Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Take note, I added a little section on the right-hand column of my blog that lists the books I’m reading (or rather, what’s sitting on my night stand next to my bed, the many books that I read parts of at a time because I rarely read one book in its entirety before picking up another) and the music I’m listening to.
I wish you could hear how beautiful the “Frida” soundtrack sounds, how melodic and emotional each piece is. You don’t have to understand the language as the lilt and sway of the music speaks of the lilt and sway of an artist’s life and is really something to love. Much of the music sounds like the music I grew up listening to on Saturday mornings while my mother cleaned house and worked to get her lazy daughter to do the same. I’m reminded of the bright kitchen in our old Pasadena home, the mustard colors mixing with blue and green, the scent of bleach in preparation for a party, the music reflecting the anticipation of people and drink and food. The music pushes me into a place of tense reflection.
One thing on my mind these days is how close to the surface my fears live – I’m bothered by this truth, wishing for a way to manage them, to set them free. I’m ashamed, actually.
On Saturday, my sister, her kids, a good friend of ours, my children and I attended a showing of “Herbie” at El Capitan Theater in Hollywood. After the movie, we crossed the street to see more sidewalk stars and the cement imprints outside Grauman’s Chinese Theater. I was holding M’s hand and let go of her, turning slightly to take a picture of my sister and her daughter. When I reached for M seconds later, she was gone. I swept the crowd surrounding me and couldn’t see her.
The people moved about, continuing as they were. A throng of Chinese students, all identically uniformed, laughed and took pictures while a family stamped on footprints and bent to touch handprints. I couldn’t see M anywhere and panic overtook me. Sweat beaded on my neck and my breathing sped up. The crowd closed in on me and I heard myself call M’s name in a particular, strained, high-pitched voice that only comes when I’m terrified. I was useless – I couldn’t see her, I couldn’t hear her, my only consciousness was of A’s hand in mine.
My sister remained calm and heard my daughter crying several yards away from us, a crowd having gathered around M as she was making a bit of her own terrified fuss. I caught sight of my sister waving me over and managed to get to M, to hold her and assure her she was okay. Her little body in my arms served as much a comfort to me as my arms were a comfort to her. It took a while for M to stop crying and for me to recover as well.
The loss of her in that crowd ripped open my horrible fear of separation. In the moments I couldn’t see her, I was convinced someone had taken her from me, that I lost her for good. I was a child in that moment, as childlike and helpless as M. I felt myself to be a poor example of a mother. I was sorry that M should have such a fearful parent.
I do try to hide my fear from the children. With D’s encouragement, I let our sons ride to their friends’ houses to play and permit J to skateboard all afternoon outside our neighborhood with his buddies. I fight the urge to yell, “Be careful!” But I usually lose that battle and forewarn them, without mentioning specific dangers. J sometimes reflects my fears though, getting nervous when things are seemingly out of the norm for an instant or two but that doesn’t surprise me as he’s the oldest. He has borne the brunt of my nervous parenting. D balances me out with his confidence. I thank god for D’s assuring presence. Perhaps that’s why I got so frightened in Hollywood – I was without D.
Perfectly in tune with my experience, D and I went to the movies last night to see “War of the Worlds.” Talk about feeling out of control, being at the mercy of luck and good fortune in order to not be killed by all-powerful death rays. I took it as a metaphor for the current ideological war being waged by extremists, but I think it’s also commentary on modern day America. Each day, I open cnn.com and never fail to learn of the latest child abduction, the latest freeway sniper shooting, the latest bombing in a subway or vacation spot. We’re so on the edge of Armageddon, one wonders how we wake up in the morning.
In the meantime, I hope M will grow up with less fear than I have. I took her experience as something to be expected – the crowd was an unfamiliar one, a large one, she’d never been to Hollywood her entire life, the separation was sudden. She hasn’t talked of what happened, making me think she’s either forgotten it or has pushed it down into her subconscious…only to waken when she’s 41 and loses her own 4-year old in an unfamiliar crowd.
What’s coming up…a weekend in Newport Beach in a rented RV. Camping of a sort. Should be interesting. We’ll be going with my brother and his family, with my sister and hers. I’ll let you know how it goes.
As a final commentary, “Herbie” was a cute movie. Ironically, one aspect of the film was about a father having to let go of his fear for the safety of his daughter.