NOT NEWS – Voices

I had a gratifying time last night. About a dozen and a half of the alumni of Forest Hills High School, Class of ’72, assembled to celebrate the brief return to New York of Viola Lee, who now lives in San Francisco. Viola’s a wonderfully nice person and has made a point of maintaining her FHHS connections so the prospect of spending the evening with her draws a pretty good crowd. fhhs friends

Reunions are a tricky business for many people but I love seeing my old classmates and have a lot of warmth for them, especially those that i go back to elementary school with. It’s curious because I was desperately unhappy and unhappy with myself in those years, very frightened about social risks generally and the judgment of girls in particular. I didn’t date once in high school. The possibility, or probability, as I thought, of humiliating myself wouldn’t permit me to so I would painfully crush, curse my inadequacy, and sit lonely. In a way, the greatest pleasure of the reunion is the corrective experience of interacting more openly, confidently with these friends than I was able to back when. While that might be sufficiently gratifying in itself but what made the night so special was that about a half-dozen attendees came up to me and told me how much they enjoy my FB posts, that they share them, that the posts help them in their understanding of the news or entertain them when the posts are more personal. Screen Shot 2017-04-05 at 3.29.43 PMThey told me they were part of an audience I wasn’t sure was there and I loved it and I loved them for it.  It feels like I mention my mother’s death last August quite a bit. At the time, as is always the case when these life-changing events occur, I was disappointed and a little ashamed over the low emotional quantum of my reaction. When my father died I delivered the absolute worst, briefest and most unemotional eulogy given since Oedipus sent off Laius. OedipusFor my mother, I knew not to make that same mistake twice. I don’t want to say I was cold to her loss but I’m a pretty tough nut and my defenses arrive like Kirk and the deflector shields. It’s involuntary and barely permeable and the best I can do is be aware when it’s happening and try my hardest to compensate. Still, looking back over the last nine months, I can discern the shadow of my grief in the shape of my thoughts and the range of my behavior if not in tears. wp-1471888972396.jpgSo many times I’ve chosen paths thinking, “Helen would like this,” or felt the need to report to her and get her reaction to some occurrence. She could not be counted on for a positive reaction. Loving she most certainly was and fun, generous and caring. Supportive? Not one of her strengths. Accepting? Unconditional in her affection? No, not my mom. I told her I was teaching myself guitar. She responded, “I give it six weeks.” I told her I thought I’d attempt some freelance writing. She said, “So few people are successful at that.” I told her I was keeping a blog. She said, “How many people are there interested in what you have to say?” What can I say? Helen was Helen. I used to be disgusted, now I try to be amused.

In fact, I am amused except for those brief, brief moments when I continue to be angry, hurt and resentful. I’m only human. What I’ve done, though, over these last nine months, is replay old messages my mom left on the brain machine at just the right moment for them to be most suppressing, most inhibiting. I don’t even realize it when I do it. It sounds like my own voice. When my dad, who was no piece of cake himself, died, all of his expectations and disappointments, his competitiveness, his anxieties on my behalf seemed to go down with the sun. I loved him, I miss him but I had no idea of the weight he gave me to carry and after his death I was like a slinky that had been under a rock. slinkyWith my mom, her judgments lingered like the cheshire cat’s smile long after the rest of her disappeared. Now, brothers and sisters, why have we gathered here today? We are here to understand why I haven’t blogged since the day my mother died. “How many people are there interested in what you have to say?” There’s one more reason too. My mother did not read News or Not News but friends of hers and cousins of mine did and within a few days after I posted an entry word of my latest subject had reached her and she invariably had a response and that response, that may have been the very reason I was doing the blog in the first place, to have my entries retold to her by readers who enjoyed it, who thought it was good. Perhaps I’ve lost my target audience. Fifteen months in, I still practice guitar every day. Davka.* And, apparently, there are people who like to read what I write, a thesis I believe I am testing to the max with this long, newsless, insular entry. I appreciate you getting this far. Hope you liked it.

One Response to “NOT NEWS – Voices”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Dave, you managed well. I love who you are. I suffered social anxiety in HS too. I always wanted to hang out with you because you’re smart and funny. I still want to hang out with you.

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