sleep as long as you need to. wake up and get clean. start with the shower. wash your hair, and soap that part of your collarbone where he kissed you like fireworks in the summertime until you can't feel it anymore. keep scrubbing. when it fades, wash away the imprint of him from the side of your face. get soap in your eyes and your mouth and let the sting burn away having found heaven at that space that lives just above the top button of his shirt. make the water so hot that you can barely stand it. use a rough brush on your fingertips until they're tender; wash away those absentminded moments where you twirled his hair in your hands, when it was just sunset behind the olympics on the couch and nothing else mattered. let the soap sit in all your cuts and try to rinse those halos out of your eyes. breathe deep. this will work. bleach the tub when you're done.

stand in the steam with a towel afterward and realize nothing works, and that there are no answers here.

get dressed in yesterday's clothes and put the kitchen back together. scrape the dishes from last night and rinse the laughter and the kisses down the drain. wipe all those moments off the table and the countertop, throw away that light that came through the slats like crumbs, toss the way those seascape eyes couldn't see anything but you. go into the living room next and put away the records, shelving the heartswells that matched the meter of the songs spinning on the turntable. keep doing this throughout all the rooms until there is no trace of last night and nothing is out of place. then, stand in front of the stereo when you're done with the power off. hear the hum of the traffic and the distinct sound of radio silence, and realize none of it has made a shred of difference.

From a double-exposure film project I did with a woman in Canada last year, through the mail. This is how today feels.

From a double-exposure film project I did with a woman in Canada last year, through the mail. This is how today feels.

love vs. cathexis

in which our painfully open-hearted heroine learns a new thing from the great bell hooks:

To truly love we must learn to mix various ingredients -- care, affection, recognition, respect, commitment and trust, as well as honest and open communication. Learning faulty definitions of love when we are quite young makes it difficult to be loving as we grow older. We start out committed to the right path but go in the wrong direction. Most of us learn early on to think of love as a feeling. When we feel deeply drawn to someone, we cathect with them; that is, we invest feelings or emotion in them. That process of investment wherein a loved one becomes important to us is called "cathexis." In his book Peck rightly emphasizes that most of us "confuse cathecting with loving." We all know how often individuals feeling connected to someone through the process of cathecting insist that they love the other person even if they are hurting or neglecting them. Since their feeling is that of cathexis, they insist what they feel is love.

When we understand love as the will to nurture our own and another's spiritual growth, it becomes clear that we cannot claim to love if we are hurtful and abusive. Love and abuse cannot coexist. Abuse and neglect are, by definition, the opposites of nurturance and care. Often we hear of a man who beats his children and wife and then goes to the corner bar and passionately proclaims how much he loves them. If you talk to the wife on a good day, she may also insist he loves her, despite his violence. An overwhelming majority of us come from dysfunctional families in which we were taught we were not okay, where we were shamed, verbally and/or physically abused, and emotionally neglected even as we were also taught to believe that we were loved. For most folks it is just too threatening to embrace a definition of love that would no longer enable us to see love as present in our families. Too many of us need to cling to a notion of love that either makes abuse acceptable or at least makes it seem that whatever happened was not that bad.

weather systems

revolution and revelation, a different kind of sunday. creaky kitchen tables and dream disambiguations. the air yesterday held the hint of spring in it like a quiet promise: warm under the chill, warm enough to sit outside in filtered sunlight on the back patio at the coffeeshop, faraway car stereos and the sounds of people cooking through open apartment windows. pasting postcards into pages and working on the forgetting. cement bridges turned to dust, a paragraph or two at a time towards the new reality. or perhaps just a book about it.

broken devotions. cars stuck on staircases and the whole world waiting outside, golden light and a wash of birds like a school of fish spooling in front of carved-out mountains. the pushing away and the getting closer to, the torture and the nourishment. the moving and the attempted moving on.