Silence Blended

 

“Hi!” 

You’re on the second storey balcony of a 70’s-style walk up and you have curly red hair, tied up in a haphazard, adorable bun.  You’re wearing rolled up boyfriend jeans and a cute t-shirt and you’re at least 7 years younger than me.

I’ll be right down,” you say, shielding the sun out of your eyes, “Wait there!

I stand paralyzed in the grass in front of your apartment, gape-mouthed.  I’d expected that you should have snakes pouring out of your head.  I’d expected an absence of perkiness.

I feel the wrinkles on my forehead, my 36-year-old knee caps.  I have chalk on my Mom-ish yoga pants, bags under my eyes.

You introduce yourself on the lawn, and rub my son’s head.  You call him buddy and chatter about skiing and parades and new running shoes.  I nod because you are so very different and I don’t know what I thought, but I expected someone dire, morose, hand-wringy.  You are none of those things.

***

A few months later, you send me a text, and you would prefer it if I didn’t volunteer anymore at my son’s school on his Father’s days because you’d like the lines to be succinct between houses.  

I see red. 

I wonder who you are to dictate that. 

My son talks about the show you took him to on the weekend, the mountains you climbed and so many times my fingers hover over my iphone text box.  I want to ask you what kind of books you like and what makes you laugh the hardest and what are the funniest things my son said on Saturday?  I want to know things, but I don’t want to know too much, and I have a friend who knows us both and I think about his words:

You girls are very similar.  You’d like each other if you could.”

Sometimes I compose, and always I delete, and many times I bite my lip and just wish for open dialogue.  I want to know who you are, and then just as quickly, I don’t.

***

The text that comes from my oldest son’s father is short and to the point.  After almost 4 years, you won’t be around anymore.  I don’t know why.  I can’t ask why.  There’s still a seething wall of animosity and misunderstanding and the only logical words to him are  “I don’t know what to say.  I’m so sorry.”

To you I say nothing, because I don’t have the right.

I think of you in your navy blue pea coat, your buttoned-up emails and indignant precision.  I don’t know what happened and I never will but for four years you were a significant part of the other half of the life of my son.  I wonder a million different things: do you miss him, do you love him, do you still want to be a part of his life?  I hit compose, and  then refrain, because all I really know of you is your curly bun, your good intentions.

I want to write: “Do you miss him, do you love him, did he infiltrate your heart too?

I suspect he did, and I suspect she did too, for him, and I hope they are both OK.

 

14 thoughts on “Silence Blended

  1. Without knowing the whole situation, I know I cannot comment completely. It seems like you want to befriend her. You have another common bond with her now, maybe it’s not the worst idea?

    • Ahh, I don’t think so Reid. I know she’s not my number one fan by a long stretch, and probably for many good reasons. But she is always welcome in my son’s life from my perspective.

  2. It sounds like she loved/loves your son. Unrelated but I used to read your old blog and really enjoy your writing. I always wonder though why the aging fear is so present in your writing, as if 36 is old or something. If I didn’t know how old you are I would have you at least 10 years older because you always talk about being this middle-aged woman with wrinkles and bags and intimidated by younger counterparts.

  3. Just…wow. Great post. I don’t know how long ago this may have happened but I hope N is ok. Four years is a long time for someone to be in your life, you know?

  4. I dated a man and his daughter when she was age 2-4.5. I was the one that broke things off, and knowing I was losing her too was, well, unbearable. I ran into them in a grocery store parking lot about 2 years later with my (new) husband, and the daughter glared at me and my husband and wouldn’t talk to me. When I made it to the car I closed the door and cried and cried and cried and cried.
    Basically, I feel for the redheaded woman, and think you’re right and kind to send her good thoughts.

  5. Wow, for so many reasons. I can’t imagine how hard it must be for N, and for you. You captured all the awkwardness, curiosity and love perfectly. Thinking of you both and hoping N’s heart is healing.

  6. This speaks to me so much, and when I talk about this issue with my close blogging friends, I also talk about the “safety” of the older blogosphere. In the past, the crazy people ran the asylum. It felt safe to talk about darkness or your secrets because there was a unwritten agreement that everyone would do the same. You were a weirdo in a world of other weirdos. But once the goal is to be noticed by Martha Stewart or to pursue business goals, everyone felt the need to clean up and act more like a “normal” successful-oriented adult in the traditional media. I think it is great that so many have been able to grow and develop businesses based on their blogging, and be seen as semi-journalists and editorial writers. The weirdos went from being in charge, to being pushed off to the corner table. It lost respectability. We became less impressed with honesty, and more impressed with those who got to talk on the Today Show.

    I suppose what I am saying is that I miss the safety. I know many parents who have abandoned their personal blogs for other, safer pastures, like writing about fashion, or exploring parenting in the most generic way possible. That’s fine, but blogging loses its soul when we forget that the only real difference between our writing and that of any mainstream magazine or website is that we have the unique opportunity to honestly share ourselves. But it’s difficult to do if no one else is brave enough anymore to do with with you.

    • Neil! Amazing comment. Do you know who I am yet? The gigantically tall lady who always awkwardly smiles at you at Conferences?

      I miss the days when the crazy people ran the asylum, too, in many regards. Your points are all bang on. Actually, moments after I published this, I wondered if I should retract it, because it was too raw and might hurt someone. But I’m going to leave it. I’m going to post more posts like it.

      I know you’re one of those people who will be brave enough with me.

  7. This is why I’m glad you maintain a personal blog. In part, because I understand the blended family complications like this one. In part, you’re writing is so lovely, creative, raw it makes me really feel. Excellent. Thank You.

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