One woman’s quest to make sense of a nonsensical world after losing her dream home and all her worldly possessions to a raging and sudden wildfire. Exploring the existence of God, our cultural discomfort with grief, what it means to be human as well as life in a 1967 Airstream trailer, Kristen Moeller shares her humanity, her spirit and her dark edge openly for herself as well as for the countless others who beg to be heard in their wild journey through this wacky world.
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Exploring dark purple, posting so I can pee, living life in gratitude, writing through fire

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I have fallen out of my writing habit and now I wish to fall back in. The mornings I went straight to writing before beginning anything else were my favorites. Now, I have found a million other distractions and one missed day leads to the next. Yesterday I wrote a piece, worked with it for a while, became satisfied with its state yet never posted it. On some level I forgot to finish. I said what I needed to say, I explored the darkness I felt over the weekend – a reemergence of old heaviness, deep sadness, the sense of loss, feeling lost to myself. It was a perfect storm of hormonal surges; a short, lovely, yet emotional trip to see my family in Wyoming; and the first return to our “new” house where I am settling but not settled. But now, the tides have shifted. I am not where I am yesterday and am not quite sure where I am today either. It’s a bit disorienting.

Orientation is the process of becoming accustomed. Accustomed is about becoming familiar. Accustomed and familiar have been out of my vocabulary for a while. To what am I becoming accustomed? What is my new routine here? What is this new life I am creating? Who am I becoming? Who am I now? What do I do? What is my path? Where am I going?

I know where I have been. I know where I don’t wish to go any longer. The path forward is less certain. All along, I have said I will allow myself this journey. I will ignore my tendency to want to figure it all out now and I will politely ignore others influence (imagined or real) that I should be somewhere else. I swore I would let it unfold and develop as I gave myself this year to reconstitute into something new.

In our new home, things are finding their place. Most of the upstairs came together quickly with the exquisite help of many of our beloved friends. Boxes were unpacked and sent to recycling with speed, old items were lovingly placed, new items filled in the blanks. Upon entering our abode, friends exclaim it seems we have been here for a long time. It’s quite remarkable how well everything looks, how it all fits together, how it all came together so beautifully. It’s our psyches that need a little catching up time.

Now down in my office, I take a deep breath. In this lovely basement bedroom we painted dark purple, I have found my spot. Womb like and cozy, most of the floor is taken up by a full-size built in bed constructed over a large boulder that served as part of the foundation in 1937 when building codes were a little less stringent. (Our structural engineer gives it an F for aesthetics but an A for stability). I can’t see the boulder on which I perch but I know it’s there.

I keep the music going to drown the traffic noise and the occasional dog barking. I ease myself back into the stack of pillow until I find the sweet spot. My trusty Mac on my lap, I am ready to begin. My mind spins with questions: What should I say today? What is true? What is false? Can I be grateful and still mourn? Will we stay here? And, how did we get here?

My eyes rest on photos that line the shelves. My aunt on her wedding day, my mom in the cockpit of a 727, me at 6 years old, my dad as a boy, David and me in front of our now scorched totem pole. Many of these photos were destined to face a fiery death until Joleen (who acted as part of my brain on a day where my brain was failing me) filled bags full of these now precious things. Others came from the Rhode Island house and now the old melds with the new. Old and new swirl around, photos meet for the first time, images blend and for a moment, and I don’t know where I am.

Tigger finds me in my new spot in my purple room. For the first time, he leaps up onto this bed and curls up at my feet. Always touching me, he gets close enough to have contact yet maintains his space. Try to snuggle him too much and he will pull away. I know what’s good for me and let him rest wherever he chooses. Now, my shin rests on his back. We are tucked together, him snoozing, me contemplating the words I write, contemplating my disorientation. I can sit here and enjoy this new space and still have a deep aching missing and longing for my old space. I can feel gratitude for the gifts I have now and miss the gift of that beloved place.

Then I stare back at the screen and it challenges me. As I fill it with barely formed thoughts or unresolved conclusions, I see the blaring red typos, incomplete sentences, and dangling ideas, and I wonder what will stay and what will go. In this journey of writing my way through fire, one of the greatest gifts has been my willingness to write regardless. Knowing the next day I might write something completely different as I view the world anew, I allowed myself to commit words to paper anyway. Being out of the habit, it’s trickier now. Yesterday’s piece is not where I am today, yet I never posted it and today I struggle for the willingness to post this. On the eve of Thanksgiving, I wonder if I am being thankful enough. Will the God of thankfulness strike me down if I am not? Will you determine gratitude is missing in my expression?

I sit here and write anyway as I have found my home in writing. I have found an outlet that works for me. I have found something I care deeply about. I write the stuff that clogs my mind, and my mind stops spinning. I risk sharing the ugly and untransformed and incomplete and if I do that, when I am finished writing, it lessens. If I edit too much of the raw truth out of my prose, it is hollow.

I look around again at this purple room with a snoring dog warming my body and see the gifts. I see the gift of my angst, the losses, the uncertainty of life, the love of my people. I hear the traffic hum in between cords of music and I see the gift in that. I feel the heaviness that remains in my heart and am willing to accept that too. I feel the lightness that exists there at the same time. I feel the curiosity of living a life full of ups and downs, gifts, and what doesn’t initially feel like a gift. I see the sun on the trees above the window shades that block my new view of neighbor’s houses. I smell the fart that seeps into the air from my sleeping companion. I feel my bladder telling me it’s time to get up yet I fear if I don’t finish today, I won’t post again.

Bladder threatening to burst, I hastily recommit to my path and know I will not please everyone. I will worry some and annoy others. And, my words will find their home in the ears and hearts of those who grapple, those who dig dark purple and dark days as well as love the light that shines always even when we can’t see it or forget it’s there. I will rest on my boulder that I may never see, knowing that the foundation exists. And now, I will post to have the breakthrough in getting my words out there. Or maybe just so I can pee.

 

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3 Responses

  1. Cathy says:

    You mentioned your Mom sittingin the cockpit of a 747. Is your Mom Lorry by any chance?

  2. Lauren Byrne says:

    Thanks! I’ve missed your voice:)

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