Sunday, July 08, 2007

vacation's over

i woke early this morning to the sweet sound of the rain and laid in bed, cats sprawled around me, and just listened for awhile. there is something about that sound that is comforting and safe to me...maybe it's the aquarian in me that is just so drawn to water, in whatever form it takes. i am so content on those rare rainy days when i have nothing planned, no reason to go outside unless it's just to walk underneath the raindrops. i like the color of the light that comes through the windows on gray days, i love to light candles and incense and play something quiet, like george winston, and to just putter about my space. today was such a day, and a perfect way to end my week away from work.

i spent most of the morning poking around the apartment, feeling slightly guilty that I was so un-productive during my time off, but happy that this vacation was all about playing and not working. to appease that wee bit of guilt, i decided to organize an old cedar chest i have that's filled with 40-some years worth of darlene memorabilia...letters from my first crush wrapped in ribbon, cards from my mom and dad celebrating every possible occasion of my life, old camping photos of my sister and i both looking ever-so-tomboyish, graduation plaques, varsity letters, volumes of journals filled with really awful teenage poetry, college transcripts, baseball cards...this is just a tiny sampling of the things i've collected that i just can't throw away.

tucked underneath a kd lang fanbook (yeah...i know...i really am such a dyke) i found an unlabeled video cassette that peaked my curiosity. so i dug around for the vcr, hooked it up to the tv, put in the tape. went out into the kitchen, poured a fresh cup of coffee, curled up on my couch and wrapped myself in my favorite comforter. and hit play. blue screen. and the words "Wendy and Kevin's Wedding, June 21, 1986". holy shit. my baby sister's big day, caught on video.

the first thing that struck me is how young my sister and kevin looked...almost like two kids playing dress up. the second thing that almost knocked me off the couch was seeing myself in a dress. wow. was i really that person once? i hardly recognized THIS darlene, thin and athletic, with an 80's punk haircut that was a cross between the thompson twins and aimee mann's til tuesday period. it was bizarre, like stepping into a time warp and seeing this much, much younger--and very feminine--version of myself that I had forgotten ever existed at all.

but what really took my breath away was seeing my mom and dad. for a brief moment, i thought about the old man i met in the bottle check out line at hannafords...even though your bodies change, you still look at each other and see the same exact person you married. how strange to watch my parents on the screen, just a few years older than i am now. video is so different than a photograph. video is...alive. with voices. and movement. like time captured in a bottle that you can gaze into and see exactly what life used to look like.

there is this beautiful, sweet moment when my father dances with my sister to "daddy's little girl". he holds her gently, leads her gracefully around the floor (my father is a wonderful dancer) and they talk the entire time. sometimes my sister smiles, sometimes she looks like she wants to cry. it is magical and touching and i know to this day, it is a moment my sister holds close in her heart.

at one point while they're dancing, the camera pans back a bit, and captures me walking up to my mother and wrapping my arms around her. we stay that way through the rest of the dance, watching. i whisper something in her ear (i don't remember what) and she leans her head on my shoulder for a second or two. i hit pause, and stared at my face on the television, wondering if i could read what went through my mind that day as i watched my father dancing with his youngest daughter on her wedding day.

did i have any understanding, at all, of how i would never have such a moment with my dad? did it even register in my mind that this sort of day would be forbidden to me because of who i would turn out to be? i don't remember thinking it then, but today, 21 years later, i am overwhelmed with the sadness and frustration that this knowledge brings me. the irony is this: my job is to do everything i can, in whatever way i can, to win full equality for the people in my community, and i am always aware of the "big picture" and of what it all means on a sort of sweeping political and social scale. yet i spend little time thinking about how it affects ME.

watching that video reminded me of the joy we all felt on that day for my sister and kevin. and of how important that day was, not just for the two of them, but for all of us, for so many reasons. i want that option. i want that moment for me. i want to believe that someday i will find someone who wants that moment too, with me. i want to share it with my parents. and my family. and my friends. i want my father to be able to dance with me and know in his heart that i am happy, i am loved, i am not alone anymore. love is love is love, and when you find it, you ought to be able to have it celebrated and recognized and captured in some beautiful memory of a beautiful day, like my sister's day was captured, forever. no matter who you are. no matter who you love.

clearly, it's time for me to get back to work.

1 comment:

kristin said...

We'll get there. And I feel great about our chances, knowing you'll be leading us.
Thanks for all you do every day to make our lives better.