I felt as if I had secretly tagged along and then I found that I was really enjoying the bike ride alongside Tim. I loved it so much that I’ve decided to reblog. And the photography– oh the photography, excellent. I’ll let it rest in my site for a while. Hope you don’t mind Tim. Thank you. Selma.
Yes yes. It resonates.
“Domestic violence rarely affects only those directly involved in the abusive relationship.” ― Asa Don Brown
Short of stepping on Curly’s tail, Becky stormed into the living room, slammed the screen-door shut and hurried to her room.
“What?” her mother asked from the kitchen, “back already? Did you forget to take something?” her mother continued.
Becky didn’t answer. Her footsteps were heavy as she went up the stairs. She closed the door to her room, pressed the play button of her CD player and turned the volume on high. She got inside her closet and sat on the floor on the corner closest to the window. The evening was pleasant and the sound of the birds on the tree outside the window was silenced by the sound coming from inside her room.
Her mother finished rinsing off the dinner dishes and wiping her wet hands on her apron, rushed upstairs to see what the matter was with her daughter. She knocked on the door with the secret code they had settled on for the month, but no tap-tap, the code of acknowledgement, came from inside the room. Mother knocked the same way again and again, but again Becky didn’t reciprocate. Mom turned the door knob and realized that the door was locked from the inside.
“Becky, open the door. Let me in. Becky, what happened? Did something happen with you and Margo?” Mom was getting worried. This was so out of character for her daughter.
She waited a few more minutes and knocked again. “Becky,” she said, a little more impatient this time, “talk to me. Open the door.” Becky got out of the closet, lowered the volume on her CD player and unlocked the door. Then she sat on the floor next to her bed. Mother knocked again and this time Becky reciprocated by tapping on the side of her bedroom table with their coded tap-tap. Mother turned the door knob and entered the room.
“Honey, did something happen to you over at Margo’s house?”
Becky hugged her knees and looked away from her mother. Mother followed Becky’s lead and sat on the floor next to her daughter.
In the short year that they have been neighbors, Becky and Margo have become best friends. They walk to and from school together, they spend endless hours playing outdoors and talking on the porch-swing, they walk up to receive holy communion together at Sunday Mass and apart from the fact that each girl has their own house chores to do, they are inseparable. Once or twice a month Margo’s mother has invited Becky to come along as Margo’s guest for a family dinner at a sort-of-nice restaurant in town. The dinners always left Becky a little perplexed but she dismissed the feelings Because she could not find the appropriate words to form the thoughts about the feelings, even in her own head. This being the case she never got around to saying anything about this to her mother. When mother would ask, Becky would talk about the food instead of the feelings she would bring back from the dinner experience with the Romanos.
“Yes, I decided to sneak in on Margo instead of calling out to her. When I looked in through the screen door I saw Margo kneeling on the floor. She had her hands stretched out infront of her and I saw her daddy loading her arms with heavy books.”
“You mean that it was like some kind of punishment?” her mother asked.
“Yes, exactly. It had to be. Margo looked sad and scared but she had her arms stretched out and her daddy kept putting book after book for her to hold in her outstretched arms. At one point, Margo got tired so she relaxed her buttom on the back of her legs and her daddy hit her on her back with a book,” replied Becky suppressing fresh tears that burned to come out.
“And you saw all that? ” her mother asked holding her daughter’s hand with one hand and wiping a tear off her own face with the other.
“Yes. But the worst part is that Margo saw me looking. I think that I will never be able to face her again. I am embarrassed to have seen what I saw. And I am sure that Margo is embarrassed for it as well.” Becky’s words punctuated the conversation and a long silence, thick as a morning mist, permeated the room. Her mother didn’t know what to make of the situation. And she didn’t want to say something out of place without thinking things over first, so mother and daughter just sat there on the floor.
In the year since they have been neighbors the mothers have not become close. They have exchanged pleasantries but unlike the girls, their relationship hasn’t advanced beyond that. For starters, Mrs. Romano, Margo’s mother is a career woman. She works from 9:00 – 5:00, sometimes later and like the rest of the neighborhood, Becky’s mother refrains from approaching Mrs. Romano to allow her the space she and the neighbors think she needs. Come to think of it, besides attending Mass with her family on Sundays and the occasional dinners out in town, Mrs. Romano seldom participates in anything in the community. Mr. Romano, on the other hand, works from home. According to Margo he is a translator of German Novels. He is at home all the time and it is he who attends to Margo and her younger sister when they return home from school. He is very polite yet reserved with the neighbors. He attends school meetings but doesn’t socialize with anyone at school. According to Becky, the Romanos move to a new town every two years or so and before coming to Macondo, they lived in Los Alamos. Apart from that, no one knows anything else about the family.
“The abuser does not believe, however, that his level of authority over the children should be in any way connected to his actual level of effort or sacrifice on their behalf, or to how much knowledge he actually has about who they are or what is going on in their lives. He considers it his right to make the ultimate determination of what is good for them even if he doesn’t attend to their needs or even if he only contributes to those aspects of child care that he enjoys or that make him look like a great dad in public.” ― Lundy Bancroft Bancroft
“A Wedding dress is both intimate and personal for a woman–it must reflect the personality and style of the bride.”— Caroline Herrera
Lucille has long wavy brown hair that when loose, cascades down to her tailbone. Today she has it arranged in a long thick braid that swirls around her head. Baby’s breath adorn it and there is no denying that she looks ever so radiant in that hair style. Her face is powdered and she wears a little dab of blush on her cheeks and mascara on her eyelashes. She is pretty, to begin with, but today she looks ever so beautiful. It’s her wedding day.
“Lipstick later, after you’re in your dress because we don’t want it staining it accidentally,” says Nicca.
Six women stand in the room. It is the room that mom always keeps locked.
“Too many pins and needles that could pierce little fingers,” is all my mother would give us as an explanation. We were never allowed in there.
Today we stand at the door looking in. Next to Lucille stands the seamstress, Ms. Rose to everyone except us. Mother is there to help Lucille get into her wedding gown. I have seen my mother do this countless times before, but every time the admiration comes from new people so the whole experience feels different every time.
“What a beautiful piece of material this is,” my mother had said the day the mailman brought the box containing the white material. But mother said that about every piece of cloth she ever worked with. I have seen her hold all her pieces of material with reverence and then after that, seen how my mother’s beautiful eyes glow like beacons on a dark night at sea. That glow always made her face look younger. After that initial reaction, mother would never expose that beautiful material again in our presence until it was unveiled on a day like today.
The dress is laid on the floor with a crinoline arranged inside of it. Wearing only her stockings and undergarment, Lucille is made to stands on a low ladder. Two ladies hold her outstretched arms and from up there she slides the bottom half of her body smoothly into the skirt of the wedding gown.
“She looks like a mannequin there standing like that,” my sister whispers to me.
“I know,” I say. “I want to be a bride too someday,” we both giggle.
Mother proceeds to help Lucille with the sleeves, helping her insert one arm first and then the other in slow motion.
The embroidery on the sleeves and on the bodice, with the pearls and small beads in the shape of happy tears and the boat neckline that fits her perfectly, all these alluring points elicit compliments mingled with tears directed at the bride.
“Oh Lucy,” exclaims Lucille’s mother, “you look so beautiful in that dress. Good choice! Look at that everyone — what a beauty this daughter of mine is.”
“Yes, beautiful Lucille,” the others repeat. They can’t seem to come up with other words besides beautiful.
“She looks like Cinderella,” my sister and I agree, “just like a princess.”
My mother stands behind Lucille buttoning the long line of silk buttons. Pride swelling on her face as she hears the others complimenting the bride.
Someone kneels in front of Lucille and helps her to slide her feet into what seems to us like tiny glass slippers. Lucille looks down at her shoes and then straightens up. Her motions exactly like those of Cinderella in the movie. She looks at herself in the long mirror someone rolls in front of her and with her hands on her cheeks, tries to conceal her delight.
“No crying please,” warns Nicca, “that will ruin your makeup and it will stain the dress. No, no, no!”
But Lucille is not crying. She is happy. This is the day that she has been waiting for. She is on her way to marry the man that crawled into her heart a little at a time.
“Oh, happy day,” she says with a smile, and forcing her eyes off the mirror, she looks around the room. She finds my mother standing by the door and extends her hands out to her. My mother walks up to her and she and Lucille clasp hands.
“You look beautiful,” mother says to her.
“Oh, Ms. Rose thank you. The dress is even more beautiful than in the catalog. You are a real magician with those hands. Thank you.”
The wind is still as the beautiful bride walks out our storefront door. She has lipstick on her lips, a bouquet of lilies in her hand and a long tulle veil on her head. Escorted by her mother, Lucille walks the short distance from our house to the church. She walks erect, with a radiance emanating from her soul and she demurely acknowledges the well-wishes from the onlookers.
My mother holds our hands and walks us closer to the church. We see Lucille let go of her mother’s hand and clutch onto her father’s arm. The women who walked with her from our store disappear inside the church and then a procession of young women, all wearing clothes of the same color line up behind Lucille. The bride and her entourage disappear inside the church as the happy wedding bells toll loudly announcing the ceremony.
That evening there were twelve kids at our lawn party. The grownups were noisily conversing, or arguing with each other, as it had seemed to us kids, to notice that the littlest boy was eating away at the candy from the colorful bottle he found next to the ketchup and the relish on the food table. Some of us had already gotten used to seeing that plastic bottle sitting on tables at every party that it made us think that not having it meant a lack of proper hospitality to our neighbors. On one similar occasion, we had been made to understand that we were only allowed to have one tablet for the entirety of an evening. The tablets contained in the bottle came in all different colors and each color was a different flavor. Leonora and I were fond of the color purple and we each took one of the grape flavored tablets when offered. The tablet wasn’t caramelized like hard candy and neither did it dissolve easily in our mouths. Yet its sweet flavor was released slowly enough to entice even the young palate of children. The part about these being for heartburn and sour stomach, never registered as anything other than grown up talk, as none of us knew what having a sour stomach or heartburn even meant.
Leonora and I lived nextdoor to each other on a street closest to the beach. Never did a day go by without I going over to Leonora’s house, or she coming over to mine. Our houses were separated in the middle by a green mesh fence that was removable. Long iron poles with hooks at the top and at the bottom held the mesh in place. The mesh ran all the way around the four corners of our yards. Our families each raised chickens and they didn’t want our chickens to roam too far away from their respective coops. This fence was a good fence. At times it acted as a great net for when Leonora and I played badminton and also for secretly calling out to each other when we didn’t want anyone else to hear us calling. A few simple kicks in the right place and our suzus would ring out with secret messages to one another. Some messages would say ‘meet you at the library or at the park in 10 minutes’, or ‘I’m angry or sad’, or just plain-old ‘wanna come over’. We referred to our fence as our very own Morse-code device.
Our parents were friendly to each other as well, but they didn’t have a way to calling out to each other like we did. Our mothers would stand close to the fence and talk and laugh with each other, but that’s all they would do. Except that on some special occasions like national holidays or long weekends, we’d shu all the chickens in after their morning strolls around the yard, lock the coops and roll back the fence on the side where we shared a green lawn. Our parents loved to have cookouts. They would set tables to sit our two families and sometimes they’d even invite one or two other families. Then there were the other tables on which they’d place the food and drinks for that day. Both Leonora and I liked it when our families did this, as then we were allowed to stay out longer than usual without having to think about whose turn it was to do the dishes or to empty the trash cans or tiresome decisions like that. We would eat and drink as much as we wanted and we’d play games as long as we could.
The food was always very good, but it always disturbed us to see our parents and all the other grown-ups eat too much and drink too much of everything.
“This is an amazing party,” the other kids would say at regular intervals, and then we’d move on to continue playing our childish games.
I really don’t remember when or who it was that introduced our family to our first bottle of whatever that was, but I remember that the introduction was followed by “It’s what they take in such and such a country for heartburn and sour stomach”. Since then, that good old bottle of whatever that was has been an integral part of all our celebrations.
Minutes later, Mrs. Garcia was running behind Mr. Garcia who carried little Marvin curled up and unconscious in his arms. In her haste, Mrs. Garcia left her shoes behind in the yard. Mother found them and had me and Leonora run after Mrs. Garcia to return the shoes.
The couple and the boy were nowhere in sight. Stopping by their house revealed to us that home was not where they had headed to with their child.
“Let’s go to the hospital,” I said to Leonora.
The Macondo hospital wasn’t far from where we lived, so holding on to one shoe each, we raced each other to get there. A full day out in the sun and now the exercise found us gasping for fresh air when we arrived. We gulped down a big breath of air to replenish our starved lungs but copious amounts of Dettol, Bleach, pee and Pledge furniture polish scurried in instead. It wasn’t a pleasant smell. Neither Leonora nor I had ever been in the emergency room before, so the unfamiliarity of the smell and the place had us feeling light-headed and weak at the knees. We determined to take short sporadically paced breaths and sat there and waited.
People came and went in the emergency -room, yet no one seemed available enough for making a quick inquiry about the whereabouts of The Garcias. We waited for a while longer thinking that perhaps The Garcias were being held up in consultation with a doctor, but they never emerged again.
“We’ve been here long enough already” Leonora reasoned after a while, “new patients have gone in and have left already. Perhaps The Garcias didn’t come here after all.”
On our return home, we had no energy for running. An unfamiliar odor had impregnated our nostrils, and it seemed to have penetrated all the way up to the farthest recesses of our brains causing us to walk with lethargic movements. The early evening sea-breeze felt good on our foreheads but we refused to let it into our lungs for fear of what that salty combination would smell like. We each still carried a shoe in one hand just like before, but for some reason, the shoe too came to reek of the smelly emergency room. We held it with a little trepidation then.
The adults had cleaned the place up well, put all the garbage in bags and left-over food had been properly distributed among the families. The tables were folded and returned to the shed, and the mesh fence had been hung back to the poles like before. There was no news of little Marvin or his family. The women had collected all the tablets that were scattered on the ground and they noticed that the yellow tablets were fewer than the other colors. No one dared say what this could mean so they said nothing for fear that the possibility could be true.
That evening the party disbanded with a shadow hanging over every adult.”Please God,” they prayed, “don’t let this be true.”
Life is like a journey on a train… with its stations… with changes of routes… and with accidents!
Life is like a journey on a train… with its stations… with changes of routes… and with accidents!
At birth we boarded the train and met our parents, and we believe they will always travel on our side.
However, at some station our parents will step down from the train, leaving us on this journey alone.
As time goes by, other people will board the train; and they will be significant i.e. our siblings, friends,children, and even the love of our life. Many will step down and leave a permanent vacuum. Others will go so unnoticed that we don’t realize that they vacated their seats!
This train ride will be full of joy, sorrow, fantasy, expectations, hellos, goodbyes, and farewells.
Success consists of having a good relationship with all the passengers…requiring that we give the best of ourselves.
The mystery to everyone is:
We do not know at which station we ourselves will step down.
So, we must live in the best way – love, forgive, and offer the best of who we are.
It is important to do this because when the time comes for us to step down and leave our seat empty — we should leave behind beautiful memories for those who will continue to travel on the train of life.
I wish you a joyful journey on the train of life. Reap success and give lots of love.
More importantly, thank God for the journey!
Lastly, I thank you for being one of the passengers on my train!”
in English and in Japanese. A poem that awakens the child within.
Aww what a mesmerizing sight, I heard myself saying in a voice that wasn’t my own. All the hues of red and brown and Crimson right before my eyes, again that was not my voice.
And this feeling, how can we be flying like this and not feel the autumn chill. I remember thinking that.
We were gliding over a red barn surrounded by trees. I was not alone. I could feel my companion’s presence but couldn’t see her face. In a weird way, I knew I didn’t need to look. I already knew it was Valerie Moore.
I opened my eyes slightly and saw the silhouette figure of my mother in the dark.
“Risa, I told you that rain was predicted for tonight and asked you to lock the windows. For once I’d like to get a good night’s sleep without having to be bothered by things that I specifically ask you girls to do. One of these nights someone is going to come through that window and take you away quietly. Spare yourselves and me of such an awful ordeal or I’ll buy a lock and those windows will stay closed forever”.
Mom said all that in one go. That was just like her. Always saying things the grownup way. Only she would have the stamina for such a discourse in the middle of the night. Mom was talking to Risa but Risa didn’t budge.
Feeling exhilarated from the dream I was just dreaming I tried not to listen to her words for fear of losing the feeling I was trying to hold on to in my autumn dream.
Valerie Moore was my childhood penpal. We started corresponding before the end of the school year in Third Grade. This particular evening I had just received a letter from her. Valerie lived in Wisconsin. She had a cherry orchard and she had a pony she called Cubby. She and I were 8 years old and both of us had birthdays in September.
Every letter she wrote to me was riddled with eraser holes and consisted of ugly pages carelessly torn out from big writing pads. She told me about learning to milk their cows, and about driving a tractor and about picking cherries.
I have never been cherry-picking and much less never milked a cow in my life.
This time she told me about fall coming and described a foliage scene behind her farm that it stayed in my mind all evening only to resurface in my dream that damp rainy night. In fact, the words I had uttered in my dream had come directly from Valerie’s letter.
The stairs leading up to the attic were dark and narrow and cold. They were enclosed in a small upward-going tunnel and they swerved round so that you couldn’t see if someone was coming down or going up until you were right smack in front of them. It was void of day light and lacked a light switch and even a light bulb for that matter.
Risa and I shared a room up there but I had had no say in the matter. My mother, suspecting my sister to be up to something, used me as a bargaining condition.
“…only if you agree to share the space with your sister,” mother bargained assured that Risa would soon give up the idea. And when Risa said ok without a moment’s hesitation, mother couldn’t go back on her word. And so it was that I ended up sleeping in the attic.
Risa chose the attic because of the way it felt so disconnected from the rest of the house. Perhaps it was because the stairs were completely encapsulated, but once upstairs one could not hear anything going on downstairs. And vice versa. I didn’t like being upstairs but once upstairs I dreaded going down those stairs. I always got the distinct feeling that I was about to bump into a ghost.
We had two beds. Mine was closest to the stairs and Risa’s was next to the windows. Mom let me have a small table next to my bed and on it I kept a small glow-in-the-dark lamp. But the lamp hardly got any real light from outside or from the one dim light bulb that illuminated the room. In order to get any use of the glow, I had to wait for Risa to be in the room for a few minutes before going upstairs. Once under my covers, Risa would turn off the light and then I would get my glow. Good thing was that I fell asleep right away even before the lamp lost its glow.
There were no partitions between our beds so Risa spent her allowance on thick silk ribbons that she thumbtacked to the ceiling boards; I mean lots and lots of ribbons. She made it so that from the top of the stairs, one couldn’t see her bed and also from my bed I couldn’t see her bed. The ribbons were of all different colors and they cascaded from the low ceiling all the way to the floor. During the day I loved looking at the ribbons swaying with the wind, but at night the ribbons grazing against my face or any part of my body, sent shivers down my spine. They scared me.
That night, the rains came strong. There was thunder and there was lightening.
The old house moaned, the old house groaned; the old window blinds rattled uncontrollably. Shrrrrrrooweeee shrrrrrooweeeee rushed in the wind through small openings on the window frame. Oh that howling; how angry that wind sounded. I needed my mother but I was afraid to descend the stairs.
I called out to Risa but she paid me no mind. Closer and closer to her bed I went until I was right above her. She laid on her side, still as a corpse. I could see the shape of her body and even her hair but her face lay hidden under the blanket.
“Can I sleep with you,” I whispered in a groggy voice.
“I’m sssc– scared, ” I moaned still trying to sound strong. I touched her shoulder to shake her but there was no shoulder where a shoulder was supposed to have been. I ran my hand over her body but there was no body there either. And scary as that was, I snatched off the light blanket only to find that two cushions laid where Risa was supposed to have laid.
At that revelation, my eyes got forced open. These didn’t feel like my eyes. The area around my eyes was being held wide open by cold fingers that even my eyeballs felt cold. I couldn’t manage a blink. My mouth flew open as if the ligaments in my neck had been wound too tightly. I screamed but the scream was only coming from inside my head. My voice had deserted me. Almost without thinking I scurried over to the stairs and stomped down the dark stairs as if the ON button had just been turned-on inside me. No time for knocking. I flung the door open. I got to mother’s side of the bed and yanked the covers off of her. I still couldn’t get my eyes to blink or my neck to release the pull it had on my open mouth. I started slapping mother. This woke my father too. He jumped out of bed and turned on the big light in the room. As if this was the cue that I had been waiting for, a loud insistent wailing bubbled from within me. I started to shake uncontrollably and burning tears splattered from my eyes all at once. My voice was incoherent and husky so with exaggerated hand gestures I tried telling them about Risa. But my parents couldn’t understand. I dragged them to the stairs and pushed them towards the attic. Mom got to the top first.
“Risa,” called my mother in that voice she used to let us know that we were in trouble.
“Risa get out here this minute. Risaaaaa!
But there was no Risa…
Right after consuming the mouth watering fish-meal that dad labored so hard to catch, they switched gears as if it were their life long mission to indulge in a sweets-binge. First, they started with marshmallows on the grill. Then came chocolate, toffee and chips, then jumbo brownies and colas, and on and on they gobbled. They had a good tummy-fill with intervals of laughter. And by god, I don’t know how they could.
It was a late Halloween party they came to celebrate. I was happy to indulge them. My Halloween decorations hadn’t seen the light of day in years. In fact, the only reason why these boxes and the telltale signs of what lay inside sat next to the front door, was that I was getting ready to donate it all to the church bazaar. Bryan sensed this perhaps and used it as a good excuse for his party plans. Athirst to give my old memorabilia a final farewell too, I decided to go along.
They called it a Halloween party but no one dressed up. The house though, looked splendidly halloweeny in the middle of November. Lucky for me, all my old posters kept their splendor intact. The boys marveled at it and even took pictures which they posted on their social media pages eliciting replies from other friends green with envy. The front door held a warning to the effect of “enter at your own risk”. Our car had scary monster faces on the windows. The trees outside in my yard had pumpkins and skeletons and spiders hanging from them. The yard was dark but for the few demure Halloween lights. And the couch and the table and chairs awaited their warm bodies to come and repose in them, but no one did because it rained!! With umbrellas in tow, they paraded outside and admired the hanging creatures up close. I guess that that gesture is what warmed my insides.
In the wee hours of the morning, even before the rooster arose, Dad had left his warm bed to set out to catch the biggest fish he could find. At around 2:00 dad called to inform Bryan that his big mission had been accomplished. That he was bringing home the biggest one and that he would prepare for him and his friends a nice fish dish fit for kings. And that’s just what dad did. But from the very start, that fish meal was plan #2.
As plan #1 the boys had decided amongst themselves that they would go to the store and load up on meats that they wanted to eat; they were aiming at a hot-pot meal which is very popular here when the weather gets cool. Well that is what they said they’d do but they only got as far as shopping for sweets…Boys!!
If it hadn’t been for dad’s plan #2 and my plan #3 they would have starved. They attacked the fish like barbarians! Truth be told, had this dish been garnished a little more to please adults, 6 adults would have had enough with that amount of fish.
Lucky for them as they were done devouring the fish, the first batch of hot chicken breasts went from grill right to their plates. A hearty salad and wild-rice followed. And then the peppered pork steaks made their brief appearance. Gone in no time!! Yes, I know:- A lot of food! And then like I told you already, the store-bought treats were what made their hearts sing. Go figure!!
I don’t know at what time they went to sleep but when I awoke in the morning I realized that this time they laid on the futons I had prepared for them, and that wet towels, which prove that they did have time for showers before hitting the sacks, lay on the floors.
My famous pancakes, eggs and sausages were consumed without much ado. They ate and then asked for a ride to the station because it was still raining. Off they went with the geity of youngsters with not a care in the world. Who cares what their report-cards say; they are alive and living!
And where were they off to in this weather you ask? Well some girls had invited them to a dance event and sure enough they didn’t want to disappoint those girls. They gel-led and mousse-d their hair and applied deodorant and cologne.
In the car, as I taxied them to the train station, I had to roll down the window, and upon returning home their cologne was all I had left to prove that 5 fifteen year olds had spent the night safely under my roof.
…and I thought my house would be reeking of boys. Wrong!!