Monday morning finds me buried deep in personal excavation. Strange dreams, weird happenings, solitude and introspection will cause that. When I was young, I dreamed of being an archeologist. Somehow I never thought that meant excavating the bones of my own existence.
These sentences, from Clear Seeing Place, sent me orbiting my own life and asking questions: "To experience transcendence, you must know your origins. Where do you come from? What place stacked your bones into the shape of you?" The author was referring to his own idyllic upbringing in the South. But for me, the same question of place was more emotional than physical What place stacked my own (now fragile) bones? My first thought was "nuh uh. I don't want to go there." But the muse sent me on this journey, and so I will follow her.
Don't get me wrong...I was never hungry or homeless or sick. My bones were stacked in suburban America, on streets that were safe day or night, in houses that had heat, water and food. But inside the houses were other skeletons - the kind you dare not speak of, old rattling bones that brought fear, sorrow, pain and loneliness. Even as an adult, it feels wrong to speak of the old bones, as if the mere mention of the word alcoholism would wake them.
But in those houses stuffed with dysfunction there was a magic balm - a glue that held my own bones together as they stacked and grew into the shape of me. My grandmother, a woman of the old country, one of the "Texas Czechs", a soft spot of love, old world accents and chocolate cake. In her eyes, I was never the scapegoat that the old bones tried to make me. She saw me as good, funny and lovable. We both had outrageously frizzy, uncontrollable hair. She set hers in pin curls at night; I tamed mine with a curling iron in the morning. We smoked cigarettes together as we talked about quitting. We ate sweets and discussed weight watchers. She read out loud articles from the National Enquirer with a twinkle in her eye, wanting to believe every tidbit, making me laugh with her sincere naivety. She showed me love, and it saved my own bones.
This piece emerged as I wrestled with the question, adding and then scrubbing layers. A hit of frizzy hair and rounded, soft body. A grandmother for the world, a balm for our bones.