Thursday, July 27, 2006

sunshine through a window

With this new classification I'm enjoying as la petite fleur I am no longer allowed to drive, lift any heavy objects (up to and including emotional baggage and/or excessive guilt), stand for long periods of time, or go out into the sun for any length of time. It's all very genteel and Victorian. I may as well be sniffling into a lavender-scented handkerchief from behind an elaborate window that's been heavily draped with lace.


My mother chaffeured me to the ancestral home yesterday so she could hover over me as I curled up in the recliner and tried on the elderly little white elastic stockings she bought for a dollar at the senior citizens' center. I can see why. They didn't fit.

("To think you'd pay thirty-some dollars for yours," she sniffed, until I actually got them on; the puffy heels pouted out somewhere around mid-calf and the tops, which were surely meant to cover my knees, rolled over and over in a uniquely binding way like a psychotic Spandex slinky until they met the puffy pouting heels.)

The boys played at my feet in a very idyllic scene, rolling toy cars back and forth along the polished blond wooden floor and asking Grandma for money. I've trained them well. They've almost got the cockney accent down: Please, suh, aye want sum mooh.

Funny memories there are in coming home. I mean if you have the luxury of revisiting your childhood home, wherever that may be; the walls and the floors are geographical terrains literally mapped with emotional markers of your life.

(Those narrow dark back stairs? I fell down them in the first grade after I broke my leg, and the cast fell after me with a loud plunk each time I made contact with the steps on the way down.)

There was something familiar about being curled up in the recliner in the middle of the day as sunlight poured through the family room window, as if from a pitcher; some fragile, cautious adjustment of something slender and frail being settled into place -- a leg bone, or a window into the jamb.

I remembered being seven, eight, nine -- the gray years, when my absences from school escalated by fives and I studied at home with my mother instead, the one time when I wasn't sharing her attention with three other siblings. When I missed so much school I could have phoned it in, if they'd have let me, and at noon we had chicken soup from the can and grilled cheese sandwiches.

One memorable week I had scrambled eggs every day for lunch instead and loved them until, that Friday, I realized I was sick to death of scrambled eggs and didn't care if I never ate them again (and, in fact, I rarely do).

It's the sunshine that calls up such memories, the same sunshine she used to sit me in after lunch and Hollywood Squares. Sunshine is good for you, Sharon. Gives you vitamins. We'll sit here on the lawn and you can tell me one of your stories.

So I would.

And here I am, still telling one of my stories.