Lessons I Teach Myself
Cecilia was named after the famous Simon & Garfunkel song by the same name.
She hated the song. Nah, like, she HATED it. With a Capital H.
She'd say her name was Jess at bars and Starbucks spots so no one would get the oh-so-original idea to play that song in her honor. Cecilia actually didn't have a problem with Simon & Garfunkel at all - she thought they were dope and she was fond of many of their songs. But if you ask Cecilia - this was their worst song and they should never have ever recorded it if she had her say on the matter.
Strangely enough, Cecilia didn't hate her name. Sure, it had the 'gradma' dated feel of a name that was popular perhaps in the late eighteen century, but she didn't totally hate it. She Just hated the moronic people that always started awfully hum or sing out-of-tune the Cecilia song whenever she introduced herself.
It was the worst first impression anyone could have ever done when meeting Cecilia.
Nonetheless, Jimmy was a sixties-folk kind of dude and he had to, just HAD TO, go into a complete off-beat version of the song when he met Cecilia in a shoe store in Queens, New York. Cecilia rolled her eyes and mumbled 'So original' but he was way too into his terrible singing to even notice. His version turned into a mild hip hop beat for a moment there so Cecilia found herself somewhat amused as she tried on a pairs of brown leather boots. Jimmy finished his performance and actually dared to bow to Cecilia.
Needless to say, he did not get a standing ovation. Nor even a clap from Cecilia. Instead, she half smiled the closed mouth smile she did anytime she met her aunts and uncles every few years, and said "Yeah, thank you. Nice to meet you too."
Jimmy was the fearless type. He was a New Yorker, you see. He grew up with loads of people and have seen all the kinds of guards that people use to protect themselves and to push people away. So he wasn't at all fazed by Cecilia's unenthusiastic response to his Tony deserving showdown. 'She'll warm up to me' He thought to himself and boldly asked Cecilia out:
"I know this awesome steakhouse, on seventh. I know the owner so we can get two for the price of one. You hungry? I mean, you gotta eat, you look to me like you're barely a hundred pounds!"
Cecilia wasn't sure what to response to first:
'This handsome guy may know his way around shoes, but his singing skills are sub-par. He works at a shoe store so a wealthy man he's likely not, and his excitement over two-for-one steak makes that assumption even more likely. And he may have just criticized the way I look with that non-compliment about my weight.'
But while she was figuring all that out in her head, Jimmy has already taken his jacket and was headed to the door. "Don't worry, you can buy the shoes after." He was a New Yorker all right - Always on the GO.
Cecilia felt a punch of hesitation in her guts - After all, she may have been new to New York and all its eccentric types, but she had her share of men that wouldn't take NO as an answer and she knew red flags when she saw them.
Nonetheless, for some odd reason that day, Cecilia found herself walking out the door with a stranger.
To be continued...
I remember nothing. Nothing from that day on the pier.
I stare at the photo of me and my lover, our hair blowing in the wind, smiling from ear to ear, the Mediterranean sea is peaceful behind us and our tan lines are peeking out of our incredibly dated swimsuits. The back of the photo is captioned 'Capri 1981.' I recognize the writing. It is mine. But everything else is beyond a blur. Everything else has simply gone completely out of my mind. As if it was never there.
Where did the years go? Where did my mind go? Where did this ole' lover of mine go?
I check out my old self's physique in the photo. My perky breasts. My smooth skin. My skinny arms. Those all went away somewhere as well. I see hints of them in the mirror, when the shadow of my old self pops for a visit. I turn my glance to look at the bathroom's mirror. Is my old self there? No. She is not there. She is not there at all. Where did she go?
I sink down on my mother's bed. It is soft. Too soft. I've told her to replace that old mattress. I told her her back aches would thank her. She never did. I shake my head in disapproval. But she is not there to hear my critical grunts. She is not there. She is not there at all.
I close my eyes for a moment, with the photo still in my hand.
This is where my mother went to sleep. Every night. Every afternoon at precisely two o'clock. This is where she'd wake up every day and reached for her glass of water on the nightstand. I see there is still water in that glass. There is still water, enough for a sip. One sip for an elderly woman who is not there. She is not there at all.
I feel the green duvet against my nose, and take in a whiff of scent. Grapefruits. It smells like grapefruits. Citrus scents are not my preference, but this one? This one smells nice. It smells like my mother. I take another whiff and notice the floodgates come pouring down. Tears are streaming down my face involuntarily these days. I don't wipe them away. I let them fall where they may. One drop falls down on the photo in my hand. It staines the shoulder of my ole' lover. A shoulder I cried on many nights. And some nights I caressed lovingly. A shoulder I don't know anymore. A slightly freckled shoulder. Or is it a coffee spot I see?
Time blurs and time stains. Time dissolves like a bath bomb in a pool of water. Like salt in a hot oily skillet. Like tea dissolving in boiling water. Like my mind putting together pieces of my past.
I walk out of the room with the photo in my hand. A piece of my past that I'd like to remember. A piece of my past that my mother remembered. A piece of my past that my mother held on to before she left.
'I could really get used to this.'
Cleo thought to herself and added more bubbles to her bath.
The four candles she lit gave the small dark room enough light to read through her words on the page:
I don't love you anymore.
In fact, I never did.
A carrier will come by to take your things in the morning.
They will be delivered to you by nightfall.
She smiled to herself with satisfaction, feeling the pleasure of breaking yet another heart.
It was an art she had perfected over the years.
She signed the letter with a kiss and burned the edges of it just as she did when she was eleven.
'It's romantic.' She thought to herself, just as she did when she was eleven.
Marco was conquest number fifty three, and a solid heartbreak job well done. One of her best works thus far. And her celebration was much deserved. But when it comes to heartbreaks - he was only number fifty two.
There, on the wall of her heart, hung a framed portrait of her first love Samuel. Her only love, perhaps. The one that got away. The one that left her wounded, abandoned, broken hearted.
Fifty two conquests later, and she still was Samuel's at heart.
'Darn him!' She muttered to herself.
See, with every broken heart she was hoping to mend hers, but that was not the case.
She would get instant gratification of course, some pleasure in the reckoning of another's heart, a rewarding feeling of revenge, the sweet taste of surprising an innocent fool. But her heart? Her heart stayed broken. Always broken. Shattered to pieces. She reached to the glass of whiskey by the side of the bath. She knew herself by now and knew: the sorrow was soon to come.
'I must break one hundred hearts. That is how I will mend mine.' Cleo vowed to herself and took a gulp of whiskey. Some said her logic was that of an eleven year old. Stuck in a mindset of a child hurt by their first loss, limited by her vengeful spirit and forever playing games with others' hearts. Her body was of a woman, but her mind and heart were of a child looking to fix what was broken, to no avail. Some felt sorry for her, saw through the charm and underneath the mask. But others were fooled, the fools. She knew how to spot a fool from a mile away. She would giggle and move her hand through her black as night hair and knew if a man was to be a fool worthy of having his heart broken by her. And Marco was a fool like the rest fifty two of them.
'But Samuel, oh Samuel...' She teared up, and rushed to her glass of whiskey, to quickly guard her tears. To clumsily connect the broken pieces of her heart. Pieces that were too fragile to be put together ever again.
'Enough!' She frowned to herself, and wiped her tears away. She got out of the bath and blew out the candles with the rage she was living with since age eleven.
Another conquest. Another broken heart. Another night Cleopatra longed to be eleven again.
The day Rasputin died was a gorgeous day:
Seventy five degrees, light breezy wind, clear skies and even clearer ocean.
The bay was swarming with tourists out to see the seals mating and snap pictures for their Instagram 'stories.' The line outside the famous 'Carly's Clams Cafe' was long and a juggler was passing by the waiting crowds.
Rasputin's mother was in that long line, waiting to order a clam soup. No one made clam soup quite like Carly.
She checked the clock - it was almost noon. She made the calculations in her head and figured she was going to have to leave with the soup in hand by twelve forty to make it back to the hospital before visiting hours were halted for lunch. The juggler came close to her spot in the line. He was doing some stellar work with two apricots and a baseball ball. He hummed as he juggled and lured the crowds to pay for this uninvited performance. Rasputin's mother shooed him to go past her. She was not going to spend a dime more than the five dollars and twenty five cents she held in her fist. Money that was to be used only for Carly's clam soup. That's what Rasputin asked for and she was going to give that to him even if she somehow had to juggle her way to the top of the line.
Of course, Rasputin didn't really ask for a clam soup from the famous 'Carly's Clam Cafe.' Nor would he be able to sip it anyways. How could he, when he was connected to tubes and infusion in his hospital bed and had been in a coma for over seven years?
The day Rasputin died was the day that his mother signed papers; his death allowance; the goodbye papers.
Those papers were waiting for years. Before her husband left her - claiming she was delusional and that their marriage was over the day Rasputin had the accident - he brought up the papers. She refused even to consider it then. 'How dare you abandon a child. OUR child?!' She said, and shamed him unapologetically.
He juggled the papers off to her sister Bettany. Bettany was the big sister and a tough cookie that didn't hear 'no' as an answer, but even she was scolded with a 'How dare you' and a frowning reminder that she 'had no child so how would she know the difficulty of this decision!?'
Bettany juggled the papers over to Rasputin's high-school girlfriend, sheila, who was already married by then. Sheila refused to meet with Rasputin's mother initially - after all, she was 'emotionally expelled from the family a year into the coma', she claimed. And when she finally built the courage to face Rasputin's mother - she couldn't mouth the word 'papers' and left crying back to her husband's arm.
What was it that day, that shifted Rasputin's mother's mind and heart, and held her hand as she signed her name on that seal of a paper?
Was it the juggler, who reminded her of Rasputin with his playful smile and reminded her of herself with his relentless pursuit despite the crowd's disinterest?
Was is the seals, who mated with passion that made her blush, and let go of each other afterwords with such ease, reminding her to let go of what she loved?
Was it the clear sky and even clearer ocean, that brought some clarity to this mother's heart?
Or was it the lady at 'Carly's Clam Cafe' that had to tell Rasputin's mother that the clam soup had left the menu years before? In fact, seven years before?
Whatever it was, Rasputin's mother did not get the clam soup she had planned for, but she did finally make the hardest decision she had ever done: saying goodbye to her only son.
Before going on her way to the hospital for what would be her last visit to her son - she hurried back to the long line, tapped on the juggler's shoulders, and gave him her five dollars and twenty five cents. 'He had earned it' she thought to herself.
He had earned it.
And so did Rasputin.
J.C entertained the old lady a bit. Took glances at the Picasso, Miro, Rodin all spread open on her lap.
The church bells rang and J.C. broke into a laugh:
'What does your god think of this?'
She pointed at a Picasso painting of a naked woman.
'I suppose... well, I suppose that the lord would... say, what do you think of this?
'Yes, you're the artist.'
'I think it's pretty fucking awesome.'
'What's so "awesome" about it?'
'I said FUCKING awesome.'
J.C was quite confused by Mother Rose's poker face. She was used to nuns being horrified by her foul mouth.
Mother Rose pressed on, and even let a little smile show.
'Well, the colors of the background are the same as the colors of the body. It's like her body is part of everything else. The sky behind, the ground below. They're all the same. She is part of everything. And that's pretty fucking awesome.'
Silence. Mother Rose took the book and looked closely at it: it was indeed fucking awesome. And J.C's perception of it was spot on - almost, she dared think - God like.
'My dear, you may keep these books. Consider it a welcome gift to' our school.'
Mother Rose lead the girl to the door and closed the door behind her with a warm 'You're welcome.'
In the corridor, J.C. couldn't move her feet for a moment.
Not only because the weight of the three books in her hands was taking its toll, but also because what has just happened had genuinely surprised her. J.C was used to being in principal's offices, but she never walked out of them with a gift, but rather with a beating, a suspension, or even an expulsion.
'Holy Shit', she mumbled partly to herself, and partly to the heavens.
'Mother Rose is a rebel.' J.C thought to herself.
The next day in the cafeteria, the girls were hovering near the announcement board. There was an announcement, and a few heads were turning, looking towards J.C. in bewilderment.
J.C rushed to look what the fuss was about. Lo and behold - there was going to be an art exhibit, the first in its kind. And the featured artist was no one else but J.C herself. Or as the announcement named her: 'Lick Me'
Mother Rose was standing by from a distance, giving J.C a nod.
'I think I'm going to like it here after all'
J.C thought to herself, and then she took off her leather jacket, sporting her uniform with pride.
J.C. was a rebel.
She wore a leather jacket to school over her school uniform, skipped class to smoke in the yard behind the gymnasium, and drew naked caricatures of the nuns on the bathroom's mirror. She would sign her so called 'art work' as Lick Me.
A rumor began circulating in school that Lick Me was J.C.
After all, she was the only school drop out that came from a trailer trash family and somehow found herself in an all girl catholic school in Connecticut. Of course Lick Me was her. Everyone thought so, and everyone was right.
A rebel isn't always original in her efforts to venture off against the system. In fact, sometimes a rebel would be as predictable as possible in order to be seen. Because what's good about a rebellious act, when no one is there to witness it in disapproval!?
The rumors came all the way to Mother Rose, the principal. After all, the girls adored Mother Rose and told her nearly everything about their lives, including who the trouble maker in school was.
'I thought so.' Mother Rose nodded to Sally and Bette as they whispered the words 'Lick Me is J.C.' with gossipy pleasure. 'Thank you for telling me, now go along dears.' And 'go along' they did.
Mother Rose stood for a moment, wondered how to deal with the troublesome child who called herself 'Lick Me'.
Sister Frank had the task of bringing the child over to Mother Rose's office. She was a young sister. New to the calling, and new to the school, so she took her task very seriously and ran through corridors to fetch the girl. She found J.C in Chemistry class taping pink bubble gum to the insides of a frog's dismembered body.
'Julie Clair Stanton?' Sister Frank said with her most stern sounding voice. A voice she practiced since she heard the news she was accepted as assistant teacher in the all girls school of the Holy son.
J.C. rolled her eyes, picked up the bubble gum from the frog's slimy body, and placed it back in her mouth to chew on. Saying 'Yes, ma'am' with her mouth wide open. Sister Frank's face was struck with disgust.
'Dear... Did you...did you just...'
'Did I just put the gum back in my mouth? Yeah. But it's gross.
'I am sure it is.'
'Yeah 'cause it's got no flavor.'
Sister Frank lead the girl down the corridor. Her steps echoed and J.C mimicked her moves right behind. A rebel must always find ways to rebel. As the two arrived in Mother Rose's office, Sister Frank rushed away as if she was escaping the plague. She was eager to go along with her day and put the uneasy feeling the girl gave her - way behind her. She prayed at night for the girl. And she prayed even more for herself to be courageous with little girls like that.
Arms crossed tightly, J.C sat directly opposite Mother Rose. She was not afraid of eye contact. Nor of her seniors. So she took a good look into the woman's soul. Mother Rose's eyes didn't blink, not even for a moment. It seemed as though she also was not afraid of eye contact. Nor did she seem impressed by the girl's rebellious demeanor.
'It seems you are fond of art, my dear.'
'The mirror in the ladies' room is quite the exhibit.'
After a long moment, Mother Rose rose up and reached to a book shelf, scanning through piles and piles of books. J.C was feeling on top of the world as she made her principal break contact first. She thought to herself and grinned: 'this school is going to be easy.'
Mother Rose presented her with a book. A book with a compilation of marble sculptures at the cover.
'Are you as good as him?'
'You are better than Micuaelangelou, my dear?
Mother Rose handed the book to the girl, raised a brow in surprise and proceeded to scan through the books. She took a few more and one by one, handed them to the girl, flaunting her knowledge of who's who in the art world to J.C, making her uncomfortable....yet also curious.
To be continued...
A collective of hearts; A community; My town.
My village of a thousand faces. Of a millions thoughts. Of infinite dreams.
My town's heart got bruised up four years ago: A bomb came and gutted its skin and unraveled its madness in the form of a bigoted tyrant. The emperor.
My town didn't see it coming. It was in a daze, for centuries. In 'Eden' of sorts. Of total naivety.
And then came the bruise, the hurt, the pain; The President in his naked vulgarity.
My town tried to shield its eyes from the horrors... but to no use. The terror infected the minds, like a virus affecting a Microsoft computer. Relentless and vengeful as if it was sitting low for centuries, like a volcano, just waiting for its time to pop.
The town's people care about each other. We like to help each other strive and blossom. We share our hopes and dreams and white fences.... But chaos drifted us away from each other, into our own shells to try to soothe the bruise on our own.
But without the help of each other, the bruise went deep.
So deep it seemed impossible to heal, no matter the amount of bandages, of self-care that we put on it.
The bruise was simply yearning for its brothers and sisters:
'Only when we come together - the bruise could be healed.'
And so we joined forces, little by little, nod by a nod, march by march. We moved on and counted the time together, for when the pendulum would flip, and the healing could finally start.
We took a journey from young and innocent, to beaten and charged with determination:
Neighbors showed up. Showed up for each other. Exchanged gifts. Sent virtual hearts. Cheered each other on. Until our collective bruise dried enough to turn into a scar.
A scar we will hold on to and never forget.
A scar that reminds us to not let go of each other, and say goodbye to our naivety.
This is not our first scar. We have a few from earlier turmoils. Some were even deeper.
But this one... this is the one that turned our little town into a blossoming city.
And our city will remind our children of our morals, and values, and fairness, and good justice, and of equality, of peace, of all the ideas that we used to talk about so freely, and now we talk about with fear. We'll wear our scars with pride, because they shaped us to be better. To be smarter. To be mindful of the things that matter most: Each other.
We built our town into a city of a million faces and million more thoughts.
And not one of them was of hate.
And not one of them was of bigotry.
And not one of them was of tyranny.
This was Utopia.
The girl was born with a golden aura.
As a newborn, it was impossible not to notice the shinning glare of her presence, the uniqueness of her essence, the beauty of the golden child.
Her parents instantly noticed, and brought her home tenderly wrapped in a handmade quilt that was made especially for her. After several days of bonding with the newborn - who was not only golden but also a perfect child: no tears, no fuss, no trouble sleeping - the parents introduced their golden jewel to the extended family and friends. Everyone agreed: the infant was an angel.
One day the pedestal was brought out. It was tucked away in an attic at the family's matriarch for decades, since the arrival of the last golden child. The pedestal was dusty at first, but was showered with love and purified water until there was no speck of dust left. The family hosted the Ceremony of the Pedestal in a bright autumn afternoon. The child was only eight days old then - old enough to be crowned, but too young to remember. Just like the family wanted it to. Her mother cried with joy during the ceremony, which was lead by the adoring father, and the family and friends cheered on with shiny smiles, admiring the golden threads of the child's distinct aura. 'Aura like that, you don't see every day', the grandfather announced with pride, and embraced the grandmother, overjoyed of what they seem to have manifested. The child was declared the golden child that day, and was put on a pedestal for years to come.
The pedestal was to remain seamless, transparent, under the surface as if it wasn't there. No one was to see it, or to mention it, or to call attention to it. It was simply where the child was put on. Everyone agreed -that is the best way in which not to interfere with the golden aura. One must admire it, adore it, and favorite it.
Years passed, and the child grew to be a bright happy little girl. Optimist by nature, hungry for life, loved and cared for by her parents. Her golden aura seeped into her golden hair and it was now seen by anyone who would pass, it was unavoidable, it was ever-present. It was almost blinding with its light. Occasional passers by would squint when they looked at the girl. Others would pretend not to notice. Some would get jealous and tried to steal the aura away. But the child was unaware. From her eyes, she couldn't see what the others saw.
She didn't see herself.
There were some years when it seemed that the pedestal was indeed taken away from the child. Perhaps to be renovated? To be re-painted? To be re-washed? No one knew, but it was felt. The child's golden aura had dimmed a bit. The family gathered together and announced a strategic effort to bring up its light. They were to do whatever it takes to idolize the child, to build up her confidence, to keep her on the pedestal. The power that a group effort can posses is unmatched, and the child was once again on a glorified pedestal, wearing a crown, holding an imaginary wand, and beaming with a golden light. The pedestal carried the child through high school. Through college. Through her twenties. Through successes. Through love stories. Every man she loved along her journey, LOVED her pedestal. Adored her golden aura. And admired her light.
One day the girl met another lover. One that didn't see the pedestal, but rather - saw the girl. It was different, the girl sensed. It was uncomfortable, to be suddenly seen as who she was, and not what she was. It was new. It was frightening. It was love. Love makes one see in different ways. And feel in different ways. Little by little, the girl - now, a woman - felt a weight on her shoulders and in her walk. The pedestal was getting too heavy of a load to carry.
Until one day - she saw it.
She saw the pedestal in all its shiny golden bright color. She had to rub her eyes a few times, to see that it was indeed there, and not in her mind. She stared at it a long while, mumbling to herself in confusion 'it can't be, it can't...' until she gained the courage to touch it. The moment her finger touched the cold hard surface, the pedestal shattered into a million tiny pieces, exposing the dusty wooden hollow stool underneath. It had three damaged legs, it was rocky, it was wobbly, it was tilted. how can one stand on this without falling? She wondered.
She took that wooden stool and placed it at her home. By her bed stand. She would look at it first thing in the morning, and before going to bed at night. She was to face it head on and see exactly what it was. For all its flaws and twists and wrinkles and curves. It was going to be seen without the bling, without the gold, without the pedestal. It was to be seen as who it really was: a three legged wooden stool, with a lack of balance and a less than golden appearance. And it was light to hold. It was light to carry. Without the pedestal on her back, the woman stood taller. And her aura? Her aura was an avalanche of a rainbow of colors: some were light and shiny, and some were dark and somber. She was a human, after all. With all its flaws and twists and wrinkles and curves.
She was - a human, finally seen, and more importantly - finally SEEING.
Once there was a gentleman.
One with poise and manners, suited for his time and meticulous with his movements.
He spoke with a slightly nasal yet sharp voice that would echo in elevators as he would take his top hat down with a polite 'How do you do?'
His left hand would always tilt to the left pocket of his most favorite navy blazer. His right hand was free to roam, but his left would always stay just above the pocket, hovering ever so affectionately.
Lucy was a tenacious child of about four years of age.
Freckled face, pigtails and a bit of an oversized chin for a child her age.
As oversized as her chin was - so was her curiosity. She would watch the gentleman every day in their New York condo building's elevator. She lived in the fifth floor, and he lived in the top floor - the eighteenth one. They seemed to frequent a similar schedule, and Lucy's curiosity grew bigger every passing day.
She would squeeze her mother's hand as they entered the elevator seeing the gentleman there.
He would take off his top hat with the outmost grace Lucy has ever seen, asking his usual 'How do you do?'
Her mother would reply with a 'Why, very well. Much thanks' while Lucy's eyes would magnetically get pulled to the gentleman's left pocket. She watched daily as he caressed, as he touched, as he tucked his left hand in the left pocket of his favorite navy blazer.
One day, Lucy's curiosity grew into courage.
It was her day of birth and she felt like a grown woman, one that could converse with strangers in elevators.
And so upon entering the building's elevator and finding the gentleman there as in nearly every single day, Lucy turned to the man with her wide-open eyes and bluntly asked 'What do you have there, in your pocket, sir?' Her mother frowned, profusely apologizing for her daughter's nosiness.
But the gentleman exposed his rarely seen teeth-filled smile, saying 'It's quite all right ma'am. It's quite all right.' Then, he lowered his top hat, and kneeled down to the child. He was a tall man even without his top hat, and his slightly arched back revealed a bodily disposition that was not in the best of health so this was no easy task, and by no means was it meaningless.
'So, you wish to know what is in my left pocket, young lady?'
Lucy nodded repeatedly, while her mother shook her head in embarrassment.
'Some loves one must hold dear, even in their pocket.' The gentleman confessed. Then, he reached to his pocket and pulled out a small black and white picture. It was frayed in the edges and faded in its color. But Lucy could see the faint image of a man in there. It was a man much like the gentleman, with the same set of brown eyes, and the same high cheekbones, and the same scrawny figure. But this man in the photo was no gentleman. He was wild and unapologetic, wearing a torn shirt and expressing rage and rebellion. The kind of rebellion that belongs almost exclusively to the youth.
'This young man was I.' The man proceeded to confess, giving Lucy the distinct feeling that he has longed to confess this for quite some time. 'Back then, anger ran through me. I knew no kindness, so I gave no kindness. Manners, law and mutual respect were foreign unimaginable concepts to me. I lived as if I had no tomorrow, and my tomorrow was bleak indeed. I had a disease. It was The Fury. But the more I resisted my fury - the more it took hold of my life. I was a different man then. An unkind man. Since then, I have learned to love my fury and hold it dear. I keep my fury close to me so I will always remember to love it. You see, resistance doesn't relinquish suffering, but it is rather LOVE - that does.'
He noticed Lucy's slightly confused expression, and continued:
'This all may be a lot for you to comprehend, young lady, and here we are at the ground floor now.
You will go your way and I will continue to mine, but I hope you shall remember me and my fury. One doesn't receive a lesson every day. Thank you for reminding me of mine. In return, I hope this shall be one day a lesson to you as well.'
And with that, the gentleman tucked the photo of his old self - his fury - back in his pocket, and rose to his feet, saying the words 'After you, ladies' to the freckled curious child and her mother.
Lucy never forgot the gentleman and his fury.
As she grew older, she kept a photo of her old five year old self on her nightstand, to remember to love her curiosity, and to never let it go.
In a faraway land, way up above the clouds, across from care-bear land and the milky way, lived a giant bird. She had the eyes of a tiger and the wings of a hawk. She would often look at the earth below, and the people in it, wondering when will they ever stop hurting themselves.
Occasionally she would come down to earth, to visit a squirrel named Buzz.
Buzz lived in the tropical amazon forest of Brazil. He lived in a majestic tree house near a family of monkeys, and luscious bamboos and poison ivy. The monkeys often made too much noise to his taste, but they were decent neighbors overall. Buzz had particular taste, and often wore a vest made out of beer metal can tops. Ones he found in the city. He only visited the city once, because the smell of gasoline, and the sounds of machinery, weren't pleasant for our little elderly squirrel. He was a gentle creature of habit, and he lived for his visits from our giant bird. He loved her. And she loved him. He knew it. She knew it. But they also knew they could never do a thing about it. After all, she was a bird, and he was a squirrel. To each their own...Such were the ways of nature, they thought.
One day, our giant bird was making her way down to earth to visit Buzz. This time her commute was a tad longer as a couple of care bears hitched a ride on her back. When she arrived - it was already night time. And as she tip toed her way towards Buzz's tree house, she heard the shrieks of the fireflies and the owls. There was something different in the air, she felt.
As Buzz heard her thumps, he came rushing breathlessly.
He cried out 'I, I, I am banished. They took my home. They want me out!' They want me DEAD! '
'They', our giant bird wondered. She had heard that term before, but Buzz was usually more specific with his words. He was a stickler for words actually, so his behavior was peculiar. As his panic grew stronger, and cries grew louder, our giant bird started recognizing the agony in his words. She had heard these type of cries before. In the rhinos in Africa, in the leopards in Russia, the ferrets in North America. It was cries of fear: the fear of banishment. The fear of destruction. The fear of EXTINCTION.
Our giant bird spread open her giant wing and embraced Buzz with it. He calmed down a bit as he felt her warm velvety feathers. They reminded him of being in the womb so many years before. Life was simple then, he thought. The giant bird stayed wrapping her wings around Buzz until morning, and when she woke, she saw: The forest was in flames. Trees were chopped. Animals were brutally killed. Destruction was everywhere.
What could a bird do against the cranes, technology, and the violence of humans?
She knew her strength couldn't compare to theirs, but our giant bird thought of herself as a savior. She couldn't sit sideways or fly back to her clouds seeing the horrors below.
She remembered a motto her own mother taught her: 'Some can and some cannot. The only way to find out if you CAN is by doing WHATEVER YOU CAN.' With that motto echoing loudly in her mind, the giant bird whispered in Buzz's ears to find shelter. He ducked in a rabbit hole, huddled with a couple of rabbits, a snake and three snails, while she leaped up to her feet to do what she did best: FLY.
It was the one thing she could do, that humans couldn't.
She flew high enough so she could see the humans in their automobiles, dripping with sweat, with eyes twinkling of greed. 'From a bird's eye -- one can see it all', she thought. 'Those humans are blinded by their greed, how will I make them see what I see?' She thought. And then as if a muse had kissed her, an idea dropped in, like it was... magic.
She started flying faster. And faster. And faster. Fast enough for a small tornado to emerge out of the trees near Buzz's now destroyed tree-house. As she flew faster, the tornado grew bigger, and bigger, and before long, it directed the flames towards the humans. Vengefully, the tornado followed their cars, as if - with some irony - it was banishing THEM.
As the humans fled away, they clenched to their hearts in mortal fear, and crossed their arms, repeatedly crying out the God-fearing words 'Oh my God!'
'I suppose that is the language of humans', our giant bird thought.
Once the fearful people finally disappeared from view, our giant bird spread her wing wide enough to lift a WAVE up from a lake nearby, and poured it on the inflamed forest.
It was a tzunami of the best kind. One that could restore the nature of the forest.
The fire began cooling down, and eventually turned into ashes.
The trees were grateful, the animals were saved, and the giant bird was the true savior that she was born to be. As she landed, she faced Buzz, and her eyes said it all: It was LOVE. She did it for love.
The humans never returned to the forest again. They told the legend of a godly creature guarding the forest, for years to come. They named her 'Mother Nature.'
And Buzz returned to his tree house, and made it even more magnificent than before, and our giant bird would frequently visit him and the loud monkeys nearby. And the forest?
The forest lived happily ever after.
Tamar Pelzig pledged to write something every day, even if it's only a word, so she welcomed to the world a daily blog that may, or may not be, of any significance to anyone other than herself. If you found her lil' life lessons, stories, poems and blurbs meaningful to you, well that's f**ing amazing! Comment and share so she can pat herself in the back - she doesn't do that nearly enough. Cheers.