Saturday, December 29, 2007

A love story

I was in the third grade
collecting badges
and A pluses on papers that didn't matter.
I lined the cigar box,
ever just so,
Tipparillos gone,
with black velvet from the hem
of my Mama's dress,
and laid them to rest there....

the butterflies....

The glue didn't stick
and the teacher,
Miss Swanson,
"fixed" them for the fair....

I couldn't wait....
my torn pink ticket in my pocket,
to see my butterflies and the ribbon
she promised me....

But,
all I remember
are the green and gold and blue and red

hatpins through their hearts.....

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Kiss the sky at Midnight

New Years....

I’ve tried it everyway. As a child, we hooped and hollered, twirled Nana’s noisemakers in the air! Teetered on the top of the bamboo barstools, feet dangling, arms flailing Wheeeeeee! It’s New Years! Along the way, we started sneaking down to the basement, having James whip us up Suicides….coke and rum and vodka…. Gag me with a spoon! But it left us breathless, and sitting in circles, watching midnight grab the sky, singing…Sha Na..Na…Na…Na… Hey…Hey. …Hey…
holding hands, and sometimes upchucking heads. I ache now. We are not all here now. Those were the New Years we should have hugged each other harder and left the toilets to their own.

And then we were legally “grown up”. And we hung from Balconies and French kissed at midnight. It was still good. Even the year Greg Fishowitz overdosed and sentenced himself to a life pacing in an antiseptic aquarium plugged into IV’s for eternity. It was still going to be a good year. That was the year Christian came out of the closet, called off his engagement to Juliet, and rocked his parent’s world. We applauded him. The year that Kimbies got suspended for smoking in the bathroom and the year that my boyfriend, in a death defying act of jealousy , flipped the camaro upside down and I LIVED! It’s all good.

And then we were on our own, and dateless, and all piled up in a “too expensive” “too cramped for comfort” apartment and “What the hell?” they were having a Champagne and Caviar Party at the clubhouse…… So we tooled our size six fannies over and swallowed fish eggs and pink bubbles and left with the first three cars that fled the scene….

And we married our rides….. (Some of us for better or for worse, one of us just for the ride)

Time flies when you’re having a good time, and we must have because it’s a blur that I really don’t remember…. And suddenly….

Its another life and
I’m at the airport and I’m watching as my soldier lumbers down the ramp and it’s late, far too late to bring in the New Year, and I’m thrilled….
He’s alive and He’s home and I’m in love and jet lag is an urban myth….
We set the clocks back four and a half hours and embrace the New Year just before the sun comes up. On our own make-believe time.

Years pass.

They bring their blessings and their curses and we survive it all.

I’ve cheered New Years and blessed it out. I’ve welcomed the New and buried, literally, the old. Dug mammoth holes in the flower beds and put the crap to rest. . I’ve burned it. And run out into the street and tossed it’s ugly karma to the sky…ashes floating aimlessly, landing on the curbs. I’ve kissed the sky and wished on stars, I’ve gone to bed……

Two years ago, we started this Resolution thing again…. The time had come. A million things to resolve to, to amend to, to agree to, to give in to. But we picked only three. Kimbies and Butch and I. We must have known then. WE CHOSE PEACE. WE WANTED PEACE. And, oh yeah, they would get a dog and I would get a boyfriend. We just sort of threw that in. We just wanted peace.

“Sometimes you get what you want, sometimes if you try, you get what you need” MJ and the Rolling Stones.

On New Years Eve, we made reservations. Resolutions. Wore hand me down dresses pinched a little here and a little there to fit just so. Kimbies was mannequin beautiful in her hippie bandana with her priceless husband at her side. We cheered. We cried. We danced with strangers. Had exactly one too many drinks. We hugged. We all held hands at some point and fell to our knees on the dirty little floor and thanked God for the noise of rock and roll, and the healing, and the Angels that brought us there. At midnight, we turned and kissed.

I’m so glad even resolutions give you second chances.

I’m doing it all over again this year. And this one is a keeper.

Peace.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Spinning....

Telephone Tag. That's how we do it. No Sirens, bullhorns, weather radios. In the pitch black sky the phone rings, too early in the morning to be a late night "I love~love~love you" call, too late in the night to be an early morning wake up call....

Seven minutes....
to pass the word, run barefoot onto the porch and yell for the neighbors..."You up?" "You?" "Yeah" "See ya when it's over".....
to gather three cats and the dog, the birth certificate box (which also holds a toothfairy letter, two shells, a butterfly wing, a zippo lighter with my initials on it, and the titles to cars I don't remember owning....
to wake up my sleeping child, now with child, and in five words or less, convince her to grab her pillow and crawl into the bathroom closet...
to say the quickie prayers...
to try Jonah's phone number one more time, again, and again....
to race back out of the closet and grab my Ruby Red's, construction boots for the afterlife....
to dive back in when I heard the sky fall.....

Three minutes in the rumbling, tumbling, swooshing, dipping, diving, tilt-a-whirl darkness....
and then unfolding,
paper dolls still stuck to the perforated edges,
bending one stretch at a time,
breaking free of the make-shift cellar...

Yup, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.....

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Let there be peace.....

I've watched the mailbox for days. I knew it was coming. Everynight I've emptied the leaning, rusting, box at the end of the driveway, thumbed through bills, and bills, and bills, and "why don't you buy me's?", waiting on this.....

The Christmas card from the baby with the old soul....



One World
One Word
Peace.....

It came today....

May the circle be unbroken...

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Your Mama wears Combat Boots....

These are the ones. I had to decide between construction boots and the spanish formal or combat boots and the little black dress. The little black dress won. My date, whom by the way I asked out, for New Years Eve, is one of my dearest friends. Charming, conservative, intelligent and 23 years my senior, he'll be wearing impecable taste and a smile.

Jonah, my eldest and youngest, and only son, stopped by this afternoon...We played catch-me-up on the porch, me stringing love beads and he, checking voice mails and text messages one right after the other. Claiming too little sleep and a too bright sun, he lumbered through the house collecting hand me down towels, a bar of soap, and a frozen pizza..... pausing on his way to thumb through the Halloween pictures piled on the microwave. "Ya had fun, didn't ya Mom?" "Yeah, son we did, we really did...." "Ya goin' out for New Year's again?" "Oh yeah, wait, I'll show you my boots......"

His hollywood chin tipped to the left. One eyebrow raised just a hair. "You're doin' it again, Ma....." smile "People are gonna talk".... full grin now. "I know, son, but I have a broken foot....I can't help it, and I wanna dance" "They're gonna talk....."...... huge grin now.

"Love ya, Ma"....words tossed over his shoulder as he clanked through the screen door, and down the drive way....

And now it's my turn to smile.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The butterfly effect.....

It started with the coffee pot. $21.95 at Winn Dixie. I don't even like brewed coffee. I like mine strong, one cup at a time in the microwave, or so hot they could-sue-you at McDonalds, but I was there in the check out line....and it was on display....and the freeze dried bag of beans on display next to it, smelled so good....

I plugged it in, and stuffed the basket with coffee, filled the retainer with water and stared at it. When would I hit the button? 8 cups of coffee registered on the little resovoir reading. Good to go.... In case I ever needed to make coffee for an army....

It was that night, that we hit send. In the kitchen, Chey and the stranger I'd known forever, laughing. That night that it percolated, gurgled, giggled, french toasted us....that night the silly coffee pot and three cups left in the sink told our fortunes....one empty.....two half full.....

It died in November. The countertop brewery that I never wanted in the first place...spit water on the counter and choked on it's own coffee grinds. And I cried. I know it's silly, but I thought in it's going, it was symbolic. I paced. Pined for the taste of my good ole instant Maxwell House. And paced.

Walgreens is open 24 hours. I came home with the only little baby I could afford, a four cup (two at my house) miniature model of all before it.....

Tomorrow I'm throwing it out.

I don't drink alone....

Monday, December 03, 2007

"Our house was a very, very fine house"

This is where we grew up. Not where we spent the majority of our childhoods, Kimbies and I, but the mostness of them.....Here, in this thirty-two room playhouse.

I remember the very first time we saw it, empty except for the furniture that had been custum made to fit the nooks and crannies....that came with the deal...the giant round satin couches filled with goose down.....We tried them out fannies first, over and over again, laughing as the brocade spit feathers flying....the toy box under the windows, wrapped in a semi circle, empty, except for a few old crayons and the scribblings of children before us.....my beds, set head to foot lining the east wall, wrapped in a meandering wrought iron grapevine.....I took my fingers and traced the walls....New Orleans was there, in all her dark and smokey taboo....hand painted on the walls....

We moved in and rocked the neighborhood. Our parents were beautiful, he, handsome and successful and rarely home, she, whispy and blonde and "different". It was here that Curty learned to crawl, and babble, and ride a bike, that Skinny and Chance were born. It was here that we first learned to believe.....

in happenchance
and fairytales
and to dance to our own music....
it was here that we learned there were a set of tracks that
were laid right side up and wrong side down
and that it was okay to cross
them,
skinny legs flying on spider bikes with banana seats and spokes spiked with poker cards and clothespins.....

here that we learned unconditional love.....
to not be afraid of poltergiests or ghosts or things that goes bump in the night....
to take in strays, because they're not really stray after all,
they're just waiting for you to open the door....
that man could really walk on the moon....
if he wanted to.....

It was here that we were free.....
That we lived our Pippi Longstocking childhoods......
riding bikes down hallways,
depositing each other, clinging,
down the laundrey shoot....one story, two, three into a mountain of dirty clothes.....
swimming in Mom's leftover calgoned bathwater until it was tepid and filthy....
Coloring on walls, higher than we could reach and down halls that led to eternity....
flying in cardboard box race cars down spiral staircases....bumpity bumpity bump until I broke my nose and
a big toe
and somebody had to stop us,
playing bartender with this wine and that and some soda to make it all fizzle,
building forts in the flower beds
and tree houses with mattresses, seventeen strong kids in a line to lift it,
digging tunnels to nowhere
and China
and downtown....

And here in this house,
Kimbies slept with goldfish and hermit crabs
in a pink princess bed with a pink princess phone
and
I slept with ghosts at the end of the hall....

When we caravaned out in the middle of the night,
took flight
with empty suitcases
to our next adventure
we didn't know to say the words....

"Thank you, house"......

you hippie, gypsy, haunted little house.....

Saturday, December 01, 2007

When the Angels Call...

I'm drinking Champagne. Left over from a good time a zillion years ago. Recorked and shoved in the back of the fridge. I pulled it out and denied it the opportunity of a memory, popped the cork...a gunshot in the kitchen, a snapping bone in the living room, and it bubbled....

I poured it into one of the mismatched antique champage glasses Mary Cook gave me for a wedding gift as many years ago. And clinked her.

I'm waiting to hear from Skinny.

I'm waiting to hug her over a Verizon phone line, to sit indian style on the living room floor smoking cigarettes in tandem, hundreds of miles apart, waiting to explain to her why she heard the christmas bells, the jingle bells, the beckoning blue eyes of Nadine calling. Waiting to tell her, "I understand now"..... Waiting to tell her "I love you" again.... and again... and again....

I almost went dancing. Could've, would've, almost did. But then I wouldn't have been here. Wouldn't have heard the angels calling.....

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

"What's love got to do with it?"

Chey got roses today. A mammoth, gaudy, had to be hauled to the office in a van because they wouldn't fit in a VW, bouquet of roses. I love roses. But not like this. I like rambling wild roses spider crawling up the fence like a pink blackberry bush gone mad. I like seven sisters, passed from house to house and from generation to generation. I like my roses. Thorny and knotty, accidently beautiful, and free....

She didn't show me the card or read me the words and she didn't have to. As the long stemmed beauties dipped over the counter, babies breath stretching, reaching, rising....the bouquet spoke for itself. The fifty dollar apology. The show everybody "I'm the man" button. The secret admirer out of the box. The loud mouth.

I'll stick to wildflowers, thank you....
and words.....
just say the words....

Peace~love

Friday, November 23, 2007

The baby with the old soul......

She didn't know. Couldn't know. And so she slept in peace. Fluorescent lights flashed frantically to the rhythmatic noise sounding down the halls....sirens....doors sliding, locking, the padded footsteps of nurses hunkering down...yanking little ones from the tentative first time arms of their Mommies and wheeling them to the safety of the glass cage. No, she didn't know, that there amidst the chaos surrounding her first little breath, puff of sweet, sweet awaited air.... peace was born....and neither did we.

She had come to us by surprise. Concieved early and accidently, the gift of a rocky rebellious teenage romance. We gathered together, girlscouts around the ever needy campfire, and kindled her, watched her grow....watched her Mama, 16 before her birth, 40 after, grow.....

Her eyes opened, as if in surprise, at everything. Ceiling fans were giant ferris wheels doing cartwheels from the indoor sky. She oooohed and ahhhhed. Our mouths, each word spoken, were enchanted tunnels to places she wanted to travel. She stared. Studied. Leaned closer, until her little eyelashes kissed our lips, until she could almost crawl down our throats and touch the words before they left our hearts. And perhaps she did.

"Me'Me', it's time to rest now".....she tells Kimbies. All of three, and bouncing. But knowing. Me'Me's treatments leave her tired, and thirsty for just a moment's sleep.....She arranges the pillows just so on the couch, and with one shoe off and one shoe on, beckons her grandmother near. Pats the pillow. "Here" she whispers. Her little fingers trace her Mommy's Mama's face.

Love grows.....
She knows......

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Rickety Tickety Tock

It's an old door. Crooked from birth. And the hinges wail....whine....shriek, if taken by surprise. The inside frame is notched from an endless parade of hook-n-eyes screwed in at every level, in a futile attempt to keep her tethered, and later lost to wayward windstorms, escaping dogs, and hissy fits.

She's a great door. Her melodic night time creaking, whispers to me when there's company. Her rusty morning yawn, the tell-tell sign it's time for coffee with the neighbors. Her "enough is enough" random slamming....my wooden meterologist.

The handle is way up high. Hippie Mom's answer to the baby gate way back then....I look at it now and wonder what I was thinking.....Boogie men and seven year olds could never enter without bellowing at the gate first?

She's old. And tired. And sitting in the Sunday grass with the neighbors, I wondered at her longevity. How long can a screen door last? Blowing in the wind, knocking about in storms, opened and closed a thousand times, covered in a lifetime of fingerprints.....arms wide open.....

Tonight when I came traipsing in through the dark and yanked, she didn't budge. I panicked. Yanked again. A little harder. Ka-bump! She gave way. I scooched onto the porch and she slammed. Yeah, just like her. But something felt funny. The way she resisted. Scrunched her toes into the sandy floor and wouldn't budge. I turned around and pushed her. Nothing. Pushed a little harder. Nothing. Shoved her! KA-BUMP!, I went flying back out into the blackened driveway
head first into my neighbor's smile.....

"We put magnet's on her!"

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Cinderella, and then some....

"You gonna sit with me for New Year's?"
"Course I am"
"Dressing up again?"
"Yeah"
"Did you already get your dress?"
"Yup"



"Is it long?"
"Mmmmm....hmmmmmm"
"Pretty, huh?"
"Mmmmmm...hmmmmm"



"You wearing those boots?"
"Yup"
"With your dress?"
"Yup"
"Are you kidding?"
"Nope"



"Okay"
"Okay"



"Can I have the first dance?"
"Yup"

Friday, November 16, 2007

Somedays, I'm not perfect......

Not even close.....

And I can whine like a lost train freewheeling it down the side of an untracked mountain.....

This would be one of those days....

The cats threw up on my markers....

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Yes, Virginia......

I started. Don’t say a word. I know it’s early, but it just felt right. I plugged my little vintage fireplace in, with the crackling snapping tinsel twirling on a shish-ka-bob skewer, and hauled the tree onto the porch…..and then....Ta! Dah! Years of mardis gras beads dangle from her fronds, and tethered there, like winter wind chimes….our ornaments…..plaster molds of little hands, kindergarten pictures in macaroni frames, my Mama’s glass church…..ballet slippers, an American flag from Desert Storm, a slice from the trunk of my very ever first Christmas tree….coasters from the corner bar…the cork from "that" bottle of pink champagne...

It felt like Christmas today, so I stayed in my pajamas and sock feet and blasted CD’s and smiled. I emptied the Ho!Ho! Closet onto the hall floor and giggled. I wrapped and wrapped and wrapped. Laughing out loud in my empty house. The tradition continues, and like love, it grows…..

Pass the trash….

Shopping in my cupboards, my closets, my kitchen garbage can……

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Time in a bottle rocket.....

Five: I have a new lunchbox and a thermos filled with Nestle Quick tucked under my desk. I can't stop thinking about it, all through Dick and Jane. We take turns stuttering through the pages. I daydream. Dick and Jane go to the candy store. I wanna go to the beach....and slurp my Nestle Quick through a straw, blow chocolate bubbles....

Eight: I'm dialing the radio station over and over again, on the rotary dial, shink,click,click,click,click....shink,click,click,click....shink......I'm going to win the red Batman Hotline, who wants this silly pink Cinderella thing? I don't win it. Mom buys me a pink batman sweatshirt instead.

Eleven: Ronnie stuffs the giant velveteen valentine in my construction paper heart. I pretend to faint. I want to shave my legs and let my bangs grow out. He gets suspended from school for having a Beatle haircut and his picture is on the front page of the newspaper. All the other girls faint.

Yesterday: I'm thirty two. In love for the first time, dancing in the kitchen to Fine Young Cannibals, clinking! with pink Champagne in dixie cups. Skinny, Persichetti and I are working for beers at the beach, parading around in macrame'ed swimsuits, reading palms and telling fortunes. The babies are beach bunnies, pink nosed and brown toed, naked from the waist up. And life is good....

This morning I wake up in a blur.....
On a moving sidewalk... slipping, sliding, speeding, flying.....
Yesterday, today, tomorrow, all clanging by, flash framed out the Amtrack window....

No wonder we had to change the clocks....the sun is setting and rising and rising and setting in a never ending circle.....
The contest.....

Who can be the first to reach the finish line......

Monday, November 05, 2007

Babies, like lovers.....

Arrive when you least expect them. I'm gonna be Mimi again. A little sooner than we thought, we're gonna be blessed with toothless grins and sleepless nights, first words, first falls, first "blow me a kiss"es..... meant-to-be's......

And so....Friday night we did the Drano test. Yup, made the midnight run to 7-11, "Nope, they don't have it" "O.K., try Walgreens, they're open 24-7" "Ok, they've got it...gel or foam?" "Hold on, it's been a long time, lemme look it up...." "Crystals, it's gotta be crystals" "Arrrrggggh....they don't have it. Are you sure it's gotta be crystals? " "Yep, you're half way to Walmart, keep driving"......

One thirty A.M.... And we're standing barefoot in the driveway, mixing chemicals and karma.....watching..... when....

KABOOM!

It's a boy!

If they don't believe me, I'll do the pencil test.....

Friday, November 02, 2007

Wild horses and other love stories

Pregnant for the first and only time, with my youngest child, I had traipsed the eight city blocks with Haley on my hip. Not quite one yet, bundled in an acqua blue hoodie, and pantaloons, she was all moon-pie eyes as we crunched past the spectators. She cheeky-faced laughed at strangers waving, using her chubby little index finger to point out a million fascinations. I found the perfect spot on the curb, and plopped us down. Arranged the tokos cords just so.....

Haley's first parade! And here I was tethered to a little black box, carefully monitering Jonah, oblivious to us all, lounging in my womb. "Yeeeeeeaaaaah"! She pattycaked at the neon floats, middleschool cheerleaders, majorettes. "Yeeeeewwwwwwh" she squeeled at the painted poodles, the ballerinas, Uncle Sam on stilts. "oooooooohhhh" she whispered at the clomping of the saddled horses, the 4-H'ers on their backs. In the cool evening light, she ooooooed and awwwwwed at each set of legs tromping by....And then I heard thunder and groaned. We were perched lakeside and the crowd was twenty deep behind us..... I stared at the heavens, thinking "not now, please"......

.....and so I almost didn't see it, the giant shadow raising, higher, faster, mesmerized by Haley's chant...."wooooooooooooooweeeeee"....

...almost didn't hear it, the frantic rider commanding "Whoooah, boy, whooah"!

I scooped her up from between my knees and started spider crawling backwards into the crowd, the noise so loud...them, him.....the thunder. I couldn't do it. I knew it. Couldn't save my baby this way, so I threw her as hard and as high as I could...into the arms of the only eyes that had locked with mine. The eyes of a stranger.

The brawny arm that snatched me up one handed and lifted me through the crowd, had no voice, no face. I'll never know his name. Only that he swept me out of the horse's path, and left me, once safe, lost in the roaring crowd. I screamed. No one heard me. I started to crumple. To shake. Where was my baby?

And then ever so slowly, above the moving masses, chubby little index finger pointing...rising on the palm of an Angel, was Haley, laughing.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Whose got the Golden Arm? REVISITED because Skinny reached out and POKED ME with her long, sentimental, and dirty little fingers!






















I drug this out of the archives because SKNNY POKED ME! And reminded me, not just of the story, but of the way we all remember. A little bit different. A little bit tainted "our way". Same place. Same times. Same story. And how sometimes spooky little stories, do finally get to you. This Golden Arm was my gift to Kimbies a couple of Christmas's ago. Just another sibling POKE! Because she hated it so. Hated the story. Hated the punch line. Hated having to scooch in closer for the punch line, and 40 years later I can still remember her face, her eyes the size of mudpuddles WIDE OPEN yelping "Not me, Not me" She kept this tacky, but sentimental gift in the corner of her den CLOSED and hated it. And the fact that every time she walked by it, the damn latch was undone and it was open just so drove her mad. So finally Skinny toted it home in March. Ask her how she feels about it!


ORIGINAL POST FROM WAY BACK WHEN

It wasn’t the story so much, as the hot salty air and the night sounds from the ocean, lapping at the open windows. And the candles, of course. Their luminescence creating yellow eyed spirits that crawled our skin and danced amongst us with the breeze. The setting was just too perfect. It always was. And it was tradition. The telling of the spooky summer story….over and over again…

We did it for years. A circle of barefoot youngin’s. Madden always the oldest. Me next. For years, and years, Kimilee the youngest. We’d pile into the terrazzo floored bedroom, dust off a spot to sit on ( Ahhhh, the gritty dry sand from days of tracking in could give your swim suited bottom a rash and a half if you just plopped down on it and then did all the carrying on a spook story required : crouching on your knees in anticipation, flailing arms to fight off the fright, spinning on your rump to hide your eyes completely from the storyteller’s gaze!) We’d light the coveted (taken without permission) hurricane candles and the circle would scooch in closer. But not before Kimilee would do her little Indian princess dance, tiptoeing high, arms fanning at the nighttime ceiling….. “Not me! Not me! Not me! Don’t make it me!” She’d plead, and beg, brown saucer eyes wide open and imploring us to just this once, leave her out of it. “SShhhhhhh” “It won’t be you, sit down and be quiet. Sit right here. It won’t be you.”

So little. So trusting. So scared.

And then Madden would start. And we would just fall into it. The so very familiar story that grew with each passing summer. He would braid a thousand scary stories together in a fragmented slide show, but this would always be “our” story….we’d lean in for certain parts, sweaty little sunburnt faces tightly knotted together. We’d wriggle back through other parts. With each passing summer, Madden grew taller, his voice deepened, and so did the story. While we had heard it a hundred times, each time was the first time. He never ever failed us on that.

“Whoooooooose got the golden aaaarrrrrrmmmmmm? Whoooooose got the golden arrrrrrrmmmmmm? Whose GOT the golden ARRRRRRMMMMM?” The words vibrated through the room, had an ethereal quality to them, that convinced you, all of us, it wasn’t Madden speaking at all. But her. The words were coming from some place deep, and damp, and were being whisked in by the night tides, a dirty little mist settling on top of us, a blanket, wet from the beach. Kimilee would sit with her knees up, holding her toes, burying her tiny little face, whispering “not me. Not me”. In perfect Catholic choir harmony, we would echo “Sssshhhhhhhhhhhh” .

And then, WALLOP! Madden would spring into the air and come booming down with a thunderous crash; his arm probing madly at the circle, obscenely pointing…… at the bearer of his punch line: “YOU DO!”

And poor little Kimilee would cry.

Over and over again.

Why are kids so cruel?
I don’t know. But today… this day… I can tell you that Kimilee, “not me, not me”, is one tough cookie. And she knows the punch line. And scary story, you don’t spook her. She’s hitting back. And we’re all scooching in closer. May the circle be unbroken.


For info on KIMBIES FIGHT BACK please visit our links to Kimbies hand me down levis, otherwise known as love letters to Kimbies and join the fight!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Soon....

Once upon a time......
I wore green platform shoes and painter's pants
danced on table tops at Rosie O'Gradies,
drank champagne and skated in and out of ditches,
graffitied in midnight sand with barefoot toes,
climbed trees
and ladders
leaning on prickly holly bushes,
danced low
and slow
and to the Rolling Stones.....

Soon.........

The Cinderella Syndrome......

Sunday, October 28, 2007

There's got to be a morning after....

When the new neighbors saw the officer at the door, they politely turned their backs. "Police. Open up. Search Warrant" he cop-pounded on the door. "It's open" I bellowed back, "Come on in, you've been here before, you know where everything is! " When the disco light came on, they gave up and went inside, pulled their shades. Missing the rest of the Saturday night parade, they spent the evening with only their imaginations to fill in the blanks....and the grapevine to tell the story......"Ahhhh, the police were across the street again, you'll never believe what she did this time!"........

We marathoned the night. Toasting, boasting, twirling, dipping, moonwalking, laughing, swirling, clinking, drinking, and having a ball. Sometimes, you have "to fight for your right to partaaaaaaay!"

Friday, October 26, 2007

Room for rent....

It's raining. Not drops or drizzles or showers. Just silvery mist left over from the night before, still falling, drifting from the sky like weightless summer snowflakes. I raise my cup of coffee and we clink! to each other, hot steamy morning cocktails on the porch. My friend and I.

For the longest time, we don't say a word. Watch the children across the street tumble out the front door, on rollerblades, two wheeled spider bikes, and bellies-to-the-pavement on makeshift skateboards. Christmas morning all over again....in their world.

We light cigarettes in sync, exhale into the mist. "Isn't if funny how we all met, came together......" she says. "Yeah.... it's weird" "And how much everything has changed" "And stayed the same" "We've watched a parade from this porch, down your drive-way, in and out of these screen doors" "Yeah....." "Its' been a good one", she said, snubbing out her 501. "I miss him"....an after thought in the rain. "Me, too."

I snub out my own cigarette, nod at the weeping sky outside the dusty screen...
"It's the butterfly"....
I know,I know, I know..... the endless butterfly effect"
"No, there she is.....dancing in the rain"
We watched her for the longest time, flitting from wet Iris blooms to the cool wet earth, and up into the palm fronds, doing adagio by herself in the morning sky.....

"I'm going home to my new husband now" she whispered, creeking the screen door open...walking barefoot out into the dampened sky....

I watched her, each step she took folding the wet grass into momentary footprints, ones that would rise and disappear when the sun came out again.

And I thought for the longest time about him. How blessed I was she married him, loved him, and how lucky I was. To have had him as my friend. And for a moment, I saw him. Standing there, leaning against the truck, smoking.... smiling, legs crossed, blue eyes cast into the rain....reminding me...

to believe....

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I married once...

He kept asking. Over pink champagne at New Years. Slurping raw oysters and leaning over pool tables. Doing the helicopter dance on Friday nights. He just kept asking. And one night, over steaks and an HBO re-run, I said OK and we picked a date.

Of course, it was a catastrophe. The pony-tailed redneck and I, but what the hell, we loved to dance, he was a great cook, I was a starving artist and....

he had her...."Baby Dumplin'".....And I fell in love with her hopelessly, and forever, and instantly. My first born daughter, seven, blonde hair ~long and tangled, cheese curl toes, and green eyes.

In the third grade, she had to draw a family tree for art class. The teacher called me. I still have it tucked away, it's roots wild and scattered, it's limbs heavy and old, and names hanging everywhere, like wild laundrey whisped from it's line.....the intricate scribblings of a child....connecting the dots between the people she was born to, and those she was fated to.

Tonight, I dug it out, and saw what she saw....the endless constellation of dots...

What is and what is meant to be....

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Red Velvet Cake...

“Have you ever been in love before?” he asked me, knowing full well, I was old….

And so I answered him,
With the tell-tale truth…
“yes….
Once….
A very long time ago,
And forever”

We were sitting at the leather chair,
Me curled up, winter style , wrapped in the arms
And cushions.

Him, perched,
Visitor-like,
On the ottoman….
Blue eyes Morse coding…

“I wanna be him” he said….
“Who?” I whispered at the walls,
Twirling my hair in tiny spirals….

“Him. The one you’ve loved forever”

And I gave him that. That free for all, that tumbling, take-me-there.

But I believe In addendums…
So I hope he doesn’t think I wasn’t telling the truth,

I just changed my mind….

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Dunes

The dunes. Giant sugar covered bellies that we wallowed over like tiny pups with our eyes closed. From the time we could toddle, we were rolling in them, crawling up their shifting sides, sliding down their salty shins. From our house to the roaring ocean, the only fence standing was the dunes. The sun would rise and spray paint their peaks the color of mirrors. And so, we would climb them blindfolded. Chubby little hands folded over squinting eyes. And then swoosh….down the other side to the Gulf. The giant body of endless water that called our names out loud.

We played pirates there. Built Geronimo’s fort out of cardboard boxes and terry cloth towels. Pretended we were movie star cast-aways . We dug for buried treasures and found plenty of them….rusty beer cans, abandoned crab nets, Tiparillos. Mottled oyster shells were sudden jewelry boxes, and we filled them to the brim with colored periwinkles, fishing hooks, and adolescent shark teeth. Summer’s in my memories are measured by how we climbed the dunes. Eventually the cardboard walls of our forts were transformed into cardboard surfboards. We would drag the flattened A & P boxes up one side of the sandy mountain, and go flying, bottoms up, face first, clinging to the makeshift sea sleds down the other. We hauled the entire length of the clothesline up and over the Mother of all dunes, and played Man-of-war-tug-of-war. Which team would be pulled up the dune, heels digging in the scorching sand? Fingers sliced with instant paper cuts from the nylon cord? And which team, would be the winners, sent flying fannies backward by their victory ? We would all eat dirt eventually. Crashing headfirst into the salty earth.

And then there was the jeep. We were not allowed this carnival ride. Not by Mama , anyway. We stole it. Not the jeep, but the memory. Our Daddy and Mr. Bruce, daddy-sitting on a Friday night, piled us in the back, like sardines ourselves, and we were suddenly bobbing, leaping, lurching up the white hillside. The headlights flickered up and down, sideways, making fun of the stars as we struggled to climb the daring dune. At the top, with the tires spinning frantically in place, I was sure we would just topple off the earth. Instead we dove into the black night and landed, promptly, poooooossssssshhhhh , into the forest colored ocean: angry waves swatting at the windows like a drooling, rolling monster. “Sshhhhhhhhhh. Listen for the motor.” I watched peanut butter and jelly sandwiches floating by….Listened for my own motor. My heartbeat. Anyone’s heartbeat. I dug my fingers into Kimcam’s thighs and she never made a sound. We held onto Paiger and the boys like priceless Madame Alexander dolls. The Monster pounded at our doors. Slithered his rheumy arms over the canvas rooftop. His breathing was rhythmic. Splish. Splash. Gurgle. The jeep rocked slowly, the ocean was luring us with his lullaby. And then bam! Mr. Bruce shoved it into gear, and an upside down waterfall was spewing from the jeep, spitting at the stars…..and we were off again! Fishtailing it down the coquina sprinkled shoreline.

Last summer we dunerolled down the wet hills into the nighttime sea . Strangers stood on the crumbling seawall and hooped as we made our wreckless descent. Went face first to the ocean. To the kissing, glorious, arms of the ocean, calling our names.....


Feel the love....
Ride the wave....

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Peace, love, and here's my phone number.....

I had just gotten off the bus, my patrol belt, neon orange, wound into a wad in my right hand, and my denim notebook covered in blue inked grafitti (And a book cover because it was private school) tucked under my left arm, when he threw it out the window. The tiny football of blue lined paper thunked me on the head and pelted out into the road. The exhaust fumes from the bus camoflauged it, and then the next 17 cars whisped it flying, invisible quarterback at work. The love letter.

I opened it carefully. I wasn't crazy about this kid. In fact, I barely knew him. But his words were inked so carefully, so thoughtfully, and, well, who was I to read it carelessly? His heart, tossed out a moving window. Gangly legs flying, I wadded it up in a ball and hid it in my room...I never responded, in fact never looked him in the eyes again, and no, I didn't dial the number laboriously etched at the bottom. I hope he forgives me. Richard Hill.


I learned to write love letters well into late life. I wrote them to lovers, strangers, voices on the other end of the phone. And I wrote them well, but it was years before I ever recieved a love letter the likes of the one from Richard Hill.


He left one here. Propped up against a temple of all our keepsakes on the porch. I tore the envelope open and sped-read the words. "Chicken F'n Noodle Soup!" I belted. Stomping in circles, flailing the card. I showered and stewed, and put on my make up, made my mind up to never respond, when he showed up all gangly, skinny legs and arms smiling, "Wanna sit on the deck and have a beer?" "Are you kiddin' me?"


But we did, and he was devasted, his first and only love letter penned at 43, trashed and lonely on my kitchen table...."Save the last dance for me" he cliched at the end.....


And I was apalled,
that was apparent
and we clinked to even my
dismay because he's like
that and knows that
he doesn't know
what I'll
do
next

but the last dance
is the last chance
and i wasn't about to trade it

for prose.....

or promises

I'm gonna be a Macho Man.....

With one shoe on and one shoe off! Let the party begin! We're six and one and ready to rumble! Chey's got her chaps, and the newlyweds next door are collecting feathers and leathers, Theo is donning the blues.....

And out of the perfectly clear oceanside past, Persichetti shows up on my porch this afternoon, and our plea, for a few good men has been answered! Ta!Dah!

Trick or Treating is gonna be a blast.....
concrete boot and all......

And yeah, Cinderella did wear construction boots, just not in the made for TV version......

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Day I put my foot down.....

It started out all routine. In my sleep. But then I overslept, Deja pounced on the snooze and she did it again, and I guess again, because when I rolled over and clomped out of bed, I only had thirty minutes before I had to climb in the shower and race down the driveway. I need forever. Not to put on make-up or do my hair or anything like that. To drink my coffee. Stare out the kitchen window. Watch Georgia do round-d-rounds in the backyard. Blog a little. Day dream. And then I put lemon juice in my coffee instead of creamora. But it was all good. Not the coffee, just the fact that it was a new day....

I don't know what happened, but somewhere between Mickey Dolenz belting out "I'm a Believer" and Mick Jagger's throaty reminder that "Tiiiiiiiiiiiime is on my side, yes it is".... I started to stew. A good kind of, growing, gutteral, strengthy, kind of stew.

When I hobbled into the office beltin "Good Mornings" at 9:00 (yes, we have banker's hours) and Chey answered me in her raspy "morning after" voice, I pounded both hand's down on the counter (to get her quick attention) and then I started. "O.K. Enough. Enough of being exhausted, worn out, tired, and spending the day catching up on hell. Enough of being whipped, beat up, and ringered. Enough of growing old. Your boyfriend doesn't love you, he's addicted to you. Like Coke. He's gotta have it, and when he doesn't get it, or get it his way, his mad. Mean. And that's not love. I've thought about it long and hard (And I really hadn't, it happened sometime between just those two songs) and we're just not gonna do it this way anymore. We used to have fun. We used to laugh. We used to raise hell, not live in it"

She stared back at me in silence.

I started again. I ranted and raved and paced, watched the clock and the front door for the first patient.....watched the back door for the good doctor. It took all of seven minutes to convince her. Life was short and we were wasting it.

At lunch we took a cigarette break and lounged in the doorway. We watched the telephone repair man park under a tree for lunch. He ambled out of the van, put his parking cone in front of his right tire, and hiked over to the Dairy Queen for ice cream. It wasn't polite, but we stared. We kinda need a parking cone for Halloween. It's on our list. Chey took her right pointer fingered and motioned for him to come over. He smiled and shook his head.. "Nah".....he was enjoying his ice cream. She did it again. He did it again. She snubbed out her cigarette and started out across the black asphalt. I watched from the doorway. Silent movie conversations. He threw his head back in laughter and she lifted a fluorescent cone off his bumper and started our way. She set it gently in front of her truck, tossed a two fingered peace sign over her shoulder, and walked back into the office.

"Anything else we need?" she whisper smiled as she passed me.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

If "what's her name" can do it, so can I......

I've been in hand-me-down cut-offs, bell bottomed jeans, and stove pipe scrubs for 7 weeks now . All my left shoes are piled in a heap on the bedroom floor, a thousand steps older than the right ones. I'm sure I'm gonna walk with a permanent gimp to the left, like a mama that's toted too many chubby babies on her jutting hip.

So I did what any peace~lovin' hippie would do...drug out my dancin' shoes (well, one!) and a little black dress (And a little black magic) from the back of the closet.....And went dancing!

Yup, you can swivel in a cast. Swirl, twirl, go up and down, hoop, holler, spin, and do it again.

Clink! These boots were made for dancin'.....

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Now I Lay me down to sleep....

I remember when it arrived. Trucked down from Tallahassee. My Great-Grandmother's bed. My Mom tucked it into the "poker room" and started stripping the blackened mahogany stain, grape jelly, off it's grain. I was enchanted with the wood grain that emerged. Patterns, telling stories, in the old plank. The headboard and the footboard are each one slice of mahogany, not pieced together, one slice of greatness. The Mother Tree. And it was mine.

Handed down from one eldest daughter to the next, to the next, to the next, to me.......I touched it and remembered my Nana under the cotton sheets telling me stories....."When Monk and I eloped...." I felt the magic then, of her barefeet peeling out from under the crisp sun-ironed covers, the heavy blanket tossed back breathlessly, and her panic, at the sound the sunday~suit~quilt thudding on the hand tied mattress might of made. He was at the window. Two floors up. Waving the diamond ring he had just won in a poker game. She left in her flannels.

My Mother. At Jacksonville beach. On the second floor with the lights out and the four mahogony legs centered in gallon cans of water. So the rats couldn't crawl up. Sleeping on the salt flavoured sheets with the ocean spraying kisses through the windows. The third generation of blonde haired girls to sleep here.

And now it was mine. I slept on it, in it, for years. Lounged backwards with the phone cord twined between my fingers painting my toenails up against the headboard. Stuck wads of gum on the siderails. Dreamed here.

When I inherited my blonde haired 7 year old daughter, we bought a waterbed with satin sheets, and moved it into her first bedroom. Draped the windows and it's soul in white eyelit and puffalumps and she grew up here. When she moved out and said " I want a queen sized bed" I understood. It was the same year, her Father and I divorced and we traded.

I sleep here again. One day, this ageless hammock will go to Kyle, my precious blonde haired grandaughter. Until then, she's mine again.

I prop my cast~footed leg up on two pillows piled at the footboard. Georgia takes the right side. She huffs and puffs and chases her tail in circles until she's just~so comfy and then settles in. Deja tiptoes on the pillows. Around my head. Kneading in my hair. The moon peeks in under the window shades. Casts shadows on my chest. Rising. Falling.

Ahhh, the stories this wooden princess could tell......

Monday, October 01, 2007

Put your money on the table....

And feel the love.....

It's amazing what an army can do....

Sunday morning, the dirt parking lot of our corner bar was swarming, purring, rumbling.....black boots, ponytails, bandanas, lots of leather, tattoos, and engines revved......a baby needed surgery, and the poker run began.

At 2:00 the masses came. The Indian, there, frying fish from all his early mornings out. Pink stuff has him whipped, but not enough to keep him down for this. The circle is in need. The band, after an early morning catnap, back again to play for love. And deep pockets everywhere. Smiling. Toasting. Giving.

One day.Two precious toddler twins. One in desperate need. Two parents. 60 bikes. 300 people. Ten thousand one hundred dollars by dark.

Two heads shaved: one male, one female. Sheared for the tiny sum of $3,300
Two locks of love....priceless.

One pair of 1970's men's disco shoes auctioned for $3.00. Price to watch the first guy they fit tap dance to Eric Claption: $300.00

Matching polyestor suit $15.00. Price to watch the tallest biker there strip down to his boxers and model it, $300.00

I have never felt so much love inside the same four walls in my life.

Perhaps, that's why, when the band climbed over the tables and shelves from the auction and started warming up....and a sea of arms and legs rushed behind them to clear the dance floor.....we all knew what the first song would be....

"And the house is rockin' tonight....."

May the spirit of yesterday carry on, the circle be unbroken, and the little one heal and laugh and play.....

Love grows.....

Friday, September 28, 2007

Poisen

I slept cast-footed and fully dressed. Piled on top of the covers, Georgia breathing, panting, protectively resting beside me. In the dark, I closed my eyes hard. Trying to block the noise out. Counting. Forwards. Backwards.

He's haunted. Night haunted. And when the spooky things come, he hunts me. His Mother. He comes to me to tell....to rant, to rave, to pull me into his suffering, to pay me back, to taunt me into saving him. To hand me the keys to his make believe grenade and dare me to breathe, to accidently set it off.

I've prayed. Spent every dime I've had. And borrowed more. I've loved unconditionally and tough loved. I've enabled him and disabled him in doing so. I've tried.

In the morning light, I watch for hope. For the slightest sign the storm has passed, again.

It's hurricane season.....
And I'm boarding up the house....

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Ghost of Christmas Past

I churned the gears down the river road, churning them out until they made a metallic moan, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, I'd never hit 4th before the red light. One baby booster-seated and one baby "I'm so big!" seated into the back seat, sleepy faced and oblivious to the ritual morning ride and Janis Joplin seeping from the console. And I was a little panicked.

The digitial dashboard clock was timing us, if I made the green, I had time to smoke a cigarette with Kimbies before dropping the children off, if it caught me on red.....forget it.

The Red light came quick and our seatbelts hiccupped. Snatching all three of us a little closer to the back of the ride. Three days until Christmas. And there in my rear view mirror were my sock-footed morning children, content, lazy, at peace.

"Dear Santa,
Don't worrie abot us. We ar good. We onle wont one thing. A camputeer. For Mommy and us. We love you a bunch and have oreos. And Moonpie wawnt bak at you, we told her not to, so you can come in our hawse.
Love,
Haley and Jonah"

Oh dear God, I thought, they picked only one thing. No hot wheels, Barbie dolls, puzzle ships, bicycles with frillies. One thing. For Mommy and them. The tree was decorated and dying already, we had lugged it home the night before, needles falling everywhere, on mighty clearance. I didn't have the nerve to put lights on it, and didn't have the heart not to. So I plugged it in anyway, and willed it not to burn the house down. They were thrilled.

The light turned green and I zoomed. No time now for a cigarette. Kimbies met me in the driveway to fetch them, in their pajamas, little square boxes of cereal in their backpacks. Another day at hippie daycare. I kissed them and slammed in reverse, free to smoke now, windows wide open. 1st gear, 2nd, 3rd.....

And then I saw them. The fireman's boots. Standing proudly next to the three matching garbage cans. It was trash day in our world. And I stopped. Reversed again. And stared at them.....

"I believe"......

So I snatched them.... the black rubber boots, Santa Clause's gear, and hurled them into the back seat. At lunchtime, Joe called me at the office, I panicked. He never called me here. My neighbor, my friend. Surely I forgot to unplug the tree and the damn house was on fire. I pictured him standing next to his pick-up truck calmly watching the flames, choosing his words carefully, as he watched my home come tumbling down.

"You said the kids only wanted a computer, right?" "Uh, yeah, but Joe, you know that ain't happenin', is the damn house on fire?" "Nah....it's okay, but I just picked Patty up from work and the hospital was throwing out all their old units, they're empty, you know" "What the hell are you talkin' about, Joe?" "Well, they're empty, they deleted everything from them, but Patty climbed in the dumpster and we grabbed one, and I'm pretty sure by tomorrow I can load it up with something" .....

Christmas Day....

My little ones awoke to the green glow of an institutional monitor in the hallway, the screen saver scrolling these words.....
"Love, Santa"......
it was fully loaded with battleship and checkers, and nothing more......

and the black rubber boots were under the tree....
with a note that read.....
"Now that we made it as far as Florida, we decided to barefoot it from here on......"


KJ....thank you for stirring this memory up, I'll explain the bottlecaps later.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Feather.....

We called him The Indian. Never heard him coming. In the rowdy Friday night turbulance of our litttle corner bar, he snaked his way through the crowd, quiet and slow. I caught his eyes once or twice in the early days, small and dark, penetrating if captured, just under the brim of the cowboy hat. I always smiled. At The Indian. And he would nod. I watched him going as often as coming, the long dark braid down his back. We traded expressions for words. And it became a ritual.

When Kimbies was well enough and spirited enough to join us for Friday night beers, she slid through the crowd like Cinderella. Smiling, waving, "hey, how are you?ing" to everyone. She had heard their stories through the sister~grapevine, and recognized their faces from the hand me down tales. When Ronnie whisper footed past her, she embraced him....."The Indian". And they leaned in closer to each other, and whispered folklore stories and traded......phone numbers. Kimbie's hubby smiled. "She does that you know", "gives out our number"........ And that would be how we came to know The Indian as our friend.


He's doing the pink stuff now. The bad stuff. The chemo cocktail that poisens your system and maybe the cancer, that knocks you off your feet and makes you pray you fall off the earth and it ends. Kimbies knows. She's been there, viciously drugged by the "let me slowly kill you before I offer you hope" medicinal toddy. She waits. We all wait.


This morning I wandered, brick footed, into the backyard, tripping over mountains of construction debris and empty bottles. At the door to the shed/studio/condo/cottage/castle in the backyard, I found the feather. Held it up to the sunlight. And then placed it indian-quiet inside the doorway. For Ronnie's cowboy hat. When he hangs it here, in his new home.... "Gimme Peace".....


We're down to the finals. All the pretties are in, and done. Just waiting on the pro's. Some windchimes. And The Indian.....

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Raining heartstrings

Twice in the last week, I heard the boom-box rap ,rap, rapping around the corner, into the drive-way, and the humming of the engine idling for the last puff on a cigarette, the end of an angry song.....

And I went flying. Zooming down the hallway, concrete boot clomping, echoing off the tile walls, diving into bed, clothes and all. This is how much I want peace. That I would hide from my late-night wayward love child, just to not face his "Oh, I just had a beer, or two....." pinkened eyes, or hear the latest road rage story, or who ripped off who or who did who~to~who dunnit tale. And I layed in bed, concentrating on listening, and not breathing out loud....trying to decipher his mood from the sound of his size thirteens plodding about, by the slamming of the fridge, by the pssssshhhhhhht of another bottle being opened. Soda or beer I wonder. Thanking God he made it home safe. I've begged, I've pleaded, threatened, loved, tough loved and gone broke raising my youngest miracle. I've prayed and prayed again, fought, and laid my body in the road to protect him......

Last night my reactions were slow. I didn't hear the sounds until the slamming of the door. The rain had lured me, hypnotized me in to early peace, and indian-like he snuck through the kitchen door. "Love" I said. He kissed me on the cheek. I watched with one eye as he inventoried the kitchen cabinets, clunk, clunk,clunk, cabinet doors closing. He found the perfect muchies in late night Ramon noodles microwaved....and settled in. Giant shoes and dirty socks kicked off on the living room floor, bowl of steaming 39 cent dinner balancing on the armrest.

"You know, what, Ma?" he grunted in between huge bite fulls. "hmmmmmm"?

Thirty minutes later, I was on the leopard skin rug, sitting across from him, and we were telling stories, and true confessions, and "I betcha didn't knows"...... and I had to do the math for him, for him to understand....."yes, son, I've been there, too".....


And he wanted to know, to hear again, how I knew when I had to grow up. So I told him the story he's heard before, and he nodded and told me how his friend's baby boy is seven months old now and so damned cute and "healthy"...... And then he said "thank- you, Mom"........

I was 17. Partied all the time. Everyone partied. The pages of my year book were slathered with as many dedications to the dead as pages celebrating homecomings and football games. In the 10th grade, I buried my boyfriend. He ventured, wasted, across a six lane highway. The driver never saw him coming. I hope he never saw the driver. He lay in a coma for all of the fall and after whittling away to 78 pounds finally took his last breath in February. We caravanned to the funeral. The first of many. In the eleventh grade, his best friend jumped off a roof. It wasn't the broken bones that sent him to live forever in the care of the kind nurses, the 24-7 tiled walls. It was the broken heart. The broken soul. The orange sunshine. We were killing ourselves. When I was 17, I saw what else we were doing.


I volunteered at Sunnyland. An institution (yes, we had them) for physically and mentally handicapped children. Not a group home. An institution. An old industrial looking, smelling, hospital converted to a nursery for babies who would never grow up, never go home again.


Day #1. They led us past the baby beds. Little ones tied to their cribs. So they wouldn't rub their noses off. Bang their heads into concussions....again. I almost vomitted. Three volunteers did. And they were escorted back down the mold colored elevators and thanked. I held my breath. And somehow, my knees held me up.


Day#2. Into the day nursery. Where children that could play were allowed to. Toddlers with tubes up their noses, tethered to miniature walkers, babbling nonsensical words, paced in circles. They were drugged, I was sure. I looked around. There were seven of us left. All standing. I touched a little tow head. He didn't even notice. Squatted. Looked him in the eyes. He kept going. And then a hand on my back. And a slurry, drooly little voice. I turned. Davidson. I had to blink several times, not to keep from crying, but to stop the watering my eyes were doing in defense. He smiled. On the side of his face. Actually no. His face was on the side of his head. Everything distorted. Not in the right places. His gummy smile with the halloween teeth was huge, jack-o-lanternish. His eyelids were heavy tents over the second set of eyelids, thick rheumy transluscent cataract-like awnings that permanently covered his blue eyes. He had no ear lobes. His nose was nothing but nostrils. His little fingers were stubs....the muffin man. And he had a huge mop of brown unruly hair. "Do you wanta play?" he asked with double lidded eyes wide open. "Course", I smiled, lowering myself even closer to the asbestos flooring. "K"......"Simon says....."


Davidson was an "acid baby". His little mind, a miracle. He walked. He talked. Laughed. Told intricate stories. He was bright, and he smiled. And lived. And he was here, stork dropped amongst his siblings by fate.... The nurses told me that soon he would be as mentally handicapped as many of the others....from lack of stimuli, love, change.....I went every week-end. And we ABC'd and crawled on our knees, and loved. Until they closed the doors.


"Seven years" they said. For acid, LSD, other tell-tell trails, to leave your system. "Seven years". I did the math. And prayed I wouldn't fall in love before I was 24. And that I would grow up before I died.

Postcript: Davidson's Mother came clean. He was adopted by a stepfather who loved him dearly and many, many plastic surgeries later, the "boy without a face" grew up. He graduated from university and I'm sure, is still stealing hearts. I grew up a lot the year I met him, came to know him.....and last night, grew a little more. May the circle be unbroken.....
Love grows....

Monday, September 17, 2007

There's magic in that old umbrella....

She wouldn’t let me do it. Post it to her blog. Copy the words and share them on the pages of Hand-me-down Levi’s where she is the biggest contributor, and has only ever typed thank-you's and love you's in the comment boxes. Where the walls are painted with love. She only let me listen. And in the quiet Sunday morning after, I sighed and tried to take it all in, one big whoosh of love….tried to save it in my mind, freeze dry the words in a forever state of limbo….

Love letter to my oldest child from Kimbies…..
Shared moments before she sealed the envelope and sent it sailing, a paper kite…..

It won’t be the same here, because I’m not the author and the words were fairytale perfect, captured just as they happened, as they were felt, as they became magic in the making, but the story is so beautiful and if the world, for just a tiny second, could capture life in their hands, the way Kimbies does in her heart, we would all know……peace and love…..

Dear Sweetest Child,

How could I have ever known that day, in the sandy gritty parking lot, when you lugged that old umbrella, stuffed into it’s sack, and plopped it into the back of my mini van, the gifts it would bear? But you knew, didn’t you? Keys in your hand, checking out, counting heads, pulling away from the beach…..your babies faces smashed up against the windows blowing kisses as you drove away, you knew……

And there it lay, on the carpeted floor of my van, waiting….

Thank you , sweet child…..

For shelter from the sun I love so much, for the little tent we’ve camped under over and over again. Alana and I. Sandy peanut butter sandwiches squished between her fingers, sippy cups melting in the heat. Our toes buried under treasure sand. For the rooftop over our heads, Grand-C in her long sleeves, shadowed from the very light we love, protected. We drag the umbrella closer to the water’s edge. A squiggly trail of where we’ve been left in the wet sand. And dig to China. The ocean sees us there. And comes to greet us. Three generations of girls. She knows I can’t come to her and so she plays birthday party at our feet. Dropping trinkets, a thousand years old or older, just within Alana’s reach….And Alana names them all….. “Umbwella chells, buttafwy chells, fingahnail chells” and drops them in her tiny plastic bucket. “Twehsures”…… she chases the frothy bubbles of the mermaid’s breath at the oceans edge, catching them with her butterfly net…..and we splash, and laugh, and precious, precious memories are made…..

When it’s time to go, when the tide reminds us by climbing a little higher, talking a little louder, pushing us a little harder, we follow the squiggly trail of the umbrella’s footsteps, back to the car…..and turn around, amazed at the vastness, the bigness behind us.
Alana raises her little fingers to her lips and blows….softly, butterfly kisses to the sea…..

“Tank you, ocean, Tank you……”

I thank you sweet child, for the gift you’ve always been….


In April of 2006 Kimbies was diagnosed with breast cancer, Stage IV, and the last year and a half has changed all of our lives forever, the sun became taboo and the race to live began. We are celebrating remission now, in all it’s hugeness, but the treatments continue, the mountain climbing an always present task. Kimbies is going to the beach again. Hand in hand with her tiny grand~daughter and in the sand, right behind her, our Mom. Love grows.


Saturday, September 15, 2007

Saturdays and Starfish

1992
"It's our birthday,
Saturdays and Starfish,
We're five and six"......

I look around. They're building mad castles in the sand with teetering towers and deep,deep tunnels. In their own world. People passing barefooted on the beach smile at the day and night babies in the sand. Jonah is lighter complected than the sun's reflection, platiunum hair drooling down his neck in a rat's tail, eyes the color of see-through. Haley is Sophia Lauren as a child, long limbs stretching, brown eyes a sepia full moon. She is in charge; The Castle Contractor.He follows her lead for a moment and then spins on hands and knees chasing a sandcrab. "A buwfday giff, a buwfday giff"! he chants in circles. She rolls her eyes and continues to dribble wet sand on their steeples.....

I bite my bottom lip and draw. Pray I can capture this moment. When the tide is still and thoughtful, and my babies are at peace...growing in the sun.

2007

My little ones. Bigger than me. He just pulled out of the drive way in his canary yellow "please don't pull me over tonight" Chevy Blazer. A party is growing one text message at a time. She's going for dinner with her long time "Isn't he so cute?" Boy-O... candelight and clinks!

I can't draw fast enough to catch this moment.

Be safe little ones. Happy Birthday, my loves.....

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Ready to Fly.....

The fat little wren wobbled, teetered, fell over rolly-poly on it's side....little chicken feet scrambling straight up into the air. I tiptoed closer. No Mama in sight. A barely-grey plethora of feathers fluffed and puffed, accordian~like, gaining strength, and plop! He was upright again, waddling, swooshing the bent and broken wing to no avail. I gave him a little space, backed up two steps, and he charged!


Up, up, up and
down
again!

I sat on the bench and fished my cigarettes out, blew mindless smoke rings into the suburban sky. And watched him. Struggling. Imagined him cussing in toddler babble. He was so damned determined. I wanted to scoop him up in an old worn towel, fetch him on to the porch, and tell him......things I know.

And without knowing it, I daydreamed myself right out of the front yard and he waddled out of my "I'm gonna let you give it all you've got and then bring you in for the night" protective gaze.

This morning I saw dozens of them. Scurrying, hopping, flitting and flirting on the dirty front lawn. I tried to pick him out from the crowd. Squinted my eyes and searched for the tell-tell limp, the tiniest fold of the fluffy new wings....but, I couldn't name him in the line up.

He's strong now. Probably stronger than the rest. If the name wasn't already taken, and he wasn't really a little grey wren, he would probably call himself Jonathan Livinston Seagull and people the world over would talk about him over coffee and under the stars.

I tucked my crutches next to the broom I never use. Put my key in the door and said hello to the morning.

Me and ole Jonathan should be dancin' by Friday.....

Monday, September 10, 2007

I wish you peace.....


Plopped on the couch for days like a skinny little jelly fished washed a shore, I've had a lot of quiet time to myself. The incessant hum of the TV lugged into the living room for the occassion, lullabyes me back to sleep, again and again. I don't watch TV, but the parade of Angels tip-toeing in and out of my kitchen door, find comfort, I think, in flipping it on, tilting the screen toward the couch. I have no idea how to work the remote, so it's warm humming, a swarm of purring bees, rocks me back to sleep.
And I keep waking up with revelations.

Perhaps because Orhan reminded me how blessed I am by guardian spirits, I awoke today drenched with gratitude, and the overwhelming desire to write thank-you notes to the random angels in my life. The one's that don't get to see me smile, the ones I've never hugged or will never get to hug again, the one's I've been blessed with by chance..... The folks who have stepped both in and out of my life so quickly, and changed the butterfly effect forever.... I clink! you all, and thank you......

I start with these.....

Sweet Mothers of my daughters.....There are no words big enough to thank you for your trust, for gifting into my arms, your first born children. I see you everyday in their faces, their toes, the way one throws her head back when she laughs....the way they both think in black and white, siblings by chance, sisters by fate. I pray you know we love you, that we hope you believe in me, in us, in them, and know by trust, or faith, or visions from above that they are beautiful, headstrong, independent, and as in love with you as any Mother's child. I thank you often, but not often enough. And I just pray you know it. I can't send postcards to heaven, and I can't send them by first-name-only through general mail delivery. You were brave. You were strong. You loved your children so very, very much that you gave them emerald wings and they became my children....my dreams come true...my first born children, my precious daughters. There are no words big enough to wrap you in, to thank you with.....

Father of my children, Dad, Daddy.....We'll never sit next across from each other having heart-to-hearts, we don't speak the same language. And so I can't tell you this. And you would never understand. But I thank you for being there, the butterfly effect, so our family could be gathered. And I thank you just as much, for straying, for wandering, for our differences.... for pushing me to the bridge when it needed to be crossed. I thank you for leaving when I asked you to and trusting me to do right....to raise them, to love them and teach them to love you. I thank you for our freedom. For our wings......The girls are flying and free and Jonah keeps trying them on for size. One day, he'll find his fit and soar.....

Our lives have been rocky. And roller-coasterish. And wonderful. We've been broke and sometimes even poor. We've been afraid and sometimes terrified. We've been weak and sometimes broken. And we've been soldiers. Surrounded by an army of Angels. And that has made us rich, and sometimes generous. Brave and sometimes daring. Stronger than we ever imagined.

I wish you all peace and love,
and thank you....

endlessly

Friday, September 07, 2007

Something always gives me away.....


They were two beautiful people. Right off the glossy pages of magazines I never read. His hair just just so, matching the square jaw and tiny little cleft chin God had given him. His nails the color of the very, very heart of a conch shell....lacquared by nature. He was tall and I imagined, quite in shape. I could see him only from the waist up, and her from the Magic Bra line up.

Her teeth were mighty whites. Almost shocking. I couldn't help but, well, kind of stare. Her little tongue toyed out from behind her painted lips and traced her upper deck. I imagined she was testing to see if she could feel the flaw of lipstick there. Accidently smeared across her platinum pearls.
She fidgeted.

He smiled this huge "I'm not really a Doctor, but I play one in print ads" smile, leaned over the counter, fanning the Patient Sign In list off his imromptu podium and started his speel......


"We're just stopping by this morning to offer you ladies a complimentary day in paradise. Our salon offers solutions to all beauty concerns, an escape from the ordinary, and all in a blissful, all female environment. Our staff is fully licensed and trained and offer the latest in innovative techniques to improve your body and soul. The Perfect Passion offers mud baths, waxings, hair design and coloring, laser and non surgical face and body lifts, passive muscle toning, all in a feminine and friendly environment......"

I smile. Slouch a little more perfectly in my chair. Plop the grafittied cast up on my side of the counter. Chey leans in. Listening. She's always wanted to have her ear fixed, the one with the tear down the center of the lobe, a little reminder that when she was 16 she got in a tiff wearing really, really big hoops.

The "Hi! I just turned 21!" pretty girl to his left fidgets again.... leans in just a little.... and then when he takes the slightest of breaths, she blurts out in a barely-more-than-a-whisper "I just saw Santa Claus" woosh.....

"Ohhhhh....."
"Are you a hippie?"

I smile a little broader.

Handsome one gathers up his glossy print tickets to Paradise, clears his throat, and mutters "You ladies have a nice day" .....


Sheesh......
How do you think they knew?

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Tent City


It's quiet now. Finally. Five o'clock in the morning and I'm on my third cup of coffee. Tiptoeing, as quietly as one can dragging a concrete block on the other foot, through the house. I'm letting "them" sleep. The manchild and his friend.

In my little corner of the world, piled up under heavy quilts and wrapped in cat tails, puppy breaths, and interupted dreams, I listened as they lived. Cell phones humming, purring, rapping. Channels flicking. A cough every now and then. Heavy feet down the hall. Engines louder then softer again somewhere outside.

My son is home again.

And this house, these walls, this gate that swings open and never shuts behind you, is The Motel Six for wayward boys once again.

In the wee, wee hours, he wakes me up. Quietly, whispering love letters into my ear. "Ma, Ma.....is it o.k. if A.J. camps out here? He got thrown out of his house again....."

"mmmmmmmmm" "yes, son" I whisper to nothing.

He's already turned and taken 6 foot tall steps back down the hall.

He knows.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Sweet Friend of Mine....


It was a ten speed. Spray painted by thieves, and then, unclaimed, sold at the Sheriff’s Auction for ten bucks. We scooped it up and I had wheels.

They brought me here kicking, screaming, pouting, listening to “A Horse with No Name” on the staticky AM radio. I wasn’t impressed. The cobblestone roads, before I fell in love with them, were just bumpity and made the little Toyota we had inherited by chance, sound rattley and cheap. Piled in the front seat, with Skinny sandwiched between my legs, I watched the fancy yancy houses go by, the “isn’t it just beautiful?s” and cringed. I hated it here.

The evening of the Sheriff’s sale, I took off, spiked pedals piercing my flip-flops, blonde hair flying, cigarettes stuffed in the back pocket of the too-tight peanuckle cut-offs. I didn’t have smoker’s cough then, and I flew. Around Brewer Hill, and down, and down, and down to the water.

They were standing, shirtless, at the end of the drive-way,leaning up against a cheap little car, smoking. Just down below. Two guys with long hair billowing, lounging , blowing smoke rings, and laughing at the sky. Stoned probably. I fidgeted my fanny on the seat. The electrical tape wrapping the seat, transforming it from orange to black, stuck to my upper thigh. With my right hand I yanked the bent and crumpled pack of Kools from the thread bear pocket, poked one in my mouth, and dug deeper for the lighter.

Closer.

Faces coming into focus.

In the wind, flying, I tried to light the cigarette. At sixteen I was cool enough to do this, and maybe, even, flirt, on the fly by.

And so of course, I crashed. A mangled heap of stolen goods and a skinless chin at their bare feet. They barely even moved. “I’m Christian” he said. “Nice to meet you”…..

We spent years playing driftwood in the ocean, floating until we washed up, sun burnt and stoned. I giggled with him through his affair with the next door neighbor, Mrs. Robinson . I painted his bathtub in psychedelic colors and we planted fish there. We danced on tables and hung from balconies together. He taught me to drive a car, we traded poems back and forth and stuffed them in a manila binder…. “Our book”…….

He proposed to my best friend , beer-giddy on bended knees. We toasted. I stood by him when he called off the engagement and told the truth that sent her heartbroken, into the fast arms of a passing Navy Base Boy. I was there when his Father poured a scotch on the rocks, and his Mama, the one he gained by chance, stirred the drink she had been nursing since noon, and held her husband’s hand. I was there for the announcement, the Hush that blanketed the house, their hearts, their dreams. I was there, when in acceptance, they celebrated all he had become, the circle he had created…..

I don’t know how many years it’s been, I don’t know the date, the anniversary of his leaving me. But I know I miss him. And in the quiet of the walls tonight, I felt him here. Today, Orhan reminded me I had guardian spirits visiting ….And he’s not kidding…..

Rest in peace, sweet friend….
I hear you knockin’…..
And I'm listenin'....