a deeply profound experience.
Will I remember? it's okay, I will, or I won't. here are some snippets, some guidelines, some markers that will anchor me to a moment in time, in varying detail.
crossing the river. can I do it? I can most certainly do it, I realize, with astonishing certainty. it is just a matter of how and where. I go across. my body is on fire. I am across. I am committed, I repeat to myself, and the crossing is exhilarating, wondrous.
On the way back my lower half falls in completely, shoes and socks soaked. now I am really committed. and one thing that I realize is that before I fall in, the distinction between falling into the river and staying out of it was distinct. once I'm in, it's all walkable. after I fall into the river, I can't fall into the river anymore. There's nowhere to fall into. I start walking, occasionally stepping on stones, occasionally stepping in the river. I start noticing: what a nice place to step into! let's put my foot into that water.
having fallen into the river, I am free. I am free to walk anywhere.
care for a sister, calling her in, letting her know that there is a pull, there is a love, that she matters, that there is someone out there looking out for her.
all of a sudden, a desire to check into others. so I embark on a journey, I pause a story, I start a needle and a thread and for the rest of the evening I will gather beads of conversations and stories that I weave into creating a precious necklace of encounters and stories and circles.
upstairs there is A and L. I offer them an invitation, the invitation to listen to a story, and I make it clear that I have given them an invitation and part of the invitation itself is to accept it and to happily be where they are. I think they understand. They receive my invitation and they stay where they are. this is part of it all.
I run into A and we think about whether we should check in with M. for a moment I offer A their own agency and I see eyes light up like bright fierce warm burning fire, clear and hot like stars.
inside it is a home, it is a room, it is childhood. childhood is warm and kind of scary. here we are, in the rooms of childhood. we enter. we come together. we hold each other in the room of childhood.
M and A and I. sitting together. M asks where to begin. somehow it comes to me: start at the center, and slowly circle out, making a spiral. (the initial movements can be small, and that's okay.) M begins, and shares. her stories are large and huge, and so familiar in their shape and timbre, and while my brain thinks I should feel something else, my heart feels relief and catharsis at the sound of a story releasing, of loosening, of it leaving the body and it being shared, of rivers and faucets of emotion slowly being unblocked, letting them run loose and healthy and undammed, rushing, flowing. the three of us, we, and I talk about family, and historical trauma, and parents passing things down, and our relationship to family and language, and about sex and bodies. somehow these conversations feel like they should be difficult but to me they are joyous. is that okay I wonder? my mind wonders? and my heart says it is. it's joyous to let ourselves feel sad and angry and to share it with others, to settle and accept our stories as they are, to let ourselves feel the feelings that we have wanted to feel, and to relax into who we are, not withholding our own emotions for ourselves.
others come in. T comes in with her watch, and I am somehow absolutely certain that the watch is a gift from her mother. my mind doesn't know but my heart knows, my heart knows because that's the kind of thing my mom might do. "here, I fixed your watch". we look at the moon. I change where I am sitting and everything is completely different. I offer M to sit in a different bed. and then we all leave the room.
downstairs M and I we talk with T about the watch. and about jewelry and about a gift given, returned, and lost, and family heirlooms, and the ways in which care and love and tradition can be formed and carried and gifted and worn. it's about gear, and sadness, and care, and remembrance, and what we wear and carry with us on our bodies. after the burglary, T says, after her mother's sorrow at losing a family gift and the redirected misdirected anger about a childhood gift returned, she started being interested in jewelry. I feel and I feel how much our relationships, our emotional energies shape us.
then there is a story, a gathering, a retelling of objects. we gather around to see who has shared what. friends gather: N and F and T and L and T. M shares her object. tina reads, and really reads, and brings it out, channels it. it is "attractive and sexy and foul", she says, and that resonates so hard I can feel it open a door for M, and we are here. M starts to share. I touch her, I am connected. She shares her story, but initially it is not her story, it is her friend's story. I feel that sometimes this is M's story; the story of holding anothers' story, and I tell her gently, that part of her story is the difficult of holding a story, of helping another while not being helped herself, of being unable to share a story, and she cries and cries and opens up and I feel and I hope this is good for her, we have friends in witness, friends in the circle, and I dance.
(T would later say that I was "dancing for M", and somehow I feel like that was right. my movement is of opening, of sharing. the night is deep. we are here, together, sharing our stories around fires and circles. I am here to dance for us. we are here gathering, sharing our stories. dancing together. holding each other around a fire during the night. dancing for each other. dancing for each other's sorrow and sadness and anger and hurt and pain, letting it flow and be free. these emotions are not bad emotions, they are emotions, they are good and healthy, they protect us, they shape us, they are part of us and how we work and we take care of them and they will take care of us, and one of the ways in which we do that is when we heal in public.)
and then. there is T and the story of gear. there is wandering around. there are other stories.
sitting outside with M. I open with: "let me tell you about my mother". and I share. or rather: I tell myself my stories, and M is witness. I share stories that I have forgotten. stories that I didn't like, stories of care and pain. here I am! how angry and sad I was! how fearful and lonely I was! how much it hurt, how much I hurt, and how in the midst of this all love is mixed in, morsels of anger and sadness and fear and in a soup of love. how I left the home. how I can call these things abuse because I believed they were abusive to me at the time.
I cry, and I cry, and I cry. It feels so good to cry. It feels so good to share these stories with myself. It feels so good to be witnessed. and part of it is: it feels good to see all my selves, my younger self, my current self, and to feel my older self growing, and seeing my mother. (if I am good enough, I say in a different conversation, I can save my mother from her own past, heal her, work it out with and for her.)
it turns out: to name these things and let my deep anger and fear and hurt flow is also to regain a sense of love, of care, of understanding. of love. love for my mother. love and understanding of where this all comes, of historical familial dynamics, of how we were hurt and were loved and how we pass on that hurt and love to others, of how we all participate in this grand practice of sharing who we are with others.
there is so much but I feel myself crying and leaking and certain boundaries between myself and the world loosening and I am spilling out, like a water finding shape on the ground, moving all out, and now the water of my body is going where it wants to go, finding the shape that it wants to find. the springs of my body, the spring of my soul are being plucked loose from a mechanism and being laid flat on a table, SPROOOoooooinggggggggg and coming to rest on a table, slowly uncurling, still some sort of shape, lying in rest without tension, finding themselves.
I am witness and being witness. I am grateful to M.
There are more stories, also important. There is a long one with M and A and M and myself, sitting on the ground talking about our families. M shares again. we talk more. it is good, solid, warm. emotional. important.
There is one where C asks me a question. I realize and realize that my care for others comes from a desire to care for myself. My energy to care for myself becomes immediately directed to a care for others. And so I call attention. I call forth attention, I talk about ways of caring and how my care for others is really also about my care for myself, and I call attention. I receive a little pushback. this is all right with the world, this is how it should be. a little microcosm of practice.
There is one with N where we talk about language. of the language of korean and english, but also the language of society, of social fluency. about dry glue stick, about opening and closing a window, a door. tears making a dry glue stick sticky.
There is a long one with F and M and I. I had called F a sister, or I her brother, and I see a flicker of amusement and startlement flash across her face. I want her to know that there is someone calling her in, that there is someone who wants to help. I want her to know that there is someone who wants to help and listen. she is on the other side of the riverbank. I am crossing not because I want to follow but because I too want to cross, and I want to form solidarity networks of those who are crossing, or have crossed. out stories are different but there is solidarity here. and so we talk about repression of emotion, of holding emotions in, of seeing one's shadow self, of veils and masks. I ask directly. I perhaps overstep, I over step.
In the process I learn. I learn about what I am doing. I am pushing into.
a convo with M about loving and leaving and family. how is it that I leave. building a family and leaving it. being scared to talk to those who are closest to me.
a convo with M and A about agency and facilitation and our collaboration. so important. so crucial. how to learn how to leave space for what is unexpected. how the collaboration between two people is not an average. how not to stop but to start a collaboration, to leave ends untied, to explore together. to be honest with the we. to be thoughtful about consent and power and care and permissions. I am sorry, I say, I am sorry A, I am sorry M I am grateful, M, I am grateful, A. Thank you, and thank you. opening spaces. to follow together. to see what happens.
a convo with M to close out the night in which we share our agencies fully. here I am. here you are. here is where I want to sleep. there is what I want to do. I see the sky lightening. I fall sleep. I wake up to the sounds of people wandering and cooking. C offers me a cup of coffee. do I want one? in honesty, I do. and I speak with A about a desert.
in the morning we gather. in the morning I open with a sharing. I say: that I am so glad to have shared, and to have heard, and to have witnessed stories, in circles. to be witness and to be witnessed. to share and have shared.
to a friend I specifically say: you have given me a gift, and I am so grateful for that gift. that gift is something like a kitchen object, or a fruit, and I could use it, could use it moments later, in my own relationship to openness and vulnerability as I share to my partner and cry rawly, openly, honestly. M has given me a gift and I am so grateful and thankful for that gift. how can I ever thank her? I wonder. I want her to know that her stories are gifts.
and then! a panoply of stories, rushing out. laughter and stories and recollections and rememberance. ideas and feelings and emotions and relationships and gratitude and thanks, shared over the table. suggestions and feelings and desires, pouring out. together we follow our conversation. together I am struck by the truth of how we can create circles for each other without a strong structure; how these circles are actually spirals, loops, curves, where the start does not meet the end, where we wander to new places we did not expect, and I am so surprised and grateful to my friends C and M and A and F from whom I have learned. and I name that. to name something is a gift. to name something and let it be, let it free, let it set.
and we clean, which is a joy. F asks me for help finding her bag. I am joyous, joyous, to be asked for help. I am here, on their team, helping. I ask L for the bag. the three of us look. L finds it. I am joyous to have been asked, to be helping, to be relied upon. later I asked F to help me. to rely and to be relied upon! what a joy, what a joy.
as we meditate, A starts us off. I recall. I remember. I cry in our silence, and we share a circle and a moment. here we are, all of us, getting older, getting younger, toward the future, on our trajectories, holding a moment. we hold a moment. to feel our recent pasts, so vivid and so bright.
I share. I invite us to imagine taking our precious items off of our shared table. and then I ask us to be slow in our drive. I know we have to get places, I say, I know there are things for us to do and places for us to be. but I say: we are already there. we are already at the place we are going. we are already here. we're already here. I'm here for all of it.
and then. the door opens, by itself. the house beckoning, saying, smiling: "you're done here. go on now, head out, the world is waiting for you."
we're already here, and I'm here for all of it.