While Mac chews contentedly beside me and snow falls outside, ice to follow, I am allowed a single moment of peace. I got a pair of noise-cancelling headphones for Christmas but it turns out they only cancel the noise outside my head, not inside, where the real problems are. And now I have Enya playing into both ears because it is the only thing I could find without thinking. It is respite from puppy from house from headspeak.
But I still know how to knead bread, like the motion of wave or rocking a child. My hands remember each turn of the dough as cinnamon, sugar and walnuts slip between long unpracticed fingers, slick with butter, twirling the giant roll into perfection. At other times I find it hard to think.
These days I see things through the shifting kaleidoscope of political surreality, the post-fact post-truth post-honor post-democracy we live in, awaiting the million woman march portland edition and in the meantime, try to remember that my life is what it is due to the resistance of other women who went before. Who fought monsters less fictional than the bad man. I cannot swallow this whole, this idiocy of pretending, and so I bake and my blood sugar skyrockets.
Sue me. I favor resistance. Sedition. Read this and come talk to me. Arrest me.
Work is a happy place to go many days of each week, but it does not pry my mind away from this trauma. Not for long. Life and death and life and death. It is new for each family and still the same to me. I talk of heaven because that is easier. I like heaven. It is a way to end a sad conversation on a happy note. Streets of gold. Okay. Sure thing. We have the noro-type virus making its way through the building just now, like a dark and shit-spewing specter, pointing its bony finger and culling the weak from the herd. And I think, and sometimes say when they pass, oh good. oh, good. Heaven.
Home is happy. But with all the happiness of new home and open sky and stars and birdsong, Kurt suffers from arthritis and this is hard for him, which makes me sad. He is such a man. He pushes through when he should rest. He eats badly to make it not true. He pretends not to care. I love him so much and cannot stand to see him suffer. He will suffer more before this is over. I know arthritis, not personally, but I have watched it inhabit and twist the bones of elders into shapes they don't recognize.
Over Christmas, I had a moment with Marky that was hard. It made me so aware of how easy our relationship has been all these adult years... but he was drunk and now that he is sober, he seems to have an opinion. While I have been happily inviting him to various holiday events, he has experienced each one with mounting anxiety, a gift I gave him, no doubt. Anxiety that we expect him to house us, to feed us -- which we have never suggested -- these thoughts live in his head alone. I have pretended that he was unaffected by my past his past my life his life. He hates the holidays he hates having random conversations with people he doesn't know or want to know. He can't stand being around drinking. Neither can I, I wanted to tell him, but couldn't get a word in. He raged at me in his rational way in my rational way, until he'd said all he had to say. If you want to do something, he said, call me. If you want to go crabbing or camping, call me. I said Okay.
Then it was Haley's turn, sweet, strong Haley not so strong. So hard for those girls. Nicole discovered her mother wrapped in a blanket on a street corner in portland, and I can imagine that. I remember coming home to my mother wrapped in a piece of carpet on my front porch. But it wasn't a city street. And maybe it was my sister. They've both been there. But Haley mourned the poverty of both of our famlies in a voice I hadn't heard from her -- that millenial voice full of entitlement and expectation -- other kids get everything paid for. Yes. But not in our families. "Everybody in this family is poor." Yes. And in saying that, the unspoken is: but not you. You guys have it so good. And I wanted to tell her my life, of living with a small child in a house floating on a slough with electric wires so bad that you couldn't touch the floor and the counter at the same time and had to step bed to sofa to get around. And step log round to log round to make it out to the little sinking house for sixty dollars a month. A rising tide floats all things. And we do have a nice life, like most, a fingersnap from poverty. White trash-ish. A generation from the Ozarks in my family and San Jose slums in his. I refuse to feel bad about being warm in the winter. I think kids need to work. Hard. I don't know anything else. If education comes, reach out. I'm still paying for mine. Will die paying.
So, the children are unhappy. We do what we can not to break them further.
Happy New Year. jblsky