Tuesday, December 06, 2005

WHAT WERE YOU DOING TEN YEARS AGO? FIVE YEARS AGO? ONE YEAR AGO? YESTERDAY?

twenty years ago- (because I'm that old;)

I am eighteen. I have left home. I have left the United States. I live in Belgium. The first place where I feel like I have fallen into my skin. I tell people that I have lived here in another life. I know where to go, I never get lost. I eat in my favorite place with a cat on the table and a dog at my feet. I drink dark coffee; I sit on a bench in the town square while young American men with backpacks and bad accents try to pick me up in French.

In a few hours, I meet my best friend, we ride the trains. We pretend to be someone we're not. We carry an empty cardboard box on to the train and pretend there’s a cat inside. We make weird noises. We cause a whole car load of people to move to another part of the train. We are full of our power and laugh at the joy of it.


Ten years ago:

I have an almost two year old, who could walk at 9 months and run at 10. I work as a nanny 50 hours a week for this very wealthy woman whose main job is to think of new ways to charge people for solar power, once it becomes assessable to everyone. She is very corporate. She uses the phrase “the correct way to do things” daily. I am in the beginning years of my marriage with a man that I love. I live in a 200 year old turret house which has horse hair in the walls and an English garden with my great-grandmother roses.

I am very far away from myself though I believe I have everything I want.

I am not writing at all.

Five years ago-

My daughters are 6 and 2. I am working part time as an art therapist at the local community center. I love my job. I adore my students. We throw paint on the walls, clay on the tables. For a whole afternoon we make a space ship out of boxes. We pretend we can not breathe the air in the room, we wear space helmets and walk with our feet heavy around the moon, tie ourselves with a rope so we don’t float away.

I dread going home. I miss my oldest daughter terribly when she is at school. I drive Bella to a Waldorf preschool so she can sort wool and bake bread. I feel frozen. My husband goes days without talking to me and I don’t understand why, he has told me that he does not love me or the children. He says he is not made for this life but he does not leave.

I sleep in a cot in the baby’s room. I rub Olivia’s back till she falls asleep. I look at the clouds in my daughter’s room and I wonder where I am. I am seeing a therapist because I believe I need to get a divorce b/c if he does not love me, how can I possibly stay? I do not want to be that woman. I walk around it, under it but not through it. It almost kills me.

A stranger kisses me on the couch while my family is sleeping. I go to a therapist to see what this means. I ask all the wrong questions.

I begin writing my way out. I have not written in five years. I begin publishing poems. One of my first ends up in a gumball machine, for a quarter you can have a piece of paper with my words and a gum ball. The first line reads, if you wish to die, do not drown yourself in shallow water. I am drowning and I have no idea how to save myself or my girls. But I will soon.

A year ago-

I have a new boss from hell, who calls me “the craft lady”. She has never worked with children before; she sits in on one of my classes. This will be the one and only time, she tells me I am too involved with students, she tells I am too involved with my families. I keep doing what I do and we avoid each other.

My daughter Olivia writes her first opera. She is filling her book with stories. She joins the swim team. Bella can walk on stilts. She somersaults through the house. She rolls her eyes continually and tells me I am EMBARASSING HER.

I live in a house with puppets in the basement. I am in a relationship, that I’m not sure is good for me. I am writing all the time. I have sent my manuscript off for the first time. I am having strange peace. I believe my kids are happy even though their parents do not live in the same house. I get my first acceptances from major journals. I get my first fellowship. I begin the slow decent out of grieving for what I cannot change. I forgive myself.

Yesterday:

I sleep late. I make breakfast for Bella and her best friend. I take Bella to her dad’s. I do a birthday party for a family at my new work place. It is a school where the walls are clear, where saws are hooked up to bicycles, where you can climb, build anything you want. I take them there, instead of the other school where I teach because my client just lost her sister to breast cancer a few weeks ago. She has told me she needs the kids to be happy, to have all three of their birthdays at the same time, she needs it to be easy, to be magic. So I build robots with 23 kids, do cat sculptures, we hide under blankets and say our secret names.

In the afternoon I read Charles Simic’s The World Doesn’t End. I finish the book. I make hot coco for the girls and their dad when they come home. We talk about Christmas. He and I are friends. I can forgive him for things, as my friend that I could not forgive him for, as my husband. We are incredibly lucky.

I watch a movie with my girls. We spend the evening talking in English accents. We say, pardon me, and yes mum. They’re incredibly polite and pliable till they figure out I am trying to get them to bed.

I do laundry. I work on the new poem. I realize again, that for the first time in my life I am making money as a writer. I feel the heaviness of it and the lightness. I drink hot tea. I dream.

4 comments:

LJCohen said...

Treezaa--As ever, you work moves me. I think I remember that poem you reference from 5 years ago. I miss your poetry at Wild. Hugs to your girls and to you.

xo
ljc

Radish King said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
early hours of sky said...

Thank you Lisa

and damn I missed a Rebecca--I hate it when that happens.

ruth-e said...

i love this post. it's terribly beautiful...