Wednesday, March 28, 2012

An Evening with Mr. Springsteen

 On January 24th my sister sent me this text: Philly...March 28,29!@!!!!!!!!@! On Saturday January 28th at 8:44 AM she sent me this text: Im setting up the puter...made sure temp files are deleted printer ready...on site but in a cue already.

There was no need for explanation. Springsteen was coming to town. My sister, a die-hard fan, was gearing up for the online battle to grab a pack of four coveted tickets.

For the past 27 years or so, my sister and nieces and I have faithfully found a way to see the Boss every time he comes to Philly. While my sister sat at her computer waiting, biting her lip, fidgeting for her turn in line to nab the tickets, she would send me periodic texts. One being this: I can measure my life by his concerts.

There is a lot of truth to that.  I thought back to the first time we saw the Boss; We, still young, our nieces, even younger and all of us, so excited. My mom was going to watch my toddler at the time and we were pretty much ready to walk out the door when my mom tripped and fell.  She had an enormous bruise on her side and was pretty upset. My sister and I later confessed that the second thought that popped into our minds after "Is she ok?"was  "Will we still be able to go?"

Many years later with kids grown, and my sister newly widowed, the four of us stood at a new venue in Philly. We quietly surrounded my sister, a subtle hand squeeze here and there, as Bruce sang Working on a Dream, a song that she always associates with her late husband.

For me, Springsteen's lyrics have energized me when down, let me know I am still cool no matter how old I get, and surely can take my worries away as I roll down the windows and let the wind blow back my hair.  My favorite CD, The Rising, has carried me over more than a few rough spots.  The Nothing Man, lets me know that no matter what, the sky is still the same unbelievable blue. And City of Ruins, affirmed that with these hands and a lot of faith, I can do just about anything.

So tonight, with vintage tee shirts washed and free of dust and the smell of cedar, my sister and nieces and I will punctuate the syllables of Badlands with our fists in the air. We'll reclaim our youth for a few short hours and celebrate life in all of its mystery - with the Boss.  Sounds like a plan, right?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Perfectly Said

"She had dropped her head into her hands -the left one held her relief the right one her despair..."
Monique Truong from Bitter in the Mouth

image from my personal collection of antique wedding cabinet photos

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Bird Calls


 little birds
are calling
in the dark
they with
pea brains
beady eyes
and rough
wrinkled feet.
this is it!
they urge,
tilting soft
heads up
to gulp 
hear them
full- throttle?
do not sleep

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

If Not for You

Today was a day when I was surely in my element. It was a day of popsicles  dripping down bare chubby legs and sticky grape flavored hands in a hug around my neck. It was a day of three generations sharing pizza and topping it off with Shamrock shakes. I haven't been to McDonalds in years. Going through the drive -thru and then sitting three in a row in the back seat, one of us in a car seat, parked by a tree in the lot, making a mess - was just what I needed today. 

The warm weather continued to bring promise and hope and bubble chasing around the courtyard with the grandbaby. It is amazing how much fun 98 cents will buy.

The wee one and I even saw a squirrel dragging a flattened cardboard box that it stole from the recycling dumpster. The squirrel tried to tug it up a tree. It was a losing battle so it tore pieces off and took these up to what I am guessing was a nest. I felt a kinship with this creature, tending to something so important. Looking after the kiddles is what I do best.  If this is what I was put here for, then so be it. It was my grandest effort, this parenting, this grandparenting. It has brought me joy, immeasurable and I have never accomplished anything finer. 

Uncertainty still sits on my shoulders, but who can worry about financial issues and pending problems when there is a sandy-haired baby running after bubbles, giggling with each pop? I'll carry with me forever the look she gave me as she turned for more. It was adoration, without contemplation, it was joy at its purest and I was the most clever person in the world. And all I had to do was float bubbles in the air for her; only for her. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Who Do You Shout at Now?

Once in awhile someone will ask if we still talk, " Oh no", I tell them and they shake their heads in disbelief. But in truth, I do still, from time to time, talk to you from afar. I look at the Gumbygirl and ask you if you can comprehend what you are missing. That the similarities between the little one and her mother would be enough to break your heart, if you knew. But then I wonder, not it a flippant or sarcastic way, if you still have a heart to break.

I watched the oldest going off to work today, ponytail, swinging just so. She looked so much like her third grade self, only twenty years later and today, instead of backpack, she carried her lunch and nursing shoes and a secret new life, growing inside her. This is something I would have told you when I handed you your dinner, I would have said," Hon, you should have seen her today, so mature, so beautiful as she walked away. But you know what? I could still see exactly her eight year old self too." And you might not have looked up from your over-buttered potato; you probably would not have. You would not have taken your eyes off TV, that I know for certain. Such a cliche our lives were.

The days are closing in when the youngest and I will have no place of our own. I will not have a nest for the others and their families to visit. I know how happy that will make you, because it is after all, all I have, their visits to my hearth, their fingerprints on my heart. But the fingerprints are mine to keep.

I finally found a place willing to give me a job. Take a chance on an oldie out of the workforce for too long. Couple the bad economy with no experience and add my liver spots and gray hair apparent, and it isn't a surprise that I have to be grateful to have even this. You would mock it. Shake your head in disgust and say, "That's God damn ridiculous. A sixteen year old can make more than that at McDonalds." I imagine myself now, the new me, snapping back. " Do you think I would choose to make so little?"

 I am not very good with math, this we both know, but I do know enough to understand that something is better than nothing. At this place, I am paid in praise, it is really true that the amount I earn could not keep a bird alive. That's my moms expression, do you remember? Of course you do not. There isn't room in your new life for clutter like that. 

But this job gives me a place to go, where someone expects me to show up and counts on me to fax and file, fax and file. I might learn something here, in ways I can't predict. And I will tell you a secret, how I get happily through the monotony of each day.  I tell myself, "with each file you move a fraction of an inch away from him, and that much closer to the life you were meant to have." And it helps some, it really does.  

If an old acquaintance asks if we talk, I say no, not at all, and they might shake their heads at 34 years, all meaningless. I just press my lips together in acceptance.  I don't tell them that from time to time I still talk to the space you left, or that the time between conversations grows steadily, blessedly, ever longer.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Craving Reflection

With a new job, never ending post- divorce issues, my daughter's wedding on the horizon, a few computer classes throughout the week, daily happenings with my family and babysitting my grandbaby girl, there has not been a minute to spare.  I am not used to this, this being busy all the time, this notion of walking around in a body but not reflecting on how this being is doing or what it wants or what it dreams of.  This feeling of disconnect...

Feeling especially worn out the other night, I literally dropped into bed and heard a small faraway thought, " I miss me." Really truly. I am not making this up. I was startled by this thought,  because it was not generated by any conscious  thoughts, preceding it. It just sprang up, right there on its own. An oddity for a number of reasons. One, being that I am pretty much usually in control of my thoughts and can lay claim to at least being involved in the process of  their origin and two, I have never thought that much of myself or my own company to have ever felt this way, let alone articulate it from the deep tired recesses of my weary, wrinkled brain. 

So either I am loosing it, or making progress.  I am guessing it is ok to miss your own good company, isn't it? It's all new to me, either way.