Bare

I took the pictures down
frame by frame,
leaving behind nothing but a bare wall.
Vulnerable. Naked.

Like peeling a bandage back,
revealing a healed wound,
still raw and sore,
I spied my forgotten injury.

Scarred,
the skin is still healing,
mending,
I then remember.

So many scrapes and bumps
covered and hidden.
Tears cried and hearts broken.
Now dug up and exposed.

Through the pain(deep breath)
I strip away my protection(closed eyes)
and move forward(exhale)

The walls are bare and the future bright.
No more history crucified to the wall.
No more dark and concealed past.

Just faded memories.

A Piece of My Past

Last night I learned of the passing of Scott Weiland of Stone Temple Pilots, Velvet Revolver, and The Wildabouts. The news didn’t sink in right away. If anything, in these days of technology and instant media coverage, I worried about this being a hoax or a mistake. But soon we learned the truth; Scott had passed away in his sleep.

I was instantly saddened by the loss of a creative life but also the loss of a part of my childhood. You see, I was a teenage in the midst of the 90’s and as most teenagers do, I found myself in the music that radiated through the radio. We sat by the speakers of our boom boxes and stereos with a cassette tape cued up so we could quickly begin recording our favorite songs. So many songs with the missing first few seconds due to our fingers not being fast enough to punch record when we heard the song we had been waiting anxiously to catch. Then, slowly, CDs made their way into our hands and we played them relentlessly on our skiddish, chunky CD players that we handled with extreme care to avoid any skipping.

His death is an instant reminder that, while my teenage years will always be a part of me and who I am, the past is stretching farther and farther from me. It’s now a distant memory to be retrieved and reminisced about when a part of it dies. My teenage years wearing flannel mixed with sunflowers and listening to alternative rock on KROQ is fading and only comes to mind when I hold a memorial for another piece that has passed away.

So in honor of Scott and STP and my angsty, teenage self, I’ll listen to his sultry voice and remember all the times I sang with him. I’ll remember the all lyrics that felt personal to me then and still have an impact on me today. I’ll uncover those dusty memories and hang the pictures in my mind once again as if they are fresh and new. I’ll live like I was 14 again and I’ll try not to dwell on the fact that in a day or two all of these pieces will again fade into the storage deep in my heart and mind to be forgotten again until another part dies and we are forced to hold another wake for our past.

Wandering

Trucks rumble by on the road just beyond my window. The sun lights up the room as the cool air from the vents above filter into the office where I sit and stare.

It’s been slow lately and that lack of daily activity for a good stretch of time leaves my mind free to wander. Sometimes I day dream to a time and place in the future with what I hope will be. Other times I create scenarios in my mind, almost like a test to see how I’d manage such a situation.

Then there are those times when I travel back and open the door to those memories closed away in a dim, stuffy corner of my mind. I trip and stumble through boxes of pictures and notes, smiling faces of people I no longer speak to peaking through the dust and clutter.

It’s easy to sit down and begin to rifle through these memories. To read the notes and hear the voices of past acquaintances, the laughter we once shared ringing joyful.

Suddenly the mind whirls into action and shuffles off all of the negative memories, allowing only the good and happy times to float forward. Your mind clouds over, seeing only the reasons the friendships had started, forgetting at once why they needed to end.

Like a rinse cycle spinning away the dirt and dust from the passage of time, all that is left are the purest remembrances. The stories, the smiles, the laughs and the bonds made over common dreams and wishes. As the pictures flip past your eyes, the moments that were cherished so much flickering faster and faster, the confusion sets in.

Why did it have to end? Do they ever think back and remember me? Why did it have to hurt so much?

Then the pictures slowly slip from my hands and fall to the floor, covering the ground around me in mental images from a life I no longer live but a past I can never out run.

It will always be with me, in my shadows, wandering beside me.

Home

When I was young, I spent a horrid week or two at a summer camp. I don’t remember much, just a general feeling of displacement and despair. Not your usual fond memories of swimming with friends and making bracelets out of plastic lanyard you bought at the little store with your summer money.

I was about 9 years old and I was looking forward to spending some time away with girls of all ages in a lush forest setting. But an unfortunate event occurred as I was getting up to leave for my time away. As my family roused to get me to the bus stop in time for my journey to begin, my mom had a tumble down our stairs. She was hurt pretty badly and needed the attention of a doctor.

My mom and I have always been close and seeing her lying at the bottom of our stairs, her ankle tucked in between the bars of our staircase and her face bruised and motionless, I was panicked at the thought of leaving her. In my 9 year old state of mind, my mom was injured and close to death and leaving her was the last thing I wanted to do.

But camp was paid for and the plans were laid out so off I went and spent a miserable 14 days away from my family with only letters to comfort me. I wanted to call, I wanted to hear her voice and know she was ok. My dad wrote to me, drawing little pictures of ants and writing of happy things to keep me comforted. But a picture from my younger sister alarmed me. She took the time and care to draw a picture of my mom, fully dressed in a neck brace bigger than life.

It was when I got home that the battle really began. My time away somehow severed in me the ability to feel at home during times of emotional stress.

I can’t explain it well. It’s almost like I’m in familiar surrounding and yet not at all comfortable there. As if my body becomes numb and unable to feel at peace in any place.

For weeks after I returned from camp, I would wake in the middle of the night, panicked and feeling out of place, lost. Getting up in the dark, I would tip-toe to the hallway and would sit in the middle of the open space, looking, searching for something to help me know I was safe. To ground me and help me feel at peace.

I remember nights crying softly, unable to speak to my parents and explain these unnerving feelings welling up inside my stomach. About this time, I could sense a discord within my home, between my parents while at school I was forced to endure bullying from my teacher on a daily basis.

As an adult, if I have any issues, I completely point to this time in my life as the place it all began.

I never did get over those feelings of being lost, of having no place and of feeling unsafe. I’d rock myself on the warm carpet in the hallway, the moonlight streaming in through the window in my room, waiting for exhaustion to sweep me away.

That was over 20 years ago and last night, all those feelings bubbled up and I fell apart. I cried huge waves of tears and my thinking was scattered and erratic.

I felt out of place in time and numb from head to toe. It was as if I had a clear view of everything and then suddenly, the lights were turned off and I was left to bump along, unable to catch my bearings and find my footing.

I stumbled through the night, aching for peace and starving for comfort.

I wanted to go home. But…where was that?

They say home is where the heart is but my heart was so broken last night I couldn’t seem let go and find peace. That where I was, in the arms of my sweetheart and close to my little man, was a perfect place to be. It was where my heart needed to be.

In the end I fell into an exhausted sleep and fitfully made it through the night, bad dreams and all. Upon waking up, my eyes swollen and my nose stuffy, I felt drained and without aim.

I was 9 all over again.

How do I heal these wounds? It’s evident to me that I’m in my 30’s now and I’m still dealing with some form of separation anxiety from my past experiences that were never healed. Maybe even a sense of abandonment from being sent off to camp without the means of speaking with my family after a terrifying event.

My 9 year old self is hurting and I don’t know how to make it all better. I’m a mother myself and I don’t know how to make the hurt go away. How to make the monsters under the bed disappear.

I’m certain that I need to be taken care of right now and comforted. I need to be held and rocked and told it will be alright. And, most importantly, I need to allow myself to be reassured. To be loved and cared for. And to believe that everything will be alright.

That I will finally feel at home.

Jinxed

In the early dawn light, just before the sky began to fade from inky blackness into the azure hue of morning, she felt his arm snake around her waist and pull her into his warmth. She sighed her happiness into the silent still air around their bed as he bent into her shape and together they dozed.

With a kitten’s purr, she shifted her shoulders to fit against his chest and let their contentment settle around them.

The alarm wasn’t due to ring for another 30 minutes but she knew she wouldn’t be able to fall back to sleep now. With his breath against her skin and their legs tangled together, she felt herself slowly drift awake as the world outside slowly shifted from its own drowsy state of motionlessness.

She loved this time of the morning. When the breezes in the trees outside rustled the leaves with a gentle hand and the deep breaths of the sleepers ever-so slightly disturbed the silence. When everyone else remained asleep but, with her eyes closed, she was awake and thoughtful.

Drawing the cool sheet up against her chin, she lay there still, listening to his breath draw in and out, wondering if he was dreaming and what of. If he saw worlds of color and odd dancing figures or if his dreams were more realistic.

She felt him move slightly and smiled as he bent to kiss the back of her neck.

“Morning,” he said in his sleepy voice.

His deep, vocal bass rolled against her shoulders and her skin prickled excitedly. Hearing him first thing in the morning was one of the things she adored most, both for being the first to be greeted by him but also for the sleepy, thick pitch when he was just rousing from sleep. She smiled and greeted him in return.

“Can’t sleep?” he asked.

“Not really, just resting I guess.”

“Anything on your mind in particular? Or are you just being selfish and hogging the blankets all to yourself again?”

Snorting quietly, she adjusted the excess of fabric she never realized had gathered on her side. With the blankets rearranged and their bodies resting in the warmth of the cocoon they built, they both settled for a bit, trying to lengthen the early morning in the hopes of pushing away the day ahead.

But he was right, there was something on her mind. A question he had asked recently, one that would change their futures. She hadn’t answered but he hadn’t pried. He was giving her space and time.

She didn’t need it. She already had an answer. And a suggestion.

“Hun,” she started in a whisper. “About the other night…”

“Yeah?”

“Well, you know my answer is yes.”

Without a glance, she felt his smile beam across his face, like a child on Christmas morning. His arms squeezed against her in a tight embrace and he kissed her shoulder. Biting her lip, she continued.

“But I was thinking, what if we used my mother’s ring? You know, the one she passed on to me.”

Before she could continue the shifting of the pillow case beneath his head rustled as he shook his head in response.

“Nope. We’ll go out and pick out a ring. A fresh start, something new.”

She bit her lip. It would be nice to have her own but she was practical, logical. There was a perfectly fine ring not being worn just waiting for someone to use it. It seemed wasteful.

His body was still and she knew he was gauging her hesitation. He cleared his throat.

“I just think you could use a ring that’s uniquely yours to start this off right. Doesn’t need to be fancy but something that’s your and only yours. Besides, we don’t want to jinx us before we actually say ‘I Do’.”

Chuckling she responded, “I never knew you to be the superstitious type. What’s with this ‘jinx’ business?”

Glancing over her shoulder, she could see just edge of his face, enough to notice the smile had faded. Furrowing her brows together she turned to him.

“Well, it’s just that…” he began with hesitation. “I think it’s a good idea we start fresh and not with something from a past that isn’t what we want for our future.”

A deep breath collected in her chest. She knew what he meant. Pain circled through her heart as her pulse quickened and tears sprang to her eyes.

She knew exactly what he was alluding to.

Not long after they started dating, a deep rift tore open within her family and the ring she now had in her possession had not been worn for some time. It was simple and gold with bands twining around each other, housing a diamond at it’s core. It had become a symbol of so many feelings, both good and bad. Her childhood had been beautiful and filled with great memories. But the dissolving of her parents’ marriage had cast a shadow over the lovely diamonds and the tightly wound circle, symbolizing eternity together, a bond never broken.

The little girl in her still held onto the ring, wishing to wear it as her mother had in the heyday of their marriage when together they were a family, whole and solid. But the woman now laying here, agreeing to her own future with a man she loved dearly, saw the ring as a broken promise.

He was right, the ring would jinx it. Why carry on a past into their future that neither of them wished for?

Rolling into his arms to face him completely, she saw the grief lined in his face. But it didn’t reach his eyes. There she saw the love he gave her unconditionally. The light of future plans they had together, or dreams and wishes she wanted to make come true with him. Together they had weathered the storm and found they were stronger together than apart. While she watched and suffered along with her parents, he stood by her side, held her hand and let her cry in peace.

Smiling through her tears, she nodded and he nodded back. His smile was gentle and comforting as he reached down to wipe away her sorrows. She took a deep, cleansing breath.

“No more talk about that ring, ok?” he said reassuringly. “We’ll figure it out.”

And together they settled into the quiet morning, their arms encircling each other tightly.

Nostalgic

I’m not sure what it was.

Whether it was the lazy morning under the warm covers. The slight glimpse of a sunrise in the distance. Or the blanket of grey and full clouds that hung in the air with a foreboding sense of rain and winter.

My morning went as usual except with a layer of nostalgia hanging over me. A cloak of memories and visions of a past life.

The sounds of the M train clanking and clamoring along the road, the spark and fizz of the metal rod against the dual-wires over head. That San Francisco grey looming against the pavement, waking along with the feet of its people carrying a misty chill in its embrace. The mournful cry of a low foghorn from the bridge of gold echos across the city, lost in the dense shroud of fog. Those moments of sun breaking through the sensation dulling curtain of mist, rays of bright hope beaming down to warm us for a second.

I was suddenly 20 again. Full of hope and desire. Dreams and ambition. I had the whole world at my feet. So much to do and see, so many different paths to walk.

The color of my hair was suddenly boring. Memories of my technicolor days streamed through my mind: pink, purple and blue. The daring changes I so capriciously made in the name of being different. Of finding my own purpose.

As I slipped into the drivers seat, ready to venture forth and take on my day, the tunes on the airwaves did nothing for me and I was struck with a need for the anthems of my youth.

The simple melodies and the insightful lyrics enveloped me in my memories and I cruised along the road, fighting back the waves of regret and sadness. The feelings of loss and age. No more were the days of carelessness. Of freedom and of joy. The surprise of a later curfew. That special date with a boy you could barely look at without blushing. The days of “what if” and “when I grow up”.

I would never take back all the laughs and tears, the feelings of joy and of insecurities. Those days are gone and done, only to be reminisced over when the days are gloomy and my soul aches for the simple days. They are my map, my past.

They are forever apart of me.

Forever imprinted on my soul.