Tag Archives: #lovestory

Tremors

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The hotel room was dark when she returned from dinner, and for a moment she stood still, to see what it felt like to be alone and quiet. It came immediately, as always, sadness rolling over her like the fog she had watched from 10,000 feet a day earlier, great drifts of cottony cover, settling heavily over the coastal mountains.

Her eyes adjusted to the dim light. She kicked off her shoes and turned on the TV, flipping through the channels, immune to the news and the drama. What she wanted was an unconditional conversation with Drew. In lieu of that, a good cry. Instead, she opted for a beer and M&Ms from the front desk. She went to bed with her contacts in, face unwashed, clothes dropped carelessly on the chair, pajamas in her suitcase, ignored.

At 3:20am, the world began to roll. In her dream, she was floating on waves, the rhythm insistent and unrelenting, forcing her to relinquish power, to relax her grip, to give in to something larger than herself. But the groaning building woke her, its protest low and mechanical. She gripped the sheets as the bed undulated, and in the darkness, she felt as if she were in the hull of a boat, adrift in large waves, insignificant and powerless. After a moment, the waves rolled away, moving on, the undulation getting softer and softer until it was gone. The hotel walls were once again quiet.

Wide awake, heart pounding, she thought about a tsunami. She wondered if more waves were coming. She wondered if her sorrow might be tangible, strong enough to liquify the earth and roll her away.

photo credit: http://farm9.static.flickr.com/

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Balance

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The fan revolved slowly in the wrong direction. Others along the veranda turned at a clip, stirring the air, but this one didn’t. She didn’t mind. The breeze off the gulf was warm, and it lifted her hair from her forehead.

The view from their table was of the marina. She watched as a sailboat went out, a skipper at the helm, one passenger sitting quietly at the bow as the boat turned toward the bay, others laughing and sipping drinks in the cockpit. Another boat was motoring back in, the first mate moving carefully along the starboard side, throwing fenders out over the railing. Two pelicans flew in formation overhead, as if mimicking the fighter jets that live at the nearby base.

They ordered the mahi tacos and happy hour beers. Neither said much, content to sit side-by-side, relaxing in their anonymity and the stillness. Sweat from their glasses pooled on the table, soaking their coasters as they ate. She smiled at the child who walked by waving the crayons she’d secured from the waiter. He ordered another beer.

After a while, he leaned back against the bench. She sat back too and leaned into him, feeling the softness of his shirt sleeve and the warmth of his arm under it.  She felt him exhale.

She began to keep count. For every sailboat that went out, another came in.

 

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To free the coyote

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Another flight home in tears. Another resolution to stop throwing herself at him, only to see him sidestep her, like the road runner taking one purposeful step to the side to let Wile E Coyote race past and hit the wall. Another resolution to pack up her malfunctioning Acme Inc parachute and back away quietly before she hits anything else.

She wants so much to jump. To feel him there beside her, jumping too. The struggle is to reconcile the part of her that believes they are meant to be together with the part that recognizes she’s being rejected. Any other self-respecting woman of her age and opportunity would have moved on by now. God knows, she’s felt it. She’s even said it. But she can’t seem to believe it.

Which must be why the coyote never gives up, even though we all want him to, because we know he’s never going to catch the road runner. If only we could tell him what to do next, we could free him.

Photo credit: http://www.herbalistmanifesto.com

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The reality of silence

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Silence is heavy, and not quiet at all. At rare moments, when she is home on her own, almost afraid to breathe for fear of breaking the spell, there is a welcome stillness. But it is not silent. There is a tinny buzz in her ears, and the ticking of the clock is the heartbeat of a house that creaks and groans, as if stretching cramped limbs. The sound of a descending airplane is overhead, the crunch of tires on loose gravel is in the alley, a child is calling from a backyard somewhere down the street. The rain taps the window and dances on the roof, rivulets finding their way into the bathroom upstairs, steadily dripping onto the marmoleum floor. When it stops, the birds are so cheerful, she wishes she could join them, landing lightly on the branch outside her window, simultaneously eyeing the earth and the sky.

There is a steady stream of chatter in her head, a radio channel she wishes she could turn off. She tries not to think of Drew, she tries not to think of Jake. Nothing seems right, everything is off balance, the road ahead looks empty and grey, like the sky. How not to curl up into a ball and close her eyes, tuning the world out, keeping everyone at bay? How not to give in to the uncertainty and lose her drive, her determination to live fully, to live better? This is the anti-depressant zone, where she can choose to numb herself and force her body and mind to level out, the way her friends do with their knock-off, covered-by-insurance-if-you’re-willing-to-accept-the-diagnosis drugs. Or its the place where she gives up, where she gives in to the pain and despair that make her feel alive and alone, alert and yet emotionally unavailable, where she makes herself small on the couch and watches the rain fall, tucking the stillness in around her like a quilt.

The silence is welcome. But she doesn’t know what to do with it.

Photo credit: redbubble.com

 

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The holiday touchstone

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Distance makes the water between us look calm and cold, softening the swells and blurring the horizon so that sky and sea are opposite ends of an ombre spectrum of grey. Its soft, ghostly veil lulls my ache into something unrecognizable, something remote.

The website is down. His mother answers the phone and though I expect to hear her voice, for a moment I pause. Will she know me? I give my childhood name in hopes that she will, and I realize too late it won’t match the name she will see on my check. Still, she warms as she fits the puzzle pieces together, and I chat easily with her for a few moments, as if there aren’t years and miles and feelings for her son between us. It is only a few moments, and then she is gone.

One of her wreaths will ship as a gift to my father, the other will come to me. It will hang beside my front door, where the scent of home will linger long after the holiday has passed. Drew’s mother has been making wreaths since I was in middle school, and I have ordered them each year, turning the memory of a small town over and over again in my pocket, like a smooth stone, held with a reverence I can not admit out loud. The fragrance can take me to him in an instant, to his house in the woods, the outbuilding with it’s floor strewn calf high with fir boughs, and long fold out tables where his mother and sisters would stand twisting and bending and turning the wreaths as they laughed with each other. Where Drew faded in and out, shrugging off a jacket, bouncing a ball, trying to catch an eye, alternately helping and hindering the creative process.

I could stop ordering the wreaths, stop pushing aside the curtain at it’s edge to peer into the past, stay numb beside the ocean, never looking back. But the distance is something that needs to be measured from time to time, like the distance between revolving planets, like the frequency of waves lapping at the shore.

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A dinghy is sinking in the harbor

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A dinghy is sinking in the harbor. I am not far from the pier. From the balcony of my hotel, it is just across the street, but I make no move toward the water. Instead, wrapped in a sheet I’ve pulled from the bed, I climb over the railing to sit on the roof, hugging my legs to my chest, watching as the waves begin to break the sides of the little boat. I imagine it feels like I do, and I am hopelessly drawn to the drama of the two of us.

I can’t remember when I learned to swim. I wait a moment to see if it will come to me. A pool, it was a pool. My father probably pulled me in; that is like him. His strong hands would have come up under me, my heart beating wildly as I attempted to kick and move my arms the way he said, his face mocking the frantic look on mine. That was like him too. I can picture my brother in his floaties, standing by the pool, eyes wide and mouth open, for once not whining or teasing me. White blonde hair above a tentative smile, his tiny arms like bird legs in inflated yellow cuffs, as if he’d been prepped for a blood pressure reading and then abandoned.

It must have been at a motel, this picture in my mind of the pool where my father stands with arms open wide. Jump! and I do, like I always do. I am heavy as I sink, choking on the chlorine that burns my throat. And then I am pulled back up, wiping the water from my eyes, eager for his smile and his “thatta girl.” My mother stands on the edge, just out of reach, my brother’s face buried in her stomach, frowning at my father.

If I say I can’t remember the first time I swam in the ocean, maybe that will come floating past as well. I know I’ve never felt water this warm. I could go now if I wanted, across the street, onto the beach, into the bay. Even as the clouds roll in and the wind blows my hair from my forehead, as spitting rain touches my bare shoulders, the water welcomes me. I can feel the sand from here, soft like a blanket, and the feather lightness of my body as I bob in the waves, quietly watching the pelicans vie for a spot on the pier.

Quito’s bar stands between me and the beach, just to my right. I am above the entrance and the people who walk in and out glance up at me. I smile but look back out at the ocean, not wanting their attention, content with solitude. My eyes are drawn back to the dinghy. No one else has noticed the way it rocks more slowly than the others, its base heavy with salt water. Like me, it has no motor.

You think I won’t call, Drew says. Blue denim shirt, khaki pants, duffel bag thrown over his shoulder like a sailor ending his leave. I glance down at where he stood on the street that is now so empty. And then I have to look away. Out on the beach, the sand turns from white to gray and the waves shimmer, trying to wash the curious sun to shore. I do believe he will call. But he will expect me to speak and what can I say that will make the desert between Salt Lake City and LA disappear? I already know there are no words. He is gone, leaving me behind, leaving me to sink or swim.

Other dinghies converse now, bobbing their dolphin-like noses at each other as sailboats farther out in the harbor nod gently, like parents at a cocktail party, keeping a not so watchful eye. The bigger boats shrug off their crews, lured by the sound of reggae music drifting out over the water from Quito’s patio. One by one, they settle into a slow drift around their anchors. I long to swim out to one of them, balance on the ladder for a moment, go for a sail. Jump! I am all too ready.

I turn away from the empty street and climb back over the balcony rail. In the hotel room, I find my sundress still balled up on the floor in the corner. Pulling it on over my head, I pause for a moment to assess the girl in the mirror and then make my way downstairs. Across the street, my bare feet touch sand, and I climb the stairs to Quito’s deck to take a seat at the bar. It takes a drink or two, but the music finally pulls me in, taking over for my own heartbeat, until I am unaware that the dinghy is gone, and the sea has put out the gullible sun.

Photo credit: dreamstime

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