If you haven't checked out 805 Lit+Art recently you really should. Each new issue is more beautiful than the last. I'm honored to have been nominated by them!
We rounded a corner and found the sea; stopping because I couldn't see it and not feel it, because you couldn't pass it and not photograph it.
Out of the car, we stood on the cliff edge, high above crashing waves and soaked by a storm rolling in. I pulled the place into my lungs, holding it, keeping a piece of it. Wind whipped and cold, nose and ears turning red, I watched you kneel, camera in hand, a look of concentration on your face.
The storm chased us away. My ears rang in the silence of the car, still full of rushing wind, and as we drove away you reached for my hand.
Mom. Mother. Momma. Ma.
The title is unimportant because it is the arms that reach for you, the smile that greets you. Biological or found, loved despite differences and time. Someone you can't shake lose and reflected in your mannerisms and speech. Someone you return to because where else would you go?
There is good and bad, hurts and exuberance so big it lifts your feet above the ground; all contained in a single body.
Last Saturday I sat in a room with some incredibly talented people with stories to share about motherhood, where nothing is black and white, simple or the kind of easy that's hoped for. Never easy but always earned, the joyful mixed with the tragic, hilarious, and poignant.
I've been carrying around other people's stories, their words stuck between the cracks of my mind.
Listen to Your Mother Oklahoma City 2016 will take place at the Will Rogers Theatre Sunday May 1st at 3PM. Come listen to these stories. I promise you'll recognize pieces of yourself in their words; you'll laugh and cry and reach for the nearest hand to squeeze. Bring a box of tissue, you're gonna cry through the whole thing.
I don’t remember the first time I saw her, like any family member she was there – an extension of the tree, another branch. Growing up we missed the chance to really bond, spending time overseas and out of state meant I wasn’t as close to my cousins as some families are. But I like to think we've made up for lost time.
Growing up is never easy. The world roughs you up before it spits you out a mostly formed adult. I’ve watched her struggle and grow, becoming a young woman who is confident, charming, and hilarious. She’s many things at once, complex and looking at the world with bright eyes.
I think she could be anything she wants, do anything she wants, go places and see things. I think she could be Epic with a capital E because that's what her mom and dad always said.
I believe them.
When you look back you can see markers on the road. Sometimes there is peeled rubber stuck to pavement, places where you suddenly stopped. There might even be tire tracks on the verges where a three point turn was executed but not followed through - because you wanted to see what was over the hill. When you get to the top, looking over more road that's similar to what you've been traveling, you finally do turn around, retracing your path, going back to that fork in the road. Then you start down a different path
Good thing I like road trips.
"How many times can you leave it all behind and start fresh?"
According to a very dear friend, "as many times as you fucking want."
Right now the trunk of my car is full of art supplies; boxes of acrylic paint have expanded and shrunk as Oklahoma fluctuated from hot to cold, a stack of x-rays I took in school and kept with the intent of turning into unsettling art slide around, and shoved in the back is a small plastic tub full of keepsake baby clothes. These clothes are extra tiny, so small you'd wonder if little humans could fit in such ridiculous pieces of cotton. They did, at one point, brand new with that smell of infant that is like nothing else.
The floorboards in the backseat are in a similar state; plastic hangers poke out randomly, a laundry basket full of clothes that started out clean but are now far from it, a box containing an unopened bottle of olive oil and red wine vinegar, and various small knick-knacks.
I have yet to completely unpack my car. Part of me is hoping I'll come out one morning and the car cleaning fairies will have visited (please tell me this is a real thing - also, I'd like to have my bumper reattached with something stronger than bungee cords). All the graham cracker crumbs will be gone from under the toddler seat and the smell of rotted fruit will be gone too because someone finally found that half eaten apple my toddler threw while I was driving. I've looked everywhere for that thing and I still can't find it.
I'm not sure why I haven't taken the final step, brought those things inside and found places for them in my new apartment. Even inside there are boxes that I have yet to unpack. The closet in the hall is full of them. I opened them, looked inside, and stuck them out of sight.
The explanation that I'm starting to lean toward is that the things in the car, in the boxes, at the bottom of my purse, are things that I don't really need anymore but that I'm afraid to let go of. I'm afraid that at some future point I'll need it. Even though I am not that person anymore, even though I will never be that person again, I hold on.
"It's no use to go back to yesterday because I was a different person then." - Lewis Carroll Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
I've been in a new apartment for several months. Long enough that I've looked at blank walls and decided they would look better with art. Long enough to feel that I've reached a point of independence. I'm starting over but it doesn't feel like starting over, it feels like picking things back up, it feels like realizing you didn't finish that book on your nightstand. I have taken out the bookmark to continue reading.
Book and road analogies, ways to say things without really saying them. Also tools to process events.
"This will be your second divorce, you have two children under two, and you're thirty-one years old. You are not doing this again."
As a collective bunch we tell each other it's never too late to turn around, that if you find yourself on the wrong road you shouldn't be ashamed to stop. Do those words only apply to someone who has made a choice at odds with society's expectations of good conduct? Shouldn't they also apply to a woman who has found the life she's in nothing like the one hoped for?
When you have two very small children and you voice the possibility of divorce something you hear again and again is what about the children? You should stay for the kids. You should think about your kids first. You need to think how they'll do without both parents in the same house. You're being selfish not considering how they'll handle the situation.
It's the mother of all guilt trips. It's a Guilt Trip with capital letters and fucking neon signs. It's the kind of Guilt Trip that wakes you up at three am just to remind you that you're a bad parent and someday soon your kids will be sitting in a therapist's office talking about the time mommy ruined the family.
The other side of that are the people who say how can you make your kids happy if you aren't happy?
Leaps of faith, half finished books, and u-turns. It's a collection of motivational uplifting memes that get shared around facebook like the world will end if you don't share one more blasted item. It's an outside voice trying to convince the inside voice that everything is going to be okay. It's the outside talking the inside off a ledge while the inside one is screaming about those things being horse shit and waving around a burning bra.
You are ridiculed and applauded, judged and found wanting, focused on to the point of indecent exposure and expected to stand up under it all without cracking. And all the while a constant litany of questions rolls through your brain like a news banner, the faces of your children looking up and seeing mom. Not a woman losing it, trying to pull it all back together and armed with the biggest fucking roll of duct tape you've ever goddamned seen, but a slightly frazzled woman trying to be more patient and more kind and more giving.
I'm not afraid.
There is a word limit? Or, if not that, possibly one of time? How much do you have to spare? It comes and goes, our lives and the flow of it. We get in, a toe at first and the next thing you know you're in over your head.
On July 30, 2015 Edward "Ed" Hunter Trattner passed away peacefully of natural causes. Ed was 59 years old.
Born September 25, 1955 in Calcutta, India to Ruth and Henry Trattner, he was the elder of two sons. From an early age Edward was a dedicated reader, a hobby that was shared with his younger brother James. The two participated in Boy Scouts and Edward developed a lifelong passion for the Scouting tradition, continuing to volunteer throughout his life.
A love of the past, especially United States history, was instilled at an early age. He attended Arkansas College in Batesville Arkansas earning a BA in History. He went on to earn a MBA from UCO and Law Degree from OCU. For many years he practiced law with his father, the two working closely together on a daily basis.
Ed was passionate about his country, a dedicated patriot, and he was proud to support honorable military personnel. If you had a political, legal, or history question he was the one to call in the family. His advice was always well thought out and trusted. "Have you called Ed?" was a common question. He was also an exceptional marksman and a lifetime member of the NRA.
Gifted with a dry sense of humor Ed entertained those around him with Monty Python quotes and Mystery Science Theater expositions. "'Tis but a scratch!" was often shared over family dinners. He brought intelligence and humor to any situation, understanding and optimism, he served as a rock to his family, a sounding board, and a trusted friend. The hole in their lives left by his passing is wide and deep.
Edward is preceded in death by his much loved mother Naoma Ruth Trattner.
Edward is survived by his devoted family including father Henry Trattner, brother James Trattner and sister-in-law Jan Trattner, children: Robert Trattner and family; Ashley Trattner. Niece and nephew Kathryn and Stephen Trattner and their families, his beloved life companion Marilyn Landoll, and more friends and friendly acquaintances than can be counted.
Edward Hunter Trattner was born in Calcutta, India in 1955. He lived in Oklahoma City most of his life. He earned an MBA from UCO, became an attorney. He had two children, Robert and Ashley. He loved and was loved intensely. He was a son, a brother, a father. There are important dates; births, graduations, life events; the things large and small that come together to be a life, to form a history.
The man that I knew was Uncle Eck. The Eck from before I could speak properly and it became Uncle Ed. But somehow the Eck held on. He was a tolerant voice on the other end of the phone, a man who laughed with his whole body when he thought something was really funny. He loaned me books and talked about movies, he knew a little bit about everything and was more than willing to answer silly questions.
But I have an incomplete picture of my uncle. He was a friend and father, he was a partner and brother but I can't see into those relationships. There are sides of him that I never would have seen given more time, but those are sides that others would have and for that I'm sorry. I'm sorry that we all didn't get to have just a little bit more time.
We are, all of us, far from perfect. When someone passes we tell each other to remember the good things, the happy times, because life is short and things can end quickly. The man I'm going to remember is this one: on the death of my favorite author he sent me a text telling me how sorry he was. He knew how that author had changed my life, how his words had become a part of who I am. We'd discussed the upcoming final book that would be released, speculated and traded theories. We were both looking forward to reading it.
It's hard for me to imagine a world where I reach the last page and I won't be able to give Uncle Ed a call.