the oral tradition

sunsetMom is the musical one. She is colors and love and sweetness and children. Dad is the serious one. He is authority and logic and responsibility and adults. They both worry, in their own way. Dad’s are generally considered to be more founded, even if they often seem to lack emotional content. For a long time, I have been Daddy’s girl. Even before Mom was pregnant with me, he chose my name, and then when I was born, it was on his birthday. So we are bound together in more than just the usual way. Growing up, I often considered myself to be the closest-thing-he-has-to-a-son. though my burden has been somewhat reduced since my sisters started getting married to burly men who better fill the role.

Dad and I often would go on long rough bike rides. I, strong, would pass him on the uphill, but he, braver, would pass me on the way down. We watched sports together. He helped me with my physics homework. When I went to college, I studied Mechanical Engineering, just like he had. It felt like the right thing to do, the respectable and logical thing.

For 4 ½ years and beyond, I utterly denied the other part of me that Mom represented. Continue reading “the oral tradition”

f* the loophole

crazeFor a few days it was just Mom and Dad and the three unwed sisters.

It’s strange for me to be back in this category. I was the first of the sisters to get married, 7 years ago. The divorce was long enough ago that it doesn’t seem utterly bizarre that He’s not here, but it takes some adjusting to be back in the kiddy table, Dad paying for my meals when the family eats out together, riding up in the same car as my parents.

One sister would be coming later with her husband and child, but one sister would not be coming at all. We don’t blame her, it occurred to us not to come too, but family is like a currency system that requires mutual agreement to maintain its value. Too many absences show a lack of consumer confidence and people start wanting to come late and leave early and there is general grumbling about going back to the Gold Standard. Basically, we who are present can’t help but bear a slight resentment to those who are absent. Her punishment will not be deliberate, but there will probably be one-tenth fewer phone calls per sister over the next few months which, if amplified over time, could mean a dramatic difference in long term filial contact. Continue reading “f* the loophole”

hitchin’ a sail

hitchsailWe walked out to the pier and looked out over the freezing Lake Michigan water 10 feet below. I am afraid of jumping off of things. I can look down over the ledge of a tall building and fly in an airplane and climb a mountain without fear, but the act of willfully letting my feet leave the earth just happens to terrify me. I have been known to freeze up on diving boards, 18 measly inches above water.

This time, it wasn’t so hard. With the 3..2..1 countdown, there was no time to worry. With my sisters to synchronize with, I couldn’t fret and wait and stall and stress. Mom loves when her girls are together. She likes it even more when we let her take pictures of us. She likes it even more when we include her. We pressured her to jump in with us. She agreed. Then, as mothers and fathers and daughters do, I immediately began worrying about the consequences of our suggestion. What if it’s too cold for mom and the water shocks her and she can’t swim and it’s all our fault and she knew better but caved in to the pressure of her three demanding daughters? We jumped together, weeeee!

The three sisters surfaced first and stared at the water where we expected her to be. She took a few worrisome seconds too long to come up out of the water. Everything was fine.

Exhilarated and cold, we made our way farther down the pier to sit and watch the water traffic along the canal. A “boat parade” Mom called it. She has a way seeing the world that allows me to imagine the impossible act of knowing my own mother when she was a kid. It is the gift of a woman who has spent so much of her adult life with children. It made the slow-moving boats trudging through the canal into a sort of a celebration.

From our perch, I told everyone about my half-serious life goal to hitchhike on a sailboat. We joked about how awkward it would be for the people on board, what a gamble it is to accept a ride from someone that you can’t even see, and where on earth they would take you if it all worked.

Continue reading “hitchin’ a sail”

but also in blueberrying

blueberryingApparently, I am very good at blueberry picking. I always try to challenge myself to take joy out of things that I’m not good at but it is undeniably more enjoyable what I have a god-given knack for it. Yes, even if the talent is for something as insignificant as this. I like blueberry picking. It reminds me of a socially-acceptable version of my bad habit of picking at my split ends. Maybe I have a natural inner energy that tells me that my hands should be busy, and in the absence of berry patches and weaving looms, my productivity displaces itself onto the ends of my hair.

When we arrived to the patch the first rows thrilled us- so many blueberries! My sisters started plucking immediately. A berry here, a berry there, pluck-plunk-pluck-plunk. I stood beside them, looking down the aisle. Why have they paused already? I wondered. For though I could not see it, I felt certain that there would be more berries farther on. I called out “A fool is she who will accept what is nearest rather than what is best.” “In matters of the heart?” they wondered. “Yes. But also in blueberrying.”  Continue reading “but also in blueberrying”

this is what it feels like

1.a. I have never liked myself so much. I have never enjoyed my own company to the point that I catch a wave of ever-escalating appreciation and joy at my own thoughts. I love my life. I am starting to think broad expansive idea about the possible implications. If I have found Something that can make me feel like this, then my problems are all gone. I have no problems. They are all cured. I will never be unsatiated. I will never run out of constantly replenishing ideas to think of or write down. My days will be filled with constant agonizing decisions over which are worthy of being written. Time is the only limiting factor. The line between ideas for things to do and things to do has, in a dramatic way, taken an upward slope. In this new life I will not be able to drive a car or maintain a serious relationship because I am so intensely in the moment, but it literally won’t matter because I will be so joyful about the remaining contents of my life- the enhanced contents of my life. By withdrawing I will expand because my words will reach more people than my presence ever could.