A Winter of Loneliness, Exhaustion, Solitude, Rest, and Gratitude

For the past few weeks the sun has decided to shine down on my slice of the Bay, bringing warmth and comfort as spring finally takes a steady hold of the land. I lift my head up to the sun each morning, close my eyes, and bask in delight as the rays dance across the planes of my skin. Sometimes a tear or two escape the corners of my eyes as I think about how the vaccine rollout is leading to the world slowly, safely emerging. Spring is rebirth in many ways this year.

Winter was harsh. There may not be any other way to describe it. Those of us who chose (and continue to choose) to make this world safe for others, stopped counting the months we remained inside. We stopped wondering when we’d be together again. We stopped asking the world for mercy.

I like to think of winter as a time for purposeful hibernation. A time to rest by cozy fires, reflecting on the year and nourishing my body through slower paced months. But the hibernation always rests on a re-emergence. But instead this past winter settled in with deep roots as we continued to live our lives alone.

Over the years I have been deepening my understanding of the difference between loneliness and solitude. And I have come to recognize that they can both reside together in my life at once. Loneliness sat with me on the balcony in the mornings when I would long for a moment of sunshine hitting my face; when birthdays and holidays passed, and I had not made a movement. And then there was being alone in solitude. Nestling in to the corners of my body and my brain. Sitting with my rawest emotions and starkest realities. Solitude was isolation while still knowing that I am always connected, even when I am not physically connected. In our last podcast episode of this season, our guest and my dear friend Amber Butts reminded me of all the ways our ancestors defied decrees to not touch, and found ways to touch that weren’t always physical. That intimacy exists outside of touch. That is worth remembering, she said. And I am letting that echo in every corner of my mind.

“For Mornings that Need Reminders”

I think of you when
I smell the spices as they curve around
each corner of our home
The way the curry powder tickles my nose,
cumin and coriander dancing together
and the turmeric stains my fingers

When I taste each drop of
homeland near and far
And long for distant shorelands
When I hear the echo of ancestors
reminding me of strength
of beauty
of never being erased

If I had the right words to say
I would whisper ‘I love you’
in a tongue so ancient
I know it in the blood that
runs through my veins
I wouldn’t be afraid of the future
because this world could not
exist without us

Because of you
I am always whole
Even when I am waning

I am not adrift
I remain planted, fast
In your enriching soils.

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