My last living grandparent died a year ago, on August 28, 2015. My father’s mother.
Constance Jacqueline Bouchard Erickson. We called her “Grammy”. She was 83. I don’t have a happy memory to share, really.
I last saw my Grammy when I was about eight or nine years old. I don’t remember much except the smell of cigarettes and particular sensations, like the feeling of the upholstery of her couch and the way her voice touched my ears.
She and my mother disliked each other tremendously. From everything I’ve been told, they had two major things in common: they had the same birthday (November 27th) and they couldn’t stand each other.
Yom Kippur is a Jewish Holy Day also known as the “Day of Atonement”, which occurs soon after Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year). There is a lot of ritual and tradition surrounding the occasion, but my bastardized overview concept is about atonement for one’s sins. I once observed a Jewish friend of mine apologizing to various friends for hurt they had caused, to take responsibility for their actions and to move on from that in the new year. Despite not being a practicing Jew myself, I felt it was a good enough tradition to adopt, and try to recognize it every year with a “moment” of repentance.
I have no deity to confess or repent to, nor any arbitrary moral requirements besides those of basic ethics – to not harm others by my actions.
I sat at a computer all night trying to find the emotional zone that makes me tell a story. I got distracted by the typical aspects of the internet, and suddenly dawn arrived and I had no words yet, despite having spent three days telling myself it was time to write it. Finally, I grabbed a pack of clove cigarettes and a lighter and headed to my porch to watch the sun rise. I don’t even smoke, I just love the smell of burning clove, the way the tendrils of smoke rise off the ash at the end of the cigarette. I listened to birds sing and the neighborhood wake up. I started talking to someone who wasn’t there, I started telling them the story I was trying to tell in written word, and suddenly it poured out. I do this a lot. I tell it like I’m a character in a movie, like every dramatic scene that’s quiet in which a character tells another the truth. Dramatic pauses, a drag from a cigarette and thoughtful sighs. It makes it so much more artful, and suddenly those spoken words travel down to my fingers and allow me to walk back inside and type them out. It’s always this damn cigarette that brings it out.
Three years ago, on Memorial Day weekend of 2010, I left New England for my new life in Los Angeles. I was twenty-two and ready for an adventure. Many friends confessed confusion as to why I would leave, and why I’d choose Los Angeles, a city I only knew three people in, a city so much different than where I was from. Once I moved, and still to this day, I get asked by people in LA why I chose to move there.
So, I’ve been doing a bit of a personal creative writing project for myself. I’ve been slowly rewriting stories of mythology into poems, and writing personal stories and histories into the sort of childhood fables/mythologies I recall from years ago.
This study of “personal mythology” is a process for me – one of trying to let go of the complications of our society, to take pieces of my family stories or self-stories and turn them into something far simpler. It is through this process that I attempt to exercise compassion towards people who have hurt me or been hurt by me in the past. It is a therapy, to some degree, and an exploration.
My first story ties into the tattoo upon my back. It’s the secondary meaning of my wings, the first meaning is for a different blog post.
The Tree & The Kokopelli Once, long ago, a Kokopelli was dancing and singing his way through a great green forest, when he spotted a young tree. She was beautiful, small, with bright leaves and rough bark. He greeted her with his charming voice and asked if he could sit in her shade, to which she graciously affirmed. He leaned against her cool bark, and she asked him about what he’d seen in the world, and the Kokopelli told her. Continue reading The Tree & The Kokopelli→
“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” – Anais Nin