Category Archives: relationships

No dogs with tutus

No dogs with tutus, but
madris shorts and sleeveless plaids
are okay.
Anything black, just like dad,
and pink is okay, too.
Just no dogs with
tutus.

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Play

Brothers on the mountain
Grey and blue play shivers
At dusk, to get it out before
Curfew and the scolding
Of the moon

Sisters in the field,
Green and gold play tremors
At dawn, tiring themselves before
Breakfast and the swaddling
Of the sun

Lovers under the waves,
Pink and red play tangles
At midnight, grooming one another after
Mass and the awakening
Of the tide


GPS

We loaded the car at 8:30 and headed toward the valley.  We formed a mini caravan of two cars, driving down state highways, me in front trying to time the lights so I wouldn’t lose my parents behind me.  My two were in the backseat, my daughter playing the roll of emcee for MadLibs. 

We rolled into the small Shenandoah town around 11:15.  Driving down the narrow cemetery paths, my father, now in front, stopped and stepped out.  Dad helped Mom out, who walks with the help of a cane. 

My kids quickly found the stone indicating where my grandfather and grandmother are burried.  They never knew them, having passed well before I was married.  I never knew my grandfather, and my grandmother was a caricature of someone from my childhood.  Here, my mom began to recall, aloud, bits of her own childhood, and the relationships between the names on the various markers.

A cousin arrived, one who lives nearby. Her father was my mom’s brother, and she was here to bury some of his ashes next to his parents.  A small, square hole had been prepared.  Polite and fun conversation returned to relationships and memories.  This church and that cabin.

My great grandmother was born in a cabin that is now maintained by the PATC and rented to vacationers.  This mountain and that road all had names that were shared by branches on my family tree.

We drove about ten miles up the road, where we found my great grandparents graves in a small churchyard.  Casual conversations with a few people coming from the service turned into a half hour of connections and hazy memories.

My kids were getting antsy, and so was I.  After our goodbyes, my parents left on their return to the midwest.  I drove my kids to show them a piece of land I had been interested in buying.  After a long winding ascent up a gravel road, we found the property, which was as I had remembered: more like the side of a mountain than a residential site, a steep and tree covered 5 acre plot: beautiful, but not able to be built on, even for a small cabin. 

We went to the nearby town and found a little river rafting outfit, and spent the next hour floating and laughing our way down the river.

On the way home, after ice cream and drying off, we took a scenic route through the hills.  We saw a few deer, some goat farms, and Cooter’s Dukes of Hazard annual festival.  There must have been 300 orange cars parked there.  

Arriving home, we were exhausted and happy.  Hot dogs on the grill and then to bed, quickly snoozing before the sun had fully set.


Daughter

She laughs and we make up songs along with the radio “fresh hits”, usually about the dog or some other silliness.    She’s clever, almost as clever as her dad at finding a dumb rhyme to work in the words “Zeus” or “poop”.

She’s trying to make me laugh, and that is the whole point.  She says, “I love you, Daddy” three or four times during an hour long trip.

She’s tougher than she used to be, able to change her mood from self-pity to resolve by refocusing and moving onto the next thing. She’s way more adaptive.

She’s so much like me. She’s nutty creative. She’s a cuddler.

She is on the cusp of change, and I see her genuinely facing it.


Easy Crazy

I will plant myself at the end of my driveway.

Like an old friend, the chatter of a suburban world just past bedtime will hold me in conversation, like it had when I whispered, knowing my kids were dozing just above the garage, two in the same bed, there because the other one was.

My crazy will flutter under the beam of the lamp, dissolve into an old comfort.  This spot, where I pulled my knees up inside my arms, believing that newness in the world was an old letter finally finding its way to my home, will be different.  My crazy will attach itself to the moths and crickets dancing outside of me.

Thoughts will be of a friend whom I will soon visit, and what I will say.  No wisdom to impart, just a punched ticket and a lot of miles. He’s five years behind, and has no idea what the end of a driveway brings.

Thoughts of someone else.  Easy thoughts.

I will watch for shooting stars and feel at ease with my crazy.  The planning, the parting, and simpler things, like smiles and painting and dancing, will come easier here.  Being with me comes easier.  Sleep comes easier.

And I will wait for my crazy to return in a fox’s whine or the hum of the freeway.  I will wrap it up in humid summer air and see it to bed.


It Just Doesn’t Matter

Accepting and striving counterpoised. It all reminds me of Tripper’s speech, in the movie Meatballs…

That’s just the attitude we don’t need. Sure, Mohawk has beaten us twelve years in a row. Sure, they’re terrific athletes. They’ve got the best equipment that money can buy. Hell, every team they’re sending over here has their own personal masseuse, not masseur, masseuse. But it doesn’t matter. Do you know that every Mohawk competitor has an electrocardiogram, blood and urine tests every 48 hours to see if there’s any change in his physical condition? Do you know that they use the most sophisticated training methods from the Soviet Union, East and West Germany, and the newest Olympic power Trinidad-Tobago? But it doesn’t matter. It just doesn’t matter. IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER. I tell you, IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER! IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER! IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER!

And even, and even if we win, if we win, HAH! Even if we win! Even if we play so far over our heads that our noses bleed for a week to ten days. Even if God in Heaven above comes down and points his hand at our side of the field. Even if every man, woman and child held hands together and prayed for us to win, it just wouldn’t matter, because all the really good looking girls would still go out with the guys from Mohawk cause they’ve got all the money! It just doesn’t matter if we win or we lose. IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER!

It doesn’t matter…at least, the thing we were all supposed to want. This is not nihilism, but a rejection of some external definition of winning and losing in favor of some other acceptance. 

Detractors will appear. Critics and well meaning sages may offer unsolicited comment.

Settling? Perhaps. So what? 

I know what does matter to me most of the time, and it is different than it used to be.


Son

He’s getting older and I am getting old.  He doesn’t want to talk so much these days, and I want too much to talk with him.  He is fine, even when he is not, and this we have in common.

He is a man in ways he may not recognize. He is young, and he has the benefit of choices, a terribly scary burden. He is excited to make them his. 

He is my son, and he is tied to my life. He is his own, not yet on his own.


Coach

Even my son called me “Coach” when we were on the field.  I suppose it was easier for both of us.  I could correct, teach, and praise with the roles defined and accepted. He could play, develop, and be part of the team. Player and Coach.  We were on the same team, but with clearly different responsibilities. 

I was still Dad on the way to the game and the ride home.  Talking about video games, the weekend plans, and school.

Coaching is now over for me in the sense it was for tee-ball, baseball, soccer, wrestling, basketball, lacrosse, and football.  My office at home is decorated by plaques and photos, signed by my players and fellow coaches.  With my kids moving into upper school, the rec league years are in the past. And I did not miss out of them.  I am thankful.

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Just Right Words

Words. Too many. Where were the words, the right ones, when they were being called back to the yard? Hiding in the treetops or under the foundation walls?

It was quicker to swallow the words that came, but not easier, and assuredly not satisfying. Or empty them out over everything.

They were knives to slice and stab; spoons to dig, overturn, and mix. So much cutlery, clanging.

Except … sometimes.

Sometimes chiming.
Sometimes singing.

Sometimes they were right for a moment when the right words were needed. Unrehearsed, freed expressions finding escape from webs.

In those times, the right words held power to heal, to explore.

And when the words left, so did their power, only much more slowly and a few laps behind.  They now linger at the edges, but as tired memories, lucky and leaden both. The rants, arguments, and rehashings are now reduced to what they always were: mere distractions from what was and is real.

But the words, their potential…oh. And, I have the luxury of keeping the ones I need, dare say, want.

The right words still taste of sweet poetry and play melodies in my ears, occasionally harmonies; these words I deserve to keep dear, even though that is the only choice available.


Sustainable

Truth is that life is struggle.

Accepting that, dropping the frustration at inconsistency and the search for righteousness, makes way for applying considerable skill and resources to the short view goals and the long term plan.

Each circle emanating from me, from my very self outward to the world I know, gets a part of me today. Today, some events in the greater circles will get special attention. Excitement and organization is building around an idea, my idea.

Today, I’m planting more seeds in one field as I reap the harvest from another.

I am the earth I tend, and it is high time to get back to work.