The first time ever I saw your face
I thought the sun rose in your eyes
And the moon and the stars were the gifts you gave
To the dark and the endless skiesThe first time ever I kissed your mouth
I felt the earth move in my hand
Like the trembling heart of a captive bird
That was there at my command my loveAnd the first time ever I lay with you
I felt your heart so close to mine
And I knew our joy would fill the earth
And last till the end of time my loveThe first time ever I saw your face
Your face, your face
I looked in the mirror literally moments ago and was surprised by my reflection. Normally my eyes are a peridot green, flecked with yellow and gray. But tonight there is no green to be found. Instead they are almost void of color, like an overcast day 24 hours before storms come rolling in. They were this icy shade of gray when I was a child. The green didn’t show up until my late teens. I wonder what it means. If anything.
The Australian came to me in my sleep last night. We walked moorish hills with the sun positioned just on the horizon for hours. He held me tightly against his side every step of the way. His death was never mentioned but it hung in the air like the peircing wane of a boat whistle signaling departure.
We fell asleep together in a grassy hillside nave overlooking miles and miles of sunset cover country. As I began to wake, slowly returning to consciousness, I felt myself drifting away but could still see him resting peacefully, a soft smile on his lips.
Was it only a dream, brought on by my conversation about him with a friend yesterday? Or did the tears I shed as I listened to his recorded voice for the first time in ages call him from the beyond to meet me in the golden lit firmament between his world and mine?
You peek out from the green, leafy branches, nothing showing but your eyes and the tip of your brown nose. A beautiful wild thing you are. So brave. And a mixture of curiosity tempered by caution. Not for your safety. No.
It is your freedom that you guard with such zeal. The twigs in your hair, the dirt under your nails a badge of honor, marking you as untamed. One of the Lost Boys of Neverland.
To give chase is foolish. I could never catch you. Instead I back away, leaving you to resume your wild, roaming play.
But you do not leave. The soft sweet smelling creature you see intrigues you. You want to touch. So you come closer.
For inside the man the Lost Boy lives, forever playing tug-a-war with the opposite desires of unruly freedom and tender sanctuary.
Come. Lay your head of tangled curls on my lap for a moment. Let me gently tend your cuts, your bruises. Now, off you go. Quickly, before the comfort weakens you.
I see him you know. The Lost Boy in you. Does he see the Wendy Darling in me?
Image credits: https://www.paigeeworld.com/u/nati2015
He was tall, broad-shouldered, with a deep, rumbling laugh. I stood in the bedroom of his sprawling ranch house in Big Sur country wearing tawny riding breeches and a red sweater as we discussed which of his dozen horses would be my mount for the day. His three daughters and one son would be arriving for the long weekend later that day. But I didn’t have to do any planning. Mrs. Prill would see to it that dinner was served at seven, he explained. I took a deep breath and threw my arms around him.
“You make everything so simple!” I laughed.
The scene changed.
The massive kitchen with a giant fireplace is briming with conversation and savory smells. The children, all in their late teens and early twenties banter back and forth. They are affectionate with me. I sip my tea, taking it all in. It feels like home, but with a piece missing.
The scene changed.
The man and I were walking along the coast at sunset. Hand in hand. The memories of the day played through my mind. It was perfect. The house. The land. The horses. The coast. The California sun. The big family. The security. The tall, distinguished man. Too perfect. I felt a stab in my heart as I thought of Nathan. Where was he? Why had I left him?
I began to run. Faster. Faster. So fast my feet barely touched the ground. And then I was flying! I caught a current of air and let it lift me high into the sky, away from the man. It was glorious, like being inside the most iridescent opal you’ve ever seen, with a symphony of string instruments accompanying you.
I woke with a start, the room dark and the soft sound of Nathan’s breathing. What did it all mean? This dream outlined my perfect life. Down to the large, ready made family that I didn’t have to birth and raise. But when I realized it had all been a product of REM sleep, I just felt relief. Because I didn’t leave Nathan. He’s still right here. Beside me.
If you had told me that I’d be here—here being an emotional descriptor, not a physical location—at this exact moment last year, I don’t think my mind could have comprehended it. That’s why it comes in stages I supposed.
This time last year I was in a hospital. Scared. But not realizing at the time that the grandmother I knew was gone forever. The sweet, often childlike woman left in her place is still cherished and loved. But it’s different.
The loss creeps up on you if you’re lucky.
Or it gives you time to prepare for it like it did with two of the deaths that touched me this year. I knew they were sick. I knew it was coming. But I wasn’t ready. Never are we ready, are we? Racing to bedsides. Praying that the loved one will. Just. Hold. On.
But he didn’t.
Other times the loss blindsides you. Driving in the Christmas traffic, following the trail of red tail lights through the foggy night it hit me again that the Australian is dead. A third death. The one I mourn silently. The one I never in a hundred years saw coming.
So much loss this year. So much pain. And change too. Good change. Challenging change. Unexpected change.
The me from a year ago wouldn’t recognize my life now. She would be excited for me. And a little scared. Ok… maybe a lot scared. But wouldn’t admit it.
Here’s the kicker. No one told me that when you are a grown up you really don’t have a fucking clue what you are doing. We think as kids that adults have it all figured out, but that’s simply not true. Grown ups are just big kids, who have enough mistakes under their belt to muddle through, doing the best they can to make it through another day, another week, another month, another year.
But, there is hope too. Always hope. Because through the loss, through the pain, through the change, the challenges and the mistakes, there is life. And sometimes even love.
So here’s to love. Even in death… so much death… the love lives on.
Tap tap tap tap tap tap tap… my wedge heels beat a rapid staccato against the tile floor of the terminal as I rushed to my gate. The line through security had been brutal… a level of chaos I didn’t realize existed. But it was my own fault. I should have been watching the time. And paying attention to the damn time zone.
I had done neither and as I arrived at the gate, secretly pleased that I wasn’t out of breath after sprinting a quarter of a mile. The door was shut. I’ve traveled enough and seen enough people do exactly what I had just done to know it was pointless beg them to open the door, so I got on the standby list for the next flight out.
I was sixth on the list, so as the waiting area filled up I began to wonder if I would be bumped to an even later flight. But as the gate agent was calling for the third boarding group to get on the plane I heard my name paged.
“We have seat for you in the exit row,” the curly-headed lady said, “Are you willing and able to assist in an emergency?”
“I am,” I responded with a smile.
Ticket in hand I made my way to the back of the line. The crowd slowly creeped forward, in a hurry but not. I feel into step, backpack across one shoulder, a bit out of place compared to the skirt and top I wore. But no one cared. Certainly not me.
I handed the recently printed paper to the gatekeeper of the shiny 737 and he looked up and said, “Willing and able?”
“I am,” I said for the second time.
Perhaps it was because the question had been asked twice. Or maybe it was because I still had a rush of energy from the success of the meeting I had flown to town for. Or maybe I was on an endorphin high from my futile sprint. Whatever the reason, I mulled over the question repeatedly. Willing and able. Willing and able. Willing and able.
As the smell of compressed air assaulted my nose as I boarded, I felt an inner strength surge through me and I smiled. I am willing. I am able. Willing to live. Able to embrace the moment. Willing to take risks. Able to think on my feet. Willing to be open. Able to trust. And for that I am thankful.
What are you willing and able to do?
Share my story the prompt says. Well. Today I’ve been run through the proverbial ringer and I came straight home, stripped off all my clothes and jewelry, poured a cold glass of white wine and ran a luke warm bath. I spent the next hour soaking and sipping. Letting the water do its magic. So why do I want to do something risky like include the photos I just snapped? Validation? Attention? Two likely causes. I’m open to your conclusions.
And big hugs to all of you who still come by and read even though I’m so irregular. Thank you. From my heart.
Enjoy the pictures after the jump.
In a land far from my own I pulled into a no-name gas station to fill up my rental. A Lincoln towncar that had seen better days backed up to the pump ahead of me. Not familiar with the area, I kept my focus on my car. Safety in not making eye contact and all that.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw the driver’s door open and a rugged, large, leather-skinned man emerged. I couldn’t help but look. The back door opened and a larger, muscle bound, jean clad man stepped out. I was openly staring.
They bore the marks of their trade. Oil men. Roughnecks. Dirty hands. Clear eyes. Smile lines etched on their faces.
The other back door opened. Yes. There was another. Blonde hair cropped close. Late 20s with the sun damage of 40+ year old man.
And then a last one hoisted himself up and out of the front passenger seat. His arms were as big as my thighs.
There were four of them. Four massive men.
They all looked my way in unison. Not of their world… And it showed. My skin is a pale gold, shielded every day with generous coatings of SPF. My white button front shirt was crisp and clean. Though I too wore jeans they were paired with brown leather four-inch heels.
Eyes met. They smiled. I allowed the corner of my mouth to lift. The driver nodded. I did the same. I’ve heard about roughnecks, but this was my first experience seeing them up closer.
My mind went to dark and dirty places. Their large, calloused hands on my soft, pale skin. Chapped mouths on my nipples.
And I got in my car and drove away.
February sneaks up on me, and yet doesn’t. I see February coming. I expect the turmoil that will come now. I brace for it. Plan for it. Hoping to minimize its effect. And then I turn around and I’m in it.
I feel guilty for writing in these few moments I’ve found. There are kind, wonderful, heartfelt comments on my last post that I still haven’t responded to. I think of what I want to say back to y’all when I’m driving, the only part of the day lately when I can be alone with my thoughts. And then, when I can be in front of a computer, the words escape me and work pressure crashes in, blocking all else.
But I’m really feeling February tonight. And I need to write. So I hope you understand.
Many years ago I was married. I’ve never revealed that here. But I was. It ended… in February.
My grandfather, my hero, he died suddenly in a tragic accident… in February.
I met, loved and lost Ian, the reason I began blogging… in February.
I had a long drive home in the dark tonight. And, for reasons I choose not to share here, I cried for most of it.
I’m fine. Just… a jumble of feelings. All these Februaries. They add up.
I’m here in the hospital listening to my grandmother softly snore. Thoughts of the past week swirl through my brain while I simultaneously attempt to fight off a headache. I remember the feelings I had when Mr. Past showed up to rescue Christmas dinner. This was before we realized Grandmother wasn’t “just tired.”
Instead of snow, brown leaves drifted down from the giant live oak tree underneath which my father and Nathan were attempting to fry a turkey. But with no propane in the tank they weren’t getting anywhere fast. Phone calls were made and with Mr. Past down visiting his own family he soon heard of our dilemma. And fifteen minutes later, there he was. Propane procured, looking better than he ever has. Ever.
When he hugged me hello it was tight but brief. Nathan was standing right there. As was my father. Our past is our secret. It wouldn’t do to let slip what we are to each other now. So what did I feel in those moments standing between him and Nathan? My past and my future? It was a twisted sort of nostalgia. One that longed for the simplicity of when we were everything to each other. Not just because of that magical season, but because of all that surrounded it.
Back then my grandfather was alive and healthy. My grandmother didn’t need to hold on the wall for balance. I had my whole life ahead of me with so many possibilities. Those things and more, I miss. But the twist to it is that now I have settled into a life path that I’m successful at and enjoy. I don’t want to ever have to relearn all the things one learns from 16 to 33. So while the ache for the old days and Mr. Past’s touch was acute, I shifted to Nathan’s side and place a hand briefly on the small of his back.
However, that would not be the last time I saw Mr. Past during my visit.
So here I sit, in the chair I slept in last night, in the clothes I slept in last night, composing my thoughts into words.
Sometimes unexpected events occur that shake one’s life foundations and it becomes very clear that what one believed to be important actually holds very little meaning. Just such an event impacted my life over Christmas.
It was the day before Christmas and all was not well. My grandmother—who is the rock of our family—moved about like sand snaking on a windy road in the desert. Down the hall she would weave, clutching at the half-inch chair rail for balance. At times she would be mentally present and at others, in a world I could not see or access. She was drifting. There were more signs that I see now, looking back, but was blind to their significance at the time.
And then she fell.
Hospital rooms. Doctors. Long nights. Tests. Scans. Questions. Nurses. Cardiologists. Neurologists.
My grandmother had been the victim of a stroke.
In the days that followed Nathan had to return to work, as did my father. That left my mother and I to handle things in this small Southern town far away from our current native habitat. There we would know the best doctors to take her to. There we would know people to call for support. There we would have our men to wrap us in warm embraces when we felt ourselves falling apart. But we were not there.
We were here.
But in spite of the sleepless nights and the worry and the planning, some of my ghosts of Christmas’ past came creeping in. Mr. Past will make an appearance in an upcoming post. As will Cameron. I’m not sure why I allowed myself to be surrounded by temptation among all the stress. It was almost like a test. A science experiment if you will.
If you mix a highly stressed, emotional and horny Marian with her high school love while she is in a committed relationship with Nathan (but Nathan is several hundred miles away), what will she do?
If you put Marian alone in a house with a man she had a severe crush on in high school who claims to have been looking for her for 16 years (which of course stirred up all sorts of emotions), what will she do?
So after leaving you with those two questions to ponder I will tell you this. My grandmother is stable and recovering. And I am so very thankful.
I will not say Happy New Year to you all because for many of us happiness is a moving target. Instead I leave you with a quote from Neil Gaiman. Because he has said what I feel already. And right now I’m all about efficiency rather than pride in being original.
And for this year, my wish for each of us is small
and very simple.
And it’s this.
I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.
Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.
So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.
Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.
Make your mistakes, next year and forever.