Saturday, April 18, 2009

Red Paint, Patsy and a Dream

Sometimes I wonder why my mind goes where it goes--why it chooses to linger on thoughts I had believed were long since abandoned, memories long since forgotten.

I see a splash of red paint and I am instantly transported back to the darkened corridor of ramshackle housing, the smell of paint, the chattering of well-intentioned teenagers believing anything, anyone could change. Naively believing that a coat of paint could fill stomachs, erase pain, cure long-battled addictions, raise the dead. There would never be enough coats.

A week later the mission group returned to Cabrini Green only to find the newly painted walls streaked with angry red expletives. What did we expect? A crew of angels welcoming us with pastries and fresh fruit? Doors slammed and heads shook. Stupid kids.

We painted again. And again. Until we finally figured out that we would never be able to cover the red. Or raise the dead.

"Worry, why do I let myself worry, wondrin, what in the world did I do," Pasty croons on the radio. In a rare moment, I am alone. It is just this past weekend that I am driving to meet my sisters for lunch as the song plays from a crackling oldies AM station. But as Patsy sings, I am back in my mother's kitchen. Her back turned, she faces the sink as my eyes focus on the back of her legs, the gentle shift from one foot to the other as Patsy Cline fills the room in my mother's voice. I sit, towel in hand. Waiting.

Old songs always pull me back into the kitchen, my feet firmly planted on peeling linoleum, my hands holding a chipped A & P "collectible" (free with purchase) plate, rubbing a damp towel on its surface. I'm always there. Waiting.

"And I'm crazy for lovin' you."

Last night, I was in bed. I was desperate to find a soft place for my expanding belly to rest. Left side. Right side. Propped up. Hugging a pillow between my legs. Being spooned. Spooning.

Nothing worked. She must have had something on her mind. She didn't want to sleep last night.

Before the sun drifted atop the trees and seeped through my thin shades, I drifted off into a desperate sleep.

"You're beautiful," came his muffled words as his steamy breath curled around my ear and his hands pulled back loose strands of my hair.

He spoke words I craved. His words shaped me that night. Made me think that maybe I was, even for a moment. After all, he would know. He was a man. A real flesh and blood man, with stubble covering his face, a pack of cigarettes in his pocket and a driver's license in a wallet. What more did you need?

His lips barely touched mine. His fingers gently tapping the bottom of my chin and then tracing the curve of my neck. He knew what to do. He knew where to go. He pulled me closer to him, lifting me over the armrest and into his lap. I closed my eyes and pretended to know what I was doing.

I was afraid if I breathed that he might disappear.

I shouldn't be here. He shouldn't be here.

But he was. I was. Nothing else mattered. Except that my foot was wedged between the seat and the gear shift. My foot throbbed. But at that moment it could have come off, ran away with my other foot and I wouldn't have cared.

My A-cups, my pimply skin, my unruly hair--this body was so hungry. For what, it didn't know. Yet.

However, he knew. He had fed before. Many, many times. I was one of many special girls. I was about to become really special . . .

"I can give you . . . " his voice trailed off as his hands began to move. Slowly. Knowing. Expecting.

Invading. I opened my eyes. My imagination darkened. Reality became the old sentry.

My eyes narrowed. My throat, dry. My voice, caught.

"Let go, little girl." Did he speak it? Did I? I didn't know.

My shoulders lifted, my back arched. Blood. My lip. I was biting it.

I'm afraid.

"I don't think I should . . . " the words came in a small voice, weak, confused and pleading.

"No, you should. It will feel . . . " said the man to the little girl.



Not. Yet.

I open my eyes. I push the pillow aside and kick down the covers as my hazy gaze follows the shadows moving on the ceiling. It is morning. I'm in my bed. Not in an battered Chevy.

I am calm, though my breath comes quick and heavy. It is a dream that won't go away. It will stay, waiting, whispering like the memory that it is.

My hands move over my belly.

No. Baby girl. No.

Not yet.

For now, she is safe.

For now.

Sometimes I wonder why my mind goes where it goes . . . and then, I hear the squeal of my baby boy as he calls for his mama and I feel the gentle swell of my belly.

And I know exactly why.


flutter said...

Oh, honey. This made my heart stop

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

What flutter said. Wow.

Teresa @ Grammy Girlfriend said...

Wow....great blog and I will be back to read more.

I am a new blogger and found your blog late tonight...Would love for you to visit me.

Teresa said...

The memories that we have can only be useful for our children. There isn't an adult alive today who hasn't made judgment calls in their past that weren't the best. Sometimes we escape unscathed. Sometimes, not. I'm sorry you had such an experience... When I think of all of the women I know who have been through similar situations, it sickens me. Not only for my daughter, but that those men/boys were someone else's baby boy. How do we prevent our SONS from becoming part of that cycle?

Woman in a Window said...

ohmygod. wow.

Can I say how your writing is going so so far ahead into the wind, when this is such a painful memory? well, there, I guess I just went and said it already.

Tara R. said...

Amazing. This was so powerful, so poignant. These memories, the experiences you had will help you to be a fabulous mom to your son, but especially your daughter.

Lori said...

Wow - you are such a powerful writer. That just totally captured me...all our memories, good and bad, serve a purpose. And yours will help you to be an even better mommy!

MommyTime said...

This post is beautiful and terrifying -- both because of the pain it hints at from your past and because I know the fear of being unable to protect a child wholly and completely forever and ever. And yet, we parent. We love. We do all the things we can. And they grow strong. Yours will too.

Indy said...

Oh the thoughts we have...great post.

ConverseMomma said...

L, honey. Oh! You are not alone. So many of us have our chevy or our snow bank, the painful flat of our backs that bring us back to ache and loss and fear.

What amazes me about you, my darling friend, is what you have done not just with these words and this memory, but with your life.

I have seen your family. I have seen you in action. And...I am awed. You are one of the most powerful women and you are so quiet in this power. You don't even know.

As for your daughter, my daughter, our daughters will face so many challenges and it does keep me up at night like you. But, they have us. L, sweetie, everything we do now is setting the stage for them to become strong, beautiful, woman.

I love you. Ya know that?

Cynthia said...

Girl, you can write...

Kim said...

I love when you write like this.. beautiful.

Karen MEG said...

Wow, L, just wow. This left me breathless.

Kori said...

crap. I am sending you an invite to my private blog because...because. And I don't perhaps have the intimate connection with you as I do some but I will say right now and mean it that

nikki said...

I only wish I had your words to write of a similar memory of my own......amazingly written.

Kat said...

I always tell myself that these kind of memories will help to make me a better mom. More understanding and open and present. That's what I tell myself.

Flea said...

What a horrible memory. I have some of my own. The beauty which can come from these ashes is immense. And the sorrow, always there, always in the back of your throat, never quite goes away.

One of the beautiful things about my horrible past has been teaching and loving my kids. Nearly as wonderful has been helping shape their dad via my own experiences. Tough, but good.

It's going to be okay.

Momisodes said...

I don't think I took a breathe at all reading through this.

Wow. My eyes and heart were peeled the entire way through. I remember those pregnant dreams. They are so much more vivid. Real. I can relate to this intense memory. I agree that it's moments like these that help fuel our mothering.

abby p said...

You know, I had a very similar experience. I think about it a lot. Sometimes I wonder what could have been.

L, you write with such honesty. I can feel that this weighs heavy on you.

Your daughter is fortunate to have you. Know that.

Lisa @ Boondock Ramblings said...

Wow. Great stuff. Really enjoyed this. Well well, written. Shall I gush more?

Anonymous said...

What a post. I was hanging on your every word. Fantastic writing.

Thanks for visiting the domestic fringe. Hope you come back. I'll definitely be back here!


CC said...

Beautiful. I fear for my little girl. Today and one day years from now.

Mrs4444 said...

You are a powerful writer. That was disturbing, and I can relate.

Wait. What? said...

amazing writing...

I left you a little something on my blog.

Colleen - Mommy Always Wins said...

I'll say it again, Laskigal - you're a beautiful writer.


MamaGeek @ Works For Us said...

Oh this was so beautiful and heartwrenching Laski. Love, your way.

Unknown said...

Wow. Just WOW. Wonderful writing - taking us with you into a memory ...

Wonderful writing.

Mighty Morphin' Mama said...

Powerful writing Laski, my chest is all achy.
We do what we can to protect and teach and then we let go. So scary.

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