Monthly Archives: February 2010

The Edge of Seventeen

I once read an astrological profile for my sign Gemini, that said Gemini’s eternal age is between 14-21.  Having other friends who are Geminis I can say this is for the most part true. I think sometimes it expresses itself in different ways.  For example an ex-roommate of mine is trapped emotionally and behaviorally (and I’m sure one could argue physically) in the mind/body of a 14-year-old girl.  That tender age where girls still think the world revolves around them and have a difficult time handling experiences that suggest otherwise. It’s a time when the movie “Mean Girls” is more of a documentary than a comedy.

But it can also be a sort of magical time, where anything seems possible. Maybe that cute boy will ask you out in front the whole cafeteria, maybe you will score the winning goal for your team, and you just might pass that calculus test with a cram session and a bit of luck. I think there are some great writers who can really capture that time in our lives where we seemed on the edge of something great.

They’re able to make us sigh with longing for an easier time (or what seems like a simpler time when our days are full of bills, appointments, job hunting). Even now I revisit the pages of Francesca Lia Block novel or a Judy Blume book.

I suppose the reason I’m drawn to the coming of age story  is because everything seems so raw. Even calculated experiences turn out otherwise, things are left hidden; everyone is waiting to unfold and show the world who they could be. I like it because it’s so different from the 20’s and 30’s syndrome where everyone thinks they know who they are, and they’re just waiting for everyone to bow down and say they’re “fucking amazing!”

Sometimes I think we should celebrate the people we used to be, before we got caught up in being a grown up.  Maybe we should take a page from Marie Howe’s book and examine those turning point experiences.

Practicing

I want to write a love poem for the girls I kissed in seventh grade,
a song for what we did on the floor in the basement

of somebody’s parents’ house, a hymn for what we didn’t say but thought:
That feels good or I like that, when we learned how to open each others’ mouths

how to move our tongues to make somebody moan. We called it  practicing, and
one was the boy, and we paired off — maybe six or eight girls – and turned out

the lights and kissed and kissed until we were stoned on kisses, and lifted our
nightgowns or let the straps drop, and, Now you be the boy:

concrete floor, sleeping bag or couch, playroom, game room, train room, laundry.
Linda’s basement was like a boat with booths and portholes

instead of windows. Gloria’s father had a bar downstairs with stools that spun,
plush carpeting. We kissed each others’ throats.

We sucked each others’ breasts, and we left marks, and never spoke of it upstairs
outdoors, in daylight, not once. We did it, and it was

practicing, and slept, sprawled so our legs still locked or crossed a hand still lost
in someone’s hair … and we grew up and hardly mentioned who

the first kiss really was — a girl like us, still sticky with the moisturizer we’d
shared in the bathroom. I want to write a song

for that thick silence in the dark, and the first pure thrill of unreluctant desire
just before we made ourselves stop.

-Marie Howe, 1997


What about your friends?

I recently lost a good friend to cancer.  This wasn’t just a friend I got to know for a brief part of my life only to lose contact due to busy schedules and bullshit. It was the type of friendship where no matter how much time passed we were able to meet up and pick up where we left off. It evolved over the years but always in a positive direction. Once on an old blog I wrote about how she was the chicken soup for my soul.  Yes, that’s cheesy, but it’s also true.

We all have those people in our lives where we can spend five minutes with them, and things just start to seem better. They’re the complete opposite of the psychic vampires/toxic people we sometimes find ourselves keeping company with.

There have been times I’ve found myself talking to or spending the day with people whom I’m not particularly fond of.  It is pretty rare, but when it does I leave feeling drained. Most of the time there was no actual connection, because it was all about them.  There was no give and take.  It makes me really wish I could get those moments back.

The loss of my friend has made me reevaluate who I want in my life.  I’m a pretty lucky girl, I have some really great friends out there.  The ones who aren’t so great eventually disappear from my life and I don’t try to reconnect with them.  I’m sick of having friends because it’s convenient for either me or them. We choose not to settle for so many things in life, why is it we sometimes settle when it comes to picking our friends?

The one’s worth keeping, well life sometimes gets in the way. When we are able to grab a moment to go to lunch, chat, or write emails, those things really do end up meaning something.  It’s a constant process trying to keep in contact,  letting someone know they’re important to you in some way. Why not let them know they count?

The Sound of Silence

Back when I was an undergrad my first poetry professor would organize various readings by published poets.  One of my favorites was E.A. (Tony) Mares. Most new poets know when giving a reading there’s always a chance they might fall into the “poetry voice.”  A lot of us try to use a different cadence for each poem, emphasizes specific pauses, or draw out a line. Sometimes we’re overcome with nerves and we return to our safety net.  As a result a lot of poems sound the same, and the audience gets bored. Granted there are some poets who use “poetry voice” because they think it makes the poems sound more interesting. If you ever meet a poet who does this, feel free to smack them Gibbs style.  Or you could also make fun of them by reading random things (the menu at IHop, the back of a cereal box, etc…) like they would read one of their pieces.

If you would like to encounter a poet who doesn’t use poetry voice, go see Mr. Mares.  It’s been almost 6 years since I attended his reading and I still can’t get it out of my mind. It was entertaining, each poem brought something new.  One  moment the audience felt like he was telling a joke, and during the next they were  reaching for a tissue.

In light of recent events I would like to share a poem he wrote about the loss of a daughter. I think there are so many great things working within this poem that really capture the speaker’s pain, and show the emptiness that is now in his life.

Crestview Funeral Home

Wrapped in white linen and your prayer shawl,
you travel well, my child,
my silent voyager into the unknown.
The service, traditional, simple,
flows with a dignified drone
for you, my most untraditional daughter.

As the prayers rise and fall,
images come back from a happier time
before this coffin of unvarnished pine,
pegged and with no nails.

Like a burning man in a sea of fire
I grab on to a plank of memory.
recall you and your sisters
traveling with me when I acted
on make-do stages everywhere in New Mexico.

We bounced along two-lane blacktops,
munched down burgers on the run.
Stayed in cheap motels in Raton,
Socorro, Roy, Ruidoso, Taos.
We loved the anarchy of life on the road.

There was that time on the Canadian
I stared down a bull,
mooed to him from the safety of the car.
“Dad, we’d better go,” you said
with those large, luminous, olive eyes.

I remember that time in Ruidoso
the conversation-starved man
followed us off the stage.

Stuck his head in the car window
and talked as I quietly slipped into gear,
waved goodbye, then slowly drove away
and he never stopped talking.
We laughed for hours over that.

The thin plank of memory smolders, then burns.
I swim on fire back to the prayers,
the service about to end.
This summing up of my daughter’s life.

Oh how I want to grab you and run, Galit.
I want to go on the road with you again,
play all those towns once more.
Drive, drive on forever into the sun.

– E.A. Mares, 2004