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I Waited 26 Years for This Fantasy to Come True

Yes. Sometimes anticipation can be fantastic, and sometimes anticipation can be a bitch.

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My entire dating life, I was never asked out. Except Paul in Junior High who asked me to go out via a Hangman game. But otherwise, I was a self-made woman in the dating department.

From the age of 15, when I really, really liked Christopher (the tall, blonde runner) I started asking guys out. I distinctly remember hearing about women doing that- asking men out- on the radio or TV at that time (~1990 or so) and thinking, ‘that is a great way to get what you want instead of waiting.’ Because waiting for 15 year-old boys to ask you out was often a long game.

So, fuck that. I figured out that as long as I could handle the worst outcome (a ‘no,’ maybe even a rude ‘no’) I would be fine.

I asked dudes out.
It went great!
I went out more and got what I wanted- dates. And kisses and allthegoodthings.
And dudes readily confessed that they liked being asked out- had been hoping I’d do such a thing.
[Ego boost is always nice.]

But there was always a little part of me that wanted to be asked out.
Of course there is a part in each of us that wants to be chosen.
To be sought out because of who we are.
To be deemed ‘special’ and ‘worthy.’
[This is a bit of a problem for women, as we are asked to constantly judge our worth by whether someone wants us or not. Separating that honest human desire from social conditioning can be tough.]

::: ::: ::: :::

Cut to last year, I’m 41, happily married for 18 years, together for 20. My husband and I went to our local town’s “Grown Ass Prom” the previous year and were planning to go again that next year.

My husband, who didn’t ask me out when we dated- but worked hard to chase me down one afternoon at a tattoo shop after work!- knew that I wanted to be asked out. It was a dream I shared with him several times over the years, and he was always kind about it.

A few months before the prom, we were making dinner one night and chatting, there was a lull in the conversation and he did the sweetest thing: he grabbed me by the hand, pulled me close as if to kiss me, looked me in the eyes, and said, “Would you go to the prom with me?”

I did not need a ‘prom-posal.’
I just needed those simple words. That 8 word question.
What a thing it was to be asked.
Even after 20 years, twenty years of so much asking for so many things, he asked me to the prom.
It was just what I wanted.

I waited 26 years for that fantasy to come true.
And it was so fantastic, I cannot even tell you.
There were no teenage worries, no fear.
Only love and support and a desire for fun.
I soaked in every bit of it- pulled all the details into my heart to remember them.

The guy I wanted most asked me to the prom, you guys!!
Fireworks, inner squealing, jumping with joy- it all happened.
It was so worth the wait.

::: ::: ::: :::

We went for the third year again last night. Below are the pictures of that night from the second year (me, because I looked fabulous). We had such a blast.

Meriwether in leather.

 

All the details in place.

 

We fulfilled every ‘prom’ fantasy we ever had that night. I got my hair done in a faux hawk; nails and toes, too. We didn’t see each other before the final reveal moment. We wowed the crowd at the restaurant and on the dance floor.

 

Official prom photo.

Yes, my husband wears eyeliner. He went in an ‘Adam Ant’ outfit and he looked fabulous. Do you know what kind of balls it takes to pull that off? You gotta be real secure in your sense of self to do that. You have to know who you are. My man is fearless. Which is why I love him so. Even as I write this, it turns me on. We’d do anything to support each other- and we do.

 

The morning after.

Our prom night fantasy ended the way it should- with my dress on the floor next to our bed. A good time was had by all.

 

 

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I believe in you…

Well, fellow travelers, it has been a week. So, today is just a little pictorial love.

 

I believe in you.

believe-in-you-mystic

| Fairy tag by Arna Baartz @ Art of Kundalini |

 

I also believe in chocolate.

believe-in-chocolate-mystic

Behold, the sacred power of chocolate to restore and heal!

More soon, my beloveds.
Joanna :: xoxo

 

 

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It’s the small things

Fellow travelers, I am sorry I did not drop any photo love for you while I was gone. I didn’t even journal and I barely meditated while I was in Seattle. You know what I did instead? I lived.

::: ::: ::: :::

It’s the little things that make a difference sometimes.

 

queen-anne-meriwether

 

Like running up a real hill in Seattle. [The backside of Queen Anne in Seattle. I zig-zagged my ass up that hill twice. :o)]
I forgot what it takes to do that.
It felt fantastic.

Inhaling the smell of Puget Sound as I walked around outside.
The sea and the salt; soft but intense.

Seeing familiar plants and weeds that don’t grow in New England.
I know what they taste like and how they stain your fingers.

People who use their turn signal. And look over their shoulder first.

Always hearing ‘excuse me’ when we bumped into each other.

Watching men watch my tattoos in the airport.

Dancing and dancing and dancing the night away.
And the cute young DJ who sidled up to me a few times.
[Because a music lover is always a friend, no matter age.]

The polite wave when I make space for someone to merge.

A cup of coffee after two long, long flights.

A 5 am dog-walk and good conversation with a friend.

Being validated by someone who’s been there.
[Broken hearts and healed hearts hold one another.]

The joy and sensuality of this trip were over the top for me. And while I didn’t get enough time out in nature, the time I spent with people was amazing and nourishing and everything I love about this city and its people.

 

seattle-skyline-spiritual

 

The best part, of course, was the wedding I officiated.

And it was the little things there, as well. 

I have now presided over 25 marriages in 10 years. And these days I can tell who’s going to make it and who’s not (with one exception). I used to have funny feelings about some couples – something was off. Years later I would find out, they had divorced. The couples who have made it- it’s evident in the small things.

The way they look at each other.

The words they use to talk about each other.

What they say and how they say it when they talk about their story.

What they want to tell about themselves and their story in their ceremony.

The hopes they have for each other.

The promises they make- not just how heartfelt they are, but the actual promises. Some people understand what it takes to succeed in long-term relationships.

How involved they each are and how they use (or abuse) each other’s strengths and weaknesses as they get through the wedding issues.

There are telltale details.

And this couple is going to make it- and joyfully so. They have all the skills they need and – most importantly – the willingness and capacity to develop more, if necessary.

 

One kind man at the wedding made it his job to take care of me and he chatted with me for a good long time. He’d been recently married- after waiting 9 years for his love. His now wife dated him for a year, left him for several more, and then returned to date and marry him. He knew he was going to marry her and that’s why he waited. He gave me hope.

And yet, as our conversation went on, it was clear there were already cracks. The amount of love given from each of them is not equal. Not even close, I think. He is far more giving and loving and interested than she. Could it work? Of course. But I think it is equally possible that he will be devastated at some point. It’s the little things that tell the story- and suggest how the path may go.

And it was the little things I learned while I was gone that suggested my path, as well.

 

mystic-feet-grounded

 

I learned to do a very small thing: not hit the ‘send’ button.

I’m learning my boundaries as a healer and as a human. And I am learning to let the emotions run through me, to feel them, and to decide what to do about them a few days later (or weeks).

Encouragement and support and love are my superpowers, and it’s hard for me not to share them. But with some people I have a very low batting average (like 2 out of 14, whatever that is). Try as I might, we don’t connect. And I am learning to express myself as needed (Pinterest is sometimes helpful, but nothing there is ever quite exact enough), but not hit the ‘send’ button without thinking long and hard about it.

It’s the little things.

As I take time to get through jet lag today, I’m holding on to little things from the trip. So often, we come back from an experience like that and we feel different so we want things to be different. And usually that motivation to hold those new pieces of us runs out after a while.

So I’m taking a couple of small things from the trip and trying to hold them for the long haul. A better sense of boundaries and where and how to love and encourage. And a sense of nourishment deep inside me. That’s what makes Seattle my soul home– how it nourishes me spiritually and emotionally. And I want to hold on to that- a little bit more each day.

That’s the story, morning glory.

And if you’re a 90s person, here’s one last picture for you.
(If you can name the singer and the song from this picture, I’ll buy you a beer.)

 

23rd-jackson-seattle

 

 

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The place where your soul finds rest

This time next week I will be in my beloved Seattle. I am traveling there to officiate the wedding of a dear friend. And I am so looking forward to it. Seattle is my home. It is the place where my soul finds rest. (My beloved’s soul home is England, which is why I think we are stuck on the Atlantic Coast of the USA- half way between both!)

The ‘soul home’ is the place where we feel at peace, simply by being there. When I am in Seattle, I feel that the world is okay, my body relaxes in a way it does not here in Southern New England, and I feel at peace, even if the world is in chaos. People speak with the same words and symbols I do. We wait in line for coffee the same way. It is a place where I know the language and the customs; I don’t have to fumble with them, they are in my blood.

The city has certainly changed in the last 15 years, but it remains my place. And while I won’t ever return to live there, it lives in my heart. Always.

Of course, the Seattle of my heart is the Seattle of the 1990s. When Grunge music was taking center stage, we all wore Doc Martins and plaid shirts, and telling the dark truth about life became the savior spirit of our music and culture. I remain romantic and nostalgic about that time- and I doubt that will ever change. They were grand years, the 1990s.

If you travel to Seattle today, you would barely recognize it from the 1990s. A little neighborhood called Ballard used to be a joke – all the old, Swedish ladies lived there and no one cool would venture in. Today, Ballard is full of huge apartment buildings housing Amazon’s latest and brightest and is considered quite posh for the newly rich. It’s like that most everywhere.

So, let me tell you about the Seattle of the 1990s. Let a local gal show you the sights.

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You must, of course, do all the tourist things. Go to the Space Needle and take the tour. I had my 16th birthday dinner there- the spinning restaurant was a new attraction then and the subterranean shop had not yet been imagined. The food is still very tasty and the view is worth the price. Take all the pictures and don’t forget to look down at the rooftop art.

The Pike Place Market is also on the list. You have to see the flying fish guys and the copper pig. But don’t forget to buy a Texas sized doughnut (not ‘donut’!) and visit the dusty antique shops in the lower floors (that is where we found some of the absolute best junk to wear in the 90s). The Pike Place Market is also one of the most sensual places you’ll ever visit. There are so many sights, sounds, smells, colors, and textures. Try all the samples. Smell all the flowers. Eat fresh Alaskan crab or Pacific clam chowder. See a geoduck (pronounced: gooey-duck.) Buy the gorgeous t-shirt. Take your time and enjoy it all. It’s beautiful.

seattle-market

 

If you’re a 90s person, you’ll want to find the SubPop offices. They were the first label to sign Nirvana, Soundgarden, Mudhoney, and Sleater-Kinney (which is a street near where my family lives). And you can still buy their iconic black and white logo t-shirt.

sub-pop-logo

 

You’ll also want to hit The Crocodile Cafe in Belltown. The Wikipedia page will show you the amazing list of who played here. And I will tell you- it’s shinier now than it ever was in the 90s.

Little known spots of the 90s music scene are the actual sound garden, an art installation called ‘A Sound Garden’ on the NOAA campus in Seattle. You gotta ask permission to visit these days, though. In the 90s, you could just walk right up to it. Magnusson Park- great place. And yes, the band did take their name from the installation.

Drive-bys include the condo block where Layne Staley (of Alice in Chains) was found dead. This is actually in a neighborhood called ‘the U district’ (that’s what locals call it) and is worth more than a drive-by. It’s a quirky couple of blocks, but worth a walk with a coffee in hand. Kurt Cobain’s house, of course. Fun fact: my high school best friend’s brother was on MTV when Cobain’s suicide was announced. He was one of the first people to show up and start the impromptu memorial. (I know, it sounds like Ferris Bueller, but whatever.) And the Jimi Hendrix statue on Capitol Hill (which used to be the best gay neighborhood ever. Fuck you, breeder gentrification).

There is a much larger Jimi Hendrix memorial in my hometown of Renton. (More about all the Jimi Hendrix memorials, in this article.) It’s rather ostentatious and more about the ornament than the music, I think. Back in the 90s, you could still visit the single, nondescript plaque in the same cemetery, just like in Singles. (That link also contains many of the Seattle locations used in the film. Go see them all you 90s time-travelers!) I will tell you- there were never that many candles or roaches at his grave. Bruce Lee is also buried in Renton, but at a private cemetery.

 

fremont-sign

 

There are some fun neighborhoods in Seattle. First off: Fremont. It is known as ‘The Center of the Universe’ by its inhabitants and has a naked bike ride every year. This tells you everything you need to know about Fremont. Also, the statue of Lenin. The ‘under the bridge troll’ is here- great for kids and pictures. And when you’re done trolling around, the best cake place on Earth is also in Fremont. I’m gluten free now, but I will buy a slice of their white-chocolate strawberry cake just to have one bite. It is that good. Get some tasty Thai at the place around the corner.

Golden Gardens is a lovely little beach and garden area at the bottom of the Ballard hill. I officiated my first wedding here. It was ‘off the books’ so the groom could relax- no papers to sign and no rush. We did the official one a couple of days later. It was perfect and I highly recommend two weddings to any nervous groom. When you’re done at the park, there are great hiking trails back up the hill and some gorgeous scenery along the way.

Other neighborhoods in Seattle that are worth some time are Capitol Hill. It used to be much less built up (tallest building for the length of the strip was 3 stories high). And there were groups like Q-Patrol and naughty gift shops of all varieties back in the day. And a great bookshop that has since died. Me and everyone in my high school (I found out years later) went to dance at Neighbors as their first ‘gay club’ experience in the 90s. You can still go there and it seems better than ever.

Lower Queen Anne and the International District are also great to visit, but I have zero 90s memories to offer. Lower Queen Anne now has some tasty places to eat and fun venues for music, but I have no recommendations. The International District is a great place to wander and feel what it’s like to be a minority as a caucasian person (it’s very good for your entitled, white ego to get smashed. Go and enjoy it).

The last thing I will say about Seattle and its surrounding areas is eat everything you can. One of my favorite things about Seattle is that you can find most any type of food you’re interested in and it will be made by people from that actual place. Japan, China, Laos, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, Mexico, Brazil, Honduras, Guatemala, India, Pakistan…EVERYTHING is available there. And it is all delicious. You have not lived until you’ve had a lumpia, or twelve, okay? Plus, a lot of damn fine, local brews. Go: eat.

[ETA: It was late last night when I wrote, my brain hurt just thinking of all my bittersweet feelings for Seattle. I forgot to add these wonderful places-

Gasworks Park (went to my first large drinking party there; left rather quickly),
a Seattle ferry anywhere (really, just take one anywhere),
and Deception Pass (out of town, but worth the drive, which is beautiful all in itself; walk the whole pass, it is breathtaking),
and, OMG, take the Seattle Underground tour (it’s so cool!)
and see the Chihuly glass gardens (just lay there and look up)
and, of course, the Experience Music Project (but call it ‘the ee-em-pee’ to sound local).

Knowing me, I’ll probably add more later. Keep checking back!]

 

grayland-beach

 

If you want to get out of town, I recommend two places. Travel north 1.5 hours to Bellingham, WA (where my sweetie and I met and fell in love) or south 1.5 hours to Grayland Beach. Bellingham is a highly cultured college town and full of good food, music, art, and beautiful trails to walk and ride. I will be buried there, that’s how much I love this place.

Grayland is probably my most spiritual place ever- it’s where I began to write, to consider myself a writer-of-good-things. You can also stop by Aberdeen on your way there, where Kurt Cobain spent some of his youth- and where ‘The Banks of the Wishkah’ album got its name. Grayland does, in fact, have beaches and they are beautiful, especially in the rain. There are artisans and cranberry bogs tucked away along the two-lane road; go find them.

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Now that I’ve spent almost 2 hours writing this, I think I have nothing else to say. Not true. I have a zillion more things to say, but you only get them if you hire me to be your personal Seattle tour guide (we’ll be staying at the W hotel, justsoyouknow). In which case, I would excitedly point out interesting things about pretty much every building we pass and place we go. I think it’s clear, though: I love this town. It has my heart and soul.

I hope to drop a few photo love bombs for you while I’m there. I’ve got lots of people to love up while I’m there, though- and people are the experience I live for. Let me know if you ever want to go to Seattle, though. I’m ready to show you my world. And if not, let this be a short guide to what is wonderful and star-filled and rain-washed about the city, a gift of joy and kindness from my heart to yours.

 

 

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Little Altars Everywhere

My lover goes away for two weeks every year and I miss him like crazy when he’s not here. Of course I miss his body, but also his mind (which is available by call or text…but it’s just not the same).

I miss his help with the children but I also miss the way his humor settles all of us down. (I’m a fake single parent for those two weeks. Being a single parent is the hardest fucking job in the world because everything is on you. Single parents deserve a fuck tonne more support than we give them.)

I miss how it sounds when he’s typing. And the way he calls to me when he’s back from his bike ride.
I miss the small things.

I noticed this year that while I have rituals for when he is away (I sleep in his boxers, etc.) I also keep little altars dedicated to him. Small things that remind me of him, keep him close in mind + heart.

 

coffe-cup-altar

| morning espresso altar. |

I miss the daily habit of him. His coffee. His shower. His heavy footfalls on the stairs. The sound of his cereal bowl and spoon hitting the sink. I don’t wash the espresso cup until he’s home.

robes-in-love

| robes on bed altar. |

I miss the heaviness of his body in our bed. How warm he feels when he’s just out of the shower. The smell of his shaving soap. An aspect of my sensuality is dulled when he is away.

 

love-saint-roch

| the altar of me. |

Yes, I am probably the biggest altar to my beloved. I wear his band t-shirts and this one- he bought it for me on our second trip to Quebec City. I miss the feel of him on my skin. I miss the particular kind of safety I feel in his arms. My body is a sacred reminder of what he is to me.

::: ::: ::: :::

The thing about these altars is that they remind me not just of him, but of our love.

We love each other like this:

We accept the dark in one another. The fears, desires, anger, judgement, frustration, desperation. Even when he hates what I am saying or feeling, he accepts it. We accept all that is shadowed, but we do not live from it. This kind of love takes work. It is not for the weak-willed.

We love each other- in both daily and passionate ways. We know what love means to the other and work to provide it. Love to me is time and attention. He makes it for me, dedicates time to me. I listen and make small acts of service and support. We know nothing is permanent; we treat each other as well as we can.

We support each other’s happiness and growth. He makes me feel like the best version of myself, everyday (even though he totally knows how imperfect I am). I want to live up to what he sees in me. And I want to heal anything in me that could hurt either of us. We make time to be separate so our ‘together’ feels even more connected.

This is how we have loved for more than 20 years.

He will return late tomorrow night.
Tomorrow will be the longest day.
And the best.

 

 

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