The Animal Inside

So it seems it’s not that easy for two writers to ALWAYS be in sync…especially when life changes and growing pains are pulling in opposite directions. Gratefully, we adore each other (and this blog) enough, to make it work. This week, Melissa found herself feeling a bit out of her skin. Kelly, albeit hesitantly, obliged her request to write about her animagus alter ego and did a little soul searching in the process.

Melissa

Le chat bleu

I mustered the strength to shake off my incontestable attraction to the brilliant red orb of light glowing directly across from me.

Another message. I was growing tired of this game…But then I read his bio.

My breath caught in my chest as my eyes scanned the words, “Whatever it is you’re seeking won’t come in the form you’re expecting.” He quoted Murakami. Every inch of my skin now fully alert. Each and every hair standing at attention as goose bumps decidedly made an unannounced appearance (as goose bumps often do). I continued reading, “Hates dogs…” interesting.

Quickly, I plopped down lower into my roller chair, begging my racing heart to get in check. In the monotony of everyday chaos, I caught an unexpected bit of warmth seeping through an icy computer screen, now elevated by an intense swoony heat growing inside me.

As I reach for the mouse, my brain and body beckon, “can I come in?” while I silently pray I didn’t actually say that out loud. I peek over my shoulder to ensure my co-workers haven’t noticed me scanning my dating profile in my cubicle, when my mind slips off to another place…

.::I watch my body as the mutation occurs, transforming one goose bump at a time. My fingertips and palms are replaced by little pads. My fingers shrink down to form fuzzy little paws, and I arch my back to free my long, slender, shiny tail from beneath me. From head-to-toe, my shape is enveloped with soft luxurious fur. Streeeettchhh::…

I begin the ritual by circling his feet and then hop onto his lap, continuing my concentric ceremony while kneading the tops of his thighs with my tiny claws. His hand reaches my back and I let out a long relieving purr. (Did I just purr?) I raise my head and press it under his scruffy chin. A wave of calm flows down my spine. ‘Maybe I’ll stay here for a while’ my mental kitten notes, and I put my head to rest on his knee.::.

Snap out of it Melissa!

I break free from the moment of feline serenity and once again begin to paw at my mouse, regaining my composure, preparing to settle back into the mundane…but there is that little glowing red ball again. Another message.  A few amazing borrowed words and a bit of sexy snark compose a cleverly playful note and I’ve traded in my human form to curl up on the world’s most flawless lap.

MEEE-YOW.

I’ve surrendered to my alter-ego, a purring love-hungry kitten with a proclivity for sarcasm and stubble.  I realize that I’ve launched my pin-balling brain into a lucid fantasy world, rendering my earthly body nearly useless but…

Click click click. Send. He calls, and suddenly I’m…weaving between his feet as he walks, my tail wrapping up his leg, marking the hem of his pants with little tufts of fur mementos. You’re welcome.

Click click click. Send. He’s sitting across from me whispering stories of wolves and nightwalkers… my ears knit his voice into colorful balls of yarn that playfully roll around in my head. Swat. Swat. Swat.

I wake the next morning to a glowing light on my phone. I’ve got a message. “Have I told you how much I enjoy your collection of books?”  My heart purrs, sending me into a cat-like-tailspin, where the only remedy is a good scratch behind the ears.

.::I just knew how it would feel too. I could tell by looking at his long spindly fingers that they would know exactly how to push my buttons…those fingers would slowly massage right behind my pointed little ears…

 

Kelly

Afternoon Tea No. 8, The Otter

Alright, I’m Skeptical, but I Gave It a Try Because I Love Melissa

When Melissa mentioned that she wanted to write about Spirit Animals, I couldn’t effing believe it.

She made this request only a day after my new roommate had told me a delightful story of how she read her Tinder date’s spirit animal. He was an otter or something.

Two spirit animal remarks in one week? It felt like a sign from…spirits.

I had never, EVER thought about spirit animals, but I’ve thought about spirits and animals, separately. I think of spirits quite frequently, mainly due to my irrational fear of ghosts. And I think it’s safe to say that animals are generally ubiquitous.

So I gave in on what felt like fate, and plopped on my roommates bed as she took out what looked like a card deck ordered out of a Highlights Magazine.

My live-in shrink beckoned me. “Pick a card.”

Now, before this somewhat canned experience, I did try to think of my spirit animal organically, reflecting on what resonated within me. I do love blue whales. But I wouldn’t say we have a spiritual resemblance. Well maybe a physical resemblance when I’m menstrual. I once dressed up as a cougar for Halloween, but that doesn’t say much other than the fact that I can really rock being a ‘confident’ older woman.. I could be one of those neurotic dogs with crazy eyes that look not in the same direction. You know, some sort of alert terrier mutt that can’t sit still and is mildly trained. Most days, that feels right.

But this was my chance to really go out on a limb and discover what fate thought my animal could be.

OTTER.

Turns out fate can be underwhelming.

Sigh. I turned to the handbook to see what otter meant. I had to glean something from it all.

“Surrender. Let go of control,” it began. The first few paragraphs were too vague for my topical-mindedness. But a few sentences did strike a chord: “Letting go of control doesn’t mean giving up…It means opening your hands and heart and accepting the direction of your Spirit.” It also associated the otter with the words Sensuality, Merging, Family, and Playfulness.

Alright folks, you’re probably as skeptical as I am. But really, like some parts of some religions, I like a few of the ideas despite their root in not much. Reading the word “Family” reminded me that I should call my folks, which I think they appreciated. And letting go of control makes sense in my life right now, as I’m learning that New York is as untamable as the waters of Montana De Oro. Was that a San Luis Obispo reference? Yes, yes it was. Also, otters hold hands when they nap. How effing cute is that.

I think my spirit animal is still out there, watching from afar, if only from one of its lazy eyes. To that notion, and to holding hands while napping, I surrender.

 

(cover image credit: https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/189165846/print-8×10-the-baphomet-goat-animal?ref=market)

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A Fresh Start

We don’t speak every day. We can’t even call ourselves best friends, but what we are is kindred spirits, and that links us creatively and in life. It’s always a happy gift when our inner artists are met with serendipity. With so many changes happening, it seemed like a natural fit to write about letting go and starting over. What seems almost divine is that we both saw this story through the metaphorical lens of an article of clothing.

Melissa

Flying Featherless

Some people use lipstick as a symbol of power and femininity. I don’t. I have a pair of sandals that make me feel powerful and badass, in a good way.

They are the ones that I bring out only for special occasions…and by “special occasions” I mean those nights when I am feeling especially scandalous and want to use my wardrobe to express my own recognition of my inner goddess. The sandals that whisper “get on your knees.”

Those sandals are the one thing in my closet that transform me from social media geek-girl to effervescent West Side vixen, oozing confidence in posture and with poise. When I wear them, I never struggle to find the right words, they just flow from my lips in a soft, smoky voice. The earth moves to my mental playlist, and my body along with it. Skin glowing from perfectly pedicured open toe to rosy sun-kissed nose. My hair falls perfectly, just dusting across my face in that slightly seductive way. Those sandals are my magic feather. They make me soar.

When I recognized the version of me I become when I slide the skinny burnt leather strap across my ankle, the inevitable happens. I want more. The feeling is intoxicating.

The weekends come and the need creeps in. Crippled by the scorch of a 50+ hour work week, I crave the release of forgetting who I am for a while…even if I know it can’t last. Even if I knew that with every amazing high comes an incredible crash. It’s worth it.

“Fuck that kind of pessimism! Tonight I will dance. I will glow. I will turn heads.”

And so I do. For as long as I can escape into this world of beautiful things, where, in my mind, I’m the center piece and my amazing beautiful sandals make me believe it is so…

…Until last week, when the buckle snapped and the strap broke off.

I blamed myself for abusing something I should have maybe handled with care. I’d like to say that I didn’t throw a brief tantrum, so I’m going to say that…because this is my blog, and I’ll say what I want to.

I was disappointed. The shoes were a lie. For what I invested, I was only able to stretch my perfect red leather wedges for six amazing weekends. They should have lasted longer.

But nothing lasts forever.

I thought about having them repaired, but realized that I would only fear damaging them further if I were to ever depend on them again.

Sometimes you just have to let go.

After the fit that I didn’t throw, I collected myself and kicked off my now destroyed cork-heeled fantasy-makers. Remembering who I was, just a few weeks before—remembering that a pair of poorly constructed shoes does not a vixen make—I let go of my insecurities and the attachment to the illusion that sexy was the product of an accessory. I slathered my legs and ankles and toes with a shimmery tinted moisturizer, slipped into a little black dress, and hauled ass to the nearest beach bar in a pair of silver Havaianas.

Unlike my useless sandals, the night did not disappoint…my fresh start started with me, flying featherless and more badass than ever.

*****

Kelly

Blood, Sweaters and Tears

I’m sitting in my room, looking at my open closet and at my empty suitcases, wondering what geometry equation can mathematically fit all of my things on a confined axis within my two free checked bags on my Southwest flight to New York.

After swiveling back and forth from suitcase to closet, I lock in on my favorite striped shirt—one that I’ve had since high school, from the Gap clearance section, that wore when I karaoked to David Bowie last Christmas, that boyfriends have liked, that’s been shoved in my purse as a backup dozens of times in case it got chilly. And I don’t know if I should take it with me, or let someone buy it at the swap meet for fifty cents. Or hell, throw it away.

This should be an easy decision. I’m wasting time going back and forth between feelings and function, taking it out, then hanging it back up, feeling like I owe it an apology for even thinking about trashing it.

I spend days sifting through other things, dropping other shirts and shoes and books into a pile that grows as large as it does meaningless. Most of these things are easy to toss, like uncomplimentary blouses that I assumed my boobs would grow into, or pants that my butt diameter has long surpassed. Others have more of a Michael-Jordan-getting-cut-from-his-high-school-basketball-team thought. Who knows if that sarong from my Hawaiian vacation could make a bold comeback in NYC? Anything’s a possibility.

But the striped shirt hung in my closet, like the soft presence of a spirit, watching me slowly shed a thick layer of myself.

***

The last time I was truly sad was because of a sweater.

In my rebellious youth I frequented a thrift store in Citrus Heights, California behind the dingy Sunrise Mall where I wasn’t allowed to walk around by myself. The store was falling apart, barely propped in the middle of an empty parking lot where my dad taught me to drive.

This store—affectionately named after an arch angel or something—was an untapped goldmine of the Sacramento suburbs. Ratchety aisles with fringe leather jackets for wearing unironically, children’s novelty shorts, ugly shoes. It was my minimum-wage-earning dream come true.

The found sweater was a soft dark green V-neck. It became my fallback, my go-to, my favorite piece of clothing I’d ever owned, and ever will. It’s been around the world, hugged every friend, and seen Dave Mathews Band one too many times.

Last November it disappeared. At first I denied it even being missing, thinking it would turn up in an unlikely crevice or closet. But after piecing together the events that took place, I became angry, because it didn’t make sense why it was gone. Then came the what-ifs, and the whys, soon followed by a brief period of sadness.

I was going through the 5 Stages Of Grief over a sweater.

But the funny thing about sweaters is that they’re sweaters, and they don’t love you back.

And the funny thing about this sweater is it’s probably in a thrift store right now, or maybe someone is wearing it as a last resort because it’s laundry day, or maybe a homeless person is peeing on it.

***

The countdown until the move shortens. I make a decision.

The striped shirt smelled. The white armpits were dirtied and starched from layers of deodorant and concerts and body odor. Threads visibly unraveled. The shirt took its last breath a long time ago, and I held onto the corpse. Like how serial killers do that sometimes.

After a long, contemplative goodbye, it was gone.

The difference between the green sweater and the striped shirt was a matter of choice. The loss of a green sweater felt sudden death of a friend, while I dug a grave for the striped shirt over the years. They were different kinds of sadness, but posed the same questions: Where does sentimentality meet rationality? How much should we hold on to nostalgia?

While hoarders may differ in opinion, the self must precede materials. Value is relative and ever-changing. Things run their course of use, just as we run our course over time and experiences.

When we strip ourselves from what we have, we are left with our own essence, and the relationships we have and we’ve made. We are who we are and that’s how we communicate. And I’d rather have better stories than better stuff.

Starting over is a compromise. And that’s OK, because it’s inevitable if you want to grow. It’s OK to let things go, and it’s OK to feel something when they’re gone. In a few years I’ll probably be doing this again, with items I don’t even own yet, and people I have yet to meet. We’d all be sociopaths if we didn’t attach emotions to things.

So what I’m trying to say is I’m not a sociopath.

I’m just moving on.