May Days

The day that I graduated high school I spent swimming in an old quarry in Southeastern Ohio. It was hot that May and the sun kicked us and we fell through the air like bricks. The water was so cold that as soon as you submerged your body it would seize up and goose pimple and stiffen like a board. We would burst upwards like dolphins shouting out like demons when we gasped for air. People were yelling and screaming into the wind. We were madmen for each other. Isn't it strange that things can feel important when we are so young? That anything can be magical if enough children pump their fists and encourage it to be so.

I was with someone who is now dead and we drank from aluminum tallboy beer cans and ate Doritos and never talked about the future. There were more important tasks at hand like jumping off these open pit mine mountains. We needed to do these things that they warned us about. We were still cocooned by the ignorance that time was always going to be this slow. We were unrushed and focused on the immediate. We did not know pain or love or fear yet. We only thought we did.

On the ride home I changed into my white dress for graduation night in the large backseat of someone's father's large sedan. I raised my hips and pulled off my bathing suit and looked into the rearview mirror where I met a set of eyes that I almost forget the exact color of now. I smoothed myself and tamed my wild hair into a ponytail and put on my Birkenstock sandals. The leather backseat was so big and my legs were so tan and I felt just fine.  When we got out of the car and I went to meet my family for one of the most important events of my life they told me- I laughed at my sunburned face in the tiny Covergirl compact that I held open in the parking lot.

And I kept laughing even as I walked down the aisle and shook hands with the principal and felt like every single eye in the stadium could see the bright red sunburn across my face. I just kept laughing because everything was funny and not quite real and I had not yet developed the vocabulary to describe the way I was feeling. I only knew that shit was exciting and people were putting hands on my shoulders and pushing me towards the next thing. And everyone was crying and so I felt like that was something I could do and then no one would know that I was so confused. And people cried because everything was changing. The funny thing is that as I stood there in the gloaming I realized that I had no idea how to be me.

And in another year that will have been 20 years ago. I know this because my best friend who was standing with me back then in a white dress also- she has told me this.

She says that we have over a year to become faster thinner smoother versions of the truth. She tells me that it is almost time to go back there again.

To the place that I worship and reject simultaneously.

To the place where my father is now becoming an old man.

To the place where the quarries are closed and the streets are quieter and people still think of me as an oddball.

To the place where there are graves with bones that used to be my friends.

To the sunshine goddamn beautiful green hills.

To the place that made me a writer.

 

 

sick bed

In my memory it is always raining. Cool enough for a slicker but not cold really. It is overcast as we drive towards the next town to my pediatrician's office. We did all of our doctoring at the metropolis of Lancaster, Ohio that was about 20 minutes up the pike as my gran always said. I loved my doctor and have very good memories of him. He was a tall man and in my historical reinvented memory landscape he is German and his hair is so thick and his hands always cold. He was kind and his kindness came out of his mouth and out of his eyes and he was so good and he was a true doctor that cared and appointments were long and the waiting room was calm.

And when he retired when I was about 12 or 13 I hated the new doctor we moved to down the street. She was young and bossy and started to focus on my "weight issues" from her skinny perch of the doctor stool. She was a doctor who ran a holistic practice and all that meant is my mom told her shit about my terrible behavior as I got older and she refereed me to a shrink at some point and that was all kinds of not good. I made up elaborate lies and squinted a lot like I imagined Holden Caulfield would have done. She also put me on a diet in Jr. High. I carried little boxes of diet food to school and all my friends cheered when I started to look thinner.

I carry that with me still. Some of it is not good. Some of it is strangely comforting though. Like the memories of my mother and I going to the doctor when I was sick. We would leave the office and drive the two minutes to the local pharmacy where she would let me lie down in the back of the car and rest while she ran inside to fill the script. She would pick up some lunch for me to take home and make me a "sick bed" on the couch. I would drift in and out of sleep while the world went on all around me. I could hear her in the background and then later my father and the smells from the kitchen and all of the soft pillows felt so good.

We have been in and out of sickness here at our house the last few weeks. Even today I went to my family doctor and dealt with an ear infection that has been flirting with me for weeks. God I wanted a sick bed today. I craved that part of my past that is now so far gone. There is no one really to care for you when you are a grown up so I just took the last Percocet I was hoarding from my major surgery last year and put on Thomas the Tank Engine. I will rock this day somehow.

The good thing about this is that we can now care for others.  As adults and parents we have learned from the past or the sweet curve of trial and errror how people want to be treated. It is something I am really pretty good at anymore. I like making people feel good. I try and make my children comfortable when they feel terrible. I try and give comfort and make sick beds that rival the ones my mother made.  I try and find the softest blankets and the coolest sheets. There will always be ice pops in my freezer.

I put my head down on their pillows with them and tell them stories of the past. I tell them some day in the future there will be a little tiny memory of right now. This molecular second. I tell them it will encapsulate sounds and smells and the way I look frozen right now. Smiling with red lipstick and blonde hair that shines like a daydream. There will be sunshine or rain and music in the background bubbling up into their consciousness. They smile and frown and suck on their fingers and look at me.

And it blows my mind.

 

 

Only YOU can prevent crappy blogging.

I was going to make this photo my homepage photo at first.

It made me miss my short hair. It made me laugh.

 

Danielle said I looked so "Boss" in it and I think that means bad ass.

Or cool.

Or awesome.

But then I found the photo of my mom and me and Smokey the Bear.

That is true bad assery.

It's more me.

A little bit quirky and not at all what you thought you needed.

Until you needed it.

 

 

 

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Henry Miller hanging round the toilet


In my bathroom I have a copy of Henry Miller's The Colossus of Maroussi sitting around.
I have been reading the first sentence several hundred times lately.


I would never have gone to Greece had it not been for a girl named Betty Ryan who lived in the same house with me in Paris.

I like thinking about the way the world works.
How life unfolds.
I also would have never have gone to Greece had it not been for a compulsive liar yet interesting boy I knew when I was in college.

There are so many I would never have________ had it not been for__________ in our lives.

Who's yr Betty Ryan?

photo via ffffound

all of this and nothing

Not sure but there is a feeling of wanting to listen to Wilco & The Psychedelic Furs all day long. I tire of explaining myself to people. Isn't it enough to know that I am just different and made like mountains of molehills and the world spins faster than a top spun by the fat finger of a child? Isn't it enough to just exhale and blow all of my breath in one simple direction. All of my breath pointed towards yr house of cards and they fly right out my window like tiny suicides. They hit the ground like bricks.

Oh yes, I went to NYC. It was just what I needed. I am waiting to scrounge some photos and tell you all about it. I have like five stories. You know I always do.

I think I am about to experience some sort of literary explosion. I am bubbling.

just walking around projecting my mental state unto the world around me

When Finnian was about a year old he had a terrible fever and was quite ill over the course of a weekend. Joe's dad was in town from England and the second night Finn was ill he held the baby on the couch and placed his hands on Finn's head and became very serious in his attention.
Dad was healing him. He was trying to heal him with his magic.
Magic is the best way I can describe it.
Dad was a spiritualist and his views on life rooted from that place.
My grandfather is a Baptist minister and his views root from there.
My grandfather would lay his hands on me too if I asked him to.
He would pray hard for me.

It is all magic. It is all magical thinking. It is all reasoning.

Magical thinking is all around me right now. I place my hands on books and telephones and wood and tables and press harder than I should to try and make things feel real.
But they don't.
I try and chant inside of my head letters strung together that form words and then sentences that beg the people that I love to find peace. I say these little words over and over in my mind and even as I am saying them I wonder if it will ever work.
Because grief is not a simple action.
It begins and assaults at random and does it ever have an end?
Or does it just hide away?
It is like a heavy velvet curtain at a theatre.
It just falls at random from the sky and blankets you.
It makes it difficult to move and the fabric traps yr feet.
It pools in piles at yr feet and you cannot move until it lets you.

I find myself trying very hard to think things fine. I reason with myself that in some arbitrary number of days that everyone will feel better and life will resume again in formation.
I make little deals with the universe that I will be a better wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend if everyone can just find that peace.
But it's only magical thinking. I pray in the quiet to a God who I am told by my grandfather knows the number of hairs on my head.
I say tiny words to God, but I am lost out there in the dark.
I am not sure I am heard.
I am not sure I am worthy or my magical thinking matters.

But the day after dad placed his hands on Finnian
the morning after he was so loving and focused and true
the very next day
my small boy uncurled in the bed
and stretched and smiled
and cooed
and snuggled to my chest and his forehead
was as cool
as a early morning breeze

and I can't help but irrationally wish for dad to be here now
to place his hands on his children's heads
to take away the sadness
the way they all feel
dealing with the subtraction of him from their lives

And nothing makes sense but I say the small words over and over again
inside of my magical mind

You never write the narrative of yr own sadness until the moment it happens.

I would have pulled bong hits today.
I would have drank hard liquor.
to forget

Today wasn't like any other day I have ever had.
I have never had to wake someone from slumber to deliver bad news like the news I gave today.
When you are younger than you even know you are and you are in love and most of yr problems can be solved in 24 short hours you don't look into the future and see heavy shit.
You just see much of the same.

You just forget to focus on the future and what will happen.
People tell you things and you look at others lives but it is never yr little life.

You never write the narrative of yr own sadness until the moment it happens.

Joe's father died last night.

It's like there is a giant hole in England now
in his town
in Joe's heart

And when I had to put my arms around him
to hold him and tell him
it was like he wasn't all there
like he had shrunk to the size of a boy
and even my strong strong arms
wrapped right around him
couldn't do enough

"It's like how hot dogs come in packs of 10, and buns come in packs of eight or 12 - you have to buy nine packs to make it come out even."

I want to fall down and sleep like Rip Van Winkle.
I also never want to eat Trader Joe' sushi again.
the taste was so different
like an assault on my mouth

I am trying to find the right song to be Little Alouette's new website song.
Yeah- expanding beyond the etsy and LA blog soon! woot!

I know it should be a kiddo song-but I really want this.
or this.
I can't shake David Byrne.
I would kiss his forehead. I would wash his feet.

And then you should see the state of my home.
I walk around squinting.
Everything looks better squinting.

And thank you God I am headed to the salon tomorrow night.
I had to wear a hat all weekend.
I am unkempt.

This is not one of those guilty posts. This is not an excuse.

I am tired and working mad and the world spins and all of the sudden one night Finnian pulls right from his little body all the words that make me just fine.

He tells me in sing song how much he loves us and the excitement of his life is just what I need. It can boil my bathwater.
It can curl my hair.
I am wild and frantic but at the end of the day these small arms...
All of these arms wrap around me and remind me of what I am doing.
I am growing these arms strong and one day they will unfold and the hands will straighten and the long fingers will point in the direction of Now.
Go there.
It's all good.
I know I can.
You told me.
You showed me.

title post- True Stories 1986