02 Mar The house, Marz, growing up and growing old
In the last week or so, these things have happened:
1. My parents have accepted an offer on the house that I grew up in and now have to move out by spring.
1a. Due to the above, my folks have brought me several boxes of my old stuff that I’ve been slowly looking at.
2. An old friend from high school that I lost touch with died unexpectedly in his sleep at the age of 36.
3. I was in a 24-hour PlayFest and was cast as a party girl. There were tones of Pink Floyd’s The Wall in the plot.
Let me preface the rest of this by saying that this is more of a journal entry wherein I sort some sloppy feelings out (they’re pretty messy right now), and less of an entertaining, neatly written blog post about my cute kids, so I’ll give you the out now if you need it.
I am aware that I own a business and that professionals don’t talk about their feelings, but I’m letting it hang out there so that maybe I can have some real connections with people. Business associates who aren’t feeling the whole feelings thing, I hope we can still work together now that you know what the inside of my brain looks like. I’m still good at my job and reliable and responsive and easy to work with, even if I am also a real person who is prone to oversharing. Let’s call it part of being an artistic person.
I used to have a LiveJournal I’d write in multiple times a day. I think I was the most sorted out person ever when I was doing that. My mom used to tell me that if I would talk about a nightmare it wouldn’t come true. I’ve been all Mr. Rogers about life since then, talking about feelings. Lately I wonder if people really want to listen, though. Everyone’s got their own stuff they’re dealing with. But that’s okay. It can just go here and that feels enough like airing it out to me. You can’t keep a cut covered, it gets stinky. Sunlight heals. Here we go.
The house. It feels a little like when the Earth is blown up at the beginning of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Visions of it swam sickeningly through his head. There was no way his imagination could feel the impact of the whole Earth having gone, it was too big. He prodded his feelings by thinking that his parents and his sister had gone. No reaction. He thought of all the people he had been close to. No reaction. Then he thought of a complete stranger he had been standing behind in the queue at the supermarket two days before and felt a sudden stab – the supermarket was gone, everyone in it was gone. Nelson’s Column had gone! Nelson’s Column had gone and there would be no outcry, because there was no one left to make an outcry. From now on Nelson’s Column only existed in his mind – his mind, stuck here in this dank smelly steel-lined spaceship. A wave of claustrophobia closed in on him.
England no longer existed. He’d got that – somehow he’d got it. He tried again. America, he thought, has gone. He couldn’t grasp it. He decided to start smaller again. New York has gone. No reaction. He’d never seriously believed it existed anyway. The dollar, he though, has sunk for ever. Slight tremor there. Every Bogart movie has been wiped, he said to himself, and that gave him a nasty knock. McDonald’s, he thought. There is no longer any such thing as a McDonald’s hamburger.
He passed out. When he came round a second later he found he was sobbing for his mother.
It’s somehow too big to really get my brain around. But it all hit me Monday night. The house, it’s not a house. It’s a member of our family. It’s been there for all of it; the happy moments – Christmases, parties, playing with the Cushings, quiet outdoors peacefulness and playing, sleepovers, family dinner every night, ice skating – and the sad moments – Papa John falling out of bed, the organ being carried away like a casket at a funeral, hiding in closets, hurting myself, smoking out the window, cutting my hair in the middle of the night, cats dying, last days with Muspy the dog. And all the big moments, too. Ones you can’t categorize. I lost my virginity in my bedroom closet. I spent countless hours on the computer, teaching myself web design and graphic design and writing poetry and talking to friends on AIM and ICQ and Yahoo chatrooms and smoking cigarettes and taking selfies. I’d climb out on the rooftop for moments to myself. The ATF play Home really nailed what it’s like – they had scenes where simultaneously, the girl’s child self, teen self and adult self were onstage, moments happening all at the same time. Carol Law Conklin calls it All Time, that feeling of everything in a place happening at once.
I had secret places in the woods. I spent all summer long biking up and down River Road to the Rec Center, the library and the cemetery. It is so deeply home to me. I could close my eyes and tell you exactly where we are driving to my house; the bends in the road are so familiar to me. Coming home is a series of sways to the right and left, down the hill, up the hill. My dad built it. I picked the color, smoke blue. Our handprints are in the cement in the basement. I remember Mel digging the hole for the New House. I remember sitting on the floor and watching The Sound of Music in what would be our living room, before there was any furniture there. The walls are thick. The ceilings are high. There are big beautiful windows and gorgeous woods all around. As a child, I would worry about the Blustery Day that Pooh and his friends had, and it was comforting to live on a hill. That all worked out when Hurricane Irene came and flooded houses built on lower ground.
And here we are disassembling it as a family. Art that has hung in a certain place for decades needs to find a new home. An attic and basement full of memories my parents lovingly saved is now ours to handle. It’s hard to go through your entire life all over again. I’m glad they kept it, though. There is a lot of self-discovery to do. But it’s emotional work. Heavy. Especially because my story isn’t a simple one.
Here’s where Marz comes in. Marz Kelly was my friend. We were close in high school. He was sweet, and he was thoughtful, and he was good to me. Poor Marz. I think that he was friendzoned before there was a term for it. I can’t quite remember how our friendship developed in the first place, but I remember that we’d eat lunch together outside under the tree. We both had black trenchcoats (but never guns – we were misunderstood, but not that angry about it since we had each other, and our other “misfit” friends). He had his first. It was leather and very big, because he was very big, and sometimes I’d wear it. He wanted to take a photoshoot of me and I’m not sure if it was his idea or mine, but it was an Ophelia themed photoshoot, right around the time that I heard of Hamlet for the first time because Yoh was doing it. (Emma Waldo was the most beautiful Ophelia I’d ever seen.) I remember asking, what should I be doing, what are you trying to create with these photos? He said something like, just do whatever it is you do. I’m just taking pictures of you being you. And he did get those photos. He put them into a book. There were a bunch of blank pages in the middle for doing whatever I wanted to do with. And I wrote self conscious captions over the pictures instead of making real art.
I wasn’t a happy teenager. I’ve had struggles with self-worth. It’s always helped to know that someone out there thinks I’m cool. Marz was there through ups and downs, thinking I was cool. Being supportive and thoughtful, from whatever distance seemed like the right distance at the time. He always made me feel protected and adored. I hope I did something for him, too. I didn’t make any effort to be there for him, which I regret. He was steady, and radiated support at me. It was essential to my sense of self. Seeing myself through his eyes made me feel okay, I realize when I think back. He never called me names or put me down. It was always the opposite. And he was a smart guy, too.
Marz played bass. He was a big guy. He could pick you up with a hug like it was nothing. I feel like the bass was made for Marz. I couldn’t push down the strings like he could. He tried to teach me Boris the Spider. I remember he had a backwards clock at his house; we watched The Last Unicorn with Lindsey Becker. I’m trying to think about where Marz fell on the timeline. I was in love with Reid, dated Brendan, then Jeremy, then Sean. He was there all along, I think. Along with Cedar. It was Sean that drove him away. I had mono and a staph infection at the same time, in college. I had to go to the ER by myself for the first time ever and it was terrifying, three hours from home. I called my mom from the hospital with an IV in. Marz came out. Mom did, too, but Marz hung out. I slept 22 out of 24 hours and he was just there. He brought tons of quarters for laundry, snacks. And, I think, roses. Sean asked me if I knew that he took photos of me when I was sleeping. It was sweet. But Sean told me it wasn’t, and he said he wanted to ask him not to be in touch any more, and I let Sean push Marz away. I feel terrible. It’s not the only bad thing that Sean has done. It was the first of many to come. All of that comes flooding back too, looking through these old boxes. All of that awfulness. But it all made me who I am. I’m grateful for it all, or I wouldn’t be me. I have learned a lot from these life experiences.
Back to the good things. Marz gave me wings. I was getting ready for my high school graduation, and Marz appeared with big black wings. I remember being awed by them. Wanting to wear them always. They came with extra feathers in case something happened to them.
Those wings have been over my bed for a good ten years now, at least. They are a guardian angel of sorts. You can see from these photos that they’ve been around a long while. When I cut my hair off when I left the Shirt Factory job, the hair became part of the arrangement. I wear them sometimes, when I have occasion to.
I saw him last year, at Reggae Fest in Killington. I got one of his famous hugs. It was good to see him. I’m glad I did.
So, on top of all of this, I’m finding my way through motherhood. And not just motherhood, but realizing that I’m in a new season of life. The C-section I went through with Henry didn’t leave me feeling the same way the natural childbirth did with Danny, let’s just say. You ladies get what I’m talking about.
And my life is full of beautiful moments, teachable moments, the biggest joys anyone’s ever had, when my boys make each other laugh. It’s the best. Danny is walking, on the edge of talking. He’s adorable and I find new ways he’s interacting every day. He’s also really really easy. Henry is in school and going through schoolboy things. He’s hilarious; his sense of humor is epic. He’s learning to read and I’m so proud of him I could crow. They’re the sweetest together. I’m lucky; so so so incredibly fortunate to have these two beautiful boys in my life. I often enjoy being a mom.
But, sometimes I don’t. I miss myself. I miss free time. I don’t like arguing over putting pants on or eating dinner. Some mornings I just don’t feel like getting up and being the fun-sucker of the household. I don’t like being the person who has to say that farts aren’t funny or that you have to go to your room because you called me stupid. I want to feel pretty and fun and funny and interesting and hell, maybe a little edgy and exciting. You know, just sometimes. Mostly I am cool being Mom, but sometimes I want to be me. I’ve been finding time to go out with my girlfriends and do things without our kids, and I feel guilty and also incredible amounts of relief by doing it. Part of me feels dumb for needing that. I remember looking at older women out late when I was in my 20’s and thinking, don’t they have better things to do? Sometimes I look at myself trying to have fun and I think I look sad and pathetic. I’ve always been a girl who tries too hard.
So I was in this 24-hour PlayFest thing, where a play is written, directed and performed in 24 hours by teams chosen at random. Our plot was a rock star who fights with his wife, struggles with life on the road, has a would-be encounter with a groupie, calls his mom. I was the groupie and I got to dress up all 80’s and forget I was Mom for the day. It was so much fun. And the theme had this flavor of The Wall. So in the last couple of days I’ve been listening to it and realizing how tied up my high school and post-college emotions are in these lyrics. Also, for a hot second there, I did feel pretty and fun and funny and all the rest of it. It’s been hard to come down offa. To go back to life.
I went to a piano concert with my friend Jacky Touba last week and had this epiphany about how I’ve been holding all my feelings in. I haven’t made time to write or make art. Not having a studio feels like my arms are cut off. I need to make a mess on some paper and I just have none of my stuff to do that. It hurts. And sometimes I feel like having a big old scream in public. I’ve been doing karaoke instead. But art — art is where you do that. You have a big fit and get all of your feelings out, and then you share it with people and it’s socially acceptable that way. You can kind of side eye each other and say, psst, me too, I know. Without being messy on someone and making them feel some obligation to you. So I’m writing, since I have nowhere to make art. And that makes me spiral in a whole new direction about being mad about my studio. So I’m writing this. And hopefully it does the trick, and it’s out of my system, and maybe someone out there can say, oh hey, I know those feelings, glad you wrote them down. You’re not actually crazy and horrible, just a human being.
Long story short, I’m reliving my entire life, and there are some parts that are really angsty, and my old friend died and that sucks, and I’m getting older and I miss myself but I also had a much easier time when my pre-Glens Falls days were neatly put away in boxes.
I’ll be okay. I am okay. These are phases we go through, rites of passage. It’s all part of life. I know that I’ll emerge on the other side of the transitional stage from here to there. Writing about it helps me know what I’m feeling. If you’ve made it this far, I applaud your attention span. Thanks for staying with me.
I have now sufficiently aired this all out, and hopefully that means I can get on with things without being a melty puddle any more. Feelings aired and archived. Moving forward.
Uh, anyone want some old Barbies and kid drawings and VHS tapes and books and love letters?