Tuesday, June 26, 2007

All Shook Up

Been fearing earthquakes a lot lately. Not the little barely-noticed-them jolts that are so common, especially where I live in Oakland (it feels at times as if our building is built on not-so-steady ground). No, I'm talking about having fears of the proverbial 'Big One'--the one that geologists, amateur and professional--say is coming to the Hayward Fault, most likely, in the next 25 or so years. But really, it's not just the Hayward Fault earthquake I've been paranoid about--so paranoid that I've lain awake at nights after feeling a suspicious trembling (most likely my partner moving around next to me), my heart pounding in my chest--it's just earthquakes in general. I was in LA this past weekend and felt the same fear. Earthquakes, as it were, can happen almost anywhere in California. It's a fact of life I've known since I was a child, having been born and raised here and having lived here all my life.

Today I went to therapy and finally confessed to my therapist (who is very good, by the way) that I've had this strange, intense fear of earthquakes lately. So intense that I hadn't told anyone about it, for fear that I would be seen as silly and bizarre, or that I would cause what I feared the most to come true. She asked me, in that inimitably matter-of-fact yet nurturing way of hers, "Symbolically, earthquakes shake you to your foundation. Do you feel like you've been shaken, that you've changed lately?"

My answer was, unequivocally, yes. I have changed. From my trip to meet my father and sisters to my trip to the Philippines for the first time, I have swallowed, absorbed and manifested many changes in my life that I never thought I would. Feeling possible feelings of forgiveness towards the father who abandoned me before I knew who he was. Meeting family members I never even knew existed. Building a relationship with a sister who, though born and raised 3,000 miles away from me, is so much like me that it feels natural to be with her. Immersing myself in the culture of my 'homeland' without knowing the language, without being able to say much more than "I'm hungry" or "It's hot" or "My name is Rona." All this has changed me, in ways that are obvious and in ways that I have yet to see and understand.

So yes, I told my therapist today, I feel as if I've had a series of earthquakes in my life lately. All self-triggered, so to speak, but emotional and psychological earthquakes all the same. Catharses. Cleansings. Life changes.

Today, on the BART ride home from my therapy session, I felt a little less skittish about riding the train underground. I felt a release, a letting go within me, of the fear that had tensed my shoulder muscles every time I felt a tremor from the rumbling of a truck outside, or of the train rolling into the station. It started to make sense. I suddenly understood that I didn't have to be afraid anymore, that my fear wasn't serving me in any way except for to make me feel imprisoned, trapped, helpless.

So crazy how having one person listen to you and attempt to help you make sense of your deepest desires and insecurities can loosen the grip of your old patterns, old grooves of habit and thought.

And now I feel ready for another potential shake-up: I start the first of my two VONA workshops tomorrow morning at 8:30am sharp. I'll be studying character development with Jessica Hagedorn, and then next week going through a novel workshop with Chris Abani. VONA was a life-changing experience for me two years ago, and though I'm trying not to have too high expectations for my second time around, I know at the very least that I'll learn something, even if it doesn't rock my world.

And really, that's okay if it doesn't. Because I've had plenty of 'earthquakes' this year already.

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