dara gratitude, part three

daresy, darski, dararara.

another day, another list.

I am grateful for….

1) the strong feeling i got last night during dinner that you had sent an email to the psychic version of the listserve. it said something like: “hi everybody. i know you’re sad but i want you to know the truth–i’m free. i’m bigger than ever and i’m free. i know it might seem strange to ask you to be happy for me but i am joyful. and the love you have all given me is so beautiful from here. which isn’t a here really but an everywhere. please know I am ok–more than  ok. And please use any sadness about my passing to do what it is that you do for the world. it needs you. i love you all. keep on rockin’, D.” and though i don’t know if she would use the word rockin’, it feels true enough to be a comfort and that is enough.

2) i am grateful for one painful lesson you gave me. i borrowed or you left that purple cotton baja top with the angel pin. it was a little silver angel that someone had given you. and you said you didn’t want the top back, but you did want the pin. and for some insane reason i didn’t give it to you. i just didn’t prioritize getting it back to you…. out of laziness or greed or passive-aggressiveness or something. i don’t know why. but it was something like months (years?) later and you asked about it again. and i mumbled some lame apology and you were like, “really? even though i specifically asked you and told you it was important to me?” and you were so right of course. and it just pointed to a part of my personality that i really don’t like… a little selfish, a little lazy, a little checked out. but i feel like i really took that in. it was an unpretty ethical violation that most people wouldn’t have mentioned. but you did and it helped me get my act together around stuff like that. just being aware that a part of me might have been playing a mean unconscious catch-me game. and the amazing part was, not long after that i said i would get the angel to you ASAP and you were like, “nah. don’t worry about it. i’m over it.” you said it in a way that was genuine and i actually felt something i haven’t felt very much in my life–forgiven. like you had really let it go, accepted my apology and continued to love me.

3) how you helped me with my body image. though you had many of the same hang-ups about weight as I did, and because you did, you had an added perspective. you could see my obsessing happening or your obsessing happening and laugh about it. and not reinforce and indulge the “oh-I’m-so-fat” voices in my head. it gave me distance from those thoughts. it modeled a kind of woman friendship i stuck to ever after– i never i’m-so-fat bonded again. because that’s not what good feminists, smart women, healthy women do, i learned from you. instead we ate ben & jerry’s. and i stopped throwing up for good. and when you went off to college you gave me books to read off the oberlin women’s studies reading list. like the beauty myth, which further rocked my world and healed the way i related to food and my body and women.

4) in high school an adult in my life said to me, with my pink hair and hippie punk wannabe clothes: i’ve never seen anyone so beautiful try so hard to be ugly.” this comment infuriated me but i felt helpless because i couldn’t quite articulate why. but when i told you you said, “well, there are different standards of beauty and she’s clearly judging you against one that’s not your own.” and bam. that was it. it helped me feel less wrong and validated my me-ness that this other person was not capable or willing to see.

5) how you dealt with your parents. both of them knew exactly how you felt about them, exactly the wounds they inflicted, and how they affected you. i always so deeply admired this. you cleared your shit with your parents. your dad said to me, “we worked through pretty much everything.” they didn’t become perfect in this process and neither did you, but at least you were clear. and i felt your anger with them (the kind most of us have) subside as you expressed yourself and accepted them. major.

6) whenever i went to you with boy stuff you wanted the juicy details and saw the bigger picture.

7) you showing up at my place in Brooklyn all rosy pink from riding your bike.

8) your receptivity. i loved giving you massages because you made the best appreciative noises. i felt like you were truly taking in what i had to give which made me want to give more. and as with everything else it helped me know where i stood with you. when the happy murmurs ceased i knew to do something different. or you told me. like the last time. i was pushing too squeezy on your calves and with the edema it hurt. you told me. i adjusted. and i was pressing too hard on your shoulders even though it felt like I wasn’t pressing very hard at all. “i’ve gotten so skinny… ” you explained. and i eased. you received, but with communication and boundaries, to the end.

9) your freedom with your body. from the boob tricks to the dancing to the sheila na gig tattoo spreading your belly button open, you were just so comfy in your skin. a comfort you earned in some ways, i think. making it all the more awesome.

10) how equal i felt with you. i’m looking at all this stuff and seeing how much you taught me, to my marrow, about how to be a righteous human. and you swept little sophomore me into the senior girls dorm to live with you. and yet i never felt like we were even different ages. i think this says something about my precociousness but mostly about how you treated people. as your equal, no matter.

11) your limited acceptance. it’s interesting. because for all your love and inclusivity sometimes you would cut people out of your life. sometimes inexplicably to me. i think maybe it was because you just didn’t have time for people who struck you as not being fully… something. your dad said to me, “i don’t suffer fools,  and neither did dara. not at all.”

12) biloxi! someone from oakwood just reminded me–that week in mississippi we spent one spring break to do community service . he said we were like “two peas in a pod,” painting that house together. i mainly remember taking pictures of each others shadows, eating po’ boys, and laughing a lot.

thank you, d. more.

and now another night without your presence here. or with your presence different. without the earthly vibration of you. something that even across distances, i have felt most of my life. and it feels awful, i gotta say. i just miss you. it’s so oddly different than just not seeing you. a spiritual difference is there and though i want to celebrate your life and your light, right now i don’t like this absence one bit.

also, i love you.


Valerie Reissdara gratitude, part three