The Secret Garden and Locker Woes
What's more awkward than having to play Mary to your crush's Colin in a 6th grade classroom adaptation of The Secret Garden screenplay? How about if that scene is the one when Colin proposes to Mary? After class we headed to our lockers at the end of the hall. We were both new in town, so our lockers were next to each other. Mine was right above his. How many times did I drop something onto that poor boy's head? Books, lunch, even my lock once, but those hazel eyes (or were they brown?) looking up from under that middle-part bowl cut were forever kind.
"Glad that's over with," he said with an embarrassed smile.
I looked away, blushing. "Yeah, me too." Maybe it was the puppy love goggles, but I thought maybe neither of us minded all that much. In hindsight, it's straight out of a YA novel. Who gets stuck in front of her class with her crush proposing to her?
No matter how many awkward interactions I had with Spenser, he was always sweet to me. And we had some non-awkward ones too. At the new student ice cream social we played rock-paper-scissors, and then he shared candy from the prize he won. He carried my backpack one time after school. There are so many other moments.
But our time together was short.
His name was on the roster at the beginning of 7th grade. Every time they called role, I held out hope that he'd come back. Whether he moved again or something else, I never knew. I learned quickly that the term crush is also literal.
I think about him occasionally, and wonder if he is still as kind as he was ages ago to a hopelessly awkward and clumsy, lovesick girl.
#challenge #nonfiction #firstcrush
Coffee and Chaos
Coffee shop snippets. Peppy upbeat music drowns out a lot of the words but there is an undercurrent in everyone’s conversations. Tone varies from somber to disbelief to oblivious. I have a bird’s eye view from the second level balcony as an assortment of people filter in and out.
A barista has been boiling water at home so she can brush her teeth.
An incredulous exclamation and the word “parade.” They canceled it, a mother corrects the man in front of her. Her young son doesn’t like the drink she got him.
A jovial group of teenagers wolfing down breakfast. One is awaiting her acceptance and rejection letters. Another mentions his mother’s frustrations with their insurance. $200 a night hotel room and eating out everyday and the insurance won’t pay. Some issue with whether it is related to the fire or not (when everyone not wrapped in a red-tape bureaucratic mind knows it is). Another mentions plans to park near the beach and sneak into the evacuation zone to take pictures because they’ll get caught if they drive.
The weather is beautiful, cool and sunny. A perfect California winter day. Life carries on as usual here. Not a few miles down the highway, chaos. Muck and despair and loss and destruction and hope and love and community.
The contrast is jarring and I have been struggling to reconcile it all week.
Rally the Rhododendrons
Once upon a time, a boy stomped flowers in the garden. Until the garden retaliated.
One Last Patient
It was the end of the day and you were probably tired, but you took one last patient. Then the world shook and the Cypress freeway collapsed. It could have been you beneath the rubble, trying to drive home; I would have never known my father.
We never saw it coming. But then again, when was our life together ever predictable? Someday it will be okay. For now we'll enjoy the sunset and try to forget.
Intricate web of blue
Bleeding into brown
Meeting a black hole in the center:
The passage into the depths of
Your mind and soul.
Through it you search for me.
Your gravity pulls
The expanse of the universe in,
Devours it into pulses of
In the bright light
I peer into your face as a
Smile of recognition
Bursts across it in a
And it takes me a moment to
Recognize the infinite possibilities
In the depths
Of my daughter's
She picked at the frayed ends of her hair, loose sandy tendrils twining around her fingers in the breeze. The cigarette was mashed into a knot in the tree stump beside her, in the company of several others she couldn't remember smoking. She shut her eyes as she thrust her hands into the cool, damp grass under her knees. Took a slow, deliberate breath and exhaled. The sharp smell of smoke still burned her from the inside, familiar and foreign at once. This smoke was different, heavier.
She'd always enjoyed the smell of burning wood and cigarettes. But she loved the smell of extinguished flames the most.
She opened her eyes and blinked against the sting. She wanted to look at the smoldering ruins, burn the image into her mind. With one hand she wiped at her face, smudging ash across her cheek. With the other she reached for her jacket pocket and rubbed her thumb over the smooth metal of the lighter.
We scrambled to get our belongings together for our first family vacation. Who knew a baby needed so much stuff? My world changed forever two months ago, and its been a blur of sleepless nights and drowsy feedings in the dark of our small apartment ever since. I'm often in survival mode, just trying to get through the hard moments, craving that next smile or happy coo. But here, I can look out at the world from a vast green forest. The baby sleeps soundly in her bed. The world is quiet. And when she wakes up crying, I bounce her in my arms to soothe her, and breathe in the mountains to soothe myself.