On Sharing Life–Monday Meanderings



Image: lifequotes.com

Today (Sunday, the 19th) is our 23rd Anniversary. We’ve chosen to celebrate quietly at home (football games) and it’s given me some extra time for reflection.

I’m in wonder at the fact that we’ve made it this far. A first marriage for both of us, in our 40’s, many (of my family, at least) didn’t think we would make it. Used to being on our own, both of us independent, stubborn even.

We’ve been through a lot together. David has truly been a companion in this journey of life. Oh, I’ve had moments when I’ve want to escape, as I’m sure he has. We’ve both had to make plenty of compromises.

We’ve had moments of self-centeredness but marriage is a tool that is meant to hew away some of those rough edges, to help us grow in all dimensions of living. If we’d chosen to remain single, we could have had everything our own way. We could have maintained control over each detail of our lives. We could do what we want, when we want and attain the heights of self-involvement…and the depths of loneliness.

Instead, here I am–a football fan, bemoaning my team’s loss, still clothed in a team jersey discussing the nuances of play calls (and what I considered to be lousy officiating). Trust me, I didn’t know anything about football when we married. Now I enjoy it (especially when we win.)

Here I am, often waiting for him to come home from golfing or grocery-shopping–aware of that inner GPS that homes in on him, that makes little adjustments to my schedule so I can wave to him when he passes by on the 12th tee outside the kitchen window.

Here I am, grateful to have someone to pick up after on the one hand while, on the other, having someone who puts up with my neurotic tendencies and absent-mindedness and who will wage war on anyone who may take advantage of or threaten me.

True, now and again that escape fantasy returns, but whatever is behind it is settled before bedtime and most often, by morning time, I can’t remember exactly what it was all about as we settle into another day of our life together–and today, celebrating our 23rd year. Oh, and by the way, he does the cooking.

Photo: Janice Black 2010

Photo: Janice Black 2010

War–Flash Fiction for Monday Meanderings

A medic squats beside the body. Concern etches his face, communicating the serious status of his patient. Sweat beads on his brow; he bites his lower lip.

The kid’s angular features distort into a painful grimace. I can’t see blood, but tears roll from the corner of his eyes. Lower extremities sprawl in an unnatural pose. I wait for a sign of life in the useless appendages.

Doug’s mouth hangs open, his eyes fixed on the screen of our new television.

“For this, we got HDTV?” I hurl the question into the unresponsive room.

Photo: dreamstime.com

Photo: dreamstime.com

In the upper left hand corner of the screen, I view a group of fellow warriors. Huddled in the cold, their breath escapes in wisps of fog. Arms encircle their frozen torsos; they slap themselves, teasing chilled blood into warmth, luring it to the surface. A surgeon’s suturing a scarlet laceration on a young black face.

Another group of guys trot out from base camp, bearing a stretcher. I watch them logroll the boy in the field, carefully immobilizing his neck. I wonder if he’s going to make it, or if he’ll spend his days imprisoned in his flaccid husk-of-a-body.

“It’s all about money, isn’t it?” I ask Doug.

“Of course it is. Everything we do is about money,” he answers and takes a slug of beer.

“So why do they try to pan it off as some ideal?” I ask.

“It is about ideals. It’s about freedom and courage. And heroes. We need our heroes.”

“So, some poor mother sacrifices her son for some obscure objective? Some American pipedream.”

“It’s not just about our country, Rachel. You know that. The whole world’s watching.”  Doug clutches a handful of chips and shoves them in his mouth. He continues, “We’ve got to let them know who’s in charge, who’s strong.” Tortilla chip fragments, soggy with spit, shower my tee.

I tear off a paper towel, dip the corner of it into my glass of water, and begin to clean my spattered bosom.

“Please don’t talk while you’re chewing; look what you did to me.”

Doug sees and a crooked smile fills his face. He reaches over and pinches my nipple peeping through the damp shirt. “Ah, good ol’ American freedom,” he says and trains his eyes back to the TV.

A flash of action darts across my field of vision. “Life’s different now,” I say. “We used to hear about things like this after they happened. Now it’s broadcast live. That’s not how it was when we were kids. We crowded around the radio to get our news.”

“Hummmph!”  Doug soaks in the real life drama, unfolding before him.

I grab my knitting.  “I can’t watch this anymore,” I say.

“Well just shut up, then.  I let you know what happens.”

Visions of the two grandsons we’d raised loom before me. Thank God they’re more like me than Doug, I think. They’d never get involved in this.

“I wonder what the boys are up to now,” I say.

“What do you think they’re up to?”

“Studying, I guess. The new semester’s just begun.”

“I know for a fact that Ernie’s doing the exact same thing that we are,” Doug said. “But I wouldn’t be surprised if Eddie’s watching golf.”

“So, why can’t we watch golf?” I ask.

Doug raises his index finger and leans forward, resting his head in the palms of his hand, elbows on his knees.

From the corner of my eye I glimpse another body splayed face down, unmoving. The camera pans to a close-up of Condi Rice. How can she let this happen? She’s a woman, for God’s sake.

Our country’s flag waves in the right hand corner of the scene. A buzzer sounds reminding me of the take-cover drills we had to do in grammar school.  There are no winners, I realize.

“Two minute warning,” the announcer calls. “Stand by for our half time report.

Photo Credit: nfl.com

Photo Credit: nfl.com

I couldn’t resist re-posting this short story that seems appropriate to the season. I confess I’ve developed a huge interest in football over the past few years, though I may be caught knitting during the game. Have a happy week, everyone–and don’t forget that the poetry pub at dVerse reopens today, the 6th, with Poets and Pretzels hosted by Brian Miller then Open Link Night on Tuesday. 


Our Stories

The night before I plan to take down the Christmas tree,
I crawl from beneath the covers, slip downstairs
and curl up on the couch to read stories of our life together.

The tree rotates, a swirl of colors, as ornaments recount
the years. 1991—“Our First Christmas,”
two critters snuggled in a hollow log.

Photo: D. Slotto

Photo: D. Slotto

The merry-go-round of the tree unfolds the years,
one-by-one. Cycles of remembrance unfurl—
the hard and happy times, the growth, the losses.

Upstairs you snore gently. Sometimes we sleep
and overlook those subtle changes—the waxing
and waning of our marriage, of our shared love.

Photo: D. Slotto

Photo: D. Slotto

At eleven o’clock (you set the timer) the tree goes dark.
I steal back to bed, hold tight our memories, hold on to you.

Photo D. SlottoChristmas 2012

Photo D. Slotto
Christmas 2012

Arriving late to the pub for Claudia’s prompt on change. I wish each of you much joy and good health as we wind up 2012 and plot our course for the coming year. I will be traveling this up-coming week but will do my best to keep in touch.

Each year “Santa” places a new ornament on our tree. The tree rotates and is set up on a timer. It’s all put away now.

Love’s Colors

A love poem submitted to One Stop Poetry’s Friday Poetically: http://onestoppoetry.com/

Photo: V. Slotto

Love’s Colors
a Haibun

The crystal lovebirds that you gave me sit here on my windowsill, catching rays of sunshine, splitting them into arcs of color that spill onto my desk across a pile of paper. They shimmy up the wall and cast a spell throughout the room.

And I recall days
of ripe cherries on our tree,
of scarlet kisses.

When first we married and moved up here to the Sierra Nevada, our lives were filled with work. Establishing our home, our yard. Making a living. But in-between-moments filled our every day with beauty.

And I recall days
of rising sun casting orange
on snow-clad mountains.

Our life wasn’t always easy. Like our garden, it required maintenance and a lot of work. It still does. But looking back I can see how we discovered goodness in one another and the work it takes to make a marriage work.

And I recall days
of dandelion dances,
both weeds and wonders.

There were moments when we seemed to grow apart. When work and health concerns or money brought us worries and challenges.

And I recall days
of growth needing attention—
gardens to be pruned.

We are both pretty stubborn, you know. How did we manage to stay together, to change without losing ourselves in the process? Is this why too many marriages fail?

And I recall days
of cloud-obscured cobalt skies
threatening rainfall.

A few times we hit bottom.

And I recall nights
filled with indigo darkness,
reaching for your hand.

And you were there to take it. I wish we could tell younger people that all the work it takes is so worthwhile. That like the days of a relationship—the scarlet kisses and the indigo darkness—love is splashed with colors of the rainbow. All the colors are there, hidden in the moment.

And these are the days
we paint in our memory’s
color-filled palette.

A Haibun is a poetic form combining prose with haiku.