On my way to work this morning, listening to WMBR, I heard a song called “Your Mother Wants to Know”. In the waning days of my last boy’s childhood, I have been grieving many of the things that did or didn’t happen when my boys were little. I couldn’t quite understand all the lyrics to Scrawl’s song, but the big heartbreak of it made me cry.
Yesterday, during the three-hour wait for Owen’s eye specialist appointment, I read the latest Time from cover to cover, including a mom ed by Kristen van Ogrtop about her relationship with her college-going son and her perhaps vain hope that he will vote in the upcoming election. He almost never communicates with her, which sounded very familiar, but then she said that sometimes he does send her a cheerful emoticon, which is way more than I get from Seth, now a sophomore down in Florida. But every day, I get to see Seth’s legacy in the form of the graffiti lite he and pals used to do using post office labels. Stuck up on the stop sign at the end of a nearby street is his attempt to wake people up: WHO IS LEONARD PELTIER? Damn, does that always make me smile!
I took my daybook with us to the doctor’s office yesterday, knowing how long the wait would be, and somewhere between home and there, I lost it. It’s a mystery, because it’s a whole big notebook and you would think Owen and I would have noticed if it dropped out, but it is gone. Blipped into another dimension, the way our sweet kitty Frankie used to do – there one moment, and the next, gone, baby, gone. Frankie always managed to find her way back to our dimension so she could curl up on Seth’s bed and keep him company through the night, but my day book seems to be enjoying its sejour and I have a feeling I’m never going to see it again.
In the daybook, I scribble notes about what’s going on with my queer organizing, observations, thoughts, plans. I’ve got people’s contact information, to do lists, long rants, “State of the Organizer” sections where I check in about the other parts of my life informing my activism work. It’s a record, a chronicle, a history. I’ve even been asked to archive my daybooks with The History Project, the LGBT history organization in Boston. Now there’s going to be a three month gap.
Tex comforted me, saying that the act of writing things down has value in and of itself. Like journaling, I guess, even if you never see it again, you can feel better and have a clearer head afterwards. But I feel a responsibility to the queer community to leave a record of our queer organizing in the suburbs, not only because our history so easily gets lost, but also because I am so incredibly grateful to the queers before me who made an effort to write things down so they wouldn’t disappear, speaking to me in their own unique bent voices. We need each other so badly, past, present and future.
“Mom, I’ve lost my phone and my ipod so many times,” said Owen soothingly as he accompanied me back to the doctor’s building so we could check the parking garage where perhaps my daybook had fallen out. “I know just how you feel.” I remember those times, how sad he was, how he had to weather the shock of being forcibly parted from all his personal, meaningful minutiae.
I feel I’ve let my people down by being so careless; my Buddhist readings urge me not to be attached, to resist following the stories told by my ego; I keep looking for my daybook in the places I last saw it, knowing it’s not going to be there, just like ol’ George Carlin becoming more and more ridiculous as he looks for his lost keys.
Yesterday, I lost my daybook. Yesterday, I spent over three hours with Owen, outside of time, the way doctor’s waiting rooms always are, just chillin’. We got so bored we started reciting a favorite poem from the boys’ childhood: “Kansas City Octopus”, and Owen was so sweet to me later that thinking about it makes me tear up. Tex, spooning me in bed last night, whispered, “All is not lost! There are so many reasons to live, honey! Don’t give up!” And in the form of a post office label, Seth reminded me that he has a good and justice-minded heart.
I’ll get another daybook. I’ll keep writing the story of family.