Archive for November, 2011

Suffering & Healing

November 29, 2011

The four of us huddled in sleeping bags on the floor in the master bedroom of our new house, even though it was late July. Our furniture would arrive in a few days. The moon hid behind the branches of an unidentified tree in the backyard. A low train whistle sliced the night. We wondered if it would always be mournful. If we would always hear the train bawl.

We’d left our home. A small house in Texas. You could run a circle in that house. Start in the kitchen, through the den, then the center bedroom, parlor, dining room and back to the den. You could see the Christmas tree from the center room in the parlor, maybe hear Santa laugh.

An old lady died next door. The new owner chopped down the old lady’s tree. She had once said, “When the tree goes, I go.” When we left, we said goodbye to all the houses in our neighborhood. One was circular, one had a pink cow painted on it, and one was the house of many colors. Each resembled an old lady with a different bun and unique apron.

How tender was that night–the four of us in our new house. Unsure. The empty house, echoing. We toasted marshmallows in the fireplace. Our furniture hadn’t arrived. Friends and family trailed a thousand miles behind. Gone was the walk to preschool, gone was the marriage tree—two trunks that grew out of one plot, gone, gone were the long syllables that swept like “ooooh” over our landscape, down from the Llano Estacado.

We were in forests now. Corn stalks walled in country roads, the plains were out of sight. Trains whistled. But, we slept in one room together. The surety of our bodies, side by side. Our warm breath mixed and folded into snores. Only in dreams, would we see again the sandbox, the fallen nest of sparrow eggs by the side of the house, or the neighbor’s boxer through the chain link fence. Small suffering.

The next day some boys from the church came to paint a room. Two brothers. One is married and in med school now. The other is a homeowner and lives alone. We may never see them again. Isabel Allende once said something like, “Life is about losing everyone and everything you ever loved.” For the most part that is true. Unless you die young. Unless you have never loved. Unless you are a Christian. There are fewer warm bodies in the room. In Camelot, Merlyn says to King Arthur, “You may lose your mother, your father, your only love, your dog. There is only one thing for all of it—learn.” For a long time, this statement bewildered me. But, I have learned something. Life is also about finding everything and everyone you have ever loved. For some of us. We lucky few. Coffee with cream, blankets, snow.

In that room, we four suffered a small death. However, that death made us more fully love what we had lost. That death bound us each to the other. That death, at least that one, made us more open to new lovers.

There is so much suffering in the world. When one loses everyone and everything one loves, one must find other things and people to love or one dies. The way to alleviate suffering is to love. Let the furniture arrive. Useful advice, I don’t always take it. Sometimes, I want to turn back the clock, find myself among the tumbleweeds just before they blow away.

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Hey Baby!

November 13, 2011

Since I was eleven years old, men and boys have been yelling at me from cars and trucks, once from a bicycle.  Once some college boys pointed at me and laughed.  Sometimes there were wolf whistles and howls. Less frequently the comments were innocuous. The boy on the bike said, “To Spain and Back!” It probably happens more often to me because I am a life-long walker. Yesterday, it happened again. I’d gotten turned around in my new neighborhood, my walk lasted longer than I had planned, and I wasn’t feeling well to boot.

A truck roared past and a young fellow yelled, “Hey baby!” This may sound funny as I am 53, but just like when I was 11, it unnerved me.  I had been deep in thought. Maybe, the boy just wanted to be cool. However, when someone yells at me, I feel intruded upon at the least, at the most–attacked. When I was twenty something, a car slowed down to match my pace; the man started calling me from the street, “Hey little girl, hey little girl.” I was holding hands with my future husband at the time. Before Thomas could respond, I blurted out something very rude. Uncharacteristic of me and unheard of in those days. I started laughing hysterically, so surprised by myself.  The driver said, “That would hurt!” and sped off.

Have others of you been verbally accosted from the street? How do  you react?  Have you honked and whistled at girls or guys? What do you think?


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