Last night, I dreamt Teo was half kitten, a black and grey tabby. He was substantially adorable. I wish I could show you.
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Last night, I dreamt Teo was half kitten, a black and grey tabby. He was substantially adorable. I wish I could show you.
Bill’s been sanding floors.
It is hard work, he reports.
Teo and I stay away those long hours he’s sanding. When Bill’s day is done he’s covered in wood-dust, coated like a soft fawn.
These days, when it’s just Teo and I, I often feel there’s so much going on within 600 square feet of a home and I find myself speaking and thinking in fragments:
So much love.
Dog hair: everywhere.
Tame your fear.
Fear, a survival instinct. Next to it sits the feeling of utter joy. I’ve never been happier as when I’m when I’m carrying Teo on my hip through our apartment and his hand lands on my heart as the dogs trot around my ankles. No, I’ve never been happier. I want to protect this happiness and the feeling drives me mad. I search for faith. There was a time when I was certain there was something beyond what we can see and hear and touch.
I once wrote a shape poem about that time:
I prayed before
bedtime that God
would help me find my
yellow budgie. I had
let her out of her cage.
Perched her in the hibiscus
tree that’s kept in my room
(Mom says it’s because my room
gets the best light). Instead of staying
perched like she was told, she flew off
to somewhere I couldn’t find. So there
in the dark, with my hands neatly folded,
I promised to never doubt God’s existence
if He would please bring me my budgie
(and Egyptian Cartouche necklace. It has
my name spelled in hieroglyphics). I shot that
prayer up like a laser beam through Heaven’s
clouds and my plea flooded all the rooms of
God’s castle. After an hour or so, God agreed
to take me up on the bargain, and I was startled
by the sound of flapping wings. I turned on the
light to see my budgie flying around the ceiling
before he tumbled, wings open, behind the big chair. I never knew birds could fall. I leapt out of bed and pulled the chair from the wall and there was my budgie looking
up at me.Her legs tangled
in my Egyptian Cartouche
necklace. I untangled
her and put her back
her in her cage.
She seemed relieved
to finally be home.
God doesn’t always
agree to my bargains,
just sometimes, every
blue moon or so. And
when He does, it
me. And I don’t
I guess as time moved on and life became even more precious, my faith slowly diminished. It’s not completely gone, I’d just like to beef it up some. I feel like if I don’t, I’ll never be able to let go of this fear and therefore, I won’t be open to receive love and light.
Do you have miracle story that helps you remember why you have faith to begin with?
We drove to Vermont, where we stayed a few days: frolicked in waterfalls, floated down rivers and slept under trees, before heading out to Cape Cod, a place I had always wanted to see. I ate a chilli-dog along the way.
Cape Cod was different from how I imagined it, though not in a bad way. One night we saw a fog; an eerie, misty fog.
One day, we sailed.
We watched fireworks as the sips of tiny mosquitos stung.
We ate lobster.
I enjoyed sundresses, and holding Sister Dog.
On the way back, we sat in traffic jams. Wretched traffic jams.
I looked out the window, a lot. I saw a motorcycle gang. A real, live motor cycle gang. One member had a baseball bat strapped across his handlebars. I have no pictures to show you. I was too afraid that photographing them would piss them off.
When we arrived to Georgia, my aunt cooked.
And every time I leave, I miss her all over again.
We returned home and I fussed about Mom, her being so far away. The only solution would be to bring her back here, or move down there. We’d have more support with mom down there, but I wondered if we could be both places at once. We decided living in a motor home would be a good way to find out.
So much has happened between then and now. It was too hard to unravel our life, resolve ourselves of most of our belongings and just move into a motor home. We were uncertain. We still are.
I often wonder how life would be for us now, had we just gone for it, and at times, we talk like it’s still going to happen someday.
Security is only a superstition. It does not exist in nature nor do the children of men, as a whole, experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than out right exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. ~quote by Helen Keller Found in “My Life As a Mountain Guide”, biography of Louis Whittaker. http://www.RMIGuides.com
What about you? Could you give it all up for a life on the road?
In Savannah, Mom asked if she was dying. My heart soured with sadness.
“We are all dying, Mom,” I answered.
“No, did the doctor tell you that I’m dying?”
“No Mom. The doctor did not say that.”
This disease forces you to face the truth, yet fabrications become necessary.
“But why then,” she went on, “for some reason, does it feel like it’s all coming to an end?”
I miss my mom everyday, and I’m sad when I find myself speaking of her in past tense. I acknowledge that she’s still here, and wonder if the part of her that I know and love has really grown so small, that it’s hardly decipherable. The parts I knew and love only come to me in dreams now, like warm wind, forceful, through the cold, the way it dances through trees just before a storm.
And just as I was about to publish this post, my phone dings: a text from E.
Did you see this? he texted, and the blue letters of a link glow. The link takes me to an article in ScienceAlert: they’ve found a cure for Alzheimer’s.
It comforts me to know E. is thinking of Mom, too. I know this has all been incredibly hard on both of us, but is it true? Could this nightmare be coming to an end?
The news makes me want to celebrate. I’m renewed with hope. Just when I had given up praying for what I finally convinced myself was impossible: life never ceases to surprise me.
Bill is working hard to support our family. He bought us a house. It’s so beautiful. When I look at it, it makes me want to cry. It’s unbelievable, really, and when I walk through and feel its sturdy bones, I feel sheltered and protected, something I haven’t felt in a while. Anxiety levels have been on maximum since Teo; how I love him so.
A patch of orange hair grows fuller by the day, glistens gold in the sun. He is the colors of desert earth and stone. People remind me, when they approach and rekindle their own babies, how quickly he will grow. It’s remarkable, truly. In the morning, he wakes up resilient, shining and bright, and makes a lot of noise. He moves his arms, and kicks; sometimes grabs my nose and hair: pulls chunks of it from my head. I kiss him. His breath smells like slightly soured milk.
Our home sits near a river. The neighborhood seems diverse, although most of the people I’ve met remind me of ‘Up North’.
I met the woman who lives across the street. She is exactly my age, raising twins: a boy and a girl.
“I’m exhausted,” she said.
“How do you do it?”, I ask.
“You just do,” she said.
Her adorable children recline on a large bean bag. They stare with big eyes.
Each holds a bottle of filled with apple juice and they’re watching a cartoon. It looks glorious.
New Neighbor is organized; well kept. I like her. Unfortunately, she’s moving. There’s a thing going on with her landlord. Sounds like they were once close and something fell through. Too bad, I think.
I met New Neighbor’s landlord the other day. She spotted me coming out of the house. She had on neat sweater and matching hat, and approached as I made my way down the front stairs. There are things I notice about her that remind me of the confusion that surrounded my mother when I first noticed her decline. When I see New Neighbor again, I mention it:
“It’s dementia,” I say.
New Neighbor is not convinced and shakes her head in disapproval.
“It’s too bad,” I say, “She will need a good friend, soon.”
Then there’s the other neighbor, a man named Linda, who my friend M. pointed and stared at through a window, asking me over and over again, “His name is Linda? He’s a man! I’m serious, come over here and look at him.”
“I know, M. Please stop! He can probably hear you, and I’m certain he can see you.”
Our house: there is a garden that needs to be tilled and many leaves to be raked; floors that need to be sanded; lots of work actually.
My baby awakens. Until next time…
So much has happened since I last visited with you, and life has moved in fast forward. I asked my father-in-law about life moving faster and faster with time.
“It’s true,” he said.
“That’s scary,” I said.
“It is,” he said.
My father-in-law worked as a tax attorney for many years, and now enjoys what seems to me a very enjoyable and comfortable retirement, but every once in a while I hear him jokingly grumble about why in the heck he chose to become a tax attorney, and about how horrible it was dredging to work every day. I asked him what he thought he should have done instead.
“Nothing,” he told me, “I have no regrets.”
In the time we’ve been apart dear reader, my inner voice has grown shy. I guess having a baby can do this to you. My inner voice belongs to someone who floats on whims and believes in magic, and babies need something more solid, like shelter and food.
There are people I’ve met who’ve had similar “inner voices” as my own. They have pointed out the cancer that they can’t afford to treat, the aching bones that they can’t afford to retire. It frightens me, as I don’t want to end up in those situations, but at the same time, I don’t want to end up grumbling about how horrible life was before retirement. Are you beginning to see my dilemma?
How does one create balance: be fair to both the sensical within yourself and the magical. Is it possible?
I caught the tail end of Dr. Christiane Northrup’s talk last night on public television. She had enormous crystals all around her. Anyway, the parts I caught made me believe that it is possible to fuse together a life that holds both logic and magic. Coming from a life that has mainly been guided by passion, I’m finding this balance very difficult to perceive.
Do you tend to follow your head or your heart? Where has either one led you?
On the first day, it was peacocks, which were eerie to me because of the curve of their necks and beaks: like cobras ready to strike. I had to tell Billy that the “chicken” on the table was really his towel, as he searched for one to take with him to shower.
“Really?” Billy asked.
“Yes,” I replied. “You have to either unroll it or do without a towel.”
On the second day, it was puppies, which reminded me of my dogs back home, and made me miss them: their floppy ears and perky butts. I quickly dismantled those to chase away my homesickness for them.
On the third day, we came home to toalla babies, which I couldn’t bare to dismantle, until finally, the little one’s head toppled off in the wind.
I met her by the poolside my first summer in college. She looked like a friend: long dark hair and a perfect bikini: black and white paisley with a vintage cut. She carried a bag she must have picked up from an import store. It slung over her shoulder and hung down past her waist. I spotted a pack of cigarettes fall out of it. I had just quit smoking. A long-haired guy followed closely behind her. He had a slight hop in his step.
Sometimes I feel like the least likely person to walk up to a stranger and introduce myself, but I surprised myself that day. I remember her smile when I asked her name. She pushed herself off the side of the pool and arched her back gracefully through the water before answering, “Christina.”
Later I would learn she was studying dance, and to my disappointment, that she didn’t smoke cigarettes, but was carrying them for her boyfriend, the long-haired guy with a hop in his step.
I pointed out my apartment.
“Stop by anytime.”
And she did, and I was so happy to have her as my friend, until my boyfriend , Manny, had a thought:
“It’s obvious. Come on! You’ve got to be blind not to see it.”
“Your friend’s got the hots for me.”
“What makes you think that?”
Manny laughed at me like I was a naïve child.
And so I avoided her; didn’t go to the pool when I’d see her swim from my window. Didn’t answer the door when she’d knock.
Manny and I ran into Christina and Long-Hair-Hop-Step shortly after classes started up again in the fall.
“I haven’t seen you at the pool lately.”
“Been working a lot. We haven’t seen you either.”
“We’ve been working at Ren Fair.”
“Was it fun?”
“Yea. He’s still wearing the hat,” Christina said sarcastically and rolled her eyes.
I had noticed the fluffy flamboyant velveteen hat Long-Hair was sporting and was glad there was an explanation for it.
After that, Christina and I became friends again. It didn’t take long until I felt comfortable enough to ask her if she had ever been interested in my boyfriend.
“You thought I was interested in HIM?”
“I don’t know, Manny kind of thought that too.”
Christina looked horrified, “Wait, what? He thought this too? Why?”
It would later be revealed that Manny thought all my friends had the hots for him, hence the end of my relationship with Manny.
Despite the distance and time, whenever I see Christina again, it’s as if we’ve never parted…and on an exciting note, she’s moved to Milwaukee for the time being.
Things are different now than they used to be. Instead of planning to go out dancing, we think about it and then say, “Well, maybe. I’m usually tired by the time we normally head out to dance,” as we sit on a curb that overlooks a parking-lot and eat frozen custard. Two scoops. Afterward, we shop for groceries.
I’m proud of Christina. She is true to her heart and has never given up on her dreams. She has worked hard to become who she is today: a dancer and an artist. This weekend she’s displaying and selling her work at the Starving Artist Show. Although I’m usually opposed to any event that carry the words “starving” and “artist” in the same title, I’ll loosen the reigns on my principles and visit her booth.
I missed having Christina around and will be certain to cherish the time I have her here before we part ways again, and the cycle will continue between two friends who met at the poolside at the prime of their youth, and the at trailhead of the path towards their dreams.
What makes a friend a friend? How do you know one when you see one?
I was out for dinner with family that had traveled in for my grandmother-in-law’s 99th birthday when I looked down at my phone and saw it glowing. Someone had messaged me. I held it just within view underneath the table, and opened a message from Mollie Morningstar, a psychic medium who was offering me tickets to her event the following evening.
Mollie and I have a mutual friend who introduced us because we both love hula-hooping. I had attended one of Mollie’s readings before, and I follow her on social media. I adore her posts.
Excited, I interrupted the conversation at the table, “Anyone want to go with me to see a psychic medium tomorrow?”
No one immediately answered. I thought I was going to have to search for a date outside of my dinner company until Barbra, my sister-in-law in from D.C. answered, “I’ll go.”
By the time I finished work the next day, I was ready for an evening on the town. Barbra and I were almost the last guests to arrive to Mollie’s reading and took a seat in the side wing, next to, we would come to find later, three sisters that cried tears of joy when their father’s spirit came through, demonstrated by Mollie dancing a Southern Jig that their father once used to do for them when he was alive.
Mollie did this for many people in the room, not dance a gig, but gave them something familiar and exclusive to their tie to the spirit communicating to them.
I watched and noticed why they were all there, the audience members: they were all missing someone dear to them and were looking for a glimmer of knowing the spirits of the people they loved were still with them. Most everyone seemed hopeful with anticipation, and the audience came to know each other’s stories as messages came through, creating what felt like to me a beautiful bond between strangers. Barbra described the experience later as one where, one minute the audience is laughing and the next, everyone is in tears or trying hard to hold them back.
Towards the end of the session, I wondered who if anyone would want to come through to me. I couldn’t think of anyone who would. I was going to ask Barbra if she could think of anyone who might come through to her, but I didn’t because I was fairly certain Barbra was skeptical. She didn’t say anything to make me believe she was, but she had a look on her face, and cracked a few jokes about the various topics the spirits decided to bring up, like paving a driveway. But the more Mollie connected the audience with their loved ones, the harder it was for us not to believe.
Then Mollie asked if someone was celebrating a birthday. Three people raised their hands. I couldn’t help but think of Martha, born 99 years ago in a farmhouse in Eagle River, Wisconsin, but I didn’t raise my hand. Then Mollie mentioned the name Art. I faintly recalled that was the name of Martha’s husband, but wasn’t sure.
I nudged Barbra, “Isn’t that Bill and Mike’s (Barbra’s husband) grandpa’s name?”
“Art has left someone behind that he loves very dearly, his wife, anyone here associated with the name Martha?” Mollie asked.
Warm chills surged up my spine. Interestingly enough, two other people in the crowd connected to an Art and Martha. I didn’t raise my hand to make a third because I was afraid that I would be stealing another person’s ghost away.
Mollie continued, “He acknowledges that there’s been a lot of cleaning going on and he says it feels good to breath again.”
The audience members who had connected to an Art and Martha didn’t connect with that part of the message, it didn’t pertain, but my husband had just finished cleaning our apartment for guests coming in to stay with us for Martha’s party, and we had just completed spending almost two weeks cleaning my mother’s home so we could put it on the market. Still, I couldn’t bring myself to raise my hand.
Lots of people clean all the time, I thought, and there are lots of people named Art and Martha and have birthdays.
Mollie continued, “I’m getting another name connected to Art, a William or Bill?” Mollie looked around the audience for some takers. Bill is my husband’s name, short for William, still, I was reluctant to claim the ghost of Grandpa Art. After all, I had never even met him.
I listened to the message, making mental notes, in case I would find later that the spirit named Art was in fact communicating to us: create a budget, hold out for the right one, he loves his wife very much, but then I began to worry that Art wanted to say something very specific to us, and because I was too shy to stand up and acknowledge him, he would miss his chance. That’s when I tried to communicate to Art directly.
I said in my mind, “Okay Art, if you’re trying to say something to me, you have to give me a bigger sign so that I’m certain it’s you. I don’t want to steal a ghost away from someone else if it’s not really you.”
And that’s when Mollie said, “I see that Art did very well for himself. He’s dressed in a suit and I see him writing checks.”
As silly as the next part of this story sounds, that’s always how I imagined Art: in a suit writing checks. Only I know this. You might ask why this is how I picture him, and it’s because in the pictures I’ve seen of him, he’s wearing a suit. The checks are because we receive them from Martha on birthdays and Christmas. They’re a big deal and are generous checks. These checks make it clear to me that Art worked hard to do great things, and that’s why he and Martha can be generous to their family and loved ones. So that was it, that was the sign. I raised my hand and claimed him.
Mollie came over and stood closer to Barbra and I, “He acknowledges a double wedding, did you two have a double wedding?”
“No,” I answered, “but we probably should have.”
I was shaking with excitement, so Barb had to take over and explained to Mollie, “We married brothers and we were all friends first before Anna and I married into the family. We lived together in the same house, and pretty much did almost everything together until we moved away.”
“Well Art acknowledges this and he wants to say ‘Happy Birthday’ to Martha, who he loved and cared for very much.”
I was so excited, until I thought about telling this to Martha and worried about how she might react.
I envisioned the scenario: Hi Martha, happy birthday, guess what? Barb and I went to a psychic medium last night and got a message from your husband. Sorry, I know you’re Catholic and might not believe in this stuff, please don’t think I’m weird. And I hope this doesn’t make you sad.
Then Art reassured me, right away, almost interrupting those thoughts that were already making me hesitant to deliver the message to Martha.
Mollie said, “He says to feel free to tell Martha this and that she will be very accepting of his message,” before she told us, “but Art is a very polite man and he doesn’t want to take up any more time because there are many spirits here who want to get through, so he’s excusing himself now. He knows everyone is at peace with his passing.”
Then Mollie told us to bring the beautiful flower arrangement that stood at the center of the stage to Martha for her birthday, which we did.
The next day at Martha’s party, the flower arrangement sat in the middle of the dining-room table. Martha thought it was beautiful and wanted to know who it came from.
I don’t know how to make a long story brief, so I offered the task to Barbra, “Do you want to tell her?”
Barbra politely declined. Not knowing what to expect and how Martha would react, I felt my face turning red as I told Martha what had happened, how Art’s spirit came through.
I couldn’t see Martha’s face, because I sat behind her, at the ‘kid’s table’, but everyone who could see her said she was smiling and the story brought tears to her eyes.
I wrapped up the story with, “So really Martha, even though Mollie was nice enough to send these flowers to you, they’re from Art too.”
Later on in the evening, I also found out that Art’s middle name is William, and that a lot of cleaning had taken place at Martha’s house that week as well to prepare for the party.
It also turned out that Art is an old pro at communicating from the other side. One of Art’s daughters and his only grand-daughter have both received messages from him through a medium as well.
And Art was right, Martha was open and happy to receive the message. She didn’t think it was weird at all. I was glad I had the courage to speak up and claim his messages, after all the hard work Art had to do to get through, from placing the thought in Mollie’s head to offer the tickets, to bringing Barb in from D.C. so she could help recognize him and verify his name. What a clever man Grandpa Art is. I was also honored that Art would use Barbra and I as instruments to send a message and some flowers to his true love, Martha, on her 99th birthday.