Recently I saw a photo that made me recall bits and pieces of my childhood years. From this memory, I remember a poem I kept about love that a child does not understand.
I couldn’t help it but hear conversations of adults when we lived in a small tenement. Everything is within earshot.
Our two bedroom split-level apartment, Mother turned the living room into a dress shop by day. The door is always open for business. People come and go. Mother has so many clients; mostly female to have made-to-measure outfit. Sometimes, men come, too, to shorten their pants.
Mother is just not a seamstress to these women. She is their confidante. They talk adult stuff. Sometimes I hang around adults because it makes me feel grown up. So I listened.
One woman is always crying the blues because her man seldom comes. Why would she cry if her man is not around? She is a beautiful woman. I am sure she can always find another boyfriend. I find this is a complicated situation.
Mother doesn’t cry anymore. Or maybe she does. I just don’t see it. Or maybe because she doesn’t have a man since Father has been long dead. She has only male friends. One good friend I know of I call is Uncle Tony. I suppose friends are better than a boyfriend.
There are other women who lived in our little home aside from my sisters. Some seamstress stayed with us that Mother employed. They, too, have their stories.
One time I found a love letter in one of our closets, all written in English. I know it was a love letter because it says ‘I love you.’ I may know how to read, but I don’t understand the language of love. But I have a feeling it was an unrequited love. I put back the letter between the clothing where I found it, Doing childish stuff what child most do, I completely forgot about it,
Adult conversation is boring for me. They are always serious. Instead, I spend time on the street playing.
Having freedom to run around on the streets, I get to know some neighbours.
We have a neighbour that has three children. The story goes that the children’s father is a priest. What do I care? I know nothing about adultery, decency or the Ten Commandments. All I want is to play with the neighbour’s children. Come to think about it, this is similar to the story of The Thorn Birds.
– Why is she standing by the window?
– Is the light to guide someone in?
– How long has she been there?
– Is she waiting for someone?
– Did the person ever come?
– What is she waiting for?
– Who is she waiting for?
The Other Woman For a woman who is supposed To do a lot of loving, I sometimes do A lot of hating. I hate me for being so involved with him. I hate him for not being involved enough with me. I hate them for needing him. It’s all so – oh, so unloving. And I never meant to be that way. All I wanted was a little love- And certainly it started innocently enough. But on our way to finding love We lost our innocence. When things get really intense between us We touch and listen to music. We are so close and so much a part of each other That we shut out all the rest of the world. He promises that we are going to live together, And I cry and ask when. And he holds me close and says, “Someday.” Someday I can go to his business dinners, And someday those theater tickets I order will be for us, Not for them. Someday I’ll be able to call him in the middle of the morning, And he’ll drop everything to find out what’s bothering me. As it is now, I can’t afford to tell him what’s bothering me Because he loves the no bother of me. No stopped sinks in our relationship. He adores the reality of our unreality. But someday… Someday, he says. I don’t know what will happen If I tell him we’re through. I’m not sure I’m strong enough To eat alone every night. And I’m not sure I’m brave enough To eat alone every night. And I’m not sure I’m brave enough To get into a bed that’s cold on both sides. And as much as I love Meeting him at five, And dread Him leaving me at seven, What would I do without those two hours? What do I want? Part-time Charlie Or full-time empty me? I wish I knew what to do. How do you know when You want to change your life And upset a clutch of people In order to make yourself happy? When do you decide You have the right to decide? More important… When does he?
What a poetry full of love and hate. So ironic. I wish I know who wrote it. This could be the story of one of the women in my childhood. Or a love story of so many women in the world.
I may be older now still with a childlike outlook in life, I still find that love is a complicated matter.
Photo Credit: Helen Chen of HHC Blog Poem: Author unknown