Home, knees kiss the ground
Soldier’s sound: blessed embrace
Respect, holding tight.
Ripped pieces, blood, knife
stabbed, throttled, dark alleyways
Empty, taken, dead.
Bare gray beach shack, left
Abandoned with laughter, joy
*A new home for Life.
People weep alone
gray tunnels of emptiness
Selfish acts of love.
* a new home for Alice.
I’ve been calm all my life, I have kept things inside me, perhaps there was turmoil that I never knew about but just felt it in an eery way. Some say it came out in different ways that were unconscious, maybe it was always there, life is not a perfect place to be but I had to be it. I was smooth, calming, dependable because that was my role. Nobody said anything; they didn’t have to, I understood with a blink of an eye or a shadow cast by the sun or the moon. I was stripped down to nothing, you could see through me on calm days, right down to my little toe pebbles where you would daintly swim.
As I got older, I tried hard to separate from all of you, it took time and strength. Yes, strength to cut those ties that were strangling my neck. I pushed and shoved and every time you pushed back I was getting stronger and stronger to not allow you to bully me. I pushed back with my self-confidence, with blustery forces, with big white foamed currents, rolling waves and when I felt like it I would knock your ass to the rough,sharp, uneven ocean floor. If you had been really mean to me as soon as you got up, I pushed you down again making you gasp with uneven breaths. I could do that now, no longer was I a calm little secret, holder of all things peaceful and gracious.
I was confident filled with self-worth, I was in charge now, chuckling at your ineptitude. I was right, not you. My importance and intuition was unbelievably sound. Yes, you were wrong, battling your head against me again and again. But, I stayed sturdy, hitting you back over and over until I had punished you all day and a little of the night when the sun had set and I could relax in the joy of my last accomplishment of the day. Finally, you understood, that tomorrow and every day afterwards, I would never back down and be your puppet again. I knew me, and I knew all of you and you could burn in hell as far as I cared. It was harder for you to say you were wrong, all along, wasn’t it? I know, but I no longer care. Because I do KNOW the truth I always have, you pitiful, self-involved, selfish beings, the scum, green, slippery left-over seaweed that we all avoid.
Had there ever been a time when there was so much debris and clutter you couldn’t face it anymore? He swept it away violently from the table and left nothing, just some fractured blue glass, a bottle of ketchup and some wooden napkin holders. He insisted he was not a violent man.
“Clearing the chambers of my mind,” he called it.
He looked over his right shoulder and saw madness eclipsed in a minute: a bright plastic orange bowl holding half-eaten yellow sucking candy, an empty bottle of diet Snapple tea lying on its side, their garish red toothpaste stuck in their cracked sink, without its cap, like cement.
Books in uneven stacks that she had no interest in reading.
She refused to look at them, refused to try to see if she liked them, he bought each one of them for her, knowing she used to love to read.
It was maddening.
Her fear grew, you could smell it, raunchy, like a nasty bacterial bug spreading to all four corners of the room.
I watched her from the bed and saw her stomach clenched with tension, twinges of limbs of trees gnawing as if they grew inside her and were struggling to get out.
“Yes,” I said, to her two best friends, “” I am the infamous Jeffrey”.
“Do you think she settle down on her own or will she need the help of those pills?” the one with the blonde hair, Katie, asked?
One, of the hundreds and hundreds of pills, she keeps in the fake wooden drawers.
I knew better not to answer. I just shrugged my shoulders.
This was her life now with Jeffrey.
It had been this way now for three years.
Waiting, with him, at home, with no structure, wanting change, fearing it.
She was terrified with no reason because of no reason.
She loved him, she hated him just as much.
A double life sword. Get it?
It used to be very different. I used to be very different, she would say in her mind.
I was braver but also weaker, yin and yang.
But our hands still fit, perfectly, she thought. That’s gotta mean something…
The psychiatrist nods her mop of red hair knowingly but she doesn’t look convinced.
I don’t have happy memories anymore or bad ones she said. I don’t play that game anymore.
It is becoming increasingly painful.
Do I need out or in?
I’ve been in so long that it’s like being at home.
I know that when I go out, I can see the speckled orange and red leaves in the waving branches beckoning me closer.
Still, I hesitate.
Why? Physically, emotionally? Both?
It’s hard sometimes to separate.
the breakfast of steel and ash
every time i close my eyes i am in the same dead, evil nightmare. even in the depths of my sleep i am praying to be freed from this living insanity, i don’t dream in color anymore. just black and white, only black and white. color has left me, left the world. mostly i sit in the corner of my bedroom in brooklyn, back at my parents’ house, watching television or trying to read a book.mostly i don’t do anything. years ago i thought i wanted to be a journalist but there is not a chance in hell i want to do that anymore.
why bother, i’m already in hell and i don’t want to write it down any more than i have to. my psychiatrist is making me do this as an exercise i think it’s stupid but i promised i would try. as if, i also promised i wouldn’t commit suicide but i crossed my fingers behind my back.
i don’t know how easily some people can go back to joy and living when they were seconds away from the smell in your nostrils of death, burning, steel, crashing planes. people jumping out of windows, running wild in the streets, i try to think of it as a movie but it is no movie.
i was the one who was supposed to look after pippa her parents had named her phillipa, they lived in australia. she was my girlfriend and had flown in a couple of weeks before to attend nyu just prior to labor day. she hadn’t even known what labor day was. this was all my fault. of course it was, how could anyone say it wasn’t. i know it was. i deserve to be dead too.
i was an executive trainee on wall street and they had planned a special back to work breakfast meeting, more like a party, and you were allowed to bring a guest. of course i asked pippa and she smiled so widely her whole face lit up, her pixie hair cut made her look about sixteen and she decided for hours what she was going to wear. the last i heard it would be her flowered dress yellow and orange flowered dress. i think. i don’t remember. i’m sorry pippa, that i can’t remember that. i’m not sure, i don’t know.
i start crying and thrashing and now my mommy is in my room and she gives me some medicine to calm me down. it’s okay i like to be calmed down so i can forget for a few minutes of what my life really is. i can sleep then.
pippa and i went to the breakfast meeting holding hands, she had no classes that morning so it worked out perfectly. they served mimosas and bloody marys and pippa, of course, had a mimosa, maybe two. they served the most elaborate breakfast and after the first course pippa touched me lightly on the shoulder and whispered that she was going to find the ladies room. i smiled back at her, i felt so lucky she was in my life.
before pippa got back we felt trembling in the building, we all looked at each other maybe the building was settling, we thought. after five minutes it was much worse there was an earthquake, we assumed, the building started shaking and we thought we heard explosions. everyone ducked, we had no idea idea what was happening. i started to scream for pippa, as loud as i could, i tried to run to her and i fell. stupid me, my voice was so hoarse i could barely speak but i kept screaming for her.
several minutes later it turned out that a bomb exploded in the first building, it had effected our building too but we were lucky. we were told to go down the stairs quickly. i couldn’t leave without her but the police officers said i had to, they promised they would look for her. i made them promise. we were all covered with ash, steel rods were everywhere, i could barely breathe.
what happened after that i can barely remember, all i know is that i was alive and i waited for hours for pippa to come until they made me leave. i had to walk to brooklyn with other people in the city that had become a war zone. i waited for news of her for days, i didn’t leave my parents house, not for months. when i could go out i only went with my parents or psychiatrist to go to ground zero every day and every night but they always threw me out.
it’s been months now, pippa was killed on september 11th, i was supposed to protect her and here i am still alive. barely still alive. pippa was dead, it should have been me.it still may have to be. i make no promises. the only time I go out is to the memorial fence and i wait alone with other lost souls. we sit staring at the fence, crying, still hoping they will come back yet knowing they never will. we talk about joining them. every single day.
We all age. It’s one thing, like death, we cannot change. In time, we need to accept the inevitable. We all get older and as scary as it sounds it is going to happen whether we like it or not. At some point, kicking or screaming or both we need to find peace within ourselves to accept our new, old age, our new lifestyle, that WE are now considered old.
The trick to getting comfortable with your age? I have no idea. Once in a while I become a nervous wreck thinking about it. It usually only lasts about ten minutes at a time but when it hits it doesn’t feel good at all. Like now:
How did I get to be this old? I don’t understand. Wasn’t I just seven walking up the big hill to get to my elementary school wondering about how it would feel being old? I distinctly remember the comfort that I would not get old alone, that the friends around me who were the same age would get older too.
Junior high was a blur, it wasn’t the best time but it wasn’t the worse. It was something you had to go through to live another day. Students bothering you for your lunch money, dark hallways, new friends. Dreary, fenced in cement playground.
Then, I fell in love with high school, my sister went away to college and a new me was born. As my parents said “I blossomed.” I adored high school, I was at school more than I was at home, in every club imaginable. Writing clubs, The New York Club, Yearbook Club, Acting, Jabberwocky Club (a magazine I, unfortunately named.)
Didn’t I go straight from there to college, when it snowed on October 2nd and finally got warm at the end of the semester for a few days and we played frisbee and sat in the sun? We had a cat named Boz.Those four years went by so quickly, Anthropology, Sociology, Psychology. Parties, crushes, and one ugly hangover.
After that I was single, independent, living in my apartment in New York City, working at a good job, moved to Boston on a whim, I thought my friend Matthew was moving there, made a really good salary, convinced I would never meet a guy. I had a short romance or two. The next step was meeting a guy that for the first time I didn’t get tired of after twenty minutes.
My first love. My always love. We got married, we moved, we tried to have children to no avail and then (thank you G-d ) I got pregnant and what a miracle that was! We were blessed that after two and a half years of painful, intrusive infertility treatments, our son was born. When our son was one, we were thrilled and excited to be naturally expecting another child, another miracle, a beautiful blonde, blue-eyed daughter. I give thanks for my family every single night. That’s what love is.
If I had to pick a time when I was the happiest, THAT was the best time of my life, that time period when I was first pregnant with my son and then ecstatically with my daughter.
Luckily, we have our memories, at least most of them. Photographs too can fill in the spaces that time captured. We can all get scared of being older, it’s natural but here’s something that you can do to help: find other people you trust, and talk. It doesn’t matter what age they are. Pick up the phone, make a lunch date, reach out. Stay in touch with old friends, make some new friends. You will feel better. I assure you, you both will.
just a tiny bit of yellow makes the world a happier place.Enjoy. Photograph by me.
Damn this disease. Yes, I know it’s a chronic illness and I have lived with it for over six years, I try not to complain, but that doesn’t work 100 percent. I deal with it the best way I can and each day is different. It has limited MANY outside activities and it has given me pain, incredible weakness and undeniable imbalance. I can handle pain, it’s bearable most of the time and when it is really bad take pain medications. It’s the “flare-ups” that plague us, those really bad times that are triggered from….pretty much anything.
I am miserable that I cannot open a jar anymore though I do not have Rheumatoid Arthritis. That is good news so why am I so weak that I have to ask my daughter to do it for me? My doctor’s prescription :…
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