I’m playing The Corrs haunting song “Everybody Hurts Sometime.” I thought I felt furious and fierce but now I know differently. Sadness crept in like a sly gray cat. What showed itself first as anger and disappointment were really overwhelming feelings of sadness but I have learned that all these feelings are connected.
I spent the last two days getting rid of old things, moving others, de-cluttering. Piles of papers and thick magazines were recycled, drawings that my children made when they were very young taken down, “they were embarrassing to my daughter”: a brown horse drawn by my daughter against big, bold pieces of grass, thick as bamboo, with the title “Somewhere horses are playing;” a drawing of two happy stick figures holding hands drawn with an orange magic marker against graph paper titled “Mom and Me.” Also, a purple lilac bush drawn against worn light blue paper that my son drew in nursery school. The amazing sepia portrait that I loved, dearly loved, of my daughter and friends in the third grade doing the Ellis Island play, dressed as immigrants is also embarrassing to her. What brought me such enormous love and joy every single time I looked at it, has been moved but I know it will never have the same magic in a different place.
My children, now teenagers, on the brink of adulthood. I took down their art and let the young woman and young man free. But, it wasn’t really them that needed freeing, it was me. It was not just spring cleaning but a cleaning out of all things old, old emotions, little children growing up, forcing me to deal with the present and the future and not just the past. Old memories, old feelings, old hopes and dreams. Even when you organize and sift through things, remember, the feelings still remain.
We are starting to think about a Sweet 16 party for my daughter; and with it my own 16th birthday memories come flooding back. Sitting in the yellow, plastic kitchen of my childhood apartment with cartons of greasy Chinese food containers and no laughter, and no guests. Sometimes how things connect in your brain still come as an unexpected shock. We are all connected to our past; the past can get better but you can’t shake that past away from you like you would an annoying spider. The past are the imprints for all that we do and see and feel in the future; the blueprint of our lives.
I am also feeling like half a woman instead of whole. I am playing a lot of Cat Stevens’ music and yesterday watched Harold and Maude for at least the 20th time. “If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out” is easier said than done; especially when you are an adult, married and with children, a dog, house and mortgage. I am usually proud of my age, 53, but tonight I feel old, unappreciated and tired. I picture my face with hanging skin, my eyes narrowed when once they were bright, green, wide-eyed and had the ability to hold a stranger’s gaze, longer.
With no fantasies or plans for the future I feel like I am living just part of my life, since there are so many unknowns. It’s cleverly hidden on the outside so nobody can tell; its secret shaded by a tree weighed down with heavy, wet, clumps of billowing snow. I dearly wanted something new to think about, to look forward to, to have a crush that would give me that delightful feeling of effervescence that I haven’t felt in a very long time. The thrilling feeling of a secret does eventually become old, like a shiny new penny that was crushed and trampled by a train; barely recognizable, scratched and dull.
One of my favorite poems is named “Stolen Apples” by Yevgheny Yevtushenko whose words I cannot find anymore but in essence it said that ” the taste and smell of stolen apples were much more delicious than ordinary apples.” I longed for small smiles of sweetness. I’ve always liked secrets, me a secret keeper.
I cry and then I understand that I am overwhelmingly sad inside. Sad about the losses, stressed about my life, missing a deceased friend whose bold colors went with her and left us with all things gray, colorless and dull; her loud booming voice is just a whisper of a silent memory. She, who was abundantly filled with the love of life, made life happier for the rest of us just sharing in her joy of people, traveling, volunteering, enjoying life for all of us through her excited eyes. Pain has no memory; I cry again for my father who died more than ten years ago because he gave the love and nurturing that only parents can give. He was so optimistic all through his life until the last few years when he no longer wanted to live. Watching your father not wanting to live anymore is devastating, his twinkling eyes turned to dull gray. His body was fairly healthy but his soul was dead.
I am writing and growing and feeling healthier but inside I feel like a fraud. Our lives are not perfect, is anyone’s? Our children get so uptight even if we just disagree; they do not need to worry. Unemployment, no money coming in, relationship issues, two teenagers who are not children yet not adults, pulling, pulling away. They yank their arms away as if they were toddlers but it’s worse this time, because they pull at your emotions and they do not give up or let up, not even for a one short moment.
We lost power in our house for more than four days. We slept, shivering, under blankets and sleeping bags, wearing sweaters and jackets. We had no control over anything, no light, no heat, no music. Today, the electricity came back on and with it, appreciation and understanding. The day is brighter, the hours seem shorter and life, as we know it, continues.