Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Marking Time

This whole scene is what the best moments of my life are—me in the kitchen taking a break from cleaning an extraordinary mess from a particularly good supper, the kids in the living room being too wild (any moment now, I’ll have to shut down my computer and break up a fight), the clock three hours from the new year and I have still not showered from my morning at the gym and I know that out there beyond my front door are all sorts in Sunday best, music pumping, toasting and exuberant, who will they kiss, and I know who I will kiss, the man with the Xbox controller, battling our son in a game, and he is smooth-shaven today though yesterday he was gruff, there will be no rasp against my cheek this year, no prickling on my bottom lip, and maybe I won’t kiss him at midnight after all, maybe I’ll fall asleep on the couch like last year and he will tap my leg, nudge my arm, “the ball’s dropping,” and I will raise my head with sleepy eyes and yawn and say in my choked morning voice, “Happy New Year,” and go back to sleep and tomorrow the gym will be too crowded and everyone else will be walking zombie-like through the stores, another hangover behind their eyes, and it will be another day and another year, another way to drop a pin, set a marker, tell that time is indeed passing me by.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Sunrise in Winter

The dark-skinned lady in her fur-trimmed coat sits on the tartan blanket a few feet from me, her eyes turned towards the sea. And my butt is numb from the cold sand dune I chose as my seat. Sea oats stab at the backs of my legs. How long should I stay? Then the sky puts on a spectacle—the darkness of evening giving itself over to the color of dawn. A gift. A new day. An awakening. I watch until my eyes burn. Stay as long as I like. And the lady walks towards the sea, turns her shoulders north and then south. And I long to know her story. A lone jogger plods his way across the beach, barefoot in the winter sand. And my children are warm in their beds at the house while my fingers are numb from typing in the chill of morning. A heavy-set woman in jean shorts and crocs removes her shoes and wades in the sea up to her ankles and then walks away—that is all. And the dark-skinned lady turns towards me and her ears sparkle with jewels and her neck is wrapped in gold. And I long to know her story. The jogger returns and chats with her and I watch from my writer’s perch on the freezing sand and stretch my ears for their words. The wind carries their conversation and drops it in my lap—the cadence is dull, small talk, tinny laughter and I feel the pit of disappointment, a sticky ball in my stomach. And I will walk all the way to the rock jetty on the south end of the island to discover something. But then, when I find the jetty, it has nearly disappeared, covered by sand, shards of stone sticking out. The beach has changed since I last was here. A photographer sets and snaps photos of seabirds with the ocean as his backdrop and I envy his simple way of capturing the human existence—point and click. And I walk back, not sure if I’m full or empty again.