Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I am, I Said

I am stealing the idea for this post from Maria, though I am a little intimidated by her eloquence and ability to hold little (but probably more than I think) back.

I am from a hot island paradise off the coast of South Carolina. Of two lost and confused souls that found themselves in the United States Marine Corps, who then moved on to other locations on the east coast including Quantico, VA, where I was born. From a woman who was the only surviving child of aging parents, who as a young mother sent her husband off to war. From a man forever scarred by both the battles he fought in his youth in Illinois farmland and then as a young man in Vietnam jungles. Semper Fidelis.

I am from a three-story semi-detached house in a neighborhood in Queens, New York long gone. A neighborhood of 2nd generation northern European immigrants, where my mother grew up. Where word of my misdeeds reached home before I did. A house with lush, fragrant lilac and rose bushes, both a font and back yard, with a hill, where a hundred years from now, archaeologists will probably find spoons from my grandmother's silverware drawer that we used to dig holes, and make mud pies. From a huge black and white Zenith wooden console TV where we watched Lawrence Welk's Little Bubbles, Guy Lombardi usher in the New Year, the Watergate hearings, and the Mets winning the World Series.

I am from a day in January when my Grandfather picked us up from school looking sadder than anything I'd ever seen. He told us that Grandma died. I was 8, and morbidly curious about the dead body in the other room. My brother, whose birthday was the next day, was 6. It was the first of 2 birthdays he would lose to a poorly timed death. It was then that my mother decided that we needed to know religion, and enrolled us in the same Catholic school she attended, sent us to CCD classes to catch up and make the sacraments of initiation one right after the other.

I am from a sunny day in May of my 9th year when I stood in front of my mother in my communion dress and veil. It was the first and last time I ever heard her say that I was beautiful. I am from Easter dresses with hats, gloves, purse and plastic jewelry, Christmas morning with lots of presents, Mercurochrome and the Good Humor Man. I, too, am from don't talk back, get out of my sight and bring me the belt.

I am from an awkward teenager with mile-long legs, microscopic shorts, and a forbidden tube top who had her first real kiss, cigarette, and feather roach clip at the age of 14. It was then I began to know that I inspired both lust in the boys and discomfort in the girls, and how to use it.

I am from a forbidden romp on my mother's living room floor in 1981 that resulted in procedure that required me to lie about my age, and experience a pain I've not felt before or since. I stayed with Jack nearly a year after that before we grew apart. Thus began my political awareness of women's issues. I am from a Thanksgiving vacation in Rangeley, Maine, when I realized pleasure was a gift I could give myself, which Jack never could.

I am from a late night revelation that I could indeed get out of my dysfunctional household...all I needed to do was get my academic act together and go to college. I took to this with a missionary zeal. Took every elective I could, excelled in AP classes, scored well on my SATs, filed as many applications as I could for far off schools, and began the countdown.

I am from a dormitory room in Purchase, New York where I decided to lay down the bitterness I had been carrying toward my father, the consequence of which was enduring my mother’s deep resentment. I think that was my very first experience actually realizing bittersweet. I was a waitress that July, and stayed out all night with a patron. The night before that would be the last night I spend under my mother's roof. She took my keys, gave me a suitcase and set me free.

I am from a night in August of my 22nd year spent visiting a friend. It was that night I met a man who walked me home. It was the night I allowed my fear of being alone to take over. The night I stopped allowing myself a choice. He would become my husband.

I am from a sleepless night in early October 1995 when I found out I was pregnant. I was absolutely giddy. It was the most boundless joy I had ever felt until the brutally hot, humid and magical day in June of 1996 when I delivered my long awaited son. When I looked into his serene, wide open, deep blue eyes I was forever changed. It was the day I understood the booming voice from on high that said, "This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased."

I am from the cold raw day in December 2003 when I buried my father, experiencing heretofore-unknown grief, but gaining a family I have come to love and depend upon like breathing.

I am from a night when I was just shy of my 41st birthday when I realized that love could and should be expressed, shared and made regardless of the gender of the lover. And from the realization that some expressions of love come at a great sacrifice.

I am from realizing to both my delight and my despair that I can sleep peacefully all night long tangled up in a man's body, just not the body I am supposed to be tangled up in. That I can spend hours on end talking about an endless array of topics, just not with the person I should be. Because the person with whom I should be speaking has fallen asleep hours earlier. Every night. I am from the knowledge that abandonment takes on many, many forms, and I have experienced almost all of them.

I am from making my bed and lying in it. And trying everything I can to find some peace in it.



SOUL: said...

holy hell R--

very well done.

you have a great talent --- but you know that
and you also know i waaay overuse that word (great)--
but wow.
this almost makes me want to shelve "a work in progress" i have goin on.




jason said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Maria said...

That was so, so lovely. I've read several of these and I think they paint a far more beautiful story of someone's life than any meme, don't you think?

I was with you every step of the way, could picture the communion veil, the living room floor romp, watching Lawrence Welk....

Thank you for that glimpse.

Rebecca said...

Soul, don't you dare shelve it. I'm waiting for it to be published!!

Maria, thank you for being such an endless source of inspiration.

JYankee said...

hey you did just as well as both have an unrealized talent in writing..that makes people "see images" with your words.... gosh..thanks for sharing made me know you better....and i believe you are a strong woman, who put yourself on the right path...and are in a good place at this point and time!

simonsays said...

OMG. I am speechless. And that was wonderful, truly, a wonderful expression of you. You made me cry, and I don't do that. :)

Foster Communications said...

Rebecca-This was beautiful. Absolutly beautiful.

SOUL: said...

just sayin howdy--

and also wondering--
perhaps that fortune teller was right on? you better get busy!!!
how much time do you have left??

happy thursday!

eastcoastdweller said...

So these are some of the things that make You, You.

Haunting. Bitter. Sweet. Exquisitely worded.

The Real Mother Hen said...

Simply beautiful.
And captivating too.
You really should write a book.
I'll buy it, damn right I will.

The World According to Me said...

What a brilliant post. I've always thought you are a talented writer, and this definitely proves it.

seagrape said...

Wow. Really, wow. ...

suesun said...

Amen. I'm shelving this idea away to attempt in the future, but now I have both Maria AND YOU to live up to, dammit!