find the others…

March 17, 2013

Office Depot guy (big burly man): How are you today?

He said to me while I wandered the store aimlessly…

Me: I’m…(pause)….I’m alright.

I said with a pathetic half smile and a disheveled braid.

Office Depot guy: (belly laughs half for a hot second) Ummm, are you okay?

Me: (laughing back) No, not really…but I will be. But I think I am actually just a little bit better now…since you came back with that second run through and all, you know, after I told you the truth.

Surprisingly, this man did not appear to think I was bat-shit crazy.

Office Depot guy:  Ohhhh good, sometimes that’s all it takes.

And in one instant…we were together…completely connected, this guy, for just a moment, was my community.

And the best part is, we may never see each other ever again.

And he has no idea that I have been crying for 2 days over having to move and from the outside looking in, it all seems kind of ridiculous to be so sad over moving 5 miles away…but from the inside looking out, there is a wave of reflection and grief because now I know what I am losing and how this place changed me…and how deep it runs inside of me.

I used to be a nomad of sorts, moving from place to place, setting up my shop of goodness for soul business. I offered an array of love and kindness, standing behind the counter dolling out the goods, then I hid and retreated when I was tired or had nothing left to share… but I rarely received, I am not sure I always even knew how to or knew I was even worthy.

I believed there was some kind of nobility in ultimately standing alone, that it exhibited some inner strength and honored some ancient familial legacy. I was verbally honest and occasionally vulnerable but had trouble taking the one last giant step…asking for help, or being seen in the one dark moment where rescue was sure to follow.

And it is a lot less dramatic than it sounds…it’s rather small and everyday actually…it was needing a ride for my kids to school, or a tiny bouquet of flowers left on a door, or one song sent my way, or one conversation (or 30) where one kind friend tells you the truth about yourself that you can’t see while kids run around and interrupt 57,000 times.

…and I was afraid of true community, because it meant my soul being all out there and others finding out just how much I do not have my shit together… and it meant I might need and depend on people, it meant that I might be rejected or that people might fail me, but it also meant that:

community carries us to the next place of learning, growing understanding

community shows us how pissed we are at each other when something just isn’t right among us

community asks us to hold space for each other when we can’t hold it ourselves

community tells us to try again, or have a do-over

community asks us to add yet another seat at the table, and makes sure everyone is there, to find the others

community requires that we look inside ourselves and own our own shit so we can love and build what we know it is meant to be

community reminds that we are better together, that we find relief in leaning in, and in turn our hearts swell with a  great gratitude that  keeps the circle going

community melts us, and is messier than we imagined or hoped

community calls us to do what love asks

….when it is joyful

….especially when it is hard.

and the truth is, we are all “the others”, wanting to be found ….and that community can take time to build and can also be as simple as just one moment, one exchange but it requires us to take a step outside of ourselves…sometimes that step is the easiest you’ll ever take, or like crossing a freakin’ marathon line and other times it feels like stepping off a cliff…but it doesn’t change that we have to do it, because we need each other and

…because  we were never meant to stand alone. We are meant to find…and be found.

post hurricane truth

My PTSD sort of sets in at the mere mention of a tropical storm. I grew up in sunny south Florida and lived in Homestead when Hurricane Andrew rolled through all those years ago. So much has changed since then, I live 1,000 miles away, I have babies of my own to protect, I know that storms, even in all their destruction, bring people together…and when there is fear in your heart, every invitation of love is a good idea.

It started with a food conversation, I guess storms and food have that one thing in common. We decided that at 5pm all who wanted to would gather, Jen (the mayor of the street commune and neighborhood)  would make her famous curry soup and naan. Yes, six batches of naan should be enough, although there really can never be too much naan.  I spent the day running to help with naan, making breakfast casserole and puppy chow while kids played their own version of monopoly with tiny stuffed animals. There were lots of rules to follow.

When the wind picked up and the sky grew dark, the naan and Irene worked their magic and 30 people, (neighbors, dear friends and family who just happened to be visiting, grandparents seeking higher ground, etc.) gathered in one house to ride out the storm together. Somehow happy chaos found her way into the storm…along with some piano playing, a shot of vodka and the holy breakin’ of igniting glow sticks. Everyone bringing their own light in some way.

I looked around and wished everyone had this sort of community, because the truth is life is full of all kinds of storms…what if each one were greeted with such love? I imagine we all would be doing a helluva lot better. We woke up to lots of trees down, some on our street, damaging the houses of the people we care about and live with. It seemed like the only perfect response was to do what we knew from the night before. So we set a long beautiful table with linens and flowers, right in the middle of the street and all the destruction…and ate naan cakes.

We all decided that when the power is gone you should just empty your refrigerator and eat like kings! The morning turned into day, someone brought out Balderdash and beer, the kids played in the street and I chalked what I know to be true over and over again…if ever there was a perfect storm, it was this one.

The First Secret Garden Supper of the Season…

On the menu:

(by Papa Cris and the Party Wagon of Kindness)

Watermelon Mojitos
Fish Tacos with Pineapple Salsa
Spanish Rice with Chipotle Sour Cream
Personal Nachos with Cheddar
Caramel and Chocolate Ice Cream cones

and a truckload of super family love…and a few fireflies.