Monday, January 12, 2009


I was just going along, catching up on all my blog reading, still in PJs, drinking awful coffee because, damn it, it's my fault and it's expensive coffee and stuff shouldn't go to waste, and listening to tunes I'd mean shared via limewire, when Billy Joel's "For the Longest Time" came on.

Cue instantaneous flashback to R&R. I'm sitting on the lawn chair in the garage, lost in reverie and bundled up against the cold, Keith's coat thrown over my knees. There is the smoky smell of the kerosene heater and the little clanks and clatter of Keith at work nearby.

Keith has one of his CDs playing and this song comes on; I look up to see him coming toward me with a hopeful smile, in his eyes an invitation, his hand outstretched. I take it and he helps me get up gingerly from the chair, my back stiff with pain. But he takes me gently in his arms and we dance slowly around the space between the truck and the ATV, his head against mine.

And he sings softly to me the lyrics " I know the woman that you are..." and I sing back "...I don't care what consequence it brings, I've been a fool for lesser things..." And the song ends and we hold each other and he kisses me and I stand perfectly still, eyes closed and abandoned; wishing for that exact moment in time to be eternal.

(I love you so much, Sweetie! Thank you for giving me such beautiful memories to keep. I can't wait for you to come back and we can make more!)

When I was living in New England, the first job that I was proud of was to be the afternoon teacher's aid at a very small private preschool called Happy Valley Day School. This was a small, grey painted clapboard building lost in the little hills. There was a back field and a long, green lawn and woods all around, with towering hemlocks that sheltered the snow far into spring.

I loved this job; for an entire afternoon it was my joy to preside over a small and wild tribe of young children. One snowy afternoon I took them up to the crest of the hill, where the woods began and where the south facing slope caught the best of the light. Here, already the snow had melted and the ground was warm and dry; down in the field the snow still lay in glistening, white heaps that hurt the eye.

The children played in and out of the trees, lost in their own world, their high, clear voices carrying far in the clean air and the wind rushed through the heavy bows of the evergreens with a sound like the ocean. I lay back on the tangled ground and closed my eyes, feeling the sun sink into my bones.

I gathered them up later, to return for a mid afternoon snack and a quiet nap and they went leaping ahead like gazelles, sending the snow flying up, shouting out their glad joy like the wild things that they were. The sun caught on golden curls and knitted and soaked mittens. I followed behind them and wanted that moment to last forever.

They always wanted me to tell stories and I would tell them of the Princess and the Glass Mountain or The Good Servant; fairy tales untouched by Disney's softening influence, still vibrant with the ragged edges of good and evil and alive with all the twists and wild fancies of human imagination.

Their faces would watch me, rapt, absorbing every motion, as I stood, now become the beautiful princess with no heart, at the edge of the cliff, the sea raging at the foot, holding out her golden ring between two fingers and then dropping it. And it would fall, a tumbling spark of light, to disappear into the surf below.

"Find me my ring by dawn tomorrow, and you can have my hand in marriage," she says, the wind whipping her silken skirts, sending them billowing out over the edge.

And their collective breaths would come out with a little sigh and they would squirm a little closer, grouped about me on the grass, some hanging off my shoulders; they knew she lied. But they also knew that all the fish of the sea would come to the Good Servant's aid, because they owed him a debt to repay.

And they would stay still to hear the end of the story, when the Good Servant returns triumphant, throwing open the doors to the Great Hall, his worn boot heels ringing on the polished floor, to stride up to his beloved and heartless princess, to humble and exalt her both by his unforeseen victory and to bring about the inevitable happy ending.

(I always loved fairie tales, can you tell?)

No comments: