I am not an open book, but I do wear my heart on my sleeve, or in this case, around my neck.
Currently if you want to know who you're getting, when you're getting me, it's best to look at my necklace.
The first one I got as a Christmas present to myself, right when we were about to start our first Into the Dark Night eCourse. I wanted to buy these astrological sign trinket necklaces as gifts for a few close friends, and so I decided to get mine as well. The only problem is when I went looking for my sign, Leo, it was sold out. This is when I remembered a powerful piece of knowledge I had recently acquired - Leo was my sun sign, but I also have a moon sign.
I have known about Leo as long as I can remember. Even though I certainly wasn't well-schooled on astrological knowledge, I had studied the stars and constellations briefly in science somewhere during public school, and along the way I had found it a necessity to have my own answer to the lame pick-up line, "Baby what's your sign?" Then there were the sleep-overs, where Seventeen and YM magazines were passed around and you took quizzes and read horoscopes. You had to know what sign was yours. Leo was mine, and I was fascinated by it, even if it was held at arms length as something that was both a hoax and a no-no.
Throughout my life, whenever the discussion of "signs" would come up, people seemed shocked to hear I was a Leo. "Really?" they would say. "I would have never guessed! That doesn't sound like you at all." And since I didn't really know what a Leo was or wasn't, I didn't know what to think about the fact that apparently I didn't act like who I was "supposed" to be.
When a friend gifted me a birth cart for my birthday I began to learn what a Leo was, and also that I was much more than a Leo. (Any day I get to break out of a box is a very good day for me indeed.) Turns out I am also a Scorpio, which is my moon sign. So this is how I acquired my first necklace, with a dark red bead, the sign of a Scorpio on one side and the word "passionate" on the other side. I got it along with a bracelet that was called Shadow. These were to be my shadow work adornments for the Dark Place.
The second necklace was purchased in the last few days of Winter of this year. I have written about how going Into the Dark Night led me to an unexpected place of light. It reintroduced me to this lighthearted and generous Leo side of me and asked if I might let both my darks and my lights co-exist. I tip-toed in, and am still tip-toeing in. So as we started to launch our second descent of our Wild Mystics eCourse, I felt as though it would only be fair if I let the light come with me this time. My light. I checked back into the Roots and Feathers store, and sure enough, a golden Leo necklace was available for purchase. I made it my own.
This morning I did my usual dance with the mirror, weighing the options of staring a long time or glancing quick. I started with plucking a few white hairs with my tweezers, a habit that has formed in my life for reasons I still can't quite figure out. The white hairs are gnarled deep into the dreadlocks like a wild vine. Plucking them feels like pulling out secrets. I plucked a few hairs from my eyebrows too.
I think I will let them grow in some. I like bushy eyebrows. Like that man with the big black bushy eyebrows in the Guess Who game I played with my daughters last night. Who needs thin little wisps of a brow line when you have this to work with?
Really, it's just too much work. All this plucking and managing.
There are two levels of looking into a mirror. The first level tells me, "Ah, beautiful, there I am." The second level tells me, "Oh, hell, there I am."
Is this how my relationship with my college roommate fell apart?
Where did that thought thought come from?
She and I both stopped looking and plucking and weeding and then a forest grew up between us? Of course, if I am to use the eyebrow analogy, hers were perfectly shaped, thin, well-manicured. She may not make it to class at 8 AM, but dammit she would have nice eyebrows and well inked eyelashes. Which could only mean the forests in the vastness between were my responsibility.
Why am I thinking about her, still, after all these years?
Because there are other relationships that went deep and far and fast and now are dwindling. Because there are other relationships in which I am having to admit to myself that I am the one who has stopped plucking. Because I am complicated and I do go dark and I am very much okay with it. I do live my life as a cat scratching out 9 different attempts because the 1 is simply not enough.
I finished with my makeup and decided, there is a third level of looking in the mirror. The level that says simply, "I am."
When I left the bathroom I changed into my clothes and put the Scorpio necklace around my neck. Judging by the conversation with "my monsters" in the bathroom, this was to be a dark day. A shadow working day. I allow.
For five minutes of the morning, I sat beside my Love Interest and gobbled down my sunny side up egg and my pancake slathered in almond butter. I told him about this Ted Talk, about the woman and her voices. About how I have voices too. About how we label people as crazy, when maybe, if they could just give themselves over to it, they would find everything they need to know about themselves exists within that "crazy." I for one have learned a lot in the dark.
Then I stopped talking and realized he had gotten up and was quietly putting his dishes into the sink.
I must sound crazy, I thought, which made me laugh because of course I was and that was what was so wonderful.
This is another one of my secrets. Not because I am ashamed to keep it but because people just soon not hear it. He said nothing because what could he say? What would be the ideal comeback? What did I want to hear?
That must be hard?
This fresh perspective must be welcoming?
It must be relieving to finally know there are a whole sect of people that hear voices and go on living?
Do you suppose Patriarchal Father God has just been one of the many voices in your head?
You are like an Xmen discovering her mutant super power isn't something to be ashamed of?
Hear all of these voices?! I could never expect someone else to understand that they exist and have great meaning and an insatiable desire to be seen and held, fed and watered, loved and understood.
His silence was a white hair I'd just soon not use my energy to pluck.
He changed the subject. I allow. Who am I to say where a forest does or doesn't get to grow these days?
My necklace, was a secret dangling in between us, a talisman to help me swallow that last bite and to help me take my very next step of my day.
I dropped my kids off at school and drove my daughter to therapy where she works a little each week on doing her own shadow work. Her therapist greeted us at the door and they walked to the back together. I got comfy in the leather chairs and pulled out my laptop to start writing.
The receptionist at the front desk showed up late, sniffing and moaning, coughing and sighing.
"How are you feeling?" A co-worker asked her.
"Like shit," she whispered, as if I was not familiar with shit or would find it offensive for someone to feel like it. I wanted to say to her, "You need an 'I feel like shit' necklace. It helps." But I kept my opinions to myself, hoping she'd keep her germs to herself.
After therapy I dropped my daughter off at school and spent the next hour (before I had to pick up my preschooler) sitting at a close-by Panera, hammering out the final words of this blog post, knowing within them were muddy footprints leading me home.
I suppose I have to buy something to justify using their wi-fi, I thought to myself, while getting in line at the bakery. I made eye-contact with a big bearded man in a large black apron who was helping behind the counter. I noticed his bluer than blue eyes and smiled. He said, "He can get get you at the next counter," motioning me to the right. As I walked past him, I said, "You have pretty eyes," but he didn't hear me because he had gone behind a supporting beam that stood in the middle of the service area.
"What did you say," he asked, as we did the awkward dance of bobble heads, back and forth around the beam.
"Where did you go?" I said, laughing as we finally landed our heads on the same side. "I said, you have pretty yes."
Either he was blushing or he had worked up a flush doing the bobble head tango with me. "Thank you," he said.
I waited at the next register for awhile because a woman who had been on her phone suddenly decided she was done and walked in front of me.
"I'm ready to order," she said. She proceeded to order lunch for her and all her co-workers, referring to her text messages like a stenographer's scratch pad.
Eventually Señor Bearded and Blue, walked over and said to me, "Have you still not been helped?"
"Can I take your order?"
"Yes. A blueberry bagel, toasted, with butter." Just like my aunt used to make for me when I spent a week one summer with her in Cincinnati.
"Okay. Don't worry about it," he said, motioning to my money. So I put my money away. I might actually get my bagel for free!
The other cashier, now finished with the woman's long order, said to me, "Sounds like you really should compliment people on their eyes more often."
I said to him, "I suppose I should. It works out."
The man returned, handed me my complimentary bagel and motioned to a counter behind me for where I could get my butter.
"Thank you so much," I said.
I sat down. Devoured the bagel, even scooping a few drips of melted butter off the table with my finger. Then I went into writing mode. I was not entirely sure where I was headed.
Halfway through my piece, Mr. Blue Beard dropped off a small brown bag on my table. He smiled without a word and walked away. I peeked inside. A blueberry scone! I looked towards him to say thank you, but he was already back to work in the crowded restaurant.
I think someone must have told him it was my day to do shadow work. I think someone must have told him I am one of those mad ones that hears voices...lots of them. I think someone must have told him I was doing my best to make some room for the light to dawn. Or maybe, maybe he saw which necklace I was wearing.
When I walked out of Panera to go to my car there was a man on his hands and knees, patching up holes in the sidewalk. He smiled up at me. I smiled down at him.
We work in the same field. We must both see to our spaces.