Sometimes I think about the stone I put by the tree in the yard of the first house I remember. I think about it sheltered under bare branches now, winter coming, snow not yet covering the gray rock sneaked there that sun spring day. Does it sit the way I left it, or has the unknown strains of the universe tipped it on its side, covered it with dirt or otherwise shifted its nest?

That house plays games in my mind, bigger than it is in person, brighter too. The memories are kaleidoscopes, turning into snaps of sound, the crying in my own ears. The understanding of my place in the way of things. I was 2 when we moved there, 5 when we left, and 52 when I walked away. It holds the first memories of being unliked, unfitted, and undone.

We drove there, my sisters and I, they waited in the car as I walked past the address nonchalantly, my eyes averting to another place up the street, those coordinates of shame mapped who I became that kindergarten year.

I was a fighter until then, a cryer, a temper tantrumed, stand by the wall demander. That year I lost my voice in the drifted need to hide behind the door that wasn’t going to open for me.

When it was time to move from that place, both when I was 5, and walking back to my sister’s car, I held on, and looked back. The specter of the girl I might have been waved once and sat back down. It would be a few more years before I could go back and let her know what belonging was. To explain the word I took with me as we drove away.


letting go.

I wondered what did it mean to let go. I have saved endless quotes about releasing, leaving alone, detaching and letting go of everything that weighs us. But still, I didn’t know how. The things I sought, the tense ache of togetherness and the shrugging shoulder of independence fought a cloudy war that had no truce.

To let go meant to do what, to let go of what? The hope of the battle being won, that the bait worked, the trophy displayed for my eyes only, eyes that kept looking away to the next thing to fight?

To let go of the end of the suffering string I had to wind my way back to the place I was holding it. And that wasn’t the same thing at all. Where I held it and where I saw it were so different, that’s why I couldn’t solve the riddle of how to let go of one end of it, the other end held shadowy taut in my small sticky hand.

We drove to the next house I lived, my mother, my siblings and I, just across town. Another place I was too young to remember, this time a bigger yard, a clean street, a moving up so evident and tidy.

I was born the last of the pack, the fifth child to parents that wanted four, the last evidence of unplanned things. Once I was there I was loved.

Love. The word I took with me when I left the place I was born led to releasing the dark end of the string of being unwanted.

Letting go, I learned, was going back to the first story I heard, to let go of the version of the people I kept there, puppet like and swaying in the strain of their sameness.

Letting go was going back to see they weren’t there anymore, and to see proof that the ghosts of them haunted me with my agreement and my attention.

Letting go meant to drive away without them, leaving the stone of who I was now, to replace the stone of who I used to be, when I believed a story so old the ash of it scattered in the wake of the car we drove away in, laughing.


How snow muffles the sounds a regular woods make, that is what I wanted, always. I sought solace as I leaned towards 50 by talking, words bouncing in between hard and soft spots in me, in those around me. I thought the answer was the volume; higher, lower, more bass, more treble, more balance.

Turns out it was the volume, just not the measure of sound, more the measure of amount. The number of words, explanations, the questions turning into answers, the negotiating was drowning in its volume.

The plane ride home for my first visit to the places that lived me. The vast empty spaces of sky and land, as I hurtled toward where I was born, the home I was brought to. The beginning of the noises that led me here.

I would take this first trip with the mother who brought me home that very first day. She showed me a picture I had never seen of us looking at each other; she is smiling and I look concerned, intent.

And from that the beginning hush of finding my own wooded snow, the silence of so this is where it began. The space between words filling up with drifts of rest, understanding.

I walked closer, as close as I dared, to take a stone from my pocket, from my home now, so many miles from the origin of me, and I traded it for one by a lone tree in the yard. Getting back in the car my sister said ‘I saw what you did, what was that?’, and I told her how I brought stones to leave behind, and how I picked up something to bring back, connecting the two, scattering my now into my then.

When I drove from that first home, the new stone light in my pocket, my mother and siblings in the car as the road made the small home smaller, the word that came with me was love.


the lightening of anger.

I spent my lifetime changing by learning, perfecting, growing past the scars and making meaning even as they were healing. I traced my wounds into mandalas of enlightenment, repeating patterns deeper and tighter.

And then, one push too far, one day of too much, one too many times, and something unwound into bright anger.

This far, and no farther.

And I could take a step, and one more. Anger wasn’t something to carry, it was the refining line of no more. Even as I felt myself lean into dissolving it, the try of stopping it, I stayed in it.

Circling back through the stones I left behind, weaving a flowering labyrinth, finding my way in the quiet storm of a fury that was a fuel that’s didn’t burn me.

Feet that move forward carry a body taller, easier. Anger fed me from the ground up, unpouncing my shoulders and dropping my chin to the wind of my sudden acceptance. Nothing changes, it evolves. And the fire that lit me wasn’t started by someone else’s match. If I could howl I would have, feet slipping easily forward in this leaf patterned dance.

too heavy to carry.

It wasn’t that I couldn’t hold it. It was that I couldn’t carry it. I could hold it static, talk myself into the value of its weight. But to take a step and then another. I could not find the strength to do that.

So I thought it was just the latest thing. Whatever it was that I was holding most recently. It’s just that I can’t hold that one thing. So I would put it down and try again. Something else would be easier.

Something else was never easier. Over and over I tried. And still I couldn’t take that first step. I couldn’t hold the weight of it, any of the many its , and putting them down, one after another meant I couldn’t turn and go back, the path littered with the failure to move, burdened.

The way around them began to be words, words could fit in between and around the unforgiving stones left behind.

The words became letters, the letters became honest. I’m sorry, those letters spelled. I didn’t know how to stay, how to love, unguarded. How to leave gracefully.

I’m sorry for believing I needed to.

This path to wholeness was part living it, and part writing about it. As the words become lines and paragraphs and posts I am learning what it meant. A timeless non consecutive wandering, a road, winding and long and lined with younger versions of me waiting to speak. It is simple and honorable to write what they say.

the book of forgiveness.

‘Like all explorers we are drawn to discover what’s waiting out there without knowing yet if we have the courage to face it’

Pema Chodron

There are quotes on each page of the journals I kept, words to guide the way to somewhere I believed others had found. The elusive graceful space of calm and light.

On each page, a place I had lived, and the journal prompts to capture my days there. And that one hidden place of what I didn’t want to write. It seemed clear in the pattern that emerged that it wasn’t what I didn’t want to write about, it was who I didn’t want to write about. Each page, each place, a name. Someone I had talked into forgetting, a person who lost their personhood in my casting of them into the stone of their worst self.

I wrote the names down. And started another, smaller grey moleskin journal, to write the first letter that I didn’t want to keep. I still have that meant to be burned journal. Because the first letter I wrote wasn’t to the first person who I needed to write to. It was to the one that hurt the most. The most recent.

From the first page of that smaller journal: As I journal the places I have lived, the things I loved to do, books, movies, food—there are things I don’t want to write about. People I don’t want to give any space to—as if pushing them out of the experience erases something. My intention with this forgiveness is to release those dark areas that are stuck where I’ve left them. I’m going to start with the one I need to forgive the most…it’s time to go back and let go, once and for all, release them, release myself.

I knew that traveling back to the first place I lived couldn’t be done behind the ice of the last person I blamed. At the end of the letter I wrote her were these words, ‘I forgive you and I hope you forgive me too. I love you—I still do.’

I didn’t burn that letter. But even so the fire of the truth of it melted the cold enough for me to keep going.