I've been thinking about joy and where to find it. My friend and I have one of those trigger lines--as soon as you say it you both know kind of thing. I'm actually not sure what it is we both know except that we fall on different sides of the fence. The line is from a Lucinda Williams song. She hollers, "You took my joy!" And then she clearly states: "I want it back."
Lucinda's not my bag. She's like a grown up skinny kid sitting on someone's backyard couch in South Austin sipping on whiskey. Her drawl is so put on that it's part of her act. But really, it's her singing that I can't take--a tinny drawl laid on top of rockin' guitar. The guitar's good; the tin grates. Where's the soul? If you're riding on top of the notes you're coasting. If you can come from your gut, then you've got me.
Funny enough, "You took my joy" has become somewhat of a mantra with me--relationship goes south: "You took my joy." Family drama: You took my joy again. You took all the fun out of it. Stop doing that!
I like the blame factor. Takes it off of me.
Blaming is fun and all, but it's lonely, too, and I'm forgetting all about the second part. I'm supposed to want it back. I think wanting it back is kinda like saying: "screw you." I hate to say that. I'd rather say, "you sure?" "You wanna change your mind?" But really, "screw you" can be standing in your own so that others don't take away. You can allow them to give, but they don't necessarily have to take away from you. If you stand in your own and know when to cut your losses, you take back your joy. I keep repeating those lines of hers. She got me after all.
I feel like it's a race, and I've just won. December 1, the first day of the last month of this break-neck year. I was driving home tonight in the pitch blackness that comes with falling back this time of year and saw the white twinkle lights of a huge Christmas tree in one of the town homes sprouting in my neighborhood. A tall bright tree. Oh yes. Time can stop for a moment to take it in. That must be what they're for, these items that belong in the ground out of doors, or pretending to be in the middle of your living room, foreign objects all gussied up and getting in your way so that you'll stop and notice.
When Thanksgiving came last week I was annoyed to have to stop for awhile and go out to the country because there's nothing to do there but soak up the scenery and think. Boo on that. If I wanted to leave my life behind I'd do it myself. I don't need the calendar's help, thank you. There's no getting out of Thanksgiving, however, so I made the drive in a stupor, hungover, not too badly, just enough to give you a push to want to hurry up and get to the end. I got there, and to my surprise no parents, just a quiet hotel room. So I took a nap.
The pace this year, especially this fall, has been quick. I have a few folks in my life, new-agey types, who advocate meditation or yoga. I like motion.
I'm surprised by how much I've fit in, dizzy at times. It's somehow similar to a new mom's worry that she won't love her second child as much as her first. How could she love another as much? How do I have the capacity within myself for more? Will I forget my place from where I was before? When new friends come in do they replace old ones? When new endeavors are met, does it make you different than you were before? With all the motion have I left things behind, especially when things move quickly?
When you see a Christmas tree with its bright twinkle lights you stop long enough to remember the way it was before, even if you don't want to. I feel like I won because I didn't lose anything, left nothing behind, I remember now.
The youngest child of two social workers, I turned out to be lots of things—policy advocate, writer for telecom enterprises, professor of composition, and public school teacher for 4th and 6th graders in Harlem. I feel luckiest to have been a teacher.
After stints in Chicago, Boerum Hill Brooklyn, and the Upper West Side of Manhattan, I am home again, proud as the rest of them of this majestic and mysterious state.
The blog, here since 2002, has been a journal of my experiences teaching, of home, and of transitional states. Please enjoy.