I woke thinking about what I miss most about pre-Covid life. Every week it’s different but today I miss my old summer practice of slipping into movie theaters on Monday mornings to see the newest releases in delicious cool quiet surrounded only by other (cheap) cinephiles. I’d pay for one show, then sneak into another and then another and another before finally emerging into the still-sweltering early evening. Falling into step with all the other New Yorkers making their way to dinner and drinks and drama and doldrums–first by foot across town and then by ferry across the river and then again by foot up the Williamsburg hill. Floating in a blur of the films I’d just seen and the film of all the strangers with whom I was moving, shoulder to shoulder, hip to hip, all of us beautiful in our sweaty sullen noisy throng, framed by the rising steam and NYC skyline. O my god I miss the ordinary-extraordinary physical intimacy of anonymous city life.
Today is Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year and the lightest moment in the earth’s orbit around the sun. It is also a new moon and a solar eclipse while five other planets are in retrograde (six by tomorrow). All else has stilled as we celebrate Litha, the Celtic goddess of abundance, and the first day of Cancer, the sign most associated with family, nurturing, our homes. It is also the sign under which this country was birthed.
Today linear time has collapsed to make way for soul time. Past is future is present. The ancestors are here. History has reanimated so we may assess its impact in real time and release all that does not serve.
On most midsummers, I recommend cleaning your house, decorating with flowers, burning sage, and lighting candles. Any rituals celebrating abundance, creativity, and prosperity. All this still applies. But today, I also recommend praying for America. For we are midway through this year of profound turmoil and transformation, and we must pray to continue healing.
So let us honor the Earth as well as the Sun. Let us honor the beautiful spirit of everyone and everything on this soil and in these seas. Let us honor the children we carry, the children we eternally are, children everywhere. Let us honor the sacrifices we must make to protect each body as if it were our own.
May the voltage of this midsummer magic help heal this dysfunctional American family. May it eclipse the greed and cruelty that has for too long seized this land. May it recharge us so we better serve love and light.
Thank you, Mother Sun for loving us as we fail to love each other.
art (top to bottom): Javaka Steptoe, Kerry James Marshall
If you have taken this rubble for my past
raking through for fragments you could sell
know that I long ago moved on
deeper into the heart of the matter
If you think you can grasp me, think again:
my story flows in more than one direction
a delta springing from the river bed
with its five fingers spread
This is a story I began writing when I was 34, the last age of Ute, whose story this really is. I am 49 now, and what were cracks in our country’s landscape then have become continental divides. But deep in the soil of this stolen land, the rot was always there, threatening to poison us all.
I knew Ute in 1998. The temperatures were already climbing. Justice as always was only truly available to those deemed human by the Founding Fathers (such a small percentage of us). Rodney King was not so far in the rear view mirror, but had already been obscured in White America’s memory by OJ in his white Bronco, launching the whole of reality TV culture in that one uber-televised police chase leading finally to Donald Trump’s White House.
As I write this, there is no stable ground—only lethal virus, lethal white supremacy and capitalism. Righteous fury in the streets, dangerous dybbuks in the spreadsheets. I have been sick too—not with COVID but a urinary tract infection that has bloomed into my kidneys and triggered every trigger I didn’t know I still had.
My ability to filter toxins is completely maxed out.
The first day I experienced these symptoms, a first draft of Ute’s story fell onto my desk. It had been securely pinned to my bulletin board for more than a decade but on that overly warm May day, the printout suddenly dropped onto my desk.
I felt sicker.
The summer she and I knew each other, I was 27– the age when you either step into the path of adult life or die. Back then the curse of 27 wasn’t discussed as it is today. Nothing was. The Internet was still in its infancy. When I needed information I went to the library or called up a smarter friend. When I needed companionship, I showed up in people’s bedrooms. When I needed help, I prettily cried Uncle. Continue Reading →