reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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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

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“healing does not mean going back to the way things were before…” [merely-a-thought monday]

healing

it is at that place in my memory where i can juuuust-about-touch-it-but-not-quite – the first time i heard, ‘ don’t stare into the rearview mirror.  that’s not the direction you are going.’  i can’t quite remember when or where i first heard it, but it was one of those comments that i stored away as a wisdom to feed off, something that would give me strength in a moment of weak, something that would give me hope in a moment of despair.

my john glenn high school senior class song was seals and crofts’ we may never pass this way again’.  even if it’s the best.  even if it’s the worst.  never.  this moment won’t be repeated and, with the absence of time travel, we cannot re-live it.  ever.

we have all walked in different shoes on different paths.  we have passed through challenges of which we may never speak; we have had successes about which we have never bragged.  we have been hurt;  we have hurt.  and we have healed.

“healing does not mean going back to the way things were before…” (ram dass)

the thing about healing is what it teaches us.  we can never be un-hurt.  we can never undo what was done or what we did.  we can’t return to the baseline; it has vanished with the winds of change.  in a million tiny pieces of glitter, it’s in that proverbial rearview mirror.

but we can ride the river of our breathing into new normal.  we can carry with us learnings and soft words of apology.  we can pack our virtual baggage with tools of prevention and fairness and forethought.  we can pick up techniques of negotiation and navigating in the process of coming-out-of-pain.  we can avoid the temptation to retreat from moving forward, thinking that healing means it’s all back to what it ‘was’ before.

instead, we can step, in blind faith, into next, trusting that healing will bring us to a new place, a new start.  that healing will have somehow gifted us, given grace to all involved in ways we may never know or understand.  that healing will be like dawn, like rain, like birth.

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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andrea’s song

IMG_2711the sound of the cicadas outside brought me back to my childhood home on long island.  we had woods behind our yard and the summer days and nights were a symphony of crickets and cicadas. i would sometimes sit in my poetry tree (a maple outside my bedroom window with perfect limbs for climbing and sitting) late into the day, writing or reading and, although i probably never appreciated the crickets and cicadas as i do now, i would listen as the day would softly pass by. my sweet momma would know where to find me; if i wasn’t riding bikes with sue, at the dive center, fishing with crunch or at the beach, i was likely in that tree.

i wrote a lot of poems in that tree, a lot of reflections, a lot of stories and maybe even a little music…the kind without the music. as i think about the people who encouraged me in writing, one of the first people i think of is andrea. andrea was my high school english teacher. she, along with kevin, were the coolest in the english department. andrea, with kerchiefs in her hair and peace sign necklaces, long skirts and funky glasses, was the epitome of hip. we, painlessly, learned from her teaching style, her quiet wisdom, her laugh, her smile.

andrea was the teacher coordinating the art and literary magazine ‘gemini’ at our high school. i was involved with this annual publication each year, but was the editor-in-chief during my senior year of high school, a job i adored. not only did i get to immerse myself in a lot of poetry and art, but i got to lay out the publication and handle many of the details, all the while hanging out with andrea and having conversations about life and writing and balance.

in the (aaack! many) years since high school i have thought about her often and finally, over the last eight years or so, was able to get back into contact with her.   not only did i want to know how she was, where she was, what she was doing, but i wanted to share with her where i was and what i was doing. mostly, it mattered to me what her thoughts were. during that time we shared snippets of life. i found i could still learn from her teaching style, her quiet wisdom and her smile, even without physically seeing her. at one point she wrote to me, “nothing is idyllic. i think we have idyllic moments. we have to take time to savor what is around us.”   yet another invaluable reminder. how often must we learn these things, i wonder.

when we were planning our trip to boston for this summer, i found myself hoping that we would have the chance to see andrea…meet for coffee, have a glass of wine together. i worried when i didn’t hear back from her; she usually answered email. i was anxious to visit with her, thank her in person for the influence she had had on me, hear what she thought about a project i had sent her. it was about a week before we left, when i was online pondering whether to send her another note, that i saw the very sad news that she had died. i was stunned and (what would maybe seem) inordinately devastated. the connection backwards in time was broken; the opportunity to sit with andrea now vapor.

i thought about extending my sympathies on social media but for some reason that seemed too shallow. there is a loss i feel when i no longer hear the cicadas in the fall…something visceral that i feel inside. the loss of andrea was intensely visceral.

IMG_2708all throughout our home you will find peace signs; each of these signs make me think of this beloved lady in my life, this positive force who, without knowing, kept me writing, thinking, writing.

in my mind’s eye, i can feel sitting in my poetry tree. the cicadas’ song was all around me. as i write now, i cannot help but think about andrea and the things i learned from her, most of which had nothing to do with grammar and punctuation, but instead, with honoring the words within, the emotions, things palpable and things we can’t see or touch.  and so, savoring that learning, in fact, leaning into it, her song is all around me. it’s idyllic.

…peace out…