I have been off the grid for many months now. My gypsy wagon currently hitched to a new life here in Asheville, North Carolina. The reality of being on the road is that life unfolds in totally unexpected ways which I am now ready to chronicle. Today is my first post since last May and it is particularly auspicious that it be on Christmas Day. I hope you enjoy the story and that you will comment on how your day has been.
Merry Christmas, Maya
Welcome Home By Maya Christobel
“To see things thousands of miles away, things hidden behind walls and within rooms, things dangerous to come to . . . to see and be amazed.”
Life Magazine Motto
Today I was amazed. The day did not start that way. In fact it was shaping up to have the potential of being bleak and unnerving. It was Christmas day.
I woke up to silence. No one clanking in the kitchen, no children giggling, just the low whirl of my air purifier and the soft purr of two of my best friends tucked neatly under my chin as I crawled out of bed in flannel wear to face Christmas morning totally by myself. The cat lady at 63. I was feeling a bit pathetic.
I threw open my door to the patio that leads into the woods and a blast of crisp 17 degree air woke me with a startle as both cats swiftly decided not to go outside after all. Glassy swirls of snow drifted through the trees. I threw on my shawl, slipped into my UGGs and walked to the edge of the woods.
With all the leaves in piles, the naked trunks of a million trees allowed my eyes to see past more than one range of Blue Ridge Mountains. I breathed deep and heard myself say, “Well this is going to be an interesting day”.
Living on the top of a mountain with no one very close and no real contact with cell phones is such is a retreat, a refuge, a place where you are creative. The silence catapults you into the best of who you are. But when you miss family, cooking, laughing and hugging it feels a bit more like a sentence. I was on the fence as to how I was feeling today.
Earl Grey Tea with coconut milk, an extra pair of socks, a left-over chocolate chip pancake and I was ready to sit at the computer to write. But, Facebook came first, since I was assured that on Christmas morning there might very well be far more substance there than usual. I tend to rant about the mundane sharing that goes on out there. But today I was right. Gratitude, poetry, family photos, Christmas puppies, smiling children, songs, videos and just a pile of love, littered cyberspace. Two hours later I was full.
I had wondered what I would do without family for the holiday. Friends were away, my daughters in Colorado, my “AO music family in St. Louis”, and me, what would I like to do to celebrate the day? A blank canvas stared at me, my paints which I dug out of storage neatly stacked next to brushes I had not used in years. A blank Word Document sat blinking at me from my computer screen. Oh, the pressure.
So, I did what anyone with writers block does: I checked out when the movie I had been waiting to see for months started. “The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty”. It was playing at my favorite blockbuster Regal Cinema in Biltmore Park. And it was playing at this little hole in the wall theater down the road.
I had never been inclined to go to the Beaucatcher Theaters since number one, I just hated the name, which for some reason, screamed redneck North Carolina to me and in fact I was a bit of a movie screen snob. This translates as “the bigger the screen the better”. But I just spontaneously decided to go to Beaucatcher. Hmmm.
I quickly checked my emails and sent one to my daughters. Suddenly I received one from my landlady who was vacationing in San Fran. Renee was letting me know that the house down the hill had been broken into. Now it would take a lot for someone to hike all the way up the mountain to break in to the house down the road. And I am one woman living here most of the time. This was just the corker.
I decided to turn on the stereo and play music while I was gone. But all of a sudden I just looked around and thought to myself. “Who gives a shit if someone wants what I have in my tiny efficiency apartment”. So I left a note instead. It went like this:
“If you are here to rob me then the door is open, I cooked Christmas dinner for myself last night, it is in the fridge, so you are welcome to it and anything else I have is …yours. Please just close the door behind you and do not let my cats out. Merry Christmas”
I left the door unlocked. Then I left for the movie.
I got to the tiny theater with a half dozen other souls at 11:30am. We were all doing something that most people were not. When I got out of the car to go inside, a family of about six people got out of the car next to me and we all walked to the ticket window. We chatted and we wished each other merry Christmas.
I had no makeup on and had just tossed my hair under a winter hat and worn gloves, since I knew the heat would hardly have had time to warm up the theater. The family sat in the row right in front of me and about four other people were scattered around. The smell of popcorn felt comforting in some odd way since, in all reality, the movie theater…is my church.
The soundtrack dazzled me, the larger than life faces with piercing blue eyes, the script and the wonder of this special little movie made me laugh as loud as the family near me. It was the medicine I needed.
It was a movie about hope. About defying the odds, about plowing right into the middle of your worst fears and finding…yourself. It was a movie that described my last year to a T. I call 2013 the year of disillusionment. In spades.
It has been a year of being cut off from the source of my own hope. I am a woman who has made best friends with coincidence and serendipity and made a religion out of doing the unthinkable. Up until this last year it has proven to be the only way to live, full of amazing adventures and the Universe, at every turn, confirming which path and what direction my life needed to take. But this past year, things became, quiet.
Countless veils of illusion about human nature, the state of our planet, the music and film industry and friends who suddenly behaved like enemies, became my bill of fare. Allowing myself to see past the illusion and recoup the magic has been an unexpected and difficult journey. I began to lose heart so I have hunkered down here in the mountains into my “chop wood, carry water” mode, knowing, hoping, that “this too shall pass”. But Christmas alone was a real cake topper.
The movie was a Technicolor injection of love and hope that was perfect for Christmas day. That would have been enough. The Universe does not need to do much to help me recalibrate my heart. But, the Universe had a special Christmas gift for me in mind.
I was the last to leave the theater. I watched every single credit for three-legged dog trainer and hair stylist until there was nothing left. I slipped my gloves on and pulled my hat down over my hair, my eyes red from laughing till I cried.
When I stepped out into the hall the family of six were waiting there. Millie the mother asked me how I liked the film. Nelson the film aficionado of the family, working as a film gaffer in NYC, asked a few questions but I really could not hear the conversation. All I saw were these smiling faces and angel wings spring forth as a bear sized boyfriend smiling next to Millie reached to shake my hand and close friends of the family circled all around me in the hall.
Then one of those short, perfect, destined conversations ensued that went something like this. “We need to talk, come visit our new motel called Peaceful Quest Retreats”, I knew we were supposed to meet, isn’t this basically magic?” My heart said a resounding YES! I was missing my family so very much this day. The Universe reminded me how large my family really was.
Who were these people? Why did we all go to the movie at the same time? Why didn’t I go to the poshy Biltmore Park? What is it that makes a total stranger feel instantly like a long-lost family member. What is it in a twinkle in the eye or a caring smile that is the Universe laughing its ass off and telling you that all is well in this world? The magic is everywhere, purpose marches forward uninterrupted, and even if you get lost in the woods, there are always the cosmic breadcrumbs.
So, Millie Facebooked me before her Christmas dinner, I looked at photos of her magical retreat in Asheville that she purchased three years ago and said she was called to come to Asheville, just like countless people I know here. The calling that no one can really put their finger on but each of us have just gone and moved here to find out why.
I went home filled with the wonder of it all. Wonder and awe are my elixirs in life: The magic of destiny that keeps me going through countless disillusionments, barbaric wars and horrific loss in the world. Millie and her lovely family was not only a B12 shot for my soul, but a personal invitation from Spirit to get back on the horse and keep riding. Even when the future is so uncertain. Now Millie is part of that future. Yesterday I did not know she existed.
I got home and sat in the car for a while. A red Cardinal that frequents my patio sat on the table. The note for the ‘possible thief’ blew in the breeze still stuck to the door and I could hear the music I had left on inside. Welcome home it said.