I have wanted to start a blog for a while, but it took two different kinds of pushes to get me going. One was the specter of the New Year’s Resolution. Every year I make the same resolutions: to get in better shape, to eat healthier food and drink less Chardonnay, and to write more. Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m in excellent shape and that I will probably always drink more Chardonnay than I should. So that leaves eating more healthily and writing more. I actually tend to gravitate all on my own to healthy, unprocessed food, so really the only resolution that makes sense is to try to write more. So here goes: writing in a 21st century mode, halfway between the secrecy and freedom of a journal, and the formality and possibility of rejection associated with sending my work out. But another push to starting a blog was reading my friend Elizabeth Meese’s posthumously published book, Dreaming the Dreaming: Family Fictions. In this book I’m startled to read Elizabeth’s renderings of her complex and troubled relationship to her own mother: “My mother was the original talking head, way before anyone had heard of one. Her brain stood (in) for her. All she needed in an audience was an ear connected to a brain (and not a very big one). It still amazes me how someone with perfect eyesight could talk through every movie I ever tried to watch at her house, every newspaper or book I tried to read, or conversations with anyone else. I was an ear.” I both winced and laughed when I read this passage. And it did a strange and wonderful thing: it threw my own relationship with my mother into high relief. I remembered a moment when my mother and I were talking on the phone, as we do several times a week, and I was trying to describe a feeling I’d had, as a result of something uncomfortable that had happened with my sister. I was feeling around for words, trying out different metaphors, and after a few minutes of me struggling, my Mom said simply, “I see you, Wendy. You know that. I see you.”
First, always, and more than anyone, my Mom sees me. She knows who I am and I know who she is. What a remarkable thing. This rarely happens, in my experience, even with blood relatives.
She knew me so well. She still does. What a gift. But it made going off to public school for the first time, where no one saw me, kind of a catastrophe. And, to carry the metaphor into the literal, I couldn’t see the blackboard at school, for by the age of seven I was legally blind, but I didn’t know what I couldn’t see, or that I couldn’t see.
I would need her to help me figure that out.