Friday, October 02, 2015

Passion for Sale

I wrote this a while back and I'm sharing now because it's time I've reclaimed my writing self on my blog. I got the idea for this story from a sign in an art gallery. If you have the time to read it, I hope you like it and I'd like to know either way.


Passion For Sale

It was unusual to hear her alarm: the first time she’d set it since she moved to Bangor. But she was going to be there when the doors opened, so there would be no chance of missing out.
     She chose a purple lightweight top that matched her fitted jeans. She wiggled into the sandals she had bought in Harwich the last day of the trip, just before Brady left for grad school. She decided upon the slightest mascara and a satin plum blush, not something she normally wore, but she wanted to look long and slim and shimmered today. 
     She arrived at the market at 10:03 am and was surprised that there was no line. She was not sure whether to go directly to customer service or to the cashier line, but instead she stopped the lanky teenager in the grocery section, stacking avocados just so.
     “Excuse me,” she said. “Where do I find the passion special? I’d like three pounds.”
     The boy nodded. “Oh the passion on sale for $ 4.99 a pound? It’s not us. It’s Bernasky’s Market down the street. Just a block from here.”

She was chagrined. So much for a reliable alarm clock when she had the address wrong. She walked to the swinging doors and on to the sidewalk where the sun was strong. 
     “Oh damn,” she thought. She hurried her pace until she reached Bernasky’s and sure enough, there was a line. Five people ahead of her, four women and one man who looked to be in his early 30’s, John Lennon glasses and a neatly trimmed beard not quite hiding the nervous twitch of his upper lip. 
     Most of the women were her age, except for the one who looked like a plus sized Joni Mitchell. Bigger Joni stood in line, holding her purse in front of her with both hands, her legs swaying softly to keep her nervousness in check. 

     The line moved quickly and before she knew it she was sitting across from  a woman with grey wild hair and kind eyes and a clipboard. 
     “Are you here for the passion special? she asked.
     “Yes, I’d like three pounds.”
     “Oh dear, I’m sorry. We have a limit of two pounds per customer.” The woman smiled at her. “But that’s okay. Two pounds won’t last you as long but it’s just as potent.” Then the woman looked at the clipboard. “I have to screen you before we can sell you the passion at the sale price. State law.”
     “That’s okay,” she said. She knew this part already.

“There are five questions. Don’t worry about the perfect answer. It’s not really a test.”
     She nodded. 
     “The first question: do you have experience with astonishment?”
     How should I answer? she thought. Should I just say, ‘yes’ or does she want to know specifics? Keep it simple, Brady had told her so many times. 
     “Yes,” she said. “Quite a bit.”
     “Good,” the woman said. "That is a definite prerequisite. If you don’t know how to be astonished, the passion won’t work. We have people come back looking for refunds even though we told them upfront no refunds. We want to make sure about the astonishment.”
     She nodded.
     “Next, do you have any physical limitations?”
     Oh dear, she thought. What does she mean? Should I tell her that sometimes I am frozen in place or that when it’s the best I cry? 
     “Do you mean am I healthy?” she asked.
     “Well, kind of. Passion is powerful and it moves quickly. We want to be sure you your body will hold up.”
     “Oh yes,” she answered. “I’m more than fine.” She almost laughed out loud at that. My body is definitely more than fine, she thought. In fact,  passion makes me stronger. 

    “Okay, good.” The woman leaned forward, just a little.
      “Question 3: Do you understand that passion is a natural resource and must be handled with reverence?"
     This question caught her off guard. She had spent what seemed like all of her life seeking answers to so many questions and never once had she trounced on reverence. She was upset with herself that her hunger too often governed her choices, true, but she knew reverence.
     “Yes I understand,” she said. Her voice dropped and the woman noticed.
     “This makes you sad? the woman asked.
     “Yes,” she answered. Oh what the hell, she thought. Why not say. 
     “I’m here because I’ve been unable to afford passion. When I saw it was on sale today I couldn’t pass it up. It’s awful to live without it. It’s one thing to never have it because then you probably don’t know. But to have passion, to feel it overtake you  and then lose it, that is very difficult.”
     The woman with the grey hair let go of her pen and put her hand over the clipboard. 
“Honey, I wish I could give you three pounds. But I can’t. I can only give you two. It should be enough. I have some concern that your sadness might dilute what you hope for. This is not a guaranteed product. It requires abandon, in a way. You know?”
     “Yes, I know,” she said. She looked directly at the woman. Wild grey hair and kind eyes. “Is this organic passion?” she asked her.
     “Yes, the woman said. “I’ve used it for many years. It’s never let me down. But when you’re not sure I’ve found it’s best to start with a small dose and let it build up.”
     “How so?” she asked.
     “Well,” the woman said, “Obviously, the recipe for physical passion is the best. Oh my god. Pity anyone who has not felt that.” She smiled. “At first I didn’t know about other passions. Marshes with ponds and cattails. Foxes at the horizon. The right kind of telephone ring. You’ll only need two tablespoons to get to that kind of passion. That’s what I mean. Two pounds will last you.”

"But I don’t recommend starting with fireworks, if you know what I mean. That can take up to a cup and if you choose the wrong person, that could even void the sale. And we can’t give refunds.”
     She nodded. Thank you,” she said.
     “Two more questions, honey.”
     “Sure,” she said.
     “What do you know about astral projection?”
It was her turn to smile. “I know where you’re going with that question. Out of body, definitely. I treasure that. I could be swept up and tossed into the middle of the universe and my last feeling would be total mindful peace. But I know how to come back too.”
     “Oh that’s important. To come back. God is in the details.”
The woman leaned toward her again. “Last question. Do you know the policy on sharing?”
     “Yes. No passion without sharing.”
     “That’s right. And that seems to be tricky for a lot of people. Passion is such a private thing, after all. But a conscious attempt to keep it to yourself doesn’t work. There is some community required. Otherwise, it’s just a transaction. Do you understand?”
     “Yes,” she said. 
     “Okay, take this receipt to register number four. Oh wait, they'll ask you paper or plastic. Say paper.”

Finally confident that two pounds on passion at the sale price of $ 4.99 pound was now hers, she spread her arms and grinned wider than she had since Brady went to grad school.
     Ma'am,” she said. “Neither. I’ll tuck that passion under my breastbone and I’ll carry it with me right now, past the broken fire hydrant across the street, past the snow cap hydrangea in front of the fire station, past the little dog with one eye who wags when he sees me. I”ll carry my passion with me under my breast bone and I will use it freely. Even though I’ll save some for the earth to move right under me.”
     “I know you will, honey. I can tell it’s working for you already.”

     “Yes,” she said. “That could be the sixth question: “Do you know it kicks in as soon as you are ready?”
     “Have an astonishing day," the woman with the wild grey hair told her.

Oh yes, she said. Oh yes oh yes oh yes. 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Sunday Morning

Here's a first world problem: I'm here, this very place is barely a block away from where I sit now, I work very part-time in a lucrative job I quite enjoy, I have time to create a landscape and garden in my new tiny yard, I have a family I would easily die for, I'm 250 pages into the writing of a novel that excites and pleases me, I have enough money to fill the refrigerator and fill my fancies.

It's not all rosy: my back and hips and knees are an orthopedic mess. Much of the time I pretend I will lose weight and commit to the gym and then I will be able to walk a mile, or two or three, as I used to, but really, today, I limp when I walk and I walk less than ever. I've called the gym and I will go again, but I don't like the intrusion of it. I'm a sedentary person, a writer, a counselor, happy on the couch.

Besides that sometimes I'm lost, as in unrooted. JB is having her own hard time and though we try to help one another, that old adage that  you have to know how to swim before you can rescue someone else applies here. My biggest problem--the one that gnaws at me--is that I am too far from my daughter and her children--my grandchildren--to be woven into their daily life and daily needs--a ride to soccer practice, an early morning fill in because one of the kids is sick and there's a big work presentation required. My feelings vacillate between sadness for not moving right next door ("No, Mom, I don't think that would work; you should move where you want, really") and worrying that more and more I will become less and less prominent in my family's fabric ("Don't take this the wrong way, Mom, we're fine.")

I told you this was first world stuff. I won't prolong this post by daring to compare my actual status to the families and tragedies in Syria or to the heartless appearance of a lost job or a relentless cancer cell. I know better; I know good fortune when I see it. But yes I'm melancholy. I think (hope) it's temporary--so many changes and challenges in the past year. Now from this small beautiful land surrounded by the sea, how I figure out (try) how to walk well again and how I make certain I connect enough and well with my beloved family: these are my thoughts this Sunday morning, the kindest breeze coming through the window next to me.

Working on what matters by thinking. And not thinking. 

(nice to be blogging again)


Saturday, September 12, 2015

Cape Cod USA and Two New Arrivals :^)

Well, this is not entirely true. I love fancy meals and I'll spend my last dime on books and anything for the garden. But the last year has been one of paring down: clothes, thoughts, priorities, possessions. I want a mind without clutter and a heart with plenty of room.  

So it is that JB and I have sold our house and three weeks ago moved into a smaller version inside and out. By the sea. At the land's end. To a peninsula with 20.000 summer people and maybe 700 winter people. This is a place where I will finish my second novel and hope it's as fine as I think it might be.

And JB has her own studio 'downtown,' at Whaler's Wharf. Here's her collage work on metal. She's talented. Not yet confident, but talented. 

Here it is! This is low tide a block from our house. Provincetown Massachusetts, at the tip of Cape Cod, home to crabs and seagulls and cormorants and seals and whales sharks and shells and wavy sand. And now home to us too.

This is a typical view when strolling along Commercial Street, a three mile main street from the east end to the west end. It's so calm, walking along and seeing this. Can you tell?

And these are the Flower Cottages, one after another, booked by returning families years in advance. Tiny. Simple. Charming.

 This is how I want to approach life and this is how I want to feel most of the time. It's not how I feel now but I'm facing that there are reasons for that. Transitions take time.

One huge transition: my Mom died. She somehow managed to tell us--one by one-- that she loved us and she died with the same grace and dignity that filled her life. I won't stop missing her. I love you, Mom.

Provincetown is known for the amazing way light bounces off the water. I doubt this photo has been photoshopped. There are times when the sky and bay look exactly like this. I've seen it.

And OMG. Gay marriage became the law of the land. In my lifetime! I used to stutter over the use of pronouns: not daring to say 'she' when 'she' was the right word. No more. Still need to be vigilant and aware of safety in many parts of the world, but legal equality and public affirmation feels AWESOME.

For what I hope will continue for years ahead, my daughter and family come to the Cape each summer for a week's vacation. This was the summer that baby Reese became a toddler and not-so-brave Logan stopped being afraid of the pool. Enlarge this shot of him, please. His joy is so darling.

How about this bay view at lunch? Ross' Grill. Terrific. 

And finally, two boxes of books are unpacked and have a home. Early mornings I find myself sitting on the futon in the little blue room and just staring at them. I don't know why but I find contentment in these books. 

There. That's what I'm up to. They'll be more photos coming and more about life on Cape Cod. And life with four wild and wonderful grand kids. And life as a writer and a counselor and wouldn't it be nice if I took up kayaking? And watched a storm heading in over the bay in December? And wouldn't it be nice if I could just take a breath and settle down? Not yet. I'm here and it's nice and surely that will be enough. Soon I hope. Once I calm down and settle in. :^)


Friday, September 04, 2015

Here. I. Am.

Well: we're here. JB and I arrived in Provincetown 10 days ago, followed by a 35 foot moving truck 3 days after that. It's been STRESSFUL and EXHAUSTING--what seems like months of packing and sorting and planning and scheduling….and feeling. Possessions aren't just things: they're memories. I've cried a bit packing those boxes. It's been hard to downsize--books, clothes, papers and pens--but I did it and I'm doing it and I'm glad.

Moving to Provincetown feels almost perfect except for the fact that my daughter and SIL and 4 precious fascinating grandchildren are two hours away. Maybe that doesn't sound like much of a distance, and it isn't, but it's far enough that I wasn't there to hear about the first day of school and I can't spontaneously take them to my new beach. Still, on Monday we traveled that 2 hours and took the two older boys to play miniature golf and then games at the arcade, and then lunch at Pizzeria Uno. And afterwards, JB and I took these two 'littles'--shown here--out for ice cream and chased them in the park across the street. 

Simple good times that embed simple good memories. That is how I want these kids to remember me. And how I want them to know how much I love them.

JB has a studio at Whalers' Wharf, located on the third floor of an open air building that is just fantastic. She is excited in an extraordinary way and that makes me excited too. As for me, this 1400 square foot house is feeling good and so is the small areas of our small yard. I will take my turtle time and landscape each. 

I am also getting ready to write again, to return to my almost finished novel; first draft finished, not yet edited or shopped around. I will need a routine here and I don't have it yet, which is fine with me.

It's been pretty emotional moving. My Mother died where I have moved from and even irrationally I feel like I've left her alone. Too, I will miss the farms and fresh fruit and vegetable stands and some friends and the house. The new owners are painting all the walls white: I'm hoping the house won't mind….

If you are still reading this, please excuse the fact that this is all about me and says very little; just a broad update on my comings but beneath it all a wish for a happy life here for JB and me. I think we have a good shot at that. I wouldn't presume or dare ask for more than hope. 

I think I'll be back to blogging soon. I miss it here. Meanwhile, I'll be catching up on your blogs and sending waves of gratitude and abundance into the universe. Life is hard but damn sometimes it glimmers.


Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Thursday Thirteen

 What a bear it is to prepare and pack to move. Even though I've done it before, I had no idea. I am dreaming about boxes and missed deadlines. Exhaustion reigns throughout #9.

So I'm posting from older photos to tease myself into believing that, like before, better times are coming. Maybe you could use a hopeful reminder too.

Meanwhile, please pray for me. Even if you don't believe….

first grand
first time my book appeared in a window (swoon)
first time I worked with children
no comment needed
first book on careers, which has not been finished.
first best yard
first early evening in Northampton
first roses
i just like it 
first wonderful Mother ever
first favorite book (after Anne of Green Gables)
first reason to appreciate a beautiful world 
first reason to appreciate the light where I'm moving to

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Moving Memories

They look like just things and boxes, but it's a trick. Every book I pack for Saturday's yard sale, every china cup I let go of, even as I discard the yearly calendars that span back twenty years: they are all alive. Not things at all. 

I knew it was serious when I came across my daughter's tiny love letters and scribbles, written to me from her long ago kindergarten classroom that is no doubt much like the one her children now occupy; those same children who write me new love letters and scribbles. It's killing me to discard the old for the new, but I will not have room. I am moving and even if I managed to find extra space, it's time for me to rely on my memories as pure stardust and no longer on their physical substance.

My son-in-law's Father died two days ago. A freak terrible accident in his yard in Northern Maine, and  his children and the wife he left but always loved must face a sudden loss with no good-bye. Anything can happen: I know that. This kind of instant grief insists that I remember the high cost of regret. It's important that I love now and that I make that love clear and unmistakable. It's important to do the right things.

I am moving from a wonderful house. Box by box it is being unraveled and yet even as it empties it is still proud and whole. The hot tub has been sold. Furniture is on Craig's List. Saturday we will have a giant yard sale with relief that we will be lighter at the end of the day (hopefully.) I am moving to a place I know by the sea and it is well familiar to me and yet, I have no real idea what my life will be like there. The last months and the next months ahead are filled with so much exhaustion that I can barely imagine unwinding into a true pace of leisure. I will still work and I will indeed finish my story of the Macabees and I only hope my bum knee and hip will let me walk more and take in the healing ocean air. I hope I will have new friends and be visited by my old friends and I know I will travel every other week across a long bridge and on a long highway to see my daughter and son-in-law and four small children who still squeal and run to me every time I arrive. 

All of this and I have pneumonia! It's come from depletion and it is thankfully mild. In between packing and sorting and planning I rest on the couch and think about my luck of the draw. I now know I had very good parents. They are responsible for my core strength and integrity. I am no angel but I am honest and decent. Because I had very good parents. 

I am glad to be here at my blog tonight. I have a home here. It too has changed but the stardust of my memories is forever. Good that I know that. I hope you know that too about your own stardust memories. Memories are gold. You can't go wrong sharing them.


Monday, June 22, 2015

Selling A House (Not Just Any House) Part I

With his own hands and help from his stepbrother and father, my Father built this house in the early 1940's. I  just learned the foundation was dug out by hand, no machines, by a number of men who came from afar to help over a weekend.

What you are looking at is a solid house neglected over the past five or six years and also my Father's treasures and their display in his room in the cellar. 

We were advised to upgrade the electrical, fix the brick steps, things like that, but to pretty much sell the house as a fixer upper, After the tenant moved out, it was an unclean mess. Call it intuition or conviction or whatever, but I never wavered: there was no way in holy hell I would let my Father's house be sold looking like that. 

I was right. After a mason, electrician, two handymen-carpenters, landscaper, cleaner, and exhausted JB and myself: here is the house that made it's debut barely a week ago "for sale." The photos are fantastic: it doesn't look quite this charming, but honestly, we did a hell of a job. And my father's solid solid work--not one crack in the smooth walls when the wallpaper came down, and his perfect hardwood floors even after all these years--his quality just shines. 

Look here:

It was clean as a whistle. It sold in three days. I'm so glad for my parents. Before it's too late, my brother and I and our families will sit in the kitchen again, and eat pizza. 


P.S. I know I'm absent here. I expect to be back, to be writing more. For now, it be true that I is in a whirlwind. A bit of a tornado, even.