Hey Nineteen

To my darling Amazon, in honor of your birthday,

You are on a threshold, my love. You are at a time caught between childhood/adolescence and adulthood. It’s amazing that we all spend our early years longing for the freedom and independence being a grown up brings — mostly because we don’t understand how hard adulthood really is.

I remember turning 19 very clearly. I didn’t feel ready at all. I was afraid to leave my childhood behind, even though I had rarely felt safe or cared for in those years. Every fiber of my psyche was screaming for me to jump into the future and make my way in the big wide world. But the little girl inside cried softly in a small voice: “not yet” she said.

Where we differ is that you know and understand that this is exactly where you are. You know you are wrestling with these conflicting emotions and you accept this as part and parcel of this stage of life. Baby girl, you are so much more self-aware than I was at 19. You know who you are in ways I never could have nearly 30 years ago. I admire you so much.

You make me want to go back to 19-year-old Lisa and tell her all about you. I think we would’ve been friends.

But, as I’ve said so many times before, I’m your mom and that’s better than being your friend. Friends can come and go, but Mama never will. What we have is forever.

I want to tell you to enjoy this time of your life. With 26 years in the rear view mirror, I can honestly say that my college years were my most formative. Of course, I had a lot more growing to do than you.

That’s not to say you won’t grow. There’s room for growth in everyone.  Take this time to explore and take risks. Don’t be afraid to fail. Grades are important, but so is learning what truly drives you. Pursue your passions and enjoy being relatively carefree. Be brave, my love, and be courageous.

This time, sadly, will not last.

19 is a prime number. It’s also prime time for transition and reflection in a young woman’s life. Swim with the tide and go where it leads you. You may just surprise yourself.

My beautiful baby girl, you are essentially a woman in all but name. You inhabit your body with such poise and confidence. You delight in the world of the mind and rejoice in the pleasures of hearty laughter. You aren’t ashamed to cry when you hurt or rage aloud when you’re pissed off. You are bigger than life in so many ways. I’ve never known anyone like you.

Keep being you in all your glory. Whatever you become and wherever you go, always know that you are loved and that your dad and I are here for you.

Everything will be fine is more than a clich√©: it’s true.

Enjoy your life both today and in the many years to come.

I love you to the moon and back,

Mama

Sanctuary 

I’ve been writing poetry since I was quite young. Poetry has always been my sanctuary: my most preferred and clearest form of verbal communication. I’ve written all sorts of things. I love to read poetry, particularly ee cummings and Pablo Neruda. I love the way they are able to play with words and use them to paint pictures and evoke emotions. I have always tried to do that in the poems that I write, with varying degrees of success.

The most successful poem I ever wrote was about my husband. Contrary to what you might think, it was not a love poem. I wrote it our senior year in high school when we were first dating. The poem, entitled UP THERE, was about the difficulties in our relationship and the feeling of being stifled I was having. We broke up soon after. I have not ever really written a poem for him since.

Mind you, John and I have an incredible relationship. After nearly 25 years of marriage, we still love each other very much and I would consider our relationship to be very passionate indeed. Perhaps I don’t write about how I feel because I am able to show him every day. Perhaps I have only ever been able to write poems about men that I might have loved before but was never able to sustain a relationship with. I have never been sure why it is that my favorite method of expressing my emotions in print has never worked for my relationship with my husband. Surely he is deserving of the very best poetry I could ever produce.

With all this baggage in mind, I am going to try right now to do what I have felt thus far was impossible. I’m going to take a stab at writing something specifically for him. I don’t know how it will go, and I admit that I am terribly frightened that it will fail. Still, I truly believe that I need to give it my best shot. Here it is:

Here with you my breath is calm and even
My pulse slows
I can relax my tired body and rest

Your arms surround me and I sigh my relief
The world cannot touch me now
And the screaming stresses
Are drowned out by the gentle lull
Of your heartbeat

This is where I land
When I fall
Here, in your arms

My head tucks neatly
Beneath your chin
Your lips brush my forehead
My fingers seek the stubble
Of your cheeks

Turning my face upward
I catch your eyes in my gaze
The corners of my mouth turn up
Slowly

Everything I need is here
With you
You are my home

Laugh, moan
Sigh, sob
I let them all go here
My heart is open like the clear blue sky
And my defenses break like waves on a rocky shore

Your kiss is my sunrise
And your arms provide the sanctuary
I’ve waited a lifetime to find