A Dance in The Hurricane

The following is a reblog of a post I wrote two years ago. It reminds us to take a breath and appreciate our connections and relationships; to value each day and each person we encounter along the way. Stay connected, my friends.

KJ

The other day I was cleaning out our closet.  It was time to do some much needed purging.   I decided to gut out everything and go from there.  I ended up finding some old cards from a few years ago when my mother passed away.  I opened each one and read them again, this time with five years behind me.  They were sweet and sympathetic.  My Aunt had sent one reminiscing about when she and my mother were teens and very close.  Some I kept and others I didn’t.  So much for the big purge.    In amongst the cards I found a letter that was written by a childhood friend of the family.  Her kids were friends with us when we lived in the old neighbourhood.  She and her husband were friends with my parents.  We used to visit them after they moved away into a new house.  She wrote to say how dismayed she was of my mother’s passing and that she hadn’t realized my mother continued to reside in Chatham.  She assumed she had moved in either my brother or myself.  She was disappointed she had not made the effort to reconnect.  I think she was disappointed neither had my mother.  I don’t think it was anyone’s fault that they got disconnected.  It was just life.

 Kids grow up, graduate, move on to university or not, tragic events unfold, weddings and new houses, new babies, new lives.  It’s everything that happens over a lifetime. We get disconnected. We get disjointed and enmeshed in the everyday.  We forget the connections that were made years ago on a summer’s day when the children were small, who later walked to the bus stop hand-in-hand on frosty fall mornings, caught “all things squirmy and squishy” (her words) and played basketball until nightfall.   

Those days get lost in band practices, packed lunches, hockey games and baseball tryouts.  People get older, move to other streets or to other towns.  They work, they make new friends, they move on to other hobbies, other occupations and other past times without the old acquaintances that have become a part of their past.  The present is different.  Its fluid and changes with the seasons and the ever-speeding passage of time.  We don’t notice the children becoming adults until they are there.  We don’t notice our hair changing colour until our hairstylist points it out (while saying loudly WHY ARE YOU NOT COMING HERE MORE OFTEN?!  )  we don’t notice the deeper cracks in the sidewalks outside the house,  how the maple tree has grown exponentially or how few little children are out playing street hockey these days, until all of that suddenly seeps into our consciousness and we take a look around with clearer eyes.  And older eyes.  How did this happen?  When did we get HERE? 

I understand her disappointment and dismay.  It seems like a sudden about-face of one minute she’s there, the next she’s gone, but really it wasn’t like that.  It was a lifetime of being, of living and of surviving.  The disconnection of relationships is unfortunately, an everyday occurrence that can be prevented if we take the time.  Aye there’s the rub.  TIME.  We never have enough. It flies away so fleetingly.  If only we had more time to connect, to say ‘hey’, to reminisce, to support, to actually stop and watch everything grow and change without having to be awoken to its transformation.  It’s a difficult dance.  Maybe we don’t want to watch because if we do, then we’ll have to admit that we are getting older, life is flying by without us even moving or flinching in this hurricane.   Maybe we don’t really want to see the children getting older or the sidewalk cracking or the maple tree growing so big we can’t see across the street, anymore.  We’d rather hold on to today, to live in the present, just let me have one more day!

Connections are our lifelines.  We crave them, we seek them out and some we hold dear.  Our intentions are for connections to last as long as we take a breath, to be eternal and constant, but sometimes those bonds get weaker and grow more distant, then they are suddenly lost in the gale force wind.  It’s not wrong.  It’s life.  

I’m thinking after all of this time, to send her a reply.  To let her know I did receive her letter and I did read it and I still have it.  That I remember everything she said was true. 

 Maybe, that could be one little dance in the hurricane.

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Swimming in the Past

I wasn’t going to post any creative writing junk on this site, but I had nothing else to say right now since everything is crazy and people are crazy and you’re out of order and I’m out of order and the vending machine is fucking out of order!!!  So, here is an excerpt of a story I have been working on. It’s a bit flowery, or something.    Read it.  Breathe it.  Live it. Lament the end of summer.  Send cookies. 

KJ

 

I can hear the rustle of the reeds outside my bedroom window.  The warm breeze sends them into a hazy dance of bent bodies and extended arms.  The darkness signals night, but I am too restless to sleep.  I snuggle deeper under the bedclothes in search of comfort, my eyelids becoming heavier every inch I delve.  I listen intently to the reeds, their music lulling me into a gentle song I know will eventually be my undoing.  I try to stare up at the beamed ceiling, its dark cedar creating ominous shapes in the dark, but my eyelids flutter in protest. I turn to look at my bedroom door, painted a faded white and chipping from the summer humidity and the daily lake- watered towels drooping from atop the corner. 

 The little cottage creaks with adult noises outside my door.  The wooden floorboards heavy with grown-up steps making their way to the glassed porch to watch the night sky turn a deeper twilight as the stars reflection bounce upon the lake water or the television declare an evening news program to be concluding for the night.  I imagine they are sitting together on the little settee, having their late night drink thankful the kids are finally tired and tucked in for the night.  I long to join them, my bare feet padding along the floorboards and snuggling in between them, my head resting on her shoulder, but I dare not move.  I know they will not be upset as much as they would be worried.  Are you sick? They would ask.  Do you have a headache? They would be concerned.  My fair skinned body out in the summer sun all day; in the rolling waves tumbling atop the inflated inner tube my brothers and I pranced and jumped day after day.  Sunstroke, they would think.  Fever, they would fear.  Sunburn, they would lament.  But no, even in the days when sunscreen was unheard of, they took expert care that my fair skin would not burn hidden furtively under a cotton t-shirt, and my face shaded under a sunhat placed securely on my strawberry blond head.  I remained sheltered from swarming mosquitoes, my little body hidden inside the concave of his jacket as we ran along the dusty path during a dusk evening. Saved from myself as I was shuffled hurriedly indoors following an invitation to a young skunk by a singing of ‘here, kitty, kitty, kitty’. 

Fast forward thirty years and I wish I could go back to those long hot summer days.  We would walk bare foot along the stones to the path leading us to the dilapidated shed where the bikes were stowed away.  We would run down to Lake Ontario, our bathing suits clinging to our bodies, the frigid water sending us into tides of joy and near hypothermia, blissfully unaware of any temperatures cooler than the hot sun beating down upon our necks or the dripping ice cream cones we slurped in an afternoon meant for laundry.  I remember being embarrassed that I had been stripped down to my underwear at the local laundry mat waiting for our clothes to wash, but treated to an air hockey game and ice cream at the local variety store as if to make up for the public display of my flowery pink underwear.  That was an Ontario summer.  Full of water, sand, sun and cool nights with the reeds outside my bedroom window singing me to sleep in the little cottage that held all of us tightly in its embrace for a few short precious weeks.     

cottage