Lourdes Mint's Mid-Life Miracle

Real-time memoir of the coming year (5/20/14 – 15) and the achievement of a life-long dream

Archive for the tag “Husband”

There is always “burn” here now.

Pretty+Flames+2-7-2007+3-36-23+PM+2816x2112There is always “burn” here now.

Door knobs burn in my hand as I turn them, so I leave the inside ones open. Even the floor burns the bottoms of my feet, so: shoes, but they burn also. These words too, all words, whether I think or say or read them, they all burn now. Sometimes./

To hear them, these ones here, spoken aloud in this room today — w/ no one aside from me listening, no music playing, nothing baking — to hear them without burning, what I would give for that! To be back there, here but back then, in my dream of life again, where it was plenty warm enough, what I would give./

There were times I’d think I must have come from there to here through someplace really cold. I’d think, could I have died that day? That day I “wakened” to the smell of all my pies burning and you knocking as loud as you could on the door. “What’s burning? Are you okay? What’s going on with your hair?”/

We threw the pies into the garden, laughing. You cut my hair in the kitchen to help fix me back up as we aired the place out. “What happened, though? Did you fall asleep? Since when do you bake pies and for what?” I opened you some wine and we spent the rest of the day together./

But I watched the pies slowly disappear alone. It took weeks and then one downpour finally carried the rest away./

Today, I know I came through someplace really cold to get here. Why else, how else, could touching these now — these plastic keys — burn me so? So that the plainest words/thoughts, uttered as plainly as I can manage, are birds barely escaping a flame and then at the very last second returning or just stopping, letting it happen, letting it wrap them and hold them in its hot hands until they turn to ash?/

There is always “burn” here, but I’ve begun to wonder if it might be okay for a time./

After all, crying now is like climbing a tree—but on another planet. Crying: Why? How? It doesn’t happen here, I don’t think, but I’m not completely sure (having learned about evaporation so long ago). I do know it’s not okay not to cry ever./

I know too that today nothing is baking, no music is playing, and no one knocks or doesn’t knock at the door. And I know I didn’t die that day. I am being still and quiet, no more words aloud for now, dreaming of when I was “just warm enough” and wishing I could cry, here or on some other planet, any planet (except Mercury, Venus)./

And yet. Even though these words, my memories, the door, the floor, the bottoms of me feet — ALL of it burns, all of it is burning me — I begin to think it could all turn out all right, that one day I will be just warm enough again.

***

THIS is a repost, thanks. I’ve been gone from here for SIX long months. I consider it a bit of providence that I log back in tonight, after several days (weeks? months?) of thinking about this blog AND THIS POEM especially, and find that BURN is the one-word daily prompt. Today. When I log back in … But so, I have nothing new here now, I don’t think, am exhausted, but I jump back in to this — everything — holding the hand of my 47-year-old self from two years ago. I trust no one more.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/burn/

https://wordpress.com/post/lourdesmint.wordpress.com/678

 

 

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The Question Is Disappearing. (Or: The Garden Orb)

Here’s a story for the Daily Prompt: Doubters Alert — “What commonly accepted truth (or “truth”) do you think is wrong, or at least seriously doubt?” @ https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/doubters-alert/Why?

My straight response comes afterward, if you’re interested.

***

“That’s not a hobo spider. It’s a garden orb. See here.” She passes him her device, the screen of which clearly shows the characteristic stripe of the harmless creature now squashed in the bottom of their tub. He pretends to look and nods, but he already knows, like almost anyone would, could.

“Hmm.” He says. He rubs his eyes, red from lack of sleep. The new baby cries in the next room. “So…”

“So, you killed it for no reason.”71dcMndpBgL._SL1500_

“I panicked,” he says quietly as she scratches vigorously at her upper arms. She’s been doing this since the birth. He chalks it up to postpartum hormone fluctuations, which he knows all about.

As he turns away, he makes a mental note anyway to look it up: postpartum + eczema, postpartum + scratching/itching, postpartum + tics, etc. She bends with noisy effort to collect the little pulpy mess with a square of toilet paper. “You panicked.”

She’s tossing the spider into the toilet, he thinks as he heads down the hall toward the baby’s room, and she’ll let it mellow with the yellow rather than flush it. One flush, even from their H2No toilet, uses more than a gallon of water. He knows. She knows. Everyone they know knows.

“Panicked!” she says louder, just now (perhaps) realizing that he’s left the room. Well, there are things one can do for that, you know. One doesn’t need to suffer that nonsense unless he chooses to!”

I know, I know, I know. We all know. You probably know already, too, were born knowing –— he thinks, looking at the baby before he gently lifts her into his arms. The baby’s eyes are clamped shut as she wails on, but there are no tears yet. That happens later. The crying is upsetting, of course, but less so if you understand that it’s normal. He finds it upsetting anyway, could not sleep, panicked. He’s very tired. Everyone’s tired. And all of this is normal.

He hears the toilet flush after all and then the still-pregnant-sounding footsteps of his wife as she approaches. “Or instead of getting help for your panic disorder, maybe you could try leaches or something, you know, to suck the bad blood out. But then again, it could be a demon. Too bad Father Cohee’s still in jail.”

Father Cohee has been dead for five years … she must know that, he thought. She’s exhausted.

Now, she is standing in the nursery door way, puffy-faced and drawn-looking at the same time. He hates it when she gets like this and this is worse than usual, but again and most important: he’s not surprised. He’s been expecting this. “You should try to sleep,” he says.

“I knew you were going to say that.” She attempts to tighten the draw string on her knit top, but her boobs, big and heavy as sacks of flour, get in the way. She starts to cry.

He blinks at her slowly, sensing something shifting, murky out of the corner of his eye. He turns to face the baby and begins to hum to her. His wife stomps off and slams a door. I would too, he thinks. I’m a shit.

In bed later, his wife turns to him and says, “‘The Old Gray Goose Is Dead.’ I searched and found a match for the tune you were humming. It was familiar, but I couldn’t place it. Please tell me you can come up with more suitable material for a lullaby.”

“I can.” Anyone can. “Good night.”

Sleep comes quickly and ends abruptly, with no dreams in between. The baby wakes at 11:00 p.m., 2:30 a.m., and 5:45 a.m. This goes on for a couple of weeks before a new pattern develops. All normal. All to be expected. There’s plenty of crying, there are harsh words, and there apologies. But there’s also joy (or some feeling he doesn’t really attempt to identify or even describe; he believes his wife feels it too) — moments the three of them share that seem gilded, brilliant with significance, before they’ve even passed. Again though, certainly all of it this is well-charted territory for new parents. (Except, except, except!)

Except for that weighty, winged thing fluttering about in the shadows of his peripheral vision.

Yes, except for that. No, he’s not sure what it is. He doesn’t know how to find out more about it. He’s not sure whether he should or can do anything in response. But he is sure he doesn’t want to panic — not now, especially.

When he was a child, he remembers now, he’d ask his mother so many questions (“Does God live in the The White House?” “What happens if you fall into lava?” “Where did the first seed come from?” “Why does Dad work at night now, too? Who goes to the dentist at night?” [She had a quick answer for that one: “Vampires, that’s who.”]) and usually — if she didn’t know the answer (and sometimes even when she did, probably) — she’d do just as most parents then believed good parents should: admit it and suggest going to find the answer together.

“Hmmm,” she’d say. “That’s a good question, but to tell you the truth, I have no idea. Let’s see if we can figure it out.” And they’d go straight to her laptop. Usually, they’d end up watching YouTube, funny clips or music videos that were popular when she was growing up … and, finally, they’d check out her Facebook page. He remembered often waking up in the middle of the night — either on the couch, his head on her lap, the laptop “sleeping” on the next cushion over, or in his father’s arms, being carried up to bed. The next day, he’d try to recall whether or not they’d found an answer to his question, not because he cared that much anymore but more “on principle” — he told himself then. He doesn’t remember that last detail now.

Tonight, the baby cries at a new time: 4:40 a.m. It’s his turn, he knows, and the pumped milk is ready and waiting in the fridge. He looks straight ahead, keeps his eye on the prize, passes another garden orb on the way: first the steps, then the fridge, next the bottle, now the baby, and finally the bottle + the baby. Ahhh, “there we go.” The crying stops.

She has real tears now, right on schedule, and once he brushes them away, he and she will stare into each other’s eyes until the bottle is finished — a great antidote, he’s found, to the dark, flapping thing. Then, sleep can begin again.

***

We give a lot of lip service to the importance of questions, questioning, curiosity, etc., to the superiority even of questions over answers, BUT our institutional, cultural, and personal practices seem to suggest otherwise: we are as afraid of “not knowing” as ever, speeding toward “certainty” on as many fronts as possible — some of us begrudging the believers their beliefs, others calling the scientists out on the seeming inconsistencies or contradictions in their conclusions. It is good to know, even when knowing = trouble, complications, or worse yet more questions. I think that maybe the only thing as irresistible as having the answers (at the risk of sounding sappy) is love (and with it, the fear of losing love), which puts the pedal to the metal in our drive to know.

 

 

At 48, Some

20130731_024142_CROP

At 48, I know some of what will likely or not be,

Have seen letters on the wall, considered words they might form,

But some of that ink’s fresh enough to smudge, budge …

Like me.

I found a pond full of fish, today, in what I thought was a mirage,

Thought, all this time … because of yesterday’s chatter.

She’s had my ear too long, that Past.

Some of what she says: it’s just wrong.

Tomorrow called today, again, said I’ve had my wings on backwards.

“All this time, but fix them quick … we’ll be together soon.”

I’ve stayed here much too long, says Future,

Only some of whose calls I take.

But here’s a moment I know I can trust, see,

Like the strange mouths of these — SO MANY fish,

Opening/closing ’round the present I’ve made of old bread.

Something in me knows: they’ve been here all this time.

Something in me knows: I can catch some with my hands.

(Note: I turned 48 yesterday. It was not exactly a GREAT day, which you might not suspect from my FB post. Today is better. My husband suggested the words “strange mouths” (re: the fish that I wanted in the last stanza). He also recommended I rethink the original ending: “Some fish on our plates tonight would be good.” (“Maybe you don’t want to give a present to these fish and then eat them.”) But I do. Still, I agreed that something subtler may work better. Here’s how I wrapped it up while he made us lunch. Hope you like!)  

It just so happens that I WAS caught in an avalanche (Daily Post/Daily Prompt)

Under the Snow

You were caught in an avalanche. To be rescued, you need to make it through the night. What thought(s) would give you the strength to go through such a scary, dangerous situation?

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Francesca Woodman. ‘House #3, Providence, Rhode Island’ 1976

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/under-the-snow/

It just so happens that I WAS caught in an avalanche, and I’m still here, under all the snow. I have only just begun thawing my way out, using a technique for channeling perimenopausal hot flashes into such a fine point that I have set dry leaves on fire just by thinking about WHO the F_CK’S GONNA RAKE ALL OF THOSE F_CKERS. Problem is I can only burn a few at a time. I guess it’s kind of dangerous, too. AND someone still has to get out there and rake. But the heat’s been good for thawing this surprise snow … from the avalanche, I mean, which I really wasn’t expecting here at the end of a suburban cul de sac in November, but thinking back now, I admit that on some level, I knew. I felt it coming.

One might have guessed upon reading my “List of One,” back in June, about our adopted daughter, Sarah, finally coming home — one might have guessed that I’d have trouble with this blog, particularly with meeting its one goal within a year (as stated in “About”). And that “one” would have been right. It has not been the best time ever for writing, definitely not for the deep-dive, total-immersion type of writing experience I was mentally preparing for (read: fantasizing about), just as I was mentally preparing for my husband and I to NOT renew our adoption paperwork again this past August. We were about to call it quits… but then! 🙂

Anyway, I’ve written quite a bit but finished little (the pattern I hoped to break, somehow, by blogging), and not made any real progress on the one (fiction) piece I was drooling over this time last year. I could say, well, that’s life and, look, I have this wonderful family and so much to be grateful for and so why complain or feel bad, etc., etc., … I could say those things. I HAVE said those things. And those things are true. It’s true: Sarah is one more miracle in a life that is already more than I ever could have hoped for, in so many ways. All is so far from how things could’ve very easily turned out for me — given my wild side, my laziness (or ADHD-like stuff), my SELF, my high tolerance for __________ (not sure). Still, even good things and positive developments (there have been more than a few, really) can bring fresh new challenges into your life, resurrect old demons, up the stress factor exponentially.  Things have gotten complicated. For sure.

And ALSO, now, there’s this snow on top of me. I’m really not sure how far the hormones are going to get me or how fast … but I do think my loved ones have noticed I’m missing. So that’s a relief. But then, I begin making progress, start hearing voices out/up there, seeing a bit of light, thinking: I’m doing it! I’m excavating myself from under who knows how many feet of snow JUST BY BEING SUPER ANNOYED!! And then I get even more annoyed BECAUSE I CAN’T BELIEVE I ACTUALLY HAVE THE NERVE TO FEEL ANNOYED, which really burns me up, and that pushes me even further toward freedom. IT SEEMS. But then nightfall hits and the temperature drops and everyone’s sleeping, except me — BURNING in my frozen den, fingers too cold to type … or dig. And I get tired of feeling annoyed and then I just get tired, and I think, “oh, maybe all I need is a li’l nap, you know…. just a short one, just long enough for a mini-dream … and to recharge my BURNER.” But that’s a bad idea — no, THE WORST idea — when you’re stuck under any amount of snow.

So the wisest me in me says, “No, no naps, not now.” She thinks of my family and my writing, pretty much together, and starts digging again. “You can write [and even nap?] when you get out from under this and warm up,” she tells me.

So for now, I’m just digging. And I’m fine with that — I’m a digger, but this is different from my usual digging (a whole other post, there). Now, I say, I’m digging by going to sleep at a normal time (missed that one tonight), digging by eating right, digging by not being a jerk to myself (or Roberto, my dear, and the occasional customer service person who just should not be in customer service), digging by hanging out with my kids and my husband — even if we’re not doing anything even remotely “special” — WITHOUT OBSESSING CONSTANTLY about catching up, getting organized (which is never going to happen…), etc. I dig by “learning to say ‘no'” (ugh, I know, but it’s true) and by not adding things I don’t want or need to do to my already-mammoth-size TO DO list. Dig by letting the past go: the old house, some (many?) of the old friends (many of whom have let me go already, I’m sure), the pet projects that are perpetually “in progress,” and a good many of my fun — even fine — ideas about things I might do. Letting go of the past is a big one, could easily cut that mammoth-size to do list down to a person-size list. I see this so clearly now, underneath all this snow, when before I never really thought of myself as hung up on the past.

The best digging I do, though, has to do with getting to know and accept (dig!) this ONE BODY, this one woman with her one life (maybe, right?) and limited time, energy, and talent. I dig by learning to look her in the eye — and them too, while I’m at it: my most dearest, most LOVED ones — without trying to DIVERT her/their attention from ___________ (not sure, really) — with a ridiculous/hilarious/outrageous re-enactment of a true life event, starring ridiculous/hilarious/outrageous me, or by bitching up  a storm, drumming up a crazy plan, or engaging in any analogous activity/effort,  ALL OF WHICH AID ME IN forking my life over, bit by bit, chunk by chunk, heap by heap to some misbegotten or outdated idea or who I MUST BE (or what I must do) in order to be “OK.”

So I’m digging like that, for the most part. I can write (more) when I get out from under ALL THIS SNOW and warm up. My family needs me, I know, just as I need them. AND (but?) we also need for me to write, which I can’t do unless I keep digging and make it back home again … w/out forgetting the time I spent HERE.

 

Day 9A: Finders, Keepers (Daily Prompt): “No one ever believes my stories” (Part 1)

Trying the Daily Prompt again today (http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/finders-keepers/), but it will have to be quick with all I have to do. The only reason I’m allowing myself to respond at all is that I have this wonderful, practically ready-made response, a story actually, that I’ve always wanted to write up and today’s prompt is just screaming, “Today’s the day!”

Just a peek for now: The story comes from a girl I roomed with during my 19th summer, when we were both working at a breakfast and lunch place right on the boardwalk. She was out walking on the beach very early one morning, normal for her, and found a wad of cash (more than $600) in a nice heavy clip and a stunning women’s ring (platinum, she thought, with a remarkably clear emerald), along with some other items in a crumpled, greasy paper bag half-buried in the sand.  She told me all about it a few days later: what she did with it, what happened next, how it all ended — kind of unbelievable, but well worth sharing. (That’s Part 2, so PLEASE come back.)

But first, here is my own personal response to the prompt.

Back then, to be fair (so I’m not ultimately comparing apples to oranges), if I’d found that bag of goodies, I might have taken it to the first person I spotted who appeared to be in any position of authority. Boardwalk security guy on a bike? Perfect. Lifeguard? Yes, probably. Bouncer? Possibly so (depending on whether I knew him). I think I would have been afraid to go to the police — given the neurotically guilty conscience I was plagued with then.

Now, I’m not so sure what I’d do. My guess is I’d either leave the loot where it lie or take it to the police, suspecting that either way, there’d be little difference in outcome — little chance that the lost-lings would be returned to their rightful owner(s). And this is not a dig against police, but more the sense I have that whomever lost the treasures had either stolen them him(or her)self or figured they were gone for good and returned home without them, but with a beefy story to share.

(I can imagine the man with the money clip: “We were lying on our backs until about noon, when Nancy took out some money for lunch. We ate right there on our towels. And then at about 2 pm, as we were turning onto our stomachs — to keep things even, you know — Seth comes out of the water, says he wants a coke. That’s when we realized … . So, what I’m saying is it happened while we were there, right there, but with our eyes closed. Sickens me, Nancy too. And it’s not the things, the money, the ring, the rest of it: they can be replaced. It’s the fact that the place has changed THAT much. Poor Seth, all our kids: they’ll never know the carefree, good times we enjoyed there when we were …” [Nancy, red, almost spitting, as she interrupts: “Actually, that ring cannot be replaced. It belonged to my Aunt Penny. Thank you.“]  Money clip man: “Okay, well. But you — you all — you get my point.”)

Back to what I would do: I’m sure I wouldn’t pocket the stuff — then, now, ever. And I can say with 100% certainty that I wouldn’t have done what Stacy did, not because it was so horrible or wrong or anything like that; it was just so … strange. What she did, the thoughts behind her actions, they simply never would have occurred to me, not in a million years. When she told me the story, she made it clear she was sharing it with me and no one else, not because she didn’t want anyone to know, she said, but because she thought I might believe her. And then she said, I remember like it was yesterday, “No one ever believes my stories.”

Did I believe? Do I now? I don’t know. Every time I ask myself that question, my mind answers with a complete non sequitur. Just now, for example, as I asked myself again, my mind shoots me this memory:

I am sitting with a nice boy on the beach. He likes me but nothing will come of it. He hands me a conch shell, which I’m thinking he must have planted there. (Even then, all the really good shells were gone. And this one seemed to have a weirdly glossy finish.) “Try this: it’s really neat,” he says, as he holds it up to my ear. “What do you hear?” “Ummmmmm, the ocean,” I say, already knowing the answer, which everyone learns early on (right?). “That is neat,” I say. He smiles, so very obviously delighted. But all I heard, all I think anyone hears, from inside a shell is something like, “sssssshhhhhhhhhhhhhhh” or “ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh” (right?). That day, though, I do hear the ocean (but with my other ear), as the waves are crashing less than 30 feet away from us. I remember suddenly feeling so sorry for the boy, still smiling. “That is neat,” I say again. “Really neat.”Conchboy

So what kind of answer is that? A yes or a no? Did I, do I, believe Stacy’s story or not? Maybe I can’t answer because I don’t have to answer, because it doesn’t matter. Just the telling of a story makes it a thing of the world, something that exists, something to be reckoned with if you’re so inclined — to be passed along (maybe forgotten) or kept like a secret — as I have this story for so long, turning it over and over again with the fingers of mind, my own sparkling emerald. All the while thinking, also, I should write it up. I should, I should, I should — for years — and now here (or rather in Part B), finally, I am! Or, I will, after I get some real work done.

*          *          *

Ugh. Where did the morning go and most of the afternoon? I have to say, so far, this project is wreaking havoc — HAVOC, I say — on my life. I love it. 🙂 But havoc is havoc and I (and mine) can only stand so much. But I do think things will come out okay once I/we get through this transition (using that word WAY too much lately), that they will get better and better and finally be right: I will be writing regularly, finishing pieces I’ve started (the good ones) and starting new ones, and become a writer (that is, for me, a writer people read!) — all with a relatively manageable, liveable life still intact. That’s what I tell Roberto, my husband, and I think he believes me.

I do wish that the process could be more straight forward, more balanced and comfortable, more methodical (oh, hope against hope!), and that I felt just a little more like I know what I’m doing. BUT when you’ve pulled the number(s) I’ve pulled on my creative yearnings for as long as I have (20+ years), I know not to expect or wait for that feeling. So if I will go with it for now, allow that thing (the would-be writer in me) to have her way with me for a time, I  can see a much more workable, peaceable arrangement evolving — and, at some point, success.

But we’re not there yet. Oh, no, we are not. On a day like this, we stare at each other, a great distance between us (nothing much below), and finally fly at each other to meet in mid-air … and do what, exactly? For now, something like this.

Please come back (anyway …) for Part 2! Time to pick up Elliot.

 

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