Bloody mud piles, play
dig your mean gut, soul, under
Won’t cry over you.
Bloody mud piles, play
dig your mean gut, soul, under
Won’t cry over you.
It was like watching Mikhail Baryshnikov springing across the stage,so handsome, so technically perfect; exactly like that, as I
drove my old clunky gray car down the street and gasped. A beautiful, strong deer with antlers danced right in front of me, crossing the road. I slammed hard on the brakes, very hard, not to injure this beauty. I hadn’t really thought of the car or of myself. It was like a beautiful ballet dancer I had seen long ago, so gorgeous and delicate yet so strong. I waited to see, with cars honking behind me, if more of
the family was about to cross as well but no, this deer had crossed the road by himself.
The Turning Point was one of my favorite movies when I was young. The romance, the intrigue, the ballet. A girl growing up to be a woman, a mother and her best friend, secretly jealous of each other, egos fighting egos. The best friend trying to mother the other woman’s daughter. Comparing lives as if they were comparing tastes in a food competition. The daughter learning to grow up and realize the truth about love and being in love and people and their true characters.
My Baryshnikov danced across the street to an admiring audience of one.
Time, age, loved ones howl
sharp decline, ghost eyes, scared, sad
Lost memory weeps.
Spicy woman laughs
declines help, dances with joy
eyes sparkle with hope.
Jobless, hungry, poor
Decline of country’s spirit
We weep for children.
Happily tired, accomplished, cooking meals for others, gathering things for my children. My dog, Lexi, darts in-between my legs, she tries to fight with me as I dance, alone, to the music that is playing from my computer. After watching me dance, she gives up and looks at me quizzically, she doesn’t want to be involved in THIS game, her bone is definitely more interesting. If dancing is considered exercise then I am in pretty good shape. To me, music, my music, stuck in the 70’s and 80’s makes everything feel better.
I laugh aloud, if people would see me they would question my sanity but I really don’t care, I sing horribly, but at top volume, to any song that I know. This is the joy and wisdom of being over fifty.
Granted, if my children were home they would not find this amusing at all, so I would just shut my door and continue to dance, but I know I would not feel the same way. I would feel too constricted, like a bird with a wounded wing. I can ignore judgment from other people but from my children it is definitely harder.
Being healthy and happy is all that matters, taking life one step at a time. Once in a while I get ahead of myself, and I pay the price. Today, I am enjoying, my dog, the quiet of the empty streets, the smell of vanilla lingering in my kitchen and the sound of my laughter as I continue to dance around the fake Spanish tiles in my kitchen floor. The music is loud, everything is balanced; I appreciate what I have this moment.
“i’d rather teach one bird how to sing than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance.”
They tell me it was a memory I never had, but of course, I am not convinced they are telling me the truth. I am so sure I remember reaching my long, skinny fingers and stroking the soft texture of the speckled leaves on the ground. Wasn’t it just yesterday that the leaves had been vibrant dancers in, yellow, red and orange, pirouetting for us from the upper limbs of the trees, beckoning us to admire them? Our group of friends sat on the dry ground in a circle and we clapped our hands heartily for their lovely show and whistled our love and appreciation. What a lovely dance they put on for us! We talked about it at dinner at the Inn, all of us feeling so lucky to have seen the beauty of art and nature coexisting. We felt blessed.
When we awoke the next morning, after inhaling strong cups of coffee and eating our sugar dusted, apple-cider doughnuts, we headed back eagerly for the early show of the dancing leaves yet something felt different to everyone. We all felt unsettled, out-of-place. It seemed that overnight, all the glorious leaves had slid to the floor, wet, subdued, stepped on, laying on the ground, curled up and crumpled, dead, on a pile of the old, worn, rusty bridge that should have been torn down forty years ago. The bridge had no use anymore except for photographic opportunities, no cars could travel on it, people felt unsteady walking on it. It was unsafe.
You and I, darling, had danced beneath those breathtaking leaves, we waltzed over and over again but you said you could NOT remember that. Well, I remembered it, with perfect clarity of young love, breathtaking beauty, birds sweetly chirping their melodious songs, and our picnic lunch. We waltzed underneath the bright sun, many years ago. I don’t know why you don’t remember it because it is so clear in my mind and SO IMPORTANT. I don’t understand, it meant so much to us then. Please try to remember, at least something, of that magical day, for me, sweetheart, for me. You look blankly at me or am I looking blankly at you? I don’t remember much of anything at all anymore. I was young once, that I know but weren’t you too?
Stretching arms upward
angel smiles, lips pouting, coy
gold gossamer wings.
Winter’s brand new frost
shining diamonds in sunlight
Prism, a joyful gift.
The lakes’ diamond gold
like a million moons, stars, light
sparkle, twirl to dance
Midway in life’s journey…
“My name is Joey, I’m thirty years old, married with a daughter named Sophia. We are a good family but sure we have more than our share of ups and downs. Who is happy all the time, right? I mean I know we aren’t. I never thought I would turn thirty, have a family and be out of a job but the economy sucks. I was laid off from my writing job at Music Magazine, a place where I have worked for over five years. Five loyal years of my life and now they lay me off. I hate my life now. My wife is a lawyer and we can pay the mortgage but that’s just not it. I put hours and hours in this damn company, screw the economy. “It’s not personal” my boss said, ”we’re laying off 20 people.” Is that supposed to make ME feel better? It doesn’t.
As if it wasn’t bad enough, my wife, Gabrielle and I have been fighting non-stop, I’m not even sure what we fight about anymore. Gabby and I have been going at each other since we met, at least that’s how it feels to me. Sometimes, I feel furious when I even think of her and I don’t know why. Well, maybe I know. That’s when I feel my heart speed up and I scream out loud, I’ve even put a few holes through the wall but I am in no way proud of that, trust me.
Been hanging around with my friends Steve and Jack more, since I don’t have to be anywhere in the mornings. We usually go to bars or to the ballgame or just hand out at their house watching television.. It was really funny, last night we went to a gay bar. Steve and Jack are a couple and they asked me if I wanted to go. I thought ‘why not?’ So we went in and after a while, a few guys asked me to dance. Of course, Steve and Jack were egging me on so I thought it would be fun. I danced and it was a blast. I felt free and I felt happy, happier than I have been in a long time.
I left the bar at 3 am and was not looking forward to Gabrielle’s interrogation, God, I hate that. She’s not my mother you know, I’m a grown up and can go out with my friends if I want to. Sure enough, she was sitting up in bed, her dark brown eyes looked black with fury. She starts screaming about “courtesy and marriage, and “why didn’t I call? ” Yeah, I know, I screwed up by not calling but after her screaming at me for so long, I stopped caring. Enough is enough. Everything inside me froze.
I’m midway in my life’s journey for my own truth and happiness and as I stood up from the bed something clicked in my head. That always happens when I have a very important thought or if I have reached my limit or made a very important decision. I didn’t say a word and Gabby was still screaming at me. Calmly, I went to the closet and got our old navy blue suitcase and started packing. I couldn’t speak but I cried, tears streaming down my face. Gabby didn’t even notice that I was crying which says a lot.
I started sobbing and shaking violently so I sat in my armchair, put my face in my hands and wrapped my arms around myself. I was moving side to side like a pendulum. Gabby was suddenly silent. She didn’t even ask if I was ill or was having a heart attack, she just sat there and stared. Through my cries of distress and anguish I managed to say “I’m so sorry Gabby, I’m so, so sorry” over and over again. Her face looked as if it had aged ten years. “You’ve always been suspicious and I’ve always denied it but I can’t anymore. I deserve to live a full and happy life.””Gabby” I continued, “I’m gay.”
The words lingered in the air, floating around the room like a helium balloon. Finally, I was able to let out a deep sigh, I felt so bad about hurting her but I felt amazingly light inside myself. “I will make sure to see Sophia, but don’t ask me to change who I really am.” “I’m a gay man and I’ve lived a lie,” “but I can’t live with myself any longer playing this game. I love you and our daughter but it’s time now, truly time, for me to love myself.” With that, I lifted the suitcase, went to Sophia’s room and kissed her sleepy head and then slowly walked out and locked the door behind me.”
“I am so, so pretty. People stop me on the street to stare at me and smile; the feeling inside me is one of great joy and wonder. I’ve never felt like this, I think to myself, in my dream but it feels delicious and I am incredibly happy, the happiest I have ever been. I am light on my feet, I dance in time, swirling around in my pink and black lace dress. I can wear high heels that don’t hurt that match my dress impeccably. I am loved, I throw my head back with its brown tendrils perfectly curled and laugh.
I met James when I was fifteen and he was sixteen. Once we met we were inseparable; we went on picnics all the time. He knew how much I lived going on picnics, our hands getting sticky from the sandwiches, thickly sliced multi-grain bread, sharp cheddar cheese, smoked ham, stone ground mustard, small, sweet pickles and those salty potato chips that we bought at the store. Dear, sweet, handsome James. James, the grown-up man with the sly, boyish grin whom I met by chance, two years before. His car was stuck and I was with my new puppy and he seized upon my puppy like a child seeing Santa Claus. Apparently, his own dog, also a German Shepard mix had recently been euthanized, and I think his pure love and excitement to see my puppy made him light up from the inside out. He picked up my dog and held her in his arms, laughing and the dog loved every second of the attention. I liked watching them together. More than that, I liked James, putting his arm around my shoulders, his fingers combing my hair, sniffing my hair and murmuring how good it smelt, like flowers and the ocean and sunshine. We were meant for each other, James and I, it was a love that was so good and pure, based on friendship and romance and companionship.
We would grow old together, we promised one another but before that we were busy! We had three children together, two boys, Tom and Eric and then we had our baby girl, Nicole. Oh, my, we all made a fuss over the baby girl. In fact, she was called “baby girl” for most of her life. She was just the sweetest thing and oh, how she could just get everything she wanted out of her daddy, why he would just fall to mush if she asked him anything, why anything at all.
We had a good life together, he and I. We were destined to be together until the last breath he took. I can see clearly now that not everyone has this type of love in their lives. I know we were meant for each other the first time I saw him. He used to kid me about that saying I was such a “romantic” and he would shake his head and laugh but I knew he thought the very same thing.
Now, I sit, alone, in the hospital. I lie in the white bed with the nurses who come clucking to take blood and do tests and all I hear are the clang clang of bells and the pager screaming names of doctors. Lord, the last place to go to get some healing is some damn hospital, that’s for sure. I try to think of the good old days but when I try to talk about it, people just look at me like all sorts of crazy. “There was no James” they say. “You were never married” they say firmly. “You have no children, does anyone visit you, they ask?”Why do they say these horrible, mean things to me? I don’t know why, but I always shake my head and scream when they do. Last time I did that they put some stuff in my mouth and held my arms and I slept for a long time. I didn’t feel like me when I woke up, I was all confused for a real long time.
I don’t understand why they say these things. I just know that I was happy once. Once, long ago. Maybe in another world, maybe in my imagination, like they say. It just sure beats living my last days here, in a small, dark room with no light. I have no spirit left inside me; I lie very still hoping that death will take me quietly because I’m scared of pain, very frightened indeed. Just let me go, Lord, just let me go. I want to be with James, we will be together again. I know, what I know and no darn fool can tell me otherwise. Please, Lord, just take me now.”