Flying over I-95 S. On Sunday Morning.

take-off-airplane-fly

It’s 10:00 am. This Sunday Morning. I’m in the car heading to LaGuardia to catch AA 1082, departing at noon.

Saturday was my Sunday. Sunday is my Monday.

I’m a flight and a half away from 2,000,000 miles, and that’s just on American Airlines. I’ve been around the earth 80 times. 80 times. Years of chasing Status, frequent flier status and upgrades. As Kalanithi explains, ‘a chasing after wind, indeed.’ How many Sunday nights in a hotel room, sitting on the bed in front of the TV, eating alone? 

The Boeing twin jet 737-800 taxis to its final turn, pauses, inhales to gather a head of steam, and then Roars down the runway.  I close my eyes and feel. Thrust. Power. Acceleration. Wheels rumbling down the tarmac. Faster. Faster. Faster. And then — calm, and lift off — the Iron Bird is up.  Wings tilt sharply left, and I lean. We surge upward, higher, the nose pointed to the heavens. The weight of the climb, a soft hand on the chest, the back, a magnet affixed firmly to the door of the refrigerator.  A sacred message as you head Up. Sit, wait, pause, be still.

I press the recline button and ease the seat gently backward.

The kids, no, now young adults, were both sleeping when I left the house this morning. They were up late last night, increasingly leading separate lives. Dad, clutching on a string. Oh, go ahead, wake them up, or at least give them a kiss on the cheek before you go.  I linger in front of Eric’s door, and then Rachel’s door. For some reason, I can’t bring myself to wake them. I walk down the stairs and out the door.  I settle in the car. Inhale. Melancholia, campfire smoke in my lungs.

I slip my earbuds in. My eye lids are heavy. I’m drifting in and out. The plane has leveled off. [Read more…]

TT*: We’re putting the band back together

blues-brothers-funny-aykroyd-belushi


Notes: TT* = Throwback Thursday. Source: Chikita Banana

Those nagging what ifs

hands-black-and-wife-resignation

Everyone who gives up a serious childhood dream — of becoming an artist, a doctor, an engineer, an athlete — lives the rest of their life with a sense of loss, with nagging what ifs. […]

Only a very few loves can disappoint you so fundamentally that you feel you’ve lost yourself when they’re gone. Quitting music wounded me as deeply as any relationship in my life. It was my first great loss, this innocent, awkward failure to live with what I heard and felt. For more than ten years I avoided music. It hurt too much. My anger went as deep as my love had gone. I suppose this is natural. In the aftermath of something so painful, we subsist on bitterness, which sustains us against even greater loss.

~ Glenn Kurtz in Practicing: A Musician’s Return to Music


Photo: By Majewska via banishedagain

TT*: Wow, I thought. What am I gonna do with love like this

child-sleeping-light

“I thought she was sleeping until I heard her call out from across the room, “Will you bring me a glass of water?” I did. Then in her always-sleepy tone and drawl she said, “Do you remember when you were a little boy and you would ask your mama to bring you a glass of water?” Yeah. “You know how half the time you weren’t even thirsty. You just wanted that hand that was attached to that glass that was attached to that person you just wanted to stay there until you fell asleep.” She took the glass of water that I brought her and just sat it down full on the table next to her. Wow, I thought. What am I gonna do with love like this.”

Dito Montiel, “One Night,” A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints, A Memoir


Notes: TT* = Throwback Thursday. Photograph: Adriana Varela

TT*: “This is living,” he said, “huh, Charlie boy?”

yellow-cake-recipe-vert-DSC_4665

I watched the whole performance from a tiny table by the window. We’d done our business at the bank and now we each had big piece of chocolate layer cake, thick with icing. It was yellow cake. I don’t know how they got it yellow but they did and the yellow was beautiful against the warm brown frosting. We loved that chocolate cake. This was a good day, a really good day, and I knew what was coming next. My father stared for a long while out the window, at what, I don’t know, but I waited, waited for his famous phrase, sure it would come, and when his reverie broke and he returned to the bakery and our little table, he smiled at me, then looked down at his cake, and there it was, sure as rain.

“This is living,” he said, “huh, Charlie boy?”

~ Charles D’Ambrosio, This is Living. Loitering: New and Collected Essays


Notes: TT* = Throwback Thursday. Image: Add a Pinch

TT*: Hear the playing cards slap in the spokes

bicycle-memories-ride

The child is riding her bicycle up the hill. I stand and look around; the thick summer foliage blocks the road from view. I turn back toward the river and hear the playing cards slap in the spokes. They click and slap slowly, for the hill is steep. Now the pushing grows suddenly easier, evidently; the cards click and slap. At once, imperceptibly, she starts down. The pace increases. The cards are slapping and she is rolling; the pace speeds up, she is rolling, and the cards are slapping so fast the sounds blur. And so she whirs down the hill. I can see her through the woods downstream where the road evens out. She is fine, still coasting, and leaning way back.

~ Annie Dillard, “Aces and Eights.” Teaching a Stone to Talk.


Notes: TT* = Throwback Thursday. Image: Maurizio Raffa via Sensual Starfish

The War

rooster

A cock. A non-castrated capon. A cockerel. A reptilian, evil bastard.

His siren call would come before sunrise, echoing up the mountainside and back down again. And rush in, with piercing cock-a-doodle-do gusts into my room. My eyes, wide open, stare at ceiling. I shiver. The S.O.B. grabbed the psychological edge at 5:30 am.

His battle lines were indisputable. His was the coop. Yours was outside. You crossed the demarcation line, the clink of the metal hook on the dilapidated wooden door, and he was coming.

He attacked all comers.  He feared no one. All generations buckled: Deda, Father, and his pubescent sons.

He could smell Fear. The perspiration would stream and thicken in the soft armpits tasked with gathering eggs in a red, long-handled, five pound Maxwell House coffee can. Good to the last drop!

His flock of fifteen continued foraging, unfazed by the battle preparations. [Read more…]

Mommy!

child-writing-at-school

He headed for the school still wrapped in the warmth of this bed, the taste of cereal in his mouth, tightly holding the hand just above his head, walking as quickly as he could, taking two steps for his mother’s one, his little knapsack bouncing on his back, then came the school door, the rapid kiss goodbye, the asphalt playground with its rows of maples, the clanging bell . . . at first he took shelter from the rain under the overhang, then he joined the schoolyard games, but a few minutes later they all found themselves sitting behind Lilliputian desks, quiet and no moving around, all the body’s movements concentrated on the effort of moving the pencil down this low-ceilinged corridor called the line. Tongue stuck out, fingers numb and wrist stiff . . . little bridges, circles, tails, sticks, more little bridges … he is miles from his mother now, lost in this strange solitude called effort, in the company of all those other solitudes with their tongues stuck out . . . and now the first letters are assembled . . . lines of “a’s,” lines of “m’s,” of “q’s” (the “q” is no joke with its diving, backwards tail, but it’s a piece of cake compared to the “s” with its treacherous curves, and the “k” with its spray of lines shooting out every which way), all the difficult ones conquering so that, little by little, as if they were magnetized, the letters come together spontaneously into syllables, lines of mom and dad, and the syllables making words . . . Then, one day, his ears still humming from the commotion of the lunchroom, he contemplated the silent flowering of the word of white paper, there, before his eyes: mommy.

In a voice that quavered at first, he stumbled over the two syllables, separately. “Mom-my.” Then, suddenly, he understood. “Mommy!”… Little bridges, circles and slanting sticks . . . and you could say “Mommy!” There it was, written, right there, and he had done it! Not a combination of syllables, not a word or concept anymore. It wasn’t any mother, it was his mother, a magical transformation, infinitely more eloquent than the most faithful photographic likeness, built from nothing but circles and sticks and bridges, that have now suddenly – and forever! – become more than scratches on paper.  They have become her presence, her voice, the good way she smelled in the morning, her lap, that infinity of details, that wholeness, so intimately absolute, and so absolutely foreign as to what is written there, on the rails of the page, within the four walls of the classroom.

Lead into gold.
Nothing less.
He had just turned lead into gold.

~ Daniel Pennac, Better Than Life


Notes:

 

32 years and counting.

afghan-reading

It’s 5′ x 7′, that is five by seven feet. Unlike contemporary, machine-made models, which are much shorter and cheaper to produce, there is ample cover to reach the tippy-toes of my 6′ 1″ frame.

It has survived 32 winters.
It has served 6 homes, and is now working its 7th.
It has outlasted 10 automobiles.
And, yet here it is, working, in pristine condition, with a new car smell.

Besides our tableware, which should be replaced, it is the only wedding gift that has survived. She has long since passed, but her afghan lives on.

Is an afghan knitted or crocheted? Are they stitches or loops?  I have no idea.
Eric calculated 38,260 individual loops. 38,260 hand made loops.

It is brown, green, and two shades of blue. Why these colors? The earth? Its plants and forests?  Her hope for a God, for heavens? Why didn’t you ask her when she lived? [Read more…]

Togetherness lost

reading-book-parent-child-son-daughter

Memories are cloudy. It was a ritual that was conducted on Saturday afternoons or Sunday mornings. It was cold and wet. Cabin Fever had set in. Mom and the Kids needed to get out. Our first stop was Barnes and Noble. Rachel, in her pink galoshes, wandered the aisles in search of the prettiest book covers she could find. She would unzip her down jacket and sit on a Lilliputian bench flipping the pages. Eric would be tugging on his Mom’s coat, impatient, and ready to move on. After negotiating with Rachel that she could only have two, we would head off to lunch, which would include a sandwich or burger, french fries and steamy hot chocolate.

Ah, yes. The good ole’ pre-internet, pre-Amazon days. Who visits book stores today? What book stores carry large inventory? Who’s got time to read to their children? Do children have the patience or interest to sit quietly with a book? The Tech candy is flashing and twitching, coaxing them over. ME. ME. ME. Forget the boring books. Pick ME up.

That evening after we returned from the bookstore, and during weekday evenings that followed, we would read bedtime stories to our children. This parental ritual is beautifully captured by Daniel Pennac below in his reflections:

[Read more…]