Friday, May 29, 2009
Somewhere south of Bordentown she stopped talking, leaving only the songs on the radio to fill the silence. While Springsteen sang about hurt and lost love I wondered when it was that everything between us had changed; what we once shared had slowly faded over time until there was nothing left. Now there was fear in her eyes, subtle cracks in that stoic expression I’d known since childhood. Pain that doctors couldn’t ease any more. I searched for words to bridge the distance but they stuck in my throat, and we drove home in a quiet so heavy it hurt.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
On a sidewalk near Vesey Street, Bailey shook his cup and smiled at each person as he asked them for spare change. Dreadlocked and dirty, the sores on his arms covered by long sleeves, he tried hiding the shame in his eyes while ignoring the occasional taunts of “get a job you fucking bum.” Even though he was used to it the words always hurt, almost as much as the sneers businessmen gave him and the way women stuffed coins back in their purses, turning cold shoulders to him as if he were invisible. Inside Starbucks the Assistant Manager started towards the door again to chase him away for the third time that morning; Bailey was hurrying to put his belongings back in his cart when the first plane slammed in the Tower. Within hours the neighborhood that he knew had drastically changed – those same men and women now looked just like him with dazed expressions and blank stares, afraid and fearful of all they had lost. And in the horror of that day, when it all fell apart for so many, Bailey smiled as he realized that for once he wasn’t alone with his fears any more.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
I would read her stories on quiet summer days as we sat along the river, just the two of us stretched out in the tall grass, hidden in the shade of the pine trees lining the banks of the Mullica while a gentle breeze cooled our skin. She liked the way I read to her and said it wasn’t just the stories but the sound of my voice – how I would give some words little twists of emotion, along with the emphasis I put on certain sentences to make them stand out, and I loved the way Katie would giggle when I mispronounced the vocabulary words we had learned in Miss Rittenberg’s English class only weeks earlier. Her body would sway slowly from side to side before she dropped her head in my lap, closing her eyes to listen as I read; the hours and days that passed never mattered back then, neither one of us ever imagining we could run out of time or that it would pass so quickly. Some days we dreamed about a world beyond the Mullica and our little New Jersey town - as the years went by we talked about a life together and a world waiting to be explored; Katie would take my hand in hers as I told another story about the places we could go and smile at the depth of my ambition and the strength of our growing love. Now, I am left to fill our days with stories about the places we have visited while wishing that for a little while we can return, if only in our dreams - some times for just a few moments my words unlock a memory long since buried and her eyes light up with a recognition that is both rare and fleeting. All I can do is hope that the next time I read to her I will again see that glow in her eyes and the spark that lights up her expression when she briefly remembers the life and the love we have shared.