Chalk Drawings in the Rain

Standing there alone, at the precipice of nightfall, the air turns cooler, daylight appearing a little dimmer and the shadows begin to fade away slowly. One moment his silhouette is beside him, it draws longer before simply dissipating in the pale, late afternoon ambient light, along with all the other shadows. It used to be so clear; his relationship with his kids, the expectations’, the experiences. But now they seem to be dissolving like a child’s chalk drawings in the rain.

It’s strange when you get older and your children do too, it’s not the same for you both. For one the days run by like a fast moving bus leaving one to yearn for what they may have missed and for the other they seem to draw on forever, full of opportunity, excitement for what may come, adventure and anticipation. For the parent there is a sense of loss, for the child freedom.

You knew it was coming, all the older folks say it’s so, that the time you have with them passes by so quickly and we take it for granted. That time passes by like a mid-winters day, and soon you’re wondering what happened, where did it all go, why do you feel as though they’ve forgotten you. You forget what it is like to be a teenager, cruising around with your pal’s, the freedom, no one looking over your shoulder.

Your daughter has a boyfriend, he gets more time than you now, she looks at him with that same lost essence in her eyes that she once had for you…when she was like five. It hurts, you feel betrayed, left behind, alone. They all grow older; your son leaps out the front door in his letterman jacket and the keys to his future, and his little tender hands not in yours, tugging you along. Finally the youngest glances back at you as she runs off to join her team mates on the field, it’s not fair you think, you used to throw her in the air and now her fellow ball players celebrate with her, they chant and cheer her on and they are louder than you and the sound of your voice diminishes as it gets carried away in the fall air.

Breakfast is lonely now; it feels unnecessary, like an old outdated custom. Like an old book you once loved to read over and over but it just seems like the words aren’t quite as bright as they used to be, the pages are more fragile and worn and the cover has seen its day in the sun, it eventually finds its way onto a shelf higher than the rest, it may be pulled out now and again but the air between its pages will grow stale and it’s binding dusty. Like all great books, once celebrated its now simply remembered.

You taught them, aimed them in the right direction, and gave them the tools they’ll rely on when they are all on their own. You are happy for them, and are yourself excited to see them flourish, grow and become adults. But somewhere along the way you forgot to prepare yourself, I suppose that’s what happens though, you love them, cherish them, teach them and watch them step away.

The Real World

There is a place between the real world and the world we find ourselves in throughout our lives. In this other world it doesn’t matter if we have someone to hold at night, if we are alone at Christmas and it doesn’t matter if we look anything like we feel deep inside.

But in the real world, the one that hurts when we are in it, the one where it matters if you come in first, we have to wear our masks and hide and go seek isn’t a game. We have to bury our feelings in this world and parlay our emotions so we can survive.

In the real world you’re lonely most when you’re among friends and in the other world you’re never lonely when you are by yourself.

When the sun sinks below the horizon most people in the real world seek out light, they seek shelter in it and are always looking for more. When I am in my other world it is the darkness I feel most comfortable in, in the darkness there aren’t any shadows to follow me and when it rains it’s like my soul pouring out all over the ground, spilling all my truths across the pock marked asphalt and seeping into all those little crevices, slipping away once more into the dark cracks in the Earth. The rain washes over me, holds me and comforts me.

Don’t get me wrong I like the sun; I like its warm, caressing rays. But it burns me too; it wants to peel back my skin allowing all to see my faults and my secrets. So I play with it, I bare myself to it, allowing it to sear my armor, my suit of lies that both protects me from falling apart and keeps me prisoner at the same time. And then when the day is long I step back into the cooling safety of the shadows, crouch down among my treasured fears and watch everyone walk by whispering dirty things to each other, things that I don’t understand, things that make me feel small and weak and lonely.

 

 

Empty Places

It’s a strange thing that happens when people disappear from your life, I don’t mean to say that they have disappeared from society, only from your life, the space they held in your everyday has become empty, a lonely place void of warmth and solace. You used to be able to count on some part of your routine being affected by them, by their wit, their smile or maybe just their energy. But now, the only thing that exists in that place is their absence.

It’s a sad feeling, feelings of abandonment hover close, maybe it’s uncomfortable for both parties, maybe neither one wanted to disappear but that space became awkward because it was tainted with the energy of another. Regardless of the reasons for vacating that space, maybe you even asked them to leave but now, as time seems to slowly and methodically drift away, there are feelings that float to the surface like stones in a farmer’s field. Emotions tied to that person that disappeared, a longing for their banter, for their laughter, for their breath.

You are a different person because of their absence, that’s not to say that you aren’t you, only that a certain aspect of you has changed, only that a portion of you no longer has a place. What happens to those parts of us that are so because of someone whom is no longer there? Will those parts of us eventually fade away; will they become unnecessary and unwanted.

Will they simply fall away someday like an empty, faded leaf from a tree, only to be carried away by the winds of fall, abandoned and left to parish? And someday when we pass that person again, when we see them, when we hear their faintly familiar voice, will we know it, will we recognize them as someone whom once held a special place or like boyhood pals, as it does sometimes, will the two just float apart and become two more people on the street, filling separate places?

When the sun begins to cast long shadows, and it feels so much later than it really is, will we long to say goodbye to those we have lost but aren’t really gone? I wonder what happens to those empty spaces within our lives that never really seem to fill back up, do they just remain there like echoes, coming back to us on days when we feel vulnerable and alone and no one else seems to understand us?

Deliverance

He stood on a gravel road awaiting the suns arrival, as the once enveloping darkness slowly retreated into the forest around him. The road disappeared around a bend before him and beyond a rise behind him. There he remained steadfast, his bare muscular arms covered in crisp, cool dew. The tiny hairs on the back of his neck erect and alert to the barely audible noises escaping the hidden places that surround him. His feet planted firmly, staking his presence in the moonless moments between the obscurities of night and eviscerating dawn. He knows not which way to turn; he beckons to his spirit to guide him, to show him the way.

He closes his eyes to hide the darkness, his mind awash with fear and trepidation. But still, unwavering he stays his place, confident with an open heart, his patience tested but unfaltering. As doubt begins to sneakily creep in from behind him, rising from the dirt and gravel like a thickening dense fog his eyes still closed tightly, he feels sudden warmth upon his brow, it slides down his cheeks and along his jaw to his neck like a silk scarf, the dew on his shoulders and arms rolls away and evaporates before it hits the ground.

The coolness of the sinister fog around his ankles slinks away quietly and when he opens his eyes his pupils recoil fast. A beautiful golden pink light floods his hazel eyes; his chest quickly rises as he breathes deeply, throwing his shoulders open and letting his head fall back mouth agape, he fills his lungs with the warm inviting air. With his arms outstretched and his fingers reaching, extended into the sunlight as it pours through the forest canopy and blankets the road in front of him he smiles and gives thanks, there is nothing more invigorating, more gracious and fulfilling as witnessing the days first light as it rushes in and chases away the darkness, shining upon the world highlighting all that is good and promising.

You Know That Feeling?

Have you ever walked past the entryway to a dark alley, the open door to a room with no lights on or underneath an old rambling tree and think or feel like you’ve seen or felt something or somebody close by? Did you get the notion that someone or something was hiding there, watching you? Maybe you wondered if you were to reach out, reach into that darkness, take that little step out of the warmth of the sun or the safety of the light that you’d find it, touch it, feel it?

Have you ever walked past a mirror and not recognize the person looking back at you? Maybe you felt like you knew that person’s eyes, could see inside them and felt like you knew them but that the outside, the exterior was foreign, did you ever feel like you were wearing a suit just a little too big for you, like when you put on your fathers shirt as a boy? Have you ever felt like when someone touched you, you could feel their hands but not their touch? Or maybe at some point if someone touched you it seemed as though you had no skin and their touch hurt even though they hadn’t mean to hurt you, but like you were a solid grouping of raw, unprotected nerve endings, out there, susceptible to everyone, everything, every strange look, every unwelcome glance.

We all have haunts, impressions that have followed us throughout our lives, not all of them are bad, but some are, and they live in the shadows and those dark rooms and behind the trees in the forests and the damp corners of the alleys near our homes. I have learned to live and accept mine, sometimes we get so used to them that they become part of us and established element within our worlds. And sometimes we can convince them to leave, that there is no purpose here for them any longer, even the bad ones can protect us, but eventually if we take ownership we can learn to protect ourselves and even allow ourselves to just be vulnerable, to accept what lies ahead, what lurks where we fear to go. And maybe even find ourselves there, hiding out up in the thick canopy of that tree at the edge of the wood.

When we walk past those empty rooms, we feel the echoes of our shadows, within them are held our greatest fears, our haunts, our innocence and even our greatest desires. Challenge yourself to wander in there and poke around, see what you can find, accept it and welcome it and then celebrate it.