Poetry: My Grandma’s Jinn

as a tiny girl, I’d stare at the pretty bottle
on grandma’s cherrywood dressing table
while she covered my head in foam curlers
so I’d look good for the Lord on Sundays

when she wasn’t looking I’d run pudgy
fingers along its sleek pink sides before
silently tugging at the curved pearl top 
hoping for a peek at its magical elixir

it never gave away its secrets though
and as I grew up and moved far away
thoughts of it faded like my imaginary
friend—lost in the realm of make-believe

grandma died on a Tuesday in October
while I knelt in the pumpkin patch pulling
weeds, but it wasn’t until mid-November
the small box arrived covered in stamps

wrapped in several layers of colorful silk
with a scrawled note from grandma saying
“this is for you” was her pretty pink bottle
smelling faintly like rosemary and mint

tenderly I stroke it with tears in my eyes
thinking of kneeled prayers and organ music
before curiosity takes hold and using a knife
from the kitchen, I pry open the sealed top

he springs forth with mystical blue smoke
singing foreign words with a husky bass
directly addressing the lonely parts locked
deep inside my shattered, broken heart

“Kate” he purrs while locking his sapphire
eyes on me, crawling naked across freshly
washed hardwood floors until his hands
grasp mine with a burst of golden sparks

“I’m Katie” I struggle to say through ragged
breath “Kate was my grandma”—I don’t say
she was a devout Christian who would never
keep a naked man of blue smoke in a bottle

pulling himself to his full height he laughs
like a thousand brass chimes in the wind
like the roaring of the sky before a storm
like all the words inside me spoken at once

“Kate was my lover and I her faithful jinn
but after two wishes she trapped me within
to await the perfect time when I would be free
to dance with my love along the foamy sea”

confused by his musical words, I inch back
muttering softly “she died” while looking
at anything but the fierce intensity of his
piercing eyes—”she left the bottle to me”

salty ocean air floats through open windows
calling me to run on sandy shores barefooted
as waves swell and crash, swell and crash until
falling backward I land in his strong blue arms

thick perfumed smoke billows around us
folding me into his warm embrace as it always 
has been and always will be—his sultry soft lips
brush my ear whispering “what do you wish?”

  • Inspired by my grandma Kate and the film “Three Thousand Years of Longing”

Just call me ‘one-eyed mommy’

I can’t really see out of my left eye.

Never have.

Never will.

It’s not a huge deal. Used to suck that I couldn’t see 3D movies, but the technology changed and now I can. Turns out I wasn’t missing much.

I’m lucky that my eye tracks, looks fairly normal and doesn’t bother me. I can tell when I look in the mirror and in photographs of myself, but it’s not super noticeable.

Not really a big deal.

Well, it wasn’t a big deal.

Last month my driver’s license came up for renewal. I haven’t been into the DMV since my teen years, just always renewed online. This time they required me to come in. Super annoying, but that’s bureaucracy.

After failing the eye exam with my bum eye, as I knew I would, the lady says I need to get my eye doctor to fill out a special form that allows me to drive. I did that years ago, but they have no record of it. Another annoyance, but I smile and move forward.

After all, I am a ridiculous rule follower at heart and I know how to play the game. Smile. Nod. Jump through the hoops.

I drop the form off for my doctor and wait the 7-10 days it takes for it to be filled out. Once ready, I pick up the form, wait for just under an hour at the DMV with my kids in tow, and finally hand it over.

“Not good enough,” the woman says without looking up.

“Excuse me?” I say with a smile.

Clearly I heard her wrong.

“We are going to need you to take a behind the wheel test,” she says. She follows this with a big exhausted sigh.

“Say that again?” I say.

She finally looks up and explains that for “people like you we need proof that you are a safe driver.” I make an appointment to come back in two weeks to prove I can drive with one eye.

“Might have to give you a provisional license.”

“Might need you to take the test every time you renew now.”

Tears come and I am pissed. I swallow hard and brush them away. Don’t cry Bridgette. Don’t make a scene. It’s not her fault.

“The DMV is black and white,” she says. “I’m sorry. There is no gray area.”

I look in her eyes and decide she probably is sorry. Her job sucks, but in that moment I don’t care. I want to smash her face.

I gather my form up and walk to the car. The second the van door shuts I start to sob. Big, holy shit sobs.

What the fuck am I going to do if they take my license?

“Mommy, are you OK?” my girl says from the backseat. “I’ve never seen you this upset.”

“No,” I said. “I am not. I will be, but right now I am upset.”

She unbuckles her seatbelt and touches my shoulder. My boy follows her example. We sit there like that for a few minutes, me sobbing while my children comfort me.

Eventually I snap to it, wipe away my tears and move forward. I think we got ice cream.

It’s been almost two weeks and my test is tomorrow.

I am not good.

My anxiety is at Threat Level Orange, and I’m really not being nice to anyone in my path today.

It is completely ridiculous.

Ludicrous.

Of course it’s going to be OK. I know how to drive. I’m certainly a better driver than when I was 16. I have nothing to worry about.

Yet…

The fear is so great that I’m finding it hard to move today. I want to crawl back in bed and sob into my pillow and it really has nothing to do with the actual test.

It has everything to do with losing my freedom.

My entire ability to care for my family is wrapped up in my car. We live 25 minutes from school. We live 20 minutes away from my nearest friend. Without wheels I am trapped.

No car=no life.

I know that seems melodramatic. It is.

But I’m scared to death of going blind and being dependent on others.

I don’t like to ask people for help. I don’t want someone having to help me with anything. Ever.

So tomorrow is a big deal for me.

And then there is my grandma Kate.

I keep flashing to the day we had to take my grandmother’s license away. She was in her late 80s and had started having dementia. She had got lost several times and drove onto a curb. It wasn’t safe for her to drive anymore. I knew it. She knew it. But actually going through with taking away her car was horrible.

I still remember her crying.

She knew that was the end of her freedom.

She knew it meant she had to rely on someone to do everything for her now.

She knew it meant defeat.

I felt her pain then, but I feel it even more now. I keep seeing that look on her face and I want to go back in time and hug her even tighter. I want to hold her and say, “I love you grandma. I’m sorry.”

I was in my 20s at the time and I was exhausted at taking care of her. I was frustrated that she wouldn’t see that she was being unsafe and selfish. I became impatient with her. I tried to understand, but how could I?

Getting old sucks.

Losing your freedom at any age sucks.

I think about friends I have right now that have to rely on others to do things for them either because they are battling cancer or because they have a disability. I think about how much freedom they have lost and I feel like an ass, a selfish and stupid ass.

Even so, I’m still scared shitless about tomorrow.

My husband suggested going in whistling, “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.”

Not likely.

A friend suggested dressing and acting like a teenager from the 90s.

That would be fun, but I’m too chicken.

Oh, I got it!

When the fear starts to grip me, I’m going to remember this picture of my crazy, pirate of a son.

piratecooper

“Me eyes….oh not me eyes!!”

Yes. That will do.