Buzzards, Spirit Carcasses and Christmas! Oh My!

My muse sat down and talked with me yesterday.  I think he was trying to comfort me.  I spent an extra long Thanksgiving weekend with my children in Nashville, Tennessee and came home from a grueling twelve hour trip only to be welcomed by an empty, silent house. Immediately I went into kid withdrawal and felt the cold hand of grief squeeze my heart until it hurt and made me feel sorry for myself.

 I tried to fight it off.  I really did.  I threw myself into decorating the house for Christmas.  I even bought red and green reindeer antler head bands with bells on them for Bill and me to wear while we decorated. Andy Williams was singing, “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…” and our fireplace had warmth radiating out of it for the first time this season.  I put up two trees, one all frocked, frosty and white in the dining room and another out on our back porch with enough lights shining on it to be mistaken for a light house even though we’re three miles inland.  Two small three foot trees stood in a white light glow, flanking each side of my fireplace.  Four trees altogether.  Not two…I miscounted.

My white distressed weathervane mermaid girl, Ariel, was even decked out in gold ribbons swimming in red berries and green garland.   I think I went a bit overboard.  But…I didn’t care.  I was chasing the blues away with as much sparkle and light as Comfort and Joy could allow.  Oh, yeah, and in some crazy way of reminding myself that the kids would not be home for Christmas, I hung up each of their stockings with their names cheerfully written in glitter down the sides.  They were always so “Christmas…y” and fun in the past.

I stood and looked at our work.  I didn’t care that it was over the top.  I even went out the next day and bought poinsettias to put on my dinner table and a ledge that separated the breakfast nook from the dining room.  I wondered about the two white poinsettias.  Did they look like funeral flowers?  Somewhere in the back of my mind, I always thought white flowers meant death and sympathy. Had I subconsciously bought them as a way of showing that our family’s traditions had transitioned over into new territory and the white flowers represented the death of our old ways?   I was losing it.  I. Was. Losing. It.

I couldn’t write a blog post.  I couldn’t be creative.  Everything that kept my creative juices flowing was in Nashville.  Nashville was the place I could find inspiration; look into my children’s faces and feel life bubble up out of my spirit.  I felt as lost as a blind puppy that had strayed away from the familiar warmth of its siblings and the comfort of its mother’s soft underbelly.  Heck, I was the mother here.  What was wrong with me?

Bill and I were driving to Wilmington one morning and as I was looking up at the sky it seemed as if I saw dozens of buzzards.  Every few miles I saw groups of them circling and hovering over a wooded area, as if they were waiting for something to die.  We were listening to a Fleet Foxes CD (my current favorite group right now.)  A song was playing on it called  “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song.”  The last time I had listened to it I was riding down the Natchez Trace on the beautiful autumn morning of my daughter’s wedding day.  The road was narrow and followed the Harpeth River.  Gold and red leaves still clung loosely to the trees and made a covered pathway for our little Jetta to ride under.  The feeling of “old money” was everywhere and just being on the road made us think we were rich.  The feeling of history was a thick and luxurious as a warm honey pouring down all around us.  It was sweet and it was a feeling songs were written to describe. 

Fleet Foxes was playing on our CD player and it sounded like the perfect music sound track for our trip to the barn.  I remembered thinking that and how lucky we were to be on that road on that particular perfect day.

But now, we were riding to Wilmington and buzzards were circling overhead and the same music was playing.  I couldn’t believe the difference in my feelings.  I had gone from one moment of bliss to a moment when I thought the vultures were circling over me, waiting for me to die, for my creative spirit to be picked to the bones like a wild animal’s carcass. I could see my bones lying out in the flat piney wood, glinting white in the bright coastal sun.  I know.  I can be melodramatic.

Buzzards, spirit carcasses and Christmas, O my!  That sounded like a creative meltdown getting ready to happen.  “Oh, God,” I prayed.   “ I have to live here but I have to feel too.  I have to have a portal, a window from heaven that is opened directly over me and gives me the inspiration to do what it is I’m supposed to do!  My prayers went up, daily, whiney, pleading, begging prayers of desperation because I have to have purpose in creativity. It fulfils me.  It completes me.

Yesterday, I sat down at the computer and went to youtube.  For some reason, I had heard Adele’s song, “Someone Like You” enough to get my attention.  When I need to have something brought to my attention, I usually hear a song several times until it is freaky weird.  I had heard it enough to sit down and look it up and listen to the several versions offered on you tube.  I put on the version of her singing at the Britt awards.  Just Adele, a piano, a stage and emotion.  I startled myself when I felt tears fill my eyes.  I decided to listen to other versions.  I saw her sing and take out her sound devices in her ears so that she could hear the audience sing back to her.  The audience was as loud as she was.  What a humbling feeling that must be to a singer to have the people listening to her know every word and sing her song to her.  Was that success?  I had tears running down my face.  I read that she had written the song from her own experience of a romance that had turned into heartbreak.  Although I was not going through the same experience, it touched a feeling in me that I had had years ago and had long since forgotten.  But when she sang it with raw emotion and jagged beauty, I could feel old wounds respond to the hurt in her voice.  I could feel…

Tears were running down my face and even though no one was in the room with me, I felt ashamed and wiped my tears away quickly. I didn’t want anyone to see me expressing emotion over a pop song.  All of a sudden, I sensed the presence of the Muse.  He came in unannounced and I don’t know how long he had been sitting there; knowing him, probably the whole time. 

“Why are you crying?”

“I don’t know.  It’s so beautiful.  So haunting.  It was written from experience.  That’s why it’s so sad.”

“Do you feel sad?  Is that why you’re crying?”

“No.  I don’t know.  I felt her passion spill out of her and it touched everyone in the room.  It touched me and I was just looking at You Tube.  I wasn’t even in the room with her.  The passion from it jumped out at me and left me in awe of her pain, her passion.”

“You were in awe of her passion?”

“Yeah, the passion.  That’s what I want.”

“It came from pain.  Passion comes from raw emotions.”

“I feel pain right now.  My kids have grown up and moved far away, or maybe I moved far away from them.  I don’t know.  I’m in a new place that doesn’t feel like home and I’m getting older.  I don’t mean to be whining to you and we’ve been through this before, but what if I never feel ‘it.’”

“Feel what?”

“A portal.  I want a portal.  Right here.  Over me.  Over my house.  Just like it is in Nashville.  Like it was in Alabama, where I used to live.   If it’s over me, I’ll feel alive again.”

“You have to make your own portal.”

“My own portal?  I’ve done it before.  Just not by myself.  It was easier when I had the kids around me and friends who understood it.  If we got together and spoke about it, it would almost magically appear. Hmmm…by myself….I can do it.  Yeah.  I can.”

“I’ll help you.  I’ll show you how and it really won’t be hard.  I’ll be there.”

I looked over at him.  He was crying.

My pain and my passion had jumped over to him through the atmosphere in the room and had hit him like Adele’s had hit me.  He felt my creative power and it ricocheted back to me. I felt awe; a surge of confidence.  We were going to create a portal right here in Sneads Ferry, North Carolina.  Right here in this room, over my head.

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