Tuesday, February 12, 2019

My Secret Self

I went to the library on Friday to start reading one of the books assigned for the Literature/Discussion class I’m taking. The theme for this semester is “Haunted” because all five books assigned are stories about places or people that are haunted - by love, by the past, by a longing for something desired or for something lost.


The book I was reading, The Third Hotel by Laura van den Berg, is a story about a widow of five weeks who travels to Havana, Cuba to attend a film festival. It’s a trip she was supposed to take with her late husband, a film studies professor who specialized in horror.

Speaking of horror, here’s a quote I found while reading. “She (the protagonist, Clare) had this second, secret self that she didn’t know how to share with anyone, and when alone, that self came out into the open.”

Those words resonated with me, I think, because I, too, have a secret self who thrives on being alone, even on going out alone, especially to restaurants where she can sit in a quiet corner booth and feel, not just as though she is alone, but as though she is hiding, hiding from everyone and everything that puts demands on her. 

Most of the time there are few problems between my selves. When problems do arise, it’s because my secret self is a lot like Mr. Hyde, except that she’s a lot less evil - but a lot more mischievous. She’s also a tattler who likes to tell the world all the dumb things my other self does. She likes to write them all down and put them on the Internet for the rest of the world to read. 

But, getting back to the book, our protagonist tells us that while in Havana she “felt like someone had carved her heart out of her chest and then turned her loose to stumble through a dark forest on a frigid night.” I recognize that feeling. It’s grief. Which brings me to the reason I tolerate my secret self. It’s because it is she who absorbs all the pain my other self can’t handle.

My memoir, Dear Elvis, is available at amzn.to/2uPSFtE

Friday, February 1, 2019

Five Years in Heaven


It was a little more than a week ago. I was listening to a song on the radio when I suddenly and inexplicably started to cry. Startled, I wiped my tears and went on until the next day when I looked at a calendar and realized the previous day had been the 22nd of January and five years since I'd heard a beloved friend’s voice.

Tomorrow will be the fifth anniversary of his death. By tomorrow I will have had five years of remembering and five years of forgetting, forgetting everything except the sound of his laughter and of his voice, and the way he always seemed to be listening for mine. 


I think of my friend often. He is my star, my light, my soul. I know that he is both in heaven and somehow nearby, listening to my laughter and my tears, encouraging me to go on living, laughing and loving because as he knows and has taught me so well, love begets love.

My memoir, Dear Elvis, is available at amzn.to/2uPSFtE

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Tangentially vs Linearly



I recently became a member of a group called The Wine & Book Club, a group that meets once a month at an Italian restaurant nearby. During one of our meetings, we discussed Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. I was excited to read this book because I had read Ng’s first book, Everything I Never Told You, and loved it.

                               

During the discussion, one of the members mentioned John Irving and Ernest Hemingway and I had to admit that I had never read either of them. Which is a statement that may not be completely true because now that I think about it, I did once start a book by Hemingway.

It was a long time ago, 1960, and I had just entered a convent. During the first few weeks, the other postulates and I were often left with too much unstructured time. I was bored until one of the other girls let me borrow two of the books she had placed into her trunk and brought with her. One of the books was The Dubliners by James Joyce, the other was a book by Hemingway with a title I have long since forgotten.

We were all sitting (in silence) in a large community room one autumn afternoon when I opened the Hemingway book and started reading.  I was only a few pages into it when I came to a paragraph that contained the f*** word. I was so stunned and felt so guilty, I slammed the book shut and never opened it again.

Reading this post back to myself, I find that I have, as usual, gone off onto too many tangents. Unlike a friend of mine who, during the months that I’ve known him, has told me stories about himself and his life. And as I’ve listened, I’ve been amazed at how very linear his mind is, always moving from “A” to “B” to “C,” from the beginning of a story to its logical end without ever going off course, and as I’ve listened, I have most often stood there and wondered, How does he do that?









Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Mysteries and Syncronicities

There are, I think, too many questions, some of which I may never have an answer for. But what I do know is that God is here, right here, in the mysteries and synchronicities of my life.                    
                                                                      From my Journal
                                        

I was feeling poorly last Thursday, going through what I call my rat-in-a-maze routine. I was feeling unsettled, disconnected, discombobulated. Usually, I fight this feeling, but this time I decided not to. I decided to go with it. Let it take me where it wants to, I thought as I got into my car and started driving.

I ended up at a cemetery to visit my parents’ graves. Even though I hadn’t been there in a while, I had no trouble finding their gravesite. On the way, I noticed that most of the graves had Christmas wreaths on them. I hoped there was one on theirs, too.  There was. One of my sisters must have put it there. Many of the graves also had American flags on them, but my parents’ did not.

A few moments later, as I walked away, I noticed an American flag lying on the ground. I got into my car and headed for the cemetery’s exit, then changed my mind and circled back around. I picked up the fallen flag and looked around to see if I could determine where it belonged. When I couldn’t, I put it on my parents’ grave, placing it next to my father’s name.

I felt better then, but by the next day those feelings of disconnection returned. This time I drove to the church I had attended as I child. I felt better just seeing it. It had always felt like home to me. I went inside and knelt before the altar. I’m not sure if I prayed, if I said “please,” or “thank you.” Mostly I just listened to the silence.

When I left, I drove to the house where I grew up, taking the same exact route I’d walked as a child. After making a final turn, I looked at the end of the street where I could see the house in front of me. I drove slowly toward it, looking at the windows that belonged to my parents’ bedroom, and then at a window that belonged to the room where my sisters and I slept. There is some part of me still there, I thought, and I felt better. 

At home, I picked up the book I was reading, Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, and read these words:

“Packing up. The nagging worry of departure. Lost keys, unwritten labels, tissue paper lying on the floor. I hate all of it. Even now, when I have done so much of it…Even today, when…I am aware of sadness, of a sense of loss. Here, I say, we have lived. We have been happy. This has been ours, however brief the time. Though two nights only have been spent beneath a roof, yet we leave something of ourselves behind. Nothing material...but something indefinable, a moment of our lives, a thought, a mood.

“This house sheltered us, we spoke, we loved within those walls. That was yesterday. Today we pass on, we see it no more, and we are different, changed in some infinitesimal way. We can never be quite the same again. Even stopping for luncheon at a wayside inn, and going to a dark, unfamiliar room to wash my hands, the handle of the door unknown to me, the wallpaper peeling...for this moment, it is mine, it belongs to me...This is the present. There is no past and no future. Here I am washing my hands, and the cracked mirror shows me to myself, suspended as it were, in time; this is me, this moment will not pass.”

Last week, I reconnected with that “something indefinable,” in that house, in that church, and even in that cemetery. I was “home” again for a moment and it was the same, but it was different. I was the same, but I was different. Perhaps, I think now, everywhere is home as long as we are there, present in the moment, even if only for a moment.





My memoir, Dear Elvis, a story about love and loss can be found at amzn.to/2uPSFtE

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Sunday

Today is Sunday, January 13, 2019.

I woke up early this morning and looked outside to see snow falling to the ground beneath my window and onto the distant  mountains. I shivered. I am not looking forward to winter, I thought.

Then I picked up the book I’ve been reading, Sarah Ban Breathnach’s Simple Abundance, and read the following words.

“January...beckons. Come, let winter weave her wondrous spell: cold, crisp, woolen muffler days, long dark evenings of savory suppers, lively conversations, or solitary joys. Outside the temperature drops as the snow falls softly. All of nature is at peace. We should be too...This is the month to dream, to look forward to the year ahead and the journey within.

Ahh, yes I thought, I would like that. At least one day to sit quietly -  to watch the snow fall, to dream, to read and to take - via meditation - a quiet journey within.”

Yes, I would like that. At least until 4:30 when I turn on the television to watch the Eagles beat the Saints!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

All I Want for Christmas - Not This!

It was early last spring. My daughter and I were driving through King of Prussia, Pa, headed for lunch at Bahama Breeze when I noticed a tall building with the words iFly printed on it.


“I always wanted to jump from an airplane,” I said. “Your dad went to Paratrooper training when you were little and I took you, your brother, and sister to watch him make his first jump. God, I was so jealous.”

“You were?”

“Yes.”

Jessi was silent for a moment and then, “Let’s do it!”

Wait? What? NO! I was only kidding, were the words that were stuck in my throat.

“Not from an airplane,” Jessi said, clearly delighted with herself. “Here. At iFly,” which I later learned meant jumping from an indoor tower where there are fans blowing to keep you up. (Fans?!?!)

Oh God! Whose brilliant idea was this?

I demurred.

“No, let’s do it! On your birthday! We’ll do it then!”

When summer arrived, I kept my mouth shut. I never mentioned it again. My birthday came and went with nary a mention of foolish ideas. I began to breathe better. I began to smile again.

And then for Christmas, my daughter handed me an envelope. “Open this one last,” she said.

“Okay,” I said. In it was a gift certificate to iFly! My reaction was violent. I slammed the card shut. “Oh no, not this!” I cried.

My daughter was stunned. “I thought you wanted this. I got one, too.”

I looked at my son-in-law. “Did you get one?”

He shook his head.

Oh God, I thought. “Will you at least go with us? You can pick up the pieces.”

…to be continued – (I hope!)




Monday, December 31, 2018

Dawn!

This is a picture I took at dawn this morning on this the last day of 2018. It's been a good year for me. I made new friends, reconnected with old ones, had new experiences, saw some great movies, read 58 books, and spent a good deal of time writing about many of my experiences right here on this blog.

I am truly grateful for everything that has come my way in 2018 and I am looking forward to whatever challenges the new year brings.

                     Happy New Year Everyone!