December 5, 2013 § 2 Comments
Veer off the two-lane highway and you’ll find a quieter road. It was the original path of old-time island travel, now kind of forgotten, lined in tall grasses, with a faded yellow line.
On this road there are two driveways that run parallel. Go to the right and you’re back in time 11 years ago. There, a 29-year old woman lives in a school bus up on blocks. She’s tending a garden with marigolds and basil. Hanging prayer flags above the driver’s window. Wondering if her boyfriend will return from India and want to keep playing house.
Nine months later, her boyfriend is back. They’ve built a screened in porch and attached it to the school bus. Spent a hard-earned $500 on a king size mattress that rests upon a handmade frame. Baby clothes are laundered and waiting in the corner. Candles are placed on the window sill. They’re going to have a baby and she wants to have the birth right there at home.
Go back to those driveways running side by side. The ones separated by a hibiscus hedge twenty feet tall. This time, go to the left. It’s ten years later. That same woman is planting kale in a different garden bed. She’s forty now. She can hear her ten-year old humming from the treehouse, hidden from view, but somewhere perched between blue sky and ground.
The boyfriend, who is his father, is just that. The young boy’s dad is the man that gave her a dream come true, then moved along to find his own. She had other dreams, as well. And one of them is near the mint turning over a new plot. Her husband, her truest love, adds rich compost to the overturned soil and readies it for planting.
Ten years ago today, at 11:07am, a fragile, wet and perfect soul was placed upon my chest with parted lips and curling fingers. Today marks the day that Jeb was born.
Ten years ago, I lived next door to the very house where I now reside. I was a young mother, nursing in a school-bus-of-a-home, watching my baby grow. Today, we live in a house with bedrooms and indoor plumbing. I am married. I have a family. And my ten-year old son and I can wear the same size shoe.
December 4, 2013 § 10 Comments
Should I take it as a sign, when after a rather long pause in posting to the Archives, I come to the keyboard to discover that the internet is glitching?
I woke before 4am this morning, brewed my coffee (might I add that my stove top espresso maker was actually whining, as if it was out of practice at such an early hour), lit the sandalwood incense, and sat down in my writing chair. I was all ready to move back into the routine after a much-needed hiatus that has entailed a bit of travel, some big to-do lists, philosophical ponderings on the nature of creativity and discipline, and, most indulgent of all – sleep.
Refreshed but a bit rusty, I returned here to find that I only have the capacity to write for myself this morning. Though the internet says I’m connected, no webpages will load. Resetting the modem makes no difference.
Not wanting to waste a cup of coffee or a stick of incense, I type here as if anyone may read. As if anyone may care.
And I don’t write that last line as an Eeyore (reference “Winnie the Pooh“, as needed). It’s a genuine consideration, articulated well in a piece I read a few months ago on WordPress (which for the life of me, I can no longer find in order to rightly credit the author- my apologies). The post touched on the question of what’s worth writing about, as she had recently fielded a comment by one of her readers that brusquely asked/stated, “Who the fuck cares?“
After reading her candid recounting of the experience receiving this kind of feedback, I was heartened to see that I was not alone in wondering what really ‘matters’ to the reader and what is truly ‘worth’ writing about.
In this last month, amidst traveling, a long school holiday, and some practical matters on my desk (yes, the warmth of the bed, post-4am, was nice, as well), the who-cares-consideration took on a new angle. I rebelled in the month of November when bloggers everywhere dedicated to a post a day. I stopped posting altogether, as I searched for that inner spark. The one filled with urgency, insisting that critical words be potently put to page.
I found myself refusing to type just for typing-sake, then questioned the motives of my own rebellion, wondering if my mind was simply finding a clever way to sidestep writing discipline. Perhaps I was being tricked by my own self, but I continued puzzling on the question like a Rubik’s cube: “Who the f*%$# cares?”
Show don’t tell. As a writer, I’m not supposed to tell you what matters. You want to be shown the way to caring.
Well, what do I care about?
Sometimes when I go on vacation, I’ll purposely leave my camera in my suitcase. On that day, I want to have a full experience without documenting. I want to lose myself in life’s movie. I don’t want to set one foot outside the frame to distance myself as the observer.
Other times, being the documentarian becomes part of the experience, and I have some great snapshots to send home.
These last few weeks have found me living solely in the feature frame. Looking back, I only have a collage of fleeting images that could possibly be sent as postcards back to friends.
A sunset ferris wheel ride overlooking downtown Chicago.
Sliding my arms into my soon-to-be-10-years-old’s sweatshirt and realizing it fits.
Vanilla ice cream melting over warm ginger and cinnamon-scented apple crisp.
3am, booming thunder, flashing lightning, and seven inches of rain.
A quiet, one-year wedding anniversary with the Bohemian and a pot of thick, mushroom soup.
Are any of these stills worth stamping and sending off?
I’m not sure exactly why or how these snapshots matter, though I have a sense they do. And there’s more to say on the back of these postcards than “wish you were here.” More than just a telling of them to you.
Though these may be ‘my’ moments, I believe they are meant to be shared. Somewhere buried in the details of the setting, the time and place, there is a common thread that transcends all that is mine or yours. It’s a place that belongs to everyone and no one. It’s the place where you and I can meet.
If I show you in just the right way, we can be in that place together.
And, I guess for me, that’s really what I care about.
November 20, 2013 § Leave a Comment
15,000 miles traversed by air. Three state lines crossed. Sleep through four time zones.
When back in familiar territory, nothing is routine.
Poetry still comes in the pillows, but now the roosters are awake, the sun closer to the horizon.
Words have less time, so they come in simply.
Appreciation for the slightest ease seems to smooth the days.
The way the bagel toasts golden. Cream cheese spreading in one, thick swipe.
The fresh fold of his t-shirt, the laundered creases emitting ordered readiness.
His nine-year old hand, reaching out in morning darkness. Growing fingertips pulling me closer to his dreamtime. The smell of shampoo on his hair.
We are the first at the bus stop, where a foot-long rat runs across a dewy lawn. The sky pinkens into a Wednesday.
There will be homework, a volunteer sign-up sheet, the appointment for the oil change, and still, that decision on the health insurance plan.
But today there is ease in simple things. A boy – my boy – pulls his backpack from the passenger side. And even though his friends linger by the bus stop bench nearby, he reaches over. Hugs me and says, “I love you.”
November 18, 2013 § 2 Comments
One thing I love about travel is being able to live the lines where similar and different blur. Seems no matter where you go, there are things that are the same all over, yet often expressed in just a little different way.
A change of scenery, seeing the familiar in new settings, offers fresh perspectives. We view ourselves and the world from new angles.
Since these shots were taken on our recent trip to Chicago, I can’t help but think of those in the mid-west, recently affected by the severe weather of over 80 tornadoes. When we checked in with our friends who live there, they told us they’d decided to harness the gusts and get in an end-of-the-season windsurfing session in.
Not everyone was able to play.
Today I send good wishes, peace, ease, and speedy recovery to all of those impacted by the storm. May we all remain humble in the face of Mother Nature and stay grateful for all the precious things.
November 15, 2013 § Leave a Comment
The Bohemian and I live on an island where the rule is that no building stand taller than a coco palm. Chicago took us to new heights.
November 14, 2013 § 2 Comments
After a whirlwind tour that crossed three state lines (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan), the Bohemian and I have landed back among the crickets. We are officially back home.
With spotty internet connections at the various places where we slept, I left the Archives to rest while I mingled with the mid-westerners that gathered to celebrate love and marriage. With the Bohemian as the best man, our mission was one of support for the couple, specifically, the groom. There were highways to navigate, tuxes to be fitted, goulash meals to be shared, and appointments with the photographer to be kept.
With our own anniversary coming up at the end of this month, we did steal away and spend one day together beyond the wedding swirl. We wandered with our necks craned, viewing the heights of downtown Chicago, bracing ourselves against the cold. A windy city, yes, full of bustle, contrasting lines, and the interweaving dance of leaves and concrete.
We meandered, laughed, ate cheese and caramel popcorn, rode a ferris wheel, and toasted the day’s end with a glass of red wine. It was a short and sweet excursion, then off to Kalamazoo, where the festivities were beginning and we’d slip into our dancing shoes.