I am comfortable now.
The house is empty except for me and my cat.
He sleeps in the room that used to be my son’s.
I stand in the kitchen putting rub on ribs I intended
to cook for the two of us.
The fat cat that lives in the abandoned house
next to me turns out not to be fat
I watch her through the kitchen window
as she waddles across the street.
Perhaps, like me, she is looking for something
to keep her alive.
She makes it safely to the other side
as I put the ribs in the fridge to chill.
I will cook them and have them ready
at the same time as I always have.
What else can I do?
I am sitting in my chair, a throw blanket behind my head as a pillow. A glass of wine (third really) sits on the table next to me. Jack Johnson plays through my headphones. I am trying not to think of things. Of issues or concerns of problems or mistakes I have made. I am in love with a woman that is beyond me. The thought of her consumes me. I feel small compared to the feelings I have for her. I question everything now. There was a time when I thought I knew what the future held. Now I am not sure if I know what has just happened. There is a story here, I am sure of it. I will find it one day and oh what a story it will make.
I am ashamed sometimes of the thoughts that I think. She is so wonderful yet so beyond me. I am undeserving of the affection she shows towards to me. It is the affection that a master shows for his dog, still it is more than I deserve.
I will finish my wine and go to bed. Perhaps I will dream of her. Perhaps in my dreams she will love me the way that I love her. Perhaps one day my dreams will com true.
Desert road into the mountains (Photo credit: mkrigsman)
I drive and I think. The road spreads out before me like a ribbon draped over the land. There is no end in sight. No beginning behind. I drive in the hopes of finding out where it went wrong. I think of the times that have come and gone. I try to pinpoint my error but it eludes me. The road is constant and lonely. There are few others on this stretch of road. I think. Still no answers come. I drive. I remember times long ago when things were a bit clearer. When I think, it is always the same, the women come to mind first. Loves I have had along the way. Like so many fishermen, I recall the ones that got away more readily than the ones that have been caught. I drive and I think. The wind blows in through the open window of the car, tossing my thoughts in different directions. Instantly I jump from high school to military life, and then quickly back to the summer before the service. The names and faces begin to run together; still no answer comes, so I drive on.
Patty is the one I most often think of first. She was my first love. I met her when I was a junior in high school. She was a sophomore, still full of innocence and hope. Not one of the popular crowd it was easier for me to approach her. It was her joyous outlook that attracted me to her. I was young and could not express my feelings. By the end of the school year it was over.
I think of Susan, the most beautiful girl I ever went out with. She stole my heart the first time she spoke to me. Her spell was strong. I would have done anything for her. Her spirit was free and could not be caged. Life to her was a thing to be loved for the moment and then move on.
Andrea was the one I should have married. Her smile was contagious. When she laughed it was as if I had been transported to some mystical land where there was no pain. I remember how sweet her lips tasted on those hot summer days. She wasn’t ready and I was determined to have it my way or nothing. Pride and stubbornness has killed better men than me. I was given two chances with her and lost them both. Going through some old photographs recently, I came across a picture of her and I together. I cried at what might have been.
Still, I find no answers. I drive, so I think. I think, so I drive. The road turns gently into the setting sun and another day is nearing its end. I think of all the sunsets that have passed before me. If I could get just one of them back I wonder if it would make a difference. I drive on.
It is like there is some type of fog in my head, some force that prevents me from thinking clearly. Often times I sit in my chair and try to remember the good times I am sure were once there. Looking at old photographs and mementos I see the evidence that I once smiled, perhaps even laughed. When I try and think of these times my head begins to throb and clouds over. I have few memories of my early childhood. What I do remember comes from stories that I have been told through the years. When I speak of my early years I am talking from the time I was seven through my high school years. Perhaps I am not odd in this but others speak fondly of these years. They have many stories of adventures and games they played. I recall little. If I sit and think for a long period I can stir up some old ghosts. Mostly my mind just hurts. It has gotten worse recently, and it frightens me. I cannot remember the last time that I had a clear day, a day when there was no fog in my head. More and more I feel out of place. I feel as though I am not really here. There are times when I am not even sure who I am. I look at those old photographs and I do not recognize the person that they tell me is me.
I woke up this morning and thought…why?
The sun shone brightly through my window. The frost on the grass sparkled like millions of tiny diamonds. Last night I lit the fireplace that you and I were supposed to make love in front of. I sat there till the warmth turned to pain. The heat did little to dry my tears.
Five years I waited. Not a lifetime I know, but it was the time of my life. I don’t know what to do from here. Where does hope go to die?
Jennifer was the most beautiful girl in school. Every school has one so I am sure you can relate even if you do not know her. She was as close to perfect as I have ever seen. She was the type of girl that a guy like me could only watch from afar. She was on the Pom-Pom squad, in drama and played flute (I think) in band. She took ballet lessons at a dance studio in town. I know this because one day I was passing by as she came out of the door. We nearly collided with each other. I asked what she was doing there (mostly because I was(am) an idiot and couldn’t think of anything else). True to herself she answered as sweet as anything I have ever heard “I take ballet lessons here”. For the next year I went over that encounter again and again. Each time I had a new line that I should have used. Of course I never ran into her coming out of the door again.
I was never under the delusion that some day she might notice me. I just smiled at her when I could and dreamed about her most every night. We had some of the same classes together but we never sat close and I never really spoke to her. That is until two glorious days during our senior year.
It has been 24 years since then and I still think of it as one of the best days of my life. We were in science class together. I was not real big on science so I just plodded through the best I could. A few days before we had our big talk our teacher gave us an assignment that was to be done in groups. We were to design a paper wing that would lift when you put a fan in front of it (or something like that). The class broke into groups and me, being the ever popular guy I was, picked me for a partner. Well you can imagine my surprise when Jennifer came to my table and asked if I needed a partner. My jaw dropped, my heart stopped. I am sure I said something stupid I just can’t remember what. She smiled that angel smile and we began working on the wing as if we had been partners all our lives. Then disaster struck. Disaster in my life then often came in the form of Larry. This day was no exception. As soon as he saw Jennifer at my table he jumped right over there to “help us out”. I am not sure if it is 24 years of reliving those few days or I really saw it, but in my version she rolled her eyes as if to say “I can’t believe he ruined this for me”. I wanted to kill him. My one chance to talk to an angel and Larry happened. He was my best friend so I said nothing. It was a few days later when the teacher took the class to the library to research a report on something or other. Most of the class got their books right away and got to work. I wandered around for awhile then turned down on aisle and she was there. There was no halo or magical aura about her but I was, am, sure she was an angel standing right before me. I have no idea where I got the courage from but I said hi. She smiled back and began to chat with me. Before I knew what was happening we were sitting on the floor talking as if we had been friends for years. We talked about school and what we were going to do next. I was going to be a rock star, she was going to college. I told her that I thought she would have gone into dance. I could see her going to Broadway and making it on stage. She smiled and said that would be great but her parents insisted she go to college. We laughed about nothing and talked until class was up. We both took zeros on that assignment. I don’t recall ever talking to her again. We went the rest of the year as we had spent every other year. I would smile sheepishly at her in the halls and she would smile quietly back. Like I said, I had no delusions of her falling for me or anything like that. It is just one of those things I keep to myself. I pull it out on long winter nights when I am cold and lonely. It warms me like a cup of hot chocolate. Recently I got out my high school yearbook and looked her up. Most of us looked like dorks back then. But Jennifer was perfect. Even now her picture stings my heart.
It was one of the best days of my life.
Train tracks (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I stood on the same tracks where two Irish Setters had been killed the week before. The red-coated dogs were a fixture in our neighborhood. They romped and played with a freedom we all envied. I stared along the rails towards where they had been found. I wondered what they must have felt. There was a lot of talk about what happened. Why had they not run? The neighborhood mourned their loss. I stood on the tracks and imagined the train hitting them. Better they went together than one be left behind.
Suddenly the tracks began to vibrate lightly under my feet. I could not hear the train yet. The jungle growth and the direction of the wind hid its approach. Standing looking in the direction the train would come from I wondered if the dogs had felt the vibrations. Would they have known what they meant? Suddenly the train appeared like a ghost materializing in front of me. I did not move. It was less than a hundred yards from me and gaining speed as it hit the straightaway. Still there was no sound. This is not real, I thought. How could there be no sound? I will stand my ground. Perhaps this train will take me to a better place. I wondered if the dogs thought this. I wondered if they would be there. I was not afraid to die.
It must have been then that the engineer saw me standing there. The blast of the train whistle broke my trance. Paaa Lease, Paaa Lease it sounded, as if to say I have seen enough death, please move! I stepped reluctantly from the tracks and watched the train pass by. The breeze from the cars caressed my cheeks. Another whistle blast sounded. Thank you was all it said.
When I was younger my family and I lived in the Panama Canal Zone. This is a true story from that time. The two dogs were loved by everyone in the neighborhood and they were the friendlies things you would ever want to meet. It still makes me sad to think of how they left us.