Tangled

Are you good with untangling this, Mom? Alex asked. By “this” he was referring to the pair of ear plugs that he handed me. “It will take me a while”, I told him.

As I went about pulling one end of it and u-looping the other end, I thought hmmm this can be relaxing as long as I take my time with it. I have no deadline. Alex doesn’t mind the wait as long as he is occupied with texting on his cell phone.

Untangling life is not as easy though.

Alex gets incredibly angry at me often, because his  privileges are taken away from him, one by one, when he defies me, when he doesn’t “behave” the way I envisioned a decent human being to behave, as I say to him. Like the Incredible Hulk, Alex transforms into one giant rock of fury. The maternal voice within asks, “whose child is this?”.  Who are you, and what have you done with my son?

Many days we are two islands whose edges barely touch. But we are two islands basking in the sun, surrounded by sea, under the sheltering sky. When night falls, the stars illuminate and make our little islands visible to one another, to navigate from one to the other, and back.

Sisters as Writers: Ode to Chai

The big surprise today was how richly textured her writing landscape, indeed, was. I am referring to this person marvel of a human being I have met some 39 years ago and still she is a mystery puzzle to me…but in a good way. Of course, I am talking about my sister. Last night she invited me to read her blog.

Whoa. Is she really writing one good incredible thing after another and remaining true and consistent with the depth and breadth of her literary voice and she can exploit the maximum impact of every word. Every word carries its own weight gravitas.

I am envious of inspired by her placement of words that frame her photographs.  They are beautiful photographs. Like her words she chose her pictures that make the words even fly. A thousand words a picture makes, for sure.

Chai can write about any topic and she will expose, defend, elucidate, and/or pursue it with unequivocal passion and commitment. She writes about coffee and world rivers and Dr. Seuss and places of serenity.. all having equal weight. What joy to read her thoughts. What pleasure to meet her, as if for the first time, through her words and pictures.

Chai, thank you for sharing your blog with the world, and with me.

Uncomplicated

Christine is a friend of mine who still lives in New York City. We met at work in 1989. Between the two of us, she is the one who writes more. I think of her often, though, more than she realizes.

One day, I got a letter from Christine. Oh, maybe at least 4, 5 years ago. “I’m going to send you my book collection about the Southwest Native Americans”, she said.

Why, I asked. She said, “I’m simplifying my life from now on. Stripping it bare.”

Although she comes across to me as one who likes to live simply, Christine also strikes me as the one friend of mine I barely could know, and not for lack of trying. She mystifies me with her various layers. Although she is always truthful to me, she leaves me with that feeling of “not all you see is all you should see”. After trying for 23 years, I have thrown in the proverbial towel, conceding to the realization that I will not be the one who will be her repository of secrets and little known truths.

In her prior “life”, she told me  she worked as a social worker. She also danced for some performance arts company, called the Imaginarium. I know she had told me that she also whiled the late nights away by sewing clothes, as she held her joint in the corner of her mouth (and I thought to myself, “ahh, so typical of that generation”). She had been engaged once to a musician. Christine does love her music, and holds season tickets to the chamber music performances as well as the ones at the St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York.

But after all is said and done, I can’t say I know her.

When I would phone her–and I would always be the one to initiate the phone call (which she more than makes up for, by sending me short notes written on special occasion cards)–Christine talks about work, about people we both knew from work, about how muggy it has gotten in New York in the summer, and other ordinary things. I find that I am listening to all this, but I am not contributing much to the conversation. How I love to hear her voice, but after an hour or so of this, I am ready to end the phone call…and once again, am left wondering who have I just spoken to? Once again, after each phone call ends, she is a stranger to me. How can we consider ourselves friends of 23 years, I wonder everytime.

Christine said she was simplifying her life. The life she had that I barely knew she has had, and whose bits and pieces are coming to me, by way of her book collections. I am to treasure what is being offered to me, and I am to have a carefully curated collection of what “Christine” used to hold and treasure..prior to life’s simpification process.