Sleeping Late

Posted on 06 October 2005

Thursday again. My mind is cluttered. I woke late because stupidly, I stopped after Marlene’s Jungian group last night and had a cup of tea (because my mind was uneasy about my reading) and the caffene kept me awake for hours. So I slept in and woke with Rob – practically unheard of – and lay in bed with him talking, cuddled into his warmth (so there is a bonus.) I feel as if I am getting to know him again. When he’s working, the hours demanded of him, leave little time for conversation. He is always tired. But now that he hasn’t had a job since August and is relaxed and nearly always at home, we talk more, go out for casual dinners, and have even caught a movie and play over the last few weeks. And yesterday, we started (he mostly) going through old boxes of memories in the storage part of the basement, hoping to eliminate the junk and keep only those things that are too precious or too difficult to throw away – like the children’s teeth, all in white envelopes with a message and sometimes a picture for the tooth fairy – and I was reminded of the “us” in the old days, before and during our children’s childhoods.

And speaking of childhood, when I finally crawled out of bed, made coffee and came out to my house in the garden, I found an email from my friend, Nita, telling me that my heart would warm if I read her daughter’s blog. (“Jenn’s journal”) and it did. Jenn tells of her impression of me when she was eleven or twelve (over eighteen years ago.) Strange how all those years of raising children become a jumble and I thought I had lost myself amid the diapers, playing tooth fairy, school concerts, and parent/teacher meetings, and Jenn tells how she felt like an adult in my company, how I would “genuinely listen to the things [she] said” and how it meant much to her, still does.

I, who have great admiration for people who truly listen, am more than pleased that I had the wherewithal to listen to her. Jenn is an extraordinary young woman who received her doctorate in science from M.I.T. several years ago (whose professor was just awarded a Nobel prize) and yet I remember her best as a lanky teenager, awkward with her tall self, but always sweet, quiet more often than not, studious though playful especially with “Gigi” and how she came to me for reading advice and books.

I am a little surprised, I hate to admit, that I listened. I was so frantic during those years. And I struggle still to listen – sometimes it is easy but more often than not, it isn’t. My mind likes to wander. I have to remind myself to drop all thought and concentrate on the person speaking. (Marlene has it down to a fine art. I remember the first course I took with her – journal writing at UBC – and I would watch her, fully focused on the person who was reading – I probably should have been listening – and how her attention never swayed. Several years ago, she told me how she once had to dig her fingernails into her hand to stay alert as she had had very little sleep the night before.)

Marlene, if you haven’t guessed, is a mentor as well as friend whom I love dearly. Sometimes my head starts spinning around her. One moment, she is an imp, a daredevil, a dancer, a confidant; and the next, she is sitting in front of a group of women teaching, elaborating, reciting poetry, containing, listening. I can’t even begin to describe how much I have learned from her and continue to learn, how much “permission” she had given me to be myself. And it was her birthday on Monday and I forgot. The next morning I woke with a start and thought “oh no”, ran downstairs to the calendar, and saw that the 3rd was indeed Monday. Talk about complexes: I beat myself up, thought I wasn’t much of a friend if I forgot a birthday. And I regret too that I didn’t do a blog in her honour, but I think she knows that I love her.

Now, I would like to speak briefly about what I learned, thought, and read last night (an edited version) but there is no time, I must dress for work. (Thank goodness. I need more time to think about what was revealed to me last night.)

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