Christmas Coffee in Syosset, Lawn Guyland 2015

Gimme…
Yeah,…I want…
Umgonnahaf…
Lemmeget… .
Tell you what I want. Are ya’ listenin’??

Not a single please nor thank you.
Not. One.

And her daughter-in-puffy-jacket walked directly in front of me several times while carting coffee mugs to and fro, deciding a teacher gift. Not once did that 11- or 13-year-old child make eye contact or look around to see who else might be standing in line. Not once did she say, “excuse me” crossing in front of me, slicing the line back and forth, helping herself to whatever she needed. Not once did she think a moment about courtesy or personal space or etiquette.

And not once did her mother, watching the traipsing child, say a thing to her or make any behavior correction – for she was just as awful. Blowing around in entitlement and discourteous blabbering about price and discounts for more than one. Huffing and puffing having to wait, for godsake, online for freaking coffee, for chrissakes, with (and please excuse this – it is part of the entire observation and not finger-pointing or a smear) foreign car keys on a religious symbol keychain, a delicate and beautiful Hand of Fatima in the cleft of her throat.

My single, simple order (straight, black, in a cup) pulled me ahead at the pickup. Yet the daughter came crashing, literally, around the bend so forcefully as to careen into my left flank nearly knocking me off my feet, had I not been leaning on the counter.

No excuse me, no apology. Not a single acknowledgement. Just blustering on through. Her mother saw and said nothing.

I’ve never been to a crazy city like frenzied New Delhi or exotic Jaipur or mysterious Shanghai or scented and heady Ceylon. At this rate I may never have to venture off Long Island to be greeted with temperaments and customs so foreign to me, I feel on vacation at the coffee shop in Syosset. These women are white, local, tacky; not foreign or beautiful exotic “other” or anything other than just plain rude.

In the corner, an older couple haze and barked orders at their dervish grandchildren fetching (then dropping) scads of straws and napkins, everywhere. Barking louder for the clean up and admonishments of not paying attention. Again, no boundaries. We hear everything private in this family. Grandpa “has to make” so they cannot stay.

I feel so bland, vanilla. So boring, so swaddled in my happiness and good upbringing, a culture of culture and etiquette, with my oil burner and cut lawn, private thoughts and polite smile at behaviors I cannot fathom. Maybe a little wildlife is good? Not this sort, not the unruly and illmannered beasts of the suburbs. They’ll never take away my manners, no matter how deriguer you find them, and if my child ever is rude, you’ll let me know.

djd2015

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When In Winter. (Prosery)

Such good heat in summer. I have a co-worker, skin over bones she is, who goes out into the mid-day oven wearing a sweater, to warm up from the chill of the AC. She returns flushed and rosy and happy to be warm for a little while.

Let’s remember this, shall we? When we’re complaining of heating oil costs while adoring favorite sweaters, and hosting guests at holiday time, and, if we’re lucky, quietly cuddling with those we like best.

Let’s remember sleeping without a top sheet, screened windows and the sound of cicadas and crickets and distant concerts or carnivals. And the grilling and freshly grown gems, and the farm stand colors palettes, and cityscapes undulating in grossly hot afternoons. And any other summer experience you hold dear (or annoying). Let’s remember them all well.

Love the fresh fruit, and the gawdawful heat, and the surf, and the garden, and the skin you expose – as daring as that makes you feel regardless of your size or shape, and the sudden rolling thunderstorms.

Love it all. It’s why we’re here.

DJ Dawson

First published July 19, 2014.

Once, When the Tide Was Low. [Personal essay.]

Full disclosure:
I’ve been there.
on the serrated edge of the coin
one side stay
the other, go.

Several of you have,
too.

Whatever Divinity changed our course
steadied us to remain,
I am, now, grateful for it
(though was angry and frustrated, then.)

On the bathroom floor (it’s almost always there, isn’t it? Those personal tar black come-to-Jesus low-points on tile or shag pale sky throw rug, in the dark regardless of time of day)
pills and booze
or
booze and more booze
(“recreational” my ass)
hollow hopelessness in
unimaginable quantities
unfamous uncelebrity (who’d miss me? who cared) unsure unspecial
unexcused unnoticeable unneeded unnecessary unattached un-everything
un-craptogether.

Until the Divine or fear of angering my Mother(s) or what if or _________ whatever reason people decide not to go…I cannot remember anything other than not being as fearless as when I came into the bathroom. In my 20s before marriage before child before God and everyone, it was just misery and me and something else that needed to come through.

I’m glad it did.

My decision to share this odd prosery is not for comment nor criticism nor praise. But if sharing my imperfections and humanity, my vulnerability, with someone who thinks we think they have their shit together (when they think they actually don’t), and that person needs someone to talk to or just somebody to sit next to. I’d like to be that lighthouse for them.

You’re not alone even when you believe with every cell that you are.

STAY.
Thank you.

DJD 08 June 1018

On This Day: 2 April 2016. {journal entry}

It has been several months – including the winter holiday season – since my house has given me any remote sense of joy. I really (really) like this house. It’s quirky enough to satisfy my disdain of cookie-cuttery and “normal” enough to reassure my faint desire to conform.

Inanimate – how could it give anything let alone joy?

But this evening, a weird coldsnappping on the wind and the dog impatiently yanking me down the driveway for a night walk I am beginning to enjoy, I turn to look back at our house, from the corner.

 

66Mill4.2.16

Fuzzy image of our house, dog walk. 4.2.2016

 

Two paper star lanterns hang side by side, glowing in concert with a single strand of un-twinkling twinkle/fairy lights.

She is in there, with six then seven then six of her girlfriends. Playing games and laughing wildly, howling at each other’s uncensored teenage humors and running commentary.

Junk food, juice, real soda, pizza and eventual ice cream cake hopefully burned off before bed so no middle-night stomach issues result. They sang to her, and she commented with genuine thrill, “I haven’t had an ice cream cake since I was like seven or eight!!” and blew out the 19 candles – an extra for luck – in one noiseless whistle. She was happy, IS happy, and that is something I have not witnessed in a long time.  She moved out abruptly, in January, after I drew my final line in the sand about her disrespectful behavior and backtalk.  I was done and that time, unlike previous others, there was to be no discussion, no bargaining.  She moved out the very next day, her father ‘rescuing’ her from me, her awful mother, her personal target, and blame-source.  He showed up, hours after he first promised, and hauled most of her things away, leaving a mess in her room and a giant, painful hole in our home.

Down to the final four, the sleepover will be sweet and sacred, as most of these things are. In the morning, I will prepare crepes and bacon and tea or juice, and cinnamon buns. They’ll be gone before 10:30 AM. And, then, so will she, until the next visit.  She does not come around often at all; I am ignored or shunned or too embarrassing.  It would be the same if she still lived here.  However, it was her behavior – not my lack of love or mothering – that led to the ultimatum:  change how you treat me or take your show on the road and play a few acts at your father’s.  She could not change for us – she needs to “individuate”, my friends all tell me.  “She’ll come back, better than before”, they all say.  But that is not now; the future remains a blank canvas.  We can only love what is right now.  So, tonight, I love this and the following moments of her being home.

Tomorrow night the house will be darker, less full, less lively and certainly less noisy. I wish it were like this more often: alive, glowing and sighing with joy.  Unbridled and happy. But, for now, it is really quite perfect. ❤

cake 4.2.16

Clemency + Dispensation {Poem / Poetry}

Up before the sun (with good intentions)
Back to sleep (with no intentions)
Rise, shine, quadruped shuffle
ground beans and hot water
 
sleepy-eyed talk of dance, and creativity
what it means to be good at something
to own what you put into the world
without guilt or fear of being singled out
 
she asks
when did I know I had something
how old was I
who got lost along the way
 
how do you know friends
–where is the line between supportive loyalty
and praise cloaking a blade
 
I tell her:
I thank the blade
here, run a finger over scars of insincerity gouging sarcasm
words that whittled away my arias to murmurs
 
but murmur I owned
10 years at a time
stumbling along small
until enough love filled my lungs
full and lofty
raising above the myopic fog
to the light of now
 
40 years, a long time to hum a lifesong and
not cry out infinite joys
 
17 years, a brief lesson in wearing confident skin and deflecting the subtle dismantling of peers
 
Leave them be, wish them well, love your song.
DJD 2015

Date Damsel. (Prosery)

January,
the transitional girlfriend of the calendar.

Not like the other months. Her personality a mix of closing a door and lighting a bonfire; bittersweet memory and new imaginings. You meet her and instantly you’re comfortable–she’s a bit of extended December.

She is the palate cleanser, the slate-cleaner
she looks the other way and has regard for but no connection to your past. January only looks forward with you.

Halfway through you’re cozy, in love, comfortable hibernating from the rest of the year. You picture yourself being together another 11 and a half months.

When the birds start singing their wake-up call outside the window in those last few days, you realize it’s not forever. You need more. More than January can offer, and you miss the predictable familiarity of other months.

Like any bridge relationship, she helps us out of the used, the stale,
the old and into the full-of-potential, bold new year.

As much as you are grateful for her constancy and loyalty
you leave her
for another,
more turbulent, less kind and
marginally forgiving time. A time you already know.

February waits

with open arms

to welcome you back to the calendar.

Eventually, January will do what she does best: begin anew.

DJD 2015

On Not Coupling: An Essay on How Not to Fall in Love. Maybe.

If you asked me five years ago, on a regular Saturday morning such as this, anything having to do with dating or coupling (outside of business or creatively contributing to something) or, God forbid, Love and such, I would have quickly changed the subject to you, your life and goings–on; or my daughter or our home or my employment (or my employer) or a movie we should see at the Cinema Arts Center (because likely, I had already seen it, alone, and will always tell someone when something is really worth the price of the ticket.)

What we would *not* have talked about was
“r e l a t i o n s h i p.”

Strung out letter-by-letter because after divorce – those of us once-married (remove the ‘i’ and you’re “marred”, if you didn’t already notice) are somewhat loathe to jump back into the dating pool, let alone broach the subject at all. So, we literally d r a g it out (or avoid the word and idea altogether.)

Five years ago, single-mothering my then-14-and three-quarter-year old offspring, in a too-big (and cold) old house with indoor/outdoor cats and a puppy with the worst case of PTSD – ever – we would NOT have talked about Match.com or Plentyoffish or speed-dating or blind dates or group dinners or meetup.com or meeting someone in church or taking a class or doing another show or volunteering (I was already doing that) or how involving myself with yet another oddball-people-project adult male who needed more help and more ego-massage than anyone in their right mind would ever take on would be really stupid (but oh so familiar. And easy.) I would have to be NUTS to get involved with anyone again – be they near or hundreds of miles away. I was done and comfortable knowing I would be my nephew’s ‘crazy Ant Jaye’ until the title aged-out as he aged-up.

And, yet…here we are.

We do not use the word “r e l a t i o n s h i p”. We use “partnership”.

We do not talk about getting married, though people who don’t know us refer to the other partner as “your wife” and “your husband”. It’s funny.

We do not cling to each other the way we might have, earlier, younger, when one might believe the more time you have together the better things get and nothing could possibly go wrong if you lost yourself in another person losing themselves, too.

We do not lose any part of our Self from being part of something together. And that is the very biggest treasure: I get to be me, He gets to be He, and we get to be we, how ever we see fit.

Oh, hello, it’s you. It’s going to be you.

And how delighted I was to have that realization strike, just about five years ago, dead center in my chest, when meeting you for the first time, as adults, in the middle of Penn Station in the middle of New York City in the middle of our lives. It was very different than when we met, briefly, at 13 and 15; fish in the pond.

Hello, it’s you.
Happy Five, this Friday.
ox

27 January 2018