when to howl back

I used to call out to her frantically. 

"Bo, come back! WAIT, WHERE ARE YOU GOING!?" 

I didn't want to lose her so I would dress her in bright colors or wild prints that were easy to spot against crowds. 

In those days I could barely make out her silhouette down the beach. She would just... run. Away. Without looking back. 

Sometimes I had to make a choice. Would I chase her down the beach or stay with her sister?Sometimes I would chase her with a child in my arms and one holding my hand but she would outrun me and over time, I stopped running after her. Learned to trust that she would be okay. 

That she was running toward something.

When I'd ask her why she felt the need to suddenly run away she would tell me that her body told her to... Her body told her to flip upside down into the water. 

Hold her breath under the waves. 

Run as fast as she could towards the end of the world.
She says the same thing when she "accidentally" breaks a window or locks the bathroom door from the inside and no one can open it and I have to break in through the window or call the locksmith and she tells us she's so sorry her body told her to...

Her wild is the feral kind. She keeps crickets in her backpack and hides fireworks under her pillow and climbs over fences just to see what's on the other side. She disappears and reappears on the top of a tree, draws on the walls and then vanishes into the basement where I find her giggling behind the DANGER DO NOT TOUCH sign. She (regularly) winds up in the principal's office. She crosses streets by herself even as I shout for her to stop please wait for me my hand please hold my hand...
This child reminds me of why we are so afraid of wild girls. Why we keep them in castles and corsets and clip their wings and call it protection.

Why we, as a culture sexualize feminine "wildness" as something that is done for the approval of men and boys... Because nobody knows what the fuck to do when they see a girl launch her body into the air. Not even me. Everyone gasps and tries to catch her. Even when she tells us all NO. 

Even when she's about to land face first. 

I have to keep myself from interfering. From chasing her down. I have learned the best way of dealing with her is to let her fall. That's what she wants so I stock up on bandaids and hold my own hands and seek out fields for her to run through. Hills for her to roll down. Sand for her to comb. So the windows don't break as often. So we have less incidents. 

We are all of us animals. (Some of us more than others.)
It's hard to explain this to anyone who doesn't understand. 

(I didn't used to understand.) 

I do now and am humbled. 

I am humbled and challenged and exhausted. But I am also inspired. Because people who are challenging and exhausting are inspiring, too.

Her torch is the necessary light from which to guide herself. 

It is also used to fend off wolves.

When it doesn't burn off three layers of skin it reminds me to look alive -- to BE alive -- to run and draw and break and scream and LIVE without the constraints of pre-conception. To say the thing that needs to be said, even if it sends you to the principal's office. To get on the board and ride. And to find my own way(s) to light shit on fire.

For some of us, danger is what makes us feel safe. And we need more of that right now. We need risk takers to take on the hall monitors and the caution tape and the cones -- to challenge the threatening with thick skin and ideas that cannot be contained.

I often say I have aged decades as her mother and it's totally true. But it's equally true my purse would feel empty without an extra change of clothes and a Swiss Army knife.

This child. This EPIC little girl -- has made me a better human. She has held up a mirror to my fears and helped me dismantle them shard by shard. She has reminded me to listen to my body. To trust my gut. To write on the walls and feel LIFE in my body, to accept the cold of the tide against my feet. To welcome it even. 

Dare it. 
....To leave and come back when I'm ready.

To learn when to let go.

And when to hold on.

And when to howl back.

And keep howling.

The true muses are the ones who don't want to be. 

I watch her and burn learn.