My Daughter and Her Nipples
Crow's Feet and Time
This is my daughter; and those are her nipples.
In fairness, let me give you a minute to process that.
Yup. My daughter.
Yup. Her nipples.
I’ll just wait here quietly while you rant, drool, hurl, or whatever other judging and/or inappropriate response you wish to express.
Okay. Finished now? Because time’s up. Let’s get real.
Falling Back Together
If I lean in and peer closely enough I can still see her past the crow’s feet and time.
A tiny pocket miracle with sponge-like brown eyes drinking in the world as if it is Kool-Aid.
The latitude of her smile is geographically incorrect as it spills past her cheekbones and her ears and bounces light around the room at the tail end of her laugh which fills the air like happy wind chimes.
“I had no idea you were such a baseball fan!”
This is what people often say when they hear about my quest to see a baseball game in every one of the 30 stadiums across North America.
“No. Not really.” is my response.
Plain and simple.
I drove due South for a piece where Kansas kisses Missouri. I landed just north and a little west of Joplin where a twister summarily leveled an entire community in 2011. Once I hit the Bourbon County line I lost all cell reception. I doubt this is a coincidence. The road was straight with more dips and interest than its neighbor. If lucky, two lanes to pass the 18 wheelers. It was peppered with scrap metal trucks, two-toned cars with replacement doors and Chevy’s towing silver Airstream trailers carrying both rust and American Flags for the Memorial Day Weekend.
Cook and Milkies
There’s a lot of God and sex in Missouri. The billboards tell me so. They advertise misspelled pleasures and repentance in equal measure at approximate 200 yard intervals. They lull you into the lazy pace that seems to inhabit the sleepful walkers who live here. Towns are named Peculiar and Tightwad and Bland as if to foreshadow who you might next meet. Overalls never went out of style; and bushy beards too cumbersome for the early May heat are back in.
Listen To Your Mother
I somehow knew there would be a point in time that I would become my grandparents. But, I didn’t know it would be so instantaneous or so severe; or that it would be my maternal grandfather vs. my paternal grandmother that would be the chosen one to model. After all, I’m cubic, dark and broody like dad’s side of the family; not tall, lanky and anxious like mom’s. But suddenly, I have arrived.
Listen To Your Mother is a series of staged readings about motherhood done in 41 cities across the United States and Canada in the weeks before Mother’s Day each year.
Local writers in each of these cities write short pieces about motherhood and then audition for the opportunity to be cast. My writing was one of only 13 chosen for Rochester, New York, for the 2016 season.
The Rochester topics this year varied: funny stories of mothers who were bold characters in this world, the acceptance required to raise a transgender child, the raw pain of post-partum depression, parenting a tween as she finds her way and you lose your own, cultural definitions of motherhood, coming to terms with your own mother’s death when you know she will never meet your unborn child, the day-to-day insecurities we all feel about the little things and whether or not we are ‘good enough’, choosing non-traditional paths in life, and so many more.
Yesterday I stood and spoke in a room that swallowed my voice. Not in the “I am going to snuff you” way to which I have become so accustomed in this life. But rather in a way that felt like “more”.
A soul whisper.
Hoarse from longing.
I write because my work day is devoid of anything that resembles me. It is filled with crabby backward things and people chasing someone else’s bottom line. It smells of sulphur. With no time to pee. It’s ugly. And gray. Or, more specifically, some nasty version of 70s blue. It’s rancid and shallow and missing my authenticity.
…so I write…
I’m a 48 year old woman who hasn’t yet experienced true partnership. And I don’t just want true partnership; my entire being aches for it.
Like a pregnant body or a heart with nowhere to send its cargo, things like us either die or burst never having delivered our respective gifts to the rightful recipients…and everyone loses.
It is clear at this point in my hastening life that I will never know what it is like to feel the warm, strong and loving arms of my partner embrace me while I cradle our child. That opportunity has already passed. I held them each alone and did the best I could. That would be lovely beyond words and I ache for it too, but this I have let go.
What were they looking for, these little fingers?
They clung to my sweater. To my pant leg. To my bra strap. They wound themselves endlessly into my long curly hair. The found their way into my mouth when they were babies still; and wrapped themselves around my pinky and ring fingers while crossing the street when they were just a bit older. They kneaded my breast when they were hungry and traced hearts in the palm of my hand while we watched Snow White together. They pinched me with fingernails while I removed splinters. And tapped my cheek quietly when they wanted to crawl into bed with me at 2:00am. Sometimes they gripped the back of my shoulder while I picked the rubble out of the 12 speed road rash on their knees. Other times they held me with a death grip when their first love broke their heart. They held me just as long as my own fingers held them when I dropped them off at summer camp or, ultimately, at college.
I am supposed to be writing the piece for my audition but my brain doesn’t want me to write it just yet. And so I meander.
If you are a writer, you will likely understand.
I write a little but find myself distracted by the Google Chrome icon in my task bar which, to me, looks a lot like a camera shutter.
This makes me think of my father. I start to research where to entrust the development of the ancient film in his 1970s cameras that Mom still has so I click Chrome to browse a few labs.