Friday, October 22, 2010

"It sucks"

I have been so moved by and grateful for the "It Gets Better" campaign started by Dan Savage and his husband, Terry Miller. I hope it will give countless LGBT young people the strength to get through profoundly difficult times. I wore purple on Wednesday to memorialize the young men who have recently killed themselves and support the end of anti-gay bullying; I wear a lot of purple anyway, but on that day--which was also Michael's birthday (interesting that three of the most important guys in my life have October birthdays! Happy birthday, sweetie!)--it felt especially meaningful. I was purple as Violet Beauregarde, all the way down to my skivvies. I felt as if I was wearing it to memorialize my mom, as well as the young men. I felt as if I was wearing it for everyone whose lives have been touched by suicide.

I wore purple again today--it didn't have any significance when I first got dressed, but now it feels appropriate. I found out today that a friend's father killed himself last night; earlier in the week, I learned a friend from college took his own life. My heart is aching for the families of both men, for the shock and grief and complicated emotions they are suddenly forced to face. I wish I could tell them it gets better--because it does, but then it gets worse again, and back and forth, and nothing is ever quite the same. Maybe a campaign for those who have lost loved ones to suicide could be called something like "It sucks". I think it's important to acknowledge how much it sucks, because it's not spoken about enough. It sucks big time. But you'll get through it. And you'll learn, and you'll grow even though you'll fall apart from time to time. And there will be people to support you, whether they're wearing purple or not. That's one of the biggest gifts I've received through the chaos of my mom's death--the support that's come from sometimes unexpected places. I hope that's what those touched by these recent suicides will find--steady arms to help guide them across newly unstable ground. I am reaching mine out now.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

belly dance

Belly dance is my salvation these days, my creative outlet, my connection to the world. Because of life with a baby, I haven't had as much time to write as I would like (or email--if I owe you an email, please know I'm not ignoring you--I'm just woefully behind.) Somehow, though, I seem to be able to find time to dance.

Until 2008, the last time I had performed as a belly dancer was when I was six months pregnant with Hannah, seventeen years ago. Then, shortly after I separated from my first husband, my incredible friend Nancy invited me to dance with her troupe. It was such a generous gesture--dance was a way for me to work through all the confusion and grief of that time, and find my way back into my body. Belly dance continues to be such a lifeline for me; the women I dance with are, too.

One of my most powerful dance experiences was last weekend, when Nancy and I performed a "pre-funeral party" for the father of a friend; George knows that he is dying, and wanted to host a celebration of his life, surrounded by his many friends and loved ones. It was such a beautiful event to begin with, and the best audience I have ever performed for--I have never felt so much love and joy radiate from a crowd before. At some point, George joined the dance (you can see him above in his motorized scooter festooned with a smiley face balloon); later we invited others to join us, as well, and most people were shy, but below you can see the young man with Downs syndrome who grabbed my hands and led us into some wonderfully spirited twirling.

Nancy had been encouraging me to choose a dance name (hers is Saahira; our troupe is Saahira's Gypsy Soul). I had originally decided upon Ghaliya, which I liked because of its similarity to Gayle, but then I learned that it is also a type of lamb stew, and it didn't suddenly didn't seem as appealing. I ended up choosing Nasheeta, "full of life", the night before we performed for George. I have to say that most of the time I don't feel so lively--I am exhausted and overwhelmed a fair amount of each day--but when I dance, the energy kicks in, and my heart opens up and I feel fully alive, so in that way, the name seemed like a good fit--certainly something to aspire to.

At George's celebration, his daughter came up to us and told us that her dad had wanted the party to be about life and she was so grateful for how much life we brought to the event. It made the name I chose feel all the more meaningful.

Lately, a snippet from a poem by Wyatt Townley has been running through my head--"We are here so briefly, weather/with bones". Why not take that brief time, this transient weather, and dance?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Happy 91st birthday, Papa!

Happy birthday to the most amazing 91 year old I know (it's wild that the picture above--one of my favorites--was taken 41 years ago!) I don't know how I got so lucky to be your daughter. Thank you for teaching me kindness, teaching me playfulness, teaching me goodness (not to mention the proper way to toss a salad) :). I am humbled and inspired by your example, and love you with all my heart.p.s. Your harem sends their love, too. We are all so glad you were able to come watch us dance on Saturday!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Happy 20th birthday, Arin!

I can barely believe it's been 20 years since I first became a mama. Happy birthday to my amazing son, Arin. May you always be as exuberant as you are in this video (thanks to your beautiful girlfriend Prany for putting it together). I love your zest for life, your kindness, your all around wonderfulosity. Thank you for being who you are--I love watching you soar.