Colorado Storms

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Thunder Clouds-

A midafternoon dusk

whitewashed

by work shoes

and lunch commutes

and sugar as fuel.

Our sun sets

into itself

under the covers

of a Colorado nap.

We all feel a drizzle,

whether we are outside

or not.

It splashes our faces,

picks at our skin,

gets us out of our chairs,

remembering each other’s existence.

~~~

Have a wonderful holiday weekend!

Nostrand Station

brownstonephotoBrooklyn—Nostrand station, broad daylight. Above ground, overgrown beards or red lipstick holds shaggy hipsters together like central connective tissue. Pinterest-worthy succulents sit in renovated windows, watching abandoned couches decay in the empty lot below. Black and white elbows rub and clank through charming coffee shops or dingy corner stores. Trash bags line the street, their origins impossible to differentiate. Dogs of all sizes sniff at their openings before being tugged away by organic hemp or dollar store leashes. The in-between fades into the background. As if finding the greys in Brooklyn’s transformation is too inconvenient and confusing.

Above ground, Bed-Stuy continues to gentrify.

I am not sure how to make sense of it mapphotodown here, below ground.

I stand at the platform, watching a rat weave under and over the vacant tracks. That morning, I decided forgo brushing my hair. My purse is stained and my jacket missing half its buttons. But I don’t have to fix it. I can walk into a strange restaurant and use the bathroom no matter what I wear.

I am contrasted with the woman next to me—older, well dressed, more put together. She balances her iPad on one arm, bags from a day of shopping dangling below. And her hair is nicely done. And she’s got all her buttons. And she’s Black and I’m White.

A third woman runs our way, trotting along the platform, looking for help. She flags me down; our hands match. White. Nail polish peeling because it can. She asks me a qalleyphotouestion about train connections and I reveal that I’m a tourist. She gulps in air, her eyes worried. “This is going to be an adventure,” she says. And continues to look around for an answer. The other woman next to me looks up, but does not get asked for directions. And we all stand in silence until the train comes. And when it pulls up and men of color move over to offer the lost woman a place to sit, she stands, huddled by my seat, clutching the cold railing on the journey to Manhattan.

I wish I had said something then. My silence was hurtful. I continue to regret it.

First Snow

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Though the clinic was warm and I had yet to be pried open by the speculum, I shivered and dripped softly with blood. They had told me it was normal, and offered me a blanket while I waited. The chalky pill – incompatible with pregnancy – had started my procedure. The being inside, if I was ready to call it that, shivered with me as we both awaited the inevitable sever of our bond. Like expired lovers, we both knew we had to part, to each float according to the soundtracks of our lives or non-lives, wounded at our breaking points but trusting our individual tumbles into the next phase. I felt like a northern grapevine, frozen in place after a season of warm harvest. The last of my premature fruits now hung as sweet shards of ice, pointing downwards as if to dive, to break the dirt apart and then curl into it under blankets of snow. My branches had let go, attached to this embryo by nothing but frozen dew. And I waited to be pruned by gravity here, in this old house with Victorian accents and bullet-proof glass.

I wished their had been someone by my side for my goodbye. I wish there was a human to anchor me to the earth as we drifted into separate worlds. Instead I was alone – save the nurses and blankets and elbows of my wordless waiting room – as I opened my palm and let my broken seed float upwards, evading the inhospitable soil below.

As I sat silently, a nurse brought me crackers. When I felt nauseous, she covered my forehead with a cool white towel and waved peppermint oil under my nose. She asked about my daughter—asked about her age and her interests and she told me of her own children, one town away. She turned on classical music and drew blood from my veins. And we exchanged stories of motherhood. She stayed by my side through the journey from reception to recovery room. When it was time, the top of my hand melted into her palms as she stood over me, guiding my breath and catching my shivers until I was alone again in my body.

It stung – I can’t pretend that it didn’t. And though it was not a sharp pain, but yet the pain of my own womb contracting around the plastic tube inside me, it burned like bare ice upon a swollen joint: sucking heat away from my body, balancing it out against a fire it yearned for but could not handle. I could feel my organs twisting and cringing, wringing themselves out of excess blood and tears and life as I severed myself from dying possibilities. And I stepped back into my body like coming home to an empty house after the dissolving dream of companionship – cold sheets, a voiceless stairwell – inhabiting my own aching solitude once again.

Even the ghosts had left.

[Read the Original Here]

Valparaiso, Unbound

Below is a contribution I made to a collaborative writing project with Patrycja Humienik and Callie Sumlin about the gritty, inspiring city of Valparaiso, Chile. It is also an excerpt from my forthcoming novel, Valparaiso, Barefoot. I hope you enjoy this sensual wandering. [Excerpt from Valparaiso, Unbound, Twine Magazine. Find the original at http://www.twinemagazine.com/valparaiso-unbound ]

Valparaíso was unmade. She was that artsy girl in high school who never brushed her hair, who had holes in her clothes but whose affection even the straight girls lusted after because of the way she played guitar; the way she held the edge of her sleeves up to cover her dirty finger nails like she was clutching the skin on your back; the way she sketched the raw secrets of the universe on the edge of her homework assignments if only to be lost in the depths of her backpack. Her wires hung tangled in every which direction on the verge of a dreadlock.

Her streets and sidewalks looked like they DSC06078had been sewn together last week with scraps found in a bucket of rags: tiles dropping into cracked cement into a square of marble into a patch of grass. Unwaxed and unshaven, her cracks sprouted with bitter aloe plants and swirling red blossoms in the dirtiest places where no one walked but me (or so it felt). Every spare wall of her body was tattooed with murals of love or birds, broken mirrors or communist stencil art, swirls of spray paint that everyone but she was too old to understand. Sometimes the unwashed skin of her streetlamps and benches would find itself overgrown with bursts of tile mosaics, adorning her like rubies and sapphires by admirers to whom she had barely given more than a wink. Sometimes she would surprise us all by giving one of her tiny hilly streets classy cobblestones or a dozen papaya trees or guardrail for young lovers to sit out of the eyes of all but the ocean’s.

And the sun was obsessed with her, even in winter.

She wrapped her legs around the Pacific Ocean until it was at her beck and call. She giggled as it brought her colorful crates from all over the world like long-stemmed roses, splashing playfully in hopes of tickling her feet. From every part of her body, one could look the ocean in the eyes. At night one could see its neurons bringing Valparaíso’s lights through its body, letting its waves become electric like her. Her curves folded into messy hills; there was not a patch of Valparaíso’s flesh that was not seductively rounded and voluptuous. She was a woman forever unbound by corsets, Chinese shoes, hair ribbons, whitewashed walls, and fire escapes. She was the moon that would be howled at—that would take away all sense of space and time until life was nothing but an infinite fraction of a second. They said she was the Valley of Paradise, though I knew already she had been seduced from paradise long ago. And there I stood in front of her: terrified, hungry, already obsessed.

Keep reading…

Thanksgiving Gratitude Roll: The Minor Leagues.

It’s before 8 am. I am sitting in a freezing white room, accompanied by swiveling fish and a skinny, Patagonia-clad mom talking to the cashier. She’s wearing short socks like me; all four of our ankles are exposed to the cold air. She is overwhelmed by the new world of high school hockey she has entered. The cashier, hockey nut, bounces up and down, offering her help in any way he can: talking to her son about the adjustment, and practice, and learning the ropes of this very unique early-morning corner of the high school experience. “Hockey moms are unlike any other moms,” he says, scrolling through the roll of before-dawn excursions (due to the number of teams and leagues sharing one rink, all kids have to go through before-sunrise practices at some point), stinky and hard-to-wash jumbo-gear, and spontaneous dental emergencies his own mother had braved for so many years. His eyelids dance as he reminisces about his hockey youth. And I get a sense that she’s spent some time here. This is my first time, and yet I feel welcome.

Upon waking before the sun, I had noticed myself holding a grudge by this car shop’s oil change system. They told me to get here at 8 am sharp, and depending on where I fell in line, I could wait 45 minutes or a helluva lot longer; it all sort of depended on luck. I arrived, and was offered a carabineer in the color of my choice by the bright-eyed attendant. The light grey tiles, the black-smudged walls, the chill against my ankles from the cold morning seeping into this tiny waiting room all feel reminiscent of hockey, and I begin to enjoy the enthusiastic conversation about shoulder pads and vulgar locker room banter and chipped teeth and team camaraderie. And so I linger here, despite the inviting coffee shop next door.

I reminisced about my own short-lived hockey days. Of getting up so early in the morning it surpassed that zone of grogginess and went straight into confused state of night awakening. My mom drove me through the dark, abandoned streets to the rink, watched me slash around on the ice haphazardly with other skinny, braces-faced 14-year-old girls, and then schlepped me to school, all before the hour that feels so early to me in this moment. Sure, I only played about two months before losing interest. Mom probably anticipated as much, but was spirited about supporting me anyway. I probably haven’t thought much about it in over a decade. I never got to build that sportswoman companionship with my teammates or score any goals. And though I was never good, or didn’t stick with it long enough to get good, I was happy, and I am happy now thinking back on it.

And I am grateful. I am grateful for the coupon a friend gave me that landed me here, in a new and unexplored corner of my town. I am grateful for hockey—for the chance to pad myself thickly enough to physically express aggression as an angry teen. And for learning how to skate. And to skate backwards. And to stop on both sides: skills I have held to this day. I am grateful for that ability to glide along a frozen earth, unafraid of my own speed. And I am grateful for my hockey mom, and all other hockey moms, like this chilly-ankled Boulderite sitting by my side.

This year, I want to dig deeper into gratitude—into the details that can get forgotten. I want to extend my gratitude ponderings beyond the quick round at the table and into the week. Here’s the beginning.

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Rachael Uris, MA, LPC is the owner of Atacama Counseling, LLC, offering sex therapy as well as individual and couple's counseling for issues surrounding sexuality, love, and pregnancy. All services are located in downtown Boulder, Colorado, and are provided in English and Spanish.
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