Tuesday, December 15, 2015


I’m lying on my bed, afternoon sun streaming through the north window, warming my feet. Otherwise, its white outside, then I’m unexpectedly transported at my parents’ home a long time ago. I have a bad cold, not that a cold is ever good but this one means to stay a while. Something about the combination of weather, time of day, this cold and winter set my memory back to things and places long gone. I think this is what it would be like to walk into a house you haven’t been in for decades.

In front of the bed is a dresser that was already in my family when I was born. I remember it and the bed and vanity that went with it from the very beginning when we lived in Vallejo California. My parents passed it onto me when they got a new set and it has followed me through many stages and places. The other pieces fell away over the years. The bed is in Denver with my ex-husband and I left the vanity and lamp table in Cottonwood with our other Arizona furniture when we came back to Taos.

I’m remembering that I used to do crafts and decorative baking when I was in my teens and twenties. This memory is the only response I've had this year to the approach of Christmas. I don’t have the patience or interest now and I'm a different person.  I wonder what happened to all those candle holders I made one year. They turned out pretty neat. Made from old jam and jelly jars with interesting shapes they were glued one on top another and then pasted over with paper-mache elegantly patterned in Renaissance designs with glue dipped string, then painted antique Christmas colors, and finally highlighted with gold and silver paint. Then I made candles to go with them.

One year I did ornaments made to look like elaborately decorated cookies. They were made with flour, salt and water then decorated to look just like colorfully frosted Christmas cookies in shapes like snowflakes, reindeer, Santa Claus, Christmas Bells and gift packages. Another time I made marzipan fruits to decorate cakes and cookies. They were perfect miniatures of apples, bananas, peaches, oranges and grapes.

How can anyone say they remember their past lives? I can’t remember large swathes of the life I’m currently living. Occasionally, like today, a piece of the past floats to the top and I will wonder how I ever forgot something that was once a significant part of my identity. I’ve lived in four states and in one of those states (Colorado) for 47 years and yet much of the past is like flotsam floating on the sea. Unless a piece randomly floats into view, it is as good as gone.

I’ve told my life story to myself many times. With each telling it comes out different. There are actually many stories. So what is the truth? Who am I really? I’ve been puzzled lately by my almost visceral desperation to scramble over an invisible fence with many barbs to get out of Taos. Why would I want to escape from the place of my soul?

In a simple five-mile drive back to Taos two days ago, I finally got it. The sky was grey and so was the earth as far as the eye could see. Darker and lighter shades of the same grey finally drove monotony into boredom and my attention inward. Which soul belongs to which self? In an illumined moment I saw that my Taos self is only one of many selves and now there is another self that is trying to come to the top and It is trying to free itself from snags created here in the past. I think those snags are called karma, but it isn’t all bad.

I’m talking about layers, of course. None of the other selves are gone. They are just not visible in a view from the top. I can consult them now and then. They have skills that are often useful, but it is time to acknowledge the future self. It wants to soar.