To Tamar's entry entitled False Cheer, I am reminded of something I wrote back when I was a living in Manhattan with my two young children quite a few years ago. I called it Yesterday:
Yesterday when the sky was blue I witnessed a man hit by a car speeding down Broadway at Houston. The man flew into the air, did a half spin over the hood of the car, and crumbled to the ground. 513-CWT backed up, drove around the motionless man, looked back once, saw he was only another drunk, and drove off fast down Broadway. I then went into the subway with my child who hadn’t seen it and the woman in the ticket cage said, with urgency in her voice, “Smile! Smile! You’re on Candid Camera!” and my son said “Is that true?” and I was still too shaken and stunned to understand why she dared to tell me how to feel.
I feel my reality.
I feel my separate being.
I want to feel your soul
in my body.
Enough of separate realities when we are together.
My identity is my own, my realities is where I am.
If you are there where I am, need I say more.
Maybe the knees of 513-CWT shook as
he drove off and maybe they didn’t.
Maybe the bum was badly hurt and mabe he wasn’t.
513-CWT couldn’t go too far unknown.
So he learned: (a) to drive more carefully
or (b) to drive off faster before anyone could
see his number.
I would like to know where you are.
I would like to feel that I am not always alone.
Surrounded by smiles on the grocery shelves,
I look over my shopping list and discover
I did not include my feelings.
I would have to make a decision on the aisle
which ones I wanted and which I did not.
Loneliness, no, happiness, definitely,
joy and freedom. Love and fear and hate and
yes give me pain and loneliness too.
Give me my depressions. On a tray with
orange juice and a warm bed.
Give me my joys that I have earned.
Allow me the happiness I always feared.
My smiles are my own.
So strange to be home, so quiet, so alone. I like it here, definitely. It is a beautiful place to live, to work, to play. It is just that I miss Tamar, I miss Dan, I miss Damian.
So strange that when I returned home, the clock on my computer read Los Angeles time! Time to get back to life in Nova Scotia!
It helped that last night my son Aaron and his great joy, Jessica, invited me to come to their home for dinner. Then we went to see Cold Mountain. Both Jessica and I had read the book and found the movie followed the book very closely in mood and tone and events. Both are excellent. It felt like ensemble acting in the movie, all the players nourishing each other, helping to develop character and story. With a backdrop of current events, the pain and futility of war was poignant.
Time to value being back home and the view at sunrise in my backyard:
When I was a child, I thought that if you were not married by age twelve, you would never be, and marriage in my family (of two girl children) was the goal of growing older. Then when I reached sixteen and had my first true love, I “knew” that by twenty-one, I would be with my husband with plans for six children. Now when I think about age, it is still more about what is to come than what I have left behind. Yet it is not so much about the “other” person or persons who may or not be there.
If I had to choose a fixed age, one to stay at, be forever, it probably would be 45, not because 45 was such a great age for me, but because that is what I feel myself to be now and it feels good. For many years I felt as if I was 35, arrested emotional development. Or really, the beginning of my adult life. The age at which I left my marriage, became a single mother of two. (The other four will have to wait for another lifetime.) The body moved on year by year. Now I “am” 45; I’ve matured.
By some people’s tape measure, I am already on the old side of life. They are talking about mandatory retirement where I teach. I am, I think, in a field where age is a positive factor. I am constantly learning more about my craft and I haven’t slowed down yet and probably will not for quite a while. In body and mind, still moving. Learning to be where I am.
Quite a few years ago I was taking a walk with a couple of other participants at an intense ten-day meditation event. One man, a doctor, said he was envious of my painting and wanted to be an artist in his next life. I said I was training to be a dancer in my next life. The other man, a scientist and photographer, said he was training to be okay in this life...............
Set in South Carolina in 1964 just as President Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act allowing black people to vote, The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd is a novel about a fourteen year old caucasian girl's search for her mother. Her travels, with her black nanny, lead her to live with a trio of bee-keeping black women. Prejudice is a major character in the book. And a strong one.
The young girl’s voice is authentic and consistent throughout. The author clearly and intriguingly portrays the feelings and impressions that come with adolescent yearnings and frustrations. Although the book was an absorbing and enriching experience, there were times when I had a hard time suspending disbelief that this could really happen, that the story I was reading about was genuine.
The main problem for me was the overall quality of “teaching lessons” at the ending, where one of the women “preaches” to Lily about what a mother is, where to find her. As Tamar has said in her December 19 entry, See It, Don't Say It, I personally, do not want to be “told” in a novel how to feel, but want to experience the awakening knowledge that unfolds. I had a mother. She was not me. I have had years of learning that lesson. By myself. Although I know it has been a helpful tool for many people, I have never been a fan of “inner child” and “inner adult” concepts. I don’t like to be divided into pieces. I want to be whole. Obviously, I am simplifying. And the book is worth reading.
Time is a funny thing. I'm here in Los Angeles with Tamar, Dan and Damian. The only piece of me in Nova Scotia is the clock on my computer. We are so busy just doing daily things. The days are far too short and soon the clock on my computer will be reading the right time for where I will be.
Time has many aspects. There is the pleasure/pain aspect and there are the expectation aspects. Time takes a jet when you are having fun and often crawls like a turtle otherwise. Waiting to do or be something can be endless. Each moment is precious; I don't want to miss anything.
So now the days are beginning to get longer and I can start planning my summer garden. And the snows haven’t even begun yet.
I just finished reading Three Junes by Julia Glass. A compelling novel, provocative, thoughtful, absorbing.
The men were the most interesting characters in the book, one in particular, Fenno. (His father as well, although he had a shorter history in the book.) Quiet, introspective men whose feelings of pain and joy are deeply settled within them, looking for change, change that will bring them love.
That the story is told mainly through the thoughts and travels, internal and external, of a homosexual male, unravels any possibilities of differences in the sexual preferences of feelings. But it also deepens the similarities of yearnings of men and woman, for either sex, for or without sex, for connection.
My curiosity about the differences between the sexes often makes me feel like a student of male energy. Here is a female author who portrays the sensitivity of male yearnings with clarity and precision so that in the last chapters, as Fenno talks intimately to a female of wandering emotions, his wisdom penetrates and instructs like that of an old crone.
The novel itself is strongest in the middle section. The final third is weaker until Fenno appears again. His quiet thoughtfulness brings together the threads of the book, weaving a testament to living and honoring feelings.
I had a first day of school dream last night. The class was overenrolled, students everywhere, taking over the energy, with me trying to give my first day introductions and explanations: what the class is about, what to expect, supplies, attitudes. The students are sitting in bleachers around the room, talking, interrupting, generally making me feel insignificant to their demands. Then my sister tells me I was sitting in the wrong spot, that I should not have been amongst them but made myself more of the leader. Then at my locker where I keep my supplies, another student from my last class tells me the students are talking about how to frame their homework, wooden frames, very elaborate. I am shocked at their wanting to think so much about product before they have understood the process. I woke with relief to the sound of Dan and Tamar's radio alarm.
My first day of school dreams used to be about me being the student, going to school without shoes or underwear. Now I am the one in charge. The shoes and underwear are nevertheless still very important.
The message is clear. But the holiday is not over yet, please.
I’m in love, o yes, in love: in love with persimmons and Asian pears, with being driven around in the sunshine, picking up pebbles on the beach, being in the dry, salt air of the City of Angels, basking in the warmth of my family of angels. Perhaps we have ironed out the wrinkles of being so necessary to each other, parent and child. Learning how important it is to separate, be separate people, how to help but not intrude.
What am I doing on my winter holiday in Los Angeles? Stripping wallpaper, reading, cooking and washing dishes, exploring stores of abundant merchandise, being away from the cold extremes of Eastern Maritime weather. Learning about love, in its many guises.
And then, of course, the people. The cast: my daughter Tamar who I often mistakenly call my sister (although maybe not much of a mistake), her son Damian who is currently on an enchanting and stressful emotional teeter-totter ride, a five year old growing into his body and his feelings, and Dan, the dad, ever present and caring when with us or not.
And the cats. Good guys. Never thought I could love a cat again. (Almost time to get another dog.)
So there is still much to do, people to meet, parties to go to and probably some tensions to face. Nevertheless, I am putting memories of joys in a box to take home with me.
Love is a funny thing. It comes in all kinds of shapes and sizes and forms.
Use my sky.
It might be slightly tarnished
from previous times
when I have walked across a cloud and slipped
through, missed my cue,
not understood the rules.
You can use my sky:
you can polish it by the way you walk into my life.
How that may be
considering all possibilities
you would need to learn to read between the stars,
to see the moon by day.
Use my sky, but don’t take it.
I still need it
most of the time.
There is plenty of room for you.