Posted in see, storytelling, Writing

DOORS AND CORNERS

A cousin of mine asked me around the beginning of December to contemplate and write about my older brother and what he might be like today.  Scott died of leukemia in early 2001, and in the 16 years since I’ve thought about him every day.  He was only 35.

Scott never saw a smart phone, smart tv, flat screen tv, or blu-ray player.  Whenever a new piece of tech comes out, I think about him and what he’d think of the new gadget and how long it would be until he’d own it. Would he be in awe of it or would he face palm and tell me he could have come up with that himself? I think it would be both. Recently, his Denon turntable quit spinning, and if I know him, he’d have found a way to fix it. He loved his vinyl. Scott didn’t throw tech or parts away, he either fixed what was wrong or he repurposed it.

Scott never saw the Twin Towers fall. He was patriotic and pro-America and I don’t think that would have softened or waned over the years. I would give anything to know what he’d have thought of this past election. I think his answer would have surprised many, but probably not me.

If Scott was still here, I know he’d be full of wisdom and advice, but he’d still tease me mercilessly, because that’s what big brothers do. He wasn’t here to worry about me when I decided to ride out a very vicious hurricane, and I’m sure I would have heard some pretty stern advice about it.  He wasn’t here to tell me it was going to be okay when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and he wasn’t around to help me celebrate kicking its ass.

So much life has happened in the last 16 years, so much he has missed out on. His kids are all grown up and he’s about to become a grandfather to what I’m sure will still be a very spoiled and loved baby girl.

I try to tell his kids stories about him so they will know what their dad was like. Stories like how, after watching Saturday Night Fever, he started to style his hair like John Travolta, taking way too much time with the hair dryer and staring at himself in the mirror. He never met a mirror he didn’t like, and I have no doubts he’d still be a sharp dresser, always clean-shaven, with tailored shirts at the waist.

The power just went off, taking me completely out of the rhythm of writing.   When Scott left us… that’s what this feels like. He lit up a room with his smile and his laugh, and when it was gone, it was dark for a long, long time. I was out of the rhythm of life for what seemed like an eternity.

I still see Scott in my mind, but as a young man. I’m having trouble seeing him as older, not because I lack imagination, but because he’d fight it every step of the way. He’d color his hair, secretly buying the Grecian Formula, he’d get to 201 pounds and still go on a diet, and if a doctor told him that he’d stay young and strong as a vegetarian, he might be like me – a special occasion carnivore.   I doubt he’d need glasses yet, too.

“I keep warning you. Doors and corners, kid. That’s where they get you,” is a line from Abaddon’s Gate, a book series adapted into one of my favorite TV shows, The Expanse.   Whenever I hear that line, I think of Scott. We both loved the Science Fiction genre, but it’s more than that. I see Scott in a lot of doors and corners. That’s how I know he’s always nearby. He would never let his baby sister stray too far from his view. I know he’d be all over FaceTime and Facebook and be all up in my business. Scott’s in all my doors and corners, so he still is all up in my business, just beyond the blurriest part of what I can see out of the corner of my eye.

Always in the doors and corners.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

STORIES TO THE STORYTELLER

Usually people will say to the daughter she will turn into her mother, and for the son, the father. I do find this to be true in many cases. My little brother is not only the spitting image of my dad, I really think he’s a clone.  

Instead of turning into my mother, though I know I have many of her traits – like creativity, sewing, organization and a love for science – I actually find myself with many dad traits, but namely, his gift of gab.  My mom could work a room, for sure. She was just careful who she spent time talking with and careful with her information. My dad, on the other hand, will talk to ANYONE and he will talk about ANYTHING.

Not long ago, after talking to a complete stranger about about gluten free cookies, another about my breast cancer diagnosis, and yet another about seasoning sweet potato fries – all during the same grocery store run – I got into the car and realized, in this way, I am just like my dad.

Years ago my parents visited during the rodeo and I took them with me to a Winona concert. My tickets were across the Astrodome from them, and I watched them through my binoculars. My mother sat with her arms folded, taking in the sights, while my dad talked to everyone around him.  He later reported that he was certain the lady that sat behind him told him she was a hooker from New Orleans. He had a great time.  Another time, my flight was late to Ft. Wayne and my mother said my dad talked to everyone in the waiting area, telling them about me, the daughter from Houston, and making friends. It actually didn’t surprise me that when I arrived, my dad was saying goodbye to his new friends.

Back in 2007, I began making an effort to talk to at least 10 strangers during events I attended.  During one minor league baseball game in Sacramento, I had a great conversation with the stadium’s organ player.  On the same trip, my best friend and I had an enlightening conversation in Emerald Bay in Lake Tahoe with a scientist who told me everything I would ever need to know about photosynthesis and his daughter, the wine taster.  

I have met countless people since, all of whom I know random facts about because I struck up conversations with them. Most people are receptive to the random question or smile.  If I encounter someone having a bad day, I try to lift their spirits a bit. I’d rather talk to strangers than cloak myself in silence because I don’t necessarily know them.  I actually find it fun to meet new people.

Mostly, as a storyteller, I enjoy hearing other people’s stories.  Not a bad way to be like the old man.

Posted in Uncategorized

WHAT THEY REALLY TOOK

Friday, the day before my vacation, I came home, excited and ready to finish packing. I couldn’t wait to get into the car Saturday morning to start the drive to Indiana.

I got home and my door was cracked open. I pushed it fully open, thinking the maintenance guys had come to deliver my new appliances. I called out but got no answer. Then I looked to my right.

An empty space oppressively occupied my TV stand. My heart began to beat faster, then I saw the contents of my gym bag and iPad bag scattered across my living room floor. Immediately I saw both of my computers were gone. Then, I realized the most important item to me was missing – my camera bag – which contained my camera and three of my best lenses.

Of course I cried. I called 911 and then the apt complex so they would come fix my door, which would no longer close. I texted my Green Onion and he and his wife came over and stayed until the police left and helped me clean up the apartment.

The burglar went through my dresser drawers and threw more than half of it on the floor. I know he was disappointed. I don’t have pawnable valuables other that what he’d already took. He also ransacked my headboard and bed, but still, he didn’t get anything. 

Other than a few electronics, nothing else was taken. I am grateful I wasn’t home, and I do realize it’s all just stuff. Yes, dealing with insurance is inconvenient and time consuming, I should be done by the end of the week and should have a check soon. 

What the thief really stole was my peace of mind. I have lived in Houston for 18 years and have lived in far worse neighborhoods than this and have had no issues at all. Now, I can’t even sit in my living room.  I keep seeing all the gym clothes and other items strewn across the floor in my mind. I am going to rearrange the furniture and see if that helps.

I am determined to not let this get to me.  I am not going to live in fear because someone was in my apartment and took some of my stuff. I don’t say those sentences lightly. I was already sleeping with a steel bat by my bed. I just need to remember the rest of my stuff is just stuff.