It’s not going to stop it. They can deny evolution. It doesn’t make it go away.

The reasons so many Trump voters are voting for Trump? Those reasons are NEVER GOING TO WIN.

The people who’ve been checking off the ‘other’ the box next to their identity don’t need to have their existence legitimized or FDA approved. Do you think they’re going to let you take their rights and stuff them back into some fundamentalist homophobic misogynistic cupboard and lock the door?

Women aren’t going to suddenly develop the urge to dig out their grandmother’s aprons and start mixing martinis for their husbands. Life is not going to magically revert back to some black and white television version of bucolic happiness which was only pleasant and happy if you closed your eyes and ignored the lynchings and the back alley abortions and the men and women being imprisoned for being gay.

You can build a thousand walls and they will still be breached.

You can build a thousand prisons and they will still be dismantled.

You can think of a thousand ways to hate and people will still love.

The United States has been moving forward for decades. Sometimes quickly, sometimes tortuously slow. It will continue to do so, even if it takes a backward step next Tuesday.

love-trumps-hateEven if they win this battle, they will never win the war. Because that kind of exclusion, that belief that there is only one, true way? It never wins. It is always defeated. It is always squashed.

Once I figured all that out, I felt better. I finished packing and dug out my passport and tomorrow, I’ll be off.

Oh, and Donald? CU next Tuesday.

15 to Life

02ce163afe978916dd6118dfeae68b65What does 15 years of marriage look like?

15…is.

It is. 15 is like breathing. I don’t know any differently, only the space your body leaves for me to roll into. 15 years is fewer sharp edges to cut or slice. 15 is soft enough to absorb and blunt.

15 years is difficulty telling where I stop and you begin. It is mixing up histories. It is forgetting you weren’t there for part of my life and putting you there anyway; a cardboard cut-out photo-shopped in the back of my memory.

15 years is a sentence. More than a stint, less than a forever, fifteen to life. It is stranded between the rounded bookends of 10 and 20, a stepping stone on the way to 25. There are no poems that rely on 15 lines, no mysticism. But you can’t ignore it.

15 is too substantial to ignore, its bulk is too present.

15 is past settling, it is roots below the surface. It is sometimes forgetting to look because you think you remember what is in front of you, like your own reflection.

15 is elastic enough to stretch individual tastes and trust your history will snap you back together. 15 is separate vacations because 15 is knowing you don’t have to enjoy the same things to stay in love.

15 is occasional flowers, a snippet of love song, a note scribbled on the back of a napkin and left on a pillow. It is realizing random champagne is just as good as momentous occasions. It is annoyance and exasperation at the loudness of someone’s chewing, the way they say a certain word, the way they leave their things scattered about.

15 is grateful for the moments that still make you catch your breath.

15 is feeling your heart in your throat when you tell the story of how you met and realizing how very many things could have gone wrong.

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15 is truly meaning you are the love of my life because no matter what cards fate has up her tricky sleeve, you have been the love that has been there throughout year ones and twos and sixes and sevens. Through the deaths and the blue times that seemed to spilled over and stain everything else. Through the nines and tens and nights on the couch. Through the laughs and the sing-a-longs and sleepless nights of babies. The fours and fives of longing, eights and tens of whirling around each other in a tornado twisting with change. Through the elevenses and twelves of  clickety-clacking to the top of the hill and thirteens of screaming down, stomachs dropping. Through the calm of fourteens.

15 in no longer planning for a future together but being smack dab in the middle of it.

15 is understanding the possibility that someday one will exist without the other.

15 is promising to make the minutes and days and months, all the in between thens and nows, count for something.

This is 15.

 

 

 

 

The Body (A Love Letter)

597896d44805c7a7ec065a52b2c24e5fWhat is the difficulty in stripping layers of cloth and standing bared in front of my own reflection? It should be easier to face a reflection in the mirror than it is to face the secrets of a soul; easier to bare a breast, a hip, an ankle than to see unmasked the wings and horns of a self.

And yet…

and yet…

and yet it almost never is.

Even after all this time and thought and searching and acceptance and writing I maintain a complex relationship with my own body. This husk of muscle and flesh and spark and firework, this weight of tendon and sinew and bone and passion. This body.

We circle each other warily. Often we are at war, waging battles against one another, laying siege. At times we live under the flag of an uneasy truce. But the peace is always tenuous. There is always a new front to be claimed, another battle on the horizon.

This body.

These legs. These crepe-skinned knees and flesh-heavy thighs. These legs which have carried me through four and a half decades, which have run me up mountains I thought too high to climb, which have scaled heights I thought impossible from where I stood looking up.

These arms. My God, these arms. These arms which are baggy and saggy and on their way to  bat-winged. These arms which have cradled and rocked countless babies to sleep, protecting and soothing. These arms which have carried the weight of what is needed to feed my family, which have wrapped around generations, pulling grief close, pulling joy closer.

These hands. Christ, these hands which have woven the threads of love and passion and family together into a tapestry of life. These fingers which fly clacking over keys and sometimes seem to know what I need to say before my own mind recognizes it.

This womb. This womb, that hollow source of heartache. This womb which eventually harbored and nurtured two little lives, which had the strength to push those lives into this world to stand on their own, apart.

These breasts. No longer high and mighty, these forlorn breasts. These breasts which nourished two sons; and these hips, always too wide, curved and rounded leftovers of my mother’s body which expanded to accommodate and grow new human beings.

This spine. This spine now just starting to lean. This spine which has stood upright in the face of change, of heartache, of sorrow and grief. This backbone which has borne whatever I have heaped upon it without breaking, without complaint or crack.4adc46e2384f59258e0c836bd3dd5e76

This body. This body which has starved itself and run itself ragged trying to fit a tortured and distorted ideal of its own making. This body, a safe haven for a lover to harbor in, warmth and depth in which to burrow. A lap in which to snuggle, flesh soft enough to absorb the sharpness around it.

This body which despite all of this still only loves itself part of the time.

This heart. This heart which bears the scars of breaking, which has been pieced back together and still beats in time with a love ferocious and fearless. This heart which still has not completely learned to love what has loved me back so fiercely all this time.

This body.

 

 

The Perfect Imperfect Man

Alan RickmanAlan Rickman died today.

That may not mean anything to you, but I promise you, millions of women around the world felt their hearts break a little, tiny bit with the news. Millions of women who over the years willingly and easily forfeited a small piece of their hearts and fell in love, just a little, with Alan Rickman. I know, because I was one of them.

Men surely must think to themselves: “Who? The baddie from Die Hard? Him? The guy who told his henchmen to shoot the windows? Why on Earth?

They are right, to a degree. Alan Rickman was a strange choice of a crush, an odd man to get sweaty and swoon-y about. He wasn’t the best looking or the most muscular; he could even be a little pasty at times, a little doughy round the middle. His nose was beakish and his eyes were squinty. Yet I promise you I am far from the only gal who swooned every time his name was mentioned. On more than one occasion I witnessed a virtual smack-down on a mommy board about who loved him more. On more than one occasion I have referred to him as my Hollywood boyfriend.

He remains an unlikely sex symbol. He wasn’t the most obvious choice for heart flutters and butterflies. But oh, that voice. That smooth, honey drip of a voice that sinewed and slid into your eardrums and snaked its way straight to your heart and turned it into a mushy mess. Or maybe it was just me.

My husband, knowing how much I adored him, used to walk around saying “Shoot.the. windows.” in a fairly decent impersonation of that syrup drawl. Today when he called to tell me the news of his death, I told him the phrase was hovering in a no-fly zone.

“Too soon?” he asked.

“Too soon,” I said.

Most of us loved the man Rickman because we loved the men he played on-screen. And we loved the men he played on-screen because hidden in those men are the men we all long to fall in love with. Often there was more than a little bit of the men we did fall in love with. He was Everyman, yet just an every man, and that’s exactly what was so endearing about him. He was nothing special, and yet so very special. From Colonel Brandon to Severus Snape there was always a humming undercurrent of longing which electrified those men and elevated them from two-dimensional characters to men you wanted to bring home; to your mother, to your bed. On some level, most of us yearn for someone to pine for us the way Colonel Brandon pines for Marianne Dashwood, someone who will wait for us, who will forgive us our imperfections, who will indeed, revel in them.

That is what so many women found attractive and sexy. That is what women swooned over.

Even in his most hated moments, when his callous, selfish, dick-ish behavior caused Emma Thompson to hold back tears in Love Actually you couldn’t help but think to yourself this is a man I could marry; perhaps even a little this is the man I did marry. A man deep enough to sink your teeth into, a man who would allow his ghost self to fade quietly into the afterlife just so you could find love again; a man who would watch from afar, just to make sure you’re happy.

That’s why women loved him, because he played so well the men we all want to love, who we want to love us back. Yes, even the prick he played in Love Actually.

They were characters of course, but Alan Rickman was the man who brought those characters to life–he brought them into our living rooms and movie theaters and in so many cases, our mushy hearts. He made us love them, all those perfect imperfect men. And in doing so, made us love him.

So excuse me while I stitch back up the little hole in my heart.