Tag Archives: writing

In Dreams

She comes to me in dreams sometimes.

Aunt Mar is in the kitchen of her old apartment of Parsippany. She greets me cheerfully, casually, as if only a few weeks without seeing each other have passed. If she’s at all surprised to see me, it doesn’t show.

Aunt Mar is making eggplant parmesan. Without looking, I know there’s one portion made with chicken already in the oven because she knows I don’t like eggplant. It is always made clear to me that I am her favorite, just as she is mine.

I am overjoyed to see her, but also confused. Hurt. Angry. Why had she had left me? I was only sixteen. I needed her so badly.

I want to scream “you died! How are you here?” But would speaking the words aloud pierce the veil and make my happy dream evaporate? I am afraid.

What do you think of me? Of this person I’ve become?

Do you still love me? I hope I haven’t let you down. 

Where did you go? Please don’t leave again. I still need you.

I’ll be OK. I just love you so much.

I say nothing. I let her hold me in her arms like the child I used to be.

She comes to me in dreams sometimes. Just not nearly as often as I wish.

Aunt Mar and Jen

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No dogs allowed

When I was a kid, I desperately wanted a dog. My mother’s mother Nana lived with us though. Well, technically we lived with her but that’s another story.

Dad loved dogs, still does, and supported my interest in having one, but Nana either hated dogs or was afraid of them. Mom told me the latter.

“One day when Nana no longer lives with us, Daddy and I will get you a puppy.”

She didn’t wink or elbow me in the ribs while saying it, but the message was clear: when Nana died, I’d get my dog. Even though I was only five or six at the time, wanting a puppy became inextricably linked with a guilty feeling: “you want Nana to DIE!” I tried hard not to think about puppies. Continue reading

We Three

“The napkins are polyester…”

“…so when you cry, the tears just get pushed around.”

“We were a mess…”

“…that’s probably why our lunch was comped.”

With Mom and me on either side of him at the table, Dad’s head swerved left, right, and back again. His wife and his daughter, talking about the lunch weeks earlier, at the same restaurant table, when they reluctantly considered the possibility of the future without him.

“But you’re here with us now.”

“We’re so happy.”

“Relieved.”

Mom and Dad

During our exchange, I watched hints of emotion flicker across Dad’s face. He seemed to enjoy being the center of our small family’s attention. But maybe I saw a trace of guilt too. Maybe. For making us worry? I don’t know.

Dad

We were together today. Nothing else mattered.

Related post:

A Mother and a Daughter

My mother’s first breath after crossing the Williamsburg Bridge into Brooklyn today was a sigh. She wishes I lived in Manhattan, I know. She tells me every chance she gets.

As Mom drove north on Havemeyer toward my apartment, I saw Williamsburg through her eyes: graffiti, old unpretty buildings, men with weird facial hair weaving in and out of traffic on bikes, more graffiti. I get it. She doesn’t see what I see and I have stopped trying to persuade her of my neighborhood’s charms.

williamsburg bridge

Continue reading

“Angry Breakfast Eggs”

Once in a while, you read something that just sticks with you. Recently there was “What He Took” by Kelly Grey Carlisle.

Now here’s something else: a powerful essay by Elissa Altman of PoorMansFeast. An excerpt:

And then she made eggs.

A lot of eggs.

At first, when things were still good and happy, they were soft boiled, and sat in the broad end of our porcelain egg cups, their tips sliced away so that my father and I — perched side by side at the breakfast counter half an hour before he dropped me off at the school bus stop on his way to the subway — could dunk untoasted fingers of Pepperidge Farm Diet White into the runny yolk. As my parents’ marriage wore on and she grew angrier, the eggs were medium boiled, their firm yolks like thick golden velvet, with spots of remaining tenderness just barely discernible.

When I turned fourteen, my mother began hard boiling our eggs; she’d put them in a small pot filled with a shallow inch or two of water, set them on the stove, crank up the flame, and walk away. Eventually, they’d explode, their snow white glair erupting like Vesuvius through the fissures of her discontent. I’d refuse to eat them at that point, and when she came back into the kitchen, she’d grab the black plastic handle of the pot and dump its contents — the water had long since evaporated — directly into the trash.

My parents divorced the following year.

For the full essay, click here.

This essay will break your heart

You have to read this essay even though it might leave you hurting. I can’t stop thinking about it.

Via The Rumpus “What He Took” by Kelly Grey Carlisle.

Sometimes I imagine my mother in the months before her death. I imagine, for instance, that it was raining when she finally went to the clinic. This is implausible, of course, because she probably went in May or June, months when it doesn’t rain in L.A. But I like the rain, and I like to think she did too, and so I make it rain as she waited at the bus stop. It was 1976 and so I imagine Chevettes and Galaxies driving by on the busy street in front of her, their tires kicking up a fine mist. Her jeans were probably too long for her, as mine are. Their hems were frayed and wet. Perhaps she leaned back against the smoky translucent plastic of the shelter, then touched her stomach. Just a faint, quick touch, as if she were checking to make sure her top button was fastened, but it wasn’t that. She hadn’t fastened that button for weeks.

The power of imagination: filling in the blanks of a story she may never otherwise know, all the way down to the tattered, damp hem of her late mother’s jeans.

Via Art.com and Diana Ong

I also love the way this powerful essay unfolds. She starts with the image of herself as a new mother, nursing her baby girl, while her husband steals away for what may be one last night of uninterrupted sleep for a while. But then details are revealed. The author’s mother is dead and before that, at loose ends.

The author has me thinking about the families that bring us into the world and what makes us who we are.

Read something that moved you? Let me know in the comments so I can read it too.

Worst Case Scenario – a very short story

“Imagine your crush. What’s the worst thing that could happen?”

“He could die.”

“Not that. Try again.”

“He could not like me back.”

“Keep going…”

“He could like someone else.”

“Then what?”

“He could like someone I know…”

“And?”

“I could have to see them together…”

“And?”

“I could have to see them together…all the time?”

“And?”

“There’s more??”

“Yep.”

“What more could there be?”

“They could get married.”

“Oh.”

“Yes.”

“Oh. Wow.”

“Yeah.”

THE END