I’m trying to think of a story to tell you, one that began long ago. I can only go back so far, and I think my memory can only reach back to my fourth year, maybe my third. I remember these things: I remember standing on my grandparent’s coffee table, dancing around the vase of plastic flowers. I remember my grandpa encouraging me, my grandma discouraging him. I remember a toy box—a rubber chicken, an abalone shell, a fruit fresh can full of chewed up crayons, a plastic flask made to look like a cheese sandwich. I remember a skeletal foot. I remember a coloring book so large I could lay in it. I remember sliding down stairs. I remember two twin beds in the room where my sister and I slept. I remember my grandma tucking me in.
I could tell you a story about how my grandmother would ask me to tell her where my grandpa hid his whiskey; I could tell you how she’d send me out to the yard when I’d messed up, how she made me seek out a switch and bring it to her so she could hit it against my legs and backside. I could tell you about how my grandpa would take me away from there, would protect me from everything, how I had nothing to fear when I was with him.
My grandpa used to sit with me under a tree in the backyard. We’d look up through the leaves and he’d sing to me. He’d sing: I see the moon/the moon sees me/down through the leaves/of the old oak tree/please let the light that shines on me/shine on the one I love.
And I felt safe and warm and loved. I was seen. Even the moon saw me.
Even now, more than thirty years later, what I want more than anything is what my grandpa gave me. I want to be cared for the way he cared for me. I want for someone to know that kid inside me and to I want them to play with her. I want someone to hide her when trouble comes my way, someone to hold her and sing to her.
It’s only within the past few years that I’ve come to realize that while I was spending this time with my grandpa, my mother was likely in the hospital receiving shock therapy or having her medications adjusted in hopes that she could live more fully in this world. And I feel gypped and abandoned and I question my relationship with my grandpa. Would we have been as close had I had a mother to take care of me? Would his house have been a place full of such wonder?
I could question all sorts of things, I suppose, but all I know is what is real. All I know now is what I have and don’t have. For years I felt absences far more strongly than presences. Now, though, I am finally, finally in a place where my life is stable and full and good. Instead of yearning to be seen I am thinking about and noticing my own transformation. It seems like this year nearly everything in my world has been about transformation.
My friend J. was asking about a picture she found in a post from my old blog. I remembered the photo, but couldn’t remember what I’d written. I’m glad she brought it up, because last night I read a post in which I’d written not quite three years ago. It’s about how I’d settled down. And I had created a sort of timeline that traced thirteen years of moving and changing:
1993–1995 in the Navy, mostly Bremerton, WA
1995-1996 out of the Navy, nearly married
1996–married, moved from WA to FL
1997–still married, moved from FL to SC and then Puerto Rico
1998–marriage really sucked. moved back to WA
1999–found a place of my own. worked crappy jobs. started school again, ended sucky marriage
2000–moved to a crappier apartment, continued school and crappy job
2001–finished school, kept one crappy job and one good job
2002–moved to OR, started grad school (ambitious)
2003–continued grad school (bitter)
2004–finished grad school, moved back to WA
2004–2005–lived in someone else’s house, had several crappy jobs at once
2005–got current job with dental and medical and retirement. moved into current house
2006–got dog. dog continues to live in current house and i feed him with food i buy with money i earn from my current job, which i have had for three and a half years.
What strikes me is that I did not mention falling in love with or losing Scott. I did not mention my depressions and my growth. I did not mention bursts of writing and long, painful blocks. I did not mention new found relationships. I did not mention a thing about my family.
It’s not possible to create a new timeline—not right now as I sit in a coffee shop. If I were to do it, I would want to have my therapists’ notes nearby. I would want to trace the trajectory of my emotional states and my personal growth. I would want to see the steps I’ve taken to get to a point where I am alive and my life is full.
I think of how I’ve transformed this year alone. I think of the person I was a year ago and who she has become. Nearly everything in my life has changed in one way or another, and I am quite proud of almost all of those changes. I think of the things I have done, especially the ways I’ve gained and learned to use my personal power. I think of how much I have learned about my Self and that little kid that lives inside me. And I think of how I am learning to see them—just like the moon sees me.