What does it mean to belong?
As a bi-racial woman, is it possible for all my many layers to truly feel welcomed in a white setting?
Who bestows this privilege and who takes it away?
This weekend I was reminded of my Blackness.
I traveled to the city for a workshop titled, “Opening the Heart & Mind of the World: Opportunities for Writers of Color,” hosted by The San Francisco Writers Conference. It was one of the few free events.
The conference took place at this hotel in Nob Hill – an area of the city that has long been the domain of the haves. During my climb up Powell Street, I was made immediately aware that each step brought me closer to the realm of wealth. The cars were European, peeks inside lit homes revealed sleek modern furniture, and on this Saturday night, well-heeled whites traveled in boisterous groups towards some area of fun that I could not fathom.
Upon entering the hotel, aside from the bellman and cleaning staff, most of the faces were white. As it had been some time since my last hobnob in the kind of place where doors are held open for you and a bounty of pens and notepaper are freely available for the taking, I was quite enjoying myself.
Sacred Waipio Valley. We hiked down to swim in the water and warm ourselves on the black sand.
I did not know when I booked a trip to Hawaii in December that it would fall in the middle of so many important projects – each like a precious jewel requiring constant attention and regular polishing.
How could I put one down for a frivolous vacation? Yet, I’m not one to go back on my word or undo plans already set into motion, and a part of me knew I was being called to the island for some reason.
I thought this trip was about reclaiming my power.
I thought it was about learning to live with a broken heart.
But things are never what you think they will be.
This morning I woke to the gentle drum of rain kissing giant palm fronds.
I have come to the Big Island – to the mother, to whisper to her the secrets of my silent sorrows and be held in her generous bosom.
My host, a dear friend who like me cannot believe it has been three years, is now sautéing sausages, onions and peppers for the first of many morning meals.
Later, maybe we will hike down to Waipi’o Valley to be with the velvety lusciousness of this place. Or, perhaps we will hear the power of Akaka falls and imagine swimming at its feet.
When the clouds part, a soft shore may emerge and invite us to recharge by the warmth of the sun.
I am here to connect, to be with the heart, with possibility and with reality. I am here to remember that things are not always as I’ve made them in my feeble mind.
When the time is right; when all has been said and I’m left only with what is felt, I will cast dreams into the ocean and watch them drift out, tiny and bobbing into the vastness.
I am so grateful.
Please be slow and gentle
Inspired and efficient
Curious and kind
I’m already scared of the doing
I’m thinking about morning routines.
Specifically, how might I create an environment that would help me start the day feeling prepared, confident and motivated rather than drowning in the overwhelm and anxiousness I experience now. Many days after waking, I wish nothing more than to go back to sleep. I lie in bed petrified of the day ahead, willing myself into a thin dreamy fantasy that takes me away from the world and all its troubles, the mounting projects, competing engagements, and people who need my time. Sometimes I’m in this limbo for 10 minutes. When there’s a particularly challenging something, it’s more like an hour.
We are born wise. We are born complete. – Quote from my Licorice Mint Tea this week.
Three beginnings shape my world this week.
Each glistening with that special radiance a new thing always brings — trepidation, joy, uncertainty, excitement.
Like crossing a threshold
I wasn’t exactly terrified in this moment, but how perfect for illustration purposes?
Anyone else been feeling it lately?
I’ve been waking up in the night wrestling with fear – my least favorite feel. It’s the usual suspects: money, livelihood, housing, Trump. Nothing seems settled. Nothing seems sure. In these moments it’s like I’m on a flimsy inflatable pool raft (bought on sale at the local CVS), floating in the middle of a dark, formidable and very deep ocean. There is no one around. It’s nighttime. How will small frantic me ever get back to the sunny, inhabited shore? There’s not even a paddle.
Me and Dad
“But all our phrasing—race relations, racial chasm, racial justice, racial profiling, white privilege, even white supremacy—serves to obscure that racism is a visceral experience, that it dislodges brains, blocks airways, rips muscle, extracts organs, cracks bones, breaks teeth. You must never look away from this. You must always remember that the sociology, the history, the economics, the graphs, the charts, the regressions all land, with great violence, upon the body.” — Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me
Racism is about bodies.
It is a visceral reality that can be tasted, seen and felt.
And yet, as I devoured Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me, where the physicality of discrimination is honestly and vividly conveyed, I felt a curiosity arise in my own body. As a bi-racial girl who grew up in Utah, what was my physical experience of racism? The violence, ineffective schools and codes of the streets Coates describes of the Baltimore neighborhood of his youth, was not my reality. I grew up in an upper-middle-class white neighborhood. I was a cheerleader. Neighbors brought over bunts and peanut brittle during the holidays.
I’ve missed you, and yet, some time away was exactly what was needed.
At home in Utah it snowed most of Christmas Eve and all of Christmas Day – big, soft flakes that settled on a quiet world. It was just my dad and I this year. We started the morning with meditation, then a leisurely breakfast and gifts in the late afternoon. The pace and stillness of the day was an obvious contrast to every Christmas morning past. I reminisced on the holidays of childhood when my sisters and I would eagerly bound down the stairs before sunrise to see if “he” had come – evidenced by a consumed glass of milk and always half-eaten cookie. “Santa must be so full of cookies by the time he gets to our house to only eat half,” I would think. Sometimes I’d venture outside to see if I could make out in the snow where his sleigh had landed on our roof. Most always I found the hoof prints of reindeer.
How I miss the confidence I had in magic in my youth.
The darkness comes quickly.
These days the sand moves rapidly through the hourglass narrow. There’s a sense of being squeezed by time. There are emails to send, stories to edit, friends to check in with and gifts to purchase. With each tick of the clock, my hopes for getting it all done before the New Year take another step further from reach. And yet, though many items will likely slip through this arbitrary deadline, I’m not 100-precent frantic. Amid the whir of the season, my body refuses to be rushed.
A rendition of Prince’s “I wanna be your lover” to a very select audience of strangers.
This week, I’ve had an aha moment sparked in large part by this article. After I read it, I immediately wondered, what would it be like to experience a date like this? To be courted by a man whose intentions were so crystal clear? Is such a thing even possible in this “wanna-hang-out” dating age? Would I even know what to do with such an advance?
And yet, as evidenced by many posts on this blog, and going back well before that to the unrequited love poems of my bucktoothed, blossom-hat-wearing youth, it occurs to me that I’ve long been waiting for someone to make me feel special like this. I’m not afraid to admit it.