Life Topics

A Great Escape

Leaving the Cape successfully takes an act of God combined with a little fortune telling, and some traffic savvy.  Let’s take a look at a typical scenario.  You’ve had a great weekend with a lot of beach time resulting in sand in your swimsuit bottoms, burnt face and shins, and a little dehydration.  Still you’re having a good time.  You enjoyed a few fancy dinners in a well-lit tourist café with a French name, probably in Hyannis.  You succumbed to the lure of the $6 Cape Cod T-shirts (2 for $10).  You reluctantly played miniature golf at one of the hundreds of courses avoiding the windmill traps, followed by an over-priced ice cream cone at the Four Seas.  Unfortunately, there was no time to catch a Cape League baseball game.  Maybe next time.   Then you’re forced to start thinking about leaving because playtime is almost over.  0-dark-30 is fast approaching where you should have a plan and some fortitude to get off Cape in a relatively quick fashion.

What was my last Cape visit like?  It was somewhat uneventful and unlike the tourist experience. I was visiting my parents and my sister who live in the heart of the Cape.  We don’t usually do tourist stuff, except maybe the beach.  The residents put up with the swollen summer population and the choked streets.  Anyway, I ventured down there late on a Wednesday night and stayed through the weekend.  I worked remotely from Hyannis and overpacked, bringing an overnight bag, beach bag, computer bag, and my dog McDermott, although he wasn’t packed. I decided to go to the beach every morning allowing me some “me-time” to relax and regroup before starting work.

With my toes in the sand and my eyes fixed on the horizon I felt at peace.  I set off by 7:30am each morning, when there were very few worshipers.  I basically had the whole stretch to myself.  Slowly people arrived, an elderly woman in a sand chair with a book, a Latino family of five frolicking in the waves, and a couple of baby-boomers under an umbrella.  It was kind of fun to be a voyeur between salty dips in the water and roasting in the sun.  I can be nosey that way.

However, Saturday night I had to start thinking about what time to leave the next day.  So, I play this imaginary game with myself.  My theory is people will prolong their weekend if they can have another nice beach day; maybe they leave early evening.  Therefore, I can escape on a sunny Sunday morning without too much traffic.   On a dismal day, people will start their trek home early.  No sun, no beach. So, I would stay put and leave later in the day.  So far, I’ve proven this assumption about 80% of the time.  The odds are with me, right?  Wrong.

After having breakfast out with my sister on a gloriously hot Sunday morning I felt like it was time to leave.  The warm sandy beaches would be packed I thought.  Plus I was anxious to get home to end
the weekend with my partner.  So, I no sooner paid the check, and I was packing my car.  The plan was to say my goodbyes, get McDermott in the car, stop at Dunkin’s for a large ice coffee black and sail home. I hoped that the Route 6 runway to the bridge would be clear and uncongested.  I entered the on-ramp with blind faith, a full tank of gas, air-conditioner blasting and a full playlist.  I was ready for anything.

Everything started out fine.  But a couple of miles into the journey the traffic went from a bit sluggish to a full stop; an endless parking lot as far as the eye could see.  Cars jostled between lanes to get inches closer.  I couldn’t help noticing a sign on the side of the road that said, “Evacuation Route”.  It struck me as ironic because there was no way Route 6 could evacuate all the residents at the same time.  Expelling the weekend’s first shift of visitors was clogging the road, never mind adding a whole population.  My brilliant theory was losing ground, and I thought I was being extremely clever.  Sitting there, I felt like I was aging in dog years.  My patience was draining as I sucked on my green spearmint vape and exhaled a cloud of contempt.

I sang along with the music, checked McDermott in the rear-view mirror, thought about the weekend and gazed ahead at the chain of multicolored car roofs that rose up the hill in front of me.  Is going to the Cape worth the hassle?  I think so.  Getting there and crossing the bridge transforms you.  The salt in the air relaxes you causing a comforting lull in your mind.  All worry and concern dissipate the closer you get to the shore.  And when there, you can soak in the many sights, sounds, and smells of the beach, the delicious fresh seafood and the friendly and colorful merchants.  It’s an exquisite place to lose yourself.  In the grand scheme, miscalculating traffic upon your departure is not fatal, only a minor annoyance.   Afterall, think about all the precious memories arranged in your bags to be slowly unpacked when you finally get home.

Life Topics

Big Love

I have finally reached a place of love and peace in my life.  I lack nothing, nor do I need to search for something I don’t have.  I have everything I need or want.  There is no drama to divert me from reaching my happy place.  I feel insanely content and at ease in my once fragile heart.  I laugh, I learn, I thrive, I converse, I support, and I love.  Being with my partner has brought me to a place of strength and commitment that helps define who I am.  But it’s not the whole story.

The story starts when I met “Mr. Big”.  Not Kerry’s “Mr. Big”, MY “Mr. Big.”  I was 22 years old and was just looking to have a good time. I had had a string of bad relationships and wasn’t looking for a new disappointment. He was charming and quietly interested in my free spirit versus his buttoned-up demeanor.  Yet, there we were in a bar curiously attracted to each other.  I was there with my work friends after hours wiping the slate clean with cocktails and contempt, a bit disoriented.  I finally approached him and said, “I didn’t vote for you” which was one way of breaking the ice.  I don’t remember how he responded, but it started an inevitable conversation.

He became my teacher, and I was a voraciously student.  As we learned about each other, I realized that the façade that accompanies dating didn’t exist with us.  I could be myself, my honest, expressive and messy self.  To him I was funny and interesting on a level that no one had ever cared to recognize or acknowledge. It was astonishing to me at the time, that two very different people land in the same place.  I was starting to believe in myself and in fate.  Sure, I had dated good men with kind hearts in the past, but the timing was always wrong.  I wasn’t ready to let them in.  Being with “Mr. Big” prepared me for every relationship I would ever have moving forward.  He taught me how to love. And for that, I will always be grateful.

Decades later I sit quietly scrolling through Facebook late one night, and someone mentions “Mr. Big.”.  Memories flood back; some good, some bad.  I remember how outrageous I was with the breakup, my lowest point ever.  It wasn’t really me.  I was so messed up between having severe depressed for years and losing a person who I truly loved.  I remember him telling me at the end that he’d always be there for me.  Maybe just a formality.   It was such a waste for him to say that, to lead me to believe that.  The reality was that we both needed to move on to remain sane. No cliches necessary.  A clean unadulterated break would have been best, but we were so attached even while splitting up.  Things were complicated, and we lingered for much too long.

So, without thinking it through, I looked him up on LinkedIn and sent a quick, light whimsical note.  I said that I hoped he was well and that life was good to him.  Provided a short anecdotal overview of my whereabouts and finished with an invitation to get in touch with me.  Why did I do that?!?  Do I really want him to contact me?  Absolutely not!  I am in a good space, in a solid long-term relationship.  I felt like this could be construed as a sad and pathetic communication.  Dear Lord! It was a just a simple gesture of friendship and appreciation, checking in after all these years.  I wonder what he must be thinking!

I realize that I’ve glued together pieces of my past with sticky messy fingers in an effort to append, support or confirm who I am today.  My 22 year old self learned valuable lessons in loving others and loving myself.  Did “Mr. Big” really do all that?  Well, he may never know, but he got the ball rolling.  In my heart, I hope my partner was someone else’s “Mr. Big.”  Because since I’ve known him, he lovingly and naturally brings out the best in people, all people. If she’s out there, thinking about their special memories, she should check in.  He would be grateful and humbled to know in some way he was important in making her life better.

Thank you “Mr. Big” for helping me to find “Mr. Right.”

Life Topics

Under the Shade

I am helpless.  Life’s complicated intentions has rendered me inadequate to do anything.  I think about her all the time, and yet, I am frozen in a vessel of self-doubt and ignorance.  What do I know about what she is going through?  Her illness makes me want to scream and pray all the time, but neither will change anything.  I want to see her as much as I want to give her space.  She is weighed down with the unknown from day to day, which may or may not include a future, a simple tomorrow.

My friendship, my support, lives doors away which can seem like miles apart.  I do not want to be one of those people who looks at her with pity or checks in with her every day.  I know she is a fighter to be admired not monitored.  I want to be ushered into the intimate ugly part.  The place where she can have doubt, curse and cry.  It’s the important quiet time; a laugh, a hug, a kiss, a strong hand that can enrich the beautiful life she’s created.  I can do that.  However, I am reluctant to interfere with her most private battle where the grip of disease has held her mentally and physically hostage.  That is the place where her partner will support and sooth her bringing her to a peaceful place of love and hope.

Please, sweet friend, know that I am here for whatever you need.  I am selfish and want to do things for you to prove that I am worthy.  I hope I am.  To show you that before this curtain of darkness draped you, I was always good for a laugh, a cry, a hug and a smile.  Or even a simple cup of coffee on a Friday morning under the shade of my tree in the breeze of my back yard.

I love you.


Life Topics

Hello Friend

I don’t give a damn if people like me, and it’s incredibly liberating.  I’m finally at a point in my life where my personal needs are a major priority, that I won’t apologize for.  I’m done raising my family and no longer come in third.  Some might say it’s selfishness, if that’s how you were raised.   I beg to differ.  My actions are born from the essential elements that make me happy – it is not selfish.   Like most, I gather fundamental elements that help to fill a menu of actions to choose from.  However, in the process of building a decent and productive life there have been situations where I haven’t always been reflected in a flattering light.  In other words, I may screw up in a way that can cause people to misinterpret who I really am; to dislike me.  That being said, let me introduce myself.

Growing up we were taught to be nice and polite to others, worthy virtues.  Following these tenants was pretty easy and implanted a simple message of friendship, love and harmony.  Do unto others, and all that.  The part “they” fail to mention is that you must do unto yourself as well.  Learn what is important to you and chase it.  Chase it with everything you have!  It could mean missing out some time with your children, spouse or friends.  It could mean missing a game or a play or a dinner.  In the long run it’s not fatal.  You juggle, but it’s ok to drop a few balls, or catch some balls for yourself.  I have forgone many evenings with my family to attend University classes because I told myself it was the right thing to do.  I was chasing and they were stationary. That time in my life weeded out those who had disdain for my “selfish” dreams and ambitions, with those who cared about my success.  Again, a character misinterpretation.  Don’t hate me because I am fragile.

Long ago were the days when you could make a friend at a playground by just saying, “Hi.  Do you want to be my friend?”  I find it incredibly difficult to make friends today.  There are trust issues that swirl around my conscience.  Can I open up to this person, tell them who I really am?  And, there are people who meet you and just don’t like you.  You can always tell by body language, reactions and lack of interest.  Sometimes I let myself wonder why someone doesn’t like me.  I try to brush it away not wanting to feel rejected.  I hate that feeling.  I try to think back to the first impression.  I remember what they said and how I responded.  Was I an ass?  Should I have been more attentive?  Usually, the answer is no.  I was myself, and if that doesn’t cut it then sorry, you lose.  It might be simple chemistry.   Either way, you’re meant to be friends or not.

So, who doesn’t like me?  I really don’t care.  I’ve filled countless days with blessings and delight.
I have two wonderful children, a devoted spouse, a supportive family and a crew of really cool friends.  I try to stay acutely focused on the positive forces in my life.  It helps.  I won’t feel bad about my choices, my downfalls, my missteps, my victories and achievements because it’s all part of who I am.  If I see you out, I might say, “Hi.  Do you want to be my friend?”  And if you say or think “no” that’s OK.  I’ll always be here if you need me.  That’s what I’ve been taught.  You know, I now realize, I really do care who likes me.  I’m not basing my worth on it, but I’m hoping to find a new friend.

Hello friend.


Life Topics

High School

I can remember feeling like a hostage, sitting in an airless, sweltering room as sweat and confusion seeped from my body.  I stared out the static window at the green lifeless trees.  The leaves hung motionless in the absence of a cool breeze with a filtered haze of unbearable humidity.  The buzzing in my head was brought on by severe boredom mixed with heat exposure and the backdrop of an annoying drone.  I was subconsciously hoping I wouldn’t be taken from my own world and called upon to prove my intellectual skill.  It would be hard for the teacher not to see my lack of commitment to learning and life.  I was beyond caring.

In fact, the teachers did notice that I wasn’t all there in body or spirit.  What they didn’t understand was my academic plan was based on a foundation of reluctant achiever, congenial partier, and a minimalist existence.  My budding social life was the primary focus.  Administration was onto my lack of motivation based on the overwhelming number of tardy days and the consistent below average grades.  College unfortunately was becoming a faint option during my senior year.  My parent’s expected little from me, and I expected even less.  It was the perfect marriage for someone with no direction.

Doing just enough to get by was all I could emotionally handle.  My friendships with Alicia, Jinny, Kim and Teresa were my ultimate touchstones.  They had my back, and that’s all I thought I needed in life.  They, for the most part, excelled in their studies and made future plans beyond school.  I was an outlier.  I couldn’t make plans beyond next week.  Being part of the crew was great, but all the time, all these years, I knew something was wrong.

Many years after high school, I was diagnosed with severe clinical depression, a condition I believe I had been suffering from since High School.  Were my early years marred by this debilitating disease?  I believe so.  I’ve spent years since then evaluating myself and have happily grown to be a highly successful person.  Does it matter now, or in the long run, if I know that A+B=C, or memorize the Periodic Table?  If I could go back and do it all over again, knowing what I know now, I may not have fixated on those trees outside the window.

I would have been present in my future.

Life Topics

Like a Fresh Bloom

I wanted the picture to be a promise.

A symbol of love that smells like a fresh bloom.  Time fades in the background.
A place that didn’t really matter anyway.

It sits on my desk and whispers stories I’ve never heard.  Was she ever that young?  Those hands didn’t belong to her, aged, wrinkled and riddled with veins and spots at the end.

The picture ties me to her other life.  A life without me. Eyes that look hopeful but cautious, not fully knowing anything.  Soon to be a bride, then a mother, my grandmother.

Promise me we’ll see each other again.


Life Topics

It’s 6 O’clock Somewhere

At 6 o’clock the summer sun filters everything around you, turning objects into versions of themselves that seem totally unreal.  Trees lining the water’s edge look like watercolors and the lake has soft ripples of tiny waves and muted colors with bright diamonds dancing on the surface.  It’s hard not to daydream as you wind down your day and become part of nature’s painting.  The angle of the sun brings shadows that appear to marry the landscape bringing depth and meaning to the story.  A simple and glorious prelude to a soft evening, as the lake prepares to sleep.

Unless you live on a lake, it’s hard to imagine the revelry of players that bring comfort to the soul.
The heron glides past you overhead to find a quiet cove, the ducks come in to play and walk along the shore, fish jump out of the water for a quick bug snack, and fisherman float by silently casting long lines of desire and hope. All this drama before you’ve had your morning coffee.  The early day has it’s own splendor that one should never take for granted.  I am especially fond of the graceful flight, yet homely look of the heron, as he descends into the shore where he’ll hunt his prey.  He is hungry and will wait patiently, awkwardly walking the shore for as long as it takes.  All these sights and sounds can be hypnotizing.

Like most people I am absent from my home during the day working and fulfilling commitments. I’m not home to see what mysteries the lake brings in the quiet activities of the warm afternoon unless it is on the weekend.  Truthfully, I don’t think about it much until I return to put my day to rest.  I wipe the slate clean, forgetting about things that don’t matter in the long run.  Arriving home, I pour a glass of wine and settle into my comfortable chair and just stare across the pristine lake anticipating something I haven’t seen.  My partner joins me as we talk about our day, half watching the lake and each other.  It approaches 6 o’clock when everything transforms.

Pontoon boats gently float by, maybe hungry boaters on their way in to have dinner.  Or, boats embark on a slow and deliberate sunset cruise after an early dinner.  The backdrop of the trees and beaming late day sunshine bring a magic to the lake.  Time seems so fluid set between late afternoon and early dusk. You can hardly notice it happening, but it’s there.  And it effects your inner clock.  There is a change from day to dusk.  A crescendo that draws a line between day and evening.  All stress is lifted.  All concerns are forgotten. You’re on lake time after all.  An invisible curtain is lowered to separate what might be routine, to what is exceptional .  All the harsh lines are softened.

We mount the boat after dinner, with a cooler and set out to watch the sun set.  We listen to music and laugh.  Oh, how he makes me laugh!   Hopefully, we’ll tie up with another boat or two to socialize, but we’re happy on our own too.  We look at the clouds bringing red and pink spheres across the sky, knowing tomorrow will also be beautiful. Red sky at night……We know we live in paradise.  There are a scattering of anchored boats around us capturing moments, taking pictures of the sunset.  It is always beautiful no matter how many times you’ve seen it.

Our love for the lake goes beyond words.  We enjoy every part of it, especially when the lake prepares for night. The afternoon sky and night sky come together without contempt, knowing their place, knowing their time.  There is a shift to be admired as nature fulfills it’s promise.  It provides a place to jump off from, a place to start, and a place to end.   This body of water is now part of our DNA.  We couldn’t live anywhere else.  Being invited to witness her change, has changed us.  We are forever grateful for being part of a place that brings us joy every day.


Life Topics

Pray for the Witness

[4 Haikus]

Reach for the living
Touch leads to mistrust ahead
Fold up your feelings

Anchor the deadbeat
Bind them with loving sorrow
Escape leads to doom

Pray for the witness
shame enables admission
Take away the crime

Evade the guilty
Life mistreats the innocent
Accept the true self