Huntress of the Lens


Sunday, August 2, 2009


My life feels like a human buffet, with each dish so different and complete that you could make a meal from any one platter. Today is a banquet though, because many of the feelings and people I've been cooking in the word kitchen will all be served at the same time. I've been busy in the pantry, preparing all these relationships and writing down the recipes, and with feelings for condiment and relish I'm not sure I have a bolt of linen large enough for the table cloth. Plus there's presentation, and finding just the right plate or bowl; one thing I am certain of is that I have enough serving spoons, because Shayla let me keep them all when we went through my drawers and cupboards.

On today's menu:

My friend has a meeting at Project 90, the ninety day recovery program I've written about in other blogs. We spent the day and the evening together yesterday, and came to realize that in twenty years of friendship it was the first truly authentic time we've spent together, ever. We are both clean, we both want recovery, we both have just this one day at a time so in many ways we're at the same point in our journey. I have a few one days that add up to months and years, but we all really only have today. I know I'm getting up earliest today, so I will have the most sobriety. I won't brag about it though, the difference between 6:13 am and whenever the rest of my chosen family circle wakes up is not even worth mentioning in the scale of a whole lifetime.

It is an exercise in ego to try to decide that one needs recovery more than another, or who has a better chance at attaining the miracle. We're taught not to do it, but I think secretly we all have an interior betting window for this horse race. I saw my friend killing herself, and was fairly certain I was sending her off to the desert to die when she left for Vegas. I was on the phone with her for three hours the night she did a real and true first and second step, I've heard her voice change over the last month or so and saw her for the first time Friday, with clear eyes; she's lost the cadaverous look she had when she went into the sand and the heat and the madness that is Las Vegas; Hell on earth, at least for her. I did judge that she was worse off than almost anyone when she left, and now I have high hopes and this feeling of certainty in my heart that she is one of the lucky ones that will receive this gift of Grace and find the statistically improbable state of ongoing recovery. She's spending a lot of time with us while she waits and earns her spot in the program, because our life is safe and geared toward living that dream.

It's like a lifeboat- sure, it may capsize in life's waves any time, and there are only basic supplies aboard, but we're all in it together and we have enough for everyone while we wait for sight of land. I have no right to feel so certain that she's going to make it, and yet I really believe that she will, and I get to be there. Twenty years, and I have loved this woman every way two people can love each other, but yesterday was something completely different and most definitely beautiful, because we were both truly there. I'll see her before she goes, and after, if today she isn't whisked into residency and a seven day black-out from contact with the outside world. This is an appetizer for today's spiritual meal.

Another fantastic dish I'll be served is a possible visit from Christi.

One of my oldest and most valued friends brought her to me as a gift one day out of the blue. He is not my perfect mate, or meant to be with me in that way. I spent fifteen years thinking he was, so accepting this fact was like a ride in a hot air balloon. If life made sense he and I would have been born as siblings and shared our childhoods, which we did in a way, only in different places, and before we actually met. I see now how it was easy to confuse a love that deep and real and lasting with romantic love. It took Michael to show up and open my eyes to who my forever-mate is for me to see that all love that laces my landscape like diamond deposits and veins of gold is not romantic love. I love him though, like that, deep and mineral, and he brought me Christi. She is on the shelf with the most rare and valuable ingredients I cook with, next to the saffron and the white truffle oil, up there with Angelique and K, Holly and Shayla. The top shelf.

The time we spend together is segmented, sometimes we see each other all the time, and talk constantly on the phone, and others she is off on a great sea voyage where there is little contact with land. I never feel she's absent from me, even when she's far out on the ocean. She's in port currently and will come strolling in like a super-model with a heart like the Easter Bunny, her basket full of pretty and colorful gifts; she sometimes puts them straight into my hands, sometimes leaves them hidden for me to find later. She is another of those people that I have known forever, and recently become acquainted with again. We went to high school together, in different places before we actually met. Just Christi in a day can be something joyous and nutritious for my soul, but like a 3 am infomercial I'm compelled to say "But wait, there's more!" Christi is a meat and potatoes main dish, rich and filling even in small servings.

Shayla was absent from the shop yesterday, in order to attend a muffin named Clara's first birthday. She said she'd probably be in today, not to make up for anything, but because we both value our two days a week where we are together in this enterprise known as Flying Colors. Shayla is flowers on the table, in big gorgeous sprays of fragrant bloom. Time with her never fails to get me in touch with hope, and laughter, and the kind of instinctual love I had for each of my children the first time I saw their faces. In my perfect imaginary world she would be my daughter-in-law, and the mother of my grandchildren. She would be at every holiday, would have some ridiculous word for me and we would be best friends. Really, the only thing that's different from my real life here is that she didn't choose one of my sons to marry. In the very big picture that's a very small difference. Like a floral display she gives simply by being.

As if that were not enough, I have Jen coming for dessert. My long and complicated relationship with her could only be pulled off by the most expert pastry chef. One bump and the cake would have fallen. Over-whip cream and you have butter. Work the dough too long and it's tough, work it before it rises and your loaf is flat. Jen has been a recipe where timing was everything and finesse was crucial. I didn't know her at all. I've hated her. I've been petty and jealous and shown her my smallest, meanest person. I've laid my regret at her feet, only to have her pick it up and with some origami-magic fashion it into something beautiful. I started to like her, I'm finding that I grow to love her. Straight from the seventh grade science textbook, in a chapter called "Life Cycles." I know the least about her as a person, she's a gift that I've only torn the paper on, and seen enough to know that the box is very pretty. We're going to look at some damage that someone did to her artistically, and we've both loved and trusted that person only to find that the fruit was rotten at the core. I'll get to repair it, and that will stand as metaphor for repairing damage she and I have done to each other, much like we were both damaged by him.

She's young, and jumping on her kite tail this early in the game I'll get to ride along as she soars up and away into the land of amazing womanhood. The view from up there will be breathtaking and so high that you can see for miles, and I'm fortunate enough to get to share the scenery vicariously. She hasn't married her true love yet, so I'll get to see that whole thing too, and I just love me some wedding!

It's still Molly time on my clock, and she will be the server, the spice, the butterfly that sometimes stings. She will be mercurial and we'll never know from one minute to the next who this mutable Goddess of lightning change will be. She is the algebraic variable, the ever-exploding firework, the best surprise. I have told her that for years, that she is my best surprise, because she came to me unexpectedly when I felt least prepared to welcome her, and really, my life would never have turned out this well if she hadn't. Watching her become is more fascinating than seeing anything hatch or bloom, the only constant is that there's just no way to tell what's going to happen next.

In a perfect world I would invite Nadia to this table, just to complete a perfect feast. It would possibly be awkward for a minute, but she belongs. She is a different colored beverage in every glass, but this Moon-Woman-Cancerian is water, and we've all been so thirsty. Nadia is the Ace of Cups, and the liquid that spills from it as well. The time will come, when the clock hands spin a few more times; doesn't stop me from wishing, I get to wish whatever I want.

Nadia is the only one of these amazing and diverse women I've never written about, but the rest of this ensemble have all made their appearance in my word-world. She's private, she's a geode that contains all its gems on the inside and you have to be invited to see them sparkle. It has never felt right yet to put her on a page for all of you to see, she is a secret, she is coded language and I like to believe I have the key. Loving her as I do I'm sure she'll make an appearance at some point, in some way that won't trespass her love of privacy, only time will tell.

My feeling lever has been stuck on HIGH for a while, and I can't find the brakes on this train. Although I sometimes feel my tank is almost empty, I also feel like I could overflow at the same time.

Five unique and amazing women, all converging on the table that is my life, and an empty seat left for wishes to have their place at the banquet. I have been completely wrong to refer to myself as the Chef who created the feast, that is and always will be the Mighty Universe. I got to write the menu describing it though, and that's what I love to do anyway. This is my banquet of a day, and lest you think there is only one table in the room, I have actual paying clients (Thank you God for my prosperity) who will be joining us as well, although with separate seating.

The most exciting and terrifying part of my entire life is that I have no idea what will happen next at any given time. This is why I have to hand-write the menu every day.

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The fish can fly, the dogs and cats dance together and all the flowers are edible.