Category: journey

Trusty Ball

There was a group sitting in padded chairs and sofas, in the gather area. I stood on the edge of the area. The guys were tossing a paper ball across the piled up coffee table, they looked like collapsed camels with their legs folded under them. Books and binders were taking up as much space as the people . Walking by,she noticed that there was a chestnut brown girl who was crying and writing as fast as she could.
Focusing on the discussion, she heard anger and energy bouncing as much as the paper ball was being tossed . Catching the ball, her friend, Sam glared around the group. ” they will SAY ANYTHING, anything to keep their influence! They are no different from the guys that expanded the war! ”
Sandy grabbled with the clasp on her binder. ” Some of the ideas ARE WORTH TALKING about!” She yanked on the binder. It yielded and she pulled a folder out. ” The forests are growing and the ground is less moist, Michael Lewis studied the crops, and found that the yield is ten times what it was in years past!”
A wheat colored hair, chunky guy tossed the ball in the air while he spoke. ” What is not discussed are the reasons why-? The science programs that are not disclosed. The money that has gone into the treasury and disappeared. What have they done with it? ” Another ball was thrown at the guy, the balls collided and dropped.
” What trust can be put in the facts reported,? What facts are actual and what is just cobbled together and put forth?” One of the guys who was munching on straws in his mouth, questioned.
The Ginger girl with her brown eyes blazing. ” Trust! what is that ? Facts! what are they?” They destroyed anything! They destroyed any chance at independence!”
The girl who had joined them for snacks the previous week and was always drawing while they all talked, put down her wired drawing book “Do you want to travel and make notes of the events and grounds yourself ? If we are all doing research alone, What then? Tell other people what you found out? THEN trust each other? Besides, being exhausted, and having lots of the same info, who is going to put actions into making the problems and matters straighten out? At some point the material is brought together and the issues are going to be highlighted. Do you think all of us have enough time to verify and do anything else?” She picked up the ball, colored on it, and then batted it.
The Ball went way up. Sam stood up and reached for it. ” After all the observations, and discussions – THEN?! Who can do the work? Each class, each research team? The group down in the courtyard? Nothing gets completed because we argue and point at the other people and they at other people, too “. Sam rolled the ball in his hands.” We have been divided for so long.” He cupped the ball with the palms of his hands . ” As long as we are divided and not listening nor working together,- THE POWER PEOPLE- who are making their way- the ONLY WAY, will be very happy. How much pain and hurt stands up and blocks everything!?” He pitched the ball and swatted it.

Into the Lair

We entered the hallway with the ribbons draped across the windows. The Sun was bright and cast shadows over the tables set up in the hallway. People were moving, handling packs on shoulders, backs and in carts which they pushed in a wheelie dance in and out of the groups.
All kinds of people were lining up and standing around at side tables. Many didn’t look happy, and several were chugging on a sour looking green bottle. Girls with bright colors on their nails, packs and hair ribbons ,were chewing on their hair, nails or tassels of their packs. Colors that I had been searching and which were missing from the flower books, were here in the hallway. Everywhere around me was a canvas of colors , reminding me of the riot of clothes worn on 60’s day at work , a short time back. The air wasn’t cold, but the fur tufted sleeves and pants fashion didn’t show it. Smiling , I twisted sideways to let a “horsey set ” of kids mosey on.
” They are going to have to clean up before they go to class. Thesh bok.!” He looked angry and put offish. I straightened up and puzzled. ‘Thesh bok!’ I murmured. ” We certainly are from different parts of the country!” He didn’t smile or respond . I frowned and squeezing his hand, I smirked a half smile.
” What do ya mean, clean up? They look clean and colorful . ” His expression irritated me. Somehow, I felt like defending their rights. They weren’t prisoners in uniforms?- I stopped . maybe? there were some stringent uniform codes. I grimaced .
” I certainly am not dressed up anywhere nearly as much as some of the girls lined up across the hall.” I was shuffling through the packet I had been handed, when I walked in . I hadn’t read any of it, from the looks of the lines of students, I should have. Several groups juggled their books and walking past me, spun me around. My packet scattered like petals in a wind. I looked around and found myself the center of attention amidst many smiles ,several girls caught at the paper petals.
Tall, dark and mysterious stranger smiled at the girls and collected the papers without a sound. Tucking the papers into his own notebook. ” Come on , let’s go in here. ” He slid between tables and through an open door. I followed into a small carpeted room with the usual bulletin boards, table and chairs . The colors were a soft lavender and some greenish teal that were popular in several of the rooms in the manor. Dropping the notebook and his pack onto the chair, he pulled out some money and put it in a box on the table. Opening a cabinet , he took out some glasses and a bottle of green stuff. It still did not look appetizing. I curled my lips and nose, looking around, all I saw were some napkins in a basket: some slots with reams of paper, cabinet doors and small wire boxes with pens, scissors and stained rollers of rubber?

Tangled


” Approve day is chaos. ” He chuckled, “Everyone standing around usually not in the right place. ” He pulled an opener from the basket.
“Admin trying to sort out the students and the visitors. Instructors trying to see who is admitted into their compounds. Bickering over the type of people and the standards of who is to be here? ” He stared off at the wall behind me.
” Values are hard to agree on. Even Instructors, who agree on ideas, collide on principles. Values and ideas selections are hurtful and helpful. The reasons for – ?” He stopped ,threw his shoulders back and look over my shoulder ,that far away look again. “There are no clear, short or easy principles to decide ways. Wounds are deep even the new denial ones.”
” I’m sure that there are some critieria to balance needs and fairness. ” I wetted my lips and,staring at a poster of rules above the supplies on the wall. I pondered and felt my ID badge. ‘ I had not had to stop at any lines, I didn’t have to answer any questions or do anything. There were many students with backpacks and demeanor who look far more like they belong than I did. ‘ I looked around a “teachers’ lounge” obviously, off limits to any of the people outside the door. Shoving the green bottle across the table, he smiled -a full smile at me. ” You look thirsty, AND YES Marie arranged everything for both of us. Yes, we are ready for class and do not have to stay in any of the lines.” I smiled and licked my lips. Maybe it didn’t taste as bad as it looked. I leaned forward and grabbed the bottle.
” We are here to listen! We are here to memorize what is given to us. We are not to tell them where they are wrong! ” He caught my hands and his voice lowered ,quietly. “How you are treated and how you survive out among the people will depend on you adopting whatever background you are given here. ” He squeezed, adding emphasis to his stern voice. ” I know what my background is , I am good with history and science. I am not DUMB.!” Pulling loose, I lifted the bottle and took a long swig of the green slime stuff. Swallowing and shivering , “How can ya’ll drink that stuff?? I wiped my mouth out with my sleeve.

green dreams and far away

Peering at his drawing, I said that the Ankh is the symbol for life, according to the Egyptian mythology. It is what was used to grant immortal life. ” Fingering the outline in the ground, and thinking of the Ankhs that I had in my place. Most were presents. ” A good metaphor for a plant expanse.” He chewed something in his mouth, I didn’t know and I didn’t want to know.
” I have had an idea that plants growing near the forest would do very well.” he started .He was sketching trees and flowers in the Ankh ” and might grow better without being so careful.” he nodded back towards Marie. He scratched the ground, “if we could put some forest dirt in a circle a few feet deep and get the strong plants to start growing, then they might grow on their own.”
He had this very far off look like he wasn’t sitting next to me.
I caught his hand, I felt very sorry for him. I knew what he was feeling and where he was. He looked down at my hand and squeezed it. ” I like the idea, but tell me- ” I started. Licking my lips, I paused. ” what do you know about the Forest? Old growth forest need to be preserved and not necessarily disturbed.” He just stared at me with a somber expression, for a few breaths, we just sat.
” I don’t know a lot ” he shifted and drew an outline of a tree, with their slender limbs and clover shaped flowers speckled all over. ” I’m not sure that many people know much. The forest has been here for a very long time.” He popped, hopped up and leaned down his hand to me and helped me up. He grasped my hand and smiled. Starting forward we walked in the opening. It has the darkness of an old forest. There were many saplings inside. Many trees crowding each other in a wave of growth I stopped and looked behind me. There was the grounds ,the sky and the outlines of the other buildings, but in any direction there wasn’t any area with trees or big, cyclical bushes. I suddenly felt a bit afraid of going inside the tall darkness. That far away look seemed to peer into the forest, I guess, maybe he wasn’t thinking of his home. He stopped and shifted himself. I smiled at him and started forward, along the matted down grass and the smudged dirt.

Inside and Curious

Starting forward, curiosity taking over, I went faster. Knowledge demanding exploration. I was the one who tugged now. Peering into the green gloom, leaves sparkled with the light poking through all kinds of passages throughout the canopy.
” It’s so beautiful,! an enchanting world all of its own.” I said with a grin plastered over my face like a kid with icing smeared all over. Trees encompassing us and covering the sky. The canopy forming a towering roof with several differing colors of orange, red ,shades of greens. Trees in small yellowing stars clustered together with branches bending and twisting in grey highways meandering along paths going into the unknown.
I started down the growing tangles, the paths wandering off then I was weighted down by a hand. When I looked back ,he was wary and on alert. ” “Wait!, I don’t see it. This is probably- wouldn’t be a good idea.” he turned, tugging me to turn around.
I pulled my hand loose. “How are you ever going to know if you don’t go and find out information?” I stepped forward and pushed aside a tangle of smaller limbs. Looking back at him, he was rocking on his feet.
” I wanted to show you the tree I found. Not go exploring where we have no idea– where we would end up. ” Cocking my head and letting out a sigh, I went to him. It seemed silly to me.
” Ok, where is it? I can’t say that I know a lot of trees . We would need my Dad’s field guide for that! ” I teared up and was wishing I had his whole library and my Dad beside me right that moment. He circled my shoulder and drew me into a forest as protective and encompassing as the other forest was dappled and dark. He kissed my head and gave me a hug. ” I understand that you needed a friend today.” I snuggled in and nodded. Glad to have a good ole bear hug, there had not been one more needed. “Look up at the bird on the limb”. he whispered. I moved which meant turning all the way around in his arms.
” There was a Baltimore oriole or was it a golden finch?’ I smiled like I was seeing a long lost cousin or friend . ” Isn’t she gorgeous? I love Golden finches. They are so dainty and feisty ! “‘ I was in no hurry to leave my safety net, so I just watched from where we were.
” So, Birds and trees and plants and animals . Exactly where did you learn so much about other realms.? ” In school and on field trips with my parents. Why ? Didn’t you go places with your family when you were younger?” I had to speak up loud over his arm. His head fell and rested on top of my head, (not an easy feat for one so tall, but he is limber).
He stood there and then straighten up, pulling me tighter. ” my parents died in a volcanic accident when I was young, everyone in the grounds , except for a few of us children . ” he stopped and I saw the tears slowly creeping out. I turned and hugged him tightly. ‘Time for stories, later.” I tugged at his arms and nodded towards the entrance. He didn’t like being in here.
” Ok, sir, where is this tree that is going to be the star of the Ankh garden.? I was thinking that we could plant ivy vines or some kind of ground cover underneath.” There was plenty of ivy all around. “With the flowers planted in the circular beds and the straight beds . We could have a bird bath and make a haven for the birds..Perhaps put some benches so that we could have an outside reading place up against the forest edge? “
He was smiling that tilted, crooked smile and put his hand on the smooth, tall deep silver and coffee dark bark with the magnolia green leaves.

Us vs.Them or Woe are we.

I wandered down the slick , shiny, dark wood with its pale red stripes twisting and disappearing across the surface. The sea of blue ,a deep jewel blue, not sapphire but not turquoise, either went down the center of the dark cocoa mass. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw them, creamy blue plates with the pink layer of peppermint around the edge and sponged toward the middle. I picked up one and snagged a pink shrimp and celery stuffed shell. There were also green casserole but it had a pattern on the top and I knew I couldn’t take any without leaving a calling card. The meat with the mushrooms and green and yellow feathery twigs could easily be moved and not show. The green mush was already dented as was the other vegetable platter. I put some of them both on my watery blue plate and slid some pieces to hide where I had taken food. I don’t know why I was being so careful. I just knew that I didn’t belong . Hell, I didn’t know where I was or how I belong anywhere. My world was not following any rules I had grown up learning how to succeed or at least how to survive.

” I don’t know. And i DON’T feel sorry for them. There are too many of them working -pushing papers and making work for their friends . The state accomplishes nothing , just sits around, talks or shouts or storms off. Leaving a mess for the rest of us to clean up, pay for and bow to.” yes, ma’am what ever you want. ” It wouldn’t matter if you didn’t want to do it , whatever, . If we all didn’t do it then the sheep would come in and take it anyway.” A deep , dank voice sounded in. “No wonder , expenses go out. It’s about time the sheep learn what it was to really work” .” We have to pay them , why shouldn’t we change the governing goo. ”

Clatter went glassware and some kind of metal, a lot of warnings and shushing broke out, a pause then another voice started in. ” I just know that there is more work on wood and the study and rooms that are used. Now , they are constantly used . The study is always in a shambles. I can’t really clean or get any paperwork, payroll or stuff down , because of the visitors. ” The new voice had a stern quality that was challenging and nobody took him up. I didn’t wait to hear the next discussions. I didn’t want to be asked what I thought .

I kept on eating and the more I ate the more the design in the bowl of the plate shined. It was a stark, pretty design with some parts edged in a light shade, other parts were that deep ocean blue design from earlier. The people ,the workers, were unhappy, or perhaps they were just blowing off steam in private quarters, but—the public doors were open. Two ideas coalesced in an opaque disk that slapped at me. The door was NOT open, the room was not open. There had been no one else in there, not even the people I had easedropped on. What was that room and for the matter what was my couch? I ate some more green mush and casserole something in a soothing privacy and a quiet maturity in the context of what I had just heard. The only place I had been to was the bathroom just down the hall and the garden outside. Who were all those voices ? Where was I? exactly.

Circles

The longer I sat up , the better I felt,sort of better.   My eyes slammed  shut . I didn’t want to know where I was .  My niece was known to send email out of the blue.  Sometimes, I could lean in and see rather well, what she was talking or doing and where.  I can remember she and my sister talking at the kitchen table, all curious and listening to others seated around,

The white painted metal daisies chandelier which was wound around a  wrought iron stick hanging from the round curled piece mounted from the ceiling.  Each light was fashioned to look like a candle perched on a branch. The whole piece poised over the chalky white pedestal table. The family had long discussions, disputes and work sessions  around the round ” fiberglass” top .  We couldn’t even agree on  what material made the table.  It always seemed rather magical to me.  The wide spun white top perched upon a slender stalk with its wide, spread-out bottom.  A carefully balanced table which seemed to float in the kitchen space, not supported by  the daisy branches or attached to any object .   The white and blue space hosted many a project, many a homework bouts and many, many times of unifying communications (without electronics ,without machines).  Certainly there were always lots of elbows and books perched on the table edges or tucked in between whatever dishes and food items.  It wasn’t the center of the house, but it was the unified place, where we could have space to spread out and work or to have room to breathe when unity seem very far away from the conflicting arguments poised in the air.

I wondered what had whisked me away to my parents’ kitchen.  Hardly a comforting place since I spent some of the most miserable times glued to the blue fiberglass pedestal chair.   Frustrating projects, impossible paperwork and a large amount of time sitting  were large parts of my life. Mostly it was being confined to listening to just about any topic that I “needed to learn or hear about.”  The topics were sometimes over my head ( which would mean being sent to the reading room to find a series of books so that I would not be uneducated )

Conversant in many areas of the body of knowledge was expected in my family.  ” Ignorance is no excuse for X,Y Z semicolon” was the refrain that my parents would state if anyone at the table didn’t understand what was going on.

There isn’t a specified dogma.  Inquiry was the road to holding your own in the world .  If you want to succeed (my mother’s word),or survive! (my father’s term) , you had to have a wide ocean of knowledge and the skills required to sail out of the harbor .   We were to have the means  to conduct ourselves with respect, character, manners( my mother!) and a sense of responsibility to the family, our community, our profession and ourselves  (my father!) .  No excuses!!   Also, a wide amount of curiosity and tolerance was steeped into our psyches, it was just there in everything that my father and my mother worked at during their waking hours.  My Dad was a researcher at the University and my mother was an inquisitive, realistic, no-nonsense perfectionist.  She had been  a nurse before she married my Dad. She brought the tenacity and detail-orientation to running a house, running charities or taking care of us kids.  She also had a warm smile to go along with her warm and caring heart.

I turned over and put my back to the couch. I didn’t want to move . I found myself wondering what my mother would do in this situation.  She loved to dream of traveling to exotic destinations. My brother would say, quietly to us that he felt sorry for the natives when my parents arrived.  The town would know our parents had arrived as sure as a cat 2 hurricane.    I wonder what the list of Scientific hypotheses and guidance my father would design to study the environment and conditions I was in.  That would probably be  the way he approached this place ,the sensible means to work on a solution to the mystery.  My father loved mysteries especially natural, real ones.

I sat up and leaned against the back of the couch which seemed to be my escape safety place. It felt familiar and real and not any confusion connected to it.  I spent a lot of time on the long, cushioned modern component sofa in the family den, reading on a Sunday afternoon, playing with the dog or drawing an illustration from some discussion I had with my Dad.  My drawings were  not nearly as impressive or as rich in detail as my Dad and my sister paintings.  I did try and I enjoyed the challenge.

I stretched and opened my eyes to a garden of ivy vines and flowers around the patio .  Pulling up the yard quilt, I reached for the pad I had the night before.  On it, I had written” where to start?”   it reminded me of a song my sister and I loved. ” Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.”   The only problem with that was the start was all I had.  The query was where to set off from there.  The facts I had to examine did not make any tangible sense in the rationality of facts.    A sense of confusion and lack of rationality seemed to be the reality , the established structure of the realm .

Query, how does one proceed in a framework that is counter to every principle that I knew.?

Safety

Safety such a reassuring word. Visions of warm blankets and relaxing places, clearly seen in my mind’s eye. Tears squeezed out of my physical eyes, which I kept shut. I didn’t want to face what I would see.

The warm room with the brightly lit window, the flowers outside was lovely . They were not the familiar oaks or the swimming pool with the tiki lamps. This room was NOT  the green and turquoise couch with the orange and green block rug taking up half of the wood paneled den my home.  That Den was a large warm and cozy place where the family gathered in.  It had wide,tall  bookshelves along 2 walls and a large, panoramic window.

The round maple coffee table that was so large around the entire family could eat fondue at it.  The legs of the table were barely off the floor.  So , you could eat comfortably,i f you could fold your legs into a pretzel and fit underneath.   I never had trouble, but my long legged siblings always grumbled when dinner was served, there.  I never had any trouble fitting in.  My parents didn’t try but sat sideways like bedouins in the desert.   It was exotic.  I put my hands to my face and slid sideways onto the soft, squishy cushions.  I hunched my shoulders and hid in the nobby thick corner. I missed those dinners and the messy, cheesy, chocolatey  laughter- filled fun.  In my mind’s eye, I could see my brother and sister  holding up the skewer to see who could make the longest cheese string and make it in their mouths .  Mom would be grinning , with that eyebrow tilted up.  Dad would be constructing a symphony of ingredients on his skewer and twirling it in the pot . We would all laughed when one of the morsels fell in the pot and Dad kissed Mom ,because that was the Swiss custom.  He would then treat us all to the stories of foreign customs and tales of  other places.

Now my siblings would be clogging up the phones, trying to call to get info.  They would be grumbling again , wondering what I had done this time, again.  My mother cleaning everything that wasn’t moving.  She would be trying not to let anyone see that she was tearing up.   She was such a worrywart, now I was the one getting worried.  Dad would be out scouring the surroundings and moving quicker to more worried he became. He would be more  calm and analytical the more worried he got.  Marie had said that she was sending someone to go and tell my family that I was coming home soon.

Oh, there would be questions and  answers that I didn’t have and the answers I did have wouldn’t pass the Scientific inquiry standards. My mother would be angry and instill large measures of guilt. She was the expert at guilt ! My Dad would be tearing up and angry at all the fear and worry that everyone had.  I feel so guilty ! I shrank when I thought of the lecture from my Dad.   I sank into the back cushions. Oh brother,  I was gong to be lectured to and complain about for hours about how could I be so irresponsible. Didn’t I know that they had more important matters than to keep track of me.  When was I going to ever be responsible ??   I was so insecure and wondered what was I so insecure about:? My  surroundings, confusion about rules and my standing in this place.? I was not threatened or made to feel unwanted.  How funny my heart was? I had been trying to do other things  that was responsible and independent, separate from my parents.

Now? Knowing the people around you, knowing the rules that everyone lived by, and did them ,was that safety?   I pressed my shoulders and head tighter into the pillows. Oh God, I want to be quiet and comforted.  Safe?