Love Stories (Part One)

“Now, here’s a little story I gots to tell…” ~Mike D, MCA, and Ad-Rock

You.  You who have hung on and read. Who have listened and liked.  Who have even commented.  You.  Thank you from the very bottom of my heart for listening to me go on and on and on about myself with little substance aside from light epiphany.

Yes, thank you.

So, a story?  Have I got one?

Most of the short stories that I’ve been working on in the last year (or maybe my whole life) have to do with either unhealthy or unrequited love.  Passionate, short-lived affairs.  Kids (when I say kids, I mean early 20s) sitting on the cold lip of a tub contemplating a kiss that they know will be their last.  A woman leaving her body during an affair.  An ex-girlfriend calling in the middle of the night marking the beginning of the end for a young troubled couple.  Another young woman attempting to paste the pieces of herself together after her long-term lover beats her for the last time.

So. Damn. Bleak.

I did try to write some weird Kafkaesque story about a young woman’s mysterious lump talking to her, but that only lived for a page and a half and probably would have also turned into an impossible love affair.  Eeeewww.

So, what up?  I’m obviously working something out.


Okay, so here’s a story…

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Out of the Woods… with no Expectations

“…and the whole world opened up before me because I had no dreams.” ~Jack Kerouac

In college, this used to be my screen saver.  One of those bouncing message types forever careening off the monitor’s blank walls.  And, as of late, the quote has come rushing back to me as a friend and I have dubbed “no expectations” as a sort-of mantra.  It is a way to let the world open up and to be open to possibility.  A way to be happy.  It is also, I suppose, a form of letting go, something I have been accused of not being very good at.

This is how I started a post, oh an hour or so ago, and got stumped and couldn’t finish.  I liked the part of the post in which I wrote about being young and reading Kerouac and driving through North Carolina cornfields and writing poetry and thinking I was in love with a Carolina boy and being really damned disappointed. Maybe I’ll come back to it.

However, the greatest part about starting the post and being completely unable to finish it, was that I looked through my previous posts of 2013 and realized what a ginormous  friggin corner I’ve turned. Seriously.  Huge.  Walked around.  Completely. No looking back.

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Dance until I reinjure my knee and then keep on dancing.  Check.

Sing Ice, Ice Baby by heart into a microphone, in front of a crowd, with a live band, but screw up the second verse. Check.

Spend the night at the party because I couldn’t bear to leave.  Check.

Madly enjoy the time spent with old friends and crazy love meeting new ones. Check.

Act like I’m bringing in a new millennium. Check. Check. Check.

So, yeah, there was this party…

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Lesson in the Shape of a Lawn

My neighbors know it, so why shouldn’t you?

I can’t keep up with my lawn.  It is a source of complete and total shame.  The thought of my lawn has made me worse than a turtle in a shell, than an ostrich in the sand.  It, and this is honest, makes me want to disappear.  Not crawl in a hole and die exactly, but just not to exist.

I want to say that it has nothing to do with me not being a lawn person.   And, I’m not sure that it does.  I used to be a fairly good gardener.  Fairly good.  I know that in the year after my son was born, when a bout of postpartum “issues” set in, vegetable gardening was one of the only things that kept me going.  Still, in subsequent years, I failed at such ventures.  Why, how the dichotomy?

At that time, the vegetable gardening time, the lawn was not perfect but wasn’t vying to be part of the Amazon either.

I’ve noticed lately that I often talk in a lot of  “I used to be…” lingo.  I used to keep a great vegetable garden.  I used to keep a clean house.  I used to salsa dance several times a week.  I used to go backpacking alone.  I used to exercise all of the time and I used be thin.  I used to be funny.  I used to be vivacious. I used to be happy. I used to be myself.

But we evolve, right?  I am working on reclaiming the essential positives.  The exercise, the dancing, the funny, the happy.  I have to let go of what is not that important right now.  Pissing off the neighbors or no, lawn maintenance is trumped by other means of survival, other means of happiness.

And, I guess I can admit that I am not a landscaped lawn person.  I don’t think I ever will be.  And, lawn care obviously has not been on the top of my priority list as of late. There is a patch (a large patch) of waist high grass in my back yard.  I do not live in the deep woods and I am not a failure. I. am. not.

So, why this lawn confessional?

My lawn has been both a recent bane and a recent blessing.

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Open Windows

I sometimes think of Julie Andrews as the aspiring nun Maria not-yet-Von Trapp in The Sound of Music walking optimistically, albeit a bit sadly, away from the abbey and toward the Von Trapp household in her brown wool frock saying “When the Lord closes a door, somewhere He opens a window.”

As of late, I have thought of that cinematic moment often.

Keep your head up, Emily.

Keep your eyes open, Emily.

Have faith, Emily.

In looking for the source of this quote, I stumbled upon something similar attributed to Alexander Graham Bell: “When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”

Then, after reading that and recognizing my own longing and regretfulness, I remembered that my mom also sent me an email with the following: You are not a failure. You took a step of faith and a door closed. That means you’re one step closer to an open door.

Reminders, reminders.  You see how they have been seeking me out lately.  Or, how I have been willing to receive them.  It has been much like the experience of learning a new word and then hearing and seeing it in the newspaper, on the radio, flowing out of your friend’s mouth so casually that you were embarrassed that you didn’t know it before.

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