Friday, September 25, 2009

Each Day is a God



Every day is a god, each day is a god, and holiness holds forth in time. I worship each god, I praise each day splintered down, splintered down and wrapped in time like a husk, a husk of many colors spreading, at dawn fast over the mountains split. I wake in a god. I wake in arms holding my quilt, holding me as best they can inside my quilt. Someone is kissing me – already. I wake, I cry “Oh,” I rise from the pillow. Why should I open my eyes? I open my eyes. The god lifts from the water. His head fills the bay. He is Puget Sound, the Pacific; his breast rises from pastures, his fingers are firs; islands slide wet down his shoulders. Islands slip blue from his shoulders and glide over the water, the empty, lighted water like a stage. Today’s god rises, his long eyes flecked in clouds. He flings his arms, spreading colors; he arches, cupping sky in his belly. He vaults, vaulting and spread, holding all and spreading on me like skin.
--Annie Dillard (Holy the Firm)


I think Annie's got my engines running again. I feel a tumult, a sickening, a shove. I have to do what I was made for. I must. I must tell my stories. Annie Dillard's wonderful account of her childhood, An American Childhood, was the biography I chose to do a book report on when I was all of 15 precocious years. It is a part of my body, my blood, my soul. One of the books that made me want to write.

She wrote about the shadows entering her bedroom at night, those mysterious lights that arc from one wall, to the ceiling, to another, moving like smoke. She wrote about how young and tender and beautiful and funny her parents were. How their beauty was earned, astonishing, and powerful--whereas a child's beauty is more elfin, a free gift. She wrote about how when everything else is gone from her mind--the faces of her children, the names of her lovers, her own name--what would remain would be the topography, rivers, rolling hills, and green lushness of the grass that was her hometown of Pittsburgh.
I didn't know anyone else had seen those mysterious shadows at night, which today are barely noticed, aware as I am, too aware, of the logistics of space, and light, and time, and that those terrifying monsters and ghosts visiting you alone are merely cars passing in the night.


I didn't know that other people played with and marveled at the wonders of aging skin, loose flesh, veins, and diamonds on the skinny fingers of the people who were my world--my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, my parents, and all of their many friends. I didn't know that my childlike beauty was elfin, a gift--while the glorious adults shone with a light of beauty they had earned with the hard work of living, of life, of breaking apart, and putting yourself back together again. I didn't know other people remembered their tender mothers napping, and were agog, hours later as their warm, sleepy mothers walked from their bedroom doors transformed into the sweetest-smelling, shining, most beautiful things we had ever witnessed.

I didn't know. And she told me. She's telling me again. There is enough.
There is enough room for me, for the singing in my bones, the untold stories and poems that make my heart race in existential terror, that made me once upon a time try to kill them and myself as I manically downed vodka, popped pills, smoked a thousand cigarettes, screamed at suitors, terrified my friends, and made an art out of romantic rejection. You could line around the block all the good and loving men I sent away, artfully, like suicide, like anything else.

This painting, "Strong," is by my one of my dearest friends, Kelly Rae Roberts, whose journey to telling her own story and finding amazing success in the risk of TRYING, has been a major shove at my heart, telling me, NOW. Not later. Now. She's one of the many women dear in my heart who I GREW UP WITH. The real growing up. The real heartbreaks. The losses. The joys. The weddings. Births. Divorces. She is a part of my chosen family. And me of hers, and I am so grateful that we all chose so carefully, so wisely, at our tender ages of 14, then 18 and 19 and 20 and older.

And now no less than 15 years later with some, 20 years and more with others, we still hold fast to one another, hold that KNOWING and LOVING that comes only from watching each other fall, watching each other be fools, watching each other be cruel, and stupid, watching each other's hearts break apart--even more than the risings, the transformations, the joys, the soul-sustaining laughter--this shadow-self knowledge, this witnessing of it all, makes us hold ever more fiercely, love ever more deeply, and remember, one to the other, what we once were, where we once were, and who we are, now.

"Only connect," E.M. Forster, said. And so we have, over and over again. Only love, only connection even in the midst of dry spells and bitter hearts. I have a circle of these people in my life. And if I did anything right in my life, I chose these people as my family. And they me. Though one name was mentioned, I am incredibly lucky to have at least 30 of these people in my life. Right now.

Even as they stepped back as I tried to throw myself, headlong, so wasteful and selfish, over the edge of a real and beautiful and joyful world. They are my bedrock. And they came back. Were there when I woke up, and are here, scattered over the mountains split, as I try to pull myself, one day at a time, out of the darkness that once was my only home.

They are telling me something, these stories my body holds. They are telling me to pick up a pen, get a wooden lap desk, smoke a thousand cigarettes, and sit in early morning light all the way to dark, and set them free. Because, with apologies to T.S. Eliot, there really is not enough time. No time for you and for me, for the taking of toast and tea. Not time enough for decisions, visions, and revisions which a minute will reverse. Every minute someone dies. I will die. My life grows longer. The pages blank. I have dallied long enough.

I will not throw my head in the oven. Won't go out on a cocktail of barbituates and booze. Won't hang myself from a noose. Won't stuff my dress pockets with stones and drown in the river of an English countryside. Won't wear a smile plastered upon the face of a dying, dying heart. Not me. I'm gonna set those neglected stories loose on the world, and for a little while, we'll all be the better for it. I promise.

{Image Sources: 1.) Oprisco via Rose Coloured Rain 2.) Erik Jacobs for the New York Times; 3.) We Heart It ; 4.) Rosie Hardy Flickr ; 5.) Heart It via Bits of Beauty; 6.) We Heart It; 7.) We Heart It; 8.) Small Magazine; 9.) My Grandma Gerry; 10.) Oprisco via Rose Coloured Rain; 11.) We Heart It; 12.) Strong by Kelly Rae Roberts; 13.) We Heart It; 14.) Kat, Me, Tanya, Karen; 15.) We Heart It; 16.) We Heart It; 17.) Nicole Kidman as Virginia Woolf in The Hours; 18.)Happiness Fort: My Life as a Sugar Lander via You are My Fave}

37 comments:

zeebah said...

This was lovely. Thank you.

Do it do it do it... keep writing & sharing. I'm really enjoying reading. :)

kelly rae said...

ama, i can feel you in this post. i can sense that the stories and the magic desperately want free. that you are ready to tell, to spill. one of my favorite things about you is your overwhelming sense that everything matters, that connections live in the small details, that your life is beauty and beauty is everywhere.

you hold such an enormous capacity for all that you are meant to do. we've all always seen and have known it since knowing you - it's a gift that is rare. and you have it. the real deal.

i am so lucky to have you in my life.
big xxoo
k

Clorivak said...

This was amazing!!! Wow. I'm in a similar state of discovery..That book sounds like something I need to read. And you are a wonderful writer,yourself. I am glad I stumbled here.

Michael Reynolds said...

Oh my goodness..what have I wrought? a simple convulsion of blood and some thirty years later..this.
Here.
Well, no one can say I didn't do something brilliantly beautiful at least once.
You the real deal in the writing, daughter. Would love to have half your talent.

Debbie said...

I'm glad i found your blog...you are a wonderful writer I hope you keep it going with it! God has truly blessed you with a talent and with 30 friends to help you along the way!

Ciara Obscura said...

Oh my. Your deeply rooted strength and the discoveries of life's palpable bits of loveliness is astounding.
I sank into this read... succumbed to its goodness in all its raw truth and hope.
Perfect.

amy said...

wow. what a post. a cascade of amazing words and images and inspiration. i'm glad i found your blog. special. rare.

Kat Candler said...

nice make me cry at 8am on a tuesday morning. i love you so much ama reynolds. and it's about damn time you put your heart on paper.

SwedeLife said...

Wow, Ama.

Just looked at your blog after sending Karen a message and looking at her blog, then yours...

Just to second what Kelly wrote...you have a beauty in you that is other worldly and easy to see. I was in the same dorm and would go and stare the freshman loner stare at your door, it radiated magic. I wanted ot know what was in there, it's funny that years later on a blog from the other side of theworld i have a feeling I finally peeked in. You do have that elfin beauty and send a feeling that you can talk to spirits and say things that are hidden from the others. From most the peripheral place in your life, down the street around the corner on Atkamire, I easily saw your loveliness, and had a sense that you are a creature from another time or world having to cope with being of the earth. I so admired your beauty, and hoped for your success in whatever it was trying to bubble up in you.

This post was beautiful.

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