Thursday, October 23, 2014

stars


she was so angry. her degree had put her in a giant financial hole and now her boss had increased her hours (without pay) and handed her a piece of paper with the address and telephone number of the welfare office in response to her request for a living wage. i walked with her to the bus stop and waited with her until it came. as i walked back to my own office, i began to feel waves of sadness. by the time i sat down on the couch near my desk, i was an absolute wreck and could only lean forward holding my face in my hands. lili's sadness and frustration had turned a key inside of me and all of the lonely parts of the changes i'd made in my own life in the previous months were starting to kick me around in the surf. i didn't even realize giant john had walked into my office until he put a gentle, concerned hand on my shoulder. the simple compassion of the gesture opened a floodgate and soon i was hiccuping tears. giant john's face turned to panic. he began to pat my shoulder as though he'd broken me and mumbled out disjointed instructions for me to 'stay put' while he got help. his care and confusion seemed so sincere and adorable, it only made me cry harder. by the time hugh arrived i was curled up in a fetal position with my head resting in a puddle of my own tears. hugh walked in, pulled me into a sitting position, moved as many of my soaking wet hair strands from my eyes as he could before squeezing a motorcycle helmet on my wobbly head. he threw an arm around my shoulder, walked me to his bike where big jon picked me up and plopped me as carefully as he could behind hugh. 'you hold on now' instructed big john. i nodded weakly that i would. hugh slapped my leg as he revved the motor and kicked up the stand. 'don't worry, girl, nothing bad is happening and everything is really, really good. we're gonna ride until you feel better, okay? i wiped my nose with my sleeve before i slipped my arms around hugh. he took off with so much intensity, i stopped crying and concentrated on keeping my seat in the saddle and hanging onto hugh. soon, the only thing i was thinking about was how many stars of light were resting on the surface of the water and how nice it felt to be tucked in with the wind rushing in my face as we headed north on PCH.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

crossing paths


we kept crossing paths. performances, lectures, restaurants. always we would lock eyes for a moment, sometimes smile- but most often trade an unspoken question before we each turned attention back to the venue and company at hand. one day i passed him as i was entering and he was leaving the dry cleaners. again, our eyes locked and we smiled warmly at each other, but neither of us broke our step. as i put my laundry on the counter, a strangely familiar touch travel down my arm until i felt electric fingers entangling magnetically with mine and in a moment my hand was cocooned tenderly in both of his. i turned to him and for the first time we shared words. 'your hair is different,' he said as he gently lifted up a few strands 'your hair is always different every time i see you...' i smiled, 'well, that is true.' i affirmed. 'why haven't we ever-' before he could finish, i interrupted, 'that is a mystery isn't it?'. we stood facing each other and for that time everyone/thing seemed to be in suspended animation around us. without breaking the spell, i said. 'do you want to go see what the day might have in store for us?'. 'yes,' he answered most sincerely, 'i do. i really, really do.'

i left my laundry on the counter, waving goodbye over my shoulder to the shopkeeper as always- but this time i was stepping into an adventure.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

green toes



kelly put the last stroke of clear-coat on my toes and patted my leg with a smile, 'just a few minutes to dry, hon, and you'll be good to go. i smiled back but did not answer. as kelly picked up her things and went on to her next client, i looked down at my mermaid green sparkling toes (a special color in honor of my impending voyage) and assessed my legs; more sun than i typically liked, but they looked fit and pretty. i knew i was as strong as i needed to be for the adventure ahead and the satisfaction and pride i felt about all my hard work made me smile again. i sat for a few minutes more and then gingerly slipped my toes into my (dedicated) leather pedi flip-flops being careful not to dent the uncured polish. through he window, my friend and i spotted her father coming out of the market with a mother-load of supplies. 'does he know how small the boat is?' i asked my friend. she nodded 'yes' and rolled her eyes in exasperation. we slipped out of our chairs, paid kelly and then headed toward the car. i beeped open the back door from across the lot and as the tailgate 'mysteriously' yawned open before him, i could see that my friend's father seemed annoyed that he could not be annoyed that he'd been left waiting by a locked car. we both laughed as he shook his head and started to load the groceries. as we walked toward the car, i caught a glimpse of myself in the reflection of a window and laughed out loud. i looked so girly! i had on my favorite 'johnny was' summer shorts and top (again, emerald green in honor of my journey), my hair was down in piece-y, beach-y waves and with my delicate leather flip-flops definitely looked more like i was about to go on a high-end shopping spree than spending the next 3 months climbing over the rigging of a sailboat like a monkey. when we reached the vehicle, my friend's father aggressively took the shotgun spot as i crawled up into the drivers seat of the giant tahoe (a vehicle that always made me feel like it was using the blood of baby fur seals to propel itself). as we pulled out of the parking lot, i spotted 3 older women trying desperately to wrangle 3 stray dogs out of traffic. as i put my car in park, my friend's father barked, 'just leave them!'. ignoring him, i opened the doors and whistled to the dogs. immediately they all came running and with a little help on both ends (grabbing collars/ pushing butts) jumped up into the truck. the ladies were nearly in tears with relief. my friend wrangled the happy, panting, stinky dogs into the back of the tahoe to sit with the groceries. my friend's father was fuming. at that moment i decided we would sail to catalina first and put him ashore with a ticket back to the mainland. there was no way he would be agreeable to helping any distressed sea life we encountered along the way (fully half of the reason we were going...). later, when i shared my intention with my friend, she enthusiastically agreed. my friend and i discussed the best place for the dogs and made a detour to drop them into safe hands.

when we arrived at the dock, our small, beautiful boat was waiting. she seemed happy i thought. we began to load supplies and it really took forever. by the time we finished, most of the day had gone and the waters were choppy. my friend's father insisted we start sail right then and there. after some discussion back and forth, we reluctantly agreed. after we cast off, almost immediately we were getting drenched from the waves. i realized that even if we were in ideal conditions, my friend's father just added too much weight to my spry little boat. we headed back to the slip and told my friend's father we would try again the next day if the water was calm.

when we reached the dock, my friend's father stepped off the boat without a word or a look back and headed to his car. my friend and i stood on our now buoyant little vessel and watched as he drove aggressively out of the lot. i looked down at my drenched outfit and started to laugh. my friend assessed herself and did the same. we laughed until tears fell from our eyes. we happily secured our little boat and agreed that we would leave just before dawn the next day- without her father.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

les moonves


les moonves had requested my presence at a meeting to figure out malin's new show opening. i was thrilled. the theme centered around christmas and so i brainstormed and painted a story board with a beautiful vintage 'White Christmas' theme. malin would start at the top of a magnificent white bannister stairway (which was draped in christmas greens) with the camera behind her, as she finished up the last strokes of tidying up using 'Our Sponsors Best Ever Cordless Vacuum', her head would come up when she heard the bell chime to her front door. as she easily switched off the vacuum with 'a feather-lite touch of one toe' and she began down the stairs, the camera would swing around and move in front of her to see her descending with smiling, twinkling eyes and joyful look of anticipation. the camera then cut to outside the door, over the shoulder POV of her guests (arms loaded with gifts and yummy dishes for the holiday dinner...) and as malin throws open the door with an expression of pure delight and warm welcome, a satin ribbon title appears over the scene and her theme music begins.

the only thing missing was bing crosby.

i was early and found my spot in the conference room. i felt confident and happy. just as i perfectly placed the last piece of my presentation, the room was overrun with over-dressed lower ranking new york executives who tore at my boards like hungry vultures as they claimed the bits and pieces as their own. by the time les arrived, my boards were in tatters and the greedy suits were all screaming over me as they waived fragmented bits of my concept in the air and ad-libbed their 'brilliant ideas' behind. i tried to make an opening to speak, but it was useless. finally i'd had enough. i folded up what was left of my work, grabbed back what i could and before i headed out the door said loudly, 'i will tell you, that as the world's first black supermodel, (the snowy white malin now sported naomi cambell's rich, ebony complexion...) malin will NEVER agree to the vacuous ideas being put forward in this room.

i was beyond angry as i crossed the lot to my car. i dialed malin nearly in tears and told her i was on my way and please have a glass of wine waiting.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

pasqual


i stepped over the threshold of pasqual's new home. it was small but beautiful. she seemed happier than i had ever seen her and she looked radiant. her baby was almost a little girl, she had a new dog and the smile on davey's face let me know that all was right between them. as i looked around, she kept saying she couldn't believe how cheap the house was and that they almost had it paid off. i was beginning to think it might be a good idea to buy here and i said, 'wait, where are we again?' 'west texas!' pasqual answered brightly. i felt the air sputter out of my enthusiasm and i said (almost to myself) 'no.... no, i could never live in west texas.'

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

bill+will


bill smelled like a dirty chimpanzee- which was totally usual for him. he'd had a long career as a regularly working character actor and had finally stumbled onto the lower rungs of fame by landing the lead role in an edgy cable series that had found a dedicated audience. his job was secure and now all of his infantile behaviors (not washing, staring dreamily into space, forgetting everything but his ukelele...) suddenly had fertile ground to support a full bloom. his dedication to self infantilizing was the core of his every waking day and it was a grinding experience to interact with him even peripherally (no, this way, bill.... bill, don't forget your socks.... no bill, tomorrow is saturday, no one is working...etc). it was not a surprise to anyone that his wife of 30 years reached her saturation point and walked out on him.

for a few days bill reacted to his wife's departure by stumbling around like an an alzheimers patient (stunningly, seeming more disoriented than anyone thought possible) and asking aloud repeatedly to no one in particular, 'where is beth? why did beth go?'. his 'grief' was then abruptly displaced by the arrival of a large shipment of borosilicate glass straws- which he promptly placed in an inconvenient (for everyone else...) spot and used to begin his World Man 'sculpture'. one after the other, he hooked passing crew members and 'shared' his 'vision'. the straws were to be the dreadlocks and he would painstakingly (and painfully for the hapless listeners...) articulate his intention to paint the inside of each tube with the actual colors of a dreadlock! by the time word had spread that everyone should find alternate routes to avoid the bill vortex (as it came to be called), bill had lost interest in his project and wholly fixated on a woman he had one day seen walk by. production was stopped as bill hopped on a plane to follow her to antwerp in the belief that he could take her hand in marriage.




will was beautiful through and through- handsome, strong, a dedicated father and a faithful husband. his whole life centered around the happiness and well-being of his family. three times he had followed his wife to bali in order that she could realize her wish to birth her children in a lush, unspoiled jungle paradise. those were intense and meaningful milestones in will's eyes. he would look into the faces of his children and remember every intentional and loving step he and his wife had taken to bring them into this world. will was filled with gratitude at the start of every day.

will's wife was an expert in her field. her work and results were unimpeachable and as such, her opinions were sacrosanct. she was the go-to person in her area of study and as a result was funded by all sides whenever specific questions needed to be answered. she had always insisted upon the inclusion of a rider in any contract she signed that she be accompanied by her family to do her work. as a family they traveled 1st class to the far reaches of the world. after so many happy years, will did not notice that she seemed to be spending longer and longer preparing her reports. the children were intelligent, robust and demanding. when his wife was working, for him, the necessities of daily parenting took center stage and his support of her took the form of giving her the space to do her work. behind the closed door of her office, she was not only free to do her work, but contemplate her simmering personal discontent.

she began to type out her complaints in a language unknown to him and scatter the pages in plain view. her contempt for him grew whenever he would come to bring her a meal or tea as she would watch him carefully move her lists (that stated the obvious) carefully out of harms way before he set down her sustenance and left her with a warm smile.

one day, she announced her assessment that the family arrangement was no longer viable and that was that. upon hearing her words, will felt as though he'd been hit in the gut with a 2x4. he watched wordlessly as she gathered up her work, left her clothing and domestic possessions untouched and walked out the door. when he called me, i could hardly understand him through his hiccuping tears.

the children were in bed by the time i arrived. will wondered aloud why she had left some of her work and thought maybe that meant she was coming back. i recognized the language on the pages and sat down in front of her computer to see if i could eek out any rudimentary translation of the content. as i searched, will recounted the previous months, trying to work out where the fork that separated them had appeared. soon i understood enough of the writing to know that it was not work she left behind. when i told will, his tears began all over again.


Friday, October 3, 2014

the orange kitten


the mewing pulled me out of my sleep, it was faint but insistent. without turning on my light i slipped out of bed not sure if i was dreaming or awake. i moved through my house trying to source the sound. i walked from room to room and soon began to open cupboards. after i'd done this a dozen times, a fluffy orange adolescent kitten popped out. he immediately stopped complaining and looked at me as though he knew me. i stood up, my eyes now accustomed to the dark and said out loud, 'who the heck are you?'. the kitten began to purr loudly and weave himself through my legs as if to say, 'let's just take it from this point on, okay?'. i was mostly awake now and with the kitten on my heels, padded to the kitchen to put down a bowl of water for him- which he immediately drank. i shook my head and started back to my bed thinking i would sort it all out in the morning then realized i didn't have the heart to deal with cat droppings. i moved to let the kitten out the kitchen door but hesitated because it was dark and he was young and adorable. i knew it was closer to dawn than midnight and quickly decided he seemed wily enough to make it a few hours out there on his own. i opened the door and the white moonlight flooded the end of my driveway making it bright enough to see that there were at least 15 cats of various colors and sizes all sitting quietly with their faces turned toward me. the kitten sprinted out and moved carelessly through the group, this time i followed him. it was a surreal scene and i marveled that this congress of cats had been holding court right outside my back door while i slept. as i looked around, a figure solidified from the dappled black shadows cast by the branches of the tree. before i could react in any way, i heard his familiar voice say, 'shandra, it's me...'. he stepped toward me through a bowl of light, put his arms around me and i could feel that he was trembling. he began to quietly confess his feelings as he rested his head into the curve of my neck. i meant to say words, but i could not bring myself to speak. he had come so far from the distant past that i had no way into my own feelings. we stood amid the sitting cats and shadows thrown through the trees by the bright and unblinking moon.