The joke hangs on a little plaque above the toilet in the little utility bathroom off the laundry room. I hated it, but I’m beginning to learn. It goes like this . . .
A women. From 13 to 18, she’s like Africa- virgin territory. From 18 to 30, she’s like Asia- hot and exotic. From 30 to 45, she’s like America- fully explored and free with her resources. From 45 to 55, she’s like Europe- exhausted, but not without places of interest. From 55 onwards, she’s like Alaska- everybody knows about it, but no one wants go there.
Scanning the near empty bookshelves for the picture book with the write up of Alaska I realized I must have lost or tossed the little gem. I have to rely on memory now, and I remember Alaska was the smallest microcosm in the world encompassing mountains, plains, desert, sea. You name it, Alaska has it. The more I fight to remember, though, the more I fall into confusion.
Have you ever pushed your limb, either an arm or a leg, through a gap in the spindles of a stair rail? And how do you dislodge it? The more you tug the more it hurts. Just relax and reposition, a slight quarter turn, a gentle pull, and release.
What do you do when you’re locked in a schism with people you love? She wrote the letter, expressing her hurt and sealed five hundred dollar bills in the envelope with it. It’s only a coincidence, I’m sure, that I happen to have five children. Ironic that as a teen I wanted to be an orphan, but now that I am, I don’t like it. So now what? My youngest wants to return to the family farm and I do too, to my great-grandmother’s little dirt poor estate. I love it there.
We grew up mimicking my mother’s desire to have a family home. A place we could return to if we ever needed to. The door is closed now. I’m not sure what that means for me. I feel a sense of great emptiness. The loss is finally tangible, but it has been sitting under the surface for a lifetime. My poor, dear mother is a narcissist.
It’s not her fault. She has a world of hurt, with rivers and lakes and mountains and deserts. I don’t know how to lead her out. I don’t know how to find myself while I lead her out. I don’t know how.
So I plugged in the old electric rollers that my pseudo but very real great aunt gave me sometime during my twenties. The warranty card that was tucked into the bottom was dated 1956. These curlers have more heat to them than any curling iron or other fancier flocked electric curlers I tried to use at various times during the last thirty-five years or so. I rolled up my hair quick, quick before the heat seared my fingers, and with self love I tucked a piece of toilet paper on the top of each ear where the curler rested.
Then I came upstairs . . .