31 May 2007

I like what I like

people's stories
gritty music

I just had a moment when all of the above came together. I was listening to a recent episode of a favorite podcast, about an old southern trader/storyteller, and the segment ended with a Tom Waits song I love. I was in the house by myself, crazy-dancing with my iPod, and something important fell into place. I had this deep sense of okayness within myself, about myself.

That sense has been missing for some time. I have felt like a fringe-dweller much of my life, and that imagined state of being has intensified lately as I've been presented again with several opportunities of varying intensities to work through loss. It's not instantly apparent how loss can move a person closer to the edge of things, but it can and often does, at least for a while. Dealing with big grief and other changes—the death of my gran whom I've cared for steadily for nine years, quickly followed by being released from my joy-filled calling to work with the young women of my church congregation, and then two of my best-beloveds moving off the continent in two different directions—I've at last come to feel like I'm wearing some sort of emotional Michelin Man suit. When and why did I put on this gobby insulation? Or was I shanghaied? It's a swollen barrier that dulls the impact of my interactions with others. Yesterday I had lunch with a terrific group of women whom I adore, and then later spent time in the temple doing something I care deeply about, but a lot of the good stuff just bounced off me. I feel keenly enough what's going on inside the suit, but outside? Seems I'm pretty numb.

Numbness unfortunately aggravates the perception I already wrestle with of being an outsider. This perception may be a true reading, or a false one—likely some of both. It's surely the case that for me grief is married to loneliness, and their offspring are persuasive thoughts like "I don't fit" and "No one understands." Honestly, it's not a pity party; it's more just plain ol' desolation.

BUT. Just now, as I was twisting and flapping around to Tom Waits, giving myself a break and a stretch, this weighty and lovely sense of me-ness snuck into the suit and overtook me. I caught myself smiling, for no reason. Smiling flirtatiously at no one and nothing in particular as I danced past a mirror.

I don't think I'm like anybody else I know. If I didn't work so hard to look for common ground with others, the difference would become screamingly obvious. I admit I'm an odd mixture of dark and light. I don't want to say I'm a lone wolf. I don't want to say I'm socially retarded. With others, I'm more like oil on water. Or, to be more appetizing with the analogy, oil on balsamic. I'm there and I do my thing, but I can't ever seem to blend.

But it's okay. My body, that forgetfully smiling image I saw in the mirror, Tom Waits, the Spirit—they're all telling me it's okay.

And it isn't true that no one knows me or comprehends my history. I am known and loved (as you are), even when I feel strange or like a stranger here. Someone (capital S) knows the solution to the problem of Me. And likes that I like what I like. And IS so that I can become what I am. And doesn't demand that I blend, not now, not ever. With that as a comfort to my mind and heart and even my limbs, desolation becomes passé, and I can keep on dancing.

It's hard to deal with grief. And I know for certain that it's hard to deal with someone who is dealing with grief. I have empathy for people who have had to deal with me as I have lately swung like a pendulum from one emotion to another. I'm tired of grief. Anyway, I don't look good in the fat insulated suit. If I don't locate a zipper soon that will enable me to ease out of it, then I'll just have to find something sharp to pop the bulging thing. It's taking the bump out of my hip-shake.

Pin your ear to the wisdom post
Pin your eye to the line
Never let the weeds get higher
Than the garden
Always keep a sapphire in your mind
Always keep a diamond in your mind

Got to get behind the Mule
In the morning and plow
Got to get behind the Mule
In the morning and plow
Got to get behind the Mule
In the morning and plow
Got to get behind the Mule
In the morning and plow


Liz said...

I love your writing, it's such a treat, thank you for blogging and letting strangers into the mind of your 'suit'.

I wonder if caring for someone else for so long naturally finds one letting go little parts of self (or forgetting one's self, which is quite a beautiful, loving process with bigger purpose). And maybe going through loss and grief there is there also a sense of reconnecting with self again? Even if it's a new self, but just one you didn't pay much mind to in the duty and love given to others heartily?

Just outside thoughts from someone who honestly has no clue of the finer details of your story- I hope this reads the way I intend....

b. said...

I love you oil and water. Happy and sad. Engaged and Isolated. Caretaking and Care getting. Dancing and Depressed. Numb or Not. Suited or Naked. It's all of you I love.

compulsive writer said...

Can I tell you how much I love a good olive oil and balsamic?

Can I also tell you how every time I'm near you I still get this feeling of calmness and I feel so grounded. I feel peace? You have one of the best aura's I've ever experienced.

I like what I like, too. And I like being around you.

compulsive writer said...

(Can I also tell you I can't punctuate to save my life. ? !)

Jamie said...

I love this post and the image of you getting comfy with your you-ness. I have felt that suit on you sometimes, Georgia. I have no idea what I would be like if I'd had your life experiences, Geo, I only know that I am in awe of how you take it, and how it all adds up (like giving thee experience and shall be for thy good, etc.) I love what CW said about your aura. You have always been so thoughtful and gentle and deliberate, like my exact opposite in so many ways, and you have helped to tame me from that crazy litte 18-year-old girl I was when we met. I thank heaven for your influence everyday, and thank Rob for having the good sense to meet you for me! :)

Geo said...

liz: It read very well, and I think you are right. I have a close friend who is about 13 years older than I am. She is single again, following a divorce and also her kids moving on, and she tells me all the time that she has to relearn to be JUST herself, and that at first it was very scary, but now it's exciting. I am not afraid, and certainly it's different for me since I am happily married, but yeah, I think a similar reconnection process is before me. I wouldn't trade what I've experienced these nine years, but I am looking forward to exploring both forgotten and new parts of my life.

Wanna come over for lunch?

b.: You repeatedly overwhelm me with your sweetness and caring. Where'd you come from? Can we order some more of you for this planet?

c-dub: I still don't get it, but I'm glad you feel that way! My aura and I really like being around you too.

jamie: He was just doin' his job, baby. xo

b. said...

I think you and I come from the same planet, the same bolt of cloth, the same ball o' yarn.
That's why it's so easy.

Elizabeth said...


I love that you are you. I read something once that talked about just being yourself wherever you are because then you know that the people that like you, like you (I can't remember his name right now but he wrote "I touch the earth, the earth touches me").
So, I like you. I always have. And I love that you are always real.

Becca said...

fig i love you suit/no suit/birthday suit whatever you are, whenever. maybe it's time for some skinny-dipping....

Geo said...

b.: Now that to me is a high compliment!

elizabeth: I think that's Hugh Prather you're quoting. My mom used to read him when I was growing up.

I like you too!!

Real is the new black.

becca: I'll have to work on my skinny first, but yes to dipping with Bec O' My Heart. Love you. When is that baby coming?!

Elizabeth said...

Yeah, it is Hugh Prather. His name came to me today. And when I checked, you'd already pinned him down.

There's lots of love going on around here.

Geo said...

It's true. Maybe I need to turn off the feel-the-love comments section so no innocent bybloggers turn sick!

Geo said...

(Bring on the luv.)

Melody said...

Beautiful post. I can hear your voice when I read it. Thank you for sharing. . . we're all "strangers here". . . or, perhaps, just stranger here.

J'oga said...

gorgeous post - as are you. The second to last paragraph is going in my scriptures. I will read it often and remember the truthfulness of it. Thank you for being so real.

I think it's about time we shared a lunch with our tree again ;)

Geo said...

melody: Yeah. And some of us are stranger here than others!

Have I ever told you how I loved that the first time I heard you introduce yourself, you very clearly pronounced your name meh'-low-dee, and not meh'-luh-dee? I think that was when my crush on you really happened.

j'oga: 2nd to last paragraph or stanza? I think I'll keep the Tom Waits in MY scriptures.

Tree lunch! Tree lunch! Tree lunch! Yes, and maybe you can introduce me finally to the downtown knit grafitti?

J'oga said...

2nd to last paragraph - where you talk about Someone. And yes oh yes, I would be delighted to introduce you to the downtown knit grafitti. Have you seen the one by the train tracks?

Tree Lunch! I will be in touch so that we can arrange.

Tami said...

Never posted comment here before, and not sure how I got here but I soooo related to this post. After reading this post I asked myself "Does it make me feel less alone and less strange to know there are others out there who also don't feel connected and feel strange as well? In a nutshell YES. Thanks for taking off the "suit" in public.