Tuesday, May 31, 2011

To the Sea

                                                   Blue Boats

                                         Quiet Harbor

Pattern in Water

Lobster Traps

                                                  Out to Sea

Restless and in need of an outing, I drive Grandma to the shore. The ocean smells salty, fishy, like clams, and a sharp cold breeze blows against us as we shuffle over splintered planks. I hold her arm as we brave uneven ground. She presses heavy-weigh against me. Slow, careful steps. Grandma exhales and makes a grunting sound. “Pain?” I ask. She nods, breathless. I hold her tight.

For lunch we order fried haddock sandwiches. They arrive greasy, drenched with tartar sauce and American cheese. Grandma rests. I wander the docks, stepping on mussels, halved and pecked clean by gulls. They are iridescent, brittle, blue. I wave at Grandma. She waves back.

“I’m sorry,” she says. “I’m not the walker I used to be.” I fill my lungs with the smell of sea, reluctant to leave.  “How’s your hip?” “It hurts.” She looks out past a line of boats bobbing in the bay, past fisherman folding their nets. “You get old, you get tired, and your body aches. That’s life.” We sit and absorb the blue-hues in silence. “Ready to go home?” “Ready.”

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Kennebec River

                                      High Water Tonight

                                            Bridge to Bunker Island

                                     Granny's House is Right in the Middle

                                            Dandelion Seeds

Grandma and I sit in green adirondack chairs and watch the Kennebec. River water slides past, its surface rippled and reflecting the peach sun-streaked sky above. We watch the water. A damn regulates the daily tides. Some days water runs low, lazy, sluggishly past us and large gray stone jut out, smooth and long across the bank. Tonight water runs high and rushing, muddy and quick. We watch the water and watch the sun sink deeper into the sky. "This is what I like to do," Grans says, pointing and flexing her toes. We pass books between us until shadows steal our words. "Time to go in," she says. I follow. I'm on Grandma time these days.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Old Photos & Grandma

Fat baby Aiyanna and Grandma. "You were healthy," Granny says. "I was fat!" "You were an absolute handful. On the go every minute or you'd cry. People who know you now would say, 'What's new?'"

Granny: "You'd played outside all day. You loved to dress up, make up stories and write plays. Look at you, you could get away with anything."

"One night I took you out to see the fog. When you couldn't put your hands on it, you asked, "Is it made of magic? Can we dance in the magic?' You always wanted to dance."

                                             "Don't you have a drink at five o'clock?"

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Step North

                                                  Market at Union Square

                                                         Spring in the City

                                                         Dancing, Dancing

                                                          My Dear Friends

I wandered the streets from West 4th to Union Square on my last full day in New York City. I spent over an hour at my favorite bookstore, The Strand, and got lost in the stacks. In the African history section, searching for a book titled Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight, a wave of fatigue rippled through my body. All of a sudden the travel backpack I was wearing became extremely heavy, blood seemed to pool and pulse at my temples and I needed to get out of there immediately. I bought two books and rushed outside. Fresh air didn’t help at all (is there fresh air in the city?) and I walked to Union Square to rest. Behind a statue of a man riding a stallion, I stretched out on a park bench. My headache increased, my throat became scratchy and I knew I was coming down with something. With this bug slowly gripping me, I watched a pair of breakdancers and a thousand strange faces pass by. I felt completely overwhelmed by the constant motion of the city.

I spent the night on 125 Street with my dear friends Sahnah and Anisa. How is that time changed nothing between us? Our bond is so strong. ... I woke at 8 a.m. with a terrible sore throat. I took two Ibuprofen, packed my bag, squeezed my friends, took the subway to Penn Station, took the New Jersey Transit to Ridgewood and walked thirty minutes to where I left my car. Then, feeling slightly less horrible, I drove 7 hours to Maine. A long, long haul.

As soon as I arrived, I hugged my Grandma and passed out. I’ve been resting well, listening to Granny hum as she strolls through the house, writing, reading and nursing a bottle of ginger ale to soothe my throat. Maine is all green and so peaceful. I still feel sluggish and slow.

(Also, just so you all know, Granny doesn’t have a computer or internet in her house. I have to go the Fairfield Public Library and use an ancient old machine to update the blog or check email. They are very suspicious of my USB drive. Call me if you need anything, since I am truly unplugged.)

Monday, May 23, 2011

New York, New York

In New York we live everywhere. On top of and below each other, in skinny buildings that reach for the sky, in underground tunnels that hollow the island. There are people on each street corner selling plastic, selling overripe fruit, running, walking, and whirling around each other. I feel overwhelmed and overjoyed. I miss the madness, the chaos, the sense that we are together yet absolutely alone in this strange human landscape.

Right now as I write, I’m looking out at a tree-line street in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, where I’m staying with a close friend of mine from college. Cindy’s a PhD student studying Geography. She rides her bike everywhere and has beautiful wild-black hair. Her apartment has large windows and bright wood floors. I hear an ambulance, look outside and see a line of brownstone houses that reach on and on and on. I miss the madness, I think, leaning into glass. I miss the anything and everything of this tall, endless city. 

                                                          F Train to Manhattan

Leo & Rosa

It was so wonderful to see my sister, her teasing husband and her two adorable children. My niece Rosa is amazingly imaginative. She loves to play dress up and dance. My nephew Leo loves to stack little blocks on top of each other and shout, “Leo! Leo!” He is so precious I want to eat him. 

Leo & Rosa
Dancing Mermaid

 "Leo! Leo!"
I miss them already.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

New Jersey and New York City

                               Luna is looking for a frog

                                                              Sweet Luna

                                                   Kiss for Anisa

I drove to New Jersey to smooch on Anisa. She is an amazing momma, a cherished friend, and a beautiful, courageous woman.

New York, New York (much more to come)!!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Thoughts from Baltimore

                                                           Harbor Light

                                                   Sunset at Fell's

In Batlimore I see hard faces. Lingering beneath the corner store that sells fried-chicken plates, wilted cilantro, lake trout and soda. Hard faces are creased and worn, porous and rough, as if made of sandpaper. Jessica’s car turns and I see a man in faded jeans, his clothing hangs from his body. Boys with afros sprint across the street. Sitting on a stoop an older couple eyes our car, our clothing, our white skin. Hard faces. Drugs. Blinking blue lights on the corners with cameras inside. Grey skies. Close the window, my friend says, this is a bad neighborhood. We drive on. It's street by street in this city, she says. Street by street.

Ducks float in polluted water at Fell’s Point. It rains and smells of body odor, gas and exhaust. Jessica studies public health. Her roommate is an MD/PhD who studies eyes and oncology. Their house is empty. They work all the time. They tell me about the metal in the water, the lead in the soil, the high-fructose corn syrup in fruit juice, the saturated-fat-laden foods served at the cafeteria for public health and medical students to eat.

We are cooking Pad Thai. We bought noodles at a Filipino store that smelled like rotten fruit and baking soda. We bought ginger and cilantro at Punjab, an Indian market selling palm oil, coconut water, yellow raisins, frozen fish, guava and saag. We are chopping and it’s raining. I see ducks chewing on trash. I see hard faces.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Solo Road Trip, Day One: Asheville to Baltimore

On the Road: Traveling on 26 West through cloud-covered mountains on Wednesday, May 18 at 8 a.m. Driving through North Carolina, Tennessee and Virgina was absolutely beautiful. Fields of yellow grass and red poppies, cows, barns, rolling mountains in the distance and a long, empty highway ahead.

                           Washington Traffic: I spent over an hour in this madness.

Welcome to Baltimore! After nine hours in the car, my right leg was numb, I smelled like sweat and peanut-butter pretzels and had a terrible headache. City traffic didn't help. Total miles: 520.

Reunion with my dear friend Jessica Alderman who just finished a masters in Public Health, focusing on Health Communication and Behavior Change Communication, at Johns Hopkins. Baltimore is a strange city: University dominated, racially segregated, no grocery stores anywhere (a "food desert" as Jessica describes) and crab-meat crazy.

                                                                     Fell's Point

                                                              Domino's Sugars

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Blue Ridge Beauty

                                                                Painting the Sky

Soleil's Birthday Party

                                                 Years Around the Sun: One

                                                     Micah Stone, aka Big Brother

                                                              Life is Good

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Big Sports Fan

                                                 Sunset from McCormick Field

Go blue! Mercy and I watching an ultimate frisbee game. She's a big sports fan.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Chasing Turtle Falls

                                           Yes, I jumped into the cold, cold water...

                                                       Mountain River Time

Climbing over stone, listening to the sound of rushing, running water, we spent all of Monday at Turtle Falls.  It's amazing to think that this river in Black Mountain is in constant motion. While we work, write, shop and sleep, the river continues, snaking through the forest, smoothing granite as it goes, carving the very features of our mountain home. I like to remember this river and image cold, heavy water against my body. Here I let the water run through me, asking it to wash away all worry and fear. I am here, clear as mountain-water in motion, strong as water rolling over rock.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Bigger Every Day

                                                    Spinach, kale and rainbow chard