Monday, May 25, 2020

Tattoos, A Baby and Broken Sky: A Pandemic Journal

Life is passing and with it comes the hope to make each day meaningful, even in a world trafficking in crisis and fear. Although it might have occurred in another universe of time—a time before the pandemic―the memory returns.


It was a Friday morning devoted to getting my hair cut and colored―a chance to keep looking somewhat young for $140. An extravagance. My stylist Meredith used her magic potions and foil strips to fashion streaks and wash away the gray. “It will give your hair depth,” she said of the streaks.

Everywhere I go, I see women of all ages ... platinum and blond streaks, a plethora of Jennifer Aniston streaks, purple and blue, pink and green hues and streaks. 

Meredith has a tapestry of blue roses and bird tattoos adorning her right arm. I admire her arm because it’s a statement, a style all her own. Tattoos were frowned on in my house, just like pierced ears. My mother would hardly recognize this world, if she were alive today. Take Judith, the sixty-something woman in my exercise class. Judith has a greenish-blue tree tattoo with long roots running down to her wrist. She married her partner in January, who is now her wife. 

I had been going to Meredith for two years. In all that time she tried to get pregnant. Now on this Friday morning, she shared that her eggs were harvested and two implanted with her husband’s sperm. She confessed the surgery was painful. “I wouldn’t wish it on anyone,” she said. She was twenty-eight and childless and her life focused on having a baby. 

I wished her good luck, that I would pray for her surgery to be a success. “Have a Happy Mother’s Day with your boys,” she said. I had shared stories with her about my sons; that they have been my joy. As I drove home, I remembered thinking how I took getting pregnant for granted, how easy it was for me. It seemed so unfair. I remembered changing diapers, longing to get back to work, so unaware that my life as a young mother would never come again. Practicing a little patience and what they now call mindfulness would have been wise. But I was so young then and wise was not a part of my vocabulary. And no one talked about mindfulness.


Before the world changed and the pandemic engulfed us, I went back to the salon. It was another Friday morning. Gray, rainy. Meredith was pregnant with twins. A boy and a girl. We embraced.


Crimson geraniums grace the kitchen windowsill and a warm breeze ruffles the white azaleas outside my front door. I take a deep breath. A moment of grace and contentment to be savored. A phrase comes to mind. I heard it when I traveled to Costa Rica: Broken Sky.” Here’s the way it was explained to me. Gray sky and clouds part and a shimmering patch of blue shines and breaks through, high about the volcanoes. 

There is the brokenness and the unexpected in our lives. Then the clouds part. The sky opens. That’s the joy of connecting, of sharing our stories and our lives. That’s the joy of the writing life. The days of gray, the blank page waits, and then without warning, a shimmering patch of blue. 

“I write because I am alone and move through the world alone. No one will know what has passed through me ... I write because there are stories that people have forgotten to tell, because I am a woman trying to stand up in my life ... I write out of hurt and how to make hurt okay; how to make myself strong and come home, and it may be the only real home I'll ever have.” ~ Natalie Goldberg, American author.

Author's Note: This blog post is an excerpt from A Woman Alone, my new memoir.


kathleen pooler said...

Susan, underlying all the trauma brought on by this pandemic, is a hope that this too shall pass and it will get better. All the details drew me in and the fact that this is an excerpt from your upcoming memoir certainly whets my appetite for more. Twins—a boy and a girl! How wonderful for Meredith.

Susan G. Weidener said...

Thank you, Kathy. There is so much to glean from listening to each other's stories, as you know. We women are so lucky that we can share our most intimate moments with each other. This pandemic is challenging all of us and now more than ever we must find that shimmer of blue in a broken sky.

Sherrey Meyer said...

Susan, thank you for the inspirational excerpt you've shared. I especially appreciated your thoughts and memories regarding tatoos--forbidden in my home too. And then for your stylist to share she's having twins. So much love and hope is found in this post in spite of the references that trouble us all with regard to the pandemic. Beautifully written!

Susan G. Weidener said...

Thank you. I'm glad the message of hope and love resonated, Sherrey. It's the fuel that keeps us going, writing about the good stuff happening on an ordinary day and the stories women share.