marshmallows and steel

The world is not a cold and dark place.

This, I thought, after I looked out the tiny window of the airplane and saw fire and amber and something that looked like eternity. It is truly amazing to see the sun’s light setting on them marshmallow clouds.

Yes. At the time I was cramming a bag of peanuts into my mouth, enjoying how very salty they were and wishing I had a cold beer. But I had plenty of beers the prior week and figured taking a break from the greatness that is Portland’s beer scene would be a good idea.

I spent the past week wobbling around (on one good foot) Portland, Oregon.
“I’m going [dramatic pause] to feed myself”, is what I told everyone.

Yes, food. Beer. Coffee.

The people. I’ve needed to connect with people there. Something about going after the holidays seemed too far and I was feeling too antsy. I wanted to connect before the holiday exhaustion set in. And I’m so glad I did.

I will not dive into the play by play, but I spent most of my days eating at my favorite haunts and spending time with people I’ve missed the most. I loved seeing my niece and nephew, and how big they are getting. Little P-Lu, especially. Chubby arms. Walking around on top of legos like they were nothing.

“She’s made of marshmallows and steel”, we joke. And it’s true. She is.

And W, still so bright and intrigued and silly.

I drove around the city a good bit and thought it’d be a good idea to give myself a lot of grace.

At least that’s what I heard being said in my belly. It brought me to tears, at one point, sitting in St. John’s Cathedral Park, breathing in the cold wet damp, and watching the lowest clouds stream through the trees like locks of hair being pulled through the teeth of a comb.

What a beautiful place this is. I remember the streets I walked down to get to work and thought, “Man, these were such sweet, sweet times.” I let myself feel afraid and acknowledged what made me feel anxious. My doubts about being a good husband. In my head, feeling like I had abandoned my people and left a career that was actually taking me somewhere.

No longer is it important for me to prove anything to anyone there. What happened, happened. I found myself experiencing some sadness from sitting in a place that once held heavy and heartbreaking conversations, and remembering always the sun-gold tomatoes that grew their vines around our old bikes.

What sweet and amazing and devastating things happened here. And I am alive. I am moving and movement is life, as they say.

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When my plane landed in New Orleans last night, I found out the Saints had lost.
I also found out about the riots and rulings in Ferguson.

My heart sank. It was all I could think about my entire drive home. How complex and angry and sad this made me and so many other people feel. How people I love and respect would disagree with one another. That’s sort of hard. We’re not very good at disagreeing, or seeing each other in a state of grace.

I realize I say grace a lot. And while that comes with a spirituality you may or may not want to be a part of, it can be universally understood. It is something I’m learning to understand.

When my plane was finally above all the dark and mucky stuff, I was able to see the sun setting far away. We were flying away from it, so I had to twist my head to see the horizon.

And there it was.

All sorts of warmth, even in the frigid blue. I thought that maybe I would be okay with this kind of heaven.

I leaned my head in the awkward space and closed my eyes. Traveling forward. Chasing a sky turning darker, and darker. All I could think about was chubby marshmallow arms and bright smiles. New normals. Fears and anxieties slowly laying to rest in the same ground from which they came.

Onward.

Into another horizon with the warmth of the sun licking my heels.

There is good, here.

And also in our hearts, especially where it hurts and feels the most dark.

Deep, deep down,
there is fire and amber and steel,
building a new heaven,
and a new horizon,
going on into eternity.

 

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2 responses

  1. I sure hope that you publish some of your writings someday. You are so special. And, you were NOT a failure at being a husband, Josh. I’m at a loss to explain why…but, the fact that your marriage did not continue is not your fault. I don’t think it was actually anyone’s “fault”. It just wasn’t meant to be. That sounds cold and cruel, but really it isn’t. You are SO special and you don’t even know it.

  2. So glad you got some good chill time here in PDX and it’s great to see the evolution happening as you describe. I remember when I moved back to Portland in ’05 after 10 years away, it was like a rediscovery instead of remembering why I left, and that was beautiful. Bummed I didn’t make the mental connection while at Woodlawn (probably good as I’d have demanded you make me a meal hahaha!), but so happy to see the spark in your writing post-Stumptown.

    Happy Thanksgiving!!

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