Sunday, August 24, 2008

Are You There Horton? It's Me, Nancy.

Kay, I don't know if there is something out there. Some creator being or whatnot. Horton actually wasn't exactly that anyhow for the Whos of Whoville. He was someone who helped them, though; someone who looked out for 'em. I admit I'm more like Nick Cave and don't believe in an interventionist God. I do like to think there is something greater than the sum of all these parts. I can't help when I look to Nature and all its amazing patterns, the universe, its cycles, the cycles of seasons, of day to night, that there might be. The Earth amazes me despite all the shit we've put her through. The cosmos is the greatest show on earth, literally. So maybe there is something out there. Some pattern to it all. To us. To our world. Who knows?

A few weeks ago, I attended Music and Movies in the Park. The night I went, the Jolly Llamas opened with a musical set and the screening that night in the park was the most recent hollywood animated adaptation of Dr. Seuss' 1954 classic, Horton Hears a Who! My friend, Dawn, and her daughter Devin had a chair waiting for me. I'd really only planned to attend other nights showing Bladerunner and Breakfast at Tiffany's, but Horton was more fun than I would have anticipated. It was a beautiful, warm, summer night with just enough of a breeze to keep the mosquitos at bay. So awesome to sit out under the stars and share a movie with all these strangers from one community gathering, carrying babies, blankets, pillows, chairs and flashlights and laughing on the grass.

The last couple of days I've been thinkin' bout Horton. My twin sister and her husband attended this wedding on a hillside in Vermont last month that was heartachingly beautiful in its simplicity. As it was on the East coast, the groom-to-be had described the sensation of all their friends and family trekking from all across the States and Canada out to this wee spot in Vermont as though they were all some great, big "love elephant" bounding towards them. Their wedding site URL was inspired by his remark. My sis has been starting her own side business of customizing exquisitely designed and handcrafted stuffed toys. Thus, as a wedding gift, she created this gorgeous, beaded, handsewn elephant to celebrate their day. I'm a big one for metaphors and I adore this image. It's popped into my head this early morning. As has Horton.

My twin sister, my own womb-mate, is sleeping upstairs and I let her continue to dream as I write this. It is 5:00 am. In 45 minutes, we will get into the car and drive to a clinic in Hamilton and this huge journey I've been anticipating for so long will have officially begun. All my preparation for this moment is coming to fruition, hopefully literally. And I'm thinkin' bout Horton and the Whos of Whoville.

S'cause I feel like all my friends and family members who know the magnitude of what I'm attempting are out there for me this morning. My chance at success feels as vulnerable and fragile and random really as some speck of dust floating in some gigantic, obstacle-laden jungle. There may be danger at every turn. But there they all are, banging their tom-toms. They're tinging tie kettles and pummeling brass pans for me. They're clanging garbage pail tops and old cranberry cans in some kind of frenzy. Each one of 'em is putting lips to a bazooka, tooting their hearts out on oom-pahs and boom-pahs and flutes. They are all making whatever noise they can so some Horton out there might hear 'em. So that what I'm carrying, my own lil' collection o' microcosmic dust specks, these tiny universes unto themselves, will be protected and safe. My womb is flowering, unfolding its petals to catch them so they will be able to survive and live...

I can hear the clamouring din. I feel it pounding inside my breast, echoing my own heartbeat. It's making me cry as I write this in the dark of early dawn. I am so moved by their efforts on my behalf. They are simultaneously my colossal love elephant out there in the world as well as each and every Who in Whoville whom I love.

Small wonder that Loxodonta Africana is my mother's favourite creature. I'm thinkin' bout my mum a lot this morning: how wonderful a mother she's been to all of us; how perfect an example to inspire me at this time. And she's so damn crazy 'bout elephants. I can't help loving them myself this morning. For an animal whose gestational period is in years not months, I can relate. I've been waiting for this moment for years myself and I hope it comes true. And like an elephant, I'll never forget all these voices and hearts resounding out there for me in Hope that it happens. I won't let you forget it, either, if I ever get to tell you this story. This is the first fucking book I'm gonna read you...

But for now, right now, I climb to the top of the Eiffelberg Tower alone. I am Jo-Jo. I no longer want to be afraid of Hope or shy away from joining in this hullabaloo on my behalf. On yours. I no longer wish to be "cautiously optimistic". I want to yell with all my heart and every ounce of my fucking being (which includes you). I realize that my voice, my Hope, is the important li'l bit that's maybe been missing before.

And Horton? Christ, I hope you're those big, floppy ears, hey? Please hear me, hear this communal prayer goin' out from the mouths and hearts of all of those who love me. For the one(s) that I am dying to love. I am singing, screaming out to the stars above me:


Music: Love Reign O'er Me, The Who

Friday, August 8, 2008

Robin Eggs, Shooting Stars and
the Number Eight

My grandmother, Lily, was very superstitious. It’s because she was “fey”. She was terrified of the gypsies. Behind Number 8 Walkinstown, Dublin, the field held a number of caravans living in it. The gypsies would come to the door asking us to fill their bucket with water and my grandmother would put The Fear of God into us with her pointy finger, “be nice to the gypsies”. She didn’t want a curse put on her house.

Lily had the Second Sight. She could tell when certain things were about to happen. I “take after” my grandmother, is the phrase in Ireland. I am fey. My mother is number three of eight children. She is fey, too. She’s only begun to really admit this in the last decade or so. She and I have a weird connection. Well, not weird exactly. Maybe “unearthly” is a better term. It’s like we know each other inside out. And most of what we know, we know without really talking about it. She makes me feel like Petra in the fucking Chrysalids. If we could stop reading each other’s minds, we might achieve a normal parent/child relationship. But I think our connection is a result of the fact that I was the last to leave her womb, and some kind of invisible cord remains between us, unable to be severed by a pair of dull, hospital scissors.

My mother tells me I am a changeling: that the faeries had switched her real baby with me. It isn’t a cruel statement. It isn’t even meant to be a joke as much as it is an acknowledgement that I’m a bit of an odd duck. She would watch me when I was younger and she’d bite her lip nervously if she saw me staring at a tree too long. or um. talking to it. She’d purse her lips at me when I’d bring home half dead animals. Kay, some of ‘em, I admit, were completely dead already, but I couldn’t just LEAVE them there, could I? Just LYING there like that with one leg stuck up in the air or a wing all crumpled? It was shit like this which caused her at these times to lay her hands on my shoulders and with her eyebrows knit tighter than a cabled aran sweater, in a panicked whisper, she’d cry, “Are you fey? Are you fey?” I always thought she was asking if I were ill when I was younger because of her tormented expression. I learned later that to be fey means to walk on the borders of Faerie. Banshee is the anglocized version of Ban Sidhe (meaning simply Woman of the Sidhe or Faery Woman). The Sidhe were the faery race in Celtic mythology and they weren’t tiny like faeries in other stories are; they were called “The Lordly Ones”, being of unusual stature. In this way, I’m not exactly like ‘em. I’m only five foot two. And I don’t even have eyes of blue so I can’t sing that damn song either. My friend, Paul, who is an amazing singer/songwriter, says he can’t stand that song. He thinks a guy would have to be an idiot to go around singing, “…has anybody seen my gal?” He’s like, “get up off your ass and GO OUT AND FIND HER YOURSELF!” HA! That’s solid advice…

No one writes songs about hazel eyes. Did y’ever notice how many songs there are about blue eyes? S’crazy how many there are! The only song a girl with eyes like mine can feel akin to is Brown Eyed Girl, by Van the Man. Or um, likely more apropos is “A Pair of Brown Eyes”. Good aul’ Shane. But no one, to my knowledge, has written a song about hazel eyes. Prolly 'cause the only thing that rhymes with them is, um, "nasal" or "appraisal". "Basil" maybe. None of which makes for good romance...

You’ve got hazel eyes like mine. Yep. I sealed the deal today. I found you two days ago. Your essay choked me up. I saw two of your photographs. In one of ‘em, you’re a teenager. Your face reminds me of my favourite uncle, Christy. He was a handsome devil. He was a good and kind man. Crazy funny. Witty as all get out. You look like him. In the photograph, you’re in this football jersey even though your essay and profile doesn’t read like a jock's. You’re artistic. You’re pursuing acting. You like a book to change your perspective on life. And you have hazel eyes…

My favourite of the two photographs, though, is your gradeschool picture. You look about six years old. I love the way your little fist is curled as your head leans on it. I adore your striped shirt. Your shy smile. Your bright eyes. The fact that your shirt is buttoned up to the neck makes me weep, I admit it. The whole image makes my throat catch. You look so sweet: a wee, gentle soul. The kind faeries would steal and replace with a changeling. Finding you has snapped me out of the growing dread I’d been feeling.

See, my robin nested a second time above the side door. She’d had five babies this past Spring and she was nesting again end of July. But I was leaving the house last week and found one of the eggs broken on the ground. I’m not sure if it had fallen or if she had tossed it out. I became that child again bringing home the dead. I scooped it up and brought it inside the house. Over the next few days, I watched her. She wasn’t sitting on the nest. She was looking at it. She was off to the side looking at it. Then she flew away. And I haven’t seen her since. There was one lone blue egg left in the nest. When I was sure she’d abandoned it, I took a spoon and scooped the egg out and brought that one inside, too. It is so round and perfect but I know she wouldn’t have left that nest if she’d felt a heartbeat. My own heart has been in my throat all week. I touch this egg once a day. I talk to it. I keep thinking of my grandmother and bad omens. Of superstitions…

But today I can breathe. Today is a lucky day. It is August 8, 2008. It is 2008-08-08. It is 08/08/08. Today is full of eights, my favourite number. Today makes me think of Number 8 Walkinstown. Of the eight children who grew up happily in that house. Of a perfect figure 8. Of getting behind the 8 ball. How it's so like the symbol of infinity. How it looks like two eggs. No: one egg split into two. Like identical twins. It looks like perfection. I am thinking of motherhood. I am thinking of someone else's mum tonight. I am thinking of becoming a mum. I am breathing again because just after midnight this morning, I made the decision to go with you. The blue dread of robin eggs is leaving me. My nerves are only slightly tingling. They are finally calming. I am so thankful I found you. I am thankful that your essay coaxed tears. I am thankful for your spirit. The spirit in which you offer such a gift. And I am opening myself finally to be filled with Hope. This is all I am doing now: I am waiting to bleed.

This should happen Monday. The 11th. It’s the peak night of the Perseids again. Last year I caught 26 shooting stars in 40 minutes. And all I can think of is the two babies I’ve lost and how I picture them as stars shining up there over me. This special cycle is gonna begin with a fucking METEOR SHOWER! My little stars will gather all their friends and dance across the sky for me and I will wish wish wish with all my heart to catch a star of my own. In my hand. In my trembling, open hand.

A gift…

Music: Wonder, Natalie Merchant