Wednesday, July 7, 2010

My 5th Grade Self

Four days away from you.  Four very long days.  All kinds of things happened.  All kinds of things.  It was a trip of polar opposites for me.  The trip to heaven.  The trip to hell.  Partners were made of happy and sad, exhilaration and frustration, present life and past life, all of them colliding in four days of emotional weather like the extremes on Mars.

I don't know where to start, I don't know how much to tell, I often ask myself that when writing this blog.  Is this a blog about helping someone else deal with breast cancer, or a blog about me helping myself with this cancer?  I don't know.  I don't know.

I do know on this trip, I was met with the unexpected and what I had not bargained on.  I thought I was just taking a road trip to see my son Batman perform.  See some fireworks.  Spend a little time with family and friends and way too much time in the car.  This is what I planned.

The trip had other plans for me.

I could tell you about seeing my son perform, the fireworks at the Rose Bowl, seeing my friends, my family, how hard it is to travel when you aren't at your best.

This is what I want to tell you about.

My fifth grade self.

One of my son's competitions, the one this last Monday night, was in Riverside, California.  I lived there my fifth grade year.

The morning we were to drive home, we went to find my old house and neighborhood, a place I had not visited in forty years.  I could not remember my street name or address, just a vague recollection of where my house should be.  I did remember that my best friend lived on 5th Street.  I was sure and not so sure.

We headed out.  I knew we lived up the hill from Fairmount Park.  I knew my friend lived on 5th Street, a couple of blocks from me and from our school and from my piano teacher's house.  I hoped we would find it.

After searching and heading in the wrong direction in what turned out to be the right streets, we travelled down 5th street, and I found Kim's house.

She lived in a beautiful Craftsman, with a porch that extended the length of the house.  Inside I remembered the charm and glory of that house, with all kinds of built-in hutches and curios, and lots of carved wood.  A lovely living room that lead to a music room behind french doors.  In the music room is the one and only time I saw Hannah, their resident ghost.

I had heard Hannah on several sleep overs, walking the halls, footsteps heard on wooden floors.  I had been in rooms where lights turned on and off.  That day in the music room, I saw a misty white smoke of a presence, and I knew it was her.

As we drove down the length of 5th, I saw Kim's house.  What a relief.  Now I knew I would find my own!  Just down the street from Kim's, turn right, yes the street was Redwood, my house was just down on the left.

There it was.  A large Spanish style house with a red tile roof, and red tile steps leading to a huge carved wooden front door.  The door has wrought iron detailing and a tiny door built into the door to screen visitors.

There it was.  I saw the pumpkin man my Mom made that Halloween, he sat on the small wall that flanked the steps up to the front door.  His body was stuffed like a scarecrow and his head was a huge huge pumpkin. 

I saw my guinea pig sunning himself in our backyard.

Lived again the night our black cat Tiger had kittens and although a comfy spot was made for her in the laundry room, she insisted on carrying her kittens up to my room.  One by one, up the swirling tile and wrought iron staircase from a movie set, Tiger carried her kittens into my room and placed them under the covers of my bed.  We moved Tiger and her kittens back downstairs a few times, but gave up when it became apparent she would not.  There is nothing like curling your toes under piles of sleeping kittens in your bed.

and what a bed!  It was a huge circular bed that came with the rental of the house - a huge round bed, filled with kittens.

My elementary school was only two blocks away; Kim and I walked home to her house using the alley that paralleled her street, letting ourselves into her backyard.  One of the mean girls followed us one afternoon and ran up and gave Kim a hard slug on the back.  I still remember how that thump sounded, and how we cried.  She cried because it hurt.  I cried because it was the first time in my life I realized someone did not like me.

My whole world was two blocks in three directions from my house.  Two blocks to Kim's.  Two blocks to school.  Two blocks to my piano teacher's house.

I would walk to his house, not really blocks, more like a winding road high up on a hill.  On the way, I walked past a house that reminded me of Wayne Manor, you know, the one Bruce Wayne lived in.  I loved that house, how grand, and the best candy that Halloween.

I lived there one year.  I lived many places in my childhood, one year.  My parents were always lured by what they thought might be better.  It never was.

I saw my 5th grade self. It's surreal when you go back to a place whose imprint on your memory is huge, but the memories do not come flooding back until you are there in that place again.  They are waiting for you.  It took me forty years to retrieve them.

I was an over thinker.  Too much time in my head.  Too much time trying to figure things out.  Not enough time spent in play.  Too much time alone.  Too much time unseen.  Too much time worrying and taking care of siblings.  Too much time daydreaming of a different life, like the one in Kim's house or the one in the mansion on the hill.

Always wanting.

I think my 5th grade self looks a lot like my 51 year old self.  Oy vey.

In a text message today regarding a completely different subject, I told my friend mft "I'm tired of growing.  I just want to be happy and have some fun."

I think that was my 5th grade self talking to me.  I'm listening.

Help me find a way to stop processing and just be present.  Help me switch my focus from growth and meaning to doing the simple things that make me happy.  I am tired of all this hard hard work I've been doing since 5th grade and every other grade and every other house I lived in.

All the houses left behind.  All the places I hoped would become Home that never did.  All the years spent as the new girl.  All the not investing because you aren't like them, you won't stay here, you won't grow up here.

Everybody has a story.  Everybody has this or that or the other they could point to and say "That's my stuff, that's why I am the way I am, that's my origin and that's the origin of the shit I carry with me."

I'm just tired of all that.  Now that I know what it feels like to go days and days and days and not feel good and barely have the energy to go to the next, gosh, it all seems so pointless.  So pointless.

I've been feeling better.  Physically feeling better.  Like a cloud and weight has been lifted off of me.  You just don't know how much you take for granted every single day until you don't feel good and you feel scared and you feel tired and you are nauseated and your mouth is dry and you just don't realize, when all of that subsides enough that you can breathe again, you just don't want to spend another day processing and being unhappy.

Ok so yeah, I'm starting the next round of chemo, my little break from my cancer shtick will be starting again on Friday, but a shift has happened in my brain.

There are a lot of things I've been holding on to.  A lot of metaphorical and literal weight I've been carrying.

I am ready to embrace lightness and let it land on me like that butterfly that landed on my bald head.  You remember?

One order of lightness please, hold the onions. 

My 5th grade self and my 51 year old self are ready to embrace lightness.

Life is too short and goes by too fast to spend another day waiting for the weather to change.

Let me be the constant in the sunshine and the storm.

Play.  Love.  Connect.  Rejoice.  Thank.  Be.

Let's give her a try, shall we?

1 comment:

kim said...

Just wanted to tell you how beautiful I think you are.

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