Where?

I looked around the room. The walls were still a deep kelly green. The dark oak chairs with the rounded sides like the drumsticks being stored in a holder large enough to sit in. The woven blueberry blue and lots of green bands making the cushions a warm tartan . Suddenly I felt like I was interfering with someone’s work, I should get out of the way. I didn’t have anything to be doing . Not really. I felt useless and cast off. Nobody misses me. I slipped on my old shoes, they were ratty and had bits of cuts in the sides of the leather. They were the shoes , that I slipped on when I didn’t want to damage my good ,comfortable shoes. Funny, that they were now the only shoes I had.

For lack of any place I was supposed to be going, I walked out to the patio and turned right toward the now familiar walkway around the side of the building. In the carved out garden , someone was there. I felt cheated. My chin fell and I looked at the pebbles which had ground into my hands, the other day.

“Hi, Come on over, I need some help” The lady was not much different from me, perhaps a bit older and a bigger middle. She called and waved a trowel back and forth. I smiled and went over to where she was on her knees , by the tall yellow and orange stalks. There were almost like white swords planted in the ground and mounted with a orange pyramid only shifting in the light wind which was stronger out in the open.

” Hi, I am Marie , I haven’t been over to the big house, this week. Are you getting away from the Conference, ? ” One leg was under her but the other leg was straight out. She rocked and grimaced. ” I am sorry to have to call you over like I am some old grouse. ” Her knee was lodged against the stone border and it was becoming very red. I cursed myself for nothing seeing that she was in trouble to begin with. ” Certainly, Could you like a – I mean Would you like an arm up.?” I reached down and grabbed her around her elbow , having to use the stone border to anchor myself to pull her up. ” Thank you so much, I was trying to plant to tigers’s tails and I leaned over to far. ” She swiped her hands together and rubbed them on her shirttail. “Could you bring that box over there and lets take them over to the corner bed. I have to get these in the ground, before the weather moves in. I don’t know how long they will last. ”

I deposited the box, feeling productive , silly me. Marie was putting the small mounds of flowers into a trench ,pushing dirt in as she went. ” I had to get away from those books and get some fresh air. Do you like books?” She was a bright soul but my gosh she could talk! I nodded my head and chuckled.
” I got into a lot of trouble ,reading books when I was supposed to be working at something else. I love the little library but i didn’t realize it was someone else’s work area.” Frowning , I turn and look out to the meadows ” funny, how you can become attach to a certain space. ”

Marie crumpled her forehead. She pulled out a plant and moving it to another spot , shaking the dirt from the petals. ” you must be our new guest . I trust you like your room and aren’t having any trouble settling in? Anybody giving you grief? ” I didn’t know if I should say what I had overheard . Trouble seems to be pouncing. Furrows as deep as the flower bed seemed to have become plowed into my head. ” Settling in. I am not settled. I am here and in a couple of weeks , I don’t know what is going to be”. I had not meant to sound so mean. I bit my lip . Settling in ?

Nobody had said where I was supposed to be . Where was I supposed to be? I was supposed to be going out with the girls and planning Sue’s baby shower. I was supposed to be shopping with Mom. My tears clouded my vision. Why were other people scrambling my life and not giving me any choices? ” I have been snuggled in the small library over there, but it seems to be a supervisor’s business office. Marie scrunched up the dirt around a small mound of yellow and purple flowers ” I don’t know of any supervisor having a business office over here. ”

“If you want to read and scurry down in the cushions, you go on and do so. Anyone give you trouble , let me talk to them.” The soft voice and the cheery face disappeared . ” I don’t know of anyone who even uses the garden room anymore, not with the new building. You can just consider it your space! ” She gave me a dirty and smelly hug, but it was a good ,good hug. ” Thank you, I don’t really have any reason to be staying on, except that I can’t -seem to get my world to make sense. ” Settling in? For how long?


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.

Tea and Kindness

I was snuggled into my couch as I seem to found myself calling it . My world was this couch, my blankets , my maple wooded tea table and the warm, green walls and the green plaid curtains that framed the glass doors making up the far wall . My garden, just on the other side, was small , protected and filled with a colorful collection of flowers that nodded gently in the wind, coming into the U-shaped patio. I snuggled closer into the soft , large cushions that enveloped me and kept me safe.

Safe in my lair , warm under my covers, I heard my stomach growl, . I chuckled ” a rumbly in my tumbly” Pooh would say. Thinking of Winnie -the-Pooh stories that were one of my mother’s favorite stories to read to us kids. Pooh was always hungry, ” a smakerel of honey would be a good thing indeed.” I poked my nose out of my blanket , wondering how far the hundred Acres woods were from where I was. Who knows ,I mean I don’t know exactly where I am. Perchance, my good lady. Rabbit could be chasing Tigger and Roo out of his garden, not terribly far from here . I sniffed in a way that would make Piglet and Pooh quite proud of me.

I shook my head a bit. I swear I thought I smelled honey. I licked my lips and hugged my stomach. ” A smakerel of honey on warm, flaky crescent rolls hot from the oven. Or, I smiled, a thumb hole in the side of the warm, crumbly biscuit with butter and white sugar or molasses in the hole until it ran out and make a dripping river down onto the plate. I drew in a deep breathe and slipped into a memory of my grandmother’s kitchen table and country wrapped around chairs. Grits, butter, biscuits and a big platter of limp and crispy bacon all in their places in the center of the table. Family style she called it. I have no idea when I could get it or even where.

“I don’t know where she is , I thought I saw her out the window running around like a sentry on the trail. ” The voice was behind me. I recognize it , I had heard it before. I think she was Rose? ” I know that she is feeling lost and lonely. I would be too. I haven’t seen her at the dining room and I was told she hasn’t been to the kitchen. ” She was opening and shutting some door . ” I am getting worried , I don’t think she is eating. I know she is scared and insecure ” The voice was low and tense. Another voice started in. ” I can’t find out anything. His was a tense, creamy voice, like a vampire. ” People are out, asking questions and getting stonewalled. I have no information . I have checked and checked . I even talked to the forestry people. There is only a couple of reports even close to what could be counted as information. There is just no information that can be verified. He huffed and coughed . ” She can just stay with us. She is a kind and scared little pup and -well- he cleared his throat. There is no reason she can’t stay here. We have room and plenty of stuff . I , on the other hand am starved and cold. The wind is really scattering seed and the temperature is dropping.” His voice dropped even lower and muffled.” This is naw night for beasts to be off shelter.” He sniffed and she giggled. “some one is going to catch you some day”.

I breathes in deeply and said a prayer of thanksgiving and hope. The smell of sweetness making my mouth water. The smell was fading away. I didn’t want to lose Pooh or let him go alone to search out honey. Now, could I? I sat up and searched for my shoes below the couch. All I had to do was follow the call of the honey, right? I stood up and closed my eyes , concentrating on the essence of honey. Ok, that a way. I opened my eyes and started walking towards the smell of food coming from the hall somewhere.

Past the redwood walls , how they have manage that feat, I don’t know. I thought Redwoods were protected in the Muir Park in California. They were burnished and gleamed in t he soft light coming from lamps fasted to the walls. Sconces were a mystery to me. They seem to be attached to a wall ,floating on air. I passed by a honey colored carved bench. The smell of sweetness(honey?) was quite strong and I leaned forward to sniff the wood on the two seater, wither and cushioned bench. No, the wood smelled of resin, and fruity oil. The smell of that “smackerl” was very pungent and I took in a deep breath. My mouth watered and I couldn’t remember what I had eaten earlier. A biscuit and sugar laying on the side table at sunrise. I never knew from where it came. I supposed I should have been my curious. There were just too many fears, frustrations, confusions stuffing my head. I felt a bit like an overstuffed animal. Piglet? My” tumbly” seem to be spilling and twisting. I put my arm around my waist. I could really use some of that tea I had last night.

I heard noises coming from behind the bench? Then I saw a thin crack in the walls . I pushed and a door pushed in . Inside was a long dark blue wooden expanse. It was holding a large collection of dishes and covered silver pieces ( larger than Mom’s) . There were forks , knives and spoons that reflected the blue from underneath with a pearly glitter. This was the dining place obviously or at least a rather large serving table. I couldn’t see the end of it. I didn’t know if I could be here. There was bright pink glow behind the box in the middle. I leaned against the wall and found hard edges jutted into the back. Was there nothing that worked like before? My gut was squeezing again. I wanted to float away holding on to the balloon to rise up to the honey hive and get something to eat. The only solid I felt was a soft fabric over a hard thin edge.

tension and fear

My head hurt. It just did. I wanted to go home, where I knew how my life was supposed to go from moment to moment. BUT—- there seem to be no way to go back , back to familiar rules, predictable behavior or even the sense that the solid, stable environment would be there. Boring, only changing a little . There were arguments and charges and counter charges. People rolled their eyes and shook their heads and exclaimed “there they go again. Never can agree on things, — Then people traded this thing or proposal for that proposal or item and the waters underneath just keep following as if the waves on stop hd never stirred up the waters or broke against the rocks. I scrunched up my shoulders for the eleventyith time . I shook my head.”ow” Is eleventyth time even a word? I looked around for a dictionary or the old set of encyclopedias we had grown up with on the shelve or the kitchen table. Anytime , there was a question or a point of challenge in my parents’ household. The sentence was to go and find the answer in one of the books in the other room. Preferably , some kernel WE had found for ourselves( first sources, preferred although the Encyclopedia was also acceptable for quick source.) shortcuts were only acceptable if the discussion was becoming heated and the dispute needed to be defused.

There was not anything like a book shelf or large, solid leather bound goliath of books. My dad seemed to prefer those older paper smell volumes. The res of us preferred smaller, lighter and just as informative paperbacks. books were the balm to almost anything , a tranquilizer ( especially for my high energy mother) to stop the day and it’s assorted requirements , no matter the age in the house. Even my dog seem to chill out when someone was reading near by, she was a pretty easy going gal anyway. The only time she got in a frenzy was when anyone walked up to the front of the house. It didn’t matter who it was, my brother or the delivery man or even the next door neighbor. I put my head down and loses my eyes. I tried very hard to hear her barking or sniffing for me. She would have her black curly fur close to the floor and her long ears dragging through the dust as she sniffed out her line of inquiry. “Neither rain, snow or gloom of night could keep Suzie from her appointed quest”. I could see her sacked out on the end of the couch ,four black legs jutted out across the wide part of the cushion. Her long smooth nose quivering as she breathed out in gusts while she slept. I wonder what color of ribbon , the groomer put on her now?

I sat up and stood up , I suddenly wanted to get out, go somewhere, get some sunshine. I looked out the glass doors framing the opposite wall . I opened the door and quickly shut it. I looked around for a jacket and saw a navy blue windbreaker laying on a chair across the room by the desk. I darted over and snagged it. It was long , floppy and felt a bit like a sail, but it would do against the wind. The trees were shushing and tingling like a lot of coins being poured into a glass dish. I rounded the corner of the wall.

In front of me was a delicate garden with flowers in rocked off rectangles, circle and gravel paths that looked like they had come out of a fairy tale book, a English garden or a colonial garden in old Williamsburg. There were some plots where the plants were all tangled up together and I couldn’t tell if there were several similar plants or just one straggling , untrained vine, growing in a wild mess. There was the bed where tiny , little white and purple flowers looked too timid to take up much room in the dirt circled out.

Many of the plants were dark green and tinged with brown or silver pieces . No bright colors like near the door . The grounds were carved out in a bit of a pattern but not planned or stiff. There were weeds in most of the plants and nothing pruned. Still , the whole area looked tailored and very well kept. The trees were set to frame the whole area. The skinny , barely thick enough trunks and the arm’s width limbs seem rather too small for the importance of their appointed guardian positions. The yellowing and pale green meadow beyond the u-shape house stretched to the edge of the dark, formidable stand of dense foliage on the edge of the property ? The sky looked slightly purple and gray , though there was a lot of white sunshine shining through the cloud cover. I guess, it was later than it had seemed, maybe that was why I was feeling , particularly gloomy.

I shook my head, I knew that wasn’t it . I was HOMESICK. I wanted familiarity and not be so- o baffled and confused. I was tired of not making sense. No, I breathed. I was tired of being in uncharted situations. I stretched my neck and my arms. I shook my legs and my body until I rattled like a skeleton . I walked out in the grasses and laid down , doing stretches and yoga moves like I had been learning attending classes with Mom and her best friend, Laurie. I felt much better. I got up and started jogging first to the edge of the garden walk and then thirty or so one steps out, left turn , right turn and right turn and back to the garden edge. I lost count of the number of times or even the number of turns . It just felt good to lose my self in the air and the sky and the whisper of the trees , keeping me company on my journey. A journey that wasn’t scary or confusing because I could always predict that I would end up at the edge the familiar garden walk. Reaching the edge of the garden walk , I stumbled and fell to my knees on the gravel. My knees stung and my hand felt sore where the pebbles had dug in but I wasn’t broken.

Still, I looked around at the walls which were dark green and the flowers which I didn’t recognize and I was frightened to my lungs and my heart. I felt like I was completely incapable of taking care of or having enough of anything; clothes , first aid,food or even the wits to make the money to survive. Everything made fear grow large and overwhelming and I froze. I could breathe but that was all. What if I had knocked myself out?. What if I had broken my hand? As childish as it sounds , I started crying and fear grew because I didn’t have my mother to protect me or scold me , I didn’t have my dog to hold on to , I didn’t have my sister or my friends to talk to me and help me up. Or my Dad to check me over and bandage my knee , telling me to be more careful and that I really wasn’t that hurt. I would just be sore and I needed to go help my sister with getting ready for — whatever we were going to be doing. I suddenly wanted to be on my couch with my furry blanket and my warm, soft cushions that would padded my sores and enclosed me so that I would have a place to hide.

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?

March for Our Lives

March for Our Lives is about fear and grief but also about frustration and determination. There is a way of living in many schools of being insecure and on edge. Trying to learn becomes fragmented, lessons are presented and effort by all is given. However,the brain also reacts to every unknown sound,every shadow and every discord in the close environment . Both students, teachers alike have their internal antennas tuned to the Emergency Broadcast system in their nervous system. When I was younger, we all knew that if the EBS siren went off then followed by a stern announcement , there was 3-7 minutes before the Soviet missiles were to strike. Now, the students do not have an EBS (Civil Defense) siren and in 3-7 minutes, 17 of their friends or teachers could be dead and many more could be injured. There is no warning and no chance to even draw a defensive tool or weapon. The news will report the details of the “shooting”. Yet again, the faceless people(and creatures) will be added to another news archive and history will document another societal crime. The faceless people momentarily noted and added to the archives. The easily swapped photos lead to a careless notice which has been getting more and more blurred in the attempt to bring attention to another event in a hurt, bruised and numb community. There are times where Fear and Frustrations will have a downhill impetus to reach a pitching point . At that point, events morphed and historical reality shifts and we are left with parts in which to do something .