Between the paper thin walls of a home under siege, we sat at the kitchen table with tea in our cups. The snow outside heckled our memories, for spring had never seemed this shy before. We sipped neurotically under the pale yellow glow of aging bulbs. The space before us, piled high with notebooks, we took turns divulging the secrets of our lives from paper. Though decades separated our age, words had brought us together; we were writers. At 62, my aunt is a brilliant writer—blunt and remarkably eloquent in her simplicity. Her pages read like that of a weathered saint, of those who fight the good fight but don’t swallow the sh*t others try to feed you out there in the cold. The wind howled at the window as we carried on, cup after cup and page after page. She departed upon me, thoughts on fear:
“When you find someone to love, your fears start to go away.”
I read excerpts from my moleskine pocket notebooks, words of love lost and the recent wounds of that realization, expertly stumbling over a name that had once been more prevalent in my life. Though the words stung, I was left in tact. When she asked of another young woman, I demurred. “I really don’t want to talk about it.”
At one point, the silence was broken by the brilliance of her comedic sense.
“I can’t dance anymore,” she said with a gentle smile.
My brow frowned in confusion. At this, she took up her cue and rose from the chair. Her nightgown was something I might regard as “trashy” were it worn by anyone of less integrity and artistic flare. On her it was just right: an offbeat sense of ambivalence with a pinch of crazy for good measure. It didn’t matter much anyhow. She didn’t care and neither did I.
After parading about the kitchen tiles on her one bionic knee and her soon-to-be-bionic knee, she surrendered to her arthritis and settled into her chair once more. The excerpts that poured from her pen were of love, devotion, and a genuine “f*ck you” delivered with both elbows locked; it was a message directed toward those who didn’t get it, anyone who had deemed her crazy and lacked compassion for the human struggle she called her own. These were her stories. Together, the telling of our lives thus far had served to create the very rebirth we anticipated from a spring we so desperately sought.
“I’m waiting for spring,” she assured me. “Maybe then my arthritis will subside and I can dance again.”