Saturday, February 23, 2013

Blow Me One Last Wish

“Sam! You’re going to use the whole bottle!” the voice coming from the other side of the dust encrusted screen door sharp but it was only the shock of getting caught that caused my little ponytailed head to turn. I could tell it wasn’t one of those tones that warranted the sucking in tightly of my breath and the panic induced flips in my tummy. She was tucked comfortably into her couch corner, the rustle of stiff plastic book covering as she shifted and tried to balance the barrowed and bound story of someone else’s life in her hands. The tinkle of cloudy ice cubes bumping against the sides of her glass of iced tea. She wasn’t leaving that spot unless my ass was on fire. Easter morning and a much needed day of relaxation, for both of us.

I’d gotten up early, on her urging of course, “Sam! The Easter Bunny has been here! You have to come see what he brought or if he hid any of our eggs.” Even then my lack of tolerance for bullshit made things a little prickly between us as I lollygagged around, looking behind her potted ferns and under the coffee table for trinkets left by the Easter Bunny even though we both knew I had (sadly) figured out two years earlier, while counting the coins in my mother’s purse both in the evening before and in the morning after the Tooth Fairy had “visited” that it was all a rouse. Didn’t matter, she seemed to need me to fake it and while hardly over-exuberant, I placated her by holding up the puny grocery store plastic basket with the waxy and hollow chocolate bunny, which she was going to eat seeing as I never liked chocolate. Feigned interest as I sniffed around our house, my nose picking up wisps of the vinegar based dye which assisted in finding the less than stealthy hidden hard boiled eggs, the ones that I would be finding stinking up my lunchbox for at least a week. 

I wasn’t raised in a religious home, in fact I don’t think I had a clue what Easter was even about until some distant family member drug me to mass one Easter morning and fuck me, I was begging for bullshit egg hunts and hollow chocolate within 30 minutes of that bending, bowing and singing noise. Easter meant very little to me but there were two things that happened Easter Sunday that made all the bunny worship, stinky eggs, early wakeup calls and that yearly pop of a clear jelly bean in my mouth, my face all bunched up as I munched and chewed, thought and deliberated, “What the fuck flavor is this supposed to be anyway?” totally worth it….pan seared, salty, nearly painfully salty, ham steak, eggs fried in bubbling hot bacon grease, sourdough toast with thick and waxy slabs of mouth coating butter and a cup of heavily milked and sugared coffee. Breakfast Easter morning was a serious treat and even though I was never an early eater, (to this day I would rather have cold soba noodles or fried rice for breakfast and have the yummy rich eggs for dinner) I would speed up that egg hunt when I heard the toast ejecting from out dinky white plastic toaster. 

I’d sip my coffee first, let the milky sweetness stimulate my far from ready palate, try and ready it for the rather gut-busting assault I was about to give it. Cold fork heavy and still a little clumsy in my small hands, lancing the perfectly cooked yolks of my eggs, green eyes wide and delighted as I watched the opulently yellow liquid slowly break free from the tender white flesh. Grabbing my equally hard to manage butter knife I would quickly begin to slice away at my thin wedge of salty ham, careful to avoid the tiny circular bone that rested in the corner, leaving all the squishy and undesirable “mush meat” inside that bone as I excitedly shuttled my little shaved bits of ham into the river of still warm and astoundingly luxurious yolkiness. A quick toss to fully coat and it was all aboard the toast train as it were. Three greedy bites in a row, my nostrils pumping away extra hard to make up for the fact that my mouth was too busy to bother with trying to like breathe and junk, my teeth crunching through darkly toasted sour dough the only sound in our kitchen other than my mother rustling through my Easter basket, her slender fingers tracing the sugary extravagances…long nails tugging at the brightly colored foil that held what she desired. My torrid yolk, ham, sweetened coffee and waxy lumps of buttered toast making my little toes curl until I could feel the stitching of my socks rest like a bar separating my toes from the rest of my foot. The crunching so loudly rumbling through my still sleepy skull that halfway through breakfast I was dizzy. Too much…least for me, what with the acting and huge breakfast eating and all, my plate still half full I would push away from the table, “I’m done! Thanks Mom!” before plunging my hand into that puny basket and digging around for the actual best part of Easter..... the bubbles. 

“There's still a bunch in here!” I yelled back as I tipped the bottle of bubbles on its side, my little fingers so glazed with slippery suds that I could barely hold onto the wand. Never to be used again cap to the bubbles sitting atop the wee pile of pulled off and unneeded socks, tip of my tongue peeking out the left side of my mouth, one eye scrunched shut as I adjusted the container and tried like hell to coat that wand in as much bubble mojo as I could. I can still smell the gentle, soapy aromas and feel that same pull deep at my core that I did way back then when I would steady myself on the top of the porch stairs. Toes gripping the cement, right forearm and elbow positively encased in sudsy bubble juice, tips of my blonde ponytailed hair also saturated and stuck to my neck as I pulled the wand from the bottle, closed my eyes, took in a super deep breath and with everything I had in me poured all my wishes into the air that would press against the soapy plate. I would watch it give and sway, grow and fill before breaking away and traveling off, up, away taking my dreams and wishes with it. Early on I was frivolous with the bubbles, would dunk, press my wee lips into a ring, make a wish about being able to go around the ring set four times before my blisters would make me drop. Whisper wishes that Armando would kiss me (he did by the way, that one worked. Not only did he kiss me, we got caught pants down under the monkey bars playing, well I think it was mailman whatever the hell that was. Got our parents called and we were moved into different classrooms after that. Yay me! Sigh…)  that I would be able to hold my breath underwater longer than anyone else at the cove on our next visit and that I might someday be popular. The day would go on, my dreams and wishes littering the neighborhood in the form of gloriously beautiful, round, vibrating bubbles and my bottle of magic wishing serum growing all the more sacred with each dunk. When I got to the very bottom of the bottle is when I would truly contemplate what it is my seven year old dreams were actually made of…

“I want to dance professionally”

‘I want to be a nurse”

“I wonder what having a dad feels like”

“I want to make eggs like my mom does”

“I wish I were scared less”

“I hope to fall in love”

“I wish she were happy….”

Came home this evening, tired, on deadline, unable to get more than 2 sentences together while at work and feeling increasingly irritated. In one of those loops in my life that feels like the next big wave might just be the one that crashes against my dock and busts everything loose, splintering it into pieces my hands won’t be strong enough to pull back and gather. A million tiny things and a couple ginormous ones, take your pick and when it’s like this, not sure it matters the size, just sucks giant ass balls, and not in the fun way. Found balance in the place I always do, in my kitchen. The smell of winey mustard, blistering onions, caramelized pork fat and the earthy, woody scent of mushrooms releasing their moisture when bouncing around in a hot pan but sucking it back in once they become accustomed to the heat. The banging of cast iron pans, whoosh of water as I wash my blades, the sizzle of skin meeting a fiery hot surface that has been blazing away, just waiting. Hands moving, mouth tasting, lips a resting spot for my front teeth as I whisk and sauté. Head a trillion miles away from anything that can touch me, hurt me, better me…just in my mothering mode, finding and feeding love with what I can create in my beat up pans, with my tired and silly heart. 

Dinner over, bellies full, sock covered toes curled I reach for the big bottle of dishwashing liquid that rests on my counter. Hand barely touching the oversized bottle and two perfect, albeit tiny, little spheres leap from the lip of the bottle and start floating through my kitchen and towards the front door. I just held my breath, my back unbendable and chest tight…I was rooting for them. As they blipped through my living room, before I could even stop myself I was whispering, “I hope he finds happiness” and “I wish he was better Mom”….

I made dinner

Didn’t work the whole “get lost in” magic…dammit. 

Feel all slippery and like I’m looking one-eyed into a nearly empty container of bubbles as I make wishes, this time not for me and that feels just a little better. A broken heart and lost love and my brother once again succumbing to his lifelong addiction to anything that rid him of the memories and reality of being him…a desire so powerful for him that he now finds himself once again homeless and angry, not for his culpability in the expulsion from the last place that would have him, feed him, house him…no, likely pissed that they caught him and made a “big deal” out of his “casual” and "non-addicted" usage. Been the dame for as long as I've known him and no matter how low and degenerate. Found myself aching for just one more bubble, one that would land upon my sweet baby sister’s shoulders and upon bursting tell her, “it’s okay to let him go, he chose this”….my heart knowing that there will never be such bubble but so long as there is dishwashing liquid near my sink I have limitless wishes, for her.

I need a taste of something truly mind bending, breathtaking, worthy of griping your toes against the porch and taking big, chest filing gulps of air for…taking suggestions. Inspire me.


Ron Washam, HMW said...

My Gorgeous Samantha,
Wishes and bubbles. You've gone from blowing bubbles to selling bubbles. Your life has more bubbles than a hot tub filled with old guys.

As usual, a very moving and thoughtful post. Your brother troubles are disheartening, to say the least. It's excruciating to watch a family member die, no matter how distant. I'm so sorry. My brother came close to jumping off that same cliff, and even now, when he's stepped back several hundred feet, I'm afraid he just might take off running for the edge again. And part of me will feel responsible, though I'm not.

I'd like to inspire you, but, hey, I come here for you to inspire me, which you often do. After such an incredibly rich and lucky life, I'm only now learning how to cope with loss and the inevitable end of everything. Wine distracts me for a time, but the cold hard facts of the world remain. There is only courage and laughter and kindness to keep the flame burning. You have all of those in abundance. And we are all better because of your example.

I love you.

Samantha Dugan said...

Ron My Love,
Leave it to you to both make me smile/laugh and give me an unmovable knot in my throat. Only you...

I've never so much seen a picture of your brother but when I think of you as a little guy, a sweet faced, picky eating, instigating kid, (which is of course how I picture you) I for some reason picture you and your brother laughing. Isn't that weird? I'm so happy for you Ron, happy that you got your brother back and while I think that fear of it happening again is healthy for protecting yourself, I do hope you see his progress and have fond memories of the two of you laughing.

For Mike and I, there would be not "getting back" as we never really had anything to begin with. When it was icy cold here last night, right after I finished this clearly stoopid piece, I locked the front door and pulled out a pair of socks to warm my stiff and chilly toes and I couldn't help but think of Mikey....of him sleeping in a shed in someone's back yard and how cold he must be. Pretty shitty feeling, but like you, I know I'm not responsible. Still shitty and painful though.

I'm not courageous love, not at all and I wish I could laugh right about now but the one thing I do know Ronald Washam, I Love You.
Thanks for this bone love...was feeling really naked so it was nice to slip in under your sheet, as it were.

Samantha Dugan said...

From my email:

Hi Sam,

As you know, I can't comment on your blog. So here's my comment...Like a soap bubble your post was raw and fragile yet conjured up enduring childhood memories. Thank you for taking the time to write such a glorious piece. Your mother may have been complex and hard to live with, but I'm convinced that she loved each of you in her own unique way.

I'm so sorry to hear about your brother.

Take care.


Winey The Elder said...

The word melancholy comes to mind. The overwhelming sense of sadness for which there is no easy way out. Inspire you? I wish I had the magic. When I succumb to melancholy, to the drowning feeling of the dark, unfair sides of life -and there are many- I cling to luck or good fortune or a hard fought sense of survival, that there but for fortune go I, to remind myself that for every sorrow I can count a joy and for every loss I can count a place of comfort that for no good reason is mine; little things actually; silly things like a passage of song or a haunting taste of some wine from a sacred place. I cling to that for some measure of solace; not enough to take away my melancholy exactly, but enough to remind me that I "feel" and that comes with a price. Inspire you? In another time, perhaps, but in this place of which you write, in this place of melancholy I can only say I'm sorry, not apologetically but empahetically: sorry with an "e" not an "a". Your grace is evident and strong. The tincture of time will have to suffice, however empty that sounds. I would take your sorrow if only I were able.

Be well my sister.

Winey The Elder said...

Good morning Samantha,
Please forgive last night's drivel. I was feeling sorry for myself, having been called to work to cover sick calls, when all I wanted was to do slow, languid backstrokes through a big bowl of Occhipinti's nero d'avola. Sigh...

One of my patients last night was an exquisitely composed late octogenarian from a large city in the very deep south. She was here visiting her "yankee" relatives and developed a condition for which she will have surgery this morning.

She came in dressed immaculately in a well tailored wool suit, matching hat and "pocketbook" - the kind that 'pops' when it closes? Obviously a woman of fine breeding, she carefully folded each article of clothing into a precise small pile. I placed her into the universally ugly gown, tucked her into bed and gave her a purgative, to "clean her out" for today's surgery.

I warned her that the medicine worked fairly quickly and to not hesitate to call me at the first urge to use the bathroom. Sure enough (sorry, couldn't resist), in about 30 minutes she called. I hastened to the room to find this southern bell, of pearlescent skin that had never seen the outdoors without a hat covering, developing a deep crimson hue and with eyes closely shut informed me: "young man, I am mortified beyond words but I believe that I soiled myself."

I comforted her as best I could and with great pains to preserve her dignity and modesty, got her cleaned up and into a clean bed. I told her that there was more to come and to again summon me at the earliest urges for the bathroom.

About 20 minutes later, her call light is on and I rush in. This time I find her staring off at the wall, her gaze and demeanor having vacated the building. She blankly informs me "young man, my humiliation knows no bounds, but I believe I may have defecated in this bed." I respect her distance and diffidence and very quickly and efficiently get her cleaned up and into fresh sheets and tell her that the storm has likely passed but there may be a "squall" or two left so still call me with any bathroom urges.

About 30 minutes later, her call light comes on and I go in to find my dignified southern lady staring straight at me, her hazy blue eyes are now dark and black and her beautiful lazy southern drawl is now clipped and tight and she informs me: "sir, I shit the bed and I wouldn't' have your job for a million dollahs". I laughed so hard that I thought I might soil myself.

Why am I telling you this? I guess no matter our circumstances, our composure,our wishes, someday we have to lie in a bed full of shit.

I'm tired, my southern cali belle, one might even say that I'm "pooped" but I just want to say that I hope all of your bubbles come true today. I raise this long awaited glass to you. Sweet dreams.

Samantha Dugan said...

What a profoundly important message and sweet gift, the reminder that my life really aint all that bad. I'm not ill, have a smattering of folks that truly like and care for me, maybe even someone that adores and wants me. A job I love, where I get to sample some of the world's most cherished wines, travel to France, Spain and Italy for the betterment of my craft and have the respect for my talents from some of the greatest in our field. Fuck, what an idiot I can be.

My brother will live, and likely die, by the choices he's made and they aren't mine to own. The grief of a brokenhearted friend is not my own, other than to be there and as I have now been reminded, be the strongest I can be, for him. My pain, well that is mine and while I may reel from the first real hit of having my heart be so very wrong at least I know I am capable of opening myself in ways I didn't know possible, wouldn't have known possible. That has to be good....or will be some day right?

I can't thank you enough my sweet and noble friend, for being the kind of gentle soul that cares for others in their time of need...including me. Cheers to you fine sir and sweet dreams.

Thank you for the note in my email and for always being here for me. So nice to have such dear and loving souls in my corner.