Summer Day, Twelve

The cool breeze and shade diminished the heat of the sun as I walked down the road to Marie’s house.  I watched the big maples and oaks as I walked, their leaves rippling and swaying in the wind, the sun filtering through them creating dappled patterns, moving kaleidoscope-like on the pavement.  I tried leaping into spots of sun but the dance was too fast, I kept losing the game.

The rustle of chipmunks and squirrels startled me as much as I startled them, leaving me relieved to see them scampering under the leaf cover, over a log, or up a tree.  When the woods got thicker, the sun spots all but disappearing from the road, I worried about hungry bears and wolves attacking me, and I’d quicken my pace, but never run.  Running was cowardly, and the rule was, I’d only run if I actually saw a bear or wolf, otherwise, I just had to feel the fear, knowing that it wouldn’t be far until the trees thinned out, giving way to the fields, where I’d be back under the hot sun, hoping the breeze kept up.

Some days, when there was no breeze, I’d pretend I was lost in the desert, the shimmer of heat up from the pavement was a mirage – that wasn’t Marie’s house up ahead, really.  It would disappear when I got closer, my parched lips, dry mouth, and swollen tongue would find no respite.

The game ended when I reached her driveway, and sometimes she would be outside waiting for me, and then we’d go off, away from her nosy little brothers, and play games with her Barbie and Ken doll – marrying them and then making them get divorced for various reasons.  The hottest days, when she was inside, I’d revel in the cooler inside air, going over the kitchen sink, helping myself to a long drink of water – rescuing the poor desert wanderer.

My parents had divorced about two years then, and I liked being at Marie’s house where her mother and father were together, and they lived a life as normal as I wish I had.

It was many years later, when I had my child, that I realized what it must have seemed like to Marie’s parents – that no one wondered where I was, that I could stay over any time I wanted, no permissions needed.  Her parents talked of wanting to adopt me that summer, a conversation I heard and related to my mother, begging her to let me live there.  My mother, her pride kicking in, refused, thus sealing my fate – and I wish I had known how to ask skillfully, maybe requesting to stay at Marie’s for the summer, and not mentioning adoption…

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current.

 

I Forgive Me

Maybe I’ll get a wide-screen view of my life when I die, and I’ll have the perspective of a stranger, seeing all I did and didn’t do, and perhaps it won’t be as terrible as I fear.

I know where I fucked-up, and I know where I tried to right things, and I know where I did well.

I parented a child mostly on my own, and I finally forgave myself for all that I wasn’t.  I can catalog a list of what I didn’t do to him that was done to me, and I can catalog a list of what I did, and didn’t do that could have made his life better.

Sometimes I was a real shit.  Sometimes my selfishness, and lack of perspective, or just self-righteous justifications, ruled the day.  I wish I had done better.

I forgive me because I haven’t yet.  My guilt and shame have made my life a tough place to be, and I yelled and lived so much in my anger when I was raising him, and I’m sure that caused lasting harm.

I think I made him afraid of emotions, afraid that they would always overwhelm him, so it’s better not to have them.

I forgive myself for causing his anxiety, or adding to his challenges in this unforgiving life.  While I appreciate his forgiveness, it’s most important that I stop adding more shame.  At my worst, I worry that I’m unable to change – that I wouldn’t be any better if I could do it over.  I’m grateful we need not find out.

I forgive me for not caring enough about myself, for not having a fight reaction when my flight reaction was dissociation rather than getting myself out of the situation.  I forgive myself for not being stronger, more willful.

I’ve learned how to fight – how to scratch, and kick, and tear skin – to make sure I have some DNA.  I almost welcome anyone to try to mess with me now, now that my rage is outward, and I’m no longer cowed.  I could have prevented so much harm, but I think it’s better to learn late than not at all.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current.

Go West! (even though you’re bound to return)

When I revised my about page, I thought about all the places I’ve lived, and why I kept moving.  I didn’t really have wanderlust, although I did enjoy traveling when I could.  I wasn’t even very restless, but I never felt satisfied or content.

In my twenties, I saw a greeting card illustrated by Mary Engelbreit that read: ‘Wherever you go, there you are’, and it was an epiphany.

I was running away from myself – only I kept coming with me.  The places, faces, and jobs would change, but the one constant was me.

Once I understood that I could only change myself, life started improving.  Unfortunately the process has taken many years, and lots of ‘one step forward, two steps back’, but, being drawn to proverbs, I also read an alleged Chinese proverb which goes: ‘Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still’, and that gave me hope that I wasn’t the only one muddling through life.

These days, traveling is journeying to, rather than running from – unless, of course, I’ve broken a law, and then I’ll definitely be on the run…

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Deconstructing

A load of dirt

Matter is created In the raw depths.  Getting there takes fortitude – carrying on, motoring through, shoveling out the muck.

Maybe there is precious metal and a few gems to uncover, and clean up for display – to show it was worth the toil.

As a child, I dug in the sand for hours, carefully piling the wet sand out of the hole.  A wave rode into my nearly finished pit – crumbling it to a smooth dent – and I sat there in tears for all my lost work.

My brother was working further up on the beach, but the sand wasn’t wet enough.  I told him it wasn’t going to work, but he was happy digging and watching it fill, content to throw sand around.

I took the pail and filled it with water and began pooling the water in the smaller hole I carved out near my brother.  When the water stayed in the pool, we dug a trench down to the wave line and kept filling the bucket, pouring it into the pool, and watching it run down our trench until we tired of it.

We ended up making a moat around a sand hill and defended the fort from the sea-gull enemy by chucking shells and wet sand at them.  They didn’t play along, but kept away from the crazy humans, thus ensuring our defensive victory.

Like the gulls of long ago, I’ve become my unwitting enemy.  I might prove a formidable foe now that I recognize the game.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Our Time Comes

My mother is in her 80’s now.  80’s!  I realized what that means at our holiday family gathering when we were opening presents, and I gave my mother her gift to open, and something was happening to her, freaking us all out.  She closed her eyes, and seemed to be struggling internally, swallowing, all the while drifting away.  I called out, “MOM”!, as though my voice could stop her slipping into – whatever the hell was happening.  Her eyes fluttered, then half-opened in response, and I could see it was taking extraordinary energy for her to come to awareness, and then she tried to get up to use the bathroom, but she nearly passed out upon rising.  I grabbed her, but my left arm is still weak and I couldn’t hold her, yelling to my sibs: “Help me! I can’t hold her.”  She was in stocking feet and sliding down our wood floor when my oldest sister grabbed her, and then my next oldest sister, the nurse, took her other side and they helped her into the bathroom.

I felt like we were witnessing her dying, and it was terrifying.  After what seemed like an eternity, one of my sisters came out of the bathroom saying she took her blood pressure, but couldn’t get it accurately – that it was reading so low she’d be dead – and all I could think was ‘duh, she was dying!’, but stopped myself from saying it. I wanted to call 911, or get her to a hospital, but my sisters asked me to wait and see if she worsened.  After 10 minutes or so, she had recovered, becoming her chipper, aware, self within a half-hour or so, which was actually more unsettling, because – what happened?

While the drama unfolded in the bathroom, the rest of us, my son and his girlfriend – who was at our holiday gathering for the first time – my S.O., my sister’s husband, and another long-time family friend were unsure what to do.  Once my mother was starting to feel better but wanted to stay in the bathroom for a while longer, my oldest sister stayed with her and we proceeded with the gift exchange, which seemed rude, but my son had to leave shortly, as did my next oldest sister, and our family friend, so we halfheartedly continued.

I feel like a total shit now, like, of course we should have waited for my mother and sister to come out of the bathroom, but we felt the danger had passed as my oldest sister was staying in there against my mother’s protests that she was fine.  I was trying to weigh carrying on with making everyone wait for however long it would be.  That feels like a co-dependent decision now.

But this is life.  I make crappy decisions all the time, no matter how I try for perfection.

My mother is going to die, and maybe soon.  Perhaps, though, she’ll accomplish her goal of reaching 103, thereby outliving her father, who died at 102 – but as John Lennon famously sung in, Beautiful Boy, and others have voiced before him: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”.

I don’t want to lose her from this world, though.  There’s the rub.  I know it’s inevitable and I have to prepare for that happening sooner rather than later – but it could also be that I pass before her.  Not being assured another minute is scary, but the odds of me dying soon are lower than that of my mother’s. So, I am embracing whatever time we have left.

Good memories of connection, love, fun, great conversation and family history are what I’m focusing on now, and I hope that my son will feel the desire to know and understand where he came from, and what my young life was like sooner than I did with my folks.

I remember a gravestone that read something like, ‘Know that whenever I was taken, the end came too soon’. I still have more time with my mother, so I will honor our gift of time the best I can.

cropped-meandmom2010.jpg

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

 

 

 

 

Writing 101 – About A Loss

Oh woe – our tomatoes!  They started out so plump and meaty, the early summer heat, and our diligent weeding and watering made our first gardening endeavor seem assured.  We staked and secured the heavy fruit, tending our plants with love and care.

Then came the rain – days and nights of torrential downpours, and along with the rain came blight, a black cancer through the stems, the fungus seeping into the just ripening crop, and no amount of trimming stemmed the disease.

 

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Summer Times

Summertime reminds me most of my next oldest sister, Allona.  I think of my eldest sister, Rachel, too, but Allona was more adventurous and high-spirited.  Allona could also be intractable and bossy, but thankfully those times were less when we were younger.

Allona lived in several Rhode Island towns over the years, some areas better than others. She was gifted with a parrot when she was in her early 20’s, whom she still has.  Her parrot was cool when she first got him, except for his deafening jungle squawking early in the morning & whenever the humans around him got loud.  Now, he’s a cranky old bird who delights in going after exposed toes, or snapping at anyone foolish enough to try to touch him.  Allona has taken very good care of him over the years, but they’ve both grown more ornery over time.  I wouldn’t mind him so much if he could be trained not to squawk so piercingly.

Summers in the 1980’s and throughout the 1990’s were often delightful, however.  We’d spend days by the shore, go dancing at night, and mostly enjoy each others’ company playing card games like Pitch or Spades.  Sometimes we’d go camping, my favorite part being the smell of brewing coffee on the camp stove those early mornings.  Camping lost its thrill for me as time went on and my body’s aches rebelled at bed rolls and even at air mattresses, but it was the least expensive option to go anywhere and stay for several days.

Life changed when I had my son.  I wasn’t as carefree anymore, and though we camped a few times when my son was a baby and toddler, it was more stressful than enjoyable.  I camped several times with my son and some of his friends in his pre-teens and teens, but after he was 13 or 14, my company was no longer desirable, which worked out because my body didn’t desire camping anymore either!

I always felt welcome at my sister’s house in my teens and twenties, and considered it a home away from home.  I am still comfortable at my sister’s, but I feel more like a guest these days.  Part of that is maturity – I’m more helpful and recognize that she has an order to her home that she likes, just as I have – so I try to keep my footprint small when I’m there.  In our teens and twenties, I didn’t think about respecting her space and resources – not that I was slovenly or over-consuming – it just wasn’t foremost in my mind back then, and neither was it in hers.

Allona was an energetic, adventurous, go-getter – and she still is – but now her efforts are more inwardly directed.  We figure out what’s important to us as we mature, and, often, our world becomes smaller as we let go of people and things that no longer serve us.

I don’t want to let go of Allona, or any of my family.  They’ve become more precious to me with time’s passage, and now that my son is grown, I feel I’ve reverted back to young adulthood – wanting adventure and close, happy, and carefree friendships to spend my time.  My body’s limitations tell me otherwise, and the sad distance between my son & I, when I had hoped to grow closer as friends once he was an adult on his own.

But today I feel a titillating warm summer breeze calling me to the beach, calling me to adventure, and I wish I were with Allona to share it.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Writing 101, Day 12, Too Shy

Too Shy, that was my nickname for a while in fourth grade, only the bullies ran it together – Toozhyyyy – so it sounded like my parents named me from a science fiction or fantasy book, or that I was from some exotic locale, which was how I liked to think of it.

I went to a new school a few weeks after fourth grade had already started, and made friends with Annabelle at recess my first day.  She wanted me to join in a game of Red Rover, but I said I didn’t want to because I didn’t know anyone, and I wasn’t very good at it, and she declared my problem was being too shy, which Eddy Frost and Kyle Jacobson heard, and started calling me Toozhyyyy, looking at me with their stupid, sour, faces, as if they had made up the best insult ever. I guess, maybe they had, because that’s what everyone called me when the teachers weren’t making them use my name, which is Susan.

Most of the time I pretended it didn’t bother me, but Annabelle suggested I bow the next time they called me it, and after that I became Queen Toozhyyyy, and one day I couldn’t take it anymore so I started calling Eddy, ‘Betty’, and Kyle, ‘Kyle-Pig-Pile’, and Annabelle laughed like it was the best joke she ever heard, and she called them that too, but it didn’t catch on.

Eddy told me he was going to beat me up after school if I kept calling him Eddy-Betty, and I told him I’d stop when he and Kyle-Pig-Pile stopped, and I hoped he knew how to fight good because my older brothers taught me how to fight, and I’d sure hate to see the bloody nose he was going to have.  I said it with my meanest look, staring right into his eyeballs as if I could see right into his bloody brains.

Eddy and Kyle left me alone after that, and I’ve been Susan ever since.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Humility

A clock’s tick, my life drip – I watch the ebbing tide.

See the day pass away, each dark or brightened hour.

Smell the flower, test the water, eat forbidden fruit.

Try your hand, strike the band, dream of far away.

Make failure your friend, your will to bend, greet it on your knee.

Or head held high, you lie and lie, and pray for a better end.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Wind-less

One day my older sister and I were at a playground and she was swinging and I was watching her swing higher and higher, and then suddenly she was falling from the apex of the swing, landing right on her back.
She couldn’t move and couldn’t breathe, and I thought she was going to die. Luckily, my older brother was there, telling me it was going to be alright, that she was hurt, but mostly just had the wind ‘knocked out of her’. Right after that she took in a gulp of air and coughed for a while.

I feel like you knocked the wind out of me, but I’m breathing perfectly fine.
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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Hell Hath No Fury Like Mine

I’ve heard about those who lives are lived ‘in quiet desperation’, and we’ve all seen or witnessed loud desperation – those vivid, stark, images of traumatized humanity – children with bellies distended, flesh barely covering their bones, their mothers and fathers, if alive, often in the same condition.  These are the scenes that remind me why humanity is its own worst enemy.  If there is a God, do you think it’s going to make me burn for my disbelief while leaders who could relieve suffering, deny their people adequate food, and water, while directing their military to kill innocents, and rape their country’s women and children as a strategy?  Foreign aid rarely reaches those who need it, and brutal regimes are necessary to maintain power and control.

Maybe that’s the law of this world: use or be used, eat or be eaten.  It’s a vicious world when resources are slim or difficult to access.  Maybe God exists and is a bastard, but I would never give fealty to such a one, even though it could mean unending torment.  Perhaps, God is, as I suspect, the greatest farce ever perpetrated on humanity.  Their book, a clever, self-fulfilling prophecy.  Anyone can include facts in a narrative in an attempt to bolster their argument.  People have always had high intelligence or they wouldn’t have evolved as far as they have.  Adaptability is the key to survival, not necessarily brute strength or stellar skills, although those get you the furthest if you can adapt well.

My favorite Stephen F. Roberts quote is:

“I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

I know I have it easy, living in a part of the world where resources are abundant and easily accessible.  Sadly, we all can’t live here, and I know many individuals and organizations do their best to give aid to those in need all over the world – but that need never ends.

Focusing on situations that I cannot effect, except by bringing attention to it, does not serve me in living my life.  I almost have a survivor guilt for the relative abundance in my life.  So, I can choose to enter the Peace Corps, or align with some other organization that serves the most destitute, desperate areas of the world  Or, I can remain selfishly in my own little world, doing my best to survive, and throwing my measly fifty dollars a year at problems fifty million would just begin to address.  I can also ‘pray for them’ so I feel better even though it does nothing for them.  If you’re a believer, you’ll smugly think to yourself that prayer works, but it only works if it impels you to act, and that action doesn’t need your prayers.

“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?  Then he is not omnipotent.  Is he able, but not willing?  Then he is malevolent.  Is he both able and willing?  Then whence cometh evil?  Is he neither able nor willing?  Then why call him God?”
– Epicurus [341-270 B.C.]

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Picture This

The picture I’m viewing shows you and some of your family.  I haven’t seen your sisters in a while and I’m shocked by their age.  In my mind they’ve never changed.  I look again, my sight adjusted, and ‘oh, yes, now I see her as she was, and as she is, both’.  I mourn for those just meeting her, but I shouldn’t because I’m supposing that the past holds more value than today, and that’s my judgment, not anyone else’s.  My life orientation has grown to encompass so much more than I could possibly know from my old, stunted, vantage point.

My son, his friends, and I, are driving to the beach.  One of his friends, a young man barely out of his teens, speaks disdainfully of a woman we pass as we drive.  She’s in a white convertible Volkswagen Bug, a huge pink flower sits in the built in dashboard vase.

He says with a laugh that she’s trying to be ‘younger than she is’ by having that flower in the vase and the shirt she’s wearing.  I react internally, feeling myself withdraw, stung by his words that felt directed at me.  I chuckle, as though in agreement – a betrayal.  I wish I had been better prepared to parry, but I forfeited instead.

No, perspective-lacking boy, she’s not acting younger than she is – she’s being exactly who she is.  The secret that no one has told you yet, dear boy/man, is that this is it.  You are who you are.  You will grow and change and choose whatever works for you, but it’s all a façade.  You do your best to represent who you truly are, but can a picture do justice to the moment you took it?  You’re the only one who feels what it was like to be in that moment.  Maybe there was a slight breeze, and you felt free and caressed by the wind, perhaps by some otherworldly being or force, then.  Maybe the sun was bearing down on you, or a chill in the air made it difficult to keep your hand steady as you snapped the picture.

Until you’ve lived a full life, you have no valid basis to judge someone beyond your years on simple matters, even though you will.  What I wish I had known is that my body would change, but the essential me wouldn’t.  Maybe some people do change radically as they age, and all of us continue to grow – whether we like and/or accept it, but that’s not what I’m talking about.

I have loathed the term ‘act your age’ since I was in my teens.  Was there a manual that you came with that I somehow missed?  No, you want me to act, or be, at your comfort level, which has nothing to do with me.  I get that there are circumstances where we need consideration of others, and I think that’s what maturity is about, but otherwise, the only ‘rules’ are the ones you give yourself, or try to impose on others.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Thoughts On The Go

Publicity photo of Andy Griffith, Don Knotts a...
Publicity photo of Andy Griffith, Don Knotts and Jim Nabors from The Andy Griffith Show. Andy tries to help out the town band, but Barney and Gomer aren’t so sure he’s helping them. The episode is “The Sermon for Today”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been traveling the last few days and haven’t had computer access for more than a couple of minutes.  I got to spend some time with old friends in Maine, and another friend outside of Boston, and now I’m going to visit family in Rhode Island.

I was quite sad to hear that Andy Griffith died – as well as Ernest Borgnine.  Andy Griffith helped me through my childhood by representing the father I wish I had, and by remaining on television through specials and through his Matlock series.  I never watched Matlock more than once or twice, but just knowing he was still around was comforting to me.

Ernest Borgnine didn’t elicit the same kind of emotional response in me that Andy Griffith did, but I found him entertaining and funny (unless he was performing in a serious role, of course).

Time is moving on.  With every person from my parents’ generation that passes away, I feel pulled that much closer to the end of my life’s track as well.  I know I’m still pretty much in the middle of my life – and if I weren’t so tired, I’d celebrate that…

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Police Blotter

What a job dispatchers have, hearing the hate, fear, and sorrow of humanity.  The car accident that killed five, the fire taking all the family’s possessions and leaving them homeless, the petty crimes – committed for various reasons we’re left to ponder.

Murder was attempted just down the street from me – was the child I heard wailing into the night last week part of that scene?  Theft is up as desperation increases.

Lighter incidents of the week are sprinkled throughout the report too: chickens in the road (why were they crossing, we wonder with a chuckle).  A purse was found and turned into the station – no valuables reported missing.  Children’s toys were left in the road, obstructing traffic – but gone by the time officers arrived.

I kind of like that an officer took time to check out something like that.  I wonder how big or many toys there must have been for a report to be called into the station.  Maybe it was simply a neighbor fed up with another neighbor not paying attention – or purposely causing aggravation.

History is replete with comedy and tragedy, with old grudges carried through generations, the original issue forgotten or irrelevant.  Maybe that energy could be better spent, but not to those people.  As I read the week’s blotter, I felt better about my life, and took it as a cautionary tale – knowing that but for the Grace of some Higher Power go I.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Spring Day

I opened the windows today – the fresh air rushing in like a cat that’s been waiting all day to get inside.  The scent reminded me of what’s good about Springtime, and I forgot my woes for a while.

I vacuumed the floors and washed a few windows before I had to head off to work.  I even spent some time helping to weed a friend’s garden, even though my stuff still needs tending.  I don’t know what my priorities are lately.  I’ve been flitting around in the vast wilds of my mind, trying to keep abreast of my grief, but I remain unsuccessful.

My son writes an email, asking for a nice picture of the both of us he can frame for Mother’s Day, and I tear up reading the note.  ‘No, honey, we have no recent pictures.  I’ll have to come visit you and we can have one taken then.’  The reply seems to echo through a thousand years.  That’s how long it feels like we’ve been apart.  It’s not about time, it’s about distance.  You won’t make it home this weekend, and don’t know when you’ll be able to visit.

You’re further away from me than the moon, I think – the moon which occupies nearly the same space in the sky, and moves in predictable cycles.  Remember how I used to say “I love you to the moon and back”, and you’d repeat it in your sweet, tender child’s voice?  You’ve long lost that high-pitched timbre.  You’re a man now.  You’re a man who’s on your way in this world, and my job is done.  The rest is ‘icing on the cake’, I’ve heard said, but I still love you more than pumpkin pie, and I hope you still love me more than chocolate.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

May Day

My son came home last night so we could get up early and get on the road with all his belongings (which turned out to be less than anticipated because I’ll be storing some for him).  It started raining sometime in the night, even though the forecast only called for showers.  By 8am, it was raining steadily, with no sign of stopping. 

The pattern of communication between my son and I, when I’m stressed, is that I get louder, and he gets quieter.  That’s fine to diffuse most situations between us.  It did nothing to improve this morning’s issues.  He’s an engineer – an electrical engineer.  I am a person with an excess of lived experience.  He doesn’t like anything that’s inefficient.  I am all about process.  I’m also an expert at packing – even if it appears to be less efficient than an automated process might be.  Even though I’m a fairly articulate person, my son makes me feel like anything I say isn’t understandable, or relevant.

Not only were we trying to tie a box-spring and mattress onto the top of the car, we were standing in the cold rain arguing over the best way to secure them.  We had rope and bungee cords, but I knew how to do it practically, and he knew how to do it theoretically.  The rain drenched us by the time the bed was secured on the car roof, and the car was packed.  We would have been soaked even if we hadn’t argued, and the only upside was that I saw that I was never banshee-esque without reason during my son’s childhood.  I bet even Gandhi had shitty days.

Once we got on the road everything was fine, but it rained the entire drive to Boston, and we couldn’t go over 60 mph or the bed started wobbling around too much. I still think that if I had secured the bed the way I originally had wanted, that might not have happened.

When we got into Boston, I found out that my son and his dorm-mate hadn’t moved the rest of their belongings to their new place so we spent the afternoon moving their dorm stuff as well.  My son told me later that a couple of his friends had offered to help, but he declined. (If that doesn’t make you want to ring his neck, then you should be sainted.)

My son did help me narrowly avoid a deluge when we took the bed off the car roof, so I forgave him the refusal of extra help.  The mattress was thoroughly soaked – even though we did our best to shield it with a tarp. It will probably take an entire week (if not more) for it to dry out, but at least he has egg-crate foam, a mat, and all his bedding to sleep on until then.

I’m glad I got to see where my son and his roommates are living, and to feel out the neighborhood.  It’s not as bad as I feared, and I think they’ll be fine there.  They just have to be savvy – as do we all.  I tend to think that the worst things happen between people who know each other.  Strangers often give us more leeway because we all know how difficult it is just to live.

Another humorous aspect of today is remembering an old saying that if you go out in a May Day rain, you’ll be protected from headaches for the year.  My pounding head begs to differ.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Through The Years

My son is getting his first apartment with college friends.  I’m pretending it’s not a big deal.  I mean, he’s been away at college for two years now, so, it’s basically the same thing.  Except it isn’t.  He’s had his bed and most of his stuff here, and in three days and several hours, it will all be gone.  I’m trying to stay in the moment, and not trouble trouble until trouble troubles me, as the saying goes.

I was in my son’s room packing up what I can until he gets here and pares down what he wants to get rid of.  He already told me he’s not sentimental and doesn’t want his old school year books, or photos, or other keepsakes, but I am sentimental, so I’m keeping most of it.  He may have a wife and/or children some day who will actually enjoy seeing some of the things from his youth.  It isn’t exactly archeology, but it is history, and I loved seeing my ex-boyfriends’ childhood pictures.  It’s a way to connect the past to the present and beyond.  I so enjoy looking at my Mom and Dad’s pictures of their youth and childhood.  Ever since my Dad died several years ago, those pictures have taken on more meaning.  Even though I often rail against life, I also revel in life’s complexity and variety.  I embrace change as much as I loathe it.  I may not like changing all the time, but as long as I have company, it’s really not too bad.

I’ll be fine with this new life passage, I’m just not overjoyed.  I also know that many people are overjoyed to have their personal time back when their children get older and leave home, and maybe I’ll feel that way, eventually.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Back Home

I traveled with my son to Oregon to see his big sister and meet her family this past week.  It was an amazing trip, and not nearly enough time.

I’m sad today because we’ve been home two days now, and I finally caught up on sleep, and necessary life tasks, and have time to reflect on our short visit and how much I miss being with my son, and how we hadn’t seen his sister for ten years!

She’s always been in my heart, and I think I waited for her to make contact because I’m not really anything to her except her brother’s Mom, since her Dad and I parted (and her Dad and I had a strained relationship for so long), and I didn’t want to impose on her.  She was busy with college and work and living.

I think I was wrong.  I should have pushed it more, then all that time wouldn’t have gone by without connection.  Mostly, I felt that it was up to them.  My son and his sister kept in touch by email, and with Facebook, and I don’t care what the new ‘norm’ is – Facebook, Skype, email, etcetera – do not replace meeting in person!  No electronic media approaches being in someone’s physical presence.  There are articles saying that people have less need to meet in person because they’re so connected electronically.  Excuse me?  These are human beings were talking about, right?  Does anyone remember the psychological studies about the need for touch?

I don’t doubt that we connect through social media – and it may even save people’s lives – but it cannot replace face to face contact.  Being present with those we love fosters communion, strengthens bonds, and rejuvenates our spirits.  Physical presence stimulates all sorts of neuro-chemical reactions that help us thrive.

I never think I can love someone more than I do until I am with them.  Maybe I don’t love them more, but I am reminded anew why I feel so strongly about them, and how much they add to my life.  Maybe Skype, and the like, approximates that because you can see and hear the other person, or people, but you can’t touch them – and that will always be missing – even when ‘touch’ becomes available artificially.

Regardless, I know that saying: ‘don’t be sad because it’s over; be glad that it happened’, and I am, but also, stop trying to take my sadness from me!  Being sad is as much a part of my condition as being happy is.  I’d like the balance to reflect more of the ‘good’ feelings, as do we all, I would hope.  I’ll feel better in a few more days as our trip recedes into deeper memory, but the feelings are visceral now because I know what I’m missing.  I don’t want ten more years to go by before we’re in their presence again!

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Tug Of War

Four of us sat at the red and white checkerboard-cloth covered picnic table, eating, sipping our drinks, and mulling over the presentation we had attended earlier.  The speaker called us to action on behalf of our nation, to use our bodies and minds to stop and reverse the change in course from Democracy to Plutocracy.

Every age has its challenges, but we’ve been ruled by the monied class before, and it only ever benefits the wealthy, who are, and always will be, the few.  Democracy is about all of us having a stake in our country, all of us having a voice – being represented – even if imperfectly.

I felt a great camaraderie with those in the room cheering the speaker’s words, but I wondered whether we’d heed the warning as the hall emptied out into the night.

As the group of us sat discussing her thesis and what we could do, I remembered that every action has ripples, and constant repetition of similar ideas converts thought to action, initiating change.

I remember playing Tug of War in grade school, and how hard I pulled to avoid being dragged through the mud.  We knew the winning team would be whomever had the strongest players, and not merely the highest numbers.  The game was only played on special days, like Field Day, and our teacher, believing in fairness, wouldn’t allow all the strongest players one on side.  Even when there wasn’t a fair-minded adult overseeing those kinds of games, I would always quit if my team was too unevenly matched.  Who wants that?  I think many of us have given up in our political Tug of War because we see how unevenly matched we are.  But I want to be like my teacher, and do what I can to make it a fairer fight.

We were the soul occupants on the enclosed, well heated, and dimly lit restaurant porch, which seemed to solidify our sense of fellowship as the night wore on, bringing our thoughts to the more personal concerns and cares of our daily lives.  We spoke of our children, the challenges of raising them, and of them leaving home.  We talked of loved ones dying, of aging parents, and dealing with those griefs.  A deeper kinship was borne out of that personal circumstance than the affinity of strangers wedded to a common cause I felt earlier that evening.

Change happens for me when something I need and/or care about is jeopardized, damaged, or lost.  I desire stasis in my life, but that requires forever correcting my course, when I thought it meant finding my true path and the rest of my life would be easy, or somehow self-regulating.  I know now, more than I ever have, that there is no retiring – that I’m always in the game.  If I’m not strong enough to maintain the pull on my side of the mud patch, I need to call others to my side – and maybe even take a break until I’m strong enough to get back in the fight.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Regret

One of my deepest regrets is not getting to sing with Hans Sven Poulsen again after he visited the commune/cult and recorded “The Wonderchild Family” album with a group of us kids.

Hans had invited me to come sing with him in a benefit he was going to do for the Children’s Hospital in Boston after he finished his recordings with us.  I wasn’t able to get to Boston, and a few months later, Hans found out he had cancer and began treatment for that, eventually leaving for the West coast, and then back home to Australia.

In June of 2000, my son and I went to Australia to meet and stay with my pen-pal whom I’d been writing to since I was twelve.  I managed to track down Hans and got in touch with him so my son and I got to visit him and his wife in Melbourne a few days before our flight back to the U.S.  He had suffered a stroke back in the 1990’s, but had done much to rehabilitate, and was again playing music and working as a music therapist.

Perhaps everything unfolded perfectly, or maybe my desire wasn’t stronger than my fear, but I’ve always thought that if I had sung with him at the benefit concert I would have ‘been discovered’ or somehow made connections to start my singing career.

If getting the life I wanted when I wanted it meant that I wouldn’t have had my son, then I’m less remorseful, and seeing as there is no way I can know that, I choose to believe that having my son was the best opportunity I took.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Christmas Eves

1989: I spent the evening with Joe; I moved in with him here in Vernon, Vermont, a few weeks ago.  I’m happy that there’s snow on the ground so it will be a white Christmas.  My brother, Scott, died in October, and I’m sad for my mom this holiday season.  I still feel nothing.  I don’t know why death doesn’t affect me directly, I guess that’s a coping mechanism.

1990: Our son’s first Christmas.  He’s only two months old, so it’s not really a big deal for him, but Joe’s daughter is spending Christmas morning with us, and she’ll be happy to get the Super Nintendo game system with, The Mario Brothers/Duck Hunt, and, Donkey Kong, games, and spend time with her brother.  Things have not been good between Joe and I, but we’re trying to work it out.

1991: My father and step-mother are visiting from Florida.  I’m happy that my father is getting to spend some time with his grandson, although it’s been kind of awkward when they’re here because my mom is spending Christmas here in my new apartment.

1992: I’m in my new apartment in South Portland, Maine.  My mom is here with me, and there is a lot of snow this winter, which Austen loves to play in.  My car broke down a few weeks after moving in here, and I can’t afford another one, but there’s a bus stop down at the end of the street, and a few of the Bahá’í‘s here in South Portland bring me to run errands once a week.  Joe is visiting over the holidays, and it’s been horrible and stressful – as usual.

1994: San Diego Christmas is quite different from what I’m used to.  It’s not really warm, about the mid-50°F’s, and rainy, but the air feels different, and I’m not sure I like it.  I’m at a 10-day program because I don’t want to live anymore but Tammy convinced me to see if this will help me.  I’ll get a counselor, and start an antidepressant, and I know it’s what I need to do, but I feel horrible being away for Christmas.

1996: Back in Massachusetts.  My mother is spending Christmas with me and Austen in our tiny apartment.  Things have been awful.  I’m still not getting child support, so that just makes everything tougher.

1999: It’s been a strange year.  I’m wondering if the Y2K thing is really going to screw up computers worldwide – I doubt it.  I told Austen that Santa was a real person a long time ago, and his spirit still lives on through all of us.  The other kids at school were picking on him for still believing in Santa.  He refused to believe me when I told him Santa isn’t still alive.  I don’t know if I did the right thing.

2001: I consider this the millennium year, even though I know many people considered 2000 to be the turn of the century.  I guess it’s both: 2000 because it’s no longer 19-something, but 2001 because CE started with year 1, so 2001 makes two-thousand years.  We’re still here, although a bunch of freaks were trying to convince whomever they could that the world was going to end.

2011: I think my favorite aspect of Christmas Eve is filling my son’s stocking.  When he was little, it was so gratifying to see his delight, and share in how fun Christmas was for him.  He used to love Christmas carols and we’d sing them together, and now he can barely stand them.  He’s feeling so much better tonight, but still coughing a lot.  I might watch, It’s A Wonderful Life, but I’m feeling tired, so maybe I’ll just go to sleep.  My throat is feeling a bit scratchy, and I hope I don’t get sick too.

This year has been so strange.  As I looked back through old diaries and read so much of where I’ve been, and what my life is like now, I appreciate now so much.  I don’t care if someone reads my old journals someday, but I sincerely doubt they’d read for very long.  I’m just grateful that I’m not as affected by the vicissitudes of life anymore.  I also did a great deal of healing work to get where I am now, and will most likely finish that work with my last breath.  I’m thankful to be alive, and hope I won’t die until I accomplish most, if not all, of my goals.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

December 21, 2011

Ice is forming on the river that separates my town from the next town over.  Winter is truly here.  I drove by the river early this morning on my way to an appointment and I thought about years past, and ice skating with one of my best friends back then on that stretch of river.  She lived with her brother and father in a cabin at the end of the cove.  I think about her nearly every time I drive by, but especially in the winter, and I wonder about her life now.

I vaguely remember my daily life growing up, or even young adulthood, but some specific people, places, and/or events have never receded that far in my mind, and certain times of the year bring them clearly back to me.  I’ll open a particular hair conditioner every once in a while when I shop at the store that carries it, and the scent places me back to my seventeenth year, with my best friend at the time, and the situation we were in.  It’s an immersion experience, but only lasts a second, if that.  Like a dream, I try to remain in the moment, but it’s gone.  Smelling the conditioner again will not bring the experience back, even an hour later.  I guess it takes my brain, or psyche, or whatever, more time to reset its visceral memory capacity.

Most of the time, my memories simply detail times past with whatever emotions were attached to any particular one, as well as my current feeling about it.  I might miss friends who were part of that memory, or maybe feel grateful that I’m not there anymore, or regretful for having acted badly, or having missed chances never given again.

I hope that I’ve gained more than I’ve lost, and, that I’ll not only recognize, but have the courage to take advantage of any worthwhile opportunities presented to me, and treat the people in my life in ways that won’t have me looking back in regret.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Waiting

I’ve been waiting a long time for this one…

I used to think my life wouldn’t be complete or fulfilled without a husband, but I’ve come to understand that I’ve only ever needed myself.  Once I started making better choices, loving and accepting myself, and focusing on my life, other parts of my collage started to be fulfilled:

I thought peace and happiness would come from what I attained, or achieved, or especially, through someone else.  In fact, most of the turmoil I’ve experienced in my life was because I tried to get others to give me, or do for me what I needed to give to, and do for, myself.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Son Day

I’m so excited to see my son today!  I get to have him home an extra day for the Thanksgiving holiday, even though most of his time will be spent with his friends who are also coming home for the holiday.  Just knowing he’ll be here feels so good to me, although I know it feels nearly opposite to him.  It’s not that he doesn’t like being home and seeing me and his other family, it’s that his life is at school now, with his own group.  He told me he doesn’t sleep well when he’s home, and doesn’t know why.  I think it’s because he’d rather be in his world.  We will always belong to one another, but he has his own life now, one in which he sleeps better than when he’s here…

It made me sad to hear that, but I got over it.  It’s not personal in a mean way, it’s just life stages.  I had a really different childhood experience, and was separated too early from my mother, after her divorce from my father (which was a very good thing for all of us, but still disruptive and chaotic).  My son got to have a healthy, self-directed separation, and he’s so much less emotional or sentimental than I am, so it sucks for me…

We have the same sense of humor and like to talk about a myriad of subjects (when he’s willing to talk), but when he’s home and not with his friends, he prefers to spend his time reading or working on the computer.

I’m doing my best to find common interests to connect with him on, but it’s tough when our personalities and styles are so different.  Maybe if he ever has children, we’ll get to re-bond then.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Westward Ho!

“I just can’t take it anymore,” I complained to Tammy, cradling the phone with my neck while I finished washing the dishes.  “I need a serious change and I don’t know what to do.”

“Well, why don’t you come live out here with me and Dean?  That way you have a place to stay for a while until you get on your feet, and I’m happy to help out.”

I was quiet on the phone for a minute. “Wow”, I finally said through my tears.  “Really, you’d do that for me?   You do remember what it’s like to live with a three-year old, right?”

Tammy laughed and said: “Yes, and I miss having a little boy around.  Danny wants to continue living with his father in New Hampshire, and that’s been really hard for me, but he’s thirteen, and he has good friends there, and I just have to accept that I’m only going to see him for vacations.  I think it’ll be good for both of us if you come live out here.”

“Let me think about it some more, and I’ll get back to you.”

“I’m here for you, whether you stay in Maine, or come out to San Diego.”

“Thanks, Tammy.  I love you.”

“Love you too.  Bye.”

“Bye.”

That conversation in March of 1994 changed my life.  I had a new option, and while I had friends and some support where I was, I was a single mom in poverty, with no car and only a part-time job that I was about to lose.  It snowed over a hundred inches that winter in South Portland, Maine, and I was very close to giving up my son to his alcohol-addicted father, and committing suicide.  I had a plan, and I was getting the courage to implement it when chance circumstances re-connected me with a friend I hadn’t talked to in nearly ten years.

Imagining a different life helped make the life I was in a bit more tolerable, and I began preparations to make the move.  Several friends and relatives told me that it would be stupid to move so far away with someone I hadn’t seen in so long, even though we had been best friends through high school, and I had a young child to consider, and what was I thinking, dragging him across the country?

The other contingent, whom I sided with, saw it as an opportunity to better myself and give my son a chance at a better life too.  As I went, so went my son, type of thing.

I made my decision, and Tammy, who was going to fly back East in July to stay with her father for a few weeks while spending time with her son, decided to drive out with a friend, and bring me and my son back out with them on their return trip.

She had a pick-up truck with a tall shell for the truck bed, which she furnished with a mattress, and I was to sell my beds and other large belongings because they wouldn’t fit in the small trailer we’d rent for the trip back to California.  She had a guest room with a bed that my son would sleep on, and I would stay on the couch until I found work and could buy new beds.  I sold all of our big furniture, and kept my son’s books and most of his toys, as well as dishes and whatever else could fit in the trailer, because we’d be taking turns driving while one of us slept in the back of the truck.  I ended up paying for one night in a motel room so we could have a shower and get a decent night’s sleep.

My boyfriend at the time and I had a rocky relationship, but we liked each other enough to work through issues.  He asked me to stay in Maine, but conceded that he didn’t know where he saw our relationship going.  The week before I left, he told me he would have asked me to marry him if I didn’t have a child.  After he said that, I knew leaving was the right decision.  So many choices in my life translated to ‘damned if I don’t, damned if I do’ propositions.

August 4th, moving day: Tammy and her friend, Ann, were to arrive around Noon.  I spent the morning cleaning my apartment, and bringing whatever didn’t sell, and I didn’t want, outside to bring to the dump when my friend arrived.  My son was upset that most of our things were gone, and he didn’t want to go anywhere.  By the time Tammy got there, I was sweaty and irritated, and wondering if this had been such a good idea after all.

It was really good to see Tammy, and Ann and I pretty much instantly disliked one another. She made some remark about my attitude, and I was kind of stunned that this person I barely knew was openly judging me after having worked my ass off all morning, with a crabby child in tow, and no other help.  “Fuck you”, I wish I had said, but having a bit more grace than her, I fluffed it off and asked Tammy if she’d bring the junk pile to the dump, while I got some lunch for my son and played with him for a while. She, being a parent herself, was completely empathetic about my state of mind, and told me to take a break, and she’d deal with the trash and help me finish whatever cleaning was left to do later.

It took several more hours than expected to finish up, rent the trailer, and make sure we were ready to hit the road.  We left Maine around 5pm, with my son and I in the back of the truck for the overnight drive.  Luckily the truck’s motion put my son to sleep fairly soon, but I had too much anxiety, so I slept very little.

We drove through the night, choosing a route through the Poconos, which Tammy later told me creeped her out because Ann had fallen asleep, and my son and I were out of view in the way back – the window into the cab being hidden behind boxes, blankets, and pillows – and she was thinking about the Sleepy Hollow legend, imagining seeing the Headless Horseman as she drove through the darkness, with few other travelers that late.  We could have kept each other company, but I wouldn’t have been comfortable leaving my son in the back of the truck where I wouldn’t know what was going on with him, or with Ann, who wasn’t fond of children.

I drove the next morning, our route taking us through most of Ohio, and then down through Kentucky, and finally into Tennessee where we would stay on I-40 for the bulk of the trip.

We stayed in a motel in Tennessee the one night we didn’t drive through.  One bane of the trip was automatic flush toilets, which seemed to be installed at every stop we made, and which my son was afraid of, along with any loud, not-easily understood noises, so we had to find rest stops with a Port-A-Potty (or a wooded area) for most of the journey.

By the third day, we were all miserable, and my son was the only one vocalizing it freely and frequently, to which Ann questioned my child-rearing style of just letting him complain. I told her I had learned to tune out most of what he said, and did my best to keep him entertained by imitating his favorite Sesame Street characters voices, while making up stories, singing songs, and playing games, which seemed to annoy Ann, and made it even more pleasurable for me.  Poor Tammy was caught between trying to support her friend, but enjoying being with my son, grumpy or not.

I’m sure Ann was most happy when my son and I were riding in the back of the truck, or when she was back there sleeping.  I was most happy when it was just Tammy, my son, and I, riding up front.  I was driving when we neared Flagstaff, Arizona, and I saw a ‘Grand Canyon, 50 miles’ sign.  Ann was riding up front with me and my son, and I asked her if it would be ok if we took a detour as I had never seen the Grand Canyon, and thought it would be a perfect opportunity.  Ann said she’d rather not, but if Tammy was willing, then she’d go along with it.  The hitch was that I’d have to wake Tammy up to ask her, and I didn’t want to interrupt her sleep, so we continued on into California where Ann took over the driving until we reached her apartment in Ocean Beach.

I’ve always regretted not making a unilateral decision and just driving to the Grand Canyon because I still have not been there.

I was talking to Tammy on the phone the other day, both of us amazed at how much time has gone by, and she suggested I move back out once my son is through college, and I’m seriously considering it.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.