Archive | June, 2013

Lessons From the Giants

24 Jun


Tenatively, I always ask permission. May I touch you great one? Will my hand hold enough thankfulness for the air you create?

Lessons I’ve learned from giants . . .

Be still.
Allow the wind to blow through you bringing forth wisdom.
Grow. From the core outward push layer upon layer of time into a protective mantle of beauty and strength.
Anchor your roots. Near the surface and at the edges but deepest at the core.
Let not many walk close beside you. And those who step lightly do least damage.
Breathe in the surrounding air and energy. Balance inner to outer by take and give….give and take.
Fear not fire.
Great ones scorch, never die. Cracking black bark marks time.
Leave seeds, bits of Self which through fire take to the earth
and grow
and speak
and love
under the sun
under a great white moon.

All Who Wander

17 Jun

Barbie Van

Row after shiny row of new vehicles bask like sunbathers in the hot Saturday afternoon glare. Red, blue, black, charcoal, champagne, green, windshields flash in the bright sunshine. I maneuver my Toyota Matrix down each black topped path, hoping to glimpse a blunt nosed front bearing the small circled emblem VW. I am searching for a most elusive machine. . . the VW Bus. I knew before my trek to the local dealership that I wouldn’t find a legitimate one; they aren’t made anymore and the microbus redux was canned after the prototype. But I thought maybe I’d find a van or some sort of something that might assuage this long held desire of mine for a home on wheels.

My passion for tiny places has evolved through several phases and began when I was quite young. Aside from various under table forts and cardboard doll palaces, The Barbie Country Camper came rolling my way one Christmas in orange, yellow and pink 70’s flash. I sewed little pillows and wove rugs from scrap yarn on cardboard looms for the back of it, decking the van out in hippie calico patchwork and color striped glory for Barb and her Malibu pals. That van had every convenience imaginable. And in my love for Scooby Doo, the Mystery Machine took my imagination on a magical ride to both fun and adventure. So naturally as an adult, secondary homes of the mobile kind were ever so appealing to me.

Vintage Airstreams, Scottie Trailers, and Gypsy Vardo’s held my rapt attention hour after online hour, the possibilities overwhelming and the choices like a Chinese menu. Trailer vs. Van vs. Truck. New or Old, Create it or Buy it. Every time I browsed, I returned to one machine….a VW bus. Prices for a renovated one? Astronomical. Knowledge to rebuild one from scratch? Non-Existent. Caught between desire and knowledge, I tucked the idea away into my wishful thinking box. That is, until I started wandering.

That shiny emblem would then appear in my mind along with the sound of a rattling 4 speed grind when I’d leave a venue an hour or so from home. How nice it would be to roll into my cushy bed in the bus in some safe parking lot till morning, Clar curled with me in our little mobile cubby. Then morning French press coffee and Granny’s cherry jam on toasted biscuits for the way home. I relished the dream of driving out onto an Outer Banks strand and opening that side door, rolling out the striped green awning and walking the glassy flat sand down to the foam edges of calling waves, bluegrass tunes calling me back to the light shining from my bus, my tiny home of only what I need, only what is important.

So when the salesman strode over, mirrored sunglasses reflecting my eager grin, I wasn’t really prepared for my dream to end quite so quickly.

“Hi there”, I say.

I point to the blue grey VW Van hidden around the corner of the building with the dealership’s name on the side.

“Where are more of those?”

“That’s not for sale.” He says flatly.

“Okay.” I think, be cheerful.

“Umm. . .I’m looking for a hippie van, a bus…the ultimate camper home on wheels, you know the Mystery Machine, Malibu Barbie Pop-top, Woodstock, So.Cal mow-sheen….”

I click my fingers. I blink. I wink. I smile my red head smile.

“You’re joking right?” he says crossing his arms.

“No”, I say slightly wilting in the late afternoon sun.

“VW doesn’t make vans anymore”, he says, like I’ve just asked which cars come with 8-track.

“They don’t?” I say incredulously.

I mean as wildly popular as the old ones are and as long a legacy as VW has and as many mountain man hipster bluegrass listening PBR drinking techno-hippies there are these days and …No? Not even a box shaped wagon?

“Gosh no”, he says. “The last one was canceled in 2012. Sorry.” He turns and moves toward the showroom, out of the tarmac heat.

Deflated, I feel the breeze blow the edges of my purple daisied sundress. The cars are whizzing blurs on the highway. The showroom door closes. Windshields shine in eye piercing white. Clean tires and shiny stickered sides. All so new. All so ordinary. Feeling a tad foolish, I turn and amble back to my soccer mom Matrix, ankle bells tinkling.

People don’t want to wander anymore. At least not far from a Super 8, I guess.

I look up to see a young couple exit a test drive of a fully tricked out burgundy 2013 Toureg. A cool 52K.

It’s the zombie apocalypse. I’m telling ya.

Summer Break

9 Jun

Today I head off to Hollins University to the Tinker Mountain Writer’s Workshop. I’m not really sure how the week will go, but my hope is that I will find a way to take all that I’ve written here and transform it. The writing has come to a point where a shift is needed. I’ve changed so much over the last seven months and while I love traveling and experiencing new things, I am feeling the need to go back to where I started, to the island and to Annie. One of my friends from Ocracoke texted me last night. He sent a sunset picture from the ferry. It was my confirmation that I need to revisit what I wrote on the island. Not just what’s here, but what is also in the originals. I hesitate to show those to strangers, but maybe parts of them might transform into something altogether different.

Ferry To Home

This last week has seemed to last forever. And a lot has shifted. I’m needing to find my feet again it seems and the best place to do that is next to Annie. I can’t go to Ocracoke right now, but in my mind, I’ll walk Back Road to the sandy corner where my friend waits for me. Paul and Newt went to see her about a month ago on their vacation. They left me a “time capsule” of sorts on her grave. I often wonder what I’ll find there and who I’ll be when I come to it. Zillie’s is on my mind these days…and the ducks and the fig trees budding. M’Lady is decked in green again, I’m sure, and the familiar smells of suntan lotion, sea breeze, and marsh grass hang heavily in the humid air.

It’s time again for me to strip my prose bare and then build it back into something else. I’m ready to see that time from a new point in the journey. Its a good place, right now. This week I can just be a writer again…nothing more. I’ll need to find the coffee shop on campus and return to the iPad.

When I return, I’m off to California. I haven’t even contemplated what I’m going to experience or how I’ll write about it. Posts might be pretty sporadic for the next few weeks, but my Instagram and Twitter will be busy, I’m sure.

So back to the island I go. . . in my memory.

Tomorrow’s Just Another Day

3 Jun

Thursday, May 27, I spent time with the Confederate “lads” at Old City Cemetery in Lynchburg, VA in honor of Memorial Day. That evening, I began this contemplation of Time with Marcus D. Wheeler, I Company, 35th Georgia Infantry. Upon being lead to his resting place, I lay fully down on the grass beside him and we spent some quality time enjoying the breeze, the trees, and the smell of old roses just beginning to wane.

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You left me standin’ there.
Like a tree growin’ all alone.
The wind just stripped me bare,
stripped me bare.
the past has come and gone.

The future’s far away.
Well now only lasts for one second,
one second.
Can you teach me ’bout tomorrow and all the pain and sorrow,
runnin’ free?
‘Cause tomorrow’s just another day,

and I don’t believe in Time.

It was bound to happen sooner or later. Some point in this journey, I would need to stop for a minute and rest. Truth be told, the Roosterwalk experience exhausted me and the ensuing week of academic wrap up toward commencement exercises deposited me in half haze consciousness into a ceremony where I was counting each graduate down to the last. I prayed the video cameras would not find my enormous jaw popping yawns before I could make it down front for last hugs and congratulations. Afterward, a “point and shoot” car ride home toward the bed was all that could be managed after dinner, a bed I spent ten hours in Saturday and Sunday nights. Aside from a graduation party for my friend’s children, the only manageable activity for the weekend and today was sleep and tackling an enormous amount of yard work before I head to a week long writer’s workshop at Hollins University and then, California. It hasn’t even really occurred to me that in two weeks I will have to board a plane, something that required heavy medication on my last flying adventure to Ireland. But I’m not thinking about it, because I am…tired.

All events planned for the weekend, I cancelled. I needed rest and honestly, time to allow myself to feel sad. One of my best friends has decided to move out of state. That announcement, along with several other resignations at work had me reflective and riding the wave of change. I will be moving myself, to a new classroom with windows. While happy about having natural light again, my new space is the classroom I occupied a decade ago and that has me quite reflective. So for days, I have done nothing but sleep and think about time. People have passed in and out of my life in sizable waves. When I really stop to think about all of them, those with whom I have shared a good portion of my time and self in the last decade, the tears come easily, both in happiness and in sorrow. In looking back at the body of writing I have posted over the last year, specifically the last six months, I feel both accomplished and discouraged. Wow, I have done an amazing lot of things. Wow, now I need to think about what difference it has made to anyone, even to me. Change…growing…rapid and unceasing waves of time. I am…tired.

Today, I tackled a garden that has been neglected since October of last year, one I worked in diligently until beginning to travel last summer. During several moments of the five hours of pulling waist high weeds, tears welled up and I cursed and sighed. Why can’t I find a balance? There is this need to go, to see, to be somewhere else experiencing a life that presents ideas and inspiration and insight so easily. And then all the while, there is this concurrent need to be home, to have friends come and be in this amazing house I renovated and spent so much time and creativity on. Time…. there doesn’t seem to ever be enough of it because moments in retrospect sometimes seem so wasted. And in the sunburned sweating and weed pulling, I began to think about why home is so bittersweet.

I miss things.

When I am this incredibly tired, I miss someone cooking me dinner. The pots would clang in the kitchen while I would strip off dirty sweat laden bug sprayed clothing in the laundry room and then round the corner to the bathroom, the air cooling my weary frame. My name. I miss someone calling my first name from downstairs to ask what wine I’d like. I miss sitting in the deep hot water of my clawfoot tub, just washed hair wrapped in a towel, talking to my beloved with a cold glass of Viognier in hand. As he’d sit next to the tub, we’d idly discuss what I did , what plan for the backyard comes next, what movie to watch in the evening, how much my muscles hurt. I miss big hands and a fluffy towel on my body, on my shoulders, thumbs at my back, fingers in my hair. Wearing his T-shirt that trails my knee, I’d stroll to the kitchen clean, damp and pink from a slight sunburn and there would be grilled chicken and spinach salad with bits of egg, peppered bacon and tiny cherry tomatoes cut in two. I miss watching movies on the couch in the blue light, the flickering images bouncing off legs a tangle, my head upon a broad chest. I miss kissing. I miss what comes after. There’s no shame in me saying that when I am tired or ill, there is a soft silent need that creeps upon me like a smooth silver cat with cool padded feet. When I have no more energy to push my will to “do” forward, I finally lie down and allow this melancholy to express.

But tonight, in the longing for these comforts, I realized there is something I don’t miss.


And that indeed is the gift of Time. In the yearning, there is only a space needing to be filled by the emotion having a beloved gives. I am learning how to be thankful in the sadness of absent connection, letting both feelings co-exist like light and dark, earth and water.  The arc of the pendulum may slow, swings evening out into a balanced measure that’s somehow bearable. A state that let’s me rest and yet, do for myself. Time that isn’t wasted.

Time without courage and time without fear, is just wasted, wasted, wasted time…….

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