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“Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”

13 Sep

In air turned a dirty grey dusk, the scent of it tacky on my lips and skin, voice ring.

Counting. Counting down.

Come find me!

Where are you?

Find me!

I’m searching.

The dull gassy hum of streets lights balance against the warm brick of our house, our home, as we’ve made it. That sound, the grass through their toes, the laughter which bounces, terribly naughty against the neighbours house, spills in through my windows as this gauzy late summer night begins it’s drawl away. Perhaps the last summer night of her 8th year, her 6th. Perhaps the night they both build memories that become the stories and bedrock of their futures. Perhaps they’ll parse in in the smell of chocolate cupcakes, years from now. They’ll paint it in Venice, sing it on stages from here.

Draw the futures of their children against it.

Vivian, where are you? Vivian!

The house is lit, and welcoming against the coming night. The woods behind are darkening, turning from friendly caves to malevolent holes. I can hear Rosalyn, tethered between, wanting her sister, her heart arching to look under the maples and yet still young enough to see the orcs and goblins and child eaters hidden within, whispering.

Come find us.

Only this dank falling night can hold them, whispers, plaited promises. She yells for her sister, song on the wind, voice aloft.

I tell her, sweetly, kindly, to come wait, everyone has to come to home base eventually.

She won’t be moved. She stands, knee high to the clover turning to winter in the ditch, waiting.

***

 

21 Years

26 Apr

I’m not there but I can trace the streets with my fingers. Technology gives me tentacles, allows me to walk the streets of my home town yet again, stare at the front door I open and closed so many times, the curb I drove my brother’s bike off one dewy spring morning, into the side of a passing car. The steps I sat with friends on fiery summer nights, or with my mother on cooler fall afternoons.

The shutters are falling. The siding is grimy and stained. If houses are metaphors, this one matches my life. Full of memory, dingy at the sides, but still standing.

***

She’s there.

In my mind, in my frosty memory, it’s April 1989 again, and she’s laying in the front room, her blue room, on the hospital bed my parents procured from somewhere, her body wasted and yet bloated. She had come home the week before, her doctors forcing her hand, blunt with words “We can’t help you. You are dying. Give up.”

It was not in my mother’s nature to give up on anything. And so her last wish was not denied, to die at home, to spend her last days in the home she built with her lover, her husband, the one she brought her children home to, my first home. Her beautiful sitting room, strewn with the chaos of death-the drugs, the gauze, the tiny cans of near food in vanilla. The pale sky of carpet she laboured over choosing became compressed and dirtier by feet, vomit, life.

I watched her final days there, much as her sister and my father tried to shield me. I saw my mother naked for the first and only time there, flailing and seizing on her bed as her, the woman I knew, finally left me. Some of me expired with her, sailing towards a sky, cloudy.  A crack in a lifetime, the line in the sand of before and after.

I stare at the house I grew up in. The house she died in. The house I ran away from, feet pounding on distance and action-had I the ability to sprout wings I would have, and flown straight into the sun. Even my dreams rarely brought the solace of her, and slowly I have forgotten her voice, her touch, what it meant to be her, to be my mother.

But her ghost still echoes, across these years. Sunlight around her like a halo, possesses my memory. Her distant smile, haunted somehow, wistful.  The heft of her, the sense of solidity, security, like a vault I could land in. Years I never got to know, stories she never told me-all hover like fireflies over a night field in that house, beautiful and untouchable.

It’s been 21 years. I am not a small girl any longer, rigid in my strength, weak behind those doors. I have been alive for longer than she was with me, only pieces of her left to remind me, whisper gently that I have a mother, that she loves me, and she misses me more dearly than I can imagine.

I love her still, and that house, and that yard, all the places our hands and feet touched, even silent on that burgundy couch lazy Saturdays, watching movies as the rain poured. She’s in that house, her breath trapped in the corners, behind the blue wallpaper, inside the steel stairs.

And she’s in me, forever.

She’s home.

“When you really trust someone, you have to be okay with not understanding some things.”

14 Mar

When she’s gone my mind begins to fill up with all the things that can happen, slowly like I’m filling a pitcher from a drowsy tap. Images fill with bruises and indignity, how well do I know this other mother? Where have they been all day? What might be happening-what could be happening, the things I know that DO happen.

It’s not paranoia, not really, despite being impossible to explain to other parents, women and men who didn’t spend their childhood in a currency usually left to adults. In my brain lies a summer I can never leave behind, and it colors everything. I’m not paranoid, knowing that the worst can happen.

Rationally, I know it likely won’t. But it could, it can and I worry for all those reasons, even if it’s buried in my brain somewhere and the other mother laughs when I call and says “Man, don’t WORRY! She’s great!” I can’t tuck her away in my back pocket and hope nothing ever happens. I have to let her free-but that freedom costs. It huddles in the corner and whispers to me about boyfriends, neighbours, people she might meet. It whispers that they could be holding her down right now, taking pictures, ignoring her crying, hurting her.

It whispers of all the horrible things that happened to me, and more. “Be the person your mother wasn’t!” my body shouts, “Make sure she never hurts!” but then she walks in the door, eyes lit with 5 year old joy and frosty air and I know my fears are relatively misplaced, and that people, most people are good people who wouldn’t help someone else abuse a child I know this and try to wear the callous off my heart.

Pregnant I foresaw this. I felt her tiny feet in my ribs and knew that, if a daughter, I would place the little girl I was over top of her-I would make a transparency of my childhood and hover around it, waiting for the chance to erase the potential of what could be. I would protect her from everything that tried to destroy me.

I can’t though, you know? I can’t protect her from the world anymore than I can get North Korea to stop being asshats. She is in the world, on her own terms and while I can still guide and try to shape that world, I cannot prevent the bad things as I could when she was just an infant. That lesson they warn us, as parents that will hurt the most, it hurts doubly, knowing exactly, in technicolor, what terrible things could happen to her.

I might not ever get past it, the tenseness in my chest when she’s not home when she was to be home, the quiet worry when she walks out the door, into the hands of another woman, the possibilities of caution, the frank terror some of this holds for me, trusting someone, not just with me, but with my child, with the creature that turned beneath my heart such a short time ago.

Letting go of this, my worst fear, my scared little girl trying to make sure the worst doesn’t happen to my daughters-it’s a struggle. And maybe I’ll never grow past it and will always freeze up with momentary agony, remembering, wondering.

But maybe not. Maybe she’ll just come home, smelling of smoke and hay and joy, as a kid should.

Appetitus Rationi Pareat

20 Feb

Oh the guilty stolen afternoon, snuck quietly from the house, stolen to read a surprisingly awesome book (I love it so when that happens-when you buy it thinking, meh, why not, and suddenly you’re drawn in and the world is being colored around you..) The late February wind gusts around me, while puddles of new snow trickle beneath my feet. I can smell spring.

Fishing through the old clothes, I sigh a lot, all the cute things are just that much too small. We’ve grown past it. I finish eating my leisurely lunch, and while waiting for the cashier, spy a tiny boy, only 3 months, cradled in his mother’s arms as he has his lunch, eyes swollen with lunch stupor. His feet were so very small.

I’m on the bus when a little girl comes on, bundled in winter, cheeks rosy, her perfect little nose poking out, eyes curious and watchful. She stares at me with the no-stare. I’m fairly confident that I’m too far away from her to be really seen, but there’s something about those piercing little globes, like jelly beans or black jujubes.

My entire body cascades in on itself and cries out for more. My arms ache, my womb echoes for a child, my body feels drawn. My children are now children in the fullest sense of the word, and my body, my muscles, my soul shakes in the absence.

The simple unfair fact of knowing this ache after the birthing is complete. It startles me, like a cat shook from it’s sleep, and it angers me, that I couldn’t have felt this 6 years ago, blooming with the cells that would eventually become my first born daughter. Why not then? Why not when I could have reveled in every moment, enjoyed, simply stood in between maidenhood and mother, and accepted it, embraced it? Why only now, when the over is unplugged and in pieces?

I enjoyed the last 5 years. It has been a hard ride, a rough one, the brambles of mental illness entwined with simple achievements like first words (I can’t remember Rosalyn’s, and hope I wrote it down) and birthdays. But these years have been so innocent, comparatively speaking, as I’m noticing now that I have one in school. Those first 5 are halcyon days, glowing with such wonder, fabulous flowers on a plant you always found ugly. I eagerly sold the high chair, the crib, gave away 99.5% of the baby clothes. I welcomed, with open arms, toddlers, preschoolers, and now, children.

So universe, why now huh? Why burden me with a hunger I can never satiate? Why fill me up with this longing, for another child to grow in my belly, another gasp at the quickening, the terror of crowning and the quietude of 4am? Why bestow this gift on me now, after all this time, when its unnecessary, and more than a little inappropriate?

I stared hard at that little girl’s eyes, smiling wistfully, looking a little high I imagined. I could feel that baby skin on my fingertips, the porcelain of it, the chubby fingers grasping on their own, without measure or wit. I could imagine her weight on my hip, the little sighs she’d make while feeding, her tiny thumb, barely clinging to her lips as she slept.

In her eyes I imagined enjoying the babyhood’s of my daughters more completely, sanely.

Wanting a child is merely my wish for wanting to be normal.

Having Rosalyn so soon after Vivian stole that from me. And I can breathe now, and see that, see that for Vivian, I was scared, and worried and full of far too much book learning but I loved her and my world ran around her. But pregnancy, and a new child later and I was full of venom and hate without much room for love or empathy, not at first.

I crave a do-over. I want to be able to love a child the way Ros deserved to be loved, almost 4 years ago now. I can’t make it up, but on some level, my ovaries are trying to have the great chess game, to make up, to make due.

I’ve known, for years, that there’s no going back. What was, is, and simply, I cannot change or make that up. I can only move forward now, grasp my daughter tightly as she grins and tells me I’m pretty, as her cheekbones light up, exactly as mine do. What I can do it love the baby that was, the girl that is, the woman that will be.

The pinpoints of light in that baby girl’s face, interrupted only by the hesitation of the bus on a busy street, will forever hold me in thrall. I can face that hunger down, hold the door open, ask it to leave. And accept that finally, I have been allowed a feeling so basic to women, a hunger I never dreamed I’d feel. All of this shakes me from reverie, telling me to move on, move past and beyond.

I can love that phantom child, he, or she that will never be. I can love a ghost that never was.

 

picture-0021

Oh, darling, let your body in, let it tie you in, in comfort.

16 Feb

 Diane E. Levin and Jean Kilbourne’s So Sexy So Soon seeks to address this very type of childhood experience: a complete lack of awareness about sex and reproduction coupled with a media-fed understanding of sexiness – that is, as one young girl in the book explains, getting boys to chase you and try to kiss you – that revolves around emulating TV characters and buying as many products as possible.

There’s a great book review of So Sexy So Soon at Feministe-please, go read.

But it got me to thinking.

How much time can we, as parents and mothers, spend blaming the media, the western world, capitalism, Walmart, etc, before we also realize the true impact we have on our daughters?

I firmly believe in openness, to the point of irritation I imagine. Vivian telling me that “that place” feels good when she touches it-that filled me with pride. Pride that she was able to say this to me with no fear or pretense, and that she took such obvious joy in herself. Pride that I’m starting to create a woman who isn’t afraid of herself, knows where all the proper things are, and just exists in this manner.

Because I disagree that this is fully the fault of what Mattel is selling this season, or that sitcoms have taken things too far. I disagree that it’s those damn music videos, or those stars that kids want to emulate. Not fully.

Cues are taken from parents.

How many of us were raised in a don’t ask, don’t tell sort of environment, where the most sex education you received was 2 weeks in Grade 5, and maybe a book left covertly on a counter top by your mother? How many women can’t bring themselves to call a vulva a vulva, or even know that their vagina is only on the inside? How many women can’t bring themselves to orgasm, or help their partner to do so? How many women blush at the thought of talking about all of this? How many of us learned, early on from our parents, that our hands can be dirtied so easily?

When I was Vivian’s age, I liked to rock on a specific doll-I remember, it was a pink stuffy with one of those plastic kewpie doll faces on it. It made me feel good-happy, in touch with myself, like a sun rising, so I wanted to tell my mother. I showed her.

She didn’t hit me. Instead, she looked completely horrified, and I never saw that doll again. Standing in the hallway, my mother stared at me, and held her hand out. I handed it over, cried, and stumbled back to my room, confused.

Later, a few years perhaps, when my neighbour molested me, I remember feeling like I had no control over my body, that it never belonged to me, and I should submit. I could never tell my mother-it would be my fault. I would be punished, and would still not know what was mine in terms of my body. For years I dreamed of being abused by conveyor lines of robots, people. Just my lying there, at the whim of others.

It was my mother’s responsibility to teach my about my body, about myself. It was her responsibility to teach me that there is no shame in acknowledging my humanity in this way, in embracing my sexuality, even at that young of an age.

Make no mistake-we are sexual creatures the day we are born. Which is why as parents we need to step it up right off the bat, in the most normal way, as if explaining how to make bread or why you have an elbow. Blaming media and society for one’s child wanting to dress like a Bratz doll or a 13 year old knocking up a girl-it’s a cop out. It’s easy to say “The school never taught it!” or that “Miley Cyrus made her dress that way!” and turn the other way.

Much more difficult to raise your children with appropriate sexual values and mores, to have those conversations that at times, are less than easy.

Being sexual is part of who we are-and it always has been. We now treat even into mid-twenties like teenagers, so why is it so strange that a seven year old starts to act as they might? Why is starting the mating dance at 12 so odd? What if, biologically, that’s where the drive can start for some. I began menstruating about then-if I can bear children, if I am considered a woman, physically, why can’t society, or parents be bothered to?

I may not necessarily agree with a pre-teen acting out in any way sexually-but I’m raising my daughters with the knowledge to make responsible choices, when appropriate. Will I always win? No, not with two daughters. But I refuse to use the cop-out that the world around me has more bearing on how my daughters come to their womanhood than I do.

It took me years to come to grips with my sexuality, having children being the last nail in that particular coffin. I don’t want that for them. Our bodies are wonderful, beautiful things, and by telling our daughters on what’s bad, and horrible and not allowed because they’re too young/not ready/just can’t only serves to increase the need and make it more attractive.

Refusing to speak to your children out of embarrassment, or fear-to me, that’s worse than all the Bratz dolls and belly tops. Because our parents are our guides, for good or ill. And we do ourselves a grave disservice by leaving our daughters out to dry.

Oft expectation fails, and most oft where most it promises; and oft it hits where hope is coldest; and despair most sits.

11 Feb

In an attempt to soothe my aching head over my impending unemployment, I did some shopping on the weekend. (Most was needed stuff, and not for me. Sigh)

I picked up some cheap books-the bookstore having a 4 for 10$ sale, which makes it a “who cares if it sucks” sale.

One book in particular caught my eye, “A Year and a Day“, by Leslie Pietrzyk. It’s the story of a 15 year old girl whose mother kills herself, parking her car in the path of an oncoming train.

And oh, it makes me cry on the bus almost every morning so far.

I’ve searched for books on motherloss that would really hit the right tone, and for the most part, they don’t. They try to hard, they don’t understand the little missing pieces, or the fact that the larger hurt is underscored by the silences death brings. This book…it brings us to them. Tearing the house apart searching for recipes-I’ve done that myself, searching high and low for that crumbling Five Roses cookbook my mother had when first married, marked by flour and grease and her fingers. I never found it.

The anger. The lashing out in strange ways, at friends, at those who profess to care but have problems (seemingly) less than your own. The repentance. The confusion. The utter inability to process something as simple as Christmas. Having to be the adult. Having to not say what you want to say, wanting to scream at the top of your lungs,

“She’s DEAD! Not lost, not passed away. GONE.”

The vestiges of my former self, my younger, more fragile doppelganger, they live in this book. My memories came alive reading this, tears spring unbidden at the repeated “I’m fine.” through the book, the mirror of my adolescence, the constant refrain of “I’m ok, I’m fine” when all I wanted to do was fall into the arms of the speaker.

Alice, the girl in this book, she can’t fall either, the hurt in her heart far stronger than the need for comfort. The dry distance between her needs and wants, and the crippling prison grief becomes, especially at so young an age. Her need to comfort, and almost protect the pregnant 16 year old Paula, her helplessness. Her scorn for the one person she lets in, the one person who allows her to mimic her mother, Joe Fry. Her sweet pleasure in his gift of an acorn for her pocket, as she fiddles.

I could have been Alice. Well, except for the part where her dead mother speaks to her.

There’s a part where her brother has ran to Boston, and returned, and he’s talking about how he thought he saw her in a crowd, but realized it wasn’t her, and that this, THIS was when he knew she really wasn’t coming home.

I’ve seen my mother, in faces, side profiles, coats. And realized that despite not remembering her, not much at all, her face was imprinted on me, her movements. She’s never coming back either.

Seeing this written, truly seeing it as I have, it’s a blessing. It’s recognition.

It’s like home.

*********************

Yes, I am losing my job.

Some of it’s performance. Some of it’s having a poor manager, some is the needs of the business are outstripping my abilities. There’s a lot to it, most of which I don’t wish to get into publicly. I will say that as someone who has been with a company for over 8 years, it hurts. It hurts how this company treats tenured employees, and seems to consider tenure and accomplishment meaningless unless you’re an ass kisser.

I was once passionate about my job-loved it, loved that I helped action change for millions of customers. But in the last few years, that was smothered, as my job became more about making things “look good” than about actual change for Joe customer on the street. Things changed, my manager changed, and I no longer felt part of any team. Just another sucker doing shit work for a paycheck.

It hurts. I’ve been so proud keeping a job for this long, many years of it unmedicated, and succeeding that way. It’s almost like things only went south once I started achieving some measure of stability. Go figure. But I’ll never be uber organized, I’ll never be perfect, especially under pressure. I recognize these things in me, and realize that now, this isn’t the place for me, and at least for the time being, I need a job where I can just enjoy helping someone, a job which doesn’t find me working on the weekend and after “work” on a regular basis.

I don’t want that, and I never really did.

So I’m kinda scared, but kinda excited as well. I’m getting a reasonable severance, so I can’t complain, and they’re keeping me on till the bonus payout so I can get whatever payout is owed. So they aren’t completely inhuman. Having to sit through conversations about helping report automation learn the reports I was producing-that sucks. Hard. It’s like everything you worked for is taken away so easily.

I never truly felt like I was my job, and I’m glad of that. I’m happy, sated almost, to be done with this job, the constant panic and rush, never feeling like I had time or opportunity to truly do what I felt my job was. Excuses maybe, perceptions. But only hearing the bad stuff from a boss for months does this to you. Wears you down until you ARE that bad employee.

So we’re moving on. I hope to find something simple for now, easy, no stress. I’d love to take a month or two off, but I’d rather have a laptop. If I have an easy job again, I might start writing again. Reading Piertrzyk’s book has made me realize that I really do want to write that memoir of my childhood, even if I never do a damn thing with it.

Losing my job is making me realize all the things I want to do, things that are so much bigger than pulling data for someone.

******

This morning, walking to school, Vivian tried in vain to climb a snow-hill I promised her she could climb the day before. She tried and tried, and I grew irritated, knowing I was missing my bus. Finally I had to drag her off the snow hill and push her forward.

“You NEVER keep your promises to me!” she screamed. “You promised!”

Promises are funny things. They change when you least expect it.

There

8 Feb

 

bebeme

In the air, this sweet break from the cold, rivulets down the road with winter dissolving, floats forever ago, a place disappeared, a land where the nights were long, crisp journey’s into another world, where time lasted and spun it’s magic around my ears. This air, reminds me of the warmth in our kitchen, the images of my mother’s hands across my back, on my head, in the sink, dishes clanging as I sat, underfoot, studying the patterns there. This air, it marries us across the years, the me then, the me now, handfasted, tied with thread and IV lines.

This air, it burns my eyes.

flowers

Taking advantage of a state of hypomania lasting more than 30 minutes (and explaining away my need for sleeping pills last night) I rip apart the bedroom, old clothes sorted out into a garbage bag, magazines on to the porch, to give away, to save for that day all trash is allowed, anything, maybe even the monkey’s on your back. I shift the bookshelves, notice the “unread” pile has grown to 20 or more books, smile. See my lonely photo album, the only evidence that I had a childhood, somehow tucked under the cat’s sofa, ragged and old.

Rosalyn, who has been “helping me” by laying on the futon and rolling around with Bride Barbie, sees the album and is drawn, as all children seem to be, by these frozen moments trapped. 

“That’s me!” she screams at the baby pictures. I find myself correcting her, but not really, so entwined we seem, so much the same, the air between us thin and enraptured, time meaningless. She sees me in full ballet regalia, the hated tutu, the flower hat my mother made that I wasn’t allowed to wear in the recital.

“I want to look like that Mummy.” she mutters, staring intently, eyes boring through the photo. Her grandmother deserved this child, she who loves pink and Barbie and babies and ballet, everything my mother wanted and wished for in a daughter, none of which she got. My mother deserved this granddaughter, who would have made her so proud, so happy, so fulfilled in all the ways I never could. Rosalyn deserved my mother, deserves her still, to embrace her in the ways I cannot, and possibly never should.

meandmom

I turn, find the one lonely shot of my mother and I, the only picture I have of her holding me, the only one where she’s smiling, where her face isn’t forced for the camera’s or fighting back the pain I know she suffered. She’s gorgeous-my mother was beautiful and I try to show Rosalyn, try to make her understand how lovely and perfect my mother was when I was her age, how I must have crowed “You’re the bestest mumy EVER!” to her in the mornings but I just can’t find the words, all gummed up like marshmallows in my throat and it won’t make any sense, not now.

Possibly not ever. How do you explain an absence to someone who’s never felt it? What’s the point is deciphering that which will never be?

My mother was who she was, and all the things she wasn’t and never would be. She loved me. Maybe I only have one picture and it’s fading and cracking but she’s sitting as I sit now and holding me as I hold my girls and I know, without doubt, her heart glowed for me and shone in the darkness that were her last days.

She loved me. That I can tell Ros. That makes sense.

meorros

I point to another shot, curled up in that hideous chair from so long ago, pointed at the television. Shot taken while I was in the grip of the nightly news I imagine, legs pulled under, wearing only underpants, despite my hair being neatly pinned back.

“Ros, who is that?”

She knows it’s me, but waits, looking into my eyes.

“I hated them too, see? No pants. Hated pants.”

“Like me!” she sings, grinning.

“Like you Honey Bear. Just like you.”

The air shimmers, and I can taste the air in that room, liver and onions perhaps, my mother’s ribs, a Sunday dinner of hamburgers, chips and illicit soda. It’s warm and secure and snug around my shoulders like one of those granny square afghans you find in the thrift stores now and again, the work wasted on the receiver, or maybe dead. We’re there together, Ros and I, but it’s her little legs on that chair, my hands holding the warm milky tea and buffing my nails before bed. We’ve merged and danced into each other, my childhood, my memories becoming hers, settling in to a quiet corner where in 10 or 20 years she’ll find herself telling a story about a little girl in a room full of amber light and love and they’ll never be able to tell what’s mine and what’s hers or where it’s all gone.

They’ll never know for sure.

mom

It breaks my heart to never know my mother. I’ll stare at her eyes in photographs, thinking I’ll know the secret if I look at her long enough, that somehow, I’ll absorb enough of her to really know my mother, for her to mean something more than the sum of her loss.

But you can’t know the dead. You can’t know the people they were-you can only wave to the people you want them to be, the people you think they were once, before everything happened. I can stare at her face, the before face, the one before the chemo and the radiation and the pain, the pain of knowledge, the pain of leaving, the pain of facing your life ending, a plane crashing into so many lives. I can’t know that. I’ll never know that in the ways that kept her up at night or guarded her eyes as the days grew closer.

I will never know my mother. She will be that perfect garden in a picture, all beauty and tragedy, curves and angles, youth and hope. She will be annectodal memories for my daughters, the one we cannot hurt, the one who lives forever in our hearts and fingertips and the glittering spring leaves in the broad maple behind the house.

The one that got away.

momsick

She was happy once, that I can convince myself of, even when I stare at a face yellowed by treatment, frightened by what might come, and yet absolutely resolute in her ability to ignore what will be. Hope via ignorance. How very catholic of her.

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She was happy once. God fucking dammit, she was happy, and alive and beautiful and she was my mother. Sometimes the air arches back and around, like today, and I imagine her, young, like I am, newly blessed with children, just breathing in the air, glad to be alive, remembering when she was young, and all the stories she’d some day tell.

She was happy there.

“Given the nature of life, there may be no security, but only adventure.”

17 Aug

We’re in the grocery store, her and I, on a chaotic Saturday full of grocery tourists and genuinely harried couples and parents. Here and there a baby screams-not the “I’m hungry” cry but the “FUCK YOU I WANT OUT NOW!” cry which was the sole reason I NEVER took my children to the grocery store as infants. The screaming continues sporadically in the produce section, likely a mother unable to get out otherwise, and I cringe in sympathy. Crying doesn’t bother me anymore-it just makes me want to take the child so the parents can just get their shit done.

Of course, hearing the yuppie parents of one single, quiet maybe 2 year old boy explain in perfect enunciation that “We aren’t going to squish the bread today!” made me walk quickly away laughing. What 2 year old WON’T squish the bread? It’s fun! I don’t bother making any type of contact since I do know the type of parents-they won’t acknowledge me, they won’t exchange pithy jokes and comments. And this rings true later when we go to the cash behind them, and my comments with Vivian about the toy the little boy is lucky to get are ignored. Perhaps they’re busy, perhaps they’re deaf, but right then, rude was rude. I remind myself they could be many things going on, and gee he’s pretty darn cute.

I’m not the center of the universe.

Vivian, now used to grocery shopping, has morphed into the child we know and love from Saturday morning cartoons:

“Can I have this?”

“I want this. Can I have it?”

“It’s got SCOOBY DOO ON IT! I need it!”

“Please? Please?”

The entire trip involves me saying NO every 4.2 seconds. Reminding myself why I do prefer to do this alone.

But then it’s not as fun. She comes around the corner with a stack of beer cups held to her eyes like goggles, and I laugh and giggle and block the aisle. She walks into a display while doing this, and it’s all I can do to not fall down I’m laughing so hard. I can feel the soft glow of other people smiling as my world spirals to just Vivian and myself, our eyes and laughter. I forget about the asks and remember my fantastical little girl who creates such wonder and delight around her.

“Back to juice boxes.” I snigger.

I give her a little speech on how we’re gonna get a second Klean Kanteen for school, and this is just for now. She’s not paying attention, and I wonder if the speech was for her, or the people around her. She randomly chooses some sugar laden box, and we move on.

It hits me. I am buying school lunches.

In 2 weeks, give or take, she starts school. And most of me, mainly my ears, are ok with this. She’s growing up, she’s FIVE (holyshitwheredidthoseyearsgo?) and I need to back off. I let her run ahead, I let her lag behind. I trust her to make small decisions. It’s time to start pulling back. But holding juice boxes, granola bars, Joe Louis’ in my hands, I wanted to be sad. My mother stood there once, trying to decide what was best for lunch, what was needed, what I would eat out of sight. She held those boxes, reading. She imagined a life emptied, for a time, of her daughter.

Connection with a long dead mother in a grocery store. I felt her then, in front of plastic fruit snacks. I felt her indecision, her pride, her love, such warm love, for me, and for her granddaughter, for the woman she’d one day be. I felt the conflict of that first day, of letting go of your baby. I felt that it was ok to feel this-to want to hold closer than skin and push out, all at once. That this was the least of my trials in the years ahead.

We got home and I realized I forgot garbage bags, cat food, cheese. But I held something much sweeter to my chest.

“Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now. “

31 Jul

There are reds that shine and sparkle, dull pinks and greys, blues, hard and brittle, rubber and laces, tongues. Rows upon rows, boxed or tied.

Our fingers run across them, deciding.

“Any pair you want” I tell her. “Any pair, this time.”

They light up, the ones she chooses, copper and flushed pink, as she does, any possible moment, like the heavens.

*****************************

Two weeks from now. Two weeks I have a school age child, a fortnight, a sigh in the lung that is a life. Exhaled so simply, as I remember her squirming left foot, covered in acrylic as I pressed for a footprint. That same foot I helped into a Size 10 shoe today, stretched over the velcro, patted for good measure before letting go.

Letting go was so much easier when I had nothing more to worry about than a little purple paint on a 25 year old shag carpet.

The magic of these new things, shoes, backpacks, crayons, that perfect dress. Talismans of success, of closure, of freedom. The metamorphosis is always accompanied by new wings. I want to cover her in newness, to build her up, shape her, strengthen her.

But I’ve done that for 5 years now, and she needs at least one leg to stand on.

*************************

“Do you know who I am?!” she sings at the saleslady in Mexx

“NO!” she smiles

Vivian pauses, surprised.

“I’m VIVIAN!” and rushes into her arms to hug her like a member of her own family.

Wings have formed already, wet, moist with yesterday. I won’t touch them though. Somethings get better all by themselves.

Our kids are normal. Really.

13 Jul

So this weekend we descended on Hannah’s household.

I’m fairly sure of two things. 1, if they were unsure about stopping at 2 kids, they’re REAL sure now and 2, they have Nova Scotia on high alert for when we enter the province.

My children don’t socialize much. Like, at all. And they certainly don’t get to play with cute little boys who like Cars and trains. And they NEVER get to have sleepovers.

In a nutshell, my children were on their Rambo setting-loud, overpowering and smelly. And I could see the look in the eyes of two parents who already don’t sleep much.

“Dear lord, what have we let into our house.”

I know that my kids are fairly intense little creatures. They play hard, and push push push. As someone trying to raise women who won’t take any shit, I likely encourage that a fair bit. And they aren’t usually around other children or parents. I don’t usually have to worry about moderating things. Nor do I realize what little shits they can be until I step back and look through the eyes of other parents.

But after the 3rd time of someone having to yell after my monkey child to stop her from leaping 8 feet, you realize that your desire to raise a free spirited willful woman may be working a little better than planned. When the little boy comes out crying because Vivian has ordered him out of his own room and into the kitchen, you realize that you don’t really have much to worry about, aside from a vague worry about something like the Jonestown Massacre occurring under the hands of one of my children.

New situations tend to bring out the most frenetic and crazed behaviour in my children. Some kids get shy. Mine ask “Are we going to meet Hannah Montana?” They are genuinely loving, caring, curious little girls.

They are also, many times, irritating, yappy, ulcer inducing little monsters.

I love them either way, it’s just a lot to take suddenly, especially if the cute ball of a baby is coughing and unhappy and wanting take out constantly.

Hannah? Next time, you guys come here so Issac can seek and destroy in their room. 🙂

Photo taken by H.R.H of the Camera, SweetSalty Kate who dropped by in the morning…anyone who doesn’t think I’m in for it in about 10 years is blind or crazy.

1984, the years you stole.

26 Jun

stopped in the store, glaring white light

she cries “Mommy! Cherries!” and a moment a skip

I find myself swallowing bile and vomit and 20 plus years of

squeamish denial.

 

One hand in, one round fruit out. A perfect stem

stretches towards me. “This one is perfect!” she blurts.

I turn my head so the clenching will go unnoticed.

 

Inside, in the distance, an unfurling, unravelling.

 

I place the fruit singly in the bag, each contact

weighted down, a jolt, a bridge.

That day, any of those days that summer, somewhere

around 1984 and I had that red bathing suit with the

racer back and yellow straps, and sun shone a

chemical burn between those rotten apple trees.

 

Those days, pocketed in my hand the smell of him, the

taste of him his wetness and his burden on my face his fruit

passed between us.

 

Unravel.

 

They ask for them, the one fruit denied the thing

I couldn’t bear to look at, to listen about “Wow-look at these cherries” the

hurried wives and businesswomen would say “so lovely” under the 2.99/lb signs

while I

did my level best not to collapse and teeter around them,

my mouth turned to stem.

 

Thumbs bore inside as the kitchen light

shines off their edges, as the light of my daughters lies stark 

across them and I’m covered in it, the stain of them

bloody across my hands and fingertips those same

fingertips which opened that door and opened that drawer

filled to flowing with those bloody lush fruits.

Filled to flowing with that one particular torment. Filled to flowing with

his tongue down my mouth and cherries floating past, excuses.

 

Unraveled…

my door holds the remnants

holds the last story, moldering inside clear.

 

They will not be eaten.

“But then peace, peace! I am so mistrustful of it: so much afraid that it means a sort of weakness and giving in.”

17 Jun

I’m going to write an intentionally vague post here, something I’m not usually apt to do. But right now, it’s how I feel safe without passwording the post, which I really don’t want to do.

I’ve been dealing with some things in my head lately, and you know, it’s REALLY hard to NOT write it here when I’ve become used to this outlet over the last 3 years or so. But I’m still rather private in many ways, so there we are.

Nothing is wrong-there’s just stuff I don’t feel like getting into. So no freaking out.

++++++++++++++++++++++

I trusted my neighbour, he of the apple trees and ferns, he of the clenched fist and cherry. My wide eyes opened to his, and I found a hand removing my shirt and a flash in my face.

I trusted my mother to be there, and she’s not. Rotted away long ago, her voice a memory on a cold wind.

I trusted my father to protect me, and instead was greeted with sarcasm, drunken 2am sob sessions and a warm stream of urine down my bedroom door the night before an exam. My grief was lost to his.

I trusted my brother, and in return was given nothing, the past hidden under his downcast eyes and ruined life.

I trusted many other people, all of whom broke my trust, all of whom took that opportunity to stomp on me, to ridicule, to be amused at the idea that I could possibly feel deserving.

After awhile, I said no more, sealed up the walls and crossed my arms. Ain’t nuthin gettin in here.

I’m not alone in my distrust for everyone. Most people have a healthy caution around other people. But mine is different. I live with the expectation that everyone, given enough time, with screw me over in the worst possible way. I live wary, waiting for that pounce so I can move out of the way. I have no friends. It is safer that way. No one can hurt me.

I’ve spent a life running from harm, and when there’s no harm left, when all there might be is potential and newness, I become scared and witless, confused, my jester hat broken and lost. I don’t know how to trust.

How do you trust someone? How do you tell yourself that it’s safe to trust the people who say they love you? How do you let go enough to be free within that? I’m finding it very difficult to let go-it’s making me insecure and scared, and just plain old dizzy. The little part of me that’s been laughed at an abandoned time and time again, she can’t move past this.

It’s ridiculous, because I’m old enough to know that circumstances in the past do not dictate my future. But it’s a gutteral reaction, one borne of spending my life waiting for approval. My father used to joke when I was younger that it would be so much cheaper if I wasn’t around, and I’m pretty sure he meant it.

How are you sure? How are you confident that the person you trust won’t lash out at you, try and break you? How do you not end up feeling stuck like that little girl inside you?

 

We are searching for meaning in the meaningless.

13 Jun


Cuppa?

Originally uploaded by thordora

I’m not a big stuff person. Sure, I like things. But if they go missing, or break, I don’t miss them much. A small “huh” usually suffices, unless we’re talking about my Rainbow Brite doll that I lost years ago, or the hockey stick my brother broke when I was 7 or so.

Stuff just is. I’m not a collector, or a hoarder. My slob tendencies aside, I don’t have a lot of things. I have books. I have music. I have few clothes, little in the bathroom and I can count on one hand the things I’d be saving in case of fire.

Both my father and I believe that death imprints upon you a sense of urgency and need, an awareness of the bigger world looming around you. Things are meaningless to him as well. We like nice things, expensive well made pieces of furniture, sculpture, a perfect light fixture, emotion cast in bronze. We want to respond to that which we own. After losing my mother, little things trickled into the background. You might still want that Wii or those shoes, but you just don’t care enough to save up for it or fight some bitchy lady in an aisle for it.

Those concerns are swept away, replaced by more morbid thoughts, conversations about dying with a 5 year old.

Today, spurred on by this lovely bout of hypomania, I cleaned the counter where everything goes to die, and the shelving around it. On the top shelves live my mother’s tea cups.

All through my childhood I coveted these. I was only allowed to touch them every few months when she took them down for cleaning along with her copper pots. As a child they were delicious to look at, colors so vibrant, flowers so perfect. Each English Bone China, likely worth very little. But when I was allowed to hold one briefly, they may as well been eggs from the golden goose. They were treasure. They were special to my mother and I was allowed to hold them.

For years I didn’t have them, until I moved into this house and my father arrived one year with them.

“You always loved them, and it’s time for you to have them. Otherwise they’ll get broken”

I nearly burst into tears at the sight of them, at the feel of the cold china in my hands, the smoothness of the handles, the delicate folds and bends. My mother’s industrious hands were all over them, and briefly, she was with me.

Tonight this happened again, that bubble flashback in time to simpler things, standing next to the reassurance of my mother, her hands methodically yet cautiously cleaning her tea cups. I found my own hands caressing the china, her arms and thoughts moving through mine.

Vivian asked to hold them and I reminded her they were special and she wasn’t quite old enough. She asked me why they were special, why we had to be so careful.

I told her “Because sometimes a thing can bring a memory back so real that it’s like you’re there. And sometimes sweets, I just want to be with my mommy so bad I need something special to take me there. These are all I have left of my mother, and I need to be careful.”

She asked me if she’s be gone if the teacups broke. I told her no, she’d still be in my heart, but that then the specialness of holding something her hands had once held would be gone.

With that wisdom only the small seem to carry, she nodded and walked away.

They are only teacups. But they are also gateways to another place, another time entirely, where the sun shines heavy on a winter afternoon. Things are meaningless, without the stories built in.

The agony and defeat of Barbie

9 May

Tonight, I did something I swore I would never do.

(And no, those of you with your minds in the gutter, it doesn’t involve that.)

I bought Rosalyn a Barbie.

Granted, it’s a fairy barbie, with wings, but it’s still very white, very slim and very un womanly.

She loves it.

Anyone who has known me for any period of time knows that I loathe Barbie dolls. I really do. Maybe it’s because my mother never let me have any. (Because I’d chew their feet off, some sort of oral stress relief thing, not because of any feminist leanings that I know of) Maybe it’s because they’re so girly I don’t know what to do. Maybe it’s because I don’t feel they present even a vaguely adequate example of what a woman should look like. Maybe I just hate the plastic.

But I’m also not someone who is going to stand in the way of what my daughters gravitate to. Rosalyn reached for that Barbie in the store tonight as she’s reached for Spiderman, dinky cars or little people in the past. She desired it-not to please me, or her sister, but because she wanted it.

Isn’t that our ultimate goal, to help our daughters decide, for themselves, what they want? Look at many of us-raised to please, raised to ask what others want before us, raised to put the needs and wants of others before us every single time. I want to break this pattern, and I imagine many of you want to as well. It’s rare that we stop and say No, generally because we limit the choices to appropriate ones anyway, leaving it up to them to decide what they’re interested in. That’s how I know Vivian would like some anatomy toys, and maybe a Microscope when she’s a bit older. That’s how I know that Rosalyn loves bubbles and suddenly, Barbies.

Yes, what Barbie stands for bothers me. But she didn’t pick skanky Barbie or “Fashion Model” Barbie. She picked a doll with pink hair she can comb and a pink skirt just like hers. She picked childhood. She picked butterfly wings and dreams. And that matters to me too.

I’m uncomfortable with it in my house, I am. But sitting watching Ros have a conversation with “Bahbie” as she brushed her hair-I’m very comfortable with that.

Barbie pain-do you have it too?

skimming the stream of days

6 May

I get so busy sometimes that it’s hard to breathe, hard to stop and remember that it’s a beautiful day outside and the sun is shining and the leaves are finally stretching their arms and legs out to me. I get so busy with the mundane, the reports and the pivots, the diapers and the dinners. So many variables, until you round the corner near the school, and hear the sounds of hundreds of frogs, echoing across the neighbourhood, their love songs not to Alfred, but to each other, to spring, to the first morning of a hundred such mornings, foggy and musty and covered in wet tears of happy and warmth.

 

We circle the pond, carefully, searching for these frogs, my feet staggering near the edge, remembering far too many incidents that ruined far too many pairs of new shoes, that swamp smell never leaving them. I mutter about bringing garbage bags next time, wondering why the school never cleaned, removing at least the plastic if not the frothy scum on the water. I wonder if the frogs have multiple eyes or legs. I wonder why people can’t clean up their own mess, ever it seems. The hockey ball is forgivable-the 3 empty jugs of laundry soap-not so much.

We find no frogs-I find a tree. A tree that’s new and clean and gleaming in the early evening twilight. It’s nubby and round and altogether reminiscent of being a little girl. New and rounded on the edges. I’m fascinated by it, the greenery, the almostness of it, teetering. Like it was holding it’s breath.

We walk home, busy life forgotten, to do lists stored in outlook, laundry mostly done. The girls slow as we near the house, streetlight by streetlight appearing and the sun falls farther in the sky.  Rosalyn asks for what may have been the last time ever “See Mommy?” andI hold her hand tighter, feel her silky cool fingers wrap around mine as Vivian dances in the night with her father.

It’s all so nubby and new.

(Title taken from Bewitched Playground by David Rivard)

Nineteen

25 Apr

2 days.

I can place myself in my mother’s shoes. Watching the grass spring into place from the picture window in the front of the house from her vantage point on the borrowed hospital bed. The legs of which dig divots into the plush carpet that will take 2 weeks to fully disappear. Her breath won’t remain in the house that long.

I can hardly remember the last two days, merged as they were into the days that came before. The emergency ambulance rides, the hasty packing, me slipped to the side, quiet so no one would notice. I hardly remember our family as a foursome, as a team, together, as we were meant to be. There was a crack in that picture already, a crack dug deep with cancer and hopelessness and dreams.

My memories, like Mad’s, are sparse, but thankfully, I have a few that are golden. The crackling late afternoon light pouring in the side windows as I tried on new clothes at 6 or 7. Chocolate covered fingers in the kitchen, licking the bowl, watching my mother bake and cook and feed the people who would come to feed up, the stereotypical casseroles splayed across our doorstep, cards attached, pieces of tape on the bottom of the cheap ceramics with names, “Brenda”, “Mrs Bishop”. Driving to Kingston in her blue car, holding in the nausea, not wanting the Pepto Bismo that would make it all the more worse.

I remember her hand, and mine it it. A downtown street, a sunny warm summer morning, her soft sandals slapping her feet, her dress swinging. Stopping to talk. Stopping to talk. A warm muffin and ginger ale at the cafeteria in the store my father ran, the laughter of a group of women as they talk above my head.

The warmth of her hand, the strength of it. The softness, the yielding, the smell of her hand creme, the Charlie on her neck.

I don’t remember hugging my mother, or kissing my mother. She wasn’t affectionate that way, not that I can remember. But lord, she was lovely. She was womanly and graceful and strong and sweet, in her way. She was kind.

In the summer, we’d sit on the front step, await the squirrels who would inevitably come to her, who would climb on her shoulders, snatching peanuts from her breast pocket, the breast that would eventually come off and be replaced with a facsimile I would play with. She never worried that they would bite her.

“Sit still and they’ll be gentle” she’d remind me.

And it was true.

She loved to laugh. She loved to prank. From kinking the hose until I’d stand over it so she could let loose the water then, to sitting in the front row at mass, marking the sermon with friends to rapping on the wall, making me believe in witches, she had a devilish sense of humor.

I think of these things instead of the 2 days before. Instead of the cold dampness of the stairs I sat on. Instead of the panic and fear and terror that ran through our house, circled the voices telling me the just go to school, rang through my head when I was pulled out during spelling by one of her Priests, taken to a car to silently watch the highway with my brother as we drove to what we knew was inevitable.

I shall think of none of these things. I shall think of my mother as the woman who loved me, who craved me, who wanted me. The woman who loved her little girl, who taught her that glasses can sing, who taught her that strength isn’t only measured in muscles. I will think of my mother who my first born is named after, in part. I will think of my mother as the vibrant woman introduced me to Hitchcock as a child, yet refused to let me read Frankenstein.

My mother, Dianne Joanne Marie, has been dead 19 years 2 days from now. And I miss her still, as I always will.

“She’s too young to see that as we gather losses, we may also grow in love;as in passion, the body shudders and clutches what it must release.”

15 Apr

Mother I wish…..

I wish many things. I wish you had explained things to me better. I wish I would have known more than that nebulous “I’m sick”, wish I would have truly known what Cancer meant-not in terms of rogue cells and less than functional cures, but in the human cost, in terms of what I was to lose.

Or perhaps it’s better that I didn’t.

Mother, I wish you had told me you loved me. My ears don’t remember hearing those words. I know you did-my core knows that you loved me and wished for me and asked for me and one day I was there for you to love me. But I can’t recall hearing the words pass your lips. I have no notes in your handwriting, no secret messages left encoded in the wallpaper. I have one thing in my possession that crossed your fingers, and I treasure it, even if I can rarely bring myself to touch it.

Mother, I wish you had told me about love, about how it cuts both ways, how it endangers me. I wish you had told me it was worth it, so I wouldn’t have wasted years convincing myself it wasn’t, and that I was unworthy and unready.

Mother, I wish you would have told me how wonderful finding your one true love was.

I wish you would have had “the talk”. You know the one. Instead, I learned from cold books, hidden in a corner of a library where no one would find me. I wish you would have left some warning about cramps and blood and sex so I wouldn’t have felt so bloody alone curled up on a damp bathroom floor crying.

Mother, I wish you would have told me about you, your past, who you were before your family became the second part of your life. I saw drawings, art-were you an artist? What dreams did you have? You had dreams, a farm girl from southern Ontario, I’m sure you wanted to escape. Was my father your escape on Saturday in a Drugstore?

I do so wish you would have told me how much I would come to love my children, how much you loved yours. I wish I had a piece of your love to carry on with me, to share with my children, something more real than my stories. If only you had written something down for me to carry forth.

I wish you had admitted you were dying before it was too late. You had such hateful hope, and this hope prevented you from truly preparing us, for saying those things we needed to say. This hope kept you from preparing for a future you were not in. That hollow fucking place I’m finally out of. I’m so very angry with you for this. You didn’t want to face what was happening. I admire your bravery, but I’m angry at how you left us.

Mother, I wish you would have seen a second doctor when Dad told you to, when you first found that lump. I wish you would have taken it seriously, even if the doctor didn’t. You had such faith in these people! They fucked up your leg as a teenager, and they fucked up your life as an adult. Why did you believe in them so?

Mother, I wish I would have just appreciated you while you were there, instead of being the shitty little kid I was somedays. Dad would tell me to knock it off, and I just didn’t get it. Not really. It hurt, not understanding why we couldn’t go places, why you couldn’t get out of bed. Why you took so many pills and spent your days getting sick.

Mother, I wish I could have shown more compassion, more love. I wish I would have been more loving, but I just didn’t understand. Even I couldn’t yell those words, those “I love you’s!” until the machines were winding down. I was scared that if I said it, you’d die.

I guess I was right.

Mom, more than anything, I wish I had known you. I have fleeting memories of a talented, strong woman, but I never knew you. I’m told that I was always by your side, your constant companion. I’m told that you loved me more than anything, loved your family to distraction.

Mom, I wish I knew these things for sure, and not just in my mind, and sometimes even my heart.

I wish I didn’t miss you.

I wish we had beaten that cancer.

I wish things had been different, and you were still here, making your legendary poppy seed cake instead of me cursing the world that made you never write the bloody recipe down. Cursing a world in which the taste of that cake is as mythical as your voice.

I wish your knew your grand-daughters, their songs, their games, their idiocies.

Mom, sometimes, I just wish…..

 

(Title is a fragment from a fantastic poem by Julia Spicher Kasdorf)

” A reform is a correction of abuses; a revolution is a transfer of power.”

12 Apr

When I was 7 or 8, I was molested by my neighbour, a near quadriplegic, and his helper. This went on, as I remember it, for the duration of a summer, maybe longer, until I finally refused to go over there ever again.

The details of the abuse are unimportant-they are listed in various other places on this site, and are not much different from the stories many women carry.

What’s important to me today is explaining what the life left looked like. It’s National Sexual Abuse Awareness Month, and I want to tell this part of my story. It always feels like a dream, like a story I made up. But the consequences of that summer have lingered.

For a very long time, I wouldn’t admit to myself what had happened. I knew what did. The images would replay in my head at night, or at other times when I should have been innocently discovering my body on my own. I’d have dreams about being abused by factory lines of robots, my body privy to anything, tied down and unable to move. Dreams that my body did not belong to me.

My body became a foreign organism, something I didn’t understand, something that didn’t work.

I told no one. He never told me not to, or rather, I don’t remember hearing those very words, but the implication was there. I had done something bad. No one would believe me. My parents had enough going on.

He lived right next door, his helped across the street. In truth, I think I was frightened of what could happen if I did tell.

So I told no one, and grew into a woman’s body too fast, and was lost within it.

In a way, I’m happy that I was unattractive, strange looking and just fucked up at 13 or 14. I didn’t have a chance to make those mistakes that girls usually make. The opportunity just wasn’t there. Unless you count the 19 year old I dated at 14, who was (obviously) after only one thing.

I finally admitted, out loud to someone that I had been abused when I was 16. A relative stranger. We were walking to the liquor store or some one’s house from a party, and she started talking about her own abuse. At first I whispered. She stopped and waited for me to finish speaking, asked me to speak louder.

I said I had never told a soul, except her now. She told me it would get better.

In a way, she was right. Once I was able to get the words out, the admit to someone my harsh dirty secret, it didn’t feel so bad. It didn’t feel like a rotten dream I was trying to put to bed. It felt real. It still felt fucking horrible, but it existed in someone else’s life now. My hatred for cherries, my discomfort around the disabled, it was real, and not just something frivolous on my part. She made it real. Breaking my silence made it real.

It didn’t make being touched any easier. I still dislike having anyone touch me, some days even my own husband. The right sequence of events can trigger a massive panic attack, except I can’t run away because my body never learned how, instead willing to lie there and accept what’s coming. When threatened, my body lays down to die instead of fighting. I wonder how much of my proclivities in terms of submission are truly mine, and how much is a product of being abused by two much older men.

This isn’t an easy post to write. I’m sitting here, my chest tightening, wanting to stop. But I won’t. I have never truly dealt with being abused. I have tried to, and have had nearly ever therapist or shrink blow me off since “it doesn’t seem that bad”. Becoming nauseous sometimes when touched-isn’t that “that bad”? Being unable many days to even kiss my husband, isn’t that “that bad”? Feeling like I should just suck it up, it wasn’t that bad, is that “that bad?”

It was a long time ago. The one bastard who did this to me, the cripple, he is long dead, and I sang a fervent joyous song in my heart when my father invited me to the funeral. The other still lives across from my father, helps him occasionally. The thought of that man seeing my small naked body as he talks to my father sickens me, and I hope that he sees those images as regret. I rather doubt it.

It’s one of the reasons I’ve been “home” once in 7 years. I can’t bear it. I can’t bear to see that man, I can’t bear to see that house, that yard, that place. That place where a chunk of my innocence was lost, was buried. The place that stole my love for cockleshells and cherries and birds.

I am still mad as hell, and would love to burn that place to the ground. I’m madder now knowing, looking at my daughters and understanding exactly what I lost. But I am freed somewhat from the shackles of that sick old man by using my voice, and refusing the silence he smothered me with.

in our hand.

22 Mar

Winter: Tori Amos: Little Earthquakes

 

***********************************

I’m so desperately tired of winter right now-the dank, the tired snows next to the road, the icy streets that catch me unaware, the damp light that filters through the clouds on odd occasions. I’m done with it. If I could break up with winter, I would. I could do it via text message even-it’s not me-it’s you.

Only 3 months ago, snow was a wonderful blanket, a coaxing covering that looked like pudding-inviting and cozy,a simple cureall for the rotted undergrowth summer had left, sparse under the porches. It cleansed.

Now it’s dark and full of yellows and blacks and browns and the odd disturbing red, especially outside those dirty bars. And I’m tired, woefully tired of it this early easter, this first week of spring.

***********************

I’m tired of a lot lately. A general dis-ease with most of life. I think it’s the snow. I’m pretty sure it’s the snow, or the busy life I’ve had lately, the lack of just plain old sit down, read/knit/sing/do something other than work on work or the house. Dissatisfaction, time, little time, life spinning without my permission as my children grow older and new mothers grow younger. I cannot stop it and yet the snows continue. My life grows quicker and I grow older and the winter won’t budge, shaking it’s head slowly and smiling slightly at my anger and stomping feet.

I feel time now. Wrapping around me, hugging my arms dancing through my ears in whispers, enveloping my daughters in it’s embrace she giggles through my house, through the memories we create, stubborn as they are. Her breath is heavy on my neck as I cradle my youngest for what could be the last time, babylike she holds herself close to me, her eyes shuttered and chest heavy with sleep. Soon, time will move her away from my lap, then my hands and arms, then sight altogether.

Time is in the corner, her watch set for my death, maybe theirs, someone’s. The days of a life on a watch I’d give much to own, and destroy. How dare you path it all out, like a project, little arrows and stars for milestones, saved on a disk somewhere-this is my life, my little world inside these brick wall. She needs to go, to leave us as we are. A moment, blocked off, held firm inside these walls, safe.

They grow older, and away from me. Their thoughts, not mine, their days, unknown to me. I curse this life, these needs, my inability to just sit still and inhale it all, the smell of child, the smell of adventure and hope and possibility. I curse you time. I curse the moments that slip away from me even now as I cry, mourning the time I’ve lost already.

The snow stays. The snow never seems to leave. Or perhaps, that’s just my heart.

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Tori Amos: Gold Dust: Scarlet’s Walk

Love, My daughter, Love

6 Mar


Originally uploaded by thordora

In the late afternoon Sunday of a winter you’ll never remember I took this. Your soft eyes glancing downwards, the pointed button of your nose giggling before you, lips caught.

The sun reaches out to catch you, to caress you, much as my hands do from time to time, lingering on the soft baby cheek, that softness which recedes a little more each day, into memory, into a blue bin kept in the basement, between fragile christmas ornaments and first sleepers.

You turn three in a few days. You cross the threshold from baby to child, that precarious world of “preschooler”-not the toddler you were, yet not the child you will be. Such rare magic this year will hold, and I will miss it. Your frustrations have nothing on your incredible fascination. How you see to world-the babbling brook of conversation with your tiny superheroes in that tent Poppi bought you, the lectures heaped on Teddy 2.0….all worlds condense to one for you-the four walls of our home, the harsh brick that warms you, lets the sun in.

You are incredible in your ordinariness. Where Vivian did nothing the books and charts told us, you follow them, a train on schedule. There’s a certain type of magic in this-pedestrian predictability. A comfort. You are exactly what should be.

And this-maybe this is what I love the most. You are so certain of YOU-no questions, no deviations just stubborn, gonna do it my way you. A you I am proud of and driven crazy by in equal amounts.

It’s Love Thursday, whatever that means, and I remembered how you were howling Ros, wanting juice as I had to run out the door, after I had already given you the exact juice you wanted in the exact cup you wanted.

And I laughed a little at this just now. At your insanity and how someday, you won’t need us, not like this. Someday the sighs will descend and the “fine…..” routine will come to town and I’ll remember a little girl who couldn’t tell us what it is she wanted so badly and I’ll remember a little girl who won’t let me out the front door with anything less than 5 kisses.

Your arms daughter, entwine my heart. It is yours.