Archive for February, 2011
The silvery light of the full moon gets trapped inside my bedroom and wakes me up. It’s 3:30 am. The house is silent and asleep. The air outside so still, almost as if the world is holding its breath. I feel restless. I want to go and make myself some coffee, curl up in the armchair in the kitchen, read my book. But I don’t think I can still my mind enough. Down the hallway, through the open door of her bedroom, I hear my daughter grinding her teeth. I wonder what she’s dreaming of, this child of mine made of light and laughter. I want to go and curl my body around her small one, hold her tight, my nose buried in the softness of her hair. Instead, I say a prayer for her. A prayer for my son. My sweet, sweet boy. More than anything, still wanting the approval of his parents.
I feel a sadness deep inside. Threatening. I don’t know what or why. I remember my mother back when I was a teenager. How I would wake up in the night and hear her praying. I understand her now. Her fervent wishes for her children. Her need to know that we would be all right.
I think of how as parents we have all these expectations of our children. And they of us. Nothing profound in that. But when I think about it, I wonder if our expectations are ruining the greatness within them. Perhaps making them feel imperfect, insufficient. Because our aspirations for them aren’t all justified, are they. Most are purely selfish. What we had wanted for ourselves. And what does that teach them?
Twice, this past week, I felt a tightness in my chest, as though I was about to burst. Light headed, my breaths rushing out, the sound of my heartbeat deafening in my ears. It’s probably nothing. It isn’t the first time I’ve scared myself silly, thinking I’m about to die. It isn’t the first time I’ve idealized my worries.
I took the children out to pizza for lunch, the other day. It had snowed with thick snowflakes early in the morning. Chunks of clouds falling from the sky. By noon the day had cleared, the sun stinging my eyes with its brightness. We dressed warmly and walked. We took the train to Powell’s and lost ourselves within its walls. On our way back, I saw a girl on a pink bike, wearing a pink satin skirt. She was at a stoplight, waiting her turn in the car line. Her face was upturned to the sun. There was a stillness about her. A joy.
All these disjointed thoughts swirling through my head. They don’t make much sense, I know. And come the light of day, I may cringe at how foolish they seem, and delete them all.
I’ve been thinking about two childhood friends quite a lot lately. I lost touch with these girls a long time ago. We all went our separate ways, mostly, I believe, because we were so much alike. Our complicated selves got in the way of our simple selves and we hurt each other and split apart.
Every year, around their birthdays, I pick up the phone and think about calling. But what would I say? So much life has happened in the meantime, how would we ever catch up, and would we ever want to? The things that we didn’t share together - weddings, childbirth, miscarriages, a history, really- are far too many. So I put the phone back down, wondering if, perhaps, they reminisce about those years as well.
This past Christmas I found myself in a stationary store looking for pretty cards and jewel-toned ribbons to attach to gifts, when I came across two Christmas cards that I couldn’t part with. I thought, what if this is a way to get back in touch? Just a little thing to let them know that I am thinking of them. I bought the cards, agonized about what to write -not too much, not too little- and dropped them in the mail. For the first two or three weeks I checked the mail daily, expecting something in return.
Nothing came. And I said to myself, well, so be it. I’ve extended the olive branch. I can put these friendships behind me. We’ve outgrown each other, apparently. But then a few days ago, a letter. Four pages of it, written front and back in small, barely distinguished handwriting. I read it and re-read it, shed some tears, laughed out loud, and realized that no matter what, there are friends out there who can pick up the friendship right where it left off. And what a blessing that is.