the drift


Monday, September 20, 2010

Said your name in an empty room

A few nights ago I had a nightmare. Ive never had the kind that blend with waking life. well once but that had to do with an unwise visit to a gay psychic named garylee lee. I remember I went to his shop in particular because of the rainbow wind sock outside his door. Anyway beyond a visit from a dream traveling psychic arkansasan, I've never woken from a dream wondering, 'What the fuck is going on in my room?' Until last night. Granted I woke up and proceeded to empty the contents of my stomach into a trash can so I clearly had something going on that my mind was trying to wake me up for, but I remain creeped out nonetheless.
I woke up hearing moaning, wailing really, and it's the sound of a man. I feel myself wake up and I see a tiny red glow like laser pointer but surrounded with a glow like brake lights and I can still hear the man for a couple of beats as i'm waking up. Immediately I think something terrible has happened to my dad for some reason. I debate for a half second on calling him and then I think, 'Was that doug?' Our friend Doug died a year ago today in a helicopter accident. In life, he was very simply, but most accurately, a delight. I don't know that he enjoyed me as much as I enjoyed him but I certainly enjoyed the man -- his easy laugh and his bear hugs.
The day it happened, I got the call from his wife and I remember her saying it. There was no discussion other than me saying clear as day, ' No he didn't Jes.' Which by the way is the absolute worst response to someone who is still in shock herself. Then I started hyperventilating and I told her to talk to Jay. I didn't have it in me to tell him his best friend had died. I felt like he wouldn't believe me if I told him. I don't think I quite believed it at that time either.
So here it is. A year later. His son's second birthday just last weekend. His wife's birthday yesterday. His 5th wedding anniversary just around the corner. I see them going through these milestones without him but there is this expectancy under the surface -- like maybe just maybe he will show up anyway. I feel it myself on some level. I can only imagine it more so for them.
So, tonight, Doug, just like a year ago, I'll say a rosary for you. And maybe cry a bit for every time I held your son or your wife this year when you couldn't. And I'll drink a few. I'm Catholic; it's what we do. I hope I get the same feeling I got that night -- of you in the corner of the room with a feeling of gratitude and indulgence. "Sarah, thanks hon but I'm not really religious you know?"
I know, hon. God rest your sweet sweet soul. Your families -- all of them you made, found, found you or were born from -- miss you.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

daddies don't let your babies grow up to be princesses

well, recently, i had a surprising (to me anyway) reaction to the news that a friend is expecting his 5th child. He has just the one daughter now and they have yet to find out the sex of the baby on the way. i mention this really just to set the scenario -- i want this post to be more about me than him because his life is unique from the situation i grew up in. that said, my conclusive nature led me down some paths upon hearing the news. frankly, i was surprised that anyone with a respectable but average annual income for a family would do this on purpose. there was never enough of anything material or likewise in my childhood home. split 5, 6 or 7 ways, mattresses, little debbies, hugs or the attention of two parents sometimes both working two jobs only goes so far. which may have been fine were there a sense of shared struggle. but instead there was a distinct gender divide drawn. i had my own room while the 4 boys shared two rooms. the line divided my chores from theirs, my rules from theirs, and my activities from theirs. from their end, because they had no firsthand knowledge, all of those distinctions made my life easier. and they resented me, understandably. as my father built these castle walls around my identity, i grew in alienation. in fairness, i think he didn't know what else to do with me. He had no sisters. his mother was controlling and a bit bizarre. he really thought this is what every little girl wants: to be the princess. he couldn't have been more wrong. princesses aren't loved -- they're indulged, they're tolerated, they're dismissed and feared even, but they're never loved. my mom attempted to offset this by making me into a mini-mom and dumping her problems on me under the guise of being close to me. but that was no more authentic a relationship with me than the other. by overdetermining my role in the family, the animosity from my brothers just grew.

ultimately, they were parenting with their needs first. with their preconceptions and baggage riding shotgun. their ideologies, while admirably clearly defined, put them on auto-pilot all too often and allowed them to plow over the emotional needs of the little individuals they were raising. and, while maybe we all do this on some level, it's inexcusable to me to sacrifice the uniqueness of a child at the altar of our own parental ideologies -- or at the very least to be so oblivious, we can't even accept our limitations in this area.

maybe this is why i can only handle two kids. because i know firsthand that quality is never in proportion to quantity where the raising of children is concerned. and why i search for the distinctions in my kids and try to listen for the signals of their little blossoming personalities. because i was never just me -- i was a symbol of femininity, an emblem of the struggle with the feminine other, a carrier of their mother baggage, but i was never just their daughter or sister.

i pray to god this little gal gets a sis.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

little girl you're old enough to understand, you'll always be a stranger in a strange strange land

Oh! My little bird in a cage
Oh! My little bird in a cage
I need you to get up for me, up on that stage
And show the men that you're old for your age
Now ain't the time for fear
But if you don't take it, it'll disappear

Oh! My little mocking bird sing
Oh! My little mocking bird sing
I need you to get up on that stage for me, honey
And show the men it's not about the money

Wanna hold a mirror up to the world
So that they can see themselves inside my little girl

(i've been thinking about this post for a long time. everything that's wrong with being a girl in this culture. why feminist shouldn't be a bad word.)