By her standards, it was a good road trip – the kind where she got in the car and drove until the only sound coming from the radio (and her mind) was crackly fuzz.
Ok but seriously: she was developing a deep crick in her neck from trying to find the upside of every bad thing that happened. Maybe bad stuff just needed to stop happening….at least some kind of a humanitarian cease fire of sorts so she could straighten out her poor neck muscles.
Even when she was at her very bravest, she cringed and winced when it came time to peel off her own bandaids. Deliver two babies? Check. Split open a knee during a bad fall? No problem. Remove a bandaid? She shuddered with anticipatory pain and dread.
And here she was with bandaids – metal tipped, no less – over her nipples, for pete’s sake….. She tried to negotiate with the technician, who she felt sure was capable of doing the whole mammogram thing without the aid of these curiously small but resiliently sticky patches. Not even the smashing and squishing bothered her – just those evil pink adhesives bothered her. She spent the rest of the afternoon hoping that they would fall off spontaneously into her bra so she could be spared the mental agony of ripping them from this incredibly sensitive area. She wondered if a shower would encourage them to take leave voluntarily, in the way that she turned on the water to wash away a bug in the sink. She finally took them off before bed, sweating and cursing through the entire ordeal.
On the upside, with them on, she had secretly felt more equipped for slinging stripper tassels from her breasts than getting an ordinary mammogram – and given her Casper Milquetoast life, that felt kind of exciting for a minute.
She wrote him a love letter
but it got wet in the rain
her words smudged together
into a mess
All she held afterward
a soggy bit of paper
and her tears mingled
into a fragile pulp
Probably for the best
and threw away the letter
with her love and tears
Her sister called
to describe the latest “family” meeting
of which apparently she was not a part.
so she dreamed freudian
during the stormy night,
or remembered, possibly.
in which her older sister / mother / same
forbade her to use the bathroom
out of pure fear.
she was forced to wet herself,
the strong smell of something not right
layered against her skin.
later sneaking to remove clothing,
things she didn’t know she had been wearing,
to run naked in the rainy moonlight.
another sister / mother / same
coming, scrubbing her clean
with leaves of poison ivy.
The moment I heard the first crackle of faraway thunder, I suggested to my youngest daughter that we have a sleepover in my bedroom. After a brief consultation with her mushed-up teddy bear, my daughter (and the dog) agreed that it would be more fun to weather a big storm together, even if I did take up much of the bed. My daughter teetered into my bedroom in her jammies, bear and dog in tow. We even perched the fish bowl on my bedside table. After some significant pillow fluffing and blanket tossing to get comfortable, we snuggled in a giant (and somewhat stinky) doggy/teddy/daughter/mommy pile. While the storm flashed and boomed, I told all the funny little stories my daughter requested until she fell asleep mid-cuddle with the gathered menagerie – except for Sammy the fish, who was not much for cuddling anyway.
As a dog owner, here’s what she had learned so far: always have treats and poop bags on your person. Because where there are treats, there is inevitably poop.
She was reading and doing research for a job interview she had the next day.
Curious, her youngest daughter asked what she had learned so far. So she rattled off a litany of miscellaneous facts, including the number of employees the company had : roughly 8,300. And her little daughter said, “You mean 8,301, right mommy?”
She loved that girl’s optimism.
She worked on letting go of certain long held secret hopes, like that she would abandon her life and live alone in a small cottage by the sea with a big dog. But much like a wild pandemic, her hope seemed to resist various therapeutic inoculations and new, stronger strains of it found ways to thrive among the practical difficulties of its environment. And sometimes she was not sure whether that was good or bad.
She looked down at her watch to check the time and discovered she had been wearing it upside down -apparently all day.
So much for her theory that she was good at time management.