jimowenswrites

Reflections on Life, Leadership, Mindfulness, Change, and other Important Stuff

Month: July, 2016

We are one, you and I

I remember how you sobbed sometimes,

your body convulsing from learning just how hard the world can be,

I remember your tears and sadness and

how they were mine, and how somehow we were two,

you and I, and yet one;

 

I remember how I searched for you,

calling your name over and over and over,

pressing down the panic that made me tremble inside

when you played your trick, and

how I feared some terrible thing had befallen you,

and I remember my relief resolving into anger, when I finally

heard you move in your small, dark hiding place, and I found you,

silly child;

 

I remember how you were afraid

to come out from your hiding place and

how I held you and told you not to do that any more and not to be afraid,

and how tightly I squeezed you and how

I told you I wasn’t really mad,

Just scared;

 

When I watched you from the kitchen window,

tromping about in the woods, the dogs following you and

you wearing those black rubber boots that came up almost to your knees and

that little blue and green sundress, I remember thinking you didn’t know I was watching,

how I always watched over you, begging God or the Universe or just Fate

to keep you free from harm when I wasn’t there to protect you;

 

I still do, begging pauper that I am, even though you don’t realize it,

or maybe even want me to, but I do. I can’t help it.

We are separate, us two, or so you might believe,

but I think we will always be one, somehow;

 

Time and distance and life,

the choices we’ve made, you and I,

they keep us apart, for now, and sometimes,

when it is late, or I am exhausted, or when I have had too much coffee, or

I just can’t settle down to sleep,

I feel the cold, piercing, wonderful dagger in my heart

That reminds me we are one,

you and I;

 

Most of the time the sweet pain is just a dull ache,

like the white noise of traffic that you don’t even really notice any more,

because it’s just always there, but when I do notice,

I try to let it remind me of how much you’ve been through,

how much you must ache and I wonder if you

feel the same stabbing blade of separation;

 

And I remember that we are one,

you and I.

 

From the Opening Pages of “Cabal”

Everybody’s looking for something. 

Annie Lenox

 

Driving down the two-lane highway, Chase Summers realized he was had stopped repeatedly looking into his rear view mirror.  When someone followed him too closely, or pulled out to pass him, he no longer felt the pounding in his chest.  Stark terror had finally given way to a kind of vague paranoia.  He felt calmer than he had in several days. The blue Accord had been a deliberate choice; reliable and non-descript. There were thousands of them on the roads and he hoped he would fade into anonymous familiarity. His plan was simple.  Find a place, not too large or too small, and try to blend in.  Corvallis—a place he had never been and where no one would think to search for him—seemed like to be as good of a choice as anywhere else.  He would need to find a way to make a living, preferably working for cash.  Maybe buy an old truck and mower—cut grass—or maybe find work as a day laborer.  He wouldn’t have to hurry.  There was still more than fifteen thousand dollars tucked in his backpack after paying for the car.  Becoming Jason Hart wouldn’t be easy but he felt a faint hope he was going to survive.

Knowing the truth really does hurt; sometimes it doesn’t set you free, he thought.

Sometimes, love is an almost thing

Sometimes,

love is an almost thing,

like a storm

approaching from the horizon

full of promise,

coming near and passing over the parched cracked clay

only to drench the soil of another’s heart;

 

Sometimes,

love is an almost thing,

like a noise in the darkness,

some unfamiliar sound,

taunting,

rising from some vague, mysterious place,

fading into echoes

ringing off the canyon walls of our souls;

 

Sometimes,

love is an almost thing,

a letter sent,

written in hope and tears,

full of sorrow and desperation and pleading,

lost in endless rows of gray,

lying in bins of undelivered confessions,

bereft adieus,

ornate invitations and

proper thank-yous,

hibernating in the dust of confusion;

 

Sometimes,

love is an almost thing

a wandering spirit

full of untold grief, looking for home,

roaming the cold night of eternity,

searching for some place to lay down

her head in the warm sunlight

and cool grass of peace and comfort and rest;

whole and full and unwanting.

 

Sometimes,

love is an almost thing.

Waffle House, Worship and Race Relations: The People You Meet

After an early Friday evening nap that lasted well past dinner, I woke to a messy apartment and an empty belly.  So after tossing a load of colors into the washing machine and dishes into the dishwasher, I contemplated my fate.  Cook?  Go out?  It was an easy decision, because, like Mother Hubbard, my cupboard was bare, save a few cans of tuna and some rye bread that had begun to look like a science experiment gone horribly wrong.  “Go out,” directed an inner voice, sounding much like James Earl Jones.  “Go out.  Now.  ToWaffle House Waffle House.”   Use the Force, Jim.

So at almost 9:30 p.m., I grabbed my keys and headed, windows down,ward that beacon of culinary hope, to Waffle House; with prophetic dreams of pecan waffles, hash browns and eggs over medium dancing in my mind.

 

“What can I get you to drink?” asked the waitress.  Karen was her name.  I know this because I studied phonics and am particularly adept at reading name tags.  Plus, she told me, “My name’s Karen.”

 

When she brought me the water and decaf coffee, I confirmed the Grand Slam breakfast included a waffle and that I wanted my eggs scrambled and bacon crispy.

 

“Would you rather have hash browns or grits?”

 

“Hash browns,” I smiled.

 

“Or tomatoes,” she added.  “I noticed you’re buff and might not want the carbs.”

 

Apparently, buff has a different meaning at Waffle House than elsewhere. I suppose the fact I was probably the only middle aged man in the joint wearing pants without an expandable “comfort” waist band that confused her.  Or maybe she was at the end of her shift and fatigue had made vision blurry and her judgment clouded.  Maybe it was just her way for getting a big tip. If so,  her plan was working. I burst into laughter. 

 

When she returned with my meal, she looked at me, then down at my outstretched legs beneath the table.

 

“How tall are you?” she asked.

 

“About six-six.  Maybe six seven if the humidity is right,” I grinned.

 

“My goodness,” she said, shaking her head.  “Never seen a white boy that size, except on television.”

 

Her comment, the grin on disbelief on her face, both of them, they conspired to make me burst into laughter once more.  I think I may be falling in love with this woman.  She makes me laugh.  She brings me food. When she turned away saying, “Can’t believe I’ve seen a real one,” I was still laughing.

 

When Karen returned to my table she wanted to know if I had kids.

 

“Are they as big as you?”

 

“Nope.”

 

We carried on for a few minutes. She’s originally from Detroit, and came to Alabama on a scholarship to play French Horn at Alabama A&M. I asked her about her family and learned she has two children. A son in Michigan.  He’s a lawyer.  His wife is an ER nurse.  She has another daughter in college.  She’s nineteen and this week, she’s in Cleveland.  “Working at the Republican Convention,” she said.

 

“Really?”

 

“My friends ask me, ‘why you let her go to the Republican Convention?’  I tell them, ‘Cause she wanted to.’”  She laughed and said, “She must be having a good time, because I keep asking her to text me and I’m not getting anything back.  Plus, she’s the safest Black woman in Cleveland right now,” she laughed.

 

Karen and I agreed that we’re all the same color on the inside and that it’s the loudest voices on any side of any issue that get all the attention, while the rest of us are just trying to work, provide for our families and get along in life the best we can.  It’s not that we don’t still have problems where color is concerned.  And I certainly have no real concept of what it’s like to be Black in America.  But it seems to me, here, in Waffle House, Karen and I may have connected in a way that in some small way might help us.  Just two people talking about their kids.  About life.  About waffles.

 

I think it was the Dalai Lama—if it wasn’t then it should have been—who said, “My religion is kindness.”  I think Karen’s religion is kindness, serving the up hot coffee and waffles, the wine and bread of communion, at the Waffle House in Madison, Alabama.  Tonight, I am glad I got to worship there with her, indulging myself in a meal for which I should repent.  She thought I was buff, after all.  She’s wrong.  But then again, her religion is kindness. And to her sanctuary, I’ll soon return.

My latest piece on Elephant Journal

2 Words that Define a Better Way to Live our Lives.