I have been having the oddest dreams lately. Heath Ledger as The Joker dreams. I think that I have had at least four or five of them. Mostly, I am at the university where I teach part time and he is walking down the hall towards me. It is always evening...dusk, and I am always alone. I will see him and try to hide, but it is always in some asinine place such as behind a plant or a coffeepot!
I had a feeling that character would stay with me. There is so much buzz surrounding Ledger's performance, how it is oscar worthy, etc. I agree. I've only had the bad fortune to meet three true psychopaths in my career and I admit that his performance chilled me to the bone. It was as if he had observed a true psychotic and then spread him out perfectly on the screen.
I remember the first one I met. I was sitting across my desk from this guy doing a basic screening interview. He came across as eerily cheerful and calm. But there were the little details, the voracious lip licking, the random eye darting. The chuckling that at first seemed jovial and then was obviously staccato. The restless energy channeled carelessly into small bursts of speech that were perfectly sane in a perfectly crazy way. I remember swallowing very hard after he was safely away from me.
Ledger got it exactly right and that is probably why that character is invading my dreams. Lots of things to be leery about in my life right now. I am starting to feel worried about the new job. Will I be able to do it? What will I do now that I cannot just cancel an appointment if I feel ill? Is it the right thing to do? Should I take this job knowing that my health is not dependable? Is that fair?
And I am starting to feel melancholy about not seeing Liv in the mornings. And what about her holiday and summer breaks? What about all those days when I cannot be here? What if Bing can't be here? Do I know enough people to babysit her? Will she be okay with that? Will she be a drug addict when she is fourteen because I wasn't around when she was nine and it was her Christmas break?
Silly, I know. People do this ALL OF THE TIME. Yet, it is hard for me. I gave up a steady job when she was an infant with the sole intent of staying home to raise her, give us both a hands on mother/daughter experience.
Bing tells me that I worry far too much. That she is NINE, for fuck sakes. That it will do her good to have a varied experience with so many people to take care of her.
Have to let it go. So, instead....it leaks out into my dreams, my fear. I am being stalked by a joker, a man, a variable that I cannot predict. I must tell myself to stop hiding in my dreams, to invite the joker into my office, offer him a cup of good cuban coffee and watch him turn from the joker into just...maybe...Heath Ledger.
Yeah, that is what I will do. How about all of you working parents out there? How did you manage this shit?
And now on to a sweeter, funnier topic to ease up a bit.
Socks. Our dog. Our funny, sweet faced dog.
He reminds me of Liv when she was a baby sometimes.
He likes to be in bodily contact with one of us at all times. If I am sitting on the sofa, he will jump up and lay down on the cushion next to me, inches away. I will be reading my book and suddenly, I will feel his paw snaking out to nestle under my thigh or to rest on top of my free hand. I will look down and he will be stretched out, his paw extended on top of my hand, holding it in dog fashion. His eyes will be closed, but he knows that I am close.
This morning, I was sitting in the dining room, reading my book and eating a bowl of oatmeal. I felt him crawl under my chair, stretch out under it and rest his head delicately on my bare foot. I finished my oatmeal and started thinking about getting up to go get dressed, but hesitated to move. Socks seemed so comfortable. So, I sat there for awhile, letting my thoughts skitter around delicately, gazing out the window into the street outside, not wanting to disturb him.
It reminded me of all the times when Liv was a baby and I would rock her to sleep in her rocker, back and forth, back and forth. It would be a sunny afternoon or a rainy one, a cold, icy day or a heat pocked one. I would be exhausted and want nothing more than an hour to myself, to maybe have a cup of tea, read the paper, check my email. I would rock slowly, with careful rhythm, barely breathing, willing her to sleep. I would watch Liv's fierce brow puckering and her lips pursing in and out and slowly, slowly, slowly go slack with sleep. See her eyes begin their REM dance and her fat pink lips go open like a dolls.
I would then realize that she was holding a hank of my hair tightly in her fist. My hair was long then, nearly to my waist and it was her security, holding me to her like that. Even in sleep, she needed to know I was right....there.
It would take me long minutes to pry my hair from her hand. Sometimes I would just give up and sit there and hold her for the duration of her nap, telling myself that when she was nine, I would miss this closeness.
And I would, of course.
And now, there is Socks, his head resolutely resting on my foot, trying to keep me next to him.
So, I sat for awhile. Of course I did. Eventually, I would gently extricate myself, with a whisper of apology.
I often feel as if my life has always been held close by another in some need to keep me near. And it is a good feeling most of the time, but sometimes it feels claustrophobic, too clingy.
Bing often holds my hand while she drives. Our palms begin to sweat, but neither one of us will let go. She likes to know that I am right...there and I don't mind the need. I will wake up in the middle of the night and suddenly feel scared and alone and reach out to find the small of her back and place my palm flat against it. She will sigh and push back into my hand in her sleep, even in her dreams knowing that I need the contact and allowing it.
But now, I feel my life starting to pull away a bit from those that I love. My job will take me away from the honeyed but too hectic mornings of prying Liv out of her bed and pushing her off to the school room.
Life is fluid and full of change. The key is to embrace the change, welcome it. I know this. But, there is always a part of me that misses that which holds me down too.
I miss the small fist clutching at my braid.
I miss the little black furry head nestled on my bare toes.
I miss the hand reaching out to find mine across the sticky leather seats of the car.
I fear the changes that are coming into my small nest.
And then the joker shows up in my dreams, snaking along the long ugly university green halls. Smiling, stalking like the peeper he is.
And I flail until I can find the small of Bing's back.