Fellowship

I wrote about my application for a NOLS Fellowship awhile back. Here’s an update.

A few months ago I received a phone call letting me know that the enrollment was low and the branch wasn’t sure it would be open, let alone in need of a Fellow. Then, while making my way to Seattle for this work trip I received a phone call.  Turns out that enrollment had surged and they were in need of a fellow after all.  The caller asked about my schedule and I shared it.  Turns out my availability matched their need. I asked for a day to think about it because I’ve learned I shouldn’t make large decisions without pondering consequences. 

The next day I called back and accepted.  I’ll spend 3 months on their campus working my ass off and living in a yurt.  If you know me, you know that living in a yurt is one of my dreams. Seriously. For the past 5 years it’s been on my “Do Before I Die.”

My life has a habit of falling into my lap. Plan as I may, those plans often go asunder and I’m left giggling at my absurd desire to plan in the first place.  I have a few major concerns about my life and bills, but I’m trying to ignore them for the time being. It will all workout anyway. 

My time in Seattle feels great and is packed full of love from friends who’ve become family.  I came to take a break from my grandfather and heal.  Being in Georgia has left me raw in scarred places.  I’ve picked open infected scabs and the pus of my past still oozes from gashes in gobs.  At this moment in 30 years of moments, my favorite quote from my favorite book resonates.

Here was peace. She pulled in her horizon like a great fish-net. Pulled it from around the waist of the world and draped it over her shoulder. So much of life in its meshes! She called in her soul to come and see.” – Their Eyes Were Watching God

Peace isn’t the absence of trauma. Peace is quiet in the midst of it. The last year has stumbled upon me being very quiet in the midst of the very traumatic.

While in Seattle, I’ve had several sensational meetings/interviews/catch-up sessions with men I’ve come to love, respect, and adore.  Their thoughts have given me quite a bit to think about and I’ve enjoyed digesting our conversations.  Material from their interviews will be featured in my one-woman show “Sala Kakuhle, Mama which goes up in Chicago May 2, 2014 at 11pm.  I’m writing as well as performing and it will be directed by Janice Stewart my mentor, friend, mother, and director for the past 16 years.   It’s a story about descendants of the Afrikan Diaspora and their relationship with the Wilderness.  My Seattle advisors and Board of Directors are helping me write grants for a spinoff dedicated to identity development in youth. That’s for another post however. 

This Fellowship with NOLS is exciting and scary. So much of my life is exciting and scary.  I enjoying taking one breath at a time and living in the moment. I’ll be sure to share my thoughts on the experience here.  What an experience it will be.

Be well, friends!

WMB

 

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NOLS Fellowship

A letter to my brother

My relationship with my family was complicated in its existence. It is currently complicated in its absence.

I won’t get into it here because it’s too long, and honestly, you wouldn’t understand.  I am posting this letter because I found it on my computer today and would like to share it.  A little background. My brother and I didn’t grow up in the same house after I was 11 and he was 13 (14?).  We hadn’t spoken often due to his hurtful and irresponsible actions. After a significant silence — which I broke to inform him of our grandmother’s illness and eventual passing– he asked to be apart of my life. After considerable coercion I said, “Yes, but this is your last chance.”  Two months later he failed to communicate appropriately after telling me our other grandmother had health issues.  I found out from someone else that in the two-week time period that he wasn’t returning my phone calls or texts she had died of a brain tumor.

It hurts to know him.

I sent him this, via text message, because he wouldn’t answer the phone and I didn’t have his email address.  In spite of the message the letter conveys, he still followed me, creepily, on Instagram. Here is the letter grammatical errors and all:

Our dilemma: I’m bored by you and the cyclical fashion of your behavior.  I’m bored by my naivete and willingess to allow this to happen again, and again, and again.

 If our relationship were a sitcom we would’ve been canceled long ago due to recycled plots, stagnant characters, and uninteresting conflicts.  I am a little sister of two and so society says I am to embrace my nature and manifest certain behaviors in order to get attention read: pick and pick and nag and nag yearning for an emotional response. 

Fortunately, due to experience and maturity, I out grew that phase.  I don’t beg.  It’s beneath me.  If someone wants to be in my life they are welcome…until they aren’t. You are not.  I once sent an email like this ma/joyce/your mother/all of it feels false but you know who I’m talking about. 

She was so upset by the tone of the message that she didn’t understand the cause behind it.  Each time you both hurt me  I end up in a place that is so unhealthy it’s ridiculous.  I set boundaries and still you hurt.  I walk away and you beg me for permission to reenter my life. 

I allow it and yet the behavior never changes.  It’s like I’m related to robots. I would rather endure the pain of never hearing from, speaking to, or having to smell the putrid odor that accompanies your disappointing soul than to let you or anyone else that is related to you hurt me in that way again. 

Please read this next part carefully: I never want to hear from you again. I don’t care if you are on your deathbed, if your sons need a transplant and I am the only match, if your mother’s kidney fails and her dying wish is to spit in my face: I don’t care. 

I want nothing to do with you and anything or anyone that associates with you. 

*insert my brother’s name here*, know this.  I am serious.  Don’t call me, or text me, or ask anyone else to do the same. I will change my phone number.  I will get a restraining order. I swear to God I will take whatever legal action is necessary to get my point across. Don’t fuck with me.  To dear Isaac and Eli.  I feel badly for them because their lives lack the presence of an aunt who loves them dearly but has no access point.  Their father, an untethered foundation, thinks that relationships are built and sustained by pixels and such submitted through the internet and over the phone. He thinks that is enough.  He hopes that is enough.  He believes that is enough.  I know it is not enough and that knowledge grieves me.  Oh the promise our relationships could manifest and yet they are left with naught. 

This time I am hurt by me but not gravely as was common in my youth.  It’s like an old relationship the drags me in.  An ex I cannot shake.  A pool of putrid piss in which I linger long after toddlers have gone to nap.  I am silent in my hurt because I welcomed it near my being yet again knowing full well of the end.  An ending which is always the same. 

And so I write this to ask the following: for you to give me peace. Leave me be.  Bother not myself, my spouse, or off-spring to which I may rear as my own.  Should ailments reach you or yourn protect yourself from feigned response. I will care not and ask that you let that be.  Allow this to that which greets every desire to contact me bring back to this note. This interesting diatribe.  Should death befall, leave me alone. Should you hear of my misfortune, leave me alone. Should you hear of my bliss, leave me alone.  Take your kin and return to your hovel.  I care not for passage nor grace.  I ask not for forgiveness. I ask for you to leave me be.

Hunger

I’m worried because the two things I need right now do not match; I need sleep and I need to write.

Today I was denied the ability to eat due to a lesson for those more privileged than I.  Hunger is not a lesson I need. I’ve been hungry and unloved and most things in between. I’ve had to make do with flour and cheese for weeks. Gone for runs in graveyards to distract myself from the pain of maternal silence and the noise of need.

Hunger is all too familiar. Hunger is an emotion that triggers me.

Now that I’ve inadequately met one of my needs I’m going to try to more adequately address the other.  Two days until Morocco…

Solemnity

IMG_2131I am feeling exceptionally solemn today. That tends to happen after magnificent days and so I’ll take this one in stride.  Had a client meeting that went well and spent the day doing for others in a way that frustrates me.  I’ve been having problems with a friend as of late and their name no longer brings me the solace it did in the past. I used to think that this person would be in my life for the rest of it and that brought me peace. How does one, though, maintain oneself in the presence of another broken in unflattering pieces?

This woman I loved and — perhaps still do — is so different she’s unrecognizable in spirit and in action.  I find myself reverting to childhood behaviors in her presence because I desperately want to make her happy. I want to do that which pleases her and when those actions go unnoticed I become unrecognizable to myself.  I look for her approval in body composition, in the meeting of our eyes, in the acceptance of the gifts of my actions and yet receive nary a sign.  We are different she and I and it is difficult to accept that. It is difficult to remember that I spent much of my life pleasing others and it is foreign to me to try and please myself.

That is the notion that’s eluded me thus far. My recent question of, “Why has this time originally dedicated to my grandfather and his final steps transformed me into this journeywoman as I stand now?” is beginning to make sense.  The suffocation that drove me to Chicago is driving me still.  I am suffocated by a life of codependency and need to wipe it out. Free my neck from the grasp of bruised hands other than my own.  I am the one that makes my steps though they may be guided by another a Creator of souls.  I am the one who determines the quality of my life. I choose.  My steps may be ordered, but it is I who do the stepping.

If the rest of my life does not include those from my past I will be changed. Not better or worse, just different in the way I’m supposed to be.