Wednesday, January 25, 2006

My Dance Teacher

“Stop trying to be above it all,” my dance teacher said as she dug her thumbs into my hip joints. “Stop trying to be all up here,” she said, throwing her arms over her head and gesturing something sexy and exotic, her chin jutting out in pure pose. “I want you down here, down in your hips,” she hissed. “ I want you to be like Katarina Witt. I want you to glide. I don’t want to see your feet leave the ground. So just stop, stop trying to be above it all.”

Monday, January 23, 2006



Today, out of the blue, the slightest hint of freedom like some exotic, warm wind blowing in off the coast of nowhere. Freedom like the sudden surprise of night blossoms; heady and sweet and impossible to locate in the darkness of the yard. Freedom and sweetness that says soon, spring, survivor, you.

In bed the night before I’d told my husband that I felt trapped. The kind of trapped that inspires insane escape routes like getting yourself sick. The kind of plan you have to immediately apologize to god for.

But now this sweet rogue wind, a window where there had been a wall.


The black woman in the post office line today who warmly gestured for me to go ahead
of her because I’d been taping boxes in the corner and she believed that technically made me first. This beautiful, sweet smelling cocoa woman in her 50’s dressed in leather; skirt and jacket and high pointy boots, coordinated in colors of pumpkin, persimmon and rust. When she pulled out her checkbook it was orange. I meant to tell her how great she looked, but mostly I just wanted our eyes to meet because I wanted us to see each other, but I didn’t say anything. I was strangely shy. On the way out she looked at me and I only caught the tail of her glance, but she smiled and I meant to smile back, but she turned and was gone.


When we were deciding whether to have kids our biggest fear was that we’d split up. So we took a 20-hour drive to New Mexico with the intention to make our decision on the road. Somewhere in the middle of nowhere we realized that while we could say words like Forever and Never and Always, they wouldn’t mean anything. We realized if we wanted to stay together it wouldn’t be because we promised we would, but because of how we treated each other each day. That this good day would get us to tomorrow and a good tomorrow would get us to the next day. Of course it hasn’t been all good days, but somehow we have been able to cobble together enough goodness to make it here, 16 years later, in this old house at the end of the road, with palm trees, and possums and people, our children.

French kiss

I did kiss her. More importantly I let myself go. We’d tried it once before and after the initial tongue and a little exploration I felt the line, the place where I could really fall into her, but I was afraid, so I pulled back. But this time I let myself go. Her lips were soft and her tongue moved slowly. I felt the tiny sprouting of hairs around her upper lip and I wondered if she waxed hers like I did mine. Men are both rough and soft. They push and I like that. But she was all soft and that’s how I fell into her.


The ones who are still listening to me a year later and who have never told me what to do. The ones who kept their fears to themselves because they trust me and they love me and because they don’t really know what I should do, even when I have asked them. The friend who I hadn’t seen in years who grabbed my hand the other day at the ferry and said, “You’re very vulnerable, aren’t you?” And left it at that. Friends like that.


My eight-year-old told me yesterday that she wants to go on a diet because she is fat. She is a little chubby in that way that small children can be; their stomachs distended, bellies popping over. And it doesn’t help that her older sister is such a stick. We were standing in the kitchen and I got down on my knees. I put my arms on her shoulders and looked her in the eye. I said I thought she was beautiful, that she looked just like mama.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


I told her, "I think I'm trying to write about beauty, though it's not always pretty."

And she said, "no, it rarely is, beauty is rarely pretty."