Archive for the ‘summer’ Category
You are in your bed right now. You are finally asleep after a wild tale of wild things, a glass of water, several threats and one last hug and sugar. Your little brother is still awake in the bed across from you. I can hear him singing into the flashlight that he thinks I don’t know about.
There are lights turned low. Your mother is watching television. I am sipping a beer by candlelight and listening to music that makes people cry.
You should know that I’m a melancholy fool and I always have been. You’ve probably figured this out by now, even if you don’t know what melancholy means.
A year ago was a milestone and suddenly you’ve leaped to another one. Life is funny like that. Milestones happen.
We are in a new town. A new state. You were born here and so you’ve returned. The school is new, too. It’s your old school turned inside out to protect you from the rain. The bricks are the same color as those you remember. The bathrooms all smell the same.
You seemed so little then. You seem too big now. You have outgrown everything except hugs and sugars. You are sweet like that.
You are smart and kind and so funny it’s dangerous. You are going to find yourself in a lot of trouble and it will be your mouth that gets you there. You got that from me. Also, my eyes. Your smile you got from your mother.
Tomorrow is the first day of first grade. Tomorrow is a new chapter and the adventure is yours for the choosing. Don’t always take the easy way.
Tonight is full of wind in the trees and dogs in the distance and piano keys bouncing off the living room walls. Tonight is the quiet before your storm.
But it’s not really that quiet. We have hatches to batten down, strong and deep, and milestones to go before we sleep.
Milestones to go before we sleep.
Give them hell, Kid.
In case you missed my grown-man crying about kindergarten:
All He’ll Ever Need to Know He’ll Learn in Kindergarten
The Boys of Summer are Gone
In Other Words, Hold My Hand
Me and Atticus Down by the Schoolyard
This past week was the hottest of my life- and I’m from Tucson. I suppose the main difference is that in Tucson we had some sort of cooling system, whereas in Seattle we have a faucet and a ceiling fan. Hence me spending my nights on the back deck alone in my underwear but for a bottle of something, some gaudy lighting and the whispered sounds of Lady Holiday. Also, Chet Baker. Jazz sounds good in the dark and the heat. It compliments the whiskey.
I sat there and felt inspired. I wasn’t sure what I took with me from BlogHer other than a deeper knowledge of social dramas and a pocketful of drink tickets, but apparently it gave me my second wind, which at this point is technically my 57th. I’ve been doing this a long time, and sometimes not at all. Point? The creative juices were flowing. Again. Finally.
So I would sit and write and sweat and drink until it was time for my neighbor to get up and then I’d gather the tools of my trade and head off to bed. My neighbor has no desire to see me in my underwear. This has been made clear again and again. His loss.
Yet, there is an audience around me. My deck is a stage built within an amphitheater of cherry trees and blackberry bushes. I am on display. I am nature’s peepshow. I am naked and vulnerable. And my stage is nightly rushed.
The sounds always give them away. Against the smokey sound of trumpets there is a step out of rhythm. Against the soft knock of ice on ice there comes a scratch against wooden planks. Against the sighs of my heated breath lie the sniffs of danger in the air.
The masks don’t hide their identity. In fact, they give them away. They are bigger than I am comfortable with and they have no fear of me. Men drinking whiskey in the dark against a background of jazz are far less dangerous than you would think. We are committed to the written word and matters of the heart. Ours is not the shooing of beasts or conquests over them. However, ours will smack said beast across its little masked face with a MacBook Pro should necessity dictate. Poets are not pussies.
They enter one at a time, but anyone can tell that they are together. It is obvious in the way he looks at her. It is obvious in the way she looks through the night and into his heart. Masks cannot mask passion. Theirs is a dance beneath steamy jazz and the give and take of cherry trees. They do not fear me. They only fear smells that carry upon the air and the sounds that neither of us make. We are together on this. It could be a deer or a fox or a cougar or a bear. I have no patience for predators and I watch my guests carefully. If they run I stand ready. If they sit and ponder the moon I sip my drink and follow suit. If they walk around the cats of indifference for their nightly snack of biscuits flavored with liver and tuna then I turn my gaze back upon the words beneath me- the words that will never be done and the memories constantly growing.
There are prizes dangling before us all. There are trophies and carrots on string and the idea of a book finally finished or food left unattended by finicky cats. There are obstacles all around. There is danger in the cherry trees and creative juices no longer flowing. Perhaps your El Guapo happens to be the actual El Guapo. We all die like dogs.
A few weeks ago the boys found a dead raccoon on a shady sidewalk. They did not fear it or poke it with stick. They paid their respects and pondered the possibilities. They accepted death as part of the journey and kept moving forward, making my book all the longer and the night that much quieter. They smiled softly and they walked slowly.
And somewhere beneath a swaying cherry tree there is a mask wet from tears and the haunting echoes of a trumpet shouting memories across the universe. The day may be for seizing, but the night is for nothing, just blank pages and empty dance cards. Nothing is ours for the making.
Heat. Melted chocolate on the kitchen counter. Hand prints fading silently down the hall. Heat. Bare skin clinging to furniture warmed needy and soft. The release holding pools of sweat that feel cool but for a second against the hot, hot air. Heat.
A long ride brings comfort. A long ride lets your body ease and your mind breathe. A long ride forgives the heat and hums along to songs best played in the car. There is more road than traffic. There is more horizon than conversation. There is a sunset and you find yourself driving towards it.
The neighborhood twists like it did last summer. It turns around bright-eyed. There is a clinic on the corner with a woman being wheeled in a chair by an orderly. Her neck is bent at an unnatural angle. Her view of the sunset is unlike any I’ll ever know.
There is a father and a daughter picking flowers in the shade. She is laughing and he is soaking up every note with the sponges inside him. The flowers are slightly wilted and their job is forgotten.
A trunk is open and three people stand around it. Perhaps they are fresh from the market. Perhaps there is a body hidden inside. Perhaps they have a thing for trunks. I try to look as we pass them by but their backs are a wall and their expressions are blank.
I like to think they all saw something different.
Then there is an opening and green grass and children playing. We add ours to them. The sun sinks into the ocean and we don’t miss it.
The moon is torn down the middle. The long ride reflects this upon bodies of water and now dark windshields. A small voice says that half the moon is in his pocket. A small voice says that the cloud stretched lightly across the sky is a blanket.
Goodnight, two small voices and a man saying hush.
Goodnight to the woman driving them home.
The road keeps humming and the moon sleeps sound. The heat hides, waiting.
I have found that when seeing those again that you never thought you would see again that it is best to do so with a smile on your face and a drink in your hand. Pleasantries are nice, awkward moments are few and name tags are suggested.
The key here is the drink.
20 years ago we parted ways as a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal. Simple terms and convenient definitions. Today we embrace each other with memories and photos of our children. Today we look fantastic.
That may be the biggest surprise of them all. I never expected twenty years to polish my peers with the fountain of youth. Granted, I knew that I hadn’t changed much, other than some grey in the beard, less hair and more stomach, but hell, I still get carded.
My classmates were fit and beautiful and bald. Lots of bald. People were happy. And it was good.
What we found was that each one of us is a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal. Hey, hey, hey, hey, don’t you forget about us.
There weren’t endless hours of glory days revisited, though they were mentioned, usually with a shake of the head and a stare into the distance. Rather, there was the filling in and the catching up and the where is so and so and the passing of people that you once rode a bus with.
It was an ode to technology and our nights were displayed upon the internet instantly and endlessly. There were friend requests an hour after a handshake. There were status updates built upon sips of whisky.
Blanks were filled in like a breathing mad lib. Everything was (adjective).
Sunday morning found me arm in arm with a friend I haven’t seen in too long, walking the streets of a desert resort in the shadow of a security guard and the heat of the rising sun. We were happy. And it was good.
And it had been too long.
I have found that when saying goodbye again to those that you never thought you would see again that it is best to do so with a smile on your face and a suitcase in your hand. Pleasantries are nice, awkward moments are few and name tags aren’t needed.
The key here is the moment and in the knowing that those that once meant so much still do, even if you forgot, and even if you’ll never see them again.
Personally, I thought that crack about the dancer was uncalled for.