20 April 2009

My Heart’s Desire

As I have mentioned a few times (or so), my birthday is coming up. I’m planning a big party and looking forward to it. T was a little taken aback by the number of invitations I sent out:

T: How many people did you invite?

E: Oh, quite a few.

T: Give me a number.

E: 120

T: What ?!? I was thinking about 12 or 15 would be enough.

E: Well, I have a lot of friends and I didn’t even invite everyone. Plus, usually only half the number you invite actually come to the party, so maybe we’ll have 60. That’s not so bad.

But, I would trade every invitation for just one visit from my daughter.

I have been cherishing a secret hope, and no doubt in vain, that she will magically turn up at the party and spend the weekend with us. I keep thinking that it will play out like a sit-com surprise party: The party will be humming along and then all of a sudden there is a hush and someone yells, “Hey, Zoe’s here!” Everyone cheers! The mom cries tears of joy! I would be just about the happiest I could be if that actually happened.

A few weeks ago T asked me what I wanted for my birthday. She said, “I can’t afford to fly Zoe out for your birthday, and I know that’s what you really want, but is there something else?” There isn’t really. All I could come up with was a new bath pillow.

I have asked Zoe several times if she could come out for the party. Even just for the weekend – leave Friday and return Sunday. She says no. She has consistently said no.

So, in the face of all this rational behavior and consistently negative answers to the question, why do I persist in this futile hope that the daughter will be coming this weekend? The common sense part of my brain accepts the fact that she won’t be there. And, when friends ask if she’ll be there I give them a regretful no. I know that she won’t be there. I really do know that. But….

Deep in my heart there is that ridiculous hope. The hope that T and Zoe have planned it all out and that it is going to be the biggest and best surprise in the world. T will say something like, “I have to run some errands, I’ll be back in an hour.” I’ll be doing an ordinary party prep kind of thing like preparing hors d’oeuvres. I’ll hear the car pull into the driveway and then two car doors slam instead of one. Hmm. That’s funny. Then as I hear footsteps on the front porch there is the sound of voices, two voices. Who is T talking with? Then the key in the lock and then her voice, “Hi Mama! Surprise! Happy Birthday!” We’ll all be grinning like fools, I’ll be dancing around and jumping up and down crying out, “Yay, Yay, Yay! Zoe’s here!” and hugging her like mad.

Or maybe it plays out like this: T has been getting some mysterious phone calls and text messages. She doesn’t tell me who it is. Or maybe she tells me it’s her coworker, Michelle. Then, after one particular message, she jumps up and says, “Get your shoes on, we’ve got to run to the store.” I will say, “Oh, you go ahead. I’ve got stuff to do here.” “No, you have to come. I need your input on something.” So, I’ll go with her and then we’ll pass the store and I’ll say, “Hey, where are you going?” “We have one other stop to make.” “Where?” “You’ll see” Then, we take the road to the airport. Zoe will be waiting at the curb. Tears will well up in my eyes and I’ll say “What the…? Is that Zoe? When did you two plan this out? Thank you, thank you, thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou….”

I could spin any number of possible scenarios involving the Kid coming for a visit. I have done so.

It’s pathetic. I know that. That’s why I haven’t told anyone that I am cherishing this secret hope in the deep, labyrinthine part of my heart. It’s juvenile. It’s embarrassingly needy. It’s downright contrary to keep hoping for something that you know good and goddamn well isn’t going to happen.

But, come on, you can’t blame me for hoping...

16 April 2009

20 Question meme

GrumpyGranny http://grumpygranny.wordpress.com/ posted this meme and yeah, I'll play along!

1. My ex… is long gone.

2. Maybe I should… quit my job and do what I really want.

3. I love… the people in my life (the important ones!)

4. People would say that I’m… calm.

5. I don’t understand why… we can’t all have equal civil rights.

6. When I wake up in the morning… I make the coffee.

7. I lost my… way for awhile, but I found it again.

8. Life is full of… wonder, delight, gratitude.

9. My past… was worth it.

10. I get annoyed by… people who take up more than one seat on the bus.

11. Parties are… fun, depending on who attends.

12. I wish life was not… so short.

13. Dogs are… poop machines.

14. Cats are… shedding.

15. Tomorrow is… on its way.

16. I have a low tolerance for… arrogance.

17. If I had a million dollars… I’d get it all sorted out.

18. I’m totally terrified… when my parents go on long car trips.

19. My partner… loves me.

20. My life is… grand!

08 April 2009


I had a dream last night, or rather very early this morning. It was quite vivid, cinematic. It began suddenly, as if I dropped into a dream that was already happening, or into someone else’s dream.

In the dream, Zoe and I were driving. Well, Zoe was driving and I dropped into the passenger seat. It was dusk, and night was quickly darkening the sky. We were in the wide open west, traveling across a vast valley with dark mountains towering in the distance.

As we drove, lights came on in clusters far away from the highway. We were headed to a mountain pass through which we could just see the fading light of sunset. There was a sense of urgency in our journey, but where we were going I can’t say.

We approached the pass. Lights from houses were visible but did not illuminate their surroundings. They served as decorations to the highway, sparkling signposts with no direction. We began the climb to the summit. I could hear the engine and feel the vibration shift in the car. We wound back and forth across the face of the slope, nearer and nearer to the top.

I don’t know what was beyond the pass because, as it often happens in dreams, I awoke before reaching either the top or a conclusion. While it’s frustrating not to see the end of a story, I felt good about the dream. I felt as if I had spent time with Zoe. Her presence is so familiar, her energy so constant and reliable.

Zoe has a remarkable ability to direct her dreams. I am going to try to do so tonight, so that I can see where we are headed. I mean that literally and metaphorically. I want so much for my daughter; sometimes it seems that I want more for her than she does.

Her happiness is important to me. I realize that at age 25 her life is hers to manage. Oh! If only I had a magic wand and the perfect spells to cast! The things I would change! Voila, no more bad boyfriend! Poof, back in the Pacific Northwest! Zap, back in college!

One of the hardest things about being a parent is letting go. I've had to do so and there have been agonizing times to live through. My life is no success story which gives me the experience to say, "You don't need to go through this." But, apparently, there are lessons that must be learned first hand and slowly (painfully so from my perspective).

I miss my daughter every single day.

07 April 2009

Anonymous and Invisible

Hair color and pattern are genetic traits so I have always known how my hair will look when I get old. My mother started going gray when she was in her early twenties. She now has a beautiful head of white hair ~ as did her mother. I definitely had strands of gray in my early twenties, increasing from the front to the back as every decade passed.

I started coloring my hair in my mid-thirties. It was easy ~ a $5 box of Clairol and I was good to go. It changed my outward appearance just a little. Made me look my age, rather than a few years older. After a couple of years I threw caution to the wind and dyed my hair bright pink. That was fun but it wore thin pretty quickly. After that I went back to auburn brown but kept a pink streak in the front. Eventually I got tired of the two color dye job, gave up the pink streak and was content to be an anonymous brunette.

The great thing about hair is that it grows out. That is also the drag of it, when you color your hair; always dealing with the racing stripe. For blondes, it’s the dark roots. For older gals like me, it’s the silver shining through.

Several years ago I stopped coloring my hair. I wanted to see how much gray there was and I just wasn’t bothered enough about it to put forth the effort of maintaining the color. I let it get a pretty good grow-out and then cut it short. I really liked it! I liked it short and I liked it gray.

That was when I truly became aware of the invisibility factor.

Old people, especially women, are invisible in our society. We are not valued in our youth-obsessed culture. I was surprised at how people’s eyes just slid over me as if I wasn’t there. I have always enjoyed/suffered attention from oglers – not that I am fabulously beautiful, just pretty and friendly. Oh, and I have big tits. I was surprised when that stopped happening; and surprised at how immediately it stopped. (As an aside, I was talking with two of my best friends about this and they said it is the same for large women. They feel completely invisible unless they are an object of scorn.)

So, I was mulling this over yesterday. It was a beautiful sunny day and I left work a little early to walk home. I walked through the Portland State University neighborhood, and past St Mary’s Academy (a catholic high school for girls). I was part of the stream of pedestrians going about their business but at the same time, not part of it. When surrounded by college or high school age students, it is obvious that I am much older. I am already fading into the background.

I was thinking about it especially because my 50th birthday is coming up and it’s a good time to assess one’s life. I have decided to cut my hair again and let it grow out to its natural color. I’m not going to cut it quite as short as the last time – I’m thinking chin length – but definitely going back to gray/white/silver. I’ve been coloring it of late so that I don’t look so much older than my girlfriend. But, I’m getting over that. I know we’re the same age; I don’t care all that much what other people think.

I’m prepared to become invisible again. One can get away with a lot when nobody pays attention to you. I may take up a life of crime! More likely, I will continue my self-appointed task of observing and reporting on life. It’s easier to do so from the periphery. And more comfortable knowing that no one is looking back at you.

06 April 2009

Spring and words

There is a tide to the current of words that flows through me. In spring words, like sap, warm up and begin flowing again.

Some words are cooking inside and on the page, but I was rereading some and this one called out to me. It wants to be read.


I watched your reflection
Ripple in the water
Distorting and reforming
Until again smooth

Is that interpretation or is it life?
Our surfaces flex
Contorting and shattering
But our core remains solid

In the moving waters of my mind I see you
Shimmering and shifting
Currents take hold
But never sweep you away

Your essence is solid and reassuring
And if tonight I forget, as I wade in dreams
What you look like
In the morning the whisper of your breath
On my neck, the weight of your arm
Spooning me close
Brings me back and reminds me
Who we are

ek 3/08