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The Dream Is Over

I remember the time I pulled the rear bumper off of my car thinking I had the perfect solution.

A neighbor from across the street at my old house had purchased new property and they were about to begin construction on it. Knowing how much I loved gardening she suggested that I get to her new property and take as many blueberry bushes as I wanted. All I had to do was dig them up. I was chilled, that’s how excited I was at the prospect of having mature blueberry bushes! I arrived at her property with a pick, shovel and well-worn work gloves.

Surveying the bushes, I appraised a few that looked well-rounded and plump and began digging around the roots. Trouble was I soon found out, wild blueberry bushes have deep and hearty roots. For a few hours I picked, shoveled and tugged at a few bushes but still couldn’t pull one bush fully out of the ground. So, I had an idea. I would wrap some rope I had in the trunk around the exposed roots, tie the other end to my car’s rear bumper and simply pull them out! Why didn’t I think of that before?

Sweating, but determined, I tied the knots as tightly as I could on both ends, took off my gloves (which revealed a few open blisters on my right hand), and started up the car. I gently pulled forward so I could see that the slack in the rope was gone and carefully pushed down on the accelerator. After a few tentative rocking motions nothing happened. I could see as I leaned out of the driver’s side door that the rope was taught and that the bush was slightly leaning toward the car, but no hint of uprooting showed itself. So I pressed heavier on the gas pedal. Still, no giving up the ground for that blueberry bush!

Bolder, I backed up maybe ten feet and decided that building some speed would pluck it out of the ground as easily as plucking one of the juicy berries would be. One foot on the gas, the other halfway out the door and my head cocked toward the rear, I bolted. The ten feet took only a slight moment to cover, but I remember the sharp buck of the car at the end of the ten feet and the slam of the brake at probably foot number fifteen.

I hurried out of my car and could see the damage I had done even before I strode to the passenger door. Fifteen feet away, the blueberry bush stood – still solidly rooted in its original spot. Tied to its exposed roots was the rope. On the other end of the rope was my car’s rear bumper, pulled much closer to the bush than to my car by the force of the pull.

Eventually, I decided that with all the investment of time and effort I had put in, not to mention my car’s rear bumper, that bush was going to be mine no matter how it happened. I left the site, drove back to my house, came back with an old saw and cut those roots one at a time until I could pull out the bush and hoist it into my trunk – dirt, stray leaves, bugs and anything else that was attached.

I planted that bush in a special spot in my beloved garden and tended it daily for most of the first few weeks in its new location. In the next few years it prospered, giving up wonderfully deep blue/purple berries that satisfied both the wild life that happened upon the free feast, local kids that regularly came to pick a mouthful (and stained their clothes) while playing in the neighborhood and enough left over for my own family to incorporate them into pancakes, muffins, ice trays and daily round the clock snacks.

I remember my little girl, who must have been about four or five at the time, in a billowy yellow sundress and a white, wide-brimmed sunhat jumping sideways, circling the bush singing “Here we go ’round the blueberry bush, the blueberry bush …” and laughing her little girl giggle as she sang and pulled berries into her mouth.

I remember both of my boys helping me dig a pit to plant the huge bush in. And after the initial deluge of water for the bush, how we swung into an impromptu water hose fight. We sat down in the wet soil, shared sips of iced tea and I remember hugging them both – one on either side of me.

I loved that blueberry bush.  Read more…

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The Amount of Time

It’s mainly about trying not being alone.

It’s tiring and deflating to walk in after midnight, open the door and see everything clouded in darkness. When the first light is turned on, the shadows around the disarray seem longer and rough edged. The stillness is loud and has a wry grin. The air is limp and never forgets that I will sigh loudly while I take off my coat and have an internal debate about whether I’ll hang it up in the closet or simply let it lie on the chair where I sit to take off my shoes.

The refrigerator light that engulfs me as I open the door seems the open eye of a witness who takes note of my late night slouch, my weary countenance and my disregard of civility as I pull out the gallon jug of iced tea and swig greedily.

I can look mere feet from where I stand and notice the dishes that need only to be placed within the grill of the dishwasher, the socks that make dramatic splashes across my bedroom floor, the unmade bed awash in wrinkles, the spot where a plant fell and still has beads of soil that need to be vacuumed up, the stack of pages, letters and mail that is opened, or needs to be opened, the shameful dust on the bookshelf, the stark white walls interrupted only briefly with photographs, the half filled storage bins with their covers scattered, the cabinet doors left open which look like broad wings in the darkness and the couch blankets that have been thoughtlessly tossed and are spread wide open.

The couch can attest to the lonely moments. I sit on the middle cushion, slightly hunched over and close to the edge so I will not sink in and stare at a random object. Not for the sake of study, or contemplation of some matter, but an effortless and blank gaze without the whirring of thought.

Sometimes the distraction of a TV channel causes mild focus and my mind blindly adheres to the chain of conversation or story on the screen and a half hour has gone by. A commercial interrupts the bland interaction between us and I stand, stretching out my arms, back and legs and the thought of lying down occurs. Not out of exhaustion, but out of boredom. Most nights it”s right there on the couch, the oldest inanimate object in my apartment – one that was given to me, where I surrender, without benefit of taking off my work clothes, to the loveless ennui and close my eyes not for weary eyelids, but for lack of emotional stimulation.

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When I Win

I mentioned before that I’ve teamed up with a woman who has been unbelievably lucky at the lottery. She’s won mid-level prizes in the past year which include a scratch for $10,000. It’s uncanny how often, and how much, she wins.

So I offered to go in with her. I’d pay the same amount as she would and we would split the prizes. I started off by giving her $20. I figured that we would play a few times a week and go from there. In total, I believe that since we started doing this at the end of January I’ve given her an out-of-pocket total of $60 – far more than I should be giving out.

As I think while sitting here, I am unable to come up with the total amount that we have won. But I can tell you that the two largest tickets that we’ve hit on are a $1,000 ticket and two $500 tickets! In between we’ve been playing constantly – daily … with money that we’ve won! Each and every day we win between $20 – $100 dollars. Each day! And we continue to play every day – with money that we keep winning!

When the amount of the daily winnings get to about $75 or so, we play smart. Half of the winnings gets split between the two of us, and we play the other half. So, for instance, two days ago we won $110, we split $60 between us, $30 apiece, and played the remaining $50. Every day I’m getting cash amounts ranging from $20 to $75 or so handed to me. Cash. Cash that I put away in a safe. A dollar amount that is large enough for me to pay cash for two items that I’ve long lusted after. A large screen TV to replace the old one that was given to me (which sports in the upper left hand corner a permanent splash of green from the aging picture tube), and a new computer to replace the one I use now that is slow, painfully slow.

She keeps saying that we are about to win a large amount. A really large amount. I’m excited within reason of course, but I occasionally let my mind wander.

People often ask each other what they would do if they ever won ‘the big one’. I already know what I’d do.

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My Forced March into Madness

I had such a bout of panic and anxiety yesterday, that at times I seemed to have been surgically spliced and lightly lifted out of my own body. I was terrified.

I couldn’t find my professional license. I need to prove that I am able to work in my field, and that proof is my professional license. I looked in my small safe that I keep in the closet that holds other important papers that I need to keep, and it is also the most logical location for where the license would be kept. I was wide-eyed and stilted after I opened the safe only to find that it was missing!

I rifled through my tall bureau where there’s a shelf that I use to keep other important documents such as the divorce agreement, my bank checks and assorted papers. It wasn’t there! I then quickly tore at my nightstand where I keep various saved papers from the kids’ schoolwork that they’ve given me from time to time, allowing me occasional cool comfort and the slightest of illusion that I am an involved parent within their presence in school. Nothing there! I looked in my kitchen ‘junk’ drawer, I ripped through the drawer in the small table that used to be my nightstand when I was married, but is now the catch-all at my apartment door. Nothing in either!

I felt the panic as a dizzy menace spreading as quickly as though it were colored dye spreading through my mind – filling my head, narrowing my thoughts, trembling my fingers, my heart overextending to accept blood and forcefully plunging closed – the center of my life was clawing through piles of scattered documents, circulars, magazines and miscellaneous opened and unopened mail that now lied in a wide circle around me as I knelt, centered amid the paper debris. I rapidly and savagely reopened envelope after envelope where it might have been, separating contents from their proper container without rejoining them for later use and throwing them aside, tossing them even further away from me and creating an even larger circle of print matter that in the end had me perfectly centered, fully surrounded and piled on all sides, mocking me for my inept ability in keeping something so important within easy grasp.

I placed my forehead down on the floor as if I might do for eastern meditation as I began to cry silently in raging frustration and blinding panic, As I raised my head to breath, I happened to glance under my bed. There, I could see boxes of storage items – photo albums of relatives I never knew, a box of glasses that I won at a work raffle last Christmas, a old colorful basket, and a plastic shopping bag filled with papers. I reached shoulder-length under the bed and pulled quickly as if I were saving the bag from harm under the bed. More of the same filtered out – old bills, old magazines, circulars from last year and articles that I never read. But, somewhere near the middle of the plastic bag was an envelope with my handwriting on it. I opened it, and there, nestled between my social security card and three small wallet sized pictures, was my professional license.

My overpowering relief was met, at that very same exact instance, with a rapidly ballooning despair. The three pictures were the pictures taken of my children at the hospital the day they were born – their newborn pictures! I found myself holding in my left hand my most precious, most treasured above all lost past, and in my right, my needy, bleak and uncertain future.

My thoughts couldn’t distill my elation for finding my professional license from the jarring jolt of electricity that thundered through me at seeing my babies as newborns, and I continued kneeling, sitting on my heels in the ring of torn, mismatched, scattered papers, sweating through my shirt, hands twitching, barely sane and exquisitely solitary.

Much later, last night at about 8:00 PM, I received a call from a realtor – my house is being put up for ‘short sale’.

This morning I found out via email, that I am not eligable for financial assistance if I want to go to school this coming year.

I am out of work, my home where my children live is to be taken, I am not able to receive assistance to better myself in school and, again, I am alone.

Is there anybody out there?

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