I got a letter from FEMA yesterday offering assistance with my mortgage since I’m living in a declared disaster area.
I’ve never lived in a disaster area before. Okay, part of me wants to say except for those years when the kids were teenagers and all living at home. But this is nothing to joke about.
Caitlin was here this week for our every other Office Tuesday. She’s my admin person, my finance person, my helper when writing content for my Monthly Marketing Bundle program for image professionals. On Office Tuesday she’s the boss of me. I run ideas by her and she reins me in when I get too carried away. She says “No” and that’s it. I trust her completely.
Mid-morning she told me she was feeling lost, unmotivated. Tears welled up in her eyes. She doesn’t have the easiest time verbalizing her feelings and I probably talked too much trying to help her out but I can see how tough it’s been for her.
First her mom gets diagnosed with a strange disease and has weeks of diagnostic tests. At the same time her dad is suddenly in tons of pain and can’t even walk. Her grandmother falls and ends up in the hospital and I’m saying what no one wants to say which is, It’s time for Hospice. And then comes the Wine Country fire. The day her dad is in surgery she’s up here helping me evacuate our house while her big sister back at the hospital. And then last week, her gramma died.
“There’s been non-stop crises and chaos and now it’s subsided and I’m exhausted and I don’t know what to do with my life,” she said. I pulled her onto my lap and held her as she cried. “You’ve had a rough, rough time, Honey. This isn’t the time to make decisions about anything,” I said. “Just be gentle.” We took a long lunch and ended up in Napa at Oxbow Market. From the car we saw the sobering landscape over acres and acres of burn.
When she left at 5:30 to head back to the City, I felt lost myself. I could feel this low-level anxiety inside. I didn’t know what to do with myself; I could eat a Snickers bar (they’re everywhere!); I could neaten up the office; I could read a book, but I’m too restless. The only time that feels really right is when multiple family members are under the same roof.
Finding something in my office that entertained me
I’m working on this filing project: updating, organizing and beautifying my paper stuff. One of the files I reviewed is labeled Poems & Prose on Sex & Clothes. That phrase came to me one night when I was picking up my son Trevor from a performance at a jazz club in San Rafael called Jazzed. He wasn’t driving yet. A Volvo station wagon is needed when your son plays the standup bass. I’d written stories about clothes (all non-fiction expect for one) that entertained me. Maybe they’d entertain others. I knew Molly Fisk would be the perfect person to share poems on sex. Within weeks Molly and I performed Poems & Prose on Sex & Clothes to a standing room only crowd at Jazzed. Trevor’s jazz band opened and closed the event.
Looking at these stories now puts a smile on my face. I have a fondness for them. The fictionalized piece in the collection is called Red Passion which is the name of a lipstick worn by a very irresponsible mom.
Here’s what was happening just prior to writing this story back then: In real life I was standing in line at the local coffee shop in town wearing my very neutral colored Twig lipstick by MAC and dressed for work. My transition to actually wearing red lipstick was still light years away. The woman in front of me seemed like a carefree wild child. By appearances, her energy and lifestyle seemed like the direct opposite of mine. While waiting my turn, the first line of the story came to me: If I was a different kind of woman, I’d wear red.
When I got my coffee drink which was probably a mocha with whipped cream back then, I sat down and this story flowed from my pen to my Clairefontaine notebook. (Some things never change!) The character (named Bren, but don’t be fooled) isn’t very likable at all. She’s very reckless and kind of raunchy. Well, you’ll see. Here it is:
If I was a different kind of woman, I’d wear red. Tight, slinky red. Trashy red. Id’ wear so many bangles on my arm, you’d hear me coming three blocks away.
I’d smell sweet and musky. If Calvin Kelin made a perfume copying my scent, he’d make a bundle. If I was a different kind of woman, I’d say to hell with the kids and I’d hop the Santa Fe train and have adventures in every train car. I’d spend my girls’ college tuition on martinis. I’d learn to like martinis. I’d get lots and lots of practice.
My bedtime would be 8 am. Around the time my kids would be walking home from school, I’d be waking up. A man would be rubbing my tummy saying, “Wake up, Bren. Wake up. You told the conductor you wanted to get off in Albequergue.” I’d say, “No baby, I changed my mind. Make it New Orleans.”
When I’d think about it, I’d send postcards: Dear Girls, the mountains are breathtaking, the valleys delicious. Hope you’re doing your homework. Love, Mom.
One day I’m drinking coffee at 4 am in some truck stop after slugging down two eggs over easy, hash browns and two strips of bacon. I’m aiming the cream for my black-filled cup and I see my old life surface with the stirring of the spoon. Three girls. Soccer games. Basketball games. Softball games. Arguments over whose turn it is to do the dishes. Putting miles on my station wagon. A courteous driver; a courteous neighbor; a courteous employee; a courteous mother. Nothing out of the ordinary.
At 4:15 am, asking for a refill, I have a brief flash of loneliness. Then a young man with Indian blood in him, straight black hair to his shoulders, asks me for the sugar. I hand him the sugar. Our eyes lock. He says, “I’m headed for Telluride. Need a lift?” And before the sun rises, we’re making love in the cab of his Mack truck off the Interstate. His name is Jimmy. No, Johnny. Jimmy, Johnny, something like that. I reach for my tube of lipstick and apply “Red Passion” to my full, ready lips. I leave my mark on Jimmy Johnny’s smooth neck.
I know he’s going to be disappointed, but I’ve decided to leave him at the next town. I’m not going all the way to Telluride. Kansas City is calling me. I can’t be any one place too long. I can’t do anything that’s expected of me. I can’t be on time; I can’t be one man’s girl. I was born to roam, to love every man I meet, to dance in every blues bar across the country. To wear red. Only red.
I was born to sin, to never save anything for good, to not save the best till last, to spend it now because I won’t have to worry on a rainy day. I’ll be safe and warm in someone’s arms. I’m that kind of woman: clothes too tight, lips too red, hair too wild, eyes too sassy.
You won’t catch me with any pets–no cats or dogs or parakeets. I don’t have time for that. I’m on the move, on the go. Let me go.
Kids? They’ll be okay. I’ll die with sex under my fingernails, a smile on my lips, Jimmy, Johnny or Sammie wanting to notify my next of kin but finding no mention in my papers. There will be just one note: “Bury me in red. Don’t clean me up. Put ‘Red Passion’ on my lips. Let me rest in peace.”
I don’t know how I ever dared read those words out loud but Red Passion was a crowd favorite, especially with all the good girls in the audience, the good girls like me. Molly and I ended up doing that event in different parts of California multiple times. Reminiscing is kind of a fun thing to do right now especially when some of us feel lost. The future will show itself and I can’t wait. But in the meantime, I’ll just hang out here in this disaster area I call home.
So, my lovelies, I have a question for you: If you were a different kind of woman, you’d …….?
#SonomaProud #FamilyStrong #CaitlinLove #RedPassion #MommyfoxyCaityfoxy #Ohfercute #Uffda #Lovefindsaway