Blood and Wings and Blood

I should have had my period by now but my cycles are all fucked up since I hit my forties. You know it will happen eventually, you just don’t ever think it will happen to you. Like, now.  There was always something about the eventual onset of menopause that was in the future, and a distant future at that.

You don’t want to talk about this? Too bloody? Too gross but not in the fun way like those shit slasher movies you watch with all the gore and gratuitous violence?

It’s funny to me. The way that people are. Funny-tragic, I mean. The way they have convinced you that women are disposable and you believed it and moved on and you don’t think that’s a kind of cruelty. You think that’s just the way it is. I can’t blame you. I thought so, too. Parts of me still do and it seems I keep discovering new ones as the years go by. It’s layered into us. It’s almost eerily clever in its own grotesque way.

Did you know that if you cut open a cocoon at any point during its existence you will most likely just see a gooey mess? You will not ever see a half-caterpillar-half-butterfly because apparently it doesn’t happen like that. The butterfly sort of happens all at once suddenly out of the sticky glob of nothing recognizable as anything.

And if I remember correctly, the tiny creature thing just kind of finally drops out one day, also suddenly, from the chrysalis, wings completely gummed together by the soggy muck is was soaked within for however many days. Eight to twelve days.

It is a rather raw and violent way to exit one form of life and enter a new one. Later on we watch in delight as the butterfly flutters through a garden and think, How sweet, delicate, beautiful. Some butterflies make it and some don’t. Some can’t get their wings to open and so they fall to their sad little deaths. Some can only manage one wing, which is not enough.

I’m not trying to make this some kind of metaphor for struggle or some lesson about how precious and slim your life is, or mine for that matter. I’m not trying to say anything other than birth, death, life, are all parts of a unified cycle, and each stage contains within it its own kind of ugliness, stickiness, and violence. And that our collective denial of the brutality of these cycles, our denial of the excruciating pain of the destruction that is giving birth, or the crushing pain a woman must endure month after month within her own naturally pain-wracked body, is to deny, too, the magnificent awe the strength of a woman should inspire.

All of this has been said before. This is not a new ask, to be acknowledged, to be respected, to be seen for all that a woman actually is instead of for what she has been told to be: pretty, happy, quiet, obedient, clean. Perhaps each woman has to say these things for herself at some point in her life, though. In order to make it real in her own way. Part of it is to finally acknowledge, respect, and see herself. We spend our whole lives holding back or denying a kind of pain which is hard to explain because it is so intimate, so deeply woven in that we are some how too close to see it.

Some butterflies, of course, do make it. They drop and they fly and in one ecstatic movement they are off on their own adventures. And they come to know the sunshine and the soft peach light of summer sunset falling upon the colorful petals. And the cold hard rain and the thrashing storms and the driving winds, too.

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Photo by Cassidy Dickens

 

Which of Your Selves Will Tell Your Story?

My fingernails have grown out and I am quite pleased with the clicketty clack sounds they make whilst tapping and scratching all over the keyboard keys as I type.

Sharp lengthy nails aren’t always me but for now they feel like a much needed change from the cropped stubs I usually keep super short and chewed upon.

As the clock ticks on and I drain my coffee cup for the second time, I am thinking about the telling of stories and how a narrator – if she wants to be in the least bit compelling – must first choose the self from which she will speak.

To achieve intimacy, the depth of experience she wishes to convey, she must remain loyal to two critical elements throughout the telling of her story: who she is and why she is speaking.

It’s the who she is which can be entirely problematic, and yet also fully stimulating. In fact, it could be that if a writer cannot decide on who she must be in the telling of her particular story then she will not be able to tell the story at all.

With no self in which to anchor the narrative, the story will not hold together. Without that central pillar of cohesion, everything falls apart.

Knowing who you are, it would seem, is what gives you voice.

This is also the part of writing which compels me most of all to write. The siren call of the self I cannot be anywhere else except on the page. The self who runs barefoot through the depths of the forests of dreams.

The self who is nothing to anyone. Who owes nothing. Who has nothing to lose but worlds and worlds to create. Who is not married or employed or mothering or daughtering or tied in any way to the expectations of, or commitments to, others.

Part of the beauty of this kind of intimacy with the words is that you do not need to cover up or shy away from mixed emotions or complicated, messy, ugly, harsh, or difficult feelings.

Those paradoxes are exactly where you enter the scene, they are your way in.

Who is speaking, and why. This is the first decision. The choosing of the persona, the particular self you must be in relation to the story you wish to tell. The experience you wish to create within your reader.

And there, in that deep wide dark space, I am always and must always remain alone. In the silence of the mind, selections are made.

What to reveal, what not to reveal.

What to tell, what not to tell.

And I cannot help but wonder, is it the writing which intimidates the aspiring writer. Or is it that in order to write, one must make a choice, one story at a time, of who to be, how to see, how to approach and move about.

When there are so many selves from which to choose, how do you know which is the right one for the moment?

It’s a gamble. It’s a dare. An invitation. A chance. To be everything you dreamed you could be. To be bigger. Wilder.

Someone else entirely. Just for a bit, the self you are dying to be.

Clicketty clack, clicketty clack . . . 

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Photo by Ann Danilina