Sunday, July 5, 2015

No Word

It was a peculiar sort of pink.

The sort that's grey and pale and blue, reflecting a sun that's dozing on the job.

Not quite twilight.

Too alive to be dusk.

A wisp in the air.

And the water.

The water was glass. Agloss.

There was a freshness in the air, waiting for me.

Like the moment just before
a new kiss, pressing forward, eyes closed.

I was enchanted by this night and its smell of hickory and summertime and I would remember it forever, never quite finidng the word to capture its magic.

Better there was no word to say this was among the last of the days we would all be together, so sweet, so young. We were all growing up too fast.

And now, as then, I am in my favorites floating on the water, beneath the stars and sparkles, remembering that night.




Saturday, June 27, 2015

Outdated Americanism and The New American

The kind of Americanism that wastes itself on bigotry and war is on its way out. You can hear the last of it in the mewls of the Trumps and pharisees. Good riddance.

The kind of Americanism that obstucts a President because he is black, not because he is idealogue, is also fading fast. I say a prompt good-bye to that, and shut the door firmly behind it.

Americanism and -  for my sense, religion - that seeks to separate instead of unite, to burn instead of to heal, can go suck it, too. I'm done with that.

The old American is gone. This middling child is aging too. And so a new American steps forward. And what will he do?

He can't be the risk-taker his forefather was - that chance was already taken in his name, so he wouldn't have to. Ironically, the country is no longer comprised of the very people some label global discards, so there's been a bit of mission drift. Do we still primarily seek to take in the tired, the hungry, the poor? It seems in many instances we are not.

We are now the fat and comfortable.

But we are also the environmentally interested, the urban farmer, the cyclist. We are a half-shade of brown, we've tasted curry and we like it, our music thumps. We care if we are cheated, yes, but we are also wary of war. We prepare with irony. We feast on an engaged faith.

The new American knows that the money comes and goes, not always at her own will, and she doesn't care. Really. She finds disinterest in my bedroom habits, cares not to judge me, won't allow it as she knows what is just.

It is a slow turn, to be sure. Still, the new American finds that we grow not just for our own bloom, but for others'. He is willing to share.

The New American is a different kind of smart. He reclaims the simpler ways using the tools of the day, always seeking the better solution. In that manner, he is like his father, in all his best.

This American, borne of the children of jumpers and poors, can write it new. He will, he will. I know he will.

Give us your tired, your hungry, your poor. And together, what can we do?

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Not Exactly Perfect

The kids love to tell and re-tell the stories of their father coming up to their bedroom to do the night-time story and tuck-in. He'd climb the stairs slowly, creaking along the tired floors, step into their room, and turn off the lights. Then he'd begin even the most innocent story in a husky voice, 'Once upon a time,' building, building, the room quiet save for the sound of his voice rasping against the evening air. Softly and then more and more, up and up, until he was roaring "I WISH THAT I HAD DUCK FEET!", lights flickering, feet stomping, a din! Much to the glee and giggle (and not sleepiness) of the completely un-tucked audience.

Of course, I'd be wailing from downstairs, "That is NOT proper tuck-in storytelling," which would only elicit more giggles and the good, loud belly laugh of the culprit. I'm positive the kids' poor sleep habits come from that business. I'm also positive that's not true, but that's not what I tell them.

My kids are the ones with the stories now - this happened in school and that happened in band and this class is so hard. I think our children talk to us so much because their dad created this place, this home for us where all the stories, even the scary ones, could be funny and laughed over.

He made it safe to be yourself here, to be a little weird or silly, to tell fart jokes. That last one is probably not my favorite, but I recognize its value...

What I mean to say by all that is that he's not exactly perfect, but he's wonderful and warm and strong and good, good, good. I couldn't have picked a better man to be a dad to my children and they couldn't be luckier to have him.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

No One Else Would Do

She is the keeper.

Steady on her feet, practical.

          In every family there's one person who keeps everyone together.

And it's never the one who thinks she's the one. That one's the alpha. Sometimes there are two of those in a group, and they spend most of their time keeping one another busy with their alpha-ness. It's not them.

It's not the softie, the sentimental one either. That one's too drawn in one direction or another, depending on who needs the nurture in the moment. (Usually, one of the alphas.)

The artsy one? Nope. The nerd? No, not him. They're good in the group and serve their distinctive purposes, but they don't hold everyone together.

It's the other one. The one who intentionally flies just under the radar.

          And she knows it long before anyone else has a clue.

If she seems vulnerable, and she may at times, that frailty is fleeting and hardly the truth of her. She is strong and sincere because she knows herself, always has.

She demonstrate softness only when she's interested in showing it to you and most often not for herself, but to give you some sense of purpose. She is kind that way.

When you confide in her she is even-handed, matter-of-fact, and fair. If you are wrong she will tell you. If someone wrongs you, she will tell them too, first and without flinch. There is a force there better not to be reckoned with.

She intimates infrequently, as little as possible. Her messes are her own and she is satisfied in that.

A finer sister or friend you will not find. She is smart, as talented and lovely as all or more, a quick wit, a good sport, and all without flourish. No need. Let the others have the noise.

When the time comes and they have tired of stray and pomp, hers is the embrace that will bring comfort. It always does.

Now as she grows into the yearning years of her own dares and travels there may be times when all seem far and least connected. Then and again, the center is real and all will find their way home to her.

Because the keeper is she and she knows it. And good that it should be, as no one else would do.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Happy Mother's Day, Ladies

That lady in the thrift store who was buying all kids' clothes today because they're half-priced, whose husband was sighing and whining the whole time in line, whose kids were scrambling and climbing all over everything while she waited patiently for the overwhelmed cashier, who looked at the $2 vase she'd included in her cart - the only thing that could have been for her - and put it back, then carefully selected each dollar bill from her old-fashioned snap coin-purse to pay for her children's things, and smiled at her daughter and said 'Ahora tienes un vestido para manana!" (Now you have a dress for tomorrow!)

Happy Mother's Day to her.

That older lady in the grocery store, who stopped to smile at me and chat for a few moments, who does not have any children and told me sweetly she is a mother to two pets who've promised to be extra kind to her tomorrow, whose caregiver sends her (every year, she told me) Mother's Day cards signed by her pets.

Happy Mother's Day to her.

The woman whose got three children, a dog, a house, and a husband, who just took on a new job, one she didn't much want but one she knows will get her back in the game even if on the fringe, whose been wanting a job for a while, but now that it's real is probably spending a lot of time second-guessing the wisdom of turning her life upside down and worrying over how it will affect her kids, because every thought you have once you have children is accompanied with a thought about your kids.

Happy Mother's Day to her.

That woman who is adjusting to a life change that was unplanned, unwanted, and unfortunate, whose Mother's Day must naturally include moments of sadness in the years just after her mom has passed, but who senses her mother's hand in healing as certain turns, equally unplanned, are just what is needed, and who accepts that help with bittersweet.

Happy Mother's Day to her.

To those women who are graduating, and teaching, and driving, and carrying, and sweating, and barely holding on - and still find time to love someone - child or otherwise - and provide the nurture that's needed for the day.

Happy Mother's Day to them.

And that woman, harried and earnest, who's got too much on her plate because she just can't say 'no', who's making mistakes and dropping balls and forgetting to dot all kinds of i's, who is only home in fifteen minute increments lately, it seems, and then only to be mad about messes and to make lists of chores which, when done, she never fully appreciates, who infinitely - and more - loves her children with all her might, and yelled today and swore at them when, really, what she meant to say is "I couldn't live without you, wouldn't want to, wouldn't be anything if I didn't have you."

Happy Mother's Day to me.


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

It's Not What You Think

I'm going to tell you a little something about racism and discrimination. It's not what you think.

Today, I received a message from a prospective client. I'd been providing her with market updates and options for rental/sale sporadically for over two years, as she worked through a difficult separation from her partner. When asked whether my husband and I might be good candidates for selling their joint home, this prospective client informed me via email that her partner said,


“English is their second language and they have yet to sell the property at _____.” She told me not to take it personally.

Three years ago I was taking my oldest daughter to prospective high schools, jumping through absurd hoops, and fussing over every letter in pages-deep applications. We arrived at one 'prestigious' program for a scheduled interview and were directed to a waiting room. There were two other families waiting, too. When the interviewer came into the room and called "Lucia? Lucia Rodriguez?" she looked directly at the two brown girls with black hair, seated next to their parents.

My daughter stood and walked to the door and the woman reacted with a scowl, "Did I call you?"

To which my fair, green-eyed daughter with blonde hair responded, "Yes. I am Lucia Rodriguez."

Nearly ten years ago we were selling a two-flat in a comfortable, middle-class neighborhood. We had rehabbed it top-to-bottom, and at the height of the market, the list price was over $600000.  My husband greeted the gentleman who arrived for a showing warmly, with a handshake, and thanked him for coming. We toured him through the property, chatting, and discussing potential rents. 

When he was leaving, the man slapped my husband on the back and said, "You did a good job here, Amigo. Where are you from?"

"Chicago," my husband told him, pointedly. "You?"

Don't think you know if you don't know. These are three examples of burns every member of my family has endured, leaving scars that build over a lifetime and that do not heal no matter how one tries to apply reason and faith and patience. 

I haven't been drawn into a street to throw rocks at anyone and I don't know that I ever would. I don't and won't condone that behavior. But I have a tiny bit of understanding. I am angry, and hurt, and damaged. And being told to wait for change doesn't make me feel better. 

It's true. English is my second language. So I can kick ass in two languages. Be careful what you say. It's not what you think.

Monday, April 27, 2015

How Good It Is

Seventeen. ((Sigh)) You are in these moments that, later, will comprise some of the greatest of your memories.  Make sure you enjoy as much as you can; don't rush. Even now, you know how good it is. Let the worry have another day. As we all do, by our own choosing, our missteps too, and our persistence toward our truer selves, we all become who we are intended to be. Know only that whoever you are and in whatever ways you will change the world (yes, you will) there will be some things that never change. And that is good. I love you, love you, and wish you happiest of birthdays.