Wednesday, August 31, 2011


I am resurrecting you
Through pictures and your old t-shirts
Saved in cardboard boxes, they somehow still smell like you.
I realized today I was starting to forget.
Little things
That's how it always starts. 
You lose the exact color of someones eyes
Or the shape of their smile.
And before you know it,
Like sand they've slipped between your fingers
One small memory, one simple detail at a time.
Then you're left with things that don't really add up to a person,
Things that in the end do not equal a life
The smell of the ocean, the tune to a song, the taste of coconut on someone else's lips.
Road maps and flight plans to the places we went.
Little scraps of paper with poems and notes I never finished.
I'm scared of forgetting everything.

An old poem from my journal, circa 2006

I remember standing in your kitchen
In knee socks and new bra bravado
With modern messy hair and instant coffee
Watching you read the paper and smoke pot from a bright blue pipe
Curved in the shape of a woman
You'd scan the sports section dutifully as her round hips gathered smoke
And you frowned at the politics page as you pulled the gray clouds down her legs
Filling your lungs
You looked up at me and smiled.
I felt like a member of some private club
The world we shared 
Mine and yours
I confused routine for commitment
And comfort for destiny
The stale safety of our world
The private isolation we created
How easily I confused the two for love.
When the walls came down and you drifted
Violently away
I made altars to our old apartment
I stayed inside the boxes and buried myself in packing styrofoam
Refusing to come out
Until that old feeling of home returned
When it didnt I became quietly resigned to your pictures
I made a home for you in glass frames
So I could hang you on my walls

And remember every word you said. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


In the midst of all the madness
The thing to never lose sight of is love.
Because if you take care of it,
It's the only thing that will never leave.

Discover Me

I need to shake this heavy, stagnant cloak of apathy
And feel a wild fire ignite in my ribcage.
I want to run 1000 miles and sing 1000 songs from the top of my lungs
Until my whole body burns with the fire 1000 suns.
I want an adventure.
I want to feel my pulse beat blood behind my ears, and feel the tinge of fear as we step off into the unknown.
I want to be discovered, moved, stretched and bruised.
I want the heat and the sweat and pain of love stretching it's wings inside my veins
Tearing the fragile layers of me to make room for itself
To make me new.
I want to be carried away to someplace dark and quiet
Where you will sweep the hair away from my face and breath promises into the well of my ear
With heavy breath and urgent lips
Kissing me until I dissolve
A spark
A star
A glimmer of a stone beneath the sea
Compressed and shaped by this wild love
Into something much more free than all this waiting
All this wondering
All this longing and hopeless dreaming
Days ticking by in hour long minutes as I wait sleepily 
For something to happen.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Hunt

I have wolves beneath my skin.
Can you hear them?
Their hollow howls and desperate cries
The heat and the hunger,
Just beneath my skin as thin as paper.
They will eat me alive,
Sooner than later my love.
They will find their way to the outside
Or they will set fire to this empty church from within.
I need your heavy hands and steady gaze to hold me still.
To lay me out beneath the summer moon and quiet the stir.
Call the beasts all home and sing them to sleep.
Rock us in the sea of your unwavering love.
Create a harbor between two arms and make me still.
There are wolves beneath my skin, my darling.
And as each hungry moment without you passes
They show their teeth, hunch their backs
And move in for the kill.

Simple Twist of Fate

From the hotel balcony at midnight, all of San Diego glittered.
The harbor in the distance to her left, with boats bobbing gently, their sails all blue and white
And the rolling hills and cliffside houses to her right overlooking the beach
Everything sparkled
The air was laced softly with salt and the smell before rain
As the breeze lifted the hair off her neck.
She stood there in a t-shirt that wasn't hers
While he slept heavily inside the room.
Behind the sliding glass she could hear him breathing
The sheets rustling as he turned over once, then twice.
The stars all hung over her like dangling charms
And she wondered how things got this way.
How she got to this place, with this boy,
from all the places and boys she'd been before. 
Sometimes it's hard to believe there's any kind of plan
That everything isn't just a game of chance.
You made a left when you could have made a right, and your road veers off to some previously unimaginable destination.
And no matter how wonderful the place you end up is, 
You always leave someone behind.
When the road twists and bends and your fate rolls this way instead of that,
You always lose someone, or something that at some point 
You had hoped to hold onto

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Phone Call

"You don't have to keep reminding me about it." he said, his voice coming through the receiver in hisses and pops like an old vinyl album.
And I heard a note of malice that couldn't be blamed on the poor reception, 
as I crouched in the corner of the yard straining to hear.
Pulling up clovers by their fragile stems and beheading them, without stopping to look first if they were the lucky ones or not. 
The whole night seemed to bend with the terrible sadness of this conversation.
The horrible injustice of love stepping lightly from the door, in a room where I never knew love existed in the first place. 
How awful it was to find out too late. 
After I had already said goodbye, and left feeling right.
Feeling like I had given everything I could, and was never met halfway.
How cruel to find out later that love was there all along.
Lurking in the shadows and under the bed
In the quiet moments where no one spoke
In all the words we never said.
How terrible to leave, and find out all too late that you were just as much to blame.
Maybe not for holding back,
But for not seeing what the person you claimed to love
Was silently screaming.
I want to say I'm sorry, but that's such a stupid thing to say.
How do you apologize for blindness? For deafness? For a hollow victory in the face of a mute opponent? 
Instead I say nothing as I pull up more clovers and feel embarrassed by the stars all watching me, 
As he sighs and hangs up the phone
A deafening silence, following an inaudible click.
Our last conversation is over.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Long Drives

I would like to take a very long drive with you
Winding down a dirt road with trees on both sides
Punctuated by clearings, and fields full of grass
With the windows down. 
We can smell the summer night, and my hair can dance on the rushing wind
You could put one hand on my leg
We could sing along to the radio
Or hum together in the silence.
We could park in a clearing
Spread a blanket on the hood
And while we watch the stars you could listen to the butterflies that live in my stomach
You could sooth the wolves that pace beneath my skin.
We could lay there in the heat and the dark
With everything that's left to do, all the places left to go, and all the words we've yet to speak
Stretched out before us
Like a country road.

2:09 a.m.

And that's when it happened
That's when everything fell so perfectly together
As if you could dump a box full of puzzle pieces on the floor, 
And they would land all locked together, making a seamless picture
Of something perfect
Something elegant and soft
A picture of something like coming home
All the mistakes, all the wrong turns, all the wounds and heartaches and stitches and bruises
Winding into one another like a blanket made from your old lover's tshirts
This crystallizing moment
This glimpse of destiny
Punctuated softly and without hesitation
By your lips on mine,
A surrender in a kiss.  

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


This is part of a writing project shared with a fellow blogger. You are assigned a word. Just one word, and you have to write whatever comes to you based on your assigned word. 

My word is Stars. 

I remember night swimming with you
In your apartment complex pool
With beers packed into a bag, and fresh boxes of cigarettes
We'd walk through the thick summer night and make small talk
Until we got to the gate of the pool and I had to jump it
You held your arms out to catch me
My childish giggling rising up into the inky night sky
Evaporating in the humid air
The water was warm as a bath left sitting too long
Rivers of water running soft as silk down my arms from my hair
And your face as pale as the moon.
You exhaled smoke in thick plumes and craned your neck back to stare upwards.
"I hate this city." You'd whisper "You cannot see more than 5 stars at night."
I looked up too and counted the stars we could see easily aloud 
You laughed and said 
"Ok, then you cannot see more than eleven stars at night."
I was determined as always to prove you wrong
Not so I could be right
But so that you might see some beauty in this place
So that you might realize how much you're missing
So that you might want to stay here.
In the end it was me that always left
Walking barefoot to my car, my swimsuit dripping a trail on the ground
Little drops of water shining like Hansel's breadcrumbs in the moonlight
So that you might follow me
So that you might find me
So that you might, just this one time, ask me to stay.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Where I thought I'd be by now

I remember the first thing I consciously thought I wanted to be when I grew up was a butterfly. 
I wanted to be a pretty blue and black one, with delicate wings, and a slight body. 
I wanted to spend my days flying around, smelling flowers and being beautiful. 
I wanted to be the thing that everyone wanted to catch, but no one could.
I think I was 4 or 5 when I dreamed this up. 
When I was in middle school, I decided that I would take a road trip around the country in a VW bus. 
I would go everywhere. 
I would travel Route 66 from start to finish.
I would visit Woodstock, I would go to places with weird names just to say I'd been there.
I would sleep in fields of wildflowers, I would camp on beaches in my van.
I would play guitar and make boys fall in love with me, then leave before ever learned my real name.
I would write in my journal, and save things in jars from all the places I had been.
In high school I recruited my best friend Sarah to join me. We made plans, looked at maps, decided our futures.
We were going to take a year off before going to college, and have our epic trip. We'd get jobs in roadside diners in towns that we could stand to be in for more than a few days, save our tips and leave as soon as we had enough gas money to get someplace else.
I was going to go to University of Iowa and be a creative writing major. It's the best creative writing University in the country, my dad said. 
I was going to name my first daughter something wild, something free, something that stood for the wondering spirit I had, and wanted her to inherit. 
I was never going to get married.

I am 24. 
I still live in Phoenix. 
I don't own a VW Bus, and I never took that roadtrip.
I had a baby when I was 16 and I didn't give her a wild name.
I lost myself when I was 18, and didn't find myself again until I had my son.
We live in a condo.
I do what I can to make sure we get by.
I'm madly in love.
I'm getting married.
I'm taking on a military life with a man I loved when I was 14, and still love today.

I'm not where I thought I would be by now.
My life is nothing like I'd planned.
But I have two children who have changed me and shaped me, and showed me a world that I didn't know existed. 
I've never traveled Route 66 from start to finish, but I've felt a baby grow and move inside me.
I never went to University of Iowa, but I've known the feeling of dying in your lover's arms, and why you have to try it.
I never bought that VW bus, but I know what my children smell like when they're fast asleep, and I know what the world sounds like at 4 a.m.
I've loved, I've lost, I read my children poems before bed. 
I fold laundry, I make meals, I help my daughter with her homework.
I've wiped tears, I've kisses booboos, I've scared monsters out from under beds.
In a few months I'll be a wife. I'll probably have another baby. I'll live on another side of the country. 
I'll make a new plan for my future.

My life is nothing like I'd planned.
It's everything I never knew I always wanted.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

This Boy I Used To Know

You used to call me late at night and say you didn't feel good.
You would come over from across town, you'd smell like beer, you'd look so sad.
You talked crazy then, about how existence was optional, and even death was something your mind could survive.
You kissed me hard.
You made no sense.
When you told me that you loved me, tears welled up in your eyes
And I felt myself sliding toward you like the floor was tipping sideways.

You used to bring me flowers in all different colors and tell the same stories over and over.
You never remembered that you told them before. 
You sat on my porch and smoked too many cigarettes.
You drank a lot.
You used to say if you could tell the world anything, you would tell them to be mindful. 
But you never said of what.
All you wanted to do was fly.
You joined the military on a whim.
You started talking even crazier.
You kept saying you never asked to be born.
When you asked me to wait for you I didn't hesitate
But I knew you weren't coming back for me.

You used to disappear
And stop returning calls. 
Then you'd show up out of nowhere with your slow smile and your sideways glances
Like nothing had happened.
You never told the truth about where you'd been.
You would get angry over nothing
You seemed lost inside your head. 
You'd sit and talk absentmindedly, as if only to yourself
Then turn to me with widened eyes and ask if I was going to leave you
I was 18
You scared me
I loved you
I always said "No."
You'd pull me in and kiss my belly
Lift me up over your head
But you'd be gone again before my fit got back on the ground.

You used to write me letters
Say you loved me
Ask for pictures
You used to write me letters that took up pages, and say you couldn't wait to see me
Even on lined paper with blue ball point pens your darkness showed.
Even in writing you ran hot and cold
I held fast and insisted you loved me
I stuck around and cleaned your wounds
I gave you a key to my apartment
I listened to every word you ever said.
Then one day you just stopped coming
One day you just disappeared.
And I started telling people about this guy I used to know.

For You

What if we stop having a ball?
What if the paint chips from the wall?
What if there's always cups in the sink?
What if I'm not what you think?
What if I never let you win?
And chase you with a rolling pin?
Well, what if I do?
What if I fall further than you?
What if you dream of somebody new?
What if your eyes close before mine?

Cuz I am giving up on making passes
And I am giving up on half empty glasses
And I am giving up on greener grasses
I am giving up
For you.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

What No One Told Me About Motherhood

"I just peed on you. Haha, no big deal, right?"

When you are pregnant, people-and by people I mean crazy people, come out of the wood work like Zombies during the Apocalypse to give you advice on parenting.  Most of what they tell you is complete bullshit. Things like "Oh if you let your baby sleep in a yellow room they'll go insane" or "Immunizations are good for children" Occasionally they drop a little nugget of knowledge that may at some point be actually useful, like "Don't let your kids eat fire." And you're like 'Oh, thank you random crazy fucking stranger, I will definitely keep that in mind" 
But! There are so many things that no one tells you, not even the people you think you can count on for sound parenting advice like your pediatrician, your mother, an older sister who's had children, etc. There are just some secrets to motherhood that are not bestowed upon you until that beautiful little human rips its way out of your baby maker, and forever changes your life.
Things like....

You don't need a crib until the kid is sleeping through the night. Yep. You know that beautiful, cherry wood crib with the super cutsie bumper and blankies and the ability to adjust the mattress to like 9 million heights, that cost you over a thousand dollars? Don't need it. Co-Sleeping makes your life so much easier until your kids starts legitimately sleeping through the night, at which point something much cheaper and toddler friendly is fine, cuz more than likely, your kid is almost 1 if not 1 already.
You will never use the bathroom by yourself again. Apparently once you become a parent you lose even the most basic of human rights, and are instantly reverted to the rights most prisoners in this country can expect on a good day. You get a toilet, but you don't get to use it alone. Ever. And I know, there is some single, childless asshole out there reading this going "Just lock the door, problem solved, duh." Well, first of all, single childless asshole, fuck you. You don't have kids, your life still rules. Second of all, have you ever tried to take a piss with someone sitting outside the door screaming, crying like they're being eaten alive by a velociraptor and banging on the door? No? Well now try shitting while that's going on. Not. Fucking. Pleasant. 
Welcome to Judgment Town, Population: Every Asshole in the World. Judgment is something you can come to expect from just about everyone. Every woman you meet will have an opinion about how you raise your children-STARTING WITH PREGNANCY. Yes, didn't you know, you can be pregnant wrong? You can do it wrong. That's right. And the judgment fest is not limited to women who have children, it is open to pretty much any creature with a vagina who thinks they know something about kids. Guess what? They don't know shit about your kid, and unless you're Britney Spears or Courtney Love, you're probably doing ok, so tell 'em to go suck it.
Someone Will Always Be Touching You, and their hands will never be clean. There will constantly be some body part belonging to a small child touching some part of your body at. all. times. When you sleep, your child will get into your bed and subsequently throw elbows, knees, hands and even their large bulbous heads all over you. All night long. Any time you are eating or drinking anything that is hot, and could potentially scald your child, they not only wish you touch you, but be ALL UP IN YOUR FACE and on your body, and generally in any small space between you and your scalding hot food item, until they burn themselves. Then everyone looks at you like you're the asshole. 
Say Goodbye to the Hours Between 4 and 8 p.m. Otherwise known in any house that contains children as The Witching Hour. These are the hours when your children basically become tiny little demons with sticky hands who demand shit and throw things, and will not for the LOVE OF GOD GET THE FUCK OUT OF THE KITCHEN WHILE YOU'RE COOKING BEFORE THEY KNOCK SOMETHING OVER AND BURN THEMSELVES. You will never want to have a friend stop by after work during these hours. You will not be able to accept phone calls, respond to text messages or have any other contact with the outside world during this time, or your demon children will burn the house down, and eat your fucking soul. Seriously. 
Motherhood is Really Fucking Wet. All. The. Time. And it starts with pregnancy. Your nose is stuffy, but now you drool in your sleep, you sweat like a Russian playing field hockey in Phoenix, you pee constantly, sometimes on yourself or others, and you cry uncontrollably. Plus, there is probably some kind of wet food stain on you, somewhere that you can't see because your belly is massive. When you're in labor, there are so many kinds of wetness that occur, I will not for the sake of all that is good and holy in the world list them. Once you are a new mommy, your boobs leak, you have night sweats, you're still fucking drooling, you're bleeding and crying even harder than you did before. Plus, at some point, this creature will vomit all over you. Probably in public. And it never gets better. I have a 3 year old. I don't know how many times I touch the back of my thigh, or my left eyebrow, only to discover a mashed up, half chewed piece of food from my son, somehow stuck there. And of course, it's wet. I walk across my hardwood floors to find stepped on grapes under my bare feet that my son stomped on during "Jedi Time" or a puddle of something you hope to God is water. The wetness is everywhere. It never goes away. 
Meet Your New Best Friends: Shame and Guilt. They're snobby bitches too who come over to play way too often. Didn't pack your kid a lunch for the field trip cuz you forgot? Meet guilt. Show up 20 minutes late for your parent teacher conference in stained yoga pants with your 3 year old in tow because life just sucks like that sometimes? Meet shame. Have 2-or 6 glasses of wine with dinner because you're ready to furking snap? Meet shame AND guilt. Send the kids to bed without a bath because it's been the longest day ever, you have 8 million more things to do and you're already on the verge of tears? Meet shame again. It never stops. 
The important thing is that you love your kids, like I love my kids. This job is never easy, and sometimes I wonder if I was truly cut out for it. But my kids are my world, even if at the end of the day that means I live in a much more messy, sticky, wet, loud, chaotic, temper tantrumy, wine filled world, fine by me. 

I just wish someone would have warned me. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Anniversary of My Spawning

I turned 24 today. 
My daughter started 2nd grade today. 
I moved to Arizona from California 19 years ago today. 
I had started my own business, quit my job and started on the path to a new life 1 year ago today.
I started at Shadow Mountain High School, where I met Kevin Uhl, Samantha Hansen, Meghan McNeilly and Neil Klemetsrud
10 years ago today. 
I was very pregnant with Tiny, in a little apartment in Northwest Phoenix, turning 16 and dreaming about the future, 8 years ago today. 

It's amazing how things change. 

How time turns everything, and what you were once so sure of, you now think is funny to have ever dreamt about at all. 
Last year at this time I was pining away for Bill Becker, hoping against hope that everything would work out. Now I am wondering why I ever thought that relationship was a good idea. 
At this very moment I am seriously love lusty and starry eyed over a boy in the Navy who might end up breaking my heart. But I can't wait to find out anyway. 

Where will I be by my next birthday?
Who will I love?
Will they love me back?
Will I be somewhere in New Hampshire with my handsome Sailor, living the crazy life of a Navy wife?
Or will I be in Seattle, with Meghan, Samus and Kevin, living out my dream of being...anywhere but here?

It's amazing what changes in a year. And how fast time seems to fly once you hit puberty. Once you know what you want. Once you realize how short life is. Once you start wishing time would slow down, even just a little bit. 

Thank you to the people, friends and family, that made this birthday a special one. Thank you to Bill, for the first birthday cake I've had in 10 years, for the drinks, the chips and conversation. And for honestly saying "I want to always matter to you. Cuz you will always matter to me."
Thank you to the Roomie for teaching my kids to sing happy birthday to me, and for giving me my 2nd birthday cake in 10 years. 
Thank you Samus for my awesome hairbow. 
Thank you Meghan for my balloons, Starbucks and Olive Garden. And for being you.
And thank you to my kids who make every birthday worth having. 

Dear 16 Year Old Me

Dear 16 year old me, 

This is probably the thinnest you will ever be. So stop saying you're fat, and rock the living shit out of that bikini. 

I'm sorry to say that red is not your color. It probably never will be. 

People give you a lot of shit right now for wearing black. For having black hair. For wanting piercings and tattoos. Guess what? Some of them will tell you later that the black hair, lip ring and individual style was your best look. Some of them will never stop giving you shit. But when you're 24, you will wish you would have told them all to fuck off. 

You had a baby young. You are going to make a lot of mistakes. You are going to regret them all. But she's your daughter, you're her mother. No one comes between that. Period. 

A lot of boys are going to say a lot of things to you. Most of them won't be true. This won't be the last time. But don't give up. Love is worth it. 

Don't listen to everything your father says. Listen to the good stuff, ignore the shitty stuff, and remember he's sicker than he even knows, but you're his daughter and he loves you.

Stop tweezing your own eyebrows. You're bad at it. 

Also, stop cutting your own hair. You're bad at that too.

You're a good writer. Keep writing.

You're doing alright. And everything is going to be Ok. 

Trust me.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

My Mother, Pt. 2

By my own admission, I know very little about my mother. What I do know, I am not sure is even true. Some people say there are two sides to every story, but to the story of my mother, there are as many sides as those funny shaped little dice with all the numbers on them. Too many to count, impossible to understand. All I know is what I remember, and what I felt at the time. So this is my mother, from my point of view.
I didn't know my mother was an alcoholic until she left my father. If he had one gift when I was little, it was making her look like the bad guy, and somehow simultaneously hiding all the truths about any real faults she had. I knew my parents went out a lot. I knew they drank a lot. But I didn't know what an alcoholic was, or that she was one, or who was to blame, or why she was always crying. I just knew that the yelling scared me, and when it got to be too much, my brother would let me listen to music with him in his room.
When my mom finally did leave my father, she disappeared for a year (I think) and when she resurfaced, she had an apartment in a shady part of Phoenix called Sunnyslope. It was small, two bedrooms and totally bare. The furniture was all mismatched and I could tell she didn't know what to do there all by herself. I don't remember her ever really cooking, and it seemed like she was never there, but that can't be true. I just remember there was always ice cold Pepsi in the fridge, and she stayed out late a lot. She had scented trash bags too. I guess sometimes in life it's the little things.
She and my dad tried to date each other again, I remember that. How awkward and unnatural that was. They would go out together and come home smashed, loving at first and then suddenly angry. One night my dad got pissed off about something, and there my sisters and I were in our pajamas in the middle of a hot summer night, as he screamed at her, and pushed her, hard. She tumbled back, knocked over a black and white dining room chair, and fell down, her legs flying over her head. I remember I saw her underpants. I was so embarrassed for her. It was the only time I saw her stand up to him. She stood up, clenched her fists, and told him to leave. And even though I didn't know what was happening, or why they were fighting, and I didn't want my dad to go, I was proud of her. All three of us girls looked at my dad, out of breath, sweating and full of rage, waiting to see what he'd do next. But he didn't do anything. He left. It was the last thing any of us expected. My mom stayed up all night cleaning all the appliances. I got out of bed as dawn broke through the slatted blinds and helped her scrub the toaster, but I didn't know why.
That summer went by quickly in a flash of swimming in her apartment pool, waiting for her to come home, watching Beavus and Butthead until the sun came up on MTV with my sisters, and my very first case of serious insomnia. I had my 8th birthday in that apartment. My mom and dad bought me an awesome birthday cake in the shape of a dragon, with red icing and yellow scales. It said "Happy 8th Birthday, Sarah" and they both told me how when they were having it decorated, they both accidentally told the baker it was my 4th birthday, but neither of them knew why.
Then one day, it all ended. Anita and Michele, our middle sister got into a fight about something, and she told her to go. My dad's dad was dying of cancer, and he was living in his sister's house, where his dad was on his death bed. He said we could come stay. I watched Michele pack what little stuff she had into spring rain scented trash bags, and then I did the same. My cousin Brandy came and picked us up, and we left.
I wonder what life was like for her in that little apartment all by herself. I wonder if she missed us, if she wished she could take it all back. I wonder if she cried, if she blamed herself, if she blamed my dad. I wonder who drank all the Pepsi she kept buying, and what would have happened if we'd stayed.
There have been so many moments in my life that I thought at the time were insignificant. Moments that seemed like every other minute of my confusing life, things I didn't realize at the time I would remember forever. Things like the way my mother looked when she came home from work. Or the fact that Brandy had a hair clip wrapped around the emergency brake on her car. Or that my grandfather (who I barely knew at all) like biscuits and gravy for breakfast. Things like the time my mother brought home these weird clear sodas with little floating colored balls in them, and I understand somehow it was her way of saying she cared.
It is this that grips me in the still of the night as I check on my kids before I go to bed to make sure they're still breathing. What will my kids hold onto? What little, stupid, insignificant memory will they take with them when they turn 18, when they get their first apartment, when they fall in love for the first time? What moment in time will be forever frozen in their head, left their to replay every time they're afraid, alone, happy, unsure or heartbroken?
Will it be all the times I tried to do the right thing? Or the times I messed up? When I was shorter than I wanted to be? The moments that I would give the very breath from my lungs to go back, change, replace, undo?
What are my children holding onto, when they lay their sweet heads down at night, and drift off to sleep?

I hope I'm doing the right things.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

My Mother: Pt. 1

To date, this is the only picture I have of my mother and I.
Christmas, 1987

Over the last three years I have put an incalculable amount of time into bettering myself. Not to sound smug or anything, I just used to be kind of a shitbag, and over the last few years I have tried very very hard to become a better person. To become more responsible, less emotional, more calm and centered, less volatile, to be a better mom, to be a better friend, to mend wounded relationships and let poisoned relationships go. It hasn't been easy. To really, truly change it requires a level of self awareness that's just plain fucking uncomfortable sometimes. It requires you to look at yourself right in the eye, and right smack at the worst parts of yourself. I learned a lot. It wasn't all pretty.
One of the things I wanted to understand, was myself as a mother. I wanted to take a hard look at how I had so far handled my precious turn at motherhood, and better understand why I had made the mistakes I had made, and why I was so afraid of everything I was so afraid of. One thing this journey of introspection and soul searching kept bringing me back to was my mom. I feel like that word should be capitalized or in bold, or come with some sound bite of ominous and emotional music to really express what that word does to me inside. Thinking or saying the word "Mom" in regards to my own mother always feels heavier than it should. Maybe that's why for the last 10 years I have referred to her as Anita more often than Mom. It distances her, and everything thinking about her brings back for me.

I don't know very much about my mother, really, and what I do know has been pieced together from bits of information I gathered from my father, my sisters, sometimes my own mother, and the few memories I have of her from my childhood. It's odd to me that she has lived within a 20 minute drive my whole life, and I feel like I don't know the first thing about her.
I know her name is Anita, and she is the oldest of four children. I know her father was abusive in such unspeakable ways that just thinking about what he did to her makes me cringe. I may not like my mother, or have much of a relationship with her, but I would bust that son of a bitch's skull in her honor if I ever got the chance. I know my mother was born in Idaho, and lived in the same small town her entire life. I know she met my father in Alaska, supposedly running away from an abusive pimp in Seattle, because Alaska was one place he was legally barred from going. I don't know why, or if the guy was really her pimp, I don't even know his name. Like I said, I learned about her in bits in pieces from mostly biased sources. I know my mother got pregnant with my older sister before my parents were married, and that was part of the reason, if not the only reason they got married. They had a little ceremony in her home town in Idaho after picking up my half brother from his mom in South Carolina. My mom was 3 or 4 months pregnant, and she isn't smiling in any of her wedding pictures.
If I could write my mother's life for her, she would have been born to someone else. Someone kind and loving who would have protected her, not started killing her the day she turned 5 years old. She would have had a gentle and loving husband, who stroked her pale face at night and extinguished the red flame of her wild hair with his palm against his chest as she fell asleep. He would have told her everything was going to be ok, and she never would have been anybody's mother.
By Anita's own admission, she never really wanted children. At least after she had my two sisters she definitely didn't want more. I was a "surprise" and from the time I was born, to her I was a betrayal. My father was mean to her. They partied too hard, drank too much and fought all the time. To her, it wasn't any better than being back home with her father. When I was born, my father caught me with his bare hands. According to Anita, I preferred him over her forever after that.
Like I said, I don't remember much about her, and it's hard to understand still to this day, how she could have dismissed me at such a young age, because all I can remember from my first memory until I was 18 years old, was wanting her to love me. She was thin, soft and pretty. She had brilliant auburn hair and blue-green eyes, and she always smelled like vanilla, breath mints and the slightest hint of smoke. She had a big smile, and long long legs. She had soft hands, and the few times I remember her touching me, it was always soothing. She was my mother. And all I wanted was to be her daughter.
But bad marriages lead to bad parenting, and neither of my parents had any kind of good example for how to protect and shield their children from their poison. I became biased. I learned to prefer my father because he never refused me. I found more in common with him than with her, and to my mother this was confirmation of what she had always suspected. I would grow up to be just like him. Her abuser, her worst enemy. I was just a kid who wanted someone to notice me.
When I was 6 (I think) my mom finally left. I remember the day so clearly, I can still smell the meatloaf she made. She made bell peppers stuffed with meatloaf, she didn't leave a note. She left while I was napping in my room and my dad was asleep on the couch. She said goodbye to my sisters, hopped the fence and walked away. Did someone pick her up? Did she look at me before she left? Did she touch my cheek, or smell my hair, or whisper some goodbye? Did she think about me? What did she put her stuff in? I heard it was a trash bag, but that could be wrong. There is so much I still don't know. I just remember waking up and the house was hot. Dinner was ready, I could smell it from my room, but she was gone. I knew that before I even started looking for her. There was something too final, too quiet, too empty about the house. She was gone.
If I remember right, she didn't show up again for a year. But she never told me where she'd gone.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Jackson, I Hope

Dear Jackson,

I hope you always kiss me goodnight. Even when you're too old to kiss me goodbye in front of your friends.

I hope you always have this amazing imagination, and when you grow up, you do something with it.

I hope you are always starstruck when you see planes in the sky. I hope one day you know what it's like to fly.

I hope you tell your first love exactly how you feel, even if you're scared to death. She needs to hear it, and if you never say it you'll regret it.

I hope you're a romantic.

I hope you believe in love, and consider it something worth fighting for. That you understand a life without love is no life at all.

I hope when you have babies you can't wait to come home and hold them, especially after a really long day.

I hope you inherit your grandfather's love of old bookstores.

I hope you inherit my sense of humor.

I hope you listen to the lyrics of the songs you love, and read a poem once in a while.

I hope you open doors, and pull out chairs, and always call when you say you will.

I hope you come home from college to visit, and kiss me goodnight even then.

I hope you collect something odd, and cool in it's own weird way.

I hope you always march to the beat of your own drum, and never let anyone tell you it's wrong.

I hope your hair always sticks up in the morning the way it does now.

I hope you stand up for your sister, and go after the boys that make her cry.

I hope you know how much I love you. And never forget that you and your sister are the best luck I've ever had.