Friday, November 23, 2012

In My Memory

Memories are tricky.
Sometimes they can be comforting.
Sometimes they can be tormenting.
Sometimes they are the most agonizing combination of both.

Memories are tricky.
Sometimes they prejudice our actions.
Sometimes they give heat to our emotions.
Sometimes they blind us from what is in front of us.

Memories are tricky.
Sometimes we hide from them.
Sometimes we hide in them.
Sometimes we are so mired in them we can't tell the difference.

Memories are tricky.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

At the Stoplight at the Pike and Lambs Gap Road...

Anthony stared at the stoplight, but he didn't see it. Another night stretched ahead of him. Another night alone. The wet, waning daylight seemed to feel his melancholy.

He found himself going over the events that ended in his loneliness for the millionth time. Why had he just let her walk out of the door that cold December morning? Why had he not told her how he felt? That he was proud of her for earning the promotion? That he would happily follow her to Philadelphia so she could take the job? That he would follow her anywhere? Would she ever forgive him for a moment of stupidity? What was she doing now? Was she missing him as much as he missed her? All thoughts he had had before, but he was no closer to the answers than he had been in the aftermath of the last day of his happiness...

The blaring horns and screeching brakes gave only a moment's notice of the oncoming Ford F-150 as it skidded through the intersection and plowed into Anthony's reliable, old Honda. Her face was the last thing he saw before he passed out.

"I'm so sorry. I meant to come back. I wanted to come back..." Her voice was so close. He could smell her strawberry-scented shampoo, feel the soft pressure of her head resting beside him on the hospital bed. Anthony could see her sitting beside him, her soft, red hair pulled up into her usual pony tail, her naturally pouty lips trembling with the tears she was trying not to shed, and her aqua blue eyes as bright as the sea and glistening with tears.

He wanted to reach out and comfort her. To tell her that he was okay; they were okay.

But he couldn't. He couldn't break through the blackness that pinned him to his hospital bed like an impossible weight.

Then the darkness took over completely again.

But he dreamed. And woke. The sounds of the hospital seeping into his brain. The beeping of machines, the scuffing sounds of shoes on impossibly shined floors, the haunted whispers of voices, all registered clearly in his mind. He reached out for the sound and feel of her.

He felt her there. Every day. Sometimes she spoke to him. She would talk about the times they had spent together. The time they had gotten stuck in the snow when they tried to push on through the night to get back to Harrisburg from her parents' house in Philadelphia and they spent the night in their car, thankful for the silly matching footed pajamas that her mom had given them for Christmas. She talked about their first glorious holiday spent in the south of France.

Every time he felt her, he tried to go to her, but he couldn't reach her.

Three weeks after the accident, Anthony woke to another wet, waning evening. After a moment of confusion, Anthony sat bolt upright and called her name.

His room door began to open. His heart started doing backflips and he couldn't breathe. He was suddenly reminded of the first night they made love.

But when the door opened, a short, grey-haired nurse with her glasses perched on her nose and a caring smile on her face came through the door.

"Mr. Greene, you're awake. We've been very worried about you. Your parents should be here shortly. They have been visiting every day at this time, and Nurse Wagner is calling them to let them know that you are awake. How do you feel?"

"And Emily? Where is she?" Anthony couldn't suppress the urgency in his voice.

"Emily?" the nurse, clearly concerned, peered down her nose at him.

"Yes, Emily. My gir-, ex-girlfriend." Embarrassed by the stumble, he suddenly couldn't meet the kind nurse's eyes. "The beautiful redhead. I know she visited me. I heard her. I felt her."

"I'm sorry, Mr. Greene, but your parents have been your only steady visitors while you've been here," the nurse said, a frown creasing her brow.

The next month of recovery was hell. The physical therapy was painful. The depression worse than it was before the accident. And the dreams, the dreams were nightly. Emily was so close he could touch her. They would talk all night. Then he would wake to his empty bed.

Then one night, during a particularly vivid nocturnal visit from Emily, Anthony was awakened abruptly by the shrill sound of his phone's ringtone.

Cursing the interruption, he gruffly answered the phone, "Yes?"

"Anthony?" It was Emily's mother. The distraught sound of her one-word question made Anthony sit bolt upright in his bed.

"Marilynn? What's wrong?"

"It's Emily. She was in an accident two months ago on the Turnpike. Her injuries were pretty severe. She is healing, but she hasn't regained consciousness since the accident."

"Is she in Philadelphia with you?"

"Yes. Will you come? She keeps saying your name." Her voice dropping to a whisper as she relayed the last bit of information.

"I'll be there. I'm leaving right now." And he did. He had started packing the minute he realized that Emily needed him.

The three hours to Philadelphia were the longest three hours of his life. The whole time all he could think about was how she was laying in a hospital bed the whole time he was recovering from his accident.

The sight of Emily's small, battered body lying near-lifeless in the cold hospital bed nearly brought him to his knees. Marilynn's outstretched arms were the welcome bolster that he needed. Looking down at her face, he could see the toll that the previous months had taken on her. Emily's father had died of a heart attack only six months prior. So Marilynn was bearing the pain all on her own.

After a warm hug, Anthony and Marilynn sat down and Anthony recounted his accident and the dreams of Emily.

"We think she was headed to see you when the accident happened," was all she said in response to his story.

"I was."

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Right in Front of Me...

I wish I could say something quirky like I used to have a blog on a French server because I thought it was hip or I have been writing blogs since before it was mainstream or tell you to check out my blog about the semester I spent in Germany. But I'm simply not that cool.

Despite the fact that i have been writing in journals and scribbling stories and poems on scraps of paper since I first understood the concept of a sentence (probably even before then), I have been reluctant to start a blog.



Simple as that. It's amazing how much of life is dictated by fear.

But Katherine, the observant person may say, you have another blog on this very server...yeah, I do. My beautiful husband tried to lovingly push me over the ledge from which I was scared to jump. But alas, as so many good intentions tend to do, it did not work. The furthest I fell was a title for the post ("Pedestals are for Porcelain Pots, not People") and sadly, I have no idea what I was planning on writing.

But today I decided it was time. It was time because I have not written much in the past three or four years. It was time because fear gets us nowhere, but looking fear straight in the face and telling it to bugger off, does. It was time because I have an idea and I'm itching to explore it...

My inspiration for To Think That I Saw it... is two-fold:

The first—and perhaps the most the obvious—is the children's book And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street. A book that I did not get to read until I was an adult, because Dr. Seuss wasn't read in my house (sounds tragic, I know. But, for me, my mother raising me without Dr. Seuss--or green peas--is just part of what makes my mother so endearing). Despite my ripe age when I first read it, it captured my imagination. I was as excited about the book as any six-year-old might be (more so, probably). The adventure of every day life seen through the prism of imagination is such a lovely adventure indeed.

The second—and most important—is my grandfather. He and I used to people watch and make up stories about the people we saw. Our stories were grand. Our stories were funny. Our stories were even sad and sometimes scary. But most importantly, our stories wove a bond between us that endures now, long after he has passed. There is nothing, as far as I can tell, better than that.

My goals for To Think That I Saw it... are simple:

(1) To write every day! But not just on scraps of paper or in notebooks that no one else reads.
(2) To have an adventure.
(3) To brave possible feedback (or worse...nobody reading my writing).

So, please, join me as I embark on an adventure to tell one story a day, every day, that I have imagined based on one thing I saw that day!