Color and Light
Color and Light
What is Left
Land, sea and light
We invade all
But the light.
The land is corrupted
The sea fouled.
The light remains
What is left to us
Is light to see.
Writers note: What follows is a post some of you may have seen before. I’m posting it again, as I begin to work on where and how parts of the narrative of the larger work come together. I also repost it, because I kind of like it. I think it has something of a poetic feel to it. I may be wrong, but I post it anyway.
A Purse Full of Memories.
I ran across your purse today, while rummaging through old boxes.
It was heavy. Still filled with touchstones that filled your life.
I felt the warm leather of the bag and the years since you’ve been gone seemed to melt away.
I gave you that dark brown, leather Coach bag, the one with the flap over the opening, on one long ago Christmas, because it fit you. Elegant, understated, classic.
You wore it well from your shoulder, even when you crammed more into it than it was built for, but it still looked good.
I opened it, and there were your glasses, your overstuffed check book, notes scribbled on scraps of paper containing names and numbers of people who once mattered to you enough to scribble their names and numbers on scraps of paper. For what reasons, I do not know.
I found the talismans, the crystal, the cross and the worry stone, you carried with you during those most difficult times of your life, and the hope you carried with you in that dark brown, leather Coach bag. There was also a card that went with one called, “The Cross in My Pocket.” I never knew if you read it, but I knew if you had, you believed in what it said.
There was a note, handwritten on a yellow piece of paper torn from a small legal tablet, that was a thank you note you were composing to someone who was very close to you and who had been generous and supportive during those dark times. I don’t know who it was intended for, but it could have been any number of people. The words were yours, and they seemed to come to life off the page.
There was a tin of mints from someone’s wedding in 2007, a wedding you were not able to attend. The decal on the cover read “Jim and Kirsten, April 21, 2007.
There was a pocket pack of Kleenex, like the ones you used to shred when the going was tough.
When I see that purse, I think of that snowy day in Minneapolis. We were there in early December for a doctor’s appointment of some kind, and we had an extra day all to ourselves.
You wanted to go down Nicollet mall so you could stop at Dayton’s, or Macy’s, or whatever it was called then, and go to Crate and Barrel for some Christmas tree decorations. Then we walked over to Hennepin Avenue, and found a restaurant we hadn’t been to before.
The lunch rush was gone, and we were pretty much alone there. We stayed as long as we wanted, drank some wine, had some flatbread with Asiago cheese and talked as if we had nothing better to do that day, and we didn’t. When we saw it begin to fill up again, we knew we had been there long enough. We left and began the walk up Hennepin to find our way back to the car parked across from The Loon Cafe on 1st Avenue.
It had begun to snow lightly. It wasn’t that cold, but the huge snowflakes made it feel as if we were part of some giant, ethereal snow globe.
You were wearing that black wool coat with your red scarf, and that dark brown, leather Coach bag hung loosely from your shoulder, looking every bit the city girl that day, out with her friend. I carried the bags from Dayton’s or Macy’s or whatever it was called, and the bag from Crate and Barrel, in one hand, the other held yours.
The snow continued to fall, but we didn’t hurry. We weren’t cold at all. I think we were both entranced by the scene that winter day in the city, as if we were playing the parts in some romantic movie, of two carefree lovers out walking on a snowy afternoon during the holidays who were in love, and didn’t care who knew it.
I don’t know if you ever thought of that day the same way I did, nor do I know if you thought of that dark brown, leather Coach bag the same way I did, but I like to think you did.
Both of them looked good on you.
Writer’s note: As I have written before, some of these posts that you will see, from time to time, are being posted to see where they fit in the final draft of Where The Popsicles Are. This is still a work in progress. I’m not sure where this might be included, or if it only serves as a point of departure. We will see.
September 30, 1989
The temperature got to 95 degrees that afternoon, and the place we had the reception was probably as hot or hotter. It didn’t matter. It didn’t matter to me, nor did it matter to Joanie. This was her day, and there was nothing going to spoil it for her, and nothing did.
25 years have passed since that Saturday afternoon in Bismarck. Yesterday doesn’t seem as close as that day does.
Joanie had told me during one of our long Saturday lunches at the Ground Round that spring, “I’m not going to get married when I’m 40.” She was 39 at the time. We decided that day it would be done later that year. She had made her point. We had been engaged long enough, and had been living together for a few years, and she was going to make a move one way or another. She put the hammer down, and even though it was a velvet hammer, I got the message. We decided on the 30th of September.
It turned out to be a glorious day. She was absolutely radiant, something I guess you could say about any other bride on such a day, but she definitely was, despite the late afternoon heat. There she was, at 39 surrounded by family and friends, basking in the moment, a moment she had waited for too long, her cheeks were red, her smile was permanent and I had never seen her happier.
When I look at the photos from that day, I see in her eyes and her smile the hope and promise she held for what her life would become. It was to be the same hope and promise I would see during more difficult times in later years.
We mark the important moments in our lives by dates on a calendar. This date is one such date for me.
This date marks the beginning of a journey with a woman I loved, admired and respected for her humanity, her strength and her courage in the face of adversity.
Twenty five years later, I can say it is a journey I never regretted.
Where The Popsicles Are: A notice to readers.
This story doesn’t have a happy ending. The ending of this tale is sad, but bittersweet. Sad in that Joanie lost her battle, but bittersweet in the manner that she fought it to the end. Bittersweet in that she taught me, and anyone who witnessed her struggle, how to face the darkness with courage, and always look for the light.
(I am posting little bits from time to time as I struggle with trying to get this volume in a final shape.)