Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Astrology divides our story into 12 houses, nine planets, and the way they all interact. Fascinating stuff. You'll learn about your inner mother, the relationship with your outer mother, and all kinds of infuriating, confusing, liberating and otherwise consciousness-raising stuff that you'll spend the rest of your days trying to integrate. Since I believe the Universe has a hilarious sense of humor, the moon is the planet that represents our inner mother. Moon = lunar, lunar = that which makes us looney. Coincidence? I think not.

I sit at my mother's table this morning. I drink from her coffee cup, rest the cup on her coaster, grab the cream from her old frig. I open her sliding glass door to let my friends the quail and deer distract/inspire my writing efforts. When the blue jays finish every last bit of their seed I slide into my mother's old, left-behind, too big, very stained, hideous yet super comfortable sandals and walk the 20 feet to the feeder to re-fill it for the day.

Tomorrow will be the same. I will sit at her table, drink from her mug, walk in her shoes to go feed the birds that live on her land.

The land is in the town of Sisters, and that is what I am to my mom, her little sister. Through some convoluted chain-of-events and life's funny way of working, she is in a home that I own in Portland, I am in this home that she owns in Sisters, three hours away. Three, the holy trinity number, the number of perfect balance. The triangle. A number so sacred and steeped in all world religions I come close to tears just reflecting on that magical number.

Magic is happening to me here, too. Three hours away from the three people in my immediate family, husband and two kids. Three hours away from the three elders in my life, mother and father-in-law, and my mother. Three hours away from my three closest friends. Three hours away from my three greatest challenge areas, parenthood, partnership and primitive attachment to my mother.

Down goes the coffee cup, taking a look at the scratches and nicks on this antique table. How many times did my mother sit right where I am sitting and do just what I am doing (minus the Wi-Fi)? Settle herself into her day, into her skin, into her part of the collective? How did all these scratches and nicks earn their way onto this table and into the story of this woman?

Right knee crossed over left I catch a glimpse of my painted toes as my foot bobs up and down, unable to contain my itchy, restless nature even as I sit without a "legitimate" distraction in the world.

How like my mother's foot is the one I see in my periphery. Same boniness. Same narrow shape. Same high arch. Same long toes, same second toe on an even keel with the big toe, not shorter, not longer, it's equal match. Even our taste in polish is the same, although I have a sparkly pink and hers would be a sparkly pearl-esque color. Toes stay covered in polish year round, fingers only on special occasions.

Sisters in Sisters, is that what we are, my mother and me? Are we the big and second toe? Are we peers? An equal match? My mother has a sister, actually, a perfectly good one, I do not. How did our stories combine in the cosmos and come to play out in this lifetime? How is it that I have been my mother's confident, her back-up plan, her right-hand-gal, and she is not mine? How did it happen and why do I care? Why must I know why? Why isn't "just 'cause" enough to satisfy my dissatisfaction and a deep longing for more? I have more self-made sisters than I can even shake a stick at. Why isn't this enough? I am greatly blessed with any number of women I could call on and have by my side in a matter of moments. Why do I perpetually pine for the one that is unavailable to me?

Why is the one you can't have always the only one you want? How many relationships with men have I unintentionally, yet with veracity, chased because they were completely unavailable? First the gay men, then the aloof. The ones that called and adored? BORING! I didn't want anyone that wanted me - unbearable to be with such a pathetic person! No, give me the one that gave me nothing but inferiority complexes. Give me the ones that left me to feel they would abandon me at the slightest provocation. Give me the ones I couldn't have, then "give" them to me, let me think I "have" them, only to discover that all I have is a panic disorder!

My stuck-in-my-head song of the day is "Straight Lies, Crooked Secrets" by Ariane Lydon. Gorgeous lyrics, my favorite are these:

"Well you know there are reasons
And you know they are stale
But straight lies and crooked secrets
Take the wind from your sails"

What part of my "story" about my mother and me is a lie? Perhaps walking in those god-awful sandals this summer will tell me. I'm all ears.


Suzy said...

Amazing line- "I sit without a "legitimate" distraction in the world."
But all your questions and queries are legitimate and bravo to you for tilling the earth.


kario said...

Wow! This is so amazing, Carrie! You continue to rise to higher and higher depths, if that makes any sense. I love the introspection, the questioning, the groundedness bleeding into the unknown. Terrific writing. Terrific woman!

Bossy Boots who is officially CRYING! said...

TAKE AN A! That's what you call ON THE F-ING BODY! You berry berry good student and it's the sandles are HIDEOUS...you are amazing! Now you are my roll model...No, give me the one that gave me nothing but inferiority complexes a little slice of heaven and see how all that body earns you the philosophy?? More could come from an examination of your mothers complexes and attractions to men, that wicked realization that we have in fact, walked in her shoes after all...

oy! Again, great work.

Anonymous said...

Walked with #1 friend today.
Ever notice that no one's shoes quite fit? You've already choosen to step out of them. You just might have to hit the road barefoot.
You'll do it!

Kim said...

SO powerful--the writing, the questions, the work you are doing in Sisters. Absolutely stunning!!

Jerri said...

Fantastic, Carrie. The writing, the questions, the whole damn thing.

Walk a mile in her shoes. Who knows what you'll discover.

Michelle O'Neil said...

I wonder if this ramped up desire to understand and ultimately forgive our mothers is the thing that's going to free us to forgive ourselves, for our own shortcomings and mistakes we are making as parents?

For me, I think it is.

Great work you are doing Carrie.


Anonymous said...

Every part of this blew me away. It is powerful and beautiful, yet is clearly puts out important questions, that will take you down a life changing path. I admire your courage and I am in awe of you amazing writing!! You are amazing. XOXO

Nancy said...

Carrie...this is an amazing post! Now that I am done envying you for being three hours away in the company of deer, quail and yourself, I wish this piece went on and on. The beuatiful ebb and flow from within to without. Her sandles, her feet, your feet, "Are we the big and second toe?" Fabulous!

Sue said...

Beautiful post, so honestly written ... so moving, so candid, so introspective ...

Know it has a lot more to do with than this, but you can add the three sisters themselves (the mountains that the town was named for) as another triumvirate to the balance. Another "three" --

I think you are really your mother's big sister ...

So "on the body", lady! Feel as if I am right there with you opening her fridge, using her coffee cup ...

(Sorry, but now you've got to post a picture of your feet in your mother's sandals, especially now that Bossy Boots has said how um, unattractive they are.)

Much love.

riversgrace said...

It's really a gift to see it all deepening - for you, for the writing, in relationship to everything. I feel it and get it and it does feel like the sharing is 'close to the bone' (that's what comes) and so it takes me there, too. Thank you.

There is a 'technique' or rather a practice in sitting with clients that I was taught called 'lowering the noise'. You can feel it happen in silence or in conversation and it allows what's really there to rise to the surface naturally. Feels like this is what's happening in your reflections and your time on the land.

And I do believe that you are doing the work, receiving the fortunes, for all the women behind and before you.

Lee Wolfe Blum said...

You are doing some amazing work that few daughters ever come close to touching! Then to walk in her shoes...love the analogy between the feet, the 3's, the sisters...you are really uncovering a lot.

And..the last line about the lies...that you are going to uncover..tell us more about that ...don't leave us hanging. There is a love/hate juxtoposition here with the toes ...the feet...the mother..the sister.

Love it. Keep going on this one.