when i was a child i very much wanted to be famous - so that everyone would know how special i was. at four i decided when i grew up i would marry johnny cash so i could make him happy. they seemed such useful goals. now,as an adult,i only want to be more reflective - so that the people who love me can see how special they are instead. and if i could - i would marry my husband again - this time not trying to make him anything different than he already is. i know i got a much better life than i deserve. when i go to bed at night, i try to think of new ways to pay it forward. sometimes it's just shutting up.
i don't know how i became a stranger here - walking the worn aisles of the market - recognizing no one. i found myself - where mount tam meets the pacific - at a point in life up until which i'd only ever tried to lose. it was something. being found - instead of found out - at the beach in a quiet town with a loud heart. i almost raised my hand as a visitor - at the same meeting that had saved me - when i had nothing to inherit but undeserved grace. instead i took a token - a marker of sorts - to remind me that i belong here with the wind and the salt and the sea where being recognized is trumped by being known. you can feel home in your bones, like marrow carrying breath to the heart.
i dont drink but tonight i wore a missile toe and mimosa t-shirt with the arms cut off to qualify for the ugly sweater party. all of my friends are beautiful. they donned their santa-riding-a-unicorn sweaters and acrylic reindeer shells and tried to neutralize their exquisiteness with Tacky - but it is just impossible. one friend showed me an app where she could wipe her screen with her index finger and she swore it was erasing our wrinkles. i could not stop laughing. not because i couldn't tell the difference but because i thought it was so damn funny that she would try to erase the wrinkles on a photo of something so imperfectly perfect already. plus it was the way her finger rubbed back and forth naive almost, the finger, i could barely take it. friendship cannot be measured in cocktails poured or hors d'oeuvres served or even sweaters worn. but little fingers on screens and white elephant re-gifts and the magic of reading the bill held out three feet in front of you... one eye closed for squinting the other shot full of love. girlfriends are just the best. there is no other way to say it.
Forty is a magic number like 7 and 11 and 13. Forty is when you are closer to fifty that you are to twenty and you just cannot believe it. It is also when mean people start to not matter and your real friends show themselves and your occupation is only part of who you are. It matters who you love when you are forty - because you realize you may be half way home or on the back nine or however you say to old to screw around anymore. It matters who loves you back now also - more than it did before - because who has time anymore for half-assed love affairs and broken promises and the greatest insult of indifference? Forty is great because you really start to care about things that matter - differently than you could when you were thirty - and you've lived enough life to simply reply "because i said so" when someone asks you why. At 46, I'm thinking 'hells to the yeah' just watch me put in some crest strips and hit Facebook - i'll write a poem all about the life.
i watched a child reach for a star and i could understand how she thought she might make it hers. i watched an elderly man shuffle a little to the left to clear a path for youth and i could understand how that might sting. i watched the crease under your eye disappear when you stopped smiling - and i realized i might lose you. there is nothing like time to heal a wound and to inflict one. i know you are mine and that you'll be mine forever - but there is a certain finality to the crease under your eye when you are not smiling - and it makes me realize - forever is not long enough.
it seems like every night i am chasing the minutes left wondering what happened and how it is i missed so much. at one time they were so little and every single day seemed to last forever - i was just so tired. now i am wide awake and they are big and 2 became 12 and 4 is 14 and i keeping asking them to stop. stop growing. stop leaving. stop breaking my momma heart at the very same time you fill it up. i think it is awful that if love its a verb, it's easy to be too busy to love. i'm signing up for do-overs.
the rain is back this time like a no nonsense bag lady collecting hours and their passing. i wanted to say something important today but there was turkey and cranberry mold funeral potatoes and green beans crispy onion, corn and cream - plus cookies and cake and pie. that shut me up like a million lazy minutes and all i could say was thank you. when we decide to age together and i mean really age - without all the trying - i hope you will remember that i am cute.
last night i played hooky - not on purpose - but because how do you stop or even think to stop and write a poem when you are living right in the middle of one? He is 92 and was married for 67 years. What's left of her, besides memories is tucked away in drawers - clip-on earrings, vintage prescription lenses empty bags in side of empty bags. socks. he wants me to have some pieces of hers - gives me gold and diamonds precious metal and stone. i want the tarnished chinese wiseman in the costume jewelry drawer. i will wear it i say until you move into my house - old man. we will grow young together now.
for my birthday i got
a belt of cellulite
a bag of popcorn
and tickets to hear the stone foxes.
nobody told me my ass would drop
or the fine lines on leaves
would fail me
or that it would be my choice.
if it werent for the way you danced
i might have blamed it all on age.
my children are growing away. it is not so much an "up". and i want to run after the leaving - though they are right here beside me - to ask them to stay please stay don't go. but they are curious in their growing away - this becoming of gentlemen - so that sometimes i must step aside also to catch a glimpse of their newness from a distance. i witness them then - these young people in my children's bodies - carving out legacies they didn't ask for help on - calculating equations, cracking jokes, making men.
it's hard to feel lucky when yesterday's shadow cast its hook into morning and not even sleep could break the silence. i died a thousand deaths even before the graham cracker and chocolate coma took me. there is never enough sweet to fill the hole of your leaving. i believe in rainbows and unicorns and the impossible likelihood that there will be a day very soon upon which we will again fall in love.
rain falls slightly sideways like a dog with a little inbreeding might walk toward shelter. i try to remember what it was like before melancholy - or whether always the slightly sideways rain falling was enough even for a child to fell the deep sorrow of such beauty.
When I am an old lady, I shall not wear purple. But a fishing visor and a polyester vest I have stolen from the employee lounge at Walgreens. I will smoke cigarettes and cackle like a bird, the insides of my practical walking shoes lined with rubies, because they are pretty and my feet have earned it. I will drive an old dodge truck and fill it up with items discarded, at the end of somebody’s garage sale, all that unwanted bounty. I will buy fake flowers and tie them to my rusty old bumper, bend the metal stems around my windshield wiper and watch the dirt stained blossoms smear the water across my window when it rains. I will not care so much but in the quiet crevices of no longer needing to know, or shine, I will deliver sermons on gratitude through the silence and I will fix my load of broken things and pass them on to someone with many teeth.