Archive for the ‘awakening’ Category

Thoughts from some meditative knitting…

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

In between the work I have to do today, I have been knitting a few stitches here and there on a scarf that I have knit a time or eight before, the Traveling Woman, by Liz Abinante. I don’t know what it is about this pattern, but there is something very soothing about knitting it that turns me toward total relaxation. My brain engages, but it isn’t terribly complex. There is a palpable rhythm to it that is pleasing and brings calm. As I said, I have knit it eight times before.

The one I am currently knitting is from some of my early handspun. I had been spinning a few months when I went to  a week-long retreat with Judith MacKenzie (Judith’s bio from one of her teaching gigs). It was at this retreat that I was first exposed to drum carding as a means of blending fibers to spin more unique yarns. I carded up several small batches from the fibers available to us, and got to spinning. I was pleased to be learning new things and delighted with the yarn I had made.

now that I am knitting with it, more than a year later, let me say, this particular yarn is crap. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fine blend of lovely merino and mohair and some silk and who knows what other luxurious fibers. but my spinning is total crap. It could be equally true that my first attempts at carding were crap. Yet I continue to knit with it because I can feel myself learning something. Whether I am learning about the feel of fiber too tightly spun or plied, or the optical blending of color and how that is successful or not for various reasons, or that it is sometimes not possible to count past five, I can’t say. but I am learning something, that much is clear.

Whether I am learning something about my spinning or my knitting, I can’t quite grasp. But it is very likely something about both of these, and how they can and do work together. As I knit, the pattern is totally familiar in a muscle memory sort of fashion. just another layer of soothing going on during the process. The thought that continually comes to the forefront of my brain is that it is time to again read The Knitting Sutra: Craft as a Spiritual Practice, by Susan Gordon Lydon. It’s a book that will have something new to tell me each time I read it.

SS week 2001 loresAlso going on around these parts, is some sketching. I am taking an online class called Sketchbook Skool. Totally worth the time and dollars. I can’t speak highly enough about it and I feel that there is something there for everyone.  I learned about it because I follow Danny Gregory’s blog  (linked right) and decided to jump in. the next semester begins in July and there is room enough for everyone, so c’mon…let’s do this! This spread was done a few weeks ago at Barnaby’s. The first semester group has well over 1000 people enrolled and there is a range of abilities from beginner to expert. There is a classroom and fb group to post work in and discuss (or not, no pressure), and plenty of people beyond the instructors to learn from. The art that is being made in sketchbooks globally is something pretty amazing to be a part of via this class.

Okay, enough jabbering on. I feel like there is more to say, but I also feel the grasp I have on exactly what is slipping away. More soon…

 

I will always hold faith to balance your doubt.

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

I have recently found myself, and on more than one occasion, counseling friends on the wisdom of being still, of doing nothing in an effort to be doing the right thing. I love having these conversations online and physically seeing some of the words that come out of my mouth. It gives me an opportunity to further ponder the discussions and offer a sort of hindsight; if not to the person I was speaking with, then to myself.

Quite often I read what I have said in the moment and find it very surreal. How is it I knew what to say? For the most part, I work at being a good listener. This is crucial to lightening the load of a friend. How easy it is to just be still and listen and what a treat when it’s a gift I receive. I find this is an important skill for my own path in many ways as it opens my world view to experiences I might otherwise miss. It also adds a layer of perception to experiences I might have previously had and maybe might unknowingly still be healing.

One common thread I have seen recently is the idea that life’s lessons abound and are constantly presenting themselves all around us. The key is being ready to recognize a lesson when it is directly in our path. Sometimes, all that is required for this is being still, *not* multitasking every (or any) minute of every day. How many people do you know who manage this ever? I’d have to answer not many. It’s sad, really, to think of everything being missed simply because everyone thinks they have no time.

We have plenty of time. We simply need to make different choices. Slow down and be ready for life!

Another common thread I have repeatedly seen revolves around living with intention. I imagine this means different things to different people, but for me, whether at the end of the day or the end of my life, I want to know that I lived my life with honorable intention and that I did my absolute best to mirror this desire with my actions. This isn’t always easy, and I certainly have messed up my share along the way. Part of maintaining integrity surrounding intention is owning the miss-steps.

If I can manage to live with an open heart and try to always act with intention, I know that I am using my power for good. It’s a nice sense of accomplishment during my journey. When acting consciously toward the greater good, integrity and concerns toward maintaining it sort of take care of themselves. All sorts of beauty fall into place as a result. When actions are for good, and not for self, self is magically taken care of and it becomes effortless.

Slow down. Open your heart. Welcome the lessons.

The roller coaster of missing…

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

Driving home from work yesterday, early, I had a pang of missing my best friend Kim. At least I think it was Kim. I was thinking about her and then I had this sharp emotional pang wash over me. The past week or so, I have been crying at the drop of a hat over nothing.I left work early because as I was working, tears were welling up in my eyes and blurring my vision and I ‘m just not into work enough to sit at my desk with tears rolling down my cheeks. That tears came over thinking about missing Kim was really no surprise. Of course then I started thinking about other people I was or might be missing.

My dad was next on my list and that did nothing to slow my tears. It’s a few weeks until the first anniversary of his death and I have yet to really cry for him. I know he had a long and full life, and I certainly miss him, but I just haven’t shed those tears. Yet. Maybe that is what this emotional movie I am surfing through is all about.

I then went to missing Connor. He didn’t visit this past year for xmas because we had just been together in June (for my dad’s funeral) and he wanted to come instead for spring break. Then he got into some trouble at school and couldn’t come for spring break, but that wasn’t too much an issue because I thought I would be seeing him in June for his graduation.Do I need to tell you he might not be graduating and he has been out of touch about it? His absence on the phone leads me to believe he isn’t graduation, but now too much time has gone by and I won’t be able to get an affordable ticket, so I have had to make the decision that whether he is graduating or not, I won’t be going. I hate that this has to be a lesson for him in consequences (if he does graduate and his Mamaa isn’t there it’s no-one’s fault but his own), but there it is. Even though it would be next to impossible to live with him again, I still miss him.

I decided to go to knit night at Knitting in the Loop as a therapy of sorts. While I was sitting there it occurred to me that it is the 14th anniversary of my miscarriage. It’s been several years since this has received more than a passing thought, but there was a time when the grief of it was debilitating. I don’t want to ever go there again, but it occured to me while I was sitting with the knitters that I miss the daughter I never knew.

There is a flock of friends old and new I miss, and I won’t list them out for fear of not including someone, but I think you all know who you are. It has to be enough that we have the internet to maintain some modicum of contact that is indeed sustaining, but not enough. I miss the joy of the purely physical contact of a long warm embrace. I want a year off work, paid of course, in which to visit each and every one of you all around the world.

I have to get my ass in gear and write a proposal for an artist’s grant of studio space with a local gallery. It’s due next Friday and I have seriously been procrastinating. I have been ruminating, deeply stuck in thought about this, so not really procrastinating at all. I think my focus is almost clear. I want to do something with my dad’s pics from the 50s, that much I know for sure. I think a variety of things might be the only way to conceptualize it. One of my working theories is that all the women in these photographs, and there are a lot of them, are all lesbians. Who’s to dispute this? I might theme it somehow around missng my dad and getting to know this part of him, his life before he met and married my mom. My dad, the ladies man, friend to lesbians far and wide. That just broke through the threatening tears and cracked me up. I might be on to something.

Life is good and the emotional ride is somehow a reminder of that. That my teary sadness comes and goes at will and isn’t attached to something of consequence is a little piece of this grace I want to be cultivating. I can go on in the missing knowing it’s because my heart is so full.

The Journey

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

As I write this, I am looking out into the back yard, and as much as our plantings are a mess from the neglect of winter, there is beauty all around. The first thing I see is the bold red flowers of the poinsettia tree. I think it definitely needs to go into the ground this spring or maybe it just needs repotting. To the right of the poinsettia is a thriving snake plant. My love of snake plants with their long slithering tongues goes way back as they were successful for my mom. The tulip magnolia is awash in pinkish-lavenderish-whitish blossoms. It has maybe a week or so more before all the petals drop and it has already begun to leaf out into lush greenness. It is hiding a hanging angel wing begonia, also full of blooms.

Quan Yin’s bed is overflowing in the lush greenery of bougainvillea, soon to be removed for its dangerous pointy thorns. Perhaps relocated, perhaps just trashed, its fate is still uncertain beyond it’s removal from where it currently resides. To the right of Quan Yin is a lovely patch of pentas covered in mauvish red blooms. It started out last year as a six inch pot and the patch is currently two to three feet across. To the right of that a red blooming rose bush, its thorns much less pervasive than those of the bougainvillea.

The far left edge of my window view contains the bold pink flowers of our hibiscus tree. Darling, indeed. There is plenty of other greenery to report on, but I don’t know the names of most of it. That we have cultivated such an oasis with so little deliberate work, is amazing. Sure there is a lot of work when we go on a little garden center shopping spree, but beyond that, the maintenance we do is minimal. I guess we need to be a little more conscious of the need for watering, but we have a few plants that totally let us know when a drink is in order by their pitifully droopy foliage.

When we go on a garden center spree, I always have the best of intention for repotting some of the more prolific plants. I get into the bag of planting mix, and something skitters away. I am halted in my tracks and quite often scream like a girl. This cracks Elizabeth up every time, but for me, halted really captures the moment. I am frozen not from fear so much as anxiety. I will dream about those creepy crawly things for days much like when a trip to the dentist results in dreams of teeth crumbling out of my mouth.

Regardless of the dreams, the lushness of the patio has a poetic spirituality all its own. Add a fire crackling in the chiminea and the aesthetic is beyond soothing.

I find this same serene peace in knitting. There is a pulse coming through the needles, whether from me to the yarn or the yarn to me, I am uncertain, and sometimes, I am certain both are true. I think it is somehow a reciprocal balance. There are times when I pick up yarn and needles and have no preconceived plan. The yarn was too pretty to not buy, and a skein here and there eventually come together at the right time to be crafted into something unique and soothing. I am currently working on a blanket of Patagonia cotton for the bed that is like this. My original intent for it has already been morphed once, but the resulting patchwork is both intensely bright and colorful, as well as soothing to knit. I am considering it a sort of palate cleansing project. I can work on it here and there to refocus my brain from something gloriously finished on to whatever is to come next.

My current next might be a sweater kit I have in my stash. There are two to choose from and like repotting plants, there are things along the way that might be halting. I could just plainly be bored by something so grand. Though I know I will adore both as finished sweaters, getting there might just make me crazy.

Tedious repetition isn’t the real problem though, because I tend to take a meditative view of this dilemma and consider it part of the therapy. The real problem skittering away in the knitting is the potential for mistakes, flaws in the fabric that might be more visible than they are in something more, well, small. Like a scarf. Or mitts.

Of mistakes, Susan Gordon Lydon says in The Knitting Sutra
“Sometimes I would rip out enough rows to correct the problem, sometimes not, but I began to appreciate these mistakes as small lessons in mindfulness or humility and as expressions of the spirit or soul of the knitting, which seemed to exist apart from me, the knitter. My experience of knitting was enriched the more I knew of spiritual matters, and vice versa. And I found that once I could accept my lack of perfection in both areas with humor and grace, the whole business of knitting, as well as of living, became far more pleasurable to me.”

My own policy on this is similar, I most often consider them the charm of the hand knit, and rarely do I rip back my knitting to correct them. It really does depend on how glaring they are, as well as how far back, if it is a gift, or for personal use, that sort of thing. That said, however, these two sweater kits are a bit more elaborate than a scarf. There are proportions to be considered. It can be terribly daunting if I let it. It can be as halting as the crawlie things in a bag of planting mix.

In some ways, the idea of halting is extended to posting on this blog. There can be a paralyzing quality to the words I let out onto the page. I want them to be just so. More effort is required to craft them to such a degree. There is a writing, stewing, editing, and finally publishing process that is very different than other blogging endeavors. It isn’t that I care about the other blogs less, but they are much more of the moment, more casual perhaps. I want this blog to say something more deliberate. More intentional.

In my first post on this blog, I loosely defined Cultivating Grace as a :…catch all for all those moments when I have a sense of understanding. when I get it. Whatever ‘it’ is.” This is how i feel about the yard and gardens today, about the knitting of sweaters or the knitting in general. The essence of pure beauty that result from the endeavors is something I “get” right away, something I have always known. The journey to this arrival I also “get” but is so many ways, it is still a charming mystery.

Again, I quote The Knitting Sutra, “After all, the important thing is not so much what you knit as what happens to you while you knit it. Where the interior journey takes you. What you find there. How you are transformed and when you come back home.” Thought of thusly, I can knit either sweater, or another scarf, and arrive at the same destination because the “interior journey” is about more than the finished product. The resultant blooms of the gardening efforts (mostly eb’s gardening efforts) are much the same and the thinking greenery is just as amazing and beautiful.

Let all of life’s journeys be remarkable.

Abundance

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007

I have been sitting in the mornings knitting, as meditation. It has had such a soothing effect on me, and the time with my self and my knitting during the early morning pre-dawn hours, when the house is otherwise still sleeping, has been a cherished gift. It is leaving me feeling very full. I am pretty sure it all started on Thanksgiving morning.

The weekend before Thanksgiving, we took a day trip to Gruene(pronounced green), Texas. It is a quaint little village we discovered on the September 2006 Texas Watering Hole Tour and it’s between Austin and San Antonio. The day before we were to go to Gruene, I discovered via Google that it was the weekend of Market Days where they have vendors hawking all sorts of hand crafted wares. What a nice bonus this would be. We had decided on a bright and early start, and I think we were out of the house before seven. The forecast was less than promising, but we seem to be a little charmed when it comes to any sort of traveling and the weather, a fact I attribute to honoring Rita (eb’s mom) by wearing her divine opal ring as a symbol of my love and devotion to her daughter. I wasn’t too concerned by the overcast skies as we drove west in the early morning.

We hadn’t really given much thought to Market Days, and where they actually are in Gruene because it is a small enough town that it seemed it would be obvious. Right away, we found the town parking area near the center square, and got a decent spot right off. It was warm enough and as yet, still dry, so we went on our way following other people who had just parked near us, having faith that they were Market Day veterans. We weren’t disappointed.

My first order of business was finding the bathrooms. I didn’t yet have to go, but I feel a compelling need to know where bathrooms are these days. The first vendor we came across had glass beads and buttons she makes herself and since she was between customers I asked and was directed down the aisle, through the alleyway between those businesses, past the parking to a charming line of porta-potties. Since it sounded a bit far, I decided to go right then. I’m glad I did, too, because it was still fairly early and the facilities were pleasantly clean.

Business taken care of, we set off around Market Days to assess the shopping possibilities. We were able to get a few gifts for the upcoming holidays as well as a few things for ourselves. There was a man selling jalapeno relish and salsa among other sauces. He had made shrimp shooters with the salsa and a piece of avocado and a shrmp which were delicious, and he mixed some of the jalapeno relish with cream cheese to make a dip. I very cautiously tried the dip because I am somewhat wussy about anything jalapeno. It was tingly spicy, but not too hot for me, so we got some. We should have gotten more because damn, that dip is good.

There were several vendors with handmade glass beads and jewelry and eb found a pair of earrings she liked, so we got them. Once we made it back to the direction giving bead lady I took a look at her wares and she had the prettiest glass buttons. I bought two for future knit projects. We bought some soaps and we picked up a flyer from a man who makes Adirondack chairs. He had one design that is a double with a small table between which is also a glider. I think we need one of those for the back deck.

After our shopping spree, we went in search of something for lunch. We looked at the map to see where we were in relation to the Gristmill, the restaurant we had eaten in on our first visit to Gruene. We looked at the other listings and there was a place we wanted to try which seemed nearby. We walked in the general direction indicated by the map for Janie’s something or other, and we never found it. As we turned around to head back toward parking, We saw the Gruene River Grill and decided to go there because by this time, we were pretty hungry. I had the pulled pork tacos which were plain and simple, and just about perfect.

After lunch we walked through town on our way back to the car and stopped at Oma Gruene’s Christmas Shop. While there we bought a few Jim Shore ornaments for gifts, and a large Jim Shore snowman for us which we will likely leave out year round. I also got a Jim Shore Santa that is also a music box for my boss, not knowing she collects Jim Shore. She loved it.

After the Christmas shop, we headed in to Austin. We couldn’t go that close to Austin and not stop in at BookWoman to drop a little support. I had also read about a cupcake stand that I wanted to stop at. Hey Cupcake! is a converted Airstream trailer that is roadside and has window service. I had a red velvet cupcake which was a nice afternoon snack and very delicious, and eb chose something chocolate on chocolate. As it happened (wink wink) Hill Country Weavers was right across the street from the cupcake stand, as is some chic boutiqueish sort of shopping. From the cupcake stand, I headed across one street while eb headed across the other.Hill Country Weavers is an awesome yarn store. It is an old house and it is packed full with tempting niceties. I browsed around a bit and decided on some chunky thick and thin yarn for a scarf in beautiful watermelon pinks and greens. I also bought the Kushu Kushu scarf kit from Habu textiles. I knit up the chunky watermelon scarf during the week after our return from Gruene and Austin. The Kushu Kushu brings us back to Thanksgiving.On Thanksgiving morning, the start of a long weekend when there was to be no early rising for work, what time was I up? Right about 5:00 a.m. I have long since decided that there is no arguing with my body. If it is time to sleep I sleep, if it is time to be up I am up. This is haw I came to be casting on the Kushu at 5:20 Thanksgiving morning.

The dogs went out to do their business and Sawyer and Nola were snuggled into bed with eb. Lilli Munster and I were snuggled in on the chaise in the library which is my chair of choice for knitting or reading or just plain snuggling in. I had opened the Kushu kit and was trying to not give in to intimidation. Kushu is started on a size 8 needles which is moderately large as knitting needles go, almost standard pencil size. The needle size is extremely large given that the ultra fine merino and sink stainless steel “yarn” used for Kushu is more like sewing thread. I’m not in the least exaggerating.

As it turns out, Kushu is a very meditative and soothing knit. I can’t work on it any time other than the early morning silence. I can’t take it to knit night. I can’t cart it around to work on when spare time presents itself. It is a dedicated knit and early morning silence is its time slot. I fast learned that six is often the magic number of rows which will be done.

I started with six rows because for the first sixty rows, there are decreases ever y six rows and I felt I needed to have structure surrounding how and when the knitting could be put down to facilitate keeping track of where I was. I soon enough learned that I could some days do more rows, but by row six I always had a definite sense of either six being enough or more being possible. It was rather like my body deciding it is time to rise or sleep. Once committed to more, it became multiples of 2 rows that created pause for the decision to proceed or not. Twenty rows is the most to date in one sitting. It is very intense knitting with my glasses perched atop my head and the needles about six inches from my face for perfect focus and attention to detail. Then the inward journey begins.

This is how I arrived today at abundance. A month later and Kushu isn’t finished. I am not full of Kushu. The process of knitting Kushu with its meditative quality has been a journey of sorts. Moreso than any holiday season I can remember at the moment, I am feeling a sense of overwhelming abundance. I recognize it as part of a bigger journey, but I can also see the connection to knitting this simple scarf very clearly.

We have also begun somewhat intentionally, somewhat by accident, a journey toward less. Less stuff. Less waste. Less mindlessness. We are consciously trying to be more aware of our environment and the footprint we leave.

There will still be awesome gift giving and receiving, and I still have a want list, but it is more necessity and consumable driven. Would I absolutely faint for the diamond cigar band ring from the jewelry store circular? Certainly. But the difference is I have no expectation or desire for such extravagance. It’s been totally reeled in. My wants these days revolve around books and music and maybe some yarn. I think these things as they present themselves in my path, will always be met with a heartfelt smile.

I have my health and a few cherished friends. I have a roof overhead that is my home ( I wish that could be enormous swirly script) and a decent income that generously supports a lifestyle to which I am accustomed. Most importantly, I share an impassioned existence with a woman I love and am totally devoted to. She lets me love her unconditionally, and she lets me revel in it in return. Ommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Abundance is mine.

Grace incognito

Monday, August 6th, 2007

Quite often, moments of grace arrive veiled in such a way that we don’t take them for more than face value for quite a while. The following piece was written about 5 years ago and it addresses a woman I met online before I met Elizabeth.

The story unfolds over a period of about 4 months, and as she was retreating, Elizabeth was coming forward. It was very much a one door closes, another door opens sort of time.

Brigit

In January 1998, I had to move back into the home I shared with my husband after having been separated for some time, and living separately for 6 months. He had gotten military orders to Iceland for 1 year and his household was set up, and there was no way there was room for the kids in my tiny apartment. I totally resented him for this being necessary, but there really was no way around it. The benefit of me moving back in was that the kids would not be uprooted and would be able to continue for the school year with no disruption to their routine.

I had Steven get us a WebTV unit, as it was much cheaper than getting a computer, and it would be cheaper than phone calls back and forth for him to be able to talk to the kids. We went looking and learned more about it and finally bought one. Only then would I agree to moving back in and we all packed up my stuff and it was a done deal. He left a day or so after that and although I was no longer comfortable in what used to be our happy home, he was not there and I was soon settled in.

I set up all the accounts on the WebTV and was soon surfing the internet and searching for this and that. At this point I had known I am a lesbian for about 4 years. I began searching for lesbian this and lesbian that to see what was out there. I found out about message boards and chat rooms and through that I learned about email lists.

One evening I did a search for lesbian email lists and came across a list of lesbian lists. It was truly a comfort to see there were so many options to choose from. I went from one to the next reading their descriptions until finally I came across one named MarBLes. It stood for MARried But LESbian. I was amazed that there were other women in my same situation and signed up right away. I was a little nervous initially, but soon discovered a great deal of
support and tremendous diversity among the group. When I joined, the group was 40 members and it was like finding my real family, as corny as that sounds.

MarBLes had its own chat room on an irc channel that with a little help, I was able to get into. Chatting was a good supplement to getting to know this group a little better, though I did not say much initially because I could hardly keep up just reading the screen.

Pretty soon I had a clear mental image of who I had common ground with and who I was comfortable talking to. The person I was most comfortable with was Brigit. She was close enough to my age, had kids, and was able to still be happily married, having an open agreement with her husband. This opened my mind to the same possibility with my husband, though deep down I think I knew he would never go for it and that it would not work for us.

Brigit and I fast became a couple and I learned an entirely different kind of relationship. I remembered with a laugh having seen a show on Sally Jesse Raphael about this very topic and thinking how ludicrous it was, people meeting online and thinking they had found love, but here I was getting a thorough understanding of it because it was happening to me. We would agree to meet at a certain time, our dates, and we would chat with the MarBLes group at weekly sessions, and email each other several times daily. There seemed to be no limit to what we could share this way even though there was more than 1000 miles between us. Soon enough I lost my cyber cherry and it only escalated further from there.

We decided we should meet in real life to see if what was happening online was something that was sustainable. Brigit thought it better if she came to Virginia rather than me coming to Kansas since her kids were grown and her husband was there to watch over them, and mine were not. A plane ticket was purchased for the last week in March and it was actually going to happen. There was a lot of nervous anticipation as the day of Brigit’s arrival grew near.
We thoroughly discussed all the possible scenarios we could conceive and agreed there would be no pressure and no expectations. At the very least we would be friends, but the possibilities beyond that remained open for negotiating depending on how we actually felt.

I am a rather touchy feely person, and when Brigit walked down the ramp, I first made sure it was her, and then I gave her a big hug and a quick kiss. We went to pick up her luggage and then we were on our way to my house. While I was driving I placed my hand on her thigh as this is my habit, and after a while, I realized how quiet we were. It suddenly occurred to me to ask her if it was ok that I was touching her. She said it was fine and that she liked the ease I had in finding an immediate comfort with her. I think she also mentioned that it might take her some time to adjust. I told her there was no rush, friendship was a given.

We developed into a rhythm of comfort, companionship I suppose. Our comfort level with each other was evident and continued to deepen. At one point, Brigit asked if she could stay longer. I had no problem with her staying as long as she liked because I really liked her. At some point I was concerned that the incredible sex we had had online was not incredible sex we were having together in the flesh, but I also thought it was something that just needed more time. I soon saw this to be true as on day nine, the tide turned and intimacy together was found. We had crossed some sort of threshold and our relationship was fortified. We began to make plans for when we might be able to see each other again.

While Brigit was visiting, a local radio station was giving away concert tickets and a bus trip to the show. You had to bring a bag of food to a location and this got you an entry in the drawing for one of 12 pair of tickets to go on this trip to see Sarah McLachlan. It was a kismet as far as I was concerned. Her music is something we shared and discussed at great length when we chatted and emailed.

It was a lovely morning and we went to the food drop off point set up at some store in Virginia Beach. We got there when it started at 10 and got our ticket. It did not occur to either of us to bring more than one bag of food to have multiple chances to win. Before too long there were about 100 people there, some bringing even 20 bags of food. The food bank was collecting a bundle, and we were getting a little less excited with each new person showing up with their donation.

At Noon, the radio DJ began to draw names, and he drew one name every 5 minutes for the next hour. Brigit’s ticket number was the ninth one to be called. She screamed so loudly that everyone around us jumped. This was the first thing she had ever won in her life. We were going to be on a bus trip to Baltimore to see Sarah in a few days.

Of course the concert was fabulous. Though the bus ride was 5 hours, it really was a perfect trip. On the way to the show, we watched “A League of Their Own” on the video monitor system of the tour bus. I had seen it before, but Brigit had not and it was a pleasant distraction. There was a toilet on the bus, but about half way to the show, the driver stopped at a rest area so he and everyone else could stretch and take a short break. We had noticed another set of lesbians, maybe a couple, maybe not. They sat in the front seat of the bus behind the driver and were so very proper and dignified. All the quiet people were in the front of the bus. There was almost an us/them feel of delineation from the front of the bus to the back with the radio station dj pretty much in the middle. Brigit and I were not the ringleaders of the rowdy set, but we were sitting in the back seat, polar opposites of those “other” lesbians.

We got to the show about half an hour before it began and saw that our seats, row 107 I think, were actually 7 rows from the stage. It was simply amazing. The opening act for Sarah was Lisa Loeb. I had not really heard much of her music but a song or two played on the radio. I really enjoyed her performance, especially her song called “Pulling Taffy”. It just cracked me up. She played her set and we were all revved up for Sarah to take the stage. The intermission was not too long, and then the lights went down low. She was a goddess. I was so very in awe of her presence, and we were so very comfortably enjoying this together. We thoroughly enjoyed each other on this trip and we were a couple. There was somewhere along the way a transformation that seemed to cement us together a little more tightly.

Another thing we did on this extended first date was to go get tattooed. I had already taken the plunge about a year prior and gotten a sun on my ankle. I am not sure if it was more to assert independence from my husband, or to spite him as he thinks tattoos are nasty, especially on women. Brigit had wanted to get a tattoo for some time and never actually done it. I told her I would get a second one and she could watch and then decide if she wanted to go through with it or not. I added a moon on the inside of the same ankle, and Brigit decided she would go for it. In preparation, she had my older son sketch a design for
a double-headed axe. They worked together refining it and had an excellent design for the tattoo artist to work with and once he added color, it really came out lovely.

During the tattoo experience with Brigit, I learned a new appreciation for the potential of eroticism that might accompany the process. To me, it was not as unpleasant as I expected. It was more like being stung repeatedly by annoying insects. For Brigit it was that pleasurable pain making her squirm in the seat. She was so flushed that the artist thought she might need a break. She told him to proceed because she was thoroughly enjoying herself. I was enjoying the show just as much. I wish I had taken a picture of her tattoo for my son to have in his portfolio. It really was that good.

A week prior to Brigit’s visit there had been a few wicked storms. I learned that these storms had sort of churned up the ocean and bay and sort of spit out a lot of shells up on the beaches. We went one day to the beach for the afternoon. Every few yards there was what looked to be a pile of gravel. Upon closer examination, I saw each was a pile of shells. They were whole miniature seashells, like you might buy a basket of at a décor store. I was content to just sit there and pore through them.

At one point, the boys were playing down at the water’s edge and Brigit was off walking near the surf, and I was still sitting there, running my hands through this seashell gravel. A woman came seemingly from nowhere dressed in flowing gauzy layers. She had long blond hair that can only be described as unkempt. She came within about 5 ft of me where I was sitting and put her bare heel into the sand and proceeded to enclose me in the center of a near perfect circle. It was very bizarre. She was softly chanting something unrecognizable and never took her gaze from me. Then she left as suddenly as she appeared. I was telling Brigit about this and that she had circled me 3 times and seemed to be chanting. Brigit told me she had celebrated my energy and it was like a ceremony to honor me or some such thing. I have not thought about that again until now.

After about 2 weeks, Brigit felt she had to go home. I think it was a sort of test to see how we would fare separately now that we had become a part of each other. It was a test we failed miserably. When our agreed upon meeting online came around, Brigit did not show up. When I posted a message asking her to contact me on a message board we went to, she did not respond. When I went to the group chat, she was not there. When I mentioned on the email list that I needed to hear from her, there was again, no response. I was beginning to feel that when Brigit physically left from visiting me, that all the intimacy left with her.

A few weeks later I saw her in the chatroom on group chat night and she was very distant. I knew somehow it was different, that we were no longer a couple. I did not understand it and I did not get any explanation from Brigit other than it is just her way of dealing with all the different pieces. I was hurt and felt rather discarded. Not something I was equipped to deal with because it had been wonderful and now it was just over.

I still tried to email and get further explanation, but heard little back from her. I soon realized that it was not a lot different than someone in real life not returning phone calls. No matter where a relationship takes place, a brush off is still a brush off. A mutual net friend had told me that it was her way, that all I would ever get would be a little piece of her, and that I would have to accept this. He told me she would show up when it suited her or when she was able. It was difficult, but I soon enough moved on.

A few months later I came to realize that my time with Brigit was a spiritual awakening or discovery of sorts. That was the purpose of our paths crossing, I suppose.

I learned from her a lot about myself in a short time that I still am digesting some 4 years later. Every once in a while I would send an email to addresses I knew were hers or were maintained by her, but if I got any reply back it was a short few words. My interest was one of friendship, not love pining away. I had already played that game once before and knew it has no happy ending.