Free Write Friday, Kellie Elmore: Tulips

English: Cultivations of Tulips in South Holla...

English: Cultivations of Tulips in South Holland Italiano: Coltivazioni di tulipani dell’Olanda Meridionale (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Today you have been granted the opportunity to go anywhere, do anything, meet anyone, travel in time…whatever you wish, it is yours. Now, there’s a catch. (Isn’t there always?) When you wake up tomorrow… you will not remember any of it.Would you still choose to take the offer? Can you drink in the moment and enjoy it knowing you will have no recollection of what happened? Think about it?  How important is a memory?”

Part 1:

I would hop on a first class plane, sipping orange juice and amaretto on my flight to Holland. I stretch my legs and marvel at how wonderfully everybody treats you when you are sitting in first class. I have a menu in my hands and I need to pick what I want to eat for dinner. I decide on the Surf and Turf for my entrée, happy not to have to pick just one item. After the flight attendants take everyone’s order they pass around trays of appetizers: mini lobster rolls, Brie or St. André cheese and crackers, pulled pork sliders and chicken salad with chutney in phyllo dough. Loving food, as I do, my tastebuds are dancing with joy loving the different sensations in my mouth.

I sleep for three hours and by that time the pilot announces our descent which brings me right into the airport/and waiting limousine to take me to the Tulip Festival, now in full bloom. I bask in the beautiful scenery, the rows of color: red, pink, rose, orange, green that stand in line like tiny soldiers. I drink up the sight and as fresh, cold bubbly spring water quenches my thirst, these rows of tulips fill another need. The primordial need to see beauty .  Rows upon rows of beautiful tulips, in every color, so vast that you think it is a prop from a movie. Yes, it is real and the gigantic proportions make me feel like an insect crawling on the freshly mowed grass. The scent of the grass tickles my nose and I laugh.

I am here, at the tulip festival, a place I have always wanted to see. I am giddy, my cheeks are pink from the excitement, like the color of one of the rows of tulips, my body trembles. I sit down on one of the many benches they provide for tourists, wooden slated benches, simple, nothing overdone, they mustn’t out-do the beauty ahead of them. Looking around me there are other people, each one, staring at the beautiful scene in front of us. There is no litter here, just rows of flowers, tilting their heads to the sun. Some tourists try to take photographs but you can’t capture an entire field in a photograph. Or the smell. The smell in the air is clean, fresh, with a hint of sweetness, freshly moved grass, and sunshine.

There is nothing else I want to do but sit back, stare and breathe, long, take long, deep breaths.  I do not want to sit on a bus like some of the other people, seeing churches  and old houses and attractions. I am where I want to be, in the garden of beauty, nature’s beauty and I, a quiet admirer, overwhelmed by this magnificent sight. There is nothing else I want to do but stare and take in this picture of magnificence and beauty.  I am where I want to be, in the garden of beauty, nature’s beauty and I a shy yet ardent admirer.

****

Part 2:

It’s early morning in our house. My husband, Steve, has already left to go to work by train. He has left me coffee to drink in the machine and I greedily reach for it and drink it in two or three big gulps. I go about my chores as usual. I wake up the children who need to get ready for school. Fortunately, I always make their lunches the night before so I don’t have to do it in the morning. I don’t tell the kids but I hate mornings too. I pour cereal and milk, my two kids, 8 and 11 are loud but we laugh a lot. I rush them outside to wait for the bus, get them on the bus and I wave as the bus leaves. They still wave back to me, I know it won’t last very long, they are growing up so quickly.

I go to the grocery store with my list, a long one for four people in the family. I start checking off items on the list. Milk, bread, chicken, cheese, steak on sale, and about ten other items.  After I am done I wait on a very long line, reading a trashy Hollywood magazine that I refuse to buy but actually love to read. Finally, it is about to be my turn, I start unloading my cart. I add a pack of sugarless gum because I can’t resist those items at the end  of the aisle where their placement seems to stare at you, practically begging you to buy them.  My husband calls me”The ultimate consumer ” because I love to see new products at the store.  At the very last second, I reach over the counter to stretch and grab just one more thing. It’s something I never do, but I didn’t even think about this, it was impromptu. I reached over the counter and I bought tulips.  Pink tulips.

Pink Tulip 2 of 3

Pink Tulip 2 of 3 (Photo credit: krispijn.scholte)

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Living in Other Countries

Bruce Springsteen - Born In The USA

Image by Piano Piano! via Flickr

I had the proud distinction when I was little of being the “only born American” and I wore that honor with pride. My parents and my older sister were all born in different countries and even though my parents and sister came to the United States when my sister was 9 months old, I still felt special.

At this point in my life, with my husband and our two almost grown children, I would love to live in another country for a few years. Italy, Spain, England, Holland? Greece, Israel, Japan? I love to visit different countries when we can afford it. The only place I wouldn’t want to live? Paris. I would be such an American outcast, wearing my blue jeans and long-sleeved gray GAP shirt, sneakers and clogs. There’s no way I’m wearing high-heeled stilettos and expensive outfits for any city. However, the French countryside is breathtakingly beautiful and I wouldn’t mind learning how to make cheese. For now, I think I’ll stay right here in the USA where I can wear what I want and still drink strong coffee and pastries. If, however, the opportunity came up…..I can pack quickly.

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Buying A Purple Shirt While Eating Jelly Beans

This is a picture i took for the Candy article.

Image via Wikipedia

This is the kind of post you want to read on a Monday afternoon when the clouds are all gray and gloomy and it is the start of a brand new week. The orange-green-red leaves on the trees are swaying and they look like they want to cry. I’m thinking about the future and living somewhere else where the sun stays out all day and you don’t have to wear a thick black jacket.  The only perk today is that our house is clean and it looks pretty. There are no cobwebs that I can see and the wood shines like a Pledge commercial. It smells lemony and the beds are made and the sheets are fresh and I am planning to take a hot bath tonight. It’s against house rules to put your dirty body into a brand new made-up bed with sheets and blankets that beckon you and smile.

It’s our friend Christina’s 16th birthday and she looked so sweet and innocent and happy like a shiny polished Macintosh apple. My son drives her to school and back every day along with his sister seated proudly in the front seat. Christina was wearing the soft beige scarf that my daughter gave her for her birthday. Her arms were packed with brownies and oatmeal cookies and chocolate cake that her school friends made for her birthday celebration. Oh to be young, filled with sweetness, innocence and incomparable joy. I see myself in young Christina, all eager and willing to please, her arms outstretched for a big, warm, hug.

I’m listening to music to quell the anxiety that has been plaguing me for the last week. It starts in the late afternoon and escalates until nighttime; my stomach clenches and my legs ache with unbearable pain. My aches and pains stem from stubborn, bossy, Fibromyalgia and sleep comes as a welcome relief.

I’ve taken down all the photographs of my children when they were very young and replaced them with an up-to-date picture of the two of them grinning, their eyes alive with mischief; my son’s arm casually draped around his sister’s shoulders. I had to beg and plead a lot for that one portrait. While I am extremely proud of my children’s independence I have had a few problems lately adjusting to it.  I can’t forget the moment last year when my son said patiently “Mom, High School is one big lie.” It is a message that has been burned into my brain and I think of it often.  I didn’t believe him then but I do now. Apparently, lies are commonplace but I need to force myself to look deeper, for honor, and not compare my past, unhappy and burdened youth to their present, over-indulged happy lives.

I am booking a massage at the local spa, a gift I received for my birthday, and I am looking forward to it. There, I will not think of the last year, tension pressed up against stress like two sweaty lovers: unemployment and illness together as one.  I will fantasize about traveling, seeing the tulips in Holland, a trip to Israel in the spring, perhaps the countryside of Spain. I will picture my loving husband’s face, his hand in mine, playing the punch buggy game in the car and competing in the “I love you more” contest. I will remember that when I asked him for a phrase, another definition for “empty nest” he threw his head back, howled loudly, with glee and in a snap of a second he shouted: “Freedom.” I love him so much in many ways but I especially love him for giving me that.

Dedicated to Danny

Lost And Found

Tulips from Keukenhof Gardens, Lisle, Holland.

Image via Wikipedia

I haven’t been writing at all and I don’t know why. It’s always a bad sign if I don’t write. Now, I need to question myself, in public, about what’s going on. The past week has been filled with pain, intensely painful legs out of nowhere with nothing to help dissipate the pain. Tylenol, Advil, Aleve, even Tramadol which I have been taking twice a day. Of course, I thought, I jinxed myself when I wrote that I was “lucky”that my pain was less intense than some.  Past tense. Now I have a new pain that I didn’t think was possible and I don’t know where it came from or why it still exists. That new pain jolted me to a new reality and I hate it.

I’m bothered that my sister is my sister and not a friend I would pick and that the best friend I had picked has completely lost herself,  in her marriage and her children and has not resurfaced for years. The stress in the house has become unbearable at times, with my husband unemployed and a Junior and Senior in High School. They have essays to write, exams to study for, colleges to apply to, jobs, appointments, homework, studying. We all feel the stress around us, inside us, despite of us. My children and husband are what keep me going; I not only love these three people, I adore them. They make me laugh, they make me smile and when I was about to cry today, they knew it long before I did.

Yesterday I laughed so hard I had a stomach ache, my kids put up a fake unicorn tapestry to prank their father for going to the Cloisters. After dinner with our friend Janis from California we all ate chocolate, one with a spice called cholula. We laughed and gasped through the pain and I downed two glasses of Arnold Palmer lite iced tea and lemonade afterwards. I went to bed smiling, the laughter being a delightful and unexpected present.

The holidays are almost upon us and I start thinking of my dad, who passed away 8 or 9 years ago. Why is it that I can never remember the year he died? Not being good with numbers has nothing to do with it, it’s a mental and emotional block that I can’t seem to get over. My father was the buffer in the family, the diplomat, the peace-maker. Without him the rest of the family is a triangle of raw emotions.  I was the one who lost the person who understood me the most and who thought identically like me. There is a gaping hole in our family and as everyone who has lost someone they loved knows, there is nothing to heal that pain. It’s like a festering, open wound and once in a while someone tosses in a cup of salt every now and again. There is before and there is after. Your whole world changes forever.

My birthday is coming up and as much as I used to love my birthday this year it feels like a dull ache. I don’t care that I am another year older, I was never concerned with age. Whether I am 53 or 54 doesn’t mean much to me at all. I don’t hide my age and I don’t erase my wrinkled forehead. These fine lines come from experience, both good and bad, they are here to stay. Earlier today I was thinking of my “bucket list”.  The first thing that came to mind was a tour of the tulip season in Holland and snorkeling in  some Caribbean Island so I could escape the long, cold, snowy winters.

Life is short, I am trying to make it fun. Every day is a gift and I should appreciate it but sometimes I get swept away by all the negativity and I need to pull myself up and out of that empty hole in the musty, brown earth, inch by painstaking inch. I think I have found my voice again so after I dig myself out, I will be facing the sun.