Friday, February 6, 2009


I had a dream the other night, a helicopter down on its side, no passengers visible, though there was a sense that I was witnessing a rescue effort, some scrambling about. The images from recalled dreams leave an imprint, and this one tempts me to tease it apart. Maybe it's a fascination with the ease at which a helicopter goes right up that brought the image to my unconscious. Maybe my dreamscape transformed the recent Hudson River airplane landing and rescue into a helicopter scenario. Or an image from a novel-in-progress haunted me. (The protagonist sees a a newspaper photo of a plane crash, the one that killed Stevie Ray Vaughan).

The wonder of helicopters is the way they hover. It's a notion I keep with me in certain yoga postures. It's an image that made me laugh the first time I came across it in reference to being a parent these days. I don't think I've been a 'helicopter parent' in the way I understand it (though my daughter might beg to differ). But these days, in which my daughter, drawn by the lure of the film industry out west, struggles through the rite-of-passage known as getting that first job, I feel a certain unease that has me hovering, if not crashing.

Early morning, a phrase pops into my head, hanging in the balance. If 'hovering' implies lightness, the tissue-thin wings of a butterfly, 'hanging in the balance' brings its own weight to uncertainty. One day there are interviews, lots of anticipation, so much promise; the next day no postings, no phone calls. So much hangs in the balance. It's enough to bring a mother to tears, not just for the obvious (I'm a mother, nurturing is what I do); if there is a certain mirroring to the mother-daughter relationship, being a mother who also happens to be a writer brings even more poignancy to my daughter's efforts. For her it's creative cover letters and resumes, somebody ple-e-a-s-e hire me (i.e., I'm enthusiastic, hard-working, detail-oriented). For me it's creative cover letters and the telling detail of well-honed story, somebody ple-e-a-s-e take note. The cycle of putting oneself out, being rejected (or downright ignored), complaining, crying, taking a few deep breaths, rolling up the sleeves, putting oneself again, is oh-too-familiar. Even in the best of economic times, very little comes without effort.

One image gives rise to another: I see my daughter on one side of a mountain, myself on the other. Hovering above, between us, is the realm of all things possible. For her it is all about the climb, everything on the rise; for me, even if there is sense of slipping down, there is also an acute awareness that what is behind me sets in motion what lies ahead.