carry my cares

I am continuously surprised how frequently my research shows up in other places in my life. Or maybe my life shows up in my research. I shouldn't be surprised that I'm interested in scholarly pursuits that also haunt me on a personal level. I've been preparing the past few weeks for my C's presentation on nostalgia and archives and representation. Michelle recently borrowed a 3.5 floppy disk reader so I went through all of my disks and transferred them to the hard drive. Of course, I discovered some poems from my early graduate and undergraduate career as well as many of my old essays and research projects. So as I'm trying to navigate the layers of theorizing nostalgia, I'm re-experiencing my own yearnings as I read through these poems. What is so striking to me here is the sense of longing in my writing. In some, I long for forgiveness, in others I seek something to make the yearning less acute. But it's there in every single poem. It's difficult for me to read some of the poems because I realize how truly sad and scared I was. All the while, I've been thinking that that time in my life, I was fearless and reckless and brave. And perhaps I was, on the surface. But reading these poems, I can see how lost I felt, which is to be expected for a 25-year-old girl in the South in 2003 who had no clue where her life was going.

The following is an example from late July of 2003 when I was housesitting for a friend, drinking bottles of wine each night and writing poetry. I was 25 and weeks away from leaving Alabama for grad school.

past afternoon

I’m thinking of my father
the way I have thousands of times,
his large hands
holding records
as he slides
into my mind
carved in watercolor
blues and greens,
this man who gave me
music
and room to fall
in love
with ladybugs I saved
in jars,
watched them fight for
air until I learned
you can’t hold on
when something’s dying.

so I’ve opened myself
and spun in circles,
air breathing my skin
like those nights
on the roof
when brother and I
talked of living near the ocean
and watched fireflies distant dance
between cranberry limbs

today, I wonder if he imagines
how small his hands felt in mine,
how hard it was not to crush his fingers
as he fell;
wonder if he’s ever afraid
to let go and if he’s known
the bittersweet taste
that lingers from unopened
jars or windows

and past afternoon,
I question that I do.