Cool Water, Rushing

31 Dec

Cold water in the egg bowl. Use the cold water not the warm. Warm will curdle it, hot will stick it to the bowl in that godawful mess you can’t scrub off so you just end up throwing the damn bowl out.

Cold water. Cool water.

I fell in cool water this year, tipped a canoe after only seeing a rock at the last moment, so last minute I only had a moment to blurt out “the fuck! A rock!” and SLAM we were in the cold and down went the canoe and my feet kept slipping without purchase on something so accurately named rock snot and the water just kept moving past and over me. Time held still and moved away into that space where it stops doing much of anything at all. When I find my footing and stand, finally, against the snot and the earnest current I just stand breathing, shocked into stillness and awe.

Something so cold, and seeming so small and low, it had the power to rock me on my ass and leave me there, at it’s will and whim.

There’s a lesson there in that cold water, in the cold water of my sink, in the egg bowl, in the rocking canoe.

It’s the same lesson the eyes of my babies taught me, long ago.

Be patient. Let it pass. Go with it. Bear up babe.

You can do this.

***

Sometimes you’re the rock, sometimes you’re the canoe. If you’re lucky, you’re the cool water rushing.

 

No moving when touching.

13 Dec

An hour of off key singing and pretty taffeta dresses, ragged ties on the boys and for another year it’s over, this memory, this place in time.

No touching when moving is writ large on the dull yellow walls of the gym, and I joke with another mother how constrained these children are, how limited. Do they understand their bodies? Can they touch and not touch? How do they learn the simple reassurance of a friendly hug? How do they play tag without, you know, the tag?

I float in and out, not touching. I’m better on the outside, no investment, no responsibility. You don’t hold my crap so I don’t have to hold yours. I am not a burden. I will not be a burden. I will not touch, or be touched.

I know my reasons for how I am, but I wonder, how on earth can I teach my daughters how to reach out without worry for the burns?

***

It’s amusing to me on some levels how women interact. You might say it seems to be a pose, an act, but I don’t get it. Sometimes I wonder if I missed out on the vagina card when I was born, since I don’t understand women, and as I grow older, find I don’t want to. They gossip. I sit near a few tight groups of women in my workplace and nothing has changed since grade school. Not one thing. Cattiness and meanness and snobbery. I find myself sucked in unwillingly, and have to extract myself, confused by the tide of mean, hating myself for it.

I look to other groups, and find it disguished in well meaning glances, in advice, in “help”-women always seem to want to help me, leading me often to the conclusion that I’m better off hanging out with men since I can drink and pontificate in peace, without worrying about what’s being said the minute I’m 5 minutes down the aisle. Help with my hair, my esteem, my attitude. Always something to fix, always something to change.

I don’t understand sisterhood. It makes me nervous and uneasy and glossed over, closed up. I don’t understand the touching, the hugging! What is the need for hugging, for contact? Surely I’m not the only person overwhelmed by physical proximity and touch, so why is it always so difficult to believe that I really don’t want to hug or be hugged, hands grabbed, hair twirled? Do I need to do this to be a woman? Are these the things that make me part of whatever red tent sort of arrangement that gets made? Is it necessary to subvert my needs and wants in order to have any sort of closeness with women?

I teach my daughters to stand up for themselves, to defend against unwanted advances and actions. I teach them these things with boy and men involved, not able to think of how to adequately defend against girls and women, against the slithery smiles and whispered “did you know…” when they’re barely out of earshot. I teach them to give no quarter, but I am at a loss for how to deal with the shunning, with the changing requirements, with the seeming needs of women. Most of which I don’t understand.

And being alone, do I teach that? Do I teach them to find solace and satisfaction in being on their own? Is it right to teach them that the sisterhood might possibly be a lie, and that reveling in a weekend or 10 spent reading by themselves is glorious? Is it right and good for them to notice that some of us don’t need the network that others do, even when it’s faced with a disapproving eye?

Can they learn to touch little in a world that touches too much? Should they?

***

They were lovely but aloof, my eldest with eyes only for her mother, my youngest the one who knows all the names and loves her friends. Rosalyn points out her friend’s dress, her shoes, her other friend’s tie and hair, carefully mussed by a mother’s hand. One loves grand and the other to herself, and I find it lovely and simple and right.

But later this year, or the next, things will change, and one or both will find they don’t know or play by unwritten rules well. There will be no signs on the wall with these lessons.

And I fear I will have nothing for them than my own lessons, which are likely not nearly enough to go around.

29 Nov

Suddenly they are clearly no longer the creatures

devoted

I gave so much to, no longer split ends, fresh water and pure air

they are whole and growing and into the moon

into the sun they reach. Skin splits and grows hard

as do their hearts presumptive.

We skim the air with them, with their stories and youth

stretching before me as fields of green

the new sweet buds on the rosebush, heavy with summer at the door.

This look is gone, this moment, hold still my darlings but no!

don’t gasp or it’s over.

I can beg until I’m bloody, I can cry silent again

i can dream until the day returns in sleep

corked

and your skin is gentle and purrs against the winter wind.

I can whisper breathless again all time

and bring you back, as now

nimble, scentless and free.

Stretched

22 Nov

In the litany of a long day, a long week, it’s hardly anything I can speak to. But it backs me against the wall, too tired, too worn to resist, overwhelming me where I should be inspired and smart.

It’s the usual, the always complaint, the never ending rush of a day, the socks and the dirty floors and the disappointment of a child told, yet again, that there’s just no money for that, yet there’s no time either, not with work and housework and trying to fit all the pieces together, the wool puzzle shrunk until it’s just not quite right. The exhaustion comes from knowing I do this on my own, watching in sore envy as others have family, friends to surround them, to understand and make it better. I have but one person in my life I can lean on, and that is not fair to them, this seeming dependance, this need.

So I do need to be strong. I do need to pack it all in, shudder that quavering breath and march off to another day of letting my soul slowly wither because children need to eat and mortgages must be paid and one needs new shoes and the other pants. Somewhere in there, there might be a few dollars for me, but even that is riddled with guilt and hate because it’s not important and really shouldn’t be.

When I say I’m tired, it’s not the tired you can resolve in a few days sleep. It’s the tired that comes from knowing the future holds nothing different, just more of this battle, a little worse, a little better. But forever this stretching agony.

So I am weary, and coming to a point that, just like the elastics I wear in my hair, may mean that I cannot return from whence I came.

“Anger is a wound gone mad.”

14 Nov

I have spent all week avoiding the news, turning pages, clicking past, closing my eyes. Closing my ears.

But you can’t.

I’ve spent the week trying to avoid the knowledge that I was being triggered, in the most massive of ways, just by coverage and words. It’s like my insides were retrieved and pulled back in time, to another place. I wasn’t that little boy the the showers, but dammit if I don’t remember the feeling of knowing, of knowing without a fucking doubt that someone knew. Someone saw and someone could have stopped it and someone did nothing.

I have lived my life with the knowledge that I wasn’t worth saving. That I wasn’t worth the effort of protecting.

It sounds like the simple choice an adult could make. Get involved, don’t get involved. Walk away. Pretend you didn’t see. Pretend no one if hurting. Pretend there isn’t a little girl naked on film, film in your hands.

Wash yoru hands of it.

To me, it makes you complicit. It makes you guilty, If my eyes had reached to you, much as that little boy would have reached, in anguish, in horror, in terror, and you could walk away, are you any less a monster?

Somethings are just wrong. I, like many others this week, have spent time reliving our monsters, playing it over and over in our heads. The knowledge that we just didn’t matter.

That we were something to walk away from.

***

I can’t listen about the man who just got 5 years for 4.5 MILLION images of child pornography without wondering if I’m one of those pictures. I will never know. I will never know if the man who took the pictures while the other man directed the action ever felt bad when he walked past me in the street. I wonder if he ever thinks about what he did, about the full impact of what he did.

On bad nights I wonder if he kept them and enjoys them still.

On bad nights, the voice whispers to me that I must be unworthy, I must be garbage, less than some, a null value. Why else? Why else did this happen? Why else was there a cold wet tongue in my mouth at 8, fingers at my chest? Why else are there memories colored by condoms and pain and frigid terror, a red wash to the skies behind my eyes while my body goes rigid and eats it’s own screams?

Why the fuck else?

Why else would anyone destroy a child, if they were nothing to begin with?

***

I don’t have the answers. But you know what I do have? I don’t trust anyone. I try, and I bind my lack of faith in pretense and poetry, but there is a nagging doubt behind me always, nodding. They will betray you. They will ruin you.

You will deserve it.

I hate myself. Every child who has been touched, every adult who has felt the power leave their limbs will nod and understand this loathing, the scars on my body where I’ve dragged metal through skin, the sudden shudder to my voice. There is such hate inside of me, a burning seething wreck, stranded lonely. I cannot soothe it, or break free from it. Instead I cover it with the cotton of time and walk from it in hope.

And you will never know.

Your skin will turn cold at a lover’s touch. Your stomach will curdle, your breath will catch and you’ll resist the urge to call out your own name in rememberance. You’ll forget the difference between memory and a dream.

As if there was ever one anyway.

“We are one, after all, you and I, together we suffer, together exist and forever will recreate each other.”

9 Nov

I should know what to say. There should be a spot in my heart, a marble in my mouth that would bless me with the lyrical brilliance you need, the comfort, the relief, the acknolwedgement, the confessional bleed that would let you breathe outside of your lips again and bring you freedom and a slight momentary pause of peace.

I don’t though.

We believe that for suffering, our reward should be wisdom, knowledge, the pat clatter of enlightenment. But I got nothin. For all my trials, my struggles, I’ve instead been cursed with the knowledge that sometimes it’s just bloody rotten horrible, sick and coagulated and messy in our hands, and no amount of  whispered platitudes or sheltered love can change that. Life, a pile of entrails slick in our hands and cooling in the fall air.

I want to have the meaning. I want to have the purpose. My children ask me, what’s the point is living if we’re just gonna die? How does that make sense? and I shake my head and shrug with resignation and a reminder to myself to read more Descartes and tell them I don’t know and maybe no one does and does it have to have a point? I don’t know.

I don’t know.

I don’t know.

I don’t know.

It gets no better or worse for repatition, no simpler, no prettier. Remaining it hangs in cold air like truth, bartering with us. Give us a kiss it slithers let us in, this doubt, this wondering acceptance. I don’t know now what I didn’t know then and the balance hangs and I find myself again with the shrug, and the words trapped, perhaps forever in a place where they mean something else, and they matter. A place where words are a solace we can quantify, paint silver and ruby and massage under dim gold light.

But I don’t know.

They’re hidden then, if they’re there at all, burnished and cold. Perhaps they’re as lonely as we are, scratching and crawling for meaning and reality, sober in the corner, suffering with us. Perhaps they don’t matter, as we revolve with the knowing that it just is. That the suffering, the pain and the ignorance and the wonder, it all just is and we handle it with aplomb, and grace and many nights of plain faced sobbing into pillows.

I don’t know.

I have no answers. Is it better to admit that I’m not omnipotent, to myself, to my children, or stay the course in strength and glory? Can I mock an answer made of gods and monsters, tied with wax and arrogance?

Sweet hell, can I ever make it better?

I crave to take this pain from you, from all of you, transform action and slivers of ache into love and warmth and marshmallow relief. I want to bring it meaning, bring it reason and cause. Can we spin tears to gold, sadness to leafy green mornings in June? Can we make it better?

Can we answer yes,  there is a point Virginia, because we make it so?

Can we answer yes?

Hope Swells

7 Nov

There are many days where I think I’m pretty kick ass and this whole mothering thing? Easy peasy. That I’ve got it down pat. I can sit there, smug knowing I’m that cool Mom who dyes the kids hair blue and reads them Pratchett and occasionally lets them stay up to watch Mel Brooks films.

Then there are today’s.

I’m not in the door 5 minutes when Vivian starts to tell me about this kid who pushed her on the playground. Only the playground is the jungle gym that resides within the bounds of the low income housing, with it’s unofficial “stay out mantra”, and the kid is one of the (many) children of a woman who quite possibly personifies the myth of the mother who has babies for the checks and who couldn’t possibly be any more verbally abusive to her children in public. It’s quite frankly a place I want Vivian to stay away from, especially considering all the needles and cigarette butts and broken glass. It’s hard to not reference the stereotype when it seems to live in such vivid color.

I shake my head, drag the story, such as it is from her, and tell her to have her actual friend come over here instead. Any time Viv goes up there, someone throws something at her, pushes her, etc. And while I’m more than quick to blame my own kid, it’s constant and I’ve seen it. The adults are bullies, and sadly, for too many of the kids, it’s an inherited trait.

I wish it weren’t so.

Then as we’re getting ready for bed, I hear Rosalyn in the bathroom, staring into the mirror. I hear “I’m ugly.” and my heart, is makes this WAAAH sort of noise and I try to keep calm as I ask “What did you say Sweetie?” and she comes shamefaced out of the bathroom and all I can think is “what the hell did I do to cause THIS!?’ There is little to no poor self talk, only mentions of how lovely and smart and strong they are, what wonderful women they’re becoming. She won’t tell me where she’s heard this, denies anyone said it to her.

But I worry at this one. Where Vivian seems so self reliant, so adaptable and frankly, so strong, Rosalyn reminds me of someone.

Me.

I turned 34 this past September, and this is the first year I can remember where I have actually felt confident, and beautiful, and smart and strong. Maybe not every day, but most days. I can’t remember a time where I wasn’t wracked by fear or doubt or self loathing. I can look in a mirror now. I still don’t always like what I see, but I see it and think this is me. This is a me who has come through and survived and thrives now. This is someone who is loved, someone who is in love, someone who matters. Someone who cares. This is someone.

But I remember being that person who felt only horror at herself, who felt that pain everyday, who said “I’m ugly” and meant it. I remember that as vivid as any picture I have ever taken. I never want to feel that ever again. And I certainly do not want it for my daughters.

Especially my youngest, as delicate as Queen Anne’s Lace, as lovely as starlight, as strong as a young birch, at whim to the wind. She who shares my apparently flighty constitution, my flair for the dramatic, the simple peace of naivete, that which I do not want her to cast aside until the last possible moment. I baby her because she is who I was, she is the creature I remember being, before it all changed. Quietly lovely, and happy. I cannot let her lose that so easily.

I cannot let her lose it.

But it will go. Now, maybe later, maybe well into the future. But I cannot protect them, not completely. Not from others, not from themselves.

All I can do is try and arm them, and hope.

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