Friday, August 30, 2013

Redwoods and Spiderwebs (Road trip day 3)

Pinkest of Pink in downtown Eureka
My morning on Thursday, August 29th, began with bagels. My friend walked me to a local cafe called Los Bagels. Garlic bagel topped with cream cheese, cucumber, sweet mustard and poppy seed/sesame seed mix? Uh, sure, I'll have one of those.

Reconnecting with my friend, even for such a short time, let the flow of my trip change. Old town/downtown Eureka has a humble quality to it I quietly slipped into. The ensembles of t-shirts, skirts and sandals. The fat woman with a mustache wearing black clothes as one hand clasped the leash ensnaring her accessory dog. Clean shaven men with crisp blue button-down shirts. Toddlers with sunglasses that seem to swallow their faces as they giggled and ran around in that trotting, bouncing sort of way. Just that collection of oddities and normalities that when poured together taste like something sweet. Where an organic tomato isn't a hipster thing, it's just another item on the menu.

I left Eureka with a full tank of gas in at least three ways.

Driving is a special place I can think freely in. Maybe I just have the practice; all those miles I commuted to and from school were training hours so I could tackle the harder stuff later on. Driving offers a different kind of perspective than walking or sitting still. I can still be in my body but I move through time and space in curious ways. I more easily see the ways in which roads and lives weave together, how small the world and our experiences are in the scheme of things. What matters in life, what I'm feeling or not feeling, blah blah blah. You get the picture.

Avenue of the Giants
The mulling spiraled as I approached the Avenue of the Giants (the drive-through scenic tour of the Humboldt Redwood State Park). Then it all kind of... imploded. I drove through canopies of impossibly tall trees that were old friends not seen for many years. I drove. I rolled down my windows. I stopped to walk and weave between fallen trunks, ferns, towering redwoods, and spiderwebs. I took pictures. I spotted more and more intricate webs and curiously patterned eight legged creatures that I desperately wanted pictures of but couldn't access without disrupting some other intricate, improvised home.

I kept trying to figure out what I felt. I couldn't identify any tangible emotion. Not awe, not sadness. I didn't miss those closest to me, I didn't ache for human touch or company, I wasn't panicking or reclusive or social. “Am I numb?” I thought. Why after all these weeks of deeply churning emotions, of aliveness, do I suddenly feel nothing? Then I realized.
Spider's web

I felt grounded. I felt home. I felt like I do in moments with a soul love, being in total fullness and at ease in myself.

There is one phrase a soul sister of mine uttered not long ago that haunts my heart in a kind, precious way. “I'm learning how to be alone.” Not lonely. Alone. Not to reject the company of others or to abandon intimacy. Rather, developing intimacy in all spaces. With lovers, with friends, and with myself.

For the first time in what feels like a very long time I felt okay being alone with myself. No music, no distractions. Just fullness and trees. How odd to be so at home in a wilderness. I find that concept to be a funny one, the wilderness. So often in mythologies and stories this space, forest, desert, or some other landscape, is a trial. A stretch of land or time that someone is meant to endure long enough until they reach the “other side.” Within the wilderness much is learned, so that the hero, or whoever, might someday be free of the lost wandering.

But doesn't that miss the point? I am always and forever will be in the midst of the wilderness. Many trees fall, others spread their roots wider to connect with other trees. Spiders weave webs torn by careless tourists, wind, twigs, or other creatures. They rebuild. Within their own space, rarely to trees concern themselves with what should or shouldn't be. A tree never forgets; the harsh years, the bountiful years, each one is etched into their bodies. The gouges, the lost limbs. If a tree survives all of this, even the harshest times are not “let go of.”

Humboldt Redwoods
Sometimes I think now of how many times I've heard and said a phrase like “Let go of what no longer serves you” or “Let go of the past that no longer defines you” and I feel like laughing.

Let go? Let go of what? Something that makes myself ME?

A tree incorporates and grows. Includes and expands. There is a difference between holding onto something, letting it stunt our growth, and allowing something to be taken in as a PART of growth. The scars and reminders will probably always be there. But my soul doesn't have to diminish for it. My soul can be bigger and more whole because of it. Even when I feel most broken. The spaces between those cracks fill in with something stronger and more vibrant should I choose to accept the cracks and pieces as a part of who I am. Those cracks are no less deserving of my compassion. Do I have to like them? No. I can't figure out any way to like self-hatred or shame. But there is still room.

I kept having to pull over to let other cars pass me because I didn't feel like rushing through the highway. Instead of trying to figure out what emotion I was feeling I tried to describe the sensations in my body. My chest felt like a pool of a deep, deep indigo interrupted by slender threads of white lightening strikes. Vertical lines, bearing down again and again, like the breaks of sunlight between thick, dark tree trunks.

One person's stormy sky is another person's sunlight. But it's all the same, really.

In time I arrived in Petaluma. I checked into the hotel and loved its quirkiness so much that I quickly asked if I might extend my stay another day. Now, as the main boulevard stretching underneath my window stills, the street itself listens to the crickets hidden amidst the weeds, gardens, and hidden corners. I'm alone. Blissfully, comfortably alone and I feel neither guilty or selfish for it. I think I am certainly alright for craving my own space along with quiet, or sometimes loud, moments with a lover, or friend, or friends. I crave simplicity in most forms so I might get lost in the echoing silence that pounds in my ears, or the gentle rush of finger pads skimming along a cheekbone and jaw. There is both deep sorrow and great joy in my lungs; if I may release this to the world, my heart would surely rejoice.  

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