This colorful, charismatic character is Cody, one of the most important people to influence my world and being in this lifetime. We met through the mail in late 1998. He was on the tail end of his fifth (and final) sentence in the CA Department of Corrections. I had been living in Japan for 15 years already, having moved there right after my college graduation. Somehow I knew almost immediately that destiny was calling me and on April 1st, 1999, only four months into the correspondence, I got on a plane at Tokyo’s Narita international airport with only a backpack, $200, NO experience living in the US as an adult, and an absolute unshakable faith in my path and the power of Grace guiding me, and left Japan behind to allow the next chapter of my story to unfold and be written.
I coined the acronym CoBe even before I left Japan. I wanted a name that represented what I hoped we would be and accomplish together, as two separate individuals with a shared life purpose. I in no way was putting him first in the relationship but let’s face it, “BeCo” sounded more like an unappetizing Mexican dish than a transformationally powerful couple, so CoBe it was.
For 39 months I went as often as four times a week to the prison visiting room, where we learned a tremendous amount about each other. I also grew to know and love a lot of the other inmates; welcoming them into my heart with an openness that few of them had ever experienced before.
When Cody was paroled and we left the prison walls behind in 2002, we also left a legacy of hope and light that I’m sure still shines brightly to this day.
Cody’s first parole officer was a hardened marine named Monsanto who had been further detached from his humanity by too many years of the vicious cycle of cat and mouse within the system. We met him the day after I picked Cody up and had I not been present at this meeting, Monsanto unquestionably would have used Cody’s jacket (criminal history on paper) to wipe his ass and flushed it and Cody down the proverbial toilet. But my naive, unconditionally loving presence stopped him in his tracks and he allowed himself to be touched in a way that he never had before. Three months in we were transferred to a new parole officer because Monsanto was not in the jurisdiction of Santa Clara county where we had settled. But he came to see us where we were living before the change of hands, marveled at the sheer creativity of the way we were beginning to make a living for ourselves, shook Cody’s hand in parting, and looked him in the eye man to man. And I knew absolutely that he would never again allow himself to form a judgement about a parolee from what was written on paper.
The new PO was a hardened female officer named Lerma. We won her over at the first home visit when she showed up at 7:00 AM unannounced and we answered the door to our little old motor home (purchased for $1500 on borrowed money in order to get out from under the cost of living in a motel) wearing the matching flannel moose pajamas we’d gotten at KMart the day prior. Lerma was our champion throughout the remainder of the required three years and a few months before Cody was officially let off parole, she removed herself from his case without a word to us. I understood that the professional in her could not permit her to travel with us to the end and get emotional.
We saved $100,000 and moved to Arizona in 2006 and the magic and Grace that had brought us together continued for another 5 years when again, destiny came knocking and I won the 2011 American Batik Design Competition. As one of the first-place winners, I was awarded a three-week tour of some of Indonesia’s most prominent batik and fashion centers and for the first time in ten years since he’d been paroled, Cody and I were separated. All of the unacknowledged, unexamined pain from his past, began to surface in the form of his original wound terror (and pattern) of being abandoned, and he went into full self-preservation/destructive mode that resulted in a major and permanent change in our relationship. He needed to stop running away from himSelf and I needed to stop trying to rescue him, and thus he moved out and a new dance began.
Fast forward ten years now and I’m happy and proud to report that – although I’m sure that everyone who knew our story hoped that we’d ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after, Cody and I are beginning to enjoy a level of genuinely and mutually respectful communication and sharing that we never really achieved in all the years we lived together. He came up to see me yesterday and is pictured here proudly wearing his new URABE Spirit Art T-shirt, the fruit of too many seeds to count that he and I planted over the years together. He remains my biggest fan and champion as I move forward into the next chapter of my life and story, with the launch of the URABE brand officially underway and out there on the global stage. And I am moved beyond tears with each story he shares with me about what, and more importantly, HOW, he is doing in his own life now that he has finally truly begun to embrace and honor the totality of his life experience and being.
I am very happy and comfortable living alone so for the romantics out there who would still hope for a full circle ending to our story, I really don’t think that’s in our future. But who knows and I don’t even try to wager a guess anymore. What I DO know is that a lot of miracles and magic lie ahead for CoBe now that both of us are stepping into our full power and taking responsibility for our respective lives and choices therein.
How to make sense of it all? Perhaps Rainer Maria Rilke said it best. Although I am usually loath to quote other people, these words from Rilke have supported me for decades and so I will leave you with them for now, until the next chapter of CoBe is ready to be written.
Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.