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BY suzy

09/01 Direct Link
Everything is changing. The frothy Queen Anne's Lace, the sky-blue gentians, the sunny Butter & Eggs have all gone, replaced by deep red sumac and flaming goldenrod. Soon, the milkweed pods will release their hidden silk into the air, signifying the end of the summer and of the monarch butterflies. The orange of the butterflies will be replaced by turning leaves. The tall grasses will give way to snow. Under it all, the earth is working to replace the remains of the long-gone battery factory, where all these things grow. Beautiful things can grow in even the worst places.
09/02 Direct Link
Stunned. She can't believe the evidence of her own eyes. In seconds, a decade of trust in a marriage has been swept away. She stumbles out of the apartment, instinctively heading for her car. She doesn't know where she's going, but she has to leave. Now. The old Mustang convertible roars to life. As she drives through the night, she doesn't realize that she has a stowaway, though she'll find out soon enough that she can't run away from her problems. Later, she'll run away from her marriage, but she'll always be haunted by those few seconds when everything changed.
09/03 Direct Link
The baby lies in her playpen on a summer day. She's beside a window in the old house. For once, she's on her own, not being fussed over by adoring grandparents and siblings and parents, not been fed, changed, or bathed. This baby came along late in her parents' life, so she is a special gift. To her sisters, she's a living doll. What with one thing and another, she doesn't get much time to herself. The baby looks out the window and sees the snowball bush outside waving in the breeze. She laughs delightedly. It's her first laugh. Hers.
09/04 Direct Link
He couldn't understand what the Man and the Boy saw in the Woman and the Girls. As far as he could tell, they never did anything interesting, and failed to understand the compliment of a dead snake presented at their feet and why all cats must be chased on sight. But since the Man seemed to think the Woman and Girls needed to be looked after, he did his duty. When the Man was home, he'd sleep on the landing. When the Man was away, he slept with his big body across the front door to guard everyone from harm.
09/05 Direct Link
I am hating the detox. No bread, starch (including seemingly innocent vegetables like artichokes and corn), sugar (including booze) for fourteen days. It's supposed to make me feel all energized and amazing. The best you've ever felt! claims my trainer. But the ugly reality is a constant, low-grade headache and stomachache, inability to get to sleep, frayed nerves, grumpiness, fatigue and boredom. I can't stand it. I think I'm just naturally naughty. But after four hellish days of this, there's no way I'm giving in. Well, maybe one very big martini. Then it's back to the broccoli. For now.
09/06 Direct Link
I figure if I have to go through the hideous detox process, I might as well renovate the outside of Self as well as the inside. Much more amusing. Tomorrow, I'm having my blondeness restored, and next week I'm getting my eyelashes and eyebrows glamorized. Finally, I'll get my nails done, and I'll be as pretty as I can be in preparation for the combination business trip/family reunion that looms on the horizon. I hope I can keep the stress and detox under control while I'm away, and maybe even have some fun. It's the beginning of a new age.
09/07 Direct Link
At the salon, there was some TV person having her hair done. I didn't recognize her, and I kept hoping the stylist would say her name after overhearing intriguing snippets like:

"Who does your hair on the show? It looks so great!"

"I hate my hair on the show!"

Later she complained about not being able to get into any of her three favorite restaurants in New York, so she can't be that famous.

Another stylist was talking about last night's party:

"She was so loud. And she never shut up. Was she drunk or something?"

No. It's all natural."

09/08 Direct Link
Family legend claims that Mom was abandoned as a newborn on the steps of the orphanage in upstate New York. She was supposedly the product of an illicit affair between the married town doctor and one of his unmarried patients. My grandparents adopted her when she was two. They always told her, Out of all the children in all the world, we chose you. Other parents just have to take what they get. However, they moved immediately after adopting her. Mom said she never cared who her birth parents were. But I wonder how her birth mother felt about it.
09/09 Direct Link
I wish I'd thought about Mom's biological mother and father before now. Mom was 74 when she died last year, so it's highly unlikely that her parents are still living. I'm glad that Mom never felt stigmatized by being adopted, and that my grandparents loved her so much, but I wish I'd had the humanity and compassion to at least register so that Mom's birth parent(s) could contact me. Now that she's gone, I wish I knew more about who she came from. There's always the desire to know more, to try and understand, even when there's no evidence left.
09/10 Direct Link
I think the detox may finally be working. I woke up feeling pretty good. I even resisted a martini last night! Took the dog for a walk and enjoyed the cool morning air, bright sunshine and the empty streets. Of course, the streets are never so empty that there's no-one to admire my dog. A guy stopped to pet her and ask her name while precariously balancing a tray of coffee for his fellow early workers on a film set. Seems there's always time to fuss over her, whether you're making a building, or a film, or just walking along.
09/11 Direct Link
Bonnie sat for her senior portrait, wearing a new dress and a string of pearls given to her by her parents and a smile given to her by Roger. They were engaged. He was so handsome! As the photographer fussed with his camera, Bonnie waited serenely, looking into the future she and Roger would have together. Children. A home. Happiness. She could not know then that Roger would never graduate, would die, drowned in a lake they had swum in together so many times. They were both lifeguards, but she couldn't save him. After he died, she couldn't save herself.
09/12 Direct Link
They had told her she couldn't have children, and she and her husband accepted that fact. They thought they would adopt, because in those days, it was unthinkable to be married and not have children. Childless couples were not families. They were either selfish or unfortunate, suffering from some kind of malady that could only be whispered about, though mostly the woman was blamed, whatever the circumstances. However, it turned out that the doctors were wrong, and before they knew it, they had four children and no idea what to do with them. Suddenly, they were parents. Everything had changed.
09/13 Direct Link
As I'm making dinner, I hear my man asking his mother on the phone, What about my father? Have you heard from him? His parents were divorced 40 years ago, yet he relies on his mother for news of his father. His father never calls. He only cares about his son from his second marriage. He cares nothing for the surviving four children of his first marriage, or the daughter of his second. In fact, he seems to care little about his second wife. His first wife thinks she's had a lucky escape. I don't know what my man thinks.
09/14 Direct Link
I put myself in the hands of other women. They highlight my hair (buttery blonde, dark and light strawberry blonde), care for my hands and feet, paint my nails (chocolate mousse on my toes, cotton candy on my fingers — seems to be a food theme), tint my lashes, shape and tint my brows. I think I'm pretty much colored in where I can be. When I was 16 and getting ready for a date, my 7 year old sister watched me and said seriously, You're so beautiful, but you're more beautiful when you're all colored in. Aren't we all?
09/15 Direct Link
Giving the dog a bath made me dirty in turn. As I washed her thick fur and rinsed her off in the courtyard, I thought how underpaid the groomers are. It's hard work! I dried her off with two towels — she enjoyed that part of the process — and put another dry one on her bed. She fled to her bed as soon as I let her back inside, giving me a reproachful look as if to say, How could you do this to me? During the whole process, she kept her elegant nose in the air, above it all.
09/16 Direct Link
So it's all kinds of incorrect of me, but I was deeply annoyed by all the old and/or messed up people getting on the bus today. It seemed there was an endless supply at every stop. I was on my way to see the doctor and stressed by getting ready for a long and emotional trip, so my small store of patience was used up quickly. Call me ageist, sizeist, whatever — like Ferris Bueller, isms in my opinion are not good. And as my father used to say, I never said I was nice. No fear of contradiction here.
09/17 Direct Link
Flying went better than I thought. Breezed through the additional security precautions, got my upgrade, and braved the usual Rocky Mountain Turbulence without the aid of drugs or alcohol. I faced my old hometown unafraid. I began to wonder what had possessed me to leave this beautiful place and its perfect Suzy weather: sunny and warm, but not hot, cool and breezy at night. Flowers all year. Rain only in the winter. Fabulous shopping and restaurants. Maybe moving back would be a good idea, if I can forget about the past, stop worrying about the future, and enjoy the present.
09/18 Direct Link
As soon as I arrived, I had a sudden, violent attack of allergies: sneezing, sore eyes, runny nose. I never had allergies when I lived here, so it was a surprise, especially considering that I was here a year ago. Now it seems to have passed, like a violent storm. However, today I managed to fall and bruise both my knees badly and wrench my lower back. This may be payback for all the bad thoughts about the old and weak people on the bus, since now I'm limping around like the worst of them. At least I take taxis.
09/19 Direct Link
Serena, belying her name, did not feel serene. Instead, she was mourning the loss of her looks and doubted whether she would ever find them again. They had almost certainly hidden somewhere far away and obscure enough never to be found again. America's Most Wanted: My Youth and Beauty. Looking back, she's not quite sure where she and her loveliness parted ways, or exactly how she ended up dragging around this heavy, unfamiliar, aging body instead of her light, energetic real body. Possibly it's a conspiracy of the three of them: youth, beauty, slimness, all leaving her, never to return.
09/20 Direct Link
It certainly was strange getting all dressed up for the conference. My lovely diamonds were happy to see the light of day again, and grumbled something about how they might as well have stayed in the ground for all the sunlight they see. Well, they don't have the horror of nylons and heels. All they have to do is sparkle and look pretty. I wish that was my job! The whole time I was there, I was convinced the grown-ups were going to figure out that I was an imposter and send me back to high school where I belong.
09/21 Direct Link
It was the best I'd ever felt in my former home town. That's the good news. The bad news is that it was as if I were looking at it and experiencing it through glass. I couldn't touch it, and it couldn't touch me. It was almost as if the whole thing was happening to someone else. I was on auto-pilot, snapping back to my former self, remembering where the streets, restaurants, shops were without consciously thinking about it. Will I ever be here and be really present? Maybe being part of the past, present, and future is too painful.
09/22 Direct Link
My sister's garden is beautiful and peaceful. I awake every day to bright blue, sunny skies. I sit in the sun on a weathered wooden chair my mother bought. It was ludicrously expensive, but Mom loved things like that. This is my first visit since Mom died last August, and I dreaded it, fearing all the emotions that would come flooding back at being where she had lived the last few years of her life. But in keeping with the city numbness, I didn't feel much. Just glad I'd done all I could do for her while I still could.
09/23 Direct Link
I love sitting in the garden, listening to the wind in the redwoods and the hummingbirds buzzing by to feast on the brilliant fuchsias. The sun is warm on my face, and defiant of wrinkles, I raise my face to it, eyes closed, remembering how much my father loved the feeling of the sun. Whenever he visited us in California, he delighted in the warmth of the sun after the cool, greyness of England. He would be so happy to know that his youngest children now own their very own part of California: thirty unspoiled acres of meadows and forest.
09/24 Direct Link
Gwendolyn had always been defined by her beauty and elegance. Even though she grew up on a farm, she had real style by the time she was in high school. Her father hadn't wanted her to go to school at all, but Gwendolyn had her own ideas. She knew she wasn't going to end up like her mother, bearing a dozen children in rural isolation. Gwendolyn was meant for the city, for excitement, admiration, adventure. She got all those things and more. Two happy marriages, beloved by all, she lived a rich, beautiful life, and died peacefully in her sleep.
09/25 Direct Link
Emma couldn't believe it. Not again, she thought. Other people might have lost track of the number of miscarriages she had, but not Emma. She mourned each of the seven babies, the loss of hope, a pearl of sorrow on a string of disappointment. Emma's own mother had six children and had never been in the hospital a day in her life. Her husband's mother had had her own half dozen. Why couldn't Emma, who wanted to so badly, have just one child? She couldn't keep suffering like this. When her husband came home, she said, We have to adopt.
09/26 Direct Link
My sister tells me a secret. Some of the decisions she made regarding Mom's care were for the good of her own marriage. Her husband of 15 years had endured Mom living with them for the last few years of her life, some of it in their home, where there was little space and no privacy. I could have had her at home at the end, my sister tells me, but it would have cost me my marriage. In the end, Mom would still be dead and Rob would be alive, and I wanted him with me. Such incredible wisdom.
09/27 Direct Link
Married twice, she had never been able to have children. She heard the whispers; other women saying casually cruel things like Her kind never does, meaning beautiful women, with the selfishness that implies. They didn't know how her heart ached, or how she hid her pain. Eventually, she did have a daughter: one of her students, to whom she became very close. The girl sent her mother's day cards for the rest of her life, even though her own mother was still alive. It was a gesture of love, an appreciation for the gifts they were in each other's lives.
09/28 Direct Link
We are all we have now. Our parents are gone, and though we range in age from mid-thirties to mid-forties, it's frightening to be orphans, to have no-one to turn to for advice or guidance. We do our best to help and support each other. When my sister and brother bought their land, she called me in a panic about owing the bank so much money, fearing the payments and all the things that could go wrong. I reassured her and I could hear her calm down on the phone. Usually she's the one calming me down. She is fearless.
09/29 Direct Link
The old clichÃÆ'© is true: it's good to be home. My dog greeted me joyously, making me feel special and wonderful, even though she had been very happy with her caretaker, who had pretty much fallen in love with her himself. I went to bed early and slept late, luxuriating in my own bed and hearing the dog's deep, contented breathing as she slept on her own bed beside mine. Hotel beds are comfortable, but they aren't my own bed. Made coffee and drank it slowly from my favorite mug, enjoying the crisp, sunny day and the feeling of home.
09/30 Direct Link
Back in the city, I notice the characteristic sounds in the background. The soundtrack is familiar, the same as it ever was: the deep, low voice of the foghorns, calling across the ocean, the bright, merry clang of the cable cars' bells, the rough, distinctive cries of the wild parrots passing, their bright wings clattering and flashing in the sun. These sounds were as familiar to me as my family's voices when I lived here, and like their voices, made me feel happy and at home. Now, they seem melancholy and a little foreign, the soundtrack to someone else's life.