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He's gone, and it's like a huge weight has been lifted, not by his leaving, but by his whole visit. I think this weight has been with me since he left, but only in recent weeks and days did it get worse.

When he came in the first time, he had this wide smile on his face and was asking, "Where's that baby?!" even before he was through the door. He was so wonderful with Baby, wonderful with everything.

He was taller than I remembered, and his hair has grown a shade darker, but he was still the same. I couldn't have mistaken him anywhere. Still so handsome and charming, so buoyant. It was impossible to remember a single worry, or bad thing.

It was an easy visit, a too-short weekend. Turns out he is practicing wicca, too, and also wanted to visit Enchantments, which we did, and wandered the same streets of the Village that we'd wandered with his sister. After that, it was afternoon lunch at the Vegetarian Dim Sum House I've wanted to visit forever, then home. He and my husband watched football, then he and I sat up together while he played around on Everquest. Brunch at my parents' this morning, and off with him.

So I'm left with feelings of hope. He appeared articulate and bright and sweet. Now, I also know this was the impression strangers often had of him even in the worst of times (when he wasn't snarky), but it's hard not to feel like his life has turned a corner, that he might actually 'make it' out of this life. I know his mother is clean these days, and he seems to be not only claiming to do his homework, but actually able to talk about what his homework is. Like all phases, I doubt this one will last indefinitely, but as long as his life keeps cycling back to this point, thinks should be okay.

Shouldn't they?
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I never did go back and write more about the family reunion we all went to. Perhaps soon. Meanwhile, I am awaiting the arrival of my nephew with some excitement and trepidation. Well, no, not 'some'. A lot of trepidation. A lot of anxiety. A little hope. Some back story most of you may know...

In March of 1999, our niece and nephew came to live with us. They were my husband's half-brother's kids via his ex-wife, and there were bad things all around with their parents, and they needed a spot. Two weeks into their stay, the niece had a total psychotic break and had to go back to her mother's for psychiatric care.

Then the nephew lived with us for two and a half years. I ended out quitting my job so that I could be a full-time parent for him. He had his share of violent panic attacks, juvenile delinquencies, sulky pouting fits, bed-wettings... in the end, though, I think the three of us really bonded as a family. The husband was his soccer and basketball coach, we did all the kids movies, threw birthday parties, built our lives around him...

...and then, summer of 2002, he left. His mom wanted him back, and there was nothing we could do. It hurt that he'd gone, and I was very grateful that I was already pregnant so that I had something to focus on, something to look forward to.

The year since, with regards to him, has been a nightmare. On the phone, he's used such phrases as 'we can't afford a decent apartment except near all the coons' or 'all Mexicans are mean.' His mother went on a three-day crystal meth binge with money that we'd sent them for bus tickets. He'll be repeating the sixth grade due to a constitutional inability to do his homework while having no supervision or structure at home (fancy that...)

And now I'm about to see him for the first time in over a year.

I'm thinking -- this could be great. We could have a fabulous weekend. He could be his charming old self like when things were really good. And then I'll be heartbroken when he goes away again.

Or... things could be bad. Awkward. Distant. A lot of shrugging and monosyllabic answers and that bored, pained look he gets in his eyes when he has nothing to do with his whole body to distract him from the unbearable weight of memory and life.

And so I wait, trepidaciously planning out the weekend menu (he is nothing if not a finicky eater) and wondering if the luster of visiting us will be thin without his old neighborhood to haunt. Perhaps a trip back to Brooklyn is in order.
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Gwen just outgrew 6-9 month size. She is just moving into 9-12 month size... so how can it be that her 12-18 sized pygamas are already a little snug? Ah, the jigsaw puzzle that is children's warddrobes...

My mother and I have each selected a heap of clothing for when she grows into 18 month size... everything my mother picked has embroidery and bright colors. Everything I picked is plain and either tan or grey or both. So it goes.

In quite other news, my contractor is virtually AWOL. I don't know when my backsplash is going up, or when my cabinets get glass, or when he's going to put up the microwave spacer or order the new knobs or put in my sink pullout or replace my hallogen lightbulb or clean up the pencil mark...

"Soon" he tells me. I'm still not sorry I went with him, but this had better be done before the end of the month...

Meanwhile, I think I am in denial about the fact that Patrick is coming to visit this weekend. THAT should be interesting.
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Fussy baby problem solved. Put on some flashy music, dance around with exagerrated arm gestures, and the baby is cooing happily, even after I sit down to type, she's gotten interested in her toys again. All she wanted was a Mommy Show. I keep wondering, when she's older, will we dance around the living room together? We've got like this giant wall of tacky bevelled mirrors we're not able to get rid of without damaging the walls, so although not large, this space will be most excellent for a creative little girl to really get her groove on.

Today I was actually thinking of catching up on some of my reflections on visiting my husband's family down in Mississippi early in August. That all happened before I got my livejournal, but I'm still processing it all.

For one thing, let me start with the last part: our 14 year old niece came to visit from Pennsylvania after we got back. When she was last here, she stayed for two weeks and had a psychotic episode. It became obvious she'd been sexually abused at some point in her history. We wanted to keep her, but my father made it clear to us we would not be able to get her help, and that what she really needed was immediate admittance to a hospital-- but that no hospital in NY would take her as she wasn't yet a state resident, and wasn't on our insurance. It was heartbreaking, but we took her back to her mother with promises, from her mother, she'd get help right away.

Well. I'll make a long, painful story short. She didn't get help right away. She did finally have some, but whenever things got stable for her, she was ripped out of the environment. She got bounced a bit between her parents, became sexually active, started smoking...

And here she was coming to visit. She showed up in heavy makeup and teenager's typical failed attempt at fashionable attire, and... she was delightful. She'd become Wicca in recent months, and was interested in reading and learning as much as she could about it. She's already read a great deal. She told me in a world-weary tone she's tired of 'older men' and likes her current boyfriend, who is her own age and 'sweet.' It's hard to put my finger on what's changed... she strikes me now as someone who is comfortable with herself, and happy just to be in the world.

My husband took her and our other niece, the honors student, to see Les Miserables. The other niece (12) unfortunately didn't "get" it. The Wicca niece leaned over and whispered to her, "I think it's about redemption." Turns out she'd been reading Les Mis... in French! I think she got a lot out of the experience of seeing it on Broadway.

And why should Wicca make me so happy as a choice for her? I guess in part because it's a goddess-oriented religion so I'm happy she's breaking into a paradigm where women are valued. But its more than that. Part of me is just rudely pleased to stick it to her bible-thumping father (an at least temporarily reformed drinker/gambler). Partly I think I'm glad she's found a religion that will bring her into an alternate mindset, break her out of the small-town-hicksville outlook a little, have her searching in books and in her soul for meaning instead of in a church. It will challenge her.

It was a pleasure to take her around the city. We in fact took her to a store called Enchantments, which is (I gather) sort of the Wiccan mecca of New York City. Her eyes lit up. I bought her a book and some herbs there, and at Barnes and Nobles we got her a tarot deck with explanatory book. She really got a kick out of the Village, I think, and was articulate about what she was seeing and thinking and why she found it so interesting. I found myself sorry the visit was so short, and looking forward to the next one.


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August 2010

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