I can’t help but think of her when I braid my hair. And the day she taught me. Or the day she read me an angry poem about how I was stealing her identity. Funny how the interweaving of hair strands could arouse in her a fear of enmeshment. Meanwhile I was desperate to braid my hair every day. To give to myself what she could not: togetherness.
I never would have learned
What a boundary was.
Thanks for stomping on them
Until I figured it out.
I love you for that.
I walked to the grocery store the other day
For a bag of jumbo avocados.
I took them home and mashed them
Into guacamole for a birthday party.
I added lime juice,
Red onions – diced,
And tomatoes — the kind that tastes more like a vegetable than a fruit.
I added garlic salt,
I tasted it every step of the way.
I sat down at a table among friends.
We ate the finest homemade macaroni and cheese.
We slurped up sweet zoodles,
And whole heaps of cheap wine.
At one point a baby raccoon wandered into the yard.
We told stories on a small pink stage.
We made s’mores with peanut butter cups.
We sat until the embers burned
And the partygoers left.
We smoked cigarettes and talked about shame
And the limitations of our power.
We reconciled differences,
And laughed with each other.
We looked at stars
And fathomed at their deaths.
When the night ended I went inside
With a ball of fear heavy in my chest.
I found the lovers hugging in the kitchen.
I did dishes until the ball disappeared.
The guacamole was gone
But for the hardened, discolored remains
In the bowl.
I put my hand under the hot water
And let it run.
A voice in my head said something about a global water crisis.
I turned the faucet off and stood there alone.
I looked out the window into the yard,
Where the puppy had dropped another baby raccoon
Dead in the grass.
I thought about masks falling off,
And the smell of nag champa.
I thought about the desert,
And vision quests,
I thought about how some things turn bad
Faster than avocados
And how the things worth staying for
Are often taken for granted.
I looked at my reflection
And saw the abandoned house next door.
I saw the bushes rustle
And the shadows dance
I saw among the darkness something like a home.
I fell asleep at dawn with my headphones in
And my heart threatening to burst wide open.
What if time offered you
A chance at something new?
Would you hold on to the past?
Massage the old wounds
‘Cause they’re so familiar?
Or would you allow
Life to progress as it wants to?
Would you give yourself
To the flow of things?
Trust in its movement?
Do you have any choice anyways
When love bangs on your door?
When ever possible
I greatly recommend
Getting naked in the woods.
Feel the breeze on your skin
Even if it’s soft.
Feel the fly land on your arm
The moth on your leg,
Bees on a flower petal.
Feel your genitalia like mycelia,
Diana is hiding behind a tree
And if you center yourself properly
You might become like Aphrodite
Like children running in the pasture.
You might find yourself
Laughing for no reason.
Perched nude upon
A rock in a stream
Surrounded by wet moss
Gleaming green and gold
Yellow Janice flapping small and significant
Among the dying leaves
The herbaceous soil
The ferns and secret cedars.
There is very little difference
Between the pink of your flesh
Or the brown
And the hickories and the sycamores
And the pebbles dancing.
Take your clothes off
And find out for yourself
That nature envelops you too.
That you are home in your own bare skin.
TLDR: Love lost is the abdication of magic-making to other.
And yet, it is equally possible that what I yearn for is not an actual person but an experience.
The phrase, ‘love lost,’ is a curious one, isn’t it? For it implies that love can be lost. But is not the first inflammation of love an inward experience? Does it not rise up within you? Though it surely does in response to the meeting of another, but nonetheless it happens within. The individual feels love for the other and so is ushered across a threshold, a threshold that divides the ordinary from the magical.
Yes! The magical! Across the great divide lies the beauty of fortuity, the song of synchronicity. The huge feeling that the individual is now apart of something much larger than their small self; a sort of hidden experience; a big secret.
But it is only by our own blindness that we forget the internal nature of our love. We hunger after the other when the well within us has run dry. We forget to conjure our own magic. So we are incensed by falsehoods. We are caught up in wrong ideas, all the while dismissing a certain truth:
Of personal responsibility. Does love not strike us at the oddest moments? Does it not come to us when we are in the midst of making our own magic? Far too often, I have found that it does–that my greatest loves have come upon me in a time of effortful striving. The first time, striving to move west, to transfer to another university somewhere off the Puget Sound, immersing myself in philosophy, sociology, political theory, and of course creative writing. And there it was, in my creative writing class that I first met her–the first love of my life. An important love. For she shaped me in ways no one else could have done. She brought me to myself and then left me there. And I thank her for that. But not to forget the original premise of this paragraph: that love comes when we are building our own ship; which is not to say we should build our ship in order to find love. For then, we are not actually acting out of self-love or self-motivation; we are acting for the sake of manifesting a rather specific set of circumstances.
I used to live in New York City, and by live I mean I rented a room in Brooklyn for two months before deciding to go back home to the Midwest. I had gone there to follow what turned out to be a manufactured dream–taken from movies and television and books–the dream of being a writer in New York City. But I soon found the city overwhelming, the people sad, angry, and depressed–about what exactly I was not sure, though I suspected it had something to do with the lack of space. Humans need space, you know? We need space to roam and wander and climb. We are, after all, descendants of primates who first leapt from tree to tree, then found their way into the grasslands. I suspect we are all just looking for our grasslands now.
In any case, I lived in New York City for two months before packing all my things into my Subaru and going back to Kansas City. When I came back, a number of important events happened. Most importantly, I met Robert–the man who would show me the reality of energy. Robert gave me some words to live by:
“Act on your highest passion every moment that you can, taking it as far as you can, to the best of your ability, with Zero expectation of the outcome.” (We will revisit this later)
Yes, and I learned of these words in the midst of a great crisis. For years I had been trying to go to Thailand for gender confirming surgery. But it never happened. Four times it had fallen through. Four times I was forced to reschedule. So this was July when I came back from Brooklyn. My new date was scheduled for February. So I had all this time to fill out. And I will not bore you with all the details. But we must note that, quite fortuitously, my first love reappeared in my life. We saw each other at a concert. She touched my hand. And I felt this passion rise inside me. I remembered my feelings for her. I had buried them for a long time. I had actually convinced myself at one point that my attraction to women was merely the manifestation of some internal fragmentation (in other words, I was looking for a woman to fulfill me but that woman was me). And sure, this was true in some sense. I had disowned my own feminine persona, and sought it in her. But now, as we danced together in this dimly lit bar, I realized that wasn’t entirely true. It seems so rudimentary looking back, that I couldn’t just accept that I was both a woman and attracted to women. I’ll never not find that funny.
So she awakened something which had slept in me. She awakened my love. But it was not requited. She awakened something she did not intend to love in return. And I am ultimately thankful for that. For it set me on the path to an even greater love.
And it happened quite out of the blue. It happened right as I had decided I was through looking for love; that I was on a path to another state, a new school, a new way of life, and it would be on that path that I’d come upon my next love; so I was through looking for it. I began to longboard more, write more, make more music. I did it all without any sort of expectation of outcome. I did it because I wanted to, because I found joy in it. That’s when I met her. And I will not tell you of our love. Because I can’t. Because it was beyond words. Beyond conveyance. It was our secret. Our gift. I can only say of our love that it came rife with gratuitous magic. A magic that engulfed and inflamed the both of us. A flame that still burns in me today. Burns me as a bonfire burns a log, until it is nothing but smoldering ash.
And here I am today, smoldering ash, writing of love lost, questioning whether it is her I am missing or the experience of that love, that gratuitous magic. And if it is the latter, which I am inclined to believe, then I must admit, nay, I must celebrate my own potential to create magic in my life.
Thus, I feel, the point of this small essay is to ask the question: what is magic and how do I create it?