I was a judge’s pick in this (very) short fiction contest at Boise Weekly (I got the news the day my dear cat Oliver died). Reading it tonight on the internets. Words and storytelling have been helping me during this very intense time (personal and public), as always. Reading and writing.
This post is almost as long as the story itself (one hundred and one words short!). But here's the story:
She was visiting to see if she could be a wife and mother to him and his kids.
Everything in the bathroom leaked. But he had laid out tiny toiletries for her – toothpaste, moisturizer, deodorant. Her face flushed at his care, until her eyes stung with shame.
“He deserves better than me,” she thought, steeling her eyes in the mirror to pretend for a few hours.
The next day she drove away while he and the kids feigned cheer playing soccer with a deflated ball in the snow.
Her hair still smelled like his house when she climbed into bed later.
I’m not going to pour any of the clichés into your face about 2020. They’re all true.
I’m here to say, hello, sending you so much love from my tender heart to yours to close out that year (<-- side-eye) and ring in the new. Please, please, let there be some shift. For a gal who doesn’t really pray I’ve prayed a lot this past month, especially.
I wanted a shift so bad, actually, that I was already crying at like 12:05 A.M. Pressure!
To be fair:
I lost my twenty-year-old niece in early December, suddenly. And my dear cat died three weeks ago, also unexpectedly. It has been a TIME. Lots of tears. But also, I’ve felt very held. I feel lucky to have the support I’ve had and the concentric circles holding up a corner with me so that I can then support inward toward my sister and her family.
And I felt like it was important to reach out here, too, and say, hey, whatever you’re feeling right now or have been going through – it’s OK. I mean, I know you know this, but sometimes it just helps to hear it.
On the subject of release to close out that year: My therapist said to me once, “Don’t think of naked people jumping on a trampoline.” Thought of them, didn’t you? Yeah. Because, he says, when we put things in the negative, we’re still focusing on them. But I think it’s helpful to think of what we want to release. Like, personally, I want to let go of being steered by the anxious, vigilant part of me that doesn’t want any more loss. I want to let go of giving my power away and making up stories about what other people think of me. I want to let go of binary thinking that, like, I must either be totally spiritual or an atheist. Long story on that one, but it came to me recently during a wonderful somatic healing session with my friend Krista Kujat.
On new perspectives: One of the things I learned this week is that we’re so often in leadership mode. And that is great. Yes, let’s please share our knowledge and lead by example and teach. But also, I realized that sometimes it feels really good to have someone you trust tell you what to do for a bit. I like this in the form of a yoga class, for example, and when the COVID times are over I plan on taking a pottery class. Pottery is something sensual and I don’t have to be good at it. The bulk of the things I spend my time doing I feel like I need to be good at, because they are somehow tied to my life’s purpose. That’s kind of a lot of pressure. So, what if I could do a few things that I could totally suck at and just, like, communicate with the clay? That feels like some major luxuriating. A byproduct of which would be I’d get my mind off my writing and music long enough for them to develop in the subconscious. Like, it’s GOOD for our purpose for us to be off purpose sometimes. Purposefully. ;-)
Anyway, I’m rambling now. But I just wanted to reach out across the ethers with a few things that have been top of mind and heart lately. And yes, they are disparate but connected, and I think that’s OK. We’ve already become super resilient with expansive hearts last year (and many years prior). I’m not going to put a bunch of pressure on myself to like GIT ER DONE.
I’m glad to report that even with staggering loss we can still use our voices and create the beauty we want to create. That flower is always going to grow out of the sidewalk crack.
How about you? Feel free to reply to this email to let me know how you’re doing or drop me a comment on my website. What’s your flower growing out of the ass-crack that was that year?
It's me, Jennifer Bernice (rhymes with "Furnace": it was my Granny's name) Sutkowski
• More details about my writing here.