I am on a flight to San Francisco. It feels auspicious, like something is coming Full Circle. I’ve sensed this before, but it was a tease. Sputters before full-on ignition. This time it’s catching. I’m not sure what that means exactly, but I’m excited (if not a bit terrified) to find out. So far it feels like collapse and expanse simultaneously. A sigh of relief that there is space underneath the holding when the bottom finally drops out.
The Sundays play on my iPod. I haven’t heard these songs since college. Something got lost; I am reclaiming the thing that has no name. My ex never uploaded my music into our collective iTunes library. Only the shared favorites. I impatiently added a few of my essentials, but then I got lazy. So many songs stuffed into basement boxes for me to rediscover later.
How did this happen? The girl whose music was her lifeblood somehow lost her stream. Slowly, album by album, song by song, I am adding the melodies back.
Last week MZ came over to help me pack.
“You’ll be good at this job,” I told her. “We’re sorting CDs. Mine and his. You won’t have to ask whose is whose.”
(This is how you know a good friend.)
Harriet Wheeler. Tori Amos. Old Patty Griffin.
Flying through space I am thinking about Sirens. It’s like I’d plugged my ears and could now hear the Song again. Was I unconsciously trying to procure a life of safety by bleating out the threat of temptation? Music, after all, was the force that awakened my Desire once upon a time.
Perhaps I’ve been more afraid to get eaten alive than I thought.
In just a couple of hours I will land in California. In a city that stirred me awake 15 years ago.
AO did a reading for me last week. “You’ll be healing something out there; reconnecting with an essential piece that got cut off, maybe in late high school or early college,” she told me. “The bay will be soothing.”
She is right. I am going for a training. Its focus is Turned On/Orgasmic Living. It will be four days of connection, sensuality and play. I half-jokingly tell my friends I’ve signed up for “Intimacy Bootcamp.”
Maybe I tell them that because it’s easier than “coming out” and admitting that I’ll be spending the better part of a week with the gurus of a practice called Orgasmic Meditation…a practice that has changed my life (more on that later).
But I’m too tired to hide anymore. And I’m also too tired to try and convince anyone of anything. So here I am, humbly answering the Call. The one that says, “You understand something essential. And it has to do with Eros and sexuality and the Life Force. And living from that place.”
My wounds (some of them vicarious, through lineage) have been my compass. The healing journey has led me to some harrowing places, especially in the last year. In early 2012 I left a marriage and much of the life that I’d been living for the last 13 years. I have met with my share of others’ fear and disapproval. I have been shunned and called selfish. Among other things.
My mother has been one of my harshest critics.
“People will always react out of their own issues,” her best friend from high school reminded me recently. “Those who judge are often those who were left, those who are terrified of being left, or those who stayed when they didn’t have the courage to make a different choice.”
Sometimes, despite perfect wisdom, there is little consolation. All the knowing in the world doesn’t soothe the sadness.
At OneTaste, where I am going to train, we play a game called Hot Seats. Once, during a recent round, the subject of my mother came up.
“What is one disappointment that you’re working through right now?” someone asked.
“My mom,” I said, tearing up.
“Thank you. What about your mom?” she pressed.
“That she sees me but won’t look at me.”
My mother and I are more alike than I (or maybe she) might want to admit. The toughest part is that, somewhere deep down, I know she gets me. At the core level. I am a mirror, unrelenting in my ability to reflect back all of her repressed, unlived parts.
Sometimes I think that her recent abandonment would have been easier if she didn’t actually have the capacity to understand me. But you can’t turn from a truth if there’s no truth to turn from.
And she was certainly fierce in her turning.
We have not spoken in five months, she and I. I simply haven’t had the emotional reserves to deal with someone who was fighting my path with every fibre of her being. Of course “my decision” was not simply the choice to get a divorce. That was tied up in the imperative to answer a Bigger Call. I think The Full Throttle struck terror in her.
This trip is, in some strange way, emblematic of my supposed betrayal. It is the final frontier, the great wide open, the authentic edge rather than the procured edge.
I am no longer complicit in ensuring safety. I wonder if a part of her hates me for it. For doing the thing she couldn’t.
And then, at 7am this morning, waiting to board the plane, an unexpected text:
Woke early this morning with some breakthrough emotion. I love you, Ash & I hope you have a great adventure out in CA. I admire your spirit and am behind/with you all the way.
Her blessing. Something in it released me. The holding dropped out.
Some part of her must know that I am doing this for her, too. I am doing this for all of us. For those who are hungry and who can’t, for whatever reason, feed themselves.
It has never been selfish. Somewhere, she has always known this. In spite of her protestation.
I see her too, after all.
The Sirens are leading me back to something essential. I’ve got my iPod loaded up with new-old music for the trip. The women who sang me through those formative years have a key to one of the locks that I haven’t quite picked.
AO has planned a music party for two weeks after I get back.
“I want to sing Tori Amos songs for each other,” she told us.
We will relive high school for a night.
All of a sudden, fear. I haven’t sung since college a cappella. My voice has been on hiatus.
Her invitation came at the perfect time.
“Send me your choices,” she urged. “That way I can brush up on the piano parts if you want accompaniment.”
It wasn’t hard to make a selection.
“Learn ‘Mother,’” I told her.
It was always my favorite.