I have nothing to say

My feet take me places and my fingers forget to follow: it's as if life, in all it's vacuous chaos, has drained the words right from me with nothing left to put down in black and white. A writer's life has seasons as any artist's does: sometimes life inspires you and you record your perceptions in your own unique voice; then, too, the magnitude of the visual expanse of our world stops us up with it's enormity and no words are adequate to describe it.

My camera is dusty, too. A recent thrift store acquisition of a Yashica medium format SLR camera with a ground glass lens, and an original Canon Super8 video camera have left digital media far behind. I stood in a St. Louis hotel suite a few weeks ago stopped up by the chair they had left for me, the symmetry of it in the lance of light through the crack in the drapes, but more so the fact that I had four days alone in the anonymity of a fancy hotel, with THIS chair to sit in and look out on the urban landscape.

There were other moments of happiness captured: green grass in March under shiny new gray oxfords. An Ethiopian restaurant where I ate mounds of spicy lamb curry with hot from the oven injera. I was on my way to get a new tattoo: something I do when the pain of the past threatens to swallow me whole. I call it alternate rebellion. My brain is sending me on impulsive journeys to places I no longer want to visit, and pain is what stops me in my tracks. No longing wielding weapons against my own body, ironically it is healthier to hand a stranger a hundred and sit for an hour while they stab my skin with a high speed needle and paint.

I rented a car and when my mind began to wander to the sadness and stress of my everyday life, I hopped in and drove fast on the highways to a totally different part of the city. I travel to old St. Louis, which everyone tells me to avoid. I'm not very good at listening to warnings when I'm on an adventure. Especially by myself. So I take pictures of the boarded up old French row houses in the slums; I find a huge stone column, some remnant of a majestic building from the French period - now standing testament to a long-gone era, right in the middle of a road with a round-about built to avoid it. I drink espresso and eat beignets at a bakery advertising "hot and fresh". The windows boast iron bars to deter break-ins, and the inside is dingy and old with cracked linoleum underfoot and wobbly oak tables and chairs. There is a dusting of sugar on everything I touch. The beignets are roasting hot, the sugar melting into the crust. They're the best I've ever eaten. The "espresso" is Southern style - made from fine ground chicory and coffee.

Flowers are just beginning to bloom and I pick a magnolia blossom and set it on my dash. All this beauty in a four day business trip. I breathe deep and think I am lucky - for that is what it is, not a blessing or some experience designed to delight me, but just luck. The worst days of my life have occurred over these same weeks of silence, and it is only by building happy moments into bitterly difficult days that I thrive in no-man's land in a battle I stumbled upon.

The tattoo is my largest yet. I choose my left leg, I choose symbols carefully for their meanings in this season. The top is an enso, a mark that symbolizes an unfinished volume or chapter: it is for strength and for the void that coexists with our universe. Below it, I ask for a colorful eban, a West African symbol that is painted on the fences of small towns vulnerable to pillaging, attack, and other unspeakable violence. It represents the strong fence protecting the village: security and safety for all within it's walls. The diamonds are homes, and the colors all mean something that speaks peace into my situation: black is for warriors; green is for the ability to provide; red is for the deep attachment between the community or family members; and yellow means the space is precious and beautiful to it's inhabitants. The two "e" symbols mean something to me as well. It is a bold move for a bold time, marking a new step in my transformation, a step toward maturity, self-sufficiency, and - perhaps most important - my newly brave and powerful voice.

I return to winter and to adventures with my kidlets. We go to the American Girl store and I am surprised to enjoy it, such a girly place. In just the past year, femininity has been both something I can ignore or choose depending on how I feel, and also it is no longer dangerous. Instead it feels peaceful and joyful and expressive. Watching my girls and niece dance around the store in giddy delight over all the dolls reminds me of the countless hours I spent playing with my baby dolls all alone, dreaming of babies and a home to call my own someday. That desire seemed antithetical to my tomboy nature and my fear of marriage. Things work out differently than we imagine in our heads.

As I write here less, I have sometimes felt a twinge of guilt. But this blog is simply my story. Some seasons have required many lines typed to cipher through all the thoughts in my head. I have less to interpret these days, living authentically instead of in a cage of expectations. So the blog rests for weeks on end while I am busy living.

Which is the best possible development on a blog that has chronicled cancer and illness and loss and grief and shame. Join me in quietly celebrating by simply living the life you were designed to live.