In a moment’s time, the burning tangerine sun rises above the horizon, sits below the pink clouds shuffling south, then disappears. Playing peek-a-boo; its rays streaming through the silhouetted oak tree with vibrating leaves. Through our window decorated with Harvey’s fingerprints. Through the scratched lenses of my glasses. And on to me. Painting me in the warmth of morning. Compelling me to smile and be grateful for the view. And for the people I share it with.
Go to sleep, Harvey. Drift away. Settle your kicking legs and your searching arms. Let your heavy eyelids close. Stop grabbing your ears. (I promise that they will be there when you wake-up.) Relax your shoulders and let the tension of the ache of your cutting teeth fade. I know how hard it is to let go of this world, even for an hour. There is so much to explore – to inventory – to do. I feel the same way sometimes. There are toys waiting, food to eat, new sounds to hear, fresh smells to smell. And there is also the familiar, which we fear forgetting. The sweet tones of mother’s voice. Bouncing in your play chair. Smiling at each other. And yet, there is a time, when we must close our eyes and let our imagination flourish and our memory take stock of the bright, beautiful moments that fill our lives. So go to sleep, Harvey, and I promise that what dreams you don’t remember I will tell you about someday, as I hope to dream as you do.
Written from 8:30 am to 9:11 am on Saturday, October 26, 2013 in our office/Harvey’s toy room at the Double Dogleg in Traverse City, Michigan. He fell asleep on my shoulder just before writing this. Lindsey was sleeping in, and Yogi was snoring on the couch. I was up, putzing around, drinking coffee, listening to the rain fall on the metal dog bowls outside as early dawn lightened to day. I am appreciative of the soft sounds of this morning and of being surrounded by my sleeping family.
It is that time of morning when the wood around and the road ahead are different shades of brown and grey. And the trees of the wood are taught toward the pre-dawn sky. I am sifting salt onto our cracked asphalt driveway from my blue, plastic, Maxwell House coffee container. The older kind that had a handle instead of mere indentations. It would be appropriate, here and now, to say that “they don’t make ’em like they used to.” And that can be said often and in many ways, but not right now because this pre-dawn is exceptional like all before it and all that will come after.
I am melting off the rest of Monday’s frozen rain and Tuesday’s sleet. I’ve not had to shovel this morning – to wake the reverend or the doctor – caused their dogs to bark. And it’s the bark of the dogs that is the catalyst of morning’s forward progress. In their absence, our fraction of a finger of the world holds its breath a moment longer, pulls the covers up a little higher, and lets the hues of brown and grey hang around while I drink my coffee and ascend the driveway.
Written in red ink on a white legal pad from 6:40 am to 7:00 am on Wednesday, February 13th, 2013 in our kitchen at the Double Dogleg in Traverse City, Michigan.
Sure: I was so sure, that I set the cup down. And I walked to her and said,”Hello, beautiful. Can I have this dance.” She looked at me with her blazing brown eyes and nodded. Just a little. And so I took her hand and walked with her to the edge of the hardwood that was the dancers’ floor. Like the boxers’ ring. And I had made it that far. And I was holding her hand. And my heart was racing. Pounding from my chest trying to reach hers to see if it, too, wanted the same kind of freedom. And all I could do was take that next step. The leather of my shoe skidding to a start on the dusty wood. I reached my arm around her thin little waist and pulled her warm body to mine so that I could lead her away to the rest of her life. For there was no turning back on this little leap of love. She was my wallflower. Me, her punch-bowl-mixer. And together we were everything at once. The disco ball above stopped to watch as we spun faster and slower around everyone who didn’t matter in that moment. And then I stopped us. The music stopped. And I dipped her ’til her hair was in the dust of that worn out floor. And I looked at those brown eyes of hers and I said, “Goodnight, Beautiful. I’m sure we’ll meet again.”
His eyes focused, for a moment, on the contrast of her otherwise pale skin with the flush of her cheeks as she walked towards the spot where he was leaning on a fire hydrant.
“Hello, handsome,” she said.
“Hello, gorgeous,” he said as he extended his hand, palm up, and revealed a bright yellow lemon. “I snuck this from the corner tree for you.” She looked over her shoulder, checking to see if the lonesome housewife that planted the tree last spring had seen, or was seeing, their exchange, and then she took the lemon from him and clutched it in her small hand. It was firm and cooler than the muggy Foggy Bottom air that choked the city this time of year.
“Thank you,” she said. Then she kissed him, and kept kissing him until it felt, again, like the lonely housewife was watching. There was more love in her lips than he could hold in his heart. He broke away and smiled at her – at the old row houses – at the poorly parked cars and the cracked cement sidewalks.
Written from 1:10 pm to 1:32 pm on Tuesday, February 21st, 2012 in my office in Traverse City, Michigan.
“Look,” he said as he pointed at the distant lake shore where the early-morning mist lingered, depressing the plump tangerine lines of sunlight on the placid surface water. She turned and looked as they walked through the dew-covered bluegrass. “Indistinguishable,” she said. “Which would you choose?” He stopped them from going further and placed his arm on her shoulder so that his finger tips could caress her collarbone. And he pulled her slight frame closer to his, and leaned his head against hers. “I will always choose you, and then, while both will remain indistinguishable, it will not be from one another, but from life without you.” His eyes welled with tears because his eyes often welled with tears when he let his mind wander to the future – to what he would or would not receive from her – to dreams of dreams coming true – to the moments he’d never choose to miss, but sometimes would because that’s what happens when life is folded in two or multiplied by half. “We are, and forever will be, standing on a fine horizon underfoot.”
Written from 7:30 pm to 8:00 pm on Wednesday, February 15th, 2012 in my office in Traverse City, Michigan.
He was sitting on the porch near the shadow of the gazebo, rocking on the coiled-wire hinge of his deck chair. The August sun was waning as evening – and with it dinner – approached. He allowed himself to let his focus blur as he took a long pull that finished the bottle of Summer Shandy he’d been nursing for the past half-hour. The waves of Lake Michigan and the sandy shores had called it a truce for the day, and were in the process of retreating to their front lines. And then the baritone grate of the sliding door jostled him upright in his chair, and as he slowed the pulse of his rocker she said, “dinner’s ready.”
Written from 6:40 am to 7:00 am on Thursday, February 9th, 2012 at home in Traverse City, Michigan.