mother-daughter-women story

This is our mother-daughter-women story. Ours is separate from the fiction of fertilization, womb, fetus, birth in a small Los Angeles hospital, you holding the infant-me against your chest like a beating heart, your body my body. Our story is one of careening through lifetimes like undestroyed blast particles, taking form as slaves, lovers, witches, nomads, reuniting this time around as opposing forces. 

And after years, here we were, barely looking at each other across a devastating crevasse. You, a ghost woman in your own home while your family selfishly disintegrated into themselves. Me, a ghost daughter desperate to please but bitter in my never-enoughness. I don’t know how we went on like that. But we did. We did.

Until we didn’t. In that glorious, passionate, stunning way, we resurrected. It took 35 years of barely balancing on the untenable strain of our bloodline until we could at last see one another. 

When my boyfriend died and I found his body and you told me about your gay brother’s suicide and how as a lonely chubby Jewish girl in Texas, you would lie in the grass and leave your body so you could be her own friend. How you followed a man to Los Angeles to join a cult and stayed for 10 years even though he refused to marry you. How you began a liberated woman who rode horses bareback and said “fuck” and skinny dipped while stoned and ended up a soccer mom in Denver suburbia driving car-pool and wearing pearls. How you hated the float- floating from one vapid expectation to the next without feeling alive, shriveling until the sight of everything pale and perfect made you scream a silent Stepford-wife death. How you struggled to balance your womanhood and your motherhood and your wifehood, and isn’t every woman born with the weight of that imbalance on her back? 

I wish I had seen you sooner.

I also was struggling to balance childhood and womanhood and daughterhood and maybe there was no capacity to look. 

But here you are, staring back with inexhaustible love. Our story is woven into the greater stories of faith, myth, religion and philosophy. One of careening through lifetimes like undestroyed blast particles; at last, into reunited forces, into woman form. 

You are missed, my friend.

I lost you. I don’t know how it happened, and I am not sure how to get you back. My days are harder now that you are gone. Quieter – in that ’empty quiet’ kind of way. This is the worst kind of ending, abrupt and unexpected, where everything reminds me of you… even the song on the radio…right…now. I have been through this before. Haven’t we all? That agonizing heartbreak period when you swear not to put yourself through such disappointment again. Yet, here we are. I never expected us to end up apart.

If you’re with someone else tonight and all of sudden miss my touch… please come home. This time, things will be different. I won’t demand that you entertain my every whim without appreciating how valuable you are. No more abandoning you when you feel rundown and need me most… you’ve never done that to me. Darling, you have been some of the best company I’ve had in years. This time around, I promise to give you only the best of what I have.

The thing is, I think anyone would agree that we have worked well together these last few years. We’ve traveled the world extensively without one moment of tension- that is so rare! Your willingness to back me up, no matter where we were or what the situation may have been, staggers me. I know you probably felt disregarded when I got busy, or when friends came around… please know that at the end of the night, it was always you.

Just because I couldn’t hold onto you forever doesn’t change how you have shaped me. I still remember that rainy night in Florida when I held you, tears spilling from my face onto yours, while you quietly sang me an acoustic version of Griffin House’s “Only Love Remains”. Only the two of us could hear, and in that private moment, I realized with unshakeable certainty that as long as you were around, I’d be okay.

I know that my blog is relatively new and my readership is painfully limited at this time, so you may never know how much I loved you. I suppose I write this more for me than for you.

Nevertheless, if somehow, in some way, my message finds you, please know that I would do great things to have you close to me now.

Moment of silence for you, my beloved iPod. Though I may find another down the road, you could never truly be replaced.

email from spawn child

(email i just sent mom explaining her late birthday gift):

Dearest Mother-Of-All-Mothers,

Your birthday gift is en route.

I must take this moment to warn you that it is flying over many states and as it has been collectively considered by the minds of yours truly and an equally imaginative (some may call it mischievous) brother of mine, this gift may wander a bit, getting distracted by good fly-fishing (from cooper’s side) and delicious Kombucha (me me me), likely acquiring a few friends along the way and therefore drinking and telling stories until the dawn breaks (and then potentially making out if they are good-looking and Italian- cooper’s side of course)… and you see, I have pleaded with it to be mindful of the fact that this is a very important birthday – NO minor celebration- (I literally had to repeat “60TH BIRTHDAY” countless times, as after seeing recent pictures of you, it refused to believe in the number “60”. That’s really the point when all sense of urgency waned dramatically and the trouble began)…

This is all to say that if it should be an errant little shit, and arrive a day or two late because of selfish wayfaring tendencies, know that it’s not my fault or Cooper’s. As I said, it spawned from the collective considerations of two inherently autonomous childs with one independent, free-spirited mother… and may be using a mind of its own on this particular pilgrimage.

However, it will find you. And though it may proffer a few feeble excuses, overshadowed (it hopes) by a few charming anecdotes from said journey, know that what it really wants to say is HAPPPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE GREATEST WOMAN AND MOTHER AROUND.

And then it will make itself at home with no plans of departure, giving it the true Rounds hallmark.

All the love and more –
spawn child.

Letter from Austen

Here’s an entertaining excerpt from the letter I just received from my best girl, Austen. She’s living in Lancaster, England now:

“…It has been a typical first month in a foreign country- lonely really. I charge my phone about 1x/week. The battery never dies because no one ever calls me. I have been avoiding interactions at the bank, the T-Mobile store, and the bus station, because I am tired of feeling like I have 2 heads. Sometimes I know the person helping me in a restaurant/store/bar is being rube but I feel obligated to continue being polite so as not to further tarnish the reputation of all Americans.

The past few days I have buried myself in trip planning. It’s been a wonderful distraction. The conversation with Google Search goes something like this:

Me: Where should we go in Tuscany?
Google: “Tuscany Tourism”
Me: (click and stare for 2 to 42 min at crappy Italian Tuscany websites)
Google: “Tuscany towns to visit: Florence, Lucca, Pisa, Sienna, Cinque Terre”
Me: (clicking on images) Oh look at this. This is so cool. Oh wow, such cool buildings. Oh it looks a little cloudy in this picture. I can’t tell if it seems nice or dingy. This site said it was nice. But that was from 2008. That’s only three years ago. I wonder if there are good restaurants here.
Google: “Lucca restaurants”

AND what do you know? All of a sudden its 4pm, getting dark, I haven’t been outside all day, I feel like a blob, and worse, I am wasting my time in England on the Internet.

On the flip side, my “activities” are working out well. I have Spanish class on Monday nights. It’s funny to listen to British people speak Spanish with a British accent. My teacher is from Peru. She is absolutely lovely and disorganized. We receive numerous unrelated handouts each class that seem to serve little purpose.

On Wednesdays I have a ceramics class. I am working on making a friendly monster sculpture– was tired of throwing ugly mugs on the wheel. So switched to something where being ugly is a bonus.

On Wednesday evenings, I go to Scottish dance with the 70+ crowd. There are people there well into their 80s dancing. Its like square dancing, but to Scottish music and everything is in a pattern. I’m constantly “reeling” the wrong way or giving my hand to the wrong “corner partner”. They tell me I’m doing well, but I think they just like having a young person there. It’s fun to do something completely new and I enjoy living in a British sitcom for a few hours a week. Oh and we stop halfway through class for tea and biscuits…naturally.

I’m playing on the Lancaster City soccer team. Practice is Thursdays, and games on Sundays. I’m the second oldest…most of the girls are 19-21 (insert smiley face). Fun to be part of a team- I think I’ll really enjoy it. Great exercise, love sports of course. The girls can be a bit caddy and standoff-ish, but they’re 19 and warm up a bit more each time.

One last thing, maybe you know this, British fashion is appalling. Who am I to talk really? But I have seen more Laura Ashley floral prints here than I have in my lifetime. Not to mention that usually the floral print is barely covering a mildly overweight ass. And then, 6-inch heels, and a polka dot hand bag. HELP ME. I’m truly afraid to get my hair cut here…”

Letter to Austen

Letter to my best girl Austen who recently moved abroad:

“Hi Sauce,

Loved your letter and your gift. I was just thinking about how much I wanted to hear about your life right now, and even though your card was void of specifics, I got the picture. And I do know the exact ups and downs of what you described. Anyplace new, anyplace foreign… well, c’mon there are wonderful surprises and some shitty ones just to keep things interesting. Like, who knew I would get free housing in Costa Rica!?!?!! And who also knew that the bed would be a 4 foot piece of foam and I would be sharing the space with cockroaches?! Well, you’ve lived in Africa, so I’m hardly telling you anything you don’t already know…

So, 30th birthday evening was fun last night. Had a lovely dinner with the LA tribe. Then Carolyne and I decided to go out on the town and still managed to take a cab home by midnight (sign of the changing times) only to find we were locked out. Many shenanagans later… involving Carolyne stepping in dogdoo and traipsing through the neighbors house so she could shimmy from their balcony to ours, only to find that door locked as well, then shimmying back to the wrong balcony and thus barging into a random neighbor’s house where everyone screamed in unison and Carolyne cried out, “I meant to come through a different balcony!” (because that doesn’t sound weird at all)… throw in some hysterical fits of laughter and then suppressed grief because we were cold and hopeless… to Big Brother Coop coming to the rescue and lending us the spare couch. He was also then kind enough to cart us to Starbucks in the morning while we begroaned the imminent locksmith fee, and even walked us to our door where… yes… he pushed lightly and it yawned widely open. NOT.EVEN.KIDDING. So, good to know turning 30 hasn’t precluded ridiculous tales.

Okay, love thee beyond. Fill me in with at least one specific… I know you have one in there.

Always,
jess”

Convo with your dog

Email I sent to brother who just moved to Vegas with my favorite Rottweiler dog, Cayden:

“Cayden called last night (on a private number??) and she is VERY happy to see you, as I know you guys were apart for a few weeks. However, she is a little worried about the heat in Vegas and wants to make sure that she will be able to come back to LA and see me from time to time. I played it very cool (though the whine in her voice pulled at a heart string or two), and suggested she go over it with you, and maybe we could work out a joint custody deal where she spends some weekends here. She loved this. I also informed her that I was grilling fish and would have given her a bite had she been there (reinforcing our bond), and then I screamed “WALK??” really loudly (in case you wondered why she was a little wired when we hung up the phone).”

Austen and Aeronautics

Letter I wrote to my best friend (but never sent) after her LA visit in 2003. Sent it 7 years later…

Austen and Aeronautics

You tell me a story about your recent shenanigans. I simultaneously listen (because I love your stories), and see you newly after all this time. A low, bleached ponytail tucks just below your ear; tangled tufts fall across your eyes, and you have to tilt your head to see me. You lift a hand to negotiate your bangs, exposing a little hole in your worn t-shirt, an unshaven armpit, and a dimpled grin when you see that I notice.

Propped on elbows, we lie side by side on an old air mattress. The kitchen of my one bedroom Hollywood apartment barely holds our makeshift arrangement. I imagine that compared to your recent tent-capades, these quarters are not cramped. We gab, giggle, chatter and chortle – all the descriptives that might depict the two of us catching up, and happily doing so. The events of today stumble into the events of the past year into a running dialogue between us. I show off my blistered foot while cursing “damn Italian heels” and explain how my neighbor is a body-double for Ben Stiller. You examine the bug bite on your breast while detailing the recent bear intrusion into your camp. Then something STINKS and with undiluted histrionics, we spill off the air mattress and crawl desperately to open the French balcony doors. Freed Bougainvillea limbs swing loose as the whir of traffic and moonlight fill the room. Inhaling deeply, we take turns giggling and pooh-poohing faulty digestion.

Listen to the quiet. It’s comfortable having you in my space, and I’m glad you are here. I ask about life back east and you tell me about the underprivileged kids you pick up from school everyday, describing the healthy snacks you prepare, and the front yard soccer games. You animatedly imitate 5 year-old Shaniqua’s accent and relay such entertaining anecdotes that I barely catch them all over my own laughter.

When I suggest how lucky these kids are, you seem surprised. “That’s the thing,” you say, “I almost feel selfish. I hang out with them because they are great company, not because I am trying to ‘save’ them or whatever. Lori says that God put us where we are not to teach but to learn.”

Silence.

What an awesomely unassuming statement. I almost cry, partly because you are here expressing said ‘awesomely unassuming’ sentiments, and partly because I would like to feel that way about something.

But I don’t. Cry, that is.

Instead, I tackle the air mattress, and we both eject onto the hardwood floor. Shrieks of laughter – this newfound experiment in aeronautics may never get old. I mull over my music collection while you reorganize the pillows. Not until Stellastarr is moodily resonating in our little space do I crawl back under the comforter.

There is a “coming home” about our friendship.

Letter from Missoula, MT

This letter came from my first friend in college, who remains of my closest ten years later…

I feel remarkably ungenerous at the moment. It is cold here. There is a thick layer of crunchy ice covering the top of every road. The city has tried salt, sand etc but its too cold for anything to work.

I stopped at the gas station after the gym to fill up. I wasn’t that close to empty but didn’t want to risk the gas freezing over night. Dang. Cold. I was standing next to the pump in a sweatshirt and sweatpants– no gloves or hat. Its too cold for too long here. Its not worth worrying over gloves, hat and jacket, just for 5 min of pumping gas.

As I stood there, hunched over and tense, a nice looking man approached me carrying a red gas container. “Can you spare a gallon of gas?” he asked. Instinctively, I replied “No, sorry”. “Ok, thanks,” he said. He wasn’t rude or put off by me. He also wasn’t embarassed. He understood. He likely believed I couldn’t afford it.

As he walked away I felt sort of sorry about saying “no”. That welled up in me, and a few second later, I wanted to chase after him and apologize. I wanted to say “I’m sorry. I don’t know why I said that. I would be happy to buy you a gallon of gas”

I mean for christ sake Austen, even if he is trying to take advantage who cares? Its 5 degrees and dark in Missoula and a gallon of gas costs less than $3. What’s wrong with you?

I tried to peak subtly around the gas pump to see where he had gone. Just then, I heard his voice. “Excuse me, could you spare a gallon of gas” He asked a lady at another pump. “Absolutely” she replied. Kindly, enthusiastically. Happy to be asked for help. “Thanks,” he said, and proceeded to tell his story to the woman though I couldn’t hear it all. Why couldn’t I have said “sure”? Why wasn’t that my first instinct? It would have been few years ago. Have I become harder and more cinical, less idealistic? In a way it seems necessary to be so. For some reason I feel I can’t care about others. I might feel too badly about the hardship in the world if I let myself engage in it. I tell myself “that’s the way it is. I can’t do anything about it”. I tell myself that “it isn’t realistic”. But I know deep down that isn’t true.

On a less serious note, we are watching the Texas v Alabama football game, eating nachos (deluxe I must say) and drinking beer. Wylie went to get chicken for the nachos at Taco del Sol, the burrito place in town. He got a containter of chicken, dropped it in the car, and ran across the street to grab some beer. He retuned to the car to find Haley devouring the chicken. I mean, I guess you have to expect that, but seriously. Now Haley Is laying bloated on the floor farting softly and fanning it around with her tail. Nice.