My Fresh Hell
Life in Scribbletown.

Floating in a Most Peculiar Way


In honor of the two upcoming birthdays, the FreshHell Mobile Unit will be playing nothing but David Bowie for the next week and a half. This morning we began with the incorrectly titled “Best of Bowie.” Yeah, even with my personal music heroes I go all “best of” and lame when buying CDs but my entire complete Bowie collection (which includes just about every regular EP, dance version EP and picture discs) are on vinyl and I still haven’t purchased everything I need on CD. So, I am lame but that’s the breaks, kiddo.

The "Best of" CD is most assuredly not because not only does it include the dreadful, "I'm Afraid of Americans," but it’s missing one of my absolute favorite songs, “"John, I’m Only Dancing." This song simply rules. I cannot stress this enough. It vies in my affections with the Young American-Fame-Golden Years trilogy for Best Song(s) Ever. Fortunately, it exists on other CDs I own so I am not entirely bereft.

Speaking of bereft, death has been on my mind lately. Part of that is my father’s fault. I finally got up the nerve to read Joan Didion’s “The Year of Magical Thinking” that he gave me for Christmas (why, I don’t know). Once I learned that her daughter does not die in the book, and because it made it to the (small) stack of unread books on my bedroom bookshelf, I read it. Also, it is short. I do not read about the death of children if I can help it. I think I could handle much better the death of my husband but if Dusty or Red were to die, I do not think I could take it.

Yesterday, Dusty went to a birthday party for one of her friends from Beloved Preschool. This friend now attends a private all-girls school. She’s a year ahead of Dusty because of the randomness of birthdays and school deadlines. There was another girl there from BP, Gracie. Gracie’s an excellent kid – smart, dangerous, risk-taker – with a big mouth. She’s the only girl in a large Catholic family of boys so you know she’s trouble from the get-go. And silly. I don’t care what else a kid is but if they’re silly, they are A-OK in my book.

Well, Gracie blabbed to Dusty and the birthday girl, S, the truth about how Ruby and her family died on January 1. Actually told them that robbers came in and killed them.

Now, I was kind of (naively) hoping to keep that particular piece of information from Dusty as long as humanly possible. Mainly because she has a generalized fear of robbers and also because what good would it do her to know? But, now it’s out there and I’m going to have to deal with it. I do plan to tell Dusty, if she asks, why I withheld the information. Which is because I was afraid it would scare her, that she would worry that the same thing could happen to us. Dusty doesn’t understand randomness, how unlikely something like this is, though it DID happen (obviously). So, thanks Gracie. I’ll be doing a little damage control.

But, S’s mother had told her that Ruby had moved away. Smack! Now she’s going to have to deal with the fact that she’s told her daughter a lie and been caught. Some trust issues here. I had told S’s mother, when the news first broke about the Ruby’s family, that she’d have to tell S some version of the truth at some point because these girls talk. Get a group of five year old girls together and it’s a gossip fest. You wouldn’t think they’d have much to gossip about at that age but unfortunately, this group does. And it’s big and scary. So, S and her mother have some work to do. I feel bad for them both. I’m glad I did the hard thing up front – told Dusty the basic truth. I’d hate for her to think I was just a big liar that couldn’t be trusted.

Meanwhile, the Didion book dredged up all my death fears – fears not only about losing a member of my family, but about my own death. When my husband and daughter went off into the city to this party I thought – because this point is brought up over and over and over again in the book – anything could happen. One minute everything’s normal and the next, it’s over. Life as you know it is over. Anything could happen on the way there – car wreck, for instance – and anything could happen on the way home. The world is filled with lousy, inattentive, phone call making drivers. Five seconds of not paying attention on some stranger’s end could mean the end of my life as I know it.

And, I worry that I could die. Not for my own selfish reasons because I would cease to exist. But, I’d hate to leave behind two wonderful little girls who would be without their mother for the rest of their life. They would always have those “what if” questions floating around in their unconscious. They would go through life knowing their mother only through what others told them about me, only through the few photographs of me in adulthood that exist, only through the very few memories they might still have (Red, though, would have none). I’d hate to do that to them. I’d hate for their lives to be tinged by a yearning that could never be fulfilled. And again, this isn’t ego. It wouldn’t matter WHO their mother was – just that these two particular children who I love with everything I have within and without myself would grow up with questions and longing and sadness and guilt….for no good reason.

So, the best I can do is continue to force them to listen to David Bowie. And tell them the hard truth about things. As much as I think they can handle. Because if I do go tomorrow (Christ, today, even), I’d want them to know that I was straight with them, that I loved them enough not to lie, not to shelter them. That I didn’t insult their intelligence with smoke screens and a warped false view of the world.


1:23 p.m. ::
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