Who Are They?


I had the grandchildren today, for the first time in almost two weeks. I was absolutely filled with joy to have them back.

But I was also absolutely beat beyond belief when they went home.

So after they left, I started dinner, and poured a big glass of wine. Then I went out into my hot tub.

I turned on the jets, aiming at the sorest parts of my neck and shoulders. I sipped. I sighed. I laid my head back against the side of the tub. And I looked up.

I saw the many stars arching above me. I saw the undersides of the trees around my yard.

And I saw the blinking lights of the jets passing by so far overhead.

I couldn’t help but wonder. Who’s up there? Where are they going?

I live in Northern Massachusetts, so I know the general flight paths that cross over my head. I know that many of the flights coming from my West will turn toward the North, to Canada and the maritimes. The ones that come from my South will eventually make their way toward the Canadian maritimes, and will then swing out across the North Atlantic toward Northern Europe, or they’ll turn toward the South and aim for somewhere to my West.

I watched the lights crossing my sky. I thought about the passengers whose flights I was seeing.

Of course I had no idea who was up there, but that’s the beauty of it, right? I was able to make them up. To imagine the lives of the people who were silently intersecting with my own life.

Maybe, on this flight from West to East, there was a woman in her 70s. Maybe she had lost her husband five years ago, and was struggling mightily to move forward into some kind of future. I pictured her opening a letter from an old friend, someone she’d known decades ago in college. “Come to visit, please!” I pictured the note saying, “I’ll meet you in Shannon and drive you out to our place in Connemara. You can meet our friends and have some fun.” I saw the women frowning, shaking her gray head. I saw her waking up in the darkest part of her lonely night, reading the note again.

I imagined her buying her ticket, telling herself to go.

I wished her all the best as her flight crossed my path.

Then there was the jet that ran from South to North, too high in the sky to have come from Boston.

On this one, I saw a young woman. I imagined her feeling stuck in a dead end job, wondering where all of her dreams had gone. I saw her in her little apartment in Charleston, eating a lonely take out meal and opening her mail.

Now I pictured her on the flight above me, heading toward a meeting with a man she had so far only met online. I could imagine her friends telling her to go, but to be careful. I saw her mother, looking very much like me, telling her not to go. Telling her that she could find someone right here, right in our very own town.

I saw her, as my head lay back against the edge of my hot tub. I saw her brown hair, recently done up with highlights. I saw the hope in her heart and the caution in her mind.

I watched her fly across my deck. I waved as she passed. I wished her luck and courage and strength and love.

Our lives cross back and forth every day with so many people we will never meet. How lovely to imagine their paths. How powerful to wish them well.

Who are you up there?

I Dreamed of My Father


Some dreams are only dreams. They come to us through the mixing of our yearnings and our fears. They drift through our sleep, filled with images and sounds forged from both memory and wish.

They feel as insubstantial as clouds. They exist, but they are made of nothing we can touch.

But some dreams are more. Some of them, when we are very lucky, are truly visits from those we have lost.

Last night my father came to see me. He came to me as I slept because he’s been gone from this earth for more than ten years now.

I dreamed of my Dad.

I dreamed that I was walking in a foggy place. I couldn’t see what was around me, but I felt myself moving. And then I saw him, my Dad. Right there, right in front of me.

I felt myself begin to cry. I felt the pain in my chest, and in my throat. There were tears on my face that I felt as they moved down my cheeks. I sobbed and felt the loss of breath.

In my sleep, I reached for Dad, expecting to be aware of him only as a dream. I expected the one dimensional feel of him; an image that I could see but one that would have no substance.

Instead, as I hugged him, I felt the warmth of his breath in my hair and the feel of his arms around me. A shock of recognition and awareness jolted through me, and I said, “Oh, Dad, it’s really you!”

He laughed. His real, Dad laugh, and put his hand on my cheek. “Oh,” he said, in his own voice. “I’m here! Don’t cry!”

I held his hand in mine and looked at his fingers, his knuckles, the way the skin was pulled smooth across the back of his hand. I felt the rough texture of his palm and the pads of his fingers.

These were details that I’d forgotten about him. Awake, I would never have known them again.

But he was there. Smiling at me, laughing at the foolishness of my grief. As often happens in these vivid, “visitation” dreams, I knew what he was thinking without hearing all of his words.

“It’s OK! You’re fine.” I felt that he was amused and touched by my sadness, but I knew that it didn’t worry him.

And then the visit was over.

I don’t remember him leaving, but I remember waking up, feeling comforted, but feeling cheated, too. He had been there, for really real, but he was gone again.

I dreamed of my Father. I smelled his skin, felt the softness of his hair. I was held in his arms, against his familiar chest.

It was him. He was here.

I want to go back to sleep. I want him to come and see me once again.

Dad and I, once upon a time.

What is that sound?


street_road_night_dark_asphalt_traffic_travel_transport-695853

The first time that I heard it was just before dawn. It was one of those hot nights, hot enough to keep all the windows open, hoping for a breeze.

I rolled over wondering what it was that I was hearing. It roared and it screeched, but it was far away. Like in a dream. Not fully in this world, but out there. I lay on my back, trying to orient myself.

“It’s Monday. It’s summer. I’m home.” Slowly, as always, I managed to ground myself in my reality.

I lay there, listening. It was the sound of a racing car that I heard. I heard the engine roar, and the tires squeal.

It was a sound that simply didn’t fit.

I live in a rural place, in a neighborhood where people live quietly and drive carefully.

This was the strange sound of someone racing, gunning for speed and power. I had never heard anything like it in this place. I lay there for a bit, listening to the screaming brakes. “Who is that?”, I wondered. “What’s going on?”

Then the sound faded, and I drifted back to sleep. The early summer morning settled back into it’s usual peace. I almost forgot the strange sound of racing engines in the semi-dark.

But I heard it again the next morning, just as the sun began to rise. And again the morning after that.

I began to wonder about the driver out there. Every morning, just at dawn, I heard the sound of those shrieking tires, out there just beyond my street.  I began to imagine a face behind the windshield of that racing car.

I saw a young man. I saw anger. I saw dark eyes and a tangle of hair. I saw a frown and a clenched fist, pounding on the steering wheel. I saw youth and fear and the power of those four wheels.

I started to drift off to sleep with the hope of hearing that raging, racing sound in the earliest part of the day.

And every workday, every Monday through Friday for weeks, I awoke to the sound of those desperate tires, scrabbling for meaning on the lonely dark roads of our town.

Then the fall came. The wind blew in and the windows were closed.

I couldn’t hear him anymore.

I wondered about him, though. I worried that he was gone. I worried that he had settled into his mind numbing job at the plant. I wanted him to come back.

But the days went by, and the nights settled into warm blankets and quiet breathing.

I almost forgot that he was out there.

Then I drove out of town, over the backroads through our woods. And there they were. Black, angry, impossible to ignore. Black, black figure eights, on the winding road that links our town to it’s neighbors.

“Here I am!,” those tire marked screamed. “Here I go.”

And a few nights later, I found myself awake in the cold, frosty dawn. I rolled over. What was I hearing?

It was the sound of screaming tires, racing against no one, racing against everyone, flying through the icy dawn into the upcoming day.

I wonder who he is. I wonder why he is so angry. I wonder.

And as I fall asleep tonight, part of me will be listening for his early morning declaration of freedom.

 

Just thinking…..


SONY DSC

 

Its one of those rare days.  Long weekend, cold wind, warm fire.  Been reading a good book, catching up on some corrections, watching mindless TV, even knitting a little.  Paul had to go out for a bit, so it was just me and my doggies, snuggling on the couch.

Tucker spent a good half hour with his head on my knee, looking remarkably relaxed and serene.  As I looked into his big, chocolate eyes, and listened to his steady breathing, I felt myself relaxing and drifting off; almost, but not quite, falling into a dream.

Why is it that just as we begin to drift away and let go of the tangible world around us, our thoughts become so disjointed and crazy and interesting?  I wish I had a way to record those swirling ideas as I fall asleep.  If I tune in enough to notice them, I pop back into consciousness, and they stop floating past like gauzy scarves riding the wind.

If I listen to one of those fascinating snippets, my brain clicks back into the “on” position, and I measure the thought, weigh its clarity or its accuracy or its practicality, and then file it away in one or another of my mind’s many drawers and cupboards.

I wish I could let them go and somehow have them magically transcribed, so that I could let them flourish without my interference, but still remember them later.

I bet they would make riveting blog posts!  Maybe one or two would even prove to be the germinating seed of a story.

Of course, it’s just as likely that one or two would land me on the psychiatrist’s couch, but still!  What’s life without a little risk, right?

So here are a few of the tiny threads that floated by as I almost fell asleep with Tucker’s nose as my focal point.

Little unexpected pleasures are better than long awaited big pleasures.  Last night we had dinner with some friends and my very favorite dish, at any restaurant anywhere, was on the specials menu. I’m still smilin’.

There’s no reason why I shouldn’t try to bake a chocolate cake from scratch today. In spite of the fact that I don’t have the right ingredients, and the fact that the last thing Paul and I need to be eating is an entire cake.  And the fact that I’m lazy.

Is it creepy for me to be picturing the kids in my class and wondering what they’re doing?  Pathetic.  Gotta get me a grandchild.  Soon.

If you look at him just right, sometimes my dog looks like my Grandmother’s stepmother, a woman I haven’t seen in 40 years.  She used to scare me to death.  No explanation for that one……

My class should do a musical this year. They can write it, sing it, perform it. It will be fun.  Ah, yeah.  No.

I smell tanning lotion. Yankee Candle near my head; “Sun n’ Sand”

Just because the government tells me that I can’t speed on public roads, it doesn’t make me worry that they are going to take away my car.  Shit. Back to the gun debate.

That last one woke me up for real, even more than the scary old Italian lady memory of Nanna.

Yep.  Just another relaxing day on the couch.  The mind is a terrible thing to control.