At Twilight

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Location: Midwest, United States

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Merry Christmas?

It was a week or so ago, I’d guess, when I heard word that my (ex) Mother-in-Law suffered a grievous stroke. The news came second-hand. I don’t remember the exact day. What I do recall is that, for the first and only time in my life, I experienced a full-blown anxiety attack. It was surreal. Painful. Terrifying.

The prognosis was not good. She was half-paralyzed. Unable to speak. Intensive care. Feeding tube.

She didn’t deserve this. She had lived an exemplary life.

Hers was a gentle, generous soul well-versed in forbearance, patience, endurance, grace and kindness. She was nearing the end of her ninth decade (and still going strong) until the day a clot blocked an artery that kept her brain alive...

After the anxiety attack came ineffable sadness.

But there’s more to this tale...

* * *

I had called her “Mom” right from the git-go. It came naturally.
I loved her as much as I loved my own parents. Here’s the thing:
I vanished from her life the day I divorced her daughter. It no longer mattered that I loved her just the same (and loved her daughter, still, in my own way). I was no longer a “son”.

And so it came to be that I learned of my Mother’s fate from relative strangers.

* * *

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Pursuit of Perfection

Ponita asked: “Where do I find one like you up here?” (Whoa! People “like me” aren’t all THAT marvelous to associate me on this).

Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s Chief-of-Staff answers: “We will not let the pursuit of the perfect stand in the way of achievable goals”.

I ponder.

An acquaintance of many years once fell in love with a lad. He was a tradesman. I never met him and I can’t recall his craft. Let’s call him a carpenter (‘cuz the imagery is just too righteous...hammerin’, nailin’, erectin’, etc., etc.). Yeppers, let’s make him a carpenter.

And she? She was a scholar. “Best in Class” from first grade through twelfth. She was gonna matriculate with a degree in business administration, dontcha know. She was...exceptional.

He loved her. She loved him. He proposed. She declined.

OK, allow me this: I don’t know the full story. I don’t know the in’s and out’s. All I know is what I heard: that she passed on a man who loved her.

She figured she could do/deserved better. She was a scholar. A woman of substance. She was smokin' hot. She was not one to sell herself short.

The carpenter lad was sent packin’. He eventually found another. Created a family. Lived...well...however he lived. I don’t know his story. Just his fate.

She? She dated quite a few well-educated, well-heeled professionals. She searched far and wide, did whatever she needed to do to probe her and their desires. Sadly, nothin’ much came from that. She courted wealth, fine pedigree and sculpted cheekbones. She actually found ample exemplars of all that. She experienced a full three decades of all that.

But she found neither love nor devotion. She never again revelled in loyalty, honesty or raw sweat.

She had assiduously attended to her explorations.

She ended up hopelessly longing for a pair of honest, calloused hands.

* * *

Monday, December 14, 2009


I don't know you
But I want you
All the more for that
Words fall through me
And always fool me
And I can't react
And games that never amount
To more than they're meant
Will play themselves out

Take this sinking boat and point it home
We've still got time
Raise your hopeful voice you have a choice
You'll make it now

Falling slowly, eyes that know me
And I can't go back
Moods that take me and erase me
And I'm painted black
You have suffered enough
And warred with yourself
It's time that you won

Take this sinking boat and point it home
We've still got time
Raise your hopeful voice you had a choice
You've made it now
Falling slowly sing your melody
I'll sing along

* * *

Gratuitous Non-Sequitor:

I love squash recipes (if nothing else, it "sounds" entertaining, no?).
I really got a thing for squash.

Peeling the suckers, though. That's a whole 'nother matter.

* * *

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Earth's Curvature

I gazed upon it once. I surely did. In a big ol’ jet plane roaring east at seven-plus miles above the planet. I saw it there just outside the insulated glass. Just beyond the wingtip. Just beyond the multi-paned window that drew my eye as dusk night. The jet raced east as the sun plunged in the west. In a fleeting confluence of vectors, I saw daylight turn crimson, then ebon, in the blink of an eye as I traced the curvature of the Earth.

At 37,000 feet. In a cramped tube of riveted aluminum.

I was awestruck momentarily. Imagine me, soaring so high that I actually witnessed the Earth’s curvature!

As I said, the feeling was fleeting. Just a transitory fugue.

Truth be told, all I wanted at that moment (and every moment before or since) was to encircle my love within my arms and crash to earth. To fall to fragrant grass. Nuzzle into dew, sweet scents, the tickles and whispers of rooted green things. All I wanted then, all I EVER wanted, was to dig my toes in loam and thrust my hips against hers. All I EVER wanted were the truths of flesh and blood, stone and bone.

To lie pressed together on a hillside, my love and I.

As the earth curves away.

* * *

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Trust Only...

Trust only an infant’s face to reveal truths about the emotions borne inside. Only an infant’s face. A face too young and unblemished to allow subterfuge.

I believe that’s why we feel so connected with infants. Their faces are the only unclouded windows to the human soul available. And, sadly, this most beautiful window disappears soon enough.

Sometimes it doesn’t even take all that long. There are children all over this hardscrabble planet whose faces have been rendered blank slates. Too many privations, too much suffering replicated and multiplied over just a few years can paralyze the face forever.

It takes a lot longer for most of us, but it’s guaranteed that time and experience will alter our visage. We are fated to end up with masks in one way or another. Some faces are evidence of a soft life but provide no evidence whatsoever of what was gained or lost over the course of a luxurious existence. Some faces scream of a hard life, obscuring the tenderness that may be glowing within. We really can’t tell much about the soul of an individual behind the aged mask.

And that’s a pity.

* * *

I’ve been mulling these notions ever since I bought my digital camera and snapped a quick series of photos of myself. I was, frankly, taken aback by the pursed lips and drawn face. My face no longer reflected my state of mind at all. What stunned me was that my face was now more an artifact/representation of all the stresses, losses, pain and despair of the last few years. While the healing has long begun, the face seems frozen in time...the hardest of the hard times.

That saddens me.

You can see it in my face.

* * *

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Taking Stock

This was a raw night. The dark too cold and damp for comfort. Too few Christmas lights to pierce the darkness and light my way.


I felt compelled to lace up my walkin’ shoes, don my mittens and head out the door. And so I did. Limping all the way.

And I took stock:

I’m a mere shadow of my former self. I truly am. There was a time (not ALL that long ago) when I could run a marathon. Nowadays?
I barely hobble. The cartilage in my knees is history. The cartilage in my hip is toast. I USED to run. Today? I limp...slowly...painfully.

My arteries are calcified. My hair silvered, my skin creased and blemished from basking far too long in the sun. My bruises won’t heal and I’m slowly goin’ deaf and blind.


I wander. Scattered snowflakes tickle outstretched tongue.

I am what I am. I am who I am. I’ve tasted the salt in the waters of the Atlantic, the Pacific, North Sea, Baltic and Caribbean. I’ve inhaled the dust of plowed fields, crumbled mountains and desert dunes. I’ve roasted under a blazing sun, been pummeled by hail, soaked by rain and tossed about by roaring winds. I’ve been carried into the deep blue by riptides. Gone eyeball-to-eyeball with wild things. Witnessed a tornado. Combed through the detritus of a hurricane.

I’ve crashed my body into immobile objects. Been beaten, broken (more than once...not enough to kill). I’ve laughed so much my ribs ached more than any fracture. I’ve banged on drums till fingers bled. Drank myself to stupor. Been dumbstruck, awestruck, flummoxed and gob smacked.

I restored a few aquifers. Gave peace of mind to some. Grievously wounded others.

I’ve plunged off sides of mountains on slats called skis. Road far on two wheels. Flew even farther on misshapen wings. I’ve competed on the hardest of hard courts, in tennis, in business and life. I’ve prayed. I’ve cursed. I’ve sweat and bled and spilled sperm aplenty.

I never sold my soul for silver, but managed to tarnish it beyond all recognition nonetheless.

And by God, I’ve loved. With all my heart. With every fiber of my being (and I got a whole lot o’ scars and mutated marrow to show for all that...still, I'd do it all again).

I wish I could claim I did my best. I know I didn’t. I’ve lived better than some (quite a few, actually, if one considers ALL of humanity).

But I’ve done far worse than the best among us.

This “taking stock” business hurts.

Quite a bit, actually.

* * *

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