One of the toughest places in my own life to learn how to TRULY play with, is relationships: there’s too many moving pieces. I can play with a basketball for ages and it’ll never interrupt me and tell me it’s all my fault.
It’s so so so so so so easy to get looped into judgement and anger and self righteous blamey thinking loops that absolutely lock you out of any kind of real play together. Luckily, life keeps bringing exactly what I need. Here’s a recent tale of playing my way through that cluster of confusion, and staying in the heart of the play as it moved.
“Fatman don’t want you to see her.” His sister tells me, frankly. Even though Fatman continues to stand within precise french fry distance to me, even though he’s covering his eyes with interlaced backwards fingers so his cold little knuckles are pressed to his eyes while he chews the single warm fry I just gave him.
Fatman isn’t yet two. His sister isn’t yet caring about pronouns, or, perhaps, gender, I can’t tell which. She calls my son her sister several times in the course of the play. I watch the baby’s jaw for signs of slowing, because we’ve been at this for several minutes and I know that when the last swallow happens, he’s going to burst open his little protective finger curtain and find me with those bright dark eyes. I try to play a little peek a boo, but he just grunts.
I prepare his next ketchup-dipped fry and when I hand it to him, the temperature of his skin freaks me out. Both he and his sister are wearing thin T-shirts and no shoes. It’s cold enough that I have to work to not shiver in my sweatshirt and jacket.
Out of the corner of my eye, I watch the mother, playing basketball on the court, in a very warm looking hoodie. WTF? Wary of the Prime Directive I decide to give my son’s jacket to which ever of them will let me slip it over their damn hat. Fatman covers his eyes and runs blindly away so I give it to Katyadee. My son never liked the damn thing anyway. But when I slip it over her cocoa skin, and it settles perfectly onto her body, she stops shivering and smiles up at me.
I catch my breath a little. I get the whole “helper’s high” thing. Damn it feels good to help another human, even in a small way. Fatman blindly meanders back towards the smell of fries and bumps into my knees. He still doesn’t remove his hands because in Fatman’s world, if he can’t see me, I can’t see him.
Last night Graham told me, with a voice, jaunty with rebellion, that he isn’t ready to stop being angry at his mother. I’ve just met this man, and realize that he’s offering some piece of himself up, not as an immovable thing, like, hey, there’s some Sphynx’s here, they’re a pretty cool part of my interior landscape and occasional shoot things with their laser eyeballs, but more as an invitation to peer together at what has long seemed to him to be a big ol’ fucking locked door.
A little later, his voice changes when he tells me that when he tries to discover why he’s angry, his mind tells him it’s because “she didn’t see me.” I can feel this beautiful adult man’s struggle to give any kind of permission to even near this door.
Yet here we are, several sheets in and still not eating oysters so I ask him, “Mum didn’t see me. Is it true?” I know that this style of inquiry can be a tad heavy, especially when you’re kind of drunk and on a kind of date, but when the fuck isn’t it time for deeper truthing? I can’t totally tell what he thinks of this bold move because he bursts out laughing and seems as surprised by his response as I am. He gasps out,
“No. No, it isn’t true.”
Fatman calls me back to him by grabbing both my hands with his freezing little brown hands. Apparently I’m horribly out of time in our french fry dance. He shivers as he waits. The mother should take better care of her children. The thought bursts onto the scene, hot and frothy with self righteous anger.
Is it true?
I’m alone in a late fall woods, there are barely any leaves on the trees. I’m probably ten and I’m as far away from anyone who might know my name or try to care for me as I can manage. I’ve covered my face and bare arms and legs with charcoal lines. I didn’t know about war paint or ritual then, not with my mind, but I think a deeper part of me recognized the urge to create a bridge into a deeper way of being in the world. With each line I drew, I was freeing myself from the tangled homelife behind me. I should have been shivering, but wasn’t, not even slightly.
I was on a quest. I’d been writing stories about fairies for years and was now following their trail. I revel in how fully open I can allow my senses to be here. There is no horrible musics of anger here, just things coming and going, waking and dying, and living in the simple good way of forest creatures. I love how careless I can be here, how I can indulge my enormous curiosity and hunger for discovery.
The adult me now knows how pivotal those “parenting gaps” were to the poet, warrior, teacher, dancer, lover woman I’ve become. I remember lying beneath a vine full with dark red winter berries, on a carpet of yellow fallen leaves and waiting for the first berry to fall. I waited all day and one still didn’t fall. That’s poet training. I got wildly and absolutely lost and had to get clear enough on the way in in inside to find my way out. I fell through ice and had to warm myself enough using breath to walk out.
That wild, unsafe place was the very training ground I needed to become the me I so delight in being.
Should my parents have kept better tabs on me? I walk through a life of people who are terrified of their own desires and have virtually no relationship with their own wonderment. Fuck no they shouldn’t have. Sweet goodness, what perfect for me parents. Thank you mama and papa.
Now Fatman has both his hands in my warmer hands. What a facey. He has most of an entire french fry stuck in the snot mask on the lower half of his beautiful face. I tried to wipe it but he’s having none of that. For a moment he meets my gaze, full on. And there’s this narrow window where Old Soul in a New Baby finds the same in me. I feel the tides of self righteous assurance begin to shift in me.
Fatman shouldn’t be cold right now. Is that true? His fiercely alive gaze dares me to say it’s true.
He slips one hand off mine and reaches towards the fries, not to take one, oh no, that would break our dance, but to indicate the time for gazing is done and the time for the next french fry is indeed upon us. I test this and try to hand him the whole beach fry basket but he shakes his head strongly, and grunts, “nuh nuh nuh.” His sister interprets,
“Fatman don’t want that.” She points. “He only want the next fry.”
She looks so warm and pretty in that teal warmie that I can hardly stand it. It’s all suddenly just a tad too fucking much. I feel that slidey, falling off the cliff deep clarity haze coming on.
I reach into select the next fry.
The things, that I realize have been little anxious burrs in me, begin to float in.
I don’t have to know how to handle all the clients coming in, just the next one.
I dip the fry in ketchup. Not too much ketchup.
I don’t have to know Everything about All that I want in a Lover, it’s okay to just know what I want right now.
I hand the fry to Fatman who doesn’t reach out with his hand this time, but lets me put it into his mouth. O….
It’s okay to love the wanting. To be simple and close and appreciating the beauty of pure wanting, even, and oh, sweet Jesus, ESPECIALLY all the pretty pretty winds inside an unfulfilled desire.
I can palpably feel the current of life force whirring within each of these wantings …
to be warm …
to have all the babies warm and with shoes …
to have men love and forgive their mamas so that they may more fully love and forgive themselves …
to be good and somehow goodly available to love and partnership
to learn how to come home after a life of gypsy dancing through inner and outer geographies
And it warms me to love the wanting again, to renew my love for the precious and necessary shivering of more life breaking through the forever waking soil of my now.