Sunday Seen & Heard 5.8.22

On Sunday mornings, I try to get up early and post up in a neighborhood coffee shop for writing practice. I read a chapter of Natalie Goldberg’s Wild Mind: Living the Writer’s Life and spend 10 uninterrupted minutes capturing my surroundings.


Prompt: “the closest you ever felt to God or nature”

I heard God on a Hawaiian beach under a full moon. On a September night, as black waves rolled from my toes to the other side of the world — “Asia!” I remarked. “Asia’s on the other side of this.” — I was humbled before forces bigger than myself. The fucking ocean. Lady Luna hanging high and proud over the silhouettes of mountains and volcanoes and palm trees stirring in the breeze. I couldn’t speak. Could only listen to the Pacific’s soothing song and stare at the luminescent ripples across the night sky.

The tears came then. I, Rob from East 140th and St. Clair in Cleveland, Ohio, was on a beach in Hawaii. Far from the gold and green-trimmed two story home where I grew up. The pale, faded blue walls of my childhood bedroom — which only became “mine” after my mother got married and she and I could no longer share a room — and my dingy white second-hand dresser and desk that did not match the brown bed and sleeping in sweatpants and a two-times too big PEPSI hoodie because my room had the shittiest vent in the house. From the almost-fist fight with my aunt at 16 because she swore she could hear the bass from my stereo in the basement where she slept even when I wasn’t playing music and the New Year’s Eve I watched my mother and grandmother collapse to the floor in a shoving match and wondered what hope I had if these idiots were supposed to be the adults. From dreaming and striving so hard to be more and better, that I mentally collapsed at 25.

On a September night, under a hauntingly beautiful full moon in Hawaii, even though I believe only vaguely in something bigger than me on my better days and in nothing at all on my worst, God told me I’d made good. That pulling myself out of hell several times over was as exceptional as I needed to be in this lifetime. It is enough, They declared. You are capable. You’ve got this. You, right now, are enough.

On the walk back to her house, my host wondered if I’d write about what happened on the beach. She could tell I — the cynical pragmatist to her free-spirited hippie — was having the kind of moment writers have to write about. “I don’t want to ruin it by trying to capture it,” I said. “I want to let it be.”

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a girl named rob

I used to be "skinny black girl." I'm now a slender woman on the other side of 35 with no new moniker who is not quite interested in writing under her given name. Still writing my life, a day (or some months) at a time. Also, still black.

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