reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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and not to be silent. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

there comes a time when silence

silence is not always golden.

in a country deeply divided by narrative, the decision between silence and speech presents a challenge.  subjected to judgement and the possibility of being harangued, speaking words, speaking truth, is a choice-point.

this is a time of massive misinformation, a time of gullibility, a time of digging in heels, a time of excuse-making, a time of circling bandwagons.  to pass by one who opines misinformation is to be complicit.  to be silent around falsehoods is to be complicit.  to not speak to inequity, to not address moral or ethical failures, to not stand up against prejudice and bigotry is to be complicit.  to fail to engage against injustice, to not protect the truth, to rabidly push narratives of lies, is perfidy.  to stand silently by is perilous.  yes.  there does come a time when silence is betrayal.

it would seem that two people or two groups of people, no matter how disparate, should be able to have a conversation.  it would seem that they should be able to maturely debate, using factual information, issues that are at hand.  it would seem that they should be able to respect each other, use discretion, and, without the betrayal of silence or anger, come to a place where ideas shared might move them closer together in understanding and mutual goals.  it would seem that there is a bigger picture.

it would seem that unity might be the utmost goal, the endzone, the heavily-weighted bottom half of the pyramid of needs.  it would seem in a country that its people would want to be unified in its most basic desires, its most basic values, its most basic tenets.  it would seem that for a society to survive it must gather its people and its resources together to achieve any sort of illumination or actualization.

but relationship and conversation and unity cannot be achieved in silence.  for silence-personified invites assumptions.  silence-personified instills distrust.  silence-personified creates chasms out of dividing lines.  silence-personified shatters relationships.  silence-personified builds walls of resentment, houses impervious to healing or conversation, learning or compromise.  silence-personified is dangerous and paralyzing.

for those who speak the truth despite the pain of vulnerability, despite the vast line in the sand, regardless of any tribal politics and with much courage, we glean there is a way to survival, there is a way out of the polarization.

but time is of the essence.  it is none too soon to start.  to speak.  and not to be silent.

“when you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have to speak up.  you have to say something.  you have to do something.”  (john lewis)

read DAVID’S thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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words. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

kawaii raccoons

“look it up,” my sweet momma would say.  i blame her.  for my word-curiosity.  for my policing of spelling, punctuation, grammar.  for my love of dictionaries and my commitment to learning.  at 93 she was still asking questions, being curious, looking it up.

black and white composition books, of both thick and thin variety, populated my growing up, my teenage years, my college years, and ever since.  though i do have a thready fondness of using My Girl’s and My Boy’s old unfinished spiral notebooks these days, we have piles of waiting-to-be-used composition books and they beckon when i open the supply cabinet in the sunlit office upstairs.  places to jot poetry, thoughts, reflections, stories, lyrics, these composition books always make me think of my mom.  they are places to process, to remember, to dream, to sort.  they are the beginnings of stories, lyrics to ponder, the coda to the song.  to someone else they are simply words on the page.  to me, it is my breath that gives them life.  we each have stories to tell, songs to write.

in the last few days i have had the frustration of feeling silenced.  as i wrote in yesterday’s post, someone marked all five of my blogposts of last week on facebook as “spam” and that somehow triggered facebook to pull every last one of my blogposts – and any mention of my blogsite – down.  every word – the simple ones, the ones that require looking-it-up – pulled down.  with 650 posts, even averaging 500 words, that is 325,000 words.  MY 325,000 words.  gone.

in these times of chaos and unrest and pandemic, there are plenty of words out there.  foul words, words of peaceful mantras, words of untruth, twisted words of conspiracy theories, imploring words, scientific words, words of wisdom from giants of wisdom, accessible words, words we have to look up, words we can hardly believe we’ve heard from various people-in-the-spotlight, words at which we roll our eyes, words we find reassuring.

in a daily email he receives, david shares a new word with me.  “kawaii,” he reports, “means cute.”

the baby raccoons, most definitely kawaii, peeked out from behind the tree trunk.  upon seeing us on the trail, they had scrambled from the little pond up the tree.  they stared at us; we stared at them.  they didn’t move, quizzically grasping onto bark and watching quietly.  we didn’t move either.  we just stood quietly on the trail and watched.  the story they would tell about our encounter wouldn’t have many words.  all was silent.  all was motionless.  they were safe; we were safe.  for a few minutes, we shared the serene woods together, a little eye contact in hushed regard of each other.  maybe, in their re-telling, in their speckled composition book, they would just tell the coda – “and then they left.”

every now and again i take out an old composition book.  it’s astounding.  i was so…..wordy.

read DAVID’S thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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during this time that FB, impossible to contact, figures out i am not ill-intended nor do i post SPAM, i would ask you a favor:  if you have found any post of mine to be thought-provoking or encouraging or reassuring in some way and have enjoyed reading, please “follow” this blog.  you can “follow” it on this post or later go to our website www.kerrianddavid.com/the-melange to find the link to this blogsite.  wordpress will send you an email each day with my 5 day-a-week blog. you can certainly choose to read or not read each day and, at any time, you can choose to “unfollow” the blog.  just as it is your decision whether or not to read my post on facebook each day, i would like to think you still have the option.  subscribing gives you that.  hopefully, FB will allow and restore my written work soon.

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quiet. new chalk. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

life is grace sleep

quiet.  we walk in quiet most of the time.  even our longer hikes are quiet.  it is a time of rest for us, rest from the noise of the rest of life, the noise of worry and angst, the noise of dispute, the noise of too much bad news, the noise of chaos.  we listen to the birds and our footfalls on the trail.  we listen to the wind and the sound of creatures rustling in the underbrush.  the quiet calms us; the quiet lifts the cellophane from the magic slate cardboard, it shakes the etch-a-sketch and takes it all back to zero, back to start, back to a rainwashed driveway waiting to be chalked all over again.

having run out of everest, k2 and annapurna footage we are watching appalachian trail and pacific crest trail and john muir trail videos these days.  on our own treks locally we decide which one of these to take, listing the specific merits of each.  make no mistake, these are serious treks.  the AT is 2190 miles from georgia to maine.  the PCT is 2653 miles from the border of mexico to the border of canada.  the JMT, joining with the PCT some of the way,  is 211 miles through the sierras, high elevation pass after pass.  clearly, the training needed would be intense.  but, as we envision this extended trekking, we are drawn to the quiet.  the noise of this world has become raucous and the woods and the mountains seem to beckon with absolution, with grace, with rejuvenation.

there used to be a button on the cassette player that you could push that would quicken the pace of the tape to the end: fast forward.  it would seem these trails, this quiet, like sleep, would fast forward through the dark and bring you to the light once again.  these trails – this quiet – remind you that next comes.

and so, the noise of the day will cease.  and you can listen to the sound of your footfall on a new day, ready to be chalked.

read DAVID’S thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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putter-putz-tinker. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

happy

20 calls it “putzing”.  “what did you do today,” we ask.  he says, “nothing.  i just putzed.” putzing has a way of taking up the day.

my sweet poppo was a world-class putterer.  he was happy doing something and happy doing nothing.  he’d spend hours at his workbench in the garage in florida, cool damp towel wrapped around his neck.  he could fix or make just about anything.  hours just puttering.  the whole day could go by.

my big brother could tinker in competition with the best of the tinkerers.  he would tinker on building projects, home improvements, engines, motors, and all good assorted tinker-able sources.  his adoring little sister, i was happiest when i got to sit and watch him tinker.

we road-trip-traveled down south, two friends and i.  it was -wow- many years ago now.  fans of the paint-a-picture-of-sweet-idle-and-wild-adventure-living j. peterman catalog, we went to the j.peterman (of seinfeld fame) retail store in kentucky.  walking in, time slowed down.  quiet piano music played overhead and the cool air conditioning of the store was a welcome change from the humid heat outside.

there was an associate acting as hostess who approached us drawling, “good afternooooon. welcome to j. peterman.  would you lahhk an ahhsti?”  “an asti,” we thought, “would be remarkable!”  who wouldn’t like cool bubbly asti spumante on a hot steamy day? we graciously accepted and browsed around the space waiting for our wine glasses to appear, admiring the there-was-a-gentle-breeze-off-the-starboard-side-catching-the-silken-folds-of-her-aqua-dress-as-she-stood-watching-the-sail-raise sundress for $279.  time slowed down.

the hostess-associate returned, three tumblers filled with – iced tea- and topped with a lemon wedge.  ahhh.  ICED TEA.  not ASTI.  our lounge-y afternoon puttering about the shop with asti in our hands vision disappeared in the breeze off the starboard side (or was that the ceiling fan overhead?)  we left, post-beverage, and drove to the j. peterman headquarters where i managed to talk our way in to meet with THE j. peterman in a messy office filled with thoughts and dreams of his company.  we entered and he apologized for the mess, telling us he was “puttering” and hadn’t had a chance to pick up.  putterers shouldn’t apologize.

i’ve come by trifling with my day honestly.  a list-maker, my brain tends to be consumed with lists-of-things-to-do, neatly under different headings, highlighted in order of import.  they wake me up at night; they are consuming some days.

but there are some days that lists are not relevant.  life days.  putzing-puttering-tinkering days.  days when frittering time away is the right thing to do, really the only thing to do.  you loiter in your happy-doing-something-happy-doing-nothing.  and you sit and have an iced tea.

read DAVID’S thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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quote from AUGIE THE DOG’s 20th BIRTHDAY

 

 

 


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love > fear. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

love greater than fear

change is imminent.  we can feel its rumblings.  we try to tether to something solid, something reassuring.  as when fierce winds swirl around us in the woods, we scan the limbs of trees above us, waiting for the inevitable crashing-down-bow.  we are unsure.  we are afraid.

because change is here.  we sense it all around us; we know things will not stay the same.  they cannot.  for this time is a time of transformation.   the transition time will be full of the unknown.  the re-shaping will be disorienting.  we are agnostic.  we are nervous.

because change is like that.  it undermines our normal, throws our predictable into a frenzy, propels us past the lines we color in.  it’s a metamorphosis like a kaleidoscope, ever-different, ever-rearranging.  it pulls, it pushes.  we resist.  we dig in.  we argue with the wind till we are hoarse and weary.

because change makes us fearful.  we ask for guarantees that this evolution will be better, that we will feel settled in it, that it will improve things.  but life comes with no guarantees and there are few among us who have not heard the words of nelson mandela:  “courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. the brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” 

and change delivers.  courage shows up and partners with strength and perseverance.  belief peers from around the corner.  and hands reach out to us.  we see we are, indeed, not alone.  we step.  and step again.

and we learn to know:  love > fear.

we look change in the face and say, “ok. let’s do this.”

read DAVID’S thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY

Screen Shot 2020-06-09 at 6.00.33 PM

the photograph for this post is taken of a shirt i purchased in a tiny magical bookstore on washington island.  it is available – click here or on the photo above – if you would like to virtually visit fair isle books and order one in long or short sleeve for yourself or as a gift. 

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from jumpstart to coda. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

so much random learning

my favorite snapchat filter makes my face round and my eyes huge, adds giant john-denver-glasses and changes my voice.   and i love it!  using a filter makes short-selfie-movie-making less about how you look and more about how you could look:  with big eyes or ears or as a unicorn or years younger or years older or with different hair or as the opposite gender.  my niece wendy and i use it as a constant communication device; we are free to be as weird as we want to be or as funny or as playful.

when this filter disappeared temporarily – the one with big eyes and glasses and a voice octaves above my normal voice – i panicked.  making a video for wendy as just me was not nearly as enticing and i sadly thought i’d have to resort to simply texting again.  i wondered if i should write a letter to snapchat, but fear those at snapchat don’t read letters.  how antiquated.  alas, even without a letter of reproach from me, it reappeared and all is well again in snapchatland.

technology is throwing us all for a loop…well, those of us who were not born with it in our very veins.  we are videoconferencing for work, google-chatting for play, creating audio and video files to fill in gaps where people can’t be, using photoshop to create slides for iMovies or iPhoto videos, layering audio files on music software, creating youtube channels and pic collages, learning how to change wav files into mp3s into m4v’s, messaging people via text, email, facebook, instagram, pushing our little cellphones to their outer limits (or is it us we are pushing to outer limits?)

we are immersed and treading water.

so much learning.  oy, such a steep curve.  all in the name of staying in touch in these virtual times.  you can’t touch people but these laptops and ipads and cellphones are reeling from overuse.  (or is it my born-in-1959-middle-aged-brain?)

but for those of us with analog veins, coffee is still coffee.  and i am ever grateful for that.  it’s a necessary tool in this virtual world.  every day these days needs a bit of a jumpstart.

and as frank k. says, “that apothic.  it’s such a drinkable wine!”  yes, frank.  another necessary tool – the coda of the day these days.

jumpstart to coda.  and in-between, we tread, virtual wave after virtual wave.

 

read DAVID’s thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY

 

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oblivious. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

to bee or not to bee

“deliriously oblivious,” i thought as we passed the bees buzzing the dandelions on the trail.  with no real idea of the state of the pandemic-battered world, these bees were just going about their bee-life.  in some silly way, i was jealous.

much of the time right now i feel as if we are living in an alternate reality than others.  we shop with masks; many wander about fresh-faced and seemingly unaware.  we distance from others; we pass gatherings of people, clearly not related, all not even a smidge apart from each other.  we walk in single file on the side of the trail as we approach others; groups of people swarm the trail, passing right by us, unmasked, unconcerned.  we yearn to travel a bit, see our children, our families; others post about their gatherings or even trips.  we patiently work by videoconference, technology reigns supreme these days waiting for a time when it is safer to venture out; crowds protest and push for heedless immediate re-opening.  our hearts break for families losing loved ones to this dangerous virus; deaths are reported as cold numbers sans empathy.  the weighing of losing more lives vs ‘opening up’ is posed as an actual question.  it feels like we are on another plane of existence watching the world, abiding by different rules.  truly.

and right here, in the middle of it all, the bees buzz from dandelion to dandelion, and soon flower to flower, seeking nectar.  migratory birds return to the skies above and animals return to prowl about in warmer temperatures.  in other parts of the country and the world, wildlife is enjoying a reprieve from people.  in what must be a breath of fresh air for them, animals are freer to roam, freer to linger.  their curiosity is taking them off the beaten path, out of their norm.  i wonder if there is some kind of intuition that informs them; i wonder if they are somehow conscious of this looming threat to humanity.  i wonder what they are thinking as they watch this play out, the impact of a pandemic on health, relationships, mindfulness, neighborliness, working in community together.  i wonder how they, in the infinite wisdom of instinct, would decide if someone placed the words ‘health’ and ‘economy’ in front of them and made them choose just one.

there are moments i am convinced that dogdog and babycat know.  i’m sure that they can feel the anxiety we hold.  dogga, in particular, watches our faces for cues, his gaze is eye-to-eye-contact riveting.  they hover about us, close by.  perhaps unmindful of the pandemic, but certainly conscious of our emotions.

and as bumblebees begin to buzz in our backyard, the dog chases them.  the birds begin to discover there is water in the pond again.  the squirrels dance across the wires.  the turkey lands on the roof.  the sun rises earlier.  the lettuce starts to grow.

read DAVID’s thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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and we vamp. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

text message

delayed gratification.  it’s something we are growing used to in these days of days.  anticipatory glee.  it’s all an exponential wait-for-it.  as relatively impatient people, these are mostly new learnings.  there is no date on which we can hang our all-will-be-normal hats.  we must vamp until we know.

a long, long time ago, in the end of march, there was an opinion written by a woman with two teenage daughters who had a new appreciation for the way her grandparents lived.  she expressed that these grandparents owned a tiny home and had simple furnishings.  they took pleasure in the most basic of things:  dancing in the living room, watching a bare minimum on tv, sitting on the porch, crossword puzzles, having conversation, walking the familiar sidewalks of their tiny town over and over again, handwashing the dishes.  in the midst of this pandemic she could see their shining appreciation of the smallness, the stillness.  she could see the brilliance.

it occurs to me that we are living elements of her grandparents’ lives; i hope the same wisdoms will be bestowed upon us.  in the time after we have finished our work, we dance on the patio, watch little on tv, converse together, in texts, on the phone, on videoconferences, across driveways.  we sit on the deck or in the sunroom and watch spring chuggingly arrive.  we walk the same sidewalks we have walked together for years, noticing small changes: the heaved concrete or the bloomed daffodils, new mulch in gardens or new sturdy fencing.  we cook dinner; we do the dishes.  we are both quiet as we wait for what will come and we are just a little noisy in the moment.

to everything there is a season.  a time to plan.  where we will go, what we will do, who we will visit.  gratification, yes, delayed, but sage learnings in the moment.

one of the memorable texts of this waiting-place was one from a friend.  after some really serious life conversation, back and forth texting, she wrote, “let’s go out and have a drink.”  before i could wonder when we could do that, her next text arrived, “next year,” she added.

in the meanwhile we’ll do the dishes by hand and walk the sidewalks, waiting and planning, yearning, vamping till the song starts.

read DAVID’S thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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incessant. my sweet momma. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

good morning sunshine

she was incessant.  every morning she greeted me with the words, “good morning sunshine.”  rain, sleet, snow or ice – none would dampen her good-morning-spirit.  a new day, a new beginning, another chance.

my parents weren’t complicated people.  they grew up with great-depression-survival parents.  they were married and almost immediately separated by the second world war, by my dad’s missing-in-action status, by his time as a prisoner-of-war and, thus, they navigated the loss of their first daughter on two continents, my mom without knowledge of my dad’s whereabouts.  they processed-without-processing the end of the war and my dad’s escape and return home to struggle through post-war times.  they had two more children, another girl and a boy and began to raise a family on long island in a cape cod house with a chainlink fence and a dachshund.  after i was born they moved to the house i grew up in, the only house i remember without looking at old photographs.  we had a single driveway with a grass strip in the middle.  some neighbors had solid concrete or asphalt driveways, no grass strip, and even as a child, i suspected this meant something.  they were thrifty and conserving.

my parents weren’t hip.  through the rebellious 60s and mod 70s they raised me, older than most of my friends’ parents by at least a decade or more.  i listened to jim nabors and doris day and robert goulet in the house, herb alpert and the tijuana brass and frank sinatra on the stereo and the old wgsn on the radio on top of the refrigerator, while friends were hearing their moms sing to carole king and simon and garfunkel crooned in their kitchens, the mamas and the papas and herman’s hermits in the family rooms.  my dad would whistle for hours; hearing anyone whistling now feels like a hug from him.

my parents weren’t frivolous.  my dad would turn boxes inside out to repurpose them.  my mom would assign him tasks first in in his basement workshop and, later, his garage workshop, giving him something to focus on.  he was always rube-goldberg-ing everything; he could make or fix anything.  they didn’t splurge on stuff, well, until they discovered ikea.  after years and years and years of exclusive use, the aluminum colander they gave to me (and after a couple more decades and the loss of a foot, i finally retired) is likely 70 years old.

my parents weren’t problem-obsessive.  my mom would do laundry, especially later in life.  i think it centered her.  the simple task of cleaning a garment or bath towel and putting it away felt grounding; i have learned this from her and you will find me scouring the house for laundry items in times of stress.  they were reasonable and rational; nothing needed be too complex.

but they were loving and encouraging and accepting.  i could tease or cajole my dad into doing almost anything.  and, when my dad’s reaction to a circumstance was more impatient, my mom would listen, listen, listen.  she would admonish him, “Erling!” she’d hammer.

simple.  no fancy titles.  no wildly exotic trips.  no fancy foods.  only one fancy car to try-on-for-size.  no fancy clothes or shoes. simple furnishings, treasured mementos.

simple.  no emmys, oscars, grammys.   no nobel peace prize.  hardworking and uncomplaining.  a lot of volunteering.  a jewelry store failure in early days of big box stores.  early retirement and a move-down-I95 south.  self-admonishments to do-the-photo-albums and clean-out-the-file-cabinets.

simple.  a dedication to handyman magazine, national geographic, jigsaw puzzles, crytoquotes and crosswords.  tomato plants and hosta.  forsythia and four-o-clocks that ran along the whole side of the house.  succulents and bougainvillea.  harlequin romance novels and old doris day/rock hudson movies.  bird-watching and klondike bars.  feeding their family.  entertaining their friends.

simple.  times around the table coffee-sitting.  long conversations on the couch.  egg mc-arnsons or waffles and ice cream on sunday mornings.  time on the stoop and in the lanai, just talking.  time.  spending time.

she was incessant.  her joy at the day, her exuberance, her kindness, her piercing eyes, her absolute, uncompromised, unconditional love.

i woke today thinking about this day five years ago today, when i was not physically there to hold her hand as she passed from this life to another plane.  we were on the way, driving there, on an interstate when we found out.  in el paso, illinois.  we pulled off and found a park not far from the highway.  we walked and walked and walked, trying to process.  i have no doubt that she knew i was right there with her, always, and how much i love her.

life will never be the same without my sweet momma on this earth.  ever.  i can only hope that in some way, as a new day dawns and i think to myself, “good morning sunshine,” that i will be somewhat like her.  somewhat as incessant.

read DAVID’s thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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past tommy’s house. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

99 cents:gallon cropped

20 years ago.  apparently the last time gas was 99 cents a gallon in wisconsin was 20 years ago.  i don’t remember that in particular; my children were young and things were busy.   how strange to now be able to purchase gas for 99 cents a gallon, filling up little-baby-scion for about $10, and not be able to go anywhere.

20 years before 20 years ago i remember gas being 79 cents a gallon or so.  on long island, i would go to the citgo station on the corner of larkfield and clay pitts road in my vw bug, filling up for well under $10.  they pumped your gas for you back then.  i had one of my first credit cards, a citgo card, in those days.  on one occasion, a couple days after i got gas, i received a phone call.  it was from the guy who had pumped my gas.  he had saved my information post-pumping and looked my last name up in the phone book.  he called to ask me to go on a date.  he was always nice to me every single time i got gas, so i thought it perfectly innocent to accept.  i don’t remember where we went, but i do remember thinking that i would absolutely not repeat the date – the somewhat unusual way he got my number (i’m thinking that would be against credit card protection acts these days) was befitting of his um, unusual-ness.  “she’s not home,” my mom would tell him time and again when he called.  after a plethora of calls over a series of days, i told him i  wasn’t interested.  i started going to mobil.

citgo, dairy barn, king kullen, genovese drugs, the card store – these were all around the corner, up the hill and turn right.  to get there you’d go right by tommy’s house on the hill.  and just today i found out that tommy, one of the absolute cutest-boys-in-high-school, has died.  a  man taken by coronavirus, i read the posts on facebook remembering him.  it seems, as we lose track of people in our orbit, that they freeze in time – i never knew tommy as an adult so he remains age 18 in my mind’s eye.  we lose track of them and we don’t know their successes or their challenges, things they struggled with or how their lives were shaped as they ‘grew up’.  we make assumptions and find out later that their lives were impacted in ways we never could have guessed, in ways we would have never wished for anyone.  it saddens me deeply to think of tommy, the cool-boy-in-school, struggling in his life, trying to get a firm hold on steady.  the things we don’t know, riding our bikes up that hill just to get a glimpse and maybe wave to him.

20 years go by. and another 20.

and we sit at the pump where it’s 99 cents a gallon.  there is a global pandemic.  we have a blank triptik.  as we drove away from the pump, we looked at each other and pondered without answering, ‘where would we go if we could go?’

but right now, there is no where to go.  were i to be on long island, i would go back to my growing-up house and sit on the curb for a bit.  then i’d go around the corner and up the hill.  and i’d wave as i’d pass tommy’s old house.

read DAVID’S thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY

northport harbor website box