Tag Archives: Child


11 Jul


Her sweet face

25 Apr

Another One

12 Feb

I rarely comment on pop culture.  Not because I don’t follow it, but because I’m mostly bored by the travails and triumphs of the famous kind.  Except for Meryl Streep.  She’s a goddess. I still read People magazine and I always check out the entertainment section of any news.  I so don’t care who Jennifer Aniston is dating.  Leave the poor girl alone and let her date.  I am interested in fashion but not in their politics.  I’m a moviephile, but I don’t care of their lives outside of the characters they play.  Again, except for Meryl Streep.

Having said all that, I read Whitney Houston died and felt that pang of sadness.  I know the world mourns the loss of her talent.  It’s tragic that someone who seems to have had it all at her fingers could become a victim of her addictions.  We do not know the cause of death yet, but everyone is holding their breath just knowing it’s drug related.  Having a mother who is a full blown addict (even though she thinks a prescription means it’s not addiction), we’re always waiting for the time she takes an extra pill or increases her intake from three pain pills and three anti-depressants a day to an overdose or worse.  I consulted an addiction specialist who advised me to mourn her as if she’s already passed.  He assured me that unless she’s willing to seek treatment, there is absolutely nothing I can do but to demand her sobriety or I am no longer in her life.  So my sister and I did it.  Now, we just wait for the phone call.

I have sympathy for anyone who is beholden to addiction.  It really isn’t a switch that can be shut off.  It’s devastating not only to the people around them, but to themselves.  I don’t believe in rock bottom, I believe it’s so much lower than that.  I can’t imagine what my mother goes through every day in order to medicate herself to the point of comfort.  I don’t believe it’s a choice she makes any longer.  But there is a choice to get help.  When your family and friends beg you to go into rehab, you are making a choice not to.  Of course, she isn’t making decisions with a sober mind, but I do believe she sees the destruction she’s caused to those around her and no longer cares.

Yet, as I read Whitney Houston passed away, I thought about those Powell boys who were murdered by their father.  That really is a true tragedy.  They were innocent and subjected to their father’s evil.  Who knows what talents they might have possessed or what they might have contributed to the world.  It will never be known now.

I just remember shaking my head when Amy Winehouse drank herself to death.  Just another in a long list of talented, famous people who succumb to their addictions.  So, after watching the train wreck Whitney Houston became (and it was like watching a train wreck if you ever saw her reality show), she’s added to that list.  I often wonder what it’s going to take to convince these troubled minds to live to a ripe old age.  



9 Feb

So I went for a mammogram today.  It was strange.  It was scheduled at the hospital where I was born and during the drive there I drove by my first school.  There was the park where I played as a child and the street I use to sled down when it snowed.  Thank goodness it was a  perfectly routine procedure but it was the stroll down nostalgia lane that weighed on my mind.

The reality of growing older sometimes blindsides me.  I can put as many colors as I can imagine in my hair, but I can’t change my age.  Along with the twinge of reality, comes relief.  Maybe physically it’s time for me to take better care of myself, but mentally I feel like I’m almost there.  There are still residual doubts and lack of self confidence, but for the most part I grew up to be self assured and practical.  I am what I yam, blah blah.

It took a lot of trial and error.  I didn’t exactly have a blueprint in my dysfunctional parents.  Yes, I no longer speak to them, but it’s a decision that should have been made years ago.  I no longer regress to the mess I was in their presence, especially my mother.  I no longer feel the need to seek their approval, only to find it’s still unattainable.  Instead, I concentrate on my own daughter who is tripping through life and I’m there to brush her off and put her back on the path.  I want to give her the support, I lacked growing up.

This doesn’t mean as I drove by my past that it’s all bad memories.  I can allow the good ones to the forefront and not feel the need to reach out to my parents again.  It wasn’t all bad.  But the what was is no longer allowed in my life.  I’m not one of those people who believe you can blame everything on your childhood.  At some point, you have to take responsibility for the decisions you make.  Especially ones that implode your life.

I never demanded more, because I never realized there was more.  I’m old enough to know it’s okay to want what you never had.  It changed the chemistry of my brain and my heart.  What I want is completely different in my mammogram stage of life than in my carefree stage of life.  So, even though I’m at a stage to be medically poked and prodded, I feel as if my mind is finally healed.  Even if there are whole days of regression.

I realized the important lesson I’ve learned at this age is that it’s okay to deserve more.  It’s okay to want better.  It’s okay to reach out in the dark and find someone who is just as scarred.  It’s okay to reveal the soft underbelly of your soul and chance rejection.  It’s about seizing the happiness, the joy and yes, the love with full knowledge it could hurt along the way.

I thought of these things as I had my mammogram.  For all you ladies who have not experienced it yet, it’s not that bad.  Sure, being fondled by a stranger may put you off (or maybe not), but it’s rather clinical and over quickly.  There is absolutely no pain, despite having your breasts in a vice.  You walk away and think it was less evasive than most tests we have to endure.  I’ll know my results in seven to ten days.   The thoughts swirling in my mind will surely last much longer.

Dogs are so useful

9 Feb


20 Nov

The field adjoining our road began to look like an intricate ant farm lay on its side.  Dug into the earth was a complicated maze of tunnels for the houses that would be built upon them.  I began spending my days walking the paths, hidden in the earth with only the sun overhead.  There were so many changes from when we first moved in and I was not happy with any of them.

I climbed up on the side, my feet dangling down and stared at the red Sold on the realtor sign in our front yard.  It was leaning to the side from the one afternoon I walked up to it and kicked it over.  Fearing my mother’s wrath, I then picked it up and tried to right it.  The sign was a mocking reminder that some things cannot be undone.  Selling our house and moving back to Kentucky was one of them.

In the evenings, I would sit in the spare bedroom with my sister playing Barbies and looking longingly at the disassembled cardboard castle now perched against the wall.  Of all the rooms packed and ready for the move, our playroom was the saddest.  We no longer had cardboard walls to hide us from the real world as my sister and I pretended we belonged to a royal family.  She was so young, I think she was anxiously awaiting the day they would arrive to take us to our real home.

She was too young to understand we were leaving to never return.  Instead, she treated our move as if it was another road trip with diner scrambled eggs and dirty gas station bathrooms.  I envied her ability to laugh and be happy despite the inevitable.  Even then, I knew in my gut, instead of life improving, it would become harder.

The weeks leading to our move, my mother was angrier than ever before.  This was something my father could not fix, and I think she hated him for it.  He had a family to support and he felt he could do better in Kentucky.  I would also like to think her volatility came into play.  Although she viewed Arizona as her new home, she had never assimilated and was anything but happy.  Maybe he thought moving back to her family would fix her.  To this day, we have never discussed what happened in Arizona to her.

The morning we moved, the truck came and burly men packed our whole life into it.  I clung to my basketball, hoping for a last minute reprieve, but when my mother pried it from my hands and threw it in with our furniture, it was over.  I would no longer wander through the mountains near our home or slide down a hill of volcanic rocks.  I would never again taste the sweet nectar of the Indian paintbrush flower or listen to the coyotes howl at night.  I was saying goodbye to the fragrant alfalfa fields and a night sky full of diamonds.  There were bad things to remember, but there were also a lifetime of moments that would change the adult I might have been.

I walked to Daniel’s house.  We stood on his porch, our hands in our jean pockets and said our goodbyes.  His mother wiped tears from her eyes and gave me a hug that hurt my heart.  I promised to write Daniel and send postcards, but I never did.  Instead, I walked away from him, pausing only long enough to look back and give him a little wave.  My last memory of him is his dark eyes looking into mine as he raised his hand to return my wave.  Then he turned to go back inside.

My friends in the neighborhood told me awkward goodbyes.  I took one more peek at my babysitter’s room of Playgirl penises and Robbie gave me his favorite GI Joe to remember him by.  I lied and told him we would be back in a year.  This is just temporary, I reassured him.  A sweet lie, I thought.  I knew I would never see any of them again.  I never did find the GI Joe in any of the boxes.  I am certain it was thrown out at some point.

We flew back to Kentucky.  I swallowed the painful lump in my throat as the plane skimmed over a sea of white clouds.  There were hours of sitting in my seat, resisting the urge to scream and pretending to be excited to arrive in Kentucky.  Instead of being happy as I was swept into the arms of my aunts and uncles who cried happy tears we were home, I was lost and would remain lost for a long time.  For months, I carried a baggie of black rocks we had chiseled out of a mountainside when we first arrived.  They were that touchstone to what I left behind.

We moved in with my grandparents where we stayed for months until we rented a small house.  We would move several times, one house after another, never a home.  This nomadic wanderlust carried over to my adult life.  I have moved more times than I would like to count and never felt I belonged anywhere.  I had left my home.  It was not just a place; it was a state of mind.

My sister and I as adults talk about Arizona as if it were a shared dreamed.  She remembers less, but likes to hear the stories of our adventures there.  We prefer to file away the painful moments, the reality of what our family really went through.  We sit together and look through the pictures, capturing only a fraction of the moments etched on our brains.

I can close my eyes and see the tall sunflowers that grew beside our trailer.  I can put out my hand and feel myself petting my beloved dog Peppy who had come home to say goodbye.  He is still there, buried in the earth, beneath the sun he loved to lay in.  I can stand outside and inhale and it’s there.  That indefinable scent of the mountains, of the fresh water streams and of the heat in the soil.  I can throw my head back and taste the snowflakes on my tongue or the taste of freshwater from the springs we would swim in.  I can hear the wind blowing through the pine trees.  I am forever grateful even at a young age, I understood enough to take it all in, to hold it close because I would need it again.

There is no happy ending.  My mother did not move back to Kentucky and become happier.  My parents remained married, they weathered the storms of her depressions, and resigned themselves to the life they have chosen.  Just recently, she is once again a victim of her own life.  I watch my father, my heart breaking, sad that moving back did not fix all that was wrong with her.

As soon as I was old enough, I moved out on my own.  I worked hard and then I moved away.  I took my daughter on my journey just as my parents had taken me on theirs.  We lived in New York and she saw her first Broadway play.  We lived in Pennsylvania and went white water rafting and rock climbing.  We lived in Massachusetts and every weekend ventured out to the historic sites and the aquarium.  We lived in Rhode Island and she splashed in the cold water of the ocean and made a sand castle.  I’ve made sure her life, if not secured by belonging somewhere, was filled with memories to sustain the life she would want to build for herself.

Like my parents, I have returned to Kentucky, except this time I did not feel I was leaving anything of me behind.  I am still on that journey to find that home again.  I wish I could say it is wherever my daughter is, that would be the beautiful prosaic thing to claim.  My daughter is my life, but something else is a home for me.

I know I will find it again.  It is not out of reach.  I was offered an opportunity to move out West for work sometime in the future.  I felt a surge of something I wish I could describe.  One day I will stop moving around.  One day I will stop yearning.  One day, I will stand beneath that big sky and smile and be thankful for the journey that brought me there.  I know one day I am going to end up exactly where I am supposed to be.

This time, I will bring my daughter along and we will talk about the places we have lived and the life we have led.  Then one day, she will leave on her own journey.  There is something I‘ll make sure of, something I never had.  She may wander to find herself, but she will know I will have a home waiting for her.  Always waiting for her to find her way back.


13 Jun

I suppose as a writer you must be endowed with an impressive memory.  We are told in Creative Writing 101 class to write, “What we know” and other cliché directives.  I like to believe I have an amazing memory from my childhood despite my mother’s insistence that eighty-five percent of it did not happen.  You can show her photographic evidence, and she will still deny the memory in question.  This is my story of Arizona and my memories, faulty as they might be.

I was very young when my father announced we would be moving across the universe to this strange land called Arizona.  Barely seven, I had no concept of geography and where this place might exist.  My information beforehand was gleaned from my father’s insistence it was indeed a magical place and my grandfather calling it a desert where we would die.  There was discussion of being scalped (yes, my grandfather was a racist) and scorpion attacks.

To my father’s credit, despite all the naysayers, he loaded our meager belongings onto a station wagon and headed west anyway.  At this point, I look back in total slack-jawed awe at my father.  Here was a man of wanderlust, who wanted to embark on a grand adventure and he did it.  The fact we were actually in the car and moving is even more a miracle when you realize my mother was the exact opposite of this.

Let’s get this over with.  My mother was born seventy-five.  If there is a complaint to file, she has a cabinet full.  For every suggestion, she has a tale of someone injured or dying as a counterpoint.  When I told her I was moving to NYC, she insisted I would be mugged, raped and murdered and probably more than once.  This is the mother I know.  The surprise is she agreed to move thousands of miles away from her family to live in the desert with two small children.  I chalk it up to she was fairly young herself and had yet to become completely cynical and bitter.

So bags were strapped to the roof, a bed was made in the back for my sister and myself, and my father took off cross-country to the great unknown.  I remember being excited and unable to sleep as we crawled across highways and away from the only home I had known.  Everything was bright, shiny and new and I wanted to soak it all in.  We left in the dark of night, only headlights visible, but in the distance, a silhouette beneath the moon, I saw the horizon and the possibilities that lay ahead.

This trip was the first time I tasted Dr. Pepper.  I remember a gas station in some sweltering town and a beautiful young boy handing me one.  There was a roadrunner on the side of the road that looked nothing like the cartoon version.  There were scrambled eggs in a diner like nothing I had ever tasted and a man with a turban.  Then there was the accident.

I remember crossing the highway to a rest stop.  My sister and I were in the back of the station wagon on a pallet of blankets and probably arguing.  My father was driving and probably arguing with my mother.  Then there was a large truck plowing into our car.  My next memory is standing on the side of the road, uninjured and watching my mother fall apart.  She was crying hysterically and being hugged by my Grandfather’s wife who had been in another car.  The entire back quarter panel of the car was crumpled and pushed in.

As I stood on the side of the road in the Texas heat, watching the chaos around me, I was too young to realize how close we had come to dying.  My sister and I had been in that back end and here we stood disoriented and unhurt.  Our trip had become derailed by our accident.  We holed up in a hotel with air conditioning and orange trees.  For better or worse, we were not turning back.  I remember standing in the parking lot of the hotel, with an orange in my hand, watching my baby sister toddle in the grass and the seed was planted.  I inhaled the scent of that orange and wanted more.  Always more.