in the moment of totality laughter bubbled from our chests and i opened my eyes underwater to witness the moon eclipse the sun then last night i dreamed of a love written from songs about home... the universe is beautiful, we should take care of it. i don't know, it all seems connected i guess. like how i can't remember the first time i was baptized, but this swimming hole feels like church with all y'all gathered here, soft-hearted and straddling two time zones on the banks of a tennessee river.
this here is just one in a series of love letters to the mountain south
Making an egg salad sandwich and thinking about Carol Judy, the time I made her an egg salad sandwich and she didn't believe I had never made one before because it was that good. Thinking about how my most meaningful relationships are nurtured by the growing, harvesting, preparing, cooking, eating, and sharing of food and in that way how food is a vessel for cultural memory. Thinking about how when a member of the community is sick or grieving, food can translate the words that won't find their shape into 'You belong to this community and we love you'. Thinking about Emeran and Abby and women who save the seasons and the stories they hold. Thinking about when I got out of college and moved home with a broken heart and no job and how signing up to deliver meals to folks on the first and third fridays of every month was a routine that felt like purpose, how it made me feel a part of my community again. Remembering visiting my friend Margaret of Todd, NC who lives in the house her father built on the same road her grandmother sowed seeds according to the signs and how she would give me treats even though I was the one bringing her food, but that's just what you do when someone comes to visit. Thinking about 45's budget cuts and how they're doing their damnedest to cut the humanity right out of us in that cutting food & agricultural & art programs & access to healthcare is a tactic to remove the means by which we can connect, organize, gather, sustain and resist. Remembering sitting on the bed with Carol Judy eating egg salad sandwiches and listening to her talk about how we need our 'communities of care' to be able to survive in our 'communities of place' and how only a few weeks later how beautifully her community of care made it possible for her to die in her community in place. Thinking about how caring for one another has a long history of being a radical act and about Gabby and Annie Jane and all the mamas who carry that tradition in their marrow. Thinking about how nobody's gonna take that from us.
P.S. I said I was gonna update this every week, well I ain't but I will update it sometimes.
From the night of the inauguration in East Tennessee: the resistance starts at home building with beautiful and creative people. As my friend Samir said, "the narrative has been slipping from us and it's time to take it back." So we gathered to create, to obstruct, to resist, to acknowledge and celebrate the work that has come before this moment, to listen, to eat and drink, to lay down burdens, to connect, to be joyful and resilient against all odds... yes, our joy is resistance but don't fuck with us because another world is coming.
New year, same me, same fights, just harder now. Here we are y'all, we made it through the year that wouldn't quit, the year that suckered punched us right in the gut, then the eye, and then wound back up and socked us straight in the heart... the year that uncovered a system built broken and the possibilities of beautiful solutions even when folks were trying their hardest to pull the covers back up and say we ain't seen what we seen, but we did and we can't un-see it now. So here I am y'all at the threshold of 2017 climbing mountains called home having seen what we seen, knowing our fights just got harder, and I am ready and I am with y'all and I am ready because I am with y'all because nobody's free 'til everybody's free.
not femme enough. not butch enough. not gay enough. definitely not straight enough. i have never felt quite queer enough to come out. today is national coming out day and i have all sorts of room in my heart to love all kinds of folks. so here i am, a little more visible and i am enough. to all my queer loves who don't feel queer enough, i see you and we are.
Here I come unto these hills again to consider my heart after all the roads headed west landed me home. Just in time for me to hurry-up and wait for the job, the home, the relationship I had unrealistically envisioned would come to me all at the moment I returned from my trip. No matter how hard I've tried, I am unable expand and collapse time in such a manner as to actualize these inevitabilities into a single turn of events. I reckon holding the balance between patience and actively building the life you want to live is difficult, as difficult as realizing that the two are actually the same thing.
Here I came unto these hills again to linger in the rhythm of their ridges after all the roads headed west landed me home. Just in time to field a slew job rejections but be ok with them because I was living in the same place as my best friends for the first time since high school. Recognizing that I am capable of maintaining the friendships that are dearest to my heart, it is a skill and it certainly makes writing yet another cover letter less dreadful. I reckon that practicing patience and actively building the life you want to live is a hell of a lot easier when you understand that you are a part of a group of friends that uplifts and supports one another.
Here I come unto these hills again to bare my temerarious heart to the reach of their wintered bones before all the roads headed home land me west. Just in time to accept an Americorp Position with Appalachian Voices, to move to Knoxville in April, to hang my photos on the wall of a gallery and remember that it feels good to make art and to make it tangible. As obvious and banal as it may seem, it is worth repeating to yourself that time is as time does and the events of your life will always occur when they do and there ain't much you can do to make it otherwise. I reckon that having the patience to actively build the life you want to live is always difficult, always takes vulnerability, and is always worth the wait.
2015, the year of being in motion, the year that was on fast forward, the year of solitude, the year of discovery, the year that actually had fifty-three calendar weeks (one more week to be late writing a blog post about). The heart-tugging thing about having a home that transcends geographical coordinates is that the boundaries of home are always shifting, shrinking, stretching. 2015, the year I packed away all my belongings, the year I lived in a tent under the stars of Southeast Kentucky, the year I haggled and bought a car on my own, the year I drove that car across the country. Turns out that even when the boundaries of your home are variable some points are constant. 2015, the year of missing everyone always, the year I spent mostly on my own, the year I made more photographs, the year I wrote, the year I was not afraid of my own voice.
2015, the year whose end coincided with the end of my time in the Pacific Northwest and I went to bed at 11:00pm on New Year's Eve so I wouldn't get sick.
2016, the year that didn't start out with me being sick, the year I left Bellingham, the year I am returning to the mountains. The amazing thing about the human heart is the distance it's strings can be tugged between two points without tearing. There are something like 3000 miles between Jon and Jessica's home and the Blue Ridge Mountains. 2016, the year I will actively focus on my physical health, the year I will not be in constant pain, the year I will continue to find strength in my voice, the year I will continue to write this blog (but not weekly more like monthly). Thank's y'all.
Funny how life comes 'round sometimes. Twenty-one years ago I was a weird little four year-old wearing a wedding dress, my shoes on the wrong feet, and squirting mustard into my mouth in Jon Durham's first 3-6 class at Mountain Pathways Montessori School. Twenty-one years later I am a weird twenty-five year old thinking about how problematic it is to make child-size wedding dresses, I don't even really like mustard that much anymore, and I am talking to a group of smart, inquisitive young people about cameras and making pictures in Jon's 9-12 class at Samish Woods Montessori School. Funny how life comes 'round like it's supposed to on account of every thing that fell between that classroom on Howards Creek road where Jon taught me how to read and to fly-fish and this classroom in Bellingham where I am teaching Jon's students about how a polaroid works.
You can take me out of the mountains, but you can't take the mountains out of me... Yeah, so it turns out that is an inoperable thing. Turns out those ranges can't be carved out of me without removing my lungs, then my liver, then my heart in that order. Turns out knowing the direction of home so deeply I don't need a map is mostly a good thing, but some days the ache for those hills fills me up so steadily that it spills out of me and I almost cry when my dad tells me over the phone how many stars he can see from his porch. Turns out you can't die from homesickness, or even get that sick from it and despite all the mountains in me there is still space for moments that feel like home here. Home here fits like friends that are more like family, like breakfast with Jonah, like snapping green beans and singing loudly when nobody is home, like late night baked macaroni and cheese and beer and sitting on the kitchen table instead of at the table. Home here pulls like early mornings with Ashlon before anyone wakes up, like the history we carry, like all the words that won't pass between us, yes home here pulls like a trip to Powells in Portland where I plan my future library. Home here sounds like records in the morning with Anis, like community square dances, and like late night radio between Everett and Bellingham when the sky finally clears enough for me to the stars.