I remember a September wind the scent of cigarettes and mint a green car you took me far away from a life spent I still have the jagged limestone thrown on my balcony I was unaware you saw me there I waited so patiently I remember a January frost a dark hallway I was lost the green car took me once again and I felt the warm sun on my skin Many a freckle came to begin darken then fade all over and then I remember a May breeze the green car traded with the sway of the trees and leaves grew back and some did die flitting swirling flailing before their ultimate demise And we watched them dance in an orange cloudy sky I remember a September wind and the scent of cigarettes and mint And it came to be from that moment all that life has meant.
Monthly Archives: December 2013
Hi, it’s Cherry Pearl. Mom said I could guest blog again (so soon? Sweet!). Forgive me if I make any typing mistakes. Not easy to
tickle tap the keyboard with nails like these.
Also Mom says I need a bath. She says I’m stinky. But the way she’s been running around here picking up this and that and sleeping til almost lunch time I think I’ll dodge the suds for a time or two. Not that I have any concept of time. Except for three o’ clock when I instinctively know it is time to feed. Inhale, if you will. Except when it’s the last of the feed bag and all that’s left are the crumbs and dregs. I won’t go there. I just won’t. Yes, me being a pug you might find it hard to believe I’d turn my smooshed, snorty nose up to anything. But that stuff is just unacceptable. My human dad and brother understand. They won’t even eat the last of the cereal. Mom is a weirdo (sorry, Mom). Sometimes she actually crunches her cereal with her hands to give it that last-of-the-feed-bag consistency. Weird.
So the house smells like a mixture of me, burned out candles, and leftovers. I haven’t chewed on the legos piled up on the floor, despite what Brother might think. I have not done that in at least three weeks. Oops, I forgot I said I’ve no concept of time.
Mom has had to vacuum twice to suck up all the fluffies my new toy leaves behind every time I
mangle play with it. But it is so awesome! Only bad thing is it doesn’t resemble a squirrel.
So Mom will be back to posting next week. She’s got a lot on her mind and finds it difficult to focus and get back into her routine. At least that’s what she keeps saying. I don’t understand this a lot on your mind thing. Maybe that’s why Mom sometimes looks at me and says she wishes she could be me for a day. Or maybe it’s because I get to snooze any time I flippin want to.
I can’t remember the very first time I saw a rainbow, but I remember the first time a rainbow made me stop, mid-trek, and catch my breath. It was my first of two trips to Europe. I was fifteen and hiking with some new-found friends in Northern Italy. There was a clearing, and up above the most vivid, striking rainbow my southern-American eyes had ever laid upon. It curved in a miles-high arch, each end disappearing behind lush mountain evergreens. Every band of color popped, emanating an unmitigated saturation that did not bleed into the other. I must have stood there with my mouth wide open for minutes.
I grew up going to church on Sundays and Wednesdays at a Church of Christ—very strict, puritanical, and God-fearing. It was because of that church I was introduced to the very people who would lead me on that unforgotten trip to Europe. But it was also that church that made me question the very existence of rainbows. In their doctrine, as they gathered from the King James version of the Bible, rainbows were a gift to man. God had created a great storm that had flooded the lands and killed everyone except Noah and his boat-load of animals. Because God was sorry for being such an asshole (my words, not the church’s), he would provide his disciples and worshipers the gift of a rainbow after each rain so they would forgive him, and remember to build a damn ark the next time he said a flood was a comin’! Actually, it was a symbol pledging he would not destroy the earth with water a second time. Hmmm, sort of a morbid thought to have in the back of your brain while standing in awe of such a natural beauty.
If you listen to science instead, a rainbow is an arc of light separated into bands of parallel stripes that appear when the sun’s rays are refracted and reflected by drops of mist or rain. Still more explanations, the Greeks believed it was a sign from the gods to foretell war or heavy rain. Native Americans presumed that arc of light to be a bridge between life and death. And the old saying that a pot of gold lies at the end of the rainbow came from the lucky mouths of the Irish.
After my beloved dog Napoleon died back in 2003 the vet sent a sympathy card along with his ashes. In the card was a poem titled “Rainbow Bridge”. It speaks of a place “just this side of heaven” where an animal goes that has been especially close to someone on Earth. At Rainbow Bridge pets are “made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.” Every time I read that poem I bawl like a baby. Strangely I had witnessed a rainbow just a couple days after Napo died and before receiving that card. The rainbow I witnessed looked just like a bridge, each short arc ending in a puffy, white cloud high in the late summer sky. I’d never seen one like it before. I continued seeing them almost every week for months after that.
There have been other instances when a rainbow has presented itself to me at opportune times, like after spending an afternoon with a dear friend, thinking of someone long gone, or needing a lift during a trying day.
Even Kermit the frog waxes mystical about rainbows, in the song “Rainbow Connection” from 1979’s The Muppet Movie. “Someday we’ll find it” he muses after he questions the meaning of rainbows, and whether they are just illusions, although in the next few lines he reveals he doesn’t quite believe that. Kermit and The Muppets were a big part of my childhood. I was in my bedroom getting ready for another grueling day of high school when I heard on the radio that Jim Henson had died. The DJ immediately played that banjo-infused melody and I cranked my boom-box’s volume to ten. My mom and brother came into my room and we clutched each other and cried and swayed. That moment, for me, symbolized the death of what was a long, innocent girlhood.
No matter where on this rock you are from, what religion you do or don’t practice, your heritage, or what movies you adored as a child, that beaming spectrum of colors in the sky cannot be denied. I don’t believe it to be a remorseful gift, but a sign and science. And whether you believe the sign and the science came from God is yours to own. To me rainbows connect them all, and every one of us. As Kermit would sing, “the lovers, the dreamers, and me.”
This morning on my chilly bike ride I saw her. Again. She is usually near the park, but today she was a bit farther north, just before the tunnel.
On happy days I ignore her dark, dead eyes then roll my own bright blues after I pass her. She never says hello, never a word. I don’t know how it is humanly possible for someone to walk that slow and not fall. Among the bikers and joggers and roller bladers and parents pushing strollers there she moves at a snail’s pace. Except a snail has a purpose behind its travel. I gave up smiling and saying good morning to her long ago. And those hats! A different one every day. Neither too fancy nor too casual, yet totally impractical to moving about on the trail.
And her clothing. It’s as if she’s dressed for a day at an open market someplace I’ve never been but only seen on TV. Long, flowy skirts and tunics. Even when it is sweltering outside (which it is here half the year) her entire average-sized body is fully covered.
But it’s not just her outward appearance that shakes me. It’s what I feel when I see her.
I know when she is up ahead on the trail. Not just because of the cadence of her mechanical walking, but because of the energy. Whatever I am feeling I know she senses. On my happy days I try to send her light or at least surround myself with irradiation so she may become momentarily blinded. But when I pass her with this glow she does not falter.
On my sad days (which thank god are not often anymore) I also avert my eyes to hers. But I try not to direct this melancholy towards her. Instead I feel she knows this. She gives no solace yet she takes no energy.
But this morning she was not walking. I saw up ahead a figure standing beside the tunnel, looking out onto the horizon. I thought to myself what a beautiful photograph that would be. The figure posed better than you could tell a model to pose while looking outward. A shadow before it stretching out toward the early morning sun. When I came closer I saw that it was her. And like usual when I see her there is no one else around.
And like usual she did not look at me, did not speak a word, did not even seem to be breathing.
I biked past and just a tad more north where I always turn around and grab my water bottle from its nest underneath my ripped, cushioned seat. When I got back to the tunnel she was gone. I didn’t even see her anywhere else on the trail as I made my way back towards home, cold sweat on my forehead I had to wipe off on my little sissy Florida gloves.
I have always wondered if she is a ghost. I could ask one of my occasional biking companions about her but she is never there when I have company. And to be honest I don’t really want to know. She is my mirror. Although unsettling, she reminds me to keep peddling and singing and sweating no matter what dark eyes try to pierce inside.
Sing to me a song of sweet bitterness love songs are not pitiful but fearless parting is not such sorrow as the waking hours of distance Tomorrow our day will come and happiness the smile of sunshine as realization of always comfortable will be in the heart, in the mind Divine candles of burning flame end night and torture Through fantasies would come the conclusion of laughter and holding hands. ---May 11, 1990
—Once again I am almost astonished at the amount of love I had in my fledgling high school body.
I did love this boy very much. We went to his senior prom together (I was just a sophomore).
In the after hours we came back to my house and my mother had set up the downstairs den with candles, music, and breakfast with roses on TV trays (she usually hated my boyfriends).
We never shared our bodies but did share a love of writing, poetry, Jethro Tull, and environmentalism.
I became a vegetarian (for quite some time) because of him.
I looked up to him and knew we had a kindred spirit, although he never let me in fully.
Hi. I’m Cherry. My human brother named me that as he was eating a cherry lollipop. I wish I could get my paws on one right now. I’m on a diet. Not by choice, of course. What self-preservating pug would do such a thing?
Mom is kind of stressed right now about holiday shopping and getting ready for a trip so she said I could FINALLY guest blog. She also said she has so many stories swirling in her head she can’t focus or sleep. I took a break from napping to write for her. Not much going on in this head, other than dreaming of chasing those taunting little squirrels outside the window. I will catch them one day. Mom always asks, “What in the world would you do to them if you caught them anyway?” To tell you the truth, I haven’t really thought that far ahead.
Hmmmm. I hear a rustling in the kitchen. Mom’s getting into the chocolates this early? She must be stressed. Next thing you know I’ll hear a cork pop.
So I’ll tell you a little about me. I was born on Leap day. I don’t chew on shoes anymore (no it was not me who busted Mom’s flip flops, she did that herself). I do still rustle through the trash every now and then. I make some crazy noises when I yawn, or eat, or sleep, or see another dog I know. There are lots of dogs on my block. Spencer and Buddy are my favorite. Mom gets embarrassed when I sniff and lick them in their happy places. She says I linger there a little too long. You don’t see them complainin!
Last week I got into some of Mom’s dark chocolates. She couldn’t believe I ate the wrappers and everything. She almost blamed it on Dad. I was fine. But then last night Mom and Gramps fed me a carrot. I barfed that up all over Mom’s favorite chair. Dang diet.
I hope I see you all again. I’m gonna go lick myself then take a nap. Hey, what would you do if you caught a squirrel? On second thought, don’t answer that. Mom doesn’t eat mammals. Or rodents.
Your subtle entry encased in smallish chit-chat similar musical interests and a love of photography my chilled white wine next to your pink Cosmopolitan The infancy of a grave friendship Oh, the concerts we attended! The lush green park that day when we photographed the crooked wooden fence and the giant knot on the oak You were never ready when I picked you up You asked which shoes looked best the tall leather boots or the black strappy heels? No longer matronly Oh, the dance floors we graced! I still have those dancing shoes the ones tossed on your living room floor on lazy days by the karaoke machine I remember that conversation on the phone tracing the rough edges of a stone wall while you cried for the twentieth time All the times I talked you down from the edge of darkness All the times you did the same The divorce, the deaths, the foreclosures, job losses My hands acquainted with your belongings in boxes more than once Your car full of my office supplies transporting them when the business failed Oh, the parties we hosted! Your famous macaroni you made sure to include a vegetarian dish I made sure there were no nuts in my famous slaw You never ran out of wine Afternoon movies sitting in the back row Five times we strolled the beach You never liked yourself in a bathing suit My confidant Then the wine became sour the Cosmo tainted I winced when the phone rang I couldn't talk you down anymore You didn't like who I'd become all of a sudden Jealousy, competition, disgust miscommunication, anger, judgement control, betrayal These are the wicked that turned it toxic Senility came to our friendship and it exited with harsh words and sobbing The waiter gave me a look as I was making a scene The dying plant you gave me is green as spring its vines entrenched in the ground and crawling up the slats of the picked fence Your photographs are still in my frames But I cannot listen to Blondie anymore.
–Some friends are meant to stay and some are meant to fly away.
I believe we are here to connect with each other.
But some connections are better off severed.
We can mourn this loss but we can also learn from it.
I have the luxury of sometimes joining my son for lunch at his school. The first time I did this I was quite nervous as the protocol for being a cool mom changes every year. This year especially since we went from a private school (where we knew everyone) to public (where aside from two kids from the neighborhood every other face was a stranger).
I have learned since that first time it is not cool to wave wildly at a kid I do know and yell out “Hieeee!” Nor is it cool to spill ice-tea while trying to balance a tray of food and grab a spork (or foon) at the same time. I have also learned that cafeterias today smell exactly like they did in 1983. Upon entering, mass-produced comfort food, industrial-strength cleaner, and a hint of Crayola marker wafts through the lunchroom and into the nostrils.
The food is actually way better than it was in the ’80’s and ’90’s, at least at this particular institution. I’m not sure what I ingested in my youth, especially if it was encased in a bun. Today I had a chicken/soy caesar salad with actual romaine lettuce and a rather crisp, slightly sweet green apple. My son did not have the quintessential Sloppy Joe, but a rather sloppy slab of lasagna. He proceeded to inform me he’d never had lasagna before and I felt a small pang of guilt for never including it in my small dinner repertoire. He ate the entire thing and a couple tiny bites of his peas, per my nagging request.
We ate outside under a live oak as a rare chilly breeze staved off sweat and buzzing insects. Parents aren’t allowed to eat inside the cafeteria as there are not enough seats at the tables. We had a nice conversation (as they tend to be now in his ninth year of being a child) although it was heated at first as he begged for five dollars to buy a Rainbow Loom bracelet from another kid.
“That’s a rip off,” I told him. “You could make one yourself.”
“No, I can’t,” he countered. “This design is too hard. Plus you have to have like four looms.”
“It’s still a rip off. Tell the kid you won’t go higher than two bucks.”
“But he’ll say no.”
“Then ask him who else is gonna pay that price? I bet no other kid has five bucks to spare for just one rubber band bracelet.”
“They go for ten bucks on Amazon, Mom.”
“This conversation is making me upset. Can we please talk about something else? I came here to have lunch with you, not haggle over obscenely priced jewelry.”
So he finally let it go and proceeded to tell me he fell asleep in class. Then he asked how my day was. Happy sigh. I gave him a run-down of my usual– biked the trail, walked the dog, laundry, chatted with grandma, started some writing. Then I asked him if he could tell me what the bully looks like.
The bully has put squished grapes from the cafeteria floor as well as ketchup in my kid’s soup and salad at various lunch times. I want to strangle the bully.
“It’s easy,” my son says to me. “He’s the one with no hair.”
Of course, I say to myself. Buzz cut. They are always the ones.
As lunch nears its 30 minute mark I notice my son’s class lining up outside to make their trek back to class. I tell my kid I’ll take care of throwing the trash away (as I now know it is also not cool to walk with your fourth grader to the rubbish area). He gives me a pathetic look and pleads, “Four dollars, Mom?” I look through my cash and see that I have only one dollar bill and a five.
“Here’s a one,” I say. “Make it work.”
He sighs in resigned desperation and I coolly nod to him as he joins the class. I scour the line for a glimpse of the no-hair bully. That one has medium length blonde hair. Nope. That one has short hair but it is still present. Nope. Ah, there he is. Hair shaved like an incarcerated mass-murderer. Skinny little goofy-ass kid. Even though I have my sunglasses on I look directly at him and give him an eat-shit-and-die-look. Hell yeah, that asshole saw it, too. Bet he’s a little shaken. The kid looks right at me and freakin waves! All Eddie Haskell-like! I look away and roll my eyes to the December clouds.
As the class line disappears and I gaze down at my new sturdy Croc flip flops I wonder if the bully will continue to haunt my son. Or will he heed my undeniable shade-covered warning? You mess with my son I mess with you. You have no idea what a really crappy Sloppy Joe tastes like.
Come, oh one of passion of deep, mindful feeling of trust and kindness cleanliness and beauty Wrap your arms around me embrace me relieve me from the harsh chains which bind me unto the darkness of the world of hate Love me forever Give me the feeling of a million petals floating in a clear blue sea I long for you like life longs for light Too faraway are you oh one of passion And I am not at ease until you are seen within my distance. --December 31, 1989
— To think I had such aching desire in my little high school freshman body.
The boy I wrote this for has flourished into a successful man yet still embodies those gifts and virtues included in the poem written so many years ago.
I guess you are never too young for yearning. And you are never too old, either.