Posted in Essay

Waiting for the Vaccine

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Calypso music permeates the theatre and glides through the night air landing at the feet of our beach chairs. Laughter springs from my friends’ lips while they sit sipping wine as we chatter about our days; both present and past. Dishes clink and clatter together in the kitchen of our favorite restaurant as we sit enjoying our meal while we cover our day, what we did—where we went. Our daughters’  chatter—light,  lively banter back and forth as we say good-bye for the day, then hug them, instantly taking in the scent of their hair, the largesse of their embraces.

I line up these thoughts like cut scenes from a movie. To disengage from the incessant loop, I move on, but only to a different loop. Scenes of a brighter tomorrow run through my mind’s projector. For almost a year, my husband and I have waited, so this cut is worn, the film delicate, but still viewable.

My husband and I are currently, and very impatiently, waiting for the vaccine. We are in our state’s Group 1B—Tier 2. Our group’s inoculations were to begin this week, but due to lack of supplies, we have been told to wait. Patiently wait.  As we wait, we watch the number of vaccinated increase. With unrelenting sadness, we also watch the daily deaths climb. It’s as if we’re reaching the climactic moment in a film, musical score ratcheting up our emotions, action in high gear, characters pressed into emotional cyclones. But this isn’t a movie, it’s real life playing out in real time changing lives forever and lending more definition to catastrophe than anything our modern world has ever faced.

So, this is what we do. I write queries and begin new tales, reread my Covid short stories, all ten of them. Edit some—laugh out loud at others. My husband calls his daughters, living vicariously through them occasionally, giving them advice on everything from creative budgeting to how to cook a pot roast.

I realize that each day we get closer. And as we wait, each day is growing longer, both figuratively and in reality. Spring will be here soon.

Our friends will sit with us and we will laugh again. We will hug our daughters. The cut scenes will need editing using additions of fragmented new scenes. Our action will resume, our stories will survive. We will all rush back to our lives, fragmented but together, envisioning embraces that right now we can only anticipate with great hope.

Posted in Essay

Letting Go

First day of school

When I was small my parents decided it was time that they got my brother and I a dog.  The lucky little guy was from a litter of Peke-poo poodles.  We named him after a cowboy in a little-known tv show.  We called him Stoney Burke.  Stoney was small, pure white, and a little crazy.  He would run around like the Tasmanian devil, even after he grew out of the rowdy puppy stage.  He would nip at any unfamiliar person’s heels.  LIke Mrs. Sawyer’s from down the street.  I suppose it had something to do with her fuzzy white house shoes she wore when she came to visit.  Maybe they resembled a sibling to him, who knows?

We called Stoney the White Rhino.  We would take him out to our backyard to play safari with the neighborhood gang. Stoney would run after us with delight and we would pick him up (he would let us) and take him to the African king (our next door neighbor gang leader Marlan).  The king would give us worldly treasures for bestowing upon him such a prize as a white rhino.  The treasures would be Wonder bread he stole from his mom’s kitchen cabinets.  We would sit and eat it like it was the best African food the country had to offer.  

Stoney got away somehow one summer afternoon ending up in our street. A very upset lead pedal user named Jerry ran over him. We buried him in our backyard.  We had a funeral fit for the one-of-a-kind creature that he was.  I vowed I would somehow make a kind of honorable tribute to Stoney.  A stone marker perhaps which I myself would carve into the shape of a white rhino dog.  He would be honored throughout our neighborhood and there would be pilgrimages to his grave-site from all over the town.

 I never got so far as to draw up plans for the tribute.  After a very sorrowful mourning period  I moved on.

My husband and I belonged to a group of about six couples that met almost every Friday evening at our local Pizza Hut. We were for the most part high school friends.  And we all grew up together within the same part of town.  We would sit for the evening at OUR table catching up, telling jokes, playing music on the jukebox.  Of course, as nature and our lives progressed we slowly started bringing our new babies, then babies became small children.  Small children have basketball games, music lessons, children’s theatre. Our every Friday night dwindled to maybe once a month, then twice a year, then nothing.

Every once in a while my husband and I run into one of our old friends from that group at the grocery store or Home Depot.  But it’s not the same.  And why should I expect it to be? We’re older.  We’re leading such different lives now.  Those children that were babies now have babies of their own.  We let go.

Recently I left a job I loved.  The place I worked for was heavily committed to the community.  I met many different interesting people.  And I worked with people that became family.  My husband worked side by side with other husbands volunteering their time as part of this organization’s structure.  The ‘other’ family became very dear.  We worked well together and enjoyed each other’s company.  And each of us played a very important role.  We fit.  

Due to matters beyond our control six of us left our jobs within months of each other.  It was heartbreaking  Hard.  We got together a lot at first.  We felt secure, content.  Maybe even able to believe that we were still together, a team.  But on-by-one we drifted off.  One of us moved to a new town, new state.  Several took new jobs.  I took a small part-time job and started volunteering.  

We keep saying we are going to get together soon.  We sometimes individually go by our old place of employment and text each other. “Went by the old _______. Not the same.”

So that’s it.  Things change.  A huge part of life is in the letting go.  I see my beautiful daughters each with their own lives now and no matter how proud of them I am (and I am soooo proud!), a huge part of me still sees them standing on our front porch for their annual first day of school picture.  Side-by-side. So small, so eager.  Then they head to the school bus.  I wave.  I let go.

I know that there is reward in letting go.  I remember Stoney when I see my own ‘grand-pups’.  I chuckle when I drive by a Pizza Hut.  I joyfully hug my old fellow co-workers when I see them.  And, I sit back and just bask in the pride I feel when I am with my girls.  

There are going to be more times of letting go.  But in life you can sometimes hold too much.  In letting go you have the room to anticipate and welcome the new.

I know all that. And I embrace change. Change can be exhilarating and refreshing.  But I can’t help feeling a little nostalgic, if you will, every now and then.  I don’t want to go back. I love moving forward and anticipate all the good things that are still headed my way.  I only hope for those future times in which I have to let go I can do it well.  And then hold on to the sweet memory that is left behind.