I nap in my comfy chair in the early morning while the Kinglet gets ready for school. He's mostly self-sufficient now; I just have to set an alarm to remind myself to remind him to Do All the Things (brush your teeth/hair, put on deodorant, open the front door, be ready for your ride). Then I call the Empress down, make her breakfast, pack her lunch, etc etc, and get her ready for the bus (which now stops direct at our door, thanks to my disabled self-advocacy!) Once I see her off I can usually slip back into my chair for another coupla hours--a priviledge I gladly indulge in, given my current state of ill health. Those late morning naps can be so freaking sweet.
But the Empress has been home 3 out of 5 days this week (tummy problems sandwiched between MLK Day and school inservice).
In my chair this morning, waiting for the alarm, I found myself wondering what Mom did when I was sick, or had off from school. Did it screw up her week? How did she handle it? One of those things I can't ask her about now, and have to piece together for myself. I hate that.
When I was very little, Mom worked as a waitress. Nights and weekends at a place called The Royal Exchange, up the hill from our house, in Pike Creek. Now it's a Ruby Tuesdays. I have exactly two memories of this part of her life:
1) I remember crying, broken-hearted on the stairs as she was preparing to leave for work one evening. I must have been about 3 or 4. It was a hard time for me I guess, losing that constant access to her.
She was so beautiful, then. Like, truly, glamour magazine pretty.
It must have been hard for my father, too, because I remember he was jealous a lot. I can just imagine--Mom being out late, terminally pretty, serving drunk dudes, while Dad was home alone with three kids. There were a lot of fights at that time. But I digress.
2) I remember one of her co-workers feeding me fruit from the cocktail bar. Maraschino cherries and oranges. First time I ever tried an orange (that i'm aware of).
Then at some point, Mom gave up waitressing to start her cleaning business. Another thing I can't remember, how she got the idea. Someone she knew was doing it, I guess. Anyway. I was still quite young.
3) I remember she took me with her once because I was sick, and she couldn't find a sitter. Her client was home at the time--probably the lady who had Fibromialgia before it was quite as common. I was watching TV or coloring while Mom cleaned. The lady said she liked my nightgown, that it was her favorite color. "Pink?" I asked. "Yes, salmon pink." My first introduction to nuances of color.
[So I guess she used sitters. Who? Mrs. Markovchik? Mary Ellen Welby up the street? Sweet sweet lady. I used to stop and talk to her on the way home from middle school. She remembered my favorite candy bar was Three Musketeers. Her daughter, Michelle, died young of an aneuyrism. Can you image that, having your one and only child die before you? That's always haunted me. But anyway. The boy I liked in Kindergarten and 1st Grade, Robbie Boyle, also lived in our neighborhood, in the yellow house--his mom watched me now and then too.]
But one of the reasons she stuck with her cleaning business was the flexibility. She could move jobs around, come at different times or on different days, or not work at all if I was home from school or whatever. So that's probably how she managed it.
But Also, I know I was left on my own much earlier than I can imagine leaving my kids. We've only just started allowing the Kinglet to stay in the house by himself at 13. I was a latchkey kid at least as early as 4th grade, if not earlier. A whole day at home--or even half a day, a few hours, while Mom did a house--is not inconceivable. Possibly with one or both of my brothers in charge, since if it was a school closing, chances are they were home as well. [At least once they transferred to the public school. Note to self: find out when Shawn started at Christiana.]
Anyway. I started my day with my head full of these things. Seemed like something I wanted to write down.
During my convalescence this winter, I decided to reclaim the basement. Ever since the great flood of '11 it's only been used for storage, on account of our fears of mold and dust vis-a-vis my allergies and poor health. At one point The God-King made an effort to make it more habitable by painting the cement in Kills (Killz?), but he didn't make it past the vestibule at the base of the stairs--an area I annexed for The Empress' art supplies--but for the most part we just go down to get food from the deep freezer.
At some point, though, I flipped a switch. When my parents lived here, the basement was an important part of the functional living space. It's a good, big, and--most importantly--a quiet space, ideal for me to sneak off and work (whatever that means) whether or not other (i.e. smaller) people are afoot in the house.
It's also a space that has long-held good energy for me--happy home feels from the days when it was our original family room, with the huge old turn-dial TV that had just thirteen channels (one of which was static). This is the space where, in my very oldest memories, I watched Davy Crockett on comfy sofas with my big brothers. And then later, different kinds of happy from when it was my bedroom as a teenager: just coming into myself, shucking off the trauma of childhood to discover I was a young woman with certain merits. This is the space where I wrote my first poetry; where I aced my way through high school; where I had my first encounters with desire.
After everything I've been through this year, medically, I decided, fuck it. At least I know now it's not the allergens giving me these headaches. I can't imagine my condition can be made any worse from spending time down there, especially if I pop a Loratadine in the morning, and make an effort to get some fresh air in equal measures. And so, from the moment the post-op restrictions were lifted, I've been clearing space down here, reclaiming land from the wild west of insect life and gigantic dust bunnies. I started with my old writing desk--the behemoth we brought with us from the townhouse when the Kinglet was barely two, which Tom said he would never move again except with an axe. Well, says I, until that day, there's still plenty of life left if the old girl--lots of drawers to fill, and lots of clear space to write upon, should the urge to do so strike me (as it has with this post).
There's still a lot of work to do be done (I can't understate the dirt & dust bunnies), but I'm truly enjoying myself in the interim. I strung Christmas lights over the exposed wood beams and box piles--something I wish I'd thought to do back when I slept here. Just that one thing had a dramatic effect on the ambient energy--now it's a place I want to be, a place that lifts my spirits as soon as enter it. The idea is, as I get more and more organized, it'll get cleaner, more--you know, finished--and more personalized.
I set up the glider, facing the desk, so I can work on my cardio while the weather is still so cold. I'm up to 10 minutes a day, about 3 times a week--not much, but the momentum is building. And I set up workspaces for my resale projects, with the hope of clearing out the big stuff locally and getting my online stores up and running again. I even managed to make some bank this month. Not being able to contribute to the family finances is such an insult to my sense of self; but being able to repurpose this space as an office/studio, and that leading to actual financial benefit, goes a long way to restoring my sense of usefulness and involvement in life.
The neatest thing, though, is that I can feel myself healing through being here. As if it's helping me through this current transition, just as it helped me recover from my childhood and evolve into something even better in my adolescence. An underground burrow wherein to hibernate. My own personal cacoon.
For anyone needing to emerge from a painful past; I highly recommend getting yourself a basement to rest in. Metaphorically or otherwise.
I wanted to save this FB post from certain loss in obscurity.
With thanks to This Guy: my mood today if it were a song.
I remember sitting outside the BrewHaha cafe on days like this--rainy and cold--on the roof, looking down on Newark in between classes, all the naked trees and scuttling people, smoking my cloves, fuming about one boy or the other.
To think I might have lived so long, to not feel the need to fret over any boy, not even my own, but to pang over a woman--the only woman, really. Who I'll never see again.
My mother died, and she did it on purpose. She did it when I was sicker than I've ever been. She did it when I was too sick and too far away to be with her.
My mother died, and left me with this big, gaping hole. This chasm of unresolved mother-daughter shit and guilt and grief. My first and oldest wound.
My mother died, and she left me, and I am so very not okay.
I am so not okay.
I am so, so sad, and the only way I'm ever going to get closure is to give it to myself.
That said, it is rough sharing space with children when you're sick. It is hard to be the best possible parent.
Realizing of course that fate and chance and Karma are quirky, and what I learned in two weeks might completely change the narrative again.
Still, I am hopeful.
Some strains are better than others, but the dispensary is spotty in what it has available at any given moment.
Timing has a lot to do with it, too. I don't love being stoned around other people, although there's something great about that, too. It's the energy--my awareness of other people's psychic shit has been muffled for a long time--fucking YEARS, so it's a lot to take, especially given how tired and weak I am, otherwise.
But I'm handling it. Like, I think I finally found the MUTE switch for anxiety (as in, to let it continue running in the background, but not so that it's drowning everything else out). Just as I did for other emotion demons in their time--Depression. Rage. And so on. So I'm OKAY... still wish I didn't have the distraction, though.
But maybe the distraction of anxiety has it's upside. A sort of blinking yellow CAUTION sign keeping me from wandering off the past--er, path (Freudian slip there?)--as one is wont to do under the shephardry of Mary Jane... I mean, a little anxiety prevents some disasters... despite what social media will tell you, there are far Worse Things To Be than a nervous parent.
But, like. It's not ideal EITHER.
Just saying. ;)
Physical bullshit aside, I feel like I'm going through another adolescence.
To wit: I'm enjoying my newfound independence and selfishness (in the hours my children are at school and therefore someone else's responsibility). I'm disenchanted with authority, my eyes opened to the hypocracy, lies, and ineptitude of all the institutions I used to have faith in (government, medicine, education, parents...). I'm pissed off all the time at the unfair hand I have been dealt in life, which is honestly fucked up--but also owning the fact that in some ways I've been spectacularly blessed.
Indeed, I'm embracing the fact that I am, as a whole, awesome. I don't give a fuck what the mean girls think of me, or anyone else. I am rocking my own style, my own agenda. I got this.
So that's fun.
I just wish I had teenage me's energy to go with the attitude.
I am so desperately weak and tired these days. That girl, she had a supernova of hormones to break her out of the chrysalis of her past and motor toward an uncertain future.
All I need is a spark, and a slow burn.
I can handle the rest.
Once upon a time I had this friend. We were very close. My kid called her "Auntie". She made my husband and I godparents to hers. Given the problems I have with my own family, it was a really big deal for me to cross that line from friend to family with someone I'm not actually related to. It was nice.
This friendship went on for many years, until it abruptly stopped. I wasn't consulted with its stopping. I was aware that it was failing, sure. I did what I could to fix it, kept trying to make plans, create an opportunity to talk, but she kept begging off. I was heavily pregnant with my daughter, and really could have used my best friend. But she was pulling away, for reasons she didn't feel a need to explain. She met my daughter once, but only by accident. When I didn't hear from her in the months after giving birth, I accepted that the friendship was dead.
I think the thing that upset me most was that I didn't even warrant a conversation. I had my suspicions about the reasons: I offered a critique of her latest novel that she didn't ask for. She found a new writer bestie who enjoys the same guerrilla tactics of self-marketing, an approach I'm not into. She made overtures, without asking me, to bring her bestie into a project that had been a collaboration between the two of us--I refused. I think our differences outpaced what we had in common and we grew apart. It happens. I just don't understand how someone could think enough of me to ask me to stand up in a church and make a promise to God over her firstborn's curly head, but then scuttle away and ghost me with no explanation, no "fuck you" and goodbye.
As a Gemini I don't typically handle lack of closure very well. I did pretty good--we even accidentally did a writing event together, and we were civil AF. But apparently it was there, a little thorn in the paw. Years later, the story of our godson's Christening came up--how the Kinglet, in Tom's arms, made the promises right along with us so that, technically, he's a godparent too. I had a beer or two in me, which got my Irish fired up, so I messaged her about it: I took that promise seriously, and it hurts me that I can't keep it. Let me know if you ever want to talk.
The fact that she did not respond was closure in its own right. Those are her choices: to slink away on account of whatever perceived slight, to shrug off family and friendship and religion with no further comment needed, to ignore a pointed request for armistice. I think it shows a fundamental lack of character; it's frustrating and hurtful, but it's no fault of mine. I tried.
Mostly, now, when I think about her I just snicker. Without the blur of friendship, her flaws are bright and bold and comical. Someone I used to know.
But I thought about her the other day while going through bins in my basement, hoping to downsize. I still had copies of all her early books. I pitched most of them into the donations pile, but thought twice about the one she gave me right before the Kinglet was born. It was inscribed with love for him, with bright hope for his future, from Ti-ti. Should I keep it, for his sake? I put it aside.
Then, in the way of these things: a mutual writer friend referenced her this morning on Facebook, with links to an upcoming event that I couldn't see because, apparently, at some point she blocked me. Blocked me. Because of the message, I suppose.
Which solves my dillemma--no I'm not saving the book for Kinglet. The bitch deserves to be forgotten.
I think I'm good to go for Sunday's panel (which means, of course, it is now free to snow that day and get us cancelled)--but damn. The prep takes so much out of me. It ain't good, methinks.
I need time to recoup my strength.