things that have saved my life.

  1. the desert. low desert, high desert, painted desert, sonoran desert, salt desert, snow desert, all deserts. vast, merciless, expansive lands that leave you mystified.
  2. kind strangers. in moments of complete despair and/or crippling anxiety i have been saved by the kindness of strangers. the middle aged woman who sat down next to me on a sidewalk when i was 15 and crying over some horribly cruel boy and shared my cigarette with me and told me i was pretty. the incredible valet parker at a fancy hotel in louisville kentucky who pulled me out of my car when i was sobbing and completely lost and sleep deprived and got me a place to stay (and a parking spot) for the night.
  3. learning to cook. because i was lost and unemployed and 30 and in the middle of nowhere and i had quit nearly everything that was bad for me and i didn’t know what to do with my hands. so i taught myself to cook. it started with a 1970’s timelife cookbook full of spanish recipes and i am telling you that cooking paella saved my life.
  4. bruce springsteen. those records, each a monomyth of sorts, the heart of the order, take you all the way to the edge and then bring you back to life. springsteen is the great redeemer.
  5. dancing. in terrible bars and sweaty living rooms and studio apartments and crowded classes. dancing with my best friends with total strangers dancing by myself dancing in the dark or early morning light. dancing.
  6. my son. i can’t say enough that the power of cuteness in one’s life is immeasurable. extreme cuteness. unbelievable, mind crushing, mood altering, heart exploding cuteness.
  7. travel. to foreign lands. to familiar lands. to cities that swallow you and small towns that spit you out. disappearing in the landscape in long stretches of highway in rented cars and crowded trains and airport cabs. running from ghosts over every bridge in paris. baptisms in the seine, the mississippi the missouri the atlantic the pacific. witnessing true romance through a veil of spanish moss in savannah. finding my voice through languages i do not speak.
  8. home. moving (at least) once a year for 14 years. always on the run. and then suddenly a home. my husband asleep on the sofa with a baby on his chest. sunday morning pancakes and bowls of popcorn, makeshift furniture dollies and cans of paint and friends gathered around his great grandmother’s table. weeds pulled and saplings planted. plans made and love’s labors won.
  9. friends. girl friends. those faces, the prettiest faces in the entire world with their heavy lidded eyes staring back at me with complete empathy. hands held and ears lent. broken hearts mended and babies born, picked up checks and cabs hailed at 3am. shorthand of hilarity and astrological gossip and every story, every single story told and savored and stored for later for ever.
  10. clothes. patti smith’s corduroy suit. joan didion’s maxi dress. madonna’s black bustier & balero hat (or high waisted 501’s & breton stripe top, for that matter). stevie’s boots. bianca’s white suitcourtney love’s babydoll dress. these are the things that formed me. statements, shields, mile posts, landmarks, road maps.

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