This blog was intended to be (at least partly) letters to my young self. I often wonder what I would try to tell that person who felt so confused, being twisted by the world to become something he was not, and at the same time to be made so embarrassed by what he was; weak, sensitive and loving.
Maybe instead of a letter, I could be part of his dreams…
The first flood of memory is the sound, then the smell of the place. Those come even before the sight of that beautiful sweep of beach framed by trees and water. It is a solitary place now and that means that it is late summer. The few visitors who come here are gone and it has been abandoned to the gulls, the dead fish and a boy.
Waves crash in on the sandy shore. That might be what put the boy to sleep, lying on the warm sand. The smell is dead fish that wash up with those waves, mixed with seaweed and other stuff that nature puts into that soup that foams and then retreats.
The boy hated the smell when he first came here. As a child of the city, he was used to human smells that weren’t more pleasant, but were familiar. After a time, he had learned to enjoy coming here for the solitude; a break from people who always expect him to be someone he isn’t. The sights, smells and sounds became the background, and those became part of the peace he found. He is asleep, but doesn’t know that, as he sees me walking along.
Taking off my sunhat, and shaking my hair free in the breeze I offer, “Gorgeous day isn’t it?” I decide to let him know that our meeting is my idea and I intend to intrude. “and a perfect place to be alone and think about things, too”.
He takes me in, looks out at the waves, looks back at me. “Are you a friend of dad’s?”
“He and I are related. I definitely know you. I know everything about you.” He is a very clever lad, so this will get him going.
“Sure, everyone thinks they can read my mind. Everyone knows me better than I know myself. O.K. so why am I here right now?”
“Let’s see. This is 1963 right; so this would be the summer you spent three weeks down here and met Andrea. She has gone home, so you came here so you wouldn’t have to hang around with the boys. How am I doing so far?”
“So we are related, you know Andrea. I don’t remember ever seeing you before, and why do you keep talking about stuff that is happening now as stuff you remember?”
“Think of me as your fairy godmother if you like. I am the one person who really knows you. Let me convince you. Last week, Andrea slipped while going into the trailer and cut her shin so badly it took seven stitches to close it up, so she hasn’t been able to go in the water since. She left for home this morning.”
“You must be a friend of Andrea’s mom to know all that stuff.”
“I told you, I know you, not Andrea. I had forgotten about her for a long time.”
“ You are so strange, lady.” I can tell he is really confused about a relative he doesn’t know. “So who are you then, an aunt or second cousin I haven’t met, because you look a lot like family?”
“I’m family alright. You call me Halle.”
“You mean ‘you can call me Halle’?” he said with a puzzled look.
“No sweet-cheeks, I got it right the first time. From my perspective, you are, or some future version of you is, sitting at home right now documenting this visit and you call me Halle. I am part of you, in a way.”
“Well you are a woman, and I am a boy, so you have that wrong, don’t you?”
The moment of truth; be gentle but firm too. “You can’t fool me, kid. I know this stuff, and no I won’t tell anyone, because I know how mixed up you feel about those boy/girl feelings.” Here comes the weird stuff, kiddo. “I am from one of your futures; probably quite a few of them, actually. In some of your futures, the person writing is me… it gets complicated.”
“A future where I am a woman? That’s possible? Now I am sure this is a dream and it’s time to wake up.” And he did just that; with a start; looking around.
In that instant where you waken, and a dream is fresh, you might remember most of it. After a while, it mostly goes away… mostly.
I really need to think about what he needs to know back then. Some of it might even help this version, older but hardly less confused most days.
continued in Part 2
This has made me think of my first encounters with girls. I wonder if they could think or imagine what was really hiding behind those green eyes as our relationship hovered around our guarded sexual beings that we would become.ReplyDelete
Only recently have I really allowed myself to wonder about my childhood; blocking it out as part of my remaking of myself in my late teens.ReplyDelete
I wonder what Andrea thought of the awkward kid I was. Was I a substitute girlfriend, or a budding boyfriend? Probably the latter for her, the former for me at the age of eleven.
Whether she saw substitute girlfriend, or budding boyfriend, I bet she saw beauty. A person who may have been awkward but was also honest and not cruel. I wonder about this landscape of our past, whether it still exists or whether my memory has distorted it...no answers, but a lovely post.ReplyDelete
Back in those days, we had no knowledge of transsexualism, and we certainly couldn't discuss our inclinations with anyone. It made for some very lonely feelings at times. It would have been so nice to be able to talk about it with a kind sympathetic woman, who understood how we felt deep down inside.ReplyDelete
The piece is well written and has a softness inside that is heartwarming.
Some of the language in the second part of the piece is a little out of place in my view, in that it doesn't meet the mood you created in the first. Maybe you intended that, but the kid, kiddo, sweet cheeks seems to jar not only because of their sarcastic aftertaste but also because the are dis-placed from the context and the mood.
When you say : "I really need to think about what he needs to know back then"; what an interesting comment and question really. Would you care to tell me why it is important.
Please feel free to delete this comment. I wasn't sure if this is what you wanted people to comment on. You are very gifted.
@Kathryn - I suppose it sounds harsh to some but around here, in my family, sweet-cheeks is a term of endearment, a familiar way of saying you are someone who is cared for and dear. Kiddo is what I was always called by my grandmother, whose love was unquestioned. Just our way, I suppose, but it makes me think about how I use language here and what I might need to do to make sure everyone (from many backgrounds and cultures) will pick up the feeling that goes with the words.ReplyDelete
Thanks for the feedback, everyone.
BTW if anyone would like to send a private email about anything here, and initiate a conversation that way please do: at "rushtonic at hotmail dot com". I love the 'old fashioned ways of communicating! ;PReplyDelete
That was lovely, and very touching. Waiting for part 2!ReplyDelete
What a beautiful post, you're quite creative with your writing Halle. As Veronica said, where's part 2?ReplyDelete