Wednesday, January 9, 2013

And They Swam And They Swam All Over The Dam

I was hit by a car when I was sixteen. I've written about it before, it's old news, it happened a long time ago. I broke my left fibula in 14 places, broke my collarbone, my cheekbone. Took the Percocet, the morphine, dreamed the dreams, had the visions. Learned the lessons of the hospital. Morphine burns when it goes in. When they ask you to rate your pain on a scale of 1 to 10 it is meaningless. Percocet makes you nauseous but it is pretty. Nurses are nice when you are nice to them.
       [Be nice to them. They are the lifelines. They are the angels and the demons. You get to choose which form they take for you.]
          Ask for the food your caretakers want because you won't be able to eat it when it comes. No one cares if you shit or not, but they will ask. Understand that you are the center of the universe, but be a benevolent god. It hurts worst in the morning but don't worry about crying. Everyone does there. Buckle down. Wait.
     I understand pain and hospital and drugs. At sixteen. I do not know what it is like at 86. I think it is hell. I now understand that I have not yet gone to hell. I appreciate that.
     My grandmother, my Granny, fell on Sunday and broke four ribs. Four ribs. Just think how much they move, how much they contain. All your guts, all your gizzards. Every breath and yawn and cough are inside those ribs. Hiccups? Shut the fuck up. At 86. I spent 8 and 1/2 hours with her today. I watched. I remembered.
      I remembered how it was with my broken collarbone, and how every breath hurt. So you don't breathe deep. So you develop a cough. So it hurts more. Like a knife in you. Like a stabbing. The drugs they give you (I still feel nauseous when I hear about people using these for fun) are not perfect, they all have their tricks. A burned out vein or seasick dreams? A waking sick smile and an all-forget or a heave-ho and the knife we go? You get to choose. Or, I suppose, nothing, and wanting to please-let-me-die every minute. You ask for relief and they give you something. Something.
      So. When my Granny laughed and then moaned, or when she forgot and tried to use her bad-side arm and then moaned, I knew. But.
      She's got a touch o' the dementia. We don't have a name for it really, she just gets the forgetfuls in a bad way. Also a case of the out-to-get-mes. We all (and by all I mean family and hospital staff) have a part in the paranoia play in her reality, and it is, it is her reality. I didn't have that. I had the pain but I knew where I was. I knew I was loved. I dreamed of the ocean, and of falling, but I woke up and knew it wasn't real. She dreams that she's been forced to go in a locked room in a building half finished and it is dirty and cold, she dreams that she's been strapped down, she dreams that she's been bad and so she's been left out over night to sleep outside and she cannot sleep. She wakes and believes it is real. It is real. She experienced it. She has never been treated like this. She cannot believe that this is happening to her. And yet, she can. She does.
       I am in on it, but she still loves me. This made it easier for me because I could get her to tell me stories. I even mimicked her because I didn't know what to do. At one point, when a nurse was doing something she didn't like she said, "This is a change of subject, but where did you go to school?" and the nurse humored her and talked for a while about college and eventually forgot that she was supposed to get Granny to pee. I used that. When Granny would start to talk about being in restraints I would say, "Hey, this is a change of subject, but why did your parents move to Roseland?" and we'd be off. I learned a lot. I have no idea how much is true but I heard some wonderful stories.
       At one point she even told one about me. She said, "One of you girls was in an accident. I was there, at the hospital, and something was sticking in her head. She kept saying that her head hurt, her head hurt. And then it turned out that something was. It was her hairpins! They were sticking into her head!" "That was me, Granny," I said. "I was lying there all broken up and it was those damn hairpins that were irritating me the most." "Yes," she said, "I remember. I was there."
      She is very bitter, my Granny. Very angry. She is wrasslin' those demons of the past and blaming everyone and herself too. That is something I have to think about now. I don't want to end up like that, so bitter and blaming about things I could have changed. I need to seek satisfaction and contentment. I am luckier than her, I don't need to seek love, I just need to hold on to it. I need to understand my disappointments rather than swallow them and hold that poison. God forbid I blame those I love for my own sadness. I don't judge her for doing so. She taught me songs about fishes and how to wash my hair in a lake. She's teaching me this now. She made a lot of mistakes she didn't know how to rectify, and now she's stuck in a bed and all she has is time to think about that. It sucks. A lot.
        Today she said:
         "If it's this hard to die I don't think I'm going to make it."
          She's actually very strong. I love that quote, it's so her. I wrote it down when she said it to make sure I got her words right. Mama told me tonight that even though Granny wants to be cremated, she does want a stone somewhere saying that she was here, she existed. I think we should do that and inscribe it with her name and birth and death dates, and maybe the words, "She made it."
       Death is hard but we'll all make it eventually.
     I learned more hospital lessons today. Dirty jokes are okay. In the face of dementia and paranoia there are no right answers, but I Love You doesn't make you feel bad at least. If you are itchy they will give you lotion. Talking in a baby voice to a Grandma makes you sound like an ass. Bring your own coffee. Steal all the tape.
     We have good genes in our family. I told her, "You think you feel bad now? Think how you'll feel when you're 96! Or 106! Just wait 20 years and tell me about pain then!" This is not the end, not nearly. This is just the end of the beginning of all of this.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

So, Christmas comes but in three days and I am not ready. A month ago I felt sick, nauseous, just thinking about Christmas. I'd think of the presents, and getting together with everyone and cheer, and the candy cookies cakes, and whoosh, I'd get vertigo, have to sling those thoughts away. It's much harder to ignore things when you are unemployed. Much easier when you don't leave the house.
         The boyfriend and I would be in our house and one of us, in despair, would say, "What are we going to give people for Christmas?!" and the other would say, "Hmmm, let's think of something we can make everyone that's not too expensive." Then we would go and get snacks and watch another episode of Battlestar Galactica and pretend that time was not passing by while we did this. (Snacks. I have a snacks problem. Snacks are much, much better than alcohol when it comes to ignoring pressing problems. Alcohol, when taken in excess makes you think things like, "I am a hopeless piece of shit and I'm going to talk about it." Snacks make you think things like, "My, this is a delicious pretzel. I wonder what it would taste like dipped in ranch?")
          Then, slowly and quietly, (probably because I was looking away) the feeling of Happy Christmas crept up on me.
        We can't afford a tree this year, which is sad. I love a tree in the house. It's like a marvelous, magical mistake that you can have an entire tree to bring inside and light up and hang pretty things on. Isn't it strange? Isn't it lovely? There are some tiny cypress trees down the road that someone planted too close together and too close to an old oak tree. They will not all grow big, which is what cypress trees want to do. I thought it might be a kindness to cut one down. Especially the one that has such a very nice shape and is only six inches from another one. I thought that the boyfriend could be the look-out and I could do the dirty work with the saw from my multi-use pocket tool, or perhaps a bread knife and then we could nonchalantly walk it home. "Ho hum, nothing to see here, hummy hummy hum, la la, not stealing a tree oh no, ho-di-ho-hum." I knew, however, that because I am not a child I would get caught. I imagine the fine for cutting down a tree (even a tiny one that would not grow anyway) is larger than the price of a Christmas tree.
       [I got caught once trying to cut mistletoe from a tree in the Ross parking lot. A cop came out of nowhere and said, "Ma'am, you need to get out of the tree." I was wearing floral gardening gloves and clutching a knife in my teeth. It was embarrassing.]
        So one night, while the boyfriend was out driving his cab, I pulled the box of ornaments out of the closet and decorated a corner of the apartment. I have a room divider that someone made by hinging three screen doors together and then replacing the screens with muslin. In my house it doesn't divide anything, it just stands up against the wall in the corner. I've pinned photographs of my family on the doors, and a map of the world. This is what I decorated instead of a tree. I hung lights along the tops, and draped behind so the colors shine through the fabric. I pinned glass balls and tiny treasures to the muslin. I made a snowflake banner out of pages from The New Yorker. I hung ornaments from a branch and placed it on the top of the doors where they come to a V so that they drip down and sway in the breeze of the fan. While I did this I played Youtube jukebox, typing in "Otis Redding Christmas" "Bonnie Raitt Christmas" "Al Green Christmas". Bruce Springsteen, Dolly Parton, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Dinah Washington, Willie Nelson.... It does not matter. Everyone has done a Christmas song. I danced and decorated, decorated and danced. It is a small corner. It is beautiful.
        Then there came the night that I was bored and so I called my brother (who was to play Evil Santa at a party the next night) and said, "Have you made your hat yet?" and he had not, so I got out my red velvet and plush white felt and dragged the sewing machine table into our living room. My Lady Day came over bearing Pabst Blue Ribbon and Guinness and she drew skulls as I sewed and we gossiped and laughed so hard it verged on hysteria and I wanted to clutch her to me and say Thank You Thank You Thank You I needed that so much.
       After that came Granny's holiday party at the retirement home where I fed my three year-old nephew fake champagne under the table like he was a champagne guzzling dog (but classy, because we had those plastic champagne glasses that are shaped like a courtesan's breasts).
       A few days later I started on my other nephew's first stocking. He is nine months old and a right jolly old elf he is and last year when my sister was pregnant we all said "Next year we'll have another one!" and so this year is next year and how could he not have even existed before? It is a mystery. We cannot live without him. It was an honor to make his stocking, as it was when I made Owen's before him. I looked around me while I was making it and thought about how many people were making this stocking with me. Mama taught me how to thread a needle and pull the thread through my fingers to make a knot. Granny gave me my first sewing machine. Grandma Dot gave me the sewing basket I pull my needles, thread, sewing machine oil, pins, and notions from. The velvet came from old curtains from Mama's house and it is the same velvet from which I have made stockings for the rest of his family. The same fabric, thread, and strong knots tying us all together. I hope he has it for the rest of his life, even when the velvet sheds and the jingle bells throw their bindings. I hope he will look at it and know, Aunt May loves him. Always. I whispered that into every seam and sang promises with the jitterbug hum of the sewing machine. Always.
       Lately I have been making the boyfriend a pair of pajama pants. He knows that this is what he's getting for Christmas. He picked out the flannel himself. I thought that this would be a good gift because 1) he doesn't have a pair of pajama pants and he has to wear his jeans all the way up until going to bed, and 2) I have made pajama pants before, so easy peasy, right? Ha Ha! No! May makes plans and God laughs! I have always prided myself on my ability to look at someone and at a piece of fabric and just cut and sew the right size. One year I made everyone pajama pants, even Mr. Moon who is 6'10". Mama says that he still wears them. This time, I don't know what happened. I was almost all the way finished when I got him to try them on to make sure the waistband was right and well, at least the waistband was right. They were huge. HUGE. He's standing there in our living room and going, "Do you really think my legs are this big?" while pulling the excess fabric away from his body. I mean. You could have fit six puppies and a ham in those things, while he was wearing them. Then, because he is so sweet he's like, "No, it's not that bad, I can wear these..." and I, I am laughing so hard I'm snorting and I make him take them off so I can start ripping seams. It took me two hours to get the waistband off. They may have been the wrong size, but those things were solid! So that's an ongoing project. They may be done by Christmas. Or Spring.
        Night before last I went out with my brother and the sister who lives here. This is very very rare. I hardly ever go out, and Sister has the babies, but Hank is the one who Makes Things Happen and so it was. I got up pretty, I don't know why, in a swingy dress and tall shoes and lipstick. Hank wore his finery and looked very fine indeed. We picked up our sister and she looked beautiful as she always looks. (I have no children and I am the one who walks around in holey yoga pants and a cut-up sweatshirt, and Lily, who has a three year-old and a nine month-old somehow manages to wear attractive, well-kempt clothes and has hair that is always shiny and perfect. She is gorgeous.) So we were a good looking bunch. We went to karaoke night at the oyster shack and can I say, it was just the best time? There were old friends and new friends and people singing their hearts out (no, we did not get up and sing. we sang along, quite boisterously, but we did not get up on stage) and all the time, my brother and one of my sisters sitting there with me. I saw pretty ladies and tough young men, I saw older folks singing songs they should and younger folks singing songs they shouldn't. I saw records and posters on the wall and the poetry of bathroom graffiti. I even saw a man who was so drunkenly moved by my lipstick and tall shoes that he got up on a table and literally showed his ass. But the best thing I saw by far, were Hank and Lily's faces, smiling at me and laughing and knowing that right then, right then and there I was exactly where I wanted to be in all the world. If the world had ended yesterday I would have gone easy, with a smile on my face.
      And so no, I am not ready for Christmas. I am not ready for the lights to be taken down and the songs to stop playing. I am not ready for the going out nights to end, or the staying in and sewing nights. I am not ready for the big family get togethers to be over or for Mama to stop making cookies. Christmas is crazy, but it is big and beautiful if you ignore the malls and the money and the consumerist bullshit. It can be a very merry madness, it can be a grinning mess. It can be a good reason to get together.
       My family is not Christian, but I understand that Jesus was all about love and so I think he'd be alright with us. Our Christmas is not about Jesus, but it also isn't about getting a bunch of stuff or fighting crowds or watching "It's a Wonderful Life". We have a wonderful life because we have each other and we have love. Every day we have love. Not everyone is so lucky. So blessed.
      Bad things happen. Pain and horror and questions that will never be answered no matter how many times asked. We can't hug and kiss away all the pain that exists in the world, but if we have those we love around us we can hug and kiss them. We can hug and kiss them and hold onto them in our arms and in our hearts and cherish every moment we have. That is all we can do. All I want for Christmas is to look around the room at all the faces of all the people I love most in the world and be right there, right there in that moment, exactly where I want to be. I believe I will get it, and isn't that fine? Isn't that good? Isn't that a Goddamned Christmas miracle? I think so.
      I hope you all get a Christmas miracle this year. I wish you all a merry madness. I hope you all have love.

Monday, November 19, 2012

In Which I Talk About Anxiety

         I don't know how to do this anymore. My typing skills (HA HA! Skills! As if!) are rusty and so is my screen writing brain (by which I mean the brain I use to put words on a screen rather than on a page). But, where there's a will there's a May, so it is written, so shall it be done.
        I've been catching up on other people's blogs (are you down with OPB?) and I see that there is a lot of crazy going around. A lot of Going Through Shit. This I find reassuring. Now I know I'm not the only one. I've been in hiding, because I am anxious, and I am ashamed at my anxiety, and I don't want folks to worry about me, so I become reclusive and don't talk to my friends, which makes me more anxious, and so on. It's funny because it seems like everyone is anxious these days and they talk about it blithely and with humor on NPR and in the New Yorker and so you would think that I would own it and laugh with the world at all our silly fears. Only, it is not funny to me. It's scary. I don't like it.
       Two years ago I was tall and strong and brave. I walked with legs longer than my own and owning, I owned the floor. I managed the floor actually, I was the Floor Manager. Managing things was my job. Then one day (actually, this was a little over two years ago) I got the shakes at work and had to walk away for a little while. It happened that one time, and then I was fine for a while, and then again a couple of months later. It was during brunch and I was fine, I was fine, and then all of a sudden the floor tilted and my hands wouldn't stay still and I could not carry those damn bloody marys to table twelve so I passed off the table and went to lie down on the floor in the office. I didn't know what was happening. I'd never experienced anything like that before. I thought I was having a low blood sugar attack or something and I called my brother and he came picked me up, took me to lunch, and then to his house where I fell asleep on the couch and woke up feeling much better. See? Blood sugar, right?
        That was the worst it got at work, the worst, but it kept happening every once in a while. I made sure that I had snacks and if I got shaky, well, I'd just take a little break and eat something and come back and everything was fine. Still, I hated it. I was the manager! I had to manage! I was the one who, if everyone was else was in the weeds, could get thrown to the wolves and I'd be fine. I'd be smiling.
         Meanwhile in my personal life, my long-distance relationship fell apart and I got together with my neighbor/ coworker's best friend and all was topsy-turvy and my simple and quiet life was being pulled from my hands. I was trying desperately to catch the pieces as they blew away.
        It wasn't all bad. New boyfriend turned out to be sweetness completeness who would pull me into him at night in his sleep and stop whatever he was doing to kiss my face. I needed that. I still do.
       I made an appointment, and he drove me to the doctor. The doctor was kind and listened to my symptoms and told me that it did indeed sound like a blood sugar problem (even with snacks, it is hard to eat when you are a waitress. Waitresses don't eat. Not really. They are robots). He scheduled me for tests. The blood work girl was beautiful and wore a turban. There was a poster of cartoon cats on the wall. As she drew the blood so gently from my arm I tried to pick my favorite cat, while my boyfriend held my other hand and told me which one he liked best too. Then he took me to breakfast.
       Two weeks later and back with the kind doctor, he told me I was absolutely fine. Perfect actually, couldn't be better. He punctuated his findings by taps on the table as he read from his laptop. "Kidneys? Great. Liver? Perfect. Thyroid? Wonderful. Iron? Most women your age start to go down in iron, but yours is ideal. Blood sugar? There is no evidence that you have any problems whatsoever." The doctor was Indian and his voice had a beautiful upwards lilt. It sounded like he was reciting poetry. Then he told me there was something else that carried the same symptoms as hypoglycemia, and that was anxiety.
      I left the office feeling let down. And relieved. I didn't want to be hypoglycemic, but I wanted something concrete, something physical that I could pinpoint and fix and be well and move on. The brain is so slippery, so sneaky and smart, it will do what it wants. It will tell the heart to beat fast, it will call out danger, it will tell the feet that the earth is sliding and the feet will listen. Now here is where I'm going to sound really crazy: I know that I am my brain, but I sort of think of it like an Other, like I and Brain are separate. If Brain was going to be an asshole, I was going to bitch slap it into submission. "Stop it, Brain!" I would say. "Stop it right now! There is no danger! We have done this a thousand times before!" And actually, that worked. For a while.
      I wasn't the only one having anxiety at work, particularly around brunch. One of our waitresses would wake up at 5 AM with a pounding heart every Sunday. One of our food runners had to throw up more often than not before his brunch shift. Another waitress one time had to sit on the floor in the beverage station with her head between her knees while I stood there and rubbed her back and said, "Breathe. In and out. Just breathe." I can't tell you exactly why it was so bad. It just was. It still is, I hear. I'm glad I'm not there.
       The anxiety started creeping back, and though that was not the only reason I left, it was a factor.
        I had hoped that it would lessen if I was away from all the pressure of that place. All the craziness and the stress and the troubles with the upper management, but it didn't. Not really. It changed, for sure, but it's like my body got a taste of terror and now I am afraid of being afraid. I had an anxiety attack while driving recently and now every time I get into my car I feel that sickness, that sweaty leaden dread. It ain't pretty and it ain't fun.
      I'm working on it. I'm writing about it, and that feels good. Writing feels like medicine. Reading the blogs of strong ladies, ladies I admire, ladies who are also experiencing or who have experienced something similar is medicine too. I hope I can give that back. Or at least let someone else feel a little of that, "Well, I'm not THAT bad" feeling. I'm also looking into support groups which, if nothing else, will give me more blog fodder. Being unemployed I need something to write about.
       Right now I'm going to go on a walk. I'm going to walk hard and sweat. I'm going to feel how strong my legs are, how strong my back is. I'm going to suck the sunlight into my skin and get up that one damn hill that is a bitch every time and when I get to the top I will raise up my arms and cheer and jump up and down like a champion (like I do every time) and I will feel that wild feeling that the world is beautiful and that no matter what I love it, I love it, I love it. This too shall pass, it won't be like this always. All the people we have ever been are still inside us; that strong, long girl is still inside me. I take comfort in that.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

It's Been A Long Time Since We Rock-n-Rolled

          I woke up this morning after too many gray days, after not feeling well and time on the couch only interrupted by time in the bed and lo, the sky is blue and lo, the air is clean and cold and oh, I have to wash my hair. I want to burn my pajamas. I want to get on the good foot. I want to take a walk.
         I wish I could write about all the changes that have occurred in the past year and a half. I don't have the energy right now, it's too much and somehow not enough. I will try. Soon.
         I quit my job. I wish I could write about that, about the bittersweet about that place and also the miseries, but I don't want to tell tales outside of school and if I can't write the anger then I can't write the sublime. It's just not truth that way. Maybe I will though, you never know. Lord knows it would be nice to get it all out and move on. Weird when something is your life for so long and then it is not and you walk around empty for a while- hands empty, brain empty, a strange light feeling in your skin and nothing to say, not at all, to anyone.
        I can hear the boyfriend turning in the bed, and the house ticking into late morning, and the cats playing rumble-stomp, and for now that is okay. There is a walk to take, and hair to wash. I'm sorry it's been so long. We'll talk soon.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Baby Waiting

My sister is having a baby. I should be eating, and then sleeping, but I am not. I am writing, I am smoking, I am sipping a glass of wine (to sleep, perchance to dream), I am waiting for this baby to come. It is better than Christmas.
And isn't that what Christmas is all about? A celebration of a child being born? I am not Christian and so it is completely right that my sister's baby's upcoming birth would be better than Christmas. Besides, we are all children of God, and every birth is a miracle birth.
I left her tonight in bed. I had just rubbed her feet (come on, Baby) and kissed her face a million times. Then kissed her belly (come ON, Baby!) a million times, and her husband (whom she caressed as I walked out the door and I heard her say, "You've been a good Daddy today..") was getting tucked up beside her and Owen, oh Owen, our (their) two and a half year old about to snuggle in between....
Lily. Beautiful Lily. You are resplendent. The way you are so calm and cool, the way you take this world, this motherhood and wear it like silk on your skin. You ask for a kiss and the boy comes a runnin'. Who knows what this next child will do?
I joke and I say, "I can't wait to see what this baby will be! A zebra? A dinosaur? A fairy?". It is not so much a joke because as Mama said earlier today we could not have imagined who Owen would be, and I said there's no use imagining. We don't know the sex, but really, who cares about the sex? Who will this person be? I hope our sense of humor is there, I hope for health and beauty and that lovingness we in our family have for each other is there. Those are my hopes.
If she (he) is half as beautiful as Lily we will be blessed. If he (she) is half as smart as Uncle Hank we will be blessed. If she (he) is half as healthy as our Mama we will be blessed. And if he (she) is half as Zen-like as Pop-pop, as half as determined and loving as Aunt Jessie, as half as funny and just a damn good person as is Jason, we will be blessed, we will be blessed, we will be blessed. No matter what, we get a new person to love, to grow a new heart for, to make our great days even greater and deeper and fuller, and we will be blessed.
Oh Baby, I love you. You have a family who will always hold you up and keep you strong. You have a Mama and Daddy who will always be there for you. You have grandparents who will teach you amazing things and love you unconditionally. You have aunts and uncles who will play rumble-tumble with you and spoil you rotten and teach you the dirty words. You have a brother who is the most amazing soul (so deep, so funny, so true, so smart) who will guide you and protect you and know you better than anyone else.
Come ON, Baby, come on. We are waiting for you. We love you.

Friday, April 29, 2011

My Girl

Today is the day my babiest sister graduates from college. I don't know how that could have happened, not that it is strange that she has accomplished something like that, but that she could be old enough to do so. Isn't she a tiny girl, rollerskating around the house? Isn't she a little thing, packing a plastic suit case and declaring that she's off to Meximo City? Isn't she our baby girl? Isn't she our girl? I will not cry. (The tears are already in my eyes.) I've been crying for a week straight.
As the storms that swept through the south were just starting to kick up wisps of leaves and hints of what was to be such total devastation, I started to feel off. Irritable, ornery, sassy. I wanted to pick fights, I felt like I hated everyone who walked through the door at my work. I said mean things. I had to mentally restrain myself from dashing full plates to the floor and smashing water glasses. My arms longed to knock something over. Preferably something big that would make a very loud bang and would break in an irreparable way. Then came the tears.
I cried because people were leaving at work and I had to replace them and it was too hard. I cried because not only are they leaving, but they are going off to better and brighter things, and I stay here and what to them was a job to get them through school and supply them mad money for nights of vodka luge, new panties, and marijuana, appears to be my career. I cried because my man is so far away and loves his job so much. I cried because I'm getting old. I cried because my legs hurt so much. I cried because I have a cat and I do not pet her enough. (Seriously, just looking at her little face was enough to set me off.) I cried because I do not have a baby. I cried because I was on my period and oh the storm was building and my sister, my baby tiny little sunshine girl is leaving.
A couple of nights ago after she played at the restaurant, one of my co-workers said, "May, I think I have a crush on your sister." He said it real plain and earnest, and not teasing in any way. "Yes," I said, "She's a good one to have a crush on." and then we talked about how fine she is. Which is one of my favorite things to do.
Many years ago I started waxing poetic about her at a party in St. Augustine. I had had several glasses of wine at that point and I remember gesturing with both hands and saying how beautiful she was and how talented and how marvelous. My then boyfriend leaned over to me and whispered that no one cared, that I was embarrassing myself. I sank back into the couch exhausted and said, "I just love her so much." The funny thing about that is the people I was talking to, the people hosting the party, are the people who my sister now calls her Fairy Godparents and who love her almost as much as I do. Ha! Suck it, ex-boyfriend! It's not overly effusive if you have to be in order to be completely honest. Kiss my ass, I just love her so much.
My sister Jessie is very tall, and very talented, and very smart, and very beautiful. That's all true, but it's not enough. She has an angel's face, a perfect oval, with big blue eyes and a mouth that could have been painted in the Renaissance. She is Aphrodite, she is Diana, she is the Virgin Mary, she is one better, she is herself. Her fingers are delicate and tapered and I like to take her hand when I talk to her and hold it, and bring it up to my lips to kiss because even just that hand is so precious to me. When she is playing mandolin her face smooths and her body relaxes and it is like watching something intimate and magical and completely natural taking place, like the unfolding of a flower or a sunrise, so languid, so.... yes... sexy and yet not so, and then she smiles and the clouds you didn't know were there part and the sun bursts through. She shines so brightly sometimes I have to look away.
Her grace is something that is not just held in her body but also in the way she moves through life. She is graceful with people, she is graceful in situations that most would find difficult or uncomfortable. Children and animals follow her with blind love. She is the kind of girl you want near, just because her presence makes the air feel better. When she is around I know that everything will be okay, not because I need her to take care of things (though she does) but because when I look at her face I am soothed. She is balm, that girl.
Which is why it is so right that she is graduating from nursing school. I can't think of anyone I would rather have by my side if I was in pain, or afraid, or having a baby. She will be using those lovely hands to provide succor to those lucky enough to find themselves in her care. I almost envy their broken bones, I almost envy their labor pains. It is right, it is good, so is she.
She is in love. If I thought she was beautiful before (and she was and I did) now she is even more so and grows more lovely everyday. Could she be any more beautiful? She is so beautiful that only she could be a thing more beautiful than she is now, so I suppose that is possible. Maybe when she herself has a baby, as our sister Lily has and who has herself grown more astonishingly gorgeous since.
I am so glad that she is in love, and that she is doing exactly what she needs to do for herself and her life. They will be moving in together, in another town, in another state. They will make a home. They will nest. They will sleep well together. As I told her not too long ago, there is nothing that makes my heart happier or more at peace than knowing that her heart is taken care of. I believe this man will look after her heart. I believe he may love her enough to keep loving her and to love her more.
Now I am crying again because this is so big to me- this girl, her love, her accomplishments, my love for her. I am not heart broken that she is leaving, I am heart-mended, and I am finding that a full to bursting, happy heart can be just as painful as a broken one. I am so glad for her that I cannot stop weeping.
Jessie Girl- you are leaving but you are not leaving us. We travel in you as you ride in our hearts and minds, and it will always be that way. There is nothing you could ever do that would lessen my love for you and your absence will not cause your face to fade in my mind. You are imprinted in me, you are the wallpaper in my heart. I am so proud of you. I just love you so much. Now go be free, you sweet little thing.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

I steal flowers, figs, and berries...

I see that I've lost a follower. That's fine, perhaps even good. Inspiration to write and less pressure. Not that anyone pressures me to write. Not that I don't love that anyone follows me. I'm amazed anyone does actually. I'm so spotty and dissatisfying.
I feel blindsided by this spring. By work. By love. Is it love that keeps me away from the keyboard? Is it love that is making this spring so crazy beautiful? I don't know. I don't want to stop writing, and I haven't actually. I just can't seem to finish anything.
This spring: first it was the Japanese Magnolias. I blame it on them. There were not blossoms and then there were, an explosion of blossoms, a proud of blossoms, a murder of them, and fat they were and dripping from trees. The smell was overwhelming and high inducing, and at one point I stood between two on a carpet of spent petals with the blue sky overhead and the buzzing of bees as loud as lawn mowers and I thought "Does it get better than this?".
But yes it does.
Then came the dogwoods. Snow. Snow with leaves, and tiny green centers, and gray zig-zag branches that alone would be enough. Then came the azaleas, regular and miniature, in all the bridesmaid colors. And then came the cherries and the pears (blossoms, not fruit), and tung, all fast and furious and garish and wonderful.
Add to that the birds that pass through these parts in such numbers that you wonder what it looks like in the place they eventually perch. Finches, wrens, blue jays, cardinals, geese, woodpeckers, yes. Those are the ones I can name. Bluebirds- I saw them at my boyfriend's mother's house. I said I'd never seen one, and there one was. There was one day while walking to work when I saw such a flock of birds, so many I had to stand and look and was late for all my standing but I did not care. I was on a canopy road and they filled the trees, all those great big Spanish moss dripping trees, they filled them and then lifted off, and then filled them and lifted off. Again and again, and when they took to the air they did so in a great scrawing formation. They made a blow fish in the air, and then a dragon, and then a bearcat, and then settled on down only to do it again. I could have stayed and watched for hours. I felt like calling in well, as Tom Robbins would say. "I'm sorry, I can't come into work. The birds. Yes. They are too beautiful." Some days it feels like a sin against God to go into work.
But that was months ago. Maybe two. It's all different now. Flower sex has caught, and everything is fecund. The first fruits are swelling, the mulberries are already ripe. Not quite fall-on-the-ground-and-stain-your-feet ripe, but ripe enough to pluck on the way to work and arrive red handed and berry mouthed. The fig trees smell like figs. The loquats and kumquats are heavy. We have a lemon tree at the restaurant that I've been promised is a rare variety that is so sweet you can eat the fruit off the branch. I miss the blossoms (they smelled like heaven) but I love the tiny green marbles that get bigger every day. I love that the pear trees have lost their petals because I cant wait to roast the pears in brown sugar and butter. Vanilla. Lemon zest. Ginger. When the world smells like honey how can you help but be hungry? I swear I gain 10 pounds every spring.
The roses are almost done, but the jasmine is blooming. Entire walls of it that proves that nature is the queen boss of us all because we know it will pull our fences down and yet we plant it there and let it go wild. Soon it will be so florid with tiny white pinwheels that the scent, when walking by, will make me feel so light headed and high that it will honestly make my knees go weak. I will want to sink to the ground. I will want to lie on the sidewalk. I will want to look at the sky spinning above my head. It is not the sky! It is the jasmine and the bees! I shall have to tell myself this firmly. I shall have to walk on. It does not do to lie on the sidewalk. Spring fever or no.
I can not remember a spring so beautiful. I forgot to mention the wisteria. And the honeysuckle. And the camellias. There are camellias that look like ripped open organs, tattered and fat and blood red. There are also those that look like roses or virginal fairy dresses. One for every lady. Maybe this is why we love them.
So love. Maybe it is love making everything smell so sweet. Or maybe it is love allowing me to be open to the spring, to the flesh of it and the beauty of it and the smell of it and the great great opening of it all. Just like a lonely girl eschews sex scenes in movies so does one turn a blind eye to spring. Non fate guerra al maggio, my friend. War not with May. And May is coming. So soon. In a couple of weeks. For the first time in a long time, I am looking forward to May, and accepting her as she may come.