Tuesday, February 21, 2012

November Rain

It's 8:14 on a Saturday night. My glass is half full. My wine glass, anyway.  The girls are asleep. I'm wearing sweatpants & drinking a decent pinot noir sans a brassiere. If I had a cigarette it would be as close to perfection as one can get. But I quit years ago & you can't buy Marlboro's with a bridge card. VH1's "100 Greatest Metal Songs of All Time" is keeping me company & I have plans to bring my daughters' scrapbooks up-to-date. As Brett Michael's frighteningly young looking face (he is older than me..Right?) introduces #81, "Heaven & Hell", a Black Sabbath ditty that sufficiently summarizes marriage & subsequent divorce, I begin the layout & design for Vivian's first year of life. Bear in mind she'll be three in January.

I glance over at Madeline's scrapbook. It was co-authored by Leo Tolstoy.  I recorded with an anal retentive OCD like disorder all of Maddie's special moments. Her first holidays are commemorated with photos. Lots & lots of photos. Her first stuffed stocking from12/25/2006. Her first Easter basket brimming with jellybeans & bubbles & sidewalk chalk. (She was 7 months old and ate the chalk) Her every move and milestone are cropped & centered. With whimsical stickers and glitter markers I detailed the arrival of solid foods, sitting up & walking. Her first curl is there along with a painstaking record of every tooth in her head. She had professional photographs taken at 3, 6, 9, & 12 months wearing overpriced monogrammed frocks. It is, in a word, ridiculous.

I glance down & Vivian's book & begin to laugh. Two photographs (and mind you, she's not actually alone in either one) & a tiny hospital bracelet fall out. This child is completely undocumented. Like stay-out-of-Arizona-someone-might-call-INS type of undocumented. The Rollins Band is #64 with "Liar." That is exactly what I feel like trying to piece this shit together. I have a Tupperware container full of snapshots & a Ziploc bag of hair. (the latter sounds much creepier than it really is.) I begin searching for clues as to how old Vivian might have been when any one of these were taken What color / length is my hair? Is Madeline still in diapers? Did Owen have all his teeth? I begin placing the pictures on thick, pink card stock with flowers & rainbows & puppy dogs decoratively flitting across the pages. Mr. Michael's & his tan introduce #34. "Barracuda." I love the Wilson sisters. Ann & Nancy led the band, wrote the songs, & played the instruments. But for as much as I dig female empowerment, I love the day I threw away Jeremy's childhood even more. 

It began last November as an innocent Sunday evening project: clean out the attached two car garage that had morphed into a catch all of sorts.  Boxes too small children's clothes & baby gear. Lawn tools & toys the kids had outgrown. Holiday decorations. A freezer chest. It was Sunday night--"garbage night" in North Royal Oak & I was ready to get my purge on. While I was sorting into piles of PITCH / DONATE / KEEP something caught my eye. A varsity jacket peeked out of a Sterilite box. I walked over, popped the top & was greeted by Jeremy's past. Conveniently packaged into three containers & mocking me. I was storing this man's personal possessions because______? I couldn't answer.  There I was. Alone. In my garage. With a box of HEFTY bags, an iPod loaded with Guns-n-Roses & AC/DC, & white hot rage.  Crazy on you never felt so fucking good.

I dragged everything that represented the life & times of Jeremy C. Lawrence to the curb that night. His varsity coat was just the beginning. All his report cards & art projects & mementos from elementary school through college are gone. Christmas ornaments. Yearbooks. Trophies. Family photos. His framed B.A. and Masters degrees are in a landfill. There is no record of camp or vacations. The baby book his mother poured over for years bit the dust. When I finished hauling away his life I was panting & sweating & sobbing. If you can leave four beautiful children in 2010 you can leave a birth announcement from 1974.

I look down at Vivian's baby book. It's come together quite nicely. I have the Detroit Free Press from both the day she was born and Obama's inauguration. A church bulletin & invitation from her baptism day. Her gorgeous ladybug birth announcement. Lots of photos of her with her big brothers and sister. I used stickers & colored markers to log my educated guesses at when she popped teeth & ate solid food. I write her a letter telling her how her sweet & silly disposition helped both me & Madeline survive this past year and how her personality truly fits her name: vivacious and full of life. 

Brett Michaels tells me #6 is The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again." Ah, yeah. Amen, Mr. Daltrey. I know my issues have issues right now & I couldn't care less. I'll eventually get over it. Like Axl said, "nothing lasts forever, even cold November rain."


  1. So proud of you Amy...you have overcome SO much! Keep on truckin', sister!

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  3. Wow - the pain in life certainly sucks - your gift of words, however, nails the indescribable pain for the rest of us! Keep it up Am - you were blessed with those words!

  4. You ROCK, sister. Your writing is a gift. Make it a habit. We will all be better for it. Looking forward to more!

  5. Oh, how I've missed you! Welcome back, "Kiss My Blog"!