Conduits

Words are rolling off the tip
of my mind
Barreling through crowded corridors

Safety seems to hold fast
in tunnels
leading to notions
Lacking foundational support

Maps that make themselves known,
Keys and compasses, composed
of symbols
Possessing elusive context

Save for Emergency exits
Passageways that hide behind
the fog
Drifting from view

Burrowed beneath layers of
winding avenues

The crash is quiet.

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Sequoia Roots

Frail branches look to the sky
for guidance.
A grey demeanor makes today
Seem all the nicer
with twists of contrast and control.

Swirls of swaying sea green backdrops.
Raindrops
brewing around outstretched arms
Aching and sore
Soaring in circles are
The ideas of all that is and the

Premise for what was to be.

Growing spaces between
Fingertips and toes
Spread wide
So as not to get too close to
what was.
The blue breaks, leading us to
Where we find ourselves
Again and again.

An Evolving Journey

“No one has ever described the place where I have just arrived: this is the emotion that makes me want to travel. It is one of the greatest reasons to go anywhere.”

My experience of travel started right in my backyard. Like many New Englanders, it was trips to the Cape, Plymouth, and Gloucester that paint the picture of my childhood. Crossing over the Bourne or Sagamore Bridge, excited nerves pulsing through me in the cramped backseat. Mesmerized by the deafening music reverberating through my headphones and enthralled in dragging contoured lines that buzzed on the pages of my sketchbook, the feuding shrieks of my siblings did nothing to deter my fervent anticipation. Dissolved into my own sanctuary and cocooned in the warmth of my shaggy aged blanket, I succumbed to the soothing comfort of the bumps and turns in the road.

The broad and expansive facets of travel are unsurpassed by the journey itself. Eagerness inspired by murky possibility awakens an inner desire for spontaneous exploration. As consistent as the evoked excitement of the unknown is the stimulating thrill of returning to a place that is familiar, a comforting light in the pitch dark of a room. We often consider this a uniqueness primarily prevalent in children.

To this day, I cannot crack into a blushing red lobster without remembering my summers at the Cape. The shrill noise that hissed from the scolding pot, the slimy feeling of butter that coated my fingers and dripped from my lips fashioned a connection embedded within my memories of Cape Cod summers.

As a child, trips to the Cape were flushed with seemingly endless stretches of cavalier activities. Back then, hour after hour passed simply sitting on the shore, letting the waves sweep over my legs; each carrying with it rocks that had been corroded by the sand, smooth and unscathed to the touch and uniquely different than the last. I am reminded of my time there when I smell any hint of cocoanut, the tropical aroma that takes me back to the feeling of my mothers hands lathering me head to toe in creamy sunscreen.

During an era of my experience on the cape when all things were possible, this place – so full of magic – was an oasis of ventures. The translucent morning light that bounced off the water dancing along the crests of the waves was fantastical. Thinking back on long walks up and down the beach with my mom as she showed me the subtle differences in each shard of sea glass, I can recall the weightlessness of the chipped and eroded shards in my pockets. These are the associations of my childhood travels to the coast. A special place that instilled tender memories I will carry with me and provide for my family someday, in the essence of tradition and values. As I grew up a little more, it became a place of social escape.

My childhood retreat transformed into a place of flight. Anticipation was now bound by secret weekend excursions to friends’ beach houses. I discovered adventure in new places; camped out on damp logs on the beach late at night in front of glowing bond-fires that tainted our clothes with the smoky scent of burning wood and ash. Endless hours spent digging for rocks on the shore were now exchanged for seemingly eternal hours holding hands under restaurant tables with summer romances, and late night talks with girlfriends about our dreams and hopes. This was the same place it had always been, nothing about it had changed; the tide still rolled slowly in and out as it always did, caking the air with salt, and there were still families building castles together in the sand. Only now, I found myself head to toe in slick oil that smelled of cocoa butter instead of sunscreen, and biting into cheap cheeseburgers and greasy fries instead of cracking open buttery red shells at sit down lobster dinners with my family. I had suddenly found myself in a place where the orange and pink shades that filled the evening skies had become marks of a long night ahead rather than the end of a long summer day.

After the cloudy haziness of high school trips across the bridge faded away, my travels to this familiar place evolved yet again into something foreign to me. After one of the most challenging years of my life as a freshman in college, I returned again to the comforting gleam of lighthouses and reassuring warmth of sun beaten shores that had always been there for me. At a time when all I thought I wanted was the familiarity of home – I made the decision to instead follow the sharp gleam of the light, and left. The summer I spent living on the Cape would be the first of many significant and bittersweet experiences of my travels. Although I had just spent a year away from home living on my own at college, I gained my independence dwelling on the Cape. Going back at this time in my life was like leaping off a cliff into a comfortable abyss; I wasn’t sure what I would find at the bottom, but I trusted the fall wouldn’t hurt me.

This place that I had ventured to more times than I could count, the endless hours spent walking barefoot on warm gritty beaches, skipping effortlessly from rock to rock under the smoldering sun, and blissfully swimming through murky seaweed and ice cold waters– felt unusual to me now. With the highest of expectations that this would be the adventure of a lifetime, I prepared myself for the summer of fun I remembered from high school. I anxiously waited for it all to sink in, the way I once had on the long trips down in the backseat of the car, treasures in tow, expectations high of what was to come. However, I did not know going into it that the tide had dramatically changed, and that the Cape had different plans for me than I’d anticipated. I learned who I was in my travels to the Cape that summer. I had become a part of a community, and began using phrases like “on” or “off” Cape (which I learned only true natives of the area used).

I discovered hidden spots that offered solitude in times of grief, spent quiet days with nothing but the sounds of seagulls and whistling of the wind against the window panes – just getting to know who I was. I was left alone in a place that felt like a foreign deserted island, with nothing but my thoughts and the brisk smell of the ocean to keep me company.

Being away from so many of the important people in my life gave me an unbelievable appreciation for my friends and family. In those 3 months, Cape Cod introduced me to a new part of myself I hadn’t met before. I found a quiet place within me I didn’t know was there.

I learned there are different kinds of homesick, all tainted with a hint of sadness, bitter and difficult to swallow, that I found the courage and confidence within myself to conquer. I discovered what loneliness sounded like, silent and empty, like a void in the air you can’t help but hear. I stood on the beach, watching the tide come in and go out – the same tide I played in as a child on the rocks of Plymouth – and was grateful for all the things this place had given me over the years of my life. This magical place prepared me for so much more than I could have understood at the time; Cape Cod provided the foundation for the unfamiliar, unchartered, and unexpected encounters I would be met with throughout the travels in my life. Most of all, it has been a constant reminder of the excitement that can be found in the journey – no matter how familiar or foreign the destination, it’s the “getting there” that is the most important part.

In Your Arms

The chair in the corner doesn’t have a name. It doesn’t know the bitter taste of betrayal. It cannot feel the bite of regret. It can hold me. It embraces all it cannot have for itself. Supporting all the weight of me. The heavy, the tangible. Its arms are stable, steadfast and strong. When I am curled up in them I feel protected, enclosed by walls of comfort. These arms are soft and assure me that they mean no harm. They lift me up and settle me down. They are a constant supply of everything I need at any moment I might need it. The chair does not have a reason to feel emotion. The chair does not feel but it does feel for me. Absorbing the heat, the strife, the angst and the grime. I shed my skin in the chair, letting it hold me I am bare and naked. The chair sees me as I am. The chair doesn’t know the way I look outside these 4 walls. It only knows what I release. It only knows the heaviness. The burden, the sighs.

The exhale.

The chair knows disappointment. It recognizes defeat and loneliness. Having provided sweet relief from tears and sweat, the relentless world rubbing salt in fresh open wounds. The chair has developed a pallet for savory things. It yearns only for flavors it knows. It yearns truly for nothing, because the chair cannot yearn. It cannot feel. It cannot state opinion or fact or debate matters of the heart and mind. The chair is unmoving. Understated. Understanding. It encourages me to sink deep into its crevasses, the nooks of the cushions, the friction of the fabric against my skin. The chair pulls me in. Wraps its arms around me and says “Stay a while. I will hold you for as long as you need holding.”

Redefining Reactions

We tend to ignore the sensations that heed our most defining moments.

A subtle sinking of our stomachs, the slight furrow in our brow as we struggle to make sense of the sudden unwelcome sense of unsettlement. That heat that gathers behind our eyes warning of the flood of tears to come, so confidently assuring us there is nothing to be done to keep them at bay. Objects and faces that up to this pivotal point provided normalcy, comfort, security, and even happiness, suddenly feel out of place, as if we are witnessing the light land on them for the first time.

We experience these responses to change time and time again in our lives. The panic floods over us all at once, as if our bodies are rejecting the idea before the mind has a chance to wrap a coherent thought around it. The lump rises up in our throats, the stinging behind our eyes and a very sudden, very strong aversion to the thought of food as our stomachs hit the floor. Even when the change that is in front of us not being forced upon us, the reaction is the same – something new, something unknown to be feared.

When faced with a choice – one that asks us to deviate so suddenly and unexpectedly from where we stand – our stomachs sink, our brows furrow, and we label these sensations as signs of warning. Instinctive and habitual, we gravitate toward these familiar and initial reactions to change, clinging to them as if they are the only emotions we are capable of. Relying wholeheartedly on the instinctive message being sent to our brains, we immediately retreat.

But what if the impending tears and sinking stomachs are instead a sign that something is coming, something great? With rapid change hurling itself in our direction at full speed – what if we choose instead to explore, reflect, inspect, and question what is happening? Reading the signals of response in a context of fear, could mean missing out on the many defining moments that we derive from such experiences. So, rather than deciding that we are bound to meet our impending doom, let’s instead recognize and embrace the moments leading to greatness – no matter how hard our stomachs hit the floor.

Packing Pain

Pain is universal, while also being so unique to a given cause. Emotional, mental, or physical. The pain we ourselves feel or the pain we feel for someone else. Being hit in the face or being told unkind words. Being betrayed or lied to, let down or disappointed. Our bodies bruise. Our hearts bruise. Our ego and our pride bruise. We try like hell to avoid it, yet are followed around all our lives by its unwanted shadow.

Some say the more often we feel it, the stronger we become. For most, pain is poison. It can weaken the soul if we let it, devour every muscle and bone, every fiber of our being until it consumes us. We can learn from pain, to never place our hand in the fire twice. But we are often foolish, either forgetting the sensation or attempting to feel the flame in a different way; always yielding the same result, always burning.

Pain evolves. It assumes a different form if you hold onto it for too long, taking on new shapes and tastes of constant acidic bitterness. Pain feeds on pain. It thrives on our need to cling to our daemons and dwell on our pasts. We carry our pain, lock it up in suitcases or wear it like a jacket. We might hide it under the bed or hang it up in the back of the closet, but whenever the time comes to move, be it onward or forward, we make sure to take it with us. It belongs to us. It becomes us. Taking up too much space to allow anything else in, it can become all we make room for.

The weight of our pain only gets heavier and harder to carry with time.  We can choose to travel light. Rather than tucking our pain away, or giving it to others to deal with, we can unpack it. Take a good look at it and decide to take the lighter jacket instead. Leaving the pain behind, we just might find there is plenty more to keep us warm.

 

Musical Movements

Most will accredit music as the moving force in all of us (except for maybe my big brother who will tell you he’d rather play the Batman movies in his head than any tune, melody or lyrical ensemble). In my personal experiences, music is what gets me from point a to point b; it’s a portal into myself that comforts, aids, heals, stirs and shakes, and in both simple and complex ways – makes the world make sense. We find identity in the genres and artists that we claim as “our” music. We either bop our heads to the songs on the radio, or discount them as repetitive and bland. We hear a new song and fall in love with it and want to share that feeling with the world, in hopes that we are able to connect to someone else through the emotion that was evoked within us.

Whether or not music simply does nothing for you, we all have a very personal connection to the nostalgia accompanied by a given sound. A line, a beat, or a specific song has the power to carry us to happy, sad, memorable or not so memorable moments in our lives that we shared with someone else. Any and every song by Van Morrison will always remind me of my dad making breakfast in the morning, the music moving through the entire house while everyone else is still sleeping. Hootie and the Blowfish songs that immediately take me to Wednesday nights out with my best friends in college, singing out the words at the top of our lungs over a pitcher of Shocktop. The soulful ballads of John Legend that evoke the long ago memory of love, loss and a broken heart. Music moves us. It guides us. It dwells inside of us, but no matter what – it connects us to each other.