Friday, October 13, 2006

I'll Create My Own Tribe

As mentioned in a prior entry here, I grew up in disconnected Orange County, California suburbia. Almost no one knew their neighbors, but no one seemed to mind. A few of the kids met other kids on our cul-de-sac, but other than that, one mostly recognized neighbors fleetingly as their cars stealthily moved in and out of garages, all with automatic garage door openers. (God forbid someone get out of the car to open or close the garage. After all, you might be spied and spoken to.)

My parents didn't belong to clubs or churches. So we two (my brother and I) didn't either. Oh, there were brief forays into Camp Fire Girls and Cub Scouts, but all of that came to a halt when my parents divorced and we were spun into the world of a smaller family, one with financial hardships and a mother trying her best but unable to be home as much as she (or we) would have liked. There was no time to run us to activities or groups or clubs. No time for belonging.

I gravitated toward some groups in high school . . .I loved acting and singing, (a surprise to no one who knows me), performed in a few plays, and was in the choir. I felt a small sense of tribe in the theater. We were teenaged, artsy, nerdy types, bound together by our somewhat precocious love of theater and song. I liked hanging out in the theater building, which, after a few years, felt like a dark, mysterious secret clubhouse of sorts. And lucky me, I belonged.

That was the only time I felt I truly belonged to anything, until quite recently. I've begun to work with an amazing group of people to create and build Odonata, an ecovillage in Massachusetts. In this group, I've found spiritual companions, interested and interesting folks who want to live more lightly on the earth, and with each other. Without so much as a secret handshake, I have been welcomed into this tribe, and I feel a belonging, even though we are still wading in the shallow end of this pool of community.

So . . .I didn't have much of a tribe growing up, and didn't have one as an adult, until now. I was always in awe of Native Americans, having been told I was part Sioux. As a grade-school girl I read book after book about the Sioux, and how they lived in harmony with each other and the earth. I often wished I was a Native American girl on the plains, in my soft buttery leathers in summer and my warm, furry buffalo robes in winter. I would belong to the tribe, and they to me, performing our ceremonies, weaving our stories together and turning our hearts to the Great Spirit.

So now, I get my chance. I will have ceremonies, weave my stories with others, and turn my heart to the Great Spirit. I can create my own tribe, and I think I will.

Where is home?

What makes a place feel like home? Is it somehow just that we decide it is? Or is there something more to the equation of heart + place = home?

For most of my life, home has been near or at the ocean. Born in, and I'm not making this up, Oceanside, California, my parents claim they took me to the sea a few days after birth and dipped my tiny toes in the Pacific, who would watch over me, or would I watch over her, for years afterward.

Much later, I moved to Stockholm, Sweden, another ocean home, only this time, it was the Baltic. Briney, deep and green, the Baltic cradled my bare 19 year old body on more than one moonlight swim with my lover. As Swedish became a familiar and fairly fluent second language, I grew closer to the people whose language I was speaking, and felt quite at home at the Swedish shore. I wanted to live in Stockholm forever. But Things have a way of happening . . .

After the Baltic was through with me, I returned to Southern California, and lived for many years on an island. Nestled in Newport Harbor, Balboa Island became home in a way no place had ever been. I took walks around the island nearly every night, with my dog-like cat, Magic, walking along beside me, no leash! I knew many folks in my neighborhood, and found a small taste of community there for the first time. No trip to the small corner grocery was complete without greeting at least a few people by name, and that felt incredibly good to a kid who grew up in disconnected Orange County suburbia. I wanted to live on Balboa Island forever.

But, life being Life, I found myself leaving the island. I'll give you the short version and say I moved to the midwest for love, about as in-the-middle of this country as one can get, literally. Des Moines, Iowa. To be sure, there are great beauties in Iowa, but there is no ocean, and ocean is my home. Try as I did for 12 years to call it home and mean it, and even though my son was born there, I finally had to admit I couldn't stay forever.

So THEN, through a series of fairly amusing and interesting events, and for love, again . . .I landed in Newburyport, Massachusetts, which has, the last time I looked around, an OCEAN nearby. Ahhhh. YES. Finally, I am home again, though having taken the looooong way home, circumnavigating the country to arrive where I started, at the Source.

This time, the Source has lead me to an amazing community of like-minded and like-hearted people with whom I've begun to share something of myself. For a woman who has taken some comfort in making herself invulnerable in many ways, it's a giant step toward a new way of being. Clear to me is that I've lived in isolation for far too long and the time has come to correct course. Most telling is the happiness I feel when I'm around this beautiful group of souls, who have decided to come together to create an intentional community. I love these people.

One thing's for certain as I look back at my trajectory around this globe and around my heart: I'm not afraid to let love move me.

I left home for love, and love brought me home.

That sounds about right.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Flotsam and Jetsam

I'm leaving many things behind me lately, some flotsam and some jetsam.

I didn't know the difference between the two, so of course, I had to look it up. So here it is:

"Traditionally, flotsam and jetsam are words that describe goods of potential value that have been thrown into the ocean. There is a technical difference between the two: jetsam has been voluntarily cast into the sea (jettisoned) by the crew of a ship, usually in order to lighten it in an emergency; while flotsam describes goods that are floating on the water without having been thrown in deliberately, often after a shipwreck.

In modern usage, flotsam also includes driftwood, logs and other natural debris in oceans and waterways." from Wikipedia

I've jettisoned some jetsam, and that feels great. Afterall, it was my decision to throw it overboard, right?

The flotsam, weeellll, that's another story . . .shipwrecks are rough, baby. Real rough. If you're lucky enough to survive, you're left gasping and choking, with saltwater stinging your eyes. If you're a mermaid, like me, at least you won't drown for lack of swimmability, but still, shipwrecks are hard on the heart and body.

I've had a few recent shipwrecks, and they've been doozies. The flotsam which is now lost in the sea . . .well, it needed to go, and I know that. Surrendering to it is another thing, though, and there's the work.

So I'm getting quite skilled at surrendering lately. Wanna see my white flag?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A Letter Is a Heart Unfolded (a song)

A letter is a heart unfolded,
and so my love for you,
but I'll fold it up tight,
put it in an envelope white,
until I can send it to you.

We had some stops and starts,
and we had wounded hearts,
what was I supposed to do?
I'll put it in an envelope white,
and I'll kiss the outside,
just like I used to do.

Can you tell me when
this place will open again?
Can you open that mailbox?
I think it's got too many locks.

A letter is a heart unfolded,
and have you written one for me?
No reason to before,
when I stood right at your door,
now maybe distance holds the key?

A letter is a heart unfolded,
now mine sits in its envelope,
crowned with red seals of kings,
and other beautiful things,
stamped with one small gentle hope.

Sealed with one small gentle hope.