Dreams and Whatnot

Hello, blogosphere.  Sorry for the extended absence.  There hasn’t been much of a response to my virtual writing workshop, but I am hopeful that some folks are just waiting to see what the final proposal will look like.  I myself am waiting to see what Diaspora will look like, so, here we are.

When last I left you, I was preparing to send my only child off to college.  She seems to be faring well – the usual adjustment bumps and bruises.  I wish I could say the same for yours truly.  Honestly, I wish I could say anything for yours truly with some degree of certainty, but I cannot.  I have managed to keep myself extremely busy, and when I’m not busy, I’m sleeping.  Uh-oh.  I expressed this whack-a-doodle state of affairs to a good friend and fellow writer yesterday, and her advice to me was, “Take some time.  Sit with this, and just let yourself feel what you feel.”  Of course!  Insert smack to the forehead here.  I confessed to her that I see the wisdom of such a course of action, and probably just needed somebody to tell me to take it!

As  poet Jennifer K. Sweeney and I explored in an interview I did of her a few years ago [Main Street Rag, Spring 2007], a poet doesn’t so much “move on” from painful things as “move through” them.*  Frankly, we often move through them when the rest of you cannot bear to do so, and we do it because you cannot bear to do so.   We hew the rough underbrush of the path, and hope that you will follow because we know you will feel better if you do.  We know so because we feel better for having cut the trail; and, we are also readers, so we also feel better when we follow a painful path that someone else mapped first.  Such knowledge of this process, however, did not help me see that I was running away from my own feelings about this personal milestone.  It took someone else articulating it to make me realize what I was (am) doing.

Having agreed that my friend had hit upon the very thing, I gave my mind permission to deal with my current emotional state and to explain … well, me … to myself in my dreams.  And so the veil was partially lifted last night.  Yes, the very night of the day that someone had called me out on my avoidance, I dreamed a dream … etc.  I won’t bore you with the details, but I will give you a quote from the dream that I think says it all:  I’ve got a [bleep] twin bed in my upstairs living room? Yes, yes I do.  An empty twin bed with a canopy, quite girlish.  And it’s taking up all the space in my head.

In the meantime, my daughter seems well-adjusted and ready for this phase of her life, so there’s nothing to mourn, and yet … My [jibberish]ness is made even more complex by a multi-layered sense of guilt.  Guilt for all the things I did wrong as a mother, yes, but also guilt because I have the nerve to be [jibberish] when my child has only gone away to college.  There are parents who never get to see their children live that long; there are wonderful people who desire it, but never get to be parents.  What do I have to sorrow over?  Well, there’s a fine line between “perspective” and minimizing legitimate emotions.  I have been trying the “minimizing” long enough.  The next step will be the hard work of  “moving through;” after that, it will be easier to welcome perspective.

Thanks for reading!

*For those of you interested, here is, in part, how Sweeney responded when I asked her to talk about the difference between “moving on” and “moving through” and how that difference is celebrated in poetry (her entire answer is relevant and thought-provoking, but lengthy, and I must “move on” with my day! You can order your issue of Main Street Rag, Spring 2007 here). I am also sharing her poem, “Apology,” from her 1st book of poetry, Salt Memory, which inspired my question to her:

“Moving through” is a life lived with more of those hyperaware moments, but also one that continually challenges the modern condition of disconnection.  The “Apology” poem is such an interesting one because I wasn’t sure what I was writing about.  I knew I was breaking down the dilemma of eating lobster.  It was, to my memory, the only time I had ever participated in preparing and eating a live animal, a practice that most of us have long been removed from.

It was then such a surprise when the apology to my beloved entered the poem’s end and revealed a parallel between eating the lobster and , in the context of an intimate relationship, not admitting it when you know you’re wrong.  The effect was immediate and humbling.  This is the honest, difficult work of “moving through” that poetry asks and asks and asks.

(by Jennifer K. Sweeney)

I have been thinking about love
and lobsters, how sorry I am
for holding those tools

like a queen,
for cracking the claws,
prying the smooth

pink-and-white muscle
with such concentration,
drenching it in liquid

butter which I lapped off
my fingertips.
I am truly sorry I looked

in the glass case and smiled,
pointed to the purpled skeletons
bound with thick blue

rubber bands and even
sorrier when I watched
my father drop the catch,

still swimming the air,
into the tall stock pot.
How he rested the lid

in its place and I listened
to the scraping of metal.
Later, we sat around the table

just like a family,
laughing at the challenge
and who devised the best methods.

In Biology, I learned
that mating lobsters hold
each other’s claws

as they crawl the true bottom
and why shouldn’t they
and why shouldn’t I

admit it, my love,
when I know my poor judgment
has hurt you terribly.

3 thoughts on “Dreams and Whatnot

  1. Ann

    Oh, Suz, a beautiful post — and quite timely for me as I attempt to “move through” this time of being 50. So glad you’ve given yourself permission to explore this new phase of life and all the emotions that go with it. I appreciate you clearing the underbrush. You know I’m not far behind you….

  2. Lesley

    still moving through my only son’s departure several years ago – his comings and goings less frequent now – things left behind slowly disappearing with each “visit” – tearing apron strings – small heart attacks of aging

    Thank you for your post Suzanne

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