Snow Days

I need a Carrie Fisher in my life. Specifically, Carrie Fisher as she appeared in “When Harry Met Sally” – the one who tries to set you up and keeps a rolodex of men-folk to send you on dates with.

I fell in love with “When Harry Met Sally” as a teenager and watched it again and again. It was a sort of security blanket: an affirmation that love, indeed, exists. Teenagerdom was hard on me, romantically and otherwise, but somehow I was comforted to watch these youngsters transform into adults, friends, and lovers. That love would eventually find me in New York City, on New Year’s Eve – or at some other place and time – I was certain.

It was a thing I never doubted – my favorite mystery to puzzle over. Whom would I find –  who was meant to find me??? Right at the culmination of my Saturn return, I thought I found out the answer. I practically buzzed when I was around him. I glowed, I smiled, I was happy. He saw me, in some ways I think more clearly than I saw myself. Observed things I took for granted in my persona. I wonder what he saw but didn’t say.

But even while I dreamed that this was “the one,” unseen wheels turned, lies and unspoken things spun out and around us, filled my head with visions of what we could be as I spun like a top, off to Europe with my living sister and then to Burning Man to memorialize my departed sister, thinking that surely I’d be returning from the trip to claim my love prize at long last.

Of course it wasn’t to be. Hard to believe that was four years ago already. Time passes swiftly and maybe I stood still in New York a bit when I came back around. I immersed myself in a new life and it was bearable, though I feel I got it flipped backward. I wish I’d lived that free life in my twenties instead of working in offices all that time. I just thought too conventionally, I suppose. It’s taken me time to break free. C’est la vie!

Anyway.

This year I missed Christmas with my family for only the second time in my life. The first was 2006, when I was in India. Then I spent Christmas on a beach in Kerala. This year I was working a Nutcracker-themed burlesque show on Christmas Eve and the day after Christmas. For the holiday, Sarah and I had planned to go to a local hotel in a converted school. Our friend Marie joined us and we had a yummy dinner in the hotel restaurant and then proceeded to drink various drinks at the various bars on the premises.

Unfortunately, the saltwater swimming pool was closed, due to a fog which formed in the enclosure.

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Sarah, Marie, et moi.

We had fun, regardless.

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At McMenamins – priestess style

I spent New Year’s Eve packing my things to move, at last, to my permanent residence in a small converted garage – a cottage or tiny home – with a lofted bed and my own four walls. I was excited about the change, but hadn’t intended to have so little time to move my things between houses. Though I travel light, I bought some furniture that made this move a bit more intensive than the last. I finished moving what I could, met a friend out for a glass of bubbles at midnight, an drove home in rain that was turning to snow for an hour of sleep.

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Spangled for New Year

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With Marie on NYE

Early on New Year’s Day, I awoke and got a cab through two inches of freshly fallen snow to the airport. Despite the early hour, there was mucho traffico on the route, so the driver dropped me off near the train to the terminals rather than waiting in the backed-up lanes.

It took our plane three hours to take off, due to the unexpectedly inclement weather. Fortunately, I don’t have claustrophobia and none of the 6 babies onboard freaked out. By the time I got to DFW, my connections had been missed, so I had the pleasure of hanging out in the airport for several hours. At least there was booze!

When I finally arrived at Tampa it was after 10 pm, but still mom and dad and my sister Skye all came to pick me up at the airport, though it was past their bedtimes. The weather was especially warm this year, ominous, but not something I minded terribly after the sunless winter of Seattle (I say, a bit unfairly, as the sun shines here even as I type).

I had nearly two weeks in Florida to spend time with family and friends. Skye’s kids were with their dad for the weekend when I arrived, but we went to pick them up and I got to spend a few hours with them before heading down to see my grandmother in Sarasota.

Spanky the dog on guard at Mutti’s

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Spanky the dog on guard at Mutti’s

I was pleased to see that Cam was enjoying the keyboard I gave to him and his sister just over four years ago. Cate’s bedroom had blossomed into unicorns and rainbows. She looks remarkably like my sister Erika, though my mother and I both noted that Cate is solid muscle where Erika was bird-like and featherlight.

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Catelin and her Aunt Kira

Mom and dad and I (accompanied by Spanky the spotted hound) headed down to Sarasota to spend the week with my grandmother, Mutti, now in her 94th year. We got in time at the beach interspersed with dog walks and and hanging around the house with Mutti.

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Daddio

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The back yard looked verdant and well-tended, as usual. A new tenant took over my former stomping grounds in the studio above the carport, so I no longer had my separate space to occupy. My happy place. But one benefit of arriving after the holidays was that an actual bed was available for me to sleep in – not one of the ancient twin beds my mother and her siblings slept in in the 50’s.

I got in some good time with Lara and her entourage of dogs – and John, my oldest friend in Sarasota aside from Lara. I love being with those beloved friends from my past. It makes me feel grounded. Unfortunately, the passage of time seems to remove once-close friends, one by one. So many of those who affected me the most are no longer in my life at all. Just last year I reconnected with an old friend and was heartened to think that sometimes the shedding works the other way around and friends come back. But then it all went sideways or backwards. Anyway, I realized I’d been wrong to think that this was a renewal. It was a farewell.

I feel I’ve really said all of the farewells that need saying at this stage. I’m exhausted by it, and frankly, a bit scared to go out into the world of people again. Funny, there is this trend in the last ten years or so toward “positive thinking” among the American zeitgeist. Suddenly everyone advises us to just be positive and ask the universe for what we want and it will “manifest.” As someone who has tried to increasingly put this notion into practice, I can tell you that life does not work quite so simply. Perhaps for some, it does. They manifest the future as they want it to be.

Somehow, for me, envisioning happiness does not make it so. People change unexpectedly. I am not so inclined to change, emotionally anyway. But then, our patterns in relation to love and emotions are formed very early. In the last several years, I have explored my own inner psyche and early emotional formation. Indeed, I’ve found that the roots of my own attachment tendencies are deeply mangled.

Looking into the abyss of one’s own dark places is heavy work. And, as I have learned, it is a journey one must take alone.

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With mom and Spanky at the St. Pete beach before my flight back to Seattle

I sleep well in the lofted bed and I finally have a piano – since I don’t have any stairs to cramp my style! I found one for free on Craigslist and just paid a couple of guys to deliver it. My landlord has lived in this little cottage for years, so it is full of his things, but I packed away what didn’t please me to make room for the piano and my other rearrangements.

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I can’t wait till summer comes, but meanwhile, the cottage is cozy and it was kind of enchanting when it snowed yesterday and doused the garden and my bamboo with white.

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Snowy yard

I stayed home and painted, avoiding the Superbowl hullaballoo on Sunday, though I was grateful I went to Trader Joe’s before the snow so I could nestle in and paint yesterday.

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Part of my cute little house

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Sunflower watercolor

Yesterday evening, I met up with my dear friend Sarah at Capitol Cider, where I sang with the improv jazz jam that happens every Monday night.

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At Cap Cider with my Saddah Diva

Sarah and I have been doing a good job, if I do say so myself, of getting out into the world. We have been to live music, storytelling and theatre since I’ve been back, in addition to some yoga and dancing.

And I feel like maybe – just maybe – I’ve been able to make it through the darkness and I’m emerging out the other side, despite my lack of a Carrie Fisher to drag me back out there. It can’t rain all the time, or so said my favorite 90’s goth movie, The Crow (to mix my movie metaphors).

Working as a waiter in a fast-paced theatre environment is stimulating and living in my tiny house for cheap rent is a dream.

So far 2017 is a good year, despite our disgusting political situation, which is barely worth writing about.

Love and miss,

Kira

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Return to My Garden of Eden

And another year gone. I made my annual pilgrimage to Sarasota around the middle of December, driving down to Durham for a night with my bestie and her family in North Carolina before continuing on the next day. I got to Tampa and my sister’s house in time for dinner as Cam worked on his homework and the girls got ready for bed.

In the morning, I drove the last stretch to SRQ. The weather in New York was strangely warm when I left; the transition from north to south hardly deserving of the name.

That afternoon, I was back again in my old familiar haunt at Elysian Fields. It was same, same, but different, as the founding owners had left and so had some of my old friends there, but others had stayed. It seemed almost the same. I got to work, re-familiarizing myself with the spiritual bookshop and the crystals in the bins, their description cards. The checklist for closing and the new products in the personal care section.

I’ve been going back to Elysian for a few years now. Perhaps it will be the last time I return to the store where I learned so much about metaphysics and crystals, about how to speak softly and calmly, about a meticulous attention to detail as a sort of spiritual practice.

On my days off, I luxuriate on the roof, getting a little tan back before I return to the sunless north.

I’ve even made pickle from starfruit and key limes.

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Up on the roof


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Key Lime Pickle!

For whatever cosmic reason, Christmas seems to signify a time of challenges for me: last year, as I drove down from New York, I had the last ever conversation with the man I had, until then, thought I might be spending the rest of my life with. In 2013, an old friend resurfaced like a bad penny, bringing up memories of our friendship and how it had dissolved in Spanish Harlem in 2009. In 2012, just a few days before Christmas, I heard from the man I’d fallen for that summer: he told me he’d loved me, and I thought for a few brief, giddy seconds that my dreams were coming true, until it became clear that he was speaking in the past tense. He had already found someone new.

Somehow, just when everyone is celebrating togetherness, I tend to end up isolated and alone.

This year, however, was a year of keeping others at a safe distance. Turns out I was still smarting from last year’s slings and arrows. I try to be the sort of person who lets things roll off my back, but some injuries don’t heal cleanly: they leave scar tissue, and it’s hard to open up again – hard to let others in.

But the blessing is that I’m not the walking wound I was a year ago. My heart may still be raw, but things are smoother between my mother and me. I’m sad that the love I felt last year has come to so little – the relationship I thought I had, dissolved like so much sugar in the rain. It is as if he simply ceased to be, though he’s made overtures of friendship since then.

But I do not know how friendship can exist without love – trust – honesty. What is there to discuss when nothing is what you thought it was? I try not to be the type who burns bridges, but this time of year seems always to whisper (or shout) to me “let go, let go, let go.”

And so, here goes! I release the sides of the slide and let myself zoom into the future. I resolve that this is the year I get to the bottom of my fears and flush out that barrel till it’s ready to hold something new, without the bad apples of the past to pollute tomorrow’s harvests.

But what about that past? Most of my former loves have moved firmly into the friend zone – the odd ones are the exiles – but even rarer is someone I used to love, whom I’d still consider a potential partner. I honestly didn’t think there were any. But then an old friend rolls back in, and you realize, things never really ended between you two.

I’ll confess: I can get good and stuck on a man. It is easy for me to fall in love, at least initially, since I can be a bit picky. I’m holding out for that teenage feeling, to quote Neko Case – in its absence, my interest flags.

I still love my high school sweetheart, but I think we both feel it is too late to rekindle those flames. I’ve moved thoroughly through most of my relationships, attaining closure – moving on. I’d forgotten someone I used to love. He was my first boyfriend in college, and we went through that intense time of changes together, frequently drunk. When he broke up with me for a girl from back home, I was devastated: up till then, he had been my best friend at Trinity. We managed to stay friends, and eventually became lovers again, but we were never really “together” again. When I was single the summer after college, we’d hook up occasionally. Then he got a girlfriend and I moved away.

Now that it’s been nearly a decade since I last saw him in the flesh, I’d nearly forgotten our friendship entirely. There were some messy parts – bits I guess I’d rather not remember. But up they come, as we start to be friends again. It feels so familiar. Like finding something you used to treasure hidden in a forgotten box under the bed. But is it a lucky charm or a monkey’s paw?

I’m a sucker for a good love story, and how ideal to be with one one already knows of old? Love works in mysterious ways, but I’ve never really circled back around successfully to an ancient paramour. If they didn’t love me the first time, what can have changed now? Better to find someone new. I have certainly been treated better since then. But then, I was in a traumatized state when I got to college. Not to psychoanalyze myself too much, but I had been through a gauntlet of death, sex, and love in high school. I didn’t know how to be casual. I was intense.

Anyway, I begin a new year reconsidering old choices; old friends are the ones I seem to hold the dearest these days.

Perhaps I’m just clinging again to the familiar. This time, I can let it go for real.

New Year’s Eve, I built a fire in the pit out back and we gathered around the flickering flames. We lit a Chinese sky lantern from the dock out by the lake – the dock another old boyfriend of mine rebuilt several years ago, before we broke up not long after my 27th birthday.

My nephew held the bottom of the lantern and my mother held the top until it filled with enough hot air to hover on its own, and then it was lifted above the lake, the trees, among the stars, to disappear, a smoke signal to our loved ones in the sky: we have not forgotten you.

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Cam and Mama lighting the skylantern


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Almost to liftoff!


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Up, up and away!

Love and miss,

Kira