Firsts and Lasts

 

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We loaded the old boiler onto the truck Sunday night. It died two weeks ago during the last of summer’s heat. A few mornings of cold showers were tolerable, keeping us grateful that we weren’t enduring the endless cold snap of winter. A chilly house is an entirely different story during the dead season. Truth be told, we’ve been hanging in there with the old girl for at least two years. Replacing worn out  parts here and there and enduring the fickle temperatures of the house’s water was all I could financially and psychologically manage. The day the new one was put in was drenched with unusual humidity. My youngest son was called to a job in the city first (but not before his vehicle was hit in the drive-thru getting his coffee!) to fix the clogged drains of helpless college students, leaving his boss to literally do the heavy lifting.  A day of limbo-too hot to move or get things done in the house, so I watched and waited.

Daily life here has taken on a form of time out of mind. September began as and continues to be a state of fervent motion. My job in education this term has found me in a vortex of all-consuming energy leaving me little time to write. My house is full of people. My sons and their loved ones who are in need of shelter and peace take up space. Finding my groove this last autumn season here has proven to be challenging.

Perhaps this is how it is meant to be. I find myself in an acute state of high alert and awareness, this all-knowing sense of the last go round before the birth of a new life in a new place.  (Truly- nine months from Sunday is the wedding day! ) I hear myself saying “This is the last time…” more often.

With that in mind, I am disconnecting and reconnecting to people and places which I’ve known for more than half my life. The town I live in and raised the boys no longer fees like home. The neighborhood-almost a last holdout for regular working class and middle class folks- is undergoing  the transformation to over-sized and up-scaled  new homes. The prices are ones I would never pay even if I  had that kind of money. I no longer frequent the coffee shop  in the busy center either. The familiar faces are scarce and the chances of running into my ex-husband and/or his current girlfriend keep me on edge. Not worth the trip! The shift is palpable; I feel like a stranger in a strange land.

That said, I am rediscovering the mountains that loom just a mere two hours from my house. My youngest son (and my dear friend Emily as her schedule allows) are hiking some of the 4,000 footers. The experience is always unique (see Trails, Tales and Tails) . Labor Day weekend found us hiking on Mt. Liberty, a rugged and steep climb culminating just above tree-line.

Summit

Credit: http://www.summitpost.org/summit/461392/c-151121

The descent was challenging as well and we were briefly entertained by a hiker holding court on the trail wearing only his tighty-whities! I guess Captain Underpants does exist…

Our most recent hike was an easy one; it’s purpose purely preparatory for the 5,000 footer we hope to ascend in October. The packs were heavier and the climb not as steep but we were moved by the bravery of a ten-year old boy with spina bifida who was climbing his first mountain with his family. Tomorrow is a new mountain, higher in elevation than the last with a day that promises to be brilliant.

These excursions (and others in June and last weekend with my fiance’ to other places that I hold dear to my heart) have helped remind me of the beauty in the surrounding region. It is the place where I grew up and grew older- and hopefully wiser! The time spent with my youngest (my oldest works on Sunday afternoons, unfortunately) takes on a deeper meaning and allows for new memories to be born.

Being wholly present during this shifting paradigm has continuously been a goal for me. Allowing myself to partner with the universe keeps me grounded and prepares me for the harder decisions and changes in plans for the future of my home and loved ones. Mostly it is empowering!  The turn of events to come both sheds more of the past and sows the seeds for the future. One where we can all marry simplicity and strength.

 

(I’d like to thank all of you who have continued to follow me as well as my new followers during this unplanned break in my writing. Happy to be back with Kellie’s prompt! )

#FWF Free Write Friday: Image Prompt

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Closed for Renovations

clockey

The distance has wrought a deeper introspection

a newer intimation 

a shifted accommodation

a change in reservation 

a new sensation for an improved situation

The passkey a precaution

a preemption

 a protection in the creation of a utopian destination

Transformed into a  talisman

a bearer of good fortune

in my heart’s recreation

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Many thanks once again to Kellie Elmore for her Free Write prompt. She helped me finish a piece that I started two days ago.

A New Voyage

Source: We Heart It

 

Late summer. You’re wandering, lost in the woods. You come across a gypsy wagon, and you call out…”hello?”

 

A stilted stillness settled in the air

 The ground gave way

Moist, muddy and mucky

Her skin soaked and sweaty

Awash with the effort of escape

Her breath languid

Near to heaving in its heaviness

Limbs listless

Flagging with effort and exhaustion

Her mind dank with dread

Heart shredded and asunder

Soul decimated and desolate

Cloaked in wretchedness and woe

Path unclear

Shrouded in shadows

A  dank darkness closing in

as she stumbles in the thicket of stones and naked roots

Sleep washes over her

A comforting wave of release and rejuvenation

Rays of yellow drench her awaking

A sense of rebirth and  renewal surrounds her

A vivication

Her eyes enlighten upon a vessel of vindication

A deliverance from doom

Seizing the moment, she cries out:

“Have you come for me?”

 

 

#FWF Free Write Friday: Time & Place Scenario

 

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Another great one from divine Kellie Elmore!

 

 

 

 

 

Leonora

Photographer: Zaire Kacz Model: Morgan Daye Payne

The Long Lost Love

Lanquisher

Leaving lancet lashes

Lascivious Lass

Lavishly lawless

Lecherous and Luscious 

Libertine libido

Lustful Lewd linguist

Lilting Lily of  lively lineage

Lissome Limber Lioness

A  lyrical lute

Yours nevermore*

 

#FWF Free Write Friday: Image Prompt

The following image is of a dress designed and handmade by a local artist, my very talented friend, Dana of Grey Raven Attire. Please check her out. The uniquely stunning dress is worn by local model, Morgan Daye Payne and was photographed by Zaire Kacz.

I call it, Bride of Poe. And this is your FWF prompt…

(* with inspiration from Poe’s The Raven)

One or the Other

Are you giving or are you getting?

Receiving or taking?

Eschewing the madness of the material world

or pursuing the shallowness of instant gratification?

Are you asking for others to do unto you

or seeking to do unto others?

Are you consumed by a narrow focus, a route bound by single-mindedness

or inspired by the colorful  prism of the universe’s intuition?

Do you accumulate complications as if they were treasures

Or shed them for the simplicity of each moment knowing that you’re the richer for it?

Are your eyes focused on your navel or centered on creating a space for love and kindness?

If the former is chosen, then your world is empty, without meaning, void of love and inner wealth

If the latter is preferred, then your world is full, with purpose, validated by love and outward joy

 

Back at it with Free Write Friday from delightful Kellie Elmore

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Kellie Elmore

Thanks always Kellie for your prompts that cause us to go deeper.

 

Keeping the Homefires Burning

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I’ve been thinking a lot about connections lately. Connections to people, places, things. Ideas and dreams. Hopes and wishes. My life has been beautifully busy since the start of summer. No time to write or read my favorite blogs. I have been out in the world soaking up moments and memories. Even as I write this, I am in between events. ( It’s the Fourth of July after all!)

My connection to my adult hometown is breathing its last breaths. This will be my last full summer before I marry and move to a whole new zip code and climate. Even so, I am not really spending much time at the house. Last week saw me in the mountains with my fiance’ and some of his family. I had spent time as a youngster and young adult hiking in the region, a mere two hour drive from my town. Last time I was there was a decade ago in wholly different incarnation (married with adolescent children). I recall a brilliant and grueling hike-one of the few bright spots that trying summer (see The Summer I’d Like to Forget). The 4 days in my present life were jammed packed with movement in the great outdoors, running and hiking and horseback riding for the girls. We were nestled in a cozy farm inn; its lack of pretense and absence of noise adding to our relaxing moods and quiet conversations.

Back at home, we’re relishing the heat (for the most part!). Late and leisurely suppers in the backyard, a small bonfire, watching the deer and catching fireflies. I’ll miss these things and that southerly breeze that flows in my back window by the kitchen sink.

Today, I sit and write in the heat of the tropics. Funny how the summer’s sultriness here forces people inside for relief  much the same way the winter’s bitter chill and darkness does up north.

Independence Day was a just right celebration. A cookout with my dad at the grill, the meal shared with happy strangers who quickly became familiar. No need for best behavior! Amusing conversation was the centerpiece of the day (along with this outrageous roasted pineapple guacamole, YUM!). Later, fireworks at the beach and nature’s own lightning show.

I am still straddling two worlds. The campfires burn strongly in both places and that is perfectly fine with me.

 

#FWF Free Write Friday: Fireworks | Image Prompt

 

I decided to combine two of Kellie Elmore’s Free Write Friday prompts since I missed last week’s. Hope you enjoyed this complete stream of consciousness drabble!

Two Firsts

Credit: projectm-online.com

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…

 

Sipping Freedom

Credit: www.nobigdill.com

 

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.  

Just see how far it takes you. 🙂

Heat Lightning

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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.”

Temporary Darkness

Credit: www.creativetimes.co.uk

 

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.

 

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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:

Red – Mint – Gravel – Sing – Unlucky