Do Over.

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When he was a puppy, he slept curled at my feet, under the covers.  The arch of my foot would caress his tailbone. As the night passed to early morning, he would inch up to my knees, still under the covers.

I would turn to my side and set my knee on his back, my leg rising and falling with his breathing.

Eight years later, he’s done with his breakfast. He jumps up on the bed, nudging his nose on the blanket, signaling it’s time to lift the covers. He turns in a circle once, and then again, and then falls. He shifts so he is parallel to me, with his back to my belly and his tail at my feet. No longer a puppy, his 70 pounds leans in.

I turn to my side and set my knee on his back, my leg rises and falls with his breathing.

I slide my hand under the cover and touch his silky ears, and pull him in tighter.

He stirs.

No, I can’t buy this on Amazon or find this on the Tube or in a Book.

No, I can’t feel this in any other Moment.


Note:

A Seat At The Table


[…] the most incredible thing that has happened to me is that it is my version of a fairy tale that I’ve found in this unlikely and unexpected family a home that I’ve never had before.”

Dinner.

Family.

A Seat At The Table.

Moved.

Driving I-95 S. The Last Term.

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3:39 am. Thursday morning. Or, Wednesday night bleeding over.
20 minutes until shower time.
I’m staring at the ceiling. Woozy.  Did you get any sleep?

Six hours ago Mom’s helping him pack.
Suitcases are open.
Zeke sets the mood, moping.

“Dad, do you have any sweatpants I can take?”
“Take anything you want.”
“Do you have anything that doesn’t look like leisure wear?”
I smile. It’s clear who mentored that sarcasm, honed now, cold steel glistening.

We’re in the car.
It’s Silent. Father and Son awkward.
He’s turning the dials, away from my 7 on 70s on Sirius to some thumpin’ Electro BEAT.
The bitter taste of scotch at 4:30am.
I let it pass. [Read more…]

Driving I-95 S. With A Distant Fire.

driving-lights-highway

6:28am.
I hit the ignition, the middle aged lady groans but fires.
It’s 23°F and she’s not liking it.
You and me girl, still firin’. Going down with our boots on. Till death do us part.

’70s on 7 are spinning on Sirius.
Drums and Horns lead – and then the band comes in.
YOU only need a FEW bars, and you can feel it: HIT IT.

And I’m off…
Foot leans in on the accelerator.
Traffic in speed lane clears for the DK Express.
Head’s bobbin’. Shoulders’ rockin’. Karaoke winds up.

And here she comes… [Read more…]

Happy Belated Birthday

zeke-vizsla-sleeping-dog-pet-adorable

I’m on the couch reading, or quasi-reading and surfing – flicking through May Sartons’ journals in The House By the Sea and Knausgaard’s essay in The New York Times Magazine on The Terrible Beauty of Brain Surgery.

Yet, I’m wrapped by the beat of something bigger. Sun beams pour through the windows, warming, and then disappear with cloud cover.  The bird feeder hangs on a cast iron hook and swings ever-so-gently to and fro in the northerly breeze which gusts to rattle the windows.  And Knausgaard from his essay,  “I didn’t understand the words, but the sound of them filled the air with mournfulness and humility. Man is small, life is large, is what he heard in the ring of that voice.”

Then there’s Zeke, napping, after his six-mile morning walk, drawing Sarton’s short breaths, in a ‘rhythm, a kind of fugue poetry.’

The couch, books by world class writers, a sleeping dog leaning in and a morning free of all commitments – Oh, the bliss of Saturday mornings… [Read more…]

Walking Cross-Town. With Smoke.

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The bi-fold doors open.

We spill out of the train into the underground tunnel at Grand Central. It’s Monday morning.

I’m walking briskly in a free lane. Not exactly free. Under foot is a yellow warning strip, with hundreds of half-moons of steel affixed to the two-foot corrugated shoulder on a highway warning of trouble. My eyes bob ahead and down, wary, looking to avoid toppling down eight feet onto the empty tracks. Livin‘ la Vida Loca.

I bear down on a commuter who is ambling along. Buddy, move left. I’m on his heals. Compressed air is released from the lungs, the Jake brake is pulled, the exhaust valves fly open, the big rig vibrates, rattles and slows.

He has thick soles, black lace-up orthopedic shoes. He is limping badly. Vet? Amputee? Back injury? I cannot pass him on my left, commuters are thick.

And then it comes. A memory, smoke grasped… [Read more…]

There is nothing, and there is not one bloody thing.

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In September, 2007, Mary-Louise Parker adopted a child from an orphanage in Ethiopia.  The child’s Uncle walked a distance that Parker stated she would complain if she had to travel to in a car. The journey was made with his children, three of which were under 10. The baby was carried on his hip. This excerpt is from a letter written by Parker (“Dear Uncle“) as a tribute to him.  In their first meeting, he said: “I hope that she will be taken care of, go to school and perhaps one day be something, a doctor.”


There are so many reductive adjectives used to describe those materially less fortunate, words the privileged use to anoint them. Words like proud, or graceful…It never rings true. Having seen what I saw when you brought me to the hut where my daughter was born, and introduced me to the people in your village, I felt like I was hovering over every judgment of my reality and yours, unable to land. None of the families I met were intact, everyone had lost children, parents, or a spouse. There was not enough of anything for anyone. The only bounty was in categories of suffering or possible ways to die. I didn’t feel them looking at me with distance, they all smiled and shook my hand.

I hid my embarrassment at how stupid I felt when I entered your hut and was alarmed by the darkness that swallowed me despite it being late morning. Of course I knew there was no electricity, no light would be there except for what might creep in through that ceiling of straw. I knew it, but I couldn’t fathom it until I stood inside with you and stared at an actual nothingness and my eyes adjusted to near black. There is nothing, and there is not one bloody thing. As you pointed at different parts of the hut that were designated for the cows to sleep, or the spot where your family of twelve eats when there is food, or where you slept, I saw spots with absolutely nothing in them. There was an absence of comment on your situation that made you seem twenty feet tall. It’s something I could never know if I hadn’t stood there, with you showing me what life is like on another planet where there is no complaining, or showing disappointment. [Read more…]

Thanksgiving at dawn. House full of sleepers.

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Quiet has many moods. When our sons are home, their energy is palpable. Even when they’re upstairs sleeping I can sense them, can feel the house filling with their presence, expanding like a sail billowed with air. I love the dawn stillness of a house full of sleepers, love knowing that within these walls our entire family is contained and safe, reunited, our stable four-sided shape resurrected.

~ Katrina Kenison, Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment 


Notes:

Riding Metro North. The Return.

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5:30 am.
A brisk walk to catch the 5:40 train to Grand Central.
28º F. Cold. Can’t touch me.
Running on a four hours sleep. Can’t feel it.
Dark. Spring forward. Fall back. Fall back into darkness, on both ends of the work day.
But today, light beams.
Thanksgiving week.
A scheduled vacation week. And here you are, Day 2 of vacation and off to work again.
And, looking forward to the day.

I find an open two-seater in the Quiet Car.
I lean my head against the window, close my eyes, and replay last night. [Read more…]

Riding Metro North. Vive la France.

moving-train

Monday.

2:45 am.

How quiet it is.
Too soon to wake.
Too late to stop the mind.
A hamster on the wheel, spinning.

Duras: “How quiet it is,” […] “Who’d believe our nights are such an ordeal?”

3:30 am.

Up.
Pre-dawn.
In the Quiet Zone.
Ascending to de Botton’s higher consciousness. Or somewhere.

Alain de Botton: “Perhaps late at night or early in the morning (when there are no threats or demands on us), when our bodies and passions are comfortable and quiescent, we have the privilege of being able to access the higher mind …We loosen our hold on our own egos and ascend to a less biased and more universal perspective, casting off a little of the customary anxious self-justification and brittle pride.”

I do feel that ascension. Now if I could only park here.

6:51 a.m.

Father and his daughter walk to train station.  It’s 45° F.  “It’s cold Dad.” I look down at her bare red legs pockmarked with goose bumps: “Why aren’t you wearing nylons?” She snaps back at me: “Really Dad? Nylons. Nobody wears Nylons anymore? That’s creepy.

So, now I’m on the wrong side of 50 and creepy.  OK, so it wasn’t a focus area. And, it’s not that I haven’t looked at women’s legs. And there you are, a flat stone skipping silently across the water, jumping decades of fashion revolution. [Read more…]

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