Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Story That Bears Repeating

**Updated: Italics Removed by request of Rockdog.**

Haven't had much time lately, but since spring is once again in full bloom, I thought the story might once again apply... This is a long one, so get some popcorn and a soda... maybe a cup of coffee. Forgive the length (that's what he said... lol j/k)

Originally written in spring 2005 by yours truly!
Procrastinator is my middle name. In fact, I’m sure my mother told me that when she was in labor with me, that I curtly asked her 'if we could take a rain check for tomorrow'. Who could blame me now, seeing the current state of our world? Seriously, Ozzy Ozbourne "The Prince of Darkness" is now the King of Fathers--and a Reality TV favorite, Led Zeppelin and Iron Butterfly can be heard on finer elevators everywhere. The 'Thriller' is gone as Michael Jackson goes from 'King of Pop' to the Jester of Molesters. Crime and punishment is all around us but yet somehow, spring is in the air. The season's just not quite the procrastinator that I am.

When I started to write this, spring had sprung, but as usual, I was a little behind. You see, I've been pondering a question lately, as the birds have been chirping louder and the days growing longer. This question, I could only answer by taking a break from reality, and the old dead news that we grow weary of reading day after day, life's burdens. I decided to pause and smell the roses and appreciate the new life and spring of hope that we have been given; yet another second chance, if you will, to begin anew...

Yes, spring had sprung. The sleeping leaves awoke once again, alive and bursting with jubilant colors, animals flitting around ceremoniously with mad equinox fancy. But wait, this is Memphis Tennessee… Home of 'The King', Sweat, Swine, BBQ, Muddy Waters, “The Blues” and mosquitoes so big they’ve recently been named Tennessee's ‘State Bird’.

So, my question to you is: “What does ‘Spring’ mean to you?”

Is it the fresh smell of hay and freshly cut grass, or coming in from the humid outdoors needing to jump right back into the shower? The birds and bees? Tourists, maybe the buzzing of the city crowds?

Setting out to answer my own query, my mind filtered through so many memories, music, faces and laughter, and loves (so many loves). I tried to think about how Spring is always a chance to start all over. No matter what has happened, it is dead with the fall, frozen and washed away by the rains that came and Life... it blooms anew. Spring denotes youth, energy, manic infatuation and fun… children on the playground, no worries for miles. While raging ‘everything’ sends young lovers into the throws of never-to-be-seen again passion… In this fool’s folly season of youth, we truly believe every dream is obtainable. Yet, no matter where I flew in my little time machine, I still landed turbulently back in Reality. Yes, right smack-dab in the middle of Reality—land of all that’s opposite those things.

It was spring, 1990, and full of promise, I was catapulting head-first towards my dream, to become a great Graphic Artist. I worked hard at it (sometimes)… the problem was, I had a bad habit—the habit of having a little too much fun. There was time… I had plenty of time… I had forever if I needed it. (And The Rolling Stones said so… hit it Mick!):

"Time is on my side, yes it is

Now you always say
That you want to be free
But you’ll come running back (said you would baby)
You’ll come running back (I said so many times before)
You’ll come running back to me--

Oh, time is on my side, yes it is..."

But forever is just another deserter, like all the others… As well, my childhood crushes were merely kids’ stuff now as I peered into the grown-up world of real love. We met at the Mall of Memphis in the food court. He was a bright, shiny Marine with big, puppy-dog eyes and hair of the finest spun gold (oh so ‘high-n-tight’ as the hairstyle boasts). He and his buddy invited themselves to sit with us, and we eventually invited them down to check out our small-town paradise. He had a girlfriend back home, but she was history. We’d been dating only a weekend, drowning in the void of careless youth. He said he knew it was sudden but that he knew he wanted to marry me. I told him I felt the same and that I would marry him and follow him anywhere. He was going to send me to art school whenever we got to the place we were going. No thoughts entered my head of my family, and when or where would I see them again. I was in love with a capital “L”, and time was on my side. I had even broken it off with the rough and raunchy “Mr. Right Now” whom I’d previously been wasting time with.

About a month and a half later, the dream ended as I awoke to a crash-course in Reality… my first real dose of it. His girlfriend back home (who was supposed to be history) had come forward with her pregnancy. He said he had no choice… he said he would never forget me. I said "Please Don't Go..." I spent a week in my mother’s lap, crying. And while I definitely had some trouble letting go, and there were those incidents in between, I held up fine and eventually I moved on (To bigger and better things of course).

School continued and my motivation to excel waxed and waned, and part of my college time, was spent with a roommate in the dormitory. There was too much fun to be had and before I knew it, it was 1991 and I was moving on just fine. He was a local favorite; I knew his face (his pretty tan face and his glimmering green eyes). Some might have called him a wild boy. My mother knew his family and she considered them 'no good'. But I came to know him as my friend. We had exchanged waves and glances in passing, there in our small town. Taunting looks and out-the-window commentary we shared. I was even encouraged by the sessions that my dorm mates and I spent experimenting with the Ouija board that the two of us would get together. Then one day a mutual friend, who my roommate and I had stopped to talk briefly with, urged me to go over to his house... "Just go on over... he's home and he doesn't care." As I said before, youth is made up of such brave concoctions of invincibility and omnipotence.

So I went back to my dorm, picked out the most suggestive outfit I could find and there I went. We sat up all night watching videos, talking and laughing about where the world went wrong, how he did love juke joints and how I had ‘some thick legs’. Our visit was interrupted by a knock on the door (my roommate, out drinking with some guy had been dropped off and had stumbled up the steps to meet me). However, she passed out and unable to think of any other place to dispose of her, he put her in his bed and chose the water bed in back of his house as the place we would spend that night. The song that was blaring on the radio the next morning still rings in my ears... "Standing on top of the World." by Van Halen.

("Standing on top of the world... for a little while... standing...")

And I guess at that moment I was. Careless and dangerous, what I had done, but I was exhilarated and once again,
in love.

He had other ideas--being the free-spirit that he was. It wasn't the last time that we were together, but I came to realize, that there was in fact, a difference between sex and love. Believe me, I tested this theory adequately. Free spirit he was, but he remained a friend of mine and even now, when we see each other somewhere, he's the same old guy... older, with more leathered tan skin and eyes that I can't quite remember just what it was about them that thrilled me so.

Recently, I got some bad news that he had gotten into some trouble with the law... That he was arrested and this time they found a pretty big amount of Sudafed among other things. As long as any of us have known him, he's done a bit of this and a little of that, but I never expected to hear that news. A friend of mine, who knows him as well, reported that he may be looking at 20 years... (20 years? That's 20 springs... and summers... falls... winters). If he did 20 years, he would be around 61 years old when he got out. I don’t quite know why, but the news depressed me a little. Maybe I would never see him again... Our lives always grow and change. Every day someone comes into our lives for maybe a minute, or for years and we never really know just when goodbye means “goodbye” and not just “see ya later”. At any rate, I felt as though a little piece of my youth would be going away with him.

The many things that I have been thinking about through this spring, and in trying to find the words to finish this story, I have watched people... listened to people, observed.

My husband and I have recently gotten in the swing of a healthy lifestyle, and at first I resisted--it's always hard to start. But I looked at myself in the mirror and I saw three people glaring back at me. First, there was the young girl of spring waving goodbye, blowing me kisses, smiling freely…her hair blowing in the wind.

Second, I saw me as I am now, not that great (I thought to myself... not that great at all), but in a head-butt battle with her was the third person--Someone who has been fighting to take over for most of my life. She is upper-middle aged and greasy, with wrinkles and saggy bad skin. Her hair is a disastrous mess--she finally got her way and cut it all off... She replaced my creative happy eyes with old cynical ones that required glasses and she was wearing hideous plus size clothing--you know the kind--The ugly Hawaiian print shirts and the sickening green, double-knit reversible slacks (and orthopedic shoes that would put fear in the hearts of anyone). I have known about her for a long time, but never really thought she would come. Maybe I doubted that she was real... time being on my side as it were. But she was there trying to fight her way in. ("I have to put a stop to her!" I thought in a panic.)

So, thinking rather quickly, I soaked her in gasoline and lit the match, giving her a swift kick in those hopelessly wide (fat assed) green double-knit reversible slacks. The screams were unbearable... but it had to be done. She's not coming back ever again, I know for sure this time... I had to do it for myself, for my family and for god sakes I had to do it for womankind!

We're healthier for it--I'm not giving up this mission that I have: To meet up with that girl from my spring in the middle somewhere, maybe late summer or maybe fall (I will look a lot like her, except that I'll be skinnier and prettier *smirk*). But we're going to be best friends forever. We'll get together and we'll laugh about all of those old times... the careless times. We may even shed a tear or two. But this time, nothing will tear us apart. The monster in the green slacks is gone. We are on our own now, but I’m fairly certain that things are going to be just fine.

Spring is a time of renewal... of second chances. It's never too late to catch the fever. As I looked at the time on my cell phone, it was time to get back to work... Here in this Memphis heat, summer is well on its way and the barbecue is simmering, smoke and music floating through the air down by the river. Some of the blossoms from the early part of the season can still be seen by someone wearing the right kind of eyes.

The summers are hot here but it's not all that bad. I guess I better enjoy it while I can because fall and winter, they sneak up on you... they really do.

~So, what does "Spring" mean to you?

Jackie D. Wood


awaiting said...

Wow, girl! This post is amazing. You write so well, always capturing the reader and placing them in that exact moment in time...feeling the same emotions and thinking the same thoughts.

So much I identified with in this post.

Thanks for writing it...it comes at just the right time for me.

RockDog said...

O' Sweet Goddess of Italics!

I love your writing as you definitely have the power to paint the picture perfectly. It's as if the reader is actually there experiencing everything right along with you.

I liked this a lot. It brought me back to a time when I too was a young girl and spring was in the air... ;)

Seriously, great post!

I must make it to Graceland some day!

Aunt Jackie said...

Awaiting: Thank you, that's such a sweet comment... Glad you found some comfort in it too.

Rockdog: Where's the love man! You get punished for picking on Jaxxxx you know ;) I italicized it because it was an old 'repeat' story, I am beginning to believe the Dog and doubt the Rock! LOL!
No really, glad you liked it and thanks for reading it! :D

RockDog said...

I'm done reading it...you can put the italics back in... ;)

However, I did forget to answer the question..."What does Spring mean to me?"

Much like a bear, I hibernate during the Winter. Spring is the time to open the windows and let the fresh air in cleansing the entire house with it's cool breeze. It means that soon enough the girls will be dressing sexier and the guys will be tearing up the roads with their motorcycles and turbocharged cars. Car windows will be down and music of all sorts will be blaring for all to hear (whether or not you want to!). Spring is like a Warm-up band to the main act that is Summer! Yay!