Wednesday, July 27, 2011

imaginary friend

She stretches the length of the couch, her nose buried in a book. I want to cuddle her up, nibble on her toes, kiss her neck right under her chin. She looks like a miniature woman with her long muscular legs and artist fingers. It is only her little baby belly poking out in that adorable, perfect, unself-conscious way of a four year old, that reminds me how little she is. I feel like I missed two years of her life, the ones sandwiched between Lucy's death and right at this moment. We exchange smiles.

She throws her book aside, and opens her arms. I forget sometimes that she wants me to hold her as much as I want to hold her. I feel like I am always touching her. Put her hair behind her ear. Tickle her belly. Hold her hand. Rub her back. Brush the dirt off her knees. I lie next to her. We kiss and giggle and snuggle, just under the secretary that houses her sister's ashes. We find comfort there.

"Sometimes I get sad that Lucy died, Mama."
"Me too, love."

She had an imaginary friend. On Lucy's first birthday, Beatrice's imaginary friend came for a tea party. Her name was the Other Beatrice. She looked exactly like Beatrice, she told me, except she was littler. The coincidence freaked me out.

"The Other Beatrice just kissed you, Mama," Beatrice told me. I believed her. But for whatever reason, the Other Beatrice stopped coming over to our house to play. I asked her too many questions, Beatrice told me. Her new imaginary friend started showing up a few months later for three or four day stretches.

Her name is Snowflake. She lives in China on Number One Street. She has a sister named Apple, and another named Fork. "Snowflake's sisters don't die," Beatrice explains. Snowflake sleeps over all the time. I mean for days and days at a time, because "China is very far away and her mommy doesn't mind at all." It used to be that Snowflake was her sister, but had a different mother and father. One day, she was just her friend. She talks to Snowflake, pushes  her in the swing in our dining room, runs with her like they are holding hands. She tells me stories of Snowflake. And I ask, "What does Snowflake look like?"

"I cannot tell you, Mama, because she is my imaginary friend."


I made a promise to Lucy that I wouldn't look for her in the wind, in the ordinary, in the imaginary friends, but I want her there. In that which I know exists, but I cannot hold.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Snippets about Thor and Beezus.

It had been a while since I pulled up her picture. The other day, Beezus asked me if Lucy looked like her or Thor.
"Yes, my love."

"Which one?"
"Both of you. She is the perfect blend of both of you."

This morning seemed like a fine time to see Lucy. It is overwhelmingly hot, and I am doing work. Looking at pictures is a luxury I rarely afford myself. I called to Beezus. Thor tottered in right behind her, and each of them sat on a knee.
"This is a picture of Lucy, Beez. This is a picture of your sister, Thor."
"Ssssis," he said. He pointed to Beezus then himself.
"Yes, Beezus is your sister, and this is Lucy, she is also your sister."

Lulu meet Thor. Thor meet Lulu.

"Ssssis," he said again, and pointed to the screen then himself.


Pointing. To him and the food he wants. To the place he wants to go. To the toy on the high shelf he can't reach. Grunt. Point. Whine. Point. Giggle. Point.

"Corn. Good." Beezus grunts as corn falls out her mouth.

We are cave people.


Food good. Tummy full. Girl happy. Baby clingy. Mama testy.


The other day, Beezus was carrying a card from the zoo which showed the new baby orangutan. Thor grabbed it out of her hands, staring at it and walking. He came up to me and pointed to the baby orangutan and then to himself.

Yes, my love, you are both babies. You are both little monkeys.

He makes connections. He is using signs. He make long exaggerated nods to answer questions in the affirmative. He is talking when he can. He says sister, mama, dada, Jack and dog, usually right after the other, so it sounds like Jack the dog. He says bird, and thank you and welcome. And other things that surprise me and make me feel like time is going much too fast. Much too.

Yesterday we went to the Farm Fair, and looked at the animals, and he liked each animal, but particularly the piggies. First he pointed at the baby piggies, and then himself. But then he kept waving and blowing kisses at them. They slept in the oppressive heat, but I couldn't help but feel sad. I always feel sad when I see babies wave to people and things that don't notice them at all. I always wonder if it is the first time of many that they learn the world is a cruel, cold place. Is that the neural pathway laid down by an unacknowledged wave? Or maybe they are learning they aren't the center of the universe. In the end, I think both are necessary and heartbreaking lessons.


I need to practice saying no. I say yes to too much, feel much too stretched these days. But I love everything I do, so I suck it up. I daydream about writing a long leisurely email, not the detriment of any other project. Just an email about books, and life. Maybe I would even complain about my husband if I could sit for a moment and think about some things that annoy me. (He forgets to put the garbage bag back in the can after he takes it out, so I mindlessly drop smelly garbage in the can, and then have to wash it out. That drives me insane.)

Thor just wants to be on me. All. The. Time. He still likes breastfeeding whenever he wants to, and it makes me feel like a Chinese buffet. I say no, and distract him, but he only forgets for five minutes. That makes me feel busy too. Because I am constantly moving a little person somewhere else. Everything takes me four times longer than if the children just sat quietly, reading Dostoyevsky, like I recommend.

Here is Crime and Punishment. Come back when you understand the concept of freedom in Raskolnikov's moral universe.

In the same token, I miss Beezus, even though I spend all day with her. She is starting pre-k in the fall, and that will be a new chapter in our lives--school. I sometimes realize that I didn't say goodnight to her, because she fell asleep with Sam while I was putting Thor to bed. She doesn't care. She doesn't notice. But I do. Holding Beezus is still holding my baby, albeit my long, lanky girl who was once my baby. When Beezus does come over for cuddles, Thor pulls at her arms. He untangles her limbs from my body, then he hits her, or pinches her cheek.

"But she's my mommy too, Thomas. I need cuddles too." Sometimes she cries at the injustice of it, and sometimes she laughs. Mostly she laughs.

Sometimes when I find myself so tired of being touched, I take a shower. I leave the children in the bathroom with toys, and turn it on cold. Of course, it is a millions droplets of water touching me, but it feels like resetting my touch-o-meter. I just want to not be touched, grabbed, pawed by another human, and yet, I know how fucking fast this all goes. It is already too fast. He has morphed from a baby to a baby monkey. And next will be a big kid monkey, and then a teenage monkey.

"Enjoy it. It goes by too fast."

I know. And I do enjoy it.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Right Where I Am

When I first thought about the Right Where I Am project, I kind of envisioned it as a Babylost It Gets Better, though not better, because it doesn't get better, but it somehow changes and the changes are an interesting sensation we must pay attention to, as someone once told me about labor pains (That isn't interesting, sister, that shit hurts.) (And not to downplay the very very important project and work of It Gets Better, which you should totally donate money to.) But I wanted it to be maybe a "You Will Not Feel Like This Forever" project.

Listen, I hated hated hated when people said to me in the early months,  "Don't worry, honey. Time heals. Grief changes. You won't be so raw."  Whether those words came from a widow, or another babylost mama, because even though I wanted it to stop hurting so much, I couldn't envision what not-hurting-so-much was. Did that mean I would forget Lucy? Did that mean I stopped feeling sad? Did that mean I would feel far away from Lucy since the only thing tying me to her was pain? And so, as the idea stewed in my mush-like brain, I began envisioning a space where we don't lecture anyone about grief, where we make no sweeping generalizations about timelines and Kubler-Ross stages, where no one gives anyone advice, or imparts false wisdom about grief, but one where we show our progress by simply cataloguing where we are right at this moment in our life. Then, someone earlier in their grief can look at that place and say, "Yes, I can see now what people mean when they say that grief changes."

All this being said, we have 160 participants. We had three more over the weekend. The posts trickle in, and have become part of this amazing, immense project. The last as important as the first. I am blown away by it. I still have like the last forty to read through (shit, that sounds overwhelming) but I do plan on reading them through, and then organizing them in the little page tab on top of my blog by time. I love that they are a moment in time. A moment in our grief, like a snapshot of this community, all standing together, arm over arm, smiling. Your feelings may have changed the next day, but that is exactly why I think this project is so damn powerful.

This weekend, Josh over at JACKatRANDOM sent me this amazing piece he pulled together. He describes it so much more eloquently than I possibly could. He has read every post. He has pulled a piece of love, wisdom, growth, grief, pain, anger and kindness out of each post and made it one cohesive graphic element. It is breathtaking and awe-inspiring and awesome. Please go over and click it. Ask him for a copy. Send him love. Amazing work. I will be posting it on still life 365 next week as well, and maybe talking to Josh in a Live Chat, so come ask him about Margot and art and writing and grief.

Edited to add: Check out this Right Where I Am page where I put every post in time order. I love ordering things. If you don't see your name on the list, it might be because your blog is private, or your time is not visible or obvious to me. I did the best I could to figure out time, sometimes measured in days, weeks, or hours. 


In other news, I am not sure I have shared this, but a month or so ago, I became a MISS Foundation Hope Mentor for the Philadelphia/South Jersey region. That means that if you are in need of someone to talk to about your grief, you are welcome to call me, or find a HOPE Mentor close to you. I know that early in my grief, I needed a non-judgmental person to call, or email. Some place safe. I found the blogging community. Maybe you have too, if you are here. If not, call me, email me. I will listen. And if you aren't in need of a person on the other end of a phone line, don't forget that next Wednesday July 27th is International Kindness Project Day, where we do a random act of kindness for a stranger in the name of our baby. You can download the little markers you leave, or email me and I can print it off and mail you some. It is an awesome feeling to do something wonderful in your baby's name. So, come on, start brainstorming!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

the comfty chair

Sometimes I don't wonder what she would look like if she lived, I wonder what I would look like if she lived.

Like a domino trail, I feel parts of me fall, touch another, it falls, until I am nothing but a heap of fat mush around a still-beating broken heart. My organs writhe around my grief. My muscle twist and cramp around my sadness. I ache. I read on a blog about how stomach muscles atrophy and tear after too many children too soon, and it makes a woman hold her weight right there, like she were still pregnant. It is so fucking cruel that after her death, I looked pregnant. That some days, I still look pregnant. And people look at my belly, unsure of what to say. Is she? Isn't she? My body is a fucking traitor--Killing my baby. Making the world ask me if I am pregnant.

I sometimes don't know whose body this is. And yet I know I am still strong. I know my back can take carrying two children for eight hours, because that is what I do all day. This is the body of a woman in mourning, a woman in pieces. I stare at pictures of me, recently, pictures of me at the beach in swimming costume, and wonder who the tired, old, fat lady holding my baby is. She looks like my mother, only heavier and taller.

This year, I had one resolution, one goal, to make peace with this fucking liar of a body. Within ten days, I quit drinking. That was six months ago. I feel better about my body without the alcohol. I feel better about everything without the alcohol. There is this great Buddhist teaching about change.

When you are walking all day, monkeys pummeling you with small rocks and poop from behind large trees, your shoes a tad too small, and thousands of people swarming at you in the opposite direction, a big comforty red chair with padded arm rests looks like the most comfortable thing in the world. And indeed, it is. You snuggle in. Your feet are rested. The poop is off of you, and it smells like lemon verbena in the chair. (It is a lemon verbena filled pillow under your head, you didn't know that, though.) This chair is so comfortable, you decide you will never leave it. This is your chair. Your life. The world is too hard.

After twenty minutes, you are still comfortable.
After two hours, your ass is starting to hurt a little, like you need to adjust yourself, maybe.
After two days, this chair is no longer comfortable. It is starting to become a nightmare. You dream of the street with the poop and the traffic.
After two weeks, it is torture.
After two months, you are completed debilitated. Absolutely unable to walk if you wanted now. The chair is the instrument of your paralysis.

BUT WAIT, the chair, the red comforty lemon verbena chair! You love that chair!

We need change. We need to always look at the things that we think help us, that work in our lives. Alcohol worked for me for a very very long time. It was my big red comfty chair with bourbon-aromatherapy pillows. It worked as a de-stressor. It just worked for the pain of my traumas and past hurts. And then, one day, it didn't. Oh, I stayed in the big chair. It was the most comfortable thing I could imagine at some point in my life, and some moments, I even believed it still was. But one day, I was paralyzed. Well, me and my emotions were debilitated. I was broken by the thing that was the most comfortable thing in the world.

I am not sure what I am getting at. I am really just writing this so I understand.

Oh, right, I was fat. Or maybe I am fat. My daughter died in me. And I am fat. She didn't die in me because I am fat. She didn't die in me because I drank too much before she was even an idea. She didn't die because of me. It has taken me two and a half years to write that sentence. Listen, I am not the fattest woman ever, but I have some mama chub. But I am starting to be cool with my body now, even though it is not the body in my mind's eye. It is a fat middle aged body. Because the shame of being an alcoholic is no longer coloring the perception of everything about me now.  Another chair that paralyzed me was the self-deprecation chair, the comfortable puke green one that smelled like bourbon.

And so, even though I cut out some liquid in my daily life, it has changed every little thing about me. I can see the muscle under the fat. I can feel the strength again. Sobriety is helping me making peace with my body. Am I healed? Fuck no. But I am walking towards a place that is in the neighborhood of peace and healing, like the corner of Okay Avenue and Grateful Street. And honestly, I am still learning to walk after years in the same two chairs.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

still life everyday

If you don't know, I have a blog called still life everyday, which cataloged my adventures last year with the Creative Every Day (CED) project. The beautiful thing about CED is that it created the habit in our lives of being creative and thinking creatively every day. This year, I am so much less formal about that project, but interestingly enough, I think I am so much more creative in how I approach everything in our lives. Funny how that works. Creativity certainly begets creativity. At least, it has for our family.

That blog is largely ignored, like the towheaded stepchild of my blogs, but it is also kind of my favorite. (No, stop, you are all my favorites!) Because I don't really edit the space with the same kind of fervor I do here. I just write and post pictures, and just explore the fun side of being a stay at home mother (SAHM). I have posted art on there since early 2010, so it is nice to be able to search a time frame and see what I was creating. Or find a little project I did way back when.

I have decided to transform the space into a place where I can talk about mindful parenting, buddhism, still keep it about the art I do, crafts I do with my kids, like the mind jar meditation, and other aspects of our daily life. There I will talk more about parenting solutions, how-to for crafts, and other ways we live.  We do a ton of crafty things around the house, and people always react like I have done something hard or miraculous. The truth is I just do it. I am not afraid to make a mess and make mistakes, so I have a lot of little successes and more failures in the realms of crafts, but I never let it deter me from creating. In the last few years, I have been trying to create more staples at home and be more self-sufficient. still life with circles isn't really the place to write about it, even though I have been.  I know reading about parenting when you have lost your first can be painful, and I have always felt torn about this aspect of my blog. Because I feel like all those parts of my life are one, but I have separated everything out in Bloglandia. Still, I started still life with circles as a way to process Lucia's death and my grief, particularly because I parented Beezus all day. And I'd like it to feel like a relatively safe space for people early in loss, or those who don't have living children. Here is where I process the emotions of parenting and loss.

I am going to be updating the look of still life every day over the next few days, and transforming the space to reflect its new purpose. I hope that if you like some of the crafts and art or parenting information you have seen in my blogs, on Facebook, or in my Etsy shop, you will come check it out and take the ride with me.

I'd also love to get your feedback about the space. Do you think the name is still apt? Is there anything you want to see on that blog that I have talked about? Or not talked about? Any crafts, cooking projects, artwork you'd like to see as a how-to? Anything you have been curious about that you want me to check out?

This morning we made crayons, or transformed our crayons. And I write about it right here.

Monday, July 11, 2011

home again

There is always a moment when I am traveling with my kids where I wonder what the hell I was thinking. And that thought immediately rolls into the next one which is "I am never flying again." I try to remember when flying was just me worried about my stuff. When I complained about a Korean girl with bad breath one flight, and another where a man drooled on my shoulder, but then bought me a drink, I was an idiot to think that was hard to deal with.

It happened this last flight when they were asking for volunteers to step off the overbooked plane, and Sam looked at me and said, "What do you think they will give us for three seats?" that I thought about my single years of one carry-on backpack for a month-long trip. He went up to the counter and I heard the little man say, "Four hundred dollar vouchers." I used to be the person, every flight, collecting vouchers. I didn't owe anyone anything. No where to be. No one to answer to. A free flight was like a little taste of hope and adventure.  A promise of another country. I let him ask. He stood there, so eager, as the baby pinched my nose in the Ergo. Thor is cute, but I just wanted to be home, and we hadn't even gotten a third of the way through our day of travel. I couldn't willingly be stuck in an airport in Mobile, Ala-fucking-bama, with a fifteen month old and a four year old hanging on to an empty promise of some heavily dyed juice that cost me five dollars. I desperately waved him off.

Please, no. Please see me saying no. Leave the little man to his job of finding single dudes with iPhones to skip this flight. Please have mercy on our family. Please have mercy on my back.

Turns out they didn't need volunteers after all. The kids didn't cry on any of our plane rides. They were quiet. They ate their snacks, and read their books. Thor slept most of the flights. His long muscular body had nowhere to go. He draped over me, head bumping the window, feet kneading whatever part of his sister they could reach, trying desperately to nurse and sleep. Our laps and our airplane seats, particularly in the small commuter between Atlanta and Mobile, were not made for a giant baby and his mama.  I look up, close my eyes and pray.

Dear Lord, please give me the strength to endure this knee in the side of my stomach for the next hour and twenty minutes. Please give me patience to make it through this flight if this baby wakes up madder than a wet hen. And Lord, next time, send me a sign that I should pay extra for first class. Because, Lord, I would pay four hundred dollars right at this moment for a place to put my feet. Amen.

When he wasn't snoring, Thor popped over the seat and smiled his big teethy grin at any grandma, teenage girl, or single business woman sitting behind us. He is not discriminating. Just the first person with breasts who catches his eyes. Because no matter how desperate the situation for the big guy, he can still manage to flirt with a lady. That is just how Shorty rolls.

When I walk out of the plane, baby smiling in the Ergo, people catching our family and smiling, I feel so cool. We are actually doing this thing. We are traveling without hiccups. When it is just us rolling our duffels, all efficiently cool, out of the airport when single, less organized, people are still struggling with their overhead compartments, I think we should fly once a month, perhaps even become professional gypsies. World travelers. My answer in the James Lipton quiz about my perfect job is always Travel Writer. It is a glimpse of the life I always envisioned before I actually had children. I remember saying stupid things while drunk about how when I had kids, I would throw them in a backpack with a few clothes, some books and washable nappies, and just hit the old Hippie Trail. Get them traveling early, I would say. So they don't mind.

Funnily, my kids don't mind. They don't. Bea has been on five trips, or like ten plus plane rides, if you count each way, but not connections. We've driven for three days with nary a peep of complaint out of her. Her only tough flight was age two, to Panama, when I was convinced we were all going down in the Caribbean Sea in a ball of fire. Lucy just died. I figured I had taken up residence in the shitty end of statistics. That is where I lived. That is where I dined. Freak accident mid-air seemed a perfectly reasonable conclusion to our trip and year. Goodbye, fair world, there is turbulence. We all gonna die. So, you know, her tension might have been mama-induced. She is over it now. She didn't mind flying. Thor didn't mind flying.

So, yeah, maybe I mind. All the lugging, and bad food, and expensive water, and pat downs, and wriggly kids, and small bathroom stalls, and unshoeings, and weird accents, and fake conversations when facing the forced intimacy of a seatmate. This isn't to mention the stuff when you get to where you are going. We stayed on an island in southern Alabama. There was a few sno-cone stands, a bakery, no sit-in restaurants, a baitshop/grocer and a circle K. I paid $11.90 for twelve shitty diapers. I mean, they didn't come pre-shat, but they weren't terribly well-made diapers. Thor, um, revealed their design flaws immediately. But we were on an island, and we had the choice of those diapers at the Bait Shop, or buying ONE DIAPER in a package for a buck ninety-nine at the Circle K. I needed a week's worth of diapers. We went with the bargain.

And yet, I also love traveling, because hey, even if it is not vacation in the traditional sense, it is still someplace else, and that is sometimes cool. Our someplace else had days filled with wet swimsuits, pods of dolphins, walks on the beach, saunas, delicious seafood, cousin time, wonderful conversations about books, and love and family and calm.

Beezus kept saying, "Of course there are dolphins here, Mama, it is called Dolphin Island."
"Honey, it is called DAUPHIN Island, not DOLPHIN Island."
"Yeah, Dolphin Island. The island where the dolphins live." Skip away.

We are home now. I managed to clean before I left. I forgot I did that, and it was nice. The effect exactly what I was going for. I also managed to do laundry before I left vacation, so I just had to unload the bags, and put the clothes away and lounge around eating bonbons.

Which is what I do every day.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

the gulf

It's pretty here, except for the rigs dotting the horizon. I just called them oil rigs when we first got here, but my brother-in-law told me they were natural gas. I nodded. I don't mind making sweeping generalizations about things like that. They pump fuel out of the ground. I don't need specifics. My sister-in-law said, "Whatever the hell they are, they are blocking my view."

I have never swam in the Gulf of Mexico, though I have swam in the Caribbean Sea. It looks like the same body of water on a map, but technically, I suppose it isn't. Another sweeping generalization I don't mind making. It is a salty body of water south of the United States. There is some international boundary, or tide and streams and whatnot that make them different, I suppose. An invisible line we cross from gulf to sea. I have been spending my mornings holding a baby in the gulf.  Despite my fears of oil contaminants and who-ha and whatsits floating invisibly to bore into our skin and sicken us all, the ocean is warm. I know that from direct experience now. There are no real waves, so the girl can swim and jump and play, and the tide won't drag her out to sea. Not having my child dragged out to sea is a definite bonus. Beezus is building sand castles with her cousins, and looking for shells, and telling me her lips are salty. She loves being amongst a group of kids that look like her. I hear them playing, she is the princess they help save. She is the baby. She is the fairy. I love seeing all these people around her that love her. That trumps it all, any complaint my petty, warped little mind can manifest is eradicated by seeing her (and Thor) so adored. When she gets tired of the sea, we walk to the condo, and swim in a saltwater pool. We cuddle and read stories and eat berries.

The beach patrol, the other afternoon, rode up and down the beach, speaking through a loud speaker, looking for a nine-year old child. "Are you hiding, John Doe? Come out. Please raise your hands." Later they stopped asking the boy to raise his hand, and asked anyone if they had seen the boy, which is how I know that he was nine and wearing red swimming trunks. There are no lifeguards, just people watching their people. I complain about the small area you are allowed to swim at the Jersey shore. The beach fee. And the people sandwiched in like sardines, but there is something comforting about another set of eyes.

Water is water. The saltiness of the air around here reminds me that I love the ocean, even though I am fat and alone in my brownness and afraid of the drinking that comes with beach culture. No trains to Margaritaville this trip. All things being equal, if there were no Southerners in matching outfits, I would live here in a heartbeat. The relentless sun is something I love, the heat and humidity a part of some kind of genetic memory. The rhythm of beach life. Sometimes I feel Aztec in my power and anger and connection with the sun. I am equally comfortable in the cold as the heat, though and in the winter, I banshee scream through the snow. "This is my power weather," I shriek. I like all weather, even the relentless kind.

My nephew found a dead baby shark and held it for a while in the surf. I couldn't help but find it beautiful, both the gesture and the dead shark. There are nineteen of us in all our personalities and quirks. We had a family photograph taken yesterday. We were all asked to wear white and khakis like we were at band camp. It looked much nicer than I thought possible. We don't do that up north, do we? We don't match for our photographs. Or maybe it is just my people don't match. We are decidedly unmatchy. They will offer to sell us a picture of the four of us in white shirts and khaki shorts, and I will wonder if I should do it. I kept my hair down, and held the baby.We smiled.

I didn't pack her ashes, though I thought about it. I miss being around her essence. I used to feel so silly in my early months when someone would ask me if I felt Lucia all around me. I didn't feel her. I don't feel her. I don't know her. That is the problem, I would think. And I still don't feel her, but being away from our home, and our lives, I feel the absence of her. There is nothing here that is hers. This place does not have her at all. And I miss her. It isn't her ashes that contain her, or a place, but a feeling of comfort that is somehow lacking here, even though I am comfortable.

Pictures are so funny, because they only capture a fraction of a story. They capture only four-fifths of ours. Can a photograph capture the joy and sadness, the grief and pure happiness, of our family? We are sharing a condo with my brother-in-law, wife and nephew, and the absence of their son too. To talk of grief and babyloss in an organic way is so comforting, so natural. I am grateful to share our space with them.

I am sitting on the porch, overlooking a pier, which once hung over the ocean, but now, is over the sand. Katrina drastically changed the topography of this place. No island here, not sand dune there. I only know this island for what it is now, not what it used to be. I get this island because of that. Oil washed up on the beaches, covering the shore birds, sand where there is not to be sand, water where there once was no water. Industry dotting the beauty of the view. But still, it is pleasant, lovely. It is its own thing. I am the same. Tornadoes have torn through trailer parks of me. High waters. Storms, and calms, and people have littered their oil on my beaches, but something is still essentially me, even if I look the same. Name me the gulf or label me the sea. I am still here.