I just came back from getting Gabriel his yogurt. While at the grocery store, I passed the Entenman's display. Usually, I have no trouble resisting Entenman's, but this time, they had my favorite, the raspberry danish, so I had to buy it.
Came home from the grocery store, Gabriel asleep in his stroller, and decided I had to have my slice of raspberry danish right away, with a cup of coffee and hot milk. So here I am, making my afternoon snack, heating up the milk in the pot on the stove, pouring it into the cup with coffee, and all of a sudden I get a wave of sense memory.
My grandma. That's who I remember, with her stovetop-made El Pilon coffee and scalded milk, lots of sugar, and her cheapdelicioius cake treats. We'd sit down at the old red porcelain topped table and drink coffee and eat sweets. I miss my grandma, and wish she could have had a chance to get to know Gabriel, or Sean, for that matter. She did get a chance to meet some of her great grandchildren before she died, but they were of the more distant cousins, the ones she didn't help raise, not her girls.
When we were little, my sister and I spent every weekend with our grandma, watching tv and getting snacks that were forbidden at home, candies and sugar cereal. We'd visit our cousins and Grandma would teach us to crochet or sew doll clothes. Our uncle would teach us Gin Rummy. Then when I was ten, my family moved in with Grandma.
That was the beginning of the end. My father was paranoid schizophrenic. We were dirt poor. There were too many people living in that apartment in the Bronx, and soon, there were too many cats. I became a teenager there, with the help of my mom and my grandma, and I suppose you could say, my dad, too, although it was more like inspite of him. It was miserable. I was miserable and yet....
Here's the paradoxical part... I think that was one of the happiest periods of my life. It's so wierd to look at it like that, because I just wanted to get out of there, but it wasn't about living there, or any of the things that were going on in my life. The happiness came from inside.
I was the happiest then because I was the most hopeful. I believed things would be good, would be better. I always looked at the bright side of things. I was an optimist, and that made me a generally happy person.
Later on, when I had more of what I wanted in life, when things weren't as difficult, when I was enroute to reaching my dreams, that is where the dissatisfaction set in. Depression. Pessimism. Perfectionism.
Paradox-- life sucked, and I was "happy." Life is working and on track, and I all I can see is what I don't have, what isn't working, what I haven't done.
Maybe it's a factor of how much more I know, now. When I was a teenager, I tried writing a novel, and thought it was GREAT. Then I learned what I SHOULD be doing as an author, what made a book really great, and I began to believe that everything I wrote wasn't good enough. And that goes the same for the rest of life.
Now that I know all of the possible roadblocks to the success I want in life, the roadblocks are all I can see. I don't see the road, I don't see the beautiful scenery at the distance, I don't see the wildflowers by the side of the road or the deer off in the trees, I don't think I even see the detours, or the roadsigns... just the roadblocks.
I want to see the world as a child sees. I want to go back to the uncorrupted world view that I once had. Okay, I know the world sucks, but I want to be okay with the world sucking. I want to believe that some parts of it don't. Some parts of the world are just as brilliant and pure as a sunset. I want to go back to the belief that the suckiness of the world does not taint the possibilities that are there.
And I do believe in that innocence, I do, I just have to remember to keep working on believing it.