Linda Rand

Pandemic Diaries: What I See Behind My Eyes

In Linda Rand’s next Pandemic Diaries column “What I See Behind My Eyes,” shares about her relationship with her mom, and searching out lost things during these times.

 

I close my eyes and see a sunny day. I am surrounded by a few kids, showing off my garnet and opal ring. I am pressing my fingers together tightly so the ring doesn’t twirl, as it is much too big for me. This was during recess after show and tell, when I had talked about my ring to the class, and my wide-eyed teacher. I remember being very nonchalant. And now we’re at the base of a big, grassy hill and I see my mom walking down. Then she is gently taking the ring, sweet and calm. We’d kind of laugh about that every so often as I was growing up.

When I was a teenager, I ran away from home. But I would call her late at night, just so she’d know I was alive. We fought so much; our temperaments were very different. I was extremely emotional, and she was stoic and withholding—when she wasn’t chasing me with a wooden spoon, flyswatter, shoehorn, or whatever else was around that she could swat me with. I remember once sobbing, “Why won’t you tell me you love me?” as she walked away, shaking her head. She was overly critical, but once she told me I had a good heart, and I’ve never forgotten that.

In my early twenties, I packed up a U-Haul and moved 1,000 miles away. We’d talk on the phone. She told me a story that made me laugh so hard, about being so mad that she wanted to break something. In a fury, she grabbed a plate, but then looked at them all to choose the ugliest one and then broke it in the sink so it’d be easier to clean up. Such a Virgo thing to do. I probably would have broken my favorite one, but that is another story that I would like to outgrow.

I sent extravagant gifts in the mail, mostly nice purses, because I had a disposable income and was doing well. She would never get such nice gifts for herself, too impractical.

In my mid-twenties, I flew down to California visiting a bunch of people and stopped to visit her for one night. She gave me a little box to open, and it was the ring. I was shocked. My dad had it made for her, when they were courting, and now she wanted me to have it. He had passed away five years or so ago and I just sputtered, I couldn’t believe it, I wondered how I deserved it. She just smiled and said, “It was already yours a long time ago.” It’s the only sentimental thing she’d ever done. It seemed magical.

 

When I was a teenager, I ran away from home. But I would call her late at night, just so she’d know I was alive.

 

Some years passed, and I was traveling a lot and not home very much, and my mom told me I should put my jewelry in my coat pockets. Every so often she’d give me some weird advice that I normally would not heed. But this time, I hid my jewelry and then forgot about it. By the time winter came, I had given away or sold some coats to make room, and then I remembered the ring, and then I wondered if I had hidden it in one of those coats I no longer had.

I couldn’t find the ring. I told her about it and she was gentle. Surprisingly, she didn’t criticize me. We didn’t talk about it, but we were secretly a little sad, I think. Since then, I’ve learned about safe deposit boxes and always feel so grown up using one, but also a little meh, looking at the lesser items within, thinking about the ring.

I’m a Cancerian and we tend to be pretty good at holding on to things. I have kept things safe for other people for years, and casual jobs and relationships can last a lot longer than I would have guessed at the outset. There are only been a few things that I have lost and felt sad about and would make little prayers about. That since they were lost, that maybe, if the universe would allow it, they could find their way back to me. One was a journal chronicling the passing of my best friend, that I think I left in a rental car, running late for my flight. Another was a journal that contained a couple of passionate years and all the social gossip in the music and art scene at the time. And, of course, my ring.

During the full moon, my daughter spotted it through the window and wanted me to take a picture with her and it. Afterwards, I stepped out the kitchen door, just for a second, to take my own picture of it and soak in its beams. Coming back in the house, I heard a crash. I called out, “What was that?”

My toddler is very rambunctious, very athletic. Since the pandemic, she slithers up and down furniture, leaps from couch to bed to table. I often have to ask her to be careful and gentle, so, she was mortified, but I told her it was fine when I see how concerned she was. She had knocked over a decorative stand which contained a few little things: a small dish of dried lavender, a Romulus and Remus I picked up in Italy when I was 19 or 20, a couple of ceramic pieces my mom had made, and THE RING, just casually nestled on top, glinting. After maybe 10 years! I told Frida, “Thank you!” It felt like a dream. And though I never wear jewelry to bed, I wanted to sleep with it so I could be sure to wake with it, make sure it wasn’t a late-night phantasm.

Before sleep, in the dark behind my eyes, I could see the shape of the ring and colors, and then I saw the coronavirus, its shape and colors. I don’t know what that means, but maybe this is a time where we can find things that we thought we lost.

 

Linda Rand

Linda Rand is an Art Witch and Wolf Mama living in Portland, Oregon. She has been published in Entropy, Nailed Magazine, Unchaste Anthology Volume I, as well as anthologies Places Like Home, City of Weird, and The People’s Apocalypse, with non-fiction journal excerpts in Fuck Happiness: How Women Are Ditching the Cult of Positivity and Choosing Radical Joy by Ariel Gore. Her artwork has been included in PDX Magazine and the book Oneira: I Dream the Self. Follow on Instagram: @lindapaintsandwrites

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