Words then. Words now.

I was looking for an old picture last night and logged into my long abandoned Myspace profile in the hopes that a copy of it lived in one of my old albums. I didn’t find the photo, but I did find my way to the old blog I used to keep. I spent over an hour just reading and remembering and feeling warm and a little sad too.

I realized in reading those old words that my writing has changed significantly in the past 6 or 7 years since I started writing there. Some of it is just a natural maturity that comes with life experiences but some of it is self scrutiny and too much editing. Playing it safe. It’s not necessarily that I think my writing was better then (some of it was worse) but, it was less inhibited, more stream of consciousness than precision.

Back then, no one ever read what I wrote and I never thought about how my words would be interpreted or twisted. I never cared if they would be hated or loved. I never could have imagined anyone would ever find what I had to say interesting enough to come back again and again so I just shared them freely, constantly. The bad poetry and the inspired moments. 

Despite my best efforts not to, I too often self edit what’s on my heart in the words I write on Dear Baby. I’ve set up my own limitations. How absolutely ordinary and the opposite of everything writing has ever meant to me.

I’ve been in a major writing rut. I’ve been struggling to write from that raw, real place in my gut that has guided my words for so long. I’ve wound myself up in self imposed limits and the presumed judgements that come with seeing the number of unique readers on my google analytics. Finding those old posts last night felt divinely lead. I needed the reminder.

I’m a grown woman. I know who I am and what I want but despite that, I find myself wishing to write with the freedom I once knew when I was immature and idealistic and irresponsible. Here are some of those old posts I wrote that I am leaving here as a reminder. Stop trying to cage your fire.

Love,

M

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The Ceaseless Enlightenment of a Once Gray Girl

take one small thing that you love.
anything.
the color of your room.
eggs for breakfast.
his shirts in your laundry.
or the dalai lama billboard on the way to work.

take that one thing.
and squeeze it like a sponge.
every ounce of that sweet hum inside you.
let it change everything.
find it’s way into thoughts of people who’ve hurt you
wash over all those times you failed
and your bruised knee.

and on it’s own,
it will began to grow.
like a speck of sand in an oyster
that one little joy will turn into two and three and four hundred reasons to open your eyes every morning.

that’s really how it goes.
it’s just being willing to let the light in.
however slight or dim.
just allow it to be in you.
sometimes it’s your only defense against
everything in this world that’s ready to take you down.

In life, sometimes the only things you’ve got
are yellow walls and roadside messages for peace.
Let them in.

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yesterday i came home from work but didn’t get out of my car. i couldn’t. i was listening to a very raw recording of Brent’s new songs. and they glued me to my seat. even the ones i’ve heard time and time again, i was just breaking them down in my head. wondering what possessed him to pick one word over another. amazed at the way he puts melody and sound and language together in just the right way

I sat there in my dressed up work clothes. (the ones i am always quick to take off as soon as i get home) and just wrote to him in one of the 18 million notebooks that he keeps around our life. he left this one in my car and so I just let his music sweep over me and i wrote and listened.

eventually he came out to check the mail and found me there, my engine still running. and he came to sit in the passenger seat, a little amused i was listening to his singing. and we were quiet. then i read him my favorite lines from the book I’m reading currently. and the same one he just finished a week ago.

"like the way people’s voices sound after getting up early in the morning, something faintly wistful and hoarse and eager in it, ready for a new day"

and

"I go to my woods with the dogs and sit and put out my hands palm up and accept handfuls of sun boiling over the palms." handfuls of sun. how about that? have you ever heard anything better?

without noticing, the sun has gone. my car hums and I stare at the front banister that needs painting. I wonder when, if ever, we’ll finally get around to doing it. Brent turns off the radio and the last of his song rings in my ear “You stole my bed, you pretty little thief, It was those stealing eyes you gave that got to me. You left no note for the ransom of my love, you stole from me, what was yours. you stole from me”

maybe i did. i had to have. stolen, taken…. something. to have all this. this half painted banister, a sink full of dishes that need washing, a friday evening, a soulful boy with smile lines in the corner of his eyes. How else does this sort of luck come about? i had to have stolen it somehow.

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A simple heaven.

This weekend we went to Toecane cabin.
To get there, you make a left at the old red mill.
Follow that road up and around past the glass blower studio
and the vagabond looking tent camp right before the bridge.

Keep going and you’ll get to a place that smells liked the center of an apple.
feels like running through a sprinkler.
and looks like the whole place had been drawn with a green crayon.

Sometimes I forget how fortunate I am
that my parents had the foresight to buy
thirty some acres up the side of a mountain.
land that falls straight down into the sort of river
that muralists and postcard designers try to imitate.

I spent most of my time there contemplating ways to
bring that simplification of life back to the real world with me.
Our little cabin up there is very primitive.
Solar powered electricity, spring fed running water.
Every night we lit oil lamps and sat on the covered front porch
and entertained ourselves with old stories and Brent’s voice
and an occasionally… “what was that??” when something would
rustle in the darkness.

Every morning, our alarm clock was the train horn that echoed
off the mountains and woke us up real easy
the same way smelling pancakes does when your little.
I’d get up and use the old coffee percolator to make the blackest
coffee you can imagine.
and we just kept breathing as deeply as we could to take in that apple air.

On Saturday we packed bookbags and took the canoes down to the swinging
bridge and floated down for miles.
Stopped on a big sandy colored boulder to eat turkey sandwiches
and fresh strawberrys out of tupperware.
Brent never stopped smiling.
I think he felt like he was home.
He stopped along the banks and let me cut wildflowers with his pocket knife.
and then I almost fell into some poison ivy and i was done with that.

On Sunday we drove the blue ridge parkway with the windows down.
It was 60 degrees in some parts. In North Carolina. In summer time.
We stopped at the over looks and oohed and ahhed
and they pulled over and let me feed two pretty horses next to a barbed wire fence.
I liked the ginger colored one and held her chin in my hand for as long as possible.

We threw out all the plans we made and let the day carry us wherever.
I never knew what times it was.
I woke up with the sun, went to bed when the cicadas were singing.
and the dogs felt pulled by their most primitive canine instincts.
They ate tall grasses, chased bugs, rolled in the dirt, sniffed the trails of deer and rabbits.
My 6 pound chihuahua mix was a mighty wolf on the hillside.

Monday, our last day in a simple heaven.
I had yet to shower since arriving.
nothing on my skin the whole time but a little sunscreen and dirt
because our hot water was out at the cabin.
and the water off the spring head was as cold as ice,
so we put on swimsuits, and grabbed the shampoo
and took our first bath of the weekend in a swimming hole off the river bend.
A black snake in the water had us all out quick for a few minutes
but he moved on and we went back in.

The drive home last night was a quiet one.
That slow and lovely world slipping further away
as we followed the blue signs towards civilization.
and I showered in city water this morning.
Frowned momentarily at the convenience of warm water
and wished desperately for 6 pound wolves and lamp lit faces.

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Train West

give you gifts in the darkness
your lips on my hair
I won’t remember them in the morning
but I’ll feel them there

I’m still your little wild one
I’ll be her till the end
and I’ll spend years spinning round
my greatest challenge, closest friend

you’re a dance, I’m a song
we’re the first and the last everything
I’m words about this life lovely
you’re every reason there was to sing

And here we are together
a train roaring west
dust clouds and whistles
our view, the best

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Hello my peter pan.
Grown up little boy.

Who will I be today?
Your Tinkerbell or Wendy bird?
The voice or reason or co conspirator?

You’ve learned to juggle
the girl you’ve been given.
Learned to dress me in your
arms and promises.

No easy task, for sure.
I am a complicated creature.
a tip toeing contradiction at times.

Hurry up, slow down.

It seems life measured your resources
and my needs
and deemed them a perfect fit.

The simple truth is…
I need you.

need your face in my freshly washed hair.
need your “one days” and “forevers”
need the fingertips that walk my ribs.

Sunshine seekers.
The two of us, on our boat of bed sheets.
Your laughter is my island.

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Natasha.
my life. my heart.

you are my girl who embodies the kung fu nation.
my girl with a never ending supply of lemon candy.

I am your grocery store pirate.
and your getaway car driver.

together, we are the last smile.

In days far removed from these.
we will laugh with our heads back and mouths open.

Amazed that we survived at all.

We will laugh at lovers that unlock the door late at night
and creep on trendy sneakers to our doors

Laugh at hopefilled mornings that turn to wasted afternoons…
moments never wasted at all.

we are queens of nothing.
queens of gas station bounty
and cheap beer.

We are youth and wisdom
and paper tiger tamers.

Natasha.

my life. my heart.

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You hate our couch.
At this point, using the word “despise” isn’t really out of the question.
We’ve grown too big.
You. Adding me. And dogs. And a cat that grows larger by the day.
But the little couch fits the small living room
inside our outgrown house.
My haven. My tiny everything here,
spilling over the cushions.
All of us, holding on for dear life on this hated piece of furniture.