Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Benefit of Trees

I’ve watched the trees always. They bend and twist, reaching for the sun, creating tunnels for cars. Shading the roads.

I bend, twist, and reach too. I’m not looking for the sun. I feel kin to the trees though. Shading and protecting others while I strain towards my goal.

Me and the trees aren’t free. Birds are free to roam. We are rooted in the ground. We go down as we grow up. We hold on below as our arms stretch ever upward.

The sun is billions of lengths from the trees. Is my goal? My dream. I am awake enough to know when there is no hope of success, aren’t I? I am not as the trees, unknowing and needy.

I am connected to my home. But my legs aren’t buried in dirt to my knees and growing ever downward. I can walk though I can’t fly. I can find the sun and the wind without growing. My movement is freer.

No one ever told me, before I figured it out, that the trees looked for the sun and that is why they bend. I just looked at them and knew. Only later did I have evidence (photosynthesis and all that).

Trees stay alive by reaching up and down at the same time. Is that how I change? Do I need to connect to my roots while looking into the future? That is how we humans live and grow and learn.

Perhaps we should take our lessons from the trees. Studying them always.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A dream told me...

My sister wanted to be a poet. At first I was surprised of this career choice coming from an acclaimed perfectionist - for poets do not gain success or money easily (those qualities included in the perfect life). Once I focused on the writing of poetry, though, I saw her appeal for it. Metered lines, perfect rhymes. The model for perfection.

She claimed that with her best friend she would run up and down the aisles of the school auditorium for exercise. Sometimes they would hide from the janitor behind the orchestra wall. They did this when she got writer’s block. It is hard to imagine my sister running to avoid writer’s block. Perhaps her marathons are remnants of those days.

I’ve been comparing my sister to myself forever. When she followed the pictures on the Lego box I found that boring and created masterpieces with whatever was left over. I claim myself abstract. And here I see it too. I require freedom of words and sentences and fragments. She needs a structure to place words into.

I just found out in a roundabout way that my sister wrote poetry. She is not a poet. She is an accountant. Her structure is evident (in gaining success and money easily). I guarantee she would have been a better poet than I a writer. I am more accustomed to breaking the mold I suppose.

I find it much more difficult to abandon my childhood dream for a successful life. Life will be difficult no matter which path I choose. I’d like to live the happier one. However, there is always time to reconsider this. An unsuccessful writer cannot stand beside a successful accountant and feel good. Perhaps freedom comes at a price. Perhaps this is why my sister is not a poet.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Grand Adventure: Part II

During my whole bus adventure, I had been keeping in contact through text message with a friend. Wanting to let them know that I was alright and made it home, I dug into my bag. Problem was, no phone.

I have this habit where I place my phone on one leg while I’m waiting for text messages so that my hands are free but it is within reach for quick responding. A few times I’ve done this in the car (since it is illegal to use cellphones in the car, I always want ready access to my phone as soon as I stop) and then gotten out of the car, leaving my phone to slide onto the seat without my noticing. This time, that occurred on the public bus.

Normally I would despair. Losing my phone unleashes so many problems from cancelling service to people worrying about me to getting a new one to not getting my errands done because I freak out about it. I must have been high on the community feeling though, because I quickly formulated a plan.

I figured out when the bus would come around a second time (about an hour), and ran some errands while I waiting. While I was checking my work schedule, one of my coworkers called my phone with no answer. I used social media to get in touch with the friend I had been texting with on the bus so they knew I was alright.

I caught the bus on its trip around and asked the bus driver about my phone. He was gruff, but he told me it would be in the lost and found at the main bus terminal. I knew where that was! I hopped in my car and drove over, even remembering to bring quarters for the meter. When I reached the lost and found I described my phone. The kind woman said she did not have that phone, but that the bus I was on parks on the main floor, so they wouldn’t receive it until the following day. Though I knew my day was busy, I didn’t think it would be too difficult to come back the next day. I went home to finish unpacking.

When I returned home I had several emails and messages, all from the friend I had contacted. He had called my phone and Supervisor 57 had answered, saying he’d be in the main bus terminal until eleven. Though I had just been there, I turned around and went back.

After wandering the now closed terminal, looking for a sort of office and asking the Dunkin’ Donuts clerk if she knew where I could find a supervisor to no avail, I saw a man who looked like a cop talking to a bus driver. He was right by the lost and found office, so I wandered over there. The uniformed officer asked me what I was looking for. I replied, “Supervisor 57.” That was him. There is a picture of me on my phone, so I didn’t even need identification (which is good because I had left it in the car). I thanked him profusely and went home to finally finish unpacking.

I was so giddy about having my phone back I contacted everyone, asking about plans and work schedules and everything. I went to write down a time in my planner, and that is when I started laughing. My planner was missing too.

I walked through my frantic phone search and concluded it was at work. I ran barefoot down the street until I was about halfway there when I realized I had filled prescriptions from my planner after I had checked my work schedule. I called the pharmacy and they had my planner. Now being a crazy person who forgets everything and runs around barefoot, I kept laughing at myself all evening. I collected my planner that night and actually got a few errands done.

End Part II

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Grand Adventure: Part I

Yesterday was an adventure. The truth is, I don’t know how it got to be that way. Normally I’m five minutes late for work and my heart starts racing and I possibly yell and cry in the car about my stupidity at being late. But yesterday everything went wrong and there were no shredded tissues.

It all began with a plane ride. For reference, I hate planes. They’re loud and they vibrate and people are obnoxious and I never sleep on planes. Yesterday I met a man who exclaimed about how he had too many pockets he could never find his boarding pass. I sat next to a man with jerky elbow syndrome (as in his elbow jerked and he also took my armrest - jerk). But I dozed. I DOZED! The sun came in at just the right angle and the loudness of the plane overcame the voices of the children in front of me begging for Monster energy drinks and there was just enough muscle in my arm to lean my head on so that my rib cage was no where near jerky elbow guy. It was glorious. Instead of thinking about being home in my bed I dozed off to thoughts of what it might be to be a flight attendant, snuggling newlyweds, and the next trip I might take. I even surfed the airlines website to check!

While I do love the bus for its cheapness, getting lost makes me very nervous. I considered taking a cab several times before concluding that I had the small fare and knew the route well enough to use the bus. It was a beautiful and warm day. I get hyper-aware when I’m travelling though so I did not sucome to the drowsy warmth of the bus as did one of my fellow passengers. He was neck-bobbing right in front of me, jerking awake every time his head hit ninety degrees to his body. He didn’t smell, so I didn’t mind.

At the last second I realized I was at my transfer point (a two-named road), but the bus idled for several minutes so I had time to hop off with my body bag of a suitcase. The problem with transfer points? There were stops on every corner of this intersection. How was I to know which one led to the right bus route? I crossed the street, crossed back, almost met my previous bus at its next stop. An older man slowed his SUV to ask if I wanted a ride. Seriously, what lone young woman would accept that ride? He was sketchy just for asking, even if he was just trying to be nice.

It didn’t occur to me as I was wandering with my three bags that I looked a bit out of place. In fact, it didn’t occur to me until a man pointed it out. He asked me if I meant to go to the projects. I cocked my head in confusion before looking around. I realized then that I was supposed to go in the opposite direction and crossed the street. A woman told me I missed the bus, but I confirmed with her that it wasn’t my bus. Then I stood by the sign she pointed to, waiting for the next one of my buses. I watched children playing on the fire escape and people walking with their groceries.

I started to worry the young woman had misled me, so I wandered back to the stop I had left. Then I did miss the bus. I saw it slide by, wondered briefly if I might catch it at the next stop, and then went to stand by its previous stop. Perhaps another bus of the same type would come around soon. There I met a man with groceries, waiting for his girlfriend. He called to check for the next bus and confirmed it would be thirty minutes. I considered offering them cookies I had in my bag for helping me. I couldn’t decide if it would be rude not to or condescending to. I considered my out of placeness. I felt like a brat, spoiled yet determined. I was happy for their help, though.

I watched a young girl reading a letter, wondered if she was a writer or if it was a note from her best friend. I watched the couple go in opposite directions, one going to purchase cleaner, one to check on her aunt’s house where an ambulance pulled up and turned in, both leaving the groceries to be watched over by me. I figured if they trusted me and their neighbors enough to leave the groceries, I wasn’t in any danger. It was sunny and there were children playing.

Then another man wearing a beautiful linen suit crossed the street. I thought he might know the couple, but he walked right up to me as I was putting my bus fare in my pocket. He called me “dear” and asked if I was alright. I confirmed that I was. I told him about my predicament and he confirmed that I was at the correct bus stop, surprised that I knew my route and had the correct fare. After he gave a look and a nod to the couple, gesturing at me, he walked back across and down the street. This would never happen where I am from. Even if someone is nice, they don’t necessarily check on a stranger who looks lost or out of place, and they do not assure their protection by linking them to other strangers. This was a community. An actual community, where people let their kids play outside with each other, acknowledge even strangers, and form bonds. Suddenly I felt less like a brat, more pitied and inexperienced.

The bus came. My stop came. I thanked the bus driver and scooted home to relax, unpack, and run errands. Those things almost happened.

End Part I

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Gray-Green Faded Shirt: For Anne

My father is a practical, if not logical, man. He saves and he saves. When asked for what he does not know. Money, clothes, shoes, etc. all get saved. If it can be used, then it stays.

St. Patrick’s Day comes along once a year. My father, who is not a proponent of the color green, still has an aversion to ignoring traditions. Plus, who wants to get pinched. Every year, he digs down deep in his drawer of t-shirts, which is not very far. There he finds a once-green shirt. It is the color of an old green grape. Still green, but sick green and faded. A sort of gray-green-ness. He spends the day wearing this shirt and convincing others that it is green, which I have to admit it once was.

This year, his wife (who is logical, but not always practical), bought a bright green t-shirt for my dad. It has a beer mug on it, so pretty acceptable in the realms of both St. Patrick’s Day and my father. The problem presents itself, however, that my father will not accept this shirt. He will say, “Why did you spend money on that? I don’t need a new shirt. I have an old green shirt I’ve been wearing forever.” And so she cannot present the shirt to him.

So begins a roundabout exchange that only my father would accept. His wife must place the shirt where my father will find it, as though it has been in his drawer all along. He will see it many times, wonder where it came from, but he won’t ask. He will assume he cannot remember buying it. Slowly, the shirt will become part of the t-shirt drawer. If it is not there when he opens the drawer, then he wonders where it is. It becomes part of the stuff he would never give away. It has not outlived its usefulness. It can be recycled a million times.

On St. Patrick’s Day, his wife will suggest he wear the nice green t-shirt. It is on top of the pile, so why not?

The gray-green mess will fade to the bottom of the drawer. Eventually it will go in the rag pile (his wife will sneakily clean out the t-shirt drawer, ridding it of all illogical clothing). Dad will ask about the shirt. He will believe he has misplaced it. He will notice it while cleaning up a spill one day. In his head, a story will appear about the shirt having an ugly stain or a tear. This will satisfy my father. The shirt will remain practical to keep.