Today the rain fell. After turning my skin the shade of baked ham, and staring at teal blue waters, and counting all the different cactus breeds… the rain fell.
Since the moment we had arrived the roar of jet planes would thunder overhead every few hours. Like that niggling feeling in the back of your mind. Like that sensation that this is simply a looking glass world. Backwards. And bright, and carefree, and so so distant.
And then the rain we left behind finally catches up. Falling down, soaking into our clothes like cold, ghostly hands trying to pull us back.
I had felt like a leaf, floating on the surface of the water. Free. Unburdened of all the weight, and the pain, and the loneliness on the otherside of the glass.
A mortal dancing in the Spring Court, finally being called back to the real world.
And as the rain falls, it drags the color from the world and washes it away, down the sidewalk. The weight grips my shoulders as the damp creeps in…
Tonight is the New Moon. A time for new beginnings.
Maybe I will walk off the plane and I will be new.
Maybe I will have a heart, full and open.
Maybe I will step back through the looking glass and
In the movie Love Actually, Hugh Grant speaks knowingly about Love while the screen plays a montage of happy scenes of love…
All taking place in Airports.
I would like to think it was Love that was going through my head the entire hour it took me to get through airport security. Love that moved me forwards when the TSA agents snapped and barked orders at us. Love that drew my lips up when the child in his mother’s arms leaned over and screamed in my ear…
Love Actually came out two decades ago. It came out after 9/11, and yet I maintain that airports are quite possibly the least loving places I can think of.
People with their phones glued to their noses. People gathered around the outlet stations like cavemen around fire. People power walking with the intensity of a marathon runner and the spacial awareness of an elephant. Has anyone ever heard the words, “sorry,” or “excuse me,” uttered in an airport?
The whole point of the ungodly slog through hell, to be barked at to go back because you didn’t take your belt off, and then barked at again because you didn’t take your computer out of your bag, and then be barked at to keep moving because you’re holding up the line… is in effect, for our safety.
And who doesn’t feel extraordinarily safe at the airport?
This sign was on the wall, in the ramp, where you are past the point of no return. If you have come this far and you suspect someone is trafficking another someone, by this point, they have already made it to freedom.
This was another encouraging sight. To know that should this giant tanker of gas decide to explode, there is at least a fire extinguisher..
And then my favorite…
So much happiness in these pictoral guides to what to do if the plane is going down.
And the lavatory.
A: Why are you in the loo while the plane is going down?
B: Are they subtly making assumptions as to why you are in the loo by providing 2 oxygen masks?
Airplane travel skepticism, never more succinctly explained than by Jack Whitehall…
What was meant to be an easy night before hitting the skies towards better times, became something much, much different.
We drove in from the rain, to this lonely, darkened hotel.
The long, dark hallways leaving us half expecting a boy on a plastic tricycle to come racing towards us.
We stand outside the locked door. Access denied to us. Cold, tired, and eager to be out of the hall. But unsure of what might be lingering in this room, barring us from entry.
Across the hall the news blaring through the door, the Do Not Disturb sign dangling from the handle. Who was in there? Was the blaring TV some sort of deterrent from what was inside? Was that the faint odor of rotting flesh?
Our door is never opened. The door across the hall is never opened. The news blares on, and the body inside remains undisturbed.
We are given another room.
The elevator points down, ready to take us… to Hell? The walls are covered in some sort of blood splatter, plastic protector. The door remains open despite repeated button pushing. I swear I hear someone limping down the hall dragging a hatchet with them. I slam my finger on the “door close” button and it immediately starts a high pitched wail, like the scream of prior elevator victims.
To our relief, the doors close.
When we finally enter a room, safe from whatever moved up and down the dark hallway, we breathe a sigh of relief once the door chain is in place. Father jokingly says we can place a chair infront of it for added protection.
Protection from what? Protection from whatever prowled the halls.
But maybe the danger was already in the room with us…
So here’s the thing, has anyone legitimately seen and Irish movie that wasn’t somehow heartbreaking. And don’t say Leap Year, because I mean a proper Irish movie. Previously, in 2008, these two actors, Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell had been in a movie together. A comedy. This movie did not have the sort of American humor that slaps you in the face. This movie had the UK humor that is just so clever. But, this film was not a comedy, so don’t go into it expecting to have a good laugh. This film revolves around two men, the moody Colm, played by Gleeson, and the confused Pádraic, played by Farrell. Once best friends, Colm suddenly wakes up one morning and decides and doesn’t like Pádraic anymore. His reasoning, while sound, is also abrupt and not very nice. But the question is: what do you do when a person is not serving any purpose in your life. Living on the small Irish island of Inisherin, Colm realizes he has done nothing with his life to leave behind. His fear is doing nothing to be remembered by. The film questions the meaning of friendship and kindness. And despair that spirals so deep, you wonder if it is possible to come out. The lengths one will take to cut someone from their life just to be able to find themselves.
I remember the impact this book had on me after I read it some 20 years ago. Opening my eyes to the acknowledgement that every conflict has multiple sides. The plot follows a young man, Paul, a German so eager to fight for his country that he forges his enlistment papers. But he and his trio of young friends are unprepared for what they walk into. War is not the romanticized idea they thought it was. The young soldiers are thrown into a bloody battle between the Germans and the French. While the battle between the sides is unmerciful, the reality is that the soldiers on each side are the same. Though they speak different languages, they both have homes, wives, and families. This is emphasized after Paul kills a Frenchman up close and has to watch him die. Neither side truly hates one another. One of Paul’s friends runs off with a trio of young French women for a quick tryst. This idea also the entire premise of the true story film from 2005 Joyeax Noel, when the Germans, French, and Scottish all cease fire on Christmas morning. The soldiers indescriminately play soccer, drink together, and sing songs. This film was not breath taking, and it has been made before. But it dove deep into the comradery and the emotional toll this war had on it’s soldiers. And for me, served as a reminder that even though you may not speak the language, ascribe to the same religion, or have the same color skin, each side of a conflict still involves human beings.
The little boy with the sandy shade of fluff atop his head claimed to me that he was Cupid. He couldn’t have been more than 6 or 7 years old, yet there he stood on my blue and orange flowered welcome mat, cheap downy angel wings strapped to his back and a yellow plastic nerf bow clutched between his pudgy fingers. He stared with deep puddles of eyes that couldn’t possibly be a natural shade of blue. In all the moments of the day, from first light to twilight, I had never seen a sky lay down a blue so blue as this child’s eyes. Across each rosy check a far too generous dappling of dark freckles and his nose moist with the warm goo found within the dark caverns of his nostrils. Though I am sure he explored those caverns all too often.
The wide grin just below the goo caves revealed a huge gap between his teeth where he had lost the front two. Through the gap I could see his fat, pink tongue. My mind ran over words to make him say that contained S’s then laugh when he couldn’t manage the S sound properly. Mississippi was always good.
Then his grin vanished and he stuck a pudgy hand under my nose, or rather, as close to it as he could reach. “Two dollar’th plea’th.” Was this kid kidding? A quick scan around the neighborhood revealed nothing unusual. A couple houses down, nosey Mrs. Dumas (pronounced Doo-Moss) peered at us through the cream colored blinds guarding the window. She held a phone tightly, probably reporting me to the police as some kiddie porn ring leader.
I ignored her and politely asked the boy to repeat himself. He thrust his hand further under my nose, this time standing on tip-toes, as if he thought he might find something in my nostrils. His fingers smelled like peanut butter. Dark dirt planted firmly under each nail, at least, I hoped it was dirt when one finger hit my lip smearing my chapstick across my chin.
“Two dollar’th plea’th.” Yes, the boy had asked me for money. I asked what the money was being spent on and he said, in a tone that suggested I was some kind of idiot that he was Cupid, again. A quick mental check confirmed that it was not February, nor was it October for that matter. It was the middle of June. The boy wasn’t leaving without his two dollars. I laid the money heavily into the greedy center of his palm, reluctantly.
The toothless grin reappeared. “Thank’th lady!”
In one swift, if slightly crooked motion, a bright, neon yellow nerf dart whizzed towards my face. It hit my lip with a moosh, causing more chaptstick to smear.
Across the way Mrs. Dumas lifted the phone again. Thankfully, the police in the area know Mrs. Dumas and that she had them on speed dial.
“Now, you will fall in love!” the boy yelled, bending to retrieve the dart from the welcome mat.
I had to admit, it was sort of cute. I asked who he thought I was going to fall in love with, with my best you-can-tell-aunt-Rose smile. A few jelly beans fell from his pocket.
“Bea’th me lady. That’th your problem.” He popped a red jelly bean between the gap in his teeth. He trotted down the driveway and towards the next house. I heard him say, “Hi, I’m Cupid. Two dollar’th plea’th!”
We have crossed a bridge and entered the parking lot of the trail head. I’m not entirely sure where we are. The sort of place where folks to get their daily fresh-air fix. Not just open window or stepping out their front door, this was where the air is really fresh. I descend from the cab of the truck into the sunlight. There are times when I know I’ve taken the good days for granted. Cooped up in my room with the window open in a vain attempt to recall the scent of nature bathed in warm sunlight. I suppose there are a lot of things I take for granted. A waterfall falls ever so sure and strong from somewhere above. My parents coo into the heat of the day how beautiful the place is. I wish I could see it, but each digital picture I take will prove that I really can’t. The desperation to capture one beautiful moment in time and take it away with me, but somehow the moments evade the frame as I wander aimlessly snapping away. An old man bends heavily over his walking stick, beginning a vain attempt up the mountain. I suppress the urge to laugh. What does this old guy think he’s doing? He is wearing what looks like a pair of hospital slippers. He inches his way forward, desperation weighing on each brow. His hair looks as though it hasn’t felt the stroke of a comb in ages. His eyes gaze upwards towards the top of the falls. What could possibly be so important that he feels the need to best the mountain? My mind plays over some random, romantic scene. A somewhat younger and spunkier version of the old man, smiling. Eagerly dragging and equally young girl up this hill by hand ignoring her protests and questions. As he reaches the very top of the hill the crease in her brow softens as she steps into view of the dancing, plunging waterfall; the lush valley beyond; and the velvety sunset resting easily atop the tree-line. Maybe she comments on how beautiful it is. Maybe he comments on how beautiful she is. And his grip tightens on her hand as he slowly descends to one knee, producing a small box from his pocket… And it had been happily ever after for years, until the day she left him alone with only his precious memories… And maybe just this morning he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease… And two young aides in white rush to this old man’s side not sure how he had managed to wander away from the group. They steer him about and lead him back down the trail past my parents and I…
The word “abandoned” gets thrown around in this film quite a bit. And for some, that might be their idea of what adoption is. But that is also viewing the concept single mindedly and without empathy. You can’t always know all the reasons and factors that drive a woman to give up her child. There was a period in China when it was against the law to have more than one child. Sometimes a mother simply doesn’t have to means to provide a healthy upbringing for her child. Hell, Superman’s birth parents gave him up because their planet was exploding. You can’t look at a baby and assume you know. This film doesn’t punch you in the feels so much as nudge you in the heart strings. There is no denying who the characters are or what their motivations are. They are all so deeply real. Down to the young mother who puts her newborn baby in a church baby box. Such things implying this is not an unusual occurrance. The baby is taken and then the adventure is on to find this baby a home. It is ironic to me that “adoption” carries such warm and hopeful feelings with it. Where as “human trafficking” carries so much negativity. But they are the same thing in these cases. And that is a tragedy. That people can authentically want children to have a stable home, and yet be criminalized for it. This movie was more than that though. Awkward journey around the country to find loving parents for this child. In the process, redefining what it means to be family.
I mushed a lot of New Years Traditional Foods together.
Pork = Abundance because they root forwards rather than backwards like a chicken.
Pomegranate = Abundance. The Greeks believe that the pomegranate seeds symbolize fertility.
Grapes = In Spain they will eat 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight to bring luck for the next 12 months.
Black Eyed Peas = Wealth because they supposedly resemble coins.
Chinese Long Beans = Green = Wealth because money is green + Length = Longevity. In Asian cultures they believe noodles symbolize a long life.
Orange and Honey = The Chinese believe that eating Orange and Honey will bring good fortune, wealth, and money.
Buttered Pretzel Bread = Buttered Bread = Good Luck. The Irish believe that banging buttered bread on the door will ward off bad luck. And sharing buttered bread with friends will bring good luck + Pretzel = Luck and Prosperity. The Germans believe pretzels bring luck and prosperity… for some reason…
It was a day like any other day (at my parent’s place). But for some reason the fatigue weighed on me. We had a hearty breakfast, and then set out to see what remained of the world.
Already it was clear that something had gone down.
The weather wasn’t favorable. The storm the night before had knocked out the power and flooded some of the roads. It looked a mess down on the beachside, but a crime had clearly been committed. The storm may have uncovered something. Though it could easily have been overlooked by the average passerby, to me the sign was in bright neon. There were drag marks leading into the tall grass.
It would be impossible to follow the drag marks into the grass. It was taller than my head in some places, and married with dead rose bushes. The only ones skilled enough to brave it are the small birds, grown fat without competition for food or risk of predators, and the small bunny rabbits, who burrow in like their own underground network of quick escape routes. Them, and apparently the culprit.
Further down the trail more evidence appeared. The discarded remains of a beach snail. Large as average hermit crabs and some of the residents of this area. They live peacefully alongside the small birds and bunny rabbits. They all live nonviolent lives. To find these remains was proof enough that something bad had happened.
Because the trail was washed out and the wind and tides had carried flotsam and jetsam higher inland than usual, the chances of finding more evidence seemed slim. And there would only be a few more hours before it became full dark.
There was no sound out there. Not the singing of the small birds, or the flapping of duck wings on water, or the gentle wash of the tide on the beach. It was as if everyone knew something had happened. And no one was telling.
Eventually I happened upon an area littered with a dozen empty snail shells. Some were partially burried, some looked fresh. I had somehow stumbled upon the culprit’s killing grounds. And it was a horrendous scene. Who would bear enough hatred to go on a mass killing spree such as this? Or maybe they had been killing for much longer and the storm unburried old evidence…
It was hard to know yet. This crime seemed to run deeper than just the random killing of a beach snail. The birds and the bunnies seemed to know something, but weren’t saying. I’d have to find another way to uncover more evidence. I needed to come up with a motive, and hopefully, a suspect. I needed to know why. But the sky was growing dark, and the rain was moving it. It would be a race against time, …and the elements…