He toppled them out of the closet, a heap of old tee shirts from 5K races, college events and concerts from their collective past. This one had caused an argument because she used it for work. She argued that Bruce sang about working men and women. She wore it to paint the family room, a bathroom or two and some old deck furniture. He thought concert tee shirts should be kept pristine, folded and preserved. Some day they might be worth something. It was a fond memory of a good night from their past and now it was decorated with parts of her real life, too. Colors from the spaces and things she made new with just her imagination and a coat of paint.
He stuffed all the other shirts into a black garbage bag like old rags, but he kept this one. Despite the paint splatters it was soft and smelled a little metallic ~ just as she did.
It’s calming, it’s cooling, it’s bracing, it’s gritty, it’s the same, it’s different every time it pulls away,
and it makes me realize that I am, too.
The slap of lime, a ting on the skin
The lap of the waves, warm with a breeze in the current
Laughter, sweat and the active laziness of summer camp for grown-ups.
Bellies swollen — food babies this time rolling under sunburned skin.
A Grump at the omelette station — no way, Mon.
“All Irie.” Have another drink.
I grew up in a suburban Cape Cod style house. There were supposed to be two bedrooms upstairs, but my bedroom was the only one finished. The other space held the old Christmas decorations and some family ephemera. I assume for economic reasons, my room remained unheated. But since our house was located on the coast of central New Jersey, winters never got THAT cold. I slept under a bunch of blankets and when it was really, really cold I had a strange urine colored electric blanket that had a scary label on it warning the user not to fall asleep with the blanket while in use (?).
My mother attributed my robust health to sleeping without heat. Which was a convenient belief because both of my parents were smokers. But the thing I remember most deeply is lying in bed late at night, the house dark and quiet, my bedside digital clock flipping each minute with a gentle, hypnotic tick. If I stuck my face outside the covers I swear I could see my breath.
And then I’d hear our family mutt making her rounds. We had hardwood floors and I could hear her nails tapping as she made a rote circle through the downstairs. Sometimes she’d give a low throaty growl — a warning to anything passing through the suburbs to move along. Then I’d hear her tentative steps up the slippery, uncarpeted staircase to my room. I’d count the paw-falls to number twelve when she’d make the carpeted landing (Because my room had a deep green wall-to-wall carpet that I imagined was the color of Middle Earth).
I’d hear her gentle panting, because she was an old dog by this time, and I’d smell her damp dog-breath as she came up to the side of the bed. I’d stick my arm out of the blanket pile and pat the bed, encouraging her to come up and warm my feet. She would jump up silently and stake out a spot at the foot, facing the door to sense when my father got up, because he was the alpha dog.
And then, finally, I’d fall asleep.
I enjoy plants and flowers, but I don’t have a green thumb. What I do have is patience. I planted peony bulbs three years ago and last year I was rewarded with this fuchsia flower — a singular diva bloom. This year my reward was the pink peony — again, a spectacular solo performer.
Thanks Mother Nature for changing it up and giving me something to look forward to, because I sure can’t remember what colors I planted.