Sunday, May 13, 2007
Wonder Woman, she called herself. Daughter Dynamo, a friend called her. But that was years ago. She was alone then. She had a sense of her own strengths, felt she could do it all alone. Wonder Woman. Sitting with that friend, discussing another friend, and how his being alone meant he was too reliant on everyone. Driving his friends away when he suspected they didn't love him enough. Is that what I'll be twenty years from now? she asked. And he assured her she wouldn't. And she didn't believe him. That's when she started thinking maybe she could love just one person who could love her back. That's when she met her husband. Superman. Wonder Woman. Daughter Dynamo. She hasn't heard from that friend in over two years now, and his health was failing even then.
A mother is not a dust rag, Shalom Alechim wrote. She has a poem about it in her last book. And she gave the assignment to her students this week before Mothers Day. Memories of her mother showing her how to dust the blinds at a point when she had to stand on a chair to reach them. Her friends loving to help out. What friends? A student who she knows has a daughter writes about not letting dust in her childless house, dust motes being like naughty children. Why didn't she think of that? She turns on her computer. She dusts her computer screen. It's going to be a long Mothers Day this year. She woke with a headache and slight palpitations. But at least her blood's down. And at least she's writing.
She says okay, another twenty years, but she has her fingers crossed behind her back so he won't see. Twenty years was as long as she lived in her parents' house, and she vows never to go through that hell again. Not one more night there. By fifteen: I'm nothing, I'm nobody, I have no right to live. The good shrink: yes, you do, you're a writer. And she had to write from then on. You have no idea how heartbroken I was when you quit school, her father says. It's the best thing that ever happened to me, she tries to tell him. And he lowers his head, shaking off her words. Even fifteen years she can't promise him. Not like this.