An Open Letter to November

Dear November,

I know things haven’t always been great between us, but I think it’s time we make amends.  I forgive you, November, and I can finally admit that I was wrong too.

I’m sorry I bad-mouthed you for so many years, calling you the most depressing month of them all.  That wasn’t cool.  And it wasn’t you, it was me.

I was the girl resigned to feel nameless on the frozen streets of Chicago, believing she belonged to someone else.  The girl who cooked pots of food and then made herself too sick to eat, until the bones were outlined on her chest.  That was all me, and I shouldn’t have dumped it on you.

It was me who dwelled, who stagnated, who saw loneliness in the cracks of love.  I was the one who focused on the pain in my family, instead of the healing.  There was a lot I didn’t understand yet, about family, and I’m still learning, but I no longer blame you for the way those lessons sting sometimes.

But you have to own part of this too. You did bring the death of two of my grandparents.  That can’t be unwritten.  And my heart was broken in you, November.  These things are not easy to get over.

And then there’s the cold of you.  And the early nightfall and the empty branches.  It’s a lot to deal with, ok?  Work with me here.

But, I know, you brought the birthday of a grandparent too.  And many other births and anniversaries and occasions to commemorate.  And you brought me love once too.  I won’t ever forget that.

So, I think it’s time, after all, to squash the beef.  I’m ready to let go of past injury and move on together. We both deserve another chance.  And I’m ready to celebrate the best in you, November.  Your gumbo, your football, your pumpkin pie.  And running through it all, your message of gratitude.

That’s what you’ve been trying to teach me all this time, isn’t it?  I get that now, but we’ve had some dark times together, and it was hard for me to hear you.

So let’s meet each other halfway, November.  Let’s wipe the calendar of memory clean and write a new story for ourselves.  One we can both agree on.

Love, Molly

open letter to November

 nothin’ lasts forever, even cold November rain…

From the Desk of

Cleaned out some old files at work and found these random scraps from last year. Apparently I was distracted and/or actively avoiding work at least twice during the spring semester.

pizza and sex

from the desk ofAnd I photographed my keyboard.

From the Desk of

 

Church for the First Time

I went to church for the first time recently. Not the first time I’d ever been inside a church, obviously, but it was the first time I’d ever actually taken myself to church. No wedding or funeral or quinceañera.  No family or friends.  Just me.  Going to church.

angel on the wall

I wanted to hear the choir.

Of course, there was a little more to it than that, as there usually is. A conversation, a choice, a circumstance, but when the pieces fell, I really just wanted to hear the choir.

My parents rarely took me to church as a child, but they did take me to the gospel tent at the New Orleans Jazz Festival.  And the music in that tent would fill me.  It would give me this feeling I have no name for, this resonance in my bones.

I wanted that feeling.  So I decided I should take myself to church in search of a choir that could make me feel it.  I asked around and ended up at a Baptist church in a historically black neighborhood.

And for a moment, from my pew in the back, I sensed it, that feeling.  Unfortunately, on this particular Sunday the resident choir was cut short, as there was a guest artist who performed, and I’ll suffice it to say that his brand of praise music was not my thing.  But I did experience a moment, and it was a moment of joy, and that is all I can ask for these days.

And though it wasn’t what I went for, I did appreciate the sermon as well, on forgiveness, loving thy enemy, and praying for those who have wronged you.  We’ve all been wronged. We all have something to hear in that.

The pastor was out of town, so the sermon was delivered by a guest reverend.  In speaking about forgiveness, she brought up the lure of revenge and how Hollywood loves a revenge story.  One example she used was the movie Waiting to Exhale.  From the congregation’s immediate response upon hearing the title, it was clear that many had seen this movie and were familiar with the plot-line of a woman whose husband is leaving her for someone else.

The reverend elaborated. Not only does she find out that her husband…of eleven years!…is leaving her for another woman…but he is leaving her for a WHITE woman!… To which the crowd responded with several more calls of affirmation.  People were feeling this example.

I was the only white person in the room.  The aforementioned white woman. I could feel eyes all on me, real or imagined, and I did my best to keep a poker face, figuring that any of my potential responses could be construed as inappropriate.

The reverend backpedaled.  Now, I don’t know why that made it worse, but somehow in the movie, that made her feel worse…

I’m curious if the reverend would have included this disclaimer had I not been present that Sunday, but of course I’ll never know, and ultimately it’s not important.

Either way, her words did not deter the young man sitting next to me from slipping me his number while we held hands during the closing prayer.

Really, I was just there to hear the choir.

Though really, I shouldn’t have to explain why I was there, or what brought me to that particular church on that particular Sunday, or why I love live gospel music, or any of it. I shouldn’t have to, and in fact, I don’t have to, and I know that, at least on some base level.

But over the last several months, I have felt judged for both not going and going to church.  I’ve felt I had to defend myself on both ends.  And that, in a word, sucks, though it is neither new nor surprising.  Part of it is that perhaps I care more about what other people think than I thought I did.  I’d like to pretend I’m over it, when the truth is, I’m still knee-deep.

And I have just begun my Jesus year, as some say, which I find both more amusing and more appropriate now then I would have ever before.  It’s possible I could use a resurrection metaphor right about now.

However, I’m not anticipating enlightenment or a rise to the messiah this year.  But I can still aim for more of that feeling.  Resonance.  And joy.  Whether it comes from a gospel choir, or finally forgiving, or the weight of my own exhale.

Not a Newspaper Blackout Poem

This is not a newspaper blackout poem, as obviously, there was no newspaper, just a journal entry from a couple weeks ago, but that was my inspiration.  And I liked it.

newspaper blackout poem
not a newspaper blackout
Not a newspaper blackout poem
Not a newspaper blackout poem

This Day: In Rememberance

I wrote this a decade ago, as part of a contemporary dance solo.  If I ever update the copy from VHS, I’ll share it.  Until then, only the words…

This Day

When my grandfather died, I had my hands on his feet.
The feet of my father’s father.
Father Thompson at the foot of the bed,
This day you shall be with me in Paradise.
The first and only time in my life a Catholic priest
Has made me feel God in my bones.
This day.

A Datoga tribeswoman in northern Tanzania once told me,
That when a person dies,
Their spirit goes into the Earth.
Goes underneath our feet.
This day you shall be with me in Paradise.

A Native American woman from northern Arizona once told me,
That the eyes of the soul
Are on the soles of our feet.
This day you shall be with me in Paradise.

I have heard from many people,
Many times before,
That the eyes are the windows of the soul.
I wish I remember my grandfather’s eyes,
In those moments before he died.
He had the bluest eyes I’ve ever seen.
But all I remember is my hands on his feet.
My aunts had given him a pedicure.
This day.

The day my grandfather died
I lay my hands on his feet.
The feet of my father’s father.
And this day,
This day you shall be with me in Paradise.

This day you shall be with me in Paradise

Dr. William Alexander Roy
Nov. 20th 1914-July 18th 1998
Rest in Peace