Color Guard

“Don’t varnish the truth, darling,” she said to no one in particular as she resolutely declined to add more lipstick color to her lips. She could plainly see the little telltale lines above her upper lip and the way the bright red color she had favored in her youth now bled off into the tiny trenches, and with that, she was done with reds. It would be pinks and faint corals from now on, until the day when even those colors would need to be retired.

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: varnish

Easy Go

Before I’d even had a serious love affair, there were things I seemed to understand about them anyway.

There were songs about breakups that for whatever reason captured my imagination and moved my emotions. My heart knew what they were about.

One that really resonated with me then, and still today, is a little known song “Tell Me on a Sunday” from the musical “Song and Dance,” with lyrics by Don Black and music by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

The musical is not great, and it’s not a great song musically (sorry, Mr. Webber,) but what the song says is lovely, and it always comes to me when I think about how difficult it is to end something that was once beautiful.

Tell Me on a Sunday

Don’t write a letter when you want to leave

Don’t call me at 3 a.m. from a friend’s apartment

I’d like to choose how I hear the news

Take me to a park that’s covered with trees

Tell me on a Sunday please

Let me down easy

No big song and dance

No long faces, no long looks

No deep conversation

I know the way we should spend that day

Take me to a zoo that’s got chimpanzees

Tell me on a Sunday please

Don’t want to know who’s to blame

It won’t help knowing

Don’t want to fight day and night

Bad enough you’re going

Don’t leave in silence with no word at all

Don’t get drunk and slam the door

That’s no way to end this

I know how I want you to say goodbye

Find a circus ring with a flying trapeze

Tell me on a Sunday please

Don’t want to fight day and night

Bad enough you’re going

Don’t leave in silence with no word at all

Don’t get drunk and slam the door

That’s no way to end this

I know how I want you to say goodbye

Don’t run off in the pouring rain

Don’t call me as they call your plane

Take the hurt out of all the pain

Take me to a park that’s covered with trees

Tell me on a Sunday please

Here’s a nicely acted version by Marti Webb:

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: zoo

Exhalation

How can I release this grip

This clinging on to everything good

As if my life depended on it

It feels so dangerous to release

All that I’m attempting to control

It is exhausting to hold on so tight

But it’s all I’ve ever known

Learned early to clutch and grasp

At what little good was parsed my way

If I loosen my fingers, if I let go my grip

Will I slide into the Void

Disappear into Nothingness

Or will I float into better climes

And find out what Life really feels like

 

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: clutch

Ownership

No longer have to trademark my grief

Don’t need the world to see where I was broke

I’ve given myself full attention and love

All I’d held dormant is now woke

 

I’ve befriended it all, found a place in my heart

For what used to have me in tatters

Don’t need you to see it to make it all real

It’s mine now, and that’s all that matters

 

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: trademark

Making Room

In certain recovery circles, there are different slogan versions of the same general theme: “Let it go.” “Turn it over.” “Let go and let God.”

These are usually said in reference of some condition, person, place or thing that is a source of stress, resentment, anger or some other emotion that is potentially dangerous for the person’s serenity/sanity/sobriety.

I’ve had people listen to my tale of woe, and offer as help something like: “Just let it go.”

I always found this very frustrating.

I mean, OK, sure, yeah, I’d love to “let it go!” Who wants to be obsessed with something? Who doesn’t want to release some shit that has a hold on them. I am all for letting it go! But how in the hell do you do that really?

I mean, I can’t just will it away. Been there, tried that. Doesn’t work.

Pray it away? Nope. That has never worked for me. Works for you – have at it. Good for you. Not my thing.

Best thing I ever heard around all of this, something that really helped me understand how this releasing, this turning it over thing really works (at least for me,) was this.

Someone wise once said to me: in order to let it go, just try to loosen my grip around that particular complaint, problem, issue, person, or thing.

To just see if I could release my grip just a bit…

And you know what? That I could do.

I could just try to loosen my hold on it a bit.

And no, the issue did not just disappear as a result. But sure enough, that loosening allowed something to move a bit, and that, it turns out, became the beginning of a shift.

That little release made space for something else to enter into the picture…

What a difference! I was no longer frustrated whenever I had that suggested to me, because now I knew that they key, the starting place, was to just loosen my grip a bit.

It is urban legend that Quincy Jones apparently said to Micheal Jackson, “If a song needs strings, it will tell you. Get out of the way and leave room so that God can walk in.” He later rephrased this to, “You’ve got to leave space for God to walk through the room.”

I am not religious nor do I use the word God to indicate what I believe in spiritually, but I do love and have come to understand this phenomenon experientially in my life: this consciously leaving some space in a situation for something greater than myself to come through with some help, or some magic, or some beauty. At the every least, some new information! I have experienced it a multitude of times.

So now I have my  own version of those slogans:

Let it go?! I don’t know. Leave some space? I say yes!

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: release

Chances Are

Coincidence? I think not. Happenstance? No.

It was divine guidance. Fate. Destiny. Meant to be.

I would never have been in Central Park otherwise that day. Hadn’t been there for years.

Avoided it, actually, as I did any person, place or thing that connected me to you, or the us that we had been.

But for some reason (it felt so random at the time,) I decided to get on the train and head uptown.

It was a sunny Labor Day. New York City felt generous without most of her locals taking up space.

I had no plans. I was trying to stay active so as not to slip into loneliness.

I came out of the subway at Columbus Circle. No plan. No route in mind. I wandered, following my nose, enjoying just being in the world.

I suddenly realized I was in “our” spot, on the Great Lawn. A fluttery fear made its presence known in my belly.

Without conscious intention, my eyes scanned the horizon, and just as I realized what I was doing, I saw you lying there.

Even face down, I’d know your body anywhere. Long, lanky, tanned. Shirt off, ripped, worn jeans low on your hips.

My heart somersaulted. A rush of heartache and bruised love and attraction rushed through my body.

In a moment of agonizing indecision, I considered turning away, walking past, walking on.

But my feet and heart had other ideas, and they took me to where I was standing over you.

Did you feel my presence, or was it just that I was blocking the sun?

You turned your head and said hello.

Just like that.

It had been three years of no contact. Three years since I came home to an apartment emptied of your things. A total shock.

Three years since I learned you’d been seeing other people for at least the last year of our relationship.

Three years of putting the pieces of my heart and my life back together, mending the gaping holes you left.

And today, of all days, “randomly,” our paths cross.

I say I’m well, and I mean it. I ask how you are, and then I wish you well, and I mean that too.

The truth is, I’ve never been better. The truth is, you don’t look so well.

I see the pack of cigarettes and the empty tallboys in the grass. I see a guy who is nursing last night’s drunk with midday hair of the dog.

You look like you’re in exactly the same place you were before the shit hit the fan. The place where we both drank too much. The lost place. The place where our love did not survive.

I see this, and I wish you well, from my heart, and I walk away.

I smile to myself, a bit astonished at my strength. The capacity of my heart to forgive. My resilience. My spirit. At the Universe knowing the perfect moment, the exact moment I am ready for it, providing me with this chance to see that I have healed. This chance to let it all go.

I move forward, into the sunlight, into the lush green of the park, into the present beauty of my life.

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: coincidence

A Child’s Wish

Like the last leaf in winter,

Sometimes I hang on too long.

If it is something good –

A relationship, a place, an experience,

A lipstick color, really great ice cream –

I want it in my life forever.

Afraid to leave behind the good I know,

To allow the change to change me,

I just don’t want to let go.

I don’t think I’m greedy,

I think I just love too tightly.

(When you’ve had things ripped away from you,

Maybe you tend to hold fast and hard.)

I’m working on a lighter grip,

A turning over, a letting go.

“If you love someone, set them free.”

I know you have to make space

For something new to come through.

Yet, still, I love who and what I love.

And in my heart of hearts,

I wish it could last forever.

So like a child, I let go begrudgingly.

I blink back the tears, await what comes next.

 

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: leaf

PSA

It is with great sympathy

That I must report

The end of an era:

The Era of Me Caring What You Think.

What you think about me or what I am doing with my life. About anything you think about, really.

(And when I say “with great sympathy” I’m being ironic, in case you missed it, being so wrapped up in your own megalomania and all.)

Buh-bye!

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: sympathy

Titanic

The voices begin, gremlin whispers at first, that become more insistent and convincing quickly, overtaking the lightness inside.

She feels her heart grip in her chest, stops breathing as if to quell them by denying them air. But they are unstoppable, somewhere inside she knows this.

The anxiety snaking through her muscles and the panic in her gut signal new chords of thought that join in with the voices. A cacophony within, compelling her to go home, get safe, now.

But there’s more than just the forceful compelling dark boom. There are silvery threads of sadness, an ache, as she looks out on the day. It is beautiful, pulsing, but the vibrant life feels separate from her somehow.

She’s torn between wanting to live in the world, to take her place in the throng, fulfill her purpose, and needing to heed the voices and the pull of the force within that wants her home.

The internal battle is ugly and choking. The warring sides are not equal. One is made stronger by the other’s resistance; the other, depleted.

Headed for the iceberg, there’s no turning back.

Just as the darkness crescendos, the lightness, the life force inside, gives up. Like giving in to the pull of an undertow, that part of her goes limp and releases to the strength of other forces. Releases into the dark of the ocean.

It is a familiar dark place, a quiet void, from which she will be spit back to shore again, at some point.

Spent, beleaguered, dazed, she will crawl back to civilization, to piece herself together, and begin again.

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: crescendo