the light in my childhood bedroom
i might could stay here if i wasn't trying so hard to leave and i'd've let the murmur of anxious birds in my chest carry me far away from the ache of these walls a long time ago if my heart didn't know the tug of this home to be a reflex. it is a strange thing to spend so much time talking about the importance of being able to stay and thrive in your home community and to know you are not ready to do that work. there is an unsettling in living in a place you don't call yourself back to, like how i live in knoxville, tn, but i'm from boone, nc. there is something that isn't quite comfort in knowing that loving this home requires distance and there is an inevitability in being inextricably bound to it. my body is a muscle memory for the love of this place and for the leaving of it.
there's no mountain-top removal mining in the state of tennessee, but god damn these new topographics.
i've been thinking a lot about the people who came before us, who did the groundwork, who made it possible for us to do the work we do now. i come from a long line of West Virginia teachers from Summers County and i have been thinking of them as i have watched the beautiful resistance unfold in West Virginia in the last week.
there's my aunt Lula, she was an english and home economics teacher at Hinton High School, she loved her students and was beloved in return.
my aunt Nina was the Hinton High School librarian, she worked long past when she was supposed to retire because she loved her work but also because the state took her retirement benefits away.
my aunt Sis was a teacher before she had to quit her job to take care of her daughter Margie who would die of brain cancer at age 16.
my aunt Pearl was the principal of Hinton High School and before that she taught science at a school in sandstone.
my aunt Harriet (not pictured) taught geography at Hinton High School, i met a one of her students this summer who told me Harriet was her favorite teacher.
i am proud to be of these West Virginia women who taught their community and were beloved in turn. women who taught students who would become teachers whose students would also become teachers who would join arms with their colleagues across the state in a historic wildcat strike. i am so proud and though i am in Tennessee, my whole heart is up in West Virginia on the picket line.
here's how we're gonna make it through february: inhale, exhale. i'm not gonna tell you the grief pulling your heart through the floor is momentary, it's not. february feels heavy. too many anniversaries. too many deaths. too much heartache. too much. so i'm thinking about daffodils coming up too early and surviving the next cold snap and how this is an invitation and commitment to survive, to grieve, to keep loving, to keep growing... i am extending this invitation to anyone who needs it.
ash wednesday valentine: remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return. i figure this means that loving must be nothing short of a revolution. we get to do this on our terms and you know, i think this call to repent ain't the same as hating ourselves. more like an invitation to shed the counter-revolutionary systems and behaviors that do not serve us in the long run, to feel light enough to be able share the load again. remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return. i figure this means that this revolutionary love don't come easy and sometimes our hearts are gonna have to break open, unfurl, and unfold to let all this in. remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return. revolutionary love can happen on our time and furthermore i think this call for discipline ain't the same as punishment. more like an invitation to empty ourselves of these rigid expectations for how and when love is supposed to happen, to make space for a soft kind-of loving- not without boundaries- the kind that is malleable and firm.
i think it is the way the light blushes from the belly of them hills feels like a soft knock to the breast bone, that makes it so hard to leave. all the time it's took to remember how to slow down long enough to be returned to, measured through a season of short days and long nights.
i've been dreaming of a house with wood floors and a clothesline outside, a house to bake bread and finish quilts in. i've been looking for a way to slow down.
this week was the distance between east tennessee and northwestern north carolina.
in a community space where before people could gather there and talk about fighting fascism it was the beauty shop where i got my hair done for my senior prom and before that it was a cobbler shop, the distance is the corners of your mouth and how i am trying to explain that this isn't where i grew up, but it is, it's just different now.
in them hills again straddling the line between northwestern north carolina and east tennessee where my heart is at home, the distance is the other side of a padlocked gate and the mountain that built my backbone.
in the birdhouse where Alexa sings a memory about that house on the hill back in north carolina, the distance is a pinata full of strawberitas and a warm glow.
in a community meeting where folks are getting excited about community-owned internet, the distance is a fiber-optic cable and an organizing family that feels like home.
in the driveway of the house my family lives in where i receive the news that Vickie has died, the distance is how she told us not to mourn and how a heart aches.
in the kitchen with Heron and Alder where we make blueberry pancakes as the sun creeps over the hills, the distance is a longbird and a joybird and how a heart expands.
outside it's all snowy and still and i am struggling to stay focused. over half of all this matter that makes up this body of mine is atoms hailing from across the universe, yours too... that's neat.
this feels like where i should tell you that i have been thinking about the way galaxies swap matter continuously over their lifetime and how it's just like learning the word for the subtle persistent feeling of being out of place but not knowing if there is word for when you have that feeling and simultaneously feel like you've never felt more like home.
it's only that i haven't heard your voice in so long, i wanted to tell you what a relief it is to made from more than one galaxy.
if you asked me to make sense of this world, I probably couldn't tell you shit. what i could probably tell you is it is advisable to make friends with people who build places to create and heal, to hold the people who dream of a better world close to you, and if you try to make too much sense of it all you might miss how thin the space between our reality and the world we are trying to build is on that quiet snowy mountain.