Bill Sonnenschein March 15, 1949 – December 29, 2008 All of us at Literary Mama are deeply saddened to learn of the death of columnist Ericka Lutz’s husband Bill Sonnenschein. On Monday, December 29, after only a few hours of …
A painting I did the first year Bill and I were together shows a field of green. In the center there’s a floating bed, and in the middle of the bed two people, face to face, stare into each others’ eyes and hold each other. That was what we were like those first years. We held each other and saved each other and were each other’s everything.
Time passed, and of course we changed; we had to, and it was appropriate that we did. We moved out into our own worlds, but we kept that connection.
One of my favorite Roz Chast cartoons shows a woman in her forties or fifties wearing a flowing baggy dress with a wild hairstyle and clunky jewelry. The words read: Are you entering your “Goddess” years? Have you gotten heavily into herbal teas, especially the “soothing” varieties? Has your husband recently purchased an expensive sports car? What’s with the hair? This cartoon makes me convulse with laughter and cringe with a bit too much recognition. Am I her? Am I that? Is she my future?
My daughter turns sixteen this month. Not such a sweet sixteen, a birthday plagued by the presidential election. I ask her what she thinks of the conflagration: red state vs. blue state, culture wars and fear. She fixes me with the Teenage Fisheye: “You’re the one who hates this. I like talking politics.”
I know people who seem to morph: one year she’s a radical lesbian scorning the system, and five years later she’s an upper-middle class doctor’s wife driving carpool; one year he’s the CFO of a pharmaceutical startup, and five years later he’s grown a shaggy beard and lives in an old-growth Redwood tree in Humboldt County. I don’t usually think of myself as so mutable, but I’ve recently morphed into a Popular Girl; I just beat a thousand other authors for the Grand Prize in an Internet popularity contest.
It’s last month. We’re on a road trip, Annie and I. Nine days through California, Nevada, and Arizona. Motels and hotels, national parks and ghost towns, road food. It’s June, it’s hot, and the car is small. Annie is a teenage girl and I’m her mother, and on paper this all sounds like a recipe for conflict and disaster, yet she’s the easiest traveling companion I’ve ever had.