Friday, July 29, 2011

Slum Love

Dust kicks as tires weave through random parkings in search of idealism.  We find it in the front row - neglected and ignored - near perfect symmetry to the screen.  Sighs and settling, blankets and mosquito  swatting.  Here is retro joy.  Fireflies dance in light beams. Pictures move against patchy boards - decades old - a thousand stories told.

And as the tale is spun and children nestle in the bed I've built in the back of the Passat, memory tiptoes  back to that moment - almost thirteen years now - when wedding day met wedding night in the slum beside the Drive-In...

Slum Love - SelfBinding Retrosecpt by Alanna RusnakIt was nothing like I'd imagined - sweetheart dreams of whispered tenderness and white linens through rose coloured glasses - these eyes that saw myself peel back layers of bedroom carpet and swipe my Sharpie across the underlain linoleum in dances of poetry, saw too the promise of forever in his face - as sure and loyal as any holder of a glass slipper - he would see to it's perfection.  My only job was in the beauty.

When night falls upon us - after a weary, perfect day was swept beneath us in a final Savage Garden testimony (because we were counting on a new beginning) - my bare feet cross gravel and grass to where we've hidden the car and I turn to him in heightened expectation.  "So, where are we going?"

Midnight passes.  I drift on my mother's sofa while he calls through Yellow Pages.  Last minute leaving only one option.  This is what $30 and Grey Country neglect gets you.  Motel 70.  As picture perfect as it sounds.  Tiny and dusty.  Cobwebs over the lumpy double, mattress groans and rust stained sink.  I am a vignette between dark corrosion on the mirror as I pluck baby's breath from limping curls.  Linoleum peels against the base of the tub, a dripping tap our serenade. And he - baby-faced goofy grin and a pat on the quilted covers...I've got you now!

I am but a child, baby-bride giggles beneath whispers of promise.  I dress myself in Mrs and blushes and we fumble and laugh until joy-tears spoil careful makeup, until exhaustion finally clutches us to herself and rocks us off to sleep beneath this homely quilt that smells of must and love and our farthest care doesn't touch this slum - doesn't touch the dirty carpet or the filthy fan or the insect carcasses on the sill or the smoke-stained peeling wallpaper -  because home is where the heart is and he is my forever home and this slum can't touch us where we are because where we are is perfect and it is our forever and it is our home.

Monday, July 25, 2011


There was no other way to greet five years old than with a wink behind an eye patch.  So, pirate themed and drenched in sunshine we watched him shuck off four years for five in the backyard beside the thirsty garden.

And I don't know how it happened.  How it's been five years since I first held him.  Five years since those blue eyes opened to my face and claimed me as his own.  And I want to remember.  I want to catch the sound of his baby voice before it slips away - his cracking, smoky slur - the way he can't make a T-H sound - the way he growls when he's angry with me.  I want to measure his days in kisses.  Before he's gone.  Before he stops calling me mommy.  I want to slow him down.  I want to park him in that cardboard pirate ship and throw down the anchor.  The bangs he can't see through.  The dirty fingernails.  The way he slips his arms around my waist when no one's looking or wipes his nose on my shirt because he thinks it's funny...

Let's stay here awhile.  Let's linger.  Let's not forget any of it.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Rain Dance

I toiled towards your birthing.  I nursed and foddered, purged and watered - overflowing your cup with Adam's ale - moulding that placenta of earth into a near perfect womb for your nativity - erupting joy at your crowning, pleasure at the fissure of soil through which you breeched in viridescent glory.  I stood by as you stretched for sunlight, coiled arms grasping at light and drops of gold to paint your face.  I tended you and fostered you and you continued to climb and reach and build your stairway to heaven.

But sky has closed.  Sun has lapped the last tear of your fortune.  And you wait.  And I wait.  And death pulls against all you've built - cancer of light, this heaviness that makes me drip and makes you droop.

We wave our branches.  We wave our arms.  We pray for rain.  We dance - feet dusty where there is no water - earth cracked and angry.  We dance - prayer on parchness for new moons to bring new rain.  We dance - this rhythm song to break the rock and cast a spring, bringing back the ways of May.

Monday, July 18, 2011

A Waiting Game

Such a lovely day we've had, drenched in sunlight and smiles and mustard stains, island dancing from one ride to the next and refilling water bottles in icy fountains while the nosy goose looks on...I could live here...parking a Volkswagon van by the water, strumming a guitar beside the pathway, filling my bicycle basket with wildflowers and good intentions, wearing world peace with a daisy in my hair...

We've squeezed every ounce of glory from this day, lapped it up and tucked it down to that place of favourite memories...Liam's face on the Hopper...Noa's squeal on the Log Flume...Zander's hysterical laughter on the coaster...and now, wearied and blistered, we want nothing but a gentle ferry ride to the mainland.

This should be a moment of beauty - a snapshot of sunset brilliance as sky is painted in pinks and oranges and every other happily-ever-after colour but we are part of the mob - this rolling, sweating, pulsating mob.  A mass exodus of impatient people, Red Sea with no pathway for the crossing, anger boiling and body odour punctuating already tense expletives.

People forget how to be human...we are chattel...herded and folded together into an undulating horde of bruised nerves and sharp tongues.  I am calm and dreaming of showering the stranger off me - they push as if it will get them somewhere, wiping their day-sweat on my dress.  The air is dead.  There is no movement here but the pressure from all sides as waves of contractions throb through the masses.  We are a warring fetus awaiting birth and our mother is this island that groans beneath our growing agitation.  Calm is my only choice.  And it is a choice.  And it hurts me.  There is a war in my head but I smile sweetly at the woman beside me who just scrapped her sandal down my ankle.  She hits me in the side of the face with a hand fan then pushes around me and ahead.

Scott is singing.  People stare at him in amused disgust.  He doesn't care.  Just keeps singing the same few lines over and over.  It's a defence mechanism.  A distraction.  "♫ ♪ My shoulder still burns where you touched me last night ♬ ♬..."

It's dark now, pierced through by periodic street lamps that cast angry shadows on shiny faces.

Behind me a four year old Indian boy is arguing with his father over the CN Tower..."but dat is not our tower!  Dat is an American tower!  Dat is not Canada's!"
"It is our tower.  It is the same tower we always see here."
"Dat is not our tower.  Dat tower is eighty feet tall.  Our tower is one thousand, eight hundred and fifteen feet tall.  Dat tower is red and blue and yellow.  Our tower is grey."
The father doesn't attempt to explain perspective or the changing lights that turn on at night.  "It is our tower."  It's all he has patience for.
"Yes?" Sigh.
"We shall never come to the island on a weekend or for a festival again.  This line is much too long.  I do not like this.  They must make more boats!"

Liam is sleeping - stretched out in the stroller - oblivious.  Noa dreams against her daddy's shoulder, sticky and sun-kissed.  All around us children are crying and parents are hushing and every time a boat returns there is a roaring cheer and for a moment we are one body and we rush forward in a wave of hope only to meet a wall of disappointed backs as the boat fills.  We can only see the smoke stack as it pulls out into the harbour because it is now so dark and hours later than we wanted to be home.

We are almost to the bridge.  It leads to the loading dock.  It must be soon.  I see midnight on the face of the moon.  I envision the collapse of the bridge beneath the weight of so much impatience - that boiling mass of angry bodies pouring into the black water - poetic justice to the man who shoved me so hard I lost my grip on the stroller...and I, standing at the broken edge, toes hanging over, shaking my head and sing-songing to their sloshing, "Patience is a virtue..."

Noa is laid upon her sleeping brother, father's shoulder no longer able to hold.  Zander sits in the dirt, wide-eyed against weariness, trying so hard to swallow his complaint.

And when it's finally our turn we trudge onto the deck with heavy feet and sleepy hearts, waning love for our fellow man, tired gratitude for the ferry-man who's working well past his scheduled hours.

And when our driveway meets our feet and three a.m. tucks us into bed I'm not cursing the people who made an ugly ending to our beautiful beginning...I am remembering Liam's face on the Hopper...Noa's squeal on the Log Flume...Zander's hysterical laughter on the coaster...and these moments were worth all of it...these are the moments that fill my camera...these are the things we will laugh about the next day...and I would do it all again...and I am astonished to discover that the little boy was right - the CN Tower is one thousand eight-hundred and fifteen feet tall.  

I've been featured on the site Designed by Creativity!  
Check out my guest post - part 3 of a 4 piece retelling of the creation story - by clicking here.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Ruined By The Poo?

There is the crackling and pop of fire and I feel the flames against my calves - it burns and I have to move back my chair.  I am a sinner, wrapping myself in a covetous spirit on the back end of this back yard that feels like a resort.  All day by the pool.  Kissed by sun and husband and children.  Time with my favourites. So much laughter my throat hurts.

The children sleep.  Sapped by sun and water and joy.  And we sit around the crackling, hearing stories of sixth grade glory and Dundalk bullies.  Night's soundtrack pours from the Hock Shop speakers, sporadic bursts of three part harmonies when a song pleases...and somewhere between Skydiggers and Bon Jovi she leans over, "He reads your blog while he's pooping."

And they all laugh.

But I'm not sure what to think.  It could be one of two things.  Either my writing stinks up the place so bad that you can only read it in the bathroom.  OR, it's so good he can't stand to put it down long enough to go to the bathroom...

Either way, I've never heard that one before.

And now, even as I'm typing this, guess what I'm picturing?

           .....yeah, it might be wrecked for me now.

Moon Watch

He is hung half and honest in a near dark sky, one eye winking from lunar perch, sad and brilliant and blinking pangs of loneliness against the ticking clock that beats for bedtime.  We sit upon the worn back step, rotting wood groaning and holding us in quiet unity as we breathe summer air - hot in our throats.

The oldest has been gone for five days - to tall pines and cabin sleeps - and the younger denies any missing.  He leans against me, staring at the sky with melancholy posture and tone, pointing out the first star and sighing against my shoulder as day darkens and sleepiness creeps against denial of weary.

"I wonder if Zander ten see da moon where he is?"

And all the denials in all the world could never steal the love he has for his brother encompassed in that one sweet little question.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Through The Eyes of a Coffee Shop

People are weird.  They walk through the door with their greasy hair and ripped jeans and buy a four dollar coffee and I can't help but think that money would be better spent on a bottle of Herbal Essences.

Maybe I'm too judgemental.  Maybe I'm a little too prim in my dressed-for-work attire, posed in my coffee-shop-geek mode (Laptop - check.  Coffee - check, check.  Papers spread - owning this four man booth - CHECK!)  Truth is, this is my first time - blogging from the cafe.  And I kinda like it.  But I'm zinging.  Four dollars worth of coffee has got me a little tipsy - I got that last one just so I can prolong the return to the office where the internet has proved to be my arch nemesis.  I had to come down here - lug my computer and my files, to work beneath this fake tin roof - because the office internet has become the devil internet (and that has no place in a church)!  My job requires access.  Thus a cafe afternoon and a caffeine high all so Sunday's announcements have amazing images to go along with them.

You're Welcome HMC!

And I kind of want to stay and spend my afternoon editing the Couch Event video but that probably wouldn't be appropriate...

Back to the office.  To the devil internet.  To the - can't do my job so I might as well just go home.

Happy Friday!

I've been featured on the site Designed by Creativity!  
Check out my guest post - part 2 of a 4 piece retelling of the creation story - by clicking here.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Farm

When we speak of The Farm it's heavy with the stigma of delinquency but when sun kisses and winds tickle it's easy to forget the truth of this place.  There is peace and pride on the air as troubled pasts give tours of the cow barn.  A place of healing, solace from chaos and broken families - where therapy happens behind the wheel of a tractor, or in the stacking of fresh hay.  Lives changed.  Futures saved.  Not always - but enough to make it worthwhile.

We have come for the open house.  The boys are thrilled to know where their daddy works - to play on the sports pad, to swing on the giant tire, to feed the cows, to ride the wagon behind a coughing tractor, to eat treats and drink lemonade.  There is no hint of midnight tantrums or mess house riots.  Only the peace of the country and the aura of manure and the hot breath of summer through undulating fields of grain.

I've been featured on the site Designed by Creativity!  
Check out my guest post - part 1 of a 4 piece retelling of the creation story - by clicking here.