Historical Significance

The stale air hits me like a slap to the face: soupy, syrupy, strained like carrots in a baby food jar. I stand in the opening, both ready to step out onto the smoking sidewalk and to scramble back into the air conditioned solace of the building, stark choices on a stark day. The crowd makes the choice for me, however, shoving me unceremoniously out into the reality of a heatwave I wish had waited a week to arrive. I stumble into the blazing sunshine, suddenly sweaty with a perspiration that springs to my forehead, and cheeks, and everywhere else all at once. 

“Is that the Liberty Bell?” Alexa asks, inquisitive as always. She doesn’t complain about the heat because I’m not sure she feels it. Oh, the joys of youth.

“That’s the building that houses the Liberty Bell, yes,” I tell her, nodding my head in the general direction of the structure itself, but she has stopped listening. Because, while this is a part of history, it’s not a part of her personal one, so to her it’s just one more thing she has to look at, that someone told her was special.

“And that’s Independence Hall,” I continue, pointing far out across the expanse of grass that separates the Liberty Bell building from the old Pennsylvania State House.

“How come the Liberty Bell isn’t up in Independence Hall?” asks Alexa, who appears to be listening to me again. I can never tell, except for when she opens her mouth.

“Why, because it’s cracked,” I say, but she doesn’t laugh, though I think my joke is funny. “They can’t very well ring a cracked bell,” I add. She still doesn’t laugh. Continue reading “Historical Significance”

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It’s Sunday Morning.

It’s Sunday morning. I should be watching Friends for the umpteenth time and drinking coffee (dark roast). I should be curled up in a blanket, on a couch somewhere, taking sips and laughing. I should be daydreaming of weekends in the Caribbean, of trips to destinations unknown because I’ve seen them in a postcard somewhere. I should recall what postcards used to cost. I have no idea how much they are now.

I should be doing many things. After all, it is Sunday morning. But instead I am looking outside my study window, at the intermittent rain. If I am patient enough I can see it touch down in a puddle, which is how I know it’s still there. I’m sure if I open my window I would be able to breathe it in, the salty with the sweet, just like a confectioner’s shop.

I leave the window closed. It’s enough to imagine it, to remember it again, because I’ve been fooled before. I’ve been surprised by the smell of the rain, and I’m not in the mood for surprises this morning. Continue reading “It’s Sunday Morning.”

Smells Like Vanilla

“Struck brightly by the winter, when the snow falls thick and silent, I can only hear you breathing.” ~Matt Pond PA

I miss the smell of freshly fallen snow. When we were kids I used to dive into it, just lie there all clean, just waiting to get washed in white. It wasn’t about the snow angels, or about the snowmen, or even about catching snow on my tongue, even though I did all of those things. It was just about the symbiotic relationship. I fed off the snow, and it off me, as I carved out a spot in its purity for my incomplete self.

It didn’t matter that my coats were often ratty and full of holes. It made no difference that on my block the snow was mostly black instead of white, with car exhausts wreaking havoc almost before it had even landed. I would always find a patch on the postage stamp-sized front lawn and turn it into my utopia. I would lie there with my face turned sideways, my lips nearly blue, smelling that vanilla goodness. I closed my eyes and pretended it was heaven.

I closed my eyes and pretended it was heaven.

Sam

2018, In Memoriam

I imagine this is how the chaps and dames felt as the clock motored down to close out 1918, totally unsure of what awaited in 1919, but hopeful that it would be better than what they were leaving behind. As December bled into January of a new year, I imagine them dancing their dances, and drinking their last tastes of liquor before Prohibition would officially kick in during the coming year.

But it’s 100 years later, and what has changed? We are still watching the clock, albeit the small ones on our phones instead of Big Ben. We are still hopeful that next year will be better than this one we will be leaving behind. As another year in a “new” millennium gives way to the next, it’s easy to be complacent, to think that it’s just another day. But how many days are promised to us?

Time moves on, and as 2018 comes to a close, I’m reminded of it more than a little bit. I’m reminded of the precious nature of that time, and why we should savor it. So, as tradition holds, I’m looking back on the time I spent this year. Saying goodbye to the year that was.

  1. In 2018, I started my dream job. I had to pinch myself as the clock turned on the new year because the reality of it all was just so enormous. Not just for me, but for my family as well.
  2. In 2018, I wrote a novel, from start to finish. I am deep into the process of editing it, but just finishing the book was a monumental achievement, one that I can’t just dismiss as “something I do” anymore.
  3. In 2018, I traveled to Philadelphia thrice. It’s always wonderful to go back to the city of my birth, even though I haven’t lived there in over 20 years at this point. Seeing my mother, my sister, and my nephew is soothing to my soul.
  4. In 2018, I got to see my nephew graduate from college. It was a long, hard journey, but just watching him walk down that aisle and receive his diploma was a beautiful sight.
  5. In 2018, I joined a flash fiction group. I’ve been a writer for a long time, and I’ve been in several writer groups over the years, but they were all short-lived. This one seems more permanent, and I enjoy it very much.
  6. In 2018, I celebrated my 15th wedding anniversary. If you had told me 20 years ago that I would be celebrating my 15th wedding anniversary this year I would have called you bonkers, but it all seems so natural at this point.
  7. In 2018, I bought a new vehicle. After having the Santa Fe for nearly 10 years, it was time.
  8. In 2018, I revived a friendship. You know how it feels when someone disappears from your life? I had finally made my peace with it, but my friend returned from out of nowhere and I am hopeful we can regain what we had as we roll into the new year.
  9. In 2018, I met one of my biggest influences. Lyrics have always been a big part of my life. I’ve always felt close to those who can write their words down and set them to melody, especially when I personally feel those words. Meeting Marc Cohn was one of the highlights of my life so far.
  10. In 2018, I attended three concerts. Going to see Live (with the Counting Crows), the Gin Blossoms, and Marc Cohn was a lovely trifecta of shows that crossed a few things off my shallow pail list (I have no buckets).
  11. In 2018, I celebrated the Eagles winning the Super Bowl. This was one thing I had always hoped and wished for, but as a lifelong Eagles fan I could never truly envision it… until it happened. Foles forever.

I will honestly miss 2018, but I’m so excited for what’s in store in 2019. It’s always fascinating to me when years end, because they’re never really ending. The seeds we’ve sown in 2018 will flower and bloom in 2019, and will create a whole new list of experiences that will carry us along. I look forward to the journey.

Sam

42.

Maybe I’m really 24. Maybe the past 18 years have all been a dream. If I wake up tomorrow and I have no trouble getting out of bed, I’ll know it was all a lie. I’ll know I’ve still got a sizable chunk of my life left to live. I can’t be middle-aged. That’s not a possibility.

Except it is. And I really am 42. “How do you feel?” someone asked me on my Facebook timeline this morning. I miss when it used to be a wall. But that was just me stalling because I honestly don’t know. Am I really 42? Have I really traversed over 4 decades of this thing called life? What do I have to show for it?

Well, I have a wonderful family. Check. My knees may creak more than they ever have before, but I’m not doing too much kneeling anyway, so I’m okay. My children are both into the double digits agewise, which makes too much sense for me to make sense of. When did that happen?

I shaved my head this morning. I needed to take the obligatory birthday selfie, and it turned into a photo shoot. First I had hair, then some hair, then no hair. Click click. But my phone doesn’t make a clicking noise unless I figure out how to make that happen. I realized halfway through that I didn’t care to find out.

What else? I have a job that I love. I’ve had it for a year now, and I still pinch myself every morning before I head in. But I don’t have to work today. Continue reading “42.”

In the Beginning…

“The farmer looks to his field for sustenance, even when it is a lean harvest. Because he is a farmer, and that is all he has.” ~Theodicus

I wrote my first short story when I was in sixth grade, well, the summer after sixth grade, while everybody else was at the YMCA learning how to swim. I spent that summer in my mom’s office, for the most part. These were the days when kids could do that without repercussions from employers. My sister and I would hang out in the back offices, where no one seemed to have worked for a decade, drawing, playing tag, and occasionally getting into other sorts of mischief.

We also took these classes through the university (where my mom worked). These were for kids who were in middle school, to keep up their skills. I absolutely loved most of them, one of which was a creative writing class. Sure, I had written flashes of fiction prior to that summer, but nothing cohesive, nothing that hung together nicely enough to call it a real story. So I was excited to put it all together. I had an inkling that writing would mean more to me and my future, even back then.

That’s when I found out how hard it was to write, to put words together that made some kind of sense in a complete story with a beginning, a middle, and an end. The first day of class our teacher came in and said, “Write a story.” He told us we had the whole 50 minutes to write on anything we wanted. I spent the first 20 coming up with something I thought might be good enough for him. Continue reading “In the Beginning…”

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