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imagined reaching for them

stars

I spent a great majority of my youth staring at the stars and imagined reaching for them. I had a poster of the astronauts that reached the moon on the wall of my bedroom till I was 20. I had hanging models of lunar modules and the space shuttle.

I have this book from my childhood that tracks what my aspirations were and every year on the line where it says "what do I want to be when I grow up?" - it says 'Astronaut' or 'Airline Pilot' or any number of aspirations.

I was a smart kid and wanted to do smart things.

"Look at your grades, I'm always after you about how lazy you are, you are nobody's future astronaut," he said to me nonchalantly.

It's amazing looking back on those years how much impact that single conversation had on me.

Pilot. no.

Engineer. impossible.

School Teacher. never.

Forest Ranger? too hard, too much biology. no.

By middle school, all of my greatest career aspirations were dissuaded.

Pop has been gone now for sixteen years and I'm fifty-two years old.

Every time I'm out in the country and I look up at the stars I stop and sigh, replaying that conversation like it just happened. Why did I let myself spend so many years whispering to myself, "not for me."?

I stop, rewarding myself with a big smile, realizing that childhood tape is playing in my head. I hit the firm stop button on it, take a deep breath - and I purposefully look back up at the night sky and reach for the stars.

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they don't be listening to me

tattoos

The call came through for medical assistance from Stately Meadows at 2am. It's that large assisted living center over on Wilkers street?
We laughed in the ambulance on the way over about what kind of trouble could they possibly be in at this hour.

We parked and grabbed our kits. Standing out front was a clearly upset female nurse, smoking a cigarette.

"I'm Nurse Higgins, the night supervisor," she said, angrily extinguishing her cigarette with her foot, "Sorry ta bother ya'll but we've got a mess on our hands."

She leads us into the facility and up a wide staircase into a set of rooms labeled "EXERCISE FOR LIFE!" - and in the center of one the room was a group of six men in a pile on top of a twister board.

"I told these fools that Twister in your 90s was a bad idea, but they don't be listening to me."

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i woke up alone, without donuts

donuts

A bookish man with an unkempt mop of greying hair sat nervously fumbling through large pieces of parchment. Stepping up into the soft mauve spotlight, staring up nervously, he began to speak.

"Are you reminded of your youth when you have a mouthful of fresh hot french fries? Of lost loves at the taste of a lemon poppyseed cake. Of your drunk aunty the way your tongue rolls around in your mouth over a perfect risotto. How he tasted in the shower that November morning before he left when you crunch into a crumpet laden with butter and honey. Your father who used to embarrass you screaming at waiters in restaurants when you are served a slightly over-toasted sourdough crouton in a caesar salad.

Carbs are........

Carbs.................

are killing you softly. Yet, despite this soft death, we cannot help ourselves.

Carbs are love,

our intimacies,

our memories,

Carbs are sex.

All this and more when I cried a small tear this morning when I woke up alone, without donuts."

Finger snaps moved across the room like the wave at a football stadium, the room filling with affirmative murmurs of no longer hushed observations.

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over coffee

globe

You’d have caught us stealing thick, bourbon-filled kisses in the kitchen at a dinner party full of house guests. The house decorated from floor to ceiling with a collected Christmas cheer that was legendary. Fearless and beautiful - we were covered in thick syrupy confidence and swagger.

Interrupting him, "Pardon, but are you breaking up with me, in your underwear, over morning coffee?", I didn't honestly expect him to reply, "well, yeah, I guess I am."

I didn't even unpack any of it this year. It was hard enough sorting through them impatiently into our own boxes the previous summer.

I've grown used to that shocked coffee shop welcoming smile that quickly frowns at "well, he and I broke up." It's not like I'm angry. Honestly, I'm not. if anything I'm just disappointed. It had always felt to me that we had enough in each other - that our togetherness was enough. I am a little embarrassed that I was wrong.

I've spent most of the winter just working hard, working out, reading by the fireplace - just trying not to notice the holiday. I'd convinced myself it was better to hibernate.

But then I saw it. In the window of a shop down the street appears the most perfect single glass ornament. The way it shimmers in the light from the street makes it look more like a snowflake than a simple ornament. I look through it with satisfaction as I hang the single ornament up in the window in the front of my apartment.

There would be new traditions, new stories. One day I'd tell the old stories of him and me without it hurting so much. It's perfectly okay that today is not that day.

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Adventure

dog

I know this is your first adventure without me. Kindergarten is a big deal! We both want it to be the bestest thing ever.

So - as a sign of solidarity - I want you to take my favorite toy with you. I take it from room to room with me everywhere I go. I sleep with it at night up against you under the covers. I set it down somedays only to eat kibble, but even then it is right here next to the bowl. We play tug-o-war over it.

Because it's my favorite toy is precisely why I'm bringing it to you now. When you need an extra dose of bravery, or need to know I'm there for you even though I'm here at the house waiting for your return? You can reach in your backpack and give this toy a squeeze. I know doing so always makes me feel better.

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