baby heads

Posted on August 24, 2012 by Val |3 Comments

it is all, only, ever, life.

on going. and once again, it is different than how i ever imagined it could be.

and once again there is sleep at night, breakfast in the morning.  i check to see how my mother’s dahlia is fairing on the back porch. it has bloomed purple.  i planted 2 tubers in a $10 pot from grocery outlet and placed them by the back door. 2 from an entire shoe box full of the arthritic sea anemones she mailed me.

i place my fingers along the track of my collar bone. seeking the hard super ball there. checking on it. two fingers now? or one and a half?  i stand still and look inside. i can change the shape and size with the position of my head. the way i hold my shoulders. my fingers. i can change the shape and the size by imagining it growing or shrinking. but it is always there. it is never gone.

maybe today it is bigger. maybe it is getting longer. i try not to be deluded. but perhaps i must take the deluded road now and again. a short trip. for a change of scenery. get out of the mean city.

and also, one can only stand around for so long every day feeling up one’s tumors. at some point one must harness up the dog and take her for a walk.

a few years ago, on a trip to the coast i saw a tall thin man with rubber boots walking toward me. he had a baby under his shirt. its head poking up above his collar bone.

when he got closer i realized it was not a baby but a growth. a tumor. and the side of his head was patchy bald and covered in small growths. he was pale yellow. i smiled at him the smile i had prepared for a nice man keeping a baby warm on a blustery day at the beach but then i added a little extra- we all have our growths- smile. he smiled at me the wary smile he gives girlboys sluffing sand off their yellow dogs on the steps of the cabins down the street.

did he ask something impossible of his life? and life tried but all it could come up with was a head on his shoulder?   did he want a silent baby to care for- a quiet companion? too bad about that movie.

why this and not something else?  and, at the the time i was tempted to think that i didn’t have a big baby head stuck to my shoulder because i’m just not the babyhead type of person. but i don’t suppose he was either. it is tempting to think that we are safe from babyheads because we won’t think babyhead thoughts. because that is not our story. that is not kind of thing our author would write for us.

i find it interesting that i now i have my own little bud of a baby head. my own malignant offspring. i can tell you i never saw it coming.

and in my opinion it is not a story arc kind of issue. or not one before the fact. i just don’t think we can predict. that is what is terrifying.  it is the inexplicable intersection of life, soul and body. and the truth is we will never know why any of it has gone this particular way.

the chances of any of this are a billion trillion or so to one. as i have it figured. and i once got an A- in advanced algebra.

the bugger is that we cannot prevent all the unforeseen tragedies from raining down.  we cannot race the taxicab to the corner in exchange for our grandmother’s life. we cannot prevent our mother’s back from breaking, or her heart from exploding by avoiding the sidewalk cracks. even if we try hard. even if we pray and night with tears. sometimes the tumor just gets bigger.

and there is nothing left to do. but just be close. go forward hands held out to the terrifying life. the only best part is that i do not have to do it alone. i ask; walk me up to the precipice please. walk with me. as close as we can get. then i go. then you stay.

i sometimes feel as if i have not fully been able to understand this life. and perhaps that’s what makes the idea of losing it so much harder. i wish i could understand. the problem is that it keeps happening even while you are trying to figure it out. like trying to do long division in your head while standing on the floor of the new york stock exchange.

i never do come up with a good number. a reliable equation. nothing that works every time. there is no machine that sucks up all the food in the fridge and spits out mashed potatoes, roast beef, creamed corn, and a salad with ranch.

no. this life is full of pitfalls. it is built in hi-jinks and calamity. bloody awful crashes.  a sloppy infected mess. i wonder how we ever get it all cleaned up again. i think some places must have to be abandoned for years after. because of the messes there. Chernobyl style break-ups.

even when we love with our whole open chest, full kite sail of joy billowing up behind us, even when we offer it all, it’s still going to be a fucking mess. guaranteed. maybe moreso. and we never see it coming. we people never see it coming.

what good are these giant heads?

or the babyheads or the heartbreak or any of it. this life is not to be trusted. except it tends to carry on somehow. trustily. and will, i presume, whether i am here or not.


  1. I think the trying to figure it out is a human thing we do. And assuming there is something to figure out – that assumption is also a human thing we do. Maybe other species do it,too, but we can’t really know. The human-ness of us keeps trying to make human order out of chaotic essence that surrounds and makes us up. The trying to make order and sense is painful. But it is also how we make art and other stuff that looks like order to us.

    So yes, I think I cannot – you cannot – we cannot stop aching after the equation that will make it all come out roast beef and ranch dressing. Shoot.
    I’ve written myself into a corner here.
    Sure love you and your brain, Val.

  2. the full catastrophe – how very well you describe it, dear Val. and given the mess, despite the mess, alongside the mess – thank goodness for the chests burst open with love and the full kite sail of joy billowing up behind us, thank goodness we get to have that too, amidst the catastrophe

    the way you think Val, the way you write, the little glimpse of what I see of who you are… puff up that kite inside me, a swell of gratitude that our times on this messy little planet have coincided.

    Love to you, Holly

  3. Ah, Val, so well put. Heart breakingly put, which in some ways seems to be the point of being alive to have one heart broken over and over again by everything that’s beautiful and terrifying and mundane and just everything. You are not the babyhead kind of person. I loved that paragraph. Maybe you can read with us again.

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