About Me

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Born in the US, raised on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, lived in Italy, the US, and Canada. Lover of language, travel, colour, and the natural world.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Joy can't hide here

It is Wednesday night, early, early Thursday morning. I should be asleep, but when do I ever do what I should be doing? Tell me, friends, when?

This evening after I finished work I went for a long walk along the boardwalk that runs along part of the bay skirts Charlottetown, the capitol city of Prince Edward Island. It was a beautiful evening. The kind of evening that pulls you like some gravitational force out of your house to immerse yourself fully in the wash of its golden rays. I walked along the boardwalk slowly, feeling the breeze blow through the combs of my splayed fingers; listening to it play through the thick canopy of maples at the end of the boardwalk and watching it press the ocean into millions of tiny ripples of light and shadow lapping up against the boulders that are piled up as a breakwater along the boardwalk. The sky was clear blue. The ocean deep, inky blue, and the grass that sharp ripe green of mid-summer. Out in the bay at least twenty white mesmerizing sails swirled in the wind.

When I reached the opposite end of the boardwalk I turned around and started back, this time slipping off my sandals and rolling up my pant legs so that I could leap along from boulder to boulder, the sound of the ocean licking stone to my right. When I was a child I has a special place called "my rocks." It may be that everything is "my ______" when you are an only child, but these rocks were special. They were sculpted and carved out by volcanic activity and the relentless surge and fall of the Mediterranean, leaving an interesting landscape that to most people was just a rocky shoreline, but to me was "my house." My house had a bedroom and bathroom, kitchen (complete with salt water basin) and even a staircase leading up to my private quarters from the living room. I would enter my house and go straight upstairs to "my special room," a section of the rocky shoreline that was sculpted out hollow leaving a basin of stone into which I could curl like a fetus. From my bowl room I could peer out over the lip of stone and down to the waves below which would, on windy days, crash with a fury and recklessness that I loved, sending spray up into the air that would drift over me, leaving a salty mist on my lips and in my hair, and even leaving rings of dried salt crystals in the indentations around me that I would scratch at with my fingernails and dissolve on my tongue. I loved this little rock bowl, and would visit it often, sitting for long periods of time just listening to the ocean and often whispering Baha'i prayers into the wind. When I return home now I always visit "my rocks" at least once. I still crouch down into my stone bowl, but it is a lot smaller that it once was -- my body having grown to fill its curved walls. Still....I sit and listen to the ocean, and people pass by and probably wonder why a grown woman is crouching in a rock cavity staring out to sea . Of course it is the little girl with her head full of dreams, hopes, fears and the calming rhythmic lull of waves that is curled into that stone--the child that lives on  in each one of us at some level). There is always a story, and a trigger that brings it back. Like the leaping from boulder to boulder today. The texture of sandstone beneath my feet. The sound of waves breaking. And the smell of salt that is synonymous with home.

I walked the rest of the way home barefoot with my jeans rolled up and an awareness of how odd it must seem to those passing me on the boardwalk to see a woman with a strand of pearls around her neck and and dressed for work wandering along a boardwalk barefoot. The world seems to have certain expectations of us as adults -- the expectation that we will have grown out of certain ways of being, doing, and maybe even thinking. That a grown woman will not suddenly break out with a cartwheel or backflip in the middle of a beach or strip of inviting grass, for example. Or leap from boulder to boulder barefoot in her good clothes and pearls. It makes me smile because when I am out there on those boulders I am the boulders. I am the wind. There is no woman. I vanish and all that I am aware of is the elements of place. There are no pearls or makeup or hairdos. Just the air and salt water and that saturated, blinding golden sunshine.

I love that there is no line between me and the natural world. That I feel its wildness in my bones. That when I was out there yesterday boulder hopping I was thinking not of work or bills or to do lists or life goals, but about how it might feel to be one of those graceful white sails being filled with and harnessing the power of wind or a seagull soaring on wind currents high above my head. And as I think these things I wonder when and where (and why) we get such hemmed in expectations of what it means to be adults when in reality releasing the wild that lives inside --the wild that reflects that freedom of expression that is the natural world--is such an ageless expression of beauty and joy.

I came home and climbed the stairs feeling a deep contentment in my heart and body. A few years ago a dear friend sang at an academic conference that I attended here in Charlottetown. She stood up and sang in the middle of an academic conference. It blew my mind to watch her reclaim and express the joy she finds in poetry and song in the middle of this conference that although not openly stated, was so full of expectations about the right ways to communicate with the audience. She only sang one line -- "Joy can't hide here -- and why would it want to?" which she repeated over and over, pausing in between to let it sink in. Indeed, I thought. Why would joy want to hide?

Over the past few years I have been seeking out that joy in my life. Finding ways of giving it permission to reclaim its rightful place in my life. Yesterday evening returning home into my sun lit apartment I was deeply aware not only of the tremendous abundance that I have in my life -- abundance of friendship, abundance of the lush, wild beauty of the natural world, of fresh food, of love.....but also of the ever-constant presence of joy in my life these days. The conscious awareness of it not hiding but standing contentedly in the patch of sunlight in the middle of my living room floor.

And you, friends? Is your joy hiding? Or have you found ways of giving it permission to emerge and inhabit its natural home front and centre in the heart of living?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A new home

I still do not have my curtains up, but it is beginning, slowly, to feel like home. Since moving into my new apartment life has been non-stop, full-on--it has been as life should be--full of the experience of living. I have had little time for writing lately. When I come home I manage to get a few more things organized, sometimes a bath, and then promptly pass out in my makeshift bed which is composed of a sleeping bag and two thin pieces of foam on the floor. Still....with a good deal of effort, lots of contributions from friends and the arrival of a suitcase of my belongings from California my space is starting to turn into something resembling a space that I can inhabit instead of a dumping ground. While my dear friend Ahava was on the island this past week she helped me gather some essentials and put together a small set of shelves to get my clothes off the floor (WHAT a brilliant idea!). She also gave me a beautiful painting which I will write about another time because it warrants its own blog entry.

I live in the heart of downtown Charlottetown. With all my windows propped open as they are now I hear the throb of the city in summer: live music, stragglers heading either to or from one of the city's many bars, the sound of motorcycles speeding by, wind in the trees, cars, and this evening some rather live recorded music coming from God only knows where. It is loud downtown--something I have not yet gotten accustomed to. The noise keeps me awake at night. And yet I love the convenience of being so close to everything. Being able to sit, as I did this evening, on Victoria Row -- a pedestrian only street -- and have a cool drink while I listen to live music and read my novel, and then stroll leisurely the one block home in five minutes. Yup. There are definitely advantages to being downtown.

I have been in so many spaces since arriving back on the island that it is hard to settle down and allow myself to nest. Part of me keeps expecting this space to be gone soon too. But this evening as I sit here watching the last of the light fade I am trying to let myself dream into this new space and life. To absorb all the change and consider my surroundings. Dogs bark. More cars. The recorded music that, if it does not get turned off soon is going to keep me awake yet again. The fading lilac and rose from the sunset. The deep blue sea of the sky. It is time to wander down to the basement that has a sign on it "enter at your own risk" and unload my last load of laundry before I collapse into bed.

Hoping you are all well! Greetings from the heart of summer on Prince Edward Island.