My Town, My Twins

BLUEPRINT FOR DAYLIGHT, my award-winning memoir of infidelity, cancer, colicky twins, and the flood in my basement

has recently been excerpted. . . twice!

The print publication, Connecticut’s Emerging Writers:  an Anthology is available HERE

LARK BLOOM, a blogsite devoted to essays on disability, creativity, and family, is available HERE

I am extremely grateful to Z Publishing and Lark Bloom.

XO

Memory Lane

 

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Farmington Canal Heading South from Cheshire

I like to think I have a pretty good memory. Beyond the silly pride in remembering which of my several Winnie-the-Pooh shirts I wore the first day of kindergarten or which shade my hair was (out of the many colors it has been), when I first met my husband,  a good memory is a professional requirement if you are a writer of memoir. Which I am.

There are times you might think it would be better not to have such a detail-oriented memory.

Like when bad sh*t goes down and your life falls apart. That would be a good time to suddenly forget.

For example:

In 2001, my husband and I were bringing our marriage back from a precipice when a late-term ultrasound revealed we were having twins. Three months later a needle biopsy revealed I also had an aggressive cancer. Meanwhile, our house, perched on top of a natural spring, kept flooding. On the same day, I delivered two six pound baby boys and a cancerous tumor the size of a golf ball. During treatment of chemo and radiation, my husband and I saved our marriage and the house’s water-logged foundation. We somehow also fed and clothed a pair of infants and a four-year old.

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The Mount Carmel bike path connector- Sleeping Giant’s head in the distance. 

To cope survive, I wrote about it all. I also rode my bike. Once treatment was over, the twins were walking, and we sold the house- you’d think I’d want to shut the door on the past and never peek in there again. But you’d be wrong.

The past is never dead. It isn’t even past. – William Faulkner

CHRISTINE - Dickernan Street
Our First House

I loved Hamden, the town we lived in. I loved walking the boys in their stroller up and down the hilly, tree-lined streets. I loved the freedom I felt every time I got Big Bertha, my cheap Caldor’s mountain bike, out of the garage, attached a runner’s radio to my upper arm with Velcro, stuck the headband-style headphones in my ears and took off flying.

If I intentionally forgot the time I spent in treatment or the twins’ colicky episodes from hell, I’d also have to forget the lightness that came from riding, one that lifted me out of the hole of recurrence and death, a hole I sometimes lived in. 

And so I made myself remember-all of it. It’s been seventeen years since I was diagnosed. I’m healthy as a horse and I still ride my bike. Eleven years ago we moved an hour and fifteen minutes northeast to Connecticut’s Quiet Corner. The bike riding is phenomenal. I found a posse I hang with and together we pull each other up hills and roll off mile after mile in congenial company. My ride is fancier and a whole hell of a lot lighter since Big Bertha is in the giant recycling pile in the sky. And yet. . . this spring I felt, excuse the pun, a shift.

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The day before yesterday I was in my old neighborhood visiting my parents who are about to move thirty minutes south. It seemed urgent to ride my old route on the bike path from Mount Carmel to Cheshire, but first climb Dickerman Street, past our old house. I realized, as I huffed and puffed past the adorable house with the steep center gable I’d once called mine, I was ready to say goodbye. I realized with surprise, that while the past, as Faulkner wrote, is not past but still with me, I wanted to put some memories to rest.

For one thing, I no longer live in fear of cancer recurrence or death. I  didn’t realize what I’d done until my ride was over: I’d retraced my cycling steps and said goodbye to the younger me. Because she’s all grown up now, and she’s doing just fine.

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Old House | New Life

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What the hell did I do? The cliches run through my head: blaze a trail, back to square one, been there done that, or the obvious: begin at the beginning.

Not this time.

It begins, I think- with breakfast. It begins with a pen and paper and a prayer for a quiet house. To write, this is what I need. I’m not the type of writer who gets the job done in a coffee shop. No, I need silence while I contort my legs beneath me and settle to the task of untwisting my mind so the words can appear on paper.

I also need my husband and three sons out of the house. If I can achieve all of these things at once it will be a sort of miracle.

The job? The untwisting? Imagine me saying this offhandedly: Oh, I’m just writing a book.

Crazy. Even more crazy? I sold our house (that wasn’t exactly for sale) and bought another one. Not just another house, but another house in need of a make-over. This change happened in a string of changes: I closed my sewing business, my oldest started college, and I went to graduate school.

I knew my oldest would grow up and go to college, but I never imagined I would. Because I had a career, not writing but sewing. I designed drapery, duvets, bed-skirts and pillows. I loved it. Then, I left.

Then, I wanted more. It took me a little while, but I discovered that I needed a narrative that had more weight than silk. The transition to full-time writing and teaching wasn’t immediate. I spent six months revisiting my previous enchantments: I took classes in jewelry making, watercolor, and figure drawing. Then I took a creative writing class. Bingo. 

By then I’d been blogging here for several years. I called the blog “Your Monday Moment,” for my mom and aunt. They were sharing care-giving of my grandmother. Week-ends were the hardest for them. I live too far away to be any regular help, so I wrote what they thought was funny: my life. I sent them the blog in their email every Monday morning and hoped I was helping. Laughter can do that.

Almost three years ago, my grandmother died. I kept the blog going because I couldn’t stop. What I began as a way to fill a need in someone else was filling a need in me. It’s been a year since I posted. Life morphs but I can’t say goodbye to this blog. So I decided to re-name it.

I’ve spent my life working in houses: mine and other people’s. All twelve that have been home and the couple hundred that my clients owned and I visited- inspire me still. The inspiration doesn’t just come from the buildings, but the people who lived or still live- inside.

When I think about home, I can feel the untwisting- my shoulders relax, I have another sip of tea and dive in, right here, on this page. Because although I am also writing a book about a house I lived in over ten years ago, a house where some bizarre and some beautiful things happened- I am simultaneously pulled to my new old house. I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s new to me. It’s old and expansive. It has stories. It’s my new beginning.

I am going to share those stories with you, here- on Mondays. But first, breakfast.

cereal