Henry’s Healing

The relief I felt when I leaned against his stone cold frame on a Saturday in August. His warmth from the sun that passed through the rainbow reflecting stained glass windows in frozen February -passed through me- while I glided down his morning halls. I felt my depression ease, his purpose take place within my own mental state.

He taught me to keep aware.

I was hugged by his spiraling staircases and content in his mass. I felt secure inside his twelve foot doors, fourteen foot windows, eighteen foot ceilings. I felt comforted by his stance- as if he exuded a confidence I didn’t have myself- but so badly wanted. The admiration for his intent- built for royalty. Built for the “insane” actually, in 1872; a time much more ahead of today.

He taught me to keep humble.

The smell of freshly baked peanut-butter-jelly crumb cake in his kitchens. His burgers on plates the size of your face- shoved into my face left me swollen and sleepy with an irregular heartbeat for days. The bar’s aroma that wafted black liquorice, ginger and mint overserved me like a gluttonous Queen.

He taught me to keep generous.

The many rotating faces of mixed emotions and personalities I had already known or just bumped into; to befriend, comfort, and confront day-to-day. He held my hand through the anxieties and animosities of social interaction and urged me to seek sincerity, authenticity instead.

He taught me to keep compassionate.

Navigating him became a subsequent flow of repetitive turns, bends, and motion. I became fluent in his language, his map, his less traveled stairwells and doors- all while making sure not to trip into an armour or beam- one of his many giant legs. Running pillows to a western corridor where the broom I needed for another wing – a ten minute task to complete- was sitting.

He taught me to keep patient.

Serotonin Season

Depression isn’t an emotion. It’s not described by the color blue. Depression is the exhausting hole you spend your days pacing without the energy to use the ladder that’s been thrown down to you.

Depression is an uneducated science, a genetic mutation, a chemical reaction to trauma within the mind and if left untreated you can convince yourself it’s just an iron deficiency causing you to lie down all the time. Your doctor laughs when your blood work comes back fine.

Diagnosed, given pills that make the chemicals flow. Then more pills that make the chemicals hold. Pills that make your body jolt like a penny stuck inside a socket- and if you close your eyes eventually, it’ll stop it. Pills that climb in dose and then kick out the floor from beneath you. Withdrawal is a bitch but, sometimes they forget to tell you.

Man is Dead

June 2015

Once again we can’t understand a stab to the gut story when a meaningless racial bias stops a loaded chest from rising …another rise should be happening instead.

When I first heard what happened I thought, “of course again this happened.” In my country something’s happened. Something inside of myself has horribly happened.

Grown Cold. Where is the blow that news like this should deliver to any warm heart?

Unmoved by the earth shattering broadcast that is supposed to cause a knee buckling sensation… my hands not shaking, this world beyond reason an acceptance I’ve been carrying my hope on my sleeve I boasted so proudly- washed off like a tattoo’d thumb, taken from me when I was

sleeping.

The sort of loss you cry so hard you can’t cry anymore type break up. The American dream lost in a Sunoco Casino. my patience- a desert run dry from rainless nights to water it’s kind-hearted intentions. A revelation so to speak

up for mothers grieving the loss of their child, hands and feet and heart like my own

gone

because of something so irrelevant like

color.

No, I can’t sit back any longer and let the world my children grow up in be flooded with hate, crime, and hate crime then keep saying, “We’re doomed so why must I bother?”

It was Nietzsche who once said that famous phrase, “God is dead” -but not for the reasons we think.

The phrase was not a winning statement but a heartbreaking murder of greatness. We killed the almighty argument, because we wanted answers, not to wonder…

And so what would Nietzsche think- if he never died from the wretched green -would he state, “Man is dead” just the same?

Just to Clarify

We worked together
He never went out on Tuesdays
Til the fall
his last semester
We were first friends
Trying to hook each other up
with other friends
But kept hanging out together
We let a lot of time pass us
before calling it anything serious
We liked each other’s company
But that was it

He left for Long Island
I followed
I left for Buffalo
he followed
we rented cheap
slept in
loved our dog
performed our art
ground our coffee beans
he taught me Polish
with a Long Island perspective &
a Buffalo A [ /ahh/ ] in his accent
He fed me peanut-butter-
fresh-cut-strawberry sandwiches
and I came to love him

We’ve raised 2 kids
We’ve made a home
We call ourselves a family
He stands next to me

with room to grow
we keep our individuality

We’ll call our marriage
“Name Change Day”
Throw a party half the cost
Leave no obligation to it
we like each other’s company

But that’s it.

Money Talks

Back in college I made $9.00 an hour. I lived off restaurant-job-bring-homes, peanut butter and bread. I paid my portion of the rent and bills, bought a couple books for the week and usually spent what extra I made on night’s out and Rice Krispies Treats.

One time in my early twenties on a college bar hopping expedition of normalcy, I dropped twenty dollars at The Pink ,which is a run down Allentown staple in Buffalo, NY where the floors are dissolvable (much like their steak sandwiches) and also coated in a thin layer of acid rain brought in by shoes for five years, since the last time the floors were washed. When my twenty dollar paper slipped from my hand and onto the bar’s floor, the bill disintegrated into burnt rubber instantly.

A tale much more plausible than me just being a little overy tipsy and over tipping the bartender again. Maybe I really did have a $2.00 bill on me. OR maybe my poor attention to detail did drop it and some schlub sitting next to me was buying a round for himself.

I’ll never remember to know.

What I will remember is the impact of being $20.00 short on a weekly college budget with the poor financial priorities of a twenty one year old. I don’t remember the repercussions in detail of this specific time but, I’m sure an overdraft forgiveness was negotiated with a supervisor over the customer service line of my bank that took twenty minutes to reach after convincing an automated computer woman/not woman to understand, “I NEED TO TALK TO A REAL HUMAN.”

It was the first time I remember feeling the panic that money (or the loss of money) can cause. But, it certainly wasn’t the last time down the long road – that is the continuing road – of financial lessons to learn from.

Another time, in my mid twenties (compared to my-now-late-twenties) I stood outside of a local bar with some friends smoking cigarettes and chatting over drinks. I’ve quit smoking almost five months now. I felt that was necessary to share. Anyway, there were some people outside of the group that chimed into our conversation. The more the merrier in my book, so on we chatted…

Until I see an old, beat up, green origami looking thing on the ground beneath my foot. I removed my foot from the item and nonchalantly picked up the piece of paper to observe and confirm what it was. I felt my eyes widen and a friend noticed, “What’d you find?”

I looked up to find the entire group silently awaiting my reveal. I chose to be honest, “A hundred dollar bill.”

Now, at this point in my life money is a maintenance but, not of worry. I consider us fortunate. We are by no means wealthy but, we are comfortable. I wanted so badly to own our own home and paint the walls as we pleased, restore as we wanted, etc., etc. We have that. We have a place and it’s our place. I cried the day we signed the papers. We are content now.

Once I announced to everyone that the item in my hand was a one hundred dollar bill, one of the non-members of the group put his head into his hand and spoke up hesitantly, “I dropped it.”

I felt time freeze.

What am I going to do? Accuse the man of lying? I found it, yes… But, even in that moment I found it… If my friend hadn’t asked what it was that I was holding in the first place, would I have kept it without saying anything or asked around to see if someone had indeed, dropped it? I never had time to figure that out about myself. I still don’t know what I would’ve done in that situation.

But, as the moment began to unfold, I chose to trust his word and thought back to losing my twenty dollar bill at The Pink all those years ago. I gave this man the one hundred dollar bill. He offered to buy me a drink. I thought it was a kind gesture but, told him that was not necessary.

He then scattered away from the group to go back inside the bar. He came out soon after with his things and jumped into an Uber.

I still doubt the validity of his statement, “I dropped it.” But, who am I to judge? There isn’t enough evidence to this case to invest an opinion on it.

But, boy do I still think about it. I wonder if he does too.

Upside Down Perspective

Our house has been contaminated with a cold. There’s sneezing, coughing, vapor rubs and tea going around. I got hit with it yesterday. I thought I could squeeze in an extra hour of sleep with Oliver being the last immune system standing and being home on a Saturday morning and all… I thankfully did sleep in but, I woke up without a pause button.

I jolted my eyes open to the hysterical tears of Paxton and Janek cuddled alongside me in bed. One second I was in an induced mom-has-a-cold-coma, and the next, it was loud outside of my unconscious state of being.

The house smelled amazing – like breakfast – chocolate chip pancakes and bacon. Oliver is much more of a morning person than I am. He operates before coffee. I don’t.

So as the story went… Oliver came upstairs with a heavenly, heavily creamed cup of caffeine for me but heard (and by “heard” I mean he noticed it was too quiet) Mr. Paxton up to no good downstairs and went to check on him, leaving my coffee on our dresser while he went to check.

Apparently, little man took initiative to baby powder the living room during Oliver’s long journey up the stairwell.

Honestly, Pax probably had it planned for weeks. He saw Oliver’s kind gesture as an opportunity to accomplish his detailed blue print.

The living room is now a week-long-sneeze-pit.

So while Oliver is vacuuming, sweeping and wiping down traces of absorbent dust – I was unexpectedly soothing my kids from the, “AHHHH! NOOOOO!!!” reaction my good parent partner had upon seeing winter driving conditions were bad in the living room of our house.

When my eyes popped open to realize what was happening, I just sort of said something supportive – a, “there, there…” kind of statement. We had a discussion on why throwing cornstarch is not as fun as it looks – and we all coughed and sneezed about it.

But, it’s not over.

Tears settled and Janek went to get dressed while Paxton wandered into the playroom with Oliver’s phone he had excitingly snatched off the dresser. I stumbled out of bed with my mug in a slouch and followed after Paxton to retrieve the phone before it was submerged in something I didn’t want to stick my hand into.

But on my way into the playroom, I was distracted by the sudden smell of a potential dog turd in the room… and while I turned around to see if this odor was of actual concern, I stepped onto a hot wheel and without a chance to save myself, fell forward onto the couch and – literally – bounced into my coffee.

Laying there contorted from the fall, I can see in an upside down perspective that the dog turd odor is of an actual concern and someone has yes… stepped in it. I immediately checked my feet to conclude I did NOT step in it. But there’s a two year old playing with Oliver’s phone behind me who probably did…

So knowing a cold is just a cold, kids are just kids, puppies are just puppies and literally, sometimes shit happens…. who can I blame in this situation? Who can I get mad at?

No one.

I called Oliver upstairs for assistance. He walked up to me and stopped abruptly at the sight of my standing there at the top of the stairs, dripping coffee from my hair, under a wet blanket in a distraught daze of disbelief that my life is actually an orchestrated scene out of Dennis the Menace at just fifteen minutes into opening my eyelids.

He laughed. I laughed. We laughed for a while… Then the mania kind of stopped and he looked me over to judge and say, “You need to take a shower!”

And unbeknown to him I replied, “Okay… You have to clean up poop.”