By my count, today is five weeks and two days since I came up with my plan to write at least once a week, and often twice, through the summer. This is the post following that one and for the record, this has been my longest absence from blogging to date. So much for proclaiming my plan to write twice a week. If I can’t get immediate results, certainly persistence is mine. So I begin again.
The thing is that I walked out of my office yesterday at 1:00 for a haircut and for the beginning of two and a half weeks out of the office. We leave on vacation on Sunday. Leaving the office was telling in terms of my current internal relationship with my multiple jobs– my paid work, my job as a mom and the job as a writer. Upon leaving the office I felt a sense of something lifting– the guilt I have over not logging in enough hours at home with my daughter, and the feelings of pressure and not being able to fully think or focus on my own thoughts lifted. My worries lifted some as I walked across the plaza across the street from my office, with time in front of me. This mama still hasn’t figured out a way that is satisfactory to me, to juggle the time and the challenges as a mother and as a writer, with my paid work. There are certainly things I have loved about this legislative work– I watch and hear so many important things as they unfold in my community. But for now, without work, I get to hang out with my partner and my daughter and my nephew and I get to write. I begin again.
In my job lately, I have done a lot of work with people in my city who are homeless and I’ve heard a lot of stories from people. I often love to listen though the stories are hard. One story, practically unbearable, was told directly to me by a father with great determination and dignity. He had been living two years earlier, with his wife and two children in a slumlord’s apartment, the rent was low and the place was what, in our current system of inequities, the family could afford. This father described the conditions in the apartment– mold, crumbling plaster and sewage often backed up in the basement. They complained, and they complained and nothing changed. He described his 17-year- old daughter’s ongoing struggle with asthma and the increasing difficulty she was having as the conditions in the building did not abate. Then he described the day she had a terrible asthma attack and they called the paramedics– but she died in his arms before help arrived. His 17-year-old girl. A completely unnecessary death.
The death literally took the family apart. He and his wife and his teenage son couldn’t live in the place where they had lost their daughter/sister anymore. They left and it meant the family was pulled apart. Mom and son went to a relative’s home. The relative didn’t have room for all three. The father, my storyteller, went to a shelter where he had been living for two years when he came to our office and told us this story. He came with a group of protesters but stayed on when the larger group left and told several of us his story. We stood silently as he talked and then when I realized what was going to happen– how this story was going to end, I gulped and I stood silent and stunned. He cried. We all did.
I have been thinking a lot about this man and his visit to my office; his strength and dignity and his heartbreak which we are all responsible to fix, though we cannot bring his daughter back, ever. I’ve been thinking about the many moms and dads whose faces and whose young people don’t appear in pictures in mama blogs like this one, mainly written by white middle class moms. These stories of mothers and fathers living in poverty and other stories simply don’t get told. So I begin again with a link to a blog called Rise! written by parents who have been connected to the child welfare system. Read some of these stories. And I’ll take this matter of getting back into writing–one step at a time.