To Love and be loved is so basic to our beings it is necessary fuel that nourishes our hearts and creates connection. It’s always a great time of the year to count our blessings, to remind each other that love is an everyday choice we make to consider the possibility there is another way, to […]
Melanie credits her loving work from her childhood musical movie watching on Saturday mornings after her crack of dawn job of deliverying newspapers. “From where I’m sitting the Sun is shining all over.” Gene Kelly, Singin in the Rain
The Great Tiny Closet Flood of the Early 21st Century
Sometimes it is the simplest sayings that become the most profound.
Topping the list.
Home is where the heart is.
Laying bare the truth.
The truth of who we are.
Through whatever old wounds long forgotten.
Lying in a box pushed out of the light.
Waiting for the call.
To come into knowing.
There are events in our lives, some big, some small, some irritating, some enlightening. The great tiny closet flood of the 21st Century was all of these.
A pipe burst behind the wall of my utility closet turning a major storage area into a wading pool, water logging box after box of my hard to throw away unreviewed memory clutter.
After cursing through the disruption in my routine, I joggled through the cobwebs and disintegrated cardboard, breathing in the must of the untouched. It was unpleasant but I have to say, I found some peace in the clean up. I salvaged what I could from the soggy stew of box carnage, there wasn’t much, a beautiful paper butterfly from some memorable event, a note from an old boyfriend that always made me smile, a few other mel-mentos here and there. By and large, it was almost a complete cleansing of the past.
On the way to the trash bins an old hardcard Polaroid of adorable little me, at five years old, perfectly in tact, wholly clean of any flood damage, fell to the cement.
When you think Polaroid. You think moment in time. You’ve captured something, because you can hold it in your hand. Instantly. And. In many cases forever.
This moment held much more than that.
I always marveled at how this picture from childhood held a special place in my heart, evoking a charge of some kind. It was ethereal. I was leaning against a one rail fence, hair blowing, legs crossed, bare footed, flowing into an endless background of greens. It was a cool picture of a confident independent little girl.
In honor of its survival I put it on my desk, propped up against a green key jar. Where it sat, staring at me, until the day it decided to speak, just above a whisper.
“Turn me over”
Reaching across my desk to the hard thick old Polaroid, feeling heavy and at the same time significant. I flipped it over, revealing two handwritten words and a date.
LAKE TRIP (1972) over the faded factory printing: An Original Polaroid Land Photograph (printed in the USA)
Lightbulb. Spark. Recognition. Trauma.
There was a ripple in the air.
This was taken the day I drowned.
All the details rushed forward. Coloring into my mind.
I remembered the cabin. I remembered the lush blue green of the surf and sun in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. I remembered puttering along the lakeshore. I remembered chasing tadpoles toward the dock. I remembered being happily
lost in a great place of fun and imagination and playing, seduced by the elusive tadpoles drifting further and further away from shore, edging deeper into the lake, until, the sandy floor started to sink beneath my feet.
I was caught. Stuck. In some whirlpooly quicksandy type soft spot in the earth. The more I panicked the worse it got. I was being dragged down.
I went under.
By the time anyone noticed, I was in trouble, struggling mightily, fighting for air.
Next thing I knew my mom was splashing next to me attempting a save.
To no avail.
We both went under.
I passed out as arms I would later find out were my father’s pulled me and my mom to the shore.
Waking up. Blinking into focus. Lying in the dark on the bottom bunk of the cabin bedroom. The first thing I saw was wet money next to my dad’s money clip on the bureau.
Scared and afraid. Trembling. I was alone. All I could think was I had almost killed my mother. I was responsible. In the future I’d have to be more careful. Really careful.
Blame fell down hard as I crashed into a fitful sleep, in which my over protective memory guard erased the whole event from my consciousness, leaving in its wake a dull ache, a fear of drowning, and a full blown case of feeling responsible. For everything.
Like many traumatic events too overwhelming to digest it was placed completely beyond my minds eye.
Until the great tiny closet flood of ’08 when it would emerge. To be faced. To be remembered. To be embraced.
As a piece of my history. A wound that wanted to be healed. Floating to the surface.
There was nothing I could have done. I wasn’t responsible.
I wasn’t to blame. Everything had turned out alright. I mean. I’m alive. Right. My day dreaming, my humming, my drifting and playing wasn’t wrong.
It was time to put my arms around that scared little girl who drifted off and almost lost her life. To let go of my fear. To let go of feeling responsible.
The memory just another puzzle piece revealing a treasure trove of acceptance. Another participant in my drama coming forward. Connected to the interlocking. Ever beginning and ending cycle of action and reaction and at long last being. All flowing to a beautiful tune. In a natural harmony of events. Letting go into the unseen. Spinning through the dance of oneness defining all the deepest parts of my self in wholeness.
The picture was a glowing calm, over a tempestuous memory that found its way to the surface. No longer wanting to stay underground.
To be integrated with my very foundation.
“Through the unknown, unremembered gate.” (as TS Eliot wrote) Returning home. Creating a place and space of trust and support and revelation. “Arriving at my own door” available to me all along.
Home was within.
Home was without.
Home was here and now.
Home was everything that already was and always is.
There were so many chases and trips, and directions and events and places and experiments, and relationships all searching and never finding.
It wasn’t anything I ever expected. It wasn’t anywhere I expected it. Or with who. It didn’t come into being by me doing anything. It simply existed within my heart space, when I could look at and be with and face my fear, knowing it was only an illusion to keep me from seeing the truth.
The truth of myself. In love.
Eyes wide open.
THE BARE MELCESSITIES. Walking Out. Waking Up. Getting Bare.
By Melanie Lutz
208 pp. Outskirts Press. Hardcover $26, Digital $8.
Melanie Lutz is a writer and Love Activist living in Los Angeles.