community · inspiration · love · persistence · service · spirituality · willingness · writing

Did you live happy? Did you live well?

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I don’t really believe in heaven and hell. I suppose if I
believe in anything, I believe in some kind of version of reincarnation. Not
that my soul gets inserted into some new being on the planet, but that the
anima that makes my heart pump disseminates into other things – surely, the
worms, and dirt, and grass that’ll be fed by me, but also, I feel like there’s
some way our spirit gets to try again.
Maybe not. Maybe we’re all worm food. But I think about the
concept I’ve heard that we choose the life that we’re born into. That
we somehow float cosmically one step outside of this reality, and when it’s
time, we are born into the lock that our life provides the key for – and the
lessons and situations we walk into in life are what turns the key. Toward
what? Who knows. Enlightenment sounds like such a heavy word. I don’t know that
there’s ever any “fixed” or “done” for us. I think that’s part of what our
souls, for lack of a better word, enjoy about the whole thing.
It’s sort of like an infinite book of Choose Your Own
Adventure. We’ve all heard me talk about how the lessons we’re here to learn
aren’t always the ones we want; it’s not like I would have chosen some of the circumstances that have surrounded my life
or the situations that occurred in it. But, on some level, perhaps I have and
did. And perhaps for some benevolence greater than my own. – Or not.
Sometimes I ask my cat what she did in former lives to be a
cat this time. What she was before? And who she bribed to get to be as pretty as
she is?
Sometimes I think about the Indigo Girls’ song Galilleo, and how maybe the being we’re born into next time will
have so much baggage from our fucking things up, or not “evolving” enough, to be
the next great writer and artist, or inventor fixing the world.
Sometimes I sit home sick and watch Saving Grace on Netflix and write a blog about theology. Like
today.
I have heard about the whole Pearly Gates thing, and we (or
Christians, at least) get asked questions. And I wonder if I were asked the
questions in the title of this post, what my reply would be? And if it will
continue to change, as it’s surely changed before.
A friend of mine has a mission statement for herself and her
life, and squares the actions and activities she engages in against it. If it
doesn’t jive, then she finds a way to align her wants with its message: To be
of maximum service to myself and others, for the good of all involved.
The other day, as I was sitting in my car, waiting for
the call with my potential new somatic therapist, I was struck with a phrase for
me and for my life that feels pretty appropriate. It was less a mission
statement at the moment, and more a simple observation of the sum total of my actions & endeavors, at least in
adulthood: To voraciously expand my consciousness of love.
It’s sort of what I have been doing lately, I think. It’s
sort of what I think I want to continue to do. It’s a tall freaking order, for
sure. And it’s uncomfortable and vulnerable and occasionally plain biting, but
at its base, at my base, I think it’s a pretty good mission for my soul to have chosen.
Once, in meditation, I got this edict for my life: To love,
as much as you can. What comes to me from that is that it’s also really as much
as you can on any given day. Do your best on any given day, and that level will
change, and sometimes will be really freaking low. But if I believe, which I
do, that I am here for a purpose, and if I believe today that that purpose is
to voraciously expand my consciousness of love, then it’s sort of like when
they put those bumpers in the gutters of the bowling lane: I’ll never be too far off center. 

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community · compassion · family · generosity · laughter · life · love · relationships · San Francisco · willingness

Modern Family

Yesterday could not have been more marvelous. Oh, San
Francisco friends ~ How I miss you!!! And how I don’t realize it until I see
you.
Having lived in SF for almost 5 years before moving here to
Oakland, I had the (I can’t even think of the proper word – I don’t think I
know it) intensely fulfilling and soul-affirming opportunity to meet and grow with a pack of women. Many of my
desperately favorites were at my friend’s Memorial Day bbq event yesterday.
The feeling of guts relaxing, smiles expanding, hearts sighing, that’s how it was. I can’t stand it.
But I could, and I did. I was there, and present, and
helped, and talked, and listened, and laughed, and sun-baked (beneath a
generous layer of SPF), and hammocked, and cherry picked, and peach picked, and
dribbled little lines of peach juice down my chin, and made children laugh, and
they made me laugh, and caught up, and shared, and understood, and was
understood. Oh, this family gathering. This is my family, part of it anyway.
And how good it was to be back with them.
So many things have changed. The children are bigger. One is
moving to Japan. One got braces. One got certified. How many things change when
we aren’t looking – or in communication.
The phone works, sure. The bridge works, sure. But how me
and this particular group of women met, and shared, and grew, it was in person.
It was by witnessing monumental and incremental growth over weeks and weeks
which became years and years.
Yes, I’m feeling a little sappy. But I can’t help it. I love
them. And, they love me. This is a section of people who know me in a way few
do, who have witnessed my own growth and change, and who like me, accept me,
are fond of me. As I do them. What a miraculous gift. What a fucking gift.
I don’t know quite the solution. Does there need to be one?
The ache that I realize was there? I felt the same way when I went to a
workshop run by the same woman who hosted this barbeque – the workshop was in
January, and I arrived and saw two women I hadn’t seen in likely a year or
more, and again, my guts sank down from somewhere behind my ribs, where they’d been benignly pinching my
lungs and inhibiting my breathing, they sunk, phoom, back down to where they belong in the
grounding, rooted, centered calm.
It was at that workshop that I realized how much I missed them
all. This won’t be another diatribe on how I don’t feel connected to the East Bay as in the
“Exile” blog. I do feel connected, more
connected, than I had, with more women than I had. I feel friendships, and
activity partners, and women to share with. But. … I’ve only been here a year
and a half, almost two. That’s not 5. That’s not in the same way.
Things change. They must, and they have to. Can I change
with them? How do I balance? How do I maintain – or if change is necessary, not
“maintain,” then, but evolve? How do I evolve with the reality of distance?
Because I won’t always be here in the Bay. That much is
likely true. And what happens then? I have a dear friend who moved to Brooklyn
last year, and we speak on the phone maybe once every two months, with some smatterings
of texts, but we’re not nearly as close – this woman who was once as close as
my heart.
How do we do this?
I’m not sure. I know that I obviously missed these women
more than I knew. I missed the way I feel
when I’m around them – known and loved, exactly as I am, for who I am. Women
who know me well enough to jibe at me, laugh with me at myself, and poke into parts of me that need to
be poked for movement to happen. These are women… for christ’s sake, I can’t
stop gushing.
What now? If I’m aiming to be responsible and adult in my
life, to take action where I’ve taken none, to believe that no one is coming to
change or live or make my life for me – then, how do I incorporate this
knowledge? The knowledge that I want more of that – that I want those
connections kindled, or renewed?
I love my new friends – they are buoying me in ways they
don’t even know. But I miss my old friends. I miss so much of what’s happening.
Life is so damn short and quick, and things move so suddenly. Someone moves to
a new town. Someone to a new country. Someone is engaged, or married, or
pregnant. Someone is in a break-up or new relationship. Someone is changing
careers, or expanding a business, or taking a new class, or forming a girl’s
band (yes, that’s me and my friend with plans to jam with her drums and my bass,
here in the east bay).
I want. Terrible words. But, I do. I want – I want what I
had, but in the present. I want what I had yesterday – the gut-release, the
warm bath, the mild pleasant smirking at the familiarity of us all.
I want. In the present. And how. 

action · adulthood · adventure · dating · family · forgiveness · Jewish · letting go · life · travel · willingness

Melting Boxes and Falling Cards

I may or may not have a date this weekend with a jew I met
on okCupid. We had made tentative plans for Sunday, but I had double booked and
asked to meet up on Saturday instead, and haven’t heard back yet. We’ll see.
I’m talking with another CupidJew; jdate, I have a coffee date aligned for next
Friday, but I’m not entirely enthused on this one – and let another thread fall
when I realized I wasn’t really interested in meeting this other dude. 
Who knows. It’s like the job applications. Send stuff out –
see what sticks. I do feel like I’d like to apply to more teaching jobs though.
It’s really funny. Maybe 6 or so months ago, I met with a girl friend who works
with Expressive Arts Therapy, and she asked how “teaching” felt in my body – to make a
motion or movement – that would express what being “a teacher” would mean to
me. Then, I contracted and constricted my body, on the tack that teaching is a
sedentary, stoic, geographically uninspired profession.
Surprisingly or not, I don’t think I feel that way anymore.
Maybe I’d express it a little more wiggly now – maybe because it is a little
more (or a lot more) wiggly than I’ve previously boxed it in. I also would like
to apply outside of the Bay a little more. I know that moving costs a lot, and
yadda yadda, but, in the spirit of “what do I know about Fate,” I’m willing to
throw my net wider, and my seeds farther, and see what sprouts, … or is caught.
… You get the idea.
What a concept – pushing my ideas out of the proscribed
boxes in which I’ve held them.
Interestingly, my mom comes to mind. “Mother,” lord, what a
“concept.” What huge, enormous expectations and qualities we – or I – hurl upon
such a word. My ideas were formed way back when – she’s crazy, unavailable,
manic-depressive, and dying of her own neuroses – and these have kept pretty
calcified over the years. She’s better now (G-d bless medication), but it’s hard for me to allow that.
If she’s not crazy, if I don’t mistrust her, where are we? How do we engage? Obviously, similar questions can be brought about my dad, and even my brother.
… and more broadly, myself, you, the world, etc. Boxes. Boxes with a label,
Discard After 1987, or maybe after 1996. Certainly, way past their due date by
2012.
I think of this about my mom today in again reflecting on
the agingness of my parents – having seen them both two weeks ago for my
graduation. They’re getting older. They’re not going to be able to do or go or
share or be what they had been. And so, I wrote my mom an email yesterday I
titled “If you build it, they will come,” and in it I simply wrote, “Sometime
in the not too distant future, you and I should go to Paris. That is all. Love,
Molly.”
My mom has never been, nor have I. I’ve been clicking on
this contest prize for a trip for two to Italy for a few weeks now – because,
you gotta buy a ticket if you want to win the lottery, right – and I realize
that there are some things that if I want to do with my mom, I better start to
do them now. Sure, I have no idea if something like a trip to Paris or Italy,
or anywhere, will take place, but the time is getting shorter when they’d,
she’d, be able to really traipse about. Traipsing is a young people’s – or
younger people’s – pastime.
I am glad that the boxes in which I’ve held my parents are
disintegrating like so much wet cardboard. It’s a little scary. But, rather,
it’s not scary, as much as new.
I wish I could let the boxes around myself melt as much. One
of the dudes I’m talking with on the dating site is very encouraging and
interested in my bass playing, though I keep on telling him it’s really a lack of bass playing, and a lot of me being silly and
denying myself (although, surely, I didn’t put it quite that way – impressions,
you know!) 😉
But, it’s another box. My girl friend I was supposed to
speak with about her bass playing, our phone call didn’t happen, and I haven’t
rescheduled. Although I am having two info interviews around theater next week.
One in person with a friend of mine who is an active actor (but has a “real”
job, too), and the other by phone with my former acting teacher at school, who
is the casting director at a local renowned theater company. So, there’s that.
There’s a lot. And as I was telling someone yesterday, a
house of cards must be taken down very slowly and carefully. Not all at once. I
don’t think I’d much like being shaken all the way down to my bonsai tree nubs.
Or pruned, I suppose would fit that metaphor better! But point being, that
dismantling old beliefs and behaviors takes patience, practice, and an ability
to leave it alone for a while.
It’s not some jenga game I have to finish in a proscribed
period of time. (I’m ripe with metaphors today! ha! enjoy or apologies, either
way!) There are time-sensitive matters – my parents’ aging, obtaining
employment so I can feed and house myself, but even that one is a little fluid
right now, although surely top of my mind – I do have this temp work I’m doing,
which I’ll be doing for likely another 2 weeks. I’ve been applying, and we’ll
see. I’d like to apply to different avenues, and we’ll see. I plugged “jewish”
into my searches on the dating site, and we’ll see.
“…and action is its key word.” Amen. 

adulthood · courage · fear · finances · recovery · relationships · sex · the middle way · willingness

Romance & Finance

The Third Thing. That’s what a woman told me yesterday,
after I met up with this new group of folks who, apparently, talk about
intimacy, relationships, and habitual avoidance of (or indulgence in) such things.
I was telling her that for years, I’ve been trying to find a
balance between Betty Crocker and the Vixen, to find the middle way between
them. And she said something I’d never heard before – that likely, whatever it
or I turn out to be, it’s probably neither of these – it’s a Third Thing.
I’ve said sometimes, that I don’t like the analogy of
“living in the gray,” you know, the balance between black and white – between
black and white thinking, all or nothing. Some people call this middle, attempting
to live in the gray area. But to me, that sounds pretty awful, like living in a
fog bank (looking at you, San Francsico!). And so, I’ve said that instead of
the middle of black and white being gray, I call it color. That something other
than black, or white, is color. And so, “the third thing” thing makes sense to
me (she said it’s a Bill Clinton quote, and g-d love Bill – I’ll have to look
it up).
Romance and Finance. I hear so often that these are the
things which so often plague, worry, or motivate all of humanity. I’m reading
this book on the art and history of Europe (“for the traveler”), trying to get
some more info, things I slept through or didn’t care about or was too worried
about the aforementioned “ance”s to listen. I have a few books on European
travel on my desk, and this one is giving me the history, the why and wherefore
of how come art and architecture look like they do. And here’s what I’ve
learned: people, throughout history, have fought and been motivated by romance
and finance. Kings marriages, new religions, revolutions. Many have been about
who has what, who doesn’t have what, and how they can get more.
So, I’m not alone, apparently, in the grand scheme of these
issues. Of working on them, and my own grating relationship with each.
This is good. And there is a solution, but as Jung said, (I
think I’ve mis/quoted him here recently!), You can’t solve a problem on the
level of the problem. And the problem here is that I have only my well-worn
resources, patterns, and behavior to help me “solve” these problems of romance
and finance. So it’s time to look for help.
My romantic life as having fallen in either Betty Crocker or
Vixen territory is very much like my relationship with money. I’m either
restricting, meagerly existing, and isolating – or I’m burning money to quench
and balm the pain of all that restriction. Binge, remorse, restrict. Repeat.
Many people can notice these traits in anorexics or bulimics, and so far in my
life, knock on every piece of wood and mock-wood in the vicinity, that has not
been an issue for me in that particular way. My binge and restrict is with
emotions, money, and sexuality.
And if the middle way is not indeed the “middle,” then I
have to keep coming back to those who know a different way, and can help me to
get there.
This morning, I queried in my Morning Pages about this desert
I go to in meditation. How was that desert, I asked. I hadn’t been there in a
long time, and it was a place that I’ve gone to occasionally in my meditations
for years, and one which I was encouraged to solidify in myself and my brain
while I was doing some EMDR work with my therapist earlier this year.
She said it was interesting that I chose a desert as my
“safe place,” that many people choose cozy small place, places where they feel
protected. But, no, for me, I want a wide wide field of vision. There are no
surprises, no sneak attacks, I have full view of every single thing for miles
and miles. It’s a desert like those you see in the southwest, with ocher
colored mesas in the distance. And the flat, flat, cracked earth expanse of
dirt and dust and a hawk flying lazy circles in the bright, expertly clear
sunlight.
This, is safe to me.
I suppose I’m reminded of it today, as I am going to be
needing to touch into places like this – safe, calm, where I feel almost in
charge. There is nothing hidden, nothing freaky, nothing to shake me or scare
me or surprise me. I have a feeling there are going to be a lot of surprises
and shakes and scares as I begin to dive into this romance stuff. This
emotional intimacy, undoing this very deep pattern of all or nothing. And so,
it’s time for me to strengthen my base, root within my safe places, and get the
hell out of the way.
This is like a geyser, this work. Or maybe it’s not, what do
I know. What I do know is that I am grateful for the help I have available to me,
internally and externally. I was asked in my meditation from my Feminine, as I
reported the other day, if I was ready – I guess I was being asked if I was
ready to work on this stuff – because she/I have reawakened, and is powerful as
fuck. It is no wonder to me, then, that it’s taken me as long as it has to come
to this place of beginning to integrate and work on my
sex/relationship/intimacy stuff – I’m going to need all the resources I’ve
acquired, and many I have yet to discover.
Here’s to an assault on old ideas, however that looks as it
is coupled with a cosmic cease-fire. 
acceptance · adulthood · commitment · growth · letting go · life · self-support · willingness

Grown-upness

I was on the phone yesterday with a friend/mentor of mine.
I’d asked her for an informational interview, with the knowledge that I had no
idea what I was going to ask her – I’d let her know that in the email, too. She
accepted anyway, and on the phone we were, as I sat beneath the dome of the
downtown SF shopping center during my lunch break from the temp gig.
She knows much of my story and development over the last few
years, and works in a field to help people, and, most importantly to me, seems
to have some semblance of balance between work, creativity, and life. I thought
she’d be a good place to “start.”
I told her the 2nd thing that came up at the
“money meditation” on Monday. The 2nd question was “Do I (Molly)
fear you (money)?” The answer was, Yes, because I mean responsibility.
Oh Responsibility! How I’ve run from you!
Over the course of my conversation with my friend, she
reflected back to me that it sounds like I want to be powerful, without
building or holding or being the vessel for that power. I do want to do great
things (not like, ooh famous – just like, ooh cool), and, I have not wanted to
really take the ownership of what it might take to get there. See,
particularly, Magical Accidental Orgasm.
There is no one coming to live my life for me. There is no one coming to take
the risks and chances and changes that I need to make in my life and attitude
for me. It’s up to me.
Or it’s not. I can choose or not to take the reigns of my
life. I can choose or not to take the steps to holding responsibility for
myself.
This responsibility thing, my aversion to it, came up
earlier this year, in a workshop run by the very same friend. See, I have these
old associations with responsibility. That it means more than I am able to
handle. That’s what it meant when I was young – having to do things a child
should not have to do, things that an adult ought to have been doing, but the
adults in my life were not quite able to do that. So, I did. And I resented it,
and I was burdened by it, and I’ve carried my resentment and fear of
responsibility here through and to my adulthood.
Adulthood. That word came up yesterday in our conversation
too. “Adult.” “Grown-up.” If I want grown-up things, which I very much do, then
I have to learn to be a grown-up. Sure, I’m 30, but that’s no indication of
adulthood.
Things that grown-ups have — a job, a car, a house, a
relationship, stability, vacation — well, they earn these things by showing
up for themselves in a responsible way. My same friend had worked as a house
cleaner for ten years before coming to her pursuit of her current profession.
She also said, basically, nothing can grow in the dark. I am
ripe with resentment, self-pity, longing, entitlement, and self-centeredness
because of this ongoing rejection of the mantle of grown-up. I grasp
at things I think I want, but I’m not willing to firm the foundation to get
there – to mix the mortar, lay the bricks. Chop wood, carry sticks. That’s
where I need to be at. Very simply, I need to lay hold of qualities and actions
that I have tried to avoid.
The truth is that I have no idea what it would be
like to take responsibility for myself. I’ve churned along at this hamstrung
pace and mind-set for so long, I honestly don’t know. I’ve been talking here
some about how “grace” and gifts from the Universe have been incredibly lovely,
but that they don’t help me to build self-esteem around jobs and work and …
being a responsible adult, basically.
To warm up to the idea of being a grown-up. Yes, very much I
want to be one – I want what they seem to have. But what I see, I suppose is
the externals. What I haven’t seen, necessarily, is all the work they have put in to get there. To do what is necessary. I
haven’t done what is necessary. I’ve done everything else, I’ve danced around
the entry to that path for a decade, and belly-ached, Why can’t I get there?
Why is the door closed to me? It’s not closed. Never has been. I’ve been
terrified of what it means to begin to walk down it. But the truth is, and
forgive me, I got a cat a year and a half ago. She is a monument to my warming to commitment – has
this responsibility, has responsibility for this life, hers, created any burden
or pain in my life? Not in the slightest, and in fact, has brought untold and
unforeseen joy.
This is what I too imagine that taking on responsibility for
my own life may bring. Sure, I imagine it’ll be a little different, seeing as
it’s mine, and my brain is such a lovely chatter factory. But, maybe not.
Maybe, the doors will swing open as I take one step onto the path of
grown-upness. Maybe, simply, I’ll feel better knowing that I’m on the path at
all. 

adulthood · change · family · honesty · intimacy · life · love · relationships · willingness

A Fair and Balanced View

There are a few things that are hard to reconcile. For
example, prefacing your poem to your family by saying it’s mediocre as you did
not have time to edit the first draft – and after reading it in public at the ceremony at school, having people come up to you afterward praising the poem
and asking how they can get a copy. I gave a woman my card.
It’s hard to reconcile my view of where and how I am in my
life with the clouds of pride and support that beamed from my family and
classmates on Saturday, graduation day.
It’s also hard to maintain a stoic, stark, medieval view of
myself when I have women around me who “want what I have,” and a woman to call
who reminds me of the length and breadth of this process of school, and indeed the last 6
years.
A fair and balanced view. How to achieve that around
ourselves, whom we hold to such impossible standards that we’re always falling
short. Or at least I do.
Because I’m not
falling short. My measuring stick is broken and outdated and subjective.
Not much has “changed” outwardly over the last few weeks as
graduation occurred, and it’s hard to know if much has changed inwardly, but, I
think it is, slowly. I think my awareness of my rigid and flagellating stance
with myself will begin to bring change with it.
I also decided to change my workshop to sliding scale,
instead of a set fee. I had the thoughts to either cancel the whole thing (as I
had/have only one registered/paid participant), or to host at my house the few
who said they wanted to come, or do it in the city anyway.
I chose the latter, partly because I want the experience of doing it in a more “formal”
or official setting. I still want to share these tools, and help others
to learn whatever they need to learn from this. And also… I’m worried if I just
cancelled it, people might show up at the event the day-of, and be disappointed 😉
So, we’ll see what happens with that. It still may just be
me and my one registered participant. And if that’s the case, and I eat the
rental fee, so be it. Not ideal, but my ideas about how the workshop should be
are obviously not working, so instead of edging toward “fuck it” and not do it,
or toward “you MUST” and do it for the set fee, I’m finding a middle way. – That feels
like progress.
Also, I got to talk with my mom yesterday at the ass-crack
of dawn when we’d dropped my brother at his flight at SFO, and had a few hours
to kill before her flight. So, we grabbed some coffee and sat in Terminal 2 in
those Ikea-looking tangerine-colored winged chairs, and we talked.
I decided somewhere mid-conversation to tell her why I’d
stopped talking to her on the phone for almost a year. I didn’t “owe” her the
explanation, but I did want to share why. I reminded her of that last
conversation we had, and how she “hi-jacked” the conversation (a term she used
about her behavior when I’d finished). How suddenly a light and fun and mutual
conversation jumped the tracks, the shark, the point, and careened head-long
into “My Mom’s Issues.” I told her that I don’t feel able to hold the space for
that stuff for her anymore, that it feels inappropriate, but that I didn’t have
the words or wherewithal to tell her that in the moment. And so, instead of putting up a boundary, I put up a wall.
And it’s held. She said she had to just accept that we’d communicate
via email and text, and that that had to be enough. And for this year it was.
Seeing her, however, I really was reminded of how much I miss her. And she said
to me after I’d shared what went on with me, that if I felt able, and it sounds
like I feel more able now, to tell her that she’s hijacked the conversation to
let her know. And we’ll see if I can.
We both know we’re still in new territory. Our relationship
has swung the gamut from oversharing, overly enmeshed, over identification all
the way over to not talking for months and months, several times. We’re still
finding our center in our relationship, as I suppose we’re each finding our
center within ourselves. Back to the fair and balanced view. The Middle Way.
How can I hold the contradictions? How can I allow for
myself to be vulnerable without a hard shield of protection? How can I see
myself as a simple, or simply complex, human, with assets and liabilities? And, how can I allow others that same
generosity?
Dunno.  😉  But I think I’m trying. 

community · family · forgiveness · love · maturity · recovery · San Francisco · willingness

Three’s Company

Best Laid Plans are luckily not always the best plans.
Overambitious as visits with family usually are, my brother Ben and I did not
get to see all of San Francisco in an hour and a half. He did say the sweetest
thing, as we swept back into the car off of Pier 39 on our way to Lombard
Street – that he came here to see me, not San Francisco.
My brother is 3 years younger than me, lives in New Jersey,
and is a highlight of my life. It was not always rainbows and puppy dogs between
us, but the last few years have seen a dramatic, but incremental shift toward
mutuality, trust, and love. It’s been one of the greatest gifts that I’ve
gotten, this renewal of our relationship on a basis of support and respect and
admiration – to get to know each other as adults, or as adult as we are, rather
than as two kids fighting each other for the crumbs of whatever there was
available.
So, he and I got to briefly traipse around those tourist
spots, and then had to get to SFO to pick up our mom. Another relationship which
has formed and reformed many, many times. It’s in an iteration that neither of
us know, and so we’re sometimes formal, hoping not to cross boundaries or
offend, and we’re sometimes deep, treading carefully for the same reasons as
above. Mostly, we’re funny. Mostly, the three of us together is like an old
left-off conversation, dotted with movie references, and cackles of laughter –
though my brother chortles rather than cackles.
An old boyfriend of mine got to meet her once when she came
to visit me in San Francisco about 4 years ago. He said that we laugh the same.
I’m sure we’re many things the same – sometimes I catch the strangest sights of
myself, and am struck at how much that’s a “mom” move – reaching for a kitchen
cabinet, I see the hollow of my thin, graceful wrist, and it’s hers that I see
and remember. Sometimes it’s the way I click my fingers together when I’m
nervous or anxious. And sometimes, it’s strange things that I’ve picked up from
her, like when I was in college, cutting up chicken breasts in the kitchen, and
I started clucking at the chicken – and didn’t even notice it until my roommate
came it and laughed – this, is a mom move.
Irreverent, sensitive as all get out, brilliant, worried,
with a kind creamy center like the inside of a cadburry egg that you cradle so
you don’t crush it. That’s my mom, and also my brother and me. We each have
varying degrees of it, but we are apples not fallen far from the tree. And
however embarrassing it was growing up without cable or Nintendo, so that we
watched Fred & Ginger movies, and all the movie musicals, and The Marx
Brothers, so that no one our ages would get our references, we’re older now,
and people still may not get our references, but I can appreciate that we have
them at all.
A friend of mine told me maybe a year or more ago, how
distancing she felt that her father could really only communicate in quotes
from movies – that it wasn’t personal enough or intimate enough. I shared with
her my and my brother’s experience, and said, for me, now, it’s actually one of
the ways we do share intimacy – sharing
something, a witticism, with each other that we know the other will get, and so
we bond and revel in our commonalities.
My cell phone broke recently. In it were saved text messages
over the course of several years. I’m a hoarder of texts. One of the last that
I know I have saved in there is from my brother a few weeks ago: “Of course
your president is an actor – he has to look good on television.”
For those uninitiated, this is a Back to the Future quote, just one in the long continuous conversation
that my brother, and mom, and I get to share with each other across time and
space.
We cannot be present in person with each other often. And
when we are, we’re all still learning how to relate in a way that is open
without overreaching, and fun without being superficial, among many more
balancing acts that all relationships aim to master, but likely never fully
achieve. We figured out that the last time the three of us were together was
about 3 or 4 years ago.
Last night, at dinner, which didn’t go “as planned,” as my
dad and his fiancé were stuck in the city and didn’t make it to the ceremony at
school, it went perfectly. It wasn’t as I’d planned, it was better. And the
three of us delighted in the bright, animated, multi-faceted, infinitely
tangential company of one another.
For all that has come before, for all that it took to get us
to that dinner table, for all that will continue to need to happen to help us
show up to tables like that with one another, I have a family whom I love, and
who love me dearly.
TODAY’S GRADUATION DAY! So, as Abe Lincoln said,
Be excellent to each other, and… PARTY ON DUDES!!!