Recently, somebody told the Dimple he was awesome for driving our kids to school. Like, wow man, you actually got in the car and like, buckled up, then put it into drive and you know, drove there. If that’s awesome then what’s making out at the top of the Empire State Building at 10pm when the guards are sleepy?
The slutty adjective has snuck into my vocab for ridiculous things like a well-made coffee; a sign apparently I’ve become Americanized. The reality is, however, I’m feeling particularly un-awesome.
Back before the Dimple, the ‘Dactyl and Bob, when I had a fancy-pants career I was flash on paper – I know, because my Mother would tell her girlfriends, ‘Oh yes, She lives in New York, gets flown to London and nearly met Debbie Harry.’ Awesome, Mum. Now I am a mother in the woods who talks about her children. Whoop de doo. It’s all very idyllic being in the trees but now what?
“At least you’re a GOOD mother,” the Dimple tells me.
Well, duh. Yeah.
I get up and like, feed the children, make their lunches, and you know, put the car into drive and like, drive them out of the woods and into school. Hardly inspires awe.
We had some people over for dinner recently and I had nothing to say. No thoughts. Cripes, I said to myself, I’m the most un-interesting I’ve ever been.
Searching for genuine awe, I thought I found inspiration in my current book, Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier. In it, a four-year old-girl, Ruby, spends a night alone in the woods and goes from petrified to pacified by a cosmic Mother-Nature-ish presence. ‘She [Ruby] remembered every word spoken directly to her deep core by the calm voice that protected her all night. The voice echoed in her head, and after that night she became like one born with a caul over one’s face, knowing things others never would.’
When I told the Dimple I wanted to sleep in the woods and KNOW THINGS OTHERS NEVER WOULD, he sighed. “You know the book’s fiction.”
Of course. But I liked the idea of feeling scared, in awe, petrified even. Feeling fearful hasn’t happened since we drove home with a new baby wondering who let us out of the hospital.
So, the Dimple suggested his old cabin, the one where he wished for us.
Once I got my sleeping bag, duvet, two pillows and fluffy blanket set up on the bed and a parade of candles for company it was very snug in that dilapidated cabin. I was not going to KNOW THINGS OTHERS NEVER WOULD being comfy.
Outside, on a cliff edge above the chatty river I sat in the dark. Redwoods rose like burly giants all around and the reins on my imagination slackened as my mind wandered over to the drawer marked FREAKY SHIT. Out popped: bears, ‘coons, mountain lions, and last year’s Rambo murderer. The Camelot fable about frisky stags gang-raping a woman in a forest loomed and I slammed that drawer shut. Not that kind of AWE.
Closing my eyes to spooky darkness, I tried meditation. Breathing. In and out. Goodbye thoughts. In and out. Fortunately, I’d had some recent experience in the No Thoughts department.
Then it happened. I meditated.
Holy Smoke, I’m doing it, I thought. I’m meditating! In and out. I am doing it! I am having NO THOUGHTS and this time it feels great! Come on cosmic calm voice, in you come. Can’t believe it! Wait until I tell my bro, I meditated! I am interesting. I am awesome…
And suddenly I was no longer meditating.
It wasn’t fear that eventually drove me inside, but a numb bottom. Expecting a cosmic experience still awaited me, I melted into the frothy bed. But there was no mystical dawn. No intergalactic sleep walking. No celestial inner-voice animal-sprite guardian speaking to me in my dreams. The next morning I was startled by the Dimple arriving – not in the rules – wondering when I would be returning home so he could go to work. It was 10am.
Crap. What sort of story was that? I went into the woods and… slumbered.
Later, confessing to the Dimple I’d been feeling un-interesting, he reminded me I used to KNOW THINGS OTHERS NEVER WOULD about important stuff like vodka. And Africa.
Oh yeah. Back when I wasn’t a mother.
The truth is, a voice did speak to me in the woods. Well, it’s not even a voice, just something I KNOW deep down but been ignoring because it’s scary. Ever since we’ve been here I’ve had one foot in New Zealand and one foot in California. Neither here nor there. Not wanting to let go of home or embrace my new country I’ve been hesitant about getting amongst it because, you now, one day we’ll leave. But in doing so I’ve lost myself. I will never feel awesome unless I BE wherever I am. To KNOW THINGS I need to get out of our safe ‘coon-filled woods and plonk myself in Mendocino (which is like the Coromandel but triple the population). Be here not there.
I’ve returned to the old jewel in my heart – the continent not the spirit. Africa got under my skin when I lived there – and the Dimple’s before we knew each other – and it’s like having cake crumbs in the bed; you just can’t shake it. It turned me inside out and somehow, after being rubbed raw, I felt grateful. Thanks Africa for the most uncomfortable experience of my life that changed me forever. Here’s some love back.
We’re holding a dance party fundraiser to send girls in West Africa to school. The good news is, educating girls is fashionable right now – AIDS is passé – thanks to the good people at Do It In A Dress and Half the Sky, backed by Olivia Wilde, Susan Sarandon, Diane Lane and America Ferrera.
The bad news is I only know 37 people in Mendocino, none of which are Olivia Wilde, Susan Sarandon, Diane Lane or America Ferrera. The odds of filling a hall are against me. At least if I fail it will only be publicly in front of every single person I know here. Awe! I guess that will be a story next time people come over for dinner.
And if the dance-party doesn’t make me feel awesome then I have to get the Dimple back to New York and up the Empire State Building before it closes again…
Brilliant Ange, I was awed by your night in the spooky darkness, i was nervous enough going on a bear hunt with all of us! Hard to feel too cutting edge when you are doing all you can to engulf your children in love and belonging… doesn’t offer so many dinner party stories but is in my humble opinion the ultimate of awesomeness and meaning. Looking forward to seeing your bottom silhouette in your next blog. big love x