The three of us don’t get together very often. I see one of them more than the other, but we are all three so busy that if schedules don’t prevent us from meeting, then sheer exhaustion does. But every once in awhile the stars align and, “POOF”, we find ourselves assembled in our usual gathering spot, the shallow end of the pool.
There we are, three women with sunburned shoulders standing or leaning over floating rafts with sunglasses and hats, sipping summer from Styrofoam cups and we’re talking…always talking. One “fun day at the pool” years ago turned into another and another and the years slipped past. Most days were spent talking about our jobs. What was good, what was bad, how to make it better, encouraging one another.
We talked about relationships too. Well, mostly we talked about my relationship. It needed discussing and they seemed to really care, or to at least be interested like motorists safe in air conditioned cars staring out their windows at a car wreck. No. They cared. Why else would they spend so much time listening to me and offering their support and advice? Why else would they spend one long night with me in that pool during my darkest hours telling me I would be fine, trying to show me things I could not see in myself?
These little moments that accumulate between people, however unplanned or unintentional, if they happen often enough over the course of passing years, become significant.
Yesterday found us there again after months and months. I walked into the yard through the back gate and turned the corner to the familiar sight of the two of them already in the pool. They turn and smile and seem happy to see me and I am happy to see them. I am really happy to see them both. Once again it’s been too long. I announce, “Okay, the party can start now!” and they respond, “GET IN THE POOL!”
Someone fetched me a Styrofoam cup full of icy summer.
Music played and for a couple of hours I talked and laughed with friends in the shallow end of the pool.
Deep dusk: The last bit of sunlight tinges the horizon and an upward glance gives a view of the night’s new stars. I see one, then two…the clouds part as if they are serious curtains on a serious stage revealing heavenly secrets meant only for me.
I can barely breathe.
I want to cry for the glory of the hand of God.
I am standing in the middle of a field. It is wide open and surrounded by trees. I spin slowly to take it in. There is a smear of light on the land in the west, but in the east it is dark and in the sky, lights that are not stars, but have always been my sign of home.
I didn’t know I could see them from here. I have never been in the Forty Acre Wood this late. These lights are my talisman. They have been my talisman for decades. They are lights I longed to see when I was far from home and to this day they are magic. Red lights on television towers far to the east of my city. I see them from here and …
I lift my face to heaven and I laugh with pure joy and gratitude for my sunset, my television tower lights and my stars overhead all together and on display for me. How I love all of them and always have. When I was lost in a strange land with no television lights or spectacular sunsets I would go out alone at night and look to the stars and wish for…help. I needed help. I knew others needed help too and I prayed for them. So many are worse off than me. I prayed in earnest for the helpless on these nights so long ago as I walked alone through a poor family’s apartment complex and prayed upon stars. I always saw Orion’s Belt and the little dipper. Twenty years later on this newborn night, head tilted back, I only see the beginnings of the dipper.
I tell God how crazy I am standing out in this field…and then I realize what I thought and burst out in a new round of laughter. I re-address myself to heaven and say, "I’m out standing in my field!"
God and I had a good laugh about that.
I sit on the ground.
Has it really been 20 years that I have looked for peace?
Tears of pain for what was and of joy for what is.
It is darker now, but still I cannot not make myself leave.
I remembered other times in this field. I could never feel this joy before. I could never feel this peace before in this field nor anywhere else in my life and oh, the aching gratitude that bore down on my heart for this moment. As they say, words failed me, but I felt God was with me and He knew my heart. Sometimes all you can do is whisper “thank you” over and over again until your dogs come up to you and stick their cold wet noses in your face.
I stand and take one last look around before calling the dogs to come with me as I head back to the gate at the entrance to the wood.
We walk together amiably, the dogs happy and spent and me….I guess I’m happy and spent too…and suddenly, hungry.
”Come on, Puppies.” I say, “Let’s go home.”
And we do.
I’m shooting interviews for a show on poetry right now and as with so many of the arts I cover, when I am surrounded by the artists of one medium or another I want to play in their particular playground.
I know poetry is an art and good poetry takes practice and training. I have neither, but I have also been told that poetry can be just for me. I know I’ll look back on these lines and wince, but cest la vie. This is what I wrote.
Who do you think you are,
Hard voice, steely eyes, barking orders
Who do you think you are,
Spitting names on her face
Stupid, retarded, idiot, loser?
Who do you think you are,
Deep brittle laugh at tears she abhors
Bright clear laugh at her every little move
Her every little word?
She is oh, so laughable
It’s only a joke.
Who do you think you are,
Seeking them all, the women,
The married, wanna be vixens,
The lost and seeking,
Bedding all comers?
Who do you think you are,
With your open hand slamming soft cheek,
Booted foot kicking her once, kicking her twice,
Your hands round the delicate throat?
Who do you think you are,
Dismantling a woman from the inside out?
Who do you think you are,
P.S. I got a bolder streak in my hair. :) (see previous entry for crucial hair info)
Am I a cliche’? God, even asking if I’m a cliche’ is a cliche’.
So clearly the answer is yes.
I saw a woman tonight. She was 52 years old, not in great shape, a little thick in the middle and cellulite on the thighs. She also had tattoos on her untanned thighs. They slipped a little lower than the hem of her short, swishy dress, but did not come all the way down to the top of her uber-cool over-the-knee boots.
She had broad streaks in her hair and spoke loudly as she explained the writing business to a small group of fans at a local book store.
I liked her style. I liked the way she defied the norm of what a 52 year old is supposed to look and act like, at least here in Oklahoma.
But I especially liked her fiance’.
He could not have been a day over 35. He had hair that fell below his shoulders and it was tousled. He wore a purple, cotton shirt, open at the collar with some beads around his neck that looked beachy. The shirt was open just enough to reveal a sprinkling of chest hair. The shirt was untucked…jeans and battered gray boots finished him off.
Yes, I looked him over from head to toe and then I looked her over and then him and then her again and I wanted to walk up to her and ask, “How in the HELL did you land this guy? “
He looked like a romance novel demi-god. I don’t read romance novels.
But seriously, how did she do it?
I already admired her for her “look”. I liked her. I wanted her boots and her dress. I wanted tattoos and a streak in my hair. He was extra.
Here I am, 6 years her junior and I am not even dating.
I don’t want to right now, I guess, but I think if someone like him asked me out I might go.
Or maybe I’d say no. I’ve been running from anyone who expresses interest in me because…
I don’t think they’d really like me.
I’m out of shape and 30 pounds overweight. I’m too much of a mess right now, emotionally. I don’t know if I’ll ever be okay again either. That’s the only scary part. I might just never get my groove back. What then?
I know it sounds like I”m not happy, but I am. I’m very happy, happier than I’ve been in years. Freedom has that effect on you. But I think I also have some emotional PTSD.
He laughed at me for years, called me stupid, idiot, retarded. He cheated on me for our entire relationship. In the end he could not maintain an erection with me. He swore it was old age, but he was sleeping with so many other women, so….
and then he also hurt me physically a few times. Four times. It was exactly four times. I remember each incident vividly, but only one was what I consider a true beating. On that one he used his hands and feet on me.
It has been nearly 4 months since his toxic presence was taken away from my by some kind police officers. He was arrested on a felony domestic violence by choking charge. Funny aside, he could hit and kick me as I lay on the floor in a ball, but that is not a felony, but let him pin me to a wall by the throat….felony.
I am tired of writing about this, talking about this, thinking about this. Right after it happened it was all I could think about, worry over, feel badly over, but now…that part of my life has faded to a soft whisper. It is like it never happened to me, to the me I am now. I don’t know who I am now, exactly, but i know I’ve been changing since he’s been gone. My daughter and friends say I’m happier and I feel happier. It’s been 4 months since anyone has laughed at me, called me stupid, cheated on me or scared me.
I got a tattoo when i turned 46. I like it. It is on my right shoulder, near the shoulder blade.
I had my hairdresser put a tiny streak in my hair about a month ago, in the front, but it isn’t bold enough to suit me. I bought myself a pair of knee high boots about a month ago too.
So I had already done these things, tattoos, boots, streak in my hair, but on a very conservative level. I am not doing them on purpose, I am simply doing what I want to do. I will not worry what others will think of me. Since I have spent the last 9 years of my life trying to be what someone else thought I should be, I have no more patience for it on any front.
I don’t know who I am yet and I’m not contemplating my navel to try and figure it out. I’m just living and doing.
So I saw that woman tonight, the third of three women I’ve run into who have inspired me lately. One, 71 years old and half blind telling me it’s never too late to change your life, one brisk and confident and seemingly snobbish, but who smiles warmly if you speak to her and the other one with tattoos on her white, un-firm thighs, boots and brash streaks in her hair.
Women who “did it anyway” because that is what they wanted.
I should end this with something profound. I should bring it around full circle and write something clever and wise, but I am tired. It has been a long day and my body says sleep, so I will.
I think I just wanted to get this out of me, these thoughts about this woman who made me think about myself and the limitations I place on myself even now. I worry, worry, worry about what people will think about what I do with my life.
I talked with the demi-god, his name is Dusty, about life and living it. Dusty gave me a cliche’. He said, “life is too short”. Of course I agreed and sipped my champagne with a thoughtful expression thinking, “did he just see me looking at his chest?”
Dusty is right.
Life is too short and I must stop fearing disapproval of my every act.
The next time I see my stylist, I’m telling him to make this damn streak bolder. I can barely see it!
I’m truly stymied. Imagine my genuine confused face…staring at you as I try to understand your point of view because I swear I’m trying.
Yeah, I know they don’t want to go back. I know they want to be here. I know they came here and had their kids and their kids have lives here. I know all of this. To be honest with you, my sympathies are only roused for the kids who are born here or brought here, but here’s the thing. If we had proper enforcement of current U.S. immigration laws then most of those trying to cross the border illegally wouldn’t make it and so their kids or future kids would not be a factor.
If we had proper enforcement, once immigrants from ANY country got in they wouldn’t last long. They’d be unable to get a job. They’d be unable to send their kids to school. They’d be found out and sent home.
I think “sent home” sounds so much nicer than “deported” and it’s true. This is not their home. Most Mexican illegals consider Mexico their home. I was at a high school event in the heartland that has a mostly Hispanic student population. It just so happened the World Cup was underway…guess who they were all cheering for and what team they were all talking about FROM THE PODIUM? Not team USA…nope. Teachers, Principal, students…all peppered the presentation with “Go Mexico” and had Mexican flags and even had a dance in honor of team Mexico with the girls wearing Mexico jerseys.
so yeah…they consider Mexico their home. I could stomach it better if those who struggled to get here, even illegally, acted like this was their country of choice and chanted GO USA just as much as they chanted VIVA MEXICO! but but they don’t, so I don’t know what they’re doing here.
It’s money, isn’t it? Yeah…they’re here for the living and since our federal enforcement of immigration law violations is nil and since states are now forbidden to make those inside their borders illegally leave, the living is good, better than la vida en México
"How dare you say the living is good! They work hard and have to worry about being deported!" says outraged liberal who rarely thinks about where money comes from.
If the living wasn’t good, they would not come here. They would not keep coming back even after being deported. They come back over and over and over again. I am entangled with an Hispanic family which includes one habitual criminal who is here illegally. He’s been deported three times and guess what? He’s back again. He’s in jail right now serving time for god knows what. (he’s in a gang, so my money is on drugs) When he’s through serving his time in prison at 16-THOUSAND DOLLARS A YEAR COST TO TAXPAYERS they’ll send him back to Mexico and he’ll get his family to come up with $1,500.00 and he’ll pay a smuggler to get him back into the good ol’ U.S. of A.
This nation is made up of immigrants. It’s who we are, but we have immigration laws for a reason. Don’t you want to know who’s here? Really, in this day and age of “America is the great satan” don’t you want to know who’s coming here? In this day and age of economic crises don’t you want to make sure those taking from the public coffers are also contributing to it in some way as best they can?
A study released by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) estimates that illegal immigration now costs federal and local taxpayers $113 billion a year. The report, The Fiscal Burden of Illegal Immigration on U.S. Taxpayers, is the most comprehensive analysis of how much the estimated 13 million illegal aliens and their U.S.-born children cost the federal, state and local governments.
Immigration laws are an accounting. It currently takes 3 years to go through the process to get a green card and there are more than 1 million waiting for one, but this only means our system needs to be changed. It doesn’t mean breaking the law is okay. Nor does it mean we don’t need to know who’s coming here and where they’re from.
So shove your “deportation is a violation of human rights” screaming, outraged, imbecilic, rhetoric up your ass. It’s just a lot of empty outrage and and really, if you’re honest, just an excuse to scream because deep down you know you’re the type who loves nothing more than to be outraged about something.
Here’s an idea, be outraged at Mexico, a country that currently has more stringent penalties for illegal immigrants than the U.S. Why aren’t you screaming over that? Did you know someone who is deported by Mexico and returns can face up to 10 years in prison? TEN YEARS!!! In the U.S. first offense you get up to 6 months, after that for return visits…no matter how many, you get two years.
America DOES need to streamline it’s immigration procedures, but until it does…the government either needs to enforce it’s current immigration laws or let the states who must carry the financial burden of illegals enforce those laws themselves.
I am 45 years old and the road lies open before me. I have only just turned around to see it. My past remains low at my heels. I can feel it’s sour breath, but the simple act of turning offers me a new view. I see an impossible vista that even now has me saying no, no, no. It is impossible. I must figure out why I have become such intimate friends with “No”.
My view is this, a small home in a far away land where I will begin anew.
I will be reborn.
Let go of the dock, Love.
It is rotten.
But I’ll have nothing to cling to.
Sometimes it is better to drift.
Overheard between two old coots bickering about a parking lot incident at a little league game. “when I saw it was you who cut me off I said, well that dirty old maroon!” Response from said Maroon…”I’ll hit ya and then I’ll sue ya!” They’re still having fun bickering. Old coots are funny.
I’m sure whoever pays the mortgage would disagree with you on that one.
Pius and I teamed up for news today. Our assignment, gambling addiction. It’s compulsive like a sex addiction or crack. OUR NEURAL PATHWAYS CAN BE SHAPED, PEOPLE!!! I think that’s pretty good news. Maybe we do have some hope, no matter what compulsion drives us to behave poorly against our own wishes.