What happened? Christmas Eve was my Mom's birthday so I cried all afternoon and then put on my game face and went out and made merry with friends old and new. Everything was on the tip of my tongue, almost said. This one guy, Spence, who is a scrooge on his best day, and a racist and homophobic pig, well, indeed I hugged him for showing me that he, too, is fragile. He's a funeral director.
For some reason, people like punching me in the arm. "Cheers, kiddo!" Punch. Like they are too nervous to embrace. That's as far as affection might go. Spence gazed skyward as I put my arms around him, marlboro man, cowboy boots, lined face, stiff limbed; I forgave him for everything he can't forgive himself.
Now I need someone to do that for me.
I called my family yesterday, and my nieces were playing "school". On Christmas morning. My niece, Alice, who is a terrorist by the way, was "teaching" her older sister, Sophie. Sophie is a gentle genius, a poet, the soul of feelings. Am I allowed to have favorites? She feels everything so deeply, like me, and we know each other, at nine and forty three respectively, like we have done this all before. "Aunt Alison, it is always so interesting to talk to you." You too, Sophie.
Do you think they'll play "Christmas" when they go back to school?
I wonder who knows me now. As much as I fought with my mother, she knew me in a way nobody else will ever know me. That's why we fought - fatal flaws are not prettified by external examination. I have an inflamed cyst - no, really - right next to my heart. A brutal swelling that manifested mere days ago, that won't be cured by antibiotics because I'm immune to that stuff, having fought infection too much in the past. It's like an external heart on my chest, ugly and red and amazing and vivid. My life is lived with actual metaphors blooming in and around me. It's a story, a long story. I'm unsure if the whiskey cure is helping.
My mother's house is under contract, and a big storm is brewing. I said to my sister in law, yesterday: "The house is basically sold. The closing date is January 28th. Let's hope it doesn't snow too much between now and then!" Blizzard warning, five hours later. Famous last words. I have to get the shed cleared out today, before a foot and a half of fucking snow barricades that door. Where will I put it all? My heart is too full, as is my basement.
There is only so much room! I constantly adjust to let things, people, cats, friends, in and out. I spend my life creating spaces for all of these things and people and cats and children and drunks and everyone likes to punch me on the arm. "Cheers, kiddo!" Punch. There's room on the back porch, which has become a joke. Now I just put everything on the back porch, and I don't think the buyer of my mom's house really wants the contents of the shed, although that eco friendly lawn mower could shave off $500.00 in closing costs if you think about it. But he's already getting the appliances as a trade off for a little windowsill rot.
Is everything poetry? Who the hell is familiar with windowsill rot? The imprint of my mother's hand, the cast the nurse made moments after her death, sits on the back porch. I thought I would bury it in her garden, but now I find that I can't. I'll bury it in my garden, although I don't have one. I'll have to get one. I'll have to make one - a garden for her hand.
Yesterday was an orphans Christmas, spent in the new studio space of a wonderful artist and friend. She does mosaics on antique appliances (among other things) - so there's an ancient fridge (well, a few, but this one) in her studio that she mosaiced with tiny shards of glass, and when you open it, there's a neon light that spells:
KINDNESS. If you only open the freezer it just spells: KIN. Other than that, it doesn't work. I like utilitarian things to have new purposes, like friendships and relationships, mothers and daughters, words and tool sheds.
Among the four orphans was a man who owns a printing company - a peaceful man who manages his payroll by contracting with Smith and Wesson, the local gun company, to print the "how to" manuals for firearms. He has a tattoo of an obsolete typeface on his shoulder. It's a good Christmas when a healthy discussion about dipthongs breaks out and Noam Chomsky is mentioned.
I insisted that we dance to the backstreet Boys "I Want It That Way", the CD of which I forced my dear one to get me as a free prize from Burger King. Reluctant cheeseburger, silly prize. That was years ago, before I didn't have everything I have and the one thing I want.
My friend said to me last week: "But you didn't even get along with your Mom. You were always complaining about her." Subtext: "Get over it." My reply? "Exactly." Nothing left to bitch about. That friend needs to open the fridge and see KINDNESS in blue fucking neon.
Now I have two of everything and one of nothing. Spence got a hug because, for once, he let me see the pink corners of his black heart. I have two hearts. I will never get over it. This one is for you.
It's time to prepare for the big storm. To open that door, to rearrange everything, to make room for that thing, that thing we always strugle to make room for. That homeless couple and that child in the stall, among the beasts of burden. That light that tries to shave away the darkness by seconds and eventual minutes everyday.
That hand, that word, that gesture.
That door that, when you open it, sings out the message: KINDNESS.
(Love to you all.)