Saturday, 20 November 2010

Remembering Novembering

Back in the nineties, when my girls were very, very young, I used to record "A Prairie Home Companion" off the Seattle public radio station (which we could access from Victoria), so I could listen to it at my leisure throughout the week. "PHC" was so saturated with music, skits and stories, that a single listening didn't suffice, and besides, I found it hard to settle down and give it my full attention on a Saturday night. I remember a kind of November when the streets in Victoria were coldly damp and the air full of a sort of grey/gold light from the almost winter sun shining through the clouds. I was hurrying to wherever I was going with my Walkman on, listening to Garrison Keillor repeating emphatically: "Be prepared for something wonderful to happen..."

This is the fifth month I've "NaBloPoMo"-ed, and almost each month I've done this, I've hauled out my journals from the past twenty years and read entries of the month in question. I wasn't able to do this for August 2010 because I was three thousand miles away from my diaries, but for each of the other three months - February and September of 2009, and March 2010 - a theme has seemed to emerge. My past Februaries seemed frozen in limbo. Septembers were months of transition, and Marches rife with crises.

Novembers? Well, they have been spent in preparation, mostly for Christmas of course, but they seem to be a period for things that aren't quite due, but soon will be: December seminars that I quaked about teaching, school field trips and projects, my own children's being. November was the month in which I underwent amniocenteses and saw my children for the first time on the monitor during ultra-sound. In the case of my elder daughter, it was a time of joy and wonder; during the second procedure, my fluid started to leak and I spent twenty-four miserable hours wondering if I'd lost my younger daughter.

Looking through my journals is not an easy thing to do. I'm hit with waves of nostalgia and regret, bewilderment at the motives of someone whom I am no longer. There are flashes of joy and warmth, though. Memories of friends, of concerts, of things shared, and pleasures savoured alone.

Two gems, one from each daughter's earlier years:

We discovered, having moved into the neighbourhood of Fairfield near downtown Victoria, that the annual Remembrance Day ceremonies were an easy walk away. Elder daughter, then at age two, persisted in calling it "Forgiveness Day".
Younger daughter had received a gift of the book Angelina and Alice from the Angelina Ballerina series.
"I can read it," she told me earnestly, "because I was a mouse..." (And so she was. For Hallowe'en.)

In a few cases, I had mentioned music that reminded me of particular times. Here are two songs that, for me, belong to two different Novembers:

Oh, gosh. So much coming at me. Every time I look around... I'm going under....

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