Has anyone watched Lost Songs: The Basement Tapes Continued? I’ve been listening to the songs and watching clips, but finally sat down to watch the full documentary last night. In the summer of 1967 Bob Dylan disappears to a pink house … Continue reading
I’m just over two weeks into this project and I’ve realized that many of my posts begin with story and resist naming one specific truth, instead offering many. Yesterday’s post (#15) didn’t name one true thing in particular, but a flurry of small truths.
I was not allowed to have sugar as a kid.
I had a sweet tooth.
I spent a lot of time outdoors.
Bike riding will always smell like Bactine.
I was well-mannered.
I had kind neighbors.
My first best friend lived next door.
I ran naked in the street with my best friend on a rainy day in 1980.
When you become a parent, you reconnect with those early childhood places, the smells and sounds, who you were and who others were to you. I realized – it hit me last night – that I’ve been severed from my childhood self.
When I was thirteen, my parents’ divorce detonated like a bomb. My mom dropped the bomb; my dad waged a decades-long war. Everything – inside me and all around me – became reconfigured. I staggered around in the smoke and fire for the longest time, unable to get my bearings or grasp who I was. As I grew into adulthood, my memories only went as far back as age thirteen. To think about an earlier time felt like a lie, something that didn’t exist anymore, pieces of me that were no longer mine. I picture a paper accordion doll stretched out to thirty nine with the first twelve snipped off, scattered on the floor. Then I realize, maybe that’s the lie – maybe those first twelve versions of me are still here, bunched up and hiding. I feel too much of a kinship with them for it to be otherwise. The brain distorts, but the body remembers.
I’ll pause here to say, I have no idea where the hell this is going – the whole thing, I mean. I feel like I’m working on a giant Chuck Close mural I never saw the plan for and I’m standing a few inches from the canvas painting bright, messy circles. I want to step back and see what it looks like, but it’s too soon to tell.
Often what I listen for… is a sense that the writer is a little lost, not deliberately withholding information or turning on the heavy mystery machines, but honestly confounded (by the world? isn’t it so?) and letting others listen in on that figuring.
I grew up next to a salt marsh. Tall grass and cattails, a muddy bottom estuary that filled and receded with the tide, meandering toward the town harbor. Low tide on summer nights, the breeze kicks up briny and strong. Good salt air. That is the smell of home.
As a girl I’d play behind the neighbor’s house, where the woods met the edge of the marsh. The trees made a canopy, dappled sunlight falling on a shallow pool of water surrounded by skunk cabbage and rocks. A small wood plank stretched between rocks allowing passage over the water. I’d hop from rock to rock, balance across the plank, poke the mud with a long stick, and make up stories out loud. I didn’t like to share that place. I preferred to be there alone, dreaming my words out loud to myself, Sarah, Queen of the Skunk Cabbage.