Ripples

Cast a stone into a pond and watch the ripples spread. 

I cast mine in 2008 (though I didn’t know it at the time) when I joined a little message board for South African Pagans called Way of the Rede. I practically lived there in my spare time. I loved having a group of like-minded local people to chat to, relate to and celebrate with, even though at the time I was a solitary practitioner.

Every once in a while, a bunch of us from WOTR would get together. We called this the meeting of the “Pointy Hatters”. It was at one of these meetings, midway through 2008, that I met Jane. Jane ran a course called “Paganism 101”, the likes of which I had always wanted to attend but could never find one near enough to where I lived.

Through Jane, I met what would become my coven. Through Jane, I gained a far more solid working and understanding of the faith I had been following since 2002. I attended rituals. I gained a confidence in my own abilities within the Craft. I nurtured a bond with the Gods who had been calling to me for six years. I was happy.

Through Jane, I met Symi (in the hopes that we would form a relationship – we didn’t). When Symi was handfasted to Ava, I was present. It was the first time I had ever seen two people so in love. That day restored my belief in love, restored my belief that everyone has a soulmate out there; that one person who is meant to share your life. That was the day I met Ava.

Ava taught me how to dance. Between her and Symi, I grew in confidence, I became more comfortable with my body and how I look . I reconnected with myself and made peace with the shadows in my past. And even though I have lost my parents, those two women have become my guardians, my mothers. They have “adopted” me, opened their home to me and woven me into the fabric of their lives. Without them, I don’t know if I could have survived the past two years.

Ultimately it leads to a gathering like the one I just got home from –  Symi and Ava, Ava’s mom and dad, my “adoptive” sister Montse and me… one big happy family sitting round a table sharing a meal. A feeling more like home than I’ve felt in a while. As much as I adore my biological family, I never realised the bond I could share with friends so close they have become my family also.

The ripples don’t end there, though. Going back to Jane, I met her daughter Sandy who is a teacher like me. In 2009, my boss was making my life a living hell (it mostly started after she found out I like other women as opposed to men). After one spectacular incident when I collapsed on the playground with a massive fever, and then got royally shat upon when I had to leave work to go to the doctor, I asked Sandy if she knew any schools with open positions.

Through Sandy I met Lindy, who hired me even though she knew from the start that I’m gay, even though I rocked up to the interview straight from work in a dusty tracksuit and close-cropped hair, looking (as she said) more like a “Bernard” than a “Kirsten”.

I have been working at that school ever since. I have met so many wonderful children, and parents, who have touched my heart and changed my life. I have amazing colleagues who I would go to the ends of the earth for, and who would do the same for me.

And it doesn’t even end there.

Because through this school, I met Calvin. And through Calvin’s mom, I have a new home to move into, to begin my new life.

I am so, so blessed.

I am so, so happy.

All because I cast a tiny, insignificant stone into a pond by joining a message board.

Be aware of your actions. Take note of the little things. You never know when it will change your life.

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Unknown

I am standing on a precipice.

Before me is the Unknown. It’s dark, and the wind blows up at me, pushing and tugging at my clothes and my hair. Come, it whispers. Come. Don’t be afraid. 

Behind me is everything I’ve ever known. My memories, my family, my home. The simple comfort of knowing I belong. My mother and my father, their hands holding onto my small ones, guiding me, loving me, protecting me. It’s light and familiar and comforting. It is the knowledge of who I am, who I have made of myself up until this point. I am a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a friend.

Behind me is safety. But the wind and the Unknown call to me. Don’t look back, it urges, there’s nothing for you there.

I feel as if I am at once a great adventurer, setting out into the world to discover lost civilisations and dinosaur bones… and a small girl running away from home with nothing but pyjamas, a toothbrush and a can of baked beans (sans can-opener).

My toes dig into the soft earth and I spread my arms like wings, ready to fly. The wind pulls at me and in my heart I know it would carry me as easily as an eagle, free of my bonds.

For in the comfort and familiarity of the Known, I am bound and trapped. Tethered, conforming to what is expected of me. Bowing my head and doing as I’m told, ever the good girl. Settling into the harness and ready to pull.

I am restless.

I am not a child.

But I have not been allowed to be an adult.

I bend, and I untie the ropes and chains fixing me to the ground, to the Known, to what is safe and familiar.

I spread my wings and fling myself into the wind.

That’s it, it agrees, it’s time to learn who you are meant to be. 

Those No Longer Here

It’s 11:25 pm on Christmas Eve.

Presents are wrapped and under the tree.

Mince pies are cooling on top of the oven.

The Christmas pudding is in the freezer.

Father Christmas has been and gone and the Small’s pillowcase (a tradition in my family) is bulging with presents and sweeties. The plate of mince pies has been consumed, the beer has been drunk and the reindeer have left bits of carrot all over the stoep outside (and a little bit inside, just in case the dogs decide they like carrot).

I have done my absolute best to make this a nice Christmas.

My heart is heavy and tears keep coming up unbidden behind my eyes. There is a physical ache deep inside my chest where my parents are supposed to be.

This is my first Christmas without my Mom. This is the first Christmas without her saying (over and over and over again) how nice the tree looks. This is the first Christmas without her giving me strict instructions on how to make the pudding, even thought I’ve made it by myself for the past five years. This is the first Christmas where I haven’t walked the earth trying to find the perfect gift for her. It’s the first Christmas I’m not going to here her saying “Thank you!” and really meaning it even though she has no idea what to do with said “perfect gift”.

This is my third Christmas without my Dad. He used to buy my present all the way back in November and be absolutely unable to wait to give it to me. So I’d get it early, knowing that it meant there’d be nothing from him under the tree. He’d leave something for me under the tree anyway, always “from Santa”.

I was reading through old Christmas cards. Mom hoarded them, seriously. There are some dating back to when she and Dad got married. I read through them when the Small and I were putting up the tree. Christmas is about family and friendship and love, and I was very strongly reminded of that, seeing all the names that, while not forgotten, had not been thought of in a while.

Gran, with your Scottish accent that I’ve never forgotten (And Granddad whom I never met).
Tony, my uncle, I’m sorry I don’t remember enough about you.
Grandmum and Granddad, who spoiled me rotten and always bought me dresses.
Kay, Fiona, Warren who ended their own lives far too soon.
Donny, finally reunited with the love of your life, Art after a decade parted by the Veil.
Muriel, my “surrogate grandmother”. You were taken from us so horribly. Bron and I miss you.
Jerry. Beautiful, kind, passionate Jerry. You were a good friend and an amazing artist.
Christy, my other uncle. I hope you and Mom and Tony are catching up on all those years.

There are too many, and others unmentioned. I love them all. I miss them.

But most of all, I honour my parents by keeping the spirit of Christmas in my home. I know it sounds horribly clichèd, and like something out of a Hollywood movie. But Christmas has always meant a lot to me. It meant so much to them. And I will keep it alive. Even though the memories clutch at me and the tears are so damn hard to chase away.

It’s how I honour those no longer here.

Tis the Season

I am a Pagan who celebrates Christmas.

Yeah, I know, I get that look a lot.

I could give you a whole dissertation on Christmas being solidly based in Paganism, the origin of the Christmas Tree and the majority of the mythologies surrounding Christmas. I could tell you that Yule and Christmas are almost the same thing.

Let me get even weirder. I am a Pagan in the Southern Hemisphere who celebrates Christmas.

Confused?

It’s the Summer Solstice now, not the Winter one. It’s not Yule, it’s Litha.

Better?

Yeah, you can stop looking at me funny now.

Christmas is a very important holiday in my family. My dad, who wasn’t even Christian, absolutely loved Christmas time. He was like a little kid. He fed my belief in Santa until I was 13 years old, even though I stopped believing at 8. But he was Santa. He put gifts under the tree “from Santa”, he filled stockings “from Santa”. He loved it.

Every year, my mom would make mince pies and the Christmas pudding (we make an ice cream cake, because it’s the middle of summer). It was my proudest moment when I was finally allowed to help, and it was bittersweet when the only reason I took over entirely was because her illness no longer allowed her to continue.

On Christmas morning we gather under the tree and have coffee and mince pies and open presents. Then we head over to one or another aunt for the big family celebration.

I am very close to my family. They are everything to me. I adore my aunts and uncle and all my cousins. They are special to me. They make me happy.

Christmas, for me, has little to do with religion and mythology (though I know it’s important to a great many people). It is a time of happiness and family and joy. When everyone is just a little bit nicer to each other, even strangers. When we reconnect and remember the important things in life.

The first Christmas without my dad was very, very hard. This first Christmas without my mom is even harder. Christmas spirit is a little bit lacking, without her saying how lovely the tree looks every five minutes until it drives us to distraction. It’s funny the things you miss.

If it wasn’t for my 6-and-a-half-year-old nephew Xavier, we probably would even be giving it a miss this year.

But that would dishonour my parents.

So. I’m going Christmas shopping today. I’m baking mince pies and making the pudding. I’m going to make sure there are presents “from Santa” under the tree.

Because I am a Pagan who celebrates Christmas.

Changes

Things are happening so fast. It’s insane. It’s a wild rollercoaster that once set in motion is impossible to stop.

I’m moving. I’ve been thinking about it for a while, but I made the final decision last week. Preparing myself to confront my sister about it was hellish. I became convinced, in the dark recesses of my mind, that she would see it as rejection and therefore reject me. I was terrified of losing her, of having her hate me. And though I know, I KNOW, she would never do that, it’s a sign of my own insecurities that I felt that way. I told her last Thursday, her and Brett. I sat them down and with snakes roiling in my guts, told her that I wanted to find my own place to move by January.

Despite being shocked, she understands my need to do this. After all, she’s been in that self-same position before when she had to tell Dad she wanted to move all those years ago. She was younger than I am now when she made that decision and he told her “I’m proud of you, my girl”. So she told me the same in his stead, “I’m proud of you, my girl”.

Have I ever mentioned how much I absolutely adore my big sister?

So I started asking around. As a preschool teacher, I can’t afford much, but I was hoping I might find a small cottage or even a room somewhere, just to give myself a starting point. Then Calvin’s mom sent me a message saying she and her husband are busy constructing a loft above their garage – not a huge space, but enough for me, and they’ll let me live there at about R500 less than what I’m paying now towards my current home.

Oh. My. GODS.

Seriously? Seriously? I don’t think they actually realise how AWESOME this is for me.

Because the other change I’m making is that I’m going back to college. After Dad died, I never finished. I wanted to return this past July, and with Mom’s death I’m really glad I didn’t. So I’m going to go back. And that R500 extra per month is going to be HUGE because I can pay towards my education without starving.

BONUS.

I’m facing my future, my chance to finally jump into the deep end to see if I can swim. I am so excited. I’m on cloud nine. Over the moon. Insert other clichéd saying here.

And who knows, the way things are going, maybe I’ll finally be able to tell my friend I like her. Come what may.

Heart’s Desire

If you judge by my last post, it’s no secret that I love children. Children and child care is such an ingrained part of my life now that often it’s all I think about.

I long for the day when I have my own child.

When I was about 15 years old I had a dream where I was pregnant. There was a bit of a sci-fi plot to it too, but the dream-memory of being pregnant stuck with me. My ovaries were never the same.

There have been points in my life where the Broodiness has literally taken over my life, becoming all I can think about. The desire to have a baby becomes so great that my chest hurts and the dreams haunt me every night.

After Dad died I went through one of those phases, the worst I’ve ever gone through. I even went through the motions of checking sperm banks and asking a couple of friends to be donors (who declined). Looking back, I’m glad it didn’t work out because mentally, emotionally and, perhaps most importantly, financially, I wasn’t ready for a child. Emotionally, I was trying to fill the void left by Dad’s death, I was trying to replace him in my heart, and that’s not the kind of start any child should have.

I have calmed down and started making preparations again. A friend has offered to donate sperm for me when he returns from his stay in France at the end of this year. I have money in a savings account that I add to every month ready for school fees and uniforms in the future. I’m working really hard to get to the point where I can not only love a child, but adequately take care of one.

This is the logic part of my mind speaking. The emotional (and physical) part screams “NOW NOW NOW!” like some raving psychopath. I think that part is the part run by my ovaries.

The other factor is my nephew. He’s one of the most important people in my life and he’s in the same position in my family that I was in as a kid.

I’m the younger of two sisters and there’s thirteen years between us. When it came to our cousins, my sister was the youngest, before me. Then thirteen years to me and I was the only young child until my cousin’s son was born when I was eight. That boy was the oldest of the next  “batch” of cousins and he’s now nearly 18. Then come girls at 16, 13, 13 and 11, and finally my boy Xavier at 5.

The way things are going, he’ll be 7 before he has a cousin from me. The age gap is already too wide for them to ever have any shared interests in childhood. And for me that’s sad. It really is.

So yes, I’m not naive. I know how hard being a single mom will be. But I’m a lesbian. I’m not getting any younger. I don’t have time to sit around and wait for the right girl to come along, and then wait a few years while we figure out if we’re ready for that step. I can’t. I won’t. There’ll be plenty of time to meet women when I get older. There won’t be plenty of time for me to have a baby.

And hopefully by this time next year I’ll be well on the way to fulfilling my heart’s desire.

Here I Am, This Is Me

This is not the first blog I’ve ever owned. There are several lost sites out on the net with my mark on them. Many of them I started when I was younger, and much in those old posts contain parts of me best forgotten.

I want this blog to be an exercise for me. I want it to be a tool where I write (hopefully) every day, or at least a few times per week. I used to write all the time, but life, work and family have interfered and made it difficult to find the time to do the one thing that has always brought me joy. Don’t get me wrong: I love my family and enjoy my work. But one of the few “talents” I’ve ever had in my life has been my ability to write, and I’ve come to the realisation that any ability I have is slowly atrophying as I don’t use it.

Even these last few paragraphs have been difficult. My dad would be gobsmacked.

My Dad always had faith in my writing. He was always proud of everything I put to paper. Or screen. I used to have hundreds of story ideas and he always encouraged me to write them. I never finished. My biggest problem in life is procrastination, and I can never finish what I start. Dad was the same, he used to tell me. He always battled to finish his projects too. Not work ones, his personal ones. And he could write, hey. He could write really well. He always inspired me.

I miss my Dad. He died a year and a half ago. Liver cancer and emphysema. Although it’s not called that anymore. It’s called chronic pulmonary obstructive disease.

My family is the most important thing in my life. It always has been. There are five of us: My Mom, my sister Bronwen, my brother-in-law Brett, my gorgeous 5-year-old nephew, Xavier, and me. I have aunts and uncles and loads of cousins. I adore all of them. They are my life. If not for my sister and my nephew, I don’t know where I’d be now. A part of my past whispers to me that it’d probably be in a grave somewhere.

Wow, I’m being depressive, aren’t I? I’m not, really. I’m happier now than I’ve ever been. My family make me laugh, they keep me going. And I have an awesome job. I’m a preschool teacher, I teach 3-4 year olds. In a few days, our leave comes to an end and the school re-opens. A new year, a new class. It’s always a challenge in the beginning. The kids don’t want to leave their moms and dads to come to school, they’re all to used to staying home. And they’re little, the don’t understand. And I have to get used to a class a whole year younger than my previous one. I’m going from a group of mature and functional four year olds to a group of less-mature three year olds that I have to turn into four year olds. I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again. Every year’s a challenge, every child is different. It’s the most rewarding job in existence.

There’s too much to put into one post here. But that’s the point of a blog, isn’t it? To write every day about your life. And I hope I can keep to this one new year’s resolution to get my writing muscle into shape again. The other new year’s resolution is to get my fat ass into shape again, too! Only two resolutions this year, let’s see how it goes!