Clip-Ons and Half-Smiles

My mom never took pictures of me on the first day of school. I think it’s because she realized I looked no different then than any other time in my life. Okay, maybe I had a cleaner, ironed shirt on, but we all knew it would be rumpled fifteen minutes into the school year. So, why front?

It’s like when we had school picture day. Sure, I wore a tie most of the time, and a sweater to cover up the fact of no tie at other times, but generally I had on a collared shirt. That was fancy back then (at least when I wasn’t in church). I only knew it was school picture day because the clip-on would be lying on my bed when I got out of the shower.

It was like Santa had placed it there.

Sometimes I wish they had clip-on ties for adults. Don’t tell me they have them. You will ruin my dream. It’s the dream that sustains me, after all, the illusion that they don’t exist. If you tell me they do, then I’ll have to subscribe to a new illusion. Like when I found out about the Tooth Fairy.

So, I would clip on that tie, adjust it to hide the fact it was a clip-on, and I’d smile for the man, or the woman, who stood behind the camera with a chipmunk grin. Continue reading “Clip-Ons and Half-Smiles”

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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”

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.”

Driving Sideways

Ever since the accident, I’ve been extra careful, especially when it snows. I can still feel the gravitational pull as my car slid across the ice, past a braking Honda Accord, and planted itself sideways in the ditch.

I’m sure my expression was one of shock. I kept thinking, “This isn’t really happening.” My brain had it on replay, the only phrase that made sense out of the chaotic wasteland that was my mind in those brief moments between driving down the road and being sideways in the ditch.

My mind still goes there every time it snows. I try not to drive by that spot, if I can help it, with the tree, and the house back a ways, and the ditch that I imagine still has the imprint of my Santa Fe in its depths. The car I slid past pulled over to the side of the road after I went into the ditch sideways, its driver scrambling out to assist me.

I am grateful for the kindness of strangers, always, but definitely then. I was in a state of shock. In my mind the whole accident was replaying in slow motion, over and over again. Continue reading “Driving Sideways”

Losing It Again

“I don’t want to repeat my innocence. I want the pleasure of losing it again.” ~F. Scott Fitzgerald

Memory is a fickle thing. It used to be my constant companion. People often asked me for clarification when anything involved a shared memory because they knew I would know what had really happened. It was a gift I guess I took for granted, that I lorded over others like Excalibur newly freed from the stone.

But unbeknownst to me while I was in the middle of that blessed time, memory was also fickle. I imagine it had begun curving away from me, its ends a bit frayed by time, without my even recognizing the shift. As time went on I started to lose fragments of my massive memory. I used to joke about it, back then.

“I guess that memory had to leave to make room for this one, right now,” I would tell people, but inside my brain this niggling doubt began inching its way in. Continue reading “Losing It Again”

Stocking H2O

“How could this Y2K be a problem in a country where we have Intel and Microsoft?” ~Al Gore

Sure, I had water stocked up. At last count there were 30 gallon-sized bottles edging out all other space on the kitchen floor. The apartment was small enough without the attention to detail that the possible looming emergency situation “required.” I argued that it wouldn’t be necessary, that, as the vice-president said, it wouldn’t be a problem, but I was one simple voice in the void.

What did I know anyway? What did anyone know?

I did know that I hadn’t worried about it at all from the moment the news outlets started talking about the horrendous possibilities.

“The Y2K problem is not caused by technical limitations. We simply forgot to think of the problem.” ~Hasso Plattner

That was the crux of the issue right there, at least as any ordinary citizen could understand it. These days it’s easy to say there are failsafes for all the failsafes, but back in the early days of computer technology it wasn’t even remotely the case. Scientists were lucky the systems were even working, they hadn’t considered how their coding could affect things all the way into the 21st Century. Continue reading “Stocking H2O”

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