Because, really, no one is reading.
Recently a wise person told me it was time to tell my own story.
This is a start.
here is this little girl
she’s too much
too much for everyone
turn your back a second, she escapes
where has she gone this time?
look at her eyes
they’re green and wild
she believed in angels
before she even knew the sun
the first things she noticed in this world
the stars, the birds
far away, flying
put salt on their tail,
you can catch them
the things that caught her were unkind
they hurt her
and hurt her
she was doomed
before she ever took flight
why can’t you let this go? people wonder
other people suffer worse,
other people start with less
why can’t you get over it?
i don’t have an answer
even if I catch them all
she’ll never fly
i don’t want to be the one to tell her
23 June 2022
This day has been historically momentous.
23 June 1992
In 1992, I met my first love, Heath Burns, for the first time.
Picture this: Baby Celeste Gravis, 17 years old, riding with her Mom to college orientation. The weather was warm, and I was in black shorts and my Pearl Jam shirt, which I think I wore almost every day the summer before. It was washed to a soft buttery texture, more gray than black, and was in a way, a security blanket.
Mom dropped me off at the Student Center. I cut across the Quad, full of nerves and purpose, as I joined the line for the TASP college entrance exam.
Tiny Me felt so excited at finally being away from Vidor High School. This was it: The first step. A baby step, but a step nonetheless.
There were so many people in the line. Hundreds. Beautiful girls with perfect hair and flawless makeup. Tall handsome boys who looked like grown men with their khaki shorts and athletic shirts, their muscled legs all strong and toned beneath them.
In the line, I saw a tall, handsome blue-eyed redhead. He was wearing a salmon-colored White Water Sports t-shirt with little cute cartoon mice floating in tubes on the river.
Somehow, way way beyond my comfort zone, a commented on the shirt and how the Guadalupe River was one of my favorite places on earth.
That was it. We stood beneath the shady pines, breathing in the scents of the trees and nearby refineries, dappled with light while we talked. It was like magic, the wildfire of our connection. I’d never experienced anything like it before.
We wound up in the same testing room. We wound up in the same major (he ditched theater at the last minute to join me in Mass Comm). We wound up in the same leadership group, and consequently, the same social circle.
It was uncanny, the similarities we shared.
Only, I was too naïve, too much a fool, and within no time at all, he broke my heart.
I see much of that first semester through a veil of tears.
His betrayal was so deep because I had no idea a person could be so reckless with another person’s heart — to take all of those promising beginnings and use them, twist them, and disregard them as something common.
See, even back then, I knew that I was “special.”
It took — WOW — 12 years and a whole other marriage to someone else for me to realize Dr. Burns never had the capacity to love ME.
I know I’m a lot. I’m special. That is true. Maybe only bighearted people can really see other bighearted people? It’s like Jana Levin says in How the Universe Gets Its Spots, and I am wildly paraphrasing, but in a 3D world, objects that intersect from 4D appear flat.
So that was something that happened back on 23 June 1992. Now, 30 years later, I finally get it. Dr. Burns could never really see me.
23 June 2003
The day I finally got divorced from Steve. After two years of legal limbo while Steve bounced in and out of mental hospitals, the judge finally declared him sane enough to sign papers. Mom and I had our appearance in the old courthouse, and then we ate breakfast at Cafe on the Square. Baby Park was 5 years old. Past the Fucking Fours, she was in Kindergarten. We lived in the Villas at Willow Springs, and life for us, was very sweet.
I was dating Todd at the time. I had steamrolled all my grief with Steve under the shiny new asphalt of my relationship with Todd, and when it fell apart, all that unresolved trauma was unearthed.
I was working at the Daily Record and Air Conditioning Today. Dr. Burns suggested I become a teacher, so during that time, in addition to being a newly-single Mom, I returned to school to get my teacher’s certification. I landed a grant that paid for the alternative certification program. I’m certain Dr. Burns was instrumental in getting me into that program. He was a superintendent then. He was very well connected.
23 June 2013
I jumped out of a plane with my then-boyfriend Aaron. It was the second time doing it. Like the first time, I wasn’t afraid. This time, the plane was like a portapotty with wings. So small, we had to stand on the wing strut before we jumped. The sky was hazy and speckled with buttermilk clouds.
It was fucking amazing.