Veins… (from my feminist novel “whitegirrrrl”)…

mommodel

You will know her best through images.

Your mother.

The pictures will frame everything she never told you.

She tells you how she modeled, once.

In Carmel.  She tells you about how she ran away from her parents and how she felt her mother always hated her.  This is a story that you memorize in childhood.  That your grandmother hates her.  That your grandmother is trying to destroy the relationship the two of you have.  She tells you your grandmother is trying to steal you from her.  There are too many back and forths.  Two tides pull your chiildhood apart.

Riptides.

Clothes mean everything to her.  She collects them like costumes.  They become the costumes you will hide in, too.

You will learn the art of camouflage.

She teaches you.  She tells you stories about her TC MG, and how her grandmother bought it for her and sent her up to Carmel just so she could get away from her mother.  Later she will give you the silver bracelet she wore in the 1950’s.  She designed it herself.

A cuff.

A silver cuff for a giantess.

She will tell you of her wild adventures.

You sit at her feet, writing poetry while she does this — wondering if your own life will ever be that large.

She’s beautiful to you.

She tells you that she feels ugly.  She tells you about how she had her first varicose vein operation at seventeen.  She will have her legs stripped of veins.  Often.  She couldn’t stand them.

Her lipstick is “Schiaparelli Pink.”

Shocking Pink.

You have looked at yourself in her mirrors for years.  She collected them and passed them toward you over time.  You’ve never known what to ask the mirror, have you?

You look at your own legs and there aren’t any veins like that.  You are at the beach, at thirteen, with her.

Her boyfriend is flying kites.  They’re his specialty.

It’s one of those weekends when Daddy has come up to see your brother.

You didn’t realize you were going to have to choose loyalties did you?

You were going to have to choose loyalties to people because of her, and you can’t stand this boyfriend with his kites and his cocktails and the fact that he has moved into your house in the place that Daddy is supposed be.  Daddy full of carnivals and cameras and horses and smiles.

Parties.

Your life is full of all of her parties and her people and the house is big sitting squarely on a cliff overlooking the city.

The fog rolls in and covers the lights that sprinkle below in a sort of magic carpet.

Your brother is given the room on the third story down.  But he gets scared sometimes and so he rolls up a sleeping bag and puts it just outside your door.  He curls up there.

He’s only eight.

Only eight, and Daddy lives to the south and almost never comes up anymore.

The body is composed of veins that lead to the heart.

You look for hers.

You keep looking, and looking, and looking.

Daddy has taken hundreds of stills of her, and of you.

It’s been on and off since you were nine.

She never lets you go with them when Daddy comes.  She made that decision for you.  Like a lot of other decisions she makes.  She doesn’t ever ask.

She makes pronouncements.

Her perfume is Shalimar.

At thirteen you look at all her pots and bottles of creams and oils and lotions and suntanning potions, and pink lipsticks and her endless costume jewelry in a Pop Art box.  You try on the necklaces while she is at work.  Her sunglasses.

This is the year that you meet your best friend.

Thirteen is the year you will finally be allowed to choose your own clothes.

Thirteen is the year that boys will be looking at you.

So will grown men.

You decide you will wear a hat.  It’s going to be part of the camouflage.

It’s going to allow you not to have to meet their eyes if you don’t want to.

You decide that the 1930’s make sense, fashionably.

You begin to read Fitzgerald.

This is the year that everything is going to change.  It’s the year that you read Jong.  It’s the year you open up a voice and the voice starts describing fruits and vegetables.  You begin to understand what will be arriving, all by yourself.  It’s the year for back to school you ask for plaid.  A plaid midi.  A brown beret.  Already you feel different.

Already you have begun to emerge.

Your mother wants to talk to you about Fitzgerald or Parker or clothes or films.

She begins to groom you for the life she didn’t get to live.

This is the year you will realize that you are no longer her daughter.  She has found other daughters to mother.  There are lots of them — mostly in their 20’s.

They are there for the festive atmosphere of the parties, or the cocktails, or the advice she doles out over gimlets.

Your brother curls up in his sleeping bag outside your door.

Years later he will say to you, “You left me in those years.”

“You were gone and I needed a sister.”

* * *

“Veins” — copyright 2009 — Valentine Bonnaire — all rights reserved.

12 thoughts on “Veins… (from my feminist novel “whitegirrrrl”)…

  1. dear Bonnaire?

    You have your own voice here..I can hear you in these words…

    you have your own style, your very own. No one has written like this.

    Like prose and poetry, together,

    Your writing is like a Japanese woodblock print…images and space..

    How do you do this?

    this to me is feminine literature. That is what this is….

    It is the first I have seen of it…

    in all my days…

    You have far more literary knowledge than I

    it is the first I have seen.

    Like

  2. Wow. Now I really don’t know what to say.
    Except thank you, and, thank you for your honestness?

    Your heart?

    And your friendship in the virtuality of this liminal space?

    Boy. I don’t even know what to say to a comment like that, I don’t.
    I’m just ready to fall over.

    There are hard things, and I want to be able to say them the right way?
    For girls, or for grown women who will know them?
    Dunno.

    Thank you and, thank you for being so honest as a reader. I just can’t even believe “how” you are reading me? It’s like I feel when I read Kate Braverman?

    Like

    1. this is feminine literature…

      that is what this is.

      the other is feminist literature…that is what that is…

      and I already know before you say it, that you have spent a lifetime in camouflage…

      A chameleon…

      how do I know this, when you haven’t written it yet?

      Because it is feminine literature…

      that is why…

      Like

    2. you can’t believe “how” I am reading you, but does it “feel” right to you?

      I would believe it does…

      Be good to yourself Bonnaire, as you write this…

      not as a mother, but as a friend?

      drink your chocolate milk Ok?

      Like

  3. Goodnight Bonnaire.

    It’s 5:00 am here in Phoenix, and I am going to sleep now…

    hope you have another good day today…

    Like

  4. Beautiful piece of writing vb-it really took me back to my relationship with my brother.

    You never think they’ll miss you when you leave them, because your whole disfunctional family is unbearable.

    Maybe as an elder sister I should have stayed.

    Like

    1. It’s toughest on the oldest, Laurie, But I want you to know that the eldest is so strong, well. I’ll be writing it I hope and that part will be you too?
      Thank you for coming by here. From Conf!

      hugs! And, strength of the feminine is what this year seems to be all about. For us, for Hillary, for Sarah, for Neda and on down the line.
      have a fab holiday!

      Like

      1. and come they will…Bonnaire…

        from all walks of life.

        drink your chocolate milk…

        from my heart to yours,

        song!

        Like

  5. you know song, I think you have little idea of your own self?
    best not to fly out of the blogosphere?

    you have no idea of your presence?

    anyway I have to relink you and Rodg he just changed too. Again!
    oooooofffffff!

    have a fab 4th and I left Green C a note about you back at memento mori!

    ps: I finally figured out how to do those comments behind the scenes? It works!
    Gee, what a techno-dumbell I am! Thanks you and, you know, those people flocking to you in the twitter?

    consider them your flock as well my friend.

    they need exactly what your blog is? that high poetry? that art? that mind?
    hugs, always…….langue verte.

    Like

  6. Given the depth of the comments I got yesterday?
    no, I never kid around on important stuff….

    serious.

    deal with it as you can or not, but know you have a great presence?

    wow Palin. talk about strength. whew.

    Like

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