Perchance To Discover

We first encounter Asa and Delilah spending their childhoods running carefree through a village of the Green Mountains. June of 1919 witnessed both their births.

Asa is a mischievous, strong willed boy. Sinewy and strong like his father, he plays the hunter warrior to Delilah’s slightly more introverted nature. She, slim of build, long dark hair, almond brown eyes, courageous and daring in the rugged mountainous environment. Steadily they grow alongside each other.

Best of friends even after nature intervenes whence without ado, they marry. After many long childless years they take in an orphaned child, Caleb. Caleb, a blessing practically raises himself. He completes the expected grades and moves to New York where he finds steady work on the docks. Although grateful, Caleb’s visits are infrequent.

In efforts avoid the loneliness of their fate, Asa and Delilah decide to become a couple of old-age runaways.

Asa sets the atlas on the kitchen table after supper as Delilah clears the plates. He plots out the adventure. The first leg their journey of a lifetime will set sail the following week from Boston Harbor. Delilah can’t wait to tell Nellie and the ladies at the General Store!

On September 4, 1873 Asa and Delilah set sail perchance to discover new worlds. Delilah delights in the adventure of each new culture they happen upon. Asa grows increasingly concerned as time seems to warp aboard ship. Upon entering each new port they discover that they’ve traveled across years, decades and eventually a century. While cradled in the ships cabin, sleeping soundly it happens. They reach the age of one hundred years old.

July, 2019 sees the last leg of their trip. They awaken to an unrecognizable world where up is down and down is up.

Asa rushes above deck with his compass which displays east as west, west as east. South, north. North, south.

Delilah, looking at her wedding ring witnesses left as right, right as left.

In the lauder, empty is full, full is empty.

Confused yet hopeful for an explanation they go ashore in Port Richie. They find no easy answers.

Life is all thumbs. Like is dislike, dislike is like.

Stranger is friend, friend is stranger. And they all like each other. Until they don’t. Then they unlike.

Noon is midnight, midnight is noon.

Silence is noisy, noisy is silence.

Hot is not too warm. Hot is beautiful.

Beauty is not to behold.

Safety is danger and danger is safe.

Good is evil, evil is good.

Straight is crooked, crooked is straight.

They seem to have overtaken the country.

Delilah and Asa feel truly homesick for the first time in their lives.

“Let’s board ship.” said Delilah. “Head for home.“

“Oh, now Delilah. “ replied Asa. “Time to find our land legs. We can’t keep running away without giving things a chance. Word has it that they’ve torn down the old village anyway. Planted a crop called Wolemort. Say their shootin’ aye-are-fortie somethin’ or others. Mad folks go to let off steam.”

Delilah begins to sob softly as Asa takes her hand in his. He leads her toward a sign which reads “Mall” for a bite to eat.

“Let’s get you indoors Delilah, where we know it’s safe.”

“Asa, I want to go home where the world makes sense. This place called TooONyntene is nothing but pure crazy.”

Hand in soft, wrinkled hand Asa and Delilah amble toward the random public building.

They walk each other not home, but further into the present.

We watch as together our two age-old inadvertent time travelers light upon our collective mistaken moment.

10.17.19.

Summer Guest

When he turned up in my apartment that afternoon I made a snap decision to coexist like the bumper sticker reads. Going against every grain of instinct and good motherly advice, I told him he could stay under certain conditions. One of them being that he keep a safe distance, you know, respect boundaries. Silently he hung there seeming to neither agree or disagree, nor did he leave.

And so it was that I went about my mornings that summer, waking to find him in the same familiar spot. I never learned his name and he never requested mine.

A “jumper” if my imagination allowed. Black, hairy, big. He could leap swiftly out of sight, under the bed. Even worse, creep unannounced between my sheets. I, remarkably reminiscent of Annie Hall’s bathtub scene, racquet at the ready. My minds eye saw my cohabitant seeking retaliation while I slept soundly in the wee hours. Make his way from ear to ear, lingering on my nose, disappearing before I startle awake. Taking stealth cover beneath the covers. He’d lie in wait just long enough for me to doze off. Then crawl up along my left arm, tickling the fine hairs enough to send me into a blind panic.

“Spiders don’t bite.” Mom always said. There was something in the anxious way that she said it, always accompanied by, “Hurry uuup! Step on it before it gets away!!”

“I’m afraid it will bite me Mom!”

“It’s crawling toward me! Go get your Dad and step on it!”

Although I knew Mom would never lie, I knew a biting creature when she panicked.

This endeavor into arachnid besties some five odd decades later is nothing less than an epic act of courage. I resisted my DNA instructions to squash my eight-legged squatter into protoplasm. He spent the summer blissfully wandering around the bedroom. One afternoon he could be found in the northeast corner, another southwest corner, other times anywhere in between. As long as I had a fix on him, we got along just fine.

The summer wore on, days shortened. My arachnid friend suddenly disappeared. Gonzo. Out of sight but not out of mind. It took me a few weeks to get use to the idea that he’d just up and left without so much as a trace of goodbye.

Four seasons turned and summer once again arrived. I’d nearly forgotten about arachnid when in dark of night, a sharp sting followed by severe itching on my posterior neck awakened me. I gave it not a thought and returned to slumber. The stinging/itching worsened over the next several days, becoming quite swollen, red then turning blue. A vicious lump of an itch. A consultation with a “provider”.

Damn! A vile spider bite!

Well, so much for coexistence, Moms arachnophobic word to children, eight-legged besties, and uninvited guests in the boudoir.

10.10.19

What Good of This

On that warm June morning she looked the same as I remembered her. No other has her spirit. Her soul.

The last time we’d seen each other she helped me move from one rental house to another after my divorce. Jocelyn and her family lived next door to us. We built our dream home adjacent to their property and they fast accepted us into the fold. I babysat her two girls occasionally while she earned her Masters degree in Nursing. She, Bob, Andie, Tracy and Tucker ( huge, happy golden retriever) were good old-fashioned good neighbors.

When at thirteen years old, Geoff became and remained ill, Jocelyn was immediately by his side. Always kind, gentle, compassionate with a keen professional eye and listening ear, and her critical thinking mind. She was solidly there for Geoff and me. I never so much as had to ask. No other had gone to such tremendous efforts to right the blatant wrongs being put upon our boy.

I will tell you now, as will anyone who knows her, Jocelyn is someone you always want on your side.

Once the medical misjudgments became more frequent and we realized Geoff’s treatment or lack thereof weren’t working, Jocelyn sprang into action. She asked for verbatim conversations between myself and specific doctors and their orders. She was outraged over and again as she learned of questionable practices heaped upon

Geoff and eventually Brian and I. A source of expert information, if she didn’t have an immediate answer she knew how to swiftly find it.

Jocelyn set up home care for his IVs which sadly, only lasted a short while. She cried with Geoff, holding him close. She cried with me more than once.

The illness went on for a year or more before leading us to seek treatment for Geoff at Boston Children’s Hospital where he was held hostage against his own and our will.

Jocelyn remained in close contact, going so far as to interview physicians, psychologists, and nutritionists here in RI in attempts to have him transferred closer to home. Trying still to remove him from the clutches of one power hungry Peter Hunt, PhD.

She gave it the good fight. Hung in there with all the conviction and tenacity of the best good, caring, heartfelt nurse, neighbor, advocate, friend. But Boston Children’s Hospital is a well practiced powerhouse. Unbeknownst to us, they’d fought and won these battles of before. We four were no match for their well tested strategies. The remainder of that story is still in the telling.

I’ve spent countless hours over a couple of decades wishing I could somehow repay Joslin for everything she did for us, for me. Silently I questioned in what light she remembered us and our plight. Did she end up thinking we were all crazy like Peter Hunt suggested? So many times I felt alone, friendless.

Years later, through social media Jocelyn and I rediscovered each other. A simple FB friendship is all.

Then suddenly an ad appeared.

So, it was on an early summer morning nineteen years later, I met her on the sidewalk in front of her late mothers house. She showed me the lovely vacant loft apartment and proclaimed, “You’re perfect for this apartment, Nancy. I want you to take it. You can stay forever.”

I made a quick survey of the place. As we conversed, I sensed a level comfort known only to those who are approaching home. I said, “Joslin, I’ll take it.”

Outdoors again she had the courage to asked me, “How is Geoff?” I paused, looked off to the distance, “I honestly don’t know. But he’s alive, working with Brian and doing animation which he loves.” “We were all so badly traumatized Jocelyn. Geoff the worst, of course.”

Misty eyed, Jocelyn replied, “ I use your case as a model when I teach my young nursing students, Nancy. I tell them your story. I tell them how the entire medical community turned its back on you. Refused to listen to you about your own child. I tell my students that because it destroyed three lives. I don’t want it to ever happen again. To this day, I teach them how important it is to listen closely to family members of patients. I teach my students this because of you.”

I can’t tell you the times I’ve hopelessly thought, “Truly, what the hell good could ever come of this? It’s rotten to the core.”

And there my old friend stood, now with her own PhD. Telling me she teaches lessons at university based on our strange story. Perhaps one student or more will listen, learn and teach. Perhaps I should continue to tell my story as well.

Last week my phone rang as I sat reading one evening. It was Jocelyn. Could I do her a huge favor if I wasn’t busy right now? She was out of town on business. Her terminally ill, elderly aunt needed to be checked on. There was no one else nearby. Would I mind going over to see her?

I listened as Jocelyn filled me in on details necessary for the visit and more. I listened as nineteen years fell away. In my minds eye she lived next door again. The kids laughed and jumped on the trampoline in the yard while our retrievers ran free across the meadow. Jocelyn, for the first time, spoke of her own family. She spoke of survival under extreme adversity. Jocelyn spoke of her own fractured heart and the hearts of those she dearly loved over a lifetime.

Misty eyed, I rose from my chair. I went to visit with her lovely, still elegant Aunt Maude. It was a visit that I can’t imagine missing.

Once again my tremendous gratitude to Jocelyn.

I can never repay Jocelyn for the overwhelming support she selflessly gave and continues to give through her teaching.

But perhaps I can offer my humble ear.

l rise and I will listen.

10.3.19

Hot Buttered Noodles

Noodles

Butter

Salt to taste

Drop noodles into a pot of boiling water.

Boil until al dente’.

Strain.

Add butter and a pinch of salt.

Serve them to your family on a plate with a vivid vegetable, a hamburger, hotdog, what-have-you.

For good measure, pour them each a tall, cold glass of milk.

Enjoy.

Leave the dishes for later.

Gather your family up.

Muster all of their accoutrements.

Simultaneously rush through the door and into the car.

Drive hastily to the local YMCA.

Regard scrawny, six year old son throw oversized adult instructor hard across the judo mat. A few times.

Feel tremendous pride.

Think, “He is some strong, scrawny kid.”

Leave finished lesson.

Seat little son in car.

Drive home.

Read son a bedtime story, reminding him to say his prayers.

Sweep that one stray baby-fine curl from his eyes.

Whiff the lingering fragrance of ivory soap on his innocent after-bath aura.

Kiss small son goodnight.

Switch off the light.

Repeat a couple of times a week until the instruction session ends.

Optional but not recommended: A few short years later grieve over missing young son, lost in one of the myriad traumatic ways to lose a child or parent.

Forget about Hot Buttered Noodle ritual for the next twenty or so years.

Receive news that Hot Buttered Noodles triggers sons sense of well being to this day.

That and other strong peaceful sensory memories which you both share.

Let that sink in.

Or if only you wish to experience peace of mind,

When a sliver of light shines through a crack at the bottom of the door of darkness,

open it.

Allow the oft overlooked, ostensibly trivial to direct your path toward home.

9.16.19

Small Rabbit

At my open window, break of day

wild flower beds

warm summer rain

I anticipate entertainment round the shed

by abandoned stone small rabbit lay

across dampened grass

pure white belly up, legs a-splay

with caffeine fix, camera lens, I focus in

small rabbit frozen in its tracks, nighttime sin

tail in shreds

intact little torso gray

stump of neck without its head

natures beauty in the dark

savage!

9.12.19

This Is

It’s in my neuro system I’m told. A.D.D. all of that psycho-babble. Slow is a speed which I find painful. I’d almost rather be still than slow. I’ll hurry along to my point now.

I’m compelled to learn what’s causing the gait disturbance.

Perhaps it’s in the air they breath. Certainly it’s not in the drinking water. They can’t do that, legally.

Upon mentioning the village phenomena to a friend, I was asked if it’s age related. At the time I hadn’t yet deciphered. Further observation led me to conclude that all ages and genders appear to be equally affected.

Without delay, I do confess. I’m a people watcher. I can’t help myself. It happens more when I’m forced into slo-mo or lines. Keeps my skills of observation keen.

My initial suspicion regarding gait issues in the village was that there is quicksand mixed into the concrete. Or an element of it. Such is the sluggishness of all who enter.

I employed technology and scientifically sound methodology. On a sultry morning I began my mission. Holding fast to my Jeep door handle I extended my right leg over the curbstone. Stepped my great toe gently onto the concrete. Exerted a measure of pressure so as to sink if it would. Let go of the door handle. Hopped up and down on both feet like kangaroo. Hard as rock, that sidewalk. So much for exact science.

My toes and flip-flops hopped themselves into the Jeep. Traveled to unrivaled Narragansett Town Beach where they happen to have their own gate issues. On past the seawall to Hazard Rock. My legs dangled off a cliff ledge over the sea alongside a couple of non English speaking fisherman. No gate issues here. Clean, wide open ocean if you’re up for the climb.

This is almost heaven.

These sidewalks, though are haunting me. During my previous residency I noted a mysterious occurrence. Undoubtedly it’s due to a satellite controlled switch. Set daily to 5 p.m. auto sidewalk roll-up. Earlier sunsets led me to take my curiosity to a clandestine level. Perplexed, by dark of night I stalk deserted streets in search of answers. Only I and the Barred Owl perched west of The Tavern By The Sea know what’s what and who’s who in the pale yellow lamp glow.

We wondered if it’s due to an adhesive quality to the surfaces. Perhaps applied as they’re rolled out each morning. Owl as my witness, dark roast in hand, 4:00 a.m. I venture out. Wait sipping for the roll out. Slick as new bowling balls. Not a lick of sticky business. Confounded!

Even athletes, cyclists, runners proceed in painfully slow-motion. Kayaking is popular, but a speed sport? These waters are still.

Sluggishly I perambulate the village. It’s communicable.

A lone Mosquito embezzles my blood as I consider an evening dip over by Gardner’s Wharf. Leaves a torturously slow itch lasting weeks. July’s Full Buck Moon halted mid-sky. Lolled there in the heart of a fog behind End O Main’s Old Glory as it flew in the wind. All the while I ran home for my Nikon. Up three flights, down three and back. Old Buck Moon didn’t budge an inch. The most eerie shots appeared later on my screen.

Here, morning dew lingers on errant crabgrass blades all the live long day. Heat stricken bees hesitate poised, hover above the petal. Give the camera a real treat before sinking into their pollen abyss. Ten thousand minnows slow-school the surface at the old town dock. Cormorants surface. Dive. Gone bird. Resurface across town. Found bird. Fiddler Crabs burrow into green-black mud under Hussey Bridge. Cease their fiddlin’ as we step.

Disappear altogether. We still our feet, watch over the rail. Viola! Fiddlers reappear!

Near the library path, sleeping peacefully still, a white duck.

Clustered Black-Eye Susans draw my eye. Hummingbirds chirp, quarrel, swoop high for the naive insect. Protein to muscle up for the next leg south.

Mourning doves coo at the window, the pair. Their color we chose for the dream, 150 Schooner. For what or whom do they mourn?

Our song, though we share, sir cardinal has yet to visit my upper deck. Alas, he’s unhurried.

People mosey, stop for nothing at all. Settle on benches. Placidly say hello. Dogs prod, never pull.

Sails furl. Motoring in. No wake zone. Still waters run deep.

By my lofty window I smell the pungent sea just now, as I write.

I pause. An unguent of misty air on a soft southern breeze sweeps you back to me.

This is almost home.

This is Wickford.

This maybe I can learn.

8.21.19

Dear Boy

Do cry.

That is what we do, we civilized human beings, especially we tough ones.

I cry as I pen my words to you. We have bequeathed this world to you. This deeply saddens me. I’m profoundly sorry for your pain.

I so want to protect you but I need to tell you sooner than later. I wish with my entire being that it were not true.

There may be times that you’ll bleed from the inside-in. You’ll feel you don’t know what to do. You’re confused because you heard from some fool, somewhere that boys don’t cry.

That is a fantasy, Dear Young Male.

Resilient boys cry. Men cry.

That is the reality.

There may be times in life when tears will fill your entire being. They’ll turn your blood cells to heavy crystallized salt. Sharp edges. Points that stab at your fragile, vital organs. They’ll uncaringly pierce a major vessel. You will feel like you’re slowly bleeding right straight to death.

You can’t fight back the demons which taunt you morning, noon and night. Your tainted, tear filled blood will travel through you in ruminating circles, leaking into every cell. All alone in the dark, you may seek answers. You might observe early on in your world that violence is an easy choice.

Or you can cry. You can talk. You can run and walk. Reach out. Strong boys cry. Men cry.

Perhaps a morbidly curious glance at a website leads you to an idea which relieves the ever mounting pressure.

Do not indulge the message. It is a fantasy.

Do not amass an arsenal of weapons or even one.

Do not take your bleeding self to we, the innocent masses in an attempt to heal your one desperately wounded soul.

Don’t pop, pop, pop your pain into we civilized humans spilling our blood to heal yours.

Just cry. Keep crying until someone, somewhere opens their heart to yours.

That’s what we do, we civilized human beings.

Dearest Young Male,

Someone, somewhere loves you.

Do talk.

Do walk.

Do run.

Do reach out.

Do anything.

Do it again.

But don’t you murder us.

Do cry.

8.5.19