20 Lines A Day

A Community of Writers and Photographers


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Thirty-Nine

Today I turn 39.  My last year in my 30’s.  If I had my nearly 4 decades to do over, I’d stay home with my kids, which is a total contradiction because I hated staying at home when they were very young.  Now I’d do it all over again and for longer, just for more time with them.  I’d go to graduate school the first time I had the chance.  I’d go back to that first relationship in high school, and I’d say no to that boy.  Yes, it would change the course of my life, but I’d avoid the pain of losing a friend.  I’d make and keep better connections with friends of my parents and my extended family.  I had no idea how much I would wish I knew them better as I got older.   I’d demand more of myself.  The status quo and self pity would never be in my coping toolbox.  I’d learn about self care early on and make it a priority.  I’d stop myself from picking up terrible interpersonal habits that negatively affect my relationships.  My poor husband really has to deal with a lot of baggage.  I’d let people get close to me, I’d be more vulnerable.  And I’d expect it of other people too.  I’d take back every mean word I ever said to my sister.  Maybe we were just kids, but I’m sure it affected her, and she’s the only sibling I have.  I’d set better boundaries for myself, and I wouldn’t be afraid to say no.  I wouldn’t find a sick comfort in relationships that make me feel bad.  I’d talk to my mom about her illness, I’d share my fears about living a life without her.  I’d snuggle up next to her that night when she asked me to.   I’d understand that in order to feel great joy and compassion, you also, at times, have to allow yourself to feel great pain.  I’d never stop writing.  Or dancing.  Or letting the world know how smart I am.  Or crying.  I’d cry a LOT more.  And I’d pray more.  I’d figure out early what makes me passionate and pursue that.  Or not stop pursuing that.  I’d have a job that I love, that fulfills me, that I can’t wait to get up and do every morning.  I’d force my foot into that Cinderella slipper and never let it fall off my foot.

“Make the most of your regrets; never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it till it comes to have a separate and integral interest. To regret deeply is to live afresh.”

~Henry David Thoreau

Happy 39.  It’s going to be a great year.

©SpiritLed 2014


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Birth Day

In a parlor plain and
solemn, a small crowd huddles
Tomorrow I celebrate
one more year, today
I attend my friend’s
final life celebration

Funerals produce in me
a subtle sense of asphyxiation
and I sit in the quiet chapel,
in this room full of acquaintances
and strangers, barely breathing
for fear I might explode
into unending tears

But the moon rising in my heart
speaks of fullness and cycles,
and creates in me a curious juxtaposition

and a shift happens, a veil lifts to reveal
awareness that death is life anew,
that as one celebrates birth
another now possesses a freedom
that earthly souls can only imagine

Rest in Peace, my friend,
and also my yesterday self,
for today we both start anew
and tomorrow as well,

fulfilled in the knowledge
that neither death nor birth
signify an end or a beginning

but rather each day is a new path
in our personal eternity,
one more step in the journey
of Divine life

© SpiritLed 2014


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A ‘Super’ Welcome

Well this is my first post on 20 Lines a Day.  I predominantly write poetry on my personal blog, so I thought that I would use 20 Lines to inspire me towards my creative writing purposes, and I also noted that there are few short stories told on here.  I am in the process of writing a fantasy story, although procrastination is probably a better description of my writing at the moment.  So I thought I would share with you a little about myself today in about 20 lines, a true story about myself from a ‘few’ years back …

The day was warm, and the sun shone brightly.  The clouds hid from my eyes, it was another beautiful summer day in our nation’s capital, Canberra.  The brightness of the day was not only because of the weather, for today was one of my best friend’s 21st birthday party, Jordan.  I had spent the summer in the Australian Alps, far from friends and family.  Busy working towards my future and understanding the real world from my studies.  I had not seen many of my friends over the summer, except for a brief visit from Jordy and a few others when we had spent a warm day in the Alp’s sunshine and indulged in the cool waters of a farmer’s water hole.

For the party I was joining Jordy’s girlfriend, Kelly, in dressing up in complementary costumes for the party.  I was already partly dressed in my blue tights and raising the S of the Superman costume upon my chest.  Fully dressed in the outfit of Superman I was then joined by Supergirl.  Kelly looked a damn sight better than me in tights.  We had planned this many weeks ago, with the irony being that the party had no theme and was not a fancy dress.  We were to be the only two in costume at the party, as our friend Jordy was the usual one to be a little outrageous.  So it was only fitting that we provided the flair and entertainment for his party.

Together we traveled to Jordan’s house, looking very ‘super’ in our outfits.  We knocked on the door to be greeted by Jordan’s mother, who was surprised to see us dressed up.  Although not really shocked that we had done something different.  Jordy then walked into the room and saw us.  He laughed, his hands went to his mouth as he burst with laughter.  “I love it, you guys look awesome.  I don’t know what to say … I am speechless.”  Laughter was contagious and we couldn’t help but laugh with Jordy.  Without any gift we already have given him the best present he would receive tonight.  Memories, laughter and friendship.

The night had many memories, and laughter was had by all.  Many times at our expense, but I am not one to take myself too serious.  The joy of making others happy was worth the cost of being the source of their laughter, including the bouncers I let “throw” Superman out of the club.  Although I did discover a major flaw with Superman’s outfit, other than drunks wanting me to “rescue” their friends from the police.  As during the night of celebrations, and journeying out to the town my wallet and Kelly’s purse were stolen because Superman, although as fast as a speeding bullet, had in his oversight forgotten to sew a pocket into his outfit.


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Birthday Wish

It’s the lonely old man’s birthday.

He remembers his 10th birthday, 60 years ago, when he celebrated it with friends, parents, and boxes of water guns.

He remembers his 30th birthday, 40 years ago, when he celebrated it with partners, mistresses and wads of cash.

He remembers his 50th birthday, 20 years ago, when he celebrated it with children, grandchildren and bottles of champagne.

Today he celebrates his 70th birthday with a wooden table, a wooden chair, and four empty walls.

His mind is of anticipation. A wooden box, a wooden dais, a small white floral wreath.

 

 

c Sorrows in a Serenade


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Remembering

My mother used to tell my brother and me that she’d played shortstop for the Brooklyn Dodgers. I never questioned that. You would have to have known her. She was so convincing. This became family lore, and eventually she told the story that she named me Maggie because “it has two Gs in it and they stand for gullible, gullible.

We had many a laugh over this throughout the years. When she was 64 and first became ill, she kept her sense of humor through the six years of her illness and dying. Her mind remained sharp.

She died at the too-young age of 70, and we carried out her wishes, to scatter her ashes at the beach. We did this on her November birthday which, that year, was Thanksgiving. I know I was putting it off. Finally our son-in-law said, “If you want to do this today we should get going because soon it will be dark.” So after our daughter, her new husband, our son and his girlfriend, my in-laws, and my husband and I had had our dinner, we headed out to the beach. I carried that black box in my mittened hands.

My stomach churned. I didn’t know what her remains would look like. Yes, I had that fear of the unknown. But when I opened it, it was all grey ash. That’s it. I was wearing a purple down jacket. I whooshed those ashes to the wind, and some of them got on my jacket. I loved that. And I felt good that we were doing as she desired.

Five months earlier, after the visitation at the funeral home, my brother, his wife, our children, and my husband and I stood in the parking lot with blue and green balloons. Blue and green were her favorite colors so there was no question as to what colors to get. Each balloon was on a long ribbon, and attached was a little white card. We decided we were going to write messages on those cards before releasing them heavenward.

Well, if you’ve read my writings you know that I often tend to be wordy, and I was trying mightily to write every possible significant thing I could think of on that little card. I was writing so small, and up the sides of the card. It was as if I couldn’t get it all said. Fortunately, my mom and I had said everything to each other while she was still alive.

Finally everyone was done. At the last minute I said, “Would anyone mind if we read what we wrote?”

And my brother said, “No. You go first.” He must have known that it would have been the longest. Of course he was right. Then the others read theirs. My brother read last. Its simplicity and poignancy touches me still:

Shortstop for the Brooklyn Dodgers.


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The Phone Call

The phone would have rung about 11:00 this morning.

“Happy Thanksgiving, honey.”

My mom. And she did it on Christmas, and Easter, and our birthdays, and our anniversary, always that call to begin the day.

It’s been 17 years since I’ve heard that phone call. It was her habit. Call the kids and wish them a happy ____________(whatever). Her voice, tuned to the emotional strings of the day, rang into the depths of me. I could depend on it. Like clockwork, as they say. No call this morning, no voice…

…except in my heart, where I will always hear it.


My Father’s Last Birthday

At the juncture

of life and almost-death

I saw him,

89 years, old,

surprised him on his birthday.

Balloons couldn’t cheer the room,

the gift bag too heavy

with its weight for what was to come.

We pretended cancer had not stabbed

him in the gut, but all around

the ghosts of Future leered.

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