Published Essay: The Space Between

krista houstoun

This essay was originally published in fall 2015 issue of The Los Angeles Review.

THE SPACE BETWEEN

 

The last time I saw him he was wearing all black. “Look for me, the man in black. Like that movie,” he chuckled. “All black.” As if I wouldn’t be able to recognize my own dad.

It had been four years since we last saw each another, with only a few phone calls scattered throughout that time. That space. We agreed to meet at a brewery in Flagstaff, Arizona, the college town I lived in. There he was, outer-space black from head to toe as promised, everything noticeably the same about him except his waist was drastically smaller and his nose—my nose—slightly bigger. He was in protest then. Of the government. Specifically, the NSA. The intelligence agency was responsible for the “complete and total demise” of his “multi-million-dollar real estate company” in Puerto Peñasco, Mexico, he claimed. The Sonoran beach town had been his home ever since his second wife left him. The Sonoran beach town, the black hole that finally took him.

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The Key Building Your Own World

new world map

“If you can’t survive in this world, you had better make a world of your own.” – Jeanette Winterson

This quote has been North on my life’s compass for about a decade now, since I was first introduced to the mind-expanding works of Ms. Winterson. When I first read it I underlined it not once, as was standard, but twice—and then sprinkled stars around it. I knew I had found scripture.

As someone who often felt and at times expressed that “I wasn’t made for this world,” this quote was a warm blanket—a knowing that I wasn’t alone in an otherwise lonely world.

When I was in my mid-20s, high on the first glimpses of enlightenment, convinced I could change the world through a bumper sticker, I created a website called The Passion Project. I loved that project with my whole soul. The entire mission of the website was driven by the above quote: I was trying, through extreme measures, to make a world of my own. A lot of people in my life thought the website/idea was radical but I brushed those comments off because, hello!, I was and am and always will be radical. Radical is who I am—proudly. If you don’t know that by now, you don’t know me. Continue reading

To never have to ask for love

“Only the impossible is worth your time.” This successful author writes that in an essay and I wonder if she means it—you know, if she practices it in reality. She is a writer after all, and aren’t we are all so strong on the page?

Here in the space between the Times-New-Roman black and Word-document white I am David in this Goliath life. I am resolute and determined and everything I know is right wins; I do not resist the good things I am meant for; I easily deny the dark, the vampires, the fear. Here on this page I could live without her. Continue reading

The Vienna Period: The Hope Rooms

Hope

The machine pumps like a heart in the background. An awkward double-clicking on the inhale, the sound of pressure releasing on the exhale. Click, click; psssssh. It is a sound many others have heard in similar rooms—in rooms where the common denominator is hope. The Hope Rooms, where every day is a coin toss, where things can go this way or that way and no one really knows. The rooms where life and death plea their cases.

Who is the ultimate judge?

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The Vienna Period: On being a gypsy soul

You’re approaching 30. Tick tock. You should focus on buying a house, a more reliable car – a bigger one, for the children that should come in no time. Family is the most important thing. Put your money into a 401K – read books about 401Ks and shit. Money is important. Appliance shopping is fun. Continue reading

The Vienna Period: Letting nature run its course

I left Sedona when everything was dead. Not dying; dead.

At the time (a little over one week ago now) I sensed Spring would be any day now–the bones and the guts said so. And it wouldn’t be such a struggle this year, as in previous years where the sprouts writhed to break through in the dank cold. In fact, if you looked closely, which I did, you could see the daffodil shoots just barley poking through the mud already.

But there would be, of course, one more downpour. We received a lot of precipitation before my departure and the entire weekend I cried with the rain. (I’m not afraid to say publicly that it’s been a hard time. American society’s definition of weakness and mine are very different.) I was alone; have been alone; will be alone now. My leaving America for a long period forced a long, hard goodbye I had been struggling with to finally become final–a war of a goodbye. I was in need of a good cleanse.

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The forgotten element of wellness

Originally posted on Wellness & Writing Retreats and Consulting website on November 14, 2013.

soul polished

Did you know they took the soul out of psychology? Psyche as defined by the dictionary is “breath, principle of life, soul.” Psychology, then, must be the study of such a soul, I thought. But when I scrolled a few lines down in the dictionary to the word Psychology, I found this: “the science of mind and behavior.”

Hmmm…

I suppose I shouldn’t be shocked then at the omission of “soul” from the definition of “wellness,” too, which is “the quality or state of being healthy in body and mind, especially as the result of a deliberate effort.”

I am shocked, though, and here’s why: Until we nourish our souls, wellness will never be completely had. That’s right, never; because wellness is in fact about the soul—it’s a direct relationship. Any “good” feelings of health are only cursory without awareness of and attention to the soul. Continue reading