Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Where I Belonged

I stood with the other spectators, hot and sticky in the stagnant air of the gymnasium.  Programs waved in an effort to create a little movement of air which gave the illusion of cooling you off but actually only served to move the hot air around the room.  I wiped my sweaty palms downward on my purple suede skirt, oblivious to the fact that it would probably stain.  

I was trying to maintain my composure, trying to ignore the lead balloon in the pit of my stomach.  "I am not going to cry.  I am not going to cry."  It was difficult to be there but it would have been more difficult not to.  

The speeches droned on endlessly.  People were shuffling in their seats, waiting for their escape, waiting to see their son, daughter, niece, nephew, sister, brother or cousin walk across the stage and accept that piece of paper that signified the next chapter in their lives.  My mother wasn't there.  There was no need, her daughter wasn't graduating.

Finally, the time came for the graduates to walk across the stage, one by one, as their names were called.  I watched as my friends, wearing caps and gowns, accepted their diplomas with broad smiles of accomplishment and pride.

Still trying not to cry, I wallowed in self-pity even though my spectator status was entirely my own fault.  I could hold the tears no longer, though, as the theme song played.  

"Love lifts us up where we belong.  Where the Eagles fly, on the mountain high....."

I didn't belong here.  I belonged up there with my friends.  Some of them I had gone to elementary school with including my best friend since grade three but I had veered in another direction.  I dabbed at the corners of my eyes, trying not to blink so as not to smear my makeup, willing the song to end so I could escape the stifling gym.  

Mercifully, the song was over and the procession ended.  People started to shuffle out of the gym.  Head down, I weaved in and out of the throngs of people, not wanting to make eye contact with anyone.  I didn't want to see anyone that I knew, such as teachers or parents and siblings of friends.

I desperately wanted to escape the disdainful looks that said, "Loser.  I always knew you were bad news." Or worse yet, the pitying looks that said, "But you're such a smart girl, what went wrong?"

Finally, I made my way to the door and escaped into the late afternoon heat.  My legs carried me automatically to familiar territory - the smoke pit. I sat down on top of one of the worn picnic tables.  My legs dangling, I let my shoes fall to the ground.

I pulled out my package of king size Player's Light and removed one of the cigarettes.  I placed the cigarette in my mouth and flicked my lighter, inhaling deeply while closing my eyes.  

This is where I belonged.  This is what I deserved. 

A few more smoggers came to join me on my picnic table but before they did, I assembled the look.  You know, the "I don't give a shit that I didn't graduate because I am way too cool anyways look."

This post was inspired by this week's RemembeRED prompt over at the Red Dress Club:
It's that time of year...graduation.

For this week's prompt we are asking you to remember a graduation.  It doesn't have to be yours and it doesn't have to be high school

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Song For Saturday - Regina Spektor Better

I have been sick for over three weeks now and I was looking for a song to make me feel "Better".  
This one just seemed to fit.
Regina Spektor - Better
 If I kiss you where it's sore
If I kiss you where it's sore
Will you feel better, better, better
Will you feel anything at all
Will you feel better, better, better
Will you feel anything at all

Born like sisters to this world
In a town where blood ties are only blood
If you never say your name out loud to anyone
They can never ever call you by it

If I kiss you where it's sore
If I kiss you where it's sore
Will you feel better, better, better
Will you feel anything at all
Will you feel better, better, better
Will you feel anything at all

You're getting sadder, getting sadder, getting sadder, getting sadder
And I don't understand, and I don't understand
But if I kiss you where it's sore
If I kiss you where it's sore
Will you feel better, better, better
Will you feel anything at all
Will you feel better, better, better
Will you feel anything at all
Anything at all
Will you feel anything at all
Anything at all
Will you feel anything at all
Anything at all...

Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Song For Saturday - Serena Ryder sings Sing Sing

Serena Ryder - Sing Sing

I came across this song on You Tube and I liked it right away.  She has such a strong voice and I totally agree with the message - Sing like there's nobody listening!

You gotta sing sing sing sing sing out loud,
don't matter if you stay on track.
You gotta sing sing sing sing sing out loud,
don't you dare holding nothing back.

I've been around for long enough to know that
Everybody needs to sing
No matter if you're all alone or surrounded
By a thousand people with a thousand things.

You gotta sing sing sing sing sing out loud,
don't matter if you stay on track.
You gotta sing sing sing sing sing out loud,
don't you dare holding nothing back.

Don't you dare holding nothing...
Don't you dare holding nothing...
Don't you dare holding nothing back.
Don't you dare holding nothing...
Don't you dare holding nothing...
Don't you dare holding nothing back.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Year of the Tiger

This piece was written in response to a prompt from my IRL Writing Group.  We had to write a short story based on a postcard.  My postcard had the picture of a Chinese tiger with the caption  "Year of the Tiger" written beneath.

Her father always said she had too much yang, not enough yin.  It was because she was born in the Year of the Tiger, he said.  Girls shouldn’t be born in the Tiger Year.  It was a waste, he said.

Instead of quelling her stubbornness and diminishing her yang, his words only served to make her more defiant and she fiercely held onto her birthright, the tiger.

As a child, she collected tiger figurines, stuffed tigers, and key chains and T-shirts with tiger motifs.  Anything that bore the resemblance of a tiger was added to her collection until her bedroom was filled with tigers in every shape and form.  Her father would just shake his head and mutter, “Too much yang.  Too much yang.”

Predictably, her teenage years were filled with conflict.  Father and daughter did not agree on anything.  

“It’s not fair,” she would cry.  “You can’t treat me that way.  You are no longer in the old country!”

“You are a girl!” he would yell.  “You are not supposed to talk to your father as you do.  You bring great shame on this family.” 

She continuously disobeyed him; skipping school and staying out late, drinking with her friends.  For her nineteenth birthday, she committed a grave act of defiance; she got herself a tattoo on the small of her back.  It was, naturally, a tiger.  When her father found out what she had done, he exploded.  She had never seen him so angry.  

“You have defied me and shamed this family.  You will leave my house.  Now.”

He turned his back to her to signify that he was finished speaking and that his word was final.  She threw a few things in a bag, kissed her mother and her brothers goodbye and left the house without turning back.

For years she drifted aimlessly eventually meeting a kind man who appreciated her tiger traits.  They married and had children.  She had so much joy in her life but with each milestone she quietly noted the absence of her birth family.  Only her husband knew the story of how she had left her father’s house and how deeply she was affected by his rejection.
One day, she received a phone call.  It was her older brother. 

“Come quickly.  Father is not well.  There is not much time.”

She hesitated for only a moment, not sure that her father would want to see her and not sure how she felt about seeing him.  She threw a few things into a bag, kissed her husband and kids goodbye and drove the couple of hours to the hospital where her father lay dying.

As she entered the room, she drew in her breath at the sight of him.  The passage of time and the cruelty of sickness had diminished his body, leaving him nothing more than a whisper of the man that he once was.  The smell of death clung to every surface in the room.  She was not prepared for the effect this would have on her and she nearly doubled over from the force of it.  Overwhelmed with sadness and regret, she stood there staring at the skeleton in the bed.

He must have sensed someone watching him and his eyes fluttered open and scanned the room until they fell upon hers.  It was only a fraction of a moment before recognition seeped in and as it did, one single tear slid down his wax paper face.  It appeared to take all his effort as he reached a hand towards her, beckoning her to come closer.  Hesitantly, she moved towards the bed and took his cold, bony hand in hers.  A single word escaped his dry, parched lips, barely audible but unmistakable, nonetheless.


The smallest of smiles played on his lips.  

It was in that moment that she knew he was gone.  She sobbed for all the missed years, for her children who didn’t know and now would never know their grandfather, for the forgiveness that she felt for him at that moment and for the forgiveness that she would never receive from him. 

But forgiveness comes in many forms and as she slowly disentangled her hand from his, something fell onto the bed beside him.  She reached over and picked it up.  It was a key chain.  Warmth washed over her as she recognized it.  It had been hers.  Attached to a short silver chain was a round, gold medallion and upon it was engraved a proud figure.  Gently, she ran her thumb over the words beneath it and she was smiling beneath her tears as she read them aloud…. “The Year of the Tiger.”

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Song For Saturday - Michael Buble Lost

Michael Bublé - "Lost"


  'Cause you are not alone
I'm always there with you
And we'll get lost together
Till the light comes pouring through
'Cause when you feel like you're done
And the darkness has won
Babe, you're not lost
When your worlds crashing down
And you can't bear the thought
I said, babe, you're not lost


I think we all need to be reminded of this from time to time.  Great song!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Sun Goddess

As we reach the sand, I automatically discard my flip flops to walk barefoot.

“It’s not actually sand,” he says, “It’s ground coral.  That is why it’s not hot on your feet.”

“Really,” I replied.  I, myself, would never thought of this detail but he is forever logical. 

I sifted the ground coral between my French-manicured toes, luxuriating in the feel of it; warm, not hot.  We find a couple of lounge chairs near the edge of the sand close to the rocks and somewhat removed from the other resort guests.  We recline our chairs and ease into them, the warm ocean breeze pressing down upon us and the frosty, watered-down resort Pina Coladas within easy reach.

“You know,” he says in his logical voice, “This is an international resort and there are quite a few Europeans here.  I’ve noticed a lot more people smoking and some of the women are going topless on this beach.”  

He had been walking this morning while I lazed in bed, tired from the flight and the weeks of wedding planning.

“Hmm,” I say, already sinking into that lazy, sun-kissed stupor that is only achieved with that delicate balance of tropical sun and tropical rum, “What are you suggesting?”

“Well, I wasn’t suggesting anything but, now that you mention it, if you have ever wanted to go topless, now might be the time to try it,” he says, logically.

Surprisingly, it doesn’t take any further prompting.  Why not?  I don’t know anybody here and we are far enough away from everyone else on the beach.

I reach to the back of my neck to undo the halter strap of my bikini top and then arch my back and reach behind me to undo the clasp.  I pull it away and drop the gauzy bit of fabric to the ground. Not too far.  I might need it in a hurry.

Then I lay back to bask in the warmth of the sun and the warmth of my husband’s gaze.  I have never before felt more at ease in my own skin as I do at this moment. 

I think, perhaps, he is a little shocked that I have actually removed my bikini top, but he goes with it.

“You are a goddess,” he says, illogically.

And truly, I feel like one.

This was the RemembeRED prompt over at The Red Dress Club:
So this week, we want you to write about sand.
It doesn’t have to be summer-related.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Girl in the Tree

I wrote this letter in response to a prompt from my IRL writing group.  We were to write a letter of advice to our younger selves. 

Recently, the younger brother of my very good friend posted this photo on Facebook.  I had never seen this photo before.  I believe we were about nine or ten years old.  Something about the photo caught my attention and I decided to direct my letter to her, the Girl in the Tree.  She's the one at the top of the tree.

Dear Girl in the Tree,

This is supposed to be one of those letters where I, your older and much wiser self, am supposed to give you all sorts of advice but I look at you and the confidence that you portray and wonder what you might be able to tell me 

I don’t remember this picture being taken and when I first saw it I was surprised to see that you were at the top of the tree above everyone else.  This is not how I remember being but Danita (yes, we are still friends) remembers it differently.  When I mentioned my surprise to her, she just laughed and said that I was always brave back then, always the first to try new things.  Really?   I have to stretch my memory in order to remember this feeling and I am not sure when things changed.  You already had so many things to be afraid of, yet you look so happy. 

I guess if I had any advice to give you at all, it would be this:  Don’t lose that fearlessness because in the process you will lose yourself and let me tell you, you will spend a whole lot of time in the future looking for you. 

I know you have this inherent need to please others but don’t put everyone else's needs above yours because eventually you just forget your own and, again, you will spend a lot of time trying to figure this out. 

I guess what I am really trying to say is hold onto that Girl in the Tree as tightly as you can.  Don’t let her go. 

Love, Me (The girl trying to find the Girl in the Tree) 

I am sending this to The Red Dress Club for their weekend linkup. 

June 26, 2011 Update 

I am linking this post to Flicker of Inspiration Prompt #5: A Letter to You at The Lightning and the Lightning Bug. The letter is addressed to the "Girl in the Tree" who is not sixteen, but nine or ten.  I thought that it was relevant anyway.  Please forgive me if I am wrong.
"Write a letter to yourself at age sixteen. What might you tell your sixteen year-old self? Would you warn yourself not to make a certain mistake? Would you ask yourself to treasure being young? Would you tell yourself how much you've changed? You can write the letter from your present self, or from someone else entirely. Feel free to take this in an unexpected direction. Good luck!"