Sunday, April 19, 2009

Follow The Leader : but who is the leader and which one am I?

I am both a leader and a follower.

Sometimes I can grasp the energy whirling around me and harness into forward momentum. I can gather resources and charge forth with passion and discernment. I know what needs to be done, and I do it. I know where to look for answers and I know what steps to take to get me what I want.

Years ago, a friend said, "You amaze me. You say you want a dog kennel built on the side of the house, and the next time I see you, it's there. You did it."

I thought, "Well, yeah. Why would I say I want something and then not move forward to get
it?" It didn't seem logical to me. That must have been my sowing and reaping time. My leader time. For now I feel fallow. My follower time.

I still feel the energy around me, the potential for the fantastic, but I don't seem to be able to harness it anymore. For now. For now I am the follower. But I don't like that feeling. I don't like that place I have somehow put myself in. Right now I don't feel like I could make a dog kennel materialize.

My housemate and I are building a garden together. Paul doesn't seem to want anything to do with it, except maybe to eat it. Right now it is an embarrassment to him. It looks ugly to him on the front-lawn-that-was. It's just a baby garden without its eyes open yet. All leaves and seeds and piles of dirt covered in plastic. Maybe I don't feel driven to lead in this project because I feel pulled towards Paul's dissatisfaction. Maybe I feel discouraged that it doesn't look beautiful yet.

No. I see its little green potential. I know that growing takes time. I live that knowledge every day. And some days don't look so good, some days I don't want to look around. I just want to close my eyes until it all goes away -- these moments of breathing under water. Where some movement, or song lyric or t.v. show brings me back to the days after my second husband's death. Like time travel.

Two days ago I spent six hours in my garden (following my housemate's lead) so maybe today is just one of those days where I can't lead. I don't have the oomph for it; I don't have the charge.

I remember Saturday mornings in the house I grew up in. I remember sweatshirts and coffee mugs and spiral-topped steno pads with lists; of the stereo on and the windows opened. I remember my mom's challenge to tackle the house and strip it of its clutter and filth, of its resentful and mocking attitude. I would answer her call and we would leap forward with purpose and a destination. We would conquer the negativity that clouded around us and we would then breathe fresh air and lemon pledge. We would see shiny surfaces and spread clean sheets and set the timer for 45 minutes so we could switch the laundry out. And we would have the knowledge that we succeeded. We overcame the Other Entity, the house, that would sometimes overcome us and live its own agenda. Perhaps even trying to drive us out of our own home.

And so today, when I am feeling particularly weak and overwhelmed at my home's 'own agenda,' I desire to capture that same spirit my mom had. To devour the negativity. To banish the stagnant energy and to breathe fresh air again. But my mom is not here. She is living in Washington state and I can't answer her call to arms. I must do the leading today, and not the following.

But I don't know how. The house, the Other Entity, is winning today. Old manuscript pages cover the floor at my feet, dirty dishes clutter my writing desk, books lie on the floor. Baskets, canvas bags, one shoe, a pair of scissors, one of Paul's shirts, and a pair of faerie wings. This is just my office.

Traveling in my front door you would be accosted with: a memory foam mattress pad that needs to be returned to Bed Bath and Beyond, the other shoe, the remains of a bag of kitty litter I needed to spread under the motorcycle that sprang a gas leak yesterday. Two coats and a poncho that fell off the coat rack, a pair of slippers and Joey's flip-flops. Also, a placemat on the stairs.

The living room holds: the vacuum hose still attached to the wall from two days ago and two vacuum attachments lying on the rug. Aubrey's boots. Candy wrappers, an Easter bunny and three books -- one, a Garfield comic book from the library, lying open at where Joey left off. Dirty laundry, clean laundry, a canvas I haven't hung yet from when I finished it weeks ago. Dirty dishes and various remotes, books and trash cover the coffee table. Joey's sneakers, a footstool and a water bottle cap next to a dog-haired fleece lie on the floor.

Walking into the dining room you see art supplies piled in a drawer taken from the broken dresser in the garage that's been there since March 28th. Our video camera bag and my computer bag are also on the floor next to: two of Aubrey's sweaters, Joey's robe, a dog's toy, a folded up easel, a crumpled phone book, a big bag of hamster bedding and two hamster cages from when Aubrey cleaned them out but didn't put them away this morning. Hopefully there is a live hamster in one of them.

Joey's box of birthday gifts is still on the unswept floor -- and then you look to the kitchen table. Yarn, felt, science experiments, cereal bags, books, two clean bowls and the pickle jar opened.

I feel hysteria bubbling up.

The bar has: a swimsuit -- just the top half, though, the bottom fell to the ground -- candles, notepads, a knitted headband, candy wrappers and gardening books. The taxes folder, a pair of bug glasses, a wench costume, a towel and a skirt and my orange vinyl address book.

The kitchen is unspeakable and I'll just leave it at that.

All of our bedrooms and the back patio shall all speak for themselves, as well.

So what do I do?

Where shall I start?

In frustration, I usually start with a list. A plan of action. A room to start in. But without my mom to call the battle cry -- to lead the assault -- I can't seem to get past putting on a bandana and drinking three cups of coffee. I have no one to follow.

And there I stop, for I've nothing else to say.


tamathy said...

Sounds like home to me. When I start to feel that way I go to the bookstore and pretend I live there.
You did a great job capturing that feeling of "my house has taken on a life of it's own". -t.

Valerie Willman said...

Oh No! I was going to bring this to critique group tomorrow night. lol. What can I bring now that you've read it already?!

Cathryn said...

Sleep is a fugitive as I have been unearthed and exposed.My comfort was but a crust, a cloak,long bangs that hid my eyes,thus invisible to judgment I became. Until just now you saw me,you groaned with disapproval,that slight shift in your body as we spoke. Swallowing hard my throat now dry will you sit and let your gaze drift away ? Will your watch demand a glance opening a door for your retreat ?
Fatigue searches for more area than my flesh will sustain. I am old and did not know it. I am insane and the mirror kept secrets and lied.Then just now your verse entered my world,I retreated you know, seeking answers and only found a sleeping child. The child's Father nodded and pursued his search for something long past.His world an appendage of mine,secure and maddening waiting for the Langolear's. Retreat within my office leaves nothing--- Nothing yet will I grasp. I am falling and cannot stop, the sides of the well are rooms that scream for acknowledgment. Rooms that once held giggles and peaceful plans. Or perhaps that is but one more lie self fed,gorging on what might have been.
I live in Hell
Hell surrounds me with mold and leaks I cannot stop,for She who lit the match foretold my demise.
Twenty years and more the rustle in the garden stills my lungs until silence and song birds erase the fear. When trauma has held you in a head lock, only those that feed at night see your pain. It is those that gather to feast on your extended limbs, no one sees,there is no redeemer.
My house mate, Ill with deferred maintenance,saturated with liquor,rotting teeth sucking nicotine,kind,gentle and broken. Years of being a child of no value,protecting siblings of no value he sailed away into a world of war and foreign shores. Nine years away and now ten years of shared hell and discord. His goals I do not know for he sails in silence. I pay the bills and bend my back in daily labor, my body shakes in attempted sleep. Chemicals grind my screaming mind into silence until light filters through thin eyelids. A dog whines, loyal and shedding on the dining room floor, waiting for release but I cannot move.Clothing tight and soiled,bedding clean which mocks my filth in all corners. NO I say, clutter not filth, but insanity all the same. It is Sunday and his day of rest, which follows Saturday and generally most other days for he perceives himself as a guest and I, I perceive my house mates ,all five as rock piles upon my dead body.
One is my Son who walks about alone and abandoned by all. That includes me as I sustain his being but cannot feed his soul, which lies crumpled within my weathered hand.
Sadness overcomes me, for his Father left long ago.. He would not say good bye, he chose silence and read only to himself. His pain he owned and would not share.The day he left in June was clear,at 4,000 feet the air invades the lungs easily, still,I could not breathe. Nevada was his birth place,33 years he had accumulated,There was no equity. I told him it was fair this leaving, Not of my choosing,but now I prayed the hour had come. I will be alright my lips formed the words,lies all the same. No sound now ,I could not speak,so light he seemed within my arms,this man I so desperately loved.My eyes seeing what beauty I beheld, his form still perfect and young, his gaze now steady and silent,he watched me die.Could he see,did he take with him my fare well ? My fingers crossed his face as in a dream and he watched me no more.
Today, this day in April full of sun and warm soil was mine. Orange pansies planted,a grand child carries his name,Kendall
age six,ageless all the same. Twenty six years and the night brings a cool breeze from some where far away. I do not ask,the answers would only come in damp curls of thick fog,wetting my cheeks with memories.
Pain lives in many areas of our present, sometimes the bills unopened and piled on the floor. Sometimes in the person who will not share our passion while dismissing our young garden.The burdens we clothe ourselves with we call duty or pleasure, perhaps labeled fun. Do you grant the captive in the head lock freedom ? When will you give the soul air ? Will writing suffice ? We love you and will be here tomorrow and yesterday. Remember that we know you and walk with you. Cathy

Valerie Willman said...

Cathy, you should start your own blog. This is beautiful and aching. Share this with the world.