Sunday, August 30, 2009
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Monday, August 10, 2009
Since those days I have found myself in three situations where women have tried to tell me my future. Each was epically strange and timed in such a way that they each turned out to be somewhat true, but only hindsight is 20/20.
I'm home from college in Syracuse, visiting family and stopping in to see an on old friend, Lara. She is younger than me but has been married for over a year, we are sitting on the leather couch of her town house. Lara has a deck of tarot cards from her sister and for fun wants to try to read my fortune. She says she isn't sure she has the gift, draws cups and swords and tells me in a very serious tone that "Holmes, this isn't good."
It was something about her concern, I could tell she honestly believed it. This was someone who cared for me and she looked positively worried. I got a chill, she started asking me questions, I was at a loss. A week or so later my Mother and I are on the phone, she starts to cry for no reason and out of no where says she loves me. I ask her what she has been up to and she says "breathing lessons to help with my asthma, that's why I sound so rough." I know something is wrong. Its the intuition that sends me home to see for myself. Cups and swords apparently means cancer.
Chinese New Year 2004
I am running around at a campus event, I work for a school programming student activities and today is our very large scale Chinese New Year celebration. We have a large carnival set up in the student union. One of my co-workers is the daughter of the couple who own the largest Chinese food restaurant in town. She has her mother come in to calligraphy student's names.
After the crowd fades and the student leaders clean up, Mrs. Lin and I are sitting with her brushes and ink. She wants to make me a sign for good-luck. She very seriously had asked me what year I was born and clicked her tongue and laughed when I answered 1980. I was born the year of the monkey and here we were sitting in another year of the monkey. I told her I was happy to hear it I could use all the good luck I could get.
At this Mrs. Lin frowned. Typical I guess, for a westerner to make the complete wrong assumption of eastern tradition. Mrs. Lin explains I will need to be careful all year, that I should not under any circumstances make any major decisions or plans. She tells me to buy a good piece of jade to wear and walk carefully. Her daughter is a year older than me and is just coming out of her birth sign year. Mrs. Lin points to the beautiful jade elephant around her daughters neck and explains she and her husband bought it for her last year to protect her.
I laugh and show Mrs. Lin my engagement ring. She picks my hand up to her face and shakes her head, if only she knew about the house to follow. She tells me to buy a big piece of jade. In the months following, I look around but buy no jade.
New Years Day 2009
I am wretchedly hung over and freshly robbed of my iPod. It is six in the morning in San Jose, Costa Rica. I am quietly curled into a ball on the seat of a luxury bus heading to the Tabacon Grand Spa at the Arenal Volcano. If there has to be one place to recover from a New Years Eve of tequila, its there. I sip water and patiently wait for the tour company to stop at each hotel before heading up into the mountains. Before we leave the city the most obnoxious couple gest on and break the pleasant silence on the bus with loud American accents.
The bus makes one rest stop. I sit in the shade deciding I am nearly half better and that in an hour or so with food I will be back to action. The loud, gaudy, middle-aged American couple is lost. Knowing for sure my solitary day at the hot springs will be jeopardized, I help them. Before we are back on the bus the woman explains to me that I am in need of a reading and gives me her card. Great.
At the spa I slip away into paradise wandering through hot springs and having a first class massage. On my way to the trails into the jungle sanctuary I run into my new friends. The woman asks me to sit at the end of her chase lounge and after some small talk about being a psychic asks me for money. I figure the only way out of the awkward situation is to comply, but I meekly say all I have is twenty Cordoba, from Nicaragua. She takes it, I doubt she knows its worth about a dollar.
She explains chakras, not very colorfully, and then takes my hands and begins to shock the absolute hell out of me.
She tells me there is no surprise in a young marriage failing and that I should stop being ashamed. She tells me my mother wishes I was back in school. She tells me my ex will hurt me again, take my very heart if I'm not careful. She tells me when I get home, I'm going to have to move soon. "Whose the blue eyed guy?" She asks me. I won't give her an inch, "Which one? My whole family is full of blue eyes." "No, this is some man you're seeing." I say nothing. "Well, in any case, he's all right doll but he's as good as gone, move on. He isn't head over heals and you gotta know what that's like again." She compliments me in various ways at this point, which to me reeks of over encouraging mediocrity and though I'm smiling I am far from flattered.
She tells me to save my money for something big on the horizon. She then tells me to stop reaching out to friends that don't reach back. That last one hurts.
I get the feeling I need to leave, I stand up and thank her then walk into the jungle laughing.
I don't really care much about my future. Maybe I'm the sci-fi junkie that thinks there are as many dimensions of existence as there are choices to make, in one of them maybe I've made all the "correct" ones. The dimension of the path of least resistance. Boring. I could never be happy there. Most of the joy of being me is the beautiful mess I'm made up of.
I'm wonderfully unafraid of mistakes.
Friday, August 7, 2009
Spread on the old wooden slats still warm from a long hot day Tracey debated a swim while pondering an overwhelming night sky. The stars were so much more alive here than they were at home and it seemed that there could be green mountains one after the other forever, never a city in sight.
Before she could decide on the all night refreshment of a well timed swim her solitude was broken as Ella pounced onto the dock gingerly removing clothing. "Got marshmallow all over me Trace so Mom said to jump in a bit, you coming in?" At Ella's question Tracey could only ask another, "How come you aren't afraid of the dark water El?"
"What about dark water?" Ella asked. Tracey was sent up from the Bronx to Ella's family to get out of the city for the summer, a "Fresh Air Kid." The first time she ever swam in a lake was the day before and the love was instantaneous and life changing.
"Don't you worry when you can't see to the bottom like in the day? What if there are fish?" asked Tracey.
"There are always fish, and I don't worry cause dad says they're more afraid of me than I am of them" With this Ella dove into Blue Mountain Lake naked. Tracey realized she was about to do the very same thing. "I didn't know fish got scared" added Tracey. She piled her clothes slightly less askew than Ella's and climbed down the ladder into the water as her bottom lip started to shiver.
Ella laughed and yelled "You gotta just jump in and get your hair wet, then its always warmer!"
"I know, I'm gonna, did you bring down the towels?" Ella laughed at Tracey's question and answered in a tone of pure obviousness. "The towels are on the line we can grab some on our way back to the cottage."
"I have never been outside without a stitch on, where's Sam?" Ella wasted no time in answering, "He's embarrassed to get in the water with our 'fresh water fish'."
"What?" demanded Tracey.
"Dad said you swim fast as a fish, and when you served Sam today you totally blew his mind." Ella was glowing like the moon with happiness at this.
"We race the lanes at the pool on my block all day long, I wish they kept the pool open this late. I really love this." As Tracey spoke she floated on her back to see mountains on the periphery and stars everywhere.
Ella started making demands, "You gotta teach me to swim like that Trace, Sam's always beating me, always." "Teach me to swim so straight and fast like you, how do you do it?"
Tracey looked around and swam over to the dock. She called over to Ella, "come over here and we'll swim next to the dock."
Tracey remembered all of the things she learned from her classes at her pool. She made Ella kick while holding the dock and taught her how to throw her arms and when to breath. After a long lesson in the moonlight Ella's mom called down the hill for them and Tracey and Ella ran for the towels on the line leaving their clothes in piles by the dock.
In the morning Ella told her father about the lesson in strict confidence from Sam, who was awkwardly carrying firewood to and from out of ear shot. "Fresh Water Fish Swim Club, eh?" he said. "I want to see you girls practicing like true fish! Tracey, if you go back to that pool after swimming in an open lake you'll really kill them."
That was all the inspiration they needed, training had begun. Each night the girls would leave the camp fire and swim laps along the dock. After a couple weeks Ella could swim a straight line and breath without choking on water and Tracey totally lost interest in worrying about fish.
Returning to the cottage after a truly intense practice with hearty laughter incorporated, Tracey asked her upstate dad if she could swim across Blue Mountain Lake. She had wanted to for days and the courage to ask surfaced just then. She was sure the answer was no, but she just wanted to see what the explanation would be with the denial, maybe the lake wasn't so safe after all.
To her shock the answer was simply, "Only if you promise to climb into the boat if you are tired." "I do" Said Tracey.
Ella's dad, Ted Evans, owned a small row boat for his half-hazard love of a day trying to fish. The best use for the thing he could think of was this event. He, for the first time all summer, set his alarm. Unnecessarily, for Tracey and Ella rose at dawn. They both ate like Olympians and began stretching and diving in preparation at the dock.
Ted headed to the boat with camera and coffee in hand. He had looked at this lake every summer for over thirty years but this morning he looked to its morning stillness through different eyes and a camera lens. It had been a very long time since he bothered to take a single shot from this dock, the scenery that had grown static to him now woke. Tracey's excitement was infectious.
As he climbed in the row boat Ted let out a slight chuckle, as people do when remembering an inside joke. At that moment he thought of the first time he swam across the lake, to impress the woman presently seated in an Adirondack chair on the hill above. He looked up at her and waved, Marsha smiled and winked from under a straw hat then resumed her attempt at being perfectly calm.
Sam sat at the end of the dock and kept the dog still, "I'll say go, are you ready?" he asked. "Hold On!" cried Tracey as Ella and Ted pushed off the beach into the lake. Tracey ran up on the beach and stood looking straight at Sam and said, "From here to there, ground to ground, I'm ready."
"Tracey," Ted was trying to get her attention in his best Mr. Evans voice, "I will head in the straightest and shortest path I can so follow me, and remember even the slightest cramp, in the boat! But I doubt this lake has met a fish like you and I know you can do this."
Tracey smiled, and waved the boat and passengers forward with a distinct "shoo."
The dog stirred on the dock and Sam yelled, "Go!"
Thursday, August 6, 2009
He is real, he's my brother Patrick Jude and today is his birthday, so today is his turn out of my head and on to this blog. Of all of my family he has the most IOU's from me in quality time. I owe him as many kisses and hugs as there are stars in the sky, my life is truly deficient in Pat time. That, will need to be corrected.
When I think of working in a garage, I think of Pat. Some of my earliest memories of him are his bottom torso sticking our from a dune buggy or a black VW beetle. Pat, isn't afraid of engineering, there isn't anything the man can't teach himself. He's an Army man, Mountain Division. He is the toughest Holmes alive, takes after Uncle Mike Holmes in toughness for sure. Mind you I once saw Uncle Mike give himself stitches.
When I think of Pat I think of a killer butterfly stroke, a healthy layer of pepper on soup and ordering the biggest steak on the menu. I think of a brush cut and fatigues and MRE's. I think of his pack sitting in the front hall with the machete on the back. I think of him patiently training a laborador. He is a tough man. I've seen him speed away on his motorcycle, sometimes without saying goodbye. I know enough to know if he's giving you a hard time its cause he loves you, if he didn't - he wouldn't bother wasting his breath.
He makes the best bubble-baths a kid could ask for, and the best chocolate milk. I will never forget the days he would pack my lunch for school, they were random occurrences and incredible. He once took a bunch of "Holmes" fatigue labels and put them on everything I took to school. I thought this was the coolest thing ever. I think I drove my class and teachers crazy with how much I talked about my brother the soldier. I still have the letters he would write me when he would report how many bullets he was going through.
From those early memories I have seen him turn inspiring scholar, incredible father and all around perfectly interesting man... the kind that are hard if not impossible to find. If there was a symbol for being an individual, for standing separate and proud from the crowd, its Pat.
Pat met Wendy in Atlanta, the story I heard is cute and trying to imagine my brother chatting up a girl makes me smile. Its no wonder Wendy caught his attention, the beautiful smile and long red hair could probably be spotted miles away. Apparently he was walking by a bar in Atlanta and saw her inside, I think he may have been in uniform and with friends. He says something to them about noticing her and having to talk to her, goes in and does. Wendy ends up being a girl from just east of Syracuse, a real "cherub" as Mom would say, its a small world and that was twenty years ago.
I can not begin to list the thank yous I have for this man, I actually don't know if he knows how much of my personality comes from copying him incessantly... here goes.
Quirky Mary-ish things that are actually owed to Patrick Jude:
Love of Star Trek the original series and Dr. Who - exactly. A healthy appreciation and knowledge of classic movies. A serious love of classic rock on vinyl. This is from finding a gold mine of mint records in the basement and listening to them non-stop in high school. There was Morrison Hotel, The Song Remains the Same, Physical Graffiti, In through the Out Door, Who's Next, amazing. I was in love with that record collection and learned that music the way I should of, off vinyl. Then Pat came home one holiday, was like "Whoa my old records, cool!" They were gone. I was soooo mad, but if I think of walking into a room and seeing my first copy of Nevermind on my niece's desk I'd take it back without flinching. Well played man.
One of the most amazing things I look up to Pat about is how he is with his kids. Jude, Emma and Cian have the benefit of being allowed to be perpetually in thought. Patrick answers questions with questions and wants to know why at all times. If say, Jude wants to know how windshield wipers work Pat might say "How do you think they work?" To which Jude will then explain in incredibly imaginative detail how he thinks they do. Pat will then ask "And why do you think its that way and not another way." Jude will reply exactly why.
Because of this, Jude can sit there among adults confidently speaking his mind... reminds me of a girl I once knew. I have written how my father took the time to engage imagination and taught me to be in awe of things around me, Pat has mastered this in fatherhood. And it suits him well. When he does something he does it right or not at all, with incredible research at every step. He seems to want to master things, not just attempt them.
He has no use for anything material, he doesn't even want his house on the grid and hasn't owned a TV in years. He prefers linux. He, like the rest of my family is incredibly good at laughing and long conversation. Pat appreciates never-ending good coffee and sitting around a kitchen table. I miss him dearly and wish I could just have him in my life just as ordinarily as stopping by the grocery store. I would love to know what he is getting into, researching or thinking on a daily basis. I could use someone as trustworthy as him in my life point blank telling me the truth with nothing but good intentions in his heart, true blue.
Happy Birthday Puggy!
Monday, August 3, 2009
I am staring at the stars and I am thinking of him again, he seemed to value the sky. He might know what I was lost in awe of... I could only make out Venus.
I've said before the night sky when clear was like a foreign language to me, and one I want to learn. I am certain once you speak it, it all makes sense and the mess turns to clarity... Right now for me its a blanket of stars in a beautiful mess.
I look around in the moonlight amazed at the water, the sea, the fact that I have seen multiple shooting stars. Although I am surrounded by good people, they aren't my people. I am only borrowing them for the experience. I wish I had my people here, maybe even someone who could teach me about the sky.
So I am counting. Lost at sea, in a sense, on vacation not truly sure of the date I am making out that its the 1st of August and that on this day I should be over him. When I had a margarita in my hand in early April one of the fine women I live with told me I would be over him in half the time I spent with him. And I was, come July I was fine... three months, we had six.
So I am rocking to sleep in the boat, and I am wondering if when I wake up I'll be over this him... We had thirtyfour days and it had been seventeen exactly since the last. Lets not mention I will be in my thirties till I am over the other. What is over? Forget? Stop wondering what if? Whatever... too good to be true always is, and I will never get five minutes in his head.
In the mean time I can find Venus on a sailboat in paradise, I will have to teach myself the rest sometime.