The Street Where I Live

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Lots of leaves  

I grew up with the music of Rogers and Hammerstein, Lerner and Loewe and the Sherman boys, as well as those other brothers George and Ira. Musical theater was big in my house. I remember this music playing continually.

I can sing selections from many different musicals. The classics. South Pacific. Oklahoma. Sound of Music. My Fair Lady. Fortunately for my friends I keep my singing to the car or the shower, but sometimes for no special reason I just let it out. I know. OY. 

  Like today, on a grey, rainy day, me and my little dog took a walk and I was singing. Loudly.  

  It felt great.

  “People stop and stare

They don’t bother me

For there’s no where else on earth

That I would rather be

Let the time go by

I won’t care if I

Can be here on the street where I live”. 

 -Loerner and Loewe

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Sally in her voice appreciation stance

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Landmark

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Barn on rte 313

  This barn has become a landmark to me. It has spoken to me. The barn and I have grown close. Whenever I am on Route 313, I stop and photograph it. 

  It’s a symbol, a rest stop on my journey, a haven for creativity. I was introduced to it by my friends Jon and Maria, and the barn was welcoming. 

  It’s pretty popular. My friend Rachel, a writer and artist also has captured this spot in a painting or two.

  I have thought about this barn and decided it is a special place, a place that generously lends it’s beauty to creative types. It’s easy to get to, it’s got a million different angles, it does amazing things with the light. 

  I love this spot and what it means to me. I keep it as a rest stop, a spot where I can pull over and think or take a photo or two. It renews my spirit and my mind and makes me look hard to see with my photographer’s eye what I may have missed.

  There is always something new.

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Stewart’s

       

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Yellow Grove

   Every morning when I stop for coffee at Stewart’s on my way to work, I see her. I pull into the parking space and I see her minivan parked.  I walk in and see her. I don’t know her name.  

  I see a youngish woman, who is huge, morbidly obese, with stretch pants with holes in them. She is  buying her 3 packs of Newports, donuts and a large coffee with sugar and extra cream. I see her arms with sores, I see her bad skin, I see her. 

  And I see myself. I see a future for myself that I could have easily slipped into. I am walking a tightrope right now with my food. It is a very slippery slope and my food issues could easily push me towards what I see before me.

  But this morning, as I stopped for my small coffee, I saw the woman. She was in her old  dented and dirty minivan.  She sat in the front seat surrounded by her cigarettes and coffee and her quickly disappearing donuts.

  And I was hit with a memory so powerful that I had to pause for a moment. I was this woman. 

  In my blackest time, when I was down for so long that I didn’t know anything else, I was this woman. I would drive around, stopping at any fast food drive thru and load up on enough food to feed a family of four and then pull over and in the dark confines of my car, hidden away from anyone and everyone, I would wolf the food down, past the point of being hungry. 

  This wasn’t about hunger. This was my obsession, my addiction to food at its worst. 

  The most important thing was to keep it hidden. I ate quickly and efficiently to make sure there was no chance of any random person seeing me. 

  I didn’t even want to bring it home, because the shame and fear attached to this was so insurmountable and so controlling that I couldn’t even risk a random sighting by a neighbor.

  This was a part of my life that I haven’t written about before, have only started to address it in my therapy. But that woman is me, my doppelgänger.

 A part of me wanted to bang on her window and tell her…what?  If she is anything like I was, she is unapproachable , she wanted nothing more than to be left alone with her donuts. 

  I am powerless to do anything for her, just as if anyone had tried to talk or reason with me I would have lashed out in anger, to cover my shame. I just wanted to be left alone.

 I can do nothing for this woman. But I feel connected to her, I can feel what is going on in that minivan. I know it as surely as I know my name. I will not disturb her or intrude upon her.

  She wouldn’t allow it. I can only offer a prayer, send her my wishes and be on my way.

  A messenger from my past to point me towards the future, a being encountered on my journey. Words that are sounding in my head without ever being spoken. 

  And I am listening.

  

  

  

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The Idea Lives

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The Tree at Bedlam Farm

  

  I was thinking about the Open House today, hosted by my friends Jon Katz and Maria Wulf. This one was different than the ones in the past. On Saturday evening, when we were sitting around talking about it, I made the comment that it seemed humdrum. 

  A thoughtless remark. But it was the first thing that came to mind.

    It was my first impression but not necessarily the correct or accurate one. 

  I remembered the day. I saw the people meeting the donkeys, petting Bud, watching Red and Fate and Jon herd sheep. I recalled the poetry reading and the faces of people listening to the poetry being read.

  I wondered to myself how many had not heard poetry before, or how many would read or write poetry after hearing it. Would someone take the plunge and write the feelings they have long kept locked up? A possibility, a spark that wasn’t there before? Maybe.

I saw the pain of Carol’s poetry reflected in many faces.  Carol Gulley, along with her husband Ed,farmers who found their creative voices.   I saw recognition of similar life experiences after hearing Mary’s poems. Mary is 88 years old and has been writing poetry all her life. Jon and Maria became her friends and Mary showed her poems to them and the poet we all love was discovered.  

   I remember thinking along those lines after I started seeing photos in the Group posted online.  I thought of the possibility of taking photos and showing the world.

I recall the first Open House I attended. I remember walking up the driveway of Bedlam Farm, excited and scared and nervous. This was a huge day for me. I had been a part of the Group for awhile now, posting the occasional photo, liking the occasional piece of writing,  but  still very much in the background. 

   I had cancelled previous reservations to attend earlier Open Houses because I was too scared.  I didn’t even recognize my creative self. It was foreign to me. I walked up the slight hill of the driveway and it hit me. The magic. The camaraderie. The idea of celebrating the creativity that exists in all of us.

   The notion that it was ok to access it, there was nobody present to tell me that it was a waste of time. There was no penalty to try something that existed in my soul and was awakened.  The magic that was there that day for me that spurred me on to develop and nurture my creative self. 

  I recalled the chain of events that occurred in my life soon after that. I slid into a horrendous depression and suffered illness and I nearly died. I made a pact with myself that day. I would change my life and one of the promises I made was that I had to get back to the Open House. 

  I held on to that promise to myself and I worked and fought to make it so. I knew that the awakening of my creative self was part and parcel of my Journey. Once awakened, I could not let it sink into oblivion.

  I remembered the young family I met the first day. Holly and her young family came walking up that same driveway and I saw Holly’s face. She radiated the magic. 

  She looked around the yard that has become so familiar to me like I did all those years ago. She reminded me why Jon and Maria started doing these Open Houses. It was there plain as day and superseded the humdrum and the ho hum.

  The Open House this year was smaller. There were fewer people. The weather was spotty. 

  But the magic was there in full force. It was there in the faces of Holly and her family. It was there on the faces of people in Maria’s studio seeing the variety of art. 

  Maybe seeing the creative force present in tangible fabricwork, pottery and paintings would encourage someone to pursue a similar feeling like I had that fateful day.

  The Open House this past weekend was comfortable and cozy. It was intimate. It was familiar.  The Open House, or rather the idea of it will continue to be for me a symbol of the awakening of my creativity.

  That realization of a creative self could never be humdrum.

  

  

  

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Nuclear

 

 

 

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Rachel and Abrah

Whenever I am present when Rachel Barlow and Abrah Griggs meet, I can feel the energy between these two. I always think of it as a nuclear reaction, that is how powerful it is. As Rachel says if she and Abrah had been in the same class in third grade, they would have to be separated. The fusion occurs and the explosion happens and there is no predicting where the conversation will go. Its the most delightful thing to witness.

As adults, these two are no different. I must say, I contribute to the anarchy. But its all good. We mean no harm. But I sit back and watch these two connect, and I feel like I’m in the midst of something  wonderful.

Two artists who have met and connect on a different plane. I’m just happy to call these two my friends and watch the magic.

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Magic

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Caralynn enjoying the poetry at Bedlam Farm

 

 

Today was the first day of the Open House at the home of Jon Katz and Maria Wulf. Each one I’ve attended I’ve loved. This one was different. It was smaller and more intimate. I saw many moments that were poignant and unforgettable; a young girl loving on a donkey, a young dog recently acquired by Jon and Maria having the time of his new life, getting endless attention and running in the pasture with his new pals Fate and Red; a stately classy poet getting to the farm and reading her poetry in a clear, strong voice; a woman recently widowed, reading poems written by her and her husband that spoke of their life together and her life after his death; a young woman and her family whose dream came true today by coming to Bedlam Farm and meeting Jon.

I walked around. I took a lot of photographs. I spoke to a lot of people. I sat and watched people walk up the driveway and thought about the magic. I feel it whenever I visit Bedlam Farm. Jon has used the phrase “Peaceable Kingdom” in his writing and that came to mind today as I sat and watched and allowed myself to feel the magic of the place.

I remembered very well the first time I walked up that driveway, nervous and excited and a little scared all at the same time. I realized as I sat there that I let myself forget that, I let the feeling grow old. My mistake.

I saw the magic reflected in the eyes of the people as they walked around the yard and fed the donkeys and loved the dogs.

A smaller turn out than in past years certainly. For whatever the reason. I don’t know why.

But the magic turned out. In full force.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Road Taken

 

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My Reflective Lady

  A former friend texted me in response to a piece I wrote on my blog. “I thought we were friends”, she said. 

  It took me by surprise when I realized I haven’t spared her a thought since I moved to Cambridge. This person used to be my best friend. We used to be close. We used to be completely in each other’s lives. The very idea that my former friend is completely gone from my consciousness is a startling realization.

  Long Island seems very far away. My life there seems blurry, indistinct. My friend’s face seems in my mind as if I’m looking through water, wavy and not clear.

The threads of my old life are frayed and disintegrated. They’ve almost disappeared. 

  My old life. Days of darkness. Inconsequential conversations rooted in pettiness and politenesses, and through it all, death as a familiar option. It kept me company for a long time, finally making its presence known.

  It forced my hand, stripped me bare, laid me open to the world. Had I not met death at that point and bartered with him by relinquishing my life, I would have met him later when I was powerless. But I survived. I crossed the threshold. 

  This is the thing, the meat and bones of my journey. I grabbed onto the idea that my life could change. I nurtured it, I fed it and cared for it and I watched it grow strong. It took root within me and it vanquished all the weeds of my former life that would have choked me.

  I tried to explain it to my friend. I saw that she would not be coming with me on this new phase of my life. She could not conceive of such a thing. Her life was set, she was content. She could not understand why I couldn’t feel the same. She wanted me to stay with her. But I couldn’t.

I felt my old life turn to dust.  I felt her as a sedentary being. Someone who did not wish me well. I knew I would be leaving her behind. I do not feel sad or remorseful about this. It was a natural part of my process. 

  It had to happen. Those that don’t see why I must do this cannot have a part in my life. It would not work and would lead to more meaningless exchanges.

  The answer to the text my friend sent me was one word: “OK”. It might as well have been goodbye. I chose not to engage with her, to revisit a world of hurts, real and imagined, or small accusations. These kinds of conversations serve no purpose, they just become a detour for me, a road I don’t need to follow. I have already been hopelessly mired in the mud of a life I chose to leave behind. No need to see it again.

  I feel this idea within me. It has led me to much joy and friendship. It has also taken payment by ripping away the shards and shadows that were so much a part of my life, leaving my open and exposed, my soul and being naked to the elements of the unknown.

  As I walk this road leaving behind the comforts of a predictable life, thinking every day that I thank the circumstances of my life that caromed me into this lane, this road of dangerous curves and beautiful vistas, of big potholes and rest stops.

  My friend Jon asked me if I am on a Hero’s Journey. I can only answer that truthfully as yes. 

  Because it’s not just the physical move and everything that goes with it. 

  I keep returning to the source, to that idea that has grown strong within me, the spark that spurs me onward. I feel it urging me forward, walking with eyes wide open. 

  I think the idea of a Journey is that it doesn’t end. I will never be “done” as long as I am alive. And I will not be satisfied to sit on the shoulder and watch my life go forward without being an active participant in it.

  There are new and amazing views just down this road. I choose this life and my self, my essence, whatever makes me an individual being on this Earth, is honed and ready and willing to keep going to see what comes round the next turn.

  

  

  

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