Friday, February 8, 2013


Friday, January 25, 2013

Falling In Love With Friends

One of my best friends is getting married tomorrow. We have been friends since we were teenagers. We've shared mixtapes and gossip, growing pains and teenage angst, exchanged letters and experiences, grown up together, falling in and out of love with boys, with other friends, with the trajectories and oddities of life. 

Right now, my friend Poppy is about 4,858 miles away... in a little village on the southwest coast of England... perhaps she's laying in bed, unable to sleep with excitement (most likely she's snoring and drooling on herself, having downed a couple glasses of merlot, lol). But she is on the brink of a whole new adventure, and I love her and I miss her so much. And why am I not there? Well, that's a funny story. 

Poppy and her fiancee Guy were supposed to get married last September. I had started a new job in August, and my department had an important deadline on September 5th, which made it impossible for me to fly to England and participate in their wedding celebration. I was oh so devastated. Suddenly, the day before the wedding, I heard from a mutual friend that something had gone awry... followed by an email from Poppy:

Hi Nash
You won't believe it. I was rushed into hospital 2 days before the big day with appendicitus and had to have the appendix removed the next day as it was about to burst. Wedding postponed until further notice....
Speak to you soon,
Lots of love,
Pops xxxx

Nope, I couldn't believe it. Shocking. But I have to confess - as concerned and disappointed for them as I was, a small part of me couldn't help but think "YES! This is my chance! I can go now... whenever they end up rescheduling..." Soooo selfish, I know. I even told my boss what had happened, with plenty of advance warning that I fully intended to purchase a round-trip ticket to the UK, sometime in the not-too-distant future. 

Then David and I started planning our own wedding at the beginning of the year. In the back of my mind I kept wondering how I was going to manage to take time off for our wedding and honeymoon, as well as a week to get to England and back, for Poppy and Guy's wedding. The dilemma was solved when Poppy let me know that they were going to tie the knot in two weeks time, just a very small number of friends and family, and then a big party on May 18th. Only three weeks before our wedding. 

Our mutual timing really sucks, I told Poppy. But I know why, and it's okay. It's because we're on the same path. We're living parallel lives in different time zones. It's crazy. We may not be able to be at each other's weddings, or pop over for a cup of tea whenever we feel like it, but we're connected in other ways - from far across the miles. There will always be that thread, though: that sense that she's right there for me, somewhere, in some other longitude and latitude.

Today I emailed Poppy the following quote from Jeanette Winterson (sent to me by another dear friend, so am paying it forward). I think that it's perfect for the occasion. The description also reminds me of the feeling that two best friends share, when we fall into love and friendship with one another. Like it's the two of you against the world. A secret club. A blood pact. I will love Poppy forever, and I know that I will feel her love forever, as well. 

"You don't fall in love like you fall in a hole. You fall like falling through space. It’s like you jump off your own private planet to visit someone else’s planet. And when you get there it all looks different: the flowers, the animals, the colours people wear. It is a big surprise falling in love because you thought you had everything just right on your own planet, and that was true, in a way, but then somebody signalled to you across space and the only way you could visit was to take a giant jump. Away you go, falling into someone else’s orbit and after a while you might decide to pull your two planets together and call it home. And you can bring your dog. Or your cat. Your goldfish, hamster, collection of stones, all your odd socks. (The ones you lost, including the holes, are on the new planet you found.)
And you can bring your friends to visit. And read your favourite stories to each other. And the falling was really the big jump that you had to make to be with someone you don’t want to be without. That’s it.
You have to be brave."

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

each body a lion of courage

July 10, 1973 - December 20th, 2012

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps his purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox;

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering;
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth
tending as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it's over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was a bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it's over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened
or full of argument.

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.

~ Mary Oliver ~

(New and Selected Poems, Volume I)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

the sun shines for you he said the day we were lying among the rhododendrons on Howth head in the grey tweed suit and his straw hat the day I got him to propose to me yes first I gave him the bit of seedcake out of my mouth and it was leapyear like now yes 16 years ago my God after that long kiss I near lost my breath yes he said I was a flower of the mountain yes so we are flowers all a womans body yes that was one true thing he said in his life and the sun shines for you today yes that was why I liked him because I saw he understood or felt what a woman is and I knew I could always get round him and I gave him all the pleasure I could leading him on till he asked me to say yes and I wouldnt answer first only looked out over the sea and the sky I was thinking of so many things he didnt know of Mulvey and Mr Stanhope and Hester and father and old captain Groves and the sailors playing all birds fly and I say stoop and washing up dishes they called it on the pier and the sentry in front of the governors house with the thing round his white helmet poor devil half roasted and the Spanish girls laughing in their shawls and their tall combs and the auctions in the morning the Greeks and the jews and the Arabs and the devil knows who else from all the ends of Europe and Duke street and the fowl market all clucking outside Larby Sharons and the poor donkeys slipping half asleep and the vague fellows in the cloaks asleep in the shade on the steps and the big wheels of the carts of the bulls and the old castle thousands of years old yes and those handsome Moors all in white and turbans like kings asking you to sit down in their little bit of a shop and Ronda with the old windows of the posadas glancing eyes a lattice hid for her lover to kiss the iron and the wineshops half open at night and the castanets and the night we missed the boat at Algeciras the watchman going about serene with his lamp and O that awful deepdown torrent O and the sea the sea crimson sometimes like fire and the glorious sunsets and the figtrees in the Alameda gardens yes and all the queer little streets and pink and blue and yellow houses and the rosegardens and the jessamine and geraniums and cactuses and Gibraltar as a girl where I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.

Meh. Crap day.

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense. 
-- Emerson

Saturday, August 25, 2012

never empty but filling

key west years with pauline hemingway

Could you say something of this process? When do you work? Do you keep to a strict schedule?
When I am working on a book or story I write every morning as soon after first light as possible. There is no one to disturb you and it is cool or cold and you come to your work and warm as you write. You read what you have written and, as you always stop when you know what is going to happen next, you go on from there. You write until you come to a place where you still have your juice and you know what will happen next and you stop and try to live through until the next day when you hit it again. You have started at six in the morning, say, and may go on until noon or be through before that. When you stop you are as empty, and at the same time never empty but filling, as when you have made love to someone you love. Nothing can hurt you, nothing can happen, nothing means anything until the next day when you do it again. It is the wait until the next day that is hard to get through.
The Paris Review, Issue 18, 1958

Saturday, March 31, 2012

g a l a x i e s o f w o m e n


Thinking of Caroline Herschel (1750—1848)
astronomer, sister of William; and others.
A woman in the shape of a monster   
a monster in the shape of a woman   
the skies are full of them

a woman      ‘in the snow
among the Clocks and instruments   
or measuring the ground with poles’

in her 98 years to discover   
8 comets

she whom the moon ruled   
like us
levitating into the night sky   
riding the polished lenses

Galaxies of women, there
doing penance for impetuousness   
ribs chilled   
in those spaces    of the mind

An eye,

          ‘virile, precise and absolutely certain’
          from the mad webs of Uranusborg

                                                            encountering the NOVA   

every impulse of light exploding

from the core
as life flies out of us

             Tycho whispering at last
             ‘Let me not seem to have lived in vain’

What we see, we see   
and seeing is changing

the light that shrivels a mountain   
and leaves a man alive

Heartbeat of the pulsar
heart sweating through my body

The radio impulse   
pouring in from Taurus

         I am bombarded yet         I stand

I have been standing all my life in the   
direct path of a battery of signals
the most accurately transmitted most   
untranslatable language in the universe
I am a galactic cloud so deep      so invo-
luted that a light wave could take 15   
years to travel through me       And has   
taken      I am an instrument in the shape   
of a woman trying to translate pulsations   
into images    for the relief of the body   
and the reconstruction of the mind.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

It must have been Saturn and the other old men
Who arranged this night of darkness for us.
So much of our life goes by in the murky dark.

- from The Night the Cities Burned, by Robert Bly.

When a poem takes me to that place where
No story ever happens twice, all I want
Is a warm room, and a thousand years of thought.

- from the poem Shabistari and the Secret Garden, by Robert Bly