Saturday, November 28, 2020

Home Alone

 I read an article this morning about the alarming surge of suicide in Japan.  More people there took their lives in October than died of  Corona virus in ten months, the highest rates being among young women and schoolgirls.  The very word--schoolgirl-- pulls at my maternal heartstrings; there is no more poignant symbol of soft-edged vulnerability...  the magical prologue to the drama of life.  The image of Japanese girls lined up and giggling in their staid uniforms like delicate figurines-- children-- juxtaposed with the dark confessional teenage social media posts-- well, it is heart wrenching.  

As I discovered in 2017 when I went with Alan to Tokyo, masks have been standard street-wear for years... so it seemed to me the pandemic protocol would be not quite the adjustment it has been in New York City.  But loneliness-- isolation... is a difficult prescription for the adolescent psyche already afflicted with perpetual FOMO or social addictions.  Being confined to the house with one's insufferable parents is a sort of punishment... and when life is all future, quarantines are a kind of extreme deprivation.  I am not well educated in Japanese culture but found it to be a weird mix of ultra-sophistication and this cult of the child.  After our rock and roll show a young woman presented me very seriously with a lovely doll.  

Despite all the Thanksgiving messages of hope and gratitude, there is the widespread epidemic of depression and sadness.  I tried my best to be festive at my small table, but the echo of former guests' laughter hung over us like a memory cloud.  I miss the Hendrix tributes; I miss coming in from a gig to face an all-nighter of cooking-- I miss the musicians passing my guitars back and forth as the sun rises on Black Friday.  

In addition to the 'Virgin Suicides' plague, I've been reading pieces about postpartum depression-- miscarriages... the sorrows of women.  We have always carried our layers of grief, but only recently I have had to see Chrissy Teigen's Instagram photo-shoot with a shrouded fetus... not to mitigate her right to mourning, and the pain of losing a child... but in this worldwide 'weather' of death, it just seemed a little overdone.  

I've been emailing my long-standing women friends; we seem to have a need to communicate-- to bare our  loneliness and disappointment to our sisters with whom we can 'let down'.  We're used to sadnesses-- we have mourned the phases of our lives.  While I didn't have the luxury of postpartum moods, as a single mother and sole provider, there was the sense of shedding a skin-- of losing the tender 'girlness' that makes those Japanese adolescents so compelling and soft.  We are no longer the little twirling ballerina on the cake-- we are someone's mother... we are responsible ministers.  As my own mother warned-- she who disapproved of my life-style and single parenthood-- knowing how I craved my own independence and creative solitude, 'You'll never be alone again, my dear!'  Intended as a cruel prophecy, she did not live to witness just how wrong 2020 has proven her.

Now that our children are adults and we are becoming grandparents, another skin has been shed.  I wonder if moulting snakes feel pain... they seem to slither out of their coats with no regrets or hindsight... straight ahead into the next phase; not so we women.  Forward we go toward a winding-down; the current braking of culture and community leaves us leaning on our lifetime sills, looking through criss-crossed panes at future and past, sensing our own helplessness to protect our children and other women's children from falling in love with death, the ultimate solitude.  

Turning the pages of my blank calendar, I can still remember years when every single day was not just crammed with events and gigs and meetings-- but the possibility of things... the slivers of soundbites and colors-- fashion and books... hooded eyes meeting yours... flirtations and messages exchanged on papers during breaks... Today I could swear I smelled the patchouli-vanilla aura of that dread-locked guy from Dan Lynch's-- with the muscles and the smooth brown skin who left his scent on you one night,  like a taste of what you were missing.  And these moments you skipped-- stones you left unturned-- same as the ones you pocketed-- they were still there-- in the night air-- in the live-wire sea of the possible.  I can imagine these sad girls of Japan-- everywhere-- like a new race of pandemic humanity-- barefoot on the shore-- sentenced to unsampled beauty and sexuality-- wading prohibited.  

Time is a tightrope, I once wrote... love is the fall; love is a one-track mind... time is the crash.  At that moment I would have died if I was separated from my own passion.  For the sake of children-- of girls everywhere-- may this end, may we return to some normalcy of touch and taste and uncovered faces and hearts... and may the older among us accept our fate with the strength we acquired when we were young.  Not to forget... but to look back at where we have been.  Preserve your memories, Paul Simon wrote... they're all that's left you.  I was barely 15 and writing in a secret diary when I heard that lyric for the first time; I can scarcely recall why it touched me then, but some 50 years later, it is just as haunting.  

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Blogger PH said...

Thanks for another definition of being. THANK YOU AND BE SAFE.

November 29, 2020 at 9:40 PM  

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