Sitars and Wood

And somehow in the ins and outs of synchronicity, the day before Livy’s birthday—November 30th—I somehow begin melding with The Beatles’ “Norwegian Wood.” Again.
 
Year after year, sometime before the last day of November, returning to the ballad where John sings that he once had that girl but wait, no: she’s the one who had him. 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017,….my space becoming the quiet solitude of an evening around the warmth of a fire and a girl who just landed in my life.
 
And I remember that day of holding Livy. Knowing in an instant (instinct) that gathered into my arms was now the potential for every single bit of love and agony possible to have within one life.
 
For I’d even worried I wouldn’t love her as I did Julia; that was a real thing for me. Julia was early, born 7 weeks before she was ready then hooked to IVs—“she might die; be blind, deaf; have disabilities”—and before I left the hospital, I’d managed to move the mountain called “should I let my heart fully know her lest she die?” Because that’s what people do; they stand guard over their potential devastation, trying to sweet talk it. Yet I’d found it in me to love her with a passion that conquered the saddest parts of myself and floated through sterile, hushed corridors like magic, with air under my feet like a fairy. Like a rainbow. Like an angel.
 
Julia was to love beyond words and platitudes, in a way I couldn’t see what I’d even been before. Julia was a Now moment of revelation, my best self, my biggest heart. I didn’t see a “me” capable of being better.
But Life moves us into the more beautiful homes of ourselves. Sitting in rooms of rugs and warmth is the uncertainty of it all, ever pushing us to surrender to vulnerability in order to write melodies with sitars and wood.
 
And on November 30th, 2000, Olivia Grace Plimpton was born at LDS Hospital. Three weeks early. My mom and 2 year old Julia at the hospital for the entire labor—Julia carrying her stuffed Cat in the Hat, me coloring with her through the pain—and James rushing in from a business trip seconds before Livy’s birth. The hospital staff having told him to park in the loading zone and run upstairs or he’d miss it.
 
And I held her, my baby, my second girl, and like the song’s first line, she had me.
 
For of course, I loved her—them—in full knowledge at that point of the attempted deceit of my own heart. And at the core of my self discovered that they were not mine but rather I was theirs, with a certainty that had already invited doubt to have a seat in a warm room belonging to a bird that would fly away.


Pride/Proud

When my sister “came out” in the mid-1990’s, a few family members made like it was a huge deal how accepting they were about it so when my own kids started dabbling in what they felt their sexuality was and it was right during/after a transformatively-dark sojourn for our little family, I was traumatized and protective and I thought “no. we aren’t going to ‘come out’ so that totally fucked up, white heterosexuals can wave the wand of “I’m such a wonderfully superior person to be above all of whatever it is you are.”

My kids and the kids in this post want your love and approval and it shouldn’t be an ego-defining moment for you to offer it. Because I don’t know everything about the issues but I know that kids kill themselves because of the self-proscribed “moral” authority of those who kick their children out of their love and I’m not going to validate it by seeking to understand “both sides.” There’s no valid side to not loving your kid.

Pull up a pyre

I was going to post something about the dystopia of living in a society where the feel good stories are about the masses huddling together over burning GoFundMe pyres because that’s all capitalism will let us have. But this FB memory from 2015 popped up and just last night this same walker-slayer—now 18–and I watched Maximus slay the fucking hell out of an unjust world in Gladiator so I guess I’m just gonna wish everyone in Dystopia America a peaceful day around the pyre and remind them that intolerable situations can make mighty empires weak so long as we collaborate and make sure to keep our bbq tools sharp.

The Flow

The daughter who starred in this is now 21 and very responsible–employed and everything–so I think this 2016 Facebook post reflects her peak “stoner.” I can’t exactly remember but believe she did clean her car that day with “bleach and chemicals”—and thank god for that because how else would she even get cancer?—but it still ended up getting totaled last year anyways. At that point, needing another car to get to work, she used her savings to buy her dads car (he and I have been divorced a long time) and when the emergency brake started freezing in the winter, he told her “yeah. That does happen; I guess you’ll have to park it until the weather warms up.” *Cue looking around with furrowed brow saying ‘wtf?’

Also, disclaimer for the State of Utah law enforcement community: This post is tongue in cheek. She’s not actually a stoner and doesn’t blaze things. Plus if she’s going to go to jail for anything, it should be for sideswiping that cement barrier in the parking garage that time. Yes; it was her. However I think most importantly out of all of this is that I’m not saying her dad‘s a stoner for suggesting she skip out on her job for the winter because the car he sold her had some serious flaws. BUT if you read his suggestion to her about it and had the thought that maybe he was just such a stoner then I would reluctantly agree with you but am definitely not gonna tell you where he lives but also it’s up in Layton. Message me.

Under a heavy sky

My daughters and I today outside of Liberty Park Emporium after Julia got off early from tending the future (kids) to meet us so they could head to Idaho (James has a military thing) for the night.

And right after Julia pulled up, a tabby cat crossed the street to come say hi and Julia picked it up for a snuggle and before taking some pics, we strategized our separate departures so as to make sure the cat was safe from our cars.

And it’s Livy’s 18th birthday today and my babies are both grown, and on this afternoon of life and change, the sky masks the sun and the air is heavy and cold, yet still my life will never be better than these two people so thank you, dear universe, for placing me into this beautiful dream. (11-30-2018)

The journey to “Amy Brook”

 

Pic: My younger brother Jeff and I circa 1971; I was about 3.

According to the birth certificate tucked inside my baby book, I was born October 1, 1968 at El Camino Hospital in Mountain View California and my name was “Amy Brook Palleson”. I don’t remember any of the other fluff on it—height, weight, etc.—just that the birth certificate paper was black with white printing and hard to read and that the book itself was a mess of white out and scratch outs and corrections.

We can fast forward now, through memory lane, through years, through the solidification of who I was—Rose and Martin Palleson (dads parents; “grandma and grandpa”), Leeroyce and Deck Hogin (moms parents; gammie and gampie); through aunts and uncles and cousins; through my brother Jeff born in early ‘71, my sister Alex in ‘75, and Clancy and Cindy, my father and mother—Fast forward all the way to the couch in gammies living room where I lay quietly crying at age 13 (or 12? I can’t even remember) because solidity is often invented, and my real dad was dying, asking to see me and only knew me as “Sophie”.

In the way of regret and guilt, I’ve often been to that place where I must explain my choice, that day I learned Clancy wasn’t my dad and that the real one I never knew about was dying. For that was the year I was mercilessly bullied—had started high school, young for my grade; afraid to turn corners; lost all my elementary friends—and would the next year change schools because of it so I was mixed up and scared and insecure and didn’t have much to hold onto right then.

But the bigger truth is that children know what’s expected of them, and that secret was supposed to be kept. That’s why when I was one year old and she left him, Mom had changed my name, that’s why she crossed it all out in my baby book; changed my birth certificate, had Rose and Martin/my dad‘s parents officially adopt me and never mentioned anything. Because that was the new life she’d wanted and I loved her and was supposed to let her live this life. So in a heart bigger than my self, I knew she’d feel betrayed if I went to see him and I never wanted to hurt her—lived my life to protect her—even if that meant hurting someone else (and myself) instead.

And of course he died, and so then did his only memories of his daughter, Sophie Stuckey, the name under the white out.

And there are times when I’ve looked upon that day with judgment of myself for not going to see him. Because it is not like me to extend myself into such seeming-cruelty. To deny a man about to exit this life the chance to see what he had offered this world; deny him a chance to experience closure for a chapter which may have haunted him through health and illness, happiness and hardship.

But when my own child turned 13, I met my world from a different place.

For I didn’t know until then that one choice always speaks many languages. And that the guilt and regret of a young girl who didn’t know what to do was actually the wisdom of a human being caring for another. The wisdom of a human who wanted more for her mom than for her own self, who in so acting, would let her mom then live always inside the world where she doesn’t have to confront anything but the memory of her one year old baby with a new name and their brand new life together.

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Sometimes in saying my own name— ‘Amy Brook’—I can hear my mother defining that new life, and the new hope she had for her and myself.

For that name means ‘beloved by the stream’ and in iterations of selves both past and yet to come, I believe that much of me has lived to bear out the truth of such a name. Beginning in earnest that day on the couch as a 13 year old girl.

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Post script: In yet another facet of this, I have realized in these later years that I was also afraid she wouldn’t love me anymore if I went to see him. Because in the years after I found out Clancy wasn’t my dad—long after Harvey Stuckey had passed—mom would say things like “you’re just like your father!” when we’d argue. Of course I’d never met him so had no idea if what she said was even true but that she was talking about someone I never knew who was dead and who she had left when I was one it was messed up. I think mom had a lot of abandonment issues and that after I knew about my dad, I never really felt like I was just hers anymore, and it made her vulnerable.

Anyways, Please don’t do that to your kids. Say things like “you’re just like your father!” when your kid knows how much you despise their dad. Even if they ARE acting just like the other parent and it’s egregious, give them the space to self-correct and remove the language of shame so that they don’t struggle with the feeling that they aren’t loved or lovable.