Tuesday, November 27, 2012


She walks down my street with her eyes darting everywhere, absorbing every single detail at impressive speed, inhaling energy from the constant movement and the people. She turns to ask me a question, and I yank her back on the sidewalk as she starts to cross against a Do Not Walk. 

I am the little sister. I'm not the one who is supposed to be looking out for her. I'm not the one who should be living the city life, free and easy as I go. This is her paradise, her energetic eyes jumping here and there.

It wasn't supposed to be me.

She had her first baby at 18, and then two more followed.

But me, the little sister who wrote down the names of the ten children I wanted to have and pictured them all while daydreaming in my closet of the life I was going to have--I got to leave. I walked across the graduation stage, and straight to DC and my life exploded into something else.

I'm not hiding in my closet anymore, throwing a softball in the air, daydreaming, and getting quiet if anyone came in the room to listen for me.

My sister (step-sister, technically) brought up my older nieces and nephew up for Thanksgiving break. We did so much that I don't even know where to start--let's just say there was no museum or monument left unturned and untouched. We never, ever, ever stopped. The kids and I collapsed into our beds and air mattresses each night.

My sister has emotional issues, and veers and swings wildly from happy to sad to pissed to manically ecstatic. I've said it before and I'll say it again...how my nieces and nephew turned out to be such wonderful, balanced kids, I'll never know.

The kids had a blast. All 3 want to move here.

So does she.

She is awed of me, proud of me. She also looks at me with a bit of resentment under her gaze, a little bit of defensiveness. Pride.

It was never supposed to be me that didn't end up on the farm - yet...

She has no idea how long I've plowed this city ground to turn it into a fertile life. No idea of the struggles, no idea of the things unsaid and unmentioned. The tears and blood in your mouth and empty lonely feeling in your stomach when you realize that no one is going to ever rescue you but you. And I can't explain it -- there are some things that you can't tell someone who thinks you have a perfect life. They'll never believe you.

"After all, those were passionate times, when children were pioneers... on the road to find out, wherever that road might take them. When brothers and sisters, looking back... wished they'd known each other better." --The Wonder Years

Me and my niece Carlee; she is the one who will get away.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Veterans Day, Two years ago-

I walked to the Vietnam Wall today -this sounds impressive, until you realize it's less than two miles from my home. I passed many veterans along the way, most about my father's age, and a good deal that were alone. That surprised me.

I tripped, at one point. My foot caught into a hole, and I went down hard on my hand, but didn't completely lose my balance. I thought, wildly, of last November when I was still in a cast. I was swarmed over by many concerned people, but I was luckily fine, and managed to walk another mile and a half home.

I was walking along, and recalled my own words, written in 2010, that are somehow even more appropriate now, today, in 2012 - as my life continues to change and rearrange, and I am working on leaving old scars and hurts behind.

November 11, 2010

I am thinking of Madeline Alice Spohr, who would have been three today.

I am thinking of Henry Louis Granju, a boy whose life touched mine after he left his own.

I am thinking of all the children whose lives never got to be completed, and all the children whose lives are in progress in my life, and how I am learning to parent without ever parenting at all.

I am thinking of the future children in my life on whom I may be able to use all this parenting practice.

I am thinking of my two best friends, one of whom I will spend my Thanksgiving with. Whose hand I will hold before prayer, just as I have for over fifteen years.

And the sweet faces I will hug to me this weekend.

I am thinking of my grandfather, who served in WWII, along with his six brothers. Seven brothers went to war. Seven brothers came home. He wanted me to write a book about him and his brothers--maybe someday, I will. I wish I could have just one more conversation with him.  

So -here's to the veterans of war, the veterans of boot camp, the veterans of immeasurable loss. And here's to the veterans who survived the wars of their own homes, the nightmares of broken dreams and broken families, and to those who came out the other side with a slight limp from suffered hurt.  To those who suffered the wars in their own minds from mental illness, and those who suffered the wars of addiction. I salute you.

We are all survivors of something--veterans of the wars we fight on land, air, sea and our minds.

Here's to them. Here's to us. Let's whisper thank-you to the wind, and hope it reaches someone's ear.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

You Don't Own Me

“No self respecting woman should wish or work for the success of a party that ignores her sex.” Susan B. Anthony, 1872.