A Small Moment

The first time we met it was ordinary. You glanced over me casually, probably not even giving me a second look. And, if I’m being honest, I had no idea you were there. We were two strangers who happened to, through some strange string of coincidence, cross one another’s paths. But something about me made you linger, and I suppose I’ll never truly understand what that was. You took the time to give me a little thought. Being pensive, truly and honestly thoughtful, is such a rarity these days. Things are so easily accessible and exchanged; you surprised me by staying. And soon each and every thought I had throughout the day was dedicated to you. It wasn’t something I did intentionally, of course. Just the way water flows through a river, it was effortless and steady. The steady flow of you began to create a larger feature; the same way water will gently create beautiful natural wonders, something began to grow in me.

I can never say if that same feeling was being carved out in you. But I can sincerely say that what started as infatuation grew into a deep affection. Your patience with me is one of the greatest gifts I have ever received. But more than patience, you greeted me with a steadfast will. As you reached deeper and deeper into me, you began to see a potential to do and to accomplish that I never even knew existed. When others had only ever regarded with a quiet tolerance, yours was a steady push to be greater.

I began to see a life with you beyond what pages can hold. I saw foreign cities and nights lit up by oil lamps and uneven, ancient streets. I saw your smile in the dim light of those evenings and I felt your hair around me as we would be lying in bed as the sun rose over one of those exotic places. The curve of your nose as we strolled hand in hand through a vineyard of brilliant greens and deep purples; how you would smile at me not just with your mouth but with your heart. All of a sudden you weren’t just some person I had feelings for, but someone who was a part of my life.

So we went out, out into the world that was as strange to us as we had once been to one another. We saw those vineyards and walked those streets. The oil lamps were beautiful, but never as beautiful as the flicker of excitement I caught in your eyes when we arrived at each new destination. Your nose and your smile and your hair all were just parts of you now; parts of this individual that was merely playing vessel to who I really loved. It was there, in those cities far across vast oceans, when I realized that it wasn’t the body I was standing next to that I truly cared for; it was you, all of you, the things that are intangible and ethereal that I simply could not live without. That was the only way I could describe it. And so, as we laughed and held each other’s hands over tapas and wine on the patio of a restaurant you had spotted as we strolled, I lean in close and I whispered it into your ear. Never had I seen such an expression of pure joy in all my life. As your smile was mixed with the tears that welled up in your eyes, you took one of your delicate hands and covered your lips, nodding quickly. We embraced and began the next part of our journey.

We spent years together, travelling and living. I never knew happiness like that; I never thought anyone could feel that way. With all the ups and down, the arguments and even the moments when we thought it might be easier to just give up…we stuck together. It was in those days, those months, those years, that we became more than just two lovers. And while I can never say just how deeply you felt for me, I can sincerely say that you were the center of my world. I’d do it all over again, given the chance.

**

“Well, that’s all I could get down on paper” I said as I stopped reading the letter. The beep of the hospital equipment was a distraction, anyway. I had lost my place so often that I feared she had become annoyed with me. Instead she held my hand tighter, smiling the same way she had smiled at me that night I asked her to spend the rest of her life with me. She had lost so much weight, and the color was gone from her cheeks, but she was still as beautiful to me today as the first day she had accidentally walked into my life. “You’re so gorgeous…” I let slip out the same way someone lets a sigh out. She couldn’t speak, or bring herself to I suppose, and for the rest of that day all we did was hold one another.

The following months were difficult. No amount of ink will ever be able to carry the weight of that word. I often look back and think that I might have failed. I’m no knight in shining armor; I couldn’t save her from the pain in the end. I asked the doctors again and again if it had been peaceful. They were honest with me, which I suppose is a comfort, and said she was as peaceful as she could have been. Those last days were all a blur- paperwork and lawyers flooded what was a dull movie that played out around me. Sadness doesn’t quite cover the sensation. Emptiness doesn’t quite express the depth. It was all just…difficult.

“She wasn’t just someone I loved…” I spoke that day, in front of a podium dressed in black. I coughed, cleared my throat, and looked down at the notes I had made for myself. I took a deep breath, “I met a stranger, years ago. Someone I barely noticed. She was thoughtful, however, and unlike anyone else I had ever met she took time to get to know me. At the time I thought that was the kindest thing anyone had ever done for me. However…” I swallowed hard, “…however in the days, the months, and the years to come the profundity of her kindness would make itself apparent. She shared her life with me, and in turn I shared mine with her. We saw breathtaking places together, old towns that time had forgotten”. I cracked my neck the way I tended to when I was uncomfortable, “But nothing we saw out there, not a single oil lamp or uneven street, could compare to what we found in each other. We spent the best five years of my life together…” I simply couldn’t go on. I slowly broke down, tears streaming down my face. I cleared my throat again to try and speak, “She would rush me, push me to do things I never thought I could. But she…” I took in a deep, harsh breath, “…she always left time to waste”. They came up then, my cousin and her mother, and lead me off the stage.

***

Years of living without her finally came to this moment. I found myself at the patio area of the party where we had first met, where she had glanced up and down who I was, and decided that I was worth exploring. I wish I had noticed her then. It seemed a cardinal sin on my part, to not have. I sat down on the bench where we sat, as per her instruction, in order to talk easier. “It’s quieter outside” she had told me, and took me by my shirt sleeve to the place I was now. I hung my head, the last words she spoke to me the first night we met coming to mind.

“I think we’ll remember each other for a long time”

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Love Doesn’t Make it Right

“What exactly do you think is gonna happen?” I spoke to the two of them. The confrontation had come up quick, like a tropical storm off the coast of my beloved Cocoa Beach. The man was tall, blonde, and had a kind of quiet, dumbfounded expression he wore like an old hat. It fit him nicely. She, as always, was beautiful; her long, chestnut brown hair hung over her shoulders and her gaze was on me. She looked up at me like a puppy who had just been scolded, and it broke my heart. I never wanted this.

“Look, Tom…” I began, with my signature mixture of confidence and reassurance lacing my every word. “If y’all can’t handle this situation, are you really ready to be thinkin’ about marriage?” I asked sincerely. The fact was they weren’t. They were two high school sweethearts turned college lovers who had never dared to venture out beyond their comfort zones. She was stunning, and he knew damn well what he had. And he was like sweater she’d had for years; cozy, safe.

Neither one of them spoke up during my pause, and so I took my opportunity. Being able to read situations is key, and typically when people are frozen in silence it’s what was said that put them there. The truth has that effect on some people. Some others, however, just erupt in anger. I was glad that neither of them was the latter.

“So you’ve been together for damn near ten years…see, that ain’t exactly reason to be runnin’ off and gettin’ married”. I sighed, “If y’all two can’t even handle a little spat like this, a disagreement about me…what makes you think anything is gonna change down the road?”. I looked at them with a questioning stare. I wanted a response, because truth be told Sheila was my friend. Tom wasn’t  able to see it, however. He was constantly threatened by me, and for what reason that was I was oblivious to. I never overstepped when it came to her. I knew she loved Tom, although I quietly always suspected she only stayed with him because it was easier. That aside, I was always willing to be a steadfast and true friend to this girl. I was that way since the day I met her back in college, and I didn’t suspect that would change any time soon.

“Look, I ain’t stepped over the line not once with Sheila. I’m always respectful of the fact that she’s got a boyfriend, and that y’all are thinkin’ about gettin’ married. But hell, boy, how in the world you think the rest of your life is gonna play out?” He looked down and then to the side. He was a child. He didn’t want to hear the truth, let alone think about it or face it.

Sheila stood there in silence as well. She looked at Tom every so often, then back to me. The floor at this point, however, was attracting most of her attention. “Tom,” I continued, “you two want different things. You love goin’ out and gettin’ rowdy with your buddies every night. And, hell, who’d blame you? You’re a guy…that comes with the territory. But! You’re just not willin’ to sit at home with Sheila. You know how I know? Her and I usually text each other while you’re out!” I then turned my attention to Sheila, “And you! You don’t want kids! You want a successful life, fancy clothes, and exotic vacations. All that sounds wonderful, but Tom here wants kids and a simple life.” I paused to let my words sink in. This was all part of getting my point across, same way you might win an argument in your high school debate class. It’s not only about what you say, it’s the delivery. Delivery adds weight to your words. Weight makes the words stick.

“Figure in a few years, Tom’ll still be running around with his buddies and you’ll be pregnant, Sheila. OR…” I stopped, throwing a finger up into the air, absent-mindedly, for added effect. “Tom, you’ll be stuck on some cruise, held up in your room sippin’ on tea and watchin’ the view just to please Sheila”. They looked at each other for a moment; not both at the same time, but one after the other. The way you might have looked at someone you liked in 5th grade.

I shook my head a few times, “You’ll recent each other”. It’s tough, talking to couples like this. Because, sometimes, it just doesn’t matter how much you love someone. Love doesn’t make two people right for each other. “Y’all want different things. And if you’re goin’ into this thing with the notion that you’re gonna change a person…well, that’s a long wait on a train that ain’t ever comin’” I chucked seriously. Not because the situation was funny, but because the idea of changing someone was idiotic. “Folks, people don’t change in a relationship…they just pretend” I look at Sheila, and then back to Tom, “and you can’t go on pretendin’ forever”.

I Knew You, Once

Once, greener years ago, we knew one another. I think of you, from time to time, and wonder where you are and how you are doing. I think of the conversations we would have, the time spent spinning hours into a good friendship. An eternity ago, it seems now. And yet no matter how many years pass I still look back fondly on the days when I knew you.

That’s just it, I don’t know you anymore. I did know you, once. I knew you when we were both young, and the world was new and exciting. Now we’ve both experienced life, lived through it’s trials and pains. The constant crashing of our bodies against the railings and the deck of life have done something to wear our spirits down. Once there was a glisten in our eyes, now replaced with a dull, hollow look. Almost as if the spark that once lit our eyes up so brightly had burned a chasm into our skulls, now left empty. We had been robbed. We had been promised so much, but left with so little. Most of all, we were so different today than we were before.

What a cruel thing, this world. To take the spark of innocence from those who so desperately need it, those who deserve it. Privilege then, I am almost forced to believe, is not an abundance of wealth but rather a preservation of innocence. Blessed are those who have lived a life without relative struggle, turmoil, or strife. Their spark is intact.

We are then left to ask the question, however, about those strong individuals. When I say strong I mean those who have experienced those ugly evils of our sullen world, and yet managed to retain their spark. Those war heroes who come home, picked themselves up, and provided for their families. Those who stay strong in the face of adversity, whose positivity cannot be extinguished. These are the true champions of this world, who are closest to the divine. I hold them, personally, in the highest of esteems and regards. I envy what they possess. They have gone through the fray and come out the other side unabashed by negativity; while I am simply numb to the wonders of this world now.

And while I no longer know you, as I did once, I pray that you are of the strong. A champion of this life. In essence there is no greater wish to wish for anyone.

Oh, but Three

It’s in the sunlight shining through the leaves of an oak tree, the green of the grass in the summer and the brown of the leaves of autumn. It is in the open sky of an Alaskan morning, the hanging fog of a New Orleans daybreak. The city at night, Astoria- the neon lights of a pub blocks from your home. 

Walks on the beach at night, the sand displaced around your feet as you walk just close enough to the edge of the water to hear it thunderous and mighty claps. The darkness surrounds you so that you think it a God hurling it’s fist into the sands. For miles and miles you journey and all the while passing street lights in the distance and abandoned chairs and homes nestled just on the shore.

You can find it in a cafe. Sitting outside, enjoying a cup of coffee. You take a drag from you cigarette and stare…and there it is. Quiet and stoic, expressionless and alive. Something intricate and breathtaking; twirling around on the floor as you dance to foreign music. You smile and enjoy your moment in the presence of something as complex and beautiful as a piece of baroque art. 

In a ray of sunshine, something that stopped the world for a moment. Funny how apt a moment would be to summarize. You can never touch light, simply admire it. Light is cruel, however, and burns without intention. Light knows nothing of the objects it interacts with- light only knows to shine. Brief and bright, oh how intensely you’ve shown. 

You don’t find it because it is everywhere. So here’s to love; may you life be blessed in abundance with it. 

Oak

The day was nearing its waning hours and I was on a walk. I set out in an altogether uninteresting buttoned up, short sleeved blue shirt and light beige shorts, flip flops in toe. The southern air caressed my face in a way that only this part of the United States can. Northern summer afternoons are calm as well, but with a sense of foreboding; the coming of adventure and excitement and neon lights hang in the air there as heavily as the fog of those same New England mornings. But here, in Atlanta, the afternoon is gentle and mild. Much in the way the south was epitomized ages ago, and is often forgotten about in this age of rushing and instant gratification, the afternoons here are slow and gentile. The crickets and lightening bugs call for soft gatherings, intimate conversation, and friendliness the likes of which I have never known before coming here. 

“This has been coming for a while” I thought aloud as I passed the street where I lived. A sense of uneasiness I had felt since seeing two hawks fighting with a murder of small crows earlier that day sat with me. Those sorts of things were signs, I was sure of it, because I had seen things like that countless times throughout my life. Animals like to speak for a greater power, a higher being that, perhaps, can’t speak directly to us. Or perhaps that is the great mystery’s way of speaking to us? Either way, despite recognizing the enumerable occasions I had experienced divinity speaking directly to me, what I could never truly understand was what any of those signs meant. Not a single time. Simply an observer, never part of the dialogue. The hawks and crows were no different, of course, and so I walked on with the sense of uneasiness. 

I did know, however, that my life had fallen apart around me for the past year or so. As life often does when we have a plan and attempt to exact said plan, we come to find that the universe has a different notion. A contrary path that it so deliciously hides from us. 

In truth I had blatantly shied away from any path. Years of selfishness and single-mindedness were, in all likelihood, to blame. At least that’s what someone who believes in karma would say. The time I spent having fun and enjoying life, yes…they were truly well spent. Never for a moment, do I imagine, would I never look back and regret a single moment. 

 

It would be my current complacency, on the contrary, I feared one day I would regret. 

 

While I thought and thought and thought I had been walking for some time. I stopped beneath a great oak tree in the middle of a thinly-wooded area just beside a creek. I left my fingers run over the rough cracks of the tree’s bark. I tried to imagine for a moment the things this oak would be able to tell me if it could. What I learned in college had taught me easily how to determine the age of the tree, but what it had experienced? Those were secrets only the oak would know. Countless children playing beneath its branches, lovers seeking its shade. To have the wisdom of this old oak- to be steadfast and patient. Oh, how I wanted. 

 

Something a soccer coach of mine told me a very long time ago came to my mind in that moment. “Hard work beats talent when talent won’t work hard”. I smiled a crooked half smile and nodded. My days of being a talented teenager with years ahead of me and potential to do anything were behind me. Now was time for the hard work. I patted the tree thrice and turned around to walk home. 

What has been lost today is not lost for all but only for some. Those with old souls will always find our refuge in back alley bookstores and coffee shops that are open late. Never stop putting pen to paper! Because that’s when they win.

Personal News, and Thank You’s

A sincere thank you to everyone who has commented, read, liked, reposted, and emailed me in regards to my writing. I sincerely do appreciate all of the feedback, and your kindness does not go unnoticed. That being said, I wanted to share with you the current happenings in my life.

 

I’ve relocated to Atlanta, GA. I had previously lived in Orlando, FL. The move was a necessity, and has taught me a slew of things I thought I had learned. Lo and behold…I had not. If you’ve kept up with my writing at all, I’m sure you’ve noticed a somber tone and a lack of consistency. Those two elements were very present in my life. I would go as far to say that they were defining characteristics of my life, in fact. I was depressed, deeply so. And while it may be a bit taboo to admit it publicly like this, as my father would say “it is what it is”. Since my move I’ve begun to come out of that fog, however. So, onwards and upwards.

 

I’ve quit smoking, something that I did for many, many years (and especially in Orlando) with reckless abandon and frequently. I have several job prospects and still aim to become a teacher in the near future. But most importantly of all, because it explains my long absences from this site:

 

I have entered into what, I have decided, will be the final draft of my book. I’ve written and rewritten this book at least four times now…but this time is different. I find myself more aware of what I write, more thoughtful in the construction of my prose. The story I have to tell in deeply personal, and as fate would have it, that very story ties into my experiences of late. Therefore in an attempt to close a rather unpleasant chapter of my life that, now including the years that have proceeded this blog and the last almost year, has spanned nearly four years…I am finishing my little project. After I have finished I am going to self-publish the book through some independent publishing service online. I have no illusions about become a famous writer. But I would like to have a physical copy of a book I wrote on my bookshelf.

 

I would give you all the name for my book, because you are all the only people who actually read what I write and I owe you that much. As I said I would, however I never name a poem, piece of prose, or in this case a book until it is finished. I know it might sound foolish, but I like to have a full understanding of something before giving it a name. That way I feel like the name is an accurate reflection of what I’ve written- instead of giving a title, and subconsciously working my words to fit an arbitrary name.

 

I will likely not be writing here very often until the book is done, but once it is I’ll be back. I thank you all very much again.

 

-M.W.