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Here Is Something I Will Not Forget

In January one afternoon not many months ago I was followed down the street by a man I did not know.
I was walking my dogs and when I leaned over to adjust the harness for one of my dogs
I felt a hand between my legs.
Winter. Daylight. Outside. A stop sign.
My first thought was “this is my husband.”
“He has followed us and this is something only he can do.”
I turned and made a noise. It was not a noise I had heard from myself
Across the street was the man I did not know who had followed me. He waited for me to bend over and then.
He waited for me to turn around.
I yelled at this man I did not know.
My hands were full of gloves and leashes and dogs.
Otherwise I would have have chased this man I did not know down the street.
This man I did not know was not my husband. This man I did not know did not have permission to become part of my space.
I don’t need a reminder of this.
I have not forgotten.
I would like to remind
Our person in power is a man I do not know.
He is not my leader.
I will continue a linear script until he is gone from my horizon.

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I remember driving with my Father to Dunkin’ Donuts on a sunny Saturday.
The sky was more blue then when you are 6
or maybe 7.
We picked out pairs of donuts.
Sprinkled, glazed, iced.
Our family of 5 would divide them shortly.
Around 11-ish. Weekend hours.
I remember it was an event. .25 each roughly.
With a glass of milk. And another one please.
Later it was American Bandstand. 11:30-12:00 or so.
East coast and
American hours.
We had a babysitter
Maybe a handful of times.
Then, there would be 3 frozen dinners complete with green peas and carrots
and a chocolate brownie.
That 1 brownie makes up for nothing I wanted to tell someone.
The best thing about it was the idea.
Compartmentalized dinners in a silver tray with dessert on the same plane. In the same place. Waiting.
It was freedom.
It was Saturday night.
Mom was getting ready.
Then it was
The bathroom, the closet, and the rotary phone on the dresser
Like a regular lady.
Counting the hours.
It would be fine.

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Break Away.

I once lived in a cul-de-sac.
There were pine trees at the end of our street which years ago gave way to some man’s idea of progress.
The woods were an endless city maze of straw and sandy dirt. Trails and fallen trees.
It was bike paths and shade. Kid deals and neighborhood. Baseball cards.
The safety of a circle.
On banana seats and handle bars
We would ride.
Bike gang circa 1975 singing songs from the radio.
On the edge was the 7-eleven.
I remember the day my father let go of the back of my training wheels-less bike. I looked over my right shoulder. Then I think I fell over.

I have broken one bone in my life.
Ever. Grownup.
Ring finger. Left hand.
I was riding a bike in New York. Where the World Trade Center should have been.
Empty space and bright lights.
I grabbed the wrong brake and everything else went wrong. And then wrong again.
I flew home with my hand in a congratulatory thank you cup of ice.
Surgery on your hand will sometimes involve drugs and discussing trips with your doctor you’ve never taken (but would like to take) to Italy.
And famous paintings.
And other places you would like to go but have never been.
And other famous paintings.

When I was a kid my father pulled our teeth.
Loose kid teeth. Barely hanging on.
He would take a handkerchief from his back pocket and in the blink of an eye.
Without warning. Eyes closed.
Probably my father closed his eyes too.
It’s ok.
Dad has your tooth and later Mom will be Tooth Fairy.
Turning teeth into quarters at approximately 10:30 p.m.
That quarter will allow you baseball cards with flat pieces of gum or maybe a Slurpee.
Through the woods. On the other side.
Circle around
It’s ok
Past progress.

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Just wait.

When I was a kid you had to wait.
Your turn. Your time. Your holiday.
Waiting was part of the thing back then.
You waited in line with your lunch tray
or with your Barbie lunch box or for your seat
with your carton of milk.
You waited at the corner for the school bus in the cold.
Cold air looked like smoke
and with your breath you could pretend to smoke a cigarette like they did on tv.
You waited for Halloween and all the great holidays in between.
Holidays once involved one hour specials on tv that for a brief time you thought you might not ever see again.
Holidays were long seasons.
Waiting for that crescendo into schooless-ness. And beyond.
Easter eggs and tinsel.
And Pie.
On Saturdays you waited at the salon while your mother got her hair done.
Looking longingly at the Cheetos in the snack machine and wandering among hair magazines.
Swivel chairs with those hair dryers that fit over your head like an astronaut.
You wanted to fly to the moon.
Hair magazines are weird when you are not even a kid.
People smoked in salons back then. No waiting for that. Thank you.
Sometimes you waited in the car.
Or next to the car if it was July.
If the cereal box had a prize you waited on that. With your brother and maybe your sister.
You waited for hamburger night, Saturday mornings, the Olympics, and a new notebook in August.
Soda in the summer again on the side of the road
traveling south.
Patience while the garden hose filled the pool.
Waiting with popsicles or perhaps Kool aid.
Waiting sometimes involved kickball and the dentist and the bathroom if there were three of you. Brother and sister.
Waiting extended the days into a yawn.
And some days alternately into an argument.
Waiting was
The sunny other side of kid longing.
I am not sure if waiting exists for us now as it once existed then.
When all the seasons eventually appeared out of nowhere while raking leaves or running from fireworks.
According to the Sears catalogue.
Get in line they said
It’s around the corner.
At least that’s what they said.
Once maybe twice.
Just wait
Your turn.

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in the 3:30 a.m. sounds I opened my window to the coyotes.
they managed themselves in the backyard.
my side window.
i wanted to talk to them
about their crowded angst
their lack of a plan
their side of the story.
how it is the men are winning? and
is there enough room across the bridge and between the trees?
the middle of.
i valued their perspective
and their secret narratives
of a bad rap
with no plan.
we had pine trees at the end of my street
when i was a kid.
well worn paths and sandy trails, pinecones and parallels
to the 7 eleven and onward to the people.
we had no plan
my neighbor.
but lets ride
past the trails and past the woods
where there were probably
coyotes once
wandering and winning.

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As a white girl who did not grow up in the place she was bornΒ I have always been envious
Of region with ritual
and tight knit diversities.
Repetition with a nod.
I salute you
My brother. My sister.
Ritual for me was the same church pew on Sunday. Tiny pencils for sketching and fried chicken around 1:00.
Later, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for dinner.
My parents read the newspaper.
Sunday sections of glossy adds and shopping for the week ahead.
My mother had a file.
In alphabetical order.
Which she carefully matched winding her way through the grocery aisles. On a Tuesday or Wednesday.
We had our own cobbled together rituals as a singular family unit.
Set the table.
Take your seat.
Give thanks.
Sometimes I dream of the desert.
I admire headscarves and robes
and songs in languages I don’t understand.
Your temple.
Are a temple.
Shouts of joy and the children are carrying flags.
The wind is blowing.
Someone left a window
On the wrong side of the room.
My brother. My sister.
I have watched the men kneel and pray at sunset. Rows of 3 and 4.
I did not know if they looked at their watches
Or just the sky.
Time is eternal and internal after all.
The old ways.
New to me.
Saluting from the sidelines.
Reveling in ritual.

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My first teaching job was part time.
Some days my father would visit
because he worked down the street
and we would have lunch
On his birthday I took him a cupcake
I think
and a plant for his office.
Something green for his green and metal office
On the day of the solar eclipse we watched
through a box with a hole in it.
Outside my apartment.
The moon passed in front of the sun.
Midday darkness
dictated by the sky.
A solemn shift
and a purple hippie bus parked across the street.
The hippies were in town for the eclipse.
Or something else entirely.
Probably something else.
When I was very young
I remember dividing the bedroom my sister and I shared down the middle.
Her side.
My side.
I dare you.
It never lasted.
You could always find us
playing school, and Barbies, and American Bandstand on the very next day.
I packed all my socks once.
When I was mad
Ready to run away from home
after that great story I read in a book about living in a museum
and money gathered in fountains.
Instead I learned the book is always better.
And you can’t really divide your room
or live in a museum.
These days
I want to throw a cannonball at the sun
and fashion my own eclipse.
Shield our eyes and reset.
Have lunch with my father.
I know that men will always try to divide our rooms.
If we are lucky
the sky will always dictate.
A solemn shift.