THEY WERE HERE (12/06/17)

On December 6th, we were able to stop again on our way back to South Carolina to pay respects at Pulse in Orlando, the sight of the now second biggest massacre in American history. Since June 12th, 2016. We’ve already had something top it.

What a sickening thought.

I believe my first trip to Pulse was late last year or early this year, and it was just as painful to witness and behold. There is no preparation for what you will feel when you pull into that lot and imagine what happened there, the senseless carnage and the cruelty.

The surrounding community has most definitely not forgotten these beautiful souls – even the Wendy’s across the street, where we changed clothes before the long ride home, had encouraging signs stressing the need for acceptance and equality posted behind the counter, and a framed print listing the names of the lives lost that night. From the window of the Wendy’s, you could have a burger and stare at the memorial. The sad thought turns my stomach. The crosswalk in front of the club had been painted rainbow, and ONE ORLANDO signs hang boldly for all to see.

It makes me so profoundly happy to see that this place is being taken care of. A live Christmas tree is up now, with jugs of water placed nearby, encouraging those who stop by to tend to it. And they do. People protect this place.

A sign, attached to the official Pulse sign, which is new as of my last visit, states that it will eventually be a permanent memorial and museum. Not a single soul is unrepresented or forgotten. I am so grateful for the people who are tirelessly tending to this precious place, who are keeping hate away from it. Who plant flowers in multicolors and share smiles and urge us, the shocked and horrified passersby, to walk away from this painful place feeling inspired to be kind, understanding, and above all things, tolerant.

I’ve included photos below the cut, with a trigger warning because of the obvious reference to LGBTQ+ violence and slaughter. As I’ve said before – I do this not out of voyeurism. I want people who are not able to visit Pulse, whether for travel reasons or perhaps just an emotional unreadiness, to know that these people have not and will not ever be forgotten. I’ll never stop visiting them and praying for them.

I was not a Pulse attendee. Orlando is not my true home. But I identify as a pansexual woman who spent many nights at my own personal Pulse with my many LGBTQ+ friends, feeling safe and free to be ourselves in a designated “safe space”. In many ways, that innocence is lost – there is no such thing as a safe space anymore. But all we can do is promise to remember, and to do our absolute best to prevent it from happening again.

There will always be a Pulse, as long as we promise to never forget. And I never will.

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YEAR ONE

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For the first three months of our relationship, I probably tried to break up with Tyler at least 400 times.

“We have different thoughts about politics, we should break up.”

“The sky is blue, we should break up.”

“The cat yawned, we should break up.”

Any excuse, any absolutely asinine reasoning that my mind fell to, I was ready to bail. And holy shit – after he told me that he LOVED me?! Instead of feeling joy, I felt panic. I felt fear. I felt an enormous sense of responsibility. I felt, more than anything, incapable. What had I done? I couldn’t do this. This was too much, I wasn’t ready, it would never work, I would just get hurt. I came home and went over and over us with my fine tooth “should we break up” comb and tried to beg a reason into existence. In those early days, I asked my mom, my brother, every friend I had, “do you think Tyler and I should break up?” and they all just stared at me like I had grown a second head and told me to calm myself down because he was an incredible person.

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SAY UNCLE

Around the time that I had my first period, I also grew a small, dark beard.

You can imagine how delightful THAT was – I was an overweight tweenager who was constantly bullied for my looks (fat, brace face, too tall, not wearing the right clothing) and my desperate affection for the band Hanson that somehow was enough to warrant near daily physical threats of violence. Even the uncool thought I was uncool.

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RIVERFRONT PARK

Tyler & I always like to try to find little adventures to go on, whether we are in his neck of the woods (Columbia, SC), or mine (Greenville, SC). This past week, it was my turn to visit Columbia, and we decided to have a mini-adventure at Riverfront Park.

Nestled near downtown Columbia, Riverfront Park is actually a really beautiful and scenic area that feels completely removed from city life. It is perfect if you want to get active, sightsee, or do both. Their website boasts that they have 167 acres of land to enjoy, and there is definitely a lot of space to spread out and do yo thang. We passed all walks of life on our journey through the park, from runners to dog walkers to businesspeople enjoying a nice place to take a break outdoors. I’m not particularly an outdoors kinda gal myself, but I appreciate that the park has done a wonderful job at making the walking trails lively, accessible, and easy to navigate. I also loved that they had mile markers set up throughout the park, so you knew how far you had gone, if you liked to keep track of that type of thing. Oh, and doggie water fountains. That was actually my favorite part. Team Riverfront Park, friends of dogs everywhere!

Here are some pictures from our afternoon for you to enjoy. We found an old schoolhouse, the abandoned pump house that previously powered the nearby dam, and the most beautiful patch of Black-eyed Susan’s growing happily in the sun. It was a lovely day, and when Columbia decides to not be as oppressively hot and horrifying outdoors, I’d love to go back.

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Lavender 

I used to think you lavender

And myself a shade of blue

Because when you came round

You lit me up

And replaced my blue with you

Lavender was all I craved

Steadiness, warmth, and calm

When you called out to me

It was your lavender I slipped on

You waved away my cloudy days

With just a flick of your hand

You steadied all my careless ways

And helped me understand

It was okay to be blue, you’d say

After your fourth or fifth beer

Just don’t get too crazy, babe

You’d remind me with a jeer

I lay with you in your bed at night

Knowing I wasn’t the only one

Who laid at night with lavender

True blue, I bit my tongue.

Days to weeks and weeks to months

And now it has been years

I’m always blue, and only blue

Until lavender reappears

So many times I’ve wondered

And then I’ve stopped myself

Was I truly blue when you found me?

Or did you declare me blue yourself?

Was it my state of being

Or an opening you saw –

Was I ever something other than blue

Or were you the blue one after all?

That’s the funny thing about time

And growing past a problem

You start to see with clarity

You start to learn to solve them

If I saw you now, you’d smile that smile

That you saved just for me

And I know I’d squint and

For just a moment

The predator would be me

I loved you once

And I swear some days

I wish I could turn back time

But I stop myself, remembering

How blue you made my mind

Because that’s the thing

That took so long

For me to understand –

You were the rough and bellowing sea

And I was the safety of land.

I thought it was in reverse

You the savior, I the damned

But when the fog cleared

And the sky beamed down

I saw it was all lavender in my hands

The house to ourselves, the captain’s chair

You called me “Pink” to all your friends

A knowing look, your strut, your sway –

Third Eye Blind’s “Dopamine” on replay

The bad was bad and the good was good

And that’s all I can let it be

In the succession of your blue girls

I never fell in line

I protested, I fought for myself

And now color is mine

I found out what you never wanted me to know

The truth you kept under your thumb

The lavender was always me

It was you who was blue all along

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WDW TRIP – MARCH 2017

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