The Hardest Decision

We sat beside each other on the patio, the evening breeze playing with my hair. Rows of tired, dusty houses lined the valley below, sweltering in the sun’s dying rays.

In silence, we sipped our drinks. The words hung heavy in the air: he would be moving soon. To the other side of the country. Leaving me behind.

And he was taking his family with him.

Now, I never said I wanted him to leave them for me. I never foresaw a long-term, committed relationship between us. I knew he would be leaving. I knew it would be without me.

… but yet we were here. He doubted his choice, the only choice he could make. The strongest person I’ve ever known – and he doubted the way he wished to go.

And he wanted, so strongly, to leave with me.

Reaching for my hand, his piercing blue eyes locked with mine. They shone with longing, his desire emanating through his gentle grip. And he said one word.

“Rose.”

That was her name. The name we had chosen. A knife twisted in my heart. A rush of emotions I had locked away for ages – years – came pouring out.

Why did you make me remember our impossible dreams?

We sat in silence. My heart bled openly out of my chest. I watched as it filled the valley, the river, the trees, the wind.

And yet it still flowed.

His hand reached across the divide and settled on mine. A worn, gold glint shone on his left hand.

“Please,” he said, “please don’t let this be goodbye.”

My mind’s cogs raced. I saw myself, a wanderer, a vagabond, years down the road. Alone and isolated. Forever bound, but never free. Bound by this, my sin, my pain, my longing. Afraid to get too close, because of this: my secret.

I will carry it forever.

I squeezed his hand in reply.

“I won’t.”

Honoring a Memory

Soft dust motes drifted lazily in the morning sunlight. His gaunt frame leaned against the windowsill, the sun warming his skin as the wintry town below burnt into his retinas.

The dust continued to gather on the window frame. His chest heaved with a sigh. He tried to forget the dust’s owner was no longer among the living.

Stepping from the shining frame, he made his way back through an aisle of half-filled boxes. She had called him in as a favor; several rooms needed to be repainted before a showing on Friday. Elsewhere, the house was disemboweled: boxes of knick knacks, tools, projects finished and half-realized littered the hallways, powerless without their owner’s hands.

He stooped down by a rather promising box. He set aside the sombrero on top, the sombrero she said flattered him. While he had no need for it, she was also trying to unload her father’s baggage on him.

“It doesn’t feel right, giving all of this away,” she said. Her careworn face flickered with grief, which she hid with a smile. “But I trust you. Take anything you’d like.”

Underneath the floppy hat lay a handyman’s treasure trove: not just the typical wrenches and hammers, but also lathe cutting tools, pry bars, oscillating saws, bevel gauges… his fingerprints were obviously in every joint and corner of the house. His practiced hands had turned this hilltop home into a king’s mansion, every joist and frame carefully and thoughtfully laid.

And now the house was empty, waiting to change hands.

He stood up with a frown. Even with her permission, he felt dirty rummaging through another’s things.

He walked back to the waiting paint cans. He plucked up the roller, and with a small push, a streak of somber grey flew across the pale yellow.

“It seems,” he mused, “I’m wiping out his fingerprints.”

A Self Worth Knowing

Connection. Vulnerability. Authenticity. These words have become my mantra.

Connect to other people. Be vulnerable. Be authentic.

Always a loner, I have learned (somewhat to my dismay) that I can’t go it alone. Being somewhat proud of self-sufficiency and self-reliance, this really bugs me. Almost as much as how networking determine’s one career path.

But looking back (and onward), those times I cherish most, I spent with others. It didn’t matter whether it was serious or not. Banding together with others creates something greater than any individual could have accomplished alone – whether it be a marketing project, a dissertation paper or a kickass game of Magic.

Connection gives meaning and purpose to our lives. Even more than the books we write and the plaques we hang on the wall, it’s about the connections we make on the way and what results from them.

However, that meaning and purpose is only as great as the authenticity and vulnerability we display to others. Deep, meaningful relationships flow from authenticity. Our courage to share our imperfections and messiness draws us together. We can only join together when we acknowledge our mutual humanity.

Which, don’t get me wrong. Being authentic and vulnerable is scary. It’s not socially acceptable. We all know about the following dialogue:

“Hi there! How are you today?”

“Fine. And you?”

“Okay. Well, good to see you.”

“Later!”

I hear that opening phrase and feel an exploding urge to divulge my fears and insecurities. To state why everything is as far from fine as humanity is to curing cancer.

But social etiquette beseeches us to follow its law. You’re fine, they’re fine, everyone’s just fine… don’t rock the boat, and the boat won’t rock you!

But the core of meaningful connection depends upon us reaching past these norms. We must be vulnerable. It is the only way we can become greater than ourselves and find true meaning.

Yet another stumbling block stands in the way of creating meaningful connection: our own sense of worthiness.

If we feel we are not worthy of love and belonging, any relationship makes us feel, by default, inauthentic because we don’t deserve to be treated so well. How can one be vulnerable and authentic to a friend, a lover, or a partner when they feel they don’t deserve love? And so, by default, they must be inauthentic in order to hide their inadequacies?

This is my next task. Before I can find meaning through my connections, I must strive to be vulnerable… to not be afraid, and to realize that I am a self worth knowing.

Nirvana at DTW

Tight leather boots click-clack down the concourse, my suitcase squeak-squeaking behind. Loaded like a pack animal, I squeeze through a herd of wanderers, cloaked and stranded, through Detroit Metro Airpot – DTW.

Tin-can jazz reverberates from the metal scaffolding, soaked by an impenetrable mass of wool, canvas and scarves. My eyes strain for the comforting glow of the departing flight listing. I finally spot it – a holy icon, surrounded by its pilgrims.  Worried looks etch their faces, revealing delays – common as the snowy, scuddy skies shine through the  windows.

Squirming through legs and luggage, my eyes scan the departures. Boston… Cleveland… Orlando… Pittsburgh! On time… Two hours to depart. Good. Transaction complete, I turn to leave. Scanning the flights one last time, other destinations catch my eye: Beijing… Mexico City… Paris… Seoul… Tokyo… 

Images of unseen shores flutter before my eyes. Shouldering my laptop bag, I step away from the tantalizing images.

Relaxed, I begin my favorite airport hobby: people watching. So many, gathered together – neither here nor there. Where have they come from? Where are they going?

A young mother pleads with her inconsolable toddler outside Chili’s, while patrons drain another pint, pretending to not notice. Business owners and unemployed sit shoulder to shoulder by departure gates. Starry-eyed couples and their aged doppelgängers cross paths, one leaving, another returning.

Where have they come from? And where are they going?

Smelling toasted bagels in the air, I make a smart turn. We are all also suffering from poor airport food.

Paper-wrapped prize crinkling my hand, I sit back with my peanut butter and jelly and continue watching. Rush hour is nearing an end, with half the terminal heaving to make it to their flight on time.

Tearing off a chunk of stale bagel, I slowly chew. My mind goes back to those exotic departures. I glance across the corridor – gate A38. Tokyo, Japan. On-time departure. Another bite. The waiting seats are abandoned for the shoddy boarding queue, merging and overflowing into the crowded corridor. Parents pull children close, while students circle around a lone teacher, giving last-minute instructions before boarding.

Tourists and natives stand together, some sweaty-palmed, others weary-faced. Another couple, speaking in hushed tones, straighten their little girl’s jacket and backpack, neatly smattered in cheerful kanji and animal stickers.

A flock of strangers, convened for one 13-hour flight. For one destination.

As the passengers slowly file onto the jet, I think of the skies outside. Planes constantly landing and taking off, filled with people, coming and going. Here I am, at the crossroads of the world.

Settling back, my mind flitted across the globe, tracing it all to this moment.

And I felt as one with the universe.

Announcing: Brave Little Nib!

Before we get started: no, this is not a sequel to Brave Little Toaster.

Commence with shameless plug:

Brave Little Nib is a new blog I’m starting, covering different topics concerning the craft/struggle/improvement of writing, along with grammar and punctuation guides. If you’d like to pop on over and give me a holler, I’d be greatly obliged!

All right, y’all. Back to writing. Until next time!

The Right to Become

A thousand faces of every shade,
Eyes that glow in every glade
Looking up, looking out
Only Asking
To Become.

Promised little more than dust – e’en that
Scooped from beneath their tired feet –
Sold at a premium.
At least the Air
is Free…

Caged and wild, the multitude rips, tears,
kills to grasp at precious baubles, tinged red
with blood. Perhaps now
their false go(l)d will
save them.

Why are infant fingers taught to clench?
Why do their innocent eyes shine green?
Starved for knowledge, beggars
Now moldy Lies
receive.

Marketing us baser pleasures as
a Panacea! Planting Flaws in
our skin, which we flay for
an Ingratiating
Smile.

How can we bare our hearts with love, in
a world armed with scalpels and knives?
“Buy our dreams,” they say,
“and Sleep your Life
away.”

No, I say – our Right is our Birthright.
Our Right to Become, to give birth to
Our Ideal Selves. We must
Strive with every ounce of
ourselves, to now
Become.

Strive with every Heartbeat, to make yours
Felt. Feel it pulse with all of creation,
and in your fellow man!
Risk it all, and
discover your
True Self.

Cirrus

Kneeling in dusty grass
I lift my eyes to the sky
Cirrus stroking azure
Mirroring the waves below
The wind breathes
Across it all

Arms wide, I breath in
Yet the only breath I desire –
The one given to me –
Is gone, snatched,
Thrown beyond
A horizon bruised.

Buried beneath hill,
Hidden by stone and soil,
Flower and grass alone stand vigil,
Forgetting their own charge
As time recedes
And memories decay.

For lost half-moments,
And long-forgotten hours!
Would that these skies and seas
Would give these things
So trifling precious
Back to me.