Holding on to the light

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It is the eve,

not of the approaching holiday,

but of the shortest day of the year.

Darkness will swallow this landscape tomorrow,

giving us the fewest number of hours

to enjoy this beautiful sky

and create a seemingly everlasting night.

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 But through that darkness,

the light will grow strong once again.

The days will battle the nights

and the warmth will conquer the cold.

The blue of the sky will be deep

and the setting sun will linger,

allowing us to once again hold onto the light.

Under the night sky

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Dusk descends.  The deep blue of the night sky edges its way into darkness and evening begins to fall.  Stars mottle the nightscape and any heat the earth consumed during the day is slowly released back into that vast open space.  The long spindly finger of Old Man Winter begins to caress the world and the cold enters everything it touches. Trees snap and groan in their defiance of the stinging night air and animals have long since retired to the protection of their dens.

winter sunset

The smallest portion of exposed skin is ambushed by the cold and is threatened with the repeated gnawing jaws of frost bite.  It hurts to breathe, but the beauty of that cold winter night is unparalleled.  The sky seems anxious to introduce every star in the milky way without the intrusion of clouds and the silence is deafening.

This is my winter.  These are the nights that I am drawn into the cold for the sole purpose of watching the stars put the sun to bed for another night.  I tilt my head back to take in the constellations and wait for a shooting star.  This is life in my Northern town.  This is the pastel portrait that saturates my brain before I go to sleep.

The perception of time

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“Time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted.” ~ John Lennon

Time is a less of a constant than it is an illusion.  Although it seems linear, it can deviate from its path if  you are not keeping track of it at every turn.  Time can occasionally seem like it is a figment of your imagination.

clock

Yesterday, I experienced time on a whole new level.  My hour-long drive seemed to take a week and the four hours I spent catching up with an old friend was gone in the blink of an eye.  And although twenty-five years have passed since we last saw each other, the ease of the conversation made that twenty-five years feel like only one year.

Time has a unique way of showing us what really matters.  The faster those seconds tick by, the more you want to make that clock stop and hang onto those moments.  Because time really is measured by those moments and not by a clock.  You will never remember the counting of those seconds, but you will remember the company you shared and the laughs you had as those seconds unknowingly ticked by.

I can only hope that the time that passes between now and our next visit doesn’t feel like another twenty-five years.

 

Oprah has a name for this…….

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Not everyone has the opportunity to experience a full-circle moment in their lifetime – that epic twist of fate when something you had spent so much time dwelling on in your past creeps up on you in your present.  I had one of those moments today.

I am a product of the 80’s.  I was never a slave to the hair and poorly-chosen fashion (most days) but the movies of the 80’s live on in my current reality.  I can recite those movies verbatim and I recognize a bit of myself in each one of those iconic movie roles that I watched as an impressionable teenager.  And though there were fleeting moments of seeing similarities between the starring roles and my teenage psyche, I always felt a deeper connection with the weirdos, the poets, the dreamers.

It was this truth that bonded me to Andrew McCarthy’s character, Kevin,  in St. Elmo’s Fire in 1985.  Though his role was meant to be a bit of an outcast, Kevin was the definition of how I saw myself in those days.  He was a creative soul, misunderstood on many occasions but he held true to himself.  Unlike me at the time, Kevin knew who he was and, although he struggled, in the end he wasn’t afraid to be that person.  He wanted to describe what he saw in a myriad of ways.  He wanted to describe life by every little detail and not just watch it go by.  He wanted to write.  And he was going to see his way to his future on his battered Underwood typewriter.

That line stuck with me.  It haunted me, actually, and I have seen that written line in a loop in my head for many years.  Like a headlining banner at a movie theatre,  the words “battered Underwood typewriter” scrolled incessantly around my brain.  The image of that machine, the clacking of the keys, kept me bonded to that dream of writing.  And now that image has become a reality.

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In a moment of complete serendipity, I have been gifted an Underwood typewriter.   I have been given a battered, plunking, beautiful, historic typewriter that could write chapters of its own given the chance.  Its stories are burned into the keys.  Its ribbon holds a wealth of ideas and the rest is not history, but my story.  It is up to me to cajole the remainder of the tales from this relic.  This battered Underwood typewriter could be the one thing that reminds me that I can write and, just maybe, will help me get to the next stage of my writing success.

 

The long journey of picking up the pieces

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“All the King’s horses and all the King’s men, couldn’t put Humpty together again.” ~ James William Elliott

I would never describe myself as a wallflower.  I’m very willing to stand out, stand up for myself and take charge of my life.  If something is not working I will give one hundred percent to fix it but, if it is beyond repair, I’m not afraid to walk away knowing I gave it everything I could.  Thus was the lesson it took me half a lifetime to learn and thus was the story of my marriage.

Hindsight is a giant pain in the ass.  I don’t care if it is 20/20, it still sucks.  If I were completely honest with myself, I should have known better before I made that march down the aisle, with my brother on one arm and my mom on the other.  As I stood waiting for the music to start, I looked at him waiting for me at the other end of that runway to my future.  I really looked at him.  And for the first time I could see how truly broken he was.  I knew in my gut that this would not be my forever but I wanted so badly to fix him.  I wanted to be enough to make him want to change but his demons were bigger and far more powerful than any strength or love I could throw at them and I finally had to admit defeat.  It was time for that broken duck to find a new pond and keep himself afloat without using me as his water-wings.

After he left something happened that I had not anticipated – I immediately found my joy again.  The saddest part of that statement is that I didn’t even know it was gone.  I was so lost in the spiral of break and repair, I didn’t have time to notice that I was unhappy.   It’s sad to say that it took him leaving for me to be myself again but that is exactly what happened.  When that reality hit me, I cried.  I cried for the pieces of myself that I lost through the process and I cried because I had just given myself permission to get those pieces back and put myself  together again, to become whole.  If I performed an autopsy on the relationship, perhaps I would realize that the cause of death was that I was the one that had become broken.  Somewhere, in what should have been wedded bliss, a small crack had pierced my armor and my happiness began to seep through that fissure. I was like a tire with a slow leak that you don’t notice until it is completely flat.

love puzzle

(image credit: vi.sualize.us)

A very wise fellow blogger once said something that has always stuck with me “the steeper the climb, the better the view”. (Thanks Ned)  I began my journey back to happiness by taking that first giant step and, although my gait was awkward in the beginning, I continued to put one foot in front of the other to reach that summit.  The pieces of myself that I had lost were scattered along the path to the top and I collected them as I endured the uphill battle.

During the climb I paid money for my property (again) but that money also paid for my peace of mind, my dog’s happiness and well-being and the key to the door that had kept me locked away from my true happiness.

Being on the pinnacle of that mountain I am now able to clearly see the type of love that I want, the type of love that I deserve.  Never again will I give away the pieces of myself to try to fit them into someone else’s unfinished puzzle.  After several years of restoring my sense of self, I am stronger than all the King’s horses and all the King’s men.  I was able to put myself together again.

Redefining traditions and stocking up on tissues

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With Christmas rapidly approaching, my resolve to not spend the entire holiday season in tears is very strong.  It is going to be tough this holiday season without my mom but we have been doing our best to redefine some of the traditions we have known for so long and create some new ones.  I had carefully delineated a plan of not leaving the house, but that seems to be going off the rails so I’ll have to do my best to keep a brave face.  I’m sure a few tears will leak from the corners of my eyes and stain my cheeks but that is to be expected and will certainly be understood by all who see those tears fall.

Holidays are about tradition – whether adhering to old ones or beginning new ones.  This year will be a bit of both.  My mom’s famous Grasshopper Pie will surreptitiously make its way to the table after our feast of turkey and our best attempt at her stuffing.  But because of work schedules, our Christmas food bonanza and subsequent turkey coma will be on the 23rd so that will be the first of the changes for this year.

grasshopper pie

My brother and his family will attend the church service on Christmas Eve (I don’t think I can get through that step this year) and we will meet afterwards to show the newly purchased or creatively engineered ornaments to adorn the Charlie Brown Christmas tree my mom loved so much.  We will tell stories of why the ornament reminds us of her and take turns sharing our memories.  I may even sneak into town and hide in a quiet driveway somewhere to watch Santa Claus go by on the fire truck.  I don’t think I can let that tradition go and I know a few tears will find themselves frozen to my face before the truck has passed.

The most important thing to focus on, especially this year, is that Christmas is about family.  My brother, sister-in-law, my nephews and the family and friends scattered around the globe will always be the presence and the only presents I want during the holidays.  And somewhere during the festivities, I know that my mom and dad’s eyes will be looking at us through those twinkling lights and sharing those moments with us.  That is a tradition that will never end.

 

 

 

Knock, knock. Who’s there? It’s your past.

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knocking

When people think of their past knocking on their door, occasionally there is a nagging worry of something coming back to haunt you and uncovering long-buried skeletons.  This was not the case for me.

I was sitting at my desk yesterday when a short email popped up in the work inbox from a name I have not seen in twenty-five years.  “Hey, it’s Marty from the 80’s…..write me back if this is you.”  The most astonishing thing about getting this email is that I had been searching for Marty online for the past two months, to no avail.  He seemed to be off the grid.

My brother and I spent much of our younger lives hanging out with the same group of people.  It was a great way to grow up and it made us very good friends as well.   Marty was one of those guys that was very tight in our circle of friends.  My parents had welcomed him as one of their own and we created many great memories back in the good old days.

I stared at the email and read it over and over again.  We exchanged a few brief messages and I knew I had to hear his voice.  As soon as we started chatting, it was like I had stepped into a time machine.  I could picture the feathered black hair and was immediately reminded of the song he loved to roller skate to (it was the 80’s after all) and that song now finds itself among the collection of tunes in my iPhone.

It was a truly serendipitous moment.  After a very long hiatus, we have Marty back in our circle of friends and many years ahead to catch up on all of the ones we missed.

(image credit)