I think I might explode. Or break into a million pieces. Leave a huge mess for my kid to struggle with for the rest of his days. I was going to be so much better than my mother. So much cooler, wiser, truer. I was going to be an amazing woman that a child would admire and hope to be like. Not a friggin' basketcase who wants to ram her car into the side of a building at seventy miles an hour or run naked, screaming through the streets. I wasn’t going to be a pecan. I was going to be a flag pole. I was going to be a mountain. And not a tree on the mountain that blows in the wind. The mountain. I was going to be Budda not the banshee.
Alas, like Mama, I fear I am banshee bound. Down, beneath my dings and hollows, just southeast of my sinew and my sorrow, I can smell the chicory of my youth. And if I’m careful on the seawall, I can navigate, beyond the algae - so slippery when wet - beyond the crab nets, baited and waiting, to the warm brackish waters of my before. If I’m careful and dive out a little, my skin won’t scrape the steps and I can swim in and of my soul, unscathed. But if I’m not careful, Not full of care, then her piercing screams will cut through the peace and startle me. Mother’s screams will scratch and scrabble and claw after me frantically, and without realizing it, her scratch and scrabbles will push me under, not pull me back. Push me under where I can’t breathe and I know I have to be the mountain, but there isn’t time. I’m too busy trying to keep my head above the waves, there isn’t time. Can’t let the undertow grab and suck me behind the seawall, there isn’t time.
I think I might explode. Or break into a million pieces. Leave a huge mess for my kid to struggle with the rest of his days. I was going to be so much better than my mother. I was going to love the father of my child til death do us part. Not let him go without a fight. I was going to teach a boy to be a man, not pull the blade of grass while still a tender shoot and use it to clean my teeth. I was going to be grateful for my riches and not bitch about snips I wish I had.
This search for grace between two worlds of dead and dying parents and sprouting pre-teen babies is a rough road of buckled cement and sinkhole fury, with speedtraps and black ice and threadbare tires, all rumpus seats and drunk drivers. I’m smeared between the roadblocks and the open expanses of unchartered promise. And I remember. As a girl I would write my deepest secrets on loose leaf paper and then hide behind the carport and light them on fire. Burning my secrets was the only way I could protect them. I would hold on to the page until the last possible instant. Hold it until right before my secrets burned my flesh and took a piece of me with them. And as I let it go, the heat from my fire would cause an updraft and whisk the last ash high and away.
I think I might explode or break into a million pieces. Leave a huge mess for my kid to struggle with for the rest of his days. I was going to be so much. On those days when the air in my apartment becomes negative space and I am lost and ache for the smell of my kid’s anything and the sound of his everything, on those days when he sleeps in that other ‘room of his own’ that I didn’t create and don’t straighten up, on those days, I grapple with the explicable disillusionment of conjugal perfection and the primordial desire to be with, protect and cherish - my pack.
I swallowed the baby with the bathwater and threw out my pride. I went to hot yoga hoping to sweat blood. I plucked two wrinkles and injected botox into my grey hairs - because THIS is living. And I am a real housewife of beverly hills, or miracle mile - adjacent.