“Dreams are both the love letters and hate mail of the subconscious” – Prince of Tides
I read this sentence this evening, and it rang of truth. My dreams are haunting, troublesome, sometimes seemingly insignificant, a jumbled mess. I dream of my mother alive and dead, my marriage, babies alive and dead, ex-boyfriends, and people I haven’t thought of in years. The subconscious digs them out, brings them to life, and reintroduces them with a vengeance. Waking up, it takes a moment to reorient, put the past back where it belongs and shake the remnants off before swinging my feet over the side of the bed.
I’m wearing a very old shirt right now – it’s navy blue with “PENTAGON” emblazoned across the front. It’s from a family vacation, the only real vacation that our family ever had. We went to Washington, DC during the summer of 2001 – just the five little country bumpkins making our way through our nation’s capital. I took it as an opportunity to jam-pack as many events, tours, excursions, sights into our week as possible. Each night, we passed the Advil bottle and fell into bed. Up again at 7am the next morning to continue the precisely planned “vacation.” My sisters hated me, Daddy endured, Mama loved it. One morning, we went on a tour of the Pentagon, and we each got shirts. When digging through boxes for our yard sale, I unearthed this shirt and set it aside. I tucked it away in my closet and I wear it only sometimes… it smells distinctly of Mama. I won’t wash it until the smell fades completely. Even now, sitting here, I can smell her drifting out of my shirt.
This afternoon, Bobby and I went to Marlena & Tim’s for the Clemson game and dinner. It was the most comfortable, the most myself, I’ve felt with them in… oh, maybe two years? We watched football and talked. Talked about silly things and real things – the things you talk about with friends that you truly know and who truly know you. Their two-yr-old, Emma, is a ray of light – her eyes sparkle, her little arms and legs pump with exuberance, she wears tiaras and high heels and screams “Touchdown!!” whenever the Tigers score. She’s a joy, and she likes me. I know that she probably likes everyone – she’s the type of child that probably rarely meets a stranger – but it thrills me when she climbs into my lap and says “I wike you, Sawah.” When I was in middle school, I yearned for the acceptance of the scary, popular girls. Now, I yearn for the acceptance of a two-yr-old. Somehow, irrational as it may be, her acceptance proves to me on some small level that I AM mother material. That I WILL be a good mother.