There have been some rough days. We are at vastly different developmental stages which seem to be conflicting. Some of us are growing teeth; some of us are trying to become Legitimate Business People. We are not all sleeping. We are trying to assert ourselves — assert our independence from one another — claiming or reclaiming identities we haven’t quite sorted out yet. There are carts being put before horses, careening around the house, insured with motor trade insurance, leaning toward the door, only to pause at the threshold to notice the weather and head ruefully back inside.
I do a thing when it becomes too much. When I want to scream and slap and say horrible things (because these feelings happen; nobody says so, because it’s taboo to feel ill will toward one’s own children, but every moment does not feel like the blessing it is marketed). I finger through the records until I find the one. I take it out of the sleeve and put it on the turntable. I don’t tell anyone where I was when I first heard it; I don’t invite anyone to dance; I don’t ask for approval; I don’t apologize for it’s cliché as it relates to people my age. I put the needle in the groove and I sing. I know every word.
And this is the room one afternoon I knew I could love you
They leave me alone without being asked. I am not a good singer, but I am especially bad at matching these notes though I know them all by heart. Every inflection. I don’t care. I don’t try. I belt it out.
The earth looks better from a star that’s right above from where you are
As the trumpet swells from devotional to apology, I spin in the middle of the living room while my children busy themselves or look on. I wonder what they think, if they’ll remember this record.
I will float until I learn how to swim
If they’ll think of it as sacred, as the one mama put on without explanation. As the one that signaled and diverted impending collapse. What words will stick in their minds. If they’ll inherit the significance of this or any of “my” records, requiring (as I do) silence while they play, judging people’s character by their ability to talk over the best parts. I wonder how it’s understood that this is mine and not theirs, not ours. It’s the only space they give me. I would never do it in front of anyone else; I treat it as alone time, as something privy only to the people who have inhabited my body.
Ghost, ghost, I know you live within me
And when it’s done, I take it off the turntable, put it back in its sleeve and slide it into the middle of the shelf. Invulnerable to attack as the ends are prone, as close to a secret one can keep in plain sight. Hoarse and sweaty, I resume life, no questions asked except the occasional “do you feel better?” Calmer, myself, feeling understood by that black disc if no one else. Buffered and bolstered by familiarity when the familial is too much.