Archive for November 2011

Stolen Treasure

{by Gailt Breen of These Little Waves}


photo credit: Sean Hubbard/@seanhubbard

I look at him through red rimmed eyes. He wipes my cheek dry with one thumb and asks, Are you happy?

Yes. No. Sometimes.

Yes, when I’m focused.

No, when I falter.

Sometimes.

We sit in the center of our bed like our three children often do. Our room is large but this space in it is small. Our toes touch. Our voices conspire.

He is loving mixed with worry. I am anxious laced with anger.

Anger because he dared scratch beneath the surface of what I want seen. I am faltering.

When I’m focused, I see a straight path to my treasure. The obstacles along the way are simply tasks to complete.

But inevitably, I falter. I falter. It is my own undoing every single time. I steal my own confidence. My own vision. My own focus.

I hide these treasures somewhere deep inside until they are no longer visible. And I replace them with ugliness. Fear. Insecurity. Jealousy.



The Presence of Greatness

{By Jeanne Damoff at The View From Here}

The first time I saw him he was walking on a treadmill. A blond starlet dressed like an old-west prostitute posed seductively in a country music video on the television screen suspended in front of him. But he wasn’t watching the video. He was looking around at whomever or whatever, not furtively, but with blatant curiosity.

When our eyes met, I understood.

Some might call the expression vacant. As the mother of a brain-injured son, I saw it more as open. Unmasked. He had dark eyes, and black hair curled around his ears, and I guessed he was probably somewhere between eighteen and twenty. A slender, silver-haired woman walked beside him. His mother.

The world has labels for people like him. Damaged. Deficient. Broken. Unproductive. More than anything I was struck with the stark contrast between his unaffected expression and the video starlet’s heavily painted facade, and I wondered with more than a hint of irony how many people in that gym would laugh at the notion that his contribution to society might be more valuable than hers.

The encounter touched a deep, knowing place inside me, but it was a seeing and moving along. I soon forgot.

That was several months ago, and I hadn’t encountered the pair again until last Friday, when I spotted them in an area off to the side used for free weights and upper body machines. There were plenty of other things going on. In addition to the general hustle and bustle of the gym, heart-breaking scenes from Japan filled a television screen nearby, and another a few feet away aired clips of a defiant Gadhafi, and on yet another some poor guy rushed through his busy day carrying around a beaker full of green liquid that I’m pretty sure represented the acid in his stomach, but my attention kept returning to mother and son. I didn’t mean to stare, but the more I watched them, the more everything else faded into the background. World events, whirring machines, even my own physical exertion. Soon I was completely enthralled with the interaction of the two.



Saying Goodbye

{By Megan of Undomestic Diva}

Today is one of those days – one of many recent and one of many more to come – where life’s new twists and turns have me walking out the door of several years of fond memories and unthought of heartache towards a future of Who Knows.

undomestic_diva_doorway

It isn’t a fancy place, this house. And while smaller than many, it was enough; certainly more than many others hope for and at the end of the day it wasn’t just stucco and wood and cement and shingles – it was our home.

This is the house that broke us, in many ways, though of course it’s not only to blame – not one single thing is. But it was also the house of much happiness – where two of the three boys were born, where many Halloweens and birthdays and summers were spent, where Easter eggs were hidden and found, where dinners were concocted and birthday cakes created, where oranges were picked and eaten in the yard, where swingsets were built and ignored, where gardens were planted and bloomed, where Christmas trees sat (and fell), where life moved at a speed quicker than we could register – all inside these walls that were being fixed and patched and painted as we fell apart.

I slowly circle one more time in the living room. It still feels oddly full, even in its bareness. Though the smell of cardboard boxes and laundered clothes and nostalgia has left in trucks and U-Hauls, a vaguely familiar scent remains – the way the house smelled the day we got the keys – of vacancy and emptiness. It sinks in. The truth is, this house didn’t break us. We did. And this house isn’t haunted. We are.

It’s hard to fathom that I’m taking one last look around our house and leaving it to go to my house. The newness of everything is jarring and yet exciting and the adventure of it all has its moments of hope and its share of fear.

I shut the door. I pause on the porch step, taking in this very moment, soaking in this change like sunlight on my skin, breath in my lungs. There’s nothing left here for me anymore. Today is another reminder of moving onward, this time, literally. I remind myself: A house is a house but a home is what you make it so I have not just packed our clothes and photographs and books and toys but our memories too. They, though the heaviest of all the things to carry, are the easiest to move.



State Fair Reflections

{by Rhonda Stansberry}

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Rhonda Stansberry is a photographer with a passion for history and architecture.
See more of her photography on her website, Stansberry Photography, and on Flickr.

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Featured by Editorial Director, Jennifer Doyle | @playgroupie



In Reflection

{by Stephen Parolini at Counting On Rain}

In the mirror across the bar she is twelve. She is standing in the wings of the Big Top, breathing the scent of hay and earth and animal with deep, happy inhales. She hears the crowd’s cheer rise and fall in waves, pictures a man and a woman flying through the air in matching blue and white costumes. She looks at her own costume. It is pink. Color, Maya, color! The circus is all about color! It is the voice of her father, a voice she has never known but somehow recognizes. I want to match you and mom, she says.But you match Kimba!

“Another?” She is back in the bar, her elbows leaning on the mahogany counter, her fingers wrapped around a sweating glass. The man she has been dating for three months touches her hand. He is a handsome man and she wonders if that’s why it was so easy to say “yes” to his dinner invitation all those weeks ago.

Maya looks down at her empty glass. She doesn’t remember the last sip.

“Okay,” she says. He lifts his hand from hers, and her whole body aches in the absence of his touch.

In the mirror across the bar, Kimba lifts her gray trunk, tickling at the edge of the curtain, playing with a fraying cotton rope that hangs from the exposed metal frame above. Kimba is wearing a pink ruffle around her neck. Kimba doesn’t like the ruffle. She endures it. Maya thinks this is how she feels about her pink outfit, too.

The applause becomes a symphony. Spotlights flash by the entryway. Her father sprints past, blowing a kiss to Maya. Her mother slows, reaches up and wraps her fingers around her daughter’s pink-slippered foot. Stand tall, her mother says, then follows her father back into the darker rooms where circus acts are stitched together with sawdust and magic.

“You seem quiet tonight,” he says as her drink is refilled. He notices things. She wonders if this is why it was so easy to say “yes” to spending the night after that first dinner. She had never done that before. Not so soon.

“I’m fine,” she says. He knows this means she needs the quiet; that she’s daydreaming or remembering or sorting. He will touch her again to acknowledge this. And he does, his hand on her shoulder.

In the mirror across the bar, Maya is atop Kimba, carefully adjusting her stance to stand tall as the elephant marches behind a parade of clowns into the biggest ring of the three-ring circus. Fireflies spark from the crowd when the youngest star makes her entrance. The flashes don’t really help, she hears her father say later, on the drive home in a rusty brown station wagon. The cameras are too far away for the flashes to matter. Maya leans against the car door, watching the blurring trees. They matter to me, she whispers to the clouds.



Self, Abandoned

{by Sarah Bloom}

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