Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Seeing Shelter

Sitting quietly tonight, this nearly overwhelming tightness in my chest keeps me awake and intensely uncomfortable. It's hard to stay with this. I want to run as the pressure builds. 

Images appear. The client at an HIV treatment center who overdosed and died. I see him. Can't stop him. I see myself as a child, helpless and terrified. Can't stop her either. Can't stop what is happening to her.

The scene shifts. I see a weathered photograph in a fragile metal frame standing on my grandmother's bureau. I am age eight or nine. In that photo, a little girl a few years younger than my child self is staring out. She is naked to the waist, standing barefoot, wearing shorts in a forest somewhere in Poland. Wavy brownish hair down to her chin, her expression neutral yet piercing in its innocence. Her eyes say everything that matters.

My grandmother does not say much, just a long, disgusted sigh followed by, "she was killed by the nazis." She quickly turns away and heads for her favorite room, the kitchen. I hear the sounds of cookware in motion. But those eyes keep me locked in place.

Now I see my girl self with this forest girl out of time. No longer frozen, two become one. I'm crying, my tears falling in that forest. Grown up me wants to hold this forest girl close, now able to face the horror and see what pierces it. Autumn rain is falling on the branches through layers of canopy down to her hair and naked chest.

The tightness releases in my chest as tears continue to fall. My breath opens. We are safe. I know what I must do - keep facing this fear, this pain, facing while standing in that forest beside her.

I am determined to turn towards those I have hurt. Determined to stop though have failed many times. Now I see the trees all around, feel the bodies sitting upright beside me. We are awake. We will not fail.

I adjust my posture, leaning forward.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

"A" True Story

This morning stepping into our apartment building elevator, I spot a little red-haired boy and his strawberry blonde sister beside their mom. He's wearing an SF Giants cap and his sister a Yankees cap.

I say to him, "You're a Giants fan?" and his mom says, "actually, he has a collection from lots of teams." Just then, the boy shining a bright smile looks at me and says confidently, "actually, I'm an A's fan."

Without hesitation, his sister chimes in, "me too!" Mom is chuckling silently. "OK!" I say, "Go A's!" and the kids now go, "A's!" The door opens and the three of them step off. 

The boy quickly turns back to me and we stand there smiling as the door slowly closes.