The Year of Letting Go: 2017

I've lost the most of me!
There's a bag of clothes by my front door.

Full of clothes now grown monstrously large on me.  Excellent clothes.  Beautiful clothes.  Well-tailored clothes.  The end of an era.

I haven't yet brought them down to the Salvation Army.  In part because I'm lazy.  In part because I'm impecunious and don't have the $10 to take a cab.  In part because I've already brought down about seven bags this year alone, cleaning out my wardrobe so that only two items remain, in addition to the twenty or so bags and boxes I've given away in the past three years.

Largely, though, the bag remains waiting at the door because of this last part: it's a hard thing to give away everything you had.  Especially when you've lived your life in poverty, so that the default thought is: "Just In Case!"  But also, having my lived as a fat woman, the pernicious whisper: "Just in case."

Let It Go, Let It Go (No, But Seriously - DROP IT, Woman)

As I wrote elsewhere, and as is hard for this perfectionist to believe, there's a power in losing.  Most of you know that the big change has been getting bariatric surgery in April, and losing - to date - about 80 pounds.  (Give or take half a stone on holidays.)

But I'd venture to say that bariatric surgery was really just a physical manifestation of the work of these past three years.  A long three years of closing doors.  A lifetime, really, of learning to embrace the small deaths to the self.  Of having the Divine uncurl my fingers, even if that means He has to break them, to take away what I no longer need.

Other poets and prophets have said it better than myself: the need to die while living.  Seeds falling to the earth, butterflies, the process of birth itself which to the child feels like Armageddon.  All Creation sings the necessity of Death

Bigger On the Inside

Recently, while tutoring my sixth grade boys in theology, the perennial question of "What happens after?" cropped up.  And I found myself describing whatever particular question ("How does Time work?  What age is 'perfect?'  Do we really all wear white robes and play croquet?"  Answer to that last one: Oh God, no.) in terms of the TARDIS and Doctor Who.

ME. Well, I mean, I can only answer partially.  After this is just...bigger on the inside.

BOY. Like Dr. Who?

ME. Exactly.  Or to take another example: try to imagine explaining the ocean to a child still in the womb.  You'd be like, "So there's this enormous body of water..." And they'd be like, "Like my amniotic sac, but big?"  And you'd be like, "Uhm, no.  Much bigger.  And there are fish..." "Like my umbilical cord?" "No, no, not at all like that  Just wait 'til you get out here."

Even so, then it would be a considerably long time before the infant saw the ocean.  So you'd try to explain that it was like a bathtub.  And they might ask: "So the ocean is really huge and surrounded by porcelain?"  And you'd try to explain what sand was, and coral reefs, and how they're nothing like tiles and towels.  And those rubber duckies, well there are real duckies, mobile duckies, with feathers, which are like hair?  Or skin?  Or nothing like that at all.  And we still haven't gotten into fish, which don't have feathers - not that you understand feathers yet - they have scales which aren't like any of these other things at all, and...

And eventually, they'd get into a swimming pool, and you'd bring up the ocean again.  And they'd ask whether all oceans have diving boards, and you'd consider that sometimes there are rafts that you can jump off of, but no, no that's not really like the ocean either.  And they'd look suspiciously at you and say, "You said there was no porcelain holder.  So there's a concrete rim?  With steps?"  And you'd say, "No.  It just begins.  And the earth...holds it in.  And  Sort of.  The earth and sea and the moon's involved, too.  And there are waves and currents, yes a little like when you canonball in, and again, nothing like it - and there are still those fish I was talking about..."
Essentially, at each stage of life you imperfectly understand the next.  And so you cling to what you partially know.  Unwilling to trust that there's something better if you'd only let go.  That if you only kill what you have, your hands would be open to receive infinitely more.
Different, maybe, but no less "brilliant" than that.  (And yes, future blog post about Jodie Whittaker forthcoming.)

Looking Forward, Looking Back

One of my resolutions in 2018 is to give that damn bag away.  To shed that weight as well.  To lock the door, burn the bridge, and be the cool girl who walks away from explosions without looking at them.  (I'll probably look.)

In the meantime, what did I lose in 2017?

  • Weight.  Hope to keep losing.
  • "Lost" unemployment benefits.  Which meant that I was forced to earn my living just by my art.  Which has included this blog, and an article in Howlround, the publication of a book, and an audiobook, and an old play, and the writing of a new play, and another new play, wrote some music, had a great year for TURN TO FLESH PRODUCTIONS and my first year on Patreon.
  • Lost a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad roommate.  Gained a wonderful new roommate!  (Thank the Good Lord.)  Also, can boast new knowledge of tenancy laws.  Achievement unlocked!
  • Lost some toxic relationships.  Which means I gained new friendships and strengthened old ones.
  • Learned stage combat (at least a little).  Discovered even this old body was capable of more than I had thought.
  • And got a few new clothes, courtesy of kindly friends.  Eventually, I'll lose those clothes, too.  But not the friends.
So here's to 2018 and everything I'll continue losing: conceptions of what's in a police box, of what the ocean will be like, of who I am and what I can do.

I hope you keep losing, too.


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