thanks, giving and other acknowledgements.
greetings from hawkes bay, we just got back from auckland today….it was a long travel day alone with ash. we’ve been gone for a week – our longest spate away. he asked me tonight, as we were driving up to the rental house, if we were still going to be allowed to live in it, or if someone else had maybe moved in while we were gone.
i reassured him.
the poetry goes on and on. he’s moved around too much. i suppose it was a valid question.
i am writing this from bed. it’s midnight here, and ash has fallen asleep, and the united states is just about to greet the dawn of thanksgiving 2020….which is usually when everyone groans or thrills into the extreme sport of mass collectivity.
i don’t know what to say nowadays.
i, like many of you, have had my ass handed to me in this pandemic, life-plan torn asunder, and most of the time i’ve felt like i’m in an undertow, wondering when i’m going to spat above the waves and allowed to breathe.
and yet i’m in new zealand, land of little covid. able to move around without a mask, able to gather with thousands in theaters.
but i’m not home.
and home isn’t even home.
anthony used to say all the time: humans are the only mammal who can can make heaven out of hell, and hell out of heaven. there’s been a mile-high cocktail of both lately, and sometimes i can’t distinguish them anymore.
i have so, so, so much to be grateful for. more than ever before in my life.
so many people in my life – people i care got deeply – aren’t sick. full stop.
a few of my friends’ parents are dying or have died recently, some of covid. my whole constellation of parents – biological, step and spiritual – are all keeping well. i’ve never been more grateful for that.
my child and i have a safe and beautiful place to live, and we have an extraordinary community that has strung its arms around us.
lately, it’s been vineswing to vine. moment to moment. just when i think i’m at sea, something always arrives to remind me how un-alone i am, how worthy of love just when i start to wonder.
in a bizarre way, i have more to be thankful for this year than ever before in my life.
not because everything is so fine, but because things have never been LESS fine.
and in the un-fine-ness, i’ve never felt so much new love, seen so much gentle human care and compassion around me in forms i never expected it to take. care from strangers. care from old friends.
and oddly, care from myself.
i’ve allowed myself, this year, to be kind to myself in ways i never have been. i’m grateful to whatever forces have forces that strange change; the ability to construct a dreamy hug-machine finally pointed towards my own worn body.
this year, i’ve seen more anger and pain and trauma erupt than ever before. i think many could say that, especially my friends in the states.
near the poison grows the antidote, says the herbalist.
i’m deeply grateful to all the hands that have held ash through this time in his life. he’s never going to forget this moment, and i owe his happiness to so many others. his many caretakers over these months, and to his teachers at school, who have been like new and trusted little family.
i’m deeply thankful to all my neighborhood friends here who have enfolded ash into their own kids’ bunk-beds on nights i’ve had to work late, and to the friends who see the moments when i am too overwhelmed and scoop him up.
i’m grateful to the little boy outside the little shop who gave ash a two-dollar coin when i was there patting my pockets in front of the super-ball machine and then scooted away on his bike without a word.
i cried when that happened.
this whole village has helped raise my child.
and i’m thinking, tonight, of neil, who has been too far apart from his son for too long. i’m grateful he’ll be reunited with ash before too long. and i’m thankful beyond measure that this country is allowing us all to stay here. i don’t take that for granted. less and less every day.
and i’m thinking of my own whole extended family back at home in europe and america, who have all been splintered by this pandemic. many of us usually spend this holiday together, in some form or other.
i’m sure so many of you in the states are grieving some kind of ritual lost. ritual ties us together and this year, we have all had to get creative to keep the ties that bind, binding.
so if you are zooming with relatives, may you feel some of that holiday ritual – for better or worse, drunk uncles and all – seeping into your hearts regardless.
i’m thinking of team in new york, michael and hayley, who are passing the holiday in new york in covid-ways i imagine none of them ever thought could possibly manifest.
i’m thinking of every friend in every pocket of the globe who has experienced loss and pain in unprecedented ways this year.
i’m thinking of the musicians i’ve talked to who are losing their houses and pianos, and i’m thinking of the people who have swooped in to help them.
there has been so much giveth and taketh away this year. it’s hard to feel grateful when there’s so much loss. it’s easier, too. what’s left over sorta shows you the way out of hell. there’s always still something left. i keep forgetting this and remembering it.
i’m thinking of my two friends on either side of birth…one just had a baby two weeks ago, and one is about to in a few months. i’m so grateful they are both okay so far, and praying that their babies weather this moment with the kind of beautiful grace and resilience that babies tend to show up with. another friend is about to face the probable loss of a baby. i’m thinking about her every day. grateful for all my gains and losses in the womb-department, and grateful to be around souls who understand.
i’m thinking of every person i hugged on this tour who whispered a story to me. i’m grateful for every hug, every tear, every whispered story of cancer, loss, abortion, suicide, miscarriage, prison, helplessness, addiction, recovery, hell…heaven…
i’ve carried every story in my heart and used every single story to make a little ring of gratitude around my own small tale. together they merge, and i never feel alone anymore, ever. not really. not with all those stories inside of me.
my dear patrons.
my life has taken more new and stumbling turns than i ever could have fathomed this year, and this community has been the anchor to my foundering sanity-ship. the thing that has made me feel not crazy, not destitute.
every comment you’ve written, every offer you’ve made, every gesture of support.
you’ve all made me feel loved, known, accepted, trusted, and held, even when you’re grumpy with me.
that’s why it’s love. you tell me. you stay in the relationship even when it wobbles. i have needed that kind of love more than ever and you’ve heaped it upon me even when i’ve felt undeserving, and like i’m not holding up my end of the bargain. you forgive my tardiness and sloppiness time and time again.
the roller coaster jerks and stops and starts.
the carousel runs out of steam sometimes.
and you’re still there, en masse, sitting there, singing beside me.
it’s never been about the money, you know.
i mean, the money helps, that’s for goddam sure. it pays the rent, it pays our staff. it’s essential.
but it’s the love. it’s the trust. it’s the feeling that you have my back. th at you want to know me. that you want me working and you want my ragged voice in the world. it’s about that.
i’ve never been more thankful.
so, patrons, so world.
my heart is swelling with gratitude tonight for every little thing and person.
speaking of little things…
i’m taking the next four or five days off with ash. i may not post until next weeks podcast (it’s with storm large, and it’s incredible.)
i’m most grateful to him, i think. not just that he’s healthy and happy and ridiculously entertaining, but that he’s here, existing style all, now, forcing me beyond all imagination to be a totally different person who cares less and less about certain things that weren’t serving me. i resisted. he wore me down.
i love you, ash. thank you, little ocean-eyed wonder.
here he is on the ferry today.
if you all would like to…..use this space in the comments to unload some of your own weird life-acknowledgements.
maybe list some of the unsung heroes of your last few months, some of the hidden corners of your brain where you’re usually too busy to stop and say it.
i’m reading the comments.
i imagine i’ll cry a few times.
i love you all so much.
and as we say in massachusetts, happy national day of mourning. the holiday has its own roots in horror-story, as does the systemic racism and deep blood-stain on our country’s troubled history.
may we never forget the work we have to do.
may we do it with an open heart.