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There's a Woman on the Hill...

The last two weeks have felt like one melty swirl of depression, COVID illness, grief, and weathering actual weather. My days and nights are mixed up. My appetite was non existent, and my body hurt so much to move that there was a point I actually considered a pee tube connected to the vacuum so that I wouldn't have to walk anywhere. Sadly, Pee Tube Vacuum never came to fruition, maybe some dreams are just meant to die.

I rarely ever feel like my authentic healthy happy self. But man, I haven't even felt like the fake high functioning version of me either. This has been unacceptable.

But today, some relief!

Sure it's past midnight, but hey, at this point I don't care that I'm wide awake at 2 am . After being in a nearly comatose haze for weeks, I'll take what I can get.

I hightailed it to the only 24 hour filling station in town, got myself a mango smoothie, then drove out to my favorite spot- the rural airport runway field.

The airport is my favorite place. I love the idea of a place that's entire purpose is built on the magic that humans can fly. I love the way life moves through bigger airports. I love the weird microcosm of existence amongst the little shops and hole in the wall food nooks, and all the people finding creative ways to turn their luggage into comfortable furniture. (I once made a bed out of a rolling carry on, backpack, hoodie, and deftly chosen corner seats on a 12 hour layover.) I just love the idea of life in motion.

But for as much as I love big airports, I love the small ones even more. I love that when you walk into a rural airport mostly for crop dusting farmers, it smells like 1960. I wasn't alive then, but I'm pretty sure that's the scent. I like that there's a cardboard box full of candy bars with a crude $1 written in sharpie on the front, and that the candy wrappers are dusty. Mostly, I love the runway lights. I get lost in runway lights. My brain is soothed by the colorful runway lights against the emptiness of a country night.

I pulled into my usual spot outside the airport fence into a field that is now fully covered in corn. My car crackles across the gravel field road and instantly I feel relief, because I know I'll be in my space soon. A space just for me where I can exist without feeling like I need to be small or quiet. It's me, my mango smoothie, my car stereo, and twinkly lights as far as the eye can see.

"Cypress Grove" by Clutch starts to play, and damn, does this song have a lifelong hold on me. I know I need to dance. I turn up the music, turn on the headlights, and head bang my way into a beautiful temporary oblivion.

I sing as loud as my weak lungs will let me. There's no sense to how I move, no flashy choreography, I don't think about how to move- I just do. In this moment, I'm a chaos agent of rhythm and deep emotion. In these two minutes, I am free.

"Now tell me,

Holy diver, where you at?

There's a woman on the hill in a wide brimmed hat

With a shotgun


And a big blood hound in the back of a jacked up ford"

I always loved this chorus, because believe it or not, this is kind of how I see myself. You see, I have hillbilly deep in my genes. My dad is from Arkansas, and my mom is from Okinawa (considered "the South" of Japan). A running joke is that I'm the redneck of both countries so I have superpowers. I was taught how to farm, fish, and hunt as a kid. My favorite car was a little pick up truck with a mattress in the bed to sleep under the moon. I love hikes in the woods, and the slow quiet loneliness of the country. I love being alone and away from civilization. I also know how to fight and survive, and my past traumas have given me a profound sense of distrust and cynicism.

The woman on the hill in a wide brimmed hat with a shotgun is me.

Well... One big but mostly secret part of me. And here dancing and singing alone against the runway lights, I don't have to hide.

Then "Shotgun" by Jr. Walker and the All-stars starts to play. And here I go again. I start to lose myself down another path of body memory.

Growing up on Motown music was one of the best gifts my dad gave me. The thing about soul music is that it's the boss. You have to let it take you completely. You have to let it speak to you how it wants and move you how it wants. Otherwise, you aren't doing it right.

"Put on your high heel shoes

I said we're goin' down here to listen to 'em play the blues

We're gonna dig potatoes

We're gonna pick tomatoes

I said shotgun

Shoot 'em for he run now

Do the jerk baby

Do the jerk now"

And the night continues on like this for as long as I can muster the energy.

Being free takes a lot of energy. It's exhausting to be exactly who you are. There's something very heavy, emotional, but beautiful in coming face to face with who you are and trusting it.

In my current life, I'm not in a place that I feel this free. My mental health is in shambles. My body is slowly killing me. My family life is an ocean of grief, and my career is simply doing whatever job I have to in order to eat. The world has made very little space for me. But in these small moments at the airport at night, and others like the 20 minutes I'm watching Tokusatsu TV, that's when I'm most alive. That's me carving out space little by little and surviving. For me, dancing to Clutch and Motown is more than an act of joy and relief.

It is an act of power.

It is me saying that no matter what you keep throwing at me,

I'm still here, and I'm not going anywhere.

The song plays on.

"Now tell me,

Holy diver, where you at?

There's a woman on the hill in a wide brimmed hat."

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