In My Room

I miss a lot of things about having my own house. Like having my own kitchen. Every woman knows her kitchen is her home base and I can say from experience there’s no such thing as a shared kitchen.

I don’t want to talk about my personal life anymore. About how I live in a little room in my mother’s huge house because we can’t afford the mortgage payment.

I don’t want to talk about how my husband was laid off and had to take an entry level job that doesn’t even offer health insurance so he had to negotiate a LOWER SALARY so we could qualify for medicaid. And that means I can’t make a dime. Unless it’s under the table.

I throw my kids these beautiful parties that I organized, decorations I spent hours choosing. They have guests and gifts and food and what more could a child want? All of this and I still feel like the heel of someone’s shoe. I wait to find out how much my mother, my husband can give me to spend and I stretch those dollars like they were made out of silly putty. Do I feel proud when my guests remark how lovely everything is? No, not really. Because it’s not my house, it wasn’t my money and even though my aesthetic and flair for design shines through it’s not enough to make me feel anything but needy and low.

I miss a lot of things about having my own house. Like having my own kitchen. Every woman knows her kitchen is her home base and I can say from experience there’s no such thing as a shared kitchen. I cook in my mother’s kitchen. I’m grateful for it and lucky I get to use a kitchen at all…but I know my place.

I have my friends over for tea. I use a combination of mine and my mother’s tea sets that have been collected over time. I make sure to have a vase of freshly clipped roses, peonies, lilacs. I love the clear teapot that you drop a bound bud of jasmine into and watch it flower in the steaming water. I love chatting about our children, our husbands. How the world is changing. All while the sun is streaming in through the many windows in my mother’s great room. “How lovely this was” they say. “Such a beautiful home, we have to do this again.” I feel filled up like the helium in a balloon. I practically float after them and see them off, watching the them back down our driveway framed on either side by green lawn and new rosebushes just beginning to bloom.

It doesn’t last of course. It wasn’t my house they were admiring. It wasn’t even my tea. I may have chosen it but earned it? I could never claim that. My world is my room and even that isn’t sacred space. It must be kept to a certain standard. One I practically kill myself trying to maintain. The childlike part of me wants to build secret compartments. Special nooks and crannies that hold my treasures and only I know about. The adult part of me knows that will never be enough. That I am not a child anymore.

The worst is asking for money for food. For clothes for the kids. I feel sick to my stomach every time. It never used to be this way. The loneliness I feel in this beautiful house that isn’t mine is the worst I’ve ever felt. I’m a permanent guest.

I dream of a day where I am not just a guest. Where my kitchen is my own. Where I don’t have to live out my life by someone else’s standards.  I know that is years away if it will ever come true. Until then I’ll continue to live in two worlds. The as if this were mine and the I have nothing.

She watched them head down the hallway and wondered what things would be like if Michael hadn’t left them. She wondered if Maisie even remembered the way things used to be.

The Purity of Love

When we are seen out together our family is a box of crayons. A rainbow. An astonishing example of the rare combination of purity and love.

Love is never what they show you in movies. It’s raw, exhausting, unforgiving and also the purest thing you’ll ever know. These days people confuse purity with beauty. They confuse it with intellectual prowess. They confuse it with youth. But purity and youth don’t go hand in hand as any parent of a tantrum throwing, toy destroying, wall-kicking child will tell you. No. Purity is its own entity separate from any other reality. It exists in the pupil of the eye just as a tear falls. It wafts through an evening Christmas party past the clinking of glasses and the low hum of small talk. It rests on the surface of water and on the fragile, fragrant petal of a rose. It is always alive inside the heart of the truly in love.

Love can humble the grandest egos or lift the meekest souls. Love means your first teenage kiss. The gentle breeze over the grass, the moon half full, the porch light just about to turn on. Love also means empty shoes at the edge of the bed. A suit laid out. A bouquet of flowers wilting on the dining room table next to a yellow pad with a eulogy written in cursive, several lines crossed out.

For those lucky ones of us, we are surrounded by the many, happy versions of love. We are at ease in our lives. At peace with our surroundings. Truly it is a fortunate existence. But for many of us we are not so lucky. We must placate our greedy hearts with the sanitized pretend-love of the silver screen. A fake-love designed especially for the lonely consumer. For the loveless fan desperate to fill the cavernous space meant to hold their passion and desire.

My husband is Scottish. He even has a red beard. His eyes are the color of a cloudless sky and he’s tall enough to touch the ceiling. His voice rumbles when he talks and his gentle snoring calms my worst nightmares. I’m at least 60 nationalities probably more, but for the ease of description I’m multi-racial. You could call me bi-racial but you’d be incorrect. Not that people who aren’t of mixed racial backgrounds care about that kind of thing, still it is true. You could call my skin color butterscotch or caramel. Toffee works, coffee with cream.  You could be racist and call me high-yellow. I’ve heard it before. Mulatto too. (Just a note white people. Don’t call us mulatto.) My kids are absolutely beautiful and every combination you can imagine. I have two boys from my first marriage and one little girl who was my husband’s gift to me. My oldest son has my skin color and dark eyes, with thick wavy hair. My middle child who was born with straight blonde hair and blue eyes now has hazel eyes and curls that excitedly leap from his head. My daughter who is only five and still finding her place in the kaleidoscope of images has dark blonde ringlets and copper colored eyes. Her eyes were a perfect metallic grey when she was born. She fascinated the nurses.

When we are seen out together our family is a box of crayons. A rainbow. An astonishing example of the rare combination of purity and love. Of course not everyone sees us this way. My husband’s family is a prime example. His parents are in town. They’ll be leaving soon. They’ve decided not to visit their beautiful granddaughter who has been talking about seeing them ever since she found out they were coming. Yes, it’s horrible and they’re horrible. They’re in town for my husband’s sister’s wedding. They didn’t go to ours. Yes it’s gross and sad and everything else you can think of.

It’s these moments I have to stop and think about what to tell my daughter. because of course I went through the same thing. I remember my mother asking her father if she could give me her dollhouse that he made her. I remember him looking over at me with disgust and saying no, not for her. I remember watching my cousins unwrapping their christmas presents at age seven while my grandmother coldly handed me a check and said I don’t know what girls like her want. I felt like part of the floor that day. I knew my father wasn’t allowed in the house. I don’t remember getting a present. Just that stiff paper check and that feeling of “less than they are.”

I had that same feeling when my husband’s mother banned me from her house and my husband would take our daughter to visit without me. I suppose this was before my daughter grew old enough to shine her multiracial light. I watched them drive away and felt that same awful feeling of “less than they are.” I felt it every time he did it. The worst feeling in the world. The opposite of love.

Once I took my sons to my husband’s parents’ house. I was pregnant at the time. We were invited for his sister’s graduation dinner. It took his mother 45 minutes to acknowledge we’d walked in the room. My sons inched closer and closer to me at the table the longer the silence went on. You see my husband’s mother and sister were busy playing with the children of my husband’s ex-girlfriend. So busy I guess they didn’t notice us. Perhaps we weren’t white enough to be noticeable. My husband’s ex-girlfriend is basically vanilla pudding. A pile of snow. As white as it gets. They have wood walls so apparently we blended in. Needless to say I was furious. As I would be every time I saw them. Because not only had they made me feel “less than they are” they did it to my children and I found that unforgivable.

They continued to do awful things and we continued to love each other despite them and the details are less important than the toll it has taken on us, to have such close contact with the opposite of love. I still haven’t recovered and now that they’ve lied to my daughter about seeing her and are continuing their campaign of making myself and my children feel “less than they are” there’s no way I can risk allowing them to poison her life more than they already have. They’ve also hurt my husband terribly although I warned him this is what happens when you marry outside your race, class, parental expectation. He thought his family was different. I knew they were just like all the rest.

So where do we go from here? How do we move on? I already know what I’ll do. I’ll tell my daughter the truth. The same truth I’ve told her since she understood my words. I promised her I’d never lie to her and I never will. I found out the whole ugly truth about my racist grandparents when I was fourteen and I was so angry I never spoke to them again. I would rather have known right from the start who I was dealing with. I’m not letting my daughter go through what I went through. She’s not going to feel “less than they are.” She’s going to feel loved, cared for and never, ever lied to. There’s another special place purity can be found. In the clear reflection of honesty. I’m going to tell my daughter the truth and the fragrance of purity will swirl around us, delighting our senses and building my daughter’s trust in me. Ultimately filling both our hearts with that rare mixture of purity, trust and love.

And as for my husband’s sister who still lives here I suggest she stays far, far away.

 

Venom

You mother in law you
The cars go by and I hear you talking
He’s MY son I think
As the rain falls.
You dirty rat
Nothing equates us
Except a shared lifetime of pain like a mournful rainbow arching across a quiet sky
A sad note
A good son
Stop trying to stand in front of me,
Just because you knocked it over doesn’t mean you get to watch the pieces crumble.
I dreamt this already
And at the end you kneel.

Kimkoa 2018

Sent from my iPhone

 

The Goodbye Song

I told you that words mattered, all those conversations were the reason I was falling. But I’ll give you this— you’re beautiful when it’s raining and there’s nothing but the weather.

There’s a future for us, but I’ll give it up and to know I saw it coming I’ve been through that. 

They can all see the way you’ve been watching me, seeing nothing but my absence….I’ve retreated. 

I told you that words mattered, all those conversations were the reason I was falling. But I’ll give you this— you’re beautiful when it’s raining and there’s nothing but the weather.

There’s a clock on the wall with a broken heart tired of tracking the illusion of our victory. 

I don’t know anymore why the earth still spins, you’re a coward and a bully— god I hate that.

You have to admit it was so good when we started, a real intoxication. And how many times did we try and fail together and take pictures of us laughing?

Oh can you feel it now?

What a pretty death.

I feel blown away—

Nothing gold can stay.