Sunday, March 28, 2010

Wonder and possibilities

It's all in the past already but before the past, or not before the past but before, I'm on the phone with my mother, telling her I'm planning to come to Baltimore and she wants to know how long I'll stay -- I don't know, maybe a week, but you don't need to be there the whole time, I'd like to spend some time with you and then some time alone in Rose’s house. And my mother says: no, I do need to be there the whole time. And I say: why, I mean that doesn't make any sense at all. And my mother says things are very complicated with the estate, and there are still a lot of people with keys. I say why does that matter -- it's not like they're going to come in without knocking. My mother says: I don't know about that. I say but why does it matter?

Where does my mother tell me about my grandmother's will, or not the will but the estate, my mother says the will is very vague, but you and Allison will both inherit a substantial amount, the same amount. She tells me a specific number, but she's not sure, there's a lot to figure out. And then she adds, almost as an afterthought but of course she's been thinking it: and I inherit the house and the art collection.

But somewhere in here I'm crying, sobbing really hard for the first time since I left San Francisco. Sobbing and holding myself; this feels so good. Not good like pleasant, but good like this is what will keep me alive.

I'm not crying because of this news about the will, which I hope will be good news but I can't be sure until it happens. My mother is meeting with my grandmother's lawyer and her own lawyer, I ask why she needs to bring her lawyer: she says because I need someone to represent my interests. This is a different conversation, earlier, but of course I register that she doesn't say our interests. Because there are probably three people in the will, more or less -- that's my mother, my sister, and me. But then in this conversation, she just mentions the meeting again, or maybe it's a different meeting, and I say: maybe I should meet with Rose's lawyer too, when I get to Baltimore, and my mother says: I'm not sure about that. And I say what do you mean? And my mother says: someone will have to pay for that. And I say: it can't be that much, I mean I'm just talking about meeting with her for an hour or so, right? My mother says: maybe you can think of a list of questions ahead of time. I say I won't have any questions until I look at all the paperwork, when will that be ready? My mother says: I don't know, there's a lot to do. I say but definitely by the time I get to Baltimore, right? And my mother says yes, definitely by the time you get to Baltimore.

But that's not what I'm crying about either. I'm crying because what I want to do right now is to spend some time alone in my grandmother's house, looking at her art and her garden and the house as she kept it. There's a box of family history documents I was always trying to get her to send, so we could talk about it over the phone. Now I will have to look through it alone. I want to look for four-leaf clovers. Those childhood feelings of hopefulness, light in my eyes, maybe my mother doesn't know that's what I'm searching for – you’d think that would be something she'd want me to find. But already she’s arguing about something so simple, she doesn't want to grant me that space. Even though the visit was originally her idea. Now she's saying: there's no way you can spend any time alone in Rose's house, that's absolutely not a possibility.

I don't know how to reconcile this familiar power struggle with the place in my body where I can feel whole again, a glimpse into childhood wonder: after all, it was that wonder that saved me. I think it still can.


kayti said...

This blog left me wondering about the possibilities. I hope you get to spend some time in the house.

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

Yay for the possibilities!

I will definitely be spending some time in the house, but hopefully sometime alone in the house too, right?

Love --

Jory M. Mickelson said...

I hope you have some time in the house alone. I did this in January at my grandmother's house.

Things got really estranged with my dad for a while...

Families are a pain in the ass no matter how good the relationships are.

kayti said...

I think your mother may be concern if your left alone in the house.. but why?

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

Jory, indeed!

And Kayti, who knows -- it's some weird control thing...

Love --