Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Memoir & Why I Do It

Here in West Seattle we have a wonderful spot called C & P Coffee Company. In this welcoming environment, PoetryBridge hosts monthly events with featured readers and a community mic organized by Leopoldo Seguel. More recently, Leopoldo has launched PoetryBridge Times. I am grateful to him for publishing this piece and happy to share it with you.
         A while back, I was driving home to Seattle from eastern Washington with my sisters. I sat in the back seat. As we drove over Snoqualmie Pass and started the descent into the Puget Sound lowlands, I noticed two police vehicles parked in an open area, perhaps a weigh station parking lot, to the north of the highway. One was an SUV, the other a sedan. Both were black. They were parked head-to-head with the drivers’ windows aligned. The SUV was on the highway side, almost blocking the view of the sedan.

         “Looks like that’s where the cops take a break,” I said.

         “But there’s no donut shop around,” said my sister, the one riding shotgun.

         We laughed and thought nothing more of it.

         Five minutes down the road, a police SUV passed on our left. A moment later they’d pulled someone over.

         “Where’d that guy come from?” I wondered.

         “Same one we just saw,” my sister said.

         “No way. The parked cars were black. That one’s white.”

         “No,” my sister said. “It’s the same white SUV.”

         So what happened? The paint color of the cop cars obviously hadn’t changed, so one of us had to be wrong. Was it her or me? Was the white SUV the same vehicle we’d seen parked or another? Was it possible that when we joked about donuts, my sister and I were actually looking at different cars?  Read more...

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Poison Apples?

Perhaps all mothers of daughters possess a secret talking mirror that announces when their young womanhood begins to fade and their daughters’ begin to blossom. As in the fairy tale, the experience can unleash a lacerating jealousy in some mothers, which turns up like poison apples on the daughter’s doorstep. It can also usher in fears that I would’ve sworn I’d never have. Of invisibility, anonymity, irrelevance. And deeper down, fears of decline and death.
Traveling with Pomegranates: A Mother-Daughter Story 
by Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor

My four sisters and I gather four times a year – winter, spring, summer, fall – to celebrate our birthdays. Sometimes we meet in a restaurant, other times in one of our homes. I am hosting a late summer celebration of two landmark birthdays this year. My eldest sister will be turning seventy. My youngest is hitting sixty. Six years younger than the eldest and four years older than the youngest, I am close to the middle marker, slowly edging toward Medicare.

When I read Sue Monk Kidd’s thoughts and fears on aging written on the cusp of her fifties, I realized how unaware I had been of those feelings a decade ago. Late in coming though they have been, I am very aware of them now, over a decade later. Still a late bloomer perhaps?

I don’t believe I have left any poison apples on my daughter’s doorstep, but I certainly have felt the tentacles of ageism Sue Monk Kidd names: invisibility, anonymity and irrelevance. And while I can say, at least now, at least at this moment, that I do not fear death, decline terrifies me. I face decline on a daily basis. I face it in my need to stretch each morning in order to abate the deep muscle ache that will otherwise pester throughout the day. I face it in my inability to hike or cycle or garden with the energy and enthusiasm of only a few years ago. I face it in the mirror’s reflection.

Facing age – the havoc wreaked on body and mind – with grace and dignity is a challenge. Still, it is a challenge I’m eager to take on with all the energy I can muster. Better that than the alternative, right?

In my mind, birthdays are a time to embrace life. Each passing year and each coming year merits celebration. I often quip that I believe in week-long, no month-long birthdays. A single day simply isn’t enough. As I plan the celebration for my eldest and youngest sisters, I wish for something more than a simple afternoon of delicious food, cold wine, and warm conversation in the garden, but it must suffice. We will brush away invisibility, anonymity and irrelevance, we will share an afternoon together, and it will be enough.