Sunday, May 23, 2010

This Being Alive

Around four-ish, I was in the backyard stretched out on a lounge chair, paging through the New York Times Travel Magazine, a dangerous past time. I felt cranky and restless; Why didn't I travel through Europe when I was in college? Why haven't I been to Paris? And Barcelona, or Tuscany?

Pennsylvania is not romantic, I thought. I need spice in my life, dark-eyed waiters bringing me red wine, speaking to me in a foreign tongue. Kissing me in a foreign tongue?

Tall, leafy trees rustled above my head while the sun dipped in and out of dark clouds. One minute I was hot, the next cold.

Claire came out for a bit and read chapter one of Missing May, a novel about love, loss, and finding family. I closed my eyes and listened while she read. I wanted to cry.

Birds squawked.

After the story we looked at a magazine filled with models wearing prom dresses. Most of the models had sultry, angry looks. Claire noted how most of the dresses were designed to push and squeeze the models' breasts up. The guys wore rock-star shirts under their blazers. They had sultry, angry looks too.

"I'd just like my date to wear a regular, normal tuxedo,"Claire said.
I nodded, eyes closed, sun on face.
"That sounds like a good idea, Claire."

Claire went in, Dad came out. He started telling stories about his first home as a child on Plumstead Ave. and his best friend Brud Reed and how Brud's mother, Marjorie, always invited the kids in for hot chocolate in the winter.

"My mother didn't care for that kind of thing," he said.

He talked about Uncle John Moore; how he was a bank teller. And Aunt Bess, who sold shoes most of her life.

Michael came out.
"I wish we could cut the grass," I said, thinking the mower was still jinxed.
"We can, honey," he said, hopping up.

He started up the lawn mower and began cutting the grass. I leaned back and listened to Dad tell more stories about aunts and uncles, all gone now. When I looked up, I saw Claire inside at the kitchen table, Owen, our cat, sleeping on the window seat. And the yard, all smoothed out.

And Michael riding by on the John Deere, no hands, smiling.


  1. Bets, I always love your blog entries, but I must say that I really enjoyed this one in particular. This being alive involves so many things going on at the same time, and you know me, your unfocused friend - I go from one thing to another, and it all makes sense to me. I love it - sitting outside, feeling restless to travel somewhere, anywhere...feeling hot, then cold...listening to a story & wanting to cry...noticing how the models all look like they're pissed off at the world (I comment on this all the time!)...hearing Dad's stories of hot chocolate in the winter...and the no-longer-jinxed lawnmower. All in one! This is real. Thanks for sharing your Sunday with us readers!

  2. Thanks so much for checking in & reading!
    Oh my! It's quite a mix, isn't it?
    I'm stopping at the post office to get applications for passports...
    Step one.
    xo bets