For Jose

I am an owl. People give me owls  - my mom gave me one when I graduated from law school and the mother of one of my clients gave me one when I won a case and by the third time I could not help but conclude it was a clue about who I am. I am an owl. (Winnie the Pooh reality: I live in a tree and always know the official spelling). I am gray glazed pottery in texture, people bring me glazed pottery and it sits on wood and that is me. I am a messy eater. No one needs a washing machine more than me. I cannot navigate a car journey, it all seems very mysterious and complicated. I recognize myself once a day when I exercise, run or yoga or whatever, my body and I work together and this is the arc of memory that makes a coherent self possible. Not the coworkers or zip codes, or boyfriends or accomplishments, not a reflection in the mirror. But the same person has been running, rowing, chasing a tennis ball, dancing, on the cross trainer, in a step class, in a spin class, at ballet, doing Jane Fonda's Aerobics tape, doing Greg Smithy's Buns of Steel, whatever  - just trying to bring body and mind together and forget the monologue.

For many years the dark monologue was mostly the coherent arc of my identity. The familiar strains of vicious attacks on the self. Always the idiot, always the shameful fool, too ugly, too needy, unbearable. And this self-laceration became comforting in its familiarity even as it tore me down. No compliment was true and every criticism that hurt a thousand times more in its truth. I was always just the worst. I was condemned to hell. I grew up in an Evangelical church and at a cellular and doctrinal level, that was true. I was and am always full of sin. Unworthy.

Now I am old and tired of the dark monologue. Now I am wise enough to sometimes remember its falsity and when I am feeling strong, I think I will vanquish it forever. The Evangelical virus still lives in my muscles, in my nightmares, in the unloveableness of me. I am learning to work around it but geez what a hassle. I hope some time to even hono(u)r the owl and the gray glazed poetry.   I hope to believe all the people who say that they love me. I hope to let myself be worthy of their love by not changing a single thing about the gray glazed poetry and the owl and the laundry. I hope you will too.


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