Justice, Party, Peace
cures agony, provides hope
Love, a fighting chance.
mom’s face etched in deep scars, pain
Guns, death, her one son.
Days go by that seem ordinary, nothing really special seems to happen that you can remember. Maybe, we are just too tied up with our everyday lives to take a breath, and break down our day into moments, seconds, even. I try to do that but more often than not I forget and the days blur together like wet watercolor paintings. Once in a rare while something happens that makes you stop right in your tracks and hits you in the heart and stomach like a wonderful, joyous sucker punch. Yesterday, it was meeting Jack.
Even while I am writing this my eyes tear up and I honestly can’t explain why exactly. Is it that for once something good happened, some miracle answered? That the child I met was so beautiful, angelic, almost ethereal ? I was absolutely honored when I was introduced to her son, Jack. His lovely, pink-cheeked mother, looking exactly as she had years ago, introduced me and Jack held up his hand to shake mine. Something my 19 and 20-year-old children would never think about doing. Was I crying about the miracle of Jack or did it evoke memories of the miracle of my son, a junior in college and daughter, a sophomore in college to me? Each their own miracle and I do not say this lightly.
We had a rough time getting pregnant with our son, two and a half years of infertility treatments, shots, blood tests, ultra-sounds, medication, driving to the hospital at 5:30 am for my blood to be tested, for sonograms, back at night for more blood tests, shots. I did all of this in silence because back in the early nineties, no one talked about infertility. It was a shameful secret. My colleagues, boss, family and friends would make such hurtful comments and jokes all the time about “So, when are you going to have a baby?” Grandparents were no different but finally we had to tell them; we thought they would be more sensitive but they weren’t. People say remarkably ignorant and cruel things even though that is not their intention. I’ve always watched my words to other people but this cemented it. When we conceived our son it was indeed a miracle. Our daughter, 21 months later, was again, another wonderful miracle. Just as I was about to call the doctor for treatments, I learned I was already pregnant! Now we are blessed with two kind, smart, wonderful young adults, it seems like just a minute ago that they were still young.
Jack’s mom is a kindergarten teacher who worked across the hall from both of my children’s kindergarten’s teacher. When I ran into her yesterday I knew exactly who she was. I am the type of person that never forgets a face. I, of course, thought she had no idea who I was but she stopped me, she remembered me and my name and my children. This time, I was the one who was shocked and incredibly touched. How amazing that she remembered me! How could that be? That was always my role.
Then there was Jack, beautiful, angelic, pale skinned cherub, Jack. I remember he had to fight to live, I think he was premature but I truly can’t remember the details. I just remember there was difficulty and when he was born, even though I didn’t know his mom directly I was euphoric. I was so thrilled that I ran to buy a present for her son to welcome him into the world. It didn’t matter if she knew who I was or not, I didn’t care. As someone known to be sensitive to other people, her joy was mine too.
Seeing her face yesterday was more beautiful than a sculpture, she glowed with happiness and with pride. I was so touched by her happiness and by young Jack. I thought about it at night and obviously today too. Jack, maybe when you are older your mom will show you this but just know: that as much as everyone loves you know, you were loved by many people before you were even born. It’s like you had your own fan club waiting for you, every single day. We crossed our fingers, we said our prayers because your mom is such a special and warm person we knew she deserved a boy exactly like you.
Dedicated to JP and Jack.
Photograh: credit to photographer
words and lyrics by John Lennon
(things can’t let you down, unless you let them)
“It’s easier said than done, I know that. You know that, right, Son? All this psychobabble about “life’s has its ups and downs, just go with the flow?” Sure, I know that in my head, but when something creepy, or scary or even startling happens, man, that goes straight, directly to my heart and it’s a sure fire hit. There are no stops, no waiting, or hesitating, it’s a missile like an emotional heart attack. It always has a trigger, like now, people are screaming behind me are making me tense, uptight, upset. You have to understand I’m not like you and your generation, it’s hard for me to “just get over it.” I get so depressed and I just want to put my head in my hands and my body starts shaking. My stomach clenches and it’s trying to ruin my day and I feel myself getting hooked on sadness like a slippery snake, going in and out of my brain to my insides. I try to stop it but I can’t.
I’m lost, that’s how I can describe it, I’m lost. I’m really nobody now. Sure, I’m someone’s husband, brother, father, but who am I? I’m really not sure anymore. I used to know but now everything is cloudy. What I thought I knew for sure is shaky, what I thought I knew about you is different.I was YOU, a long time ago. Listen to me. It’s easy to push things into those dark recesses of your mind, I’ve been doing that for a long, long time. There’s safety in comfort, I know that. But, how much comfort is worth it? When does comfort become settling or even just plain old vanilla laziness? I’m the wrong one to ask. I stay safe, too safe, and I stay still. I’m not happy, not ever. Probably never have been happy.
Some people like my old friend Jon are adaptable, whatever happens he adjusts. He doesn’t worry, he doesn’t panic, he goes with whatever comes his way with his cool, jolly attitude and his big goofy smile and things always seem to fall into place. I wish I had been like him. I have NEVER been like him and probably never will be. There’s only so much you can do to change yourself, sometimes you born and labeled damaged goods. I can thank my own parents for that.
At least I tried I to face my fears and do things anyway which in itself is a big step. It’s okay to be fearful, everyone is probably afraid of something but making the attempt to overcome it, that’s like a pile of birthday presents you give to yourself, all wrapped up in silver and gold. It’s a birthday cake with your favorite filling, I choose vanilla cake, with chocolate frosting and chocolate cake with vanilla frosting, I’m not messing around here. I’ll even throw in some oatmeal raisin cookies and chocolate mint ice cream.
Life is a crap shoot. I admit, I am sometimes scared of the future, especially now that I am older. I was young once, just like you. I was young with hopeful thoughts and ideas and daydreams but I have lived a long time and Life has changed me. I hope it doesn’t change you too. Keep being positive and loving, honest and trusting. Even if you get hurt, it is worth the journey to experience that love, that excitement again. Take chances, as many as possible and don’t hesitate to try new things. If it doesn’t work out, move right on to something else. Don’t be like me, please, I beg of you, don’t be like me.
I’ll keep trying, in my own little corner of my world, but I don’t expect too much and that’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with a little bit of reality thrown in to the mix anyway. I am who I am, some good, some bad, just like we all are. No, I’m not giving up anytime soon, I’m still teaching you, my boy, my darling boy.”
I remember the first taste of flirtation, just a whiff, like the softness of a pink rose petal; it was enough to intoxicate me. A feeling that went straight from my head to my toes, a fluttering. Eyelashes blinked at a slower pace, my deep, green eyes warm, sexy and coy, sending messages. It was the attraction that comes from nowhere and heads straight across an apartment, from the front door to the living room, in two seconds. I was wearing a white cabled sweater, my hair was long, brown, full and curly like gentle ripples in a slow river.
I miss those days of how just thinking about someone could make a flush run deep in my cheeks, and I would smile openly in the air, not caring what other people thought. My feelings became so intense that I ended up getting jealous of my own fantasies. He had eyes of brown velvet, there was no denying the attraction that happened at first sight. No getting away from it either, the pull of a fierce rip tide tugging at my heart and body.
This kind of physical attraction was new to me and it frightened me as well as consumed me. I was 18, home from college and met him at a party. Only later did I find out he was married with a wife back in Alabama about to give birth to their second child. I stopped cold and the sensuous side of me changed to brittle cement that settled in and stayed.
I did not want to become that person that snuck away to a hotel, I was young but not stupid. Back in my dorm room I wrote his first name down in sketchbooks, a soft blush of pencil, angry strokes of red and black. I had fallen in love with someone who was not available; I felt betrayed, angry and unhappy with the world, with him.
It was nothing and everything. It was waking up a side of me I had not yet known. Attraction, the physical energy with a stranger. His eyes locked on mine and we did not leave each others’ side after that. It was a party yet no one existed except the two of us. He was my first love, my first introduction to sensuality and feeling wanted. It did not have a fairy tale ending but it gave me an education, it was a glimpse into the future from a very brief, innocent, romance, one that I could not forget.
There comes a time in everyone’s life where they let themselves enjoy a harmless crush. The idea is NOT for anything to happen, but it’s the pre-flirtation part that enlivens you and fills you with great joy. Do you remember that feeling when you just had a crush on someone and just thinking about them made you happy? From my own experience I can tell you that life without a crush is downright boring and I am definitely very bored. I envy people who have innocent crushes, their secretive smiles, the soft, pink, blush rising up their neck and making their faces blotchy. I miss the stomach churning, hand sweating adrenalin that comes along with a secret crush. The key to a crush really, is that it’s a secret. All the more reason to keep it to yourself, that private (imagined) connection, that silly five year old enthusiasm.
The closest thing I have to a crush these days is a crush on someone’s teeth. Sad, but true. One of my husband’s work associates has the most beautiful teeth I have ever seen in a human being. And, they’re natural. No braces have touched these perfectly aligned pearly whites. This is not a secret crush, I am not embarrassed or ashamed of it, actually I’m proud of it. It isn’t much but it’s something. The fact that they are large teeth, untouched by any orthodontist makes them even more special. People have been known to stop this man on the street and admire his teeth. If only Seinfeld wasn’t off the air, this would make a great storyline.
We’re supposed to go to dinner with this man and his girlfriend and I have mixed feelings about it. I want to say, as much as I like their company, do I really want to see his gorgeous set of teeth, covered with mushy lettuce or ketchup stains or G-d Forbid messy egg salad? Do I want to see the remnants of his dinner lingering on his teeth?b I have a hard choice to make in the upcoming weeks. I don’t want to lose my crush on his teeth but will my crush dissipate if I see his teeth under less than perfect circumstances?
In the meantime, I will try to have a pseudo-crush on someone or something else. Maybe someone will wear delectable looking boots, or carry a handbag that makes me swoon. I would love to have a crush on a person (but you can’t just decide to have a crush on a person-you have to feel it) but unfortunately I haven’t had any luck with that. Maybe it’s my age, maybe there’s noone out there that’s “crushable”; at least it’s been this way for me, for many, years.
There are all kinds of crushes, all of them innocent, harmless. Life without an innocent crush just keeps you in the center of all your responsibilities and chores with no escape. I am missing vacation-like moments to beach resorts without a crush. There is no one to make you look away and smile with your eyes. I love my family and my friends. I like most everyone, people, children, dogs (cats not so much) and it’s a nice distraction from a very long winter day but it is at most, a luxury. I bet Larry David could use this in an upcoming episode for Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Do you crush?