A personal threshold-crossing poem

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This time of year, we tend to cross thresholds. Children leave through our front doors for kindergarten or college, and anything in between. Summer melts away into preparations for fall. And the adjustments in our own interiors can feel like both loss and release. Here is a poem I wrote that reminds me to cross the most intimate threshold with courage- the one inside ourselves.

Bless the Threshold

Before you cross it today,

pause.

You are leaving the inside

for the outside-

the safety of interiors

for the adventure

of exteriors,

the known, for the

unknown,

or perhaps not.

For the interiors are a

a world unto themselves-

a slow-brewing moment,

a slow-stirring movement,

a dark brooding over the waters,

a bowl of mystery,

a temple of stars,

a sacred altar where

sacrifices are made

with slow, wandering hands,

and flickering hearts

near small, relentless

candles,

under the soft chant of

audible breaths.

Before you cross it today,

pause.

You are leaving the outside

for the inside.

The safety of the exteriors

for the adventure of the

interiors, the known,

for the unknown.

– Gina Marie Mammano

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Second Rite of Passage: sizzles and twists

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That Saturday, so much juiciness was packed into that luscious recipe of a day, that we could barely hold more, but we did!

Behind the kitchen counter.  Maril held brown gift bags adorned with flames of purple and pink tissue paper flaring out. “Your mom asked me to give you the gifts of the stomach,” she said. Then out came a set of measuring cups and spoons. A cookbook with pockets.

“I’m going to teach you to make a meal that you can serve to all your friends!” And there it was: community in six courses. Rosemary lemon roasted chicken, garlic mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli, mushroom gravy, sautéed yellow squash, and apple pie.

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For an hour or so in the kitchen. Ginny was trailing her at every turn for worthwhile instruction in the arts of steam and butter. “Squeeze two lemons over the chickens, then stuff one of them inside, and leave one in the pan. Sprinkle rosemary, salt and pepper over them. Put them in the oven.”

Time ticks on quickly, then resounds a ring. “Ginny, present the meal!” The feast is laid. One more beginning cook starting out on her culinary journey.

The table is set around a collection of beautiful hand-collaged plaques. Wine, anyone? Not for you, Ginny . . . yet!

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Second rite of passage: ample room for playfulness

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A taste of what I’m talking about, and then an explanation:

“Two patchwork quilts, a crazy quilt, a wedding ring quilt, and a wrapping-paper-wrapped quilt enter through the front door. Boxes, bags, ice chests, c.d.s follow.  “Let’s play last time’s Rite of Passage c.d.!”

A few Charleston strokes of the foot. Some old fashioned turns. Finger wagging in 1920’s style. “Put another nickel in, in the Nickelodeon, all I want to listen to is music, music, music.”

“This one is Sharon’s.” Someone says.

“Really, this one’s mine?”

“Yes!”

“Laughed as she came to my cradle. No, this child will be able. With love, with patience and with faith. She’ll make her way . . .”

“Don’t you remember?”

“I do now!”

Someone nods and points to Ginny. A few appropriately mimed moves, “I’m a challenge, to your balance.” A slide and a glide from Sharon and myself. A finish and final flourish of the song.

Then the raunch of a digerydoo, “oh, here it is!”

Dar Williams. “As Cool as I Am.” The long sung kitchen anthem of our tribe. Spoons are often microphones. Most of us know it. All of us know what it means. “You tried to make me doubt, to make me guess, tried to make me feel like a little less. Oh, I liked it when your soul was bared. I thought you knew how to be scared. And now it’s amazing what you did to make me stay. But truth is just like time, it catches up and it just keeps going . . .”

The miming ensues. . . an arm is flung to the sky; a sauntering back and forth, helplessly waiting for the outbound stage. . .

Goofy? Yes! Funny? Of course. Fun? Absolutely. Playful? Unabashedly! I have found that creating a rite of passage can be just as fun for the “adults” as it is for the burgeoning edges-and-fringes-of-adulthood woman . . . and here’s a little tip (ssshhhh, don’t tell!). The teenager can often be caught staring up smitten in helpless wonder at all of these grown ups having a good time! A pricelessly valuable lesson indeed! My daughter actually said to me, “Mom, why don’t you do this with your friends more???”

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Second Rite of Passage: here it is!

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Whimsical sculpture at Kit Carson Park near San Diego.

In the upcoming weeks, I will be sharing with you some hints, tips, and practicalities about creating a rite of passage for a girl of about 18 years of age. You know, the age that says, “I’m an adult!” but, as a former18-year-old yourself, you know better. But, really, what I’ll be sharing is more than just ideas. I’m going to give you lots of juicy details, because I believe when it comes to sharing, “storytelling the process” is much more interesting. And the truth is, the devil is not in the details, but oftentimes, the delight is in the details (think: the darker, the richer, the sweeter, as in devil’s food cake, or the creamier, the tangier, the more tantalizing, as in deviled eggs)!

O.K., I diverge . . . the bridge into early adulthood is an exciting one. There are vistas in front of you, as well as a little bit of life experience hefted under your belt. And, as a parent or mentor of someone that age, it can be terribly amazing, or amazingly difficult to guide someone through all the changes that often include graduation, college searches, job searches, new relationships, break-ups of old ones. So I hope these next several posts provide a breath of fresh air and a little encouragement for what the possibilites of creative mentorship can look like.

I invite you to come along! Paste a few feathers onto your wings, and enjoy the flight!

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