Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Whew. Nothing like returning to the scene of one's childhood!

We spent part of every summer on Orcas Island, once a hippy backwater, now Martha's Vineyard West.

We returned. My parents, sister, and one year of myself, having lived there in adulthood. And thanks to those lasting relationships, we were able to stay on the beach, kayaking at will, swooning over orange and hot pink sunsets, bubbling in a hot tub, noshing seafood including a $100 salmon! and sardining ourselves into a cabin.

As usual, in my total and absolute excitement to arrive, I babbled endlessly. And hopped around like a puppy chiwahwah on five cans of Jolt (or the modern equivalent). Some of you have seen me do this. When Kate visited the hovel in Rock Island I ran aroundaroundaround nipping at her ankles until she barked, "DOWN! SIT! STAY!" (not really, but she should have!)

Unfortunately, I was so tired of my parenting job that I didn't play much with the kids. I took them out kayaking, and cajoled them around the lake, and kissed their booboo's but I didn't really play. This is sort of sad. But understandable. And now they are in Salem and so I will be ready to play again when they get back on Thurs. And we will play together all day, every day, for two more months.

And then, there's the family "of origin," as those feeling alienated always call it. Anyway, this is the revised version, because after all this, I'm still actually worried about feeling further alienated from them. You'd think I'd get over it. You'd think I'd LIKE to be alienated from them. But I'm apparently not completely ready for that.

An inexplicably sudden and strong emotional reaction to my emotions not being taken seriously was, without irony, met with laughter!

And also, the collapse is coming in the clouds to gather up the righteous. I will not be among them because I love ketchup and have an irredeemable tomato addiction, me and Pol Pot. This will hasten the collapse, obviously. Which is okay, because the righteous are looking forward to it. The only path to redemption is to skin a porcupine.

And also, when everyone trots off to their various entitlements and I suddenly discover myself alone, abandoned with my kids, I need to relaaaaaxxx and enjoy my usual responsibilities as a stay at home mom, on vacation, while the others are off kayaking, jogging, walking, and sipping coffee with friends and will return whenever, that's not important.

Okay. Okay. That's not ALL that happened. There were also crazy good times around the camp fire. Matt's hilarious stories about chopping wood (he chops A LOT of wood... and carries A LOT of water). Cocktails in town with my sister/confidant. My mom stumbled across a new band name: OCDC. A return to the classic family photo atop Mt. Constitution. And good times. I love my family. Sometimes it's an obvious thing and sometimes I don't know why. They can really confuse and infuriate me.

The last magical night, we were up late at the campfire fraternizing with our pseudo siblings and hosts Grant and Ronna, when we were interrupted by a strange cloppity flap flap below us on the beach. Further investigation found a swarm of miniature sharks (dogfish). The high tide crammed them against the shore. The summer's phosphorescence sparkled where the Sound flopped against the rocks. As far as the flashlight would shine, it was fins, flat glowing eyes, and tails plonking the surface, the song of shark infested waters. Enchanting and metaphoric!

Of course, no journey to Orcas would be complete without a psychic striking up a conversation with me while I waited for the departing ferry. Suddenly, she went into a reverie, and sheepishly mumbled things about my aura she could suddenly see. Things I'm learning to hate about myself. I'm a listener (when not overly excited to see you!). I'm listening to the background, to the things behind the visible.

She forgot to mention that to my family, however.

On the way home, I met up with Big Rachel. She's not actually big, but is older than my sister, Lil' Rachel. She's the neighbor girl from my childhood who constitutes 50% of my memory, and with whom Facebook reunited me. Despite epic communications problems including the death of my cell phone battery and the constant failure of the Orcas Internet, we did actually meet up. I was, again, as excited as possible and nearly jabbered my head off! Huck was there, however, and noticed it dangling at my feet, a few strands left to show where it had come from. And he handily popped it back on the neck-stand, and I was actually able to ask some of the questions I really wanted to. That was the first person that I've seen from high school. Except for the one I was briefly married to.

And now: Here I Am. In my house. On my land. I've lived here for all eternity. It makes me feel like a ghost. I'm Home. Alone. Finally.

update: for pics of the dogfish check out our hosts blog: http://myles-era.blogspot.com/


  1. An amazing gift about family is how they can mirror the best and worst in ourselves. One persons entitlement can be just a title for someone else. Being a “Mother” before being any other claimed title. Having a family, owning your own home, being in a situation where your husband makes enough that you can make the choice to stay home are all things I dream of. Some of them are coming true now and some of them I may never have. In a few years from now when my little one/ ones are my focus and I feel my Self “abandoned with my kids” (which I am sure I will have) I am hoping I will one of my diaries from the past ten years will remind me of what it is like to not have that love. Because, truth be told, if I don’t recognize it from my past self, I will defiantly get a reflection of it when I visit my family. They tend to follow my lead in the title I am choosing at any given time.

  2. That is supposed to say "I am hoping I will read one of my diaries from the past ten years and it will remind me of what it is like to not have that love."

  3. Yeah. It would be great if moms always felt wonderful about being with their kids 24/7. For me, I was just finishing up a 14 day parenting bender where Huck was gone before the kids got up and returned just as I was putting them to bed. No weekend even. That, close on the heels of three months of a single mom style stint in Rock Island.

    Working moms and stay at home moms alike all need some personal time, and it can be really difficult to get. I am a much better mom when I get some "self"ish time, time where I connect with my "self" and meet some of my spiritual needs that are not entirely met by parenthood. I know there's this lovely idea that becoming a mother completes you and that we "should" all just be happy we have those lil' angels. But that's not the reality most of us experience. We chose it. We enjoy it. We love it. We are blessed by it. But we can't, and shouldn't, be doing it without a break.

    Mostly the vacation was fun and my family really pitched in with the kids, but there was a moment when I was overwhelmed by the sense that everyone else had endless freedom, except me. They had all left their work behind, but mine was still with me. It was a lonely feeling.

    It would also have been nice, but totally unreasonable to expect, that suddenly having a nearly perfect life could banish all uncomfortable and negative emotions from my life. But, alas, here I am, still human, still a person with sometimes inexplicable emotions that are none the less real and deep.

    I am getting two days off, after which, I am usually recharged, refilled, and relaxed enough to parent with more intention and joy than one can muster when one hasn't had even one minute to oneself in about two months.

    After 8 years of parenting, this is my first stint as a stay at home mom. I am aware that I am fortunate. However, it's not without its challenges and the adjustment curve is steep. The paths I chose might be difficult, even though I chose them and am privileged to be on them.



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