Tuesday, 12 April 2016

I've been wondering if all the things I've seen were ever real

My day-to-day life has always been a tad on the surreal side -- not particularly fascinating, just surreal.  Bits of last week were just odd.

We were heading out to yet another parent/teacher conference in Nepean.  Younger daughter's teachers have proposed a part-time arrangement for next year which would involve some counselling, life skills practice, and  job experience.

I've been a bit worried of late about ambushing younger daughter with plans for her future -  English being her second language (we've never been quite sure what her first language is), it has never been easy to gauge just how much she has understood and, trickier still, just how she has understood it.

Her acquisition of a cell phone last year has opened a whole new world of communication.  It turns out she's boffo at texting.  In addition, during the past few months, we've turned to typing up letters on Word, leaving a sheet of paper on her bed.  She tends to respond by Word as well, attaching it to a blank email with titles such as "My Answer to Mom".

She started initiating notes - pretty well always because she was mad as hell about something:  "My Cross Letter to Dad", for example.  It can be painful being at the receiving end of her fury, but there's the mitigating aspect of relief that she has an outlet after years of what must have been bewildered rage and frustration.  Now, finally, she can indicate to us why she's so angry.

I swallow back the injustice of her accusations, and respond with every bit of compassion I can muster.  Missives buy you the time to do that, and I must say that after all those years of collecting books in the Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense series by the late Suzette Haden Elgin, I now have opportunities to practise looking for the bait, ignoring it, and responding to the feeling instead.

Anyway, this week I wrote a letter to leave on younger daughter's bed, briefly outlining what her teachers are suggesting for next year -- translating from the edu-speak that teacher use with parents and older students.

On the bus out to the school, the road wound by the Ottawa River on a brilliantly sunny and cold day.  I've said this before, but I've seen the surface of the river in so many shades of colour:  black, brown, khaki, silver, white, pewter, and any blue hue you can imagine.  I couldn't place the colour this time, it was a strange misty kind of light brown laced with blue.

I realized it was the shade of my mother's eyes:  hazel.

This song was recorded in 1996, the year younger daughter was born. A few days ago, I learned that Sheryl Crow wrote it about Paul Hester, the drummer of one of my favourite bands, Crowded House. Sheryl Crow used to open for Crowded House, and knew and liked Hester, who suddenly quit Crowded House mid-tour, telling lead singer Neil Finn: "Every day is a winding road, mate." (It's Neil Finn singing back-up vocals in "Every Day is a Winding Road".)

Hester didn't have a daughter named Easter; her name was Sunday. Sadly, Hester committed suicide in 2005.

I've always been lifted by the hopeful, driving chorus, and haunted by the lines:  "I just wonder why I feel so old; why I'm a stranger in my own life"; and "I've been wondering if all the things I've seen were ever real -- were ever really happening…"

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