Saturday, October 9, 2010

Vignettes of a different sort

Time will, if you are good to it, stand still long enough so that you can take a deep, penetrating look into some of the moments which happen to make up the weird mosaic of your life (of course, in this case I have a sneaking suspicion that my mosaic is comprised mostly of porcelain from broken toilets, but I can't prove that yet).

For instance, at a stop light, while rocking out to "Lady Marmalade" with the kids, I happened to glance in the rear view mirror. Anna was slumped in the backseat reading a battered copy of the New Yorker and Lucian was struggling to remove something from the tips of his fingers.

"Hey, Luca, what's on your hands?"

Dead silence.

"I said, what's on your hands, buddy?" He could hear the threatening venom in my voice; it's not hard to detect even for a grown man.

"Um, plastic grapes."

So that's where he disappeared when Anna and I were mulling over what kind of spinach to buy.

His first shoplifting; display grapes. What do you even say? Of course, I told him it was stealing, but then, how many times have I absent-mindedly started gnawing on a green bean or a REAL grape while in the drone of the grocery store?

Fake grapes. Of course, the next question begs to be asked. What'd Anna think of the New Yorker?

She loves it, by the way, especially the poems and the illustrations for the movie reviews. She is also starting to read the "About Town" section with almost a sense of longing. She did tell her therapist that she was going to get a job in the city and ride her motorcycle to work and get a tattoo that's bigger than mine...

These are odd children, I know it, you don't have to tell me twice. Or once even. One likes to eat frozen brussel sprouts the other wears one fingerless glove to school everyday with a white pimp fedora. Thinks nothing of it. I wince when she gets off the bus, but what the hell, the kid is very comfortable with her style.

I can't tell you how many mornings in a row she asks, "Hey, Ma, are my skinny jeans clean yet?"

As strange as this may seem "on the outside" I prefer it to the life that I have tried overly long to strive for. I was having coffee with a very down-to-earth friend of mine the other day and we both revealed a few of the dark truths of our lives over the past few years. Truths about abuse and infidelity and depression and suicide. It was a relief to let go of the farce for both of us.

"I just wanted to have the perfect life," she said, pulling her coat around her even though it was 75 degrees outside.

"Yeah, me, too," I said. But it doesn't exist. That life doesn't exist." At least, not for me. Not in the way that it was presented to me for so many years.

Yes, I owe my children my love and my protection and my undying loyalty. But above all they are, for the sake of their happiness and confidence in their own skin, I owe them the truth. Always. Even if it is painful.

They know a few things now. About friends I've buried, about wars that are unwinnable, about love that fades, and yet, somehow, because they are children and because they are resilient, their innocence remains. Better to gradually understand life's raw material than to be hit by its slag as you approach thirty...

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