Blessings from my Sister

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Sometimes I feel like there’s a hole inside of me, an emptiness that at times seems to burn. I think if you lifted my heart to your ear, you could probably hear the ocean. The moon tonight, there’s a circle around it. Sign of trouble not far behind. I have this dream of being whole. Of not going to sleep each night, wanting. But still sometimes, when the wind is warm or the crickets sing… I dream of a love that even time will lie down and be still for. I just want someone to love me. I want to be seen. I don’t know. Maybe I had my happiness. I don’t want to believe it but, there is no man, Gilly. Only that moon. –Practical Magic

Sis and I were never close, but it wasn’t from my lack of trying. We were just too different, she and I. I was the Black Sheep, and she was the perfect one. Sure, I was smart, but she had the drive to get good grades. I was in school for the social aspect of it. Sis ran with the right crowd, but I ran with the wild crowd. I drank, smoked cigarettes and weed. Hell, she was even a cheerleader.

Our weddings were within three months of each other. They were over 25 years ago, so I don’t remember much. However, I do recall spilled champagne on my bridesmaids dress, dancing with my future husband and dirty dancing to the song, “Time of my Life”. I remember that Sis looked beautiful, like she always did. Where I was curvy, and what I perceived as ugly,  she was neither of those things. To me she was perfect; athletic, smart, popular, beautiful, driven, and the list goes on and on.

She and I raised our kids differently. I was the free spirited mom that gave my children room, but reigned them in when necessary. She was the stricter mom, that enforced rules and gave lectures. Our children turned out to be pretty damn great adults, so who’s to say which of our parenting skills was better.

Throughout the years, she divorced and remarried. She had a couple more kids while her older two were teenagers. Our oldest ones were all born within a few years of each other and it was fun to watch them all grow and change, and achieve. Sis and I were blood, but we never crossed over to being friends. Then I decided after 24 years of marriage to divorce Roger Darling, and she became my strongest supporter.

I finally let go of what I perceived were our differences, and let her in. Sis has been there for me when I’ve been at my lowest. She has gotten my groceries and run my errands while I was laid up from a major car accident last March. She has on more than one occasion yelled at me and told me to get my head on straight now that I’m walking again. We’ve learned we can lean on each other, no matter how different we are.

She’s my sister and now my friend. I don’t know if we’d ever be able to live together, but I’m proud to say she’s one of my loudest cheerleaders. Who knew those skills of hers would come in handy all these years later?

Can love really travel back in time and heal a broken heart? Was it our joined hands that finally lifted Maria’s curse? I’d like to think so. But there are some things I know for certain: always throw spilt salt over your left shoulder, keep rosemary by your garden gate, plant lavender for luck, and fall in love whenever you can.-Practical Magic


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And…We Have Touch Down

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“When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home.”-The Outsiders

The opening lines from The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, floated around my head while Meggie drove me to my follow up appointment with Dr. Perdue. The day wasn’t particularly sunny. In fact, the skies were threatening rain and the humidity slicked my skin with moisture. All I could think about was taking my first steps after a 95 day journey that changed my life.

Meg helped me with my last wheelchair ride, all the while calling me an ‘old lady’. We laughed together, me and my Chica. We checked in, had x-rays taken, and were guided to the surgeon’s cast room. I hopped up on the exam table like a pro, and removed my boot cast. I conversed with Meggie and the nurse while my vitals were taken.

“Is it hot in here?”, I inquired after the nurse left.

“No old lady, you’re anxious”, Meg chided. “Stop fidgeting.”

As we waited, I surfed through the pictures on my phone, until I landed on the ones I took at my two week check-up. There, in full color was my ankle, purple and swollen. The three incisions still angry and fiery red. Black sutures protruded from my skin looking like railroad tracks to hell. You would have thought I would be disgusted by the sight, but I was utterly fascinated. I grinned as I slid my finger across the smart phone screen and viewed the progress of my recuperation. I had come so far.

“Mom, you look weird.”

“I’m…Just…Happy.”

Dr. Perdue and Pete the PA joined us in the cast room. The surgeon smiled his teddy bear smile and shook my hand. We chatted about progress and recuperation. He said the Talus bone was turning white, meaning it was getting blood flow.

“I’ve never seen healing like this after such a traumatic injury,” Perdue said.

“Are you saying we are like Wolverine from X-Men?”, Meg asked.

I giggled anxiously, “I just did everything you told me to, I didn’t want to screw this up.”

“You’ve got good genetics.”

“And I had lots of people praying for me. I prayed a lot. I yelled at God too, but mostly I prayed.”

We talked about the future. That I wasn’t out of the woods yet, when it came to the Talus bone dying. For right now, we focused on walking. I got the go ahead to stop hopping on my left foot, and start walking on both feet. I laughed like a little kid and shook the doctor’s hand. After 95 days, I was going to learn to walk again. The busy doctor left the room and I secured my boot cast. I ruminated on the exam table.

“So…are you going to walk?”

“Gimme a minute, I’m trying to psyche myself up.”

Meggie aimed her smart phone at me and took video of me walking for seven seconds. Every tendon, ligament and muscle from my right knee to my foot screamed as I bore weight. Right foot first, then left foot. And so on. I…was…walking. Again…

We pushed the wheelchair out into the vestibule by the elevator. Meg carried my purse as I took my first walk outside in 95 days. Sure, I’d been outside, but it was not on my own. It was in a wheelchair or hopping with the support of a walker. No, this was different. I could walk on my own. In sunshine, moonlight, darkness or rain. I was free.

The rest of the afternoon was a blur. Lunch with Meggie and Adam Boy. My phone being blown up by friends and family asking if I was walking. A script filled and then home. For the first time in three months, I walked up the 13 steps to my apartment door. I unlocked the door and there in front of me was an old friend, my wheelchair. I burst into tears when I realized the magnitude of the change in my life. I had been reborn.

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Last night rain poured down, and I craved to walk in it. I wanted it to wash me clean while I drew in the scent of clean earth. To baptize me. Though exuberant, I was too sore and tired go outside. My right knee hurt more than anything.  I’m thankful for the pain, because it’s nothing like I’d felt three months ago. My body ached, but my spirit is soared. You know the next time it storms, this woman will be out in the middle of it. In a summer dress and barefoot, hopefully.

Two Days Til Touch Down

Pushing Forward

‘You look so pretty’, I told Lo as she walked up the stairs.

‘You do too’, she replied. ‘Why are you wearing a dress?’

‘Because none of my shorts fit.’

‘They will again, ya dork.’

I gave her a tiny smile while I put the brakes on my chair and lifted it over the threshold of my apartment door. I have to admit, I feel pretty bad ass when I do that. Who knew I’d be able to lift a wheelchair while standing on one leg? I stood at the top of the stairs as Lo walked past me and took my chair down the stairs. I laughed as she banged the damn thing down every step. She laughed as I hopped on one leg down those same steps. I’m sure my neighbors hate all the noise I make. When I run into The Old Lady that lives beside me, she often gives me the stink eye for absolutely no reason. Bitch! I digress.

Lo waited for me at the bottom of the steps. I hopped and fell into the chair.

‘I’m so damn sick of this shit!’

‘Think about how I feel’,  Lo exclaimed. ‘I have to carry that damn chair of yours everywhere.’

We laughed as I hopped yet again and maneuvered into the passenger seat of her car. As we traveled to Saline, we caught up on the events of the night before. She went to visit a mutual friend of ours and I hung out with Bette. I tried not to cry while she told me of her happiness. I sat next to her and smiled, but behind my sunglasses the tears flowed.

‘I often think it would be easier on everyone if I died in the accident.’

‘Nae, God saved you for a reason.’

‘What is that reason though?!’

I for reasons I can not fathom think it would have been easier if I’d died. My family and friends would have grieved, and I wouldn’t have felt any more pain or loneliness. I would have stopped incessantly crying, or the constant wishing for things that are never going to come to me.

‘Lo, I feel so broken.’

‘Honey, we are all broken, in our own way.’

‘At least you have the prospect of someone to love you.’

God saved you in that accident. He hasn’t shown you the reason you were saved, because you’re not open to Him.

Our conversation died when her phone rang. I sat with my hands crossed in my lap and tried to compose myself. Rolling down the window, I let the fresh air dry my tears. I inhaled the scent of summer and freedom. All of a sudden, I was slammed with the urge to tuck and roll out of Lo’s car and find a pool to jump into. Wheelchair and advisement from my surgeon be damned! How I’ve missed my rebel spirit.

Before grocery shopping we met T at Cancun for lunch. I was so glad I’d done my hair and makeup. I felt pretty, even though I was sitting in a chair, and had gained so much weight while I’ve been recuperating. T’s daughter joined us and Lo and I made sure to talk about inappropriate things while we we ate. Sex was often the topic. T admonished us more than once, which seemed to make Lo and I act even more lewd. T’s daughter didn’t seem to mind, though she did blush a time or two. The young woman was so fair complected, I bet one could see her red glow from a mile away. She had a gentle but guarded smile, and all I wanted to do was hug her.

At Wally World, Lo brought around scooter for me to shop with. I drove the thing like a pro. I didn’t have my brace on and was constantly hoping other shoppers didn’t think I was using it because I was too fat to walk. I have no idea why I gave a shit what perfect strangers thought of me driving around in a Walmart scooter, but I did. I made sure to smile at the people that stared at me. Often, I balanced on one foot to grab items from a high shelf. Lo may have to drive me, but I did my very best to be independent when shopping.

After checking out, Lo took me home. I waited while she took my groceries up to my apartment and placed them on the table. Her car radio blared because we needed to hear how the Tigers game would end. While Martinez struck the ball with his bat, I raised my face to the sun and breathed in my last bit of summer and freedom for the day. The Tigers won while she wheeled me to my door. She dragged my wheelchair up the stairs, and I went up the steps on my butt. I slid into my chair like Lieutenant Dan and lifted that damn chair over the threshold on one leg. My BFF and I hugged and said our goodbyes.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but that was the last time I would be lifting my chair over the metal molding in my apartment doorway. It was the last time Lo Lo would have to drag my chair up and down the stairs. It was the last time I would have to take my wheelchair on a shopping excursion. It was the last time she’d have to push me around in my chair while I stubbornly tried to push it myself.

Two days till touch down…I hope I find out why God saved me on that snowy night in March…Maybe it’s something as simple smelling the aroma of summer and freedom…Maybe it’s for something greater…Maybe it’s to experience the joy of becoming a grandmother…Maybe, maybe, maybe…

Sliding Glass Window Oberservations From A Grenade

Yesterday I watched from my sliding glass window, five young men wearing the same color suit. Four of them wore ties folded in Windsor knots. One of them wore a slick bow tie. There was a sixth man. A photographer wearing khakis, took candid shots of them as they changed from gym to dress shoes, straightened each others ties and goofed off, like young men do. My guess was, they were the groom and attendants for a wedding. Or maybe they were an a cappella group. Who knows?

My apartment complex is set back in a wooded area, so the photographer took them behind the building to get more shots. They left their gym shoes and back packs resting on the hoods of their vehicles. Their doors were left wide open. When they returned, they grabbed all their crap and jammed themselves into their vehicles. They and the khaki panted photographer headed off to parts unknown. I was excited to observe them as they smile radiantly and wore the same color suits. Four of them with ties folded in Windsor knots. The other, maybe the groom, wearing a slick bow tie.

Often, my observational posts begin on my personal Facebook page. An idea hits me and I have to write it down. I’m sure it drives many of my friends crazy because my posts can get a little lengthy. Whatever, then take me out of your news feed! On second thought, please don’t, because I want you to read my observations. Looking at my window is about the only place I can draw inspiration right now.  I’ve kinda been stuck in my apartment for 70 days.

My focus waned and I didn’t write much more till I arrived home from My Trivia last night. At 1:00 a.m I began writing a lengthy email to a friend, when the following quote popped into my Sparkly little head:

 I wanted to know that he would be okay if I did. I wanted to not be a grenade, to not be a malevolent force in the lives of the people I loved.–John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

I wrote to my friend, I am a goddamn grenade.

I realized that in my married life and when I was raising my kids, I was a grenade. I was a malevolent force that ruined everything in my path. I was an F5 tornado or category 5 hurricane. And I was hell bent on self destructing. The self destruction included being a horrible drunk, a slow suicide with food and conversing with men that I had no business talking to.

I don’t want to be a grenade, anymore.

My ultimate goal is to try to find peace within my stormy, passionate and romantic heart. My ultimate goal is to not judge others and somehow rise above the transgressions of my past. I’ve sought forgiveness from God. I can’t go back and change anything. I’m not looking for sympathy. I’m not even looking for forgiveness from Roger Darling, Meggie or Adam Boy. All I can do is keep my mouth shut, my mind clear and try to be happy.

I wish for the three I’ve hurt the most to be happy, because I don’t want to be a goddamn grenade, anymore.

I talked to my mother today and I asked her when I should stop saying I’m sorry for all the havoc I wreaked? Her response was as soon as put down the bucket of guilt I continued to carry around. I may never be completely forgiven by my children or the man I shared 24 years of my life with, but I’m going to put down that bucket. I’m sure there will be times in my life that I will pick it up again. There will always be a part of me that knows that I fucked everything up.

I’m also acutely aware that I will probably be alone for the rest of my life because of what I’ve done. I have to be okay with that.  I have to realize that there is no such thing as unconditional love, except for the love we give our children. On this journey to myself, I’ve discovered I am a child of God. I am a sinner, but even sinners need to forgive themselves.

His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches over me…

He watches over Meggie and Adam.

And I know, He watches over Roger Darling.

 

The Woman in the Room (Inspired by Stephen King)

“You want to remember that while you’re judging the book, the book is also judging you.”
Stephen King, Night Shift

She sleeps a mere ten feet away from me, in a rehabilitation center set atop a little bluff in a busy college town. The walls of our room are painted a celery green. They’re not unpleasant looking, but they don’t wow me much either. The color of the walls are muted, but the drapes are another story. Though washed in earth tones, the design ‘pops’. Little circles of brown connect large dots of sage and spinach. I can’t say I’d have them hanging in my house but I’m sure the designer was going for neutrality and comfort when they designed the place.

I lie in bed, my foot propped up on a cushion. I’ll be this way for at least twelve weeks, then with a little luck and a lot of prayers, I’ll go back to a semi-normal life, though I may never run or dance again. That’s a story for another day though. Today it’s about her, my roommate. An elderly woman, hard of hearing and dealing with dementia.

While I recover, I keep reverting to the short story by Stephen King, The Woman in the Room. It’s an agonizing story about a mother with terminal cancer and the son that takes care of her. The decisions that she and her son come to throughout will make you question your morals and ethics. I surmise that it’s because I’m the youngest person here, single and due to a serious injury unable to care of myself completely yet.

Thick white hair adorns her head and covers her shoulders. She has a smile that must have charmed a few men when she was in her prime. Her hands are gnarled, yet dainty.

“Hi there,” I called out brightly from my adjustable bed, our first morning together.

“Hey,” she yelled. “I’m E, and I broke my back.”

“Oh my Dear, I broke my ankle and had it reconstructed,”  I announced.

This little woman yelled back, loud enough to drone out the throbbing sound of a diesel truck, “I’m hard of hearing and I can’t hear a word you say!”

With effort and my walker I hopped over to her and repeated what I said. She smiled and shook her head, but I know she still didn’t comprehend one word. Right before me she transformed into my Grandmas N, H, G and B. Four fine women that were more than wives, mothers, grandmothers, and great grandmothers. They were women once. The kind that charmed. The kind that felt fear. The kind that felt everything we women have felt throughout our lives. Sexy, desirable, exhausted, even dead inside.

My Grandmas all battled growing older, while I battled my emotions watching them deteriorate and eventually surrender. They died at different stages in my life. A young adolescent girl, a teenager, a young wife and mother, and a wife and mother of teenage children. Each of their deaths effected me differently. At my youngest, it was barely a blip on my radar, at my oldest, gut wrenching.

Miss Cotton Hair had to be assisted with all aspects of self-care. Teeth brushing, toileting, washing, and dressing. Those are things we take for granted, and here I am doing them on one leg. The staff here are sweet but not too sugary. They do their job with tender loving care. We shared breakfast on that first day. I tried to chat, but she could not hear for shit. We communicated with smiles, and she ate everything on her plate.

Throughout the day she carried on conversations with herself. Sometimes with her children who weren’t there. She moaned and cried out because of her injury. She did physical therapy like a trooper, yet after she had her clothes changed she was convinced her son was coming to pick her up. To take her home. He wasn’t. He did come and visit that evening.  His conversation skimmed the surface. He didn’t ask much about her care. Or how she felt. It unnerved me. That woman bore him, the least he could do is ask her how she was being treated.

Don’t get me wrong, not all humans should be parents. There are some kids that have had enough, dealing with the neuroses and self-destruction of their parents. They must preserve their own hearts and sanity. They must put up barriers to protect themselves. I don’t believe that’s the case with sweet and confused Miss Cotton Hair. I’m guessing that the son only sees her in one role, that of mother.

He read her the paper. Talked about his life. The kids and wife. She’d respond, but he didn’t acknowledge the weight of her replies. Didn’t ask her about any of her life stories that will die when she does. Stories of how she danced all night and drank champagne with a young soldier on New Years Eve. The first time she fell in love. What her 13th summer was like. How it felt to kiss her husband at their wedding. What it was like the first time she had sex. What her biggest fear is.

Inside the shell of the old woman beats the heart of a girl. One that used to giggle and flirt. Or sipped soda from a straw in a small town soda fountain. That collected lightning bugs in jars and danced in the grass on a sultry summer night amid sheets still damp from the humidity.

Remember, we will all be there one day. We’ll be old. If we get lucky that is. Stay strong and healthy but have fun. Share your stories with your kids whether they want to hear them or not. Listen to your parent’s stories too. LISTEN! Even if they’ve never left their home town, they have lived. We need to know more. We need to know that they are a man or woman. That they are a dignified, passionate, strong and weak human.

When We Were Young

When we were young.

We thought we knew so much didn’t we?

Our young brains could only comprehended the present.

We never thought of the future and what we’d be like when we were middle aged.

Now, we are no longer children, yet our hearts are childlike.

We are less stodgy than our parents were at this time in their lives.

At least we hope we are.

We think about the future.

About our children all grown up and moved away.

Living lives we’ll know only a smidgen of.

We think about retirement.

Maybe, we’ll live somewhere warm in the winter months.

Yet we live with that niggling fear that we’ll miss out on being groovy grandparents.

We’re no longer young, and that’s okay.

I’ve the feeling that what’s around the bend is going to be so much better than we anticipated.

*Special thanks to my friend Stephen Uelk for inspiring this little verse.*

A Final Rendezvous With Renee

In my Dreams

These days words leave me hollow like a rotting tree stump. It may be dying, but there’s life buzzing in it anyway. Insects and animals colonize within, while the stump slowly decays and becomes one with the earth again.-Heath

I’m hollow. An empty vessel. Spent. And my story has been told. Every single one of my posts have helped bring me peace. I’ve poured my heart into every word I’ve written. Doesn’t matter if the story was real or fiction. I still bled on these pages.

The fictional stories have all had some grain of reality. A real person. A need. A want. A longing and desire. I have never created characters. I’ve created living, breathing people. Maybe someday I’ll tell you the origin of some of them, but probably not.

My journal entries, now those were something weren’t they? They taught me a thing or two about over sharing. Without them, I would have never learned about this gift that I have. It’s a curse too. See, once you begin to write,  it controls you. You immerse yourself in fiction because reality is too much to bear.

Sometimes words came so fast, I couldn’t write or type them fast enough. I was obsessed, to say the least. Photographs and paintings brought forth words and stories. I never realized how much I had to say.

My first fictional piece was called Ascent. About a girl that wanted to die. She didn’t though. Her newly discovered wings saved her as she began to plummet toward the sea. Little did I realize I was the one sprouting those metaphorical wings.

My writer, he pushed me to write for Friday Fictioneers. What began as a lark proved to be a much needed exercise in discipline. My writer fled, but I stuck with FF. Rochelle Wisoff-Fields has been a terrific mentor. I’m honored she worked so hard with me. I adore her for every criticism and kudos. My best flash fiction story was, The Invisible Man. I may submit it to Narrative Magazine. They’ve rejected my work before, but you never know what can happen.

I’ve had five short stories published by EtherBooks. Alan and Melissa from Ghost, and Damon and Rhiannon from Sounds will always be my best creations. The stories are still available for download on your iPhone or Android phone. The app is free, so please download and critique my stories.

‘The Ghost of a Great Love’ 

‘A Night Swim with Marilyn’ 

‘Dawn at Antietam’ 

‘Sounds of Orioles and the Taste of Lemonade’ 

‘On a Hot Summer Night’ 

Sometimes God Sits on a Stoop is a favorite recent post. I saw the face of God that day. I’ll never forget Curt, or his story.

I’ll keep the blog active for awhile, but don’t be surprised if one of these days it’s gone. Like me, she is a force of nature that can’t be contained.

Real life is waiting. I’m going to live it. I suggest you do the same.

Love,

Sparkly Girl

P.S. Don’t hate on me for posting the 1D video. This song is the shit. Even if it’s sung by a British boy band.

P.P.S. How can I forget Rory, my brother in arms? My world will never be the same now that you’re in it. I love you.

Although I am broken, my heart is untamed, still
And I’ll be gone, gone tonight
The fire beneath my feet is burning bright
The way that I’ve been holding on so tight
With nothing in between
The story of my life…

Journal Entry-Happiness and 180 Days

Happiness“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”-Confucius

Yeah, I know it’s been awhile, but I’m back.

The holidays were different this year, but none the less special. My ex-husband, Roger Darling and I shared the expense of buying gifts for our four kids. We prepared dinner together. Prime rib, mashed red skin potatoes, and a wonderful salad bar. We ate heartily and laughed exuberantly. Even though our family is now fractured, there is still happiness and laughter.

We spoiled our children with good gifts like we always have. And filled their stockings with everything they could possibly want. Thank you God for the dollar store!!!

The kids drank wine and beer, but it didn’t bother me. I drank Diet Coke and quietly celebrated my own milestone of another day without a drop of alcohol. I know Roger Darling keeps track of my sobriety, which I’m kind of honored by. I will never understand how a man who’s heart I shattered could give two shits about me. Never mind, I do know. Even after everything we’ve been through, he still loves me. I may not love him the same way, but we will always have a connection. We were a family, once upon a time…

In this New Year, I celebrate that I’ve been sober for over 180 days.

Many times I’ve stood in the liquor aisle and stroked the bottles of flavored vodka. They called to me like they were my lover, but it is a siren’s song. I knew if I took a drink, I would crash into the shore of my own self-destruction again, and again, and again.

I made myself walk away from those bottles of poison, more than once. No matter how lonely, depressed or angry I got, I never drank.

I just knew the next day would be full of hope, promise and at least one reason to smile.

I’m still finding my way back to happy. It isn’t in the bottom of a vodka bottle.

It’s within me.

My heart, mind and soul are happier, sober.

I’m no Pollyanna. There are days that I can barely get out of bed. I force myself to get up and face the day. Just waking up without a hangover and going to work is blessing enough.

Happy New Year my dear friends. I hope that 2014 is a better year for all of you. May you all let go of fear, and live the lives you desire.

Love,

A sober and somewhat happy Sparkly Girl

The Tattoo Artist, Friendship Soup and Conversation

vintage-tattoo-couple“Tattoos made my skin more ‘me.’ -Melissa Maxwell”

Larry Smith, It All Changed in an Instant: More Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & Obscure

I spoke to him on Thursday night, after handing him a jar of handcrafted soup. The note attached articulated that I hoped it nourished he and his son’s bodies as well as their souls.

His eyes clouded with tears, and he began to speak to me. To catch me up on his life. The words came out in torrents. I just listened. It usually is so difficult for me to keep my mouth shut. I always want to inject words of advice into conversations with friends. To ease the pain in some way.

He told me of recent happenings. The sadness. The grief. The loss of a good friend to suicide. And coming to the realization that he was a good man. I kept listening. And smiling. I wanted to hold him close to me, but I didn’t think he’d welcome the contact.

For some reason, he went back to the beginning of his life and shared everything. This man that has pierced me with his needle made sure to  pierce my heart too.

We spoke of his art. The drawing, painting, and tattooing. We spoke of writing. He said I was good. I told him he was better. I announced that he was a reincarnation of Jack Kerouac. He chuckled and grinned like a little kid and announced that his grammar was awful. I assured him that a writer is only as good as their editor. He snickered again.

I inquired about Christmas Day. He told me he’d be spending it alone. The nurturer in me wanted to invite him to dinner on the 25th. Wouldn’t that be something, my friend, covered with tats, ears gauged, sitting at the dinner table with my family? But I didn’t ask. I should have.

Our words began to lessen and it was time for me to take my leave. He came around the counter and hugged me tightly to him. I took in his scent, divine and manly. I whispered in his ear, ‘Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.” He smiled boyishly and I departed from his shop.

His smile stayed on my mind while I drove to my little apartment, just 10 minutes away. The fact that he would be alone on Christmas Day did also. When I got home, I extended an invitation for Christmas dinner. His reply was noncommittal but thankful all the same.

He let me into his life on Thursday night, and I didn’t worry about what time it was. Or the other things I had to do, I just listened.

And I learned.

**Writer’s Note:**
This was the Facebook status that I was tagged in after we talked on Thursday evening. I guess my words stayed with the artist. It is quite an honor to be a part of his life. No matter how small that part may be.
I woke up as the sun was reddening; and that was the one distinct time in my life, the strangest moment of all, when I didn’t know who I was – I was far away from home, haunted and tired with travel, in a cheap hotel room I’d never seen, hearing the hiss of steam outside, and the creak of the old wood of the hotel, and footsteps upstairs, and all the sad sounds, and I looked at the cracked high ceiling and really didn’t know who I was for about fifteen strange seconds. I wasn’t scared; I was just somebody else, some stranger, and my whole life was a haunted life, the life of a ghost.-jack kerouac — with Renee Heath.

The Photograph

Friends-best friend-friend picture-freinds wallpaper-friendship (2)

“The most I can do for my friend is simply to be his friend. I have no wealth to bestow on him. If he knows that I am happy in loving him, he will want no other reward. Is not friendship divine in this?-Henry David Thoreau

I placed the photograph of the five of us in the picture frame. We looked fabulous! On it the sentiment reads:

Friends

Life is to be shared with our greatest friends

Who would have thought the photo I would add to it would be of the five us? My four best friends from high school. After 25 years, and a lifetime of changes, we were together again. To celebrate the first wedding for our friend A. We looked the same, but didn’t. We acted the same, but saner. We had become grown ups. Some of us parents. Some of us married. Well, A. was married. The rest of us had tried to maintain relationships, but most of us were single again.

It was the first time I’d been to a wedding reception without Roger Darling. It felt strange, but not. I felt freedom as I ran around the reception hall. Hugging everyone and chatting away. P. and I spoke inappropriately to each other and laughed about the fact that you could tell who the recovered alkies were during the wedding toast. Everyone else had champagne, we had sparkling cider colored purple.

T and I skittered around the kitchen wearing aprons. We talked non-stop as we sliced cakes and filled trays with delicious desserts for the guests. We did our best to keep the bride’s family out of the kitchen, so they could enjoy the evening. T and I had a blast, even when she cut her finger and was bleeding profusely all over the place. We patched her up and continued our kitchen duty. Who would have thought I’d be standing there with her? My T. The girl that called me Pookie Chow Chow when we were kids. Don’t ask me why, she just did.

Rhodes came all the way from West “By God” Virginia to photograph the festivities. We asked her to take the photo of us, P, A, L, T and me. Most of us had gone years without speaking. There were fights, misunderstandings, changes in personality and attitudes. There were hurt feelings too. I recall sending a Christmas card to one of my friends with pictures of my little son and daughter in it. It was returned to me unopened, stating that the address was unknown. It saddened me a little, but such is life. We move on. Grow. Change. Mature. Live. Break. Rebuild.

The frame that holds my treasured photo was meant to contain a picture from another time. My friend Linda and I never got to take that photo. A diagnosis of cancer and her swift retreat from my life made it impossible. She died not soon after, and I hid the frame in my closet. I figured I would get the chance to have another photo taken with the three remaining friends that were with me on the day I received the gift from Lin. But circumstances with all of them changed and our friendships scattered to the wind.

I’m of the belief that everything happens for a reason. Be it fate or God, or both. Linda gave me that frame to house a precious photo. Who knew it would be of the four friends I had in high school? They were my Breakfast Club. My Lloyd Dobler, from Say Anything. My Pretty in Pink. My Sixteen Candles. And they had all come home to my heart. Isn’t it funny, the ones you thought would always be with you fly away. And the ones you thought would never come back, do with such love you wonder how you ever lived a day without them.

The photo is my treasure and I look upon it every day. Life truly is to be shared with our greatest friends.