I forgot where I put my brain.
I search for it, beneath the pile of picture frames I have yet to hang. It's not here or behind the couch cushions or the pile of laundry that seems to breed like rabbits on holiday. I walk outside and look beneath the black bench and under the sunrise and the mustard flowers that Anthony likes to pick and smell. It's not in the trunk of my car or in my teacup collections or in the closet I'm afraid to go into.
"What I are you doing?" he asks. He's just home from work and wearing blue shirt and a black tie. I'll never get sick of seeing him dressed up like this.
"Looking," I say. I'm always looking for something.
"I can't remember."
He smiles and kisses me on the forehead. He catches my hand in his and squeezes it. In that instant, I am found.
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Monday, May 20, 2013
My life began with a funeral. They say that with each birth there is a death, the sick circle of life that wraps around your neck like the umbilical cord that sent my mother and I into the room of white lights and plastics hands. They set my free, uncoiling me and laying me squalling in a cold and sterile world. My mother, ripped at the seams, was also set free. As her blood pooled red around the table, her soul fled from her body like a captive bird.
He never forgave me, not really. He would never say it but I saw the shadow of disappointment in his eyes, that I was the one that lived. I shaped my life to please him. I read all the books on his nightstand and made him his morning coffee and learned the guitar so that I could strum his favorite song in the soft light of dusk. But he would just half smile and recline himself in the leather chair my mother gave him for the father's day before I was born. It was tattered , stitches coming undone and stuffing puffing out. I spent a summer day sewing it up and tucking it together hoping that he could come and say the words that I longed to hear.
He came through the door like a quiet wind and never said a word. He sat on the couch that night and the next day the chair was gone, tucked away in the corner of his room like a secret. I think that was when I stopped trying and when the time came to pack up my mother's pearls and the quilt my grandmother made and move into a life of my own I didn't look back.
Sitting on the front porch of the house where I grew I look at the weeds and the wilds my father hasn't bothered to cut away. He has let them grow without touching or making a change. He came to my law school graduation and didn't say a word as I crossed the stage. He didn't even tell me he was coming, but I saw him among the field of faces, clean shaven and eyes brimming with the words he'll never say. Sitting on the front porch of this house I think about a different life and the way it could have led, fresh pies on the windowsills and honey suckle dreams. From the window I can see him rocking back and forth on the chair that my fingers remade. He smiles at me and stands, meeting me half way.
"I'm proud of you," he says his voice caught in tears like a lamb in brambles.
I touch his arm and say nothing. We were never meant for words.
You want to go back to where you felt safe
To hear your brother's laughter, see your mother's face
Your childhood home is just powder white bone
And you'll never find your way back
It puts me right back there, right back to the place I was when I heard it those five or so years ago. This song was written for me, I know it. In the wake of the 2007 fires and the loss of my home and everything I thought I held dear I trapped myself up in sad songs, sad songs that understood me. I listened to this one over and over.
I wonder if they know
That I don't get the jokes
That I don't get the jokes
But I just need to laugh
So don't take my photograph
Cuz I don't want to know
how it looks to feel like this
The emotion of despair runs deep. It's something that so many other have felt and connected with. For me, it was a wallowing tool, an excuse to feel something about my life that I wanted to box up and put on the top shelf of a house that was no longer there. Even now, hearing them brings me back, but the songs don't change me the way they did before.
It wasn't long after I forgave God and myself that I heard this song, and realized that all that time, all I had to do was to turn back. All I had to do was turn around, and He was there, waiting for me, arms open, love unbound.
Music is the universal language. It tears us apart. It brings us together. It transports us to our savior, if we let it.
What is music doing in your life?
1 : of, relating to, or being a pedant(see pedant)
2 : narrowly, stodgily, and often ostentatiously learned
If Mabel Marlbury had kept her mouth shut, none of this would have happened. As it were, she stood in the middle of the alley way lifting her her phone toward the soupy sky and cursed Heather. It was supposed to be a girl's night. As she avoided the puddle of indeterminable nature, she wished there were girls involved. And vodka, lots and lots of vodka.
She'd thought the whole thing was a trifle pedantic when Heather had suggested it.
"Fine," Heather said. "You're in for a surprise."
Fat pustules of rain popped all over Mabel's mini dress. She groaned. She had banished the phrase "It could be worse" from her brain, but apparently someone somewhere else had dared it into fruition. Shielding herself as best she could with her clutch, she made her way to the slim awning of the nearby building and cursed the day she met Heather.
Like an answered prayer, her cell phone rang to life.
"Heather," Mabel said, relieved.
"Hey. I've got the flu or something. I'm staying in."
Mabel did not, could not respond. She just hung up the phone and slipped off her stilettos. She braved the rain, forgetting about Monday morning coffee stains and Thursday evening yoga poses. She forgot about the puddles of broken glass and half smoked cigarettes. The rain slid off her skin like an exquisite oil. And Mabel just was.
Mabel met my brain at some point in college, and she never quite left. I'm happy to be reviving her once again, even for just a minute long downpour. I've been the worst at writing, at reading, at blogging. Gotta get back to my groove!
Monday, May 13, 2013
She folded up the last of her mother’s shirts and put it in the cardboard box marked Charity. It was exactly the way she had wanted it, the box written in her own handwriting. It was strange and sad to Cecelia, seeing her mother’s words and instructions written so carefully on the box lids and on post-it notes.
Give this to your cousin Jason, he needs it.
The pink square rested on one of her mother’s bibles. Cecelia couldn’t help but smile. No doubt, Jason would appreciate his aunt’s humor even beyond the grave.
As she stripped the house to its bones, she dwelt on the fact that she was an orphan now. Her father had passed away three years prior, a heart attack, sudden and shocking. That was a hard year. The realization that her parents were no longer young was a blow that Cecelia wouldn’t have time to recover from. Cecelia’s mother had received the news of her cancer, terminal, only a few weeks before. They had clutched hands as they remembered him in the front rows of the pews, as friends and strangers told the wonderful things about him. It wouldn’t be the last time. When her mom went through her first and third and fifth round of chemo, Cecelia was there. Her mom retched and moaned and slept and Cecelia never left her side, turning her mother’s aging hands in her own.
It was strange to see them so worn, wrinkled and spotted with age. She never quite expected it, for her parents to age so fast. It felt too soon, it felt so soon. She breathed in the still air of the bedroom. The upstairs was packed away. She took the boxes down the stairs, a descent back to reality. There were a few more things to send away. The bookshelf her grandfather made would go to her uncle. The china would go to her daughter, newly married and starting fresh.
Her eyes caught the note on the piano. She tried to keep herself from crying again, but as she ran her fingers over the well oiled wood, she peeled the note from its top, she couldn’t help but dissolve once more.
For my daughter, my baby. Thank you, for all of it. I love you.
She remembered the curl of her mother’s laughter. Of those hands, slow, moving over the piano keys, telling a song the way she would tell a story. Of the rise and fall of the music, filling the now empty house and the silence of now. The silence that told a new story, of loss and memories and of pink slips of paper spreading over a room like the last notes on a page.