I was sitting there at that stoplight wondering if the old man in the teal pick-up truck saw me holding up my phone and snapping a picture of him. Well, not really of him, but of his truck.
I imagined him asking me, “What do you think you’re doing?”
And then I replied, out loud, like we were actually having a conversation, “I don’t know why, but I’m going to need your teal today. I’m going to need it to remind me there is something grounding and something steady and something for me, not against me, in this world.”
“Are you talking to me?” Luther asked from the backseat. He asks this a lot lately as I’ve been talking out loud to myself a ridiculous amount.
“No, I’m not. I’m just thinking out loud,” I said, once again lost in my own head. Thinking about teal and whether it would be enough to carry me.
I posted the truck picture later on Instagram with a caption reading: “I’m done with making pretty and making nice. I’m ready to make magic. (The color of this truck just drew this out of me.) #poetrymeetsreality #createyourownomens”
A common photo for a less than common moment. This is where everything is taking me. Like each choice I am needing to make as of late is a step away from ideal and a step towards work. But it’s my sort of work, if I can just convince myself I am strong enough for the undertaking. It’s the sort of work that needs things to get dreadfully common, so I can dip my litmus test of a body into those petri dishes and see if I can come out as shining gold. It is the work of an alchemist that must have cold, hard impenetrable metal to work with. My hands must become familiar with gray. My secret name must be that of Rumpelstiltskin. I must shatter the confines of so called reality and spin it into so much more.
After I took this photo I saw two more bits of teal. I was driving through downtown Oklahoma City when I saw a teal forklift that looked like it had been dipped in dirt and then sandblasted. The teal was peeking through, screaming something that hit me in a flash and then was gone. It was too quick to get a picture, even a blurry picture.
I drove a few more blocks and then saw the teal house. I wished I was a giant so I could pluck it like a tiny square starburst and tuck it into my pocket to suck on later when the time was ripe. But I know the problem with starbursts is you can’t hold on to them forever. Eventually they turn rock hard and lose their appeal. This teal little starburst of a house was for me now, and so in the time it takes for a car going 45 mph to pass a house, I sucked in air and called it enough.
Good things come in threes. I know there was something telling me that these omens (a name I chose to give my teal trinity) were preparing me for a rollercoaster that was getting ready to make the plunge into a dark cave, the kind that makes you wish you could scream, only it happens so fast that you can’t manage to remember where exactly a scream is supposed to originate from. But there was something else telling me that I could call the dark cave good and right and maybe even holy if I wanted to. There was something lingering behind that sixth sense that was telling me some unfortunate events were about to unravel. That something was saying “What if this too is what you choose to call good luck? What if it’s all good luck.”
I parked my car and walked a block with Luther, each step reverberating in my head like a drum beat, like jungle drums, pulsing you to that point where all motion stops and time stands still and you realize you are not just the hunter, but also the hunted. I walked into the store that sells some of my art. I didn’t know the girl working, but when I asked her if I could pick up my check, she said, “Yes, give me just a minute. I think it’s in the back.”
“It’s never in the back,” I thought, as Luther played in the makeshift dressing room, opening and closing the curtain.
She returned and handed me my $16 check (which that day felt like a fortune) and with it a brown paper bag with handles. “This is yours too,” she said.
I looked inside. There were goodies, I thought for a split-second. And then I realized the goodies were my art. My art that I was selling, handed to me in a brown paper bag with my $16 check and no note of explanation. And I tell you, in that moment, all I could see in my mind’s eye was the color teal.
I walked outside, wondering how it is possible to feel both numb and electrified at the same time. Polar energy raised within me creating a tornado of motion that helped me walk back down the street.
It wasn’t about that shop. It wasn’t about the art that wouldn’t sell. It wasn’t even about the no explanation. Not really. It was about the moment where your life slams on its breaks and throws the gears into reverse without waiting for you to say “Why yes, I am in agreement of this.”
If I had a yarn ball in my hand at that moment, it would have been as if the ball had dropped, and I was left holding onto the end, my feet super-glued to the floor and every time I tried to postpone the unraveling and get the ball back into my hand by pulling on the end, it just managed to unravel even more.
This is what followed:
A phone call with “bad” news.
An email with “bad” news.
Another phone call with “bad” news.
A text with “bad” news.
And then there was that moment where I dropped the end of the ball of yarn and said, “Maybe I just don’t want to play anymore.” That moment of lifting weary arms to the sky and saying, “Fine, Universe. You’ve won. I’m Yours. Have your way with me.” That moment many would call forced surrender.
I called a friend and cried and amidst the tears and the shock and the “I have never been so blindsighted in my whole life” there was this deep gutteral presence of teal. Teal, teal, teal. She heard the teal in my voice, even if she wouldn’t have called it as such. “Your voice isn’t wavering,” she told me, even though my external voice very much was. It was the internal teal she heard, lining my voice box, believing I have ways of preparing myself for anything. For everything.
The only way you ever know if your magic really works is if you get to put it to the test. And let’s just face it, that is so harrowing, it may have to be imposed on us involuntarily.
It would seem that our world is but liquid metal poured into molds and allowed to cool and darken and harden over time. Everywhere we look there is metal. Metal in the adoption that is promised and then falls through. Metal in the dream that starts to come to fruition and then gets put on hold. Metal in an angry driver that pulls to the side of the road and screams, “Do you have a problem?” Metal in the baby that won’t gain weight, and no one, not even the “experts,” can fix it. Metal in the God that is supposed to protect and provide, but then goes off on holiday to sun himself on some exotic nude beach.
There is more than enough metal to practice our alchemy. Bucketfuls.
There is more than enough teal to go around. Armfuls.
This IS my kingdom come.
Secret laboratories are nice, but it’s time the magicians come out from hiding and take a risk and trust what’s already inside, petitioning to be played and experimented with. Would it be too cliche to ask of you, “Go for the gold?”
I leave you now. I am off to chase a teal bunny down a preposterously long rabbit hole.