Before I started writing my book my mind was taking me on these journeys. I’d visit a San Francisco department store that my grandmother and I had once been to and I’d find the one place in that store of which I was certain my Mary Janes and her Ferragamos once stood side by side.
My internal camera lens opened wide, wider, WIDER.
On one trip to the city, I visited my old neighborhood playground in which there is a little hut style building where I attended Tiny Tots from 9 to noon until I was ready for real school. It was a gray and cold day and the place was deserted. So I turned my back to the door, leaned back, and slid down ‘till my seat hit the heels of my shoes.
I looked around with my lens open wide. I was being a reporter for my own life.
I was remembering that the basketball net was so very high and that a trip back home, two blocks away on my little feet could take a good ten minutes. The monkey bars got bigger, time got longer and I was on my way to understanding what happened to me a little bit better.
When I refer to my home, it is the flat my parents rented for 20 years in the Avenues next to Golden Gate Park. For a short while during my childhood this was a safe place; but by the time I was seven years old it was dangerously unstable.
At any moment my mother could dash out crying or swearing; my father could crumble; or someone could come knocking looking for money or trouble. My father could open our front door and deck one of my mother’s suitors — usually one of his friends.
By the time my parents divorced the long hallway was peppered with an extended horizontal row of patched holes where my dad but his fists through the wall out of sheer frustration.
I walked up the stairs and looked at our old, super heavy brass door knob. Ka-klunk! Squeeeeeek. Slam! echoed in my mind.
When I looked up, I saw that there was a sign taped to the inside of the faceted glass door, “Please enter silently, remove your shoes and wait to be greeted.” To the right of the doorframe was another sign on a blue square of paper “Healing Center.”
You can’t make this stuff up. I half expected a white rabbit to run by.
Turns out, the lady living in the upstairs flat uses the lower one, my childhood home, as a therapeutic healing center utilizing methods she learned in Tibet. She insisted that I take a tour.
Our old living room is now a therapy room with one chair facing two others. There were still things like a normal kitchen, a normal bathroom, but my bedroom, which once had yellow gingham and daisies wall paper, where I listened to “Honeycomb, Won’t You Be My Baby” on a 45 over and over, was now a peaceful massage room.
My parent’s room?
Where the Lucy and Desi twin beds once demarked territory where several mid-century swivel chairs — for group.
I started to cry and this woman swept me up gently in her arms. It was one of the most surprising, mystifying experiences of my life. As we walked up the hallway I felt the scratchy patches.
My dad never was much of a handy man. I asked the woman, have you ever wondered what these patches were? And I told her my dad punched the wall instead of hurting others.
“There was a lot of pain in this house. You have no idea,” I told her smiling; wiping my eyes.
“Not anymore,” she replied.
As I near the end of this writing journey, I’m amazed at how all these little story tiles have come together to create a mosiac in such surprising ways. So many things I could never have imagined have happened. Who knew that within two years I would lose not only my toxic mother, but also my darling step-mother while at work on my book.
My childhood address is now a healing destination where others do the work they must do to find peace. It made me realize that even the worst venue of your life has the potential to shake off its history; to redefine itself and rise like a Phoenix. All the years that I had it frozen in my personal history it had been busily evolving without me.
That’s why it’s important to face things, to examine tough stuff, to dream and to plant seeds of hope through personal declarations and dream projects.
Because the worst experiences can produce the best results. You must only believe it to make it so.
Rayne Wolfe’s dream is to write her first book Confessions of an Undutiful Daughter by the end of 2011. She completed her dream journey May of 2011 on 8WD after a year living her dream. You can find her at Toxic Mom Toolkit on Facebook.