They say I’m old. But they don’t know what old is. They break it down into a simple math equation. They take my birthdate as the starting point, then they take the current date and add up the years between the two dates They’ll say that number is my age, they’ll say that’s how old I am. But they don’t understand that I’m not the sum of the years I’ve lived, but rather, I’m all my ages——-all the time.
Who I am, is all the things I’ve ever been. I’m the little girl playing with dolls and having a tea party. I’m the young girl learning how to dance. I’m the teen in the party dress nervously hoping some boy will ask me to dance. I’m the one discovering that indescribable passion of a first love. In me, is the youthful college graduate filled with tenacity and anxious to chase down her dreams. I’m the beautiful woman in that old photo dressed in a white wedding dress. I’m the first time mother gently cradling her baby. I’m the strong willed and determined career woman earning her respect in a man’s world. I’m the proud grandparent braiding her granddaughters hair. I’m the retired woman meeting her long time friends for lunch. I’m the matriarch giving my time and counsel to the young ones who are on their journey. Can’t you see, I’m all these things at once. So for god sake, please don’t call me old——call me experienced. I’m like a pair of broken in hiking boots, a little worn but comfortable and a good fit for all seasons.
Sure, I have those aches and pains that come with age. I move a little slower. I might forget a thing or two. My hair is graying and my hearing isn’t what it use to be. But inside, I swear, I feel much younger than I appear (Well, at least that’s true most days). Sometimes I sit in my chair and run all my favorite memories back like old movies being screened in a darkened theater. Yes, those were the days of my life and no one can take them from me. Life is bitter sweet, but mostly sweet. I enjoy the small things now. I enjoy sitting outside and listening to the birds, visiting with my family, slipping into a warm bed——-and of course——-having a good ole bowel movement.
If I could be young for one day I’d do some wild crazy things. I’d ride my bicycle down to the beach, peal off my clothes and go skinny dipping in that Pacific ocean. I’d have myself a slice of triple layer chocolate cake and wash it down with champagne. I’d challenge all those loudmouthed bullies to an arm wrestle. I’d beat their asses then tell them to fuck off. I’d go through the karma-sutra and try all the positions once, and the ones I liked, I’d do twice. I’d turn my speakers up to ten, then sing and dance to all my favorite songs. I’d make a point of calling everyone I love and tell them how they made my life joyful, memorable and worth living.
I’d hold your hand and look you in the eye as if I’d never have to let go or say goodbye. But life is like juggling, catching and then letting go—-catching then letting go. But there are parts of me you’re stuck with—— you’ve involuntarily inherited my funny quirks and crazy idiosyncrasy, my good parts and my not so good parts, my headstrong ways, my strong will, my soft heart, my love of a good laugh, my desire for deep late night conversations and my lust for travel and adventure. Ah, this life is such a beautiful gift——thanks for being such an important part of it.
And you see my love, through all these things I shall live on.
Between routine and randomness there is tradition. Tradition is what pulls the scattered pieces of our lives together and provides us with a sense of belonging and togetherness. We find ourselves in the simple moments that we share with those we love. It’s in the aroma of mom’s pot roast dinners on a cold wintery night, it’s in grandpa’s instructions on the right way of tying a fly, it’s watching the kids on summer days playing at the same beach I once played at as a kid. It’s in the stories the old ones tell about what it was like in the olden days. It’s baked into grandma’s secret peach pie recipe. It’s in keeping memories alive while pairing yesterday with today for the young ones——these are the things that we hand down—-it’s in the reverence of those who’ve passed on and the gift of those tomorrows yet to come.
We’re lured back to the sea, to the beginnings, where it all started. Standing at the edge of this vast American continent, thousands of lonely miles traveled beyond the stifling east coast, across Great Plains, over the mighty Rockies, beyond the Great Divide, down the Mississippi River, across the Grand Canyon, riding the Colombia River, leading us here——It’s here, the end of everything and the beginning of all new things——what a beautiful journey this life has been.
Salty air on the tip of my tongue, the smell of Eucalyptus trees, the fog rolls in, recedes, then once again comes and goes. Time is a circle, love a straight line fading into infinity. The Pacific Ocean crashes foamy waves in front of me, leaving seaweed, driftwood and seashells scattered at the high tide mark. Like people and the remnants they leave behind. This sea is the womb of mother nature, the place where life was unexpectantly given birth. If eternity had a scent it would be found in the pungent smell of the ocean . We carry the rhythm of her waves in our pulse.
My family has been coming to this seaside village for generations. I would love to stay here forever, but traditions aren’t meant to be kept, they are intended to be passed on to those still unfolding and finding their own way. It’s at these yearly seaside get-togethers that the young ones learn from where they’re come and what they’re a part of. I’ve been looking for god, but I’ve discovered she has always been here in my friends and family.
We take our early morning walks out on the old wooden wharf. Somewhere on the planks below, Harbor Seals bark as seagulls circle and fight over scraps . The fog brings us in closer to one another. We have our favorite restaurant with its buttered sourdough bread that’s dipped in a bowl of steaming clam chowder. We scour the nick-knack shops for the perfect keep-sakes. At night we go to the boardwalk with its Big Dipper roller coaster. The young ones raise their arms high in the air as their car careens down the steep winding track. Everything is a blur of bright lights, screams, clammer and electrifying commotion. The old ones go into the confection shop where taffy can be seen stretching like a long string of rubber. Behind the glass a woman is creating gooey homemade chocolate clusters. If one is lucky or skilled enough to knock down lead milk bottles with a baseball, for a moment you can be someones hero—-for five dollars that’s a bargain. We are all kids here once again. Even the oldest and the youngest can ride the Carousel. The Calliope blares out old time songs as we stretch out from our pumping horses to grab the brass rings that we toss at the Clown’s mouth. It’s all bright lights, dizzying motion, loud laughter and the smell of caramel corn—— all incased in the dampness of the ocean’s night air.
We’re always coming back to where we’ve always been, simply sharing time together——-and such is tradition.
So here we sit my old friend, and I don’t mean “old” in the pejorative sense but rather in the pure number of years we’ve endured. I’m sure there are geriatric wrinkle removing and liver spot removing and hair growing, libido building info commercials that will try to convince you that sixty is the new forty——-but anyone of common sense and a bad back will differ on these comical claims.
I suppose “endure” is too harsh of a word to describe our dance with time. We haven’t “endured”, no, we’ve “thrived” over the past six decades. As in so many things in life, it’s not so much what is said, but rather, how it’s said. But I can’t help but look back at the passage of time and wonder “Did I do and achieve the things I set out to do? Was I a success? Did I compromise my character in exchange for transient rewards? Did I try hard enough? Maybe all that stuff really doesn’t matter. For me, it boils down too, “Was I a good friend, father, lover”? Did I “get it”?
I’m not perfect, but I have tried my best to mitigate any regrets by thanking god or a higher power for looking out for me. Because, in spite of me, and all my frailties, I’ve done my best to learn and evolve. Such is the mortgage we pay for being given a body to house our ethereal souls. Maybe I’m not less of a wretch, but at least better at knowing when I am behaving as such? Thankfully, my “asshole alarm” goes off sooner and louder warning me to shut up and be kinder.
Now that I’m older, I find myself considering the idea of “time”. Maybe time isn’t a drain, but rather a vessel that we fill with love and good memories. I suppose you can fill it with whatever you choose.
Endure, we’re all seeking to endure——-like a stationary pine tree trying to out run a forest-fire. It’s not fair that out of control forest fires are called wildfires and are measured by the acres of forest they feed on; but tree’s are measured by the rings that spiral our from their center. Tree’s don’t have a heart that beats, but they have sap for tears, slow motion tears dripping down their bark like skin.
I never really considered a tree being a tree, nothing more—- nothing less——-no different I suppose than you and I——nothing more, nothing less. I sat and stared at a tree today. It was windy out, and I watched as it swayed and danced in the breeze. I listened to the wind through its branches, and it sang a sweet song. I never consider the songs of a tree—-it made me smile. Native Americans believed that all things——-tree’s, boulders, bears, all have souls——-and maybe they’re right. One religion holds no moral high ground over any other religion. Praying, meditation, fasting, wind through a pine tree——-they’re all, more or less, the same.
I talk to tree’s, I listen to the secret language of rushing rivers, I thank the sun for her warmth, I let the stars guide me. Most call this crazy talk, but this comes from the ones handcuffed to their cell phones, imprisoned by made up virtual worlds——we’re all, more or less, crazy.
If Jesus could walk on water, then why is it strange to believe that trees can sing?
“Looking at life from a different perspective makes you realize that it’s not the deer that is crossing the road, rather it’s the road that is crossing the forest.” – Muhammad Ali
There are words I wish I’d said. But I always told myself there’d be time for words, 26 letters assembled into some future confession of love. But tomorrow is never guaranteed——-the future is a theory, an algebra problem where x doesn’t always equal y——a law of physics that can’t explain the speed of loneliness. But it takes courage to say what’s often left out because it’s so much easier to comment on the weather. Why is “I love you” a secret tattoo hidden beneath your long sleeved heart. I tell myself, “Oh it’s obvious, they already know how I feel.” But that’s bullshit I feed myself. Do you ever check to see if your emotional Fitbit has reached your quota of kind words required in a day? Why is it that anger and petty complaints come so much easier than kindness and compassion? These emotions are stuck on mute in a movie with no subtitles. It’s easy to mistake a deep kiss for a vampires siphon, like that feeling you get from someone who’s always taking, but never giving back. But then, without warning, there are those who’s humanity walks me back from the edge. Things I wished I’d said, “Jackie Gleason was right, baby you’re the greatest.” “I’m so fortunate to have you in my life”. “You make me laugh, cause you’re the only other person I know who’s favorite movie is ‘Herold and Maude’”. “Thanks for ‘getting me’.” “You make ‘goodbye’ the saddest of all words.” “Thank you, thank you, thank you for being you.”
Don’t let anyone tell you that poetry is ‘nice’, because it’s not, it’s a clumsy coping mechanism to escape the chains of depression. It storms the tower and breaches the walls of isolation. It doesn’t make everything okay, but it makes the darkest hours of the soul tolerable. Tolerable?—–Thinking too hard, feeling too deeply, is a road leading to a cliff just beyond the horizon. I put my thumb over your wrist until I feel your pulse match mine, we gradually fall into a comfortable rhythm. The heart is a muscle because it takes so much strength to reach out to another. Things I wish I’d said, “I choose you.” “If I had to be quarantined for the rest of my life, I’d want to spend it with you.” “You make me wish I were a piano, cause your touch makes me feel like music.” “You make me believe everything is gonna be okay, one moment at a time”. “You’ve always been there for me and I’ll always be there for you.” “You stood up for me when the ones who I thought would give a shit just couldn’t be bothered.” “My heart will always be your 7-11, a bit shabby but open day or night for you.”
Love isn’t like a pair of flip flops that claims one size fits all. I’ve tried on the wrong size only to be left with painful blisters. Sometimes love is something you struggle to squeeze into because it no longer fits comfortably. Sometimes it’s all false bravado and make believe——it takes trust to be allowed inside another’s world——-Be careful who you share you world with, it may leave you with painful blisters and a bad case of athletes foot—-one size doesn’t fit all. I know this because, I have small feet and a big heart. In all this chaos that makes up a life, finding a true friend is a rare and beautiful thing. Things I wish I’d said,“ ”You and I are a good fit”. “I desire you”. “In this world of 7 billion people, I’d always choose you to be my partner”. ”After all the meanness this world can dish out, you somehow make it worthwhile.”. “When my day has been shitty, you have a way of making me feel better”. You taste like spicy chili on a snowy January night, you’re my comfort food.” “You smell like a July afternoon at the beach, a blend of Sea and Ski suntan lotion and a salty sea breeze—-you’re the sun on my face”. “I won’t let anyone hurt you.” “You make me laugh in a world constructed of bullshit and lost promises”.
There are those who will tell you that you have all the time in the world, but that’s a lie. Time is a Salvador Dali clock slowly sliding off the shelf of your life. But we pretend we are immortals, that we can transcend life and death with a foreverness, but forever is like trying to comprehend a blackhole where at its center time stands still. If I could, I’d pull you in beyond the event horizon and give you a forever kiss. And who say’s “Theoretical Physics” can’t be romantic? When I think of these impossible thoughts for too long, I scare myself. My emotions are like the lone hitchhiker on a dark stretch of a deserted highway. Should I stop and pick this stranger up or just keep moving on? You can never be sure who or what you’re letting in. It might be a stranded depression, a deserted memory, or an abandoned truth. Or, perhaps emotions are more like Jenga? You just never know what will happen by pulling out a single block from the tower of teetering blocks. And, if it all comes down, do I have the time to put it all back together? It takes a lot longer to build something than it is to tear it down. Time is a rogue wave, you never see it coming until its crashed on you and swept you out to sea. Things I wish I’d said, “If you were drowning, I’d dive in and save you.” “I feel better just knowing you are out there”. “Thanks for listening.” “Thanks for making me feel like I belong.” “Lets you and I take a walk in the woods.” “When I was ready to take the ten count——When everyone was screaming for me to just stay down, you gave me the strength to get back up, you are my second wind.”
I can’t go back in time so I keep moving. My movement isn’t always forward, sometimes it’s backwards, sometimes in a circle. Movement offers me a false sense of progress. This life seldom dispenses second chances, it offers up lessons. I keep moving, I keep reaching out.
It’s a lonely quest, scavenging through life in search of purpose, love and someone to relate to. To be understood is to be loved. To expect to be understood is “crazy”. If you want to be loved in spite of all your weird idiosyncrasies and foibles, adopt a rescue dog. If you want to be exploited and abused, allow a cat to adopt you…Relationships are built on such subtle differences. Friends will change without telling you, others may ghost you for unknown reasons and some pass away never to be seen again———at least not in this life.
I worry, “Did I let everyone I love know how much I appreciate them in my life (Note to self, tell everyone I appreciate them in my life, excluding those occasional assholes). I fret over the thought that perhaps I never let my parents know how much I respected and loved them. We become so accustom to our parents unconditional love, that it’s easy to take this gift for granted. My parents stuck by me, in-spite all my stupid life decisions. Time goes by quickly, words are free, don’t hold back——let those you care for, know how much you love them.
These days I lack a meaningful connections with others,…….Maybe I could better define this malady as a disassociation syndrome. In other words, so many things no longer fit together—My “Why’s” far out weigh my “How’s”……..The veneer of this thing called reality is wearing thin. Everything seems so unreal and strange to me. I stumble about thinking, “Is this the way things are supposed to be?” “Is this the way I supposed to be?” We all have our own brand of craziness, we just become comfortable by wrapping it in our own private shiny distractions. If you don’t know how the trick is done, then it’s magic——misdirection, sleight of hand, illusion, Love?? Life??
When sitting at a extra long red light, do you ever wonder if perhaps you’re wasting your life
When standing in the chips isle, struggling to choose between Doritos and Barbecue Chips, have you ever found youself questioning if maybe you’re wasting your life
When lying in bed with the snooze alarm going off for the third time do you ever conceive of the notion that you’re probably wasting your life
Have you ever sat in a crowded bar watching everyone laugh, flirt and drink and come to the conclusion that you’re possibley wasting your life
When sitting in front of your big screen watching the same commercial for the third time, have you ever pondered why you’re wasting your life
Sitting silently in a cluttered break room, have you ever decided that you’re definitely not doing what you’d like with your life
Have you ever sat on a couch in the middle of some big party filled with laughter and loud music and despise the idea of wasting your life
Have you ever traded three hours of inebriation for a tomorrow that guarantee’s a headache, sour stomach, a worn outness and once again it leaves you questioning why you’re wasting your life
Has your life ever felt like a grainy B movie with no plot, or a corny country song about a broken hearted cowboy and you find yourself humming along to the soundtrack of his wasted life
Standing in a long line at DMV waiting to renew your vehicle registration, have you ever viewed yourself from above and watched as you wasted away
Sitting on a squeaky pew in an empty church, crumpled up and praying for faith only to find that my guarding angel is refusing to circle, Jesus is busy choosing the next big lottery winner and the fucking silence of it all grows ever more deafening
Have you ever found yourself watching the news, different day, different names, but the same old bullshit and ask yourself why does everyone seems to be wasting their life away
While waiting in a huge line at Starbucks to pay an exorbitant amount of money for a fancy coffee, I suddenly become shocked by the insanity of it all
Does anyone else suffer a similar craziness to it all?????
I pump gas, pay bills, feed the cat, do laundry, shop, cook and clean, only to find myself tearing another month off my calendar
Have you ever walked into another room and forgotten what you came there for, and this is what wasting my life feels like
Amongst all the nothingness of me, I see us flying kites on a windy day and the green field smells of freshly cut grass, the blue sky stretches out to the Sierra Nevada foothills—–and your dress blows up in the wind and it makes us laugh. We let our kites go and I kiss you and it feels like I’m cutting all my strings. And for that small moment, all the nothingness of you and me no longer matters to anyone or anything……