My tongue is in my hand…

Archive for the ‘memories’ Category

My dad just told me a great quote my grandfather used to say to them (dad and his brothers) all the time growing up: “The whiskey glass and a woman’s ass have ruined many a good man”. That’s some Bible belt farmer wisdom right there…

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I went to the farm Tuesday, the day after it snowed. I forgot it was still there. I pass that road every day and act like because we don’t live there, because we don’t own it, it no longer exists.

But it does. It’s not a person who’s died. It’s an ex. Who got married. And had kids. And lives in the same town. And goes to the same grocery store.

I parked my car at the top of the road, where Uncle Allen used to park his 18 wheelers. Across from the place where my grandparent’s house used to be. Facing the gravel road that forks, one road goes by the barn, to my house. The other, to the left, takes you past the fields, the place the sawmill used to be, the unfinished grits mill, to Steve and Allen’s houses.

I stood looking at it, it was always so beautiful in the snow. So out of this world. And so fun. Pulling 3 or 4 sleds behind trucks and 4 wheelers, going down that hill that lands you in the creek…we would spend all day out there…

A car passed by and I just waved. Blonde girls in SUV’s do not typically make people feel threatened. I started sobbing thinking how I was trespassing. On my land. Because it wasn’t mine.

I saw something move at the barn after a loud sob. It was a goat! (We left them because no one was going where they could take them). I had to see them. I walked to the barn, trying to not leave tracks in the snow by stepping on the places it already melted and the ground was showing through (though I doubt anyone would notice). I got to the entrance and it just took my breath.

The soft dirt. The sweet hay smell. The weathered wood. The rusted tools. That barn is over 100 years old. It’s red with silver patches of tin on the roof. I remember we used to come up here and feed the goats sweet feed and hay, hauled water up there in that black bucket…

I reached around the stall door and let myself in. I tried coaxing Peanut over. Peanut and Mary Frances are the only ones left. They grew up in the cow pasture and didn’t get the face time the older goats got when they stayed at the barn and I would feed them and visit. The cow pasture was large, it went into the woods. You could never see them if they didn’t want you to.

I hid behind the door as another car went by. Peanut finally came up, licked my hand. I had to Baaa a few times first. It’s funny, but it works! It always has!

Our goats are big. They aren’t those tiny little things some people have.

I thought of my Paw Paw (he’s laid to rest in the church graveyard across the street, with Maw Maw and the rest of the family that’s not up and running anymore). I thought of Daddy and his brothers and how much it hurts me to lose the farm so I can’t imagine how it hurts them.

I stepped out of the barn and looked into the woods, the path you could take to get to my house if you didn’t want to take the gravel road. It was still snow covered, the trees draped in it, the rest of it quiet on the ground. Still and pristine. We always held the snow with us for days after it had lifted from or puddled up in other places. I wanted to run into that forest and lose hours the way I used to…

But I took a deep breath, I turned around, I ran back to the car, jumping over snow, still trying to minimize the tracks. Why? Haven’t they been washed away already, won’t it all melt into the ground soon enough, before anyone can do anything about it? I looked at my mailbox. It seems wrong that someone else should have our addresses, our road with our name on it.

I cried a lot that day. The thing about loss, about grief, is that it carves out places in you. No matter what else happens, what else you have, what else comes along. Things cover it and soften it and fall into it, but sometimes what feels best is someone tracing over the crevices and acknowledging the design.

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My high school chorus teacher just joined facebook and I think I have been more excited about that than I have about anyone else I have seen on there. Mr. Boyce is a key player in not only one of the significant parts of my life, but also in the significant parts of so many other people’s lives.

It’s because of the way chorus was not just a class, but a group, a privilege, a family. Sure, there were some kids who just kind of ended up in concert choir every once in a while because it showed up on their schedule, but most of the people chose to be in choir. Many of us chose to be in choir as many periods out of the day as we were allowed. I think I took two chorus classes a year 10-12th grades. (So that means I sang a good amount of material more than once 🙂

The thing is, choral music matters to Mr. Boyce. And we mattered to Mr. Boyce. And Mr. Boyce had a way about him that let us know that while he would tolerate all our high school silliness to a certain degree, he was not really interested in his students not being interested in choral music. Mr. Boyce made it matter to us.

Mr. Boyce had little eccentricities that made him funny, firmness that made him respected, and genuine interest in your well being that made him someone you wanted to keep spending time in class with. Mr. Boyce worked every way he could to help us sing well and to get us to want to sing well. We buzzed our lips and repeated tongue twisters and made hand gestures to mimic sounds and laid in the dark all in the name of good diction, harmonies, and general musicianship. We sang Latin. We sang Oldies. We sang Zulu. We sang Christmas Carols. Sometimes we had to sway. Sometimes someone dressed up like Rudolph. Sometimes we wore beach clothes and sunglasses. Being part of chorus was being part of something. Former students came back to visit on a regular basis. We competed and took trips and bought videos of performances and had chorus t-shirts. Mr. Boyce read us essays of past student’s testaments to let us know, hey, this is a good thing, you better recognize it!

Being part of Patriot Singers was an honor, but I was most attached to Advanced Women’s Ensemble. Maybe because I was in it three years. We did so much more than sing. We had a lock in, a bake sale, t-shirts, breakfasts, secret santa and a decorated ficus tree, fast food hang outs after school, and gave out awards at the end of the year (we came up with one for everyone). It was fun and even though it wasn’t the whole class doing those things, those things were there, making us more than a class. More than that, there were a lot of hugs and tears and friendships, and some drama (I mean, it was a class of high school girls…) and we had competitions, that meant ROAD TRIPS. I remember cramming like 5 of us into a phone booth in Virginia beach for like an hour because we were cold (and crazy?)

Mr. Boyce laid the foundation for the legacy that was choir at Independence. No one outside of choir may have gave a crap about it, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is the way it shaped those of us who did. Those of us who were moved by making music, by creating with our classmates a sound that was bigger than any of us individually, by being lifted away from our individual concerns and focuses and pulled into a song, if only for the span of a class period at a time, even a song at a time. Making music with others is a powerful thing, it moves something in you, shapes something new.

Mr. Boyce cultivated this place for us, and told us he was doing so. It wasn’t a big secret that he was pulling us into the music, he insisted upon it. And that’s why it happened. And that’s why he had former students come back to school during performances so they could walk up to the the risers and sing “The Lord Bless You and Keep You”. Because choral music matters to Mr. Boyce. And we matter to Mr. Boyce. So choral music, and Mr. Boyce, matter very much to us.

This week has been long.

One afternoon while on lunch I walked to some shops a block over. One was an antique store, one a collectible store.

The antique store was museum-like, but intriguing. I felt transported to another era. I wanted to touch everything and sit there all day. There were two older women working, one was thin with dark hair, quiet.  I think she’s the kind of woman who expects appropriate behavior at all times and assumes you will handle yourself accordingly. I imagine she’s the kind of woman who’s expectations dictate those around her and I bet she’ll lay into you with the stern disappointment and will not be compromised out of any consequence she will appoint you. I bet she also puts neat inscriptions on every gift she gives revealing why she chose that gift so carefully for you and wraps it in homemade wrapping paper that looks store bought.

The collectible store was familiar. It was overflowing, shelves full of anything anyone would ever collect. It wasn’t trashy, just very full. You are already thinking of someone when you think of this kind of thing aren’t you? You know the kind of place I’m talking about. The staff was brash at first, she seemed weary, but perked right up talking to a customer. She was a larger woman, with light blonde hair. I imagine she’s the kind of woman who would never let you walk out her door unfed or in need of anything. I also imagine she’ll kick your butt in gear if necessary and has probably cursed out her preacher at least once at one point in time but still sits in the front pew like it never happened.

They were the difference between the grandmother who will set up tea with you on real china (but only with extensive discussion about how to treat the real china and constant supervision) and the grandmother who yells at you for making mud pies with her tupperware but then feeds you pudding cups.

But grandmothers are more than that, more than even the sum of your memories or the information you’ve gathered over time. Grandmothers are women; mothers and wives who were girlfriends and little girls. I feel like I uncover them more all the time. It’s obvious they’re still here, moving, resting around me. I see our reflections sometimes mixing, all three into one, a venn-diagram of sorts. It’s funny how different they seemed at first, but how alike they really were. And how I hold them both in so many ways.

All wrapped up

All wrapped up

Birthday Girl

Birthday Girl

Snow angels and shades

Snow angels and shades

Of course

Of course

There she is!

While I’m on a memory lane kick…when I was pregnant and finishing up my BA I was taking some night classes and I remember thinking everytime I was driving to school how soon I wouldn’t be able to just go like that, espcecially at night. For some reason, Gorillaz was always on the radio while I was thinking this.

So the first time I got out of the house at night (Jason worked nights, so it really was freaking impossible to get out at night with a newborn in the winter time) I went to see Ten Missing Days, they were playing on campus (one of their last shows, little did I know). I hoped to see some familiar faces (and I did see a few:). My brother in law went with me and he was driving and I remember seeing some tower (probably a cell phone tower) and I was like, how long has that been there? And he was like…ummm…a long time. And I knew I’d never seen it before and I really had been exiled from the world for too long.

I don’t know how people have more than one kid and still exisist as a person seperate from their children and their role in their life. As much as I always knew I wanted a family, I also want a lot of other things, and I want to be a full person, for my daughter as much as (if not more than) for myself. But I know everyone’s different, everything’s different in every life, so it’s just about finding what works.

People keep asking, saying she needs a sibling, now’s the time…blah blah blah. Is it just something people say, conversation filler? Do you know me or my situation at all and really think that would be a good idea? Do you just want another grandchild, cousin, niece, nephew, pregnant friend etc?Are you just curious?  Probably (except the grandparents). But still.

And I think about those first months with Natalie and I think, yea, I’d do that again in a heartbeat. But there’s so much more to it than that, and I already have Natalie and a FT job, so it would already be harder. Not to mention childcare issues, finances, and my sanity. And my body. And my sanity. Right, I mentioned that already. I’m not really willing to sacrifice myself anymore. I’m just not. So it’s not fair to bring a kid into that. I have found (am still finding) my way with Natalie, as a mom, as a person. As I’ve said, I owe her (and myself) my presence. I have a lot of things I expect from myself and am seeking right now. Now is the time for these things. I know this in my heart, in the place behind my heart. I probably have 10 more years to have kids with no inherent risk (save anything I don’t know about). And I know it’s not always easy, conception is not always textbook like it was with Natalie, but every thing is a bit of a gamble.

We make choices, with our eyes set on the expected or hoped for outcome, accepting all other outcomes that every choice bears; the variables, the things we can never know or prepare for completely. We can never predict what others will do, what will happen in our circumstances, in the world around us, and in ourselves. How harsh can we be with ourselves, with others, when no one knows?

I think one of the best things we can do is seek to be in tune with our selves, making decisions based on what feels best. Not in the instant gratification sense, but in the heart and soul sense. What feels like the best choice, minus the noise, the people, the world…from the quiet place inside (where if you believe, God resides). In my experience, these choices don’t always make sense, especially to others, they are often messy or strange at first, unexpected, but they sit easy, they are followed through because of the conviction of peace.

I am maybe adding into what I want this year: increase daily presence, practice being in tune, along with the self management and assertiveness (it really all goes together). And seeking communion with God before I breakdown, and when I’m doing well, not only in the breakdown. Like really spend time, not just “hey, thanks, everything’s cool, that’s great, want to keep it up” kind of thing

I am recognizing my reappearance more and more. The walk, a bubble bath, communication with people, the dinner tonight with Natalie, the makeup ritual, the bracelets, the earrings, the hair, it’s the little things that wash you away, it’s the little things you give up, it’s the little things you take back. “That disturb nothing too much, but everything just enough. Before you know it, you’ve lost things you didn’t even know could be taken away” (Losing Wars).

You know what? The tv’s not even on, it’s not necessary. I don’t need background noise tonight.

I’m going to be okay, everything is going to be okay.

I’m okay, everything is okay.

I want to remember everything about it. That first 10 months or so. I wonder if what happened the 11th month changed everything and then I wonder how it couldn’t. And then there was starting my “real” job at that same time. It’s hard to know what did what (graduate college, have a baby, completely question and give up on your faith/spirituality, start a career, and the worst birthday ever + aftermath: all in one year). Anyways –

I’d like to preface this by saying that I really couldn’t be a stay home mom. I really really couldn’t. I’m not cut out for it at all. But, that first while there while I was on maternity leave and all I did was take care of Natalie was one of the simplest, calmest times of my life. At the time, it was consuming and exhausting, but because it was those things, it was also the other.

What I was doing was taking care of Natlaie. That’s all. I felt competent (all that time working in daycare). She slept on my chest while I layed on the couch watching The Cosby Show and A Different World  (basic cable). At night, before she was in a crib, she slept in the bassinet beside me and I left the tv on late night talk shows so I could see when she woke up (and I’m sure for other reasons as well).

The summer sticks out in my mind, her little chubby baby self in all the little summer outfits. The first year ever it was irrelevant to me how I would look in shorts or a bathing suit (until after I saw pictures, that is).

But what really sticks out is nighttime, once she was in the crib, which was in the same room as the computer room at the apartment, which I miss a lot, but that’s another story. The computer was a nightlight, and I played this CD by Charlotte Youth Oratorio so that there would always be some noise and hopefully I wouldn’t wake her doing stuff around the apartment.

Lavender baby lotion, pampers, that cd, purple bedding, baby sleepers.

I held her last night and rocked her in my arms while she pretended to sleep and her nightlight was on, a faint blue, her radio was playing, she had taken a lavender bubble bath; it was flashback. Before my head was swimming and overcrowded. Before I was conflicted. When the absolute only thing that existed was the two of us.

I vowed to try harder to create that time for us, to be more present.

It’s like any relationship, the day to day can shroud the heart of it, if we don’t make the effort.


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