Consciousness is Sexy

The cosmos feel more benevolent than usual this month. I’ve been trolling the internet more fervently at month’s end to see what kinds of fuckery we’ve gotten ourselves into, only to find that June fuckery has turned into fortuitous blessings.

I am currently living in Petersburg, Virginia. Very few people–save any Civil War aficionados and re en actors–know of the significance this city held in the fall of the South. Petersburg was the last stop before the end of the war. Towards the end, the Union wanted to bring the city to its knees because it was a major supply line for the Confederates, where multiple railroads converged. The Union embarked on an 18-month siege. When the Union tunneled underneath Confederate earthworks, they set off a huge explosion that produced a giant crater. This backfired, bigtime. The Union charged after the explosion, only to be met with the Confederate defense. This event is known as The Battle of the Crater. There were other battles after this one, but the Union eventually wore Robert E. Lee down. Lee’s army evacuated Petersburg, after which the Union occupied the city. A week later, the South surrendered.

The CraterTo be clear: I could not possibly give less shits about the Civil War. I do, however, give many shits about how Confederate history has pervaded my city as well as Richmond’s. I take it personally when my eyes and ears are assaulted by fear-based racism. When a white psychopath decided to attack members in a church at Bible study in Charleston, South Carolina, he was met with the most significant defense of all: forgiveness. I suspect he did not see that one coming. When the Charleston massacre occurred at an historically-significant black church, the presumptuous, insidious relics of racism prepared to die.

I am part of the minority in Petersburg’s population of approximately 36,000 people. I am a white person in a city that is 79.1% black or African-American. And I love my city.

I am also a straight woman. But I would estimate that 98.88888 % of my friends (and some family) are of the LGBTQ variety. And I love my friends/family. The Supreme Court decided yesterday that they can now legally love and marry each other, too. Is it just me, or do you feel a shift in consciousness coming on?

Our country has an expansive history of learning the hard way from its self-manufactured misery. As an alcoholic, I can relate. We are stubborn. We are also innovative and persistent. We have been more comfortable creeping in the shadows of pain than living in the light of love. That doesn’t seem to sit well with us these days. My heart has fissures in it from years of trying to forcibly remove intolerance from my ignorant neighbors. That being said, I have not experienced being a person of color in this country, nor have I lived as a member of the LGBTQ community. I have loved, though. And for those of us who love, we learn to exercise that love by taking cues from others who are different than we are. We start off not knowing; that is when we take the leap to learn. That is how we raise our consciousness.

Everything that has transpired in the last couple of weeks forced us to open our eyes. Reality uncovered a black hole of despair to bring it to the light of our own understanding. We cannot hide behind cowardice or intolerance anymore. The light has punctured our tired version of darkness. We have to look at each other in the harsh light of day. We get to live in a country that rises in love, despite our defects of character. We are the lucky ones.

I feel all kinds of charged up by the bravery of those who meet calamity with serenity. I am taking my cues from you, America.

Now that’s sexy.

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To LA, With Love

I am three weeks into my personal odyssey and I am already itching to come home. I miss you, Los Angeles! The entire point of me being in Virginia is to exhume my finances in order to address them, while also seeking therapy for the shoddy status of my alcoholic brain. I know these things to be true, yet I “forget” them on a second-by-second basis. The God’s-honest truth is that this transition has me feeling like a newcomer again.

It isn’t easy being an adult in my childhood home. All amends have been made, so my mother and I are left with each other as our new and improved selves. My mother is retired, working here or there on freelance writing gigs. I am also writing at home, which makes for an odd pairing. Coffee percolates constantly around here, as do our tempers. The internet goes down every five to 10 minutes, depending on the weather and/or our moods. (Bite me, Verizon internet services). It rains and thunders every other day; our temperaments follow a similar pattern. My mother and I are essentially the same person a few decades apart. I have been living alone in my own dorm rooms, studios and one-bedroom apartments for 12 years. My mother has lived alone in our house for almost that exact amount of time. Naturally, we each have our own ideas about what domestic life looks like for us. I benefit from her practice of self-care, including home-cooked meals, decent bed times and frequent walks around the neighborhood. I broke my habit of LA breakfasts consisting of gummy bears and cold brew coffee in exchange for freshly-made egg, tomato and avocado sandwiches. I am tickled to see that I can learn how to take care of myself from the mother I once pushed away. I have much to learn, Mama-san.

Yet, I pine for the mean streets of LA. I am used to cars whizzing by at all hours of the day and night, interrupting my train of thought. I miss wildly gesticulating when all of those cars don’t yield to pedestrians like me. I got spoiled by the balmy 70-degree temperatures (with the largely overrated 100 million degree summer heat). I long for the mobility I had with Uber at my beck and call. I took for granted the extensive meeting roster, totaling about 3,000 meetings daily in the city. The meetings out here are rife with wisdom and old age, though I am the youngest member of every group by at least 20 years. On my way home from a meeting two days ago, we passed by a duck-crossing sign in Hopewell. The most exciting thing next to that were train tracks. Toto, I don’t think we are in Africa anymore.

My financial ducks are in a row, but not enough to cross any kind of stable road. All signs lead to recovery, though. I live in my mom’s house rent-free. I pay my way by cooking every now and again, washing dishes and trying to corral my petulance. I hold out hope that I will be self-supporting soon enough to return to my friends, my boyfriend and all the trendies on Sunset Boulevard. I see my new therapist this coming Monday for two hours of self-referencing bullshit—at least my mom won’t have to hear it anymore. I’ve made calls to a couple of AA women for some awkward chit chat. I will see my family and friends from VA Beach, Richmond and DC in the next couple of weeks. The scales are tipping in my favor.

I’ve got love for you, Petersburg, don’t get me wrong. But I have several reserves of love stored up for my main hang, LA. So take it easy, babe…I’m comin for ya.

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