Can’t say it. Don’t know how. Ghosts float about the room, not dead yet. I imagine them, my readers, what they might look like, how they might sit beside me and reach out to touch me. They might stand back, and purse their lips. They might turn away. I want to bat them off, chase them out. I want to open the windows and send them off to mingle with the clouds. Here it is again, that embroilment, that fear of being seen.

Push-pull. To expose. Not to expose. I could tell you that making l*v* hurts, that it always has, that there is a physiological reason for it, that if I can hold tight and let it happen, then let go, relax into the pain, let it fill me, there’s a place beyond it where bliss waits. Pain and ecstasy are inextricably entwined.

I can tell you that my life is mostly mundane, and it’s OK. I wake and eat breakfast and let out the dogs while I water my flowers and my lone yellow plum tomato plant, and then I go to work and teach for three and a half hours, and spent some time prepping for the next day’s class and reading papers (I say “reading,” not “grading,” for a reason). And I come home and eat lunch with Nada, and sometimes we play chess. And I drive Zeke here and there (or rather she drives me, because she’s in driver’s ed and has a permit, so I sit in luxury while she finds ways to go the long way to her friends’ houses, gas prices be damned). And when it cools down I go to Nada’s and we kick a soccer ball around for a while because he quite smoking eight weeks ago and he needs something to distract him when the cravings hit. I thought, at first, I was doing it for him, that I would hate kicking a soccer ball around because I’m ball-challenged, with no coordination, but actually it’s fun. I bought soccer shoes, and he’s showing me some tricks and drills, and I can’t do any of it well, but we laugh a lot, and sweat drips into my eyes and I run under the sprinklers to rescue the ball when I send it sideways into his brother’s yard, and the cool water challenges the heat, sends it away into the rich blue dome above, and I feel like a kid again, as if I’ve found something I knew once but forgot — or maybe I never really knew it.

When we’re tired we go inside and read. He reads cognitive psychology books, his current intellectual interest, and I read papers for work or scribble all over a manuscript for a future developmental writing book that I’m reviewing. Sometimes, if there’s time, we’ll read together for a few minutes, these days from Chuang Tzu’s Inner Chapters, and he’ll be happy. So will I. I don’t mean to exclude myself. I was going to write “we,” but I realized that he in particular loves being read to, and I love to read aloud — but it gets tiring, and there’s never enough time. So we read a little from the Inner Chapters, and then I have to rush out to pick up Zeke, and cook her and her friends something. There are always kids sleeping here: right now her friend J is in her room with her, and B is on the couch downstairs, so I’m writing in my bedroom, with Sadie and Bridji snuggled up against me.

And then, finally, it’s night. I open the windows and the wind blows through, carrying cool from the mountains. I water the plants on the patio again, beneath stars, and listen to the world hum. The ghosts gather again, and they don’t purse lips or turn away. They are friends. I can write to them.

6 responses to “Encouraged

  1. I’m glad you sit with the push pull-tension and let all this creativity flow out of it.

    I love the soccer synchronicity. 🙂 And hearing about your day.

    Thank you too, so much, for the second paragraph. Really.

  2. That first paragraph….I don’t have proper words to say thank you for saying what you did. I’d swear you took the words right out of my own heart, where there were/are big unwieldy feelings that didn’t even know what words were.

    I’ll say this – maybe we can just agree to ‘allow’ us all to be frightened and want to bat each other away and yet also to want so very much for each other to stay and listen.

    Embroilment indeed. And yes, I’ve long said “love hurts”. Not in the way many might think, such as being afraid a relationship might not work out, though that’s certainly legitimate, and perhaps not the same way you mean it here. I mean that actually being loved hurts. Not the having lost it, but the getting of it now.

    I, also, love hearing about the mundane day. It makes people more real.

    Thank you for the gift you have of putting things into words.

  3. mm: The soccer synchronicity was fun. 🙂 Now if only I could figure out how to kick the ball where I want it to go.

    Stella: My love paragraph was meant more literally, in that physically I’m built in a way that makes love-making painful much of the time. But I LOVE the way you interpret it metaphorically, and also the sense that getting it is painful after having lost it. For me, it’s hard to trust love, and the-not trusting is painful.

    Write!! I’ve been waiting for another entry from you. Please don’t stop.

  4. Something’s wonky with google reader, and I had missed this and your next!

    I wonder if somebody’s done a serious study about how many women commonly find it painful? I’m thinking it’s true of maybe a third of the women I’ve been with. And, given how clueless Western medicine is about myofascial pain, and how quick they are to identify pain as either structural or psychosomatic, I wonder if there aren’t perfectly ordinary solutions to most of it that are mostly never looked for — trigger points in the adductors (the inner thigh muscles), for instance, certainly will cause referred pain to the groin & its environs. But I bet not one percent of American gynecologists would ever look for them.

    (Okay, yes, I do have a bee in my bonnet :->)

  5. Dale: You make the greatest comments. It would be so nice if I found out the pain is somehow trigger-point related and could be taken care of. The ob-gyn did seem to have a logical explanation for what was going on, but she was so callous about it I was sort of put off pursuing additional information. If a man had been so dismissive, I would have put it down to him just not caring because it’s not personal to him-as-a-man, but a woman? Surely it would matter to her? On the other hand, if a third of women have pain, then maybe both men AND women just see the pain as “normal” somehow and therefore something to be accepted, like skin color or hair texture or whatever.

    Anyway, like the discrepancy that allows insurance companies to pay for Viagra but not birth control, I really believe if that many men suffered from that kind of pain, the medical profession would have figured out why, and found a cure or at least a relief for it. Sigh.

    And I love the bees in your bonnet! 🙂

  6. I think, basically, people trained in Western medicine just don’t take that kind of pain seriously. If it’s not infection or trauma they’re lost; they’re not trained for it, and it makes them grumpy because nobody likes to be presented with a problem their training is useless for. I regularly have people come under my hands, diagnosed with arthritis or tendonitis by presumably qualified doctors, whose pain can’t possibly be caused by arthritis or tendonitis. The doctors just don’t know what’s causing the pain, and yet the rules of the game don’t allow them to admit that (or even see it, possibly).

    I’m sure you’re right, also, that being a “female complaint” makes it less likely to be taken seriously.

    Send me mail, if you’d like, & if it’s not too shy-making — I have some ideas for things you could try.

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