I’m leaving for Sicily on Friday. I’m grateful to go back to the Motherland I have never known, my exile so deep I only know her face from a glimpse in a movie. It’s vague in my head, it’s vague in my mother’s head too. We imagine sketched outlines of churches, food that will be sort of familiar, a volcano . . . .somewhere. My sister remembers bright glimpses from her time as a flight attendant but nothing overly substantial. A wine she had liked when she still drank, a particularly pretty town. The details have lost their sharpness over time and have been replaced with a whirlwind of elementary school activities for her son.
It’s the first time we will travel, the three of us together in well over a decade without any husbands, children or our uncle. I am nervous about everything – the fact that I only know one phrase that I doubt will endear me to my estranged homeland, the amount of travel required to get there and get around there, being trapped on someone else’s schedule for we will be on a little old lady tour, something I swore I would never do. It felt very far away for me, it still feels very far away despite being six days away. I’m not packed, Amazon boxes full of travel pillows, brita water bottles, homeopathic jet lag pills, pashminas, walking sandals that I’m trying to break in, space bags are strewn around my living room. It has not yet been a month since tax season ended, I’m still desperately running, trying to check off a never ending list of things that had been put off but now must be put on, I’m trying to keep up with going to the gym and meal prepping. I’m trying to read, I’m trying to write.
On one hand, in the words of the musical Pippin, “We could all use a change of scene.” On the other, I’m exhausted still and as exciting as globe trotting will be and the memories that we’ll be creating will last a lifetime and then some, Jow also just finished school for the semester and kicked ass and took names on his final and has an awesome GPA. I haven’t really had much time with him in a year. It’s hard to leave just when I’m starting to have time for my various practices. It’s hard to want to run a marathon when I just want to sleep still.
In our office, we often say “Timing is everything”. The timing on this is not great, but I’m pretty sure that if I didn’t do my best to open myself up to this experience (though it will be difficult for me, honestly because that’s not something I naturally excel at), I would have a lot of regret about that.
Exile is all about doing our best to make the best of whatever we have because it may be fleeting, it may be taken from us, it may be destroyed. My moment to feel sexy in my body didn’t come at a pole class, as you may recall. It would be the obvious moment, the easiest, the most GIRLPOWER. But exile doesn’t often work that way. Exile often works more like the Universe, who can be a capricious bitch. It’s her right to be a capricious bitch but it’s my right as a Queen in Exile to find the thread of my narrative.
As Sister Queens in Exile, we do get what we get because . . .we all do. It doesn’t matter if we are Queens of countries, getting in and out of limos or Queens of a tiny desk domain where we have warlords to answer to or Queens of our households with tiny children constantly staging coupes. It doesn’t matter how big your Queenship is or how tiny. We all struggle, we all cry, we all strive, we all fall, we all hurt, we all laugh. Getting upset will happen, but if we’re perpetually stuck in a loop of hurt feelings, anger, disappointment, depression, anxiety and other hamster wheel emotions, how can we take control of our Exile? The phrase you get what you get and you don’t get upset is missing the secret second half, probably because it’s unwieldy: You get what you get and you don’t get upset but you don’t have to accept what you’ve received as the end point of your adventure. Branch out a bit. Get outside your head. Figure out other choices. Ask for what wasn’t given. Accept that it may still not be given. Figure out how to get it yourself. Get into a staring contest with the Universe because fuck her sometimes. Your mother isn’t always right and neither is she. Take some calculated risks. Keep doing different things even if it feels like putting your face in a blender. Keep doing the things you are already doing, keep perfecting them even if they will never be perfect. Princess Margaret would break down and fuck up but she figured out how to work a door knocker, goddamnit. So will you.
So I asked the intertubes for advice. I thought power thoughts about it. I tried to make a bigger point to wear lipstick. I tried a new kind of yoga (I call it pod yoga because of all the blankets, but it’s called svaroopa). I kept kicking my own ass at the gym. I made offerings. I worked to be more present in my body. I pitched for Llewellyn’s annuals like I’ve been doing since 2014. I kept trying to pry open my heart like an oyster shell. I even looked into a series of beginner classes at the studio for a very reasonable price taught by the woman who taught Xtina who would “gently kick my ass” as per Xtina. Because I’m going to learn to lift my back foot.
But I finally felt sexy and present in my body in a place I didn’t expect. The triumverte was going to try floatation tank spa therapy. I felt some trepidation because we are very anxious creatures. Also, everyone kept inopportunely getting their periods so that we kept having to reschedule. That day I was tired, the night before hadn’t gone as planned either and it had taken a toll on me attempting to navigate my way through it. Despite many obstacles along the way, it was a life changing experience for me. Floatation has changed a lot, you can keep your pod door open, there’s lights in the pod, a rest for your neck and good earplugs. It had been redesigned into a sleek spa experience meant to help with sports injury (which I was sporting) and help you sleep better instead of forcing you to chase after your spirit animals. Also the shower products smelled really good and the shower was huge and posh and private. Now having been relieved of the expectation of having a claustrophobic forced magical experience, naturally I wanted to turn off the pod lights, shut the pod door and track down my goddesses. The floating itself was really fun and at first it was it was a bit terrifying because I got turned around in my pod and lost track of my light switch and door so naturally, I figured I was going to die in there or worse, need an assist out. But I found the light switch and oriented myself. I started to get bored, so I started counting my breaths and then that was boring too so instead I started softly greeting my goddesses and then mantra ing to some of them and oh holy shit, it was like the snowglobe effect of being in a Dianic circle but magnified by like a thousand. Awesome! I can work with this. I generally think entirely in words, so I was excited to receive a vision of how to arrange my new crystals on my body that were procured for me by my friend Sharon. This is already way more fun than I was expecting! As I kept mantra’ing, I felt my “phone call” (as one of my mentors would call it) be picked up by Shakti. I had never worked with Shakti directly, more like specific pieces of her but I knew it was her. The Universe. All of my goddesses squished together for a hot minute to get through to my tiny ant brain. She connected me directly to my teeny tiny bitty piece of The Divine Feminine (TDF) and oh holy shit, it was very real in my little pod. I felt sexy, I felt present in my body, I felt my root chakra light up like a freaking Christmas tree. I ran my hands over my body, for once not self conscious or dismayed, but pleased and satisfied with the shape under my hands. When my session ended, I emerged on shaky feet to shower off and to try to pull myself together enough for seafood and sangria and pretend to just be normal.
Since then, I’ve continued to work on getting centered and comfortable in my body and like anything else, there are good days and bad days. Days where I feel like an Amazon goddess, days where I shove food in my face without thinking, days where I dodge the gym, days where I push myself until I’m panting in the fake grass in the gym in a facepant, days where I admire my own ass in the mirror, days where I look at my tummy and despair. It goes on and on and it will until I’m in my pod/coffin in the ground.
I got what I go. I’m trying to use it. I’m trying to not be upset. I’m trying to step outside the boundaries I’ve drawn for myself and have been drawn into. You should too, Sister Queens. With whatever your current exile struggle is. It’s hard af but it’s worth it.