Things I Loved as a Child

Water dripping from a gutter; puddles in the street; window panes; squeaky old wheels; the ocean; sleeping bags; cold wind that chapped my face; the stillness of museums when they first open in the mornings; apples; thick books; globes; the color of the sky after rain; the flickering glow of candles; embroidery hoops; Nancy Drew books; dusty chalkboards; the beam of light through a window; places that echo; wooden crates; tree stumps; fish tanks; bookshelves; ribbons; the Lawrence Welk show; the quilt my Oma made me; and my Opa’s soft voice when he used to read to me.

Sunday Evenings

“I’m so tired,” I said, staring up at the ceiling.

“Me too.” he sighed. We laid sprawled out on his living room floor, our homework in disarray around us.

His house always smelled of ginger and old books and peppermint. We always did our homework together in his living room Sunday evenings. Ever since we were little, when my mom used to drop me off and we’d sit on the carpeted floor with our books. When finished our homework, we would help him mom cook dinner in the kitchen. We were usually more of a mess for her to clean up than any help.

“You know what makes me happy?”

“What?” he asked, turning over onto his stomach to look at me.

“Irish folk music.” I giggled and put a hand over my face. Isaiah started at me with his dark brown eyes, confused for a second until is lips parted and a heartfelt laugh escaped them. He rested his cheek on the floor and smiled.

“You are such a dork.” he said. “especially when you’re this tired.”

“I know!” I laughed.

I was this funny little girl. I was dorky and clumsy yet headstrong and stubborn. Then that person went away. She sort of gave into the pain of others and let it take her. She left a memory of a person behind. This beautiful unique memory. The memory fades a little every year, but she’s still there. That little memory is still there and lives every day. I liver every day. I breathe, I eat, I sleep. I am still here, just a little dimmer. When I get tired, I thnk about her, this little vibrant healthy thing. Sometimes if I really listen I can still hear her, too. I think of her often. It’s funny when all it does is make ms ache But i do not want to forget who I was so, so I think of her every day.

Everybody has their low days. It’s a part of this wonderfully confusing life. Her low days were so bright. It was beautiful.

She could never come back, though. Even if I wanted her back. She is too beautiful to be in this place. But I will never forget her. She is unforgettable. She lives in cold summer days that pinch your face. She lives in those beautiful melodies that give people hope. She lives in the purest of laughter. She was the beauty in everything broken.

When she left there was this empty space where her light used to rest. There wasn’t any peace within our restless thoughts. I didn’t know how to fill it without her.

 

Beautiful Girls

They laid on the carpet of her bedroom floor, bundled in hand-made quilts. Their soft whispers turned to loud bursts of laughter every once in awhile, unsettling the calm of the house. They gazed up at the ceiling, their hands and hair intertwined. Time seemed to slow as they poured out all of their troubles and worries and their biggest secrets. Nothing else mattered. When one would talk the other would listen, softly stroking back the curls on her forehead. Their voices got quieter and quieter, till their worries were gone and sleep washed over them.

I

I sat with my bare legs over the edge, my ankles submerged in the water. The dock swayed with the soft waves that rippled from the boats far out on the lake. The old boards creaked with every rock of the waves. I let the wind pull at my hair as my thoughts trailed, my eyes staring blankly into the distance. I could hear her soft breathing behind me, rising and falling. I let out a sigh. The sun had slid down behind the tops of the trees, only a curved orange glow peeking above the edges. The warm glow melted through parts of the sky, turning the once pale blue into inky patches of pink and gray.

“Do you ever feel like dying?”  she asked. There was something off in her voice. Her tone was cold. I turned to look down at her face as she laid on the dock. Her hazel hair was swept off to the side, her dark green eyes stared up at me. She was waiting for me to react.

I looked back out over the water. It was mellowing, the waves turning into small ridges and disappearing before they neared the shore.

She poked my side with her small finger.  “Answer me.”

“When I was seven I had scarlet fever. Then I felt like dying.”  She smirked. She enjoyed it when I tried to avoid her questions. She sat up and joined my gaze on the water.

“If I was to do it” she started, “I would jump.”

“I would sit on the ledge of a beautiful bridge overlooking a river. It would be early morning,”  she paused.  Her voice was soft, as if she was telling a fairy tail. “I’d watch as the sun would spill over the horizon.  Then, I’d push off the ledge,” her hands gestured like she was about to push off the dock and her lips parted in a smile. “The skirt of my dress would ripple and pull in the wind as I plummeted, exposing my legs.  Then I would hit the water and my body would slowly sink. The fabric of my skirt would be the last to follow me to the depths, billowing and floating above as I dipped further away from the surface.”

Her words fell out of her mouth without any effort, like she had thought about this for a long time – like a story she had told over and over again.

Her voice fell silent. I could feel her eyes searching my face, waiting for me to respond.

“It would be romantic.”  She sighed.

 

I lived with my grandfather for two years in Lyon, France.  We lived along the river Rhône in a small apartment on the fourth story of a quaint building.  I shared my small bedroom with my grandfather’s dog – Cherché.  I gave him that absurd nickname when I was only four years old, and it stuck.  From my bedroom window, I had a perfect view of the river. The apartment was always cold, and it always smelled like coffee and his tobacco.  It was my home for two years, and I have only fond memories of the place.

 

Disparu

The room was bare of all personal effects.  It was dark and empty, all but some boxes packed in the corner, and a girl.  She kneeled on the dusty floor by the boxes.  She ran her hands over them – Samantha’s old things – all packaged and tucked away.  She opened the first box and rummaged through the stacks and stacks of notes, scribbles of ideas.  A smaller rectangular box sat at the bottom.  She pulled it out and opened it.  The top came off and pens spilled out onto the floor.  Her favorite pens, some barely ever touched, because every time she had a new idea, she got a new pen.  Looking back in the box she noticed a piece of paper had slipped between the folds of the cardboard.  She pulled it out. The paper was old and wrinkled, the words faded and hardly legible.  She read what she could make out.

before I die

I want to watch the sunset from Santorini, Greece,

swim in Devil’s Pool in Africa,

go Hiking in Iceland,

backpack through Europe,

see the Aurora Borealis with my own eyes,

spend a night under the stars, 

go lavender picking, 

write a book,

go to Africa, 

dance in the rain – because that sounds cool,

go to Finland, 

let go of a floating lantern in Thailand,

see a broadway musical,

ride a gondola in Venice,

make a call from a London phone booth,

drink coffee in a Parisian cafe,

visit Stonehenge, 

throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain in Italy,

finish reading a book in one sitting,

see the Fairy Pools in Scotland,

walk behind a waterfall,

soak in hot springs in Iceland,

and bike through the city streets of Amsterdam

 

éphémère

“It is easier to hold onto pain than to joy.  Our pain marks us, leaving behind a trail of sorrows.  Joy disappears under the grief, masked by a thick curtain of despair.  Even the beautiful memories are tinted with melancholy.  A distress fills our hearts as we long for those memories past, questioning if such a feeling with ever be relived.  

But of no fear, for time is near, that all will be forgotten.”

~ an excerpt from Gone to Paris

Fleeting

I Did Not

There was no light in the church.  The sun had set and the lights had been turned off, leaving an eery look.  Slowly, the congregation lit up, candle by candle, until the whole crowd of people were glowing.  The flickering light cast shadows on the walls and the faces of strangers.

Packed shoulder to shoulder they stood, clad in black, surrounding a thick dark box.  My friend stood by its side, clinging to it, her knuckles white.  Her mom stood behind her, one hand on her back and the other beside her hand on the box.  I stood beside them quietly, looking around at the people I hardly recognized  Strangers – they were strangers to me.

I peered up at Mrs. Deirdre again, her hand still on her daughter’s back.  A tear trickled down her cheek and over the corner of her lip, shining in the glow of the candles.

I looked at my dad standing behind me, his face hard yet sad.  My mom cried as well.  I glanced at the face of a stranger to my left, a tear also on his cheek.  There wasn’t one on mine.

I looked at the long box again quizzically.  It wasn’t there the last service on Sunday. Where did it come from?  I leaned in closer but I couldn’t look inside, the top of my head barely clearing the edge.  My brother stood in front of me and stared down at the box.  He also cried.  I did not.

Painfully Beautiful

Stairway

I can hear them sing as I walk down the corridor in the congregation hall beside them. Their voices resonate through the cathedral.  I reach the door leading to the flight of stairs descending into the entrance of the cathedral.  Their voices become louder.  I sit down on the red carpeted stairs, my head resting against the railing.  I listen.  Afternoon light pours in through the stained glass windows giving the room a warm glow.  Their voices soar and then soften like waves.  The words they sing  – a painfully beautiful poem:

“Warm summer sun,
shine brightly here,
Warm Southern wind,
blow softly here,
Green sod above,
lie light, lie light,
Good night, dear heart;
good night, good night.”

On the Water

Fog

It was a freezing cold morning.  The air was damp and cold, the sky a drowsy gray.  My oversized rubber boots rubbed against each other and squeaked as I followed behind my uncle along the dock.  The dock lurched and rocked as small waves came up and pushed against its side.  I looked down between the cracks in the dock and watched the waves dissipate underneath.  I walked unsteadily, wary of the creaking boards.  Catching up with my uncle, I grabbed hold of his hand to steady myself as we walked to his boat.  His little skiff was tied near the end of the dock, calmly bobbing up and down with the waves.

The wind had begun to pick up, whipping my hair into my face.  Stepping into the boat, my uncle turned around and lifted me in beside him.  We hadn’t exchanged any words since we had arrived at the bay.  He zipped up my coat all the way to my chin and pinched my nose.  His hands were huge and rough.  Untying the boat he started up the motor and pushed off from the dock.

The icy morning was enveloped in fog, the morning sun glowing ever so slightly through it, a pale orange.  The boat got faster and faster, spraying water to the side and bumping up and down on the waves.  I leaned over to the side of the boat and dipped my hand in, cutting the water as we raced past.

As a coastline appeared inch by inch my uncle slowed the boat.  We neared the beach and fog gave way to tall dark trees looming above and a grassy sand mounds.  He beached the boat and I hopped out, looking back at where we had come from, no longer visible through the fog.

Melting Memories

Memories do fade,

Like seasons in their due course.

Clear images as they were

Fade like flowers,

Losing their bright colors,

To weather and age.

To weather and age

Do leaves lose their soft touch

Like the loss of color

To memories of old.

To memories of old,

Like autumn to flowers,

Time tears their soft petals and pushes them

Back to the corner of our minds.  

And as snow to gardens and dewy lawns,

New memories cover up the old.  

New memories cover up the old,

But in time a few old memories

Spring from murky depths,

Like snowdrop flowers in April rain.  

Like snowdrop flowers in April rain,

From those murky depths of old,

Random memories of small,

Un-notable expanses of time,

With bursts of laughter or sorrow,

Fade to unclear motions, easily mistaken for dreams.

Written my eighth grade year as a poetry assignment

“A young man was talking today about the misadventures of a college freshman, being one that he is, and without even beginning the first semester, nothing has gone as planned.  His dream college has become something much less desirable.  In simpler terms, he was frustrated – upset, aggravated, annoyed, grieved – so many words to describe him in that particular moment.  And in that moment, a small mind-wrenching thought hit me, well more like punched me..repeatedly.  

I sit here in my bed, still wrestling with these thoughts, with less than a minute left till midnight. And my thoughts go as follows:

If he is not happy doing what he is doing, why is he doing it at all? 

Aren’t we supposed to be happy?”

An excerpt from one of my numerous notebooks, written my freshman year of highschool.

Sister’s Presence

She stroked the baby’s head.

With her tiny fingers, she played with his even tinier ones.

She leaned down into his wooden cradle, her hair just meeting the mattress as

She lightly kissed his forehead.

 

Straightening back up, she smiled and

Pulled the blanket back over his small body.

She stood there watching his sweet face as

She stroked the baby’s head.

 

As if he knew of his sister’s presence,

His little sparkling blue eyes opened and looked back at her.

He grasped his tiny hands at the air and

With her tiny fingers, she played with his even tinier ones.

 

Grabbing tight to her fingers he thrust them into his mouth.

Her smile grew even larger.

Reaching her nose to his round belly

She leaned down into his wooden cradle, her hair just meeting the mattress.

 

He stretched and giggled as she tickled his tummy.

He wriggled about and grabbed at the air till he found something to pull at:

Her hair.  She laughed and for one last time,

She lightly kissed his forehead.

 

Longing