Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Home. Finally.

After three days in Texas, I finally got a flight home. Still arguing with American Airlines about compensation. They offered me $75 for the inconvenience of sitting on a parked plane for 6 hours and then getting off again with no word for two days on when I could get home. Yeah. $75 isn't going to cut it. Not even a little bit. We will see.

When I got to the Iowa airport, I swooned. Not in the good way, in the oh dear God I am blacking out way. I managed to sit on the floor before I fell, and brought myself out of it. Yay honey cough drops that Candice put in my pocket before I left. I greyed out one more time while talking to the baggage lady, but the honey was already working and it didn't last too long. Got the baggage and twenty minutes later managed to haul all that mess out to the parking lot and find my car.

I drove home slowly, mindful of more dizziness signs. I didn't get this far just to end the story bloody in a ditch.

Once home, I hugged children, passed out gifts, and then actually passed out. I slept for a few hours, then sipped some tea. My heart was racing and my bones rattling- so I knew I had an electrolyte depletion. gatorade was brought out and soon I was sleeping again. That was about all I could manage.

Today, the kids were super clingy. Isaac learned new words, how to use the computer mouse to play PC games that are not touch screen, worked on potty learning, and seems to have grown up a lot. I missed those slow moments that growth unfolds because I was gone. Trust me, this hurt.

Holly and Lily were eager to just be in the room with me. Everyone was loud and high energy and eventually all the moving and noise was too much. I left the house for a few hours, got some coffee and took care of paperwork.

When I returned I made fancy ramen for dinner, folded laundry, and packed.  I'll probably repack tomorrow, just to make sure I have everything I want to take, equipment wise. Tomorrow Jessica comes to help clean, and I have so much work to do before class.

What I am getting at? I will, I promise, get more posts up from the island and from exploring Atlanta with Jen. Right now? I am barely above water.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

The Journey Is Perilous

I was supposed to arrive in Iowa at 4:30 this afternoon. A freak snow and ice storm hit TX just as I was flying in. The plane was delayed. Made friends with fellow travellers so I could borrow a phone charger. Chatted with a Ft. Dodge women who missed her baby and was carrying breast milk. What a warrior mom! Every obstacle known to mothers regarding breastfeeding from tongue tie to abscess that needed surgery and here she was at her one year mark, stuck in an airport. She was close to tears.

Kids were running around. Parents were screaming. Someone made a snide comment about a mother publicly breastfeeding. I missed it, else that awesome mom would have been treated to being thanked by me on behalf of everyone else, because good job!

My text exchanges went like this:

 "We are boarding soon. Maybe. I don;t want to jinx it by putting away my laptop."

" Stranded airport passengers can be entertaining and fun. My voice came back and I encouraged introductions, got folks helping each other charge their phones and sharing pics of their families. One lady started crying because she needed to pump for her baby at home, we've been here since noon! 

2 hour wait now for the deicer. At least we are on the plane. 

Everything is an adventure, a moment to cherish. Even if it's crowded and people are cranky. "
Talk about boarding new plane. Then broken. New plane. Crew recalled. New crew. Wait for de-icer. Board plane. Wait for de-icer. Crew recalled......wait 2 more hours on the plane until they can taxi back to a gate. We were on a runway. No food, no drink. Two screaming babies and a special needs kid, a plane full of business women were were PISSED,  all wrapped up in a small metal tube.

Finally, after 8 hours of this nightmare, they let us off, told us all hotels were booked and good luck. The contingent of angry Iowa women freaked out and became hysterical, calling other airlines, figuring out if driving would make sense, and more freaking out.
"Seriously though. I keep telling myself, it's ok. It;s not a plane crash. It's a delay. A delay is not tragic, it's annoying. "
I found a ticket counter that had a short line, it was pilots who didn't have answers, not really. But they told me that flying home wasn't likely until Sunday. And that I should just go home.

My texts turned to oscillating between swearing and calming myself down. But mostly swearing.

Iowa group followed me and were still frantically making calls because they had to be home! They had to pack for something or other and where was the luggage?

My head began to hurt. At some point I had scrolled fb for Dallas area friends. Bam. Cousin Candice. A good cousin to boot! Sweet. I fb asked her if I were to get stranded, perhaps she could put me up so I don't have to sleep at the airport? (Ticket agent said that all flights for Saturday cancelled too, fun).

She said yes! Goodness I am so glad for this warm bed right now. But all my clothes were in the checked bags.  I had airport yucky clothes on and kinda stink, but my cousin, who I hadn't seen since my aunt Chris's death five years ago, and before that it had been ten, she welcomed me into her home and her husband braved the icy roads to come get me. We had lived next door to each other as children for a year and done a couple family vacations as kids, but Cajun cousins are close always. For that I am so grateful.

Though the exchange with both our husbands was...cousin? Um, which cousin? Because...... yeah, we have some pretty interesting cousins. I guess she told him I was totally cool and Amish.

Yup. She told him I was Amish. So when I said on the phone, "You can't miss me, red coat and purple hair......" confusion ensued. I shook his hand and right away blurted out. You don't have to worry, I'm not one of those cousins. Though I am not sure he believed me at first, or now, but we'll see.

I'm going to try to coax sleep into hanging out with me tonight. This insomnia is no longer normal, but getting in the way of things like, you know, functioning. Candice made me tea and gave me chocolate, a shower basket, and is being so sweet. Now, if only sleep would get here. Maybe the ice is a problem for her too.

Also, I seem to have picked up a southern accent. It happens.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Parallel Universes: Leaving Ossabaw

I'll certainly write more when I get home, sort pictures, and come to my senses. Still, I need to get this down so I remember exactly what this feels like.

I have spent the past year researching and studying mythologies and folklore. Many of those stories have an element of faerie magic. I am holding those tales at the back of my mind as I process this.

The last hours on the island, I spent cleaning and polishing and helping people gather their thoughts and belongings to depart on the boat that returns to the mainland. Ossabaw is a coastal barrier island, one of the few that is nearly pristine wilderness and not housing or commercial tourism development. There are no grocery stores, no malls, no gas stations. It is perfect and as silent as a wild forest can be. Every morning I would wake and quietly slip out of the bunk room around 5am. I'd start the coffee pot in the kitchen and then slide on boots and coat, walk in the darkness the long narrow path to the dock.

I was never frightened of the open water at this place, at the dock. The marsh was in reaching distance and the view was more river than ocean and it felt like home, something manageable and beautiful. Every morning brought something new: the first was total darkness, walking alone I met a small group of Ossabaw pigs on the path. I couldn't see them, but hearing them close in the dark? It was frightening. I raise these pigs, I know not to meet them alone in the dark, even the gentle ones. The next few mornings,  fellow writers joined me in my early morning meditation. Watching the sun rise, quietly and subtly over the water, no blazing dramatic production, just a slip of blue, silky white, and the darkness falling away. The next to last morning it was pouring rain and I went anyway. Standing the the cold rain, I saw piglets playing the marsh and I felt so much wash away, I had been burning with ideas all day, writing furiously and spilling it all on  to paper, too fast and I was beginning to burn at both ends. The cool rain brought me back to grounding.

This world feels like a fold in time. I almost went to the college here, choosing the easy path instead (keep my museum job, have babies, and attend the local state university). Moving is hard. But these streets, these rivers, these people? They may have been my neighbors, my friends.....this place would have been my home. Or not. I mean, I could have been as easily killed by a rolling out of parking gear on a hill car, or gobbled by alligators, or married and have babies and moved away. I can't dwell on the what could have beens. Except for the feeling of having lived here already forever, knowing the landscape as if it were my birthplace. It is a strange feeling.

I thought that was that. The week was over and I scrubbed counters, stripped beds, put the clutter of books and pens away. I began to feel panic, I thought of the boat ride and dismissed my panic as the unreasonable phobia that I've been fighting for years. When it came time for me to get on the boat and go, I couldn't let go. I asked to walk the path instead of be driven. That long path I walked every morning, hoping the familiarity would ease the transition.

I began to cry. Or weep. Or completely fall apart. This place has hold over me that I can't explain. I feel at home here and enchanted by the music of the wilderness. Alligators and blue herons, marshes and bones. It feels like all the landscapes I have loved all rolled up into one.

No light mention that my love of poetry re-ignited here, just one year ago. A slow awakening, but I am working daily to bring it back to life. It feels like falling in love again, just as I remembered and maybe why I put it away nearly twenty years ago. Falling in love, the intimacy of words, especially poetry, is dangerous, always. I am careful and cautious, to a fault. But this? This is me falling apart and rising up from the destruction. Taking apart why I couldn't write, and re-mapping ways to travel around that.

The boat ride was as scary as I predicted, but it didn't rain so my fear that a monsoon would sweep me over into choppy waves was not realized ....this time. Friends held my hand, and eventually I stopped cowering on the floor of the boat and held my face in the wind.


Back on mainland, Jj, Holly (friend not child), and I walked the streets of Savannah in the delicate, cold rain. I started shivering, the deep down shivering that has only ever followed childbirth, by traumatic surgery. I knew it would cede if I slowed my breathing and calmed down and it did, but left me feeling dizzy. I bought what we now call a "Calm the Fuck Down" essential oil patch (Bergamot from Nourish) to help with the transition. This is when I remembered the tales of people stolen by faeries and then returned after living in the other world, the world of magic.

Ossabaw is a place that people see the poet and artist. Not the me that is a terrible housekeeper, a frazzled mother, an novice farmer, or a failure in all the ways that I struggle to keep all my busy in the air. No one cried because the bananas were broken, or fought over ponies, or made demands on my time ungratefully. There were chores to do, but always someone there to help. It was different than at home. I feel terrible admitting that, and I will go home and be more fully present.

I share with these writers this fragile and vulnerable side, my words, my histories, my heart. And they embrace it, know the struggle, and I feel so much less alone than I do on the range lands and rolling hills of my home. This magic is powerful, and the time precious. Just enough, even if I felt torn leaving it.

It was stepping on the shore of the return dock, the boat captain said, "This is the most dangerous part, when you get out of the boat, Watch your step."

Yes. This return is the hard, sad, necessary part. This is when the magic broke and reality settled back around my shoulders. This is when I started shaking. I can't pretend it was just the trauma of the boat trip. No, I really can't. I feel like the faeries have returned me and the enchantment has left me changed, in this dreamworld, like a cloak or a charm, an affliction that is hard to wake from.

Probably sleep deprivation and homesickness, but I had to write this all down before the feeling leaves.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Love Story, Coastal Barrier Island Style

 “Do not fall in love with people like me.
I will take you to museums, and parks, and monuments, and kiss you in every beautiful place, so that you can never go back to them without tasting me like blood in your mouth.
I will destroy you in the most beautiful way possible. And when I leave you will finally understand, why storms are named after people.”
― Caitlyn Siehl, Literary Sexts: A Collection of Short & Sexy Love Poems
This line of verse has really been stuck in the roof in my mouth. I taste it as I mouth the words. I am feeling it in my chest today, less in my head and more in my flesh.

This beautiful place is destroying me again. Destruction is what we need to begin creating, yeah? I feel this, the magic of this place, the really sharp sound of the silence and the water lapping and the darkness in which the whole house sleeps- this reminds me of home.

And yet, every time I stand under these live oaks I get that welling up that is just like falling in love for the first time. That sweetness and feeling that the world is slipping out from under me. Getting lost in the woods, or caught in the rain, or tripping over words and blushing deep down all over every inch of skin.

That's what being here feels like.

Layer on top of that the workshops and writing and being surrounded by people who listen and hear me, who know and love words with the same passion? Oh this is something I come home to. That's why it makes me sad to leave, but I know that this is special and I will return. I'll carry it with me through the year, in my pocket like a talisman.

And I will write.