love life

there is a lot of love in my life right now. some moments i look around and all i see and feel is love, everywhere.

i just spent the weekend in the house with the babies and autumn and sam, while all around us it rained and the mosquitos came out and minnesota was being very beautiful. sam made us a feast, taught us an italian card game, and was as always just a fascinating man to be around – he makes me feel better about men altogether. autumn blows my mind, the smartest most on point mama i have ever known. i am so grateful for her friendship and sistership.

it was siobhan’s birthday, and she is Four now, and was in a state of exclamation and clarity the whole weekend. she is a delightful gorgeous self-directed child who loves puddles, creating and reading books about her own life. she shrieked with joy to receive new ballet slippers after wearing her last pair out – not dancing, but just as the right shoe to wear around the house. she says no easily and loves to be a goofy middle sister. she entertains, she is developing her coy side.

finn is five going on sixty and he is full of wonder and connection to the natural world. he made friends with a toad he named hopleg, and a turtle with a long tale who finn talked with about the importance of getting across the road. his imagination paired with his love of facts makes him excellent company. he likes to be the first one to my bed in the morning, which sometimes means a 5:30 wake up call – he likes the alone time to discuss his dreams and the day to come. he is a bit obsessive over angry birds, but can be assuaged somewhat with creating angry bird art or looking at real birds. his emotional presence is humbling, he feels everything and hides nothing and it’s inspiring and makes me want to build a house around him where only kind people can enter whenever he goes out in the world.

mairead is sixteen months old, smells sweet, is a quick and skilled dancer doing diaper drops when the beat comes in…and she’s just a fantastic person. she giggles, screams in joy, knows exactly what she wants and will not be fooled. she understands there is humor in troublemaking and often moves her fastest when she realizes she can create a major mess. she has deep conversations with bran the dog, has no patience for dresses. and when she is ready to snuggle there is nothing so magical as her soft weight and warmth, her skilled way of tucking her head under an adult chin.

going away from them gets harder and harder, but in the best way. i don’t want to miss the new words they learn, the moment of clicking through from putting letters together to reading, or learning to swim. they are so much fun and they love me easily, without attachment or expectation.

it is also gemini season, many of my dearly beloveds are celebrating. i am not an easy person to be friends with – i travel a lot and barely keep my schedule together, i forget important things, i like to be alone. so i deeply appreciate those people who stay through it all and keep loving me and holding me close. gemini seem to have a special ability to do this with almost no guilting.

my friend janine at harvard, radical mama, one of the sharpest thinkers and most precise poets i know; my love dani, blogging pieces we need on women and reproductive health for the nation and being the place where bullshit must stop and surrender; brilliant education scholar and writer and soon-to-be mama adriana; prolific musician daddy joshua gabriel. there are so many in my life, so i generally experience this as a second birthday season, with gratitude.

and then today is my first anniversary with lynnee denise. we began our conversation, our love scholarship, last year on this day. she reached out to me in response to this post, and i saw a picture and leaned in.

i mean, have you seen her?

and from our first exchanges it has been a significant journey, with both of us in mutual wow, humbled by how much we needed to grow to face each other. and we grow, reflect, learn. we don’t coast, we fly as the result of realizing again and again we have wings and jumping off of ever higher heights. i am a better human because of her, more connected to myself, to the life i am meant to live, to what freedom i have to choose my life. i know the capacity i have to create and change and give.

that post that caught her heart begins with this poem:

Don’t surrender your loneliness so quickly.
Let it cut more deep.
Let it ferment and season you
as few human or even divine ingredients can.
Something missing in my heart tonight
has made my eyes so soft
my voice so tender
my need of god
absolutely clear.
–Hafiz

and i just wanted to offer here that i think all of the love i am experiencing now is a result of my beautiful loneliness, the time i have spent in my life cultivating my love for myself, and my love of all that is divine in the world outside of romance.

that loneliness wavers in and out of aloneness, the experience of being satisfied with your own existence in the world, not as a reflection, but as a miracle in real time. my osho deck says ‘aloneness is the presence of oneself. aloneness is very positive. it is a presence, overflowing presence. you are so full of presence that you can fill the whole universe with your presence and there is no need for anybody.’

that aloneness has deepened my presence as an aunt, as a friend, and raised the standards of what i would receive and could offer as a lover. all of this abundant love in my life springs up from within, something in me opens to the presence of god-is-change all around me. i can rest in it, open in it, set the right boundaries and invite that which is not love to move along, i can be more honest, be more present, be humbled by all that is beyond my reach, be humbled by all that i can touch and how precious it is.

my life is green everywhere. love is what comes when i let myself blossom.

‘let it cut more deep’

Don’t surrender your loneliness so quickly.
Let it cut more deep.
Let it ferment and season you
as few human or even divine ingredients can.
Something missing in my heart tonight
has made my eyes so soft
my voice so tender
my need of god
absolutely clear.
–Hafiz

i went to a beautiful talk last weekend at the clouds in water zen center in the twin cities. the talk, in light of memorial day, was on death. facing our own deaths, those of our loved ones, the inevitability of it, the truth of it. it was also on change.

last night i sat with my mother and sister also talking about death, grief, the way that when people die it seems for an instant they are everywhere, in us, in or with everyone they touched.

when talk of death starts i never want to hear it. superstition, fear, the way i love people (where i never feel done with it)….this is who i am. a student of change, but not interested in changes that take away my beloveds, in that pain which presses out from the center of things.

the talk offered the framework that sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair are born from loving and caring for others. this echoed through the conversation with my mother and sister – that all of these feelings are born from the same exact experience that yields the joy of connection, intimacy, wholeness, wonder.

while listening to the talk last weekend i remembered, as if he was suddenly beside me, a brief friend: jai. we met in hawaii and he did powerful reiki work on me. i was processing the dual griefs of death and lost love and he said, ‘grief is gratitude. all i hear from your guides is grief is gratitude.’ that has stuck with me – because it felt true, like a whole thing placed in my heart. and because he took his own life shortly thereafter and so his gift and his sudden absence are forever compressed around him into one important experience.

as things in my life end i absolutely notice how much they meant to me by the way grief doubles me over and wrings me out.

or not.

this is all relevant for me as i continue to be in a life where chapters are ending and new possibilities arise.

my time living in detroit as i have for the past few years is ending, changing. no matter how hard i try i can’t seem to stay there for even a month at a time. between traveling for paid work, babies, family, lovers…my life is happening elsewhere. i rarely see the beloved friends and amazing apartment i keep in detroit. there has been grief as i have considered letting go of my built life there, grief rooted in my gratitude for the love and life i experience there.

but there is past and present. it’s simple in words: to let go of what is past allows new possibility to open up in the present.

what does it look like to lean into this, to see detroit as a home rather than the home? a shared dynamic home? a few times a year home? a past home i visit? i don’t know yet.

i do know that i want and need more resources within my self to feel of use in detroit, more capacity to be solution oriented in the midst of crisis. i hope my somatics teacher training will help me find my right relationship with this city i love so much.

knowing where to root next feels easy – every time i am near the children i am home. i don’t have to tell y’all – anyone who has read a word i’ve written in the last few years knows i am smitten with my nephew and nieces and keep finding my way to them. i want the rhythms of my life to align with theirs for the foreseeable future. we are so in love, and i follow love. it’s how i came to detroit, and now how i am looking at minnesota.

knowing that sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair are on the path no matter how carefully and rigorously and wholeheartedly i practice, i want to lean into the places where i feel uncompromised joy, and where my full presence is not only desired but necessary.

fortunately, because of love, i have many homes.

i have family of all sorts along the east coast. i still know how to melt into a crowd in new york, shuttle between best friends’ homes, and pick a great restaurant. i know how to get from the airport to my parents’ house outside boston, or to the two families i love in cambridge. i can drive from atlanta up to my grandparents’ house on the border of south carolina by scent and sound alone.

then there’s california.

i moved from oakland four years ago but i can’t shake it, it’s home too. landing there, rolling down my windows and letting the sun and bay and mountains in, it always releases something in my shoulders. i have beloveds there, the highest concentration of my partners in coevolution through friendship. and my somatics teacher training is there.

so i’ve made it more official, i have been offered a room of my own with dear friends, and said yes. the bay is a home again.

in this abundance and change, i can feel home inside of me, after a long time of feeling lost with myself. i have let pain carve me out and i will continue to do so. it seems to leave behind a space shaped like a bell, i feel full of tones i can recognize when i let myself get still. a clarity of feeling vibrates inside of me.

this tone only came to me through loneliness. for some time, landing in detroit, i have been more aware of absence than anything else. in the company of dear friends, in my beautiful home, while dancing and reveling in the specific black cultural richness of detroit, i feel the absence. it’s specific – i miss the babies climbing in my bed each morning, and then centering my days and work around their learning and bodies, that feeling so needed.

and yet without the loneliness and heartbreak of the past few years, i don’t know if i’d ever have opened my life and schedule to these children in the way i have. without ‘something missing’ i may not have shapeshifted into such a good auntie.

it has required the death of a certain self, an ambitious important highly responsive doing self. i felt no small amount of grief there too, from my ego, for who am i if not a shaper of history? if i am not good, deeply and constantly?

i think arrogance can grow in the space between smart, well meaning and naive. it has taken me longer than most to realize the freedom of insignificance. of being one who lives and dies, amongst others who live and die.

within that, it becomes clear that the most precious, delicious life experiences are rarely the ones that make people famous or historic. loving and being loved, choosing to be with those who love you, who can receive your love, that is what makes for a good life…and perhaps even a death without clinging.

the changes that come with loving others are divine. to open your heart to another and become worthy of their devotions, trust, vulnerability – to ‘grow our souls’ together! – that is the sacred miraculous offering inside of each day.

last week, the teacher read that hafiz poem, and it allowed some good death inside of me, some submission to what is in the past. it let me notice what is composting, and what is growing. i am allowing myself to contemplate god-is-change, to feel the fleeting fragility of this particular tender life i am in. i am living a life free of obligation and full of willful loving.

and taking risks. letting myself love more people more deeply, knowing the risks. letting it all cut more deeply, letting something mysterious and divine, something i need, touch me at the root.