I was on a journey through home yesterday, if that makes sense. I am an Angeleno. I was born at Cedars when they first moved from the blue Scientology building near Kaiser and Children's Hospital in East Hollywood. I've lived here my whole life with all of my addresses in Los Angeles County. I've always just lived here in the shadows of existence I let others define. I went to bars my friends wanted to go to, or the ones close to home when I was alone, never making space for the opportunities I wanted to create. I would go to restaurants chosen for me, and I have an amazing knack for finding something on the menu I can enjoy . . . Even if I really hate Island's or In-N-Out (I know, sacrilege but I'm over it, you should get there too). Those were my ex's favorite restaurants and we were there most family and date nights. Sucked to be me. It's part of being Kid4 for 17 years before becoming Kid4 of 12 plus the siblings that married into our clan making us a sibling force of 16, not including ex spouses (no, mine doesn't count). I can go with the flow because I'm not a special snowflake that has to have her way. This looks like existence and is hardly living. I've taken notice. I get this and I get to change it. I can own my voice and be heard in a room full of din beyond my creation because I'm more powerful than I've even given myself credence to be.
My day started at the Grand Park art walk. It was all of Grand Park with Dia de los Muertos artwork throughout. If you're curious, you can check out my Instagram. (This will be here later if you get lost in my vapid selfie moments.) The museums, theaters and music centers were free and offering free performances and swaggy junk that will make once functional fabric into landfill fodder. I then walked to the Artist and Fleas LA meetup where I found Ms. Mary Abolfazli and took home her book which whispered words to me sweetly, only to explode into these words today. (We'll get there.) I drove to the Last Bookstore, then walked to the Bradbury Building, Grand Central Market and then stopped at Howard Griffin Gallery before finishing my day off in Santa Monica on the pier and at a short play. It was a really great day to be me, but if you haven't noticed, most days are.
Back to this gem of a book. Mary's book asked some questions and it's only fair to share the pages that spoke the loudest for this post. I'm certain it will be read and re-read and more will come of it because the best books . . . the honest books . . . offer that gift and keep giving it in renewed messages and new ones that you didn't notice the first time. What is most incredible, is that she teaches her craft. She teaches creative writing and you can learn from her by checking out her website. You can also search "That Kind of Light" and save it in your browser. Make repeat visits. Tell her I sent you.
What is home? I used to think home was where my heart was. Home was in the man I chose to bind my future to. When he left, it wasn't just the man that was gone, but the future and the goals and plans I created for myself because I was so solidly bound to him. My life was a space created and saved for him. He wanted to draw and I was looking for art supplies and keeping the baby occupied to leave him alone. He wanted to get into paintball and I was home every weekend alone while he played, being passive and aggressive about my abandonment in teasing jabs at his bruises after kissing him goodbye that morning. He wanted to go deep sea fishing every weekend, coming home with fish and the smells of ocean, rotting sea creatures, oiled burlap and sunblock. I would have to wash his clothes separately to not be tainted by the smell of loneliness. He got into rap music and would call to say he was too drunk to drive home and I would be home alone, knowing there were strippers at the house with him because that was the culture they cultivated. His music became offensive to me as a wife and I couldn't be offended as a wife because the fame was his dream, so I said I couldn't allow our sons to listen to his music as their mother. He became a Christian rapper but the abandonment was the same. He was taking on leadership roles in our church and I wanted him to take over more than financial leadership for us at home. I was home alone with our kids, making space for his dreams, not realizing I could have been creating my own.
College wasn't a dream. It was my survival. I needed space that was my own and had nothing to do with anyone but myself. I needed something sacred and untouched that was mine, and it looked like school. When my life was released and only mine, I had to redefine what my dreams and goals were and it's a constantly renewing process. It looks like eating foods I love and exploring where my curiosity takes me. It looks like sitting on a pier long after the cloud cover blocks out the moon and all I see is darkness because in this expansive void I am small and everything is bigger than me and because I am breathing and present, I am just as monumental.
Home is no longer a person. It's not the home I come to each night. It used to be home was where I laid my head, but that was because of the men in my life . . . in my home . . . the one I chose and the children we shared. It was the soft sounds of rest and the peace I felt in my home because we were together. But on days when I am home alone, I've discovered home to be the place where I am resting in the authority of my choices. It's where I can be content in the feel of my skin and the infinite possibilities of my freedom. It's the taste of a good meal and the beauty of a sunset or a fluttering butterfly that catches my eye. It's birds in flight and the wonder on a child's face. Last night I was walking down the street with a friend and a child passing in the opposite direction reached out to hold my hand and that was home. Home is where I choose to make it and it's no longer in a person or a vision I can't see. It's not just within me but all around me and bigger than I need to contain.
What does it mean to live life if we become syncopated routines of existence? We do our daily tasks and assign to them the meaning we think they should hold, based on another's rubric. At the end of your life, will you be happy with the pretty things you own or have authority over, knowing you didn't impact anyone's life because you failed to impact your own? I don't want the perfect body if I have to eat food I don't like. I don't want the swanky office if I don't get to do what makes me happy. I don't want the clean house if it means we can't be playful and carefree in it. Play can become passion if you let it, and to do what doesn't excite me means I've allowed the cost of my existence to dictate my capacity for joy. Never again. Not while I'm cognizant of my capabilities . . . not while I can imagine the possibilities.
Being burdened by the past of my existence is a choice. I can see what I've done. I take notice of what I am capable of doing and make the changes necessary. Those that only see me by my past have no reason to usher me into my future so I have stopped holding them and it's liberating.
My gift for today is to remain present. I get to live in this moment and enjoy the sounds of nature (because I live on a quiet street on a hillside), while getting lost in haunting melodies that I've just discovered on Spotify. I get to make space to be home and alone and see that it's a place of peace because I am a place of peace. It follows me and is not confined to a person or the walls around me. I get to be an expansive presence in my own life. It's a gift. I'm a certified treasure.