Monday, August 22, 2011

I Hear...

After a long day and then a drive north and back, I came in and sat at the computer for a minute. I found the above quote/photo and saved it.

Then Meander and I headed down in the dark for his last walk. We went up the street and down the street and into the park where I stopped because... there was no noise but the crickets... thick with sound and the lake doing it's slow Autumn sigh that I used to go to sleep to. I closed my eyes for a moment, standing there..... and I could imagine that I was far north in Wisconsin on a different shore of the same lake. And that there was nothing more than this and if I stood long enough in that wooded place I would hear the wolves howl.

And I thought, this is why I saved the quote, because the lake's voice had become such a part of me and I miss it in ways too deep to explain.

We walked on, and out of the park and down the sidewalk when a light caught my eye. It was the windows of my old apartment and I remembered meeting George that morning while walking the dogs and him saying he had heard someone had moved into the building but he didn't know which apartment. Through the sunroom I could see a woman crossing the archway between the dining room and living room.... no doubt unpacking. Though I was not close, there was something large and royal blue on the wall, unlike Keith's large painting..... rose, in color.

I urged Meander home.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Moki Equals Hope

Two years ago they hired a young (maybe 19 years old) guy to work with us in the garden center at the 666BBHS.

His name was Moris and to my amazement, he was a workhorse with integrity. No job was too big, no request too difficult. He had us all enchanted. People like him didn't exist at the BBHS.

We also had another young guy in the same sort of position (We'll call him Ego) and a department manager who was useless. I watched as Moris got sucked into the two of them. It was fairly apparent that the department manager wasn't fond of me and the two 'kids' followed his lead. I didn't care except that I knew Moris was better than that and that Ego was bad news all around. The department manager was just wasted filler.

Ego was Filipino, and good looking and had a penchant for the OTC drugs that pump you up. Moris started down that path and showed less respect for me than he usually did. The three of them would waste their time talking as they acted like they were working.


Last year I found out Moris was Muslim. He's from Bosnia... and that's all I knew. When Ramadan came he was hungry and thirsty all day, but managed.


The department manager left and Ego got transferred to another department. Though they used to seek each other out, I don't see them together anymore. Ego still has one, and Moris has gone back to being... amazing. In fact, he and two friends moved me for less money than they should have gotten.


So, it's Ramadan again Moris has become Moki to me, because I asked if Moris was really his name.

Actually, it is. His father was watching old Western movies... heard the name and gave it to his son... but everyone who loves him, call him Moki... so I do.

We've talked about his fasting lately. Yesterday, he had had no sleep (a new girl, you know) and his stomach was cramping. I was trying to respect what he was doing, but it's hard to watch. He told me that he did it for his aunt, who is very serious about it, and he couldn't lie... should he choose to eat/drink.


Today was a different and beautiful story. He told me why he REALLY fasts, and I have nothing to compare it to.
We're in the middle of a thunderstorm so bad that they've closed the garden gate. I've been sitting in an empty garden center on an empty shelf watching the rain when he comes back from lunch. He says he might have to break his fast because he's soon to be in school twelve hours a day. It is so important to him that he can concentrate. And that spurs another conversation.

I want to know why someone else's opinion matters to him because he's told me about his aunt and how he's not really religious in the Muslim kind of way. I find out, she's not really important. This is what an early twenty-something told me in this year of 2011...

He said, "I was really small (and with his hand told me.... maybe three feet tall) when we came here. In Bosnia we fasted, not for religious reasons, but because there was no food. We came here with two suitcases... there was only paperwork inside, and look where where we are now (his parents are maintenance workers one place or the other, work like mad and now own a house two blocks away from the store).

But, I know there are still people fasting in Bosnia because they have no food and I think it's important that I remain humble."

I told him that as much as I admired him before, he truly was an amazing man.

There is hope for the future.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Forgotten Music

In high school.... 1972/73 my friends and I listened to a lot of lesser known music, usually off the wall Rock. But my friend Leslie, and I had some softer tastes. I remember loving a band called the Stories, for example (can't find but one of their songs to save my life now).

Leslie was the one who found the music and shared it with me when we would spend the night at each other's houses.

I was the listener in our friendship.

She was a pretty girl with wavy blond hair and a broken front tooth that enhanced, rather than detracted from her looks that all the guys wanted and usually got. I learned why during our nights together, or one single morning I will never forget when we left my bedroom before daybreak, walked the hill up to our high school, climbed to the roof on garbage cans and watched the sun rise together.... she was physically abused by her father... a man I said, "Hello, Mr. McAllister" to every time I visited their house..

I graduated a half-year early and started college. She apparently hooked up with a ne'er-do-well that had been in our 'hippie' group. I saw her once at a hotel I had worked at in our home town on a visit from Chicago. Her eyes were too bright and her demeanor too distant. It seemed to me the woman who had always been drowning was about to go under for the last time.

Some time later my mother called to say that she had died. The parents were trying to hush it up, but the story was it was AIDS. It was early in the epidemic, especially for Kentucky... but not so much for a pretty girl with a crooked smile who just wanted to be loved in the only way she 'knew'.... if only for an instant.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

For Hannah

"Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes. She has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.

Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag. She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she finds the book she wants. You see the weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a second hand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow.

She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.

Buy her another cup of coffee.

Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.

It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas and for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry, in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.

She has to give it a shot somehow.

Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.

Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who understand that all things will come to end. That you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.

Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilightseries.

If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.

You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.

You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.

Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.

Or better yet, date a girl who writes."