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Showing posts from January, 2010

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Time to slay your own dragons, ladies.

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My first kiss was an unwanted one. I was seven years old when a boy named David pushed me up against the wall outside our apartment building. Forcing his mouth on mine, his breath, hot and fusty, something sickly sweet like apple juice and milk gone sour in his gut that made me squirm. I don’t remember seeing him as I ran with my brother and the other neighborhood kids through the empty lot next door, scrabbling over the toppled trees, slick with moss, tripping over the bramble of twigs and woodsy decay, but he must have been there, his knees as scratched and muddied as ours, before he caught up with me in the driveway that ran alongside and behind the apartment building. 
As usual I’d tagged along in my older brother’s shadow. Tag, hide and seek, cowboys and indians, the games kids used to play. Outdoors, up and down the streets, no watchful mommies on red alert. Ignoring our mothers’ warnings—don’t go into the woods, don’t go into the woods—we went into the woods, woods that in fact …

Mum, Dad and Me. What Year Is This?

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Judging by the short bleached blonde hair, the Mexican peasant blouse I'm wearing (I'm the one in the middle)and the lovely couch my parents and I are sitting on, I'm going to say 1974. I recognize the hair cut from a picture of me in Vegas on my 21st birthday and I turned 21 in 1974. Which makes my mum, the babe on the left 49! She was pretty, wasn't she? My dad was 10 years older. When they met, she was 20 and he was 30, and everyone warned her to stay away from him. But he was quite the catch - he had that whole dashing, debonnaire British officer and a gentleman thing going for him. Add in that he spoke French, Italian, Spanish and Arabic fluently and she didn't stand a chance!

But She's Not There

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I went to see my mum today. It's been awhile. There was no one in the lobby so I signed in and went down the hallway scanning the doors for her name. Lots of elderly and infirm folks wandering the hallways in wheelchairs and walkers. Plenty of nurses in their greens carrying clipboards and pushing carts filled with meds. But no mum. She wasn't in her room, just a silver-framed picture of my dad and another one of my mother and me with Russell when he was a baby indicated the room belonged to her.
I wandered down the hall and found a nurse.
"I think she's with her son walking around" she told me.
No she wasn't. I'd seen my brother's name signed out on the visitor log over an hour ago.

I found her in the family room. A few round tables on rollers crowded with liters of coke and the lunches that family members visiting their loved ones, almost always women—mothers, grandmothers, rarely men— brought in. My mother was sitting apart from them all, alone in her …