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.