Neighbors

It’s early morning.  The grass is so cold that it crackles with frost as I walk through
the field before my bus stop.  I begin dreaming of what her hair must
smell like.  Probably like some sort of fruit, probably peaches.
I stand at the curb, as I do every day, but this day will be different.
Today will be the day that I summon enough courage to give her
my letter, my very first undying love poem.  It is also the day that
she will check the yes box at the bottom of the page that precedes my
signature and succeeds my rather embarrassing question of whether
or not she will be my girlfriend.
The huge yellow bus comes to a stop in front of me.  I take a deep breath and
climb the bus’s steep, metal stairs.  A wave of anxiety hits me as I look over
all of the seats and over kids’ heads toward the back of the bus.  Where
is she?  She’s always sitting in the same seat but it seems that she’s not
even on the bus at all today.  Anger washes over me as I make it to my
seat and put my love letter in a safer place.  Luckily we’re neighbors; I will just
take the letter to her house after school.  She must be sick or something.
There’s just no way her parents would have pulled her out of school today
just because of one little admirer.  I mean, everything I’ve done up to this
point has been pretty harmless.  The dozens of phone calls and random
bouquets of flowers on her porch never hurt anybody.  This will be the
first time she will ever receive a letter straight from me, with my name
printed clearly at the bottom.  I’m harmless, so why would her parents
take her out of school?  She has to be sick today.  I guess everything will
come together when I stop by with my letter on my way home.
As I begin obsessing about how different the day will go now that all of
my plans have to change, I feel someone starring at me.  I look up to see her
best friend that sits next to her usual spot on the bus.  Unlike most people
do when caught starring, she does not look away.  Finally, I ask her what
her problem is.
“You’re weird.  You know it’s considered stalking, right?” she asked.
I deny all accusations.  “She’s switching schools because of you.
You’re such a freak.  I can’t believe my best friend won’t be going to the same
school as me anymore, all because of some FREAK!” she exclaimed, nearly in tears.
She grabbed her things and moved to the front of the bus to a different seat.
I stayed silent, going over everything in my head, trying to pinpoint when it
was that I must have slipped up, providing my identity on a silver platter.  Now
that the details to our situation have become much clearer, my plans later
today have yet again shifted.  I hate having to alter what was once such an innocent
proposal into a much darker, sinister scheme.  After mapping it all out in my head,
I shrug and look out the bus windows.  The frost on the grass is starting to melt
as the sun gets higher and higher in the sky, bringing the day closer and closer
to afternoon.

 

 

 

 

Neighbors

Advertisements

Release

The wind darts in and out of the trees
Scurrying between leaves and kicking up dirt
The smell of Fall clings to the air, as if released from some hidden deity
From imprisonment to freedom
Its scent so strong, like it’s here to stay.
Providing a metallic, rusty orange scent
Let it linger, enjoy this moment
Because even though you don’t appreciate the time right now
You’re going to deeply miss today when today becomes tomorrow
And you look back fondly with rose-tinted glasses
Sweet child, you have so much to learn
So much life to live.
Soak up every second of your youth and make no regrets
If only you knew…
These are the best days of your life.

Release

 

Dash

A common main course recipe for the holidays is a dish known as Dysfunction.  “An acquired taste” is as polite as I can describe it.  No one ever asks for a second serving, yet we have it every year, despite its potential aftermath.

To serve four, the recipe calls for one quiet and exhausted father, an obnoxious and controlling mother, and a set of sensitive siblings, a brother and a sister, impressionable and naive.

In a large pot, you combine the mother and the father.  You will begin to notice some separation already, but this is normal.  Next, throw in one part debt with an equal part of blame, a dash of jealousy, two scoops of insecurity, and one heaping scoop of anger.  Now raise the temperature and bring the pot to a boil.  Stir often to make sure it does not boil over.

After about ten minutes, or when you begin to see the ingredients are beginning to darken and bruise, bring the temperature down to a simmer.  Next, we add one pregnancy and one set of twins, a boy and a girl.  Following this addition, drain the ingredients and finally sit to let it cool.

While waiting, you prep for the next stage, which is child rearing followed by adolescent puberty, infidelity, and marriage counseling.  Now, separate the mother and father into two equal parts.

This separation adds the flavors of bitterness, resentment, guilt, and shame, bringing forth the last stage for the recipe: divorce and midlife crisis.

Countless traditional holidays with the family are spent with this dish served as the main course.  My mother makes this dish every year, even though she knows my sister and I hate it.  My father does too, but he’s too passive to say so.  Every year, we sit down as a family of four, and regardless of its cringeworthy aftertaste, we each partake in dishing up our annual serving of Dysfunction, year after year, time after time again.

Dash

A Place I Like To Be

Journaling/Writing Exercise: Imagine yourself in a place you like to be (not necessarily someplace you like to *go*). What do you like about it? What are the most intriguing/appealing aspects?

If I focus mentally on a place I feel safe, where there are no awful memories and everything is exactly how it’s supposed to be, I oftentimes picture getting ready for bed in my bedroom at my grandparent’s house.  I went to a prestigious prep school at the time and I always had hours and hours of homework to complete every night.  I always looked forward to finishing the last page of homework, feeling the effects of fatigue and stress weighing heavily on my eyes, how good it felt to slide under my sheets and climb into bed.
I had a specific routine that I went through every night.  After finishing my studies, I would turn the light on out on the deck outside my floor-to-ceiling windows.  I would then pull up the window shades so that the ambiance from the outside light could fall into my room, creating my own night-light.
Being around 3:00 AM every night, nobody else was awake.  It was just me, the moon, my bedsheets, and the peaceful tranquility of finally drifting off to sleep.

Survive

The jungle air sat stagnant and moist
Like the thick, warm breath of some unseen monster.
The black night’s white stars loomed over the Amazon
Like the clusters of mosquitos that buzzed and stalked the river’s edge.

After traipsing through the jungle, misguided, hungry and dehydrated
Like contestants battling it out in a survival game show
Three travelers struggle against nature’s elements and fate’s plan
Like trying to outrun a race with mortality nestled past the finish line.

After making a weak campfire, its flames begging to lick the night sky
Like a hot orange hand with its fingers tickling the base of the treetops.
The three lost travelers surround the fire’s edge
Like small, roasting puppies eager for an owner’s attention.

Sadness and silence fell upon them as they sunk into nostalgia
Like holidays and baby books, heirlooms and photos.
They yearned for the ability to finally sleep
Like memories and dreams could wash away their obvious fates.

Survive

Things That Happen In A Second

A list of things that can happen in one second:

The tick of a clock’s hand
The inhale or exhale of taking a breath
A reaction to something surprising
A moment of impact
The act of collision
The turn of a page
The beat of a heart
Experiencing an epiphany
Or a Eureka! moment
The burst of a popped balloon
The difference in time between the end of Monday and the beginning of Tuesday
The blink of an eye
The beginning of the end
The length of time it takes to experience 1/60 of a minute.

Hideout

Behind my childhood home grew my childhood yard.  Behind my childhood yard, a thick gathering of assorted species of trees grew abruptly and seemingly out of nowhere, as if my best friend and I were gifted a small personalized forest.  Nestled inside, a swamp overgrown with shrubbery, bushes, and fallen trees set the scene for our childhood fort, our very own shelter from the world outside of it, the world teeming with adults and responsibilities.
Because it was our place in the forested world and we owned the grounds, we also owned its rules. Rule one was a mutual understanding of boundaries: no pushing of thy friend into thy swamp.  Rule two carried the continuing maintenance of keeping the sacredness and secrecy that bound us to what was once our fort, now turned hideout, just between the two of us.  It was The Hideout’s secrecy that kept it ours’.
As the days turned into years, our hideout served more than just the designated meet up location between and behind our two houses.  It was the spot where I mustered up enough courage to test out a homemade swing that I tethered to a tree that swung over the entire swamp.  It was the first time that I can recall fully trusting my own judgment in a dangerous situation.  I can still feel the metallic taste of fear settling in my throat as I go back through articles of memory to the moment of launch.  With all of my weight, I remember swinging across the vast width of the swamp, getting spun around with the pull of gravity, my black Chuck Taylors skidding against bark as I returned to my initial starting point, landing less than gracefully,  but successfully none-the-less.
There were many “firsts” between the two of us that were experienced at The Hideout: first informal, puppy love-induced dates; first childhood crushes; first innocent kisses.  Whenever arguments arose in my family’s home or when I couldn’t bear another second in my adolescent awkwardness during my preteen years, I found solace and peace in those woods.  Further into my teenage years, I started spending less and less time at The Hideout due to an increase in priorities; I simply couldn’t be at two places at one time.
In the event that I needed my world to be still, I always found myself returning to The Hideout mentally.  It has always been a great means of meditation for me, allowing me to hideout in a more peaceful place buried in my imagination and memory.
The amount of gratitude I have for the place that has over-served its purpose is indescribable.  As it sits to this day, The Hideout has not physically changed much from the first day my best friend and I found its location.  Today, just as I did when I was six, I can go behind my childhood home and into those woods and experience a moment of respite.  Whether it be a peaceful moment in real time or in my head, The Hideout has always been like an older, supportive sibling for me to run toward when life becomes challenging, and to an only-child, this makes The Hideout irreplaceable.

Hideout