So which one to write about? Which one to reveal? Which one do I remember? Which one have I forgotten ’til now? Which one really counts?
Teenage curiosity and innocent lust are more apt descriptions from the summer of ’76. A week at the lake with other families. Days when we never got out of our bathing suits until dinner. Dancing to the music of the Guess Who. Blown away by Peter Frampton. Wiffle ball games just before sunset. When darkness fell, the older folks gathered for their nightly card games while we put pennies in the pot for Michigan Rummy. One night the lights went out and I found myself kissing him. A cousin of a friend. And that’s all there was. A small crush that lasted less than a week. Vacation was over and we all went home. I’ve heard about him from time to time over the years. Turns out he lives in the same valley region as me. I understand he’s had similar struggles. I wonder if he has ever thought about that easy time when we knew nothing of the world. Still sheltered from the harshness and hard times.
But the one I that hides in a tiny corner of my heart happened three years later. Not quite summer and not yet fall. The freshman girl who a lot of the boys thought was cute (at least that’s what my friends told me at the time). But I fell for the senior and he for me. A bit of a rebel and I assure you that was part of his appeal. I liked his curly locks and trimmed beard and the fact that he could play guitar and sing. The first night he took me out he walked me to my dorm and we kissed on the path outside. His glasses fogged up. And I remember thinking that it felt so very different from it did when I was fifteen.
Needless to say, we fell in love. Crazy, mad young love where you find yourself unable to think of anything else. Love that didn’t meet parental approval, so it was met with outright rebellion. Circumstances eventually changed and then ended our ties to one another. My heart was broken. It was hard to let him go but it was the right thing to do. I thought I saw him once years after he’d married and I was with another. He was sitting at a storefront window talking with a friend. My heart stopped and my mouth went dry. I never went in to say hello. But his love letters and photos are still tucked away in an attic trunk. Momentos of my first love unread and unseen for decades. Pieces of a former self and sweet reminders of first love.
Kellie’s prompt this week had me in the way back machine! I could not decide on one particular story as one memory (in this case, the latter) brought up another. The story is my complete thought process.
#FWF Free Write Friday: First Kiss
Summer is in the air and reminds me of those sweet summer flings, first kisses and young love. Do you remember? Tell me…
The question certainly intrigued me and inspired me to think about what mine might be. Or maybe help me to further define what Grace means to me. I wrote about Grace in a different context last January ( A State of Grace). While I believe that message stills holds true for me today, I also believe that Grace is a multifaceted state of being. In fact, I thinks it is a huge part of yourself that defines your essence and helps you to survive.
I know that I lost my Grace over time during the course of my first marriage. The insidiousness of verbal and emotional abuse eats away at your identity and stops the clock on what makes you tick until you feel hollow inside. It was only during my divorce proceedings (and the endless post divorce shenanigans on his part) that I began to redevelop my inner Grace.
I recall a moment in July of 2008 when my soon to be ex-husband told me “I hope you scratch, crawl and suffer.” These words were a match that lit my fire. It was clear that he was determined to undermine me financially and emotionally. I was not going to let that happen. The course of events that unfolded over the next few years were tests of my ability to withstand hardship and to stand up for what I believed was right for my own life as well as my sons’. It was by no means easy. When I felt myself about to fall off the edge, I would remember the words that my mother said to me, “Don’t let him break you.”
My saving grace is my tenacity. The positive stubbornness which provides the seeds for stamina and strength. The bold determination to carve out a life for myself. The confidence that I can and will solve problems and make decisions that empower me. And the faith that all will be well no matter what.
Tori pushed the pedal to the metal as she rounded the curve on the not yet familiar rural road. The predawn air was cool but she had rolled down the top of her jeep anyway. Eager to breathe in the scent of pine and dirt and cleanse herself of last night’s forays and rumblings. She hadn’t any time to shower. With a nearly two-hour drive back and her kids to get off to school and herself to get off to work, a shower fell off the list of things to do.
This was the first night she spent at Max’s place. Normally, he would stay at her house when her kids were with their father. But the modest cape on the suburban cul-de-sac was at once gossip central in her neighborhood and at odds with the passionate love affair she had recently begun with Max. She wanted and needed a separation between her life as a mother and a newly single woman. Lack of privacy seemed the norm once you had children. Neighbors and friends always asking after them and their activities, how they were doing in school. Inevitably, the conversation steered towards you and your interests and activities. That’s what people were after anyway.
She stole a glance at the early spring sky. Sunrise soon. The few clouds a wispy gray and brushstrokes of tangerine. She buried her wish to be free of the chains of motherhood. She loved her children. Aslain and Anton were precocious 11-year-old twins who kept her on her toes. Both demanding and entertaining. Full of spunk. Truly replicas of herself at that age and what she continued to be until her marriage to Eddie sucked her self out of herself.
The ride on this road was the beginning of her new beginning. An awakening and a reawakening. She sipped her coffee Max brewed for her as she attempted to dress herself. For each zip of her fly and buttoning of her shirt, he would be doing the opposite until she finally gave up. They made love one last time while waiting for the coffee to finish. She knew she was half dressed and still moist and she didn’t care. It tasted good.
She shifted into fifth and roared down the highway.
Kellie Elmore offered us the best challenge ever for Free Write Friday. This piece has been stirring inside me since last fall. And it has been trying to tell itself more so than ever this week. Just haven’t been able to get the words down. So here’s the start of something I hope!
You have a story in you. Everyone does. And I challenge you to take the first step toward telling it. The prompt this week can only come from you. That idea you once had. Or maybe it’s that idea you just had. That story that hasn’t been told that you want to hear, it needs you to bring it to life. And it all begins with one step. That first opening line on that first page of that first chapter. What does it say? That is your prompt.
Apparently I hit Publish by accident when I uploaded this photo from my phone to my WP App. These flowers are sitting in my mud room, a gift from my oldest son, along with a bottle of wine. We just finished a dinner of homemade chicken taco pizza, cooked by my youngest who bought me a card that brought tears to my eyes. A young man of few words with a big heart for sure. And a mighty good cook in the making! Settling in for a quiet Sunday night. My eldest is waiting patiently to watch the latest episode of “Friday Night Lights” via Netflix.
Maria doesn’t remember the exact moment she met Danny. Thirty years is a long time to look back on when so much of life has occurred. She remembers it was June and the NBA finals were on. Celtics versus the Lakers. Bird versus Magic. She and a bunch of other twenty-somethings were crowded around someone’s television set in a double-decker apartment. A Sunday afternoon sunny and warm-the windows open to let the cool breeze inside the second floor living room.
And there he was. Thin and tan with long blonde hair. A friend of Layla’s (technically her boss), Danny was the editor of a small town newspaper where Layla worked as a reporter. Maria met Layla through an old college friend and they in turn, hit it off. She quickly became a part of Layla’s social circle.
And just as quickly, she fell in with Danny. Their first date together was dinner at his house on the lake. Gnocchi and wine. Maria doesn’t remember how she got there (she had no car in those days) but does recall spending the night. She loved the spontaneity of their relationship. Days at the beach. Beer and steamers at The Barnacle at sunset. Sunday mornings at the lake. Her hair streaked with sun and her skin as brown as a berry. The absolute sheer physical attraction was the energy that fueled their relationship. Maria had no inhibitions with him. She was quite sure that her sounds of ecstasy reverberated throughout the walls of the house he shared with three others but felt no sense of self-consciousness regarding her new found self-expression. Danny brought out a lustful beast in her that she found hard to contain. Their forays in the sand nearly bordered on public acts of indecency. (Just thinking about it now causes her heart to race and her body to pulse in places only he could touch.)
They fanned the flames of their affair all summer long. Their bodies were joined more than they were apart, breaking only for soothing swims and meals that seemed to have aphrodisiac effects. Maria’s head and heart and spirit were full of passion. Danny gave her what she needed without demands and she did the same in turn. They talked and laughed but never got in too deep. Maria loved the fact that he was a true gentleman; he treated her kindly and with a reverence reserved for those he deeply admired. Perhaps this is what drew them together. While they surely fucked like animals at times, he never treated her like a stranger or a one-night stand. But he never did tell her that he loved her nor she him. A strange dichotomy in some ways. But it worked for as long as it could last.
As summer turned to autumn and the nights grew cold, they said good-bye. Maria felt a sad longing for a little while but she never did see or think about him again. Until tonight. Sitting here with her friends, Maureen and Joanne at a beach front bar. She looks up from her drink to see a man standing next to her. He smiles. Tan, short cut blonde hair with traces of gray. “Maria”, says Maureen, “This is my boss Danny. I have been dying for you two to meet.”
One of my favorite parts of the week is Sunday morning. Actually, Sunday mornings when I am training for another half-marathon to be precise. By the time I have laced up my shoes, I have already mapped out the run in my head. There is a kernel of excitement and an inner energy stirring in my brain. I feel almost twitchy in my muscles (stretched to near perfection from Saturday morning’s 90 minute marathon of hot yoga!).
I am what you call a running purist. I keep things simple. No doodads or hoohas of technology adorn my body. No solid foods for energy boosting during the run. Definitely water, though. I have been known to place water bottles at strategic mile markers along a route as I despise water belts (although I own one and have worn it from time to time) They interfere with my stride, really. I actually prefer a loved one to meet me along the course with liquid refreshment; it’s a great incentive to keep going!
That being said, there are times when I have too many thoughts spinning in my head and demons dominating my domain. Most of the time, a straight-on run with the sounds of nature give me peace. But on the rare occasion when music is a soothing solution, I confiscate my oldest son’s Ipod. You never know what you will find when you listen, just as you never know how you’ll expect to feel as your feet hit the pavement and pound out mile after mile. The music is the best kind of mix. I can be cruising along and Wyclef Jean will pop on, only to be followed by John Coltrane and then Adele. Seventies rock, Dave Matthews, Lady Gaga, Brad Paisley and Frank Sinatra keep me company on my ever changing route.
On this particular Sunday, I chose a more challenging route than usual. Of course, the area where I live does not lack for hills but the route I planned has more than its usual share. And to add to the pain, the last 3 miles were essentially uphill! At times during a run, the most difficult parts of a course can reek havoc on my mental strength- most especially when I feel vulnerable or have a lot on my plate. And this is where my rare use of the Ipod comes in handy.
With 2.5 miles or so to go, a favorite song of mine came on. Martina McBride’s “Independence Day” is a piece that gives me strength and makes me want to shout out loud. Although I have not directly experienced the exact situation spoken of in the song, the theme certainly is the same. The refrain, ‘let freedom ring’ is my anthem! And days or hours or even minutes when the devil of the past pokes me, this song lifts me up. I was so grateful for the timing. I was dog tired with fatigue and I had six more hills to climb. With each refrain, I was able to dig deep, lean in and lift my legs (needless to say, I replayed it!). With a mile to go, the hills were done and so was the Ipod. The battery gave out just in time and I ran the last mile in perfect peace.
And really, this is all I need. Quiet and room to breathe. A means to slough off the negative energy that invades my spirit sometimes. I haven’t felt as good on my subsequent runs this week as I did on Sunday, but that is okay. The mornings have been cool and beautiful with the sun rising earlier each minute. The birds serenade my miles.
She stood in line at the cafe’; nearly anonymous in her cloak. Her hands in the front pouch, her movements silent and slight. She nourishes herself in the feeling of wanting to be hidden. To shroud herself in the hood of her over sized sweatshirt. To comfort herself in the October night’s darkness and seek the void. Mint tea and chocolate were necessary and perhaps a better alternative to a glass of red wine or a shot of tequila. She wasn’t drinking these days anyway. Hadn’t had even a sip of lightning in over a year.
She spent the day being stripped of her dignity. Questions asked. Barbs and jabs. Silent jeers. Scoffs and sneers from across the table, trapped in that room for hours. It was about as soothing as walking barefoot on gravel. His false accusations and twisting of the truth had her seeing red. Was this once the man who made her heart sing?
She knew it was just another step in the process. Probably the worst or most unlucky bit of the situation. Positively draining. Self-comfort was necessary. When she placed her order, the sympathetic manager touched her hand and leaned in as if to give her a hug. She handed her the tea and treat. “It’s on me,” she said. Her eyes brimming and her throat in a grip, she managed to eke out her welled up appreciation.
The hole of blackness still overwhelmed her. But somewhere -not too deep inside herself- were the beginnings of the path toward that pinprick of light.
This week’s prompt from Kellie Elmore was a five word bank. I had started writing a story last night without seeing this week’s prompt ( By 9pm last night I was tucked in listening to The Moth Radio Hour-great storytelling show, by the way!). Her words fit perfectly into what I had drafted. This piece was born of a small trigger; I was removing my hoodie sweatshirt when a flash of memory came flooding back prompting me to get the ideas out of my head before they festered! The word prompts from Kellie are below: