Archive for May, 2012
Sometimes I glimpse my mother inside of myself; I might see her face in mine when I round the corner into the bathroom, my lips fixed just so. Sometimes I’ll hear her in my voice, inside the very timbre of my words, and marvel at how they echo the sentiments I once considered fatalistic – those cars are driving way too fast down this street, the music is awfully aggressive, isn’t it? do you really want to wear that out to dinner, honey?
Mothers have a way of turning into their mothers in at least one way, if not another.
My mother might offer advice to strangers, even; if she happens to have first-hand knowledge of a sort that they appear to lack. Mothers enjoy being helpful after all. It’s one of the things they do best. Nurturing spirits long not only to provide care.. but to educate.
But my mother would not have poked her nose into the business of four teenage girls riding the Express A train from Brooklyn to Manhattan. At least not the four teenage girls that this mother (that would be me) encountered last week. No, I am pretty sure Mom would have been a tad bit mortified by their conversation, or at the very least bemused. And surely she’d have kept her mouth shut (if it weren’t hanging wide open, that is) — the certainty with which I say this has its basis in the assumption that their conversation’s topic is not in her area of expertise.
But it is in mine.
I couldn’t help but listen in. Two of them were sitting right next to me on the bench so the access was easy, the other two sitting across on the other side, legs draping the floor of the train. They were all wearing skinny jeans, tight tees and low-top Converse, and carrying little purses, the contents of which I could probably guess – lipgloss, money, metro card, gum, cell phone, condoms. The short-haired girl sitting on the other side of the one sitting next to me was up in arms about some boy she liked, or at least did like, until she decided he must be gay…
“Do you know what he told me?” she hissed at the girl sitting just beside me, “He said that Molly stuck a finger in his ass and it made him laugh! Can you believe that? I mean, he just let her do that and he thought it was funny?”
I looked over at her and I swear I saw fire flames dancing inside her pupils. Her friend responded, “What’s the problem exactly?”
“The problem? The problem is that that means he’s gay! Any dude who lets anyone put a finger or anything else in his ass MUST be gay!”
Her friend, the one sitting next to me, just shrugged. I looked toward the other two girls across the width of the train and their glassy-eyed, teenaged stares pulled me backwards in time – the faces of friends who either have no opinion or have no inclination to offer it. These other girls know their place in the hierarchy, I thought; the short-haired girl is obviously the righteous ruler in this particular pecking order.
“God, I can’t believe it, I mean, can you believe it? I can’t believe he’s gay, I like really liked him, ya know?”
This is where I interrupted. And I interrupted her not in order to save this poor boy from being unduly railroaded in the middle of a westbound train, but more to save her poor little friends from having to endure any more of her insistent whining, whining which had no foundation in fact.
Plus, I have been known to offer advice to strangers. You know, whenever I have first-hand knowledge that they apparently lack…
“Um, excuse me. I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation and I just wanted to say something. There are actually a lot of nerve endings in the anus and it’s because of this that the ass can be a great source of pleasure for men. Women too.” The short-haired girl just stared at me, but her friend piped up, “Yeah, I heard that!”
I continued, “Think about it, we have pussies, because we are girls, men have cocks, since they are guys, but we all have assholes. Why would only gay men’s assholes like to have fingers, or anything else, in them?” The short-haired girl cocked her head at me, squinted her eyes. I kept on speaking, “I personally know quite a few straight men who love to have their asses played with. Dildos, fingers, vibrators even!”
“Really?” she asked. I peered over at her friends across the way, both of whom were smiling. I suspected they knew all of this already. They probably had encountered a few ass-centric straight guys too.
“Yep, really! And I know a lot of chicks who like anal sex. And I also know gay men who don’t like it at all. So, ya see, just because this guy let someone go there doesn’t mean that he’s gay. It just means he might like having his ass played with.”
She had one more question, “But, but … I know straight guys who won’t let anyone get anything near their butts! They get really mad about it even, because they don’t want anyone thinkin’ they’re gay. So, if it’s fun and all, why are they getting mad?”
“Well, that’s simple, hon. That’s because of the very false assumption, the one that y’all were actually furthering with this conversation, that butt play makes a dude gay. But now you know that is not necessarily true, right?”
“Wow, yeah. Yeah, I do. Thanks.” Her friends heads nodded in unison, “Yeah, cool,” as the four of them walked off the train.
With that, my motherly duty had been done.
And I am certain that my own mother, had she been there sitting beside me that day, would have been able to conjure up some pride for me and my nurturing, sex-educational spirit… that is after she had picked her jaw up off the floor of the A train.
I spoke with someone last week, someone who has faced great adversity in his life, including the loss of loved ones in a plane crash. Yet he, despite having endured abject sadness, spoke to me with a radiance of such depth that I could practically hear him smiling over the phone line.
This is what he said to me ~
We all face difficulties during our lifetime Sadie, challenges large and small, but it is up to us to decide how gracefully we move through them. The more we manage to act with intention, the more wisdom we build.
I have thought about his words many times since then as I’ve pondered the last several months. And I can consider many of the graceless ways in which I acted over the course of my entire life, if I look back even further … while simultaneously attempting to balance those memories out with the ones that recalled me acting in integrity, and with purpose and meaning. But then I remember that it all has meaning, doesn’t it? Every step we take gets us to where we are supposed to be. Even the stumbly steps lead us to right here and right now.
A couple of days after that phone conversation, I was standing in my living room chatting with a photographer who had come over to take pictures of my house. She’s a writer, too, and is about to embark upon an adventure to a faraway land. I am envious of what she is creating for herself in part because her plan is similar to the one I often fantasize about once my little kiddo flees the nest. But mostly I am inspired. By a single woman carving her very own path. One that, I would guess, has also been paved with chunks of clunkiness, tempered by certain gracefulness.
Because that’s how life is.
She asked me how my book sales were going. I wrote a book, you may know. It is about my open marriage. Or what was my open marriage. I told her that the electronic version was selling fairly well on Amazon but that sales on my old website had stalled out. I thought about it for a quick moment and then admitted to her, easily, because she seemed the type of person that I could be really frank with, that I didn’t much feel like promoting the book any longer. It felt disingenuous; as if, by doing so, I was standing for something that I didn’t have the credibility to represent. After all, I don’t have an open marriage any longer.
I don’t even have a marriage.
But, that’s life, right?
We make our way in the manner we know how, and then we get stuck and we back up or turn around or veer off course or stop for a while and recalibrate and then get going again. Sometimes we fuck up in the interim and sometimes we make choices that feel like we are doing the right thing. And sometimes, even if it feels right, it just isn’t. And sometimes, even if it feels wrong, it turns out to be right after all.
And I guess that this is how I am beginning to feel after these two conversations collided – like I am going the right way. Even if sometimes it feels like I am being heaved backwards by situations and scenarios far beyond my control, I am moving in the direction I am supposed to. Being reminded to act as gracefully as possible was simply… a road sign. Confronting my conflict with my book was, too.
And having an open marriage?
Well that was one of my paths to enlightenment – in learning that my marriage wasn’t everything that I thought it was.
But, hey… that’s life.