sugar monsters

if you have not yet read “dear sugar”, do yourself a favor.

till a few months ago, nobody knew who dear sugar was. there was a huge, much-anticipated reveal and we now know that dear sugar is actually published author, cheryl strayed.

i don’t care.

what i do know is that i go through phases of reading the column and then my life takes over and i forget. then someone or something reminds me and i fall in love with her writing and humanity and the pathos all over again.

it’s real, it’s visceral, it reaches out of the computer and squeezes your heart until you feel you cannot breathe and sometimes the tears that streak your cheeks leave trails of blood.

like tonight in her column, “monsters and ghosts“. it seemed like it was written for me.

earlier today, i had a more than 2 hr interview with a journalist who is writing an article about me for a woman’s magazine. of course, even though i keep reiterating that i am not my history, that it is merely what happened to me… despite so many years of healing, today’s interview still left me shaken – this journey backtracking down dark roads, unexpectedly overcome, vinegar tears squeezing, unwanted, past guarded lids.

i have to remind myself: today i am standing firmly in the light. i am the guardian of the 4 yr old within, the 4 yr old from whom her childhood was abruptly and abusively ripped. i keep a watchful eye. i protect her and reassure her that she’s safe, that the monsters and ghosts have been long buried, that no one can harm her. they might still sometimes try to resurrect themselves to wreak a similar devastation of years gone by, but now they are mere chimeras, powerless unless we feed the insatiable maws of memory.

i am grateful to have travelled so far down the interminable road of healing. i would prefer not to stare into the distorted mirrors of my past, reflecting the mangled monsters that for so long haunted me. however, i do understand that for many, knowing that they are not alone and hearing that someone else, too, knows that “here be dragons”…is a comfort. it makes me peel back my eyelids and hold up my flaming torch.

i don’t taunt the darkness, i don’t draw it out.  yet i’ve stopped fleeing only to find it nipping, vicious, at my achilles-heels… instead i bow to it in respect and i say namaste.

in the insistent light the monsters and the ghosts, slowly, almost imperceptibly, melt like the watery wicked witch. in my heart, safe and protected, where the only thing grimm is a fairytale, my ruby-slippers sparkling, i am home.

flying out the window

ever since i came back to south africa  from the u.s. 3 years ago, i’ve had a return ticket back to l.a.. it’s felt like a life-line, like i had a way out if i ever needed one – and i wasn’t planning on staying in any case. after 12 years of living on the same street in topanga, california, it was home. i’d come back to south africa for 2 weeks for my brother’s wedding and within 4 days had been offered a role they’d been struggling to cast  in a new soap which was just starting. too good to turn down.  i had an 8 month contract, but also a house full of stuff in topanga to return to.

3 years later i’m still blowing bubbles in soap land. no more topanga house, stuff in storage, my car being driven to death by the husband from whom i’ve been long, but amicably separated, and a new mortgage on a house in johannesburg. at least i still have a ticket back to l.a., my adopted home.

when I booked my flight back from my annual trip at the end of last year, i secured myself another return. i was told i couldn’t book the return leg of the journey for beyond 8 months from commencement  of  travel, but it’s happened to me before. no big deal . i put in a date and  decide later what i want to change it to. this time i chose the latter part of august as a possible date, hoping against hope, that i’d be able to use the ticket to go to burning man. a new mortgage and steeply rising interest rates later, going to  burning man from south africa, turns out to be a pipe dream, so last week i try to change my ticket to december, which is when i’ve gone to l.a. the last 2 years. i call vayama which is the site on which i bought the ticket and after being on hold forever, the woman comes back on the line and informs me that this particular ticket allows only a 9 month stay, not the usual 1 year!


it’s in the fine print, she tells me. so for $300 i can change my ticket, but  fly no later than october 1st. i’m working till december 5th. out the window flies something like $1000. so much for my life-line. i have to admit i feel slightly unmoored. now i will have to buy a return ticket from  south africa, not the u.s. which is much more expensive. so here i am, adrift in the uncertain seas of my south african life.  i don’t know when i’ll make it back to l.a., back to the life i’ve put on hold, back to the people i love, my burner community, back to a life without electric fences. don’t get me wrong, i was born here and yes, this too can be a land of opportunity, especially in my chosen career, but the reality is, when i put my request out to the universe, i really wasn’t specific enough. i wanted to get back to making my living doing what i do best – and that, without a doubt, is acting. what i didn’t specify, was that i wanted it to be in english, and preferably, in l.a.. so, i’m re-phrasing my request. ideally i want to be able to travel for work. i want to have a base in los angeles, as well as south africa. i want to travel between the two continents for work. i want to be in an american/international drama series, do american/international film – i’ve done it before. i can do it again. 

Burton Morris - Ruby Slippers

image by burton morris

in the meantime i steer my little raft and weather the gales as best i can. this dorothy knows she’s not in kansas anymore, but maybe sometime i’ll get back my ruby slippers and i’ll click my heels…