Finding myself in the Middle East

Thursday, March 29, 2012

In Which My Husband Throws Me out of the Car

So many things, so little with the writing of them down! I will now write down a few of those things in terse, jerky sentences, like I am being debriefed. Just because right now I am wearing a hat, and I feel all secret angent-y and mysterious.

-Turtle on the airplane. Five minutes into the flight, I was wearing the dinner that I had just fed him, in decorative swirls. Of course, I had brought changes of clothing for everyone but me. Trapped on a 12-hour flight,I smelled. For a long, long, time.

-My sister's wedding. It was beautiful. My sister. She was beautiful. And when my mother walked her down with my brother instead of my father, I cried. The ugly cry, not pretty delicate wedding tears. And my Ugly Tears Face may or may not have been in every. single. picture.

-My kiddies playing with their cousins. It makes me so happy and so sad, how well they play together. Why don't we live here? I want to live here. Then they cousins all pull out their ipads. Oh yeah. That's part of why we don't live here.

-Me playing with my siblings. We missed each other. We be loud. We be jokey. We be us; tall and loud and at times shrieky with laughter. The family that my sister married into watches us. They are small and quiet and smile politely. They watch us. We are used to this sort of arrangement.

-I met my editor! She is sweet and so pretty and gracious. I was nervous to meet her in person for no real reason, but there you have it. Outdoorsman waited in the car with the three screaming, jet-lagged progeny. I told him I would be a minute. I wasn't.

I got back in the car. "Sorry!" I said.

"No problem," he said. He smiled at me. "How was it?"

"Good! She is nice, and I met a bunch of people. I think they like me. They said it was so nice to meet me." I was quiet for a minute. The car moved around three inches through the traffic. "What do you think they meant by that?"

"By what?"

"By saying it was nice to meet me."

"'s nice to meet you?"

"No, really. Maybe they hated me."

Outdoorsman laughed. I didn't. So he stopped and blinked for a while. The car moved along another three inches. "Why would they hate you?"

"I was nervous! So I was awkward! And she asked me all these friendly questions and I didn't ask her any questions and maybe that was rude? And maybe my scarf was ugly? And everyone wore shaitels. And my skirt made me look like I had a big stomach. And they asked me to edit and I said yes."

Outdoorsman grabbed onto the one sentence that floated out of my mouth in a sea of hysteria that made sense to him. "You don't like editing."

"I do! I edit stuff for people all the time."

"That is critiquing, not copy-editing. It's different."

"Oh, gosh! You see? I got all nervous, and now I said I'd do it-"

"So tell them you can't that it's not your thing. Stick with writing. Plus sheva brachos are tonight, and cleaning, and we told Ima we'd go shopping and start cooking for Shabbas. You won't have time. Tell them."

"Yeah. Okay. They totally hate me anyway." I brooded. "That's probably what they meant by saying that they liked my writing."

Which is when Outdoorsman didn't push me out of the car, but probably should have.

They say that when you come back home, you revert to the age you were growing up there. If so, I totally got in touch with my teenage self with that last scenario. And with my 30th birthday peeking at me behind my fingers covering my eyes, it actually makes me glad to be one year further from 16.

Other than that--it is so so nice to get together with my family for good, happy reasons. I am so glad I am here. And my editor is really nice. It's not her fault that I am coo-coo for coco-puffs.

Now I have to go write an e-mail and explain that I won't edit, at least not now.

Me saying no to someone?

Piece of cake!



Wish me lucks?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

In the Valley of the Shadow

It was so nice to bump into her; I hadn't seen her in a while. She was the kind of friend and lived the kind of distance that you keep meaning to visit and you think about all the time, but then it just never happens.

She was all dressed up, and then I noticed that her kids were, too.

"So fancy, C! What's the occasion?"

"It's the day, today. The, you know. We came to say a bracha."

Tears sprang to my eyes. I wasn't there, but every mother has been there;why aren't they home yet? Maybe there was a--non,no,no, there's a perfectly reasonable explanation-- you tell yourself, but the images pass in front of your eyes unbidden--a car, driving up on the sidewalk, your husband, your children--screaming--

For most of us, they come in ten minutes later, and you say, "I was so worried! Where were you!"

And they say, "Oh, we bumped into what's-his-name,"

And five minutes later it is all forgotten.

For her, it really happened. She was home with her one-week old, resting. Her husband took the kids to a kiddush, giving her a little break.

The rest is every mother's nightmare. Except that, against all odds, they all lived.

"Today?" I repeated.

She nodded. "We made a seudah last night."

"Do I say mazal tov?"

She laughed, startled at the idea. "Yeah. Mazal tov!"

Her kids needed the bathroom, so I herded them across the street to my apartment building. "Hold hands! Princess, hold hands! Hold hands, everyone!" Eyes on the traffic, on the people, we crossed.

We made it across.

In my heart, I said a bracha.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Who is This Girl I See?

When her teacher told me to get her into Gam Saffah, so that she would be able to learn how rules worked, how to sit in a circle with everyone else, how to color in the lines and speak Hebrew fluently, I thought, Good. She won't go through what I went through, to figure it all out. No one will take advantage, no one will abuse my dreamy little girl the way I, ever the dreamer, ever not living in the present, was taken advantage of and abused.

But now I am not so sure.

Someone wise once told me that the worst thing that a parent can do is live through their children. I always thought that this was meant in terms of ambition, like those mothers who live through their daughters who are child actors or pageant queens.

But maybe it also means that we should not see ourselves in our children, because our reflections can block the real light that they are casting.

Because, she is not me. She is she.

Is it the way that you are like me, little girl, or the way that you are unlike me that I love best?



"! I can't remember the word! Ima!"

And I feel with you in that. I lose words, too, when they are most important. I get teary-eyed when you do that, little girl, and when I tuck you in at night I give you extra kisses.

You look expectantly towards the ceiling when directed to find your shoes near the couch, and my nickname was Space Cadet when I was little, coined when I went down to the basement to get a case of plastic spoons and emerged an hour later bearing a lone jar of mayonnaise.

You are bewildered by large groups, and I remember, after most of junior high was crowded in social confusion and hiding books and sketch pads underneath school books, deciding that to become popular was simply a question of science, and I figured it out like a formula. (Then promptly lost interest.)

You are so like me, my little girl, my Coco-pop.

And then I see your brown button eyes, so unlike my narrow green ones. Your auburn hair--I was blonde at your age--the tiny mole beside your upturned nose that you got from your Abba. You see things that I would never see, because you are not me. You are you, I sometimes realize with a start, when you surprise me with a thought that I would never think.

You are you.

I love you, my little sweet girl, my monkey-in-the-middle. Just like me.

I love you when you surprise me by being you.

I need to think if Gan Saffa is something that I need to heal my own kindergarten self, or something you, my-daughter-who-is-not-me, needs.

I need to clear the mirror, and look straight at you.

And you know?

I love you--the whole you--best.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...