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
Old friend from high school needs a name. From here on out I’ll call him Jake. Not in the least because he could be Jake Gyllenhaal’s brother they look so much alike.
That evening we lingered over drinks. Then we lingered over dinner. Finally we lingered over dessert, still talking. Still sharing mutual memories but from our different perspectives. Brief touches on hands, arms, shoulders were scattered throughout. When the server came by a third time and asked if we needed anything else we exchanged sheepish grins.
“I suppose we should leave,” I said.
“I’m getting that feeling,” he said wryly.
Neither of us moved. I took a deep breath.
“I want you to invite me to come over to your place. And I want us to have one more drink there and keep talking. I’m not ready for this to be over,” I said. Continue reading
When I last left you I was sipping a drink waiting on an old friend from high school to arrive for an evening of catching up. Would you like me to paint you a picture? I need to. I’ve been burying myself in work for ages. Even now I have windows open that are explaining some new social media tips and tricks that I can use to get my business to the next level. But that’s not why you’re here reading… Continue reading
Shuffle. Step. Shuffle. Step. Shuffle. Step. The old woman eases down the hallway one careful step after another, the constant dance with her tennis-ball-footed walker part of the routine. Oh, the dreaded routine.
Skip breakfast because it’s not served after 9:00. And who wants to get up early for a day filled with the same nothing-to-do schedule? Buzz for help to go to the bathroom. It’s not the going that’s the issue. But pulling her pants up while holding onto the grab bar isn’t something she can do anymore.
There are so many things she can’t do anymore. So many things she misses. It’s a waiting game now. There’s still family to live for, but for how long? Each day is a tick box marked off. One more down. Not as many to go.
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.
The hot shower water pelted by body, waking me up slowly, opening my pores and my mind. I ran the bar of fragrant soap over my skin… quickly. Efficiently. There’s been no time to linger over a shower in weeks. It’s become habit now. Get in. Get clean. Get out.
Nathan’s voice pierced the cloud of steam, “So, what did you dream last night?”
He never asked me about my dreams. Something had prompted his inquiry. I was instantly on guard. Had I talked in my sleep? What had I divulged?
“Why do you ask,” I responded.
“Well, why don’t you tell me what you dreamed,” he said, giving me no hint as to why he had asked. I racked my brain. And for the life of me I couldn’t remember dreaming of anything. That in itself was odd. I normally have a vidid dream life that I can recall without issue.
“Darling,” I said, “If I did dream last night, I don’t remember it.”
“Oh,” he said with a chuckle, “you dreamed all right.”
“Did I talk in my sleep,” I asked, trying to hide my alarm.
“No, you didn’t talk.”
“Well then, why on earth are you so sure I dreamed?”
“Because,” he said, coming to stand in the shower door way and watch me rinse off, “you moaned.”
“How do you mean?”
“You know how I mean. You moaned how you moan when you are…” his voice trailed off and his look became more knowing.
“No! I did not!” I said in shock.
“You did. You did so much it woke me up!”
“Well why didn’t you wake me up so we could enjoy my dream together?”
“Because you sounded like you were having a splendid time on your own. I didn’t want to wake you.”
“Hmmm,” I mused as I toweled off, “I wish I remembered.”
And I do wish I did. It’s been far to long since my back was arched an genuine moans were pouring from my mouth.
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.
I could hear my heart thudding loudly in the silence of the room, the blood rushing to my face. Ian lay on his side in the bed, his head still cradled in his hands. A million thoughts raced through my mind. I remembered how careful I had been to avoid any questions that would lead to him having to tell me if he had a girlfriend, or worse, a wife. Maybe it was simply that I did not want to risk breaking the magic of the moment, of the meeting, of losing the possibility of making love. I knew, intellectually, that the question would come up, no matter how hard I tried to ignore the possibility. Looking back, I realised that he, too, had been stepping around that question. Neither of us wore rings, but in my case that certainly did not mean I was free and clear. Even though the man I had been seeing back home had not proposed, our relationship seemed to be heading in that direction. And then this day had happened. I was ready to abandon everything and everyone for Ian. But he still hadn’t looked up.
“Are you married,” I asked gently?
He finally met my gaze. Continue reading
Ian piloted the rental car though evening traffic into the heart of the historic downtown district, the setting sun casting a blinding glare in our eyes, while I gave him directions to my hotel. Along the cobblestone streets we bumped, laughing over my shoddy navigation methods and moments we had shared throughout the day until we reached our destination. Ian pulled in under the canopied awning and the red-jacketed valet came trotting out to open my door.
“Welcome back Miss Green,” he said before dashing around the car to give Ian the claim ticket.
Together Ian and I strode up the old brick steps and through the open glass door into the expansive lobby. We walked under the massive crystal chandelier that gave off an array of shimmering light, past the magnificent curving staircase and to the iron gated elevator. A pianist softly trilled strains of Mozart on the mahogany baby grand. I pressed the pearl finished lift button and we waited. Out of the corner of my eye I watched Ian take in the opulent surroundings. This was the America I wanted him to see—one rich with the patina of aged elegance where the atmosphere was as gracious as the people.
Up we went, my heart rate getting faster and faster the closer we came to my room and then, we were there. Golden rays from the setting sun filled the yellow and blue room with an amber glow. Ian made himself comfortable on the stripped settee that was adjacent to the four-poster cherry bed while I gathered what I planned to wear, stepped into the bathroom, shut the door and locked it. Continue reading
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?