Thursday, January 15, 2009

Come a Day Early and Bring an Extra Dollar


Come a Day Early and Bring an Extra Dollar

I
woke up early on New Year's Day and started a pot of coffee. Something wasn't snapped in or centered and when I went to get a cup, it looked like there had been an explosion and soggy grounds and boiling coffee covered the counter and the floor and seemed to bode that everything was going to suck. The anticipation of the first week of the year did suck but after the coffee spill, things were o.k. I have gushed incessantly here about the patient love of Himself and our spawn, but friends too have blown me away me with extraordinary gestures of love. I have expressed before my sense that 2009 would define the Zeitgeist of the start of the new millennium and when I look at my assets going in, despite being manacled for life to an acolyte of the glass is half full persuasion, I feel optimism.

Griffith Park in winter is strands of trees gone bare and gray facing others still in their fall frippery, mad with electric orange green and yellow. A younger, fitter bootcamp displaced us from our usual spot near the special needs playground. One of those rail thin highly pregnant women I particularly dislike was keeping up with the pack. Thin, fit, fertile. Oh how do I hate you. The buff young things were going full throttle when we arrived at the friggin’ crack of dawn on a Saturday morning and seemed nowhere near cooling down when Coach finally released us, twenty minutes later than usual, from a particularly grueling workout. She denied that she'd been showing off in front of the other trainer. There were other bootcamps and the park was teeming with New Year’s resolutioners performing all manner of physical activity. Most will be gone soon.

I was in the middle of an annoying e-mail back and forth with a customer who wanted a lot from me but seemed to take offense at my polite insistence that I be remunerated for it. In the middle of this exchange, I received an e-mail with a Bat Mitzvah invitation attached. I had trouble opening and viewing the attachment but deciphered that the event was in a week and knew that we had either been forgotten or we’d been on the B list, invited because A list guests had sent regrets. This is a family we are fond of but don't see that often anymore because our kids are in different schools and don't travel in the same social circles. My first cranky response was to take offense and I sent a terse note declining the invitation and wishing the Bat Mitzvah girl well in language less warm than the usual mushy gushy big condescending Hebe prose I usually reserve for such occasions.

My knee jerk reaction was to get my panties in a knot and go through a mental list of people who probably received the real invitation in the mail about six weeks ago. The day wore on. My customer grudgingly accepted that we are a for profit concern. I began to evaluate my reaction to the late invite and remembered the tsuris surrounding the 16 year old’s bar mitzvah and realized how junior high it was to think that this family had dissed us when they were merely caught up in Bat Mitzvah frenzy and they like us just fine.

Why do I still do this shit? Why do I filter everything through the “do you love me?” lens when my life is filled with love that is abundant and voluntary and that I don’t have to grovel for? I still harshly apply the judgment “a day late and a dollar short,” perhaps to deflect my own desperate neediness. Selfish! Withholding! Unworthy! J’accuse!

Maybe I’ve pissed away a lot of the love I’ve been graced with by stubbornly waiting for wrenching prostrations and bushels of roses begging my forgiveness for a level of devotion that does not meet my impossible/pathetic standard. Or maybe I’ve just set the bar as high on the love that flows back as on the love I strive to send forth fervently and fearlessly. My confusion and awkwardness at this love thang is my legacy from Fulton Avenue. I blame no one. My father and my mother and my sister suffered and meant no harm. I was deeply loved by all three and I regret that it is too late for any of them to know that I know this.

I read in the New Yorker an article by a former Peace Corps. worker who pondered the reasons people have for signing on for a two year stint in some place where diarrhea is inevitable and undoubtedly there is no cable TV. One man’s main motivation for joining was that his girlfriend was showing signs of wanting a serious relationship. To my knowledge no one has ever joined the Peace Corps to be rid of me but reading this made me cringe about myself a little and remember my poor dead sister who debased herself clinging to men she coveted and loved to gamble and went through a lot of cars.

I find it incredibly boring to listen to details of peoples’ problems with their bodies and their cars and I try to avoid these topics myself unless there is potential for a useful exchange of information. I am conversant on endometriosis, Volvo transmissions and the price of dental implants, should you be interested in my opinions. True to my conviction, I will not go into detail with regard to my Volvo transmission issue; suffice it to say that Rusnak Volvo is an icky creepy secretive mean-spirited place, which led me to find myself in small claims court. The plaintiff refused to have the case heard by a temporary small claim’s judge and we were transferred to Superior Court, where I spent an afternoon.

Two guys in day-glo county jail jumpsuits were still hand and ankle cuffed to their chairs when they pleaded “no contest” on drunk driving charges, were sentenced, and then sent back to jail. A shackled woman was sentenced to thirty days for a probation violation. Her mother sat in front of me and was called upon to agree to pay for a rehab program upon her release. The woman mouthed “I love you. I love you” over and over again to her mother, until she was led, tears streaming, from the courtroom to the bus back to jail.

My own mother is no longer equipped to bail me out. I tell her, when I drop her back at the hotel after lunch, that I love her and I do, mainly for the fierceness with which she has always loved me. She beams for an instant in the glow of my affection and then immediately reverts to disoriented and befuddled by the shock that I am to go and she is to stay. I sold and saw ruined by speculators the home that was her pride and her lonely prison for most of her life. I evoke her brittle hardness, my sister’s sad desperation and my own propensity towards both. My mother cannot defend herself or refute my assumptions and accusations but to honor her love for me I am trying to get it right for both of us. I am my mother’s vain needy girl but I’ll grow stronger as the Griffith Park resolutioners thin out and winter becomes spring. My heart is filled with love and it is thrilling and terrifying but I am optimistic.

1 comment:

FionnchĂș said...

Why do thin pregnant women need to exercise anyway? And, in public? Will she be back at work and workouts in five post-natal days? Was she wearing fall frippery or neon green spandex? Hope she drops it and drops out by next week and not next year!