Tuesday, August 12, 2008

An ode to cousin love

In the perhaps ten minutes since my last post there was a cry out the window next door. I had been sitting on the cap of the ancient septic tank, covered with old moss and crumbling slightly. When I sit here, between the ever-larger balsam firs that now cast shadows between our cottage and the Harrison’s next door, I can pick up their wireless—hence my ability to post here at the cottage. So out there I sat, quietly writing, just signing off when there was this call of my name, this happy, sharp call, and there was Sabrina, child of my youth, my peer here in forts and sand castles and midnight skinny dips and trampoline contests.
I looked up and there she was, in the window, wrapped in a towel. I can see her through the screen. I walked up onto the back deck, through the warm, yellow kitchen, past the plate of sliced Ontario field tomatoes garnished with fresh basil, into the darkened hallway where I knocked on her door, and she opened it, her face fresh, still wrapped in a towel. “Only you,” she said, “Only you can see this.”
Sabrina is my cousin and there is this strange cord of family that ties me to her on this deep level, we are different in so many fundamental ways and yet I love her so much, for her sincerity, her hilarious sense of self, and her creative way of seeing everything around us. Sabrina has this piece of her childhood that she shares with me, that we experienced together, and she clutches it so tightly to her heart, letting people peek at it here, and there through her writing and her art, but I was there, and so there is something that is there, a knowing, that makes me feel tied to her.
I wanted to have my camera with me there, to photograph this disheveled scene as we flopped belly- down on the bed, caught in a moment. The bed was covered with fabric remnants, old clothing that might or might not be turned into a fort or a piece of art, the dresser was covered with tiny bottles of tinctures, an unfinished drink, a half-eaten piece of toast. I looked around me at the beautiful collage of fabric and color and disarray that is Sabrina, that surrounds her and draws me to her and makes me want to be with her more and more. You have been here two days, I said to her, and this is amazing. There is just so much of you here.
The room is the antithesis of what I end up creating in my own home, where I crave order and organization. When I see this scene on my own dresser I want to make it go away, but here it makes me curious, it settles me, it looks beautiful. But I love it, there is a piece of me that craves this disorder and I love it in Sabrina. And maybe part of this is why Sabrina loves me, because I am kind of ordinary and plain and tidy. This is, of course, sometimes what makes people love each other, this way that they can provide for each other the pieces of being that we need but cannot create. These pieces that we admire but we cannot be.
Sabrina and I share this strange blood, this love of being and family and this sense of place. There are pieces of each other that we fundamentally cannot understand, I cannot know what her life is like, this flying around the world and making art and knowing so many people all at once; likewise she cannot know what it is like to be me, to be centered in the simple existence of motherhood, the void of my babyloss, the fulfillment of what has followed
It is grounding and settling to have people like this in my life, and this night, who bring worlds to me, who tie me to where I am, where I have been, and where I might go.


Meg said...

So what did she show you? I thought you were leading up to a pregnancy test saying she was pregnant and I was getting worried because I know you want to be pregnant again so much. Whatever it was, I hope you're ok. I love reading about your vacation home. Thanks for writing while you're there.

THAT GIRL said...

Your cottage sounds so very magical... whimsical. What a wondeful place to make memories. I enjoy the way you tell your stories... like you have a secret garden (my favorite book) ... and your children are so very blessed to run and play in the same place you once did...