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I had a dream about old shoes that my mom kept neatly arranged in my closet at home. 

A moment ago, I felt like I haven’t felt in a long time. I felt what it was like to have money. The feeling washed over me tonight in an amalgam of memories.

I googled my old neighborhood and took a drive down memory lane. I found the place where my brother taught me to drive. In the back streets of Preston Hollow. The images were taken in winter. I felt good. I’d forgotten what those roads felt like. I wanted to go home. I want to go home.

But I’m here in a nice home with a nice job that keeps me medicated on anti anxiety medication. I paint a lot and plan the landscape that I’ll create in my backyard—one stone at a time. One stone a paycheck. Maybe two.

The little girl might have to have another surgery. We’ll know in a few weeks. But her academics have improved. Athletics doesn’t monopolize her time anymore. She applied to only one university, following in the footsteps of her sister. She’s in. It was expected. It was a guaranteed admittance. But I’m proud of her for working for the honor. The older one is going to Galveston in the spring. Or College Station if she hears back soon enough. Either way, she’s going to do well. No matter what, those two girls are bits of me doing what I didn’t. 

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I miss home.

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And I’m not going to link that in anyway to the state of economic hardship in America. In the world. I can’t deny the foundation of my identity. I can deny the ones who selfishly take and abuse power, though. 

I didn’t come here to discuss that. My rant is frozen in disgust. I didn’t come here to marinate in negativity. 

I came here to pour onto a page a feeling of comfort. To document that despite the good things in my life, I am suffering from constant anxiety. And that in the midst of my chaos, I had a moment of comfort.

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I miss those cold winter roads and big old trees and warm old houses with green shag carpet. Most of those mansions aren’t so opulent on the inside. And their inhabitants are just people who prefer to stick with old pretty things. The smells are of old polished wood and rugs and pot roast. And cookies. And I miss it all.

And why did we ever move.

My mom took the scent with her. I don’t have a room though. And she didn’t keep my shoes.

But she did keep my art and silly playdough figures. I’m thankful for that. 

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Know this:

I often write with abandon. I let my fingers type all on their own, and the result is seemingly eclectic, expressing things that have no conscious connection. And afterward, I read what I’ve written and look for a meaning or message. As sure as my fingers take over on a piano and play something that I’ve forgotten, allowing my conscious mind to have zero control so that I can play, I often put the control in the hands of my fingers and in the fingers of my hands, those same hands that connect to my subconscious and put into the world that which I can’t consciously express. I initially have a feeling that sparks a thought or memory, and instead of relaying outright the feeling that pushed me to write, those thoughts and memories end up on the page, leaving the reader to find meaning by making connections between what appears to be disconnected ideas and anecdotes. I become the reader when I seek meaning in my own writing, much like how I hear myself play piano and feel the resonance of a player’s emotion with that of a listener’s. What comes out is both literal and allegorical. What comes out are the random contents of my subconscious mind that my subconscious pieced together to express the idea or emotion. Sometimes I, as the reader, can’t make out the connections. I simply trust that connections exist.

But there are times when I consciously craft a piece using the words that my thoughts or emotions have provided. I take the words handed to me and mold something from them. The response I expect is not necessarily one that requires expression, though an expressed response is encouraged. It’s my need for validation that hopes the response is expressed, if only for me to learn the depth of what I’ve created (or whether depth exists). I hope for multiple interpretations, though sometimes I need my emotions to clearly present themselves. 

And sometimes I write stuff for the sake of telling a story.

And sometimes I can’t tell the difference.

But whether literal or figurative, the foundation of my writing is emotional. And being such, what is intended to be literal may not be so at all.

The bottom line is that I am a mystery, even to myself. But what you and I can both be certain of is that the words come from something within.

Denial

I looked in the bathroom mirror today while washing my hands, and I saw myself, a lifetime of myself. 

I didn’t wear makeup today. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. I don’t worry about it much. And today, makeup free, I saw myself under a light that allowed me to see details that I don’t normally pay attention to. And it was like I’d come back from being gone a long time. I think that’s happened once or twice in recent years, but not like it did at that moment. 

There is a school picture of me, taken when I was 5 or 6 years old, that sits on one of many shelves at my parents house along with a lot of other pictures of a lot of other people at all stages of life. I remember getting that picture taken. I remember waiting my turn on the grass on the lawn behind the school where the picture was taken. You can see the blue sky with a couple clouds in the background, and my collar is turned up by the wind. Today in the mirror I saw those same little freckles. I saw a lifetime in them. I saw myself, and despite the realization of age, I liked who I saw. 

The thought didn’t cross my mind again until tonight when my mom told me that my dad is starting to lose his memory. 

Everyone else’s dad gets old. Not mine. Mine will live forever. 

The discussion with my mom was over text, which made it easier to ignore the reality of my father’s decline. And after the conversation, I thought about how I’ve neglected to visit my parents, how I ignore the idea of their old age, and how I cling to the ignorance of them not being alive after another 20 years. My dad sooner probably. He’s 86—ten years older than my mom. And she’s still young, doing all the things that young old people do. Her vitality makes their mortalities easier to ignore. Or had, until tonight.

That little girl loved her daddy so so so much. He was everything, and in the back of my mind, I guess he still mostly is.

I immediately wanted to talk to him, but he was asleep. And I wanted to drive to him. But my daughter has surgery in the morning. 

I knew at some point I would enter this life stage when everyone starts to get old and fragile and dead. I’m not ready for it. No one ever is, I’m sure. But really, I’m not ready for this. I’m not sure I can face it. I don’t know how anyone does. Grandparents die. Not parents.

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I have to be at a surgical facility in 7 hours. The youngest of my line of living generations is getting a new knee. I should go to sleep so that I can be awake for it.

Sunday(s)

Noonish

The last time I drank coconut rum strait was when I was lying on a beach in Alabama. It sounds nearly impossible, but today, this moment, I feel the same on this back porch as I did then. I normally don’t like Sundays because they mark the day before I start a new week, but I feel as though this one day could last for three. 

.. … . … .

Afternoonish

Daughter came home from work early and caught me smoking a cigarette. The gig is up. 

I feel like a kid who just got caught with a bottle of whiskey.

But hey, it’s only the second day of Sunday. 

… . . …… .

Night

It’s been a long three-day day, and I’m tired.

The cigarette, by the way, has not been mentioned by either party, and likely never will. Or maybe she’s stashing that bit away for future blackmail. Nah. I got the goods on her. Luckily, or not, or thankfully, there are no goods on her. That I’m aware of.

Sheesh.

‘Night.

2.15.am

I wrote this whole big thing, and I’m not even going to post it or share it or anything. And it’s burning a hole right through my drafts section.

I kept layering paint because I didn’t feel anything click, and I justified my efforts by telling myself that the bottom layers will show through or give it texture or both. But I put the brush down and don’t see a whole heck of anything showing through, maybe a little, and I notice no significant texture. But it’s late and it’s not all that bright in here, so who knows. 

I should go to bed. I’m tired. But I’ve got things on my mind and my cat is missing. It’s the one with all the fur and teeth. She leaves little stuffed animals at the door. This morning, I woke up to find two mice, a bear, and two dogs—one with bunny ears—in the doorway. 

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Other than that, I’m mostly without words. 

I got a haircut today, and

I’m dragging my mind around everywhere I go. I’m clutching it to keep it from running off, and I’m losing my grip.

. .. .. .

When I was little, I had a record player that looked like a suitcase, a plastic one made to look like it was stitched together with random cuts of denim. It had two small latches on the front like what you’d find on such a suitcase, and when unlatched, the top opened along hindges on the back. The turntable was there inside. My favorite records included one with Shirley Temple songs, an audio book of fairy tales, and a Steve Miller Band album that I found in my room. The band’s album cover had a flying white horse with rainbow wings, so wasn’t I surprised to find such a treasure; wasn’t I surprised to discover its contents. My first exposure to and love of rock music was Swingtown and The Joker. 

.  . . … .

I’ve been waiting for a layer of paint to dry, and I thought coming here would occupy my mind. But I can’t type loudly enough. 

The paint is dry now, I think. It’s ready for another layer of emotional turmoil.