for now, I am beginning my web site by giving voice to my own anger at institutionalized racism; my silence will not go on. Black Lives Matter. I am calling on my alma mater to change its name from Washington and Lee University as one tiny step in the reparations.
What is it like to have everything absolutely destroyed, and start over?
I have written in essays buried deep within my cloud-carried archives of the concept of shamanic dismemberment. The process of having everything stripped away, through trauma, and having to build again.
It is only fitting that this happened to my web site. It happened to me. Over and over. I lost jobs, I lost my house, I lost my identity as a military wife (this was good for me), I lost custody of my children (though I have survived I will never call this “good”). I have lost loves I believed at the time were the most important of my life.
I have shed identities like hair, thick handfuls, enough to clog drains and vacuum cleaner filters. Do any of the old stories I wrote of myself fit any more?
What I have left is that I am a writer and a mother, and still now after seven years of it, a bike tour guide.
An identity can be yours and still hold bitterness. After four years of painful loss, the judge who had taken it away gave me legal custody back, without apology, even as she saw what she had done by ignoring my concerns of their father’s drug misuse. I had, for over a year, been living as if I had full custody; paying child support I could not afford; my younger boys have seen their father barely at all in the past year.
I do not mind this on my own. For one, it is not alone, my partner now is constant, loving, step-parent. I cannot express how long I searched for this, how much I had to let go the idea of having any kind of support before I found it.
What I know now I told myself a thousand times and still could not believe in the deep parts of me, in the muscles in my hips and the hinges of my jaws. There is no hold but love.
I will write about this love, because I have not or barely. I wrote a hundred thousand aching words of all the loves I wasn’t sure of.
I wonder about this now, my need to write about a love when I do not quite believe it, to create (perhaps?) something that will endure out of what I know deep down to be the very most translucent of ephemera. When I have it with the deepest knowledge, who needs to argue its truth before a court of readers? All the rest of my loves I conjured into their longevity and tried to wheedle them out of ending through prayer.
Finally, two years ago October, I walked myself into a chill and rainy frenzy and demanded. “I have been through enough!” I shouted. “I deserve affection!”
It took me a week or so.
I will never stop thanking the gods, the spirits, the ancestors, who gave me what I now have.
I write this as the veil still thins. It is time again to give my thanks, my abeyance. I honor those who came before me, the grandmothers and great-grandmothers, my former selves, who toiled and suffered. May the joy I feel now be their joy, their vindication, their reward.
Long may we all be loved.