Tag Archives: back road

Message in a Bottle

6 Jun

A small blonde boy sits on the path in front of Ocracoke Coffee Company patting Clarence. Both are perfectly content just sitting on roughened planks covering pebbles and sand. The boy slowly strokes the dog’s back. Clarence then moves into his familiar spaniel position, the backward lean. It’s his comfort move.And whether my dog knows it or not it is the position which relays the most love to the person doing the patting.

It says, I trust you. You can bear a bit of my weight.

I don’t mind leaning on you for a bit.

As much comfort as my quiet presence gives to you, I am grateful for the affection and attention you are bestowing upon me.

Clarence is wise, for during this weekend back in my favorite place, I’m thinking about the delicate balance of friendship and connection. As I sit in familiar places here on the island again, people I have come to know recognize my face.

They ask,  “How’s the writing going?”

“Ok,” I say.  But at this point, two years into this blog, I’m not so sure.

Yesterday, standing in line at the coffee shop, an older gentleman and I struck up a conversation. As we slowly began to become acquainted, my travels, occupation, and story rolled out.  And of course the question always arrives,

“What do you write?”

But these days, I hesitate to answer.

Because looking back over this enormous amount of processed experience, I have no idea what to call this type of writing. It’s not a blog…each piece is too long. It’s not memoir, the experiences too new and my perspective too close. It’s not what I had originally intended to do, review the road. For the writing became personal, and intimate. Sometimes too personal. It made me uneasy this veiled honesty. My feelings on love and loss, forgiveness and connection eventually erupted into the process.

I’ve been told — Just tell a story. Narrative keeps distance between you and the reader and people come to their own conclusions.

I’ve been told — Keep it personal; that makes it more true and real, cathartic even.

I’ve been told — Shorten it up; no one wants to read 1500 word essays online.

I’ve been told — Don’t omit the details…tell the story as long as it takes.

I’ve been told — Love the rich description. My language, lyrical and poetic, is the hallmark of my style.

I’ve been told — Make it plainer for everyday folks. No one wants to think that deeply over a blog post.

All I know is this…somehow I just needed to tell my story. Somehow, making my journey visible to others whether happy or sad made it more bearable. And bit by bit, there was healing. Becuase in some strange sense the whole thing felt seen. . .witnessed. And isn’t that the only thing people can do in a recovery? What is this power of acquiring witness?

However…the doubts feel creeping shame; have I opened myself too much?

The Internet is a strange filter, through which nothing is entirely anonymous. I’m a real woman living in a real town, living a real life that has its happiness and it’s challenge, more challenge it seems than not. But still, it wouldn’t take much for anyone to find me and know quite clearly what’s happened both in my inner life and outer life in the last two years.

And now I wonder… Is it too much?

When a person asks me,  “So… What’s the name of your blog?”

And I cringe a bit and say, “Ummm… It’s not really a blog”  or ” it’s kind of a record of my journey or it’s sort of like a journal”… and then I change the subject. That’s when it occurs to me that maybe, just maybe I’ve opened up my life too much. Someone once told me revealing too much at the beginning of a relationship is like getting naked on the first date… you just don’t do that. And maybe. . .I have, a little.

And maybe for someone who meets me in person, or someone who already knows me, or more importantly someone who wants to get to know me, reading personal introspection about this journey of mine may elicit a bit of discomfort… a hesitation. Maybe it creates a sense of voyeurism that feels like walking in on someone while in the bathroom… That “Oops” feeling. That, “I’m not so sure I know you well enough to know you that well” evasiveness.

I’ll never forget sitting at one of my favorite restaurants at home last year. A young lady approached my table and asked,

“Are you the Wayfarinlass?”

“Yeeeaahhh?” I  hesitantly replied.

“I read your blog”, she said slowly. “I’m a biiigggg fan.”

Uh Oh

“Uhhh…ok?”  I started to get a little frightened. Thoughts of stalkers and just how public my small missive actually was suddenly became apparent as she plunked down at my table and ordered exactly what I had.

As the conversation ensued, the young woman revealed her purpose in approaching me. Was I dating her ex boyfriend who had referred her to the blog? Horrified, I didn’t even know whom she meant until well into our hour and half long discussion. During this confession of sorts, she revealed to me everything about her prior relationship, even details one might save for a long trusted friend. I struggled between trying to extract myself and counseling her.

Now that I look back on the event, I see it all too plainly. When you do not have a sufficient network of caring friendships and connections that provide mutual love and support, you grab on to the first compassionate ear and hang on for dear life. Because in a world which isolates us in its enormity, a world which cannot focus on anything immediate and real, being heard affirms and assures us that indeed everything will be alright. How sad, but how necessary, it is that sometimes a stranger is the only one who brings us the wisdom and comfort of the Universe. Or at least a mirror in which we see what is already there to heal us within ourselves.

We are social creatures. We need each other whether it is comfortable or not. Just looking at Clarence and the way strangers interact with him shows me that. But there is a difference in live presence and mental construct. In this digital space, I haven’t named names, for the most part, nor been explicit. But I have written about my own vulnerability, revealed details that take off the mask of a human woman struggling to navigate a single life. It strikes me that someone could meet me and know much more about me than I him or her and now and that gives me pause.

There’s a mystery to live connection, a slow revealing that builds trust as the foundation upon which the house of relationship stands. That foundation cannot be ignored, because without it, connection is nothing more than an illusion. A safe, but lonesome one at that.

In watching this little boy, I can see it. He and Clarence begin the slow creating of a moment. They get comfortable after the initial greeting. Commitment to stay for a while happens and then they settle into a quiet paring. Each tentative touch increases the trust; each stroke assures the next will be gentle and giving. Clarence gets affirming touch, the boy gets emotional comfort and peacefulness. But the key is this…

It’s present.

It’s real.

It’s not words on a page.

It’s not an illusion created by photos and status posts.

It’s not an Internet dating profile or Facebook space spread out for voyeuristic view.

It’s not a bevy of texts and emails.

It’s real.

I tire of digital connection. Like smoke signals in the distance it lets you know you aren’t alone, but it doesn’t feed the real needs of the human soul. And perhaps if we spent more time listening to each other’s stories in person, giving each other the benefit of the doubt enough to believe, trust, and walk in compassion rather than hiding behind a digital wall built of our p.e.d.’s, we might just find the beauty of our own human natures. We might ultimately find what we are looking for. For if we are at all honest, all anyone wants is love and understanding. A moment of “You too? I thought I was the only one.”

So perhaps this space has been my message in a bottle. My casting out a line into dark water, so that eventually I might find my way back to civilization, to my real home.



A Full Plate

16 Sep

Have you ever been to a family reunion? Gingham vinyl covered tables are long and piled with homemade delectables so enticing that even though you scoop tiny bites of everything, there is still too much to fit on one plate. That has been my life since Maryland. My plate is overly full. . .so much so that I have been severely ill and struggling to sleep more than four hours a night. I am recouperating from walking pneumonia, an infection that began on the first day of school and lingered until last week.

I traveled anyway in obstinacy. I defied it. I refused to miss school more than a half a day. It laughed at me in its reaper-ish way and then, squeezed my lungs asking,

Howdja like that Wayfarin Lass? You’re taking antibiotics that cure plague for a reason Lil Miss Red.

I am learning quickly that my body has limitations and my drive, while admirable to some will end up hurting me if I do not learn to simply be.

“Give something up” is the message in this first month back to school. I’m faced with tough choices.

I gave up chastising myself about workout routines after going to TRX one evening mid-pneumonia. This was after I had walked a five mile trail in the same week.

My body said No. Stop. Enough. . .Rest.

It scared me.

But I feel soft now, lazy. Having never quite gained momentum back from the summer of traveling and exercise on the fly, I long for my hard leanness to the point of anger. I learned physical discipline, but what I must learn now is spiritual discipline. . .to let go. To balance.

I’ve been confused, musing. My students want more this year. Their skills are weak and I am angry their passiveness. They display a learned helplessness that sends my blood pressure over the edge. I have to learn to let them go and not save them. To let them reap what shallow digging sows, not much. I’ve been behind in grading perpetually because I take their assignments more seriously than they do. That has to end. Their excuses are a dish I can no longer endure.

Maryland was incredible, launching me down a path of retrieving my spirit. During bagpipe tunes and familiar Celtic songs, I had a moments of saying goodbye, watching my former love and my former self part and walk separate ways down a grassy road. I was able to say goodbye to a lot at the Renaissance Faire, and yet hello to much more. In reclaiming that space, I flowered again.

But upon my return, still ill and worried about where next to turn in this spiritual search, I found myself looking back into a program of studies I had started in 2010 at Hollins University. And there, on the list of courses was a Gender and Woman’s Studies class focused on spirituality, myth and the feminine. In less than 24 hours, I was re-enrolled and a student again with my first class only a day away. When the Universe answers, it does so like a lightening bolt. The world is becoming more complicated, yet more simple all at once.

So I face this blog now, after a weekend of confusion over VW bus financing and an aimless trek to see a Civil War Reenactment. Will I even write that novel now? It scares me that that path may have disappeared. I don’t know how, but this space needs to survive, but somehow shift. Changes are coming so quickly that perhaps I’ll only have time to share my observations on the many books I’ll be reading for my class. I still have stories to tell from the road. Like this weekend, when I practically lived out of my vehicle in the Outer Banks due to an AirBnB host who drove me insane with his intrusiveness and one-sided chatter. I had come to the Outer Banks for peace, to be alone with Clarence and to think, to write…to be silent. I paid only for a room, not to spend the weekend with a host who wanted to hostage me into being his “bff”. So I did something I never have before. I packed my car Saturday morning with no idea where to go, no place to stay. But I knew somehow I must find peace and figure it out on the fly. It should be no surprise where I ran, Ocracoke. And surely, it was meant to be. I ran into folks I haven’t seen since December and confirmed that someday the journey will end there, I’m sure.

The uncanny alignment of spiritual path, this class and returning to so many places of old is telling me something. Stay in the moment…do not look forward… do not look back.

Look within.

Remember, it is not September 2010.

It is not October 2011.

It is not December 2012.

This weekend proved that to me. I stopped to get Thai takeout at Thai Moon Restaurant before going back to the ferry and I sat outside at the café tables with Clarence, waiting. He was luring many to soften and chat with me all weekend. That’s his magic. After the AirBnB fiasco, I am now convinced I MUST find a VW bus and someway to pay for it, so that I will have a safe space to stay when I travel. Clarence must come with me. I want to write the stories of the road and of this journey of mine. I have to follow my bliss.

I’m going to put this out there right now to the Universe.

I wish for a VW camper bus so that I can continue writing and learning. I’m a single public school teacher with limited means. It’s my bliss. I have to find a way.

Moon, the owner of the restaurant, came out with my food and squatted to pet Clarence and he did his Clarence thing, lean. She stroked the white crown chakra spot on his head and began to talk in broken English.

“You know”, she said, “I Buddha and Christian, too. . .and I have dream where Buddha say to me that I live on an island and it make me happy…”

She told me an incredible story about how a divine dream revealed to her that she would live and be happy on an island. Her husband, then an alcoholic, found work on Ocracoke, made connections and recovered. Her cooking for everyone there flowered into a successful takeout business. It’s been fifteen years. Her smile shows me that the Universe indeed delivers what is meant “to be”. As I listened to her story and Clarence leaned against her knee, her hand stroked his head so softly as the light began to fade from a sunset over her shoulder in the distance. The knowledge that I was meant to be here at this moment tonight, to be learning these lessons didn’t escape me. I have found bliss: to travel, to learn, to listen to stories. So I will invest my time and money into this education, and a second interdisciplinary Masters degree where I will be able to blend creative and academic courses from a wide variety of interests and also in the road. A place where I have learned more about who I am and the world around me for the last nine months than I have in a lifetime.

I can’t promise that I will post regularly at all anymore, only when I have time or the need to share some tale of the road or my class. Perhaps I’ll need to share a milestone in this journey if I come to one. My little book is continually filling with musings, poem and now sketches. I hope to be able to paint soon; that is something the spirit needs to release in me again. You can follow me on Instagram if you want to know where I’ve been or what the road has delivered visually.Or Facebook via RSS where I regularly send out snippets of life or photos that don’t make it here. My Twitter feed (on the right) will still be active and my schedule of wayfarin will be up to date. I’m not signing off, nor saying goodbye. Only that I need some space on my plate. And I wanted you to know that silence sometimes means more than twice weekly posts. Stories might pile in half notation in my little book for the future, or I might tell you something via Youtube. I’ve been playing with the idea of a vLog. The Universe hasn’t decided yet what will come next…but as soon as I know, so will you.

Thank you for being here.

Thank you for giving me a reason to journey on.

Be Well.

Be Loved.

Summer Break

9 Jun

Today I head off to Hollins University to the Tinker Mountain Writer’s Workshop. I’m not really sure how the week will go, but my hope is that I will find a way to take all that I’ve written here and transform it. The writing has come to a point where a shift is needed. I’ve changed so much over the last seven months and while I love traveling and experiencing new things, I am feeling the need to go back to where I started, to the island and to Annie. One of my friends from Ocracoke texted me last night. He sent a sunset picture from the ferry. It was my confirmation that I need to revisit what I wrote on the island. Not just what’s here, but what is also in the originals. I hesitate to show those to strangers, but maybe parts of them might transform into something altogether different.

Ferry To Home

This last week has seemed to last forever. And a lot has shifted. I’m needing to find my feet again it seems and the best place to do that is next to Annie. I can’t go to Ocracoke right now, but in my mind, I’ll walk Back Road to the sandy corner where my friend waits for me. Paul and Newt went to see her about a month ago on their vacation. They left me a “time capsule” of sorts on her grave. I often wonder what I’ll find there and who I’ll be when I come to it. Zillie’s is on my mind these days…and the ducks and the fig trees budding. M’Lady is decked in green again, I’m sure, and the familiar smells of suntan lotion, sea breeze, and marsh grass hang heavily in the humid air.

It’s time again for me to strip my prose bare and then build it back into something else. I’m ready to see that time from a new point in the journey. Its a good place, right now. This week I can just be a writer again…nothing more. I’ll need to find the coffee shop on campus and return to the iPad.

When I return, I’m off to California. I haven’t even contemplated what I’m going to experience or how I’ll write about it. Posts might be pretty sporadic for the next few weeks, but my Instagram and Twitter will be busy, I’m sure.

So back to the island I go. . . in my memory.

Living in Shadow

15 Dec

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” C.S. Lewis

This morning, Beloved woke me early.


Why are you in love with words instead of real people?

The play Shadowlands and the life of C.S. Lewis has been running the perimeter of my brain for weeks and since,  I have been contemplating connection through language. Lewis and his wife Joy Gresham met and came to know each other primarily through letters. Their peculiar relationship has struck me for years. This great man, with the imagination and heart of a child, was perceived through his philosophy and writing by a woman who then took the initiative to pick up a pen and communicate. She saw something in him which intrigued her to the point of action. And in her unflagging patience, they came to know one another, love one another, and then part through her death. Her presence transformed his life, his faith. She was the greatest love of his life and his greatest loss. I have been thinking about the nature of love..What is love? It seems so huge…so immense…so varied …so complex yet again, so simple.

How can you come to love someone through the written word? Are you coming to love a reality or an illusion? I suppose it depends upon what is written. Here lies the difference, I think. In writing of the self there is intimate honesty, a more vulnerable revealing that might be made in the spoken word and therefore, for me anyway, more precious, more deep and sensitive, more honest and ultimately more free. However, words are symbols. They represent a reality that has to be lived eventually. You can’t have a relationship with a text or a letter. Physical presence defines a mature relationship. Otherwise its just too darn easy. There’s not a lot of real investment in a piece of paper or a SMS. You can’t sustain a complex mature relationship when the balance of it is on a page or a screen. But its written word still, symbol, communication from behind the social wall. Is there really an intimate revealing there? Or is it just a manipulation of thoughts and patterns for gain? It is openness or masking?

I think what I have come to realize about love, is that real love does not seek to use someone for itself. Love requires effort and reciprocity. I haven’t come to the point of feeling grateful yet for this crisis. Coming here has put me on a unknown path. I am not thankful yet, but I am sure I will be one day.

So, in coming to learn the nature of connection through the written word I have found a key, sharing. It’s the only thing that replaces loss. Being open and real, holding on to the spirits of our dear ones and feeling their physical nearness. Because life is a gaining and losing, a loving and nothingness, dancing and crying. A dear friend texts me as I write this to tell me of his dancing with his lovely wife to the music of the spheres as the meteors fell last night.

Love is simple. I know that now.

Little Lights

14 Dec

We’re born with millions
Of little lights shining in the dark
And they show us the way
One lights up, every time you feel love in your heart
One dies when it moves away

It’s late and I am just home from the library where I listened to Charles Temple, the high school English teacher talk about his appearance and success on Jeopardy. This little meeting, through the friends of the library, was the only event for tonight, and as such most everyone attends. A funny thing happened while I was there, though. Upon arrival, I introduced myself to the gracious lady at the door and she seemed genuinely surprised that as a tourist, I was coming to hear the talk. Bob and Brenda were there as well as several other folks. I was beginning to recognize them after all the walking I have done here. They began to introduce themselves over cookies and tea and I sat between two older ladies and listened intently to Charles’ story. I loved it.

I had forgotten how wonderful it is to hear a story well told, one that has direction, and turns, funny parts and serious parts. But the best aspect was our togetherness in listening to the tale, shoulder to shoulder, laughs and gasps mixing, thoughts and questions and the teasing of the teller. I began to notice how well everyone knows everyone and it struck me that I am pretty much the only one in the room who doesn’t know the story already. That’s when a big epiphany hit me. They came to hear the story again, to relive a part of their collective history.

I’m thinking this is what it means to have the gift of connection. This linked feeling of structure and sharing. It’s an extended family, where truly no one is alone, ever. That sense of belonging among non related people is so hopeful, so beautiful. I am reminded of listening to folks chat in the grocery store or at Gaffer’s about what jobs they are doing. Everyone has a sort of hodge podge of tasks which occupies their working lives seasonally, as in the old days when a worker’s efforts matched the growing and the harvest. This sense of season, of a connection to place even in its changing, overpowers everything here and I want that. Why?

After the talk, I met Charles and chatted with a few people, but I left the library soon to walk home down Back Road. One thing I love here is having to carry a flashlight at night.

It seems so trivial, so small, but the fact that I need to have this tiny light just for me, like a lantern, makes me feel significant.

Walking home, the wind is gentle and it is so quiet, so dark. I stop, look up and a star streaks across …then another…one more…. all shooting by.

Yes, I remember now. Meteor showers tonight. The houses are quiet, lit by tiny lights of their own. Stars in the air, on ground…stars all around. A path I know so well. Sandy road and small remnants of puddles. The darkness here is like no other; it’s comforting. I stop in front of houses to listen, to watch the twinkle of colored lights against soft blackness. Night in the village is not lonely. In the clear stars or in the mist and fog, the dark here is like sleep, a space to breathe in rest. Little lights in the sky, in my hand. Little houses lined with stars, on my path.

My Favorite Things

12 Dec

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The rain was intensifying, the sky darkening by the minute. And the wind was in that middle place between sweeps of cold and down drafts of warm. I stared at the bending cedars and oaks from inside  “my happy place” waiting for Bob and Brenda, new friends I met at Trivia Night. There is no other place that I would rather spend an afternoon, alone or in company than at Zillie’s Island Pantry. I suppose I am the queen of the “happy hour” in a way, not that I have it daily. Most every day I workout, but around five, I sigh and think to myself, What I wouldn’t give right now to be sitting at Zillie’s on the deck watching Back Road with a Bellini or a nice Chenin Blanc or Petit Syrah in my hand, listening to Billie Holiday, or other assorted vintage jazz and blues, cheese and charcuterie spread out before me?

The music is part of what links me into the era of my grandparents and the nostalgia of the 1940’s. When I am there, I feel totally in the moment. As a highly creative person, space and place are important to me. I need the right atmosphere like some need the right music; its a soundtrack of sort, for sinking into myself.  It has to “feel” right, and Zillie’s has that for me. Vintage signs and music create a grandma’s kitchen meets gourmet interior. It’s small, brightly colored and filled with bottles of fine wine and beer amid jars of gourmet sauces and other delicacies. Outside, the atmosphere is a different story. I think everyone has a friend that his or her home just seems to be the place everybody likes to frequent come summer. Someone usually has a deck that becomes the neighborhood gathering place and the deck at Zillie’s captures that for me. And even in this off season, I see locals coming here for the fire outside in the big copper fireplace along with fine spirits.

I remember Summer 2010 sitting outside on the computer writing, sipping ice cold Sauvignon Blanc and monitoring my students’ summer blog. Being a teacher seems to be the only thing I have done for the last quarter century, as if the love of young people and literature would be enough to sustain me. I have come to realize it doesn’t. My whole career has been one long “should”. But I’m really good at it, which has complicated my sense of obligation for more years than I’d like to admit.

Bob and Brenda came in around five and then all hell broke loose outside. The trees swayed and bent while the puddles deepened. We chatted a long while about places we’ve traveled to and a bit about my bucket list. But the conversations turned more personal as they tend to do with a fine glass or two of red and I began to talk with Brenda about some of my personal relationships, one in particular.  I expressed to her how frustrated I was, how caught I felt in not being able to express my emotions, nor be my honest self. I revealed to my new friend how strange the communication with him seemed and how ultimately sad and unhappy I was with the whole situation. This was the uncomfortable pressure on the partially healed sore from a divorce accident.

There was one point, where when my phone lit up with a text from this person and I shook my head and teared up. Brenda did something I will never forget. She reached over, took the phone out of my hand, laid her hand on top of mine and said in the most calm way, “Cyndi, love is simple…it doesn’t have to be that hard.” Like a wave too big to stand in, the pressure of her words tumbled over me and I realized She was right. I had to let go.

She gave me a gift last night. Those three words set me free somehow. LOVE…IS…SIMPLE.

Its funny. I never thought I’d be learning these types of tough lessons now at my age. I suppose no one ever does. But it strikes me that we learn when we are ready. Perhaps I have spent so much time growing up other people, that I need to tend to me now. I’m not really sure.

Pausing for Puddles

10 Dec


A strange thing happened this morning…my place of muse was silent. I awoke with Clar curled into my side this morning with nothing in my head but the sound of rain. The roof of my little bedroom hangs low and the bed is only full sized. I have a king at home and to be truthful, it’s way too big, even with Clarence in attendance.

Nothing in my head but the sound of rain. The air hangs heavy with it and I am in short sleeves. Suddenly, the mass of sweaters I brought seems horribly inadequate, as I knew they would be. The streets are empty. My little cottage is nestled in the neighborhood I know so well. Ducks swim in the road puddles as I squelch along to my favorite coffee shop in my Wellingtons.

I suppose I’ll walk the rest of the day with Clar, exploring. Today will be about knowing this town again. I went past the little cabin we stayed the first time we were here. It doesn’t pinch. Should it? Back then, I had busied myself with distractions of dogs, lists and itineraries. The most truthful photos of me on that trip I took of myself. He watched TV. I pretended the dogs were children and we focused on them rather than the fact that we no longer really connected as friends. I remember being here at the coffee shop with the dogs and everyone coming to pet them. We were the smiling parents of such beautiful well behaved boys, an outward projection that ignored that fact that we probably didn’t love each other anymore. We became a social paradigm. A lot of it was my fault.

Inside the coffee house, country music wafts out over the quiet. A small group of locals are comfortable with laptops and knitting in the corner. On this first morning, I have a perfectly made café au lait and I am off to myself in a warm corner with my sesame bagel and walnut cream cheese. A bright spot is the coffee. . .this type of coffee is something I cannot make. After meeting Ryan this morning, I’m taking the big bowl café au lait experience off my bucket list because his is amazing. He takes a full ten minutes to make it and it’s incredible to watch. Everything is perfect and methodical, yielding a concoction that I have never before experienced. I have an extra shot of espresso added to mine, and he grinds and packs it perfectly. Then, he measures the temperature so that the milk is perfectly heated. The froth is held back from the steamed milk as he pours down the inside lip of the cup, and then he layers a tiny bit of froth on top in striped lusciousness. My favorite part is when he bounces the cup to get the bubbles to rise. It’s like a baker spanking a pan. Equally amazing to watch and to drink.

Well if they freed me from this prison,
If that railroad train was mine
I bet I’d move it on a little farther down the line
Far from Folsom prison, that’s where I want to stay
And I’d let that lonesome whistle blow my blues away…..

This is what I love about being here, the feeling that at any moment, I might see a friend walk through the door. Someone who knows my name who stops to say hello and asks me how I am. Being at school is not like that. I live life by bells and within concrete walls that lock if I dare to venture out. Even though the students are loving and bright, I tire of never seeing the sunrise, of devoting the beginning of my day to others rather than to myself. I am bone tired of growing other people’s children up for them.

Customers come and go for coffee; the usuals are always acknowledged and the regular morning becomes ordered. The windows are lined with tiny twinkling lights, framing the misty gray of the morning. Light makes all the difference; I see it change by degree even in mist and the cloud. I cannot tell time by light in my room at school. There is only a clock.

Outside, the puddles are huge becuase it’s been raining and raining. The ducks waddle and mosey around in their element. I stopped to take pics of them this morning and watch them. For a moment, I paused mid puddle, muddy water surrounding my boots.This place, this road is so quiet. No plane, no car, no children in the distance, no bells. Just the tiny almost imperceptible splashes of ducks bathing disturb the silence.  I stood there listening for a full minute. There was a moment walking home where I thought, if I could spend my life walking to this coffee shop every morning for Ryan’s cafe au lait and a simple bagel, this would be what it means to be complete. I need to think on that and walk the town puddles and maybe let Clarence give the ducks something foreign to contemplate, just as this place has given me so far.

It’s Time

30 Nov

In a few days, I will be at the beginning of another portion of this journey. I find myself in confusion, in a dark forest. Time. I need time to think, time to be. I have nightmares. Last week, I dreamt of a mountain on fire, of a disembodied faceless set of arms with a name that holds my fear. I sleep in fits and starts and I have this need to unpack my heart.

This morning I talked with my friend Lorinda and I told her that there is something within me I need to let go of. My life will be changing soon as my grandmother and my mother and aunt move toward old age and death. My granny can’t remember certain basic things now and when I look at her, I know she knows me but then there is this cloud.

It says I might be anyone. I might be no one. My granny is the last link to my grandfather’s love. When she dies, all of that will pass away. All the Christmasses, the nights watching Carol Burnett, the biscuits, the soft worn hands, the piano and the singing.

Missed the Saturday dance
Could have went but what for
Awfully lonely without you
Don’t get around much anymore

My mother is strong, but she needs people. She isn’t like me. I will end up being responsible for them all.

And I have no one to be responsible for me.

I am the end.

At that moment, I realized I needed time, time to think, time to be alone. Time to grieve what is to come, time to grieve what I have already lost. I need time to write and to process where I am at this point in my journey.  I know that many will not understand. They will judge me and think, “Must be nice to run away when the world gets too tough”. I can’t blame them. I look at others’ challenges and I know mine seem petty compared to theirs. But I’m tired of legitimizing my own struggle. A boulder and precipice in my path might only be a pebble and puddle to them and vice versa. I never had children, nor the luxury of time away from students to adjust to this new way of living. I saved days to care for babies that just never came, but I’m not as sad about that. I’ve always tried to be a bootstrap mentality gal. When life shits on you, you clean it off as best you can and keep walking. Who cares if you smell like shit?

But when I can’t move through the day without too much raw emotion to be in front of the kids, nor sleep long enough at night to not be a walking zombie I don’t care what anyone thinks. I’ve got to go, and the way has revealed itself.

I need to go be with the Universe…God…Buddha…Krishna…Allah … Jevovah…Jesus whatever the hell you want to call something bigger than yourself that you pray is in charge. I need peace. I need to go get my Cyndi back. When I gave up fighting it, fighting the persistently painful thought that others would see me as weak and imperfect if I let go and felt sorrow, the path laid itself out.

Dear World:  I am not perfect.

I am human.

So, I am going away for a while. I need to go find some peace and the safest place I know of is Ocracoke. I am meant to be doing this. This is something I need and whatever comes from it,  the thought that my grandfather once taught me, “I am enough” will be restored. The only place I can open my heart that is safe is next to Annie.

I have often told folks of my friendship with Annie. How I found her twelve years ago taking pictures in the O’Neal Fulcher Cemetery on the island. It always struck me that she died so young and I wondered after her for years. I used that picture in class many times before I actually thought, maybe I ought to find out who she is. And so I did.

What I found out about her is a long an involved story and might be better suited to a historical drama, but what I do know is this. Caring for her grave brings me a peace I cannot describe. When I sit next to her, I am home, she listens to me. When I am there, walking down Back Road, I know the way. I know the way even in the sandy dark. I’m not afraid. I can be raw and bare there and know that no one will be looking.  The shell of my persona needs to be left behind and I need to flesh out raw and new like a snake shedding her skin.

Personal crisis…yes, I’ll admit it.

We all come to them….all of us. I am the only one who can fix mine.

There’s only me.

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