Share Your World Challenge

The Share Your World Challenge (SYW) hosted by Cee Neuner, gives writers a place to congregate and “shoot the breeze.”  Each week, on Monday, Cee proposes four questions and welcomes us into her cyber living room to discuss and share our unique answers.  I would like to give a “heads up” or an “alert,” if you will, to all my fellow writers…come on in and let’s chew the fat for a while!

So, here we go!

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This week’s four questions are:  

  1. Since we are approaching the hottest part of our summer in the northern hemisphere, what’s your favorite ice-cream, frozen yogurt or sorbet flavor?  As a child growing up in rural North Carolina, the summers were long and days were hot.  Most of the time my hair was in pigtails like Pippie-Long-Stockings, and my feet were bare from sun-up to bedtime.  My days were care-free, romping around the neighborhood with my numerous “Heinz 57” hounds, or playing “Hide-and-Go-Seek” and “Cowboy’s and Indians” with my cousins who lived on the same dirt road.  Every now and then my mom would interrupt my play with a surprise visit to our local Tastee-Freeze.  I would always get a cone of soft serve vanilla ice cream.  Usually, we would sit outside at one of the scattered picnic tables to enjoy this rare treat.  The coldness of the ice cream was so refreshing, making the hot days just a bit cooler.  So to answer the question, I would have to say my favorite frozen treat is still a big cone of soft serve vanilla ice cream.  Now, you may think soft serve vanilla ice cream to be boring, but I beg to differ, for every time I pause to enjoy its soft sweetness I’m transported back into the world of hide-and-seek, cap-guns, and bow and arrows.
  2. How often do you people watch?  Do you remember the old television show, Bewitched?  Elizabeth Montgomery played the lovable neighborhood witch who could twitch her nose to make things appear, disappear, or to even clean a nasty house. (Damn!  Sure wish I could do that!)   Growing up I always had a major crush on this pretty lady.  (Kind of still do)  This loveable witch and her handsome husband, Darren, lived beside a nosy busybody who hid behind her curtains to spy at them with binoculars nestled to her nose.   This year for Christmas, Corinne, my wife, thoughtfully gave her bird-watching wife (me) a wonderful set of binoculars.  Now, you may think you know where this is going…but, I’m nothing like the busybody in Bewitched.  I never hide behind the curtains to spy at my neighbors.  No way!  Instead, I sit on the front porch, behind of the cover of our overgrown hedges to watch the goldfinches eating at the feeder beneath the maple tree in our yard.  The thing with goldfinches, though…they flitter and fly away to visit someone else’s birdfeeder.  In their absence, I tend to get a little bored and find my binoculars swaying to the left or swaying to the right.  It’s not my fault if the neighbors just happen to be in my field of vision.  Just saying…download
  3.  If you had a choice which would be your preference saltwater beaches, freshwater lakes, ocean cruise, hot tub, ski resort or desert?  Oh wow, this is an easy one.  Saltwater beaches all the way!  Growing up poor my mom didn’t have the money to take us kids on vacations to the beach, however, we had family living in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina.  Since we could stay at our beloved Aunt Bessie’s house we were able to get away and visit family while at the same time relaxing in the serenity of the mountains.  I loved it and part of my heart will always walk those hills.  I was much older when I first saw the ocean in all her glory.  I remember feeling fear, reverence, and love…all three mingled together and my sight fell helpless into the wild torrents rolling water.  I was smitten, and I remain smitten some 40 years later.
  4.  What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week?  The smile and kiss from an old woman was the best thing that happened to me this week.  Her teeth were stained and worn, and she reminded me of the old Eskimo women I’ve seen in photos and television.  I’m not sure of her ethnicity but I could sense she knew little English.  Maybe she was a refugee or an immigrant…it’s possible.  I was volunteering at the food bank, busy greeting and helping those needing food.  I always try to smile and ask them how their day is going, and most smile back and say “fine” or “good” and continue their shopping.  I was in the process of doing this when I noticed an old lady slowly pushing her cart my way.  She paused by the rice, reached for a bag and put it in her cart, then she walked a few more steps, paused and slowly reached for a bag of oatmeal and put it into her cart.  Finally, she reached me and I smiled and said hello.  She smiled creating a multitude of lines that seemed to frame her face within a set of parentheses.  I looked at her smile and at that moment I became an esthete, a person who notices amazing beauty.  Her smile was the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen.   She walked with somewhat of a limp, closing the distance between us.  Then she took me into her arms and kissed me on the neck…she was short and couldn’t reach my cheek.  I didn’t know whether to smile or cry…so, I did both.

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A Love Note to my Readers:  I don’t say it often enough but I’ve fallen in love with each and every one of you.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking the time to read my ramblings.  You are a blessing to me.

    

 

 

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Sitting Upon My Sleeve

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Last week, Corinne, my wife, and I were walking on the beach.  There was little chatter,  both introverts, we are more than comfortable in our silence.

The day was gorgeous.  The sun was bright, the sky was blue, and speckled with creamy puffs of whip-cream, creatively changing shapes above our heads.   The water’s ebb and flow teased our feet, and the air smelt salty, crisp, and clean.

Glancing at my feet, I noticed a perfectly rounded shell, and my first thought was, “Gosh, that would be a perfect home for a hermit crab!”

That one thought took me back some 17 years ago…and not to a happy place, but to a place of anguish within my heart.  Who knew I still carried such intense emotion on my sleeve…and that it could be just as raw as the first day I experienced it.

Seventeen years ago I divorced my husband of eighteen years.  It was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made in my life.  It went against everything I had been raised to believe…it went against the faith that I had clung to all of my life, but  I was gay, and I could live the lie no more.  At the age of 36 I told my husband, a good man, the truth I had known from a child.

We had two beautiful children, that we loved with all of our hearts.  The time came when I had to tell them I was moving out.  That moment is by far, the hardest moment of my entire life.  Their brokenhearted cries haunt me still.  Sometimes it is so strong that I can do nothing but breakdown and weep.

Now, you may be wondering how the perfect hermit crab, habitat…the shell…could awaken such painful memories.  Here’s why…

It had been several months since I had moved.  My husband and I had agreed to joint custody.  The week would be divided between us.  We loved our children so much that we agreed to not “bad-mouth” each other in their presence.  Our common goal was to make this transition as easy as possible.  So, even though there was much anger and hurt between us, we chose to support each other for their sake.  Every three to four days they would stay with me, and the other three to four days with their dad.

On this particular day, they were coming to stay with me after a trip to the beach with their dad.  The door burst open and my son came inside with an expression of excitement and a handful of shells.

“Mama, look!  I found these for my hermit crab,” I heard him say.

Now, if you know anything about hermit crabs, you’d know that as they mature they outgrow their shells, so, it’s very important to have bigger shells close by for such an occasion.

I looked at the beautiful shells he held in his little hands, and I wanted to cry.  His hermit crab had died while he was away.  Once again I had to tell him something that was going to hurt, and as I did I watched his face fall from happiness to helplessness.  Witnessing this transformation my heart ached , and I hated myself because I couldn’t protect and shield him from the pain I saw in his eyes.

Seventeen years later, I stood barefoot on the beach, my heart breaking at the sight of the perfect shell.

It will always be there…sitting upon my sleeve…and I deserve it.

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Daily Prompt:  Sleeve 

 

 

 

 

A Conversation with God 7/26/16

(Many seem to find God elusive, but I talk to Him everyday)

[Me:]  Lord, will there be front porches in heaven?

[God:]  Why would you need a front porch?

[Me:]  Well, it was on a front porch where I first learned to shell butter beans.  I remember sitting with mama, shelling beans from a big old metal dish pan.  I would shell those plump bean pods until my thumb hurt and turned green…literally.

[God:]  So, you would like a front porch in heaven to shell butter beans?

[Me:]  Um…well..to be honest, I guess I never really liked shelling those ole beans, and sometimes it was way too hot; as I grew up in North Carolina and the summers there can be pretty toasty.

[God:]  If you didn’t like the shelling and the heat, why would you ask for a front porch?

[Me:]  Well, when I think back to those days I feel happy…but…I also feel sad…  I guess, that would mean the memories are bittersweet?

[God:]  Tell me what you remember.

[Me:]  Are you sure, God?  I know you are extremely busy and you do have a world to oversee.

[God:]  I’m never too busy for you, my child.

[Me:]  Well…if you’re sure…(God smiles at me)  I remember those summer mornings when my mama came home, after working all night at JP Steven’s Cotton Mill.  It was early, the grass still wet from dew and the sun still low enough for the morning to be cool, she and I would go to the garden and pick whatever was ready for picking.  I still remember the feel of the cool earth cradling my bare feet, its darkness spilling over and between my toes.  We went from row to row picking those ole beans and I thought, at the time, we would never finish.  Afterward, mama found two of her biggest bowls, one always being the dish pan from which we washed our dishes, and she filled them, near to overflowing with the beans we had just picked.  By that time the sun had risen higher and its heat kissed and freckled my skin. (I pause with nostalgia)  Just me and my mama sitting together on the front porch…(A tear escapes my eye)

[God:]  Why do you cry?

[Me:]  I miss my mama.  (tears flow down my cheeks)

[God:]  Dear child, front porches are nice, but it was never the porch that made those times special; instead, it was the time you spent with your mama.

[Me:]  (Now I’m crying…my heart hurting, longing to be on the front porch shelling beans with mama, again.)

[God:]  Oh..my child, I know you miss your mama.   She’s here with me and I’m taking good care of her.   Your mama wants you to know how much she loves you and she too is missing you.  Trust me, my child, one day the divide will be bridged so we can all live together, forever…never again to be separated; and on that day I will wipe away all tears.

[Me:]  Thank you, God.  I love you.

[God:]  I love you too.  And…Lisa…

[Me:]  Yes, Lord…

[God:]  There will be front porches in heaven.

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Revelation 7:17

For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters:  And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.

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My sister, my mama and me (baby) with Aunt Bessie’s porch in the background.

 

 

Into Oblivion

Daily Prompt:   What is your earliest memory? Describe it in detail, and tell us why you think that experience was the one to stick with you.

I’ve sat here for a good hour, debating: Should I keep this post light and funny  or should I expose the darkness of what I presume to be my first memory?

Pulling back the curtain not only makes me vulnerable but it also sheds a bad light on other family members; and it’s for this reason I’ve wrestled with whether to write fluff or whether to write truth.

Let me begin with this.  I truly don’t remember most of my childhood.  I sit as a stranger, listening to  family members say, “Remember the time…” and then they continue with a memory that’s utterly foreign to me.  Of course, I go along, and pretend their recollections are mine as well, and I prepare my chuckle for the ending that’s always accompanied with guffaws and side splitting belly rolls.  I sit amidst the laughter and  think “Who the hell are these people and where the hell did I come from?”  Then it hits me…”These are my people and they are telling my stories.”  It never fails, no matter how many times this scenario plays out, I’m always surprised, and I always wonder why they can remember, when I can not.

Well, now that I’m fifty I’ve learned through the years that it’s easier to accept this, condition of mine, as reality and assure myself, that for some reason, my inner child wants these memories to herself, and that she has a damn good reason.

With that said, I will pull back the curtain for a glimpse of my earliest memory.  Don’t blink…you’ll miss it…for it truly is only a “glimpse.”

The house is dark.  A child, of perhaps three, is sitting on a couch, the only piece of furniture in the dark room.  She’s so small her feet barely touch the edge of her seat.  The child hears a loud voice and the voice there in the room with her.  She may be alone with the voice, but something tells her she’s not…maybe her sister is there too…the child is uncertain.  The child hangs her head and silent tears stream a trail over her cheeks, drip from a trembling chin to dampen her shirt.  She sits perfectly still, almost as if she’s overtaken with paralysis.  The voice doesn’t stop, neither does it fade.  The voice always makes her cry.

The girl, the room and the voice dwindle into oblivion.

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