Saturday, 26 May 2012

Fixing my little red wagon

This is, I believe, my eighth NaBloPoMo, and for seven of the eight months covered, I've gone wading through my old diaries to look at that particular month over the years of my misspent life. (Couldn't do August because I was in Victoria at the time, and my diaries were in Hades.) It's a surprisingly depressing exercise, because although I do stumble across happy memories, I also run smack into unpleasant ones, and frankly, that just makes the loss of the happier times sting more. However, I'm nothing if not slightly obsessive-compulsive, so I hauled out the dusty beaten notebooks to go through past Mays.

May has always been a problematic month for me, since I associate it with struggling to be ready for the summer and always falling short. When I was in school, it meant leaving the safety of the known for the unknown. It wasn't that I was particularly happy in any given grade, it was just...I'd gotten used to it, y'know? When I was in university, it meant my courses were over and now I was faced with the task of trying to get a summer job. Now, it's a case of setting up stuff for younger daughter, and never feeling I'm getting it right.

Strolling through those past Mays, I did find points of light:  younger daughter was honoured at district-wide school awards ceremony when she was seven; elder daughter was identified as gifted in a long-past May.  (Actually, the second item was a double-edged sword in the long-run, but how lovely to hear only positive things from a developmental psychologist!)  Most Mays, though, were just darn stressful.

I'm thinking in particular of the May just before the Resident Fan Boy got hired by the federal government.  He had been let go from a small private law firm the previous September and in fact, went in to apply for Unemployment Insurance benefits six hours after seeing his dead mother in her hospital bed.  Eight months of uncertainty followed.  We had just taken on a mortgage, of course, (no kids as yet, thank goodness) and I was midway through a part-time Master's degree.  Each month, we waited for the UI payments to be cut off, while I got what sub-teaching and short-term contracts I could.  By May, the RFB was in despair, and I was struggling to stay afloat emotionally and spiritually.  I attended Quaker meetings and was working myself through the Ira Progoff books on journalling, which included the concept of the seven-syllable mantra.  So I found myself writing way more revelatory diary entries than usual (frankly, I squirm a bit re-reading them) and making up seven-syllable meditations such as: "waiting for the fog to lift", "fork in the road will appear" and rather less obvious, "steps go down to the water" (from a school memory -- I was looking for meaning anywhere).

I was also listening to Jane Siberry, and her latest album at that time was Bound by the Beauty which included a song called "The Life is a Red Wagon" which seemed to fit just what the Resident Fan Boy and I were going through.  With a start, I realized that the title contained seven syllables.  A few weeks later, the long agonizing wait ended with the Resident Fan Boy's new job -- which eventually took us to Hades.

Watching the video so many years later, I'm startled to recognize younger daughter's face and mannerisms in Jane Siberry's performance.  Maybe there's meaning in that.

Maybe not.

You watch the slow train moving through the city late at night
adjusting back and forth against the darkness and street lights
I know that you're feeling bad but I'm glad you didn't lie
easy to get caught up...but you know,
you can always you can always
you can always walk away

the life is the red wagon rolling along
the life is the red wagon simple and strong
the life is the the red...oh, it's no big deal
but when the feet are draggin'
you pull for me
and I pull for you

past the teeming marketplace and the blur of faces there
past the silent dockyards and the darkness looming there
maybe it won't work this time but that's the risk you take (and you want to
take it)
and just as long as it feels right doesn't matter
just as long as...doesn't matter
gotta feel good even though you don't know why

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