Sunday, January 19, 2014

Last Bottle of Veuve

sucks dreams into the
Bottle where fear hides
Thanatos reaches inside my throat,
 His long spindly fingers cork it.
Heart racing, head clouding.
Avoiding his eyes in public as a secret lover.

In reflections on shop windows grinning like Baron Samedi,
I see his face.
But I hear his voice
Inside my skull, his voice, the scream of angry wolves.
My full chest implodes.
In the dark of night,
 where all is really seen
The bottle expands
Bubbles press on glass
My ribcage stretches
I push and punch and wait
Fighting to keep it closed
But there I am, alone with Thanatos.
He comes like a suitor,
Slow and shy
Then demanding and possessing.
The bottle comes uncorked
Storms, mushroom clouds, judgments, failures
So I put it away - waiting for that special occasion
When all wear black and look away,
When we will be together in the light of day.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

With Ellie, My Greatest Journey

I Remember that Night when I knew

that I at least had to try to figure out who my father was. Brian and I were sitting on our once lovely, now well-worn, dog and child smooshed couch having had that "one more glass" of red wine that won't hurt until tomorrow morning (when it REALLY hurts).
Brian has this way of making people do what they should. It's a combination of sheer force of will and the expectation that all people should be driving to be their best selves. that's the quality that drew me to him in the first place - and that I thought he looked like Kevin Bacon.

A year earlier, he took me out to dinner, ostensibly for my birthday. We drove to this house way down somewhere past Cupertino (Asia as far as I was concerned).  Like most nights, I really wanted to enjoy myself but even that felt like a job. I explained how frustrated I was. "Didn't anyone notice what I knew, what I was capable of?"
"No. And they never will unless you force them to."
"But, I can't."
"You're right. You can't. You, who worked harder at this than anyone I know, you who sees the move six months before everyone else does. That's right, you can't because you'll never force them to. Force it, or stop talking about it." The conversation carried on until the maitre d' asked us to ...ahem...consider going ... ahem...HOME.  It carried on in the car where the details get fuzzy but involved me whining that I was "being picked on." Brian responded with something to the effect of, "I don't even know you anymore. The woman I married would never let anyone get in her way."
It spilled into our house, the two of us yelling at each other until well into the wee hours. The next day, I woke up.  After suffering through the kind of hangover you only get after you turn thirty and have a three-and-half year old who desperately wants your undivided attention at six a.m. can give you, I decided that, as usual, Brian was right. Something had to change and the only way it would change would be if I changed it. Three months later, I had been promoted, was running my own team and well onto my way towards building something amazing. And yet, something kept nagging at me.

So that night, drinking that delicious, albeit jammy, Old Vine Zinfandel, the source of some recent "thickening" around my midsection, I said, "So here's the story line. It floats between memories of Daddy and other people I've met as an adult. But..."
"That's not the story." Brian said.
"You're right. It has to be about who Daddy was. But I don't know that story."
Brian made that face, the one where he expects me to answer my own question.
I took a deep breath and said, "I could go and find out."
So, two-and-a-half months later, after my mother reminding me how I'd wanted to write since I was in the second grade, after convincing myself that we saved enough to sustain a family of three in Northern California (truth be told NO amount of money can sustain a family in Northern California, but sometimes you just have to do things anyway), I quit.
I sat in a beautiful office, watching the sky through a huge window, sweating profusely, not listening to a word my boss said to me, waiting to tell him that I was leaving the company to go on some sentimental wild-finding-my-past-and-myself-goose-chase through my father's life and (gasp) New Jersey.
He was quiet at first, then genuinely kind. He smiled, hopefully forgiving me for the grenade I just dropped on him. Here I am, journey commencing.

Over the course if the next year I'll be interspersing my own memories of Daddy with interviews of his siblings, cousins, coworkers and others. Perhaps I'll learn something along the way as well.