Thursday, June 30, 2011

Random Night

Managed to slip out front to watch the sunset
while Eli watched TV
and Savvy, Paul played the Disney Princess memory game
she manages to kick our asses at, every single time.

It felt so good to get fresh air,
all by myself.
I thought about what a miracle
it was:
the day had come
when I could slip out
like that, undetected.

I flipped through the library books
I hadn't had the chance to look at,
but I also looked up.
From where I sat,
the sunset orange lit up the house
on the tippy-top of the 
highest hill
Whittier's own Hollywood Sign.

The branches of the tall tall tree behind our rooftop
formed a heart (corny but true).
Another intricate crochet of twigs and leaves
and branches made me think
that words are just like that.
Every twig seems meaningless
on its own but all together
they are a majestic, timeless tree.
A life.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Haircut

     The other day, Paul walked over to me and tried to give me his dusty hair-clipper kit. We'd bought it when Eli was still little enough not to care what happened to his hair, and had only used it once. Paul was forbidden to ever go near Eli with it again after what he did to his poor hair.
     "I need you to shave my head," he said. I laughed at first. Yeah right he was gonna let me mess with his hair. But when I saw he was serious I shook my head no and then more adamantly from side to side.
     Nope. No. No way.
     Can you imagine? I rarely do his laundry because it's never the way he would do it. Why would I risk fucking up something he carries around with him 24/7? You can't just rewash a botched haircut.
     "I've been to Supercuts three times now! The wait is ridiculous! It's not worth the money for the few minutes it takes them to buzz my head!" ...and they take only a few minutes BECAUSE THEY KNOW WHAT THEY'RE DOING!!!!! I reminded him.
     And so ended up outside on the patio. He sat on one of the patio chairs, with only a dusty, cobwebbed window for reflection.
     "Could I in any way hurt you with these?" I asked over the chainsaw buzzing of the clippers. My shaky hand was almost to his skull. I took a deep breath and tried to force only happy thoughts into my head. Love. Peace.
     ...Because of what happened the last time Paul went surfing. It was the last day of our Spring Break and I was done. I'd kicked myself for saying: "Of course!" when, earlier that week, he'd asked if it was OK with me if he went surfing the last Sunday of our break.
     He was heading out the door, surf board tucked lovingly under his arm, a spring in his step I've only seen when he is going surfing.
     He tried to kiss me goodbye as I did the dishes.
     "OK then."
     "What's wrong?"
     "Nothing. Just go. Be careful. Don't drown..." I said.
     An hour later the doorbell rang. He'd had an accident on his surfboard and landed on his knee. He said the pain had been excruciating. It was a good thing he hadn't landed on his head .
     "You cursed me!" he said.
     We joked about my magic powers. But his knee got worse and he kept saying I'd cursed him and while I obviously don't have magic powers, I'd started to wonder if he really believed I'd wished him harm. Wasn't that just the same as an evil spell?
     I held the weap-- ahem--clippers in mid-air. My arm shook. I imagined accidentally carving out a piece of his skull, blood spurting. The peaceful thoughts would not come. Only fear of myself. Self-doubt.
     "Go ahead," he said, "start at my temples."
     Not the temples!  I saw a vein pulsating.  What if I...
     Finally, a connection. Blade to scalp. The hair came off smoothly, like clearing a cornfield. Straight little rows. No blood. My shoulders relaxed.  I could do this.
     "Done," I sighed. Relief.
     ...Only he ran up to the bathroom and said I wasn't. I'd left patches, he said. The hair at his nape was jagged and crooked.
     "You're gonna have to do it bare blade," he said, once again sitting down in front of the dusty window makeshift mirror, "It was too much hair. You didn't get close enough to the scalp." 
     For good reason...
     He handed me the clippers.
     I learned what "bare blade" means...stared at the gash of exposed white scalp right smack in the middle of his skull.
     I tried to fix it.
     I tried to fix it some more.
     "Now I'll have to shave more off..." I said.
     "NO! No! Just leave it." I followed him up to the bathroom and winced as I saw his reaction.
     He seemed to be holding his breath.
     He blinked a lot.
     "You made me..." I whined.
     He exhaled.
     "It's only hair. As soon as the sun hits it it won't be so obvious. It'll even out..."
     I exhaled.
     Was it a test?
     If so, we were both relieved.  All I had power over, really, was a bad haircut.


Thursday, June 2, 2011

The End of Things

     On our way to Eli's soccer game one (way too early) Saturday morning, we drove by Chuck and Sonny's house. They were having a yard sale and I yelled at Paul to stop! It had been way too long since I'd talked to them. I jumped out of the truck, Savvy in tow.
     Chuck saw me first and my heart melted when I saw the smile spread over his face. He came over and gave me one of his bear hugs...hugs like no other. He is a big cozy guy with hugs that I can only explain as home. You never want to have to leave.
     It was his birthday that week and he was turning 54. Sonny is also around that age. They showed off their garden, an impressive maze of color and aroma and many herbs and veggies I'd never even heard of.
     Then they told me that they'd both lost their jobs.
     "What now?" I asked.
     "Don't look so scared," Chuck laughed, "We're taking a month off and then we'll see."
     I just stared. Didn't say what I was thinking as I looked around the house they'd waited so long for. And I hoped that all those people they'd housed and fed and nurtured back to emotional health would step up. I hoped karma would serve Chuck and Sonny well.
     I bought a set of small pea green saucepans with flowers painted on them that I was sure they'd had since the '70's. I'd think of them every time I looked at the funky green treasures.
     And then it was time to say goodbye.
     "Do you ever miss the old times on Friends Ave.?" I asked Chuck.
     "We talk about them all the time," he sighed.
      In our apartment complex, Chuck and Sonny, (grand central),  lived in the front apartment. James and Jason lived above us. During our famous BBQ's, the place became one big commune. The doors of all the apartments would be unlocked and wide open, lights ablaze. We'd walk in and out of each other's pads.
     We'd have BBQ's once a month and the whole block was invited. The guys would somehow get the most reclusive of neighbors to come. There were bday BBQ's, holiday BBQ's, BBQ's because we'd all gotten paid, or because one of us needed a pick me up. Eventually, there was the pre-wedding BBQ for Paul and I :).
     When I moved in and became an official member of the family, they assured me I had nothing to worry about. I was safe with five guys living in the apartment complex.
     "The only reason I'd peep through your bathroom window is to tell you that your bra does not match with your panties, girl," Chuck said.
     Even then, we knew it was too good to last long.
     It was a wink in time. None of us had started our real life:
     ...the overwhelming responsibilities of mortgages and kids and getting old...

     Ahhh...the end of things...
     the end of things hurts.
     My Trishie is retiring. She has been one of my best friends for almost 20 years. She saw me through long flippy hair, short dikey hair. She was one of the few who was excited when I decided to get dreadlocks.
     She has made me eat my words when I got married and had two kids. Once upon a time I was single and angry and adamant about keeping my freedom.
     My mantra was: "Wedding Rings. Golden Shackles."
     Monday mornings she'd anxiously await a story about a date I'd been on that weekend.
     She was the only one I wanted in the room the first time I tried breastfeeding at home. The baby screamed because it wasn't working and she just sat there, talking as if all was normal.
     When Eli's teacher told me he'd be "suspended" from pre-school if he doesn't potty train by the end of the month, Trish said, "I don't know any 18-year-olds who aren't potty trained."
     About every crisis she said, "I don't know any 18-year-olds who...[fill in the blank]"
     She baked a birthday cake for EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US, EVERY SINGLE YEAR.  I swear some of those people didn't even remember their own bdays until they saw their cake.
     I can't begin to imagine how many are on her bday list now.
     People humbly ask her to please be added to the list.
     She decorated the cakes with fresh flowers, picked from the school garden
     I would see her at that garden picking flowers, while I was caught up in some meaningless work-related drama. Suddenly my shoulders would relax. I had to smile.
     "New flowers won't grow if the old ones are still there," she'd explain, and off she'd walk back to her classroom, nose buried in sweetpeas.
     It had been a while since we'd left the yard sale at Chuck and Sonny's house and Savvy was worried.
     "Are we lost, mommy?" She didn't wait for me to answer. She knows me well enough. Of course we were lost. She started to cry because we'd missed Eli's game.
     Just then, we crossed the street and started walking on a block lined with shedding Jacaranda trees.
     "It's raining purple!" Savvy said, her face turned up, an offering to the sky. She spun around as a breeze kicked up and purple petals rained down on us.
     I looked up at the anemic looking trees and thought it sad that they'd have to lose such beautiful blooms.
     "New flowers won't grow if the old ones are still there," Trish would say.