The colors are too vivid, like they vibrate at an undetectable frequency and what we see is something that is at the height of our perception but still less than what is real. We park the car and walk along a gravel road that wanders through the autumn vineyard and we might as well have stepped into a painting. An infinite cerulean blue sky stretched over russet colored grape-vine ridged hills gives way to a luminous chartreuse green carpet of grass. I stretch out my hand to touch the canvassed sky, but this painting moves and dances with the wind. We can’t help but laugh because the beauty is too much and our hearts might explode from the eternity of it all.We continue to drive along the Pacific Coast Highway from Bodega Bay towards San Francisco, the road cradled by ocean and fog on our right and wine-soaked rugged mountains to our left pushing our hearts ahead of us. This is California distilled up through the mist and washed by the sun.
The car hugs the road as we climb higher past trees with curling brown cinnamon stick bark and sweet jasmine scented air. Paul does not brake to meet the curves, but shifts the car into a lower gear and it whinnies at the restraint. With no guard rail between us and the yawning cliff, I close my eyes and lean in towards Paul as if to counter balance the weight of the car should the passenger side wheels suddenly leave the road.“Have I ever crunched you?” Paul says.
“Not yet,” I reply weakly.He laughs and continues the climb, sure of himself and of the road. I manage to open my eyes and peak through the window. My stomach drops into the ocean below.
I close my eyes again and think about all of the roads we have travelled that crisscross and connect this ocean to the one on the other side of the country. The roads that slip through rows of tobacco fields and corn stalks flickering by like the spokes of a wheel towards Eastern North Carolina and into the dunes of the outer banks; the long road that threads together the lonely pearls of keys off the southern tip of Florida; Mile Road that connects my heart to the rocky beaches of Maine and the gravel road in between two endless vineyards. All of those roads and Paul has never crunched me.He pulls the car over onto a rocky outcropping and turns off the ignition. We step out of the car and stretch tensed muscles, pushing our arms towards the sky. Paul walks to the edge and peers over the clouds that drift below us. I hang back afraid of the precipitous edge. I look at his fearless face bathed in the setting sun and slowly step towards him as he holds out his hand.
“I won’t let you go,” he says.I stand next to him and say “I know you never will.”
It has been a tough week, but we are tougher. We are Boston and nothing will keep us down. Please read and share my piece on the Boston Marathon Bombing over at the Huffington Post.
Happy Birthday Husband
Sometimes, when I look at him it’s as if I’m already looking at a memory. The image is soft and faded and tinged at the edges with a honeyed poignancy. Like I have taken a picture with my eyes and stowed it away for safekeeping in an old box in the attic of my mind to be rummaged through one day. But the signals have become crossed and instead of seeing what is before my eyes, I’ll see what is behind them.Sometimes, when the filtered moonlight sifts through the blinds painting horizontal shadows on the bedroom wall and I am resting in his warmth I’ll listen to him breathe. In the morning half-light he’ll hold onto me and say “Five more minutes.” And I’ll wish for five hundred more years.
Sometimes, I’ll look back and see the boy I never knew in the face of the man I do.
Sometimes, I’ll look past the curve of the earth into our future. Two old men, grey and stooped holding hands. Lying in a hospital bed one curled up like the letter “C” next to the other, vowing to never let go.Sometimes, I’ll wish that we had more time together and then I’ll be thankful for every single minute of every single day. Especially on this day when the sum time of his life is celebrated.
Politicians warn of dire consequences, but what will happen when marriage equality is legalized? Read about it here in my new Huffington Post piece.
Beware of the Gay Marriage Slippery Slope
“Honey, it still doesn’t work,” Paul sighs, staring straight ahead. The eye roll implied in his tone is hidden behind his sunglasses.
“Well, we need to get it fixed!” I say with mock alarm and then add “When my book is published you won’t have to drive me to work anymore,” nodding as I survey the dirt encrusted snow mounds passing by the car window. The snow is brown this time of year, with splotches of yellow, like frozen lemonade; the byproduct of zealous dogs marking temporary territory. I wince at the thought of urine soaked sidewalks, the snow like a black- light highlighting the DNA no one wants to see.“Will I have to cook your meals, clean the house and wash your nasty little underwear anymore?” He asks.
“You are the man behind the man,” I say magnanimously, not fully appreciating the subtext until I say it. This time Paul uses a finger to lower his sunglasses on his nose so that I can see that he has decided to focus on the innuendo. My one raised eyebrow tells him to get his mind out of the gutter, but he knows that is where I like it.Smiling, I return to my thoughts. Having just completed a memoir writing class my focus lately has been looking at my life through the dual lenses of memory and meaning. My goal: to write a short memoir piece that would be accepted for publication in a literary magazine, which has been accomplished and will be published in the fall.
What else can I achieve? There is only one way to find out. Less time to write blog posts, I’m afraid, but more time to write chapters.“Who will play you in the movie?” Paul asks.
I consider his question as I look through the car window. The snow melts and the sun paints the topical waters orange. Palm trees whisper in the wind. I dip my toes into the pool and breathe in the heady jasmine scented air.
If you are going to dream, dream big and dream in color.
There were three small rooms with no space for color; the walls, the cheap wooden kitchen cabinets, the appliances, the linoleum floors, the metal folding closet doors and the popcorn ceilings where all devoid of pigment. For all of its whiteness, the light was scarce; limited by the sun’s winter struggle and the small rectangular windows perched just above the soil line. The furnishings, a mattress on the floor, a cardboard box for a night stand, a tattered upholstered loveseat and an old tube TV screamed early American squatter. The complex was made up of cinder block buildings too far from Boston and not far enough away on the edge of Interstate 495 in a town called Marlborough. In my mind the name of the town conjured up the image of a nicotine stained, leathery old cowboy hacking and sputtering in his final days, an apt description of the town.Brazilian immigrants made up the largest population of the complex. Any rare interaction with adjacent neighbors was limited to two or three words of mangled English. Foreign food smells seeped into the halls and Portuguese television stations shouted through the walls.
On New Year’s Eve, I found myself alone, sitting in the car outside of Longfellow’s Wayside Inn located in an affluent bordering town watching the glow of the red inn’s windows become brighter in the encroaching darkness. A festive couple parked their car, kissed and quickly made their way through the cold into the Inn. I imagined the orange glow of the fire, the red table cloths, the green pine boughs and the laughter that fell like broken glass. A light snow began to fall as I made my way back to my apartment.I fell asleep that night looking at a smooth polished stone sitting on my cardboard night stand. I had collected it from a Maine beach on a sunny summer day, fascinated by its perfect roundness and glittering bits of quartz. Who knows where its journey began or where it would end, tossed and tumbled by the tides its true beauty at last revealed.
Under the crushing weight of white I dreamt in color that night.
It was our first date.During dinner I played with the thought of introducing him to my family. He was the epitome of the boy next door; button down shirt, khakis, big toothy grin, salt and pepper hair with an Ivy League cut and a face as open and honest as the Milky Way circling above us. When I asked him about his children he pulled three perfectly crisp photographs out of his compact wallet and neatly arranged them side by side on the table in order of age: Monique 9, Nicholas 12 and Evelyn 14. I searched their dark eyes for meaning. Was he a good father? Did they love him? Were they happy? The same questions I asked myself when I looked at my children’s pictures.
When we stood up to leave, he placed his hand near the small of my back to guide me; an imperceptible gesture that was inconceivably stirring. The first time I looked at him, I mean really looked at him was at the end of the date, next to my car underneath the expanding sky. Of course they loved him. Of course he was a good father. In his face I could see infinite happiness.
I was early, but I’m always early.When you’ve been on fifty dates looking for Mr. Right you take charge by getting there early and grabbing a glass of “Char-done-ay” to relax. I gave the hostess my name and waited. And waited. I forgave him as soon as he showed up, great smile, although he looked nothing like his profile picture, which is par for the course. But, the shaved head and goatee thing was working for him, and for me.
He pulled out his wallet to show me his kid’s pictures and I thought Oh dear God, this one is such a straight boy. His wallet was a mess. He had to peel the pictures apart. They were cute kids though and he could form a sentence, which was promising.When we got up from the table I followed behind him, intentionally. He had gone to the restroom earlier and I had the pleasure of watching him walk away. I wanted one more view. He drove a green Jeep Grand Cherokee with a V-6, impressive.
They were colleagues meetin’ for dinner I told Tommy, or a coupla’ guys whose wives were having one of them “girl’s night” or whatever the hell they call ‘em. So they decided to make the best of it, leave the kids with Grammy and Gramps and grab a beer. But Tommy says “Look closer, Bobby, I gotta’ ten-spot that says there’s something more. Most guys don’t look each other in the eyes for that long,” and then Bobby stahts making googly eyes at me, the fucker. It might have been a first date. It’s Boston, for Chrisake! The place is wicked full of em’, but my money says they’re not.So I tell Bobby I’m in and we watch ‘em walk to their car. So I say, “See, he’s driving a fuckin’ Jeep, pay up ya’ re-tahd!” And then, and then, right on the kissah!
I handed the ten over to Bobby. The kiss was so fuckin’ fast it wasn’t worth ten cents.