27 May 2010

Head to Toe

My last dream before waking this morning a real disturber. I was myself, but my family configuration was different—I was young and unmarried and living with a father and a sister. My mother was either dead or just gone. Some of the details elude me now, but I have a strong remembrance of discovering that I was not wanted. My father, who was never seen in my dream, wished me to leave his house immediately; he didn't love me, didn't want me in his space. His excuse was that I had an anger problem, though I didn't feel angry in my dream, just very sad and terribly confused. I asked my older sister if she wanted me to go away as well, but she wouldn't answer. She told me if I got help on my own and resolved my (so-called) problem, I could come and stay with her a while in California, but that was the extent of her response. I didn't know where to go or what to do; I only knew that my family was rejecting me. I began to wonder aloud to my sister if I could apply for a foster family, but then suddenly realized I was 37. Confusion, shame, grief, fear, loneliness, despair.

Was I ever glad to wake up. My morning prayer consisted of a long list of thank-yous having to do with being wanted. I realized in a fresh way that I am wanted—by my husband, some family, some friends, even a few acquaintances. And by God. And so on like that. What a relief. Who needs to be wildly popular? Not me. I just need my own place in the universe, that fluid spot where I belong.

The next thought that came to my mind had to do with wanting to protect others from that feeling, to sniff it out, to chase it away, to heal it. That's huge—the pursuit of a lifetime. Makes me feel fierce, the desire to defend against such ugly things as rejection and abandonment.


I'll keep sitting on this dream a while and see if it hatches.

(Like the broody analogy? Everything looks like a nest anymore. What's a hen to do?)

I want to tell you what Rob and I did yesterday, a creative project with friends, but it's another story I need to let gestate for a bit. I won't forget though; that's a promise.

What I can say is that two nights ago I stayed up late and hung pictures. (Family, are you gasping from the shock?) This will mean very little to you if you've not been in my house since I painted it white from floor to ceiling. That's right—white! Rob and I have been passing through some kind of phase—the emptier the better, in a way. Lots and lots of clean negative space. I have my hypotheses, but won't get into them now. Our house has been in this whitened, echoey state for some time now. But I dug around in the basement and pulled up some dusty adornments and measured and nailed and arranged. It's like Christmas. I was determined that the first items out of mothballs, so to speak, would be two large portraits of some ancestors of Rob's, either great-greats or great-great-greats; he doesn't recall. It's been years since we've seen these portraits out in Rob's grandmother's house, and for a long time the idea of them felt heavy and intimidating. I mean, even just space-wise, these family members ask a lot of us. But something finally opened in my head and I felt perfectly ready to find them honorific spots somewhere on the walls. Rob pried the nails out of the crate they were stored in and out first came the grandmama. We both had forgotten that she was painted with a baby on her lap, a round little child holding a beautiful Johnny jump-up in its hand. We had both remembered these ancestors as being older and more solemn, but looking at them now it's obvious that they were lovely, youthful people. They are not heavy presences in the least, but really delightful to have around. They watch over us as we eat together in the dining room. such welcome guests, and their absolute arrival feels like such a good omen.

Today, I babysat two of my young cousins, 6 and 2. Have you ever made life-sized paper dolls using little girls as templates? You should get yourself a roll of kraft paper and some markers and crayons and try it. It's the mostest fun, and who doesn't love having a flat, gaudy version of herself nearby to drape on the couch or tape to the wall?

Ready for more out-of-characterness? I made up a crochet pattern. For baby booties. One or two of you might remember the last attempt I made at baby booties eons ago when I hosted a knit group. They turned out really warm and... well, memorable. Frankenstein meets Ziggy Stardust, or something like that. Technicolor. I never had the guts to give them to anyone. I like to make babies happy, not give them issues requiring therapy later in life. My booties were great for some laughs. But today's? Cotton and silk, sweet, just right. Nothing remotely nightmare-inducing, just tiny toasty toes. (By the way, they're not for anyone at my house. Just in case you were wondering.)

That's about it for the progress report. Goodnight.


c-dub said...

love this.

love you.

Stacey said...

I couldn't imagine life without my sweet cousin! Love you tons, love your thoughts. Reading your words makes me miss you more!

Mary said...

My grandfather was orphaned at nine, a story I have always known and I've known that it shaped him and how he viewed humankind. When I brought Naren home I was anxious how a first meeting would go. Grandpa was elderly, unhappy, and in pain a good deal of the time at that point, but he came rushing out to meet Naren beaming and delighted. He said "I'm so glad he's here. I remember what it's like to have nobody want you." It both warmed and broke my heart. To be 96 and still a little heartsore over being unloved and unwanted over 80 years ago. And to find kinship and love for a funny little sprout from halfway round the world because you have that in common.

Jamie said...

the whole thing made me smile. toasty toes sound good on such a cold and rainy day (where on earth is the saun hid away?). we'll all be camping in the freezing rain tonight (don't worry, we have a good heater). think of us fondly while you knit by your wood fire...:) love you.

Azúcar said...

I'm with you on the negative space.

Chemical Billy said...

You are fiercely, wholeheartedly wanted, Geo.

And your wish to protect others from this feeling? It's a role you fill for me, so very often.