The very functional draft of this is on the happymisery site, and it stands as is, it’s good, but this is the amplification it needed for it to sing. Enjoy this, all, and please consider joining the fun at http://www.happymisery.com. Weekly salon-type action, and all the changes in life that such a pursuit may indeed take you, if you are but a willing participant….
RISK By Kathy Vik
Dedicated to Sunny Day, and written for every one of my SiStars.
Finally Sunday again. Finally on Judy’s back porch, and finally a perfect summer evening. We were having virgin cocktails, taking a break after dinner, getting limbered up for our salon.
We call it that, our weekly gathering, an idea we all came up with after Judy started following www.happymisery.com. She told friends about the site, and it didn’t take us long to get into it, to own it, making it a local, and a weekly, thing, throwing ourselves a party every Sunday. Many of us still contributed to the website too. Not me. One group was enough.
I was her sparkly friend, I suppose you could say, the one with one foot forward, and the other perpetually in her mouth, not for stupidity, but because of my sheer enthusiasm for life. That’s how Judy described me to myself one time, and I liked it.
I never believed it, not fully, but, I liked it, so I had her repeat it, and themes therefrom, from time to time, through the years. She was skilled at complimenting others, and, frankly, I needed the reminders, at times, of good things that I’d forgotten, or misplaced, or was overlooking. She made me feel better, and it helped me cope, when I needed to hear the good stuff.
She always obliged when I’d ask.
This month, she’d been assigning the weekly word, and I was exhausted. These words had been demanding, and they liked to bang around in my brain like toddlers in front of overturned pots, grinning, slobbering and swinging away, night and day.
The others were astounded, sometimes, with what I came up with, but people always have been, really. I mean, come on, be honest, once I finally open my mouth and say what I think, they always are. I chuckled.
Truth be told, there were certain things that took me absolutely years to say, and then with pain, even when thinking on it so long past, even after all this time.
I shook my head and grinned. Not anymore, I thought, suddenly. An electric shock ran through me, thinking about what I’d come to understand, this morning. I had to tell her. It felt like an imperative. I didn’t know exactly why.
Now that we were contemplating, really thinking on a word, once a week, I found I was getting deeper, somehow, week to week. The others told me I was a natural born writer. It’s funny. I’d been told my whole life-long I was a bit of an unnatural, ineffective dreamer. I liked these women’s perspectives far better.
With this writing thing, I felt like I was coming into my own, and I saw it in the rest of them, too, as we proceeded. We were each coming closer to ourselves and liking what we found, I think, as we looked forward to our time thinking on the week’s word, and then we all create our individual responses, and then, of course, our quiet, boho Sunday evenings, eating, the conversations gentle and super-deep, all of us dialed in already to be so shockingly honest and dirty audacious and irreverent as all hell.
Kind of have to be, these days. Fuck.
So, she’d picked this word, and it was time to let her know that her relationship with the English language was not the same as mine, and a lesson in picking words was in order.
It had led me far, but, really, it was wrong to bitch about this. It was kind of gross to.
Sure, I was tired, but I was satisfied with what had gotten me here, what I’d learned and how I felt now, because I took the word choice so seriously.
Now I can just enjoy this state of sweet satisfaction, and rest, this place of relief, and quiet, and I can trust it now, because it is alive and pulsing inside me with this steady, solid, undeniable, full on goodness.
Smoking used to soothe and relax me after a feast. Now just talking big did that for me. I’ve learned to seek out those who encourage it, this need of mine to let my wilder horses run free. And there, across from me, sits Judy. For all her restrictions, she always let me speak my mind.
We were settled into our usual chairs, out here. I liked my view the best. I was glad she liked her spot like I liked mine.
She gave me the floor.
“Ok, then, I know you’ve heard some weird shit come out of me,” I said, my mouth sparkling with mint I’d just chewed up. “Good God that Mojito” I thought to say, but didn’t because something else was coming. It had to be given some space.
“But this is different. I think it’s going to help you. It already cured me. But, the way it is now, what it wants to say, it’s like just walking down a hall, in my head, and it feels like I have to squeeze myself to the wall, like, you know? It’s a big motherfucker.” I shrugged, found my smokes.
She’d been telling me once again this week about that decision she’d made, about ten and a half years ago, that she could then never bring herself to say, and still, even after finally declaring it, even after once and for all balling up her fists and saying it, it ate at her, it rang in her, and I could tell that even now, she wondered if it was really safe here, in this wonderfully lush and weird landscape she’d made magically spring up, once she finally embodied her long swallowed truth, a few months back.
I knew it to be the waves on a beach, in that phase when the moon is pulling the water back up to the stars, is how I see it.
All I know is the water, and motion, and peace, on a beach, though some know of ebbs and flows and symboled charts and terms. They seem to know a lot about the ocean.
But I like to be able to look at this one thing, the ocean, just really the one thing on earth, in my reality, yes, after all, it seems it’s just the one, that I have never had to explain to myself.
It is a singular relief, when I don’t have a single question, and it’s so easily achieved sitting on a beach, really close to the action, but far enough away to not get wet.
The waves come. And then they come, and then they come. The kinds of waves she’s having get littler, which is nice; at least, they seem to be, and that’s how they do with me, too. But for now, they are big waves, and when they are cresting so high, she looks at me and knows what I am now unafraid of as risky.
Of course it appears risky.
And I was once petrified.
But this, this needs to be said.
“Here’s the thing,” I said, stubbing out my smoke, having gotten lost in my thoughts, looking at the lawn, while seated on the porch, taking it all in, knowing, now, what it means to be at peace.
“Wait a minute,” she says, and gets up, telling me she has to do a thing or two, and get a refill. Virgin Mojitos are still Mojitos, I smile, as I sip mine, and wait, and just unhook from it all, knowing the thoughts will come when they are supposed to. And then she gets to settle in and I get to tell her what I have allowed to squeeze past me in that queer hallway, in my head.
It’s sitting out there in the backyard. It’s like this huge, gentle giant that attracts woodland animals and every single true happiness in the world. Just pure love, but of the earth, like a huge earth child, almost, the lightness of it, the innocence of it too. I can’t feel anything but well-being, imagining this scene.
The screen door cracks shut, and she sits. She fishes a Kool from her pack. She looks at her phone, puts it down. Looks at me. Turns it over.
“Well, ok, here’s the thing,” I start. “I just have to say I think this was a crap ass word to use this week. There had to have been a better one, one that’s more subtle and sort of fetching and alluring. This one speaks of full on argument, and sudden death, really.
So I had to really freaking think about it, and I don’t like doing that all that much, because I am lazy. You know that I prefer to just play.” I smiled, rambling, feeling happy, allowed to be free, now. Allowed, invited, to speak.
“But, it sure as shit led me places, and finally, it landed me on the edge of my bed, this morning, pulling it all together.” I shake my head and grin. “Talk about a salon word, Judy.”
She was looking at me patiently, intently, like she does when I am spouting.
“So, what if you finally get it, just way down deep, just full on, that you are the rocket you are, you know?” I asked.
The rocket you are. Oh, how I wished I could explain the fireworks going off in my body about this. So I continued.
“Ok, so, dig it, all the things I can see about you, that I try to remind you of, but also the things neither of us can see because we are both too close to it, but also, Judy, the things that make you singular, extraordinary.
Every single one of all your experiences, like, and, just think of it, all the stuff maybe only one bestie knows, and then, all the stuff you know that no one else in the whole freaking world does? Do you know what I mean?”
I breathed. I smiled. I continued.
“And then, oh my god, the stuff that I can see that just blows my socks off about you Judy, all those experiences you’ve had, and then how you used them. How they made you resilient, and wise, and funny as hell, and strong, and tough as nails, and so precious, so unique, so absolutely fucken perfect.”
She was listening.
So. Was. I.
“So what happens if one day you are sitting at the side of your bed, and maybe you’re listening to a song that makes you feel like a total badass goddess, ok, and you just finally for once in your gut wrenching, amazing, sacred, seamy, laugh out loud funny, mindpoppingly loving, generous, intense, full-on, exalted life just get how glorious you are? The writing, the sacrifice, the interests, the passions, the willingness, the heart, the sex, the loss, the love, the grief, the joy, the full on will, the invincibility, and”
I paused. I needed to breathe. Caught up again in this feeling of holy crap this is so amazing. I am so amazing. I feel so good about this!
I began again, “And there you are, on the side of your bed realizing the totality of you, and all the things you know to be shit about you are just part of this glittery, stunning worth and beauty that is you, and Jesus, the heart you see blazing in your life, and in your relationships, but, more than that, just how much you have endured, and come to know, and you get a glimpse of what you are going to be, and what that means to so many others, and how creative and enduring and beautiful and motherfucking awesome you are? All of it.
You just get it.
You’re a rocket”
I looked up at her and smiled, and sighed. I shrugged.
“What happens then?
Is anything a risk, then?”
We let the silence settle between us, listened to the neighbor rustle hedges with clippers, a few houses down. Quiet, today. Still.
“Because, it’s happened to me. And I got it. Big time, all the way. Kaleidoscopic, telescopic, psychedelic, stone cold sober, sitting there, this morning. I guess I’ll have to write this up as my piece on risk, huh?”
I sighed, kicked the table leg. “Fuck. That sounds like work.”
She gestured, looking like she was going to respond. I wanted to say something more, I realized, so I interrupted her.
“There’s just something I need to say, maybe I just need to hear. That makes it real, I find, and it’s important to me to have some of this stuff witnessed. It helps. Is that ok? Yeah, it gets a little into the weird, but I won’t get freaky, I promise. Can I tell you just a little more?”
She nodded, smiled, gestured to me I still had the floor. She didn’t mind. She knew I had a complicated love life, and she liked hearing about it, in smaller doses. And, she knew I still had to work up to copping to it with someone who hasn’t gone where I have gone.
“I don’t know. It was amazing. I really felt so pleased, in a brand new way, just, so pleased, with what I have become.
But, fuck, it’s the weirdest thing. Those words, ‘pleased with it all,’ they’re like, oh, I don’t know, that uncooked spaghetti in a plastic tube stuff.
Compare that stuff to the best meal you ever had, your perfect meal, but where you can eat and eat anything at all, for all time, and all you get is healthier. Like that.
I really understood why it is that I am able to function at a whole new level now, it’s available all the time now, if I want it.
For me, in the beginning, it was something I wanted, but something I was deathly afraid of all at the same time. I ran from it. I just played at the corners of it. But I have friends who show me how they do it, so that helps.
But, really, comparing how people are doing it is not the point.
Oh my God, Judy! To come from a place of self esteem, real, true, self esteem, from the inside out, you know? And to mean those words way down deep…. Then,” I shrugged, “I don’t know. It’s sort of like, who the fuck cares what anyone else thinks, right? It begins to fundamentally not matter.
And therefore, dear word picker outer, what is a risk?
If I know I’m the coolest motherfucker in my universe, well, then, that changes things a bit.
It means I won’t agree to do stuff that I find disrespectful, that doesn’t somehow allow this happiness and my coolness of being to shine through. And I won’t, then, be troubling myself over things that trouble me. I really can pass, instead of getting twisted up about it, or arguing about it.
And I don’t have to feel diminished if someone says no. Depending on how much of an asshole they are about it, I get to tell them to ‘Fuck off,’ or ‘Suck my dick,’ like my buddy says, or ‘Too bad, it’s your loss, Charlie,’ or ‘Ok, well I’m still gonna love you anyway, but from over here, doofus,’ is all.
So, there really is no risk. And if I can do that in love, well of course I can do it with a boss. That’s easy, compared to getting things right with friends, and with lovers, sometimes.”
I looked out at the trees, swaying, now, as dark came closer. Still warm enough to continue, and to smoke again. I lit up, and thought about what this might mean for me now.
I flashed on what it’s always meant, for me, in the end.
“See, there’s that sudden death I was talking about, Judy.
One way or the other, well, there it is, right?
I get to go on.
I used to think the only legit way to live was partnered, and I beat myself up for not having that, for not being able to hang with it, even when it was obviously not built to last, even when it was literally killing me dead.
Still, I know what I like, and I like being partnered. So, for me, now, at least, that’s what I want for my life. It’s time to be happy, and that’s the way I’m happiest. So, now I’m getting that. I’m ready, and it’s gonna come. Because that’s what I want, and I am really ok with it, now. I’m not fighting against it anymore. I’m seeing it makes a lot of sense, and maybe that because I’m just not embarrassed about it anymore. That’s such a relief.”
Judy shrugged, and gestured, silently, for me to continue, knowing there was more to this.
She, for one, had no argument with being partnered.
“You’ve seen me in the poly community, in the lifestyle, Judy, and you’ve witnessed how I have blossomed. I have come to love people and connecting again! And with them, I can be receptive and fluid and sort of not give a fuck about relationship status, not let that hold me back or whatever, because the people I know accept pretty much all things.
They love to talk about it, too, and when it’s done well, it’s just the best thing I have ever known.
The great part about these people is that everybody shares this common knowledge that it’s possible to love a whole lot, a lot more than you imagined possible, and to do it deeply, without hurting anybody, when you’re with people of integrity, and oh my, all this loving is done in so very very very many ways.”
I trailed off, a smile lighting across my face. I shifted in my seat. This was complicated, but it needed to be said. Just for me. She was being so nice about it.
“Still, that also puts me in the company of those who don’t seem to be able or willing, most of them, to get to the focusing down and doing the grad level work of full on parternedness. That to me is where the gold is, but it has to be with someone who is worthy of it, all of it, now. Someone who gets this, this thing I know.
See? Because of that side of the bed thing, and how I feel now.
So, if I get to decide, instead of letting everybody tell me where I can touch them and how much and for how long, well, that’s fine, that’s consent, and that’s key, but, even that seems fussy and limiting and restrictive, at the moment.
I know that I want to go somewhere where all there is is yes, I guess. With one person. It’s how I’m built. I know this to be true.
Maybe that’s a pipe dream. But I really don’t know how it can be, Judy. I want it, I know it as mine, and I saw what i saw at he side of my bed this morning, after all.
After feeling all of that, I really don’t think it is, anymore.
I think there are a whole lot of special persons out there, actually, and I’m thinking that some of them may have actually come to know what I know now, they may have seen what I have seen, this morning. There just have to be.
Besides, Judy,if I am this, and I know you are this too, then, it stands to reason everyone is this freaking amazeballs. They are just maybe more aware of it, or less aware of it, maybe.
I’ve been thinking, I’ve told you about it, Judy, that maybe I have gotten too big to be happy with just one love, but really I think that’s the delusion, that’s the sickness. That funny expectation, held as the highest ideal, that I held as the highest ideal, and that I still do, weirdly, but it is also, I think, the illness.
That notion of exclusivity, it goes against the laws of physics, and denies quantum reality, but still,” I took a drag and looked at her. I still had her attention. “I know what home feels like, and I don’t want my home violated, if I am sharing it with only one other person. It’s a tent peg thing, really. It’s a consent thing, seems like.
And even though I suspect it’s the “one other person exclusively” thing that is the trouble, still, I know what it feels like to be with somebody who cannot imagine making any choice but me, just day after glorious day, well, why wouldn’t we want it to, if I can find this, and we can sustain it?
And, well, just take a look at me. Why the fuck wouldn’t they take this ride?” I smiled, pulled up my arms in a “ta-da” pose. “And that is the point. Why the fuck wouldn’t they?”
I looked at her then, struck by her willingness to let me be me, and her timid excitement at letting herself be herself once again, finally.
“And, Judy, I think this is the point to me bringing this up to you. This impossible seeming thing, it’s what I want, but it’s also what I truly want for you, too, if you’ll allow me to be so bold, because it’s also what I want for my son when he grows up, too.
That full-on, appreciative, open, alive love, just there, in your face, smiling at you, with you smiling back, day to day. I mean, can you imagine what you could create from THERE?
So, Judy, just, please know, I don’t give advice, it’s just not my thing, but after what happened to me this morning, I need to tell you something.
I see your strength and resilience and intelligence and spirituality and connectedness and all these things, and how far you’ve come, and how far you can go, and how hard it was for you to come to a decision, and all of those things.
The side of the bed thing makes me want to take you by the shoulders and tell you never, never, never again share your space with someone who would speak to you like he did, who takes advantage of you, demands you feels small and worthless and unworthy of simple human decency, grinds you into the dust and then laughs at you because you let him. Just don’t do it. I’m relieved you have said no to him. I really am. Just, I have to tell you.”
I stopped. I thought about it all. I let it all crash through me. I’d never let on just how similar my experience had been to hers. I continued. I was almost done. I was glad. I was getting tired.
“You may need that, again and again, and if that’s how you need to roll, if that’s how it is, well, ok then, I know that dance, and I’ll stand by, and I’ll love you through it, again and again, if need be, but forever, now, I’ll be knowing it will happen for you, someday, and I’ll be waiting for you to then, just, in a flash, when you least expect it, find yourself like I was this morning.
And in that moment, you’re going to love yourself all the way into and back from your soul. And, Judy, how can you not?! Just look at you!” I chuckled, “You can’t help but, when you look at yourself the way I can see you now, the way I saw myself, whole, like I did this morning.
And in the meantime, no problem. I did some of my shit for decades. I was still running some of my shit before it all hit me so full on. And I may still run some of my shit. That’ll be up to me, I guess, and it’ll be just fine. It’s my shit.
Whatever. See, so I’m not implying you don’t value yourself now, okay? I’m just saying, you maybe don’t yet fully get how completely juicy ripe and straight-up gorgeous and totally unfuckwithable you really are, is all.”
I fingered another smoke, played with it, pulled the lighter out of my pocket.
“I don’t know. All I’m asking is, for next week’s salon piece, pick a word that I can get sexy with. These full on, in your face words are freaking me out a little. “Wrong”, um, what were some of the other ones? “Force?”
“I guess I’m going to need about twenty minutes to write all this shit down for my piece. Or maybe, you think anybody would mind if I write about that board game? I could do something with that. It would be a relief, after all this fucking processing.”
I looked at my phone. We had a half hour. Plenty of time to whip something up. I had just one more thing to say, to bring it all home, so I could be done with it. I needed to pee.
“Judy, just, please, don’t worry about whether or not you’re going to find a man. Think instead about how lucky that bastard is going to wind up discovering he is. What an amazing ride he’s signed up for, huh?
You already know you’re the best show in town, right?, so expect him to show you he respects your inner worthiness, that you’re a gd goddess, you know?, and of course, you’re gonna see it blazing from his eyes and skin and junk, and make sure he can and does to tell you and show you all about it, in ways that delight both of you and drive the two of you wild.
And then maybe you can just let go of finding fault, and just relax with giving that sugar back, then, nice and sweet, just like you always are, sweet Judy, when you’re safe and feel all loved and fluffed and sure of yourself.
But, I don’t know, consider this a permission slip to just shut that other shit down, with the ones who really like to hurt you, and hit you below the belt, and name cal,l and fuck with your head, and scream at your soul. You know what I mean.
Who the fuck needs that?
Don’t go back. Just, be done with that, please, my friend. You’re worth more than that.
I only just figured out I am this morning, because of that word, so, maybe the risk was in thinking on it like I did. I just don’t know.
I really have to go pee. Got any cake?”