Sunday, April 07, 2013

Micro-Moments of Greater Significance

Over at Jocelyn's place she has a fun little post about an assignment she gave her community college-students to enable them to get to know each other and to dive headlong into narrative writing.  She requested that they list ten micro-moments of greater significance in their lives which would be the brain-storming for a longer work.  She gave examples from her own life and invited readers to share their own.  The past few weeks have been a physical struggle and have left me feeling somewhat devoid of any interesting ideas for a blog post.  I have more than a few ideas for angry rants but I'd like to keep my job....for now.

I am seven and it is early spring.  My second grade teacher's husband has come to our class to help us each make our own kite out of garbage bags and dowel rods.  He has brought enough kite string for each of us.  Standing on the hillside out by the baseball field I experience for the first time the joy of holding onto a kite string as the kite soars overheard.  I feel a buoyancy I have lacked since my parents separated last summer.


I am in seventh grade.  Our girl's gym class has ended and we are all in the locker room shower area and required to shower before returning to class.  At that age we are all mortified by the lack of privacy and how our rapidly changing bodies are on display for the judgement of our peers. One girl who has often been targeted slips and falls in the shower.  She is mocked mercilessly by her tormentors.  I watch and though I don't join those who hurl insults, neither do I offer help.  Too late I realize the shame of inaction is far worse than the embarrassment of showering in front of the girls who mock bodies different than their own.


I am in the college cafeteria.  Though Jocelyn shares a moment when she could not find the beef in her college cafeteria, I am standing in front of a huge spit with a bleeding cow carcass mounted on it.  It is roast beef night and the cafeteria ladies are sawing off chunks of the flesh and slapping it on plates where a puddle of blood pools.  I shriek, "Oh my God, it's RAW!"  at which point several heads whip around in disbelief at the Philistine among them.  I may be going to school in the same state where I was born and raised but I am obviously worlds away as no self-respecting Pennsylvania German eats roast beef rare and in fact I had no idea it was ever served that way.  Higher education indeed.


I am a newlywed.  Mr. Lime and I have come to our first impasse.  It's not the first argument but the first decision of importance we have to make and upon which we each have very strong and opposing views.  He refuses to bend and I feel I cannot.  I suddenly realize I have witnessed no example in my upbringing as to what to do next. I have no model for resolving a difference this big. I feel the weight of finding a way to grow beyond what I was provided or failing in the same way my parents did.


I am pregnant with my first child.  I feel her move for the first time and I am filled with wonder....until it strikes me that perhaps when my birth-mother felt me move for the first time her emotions may have been fear, sadness, or confusion.  It's a kick in the gut that takes my breath away.


I am a young mother and my paternal grandmother has died.  Among the many reasons I will mourn  her a question rises in my mind.  Who now will tell me my father loves me and not to give up on him?


I am 23.  Just a few months ago Mr. Lime and I took our second brief visit to Trinidad and decided to pursue moving there.  It is an autumn morning when the nights have just begun to get cold but the sunlight still warms the earth and air.  I walk out on to my front porch to retrieve the newspaper.  The smells of autumn in Pennsylvania momentarily tease my nose into believing I am back in Trinidad already.  I stand and inhale deeply knowing I will forever love the smell of a damp fall morning.


I am in my 30s.  I suppose I have finally adjusted to living back in the US after a forced and unhappy return from my beloved Trinidad.  I am with a friend from Ghana who has just given birth to her first child.  I know what it is to be far from home and have a baby and need some help.  My friend has had complications as well. I've gone over to help for the day.  Her sister has come from Botswana as well.  Mother and baby are dozing.  The sister asks me to help groom her hair.  I've never handled African hair this way before and need a bit of instruction.  As I apply the greasy hair dressing to her thick hair I realize I have been welcomed into a close circle and given the gift of intimacy I miss with my Trini friends, an intimacy that frightens most middle-class Americans.  I decide I will nurture it where I find it no matter how much is disturbs the people around me.


I am a mother of a teenager and two soon to be.  I am with my father at his beach house.  I watch him paint the siding and offer to help.  He declines the offer but says I can keep him company.  We speak of many things.  He unexpectedly makes a very critical remark about his lack of parenting.  I tell him I said no such thing.  He assures me HE is saying it.  I recognize this as his version of an apology, something I long ago gave up expecting, and time stands still.


I am the mother of a new college freshman.  I did not try to convince her to commute from home to the nearby college.  I did not weep when we dropped her off at her dorm.  I am, in fact, very excited for her and perhaps a bit envious of how life stretches out in front of her, full of potential.  However, when I set the table for dinner the first night she is away and I need one less place setting I pause considering the empty space, how long it will be before it is filled again, and how different this all feels. 



Bijoux said...

Oh Lime, you share with your whole heart. What a fantastic post. You should be teaching Enlish comp!

Sailor said...

Bijoux is right, and it makes me think that you're doing just fine, in sharing intimacies- and it's wonderful. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

The start of a larger work indeed - even if it is a collection of short stories. You can evoke strong emotion in your readers - give it whirl. Hey - if I can do it...

Other Mary said...

What telling experiences. Thank you for sharing them. I too have stood by and watched as my peers in school tormented another - and felt horrible about it...I connected with all these experiences in fact, but am not brave enough to write them like you are. Kudos, and thank you.

Jocelyn said...

Is it wrong of me to shout that this is my favorite post of yours EVER?

Yea, it probably is. But I feel so full of YOU, so swelled by your life and thoughts and lessons, that I have just fallen for you all over again.

This is gorgeous.

Incidentally, a few other commenters seem to be doing this activity, too. I just read the micro-moments of the commenter after you, a woman named Ilyanna, and hers, too, is a worthy read. If you want to see what someone else did for this, hop over and read hers. You'll feel like you've just met a new friend.

I am so delighted by this. I can't tell you.

Beach Bum said...

Just saying this was a great post is a criminal understatment but at this time I am rather preoccupied and cannot come up with anything better.

Truth be told there is an issue at the house that is extremely unsettling and this post was the push I needed to write about it. Now if I can just find the time.

(not necessarily your) Uncle Skip, said...

How does a father apologize for a lack of parenting?

Daryl said...

what an incredible writer you are .. i was you ... felt it all the happiness the fear the sadness ... amazing .. thank you for this glimpse into you

Anonymous said...

I love this post. I've been thinking of doing it too, but I can't seem to find the moments.

lime said...

bijoux, thank you so much. teaching english comp would certainly pay more than my current gig!

sailor, it's always a treat when you comment, especially when you say something so kind.

coopernicus, never know....i can't wait to read yours!

mary, i'd be interested in reading yours if you find the courage to share.

jocelyn, i'm blushing. thank you so much.

beach bum, i am sorry to hear of whatever the situation is at your house. i hope it turns around soon and that you'll have time to work it out in writing whether you share or not. thank you also for your kind praise.

skip, well, in my case just hearing him acknowledge that there had been a lack on his part and that it had been hurtful meant an awful lot to me. i had already forgiven him but it was another step in healing.

daryl, thank you so much. very kind of you.

haphazardlife, i'd very much like to read yours if you find a moment or two to share.

Secret Agent Woman said...

I just read Jocelyn's and now yours. I love the little glimpses into your life. I plan to do this one over the weekend.

Cricket said...

Wow. Those are just... I mean...


I was thinking recently about the difference between playing really well, which happens pretty reliably with sufficient practice and attention, and playing beyond yourself, which you are fortunate to experience a handful of times a year, if that.

Yeah. This is one of those.

Cricket said...

P.S. I had to laugh about the roast beef. Whisper it quietly, but I sometimes buy really good sirloin tip steak, slice it, and eat it... maybe with a little salt, or horseradish. Raw.

A guilty pleasure, but only when my wife isn't around to be horrified by it.

Well, it's just tartare without all the bother.

Ilyanna Kreske said...

Lovely micro-cosms that hit me right in the feels. Thank you for sharing.
BTW - the Hungarian word used for woman's bathroom is noi. :)

Kat said...

This is so beautiful. So open, and so raw, and so true. Thank you for sharing it with us.
That last one (actually a couple of them) brought me to tears. You did not cry when you took her to college but apparently I did. ;)

Craver Vii said...

Sisters from Ghana and Botswana? Wow, that's quite a cultural difference! I wonder how they got so far apart and how often they get together. It's so cool though to be welcomed that intimately. I think that speaks to what we all know... that you're an exceptional and remarkable person!

The apology from your dad was a surprise to me. My own father did a similar thing, even though we have had a mostly good relationship. It breaks my heart to know that as much as I love my children, I will one day have to come to terms with my shortcomings, admit failure and ask for forgiveness. Curse this foolish pride. I wish I could just always be a good dad.

lime said...

secret agent, i look forward to reading yours.

cricket, given how much i respect you as a writer and how seriously i know you take your music i truly appreciate the compliment. as for the each his own! i have learned to eat it medium rare, that's got to count for something, right?

ilyanna, thanks for stopping by and for clearing up the mystery!

kat, that's ok writing a couple of them out brought me to tears anew as well.

craver, thank you so much for the very generous words. my friends come from a large ghanaian family and are spread all over the globe. as for parenting, we all have things to answer we just do so and try to have as healthy and mature adult relationships as we can,m eh?

Dave said...

Thanks for relating these private moments Michelle. We all have them but somehow never think about them enough to get them down - Dave

Hilary said...

You handle your moments with such grace. Your upbringing may have been difficult but you grow so beautifully.