Consider, how far you’ve come and how, with your face to the sun and with one foot in front of the other, you will get where and what you are intended.
A detour on my way to a three-day desert escape…
With my car idling, I was a stranger outside looking in. Beyond the (once ivy-covered) walls, I see a girl tucked in her room, her mind in another world, her face in a book. Tucked away from the world, inches from the kitchen door, I see a man lying on the cold floor, sleeping off the night before. Down the hall, I see a freckle-faced boy, taking one more gadget apart – trying to figure it out. I must take leave from this faded family scene. I must depart. On its way back to me, I watch my shadow step over his scattered clothes on the front lawn, tossed out by the woman inside who finally had enough. I turn my car around and begin to drive away. I notice the tall eucalyptus trees are gone; the springy saplings we planted on a wind-whipping day. The trees with the leaves that turned to medicine when I did what she asked – my small hand turning the leaf a dark green. A magic scent released. Holding the ghost leaf while in my driver’s seat, I closed my eyes and breathed. Once again, a calming remedy. Leaving the memory of the home that my parents built then tore down, I see the crosswalk leading to my elementary school. A safe crossing between our corner house and the chain-whipping flagpole. A school named after the poet, Walt Whitman. The building, dedicated to his legacy, was my childhood sanctuary.
Those ivy-covered walls that covered the truth of a family falling apart, once contained me, but they do not define me. I am no longer that little girl seeking the peaceful shelter of a Secret Garden. I am a strong resilient woman, who broke free from tangled roots of the past. Roots that can easily trap. Try they did, to drag me into their dark and suffocating abyss. I sometimes had to crawl, and there were times during my teenage and young-adult years when it seemed the ensnaring vines would win, but I persevered and built a solid foundation on which to live. A foundation carried within that allowed me to devote love, guidance, and stability to my daughter and husband. A foundation that is now offering me a place from which to lift off and gently land.
I spent time alone in the desert this week to shed my skin. In the solitude, alongside the lizards and the prickly plants, a most authentic and empowered version of myself emerged. It is now her time; she wins. I embraced her. I danced with her. I slithered with her, low-bellied along the rocks. Then I walked out of the desert with my strong legs, stronger than they have ever been.
After three days of desert exploring and photographing, book writing, and assisting with the online SYNTT writing workshop, I made it home in time for an evening Zumba class. I am glad I did. It was a fun class. A rare sighting occurred too – behind me, danced a man. 🕺🏼 I could not stop laughing, not at him, but with him, as he tried to keep up with a room full of strong and agile women. 💪🏻💃🏻💃🏽💃🏾💃🏼 Thank you for visiting and reading. Be well. 💗 Michele
A positive personal note: My parents’ divorce was a relief, but the years that followed were challenging for all four of us. My (late) father did eventually stop drinking and he built a stable life and career; my strong single mother persevered, worked hard, bought her own home and is doing well in another beautiful home; and my older brother is an Army Veteran and world-traveling IT professional.
A special thank you to Masticadores Spain, for publishing my poem, “The Desert INvites a Journey WithIN” I appreciate their ongoing support of my work.
Photos: my images, Sonoran Desert
© 2021 Michele Lee Sefton