Tuesday, November 01, 2005
I am desperate for love. I am a desperate housewife in need of love and affection that doesn’t leave green and red washable-marker prints on my clothes…so I dress myself up, pulling on a dusty negligee, a silky robe that my mother bought me long ago. I put on lots of makeup, remembering my younger days when I was single and on the prowl. I tease my hair into a wild puff and spray my skin with perfume, with one, two, three kinds of perfume. Shoes…shoes, oh no, my feet are too worn for stilettos, so I slip into my pink, fluffy slippers, the ones with the shredded heels because our dog thinks they are mice that need to be killed. But oh they feel so good on my tired feet. Now I drink to you, to me, to the possibilities that lie in front of us. Kiss me you fool, because…
Please, oh please, I am so desperate for love.
I laugh a little when I look at that picture of me, on Halloween Eve, playing a “Desperate Housewife.” The first thing my brother said when I walked into his house was, “Mommy!” He was referring to our mother. I laughed…a little.
In fact, when I was in my bathroom slathering on the makeup and smacking on the lipstick, when I was hooking the silvery costume jewelry, I did think of her. A remembered a night when I came downstairs to spy on a party my mother was having. She’d invited her boss, some friends. My father was with her. She was drunk and had decided to read Tarot cards to her guests. She had changed into a silky robe that had slits up to her waist, choosing to wear next to nothing beneath. I saw her languishing and playing a sexy witch in dim light, titillating her company, infuriating my father. I only watched for a little, but I cannot forget her absolute obliviousness to her own desperation. I saw it then…I felt it later in her life, when she was older, when she’d look into the empty space around her, dreaming maybe, wondering maybe, what had happened to all the time passed, as she cooked something for me, something for my son A.
Today, I had an appointment with my son’s doctor to update his medication. We had a good meeting, made some logical decisions, and discussed his progress. We got a plan together regarding my oldest son, deciding to deal with his issues now, now that we have A managed. The meeting had been in Pasadena, the city where I grew up. The building we met in is an old one, from the 20’s at least. When I left the meeting, night had already fallen and I was walking down Colorado Boulevard, hugging my black blazer a little tighter to my body, feeling the edges of a winter’s cold. Traffic was a blur to my right and to my left I saw a rare-books-bookstore. Ahh…a kind of heaven to me.
I stepped into the place, walking slowly, listening to classical music. The owner was on the phone, talking in soft tones, leaving me to my suddenly-lonely thoughts. I wandered into the fiction section and saw my beloved William Faulkner and George Eliot and James Joyce and…and…
For a moment I was transported into a world I once had, a place of books, words, ideas, the possibility of a professorship maybe. I was someone else – I was where my heart wanted to be always. For a moment, I remembered feeling good about myself, living in those books, in literature, living for what I could reveal about those books. I saw across the aisles, a ghost of idealistic love that I had been searching for but was always comfortably beyond my reach.
I suppose in those few moments standing in the bookstore, I felt the comfort of a future, of looking forward.
Turning on my heels, I walked out of the store and headed for my ride, the SUV that defines who I am now. As soon as I locked the doors and started the engine, my cell phone rang. D asked me to pick up some Motrin for A because he had a raging fever of 102. I tried to talk about the appointment but D got aggravated, resorting to a pitiful whine, something to the tune of, “What’s wrong with my kids?”
“Oh shush,” I grumbled. Off to Target I went, battling the traffic of Pasadena, cramming my car into a tiny space in the parking lot of what once was Robinson’s.
What a shock the transition from classical music and the aroma of old books to Target, to the crowd of people with no expressions on their faces as they wandered the floor looking for…what? I made sure to grab a book for myself before I left, made sure to have a something of my heart before I got onto the freeway with the medicine and a toothbrush and the Star Wars DVD. I made sure to look at the cover of a favorite author’s book as I moved closer to home, doing only 15 miles per hour, surrounded by other SUV’s and people rushing home with their bags of goodies, with cell phones jammed tight to their ears.
What a transition. How quickly the feel of the bookstore disappeared. I wonder if my children will think of me when they're dressing desperate for Halloween…
“I remember the look on Mom’s face when she touched the new book she’d just bought. How far away she seemed to be…”
I wonder...tomorrow is November 2, Mexican Day of the Dead. I'll thinking of you, Mom, thinking I'll be setting out your favorite foods, your stuff, outside in the garden, sending you these things upwards, up, with white sage smoke, sending you a bit of my heart, to say, yes, I think I understand a little more of you, just like you said I would.