Around the corner from my place in Bushwick there was a walk-up Chinese spot. They had a thin noodle lo mein the likes of which I have never found again. In the early months of my pregnancy I ate it about three times a week. I knew I had become a regular when the ever present kids would stay and giggle when I walked up, no longer running to the back of the shop. As I approached the counter, their mom would shout my order to the kitchen and then rhetorically question, “That’s it, yes?,” while ringing up the same $5.34 total each visit brought.
Now I have been back in Austin for over a decade and about a year ago I ventured into a little Chinese take-away spot I had passed for years, never stopping because, “How good could it be?” Silly me, those are always the best places for what you need in comfort food. No pretense- simply offering their food. No need to boast, they are consistent and semi-friendly and close. I have to say, their lo mein isn’t the same as my beloved Bushwick version with its angel hair noodles and slivers of veggies and ginger. Like any past love, none will match it but there will be space in the heart’s memory for new and different love. The new lo mein is chunkier all around, using wide noodles that are not magically light, but more fulfilling in their balance of chew and crunch. The vegetables have a wonderful smokiness, more variety, and there’s always enough for two. It is a new comfort food that I look forward to.
My daughter never got to try my Bushwick lo mein. We went back to find it, but the building that the walk-up counter was tucked into had succumbed to the push of gentrification. An overpriced, metallic apartment building now stands in place of giggling children and summer sidewalk chalk. While that experience can only be shared with her through the romance of memory, I am happy knowing part of her childhood memory will be getting dinner from this new spot. One day, Wok ‘N Express will be part of her cache of stories- her favorite childhood lo mein and how no one else’s will ever be quite the same.
I’ve seen some great videos of penguins being allowed to roam an aquarium that is shuttered because of COVID-19. Those penguins have gotten a taste of freedom. They won’t forget.
Elephants who broke free during China’s lockdown, found napping in a tea garden drunk on corn wine.
Dolphins visiting people on a dock in southern Italy and swans return to the canals of Venice.
Orangoutangs seen washing their hands, as it goes, they are outrageously good at washing their hands.
People have been forced to slow down and the natural world can breathe free in our pause. With that, we are witnessing the world that sits in the shadow of our world.
I lounge in bed with my lovers. Surrounded by pens, journals, pages typed and notes torn from drawing pads. My phone plugged into a portable speaker- changing music as it suits my mood. I write and edit and swim with my thoughts. Wearing creamy soft striped pajamas- very masculine, but tailored for the feminine- with red silk bra and cheery pattern panties underneath because it is always nice to feel sexy & smart, but even more so when it’s to make an effort for no one other than yourself: to remember you are always worth your power.
I never wear underthings that aren’t beautiful. It is a rebellion, perhaps, against my mom’s line that you should keep “period panties,” meaning having some old, not so nice panties available for the days you bleed. The purpose being that you don’t mess your good things during that shameful period time. I take the opposite tact: you should never wear less than beautiful underthings.
However, during your cycle, you should wear your nicest items. It is a time of rebirth and power. Your body is smashed with hormones and you can either let them bring you down through the patriarchal ideas that a woman’s body is turned against her and weak or you can embrace them … embrace the pain for the life and creative force it’s pushing out. Embrace the blood for its power. Embrace your swollen breasts and belly for all the feminine energy they represent. Never wear less than the best underthings for you- relish in the secret knowledge of the items you bear closest to your most vulnerable, but powerful parts. Envelope your breasts and yoni in the softest, prettiest, and best items you own. If your style be modest athletic or laciest of girly frills, embrace that and know the beauty you deserve. If someone else gets to see your secrets, the luckier for them, but do it for yourself. You deserve to be adorned as the goddess you are.
What can you do in the time that you say you don’t have?
What can you write?
What can you draw?
Where can you walk?
Who can you reach out to?
With all the time we spend scrolling our thumbs …
What could we be learning?
What could we be making?
What, simply, could we be asking of ourselves that instead we do not
even know we are seeking through all the places we won’t
remember each time we draw our finger across the screen?
Next time, next time you think, “I should go for a walk …” or “I should write something” or “I should ask invite so and so tho dinner,” don’t say, “But …” Don’t make an excuse, instead, open the door and move … pick up a pen and write … reach out to your friend and plan. Maybe it’s only 10 minutes or a wisp of the need to see someone, but it’s the onlies and just a bits that add up to the all.
This is your life, don’t stash yourself waiting for something better to show up because you are what you got.
to be loved and to love,
simply as you are.
for the inherent validity
of your humanity.
to be desired,
supported and safe.
to dare a bigger life.
to share a love
modeled on God’s
love for us,
is all that should be asked,
it is really quite simple.
vulnerability, let go.
stop running and open your heart. now breathe out the pain.
/stay in the present, explore edges unknown, the places you find in-between your heart and mind/
your heart and mind will convene to create your intention.
a life well lived is in balance,
just let go
it all just stopped …
they put their guns down
set out some food
opened the gates.
we showed we do not hate …
instead just who we are-
working class brothers and sisters
far from home
scared and scarred
just wanting to hold those
we love again
how many could be saved with a simple cup of tea?