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Twist And Shout

I am a Beatles fan plain and simple. My earliest memory of the Beatles came when I watched the Ed Sullivan show when the Fab Four played on national television. From that day until now, I can say I am a fan. From LP records to AM radios and now SiriusXM and the Beatles channel I have never stopped listening.

I grew up a hundred miles north of San Francisco in Mendocino County. My young teenage years were filled with 60’s music. We listened to our transistor radios to KFRC out of San Francisco. The Beatles playing on the Ed Sullivan show was really the start of Beatlemania in America. I’m pretty sure my parents might have feared this was the beginning of the end of the world as teenager’s started rebelling against society while listening to music about love and then turning to sing about change and rebellion. In my family, the unrest in our young culture was directly related to the long-haired hippies and indirectly to the Beatles.

The Beatles were always in the news as they matured musically and lead in many ways the youth movement in the 1960’s. I remember hearing there was turmoil amongst the band and when “Let It Be” came out it would be their last album to be released. A fun fact, the “Let It Be” album was recorded before the album, “Abbey Road.” Abbey Road was released first and Let it Be as the last one.

I had the opportunity to fulfill one of my bucket list moments when traveling to London I walked across the “Zebra Crossing” at Abbey Road. And taking a train ride from London to Liverpool. We took the Magical Mystery bus tour and saw so many sites were the Fab Four grew up. Driving down Penny Lane and standing in front of Strawberry Fields gate in the rain was an emotional turning point for me.

As I have read a lot about the history of the Beatles, I feel like in some way I understand why they made the choices they did. I heard an interview with George Harrison recorded many years ago, but played again on SiriusXM, I’m paraphrasing here. The popularity and craziness of Beatlemania got to be so overwhelming the only sanity surrounding the Fab Four were the four of them. They were four lads from Liverpool caught up in a world turning crazy for them and their music.

Some of the other things I’ve read are back history as they were writing and recording songs. The many hours in Abbey Road Studios recording. In 1965 the Beatles had been working in the studio for about twelve hours when someone suggested they record “Twist and Shout.” The Beatles emulated the Isley Brother’s 1962 version of the song. The problem was John Lennon was sick with a nasty cold. His voice was shot after singing and playing all day. They took a break, and John sucked on a couple of throat lozenges and gargled with milk.

They recorded two takes of “Twist and Shout.” The first recording is the one you have heard all these years. If you listen carefully to John singing, you can tell he was sick. It’s in his strained voice. At the end of the recording, you can hear Paul say, “Hey” on the last cord of the song. Possibly because they got through the song with John being so sick.

The one thing that sticks with me is how much time went into writing songs and where the inspiration for the song came from. I recently finished reading the book, “Beatles Lyrics” by Hunter Davies. This was a fascinating read. Mr. Davies takes us through the early years right up to their breakup. Each album is a chapter in the book and follows in a succession of the years they were recorded. There is a lot of background and history behind the recording of each album. There are even handwritten notes copied in the book of many of the songs scribbled on all kinds of paper before the band settled on the final words and recorded it.

For me, this brings back memories as a young teenager wondering where my place was in the world with the turmoil surrounding the sixties and how that era played out not only within my family but our town and in fact the world. I was not afraid of what was going on but drawn to it. Fascinated and wishing I could be a part of it.

Yet the simplicity in my life and the semi-tolerance that my parents put up with during those years made me who I am today. Perhaps that is one reason I keep going back to that time in history and reliving and learning about those things that have influenced my life to this day. I loved the music while watching the assassination of President Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy. Students at Kent State gunned down by the National Guard. I wondered at the time where did I fit into all this? One thing for sure as I listen to the Beatles Channel on SiriusXM today I feel secure, and I have hope in what appears to be another unrestful period in our Country. Now as a Grandfather I want to be there to help my grandchildren and tell them stories of the old days and hope they do not roll their eyes as I probably repeat the same story over again.

Like the Beatles, I have a place in history as it relates to my children and their children. The difference is, I can never be the Fab Four, but I can be a great Grandfather!

 

Source:

“Twist and Shout” Wikipedia.org

Songfacts.com

Beatles Lyrics, by Hunter Davies

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Where Is Michael Hobbs?

I was not driving, and that was a good thing. I had choices, and I was close to making one of them which was probably a permanent one. I reached down and grabbed the handle on the door of the 1968 Charger. I contemplated opening the door even at 80 miles an hour and jumping out. There could not be anything good coming my way after the last few days.

Rumbling down Interstate 10 with Michael Hobbs driving the Charger. His wild eyes darting back and forth while sweat beaded up on his forehead, I was lost for words. There was no escaping our choices we made a few hours ago. There is no going back now. My life is over, and I knew it. So, jumping out of the Charger and hopefully dying was not a wrong choice. Spending my life in prison would never be an option but killing myself by hurdling myself out at this speed was one option I am really contemplating. Michael is driving thoughtlessly down the highway, passing cars on the side of the road was sure to bring the cops looking for us sooner than expected.

“Why did you do it!” I screamed as loud as I could.

Michael glanced over at me, “It just happened that’s all, don’t blame me.”

“Don’t blame you! Are you kidding me, Michael? That was a choice you made, and now I am involved in this nightmare!”

“Did we need the money or not?” Michael said yelling without taking his eyes off the road.

The roar of the engine and his erratic behavior and senseless swearing made me even more nervous.

“Yes, we needed the money but not this way.”

“It happened so live with it,” Michael said.

“You didn’t have to stick a gun in the guy’s face.”

“Yeah I did; he wouldn’t give us the money. I had to help him choose a different answer than saying ‘no.’”

“I don’t see it that way, Michael.”

“So how do you see it then, Nell?” Michael yelled.

“I don’t know but shooting him in the face was not the right choice.”

“Well it’s done now, and we need to run,” Michael said.

“Did you ever think there are probably camera’s in those gas station stores. They got us on video I’m sure of it! They also probably have camera’s outside and have our license plate number and tracking us right now!” I said nervously running my fingers through my hair.

There was a long silence, a dark silence as we both said nothing. I don’t know what Michael was thinking, but he was sweating and kept wiping his face with his shirt sleeve. Maybe he was thinking about those cameras.

The sack sitting at my feet had the money from the cash register. I thought about counting it, but whatever the amount we got wasn’t worth shooting that gas station attendant over.

“How much do you think we got, Nell?

“I’m guessing around a hundred bucks, Michael. That’s not going to get us very far.” I said while looking back and forth down the road then glancing at the passenger’s rearview mirror.

“We got a full tank of gas, too don’t forget that.” Michael looked over at me for a split second before looking back at the road.

“Oh yeah, that was part of the bonus package for shooting that dude,” I said with sarcasm. So, I half decide not to jump out of the car, I might not die, and then I’d end up in a wheelchair as a babbling idiot and drooling down my chin.

“Maybe you should slow it down just a little bit so if we pass a cop he doesn’t turn around,” I said.

Michael let off the gas pedal slightly bringing the Charger close to the 65 mile an hour speed limit.

“How is that?” He said.

“Better, it might buy us a little more time of freedom before this is all over,” I said.

“What do you want to do if we do get pulled over?” Michael asked.

“I have no idea. Shooting at the cops will get us both killed, I’m sure of that.”

“We will spend the rest of our lives in prison. Does that sound like a real choice?” Michael said.

“I guess you just want to hop on out of the car and start shooting?” I said.

“I don’t know, really I don’t. I suppose we will make the decision If and when we are faced with it.” Michael said.

“Yeah, I suppose.”

Looking straight ahead. I thought back to my life before meeting Michael. I always saw myself as easy going, but I am shy and have never had many friends. Having braces through high school didn’t help my self-esteem either. My life changed forever on that Thursday night when I met Michael Hobbs in a bar. I was sitting by myself watching people when he walked up and asked if he could have a seat. We talked and hit it off right away. We slept together that first night, and within two weeks we moved in together. It was magic, and for the first time in my life, I felt complete.

Michael worked construction, and I had a job in a department store. There was so much promise, and I thought we would have a future until I had the bright idea of stealing two expensive purses from my department store. Instead of prosecuting me they fired me. The rainy summer took Michael’s construction job. We slowly ran out of money and desperation surrounded us like a heavy winter coat. When we were three months behind on the rent, it was time to leave. So here we are rolling down the highway with a still warm gun at my feet and a spent shell casing in the revolver.

I turned to Michael, “Pull this car over right now, I want out,” I said.

“I’m not pulling over for nothing, Nell.”

“You either stop, or I will open this door and jump out,” I lied.

Michael chuckled, “Really, you would jump out at this speed.” He stomped on the gas pedal to make his point. “You are as dumb as a rock if you choose to do that.”

“Pull over Michael!” I raised my voice slightly.

He shook his head, no.

“Michael, I mean it, pull over, right now,” I screamed as loud as I could.

Michael glanced at the rearview mirror turned on the blinker and slowed the Charger down until he stopped.

“You want out, get out.” He yelled so loudly it made my ears ring.

I sat there making choices with one hand on the dashboard and one on the door handle. I bowed my head and cried uncontrollably. The Charger idled while I wept, and Michael never said a word. Through my tears, I looked over at the passenger’s seat. There was no one sitting there except the sack with the money and the revolver on the floor. I’m confused. I’m in the driver’s seat with both my hands gripping the stirring wheel.

I put the car in park but didn’t turn the engine off. I opened the door to get out. I ran around the back of the car and there on the edge of the road I vomited. I heard a car slow as the tires crunched on the gravel behind me. I turned around while wiping my mouth it was the Highway Patrol.

I turned my head back towards the car, “Michael what should we do now?” There was no answer. “Michael!”

I looked back at the Charger the driver’s door was open, I could hear the engine idling, and I could see the turn signal blinking on and off. I realized Michael must have been hiding and I felt abandoned, I am alone.

The officer got out of his car while raising his gun at me from behind his open door. I raised my hands in the air.

“Miss, step away from the car and get down on your knees right now.” The officer said.

“I did exactly what he said. He came up still holding his gun. I closed my eyes I was afraid he was going to shot me. I felt his hand on my back as he pushed me into the gravel face down before kneeling on my back and handcuffing me.

“Is there anyone else in the car?”

“Michael is in there.”

The officer pulled his gun out again and called for backup. He walked carefully up the passenger’s side of the car. Searching from window to window he came back and said, “There is no one else in the car.”

“What do you mean no one’s there, Michael is in there?” I said.

“Lady there isn’t anyone else in the car. You are all alone.”

“It’s Michael you are looking for, he is the one that shot that guy at the gas station.

“I don’t know what you are thinking, but the camera shows you filling up the car with gas then reaching under the driver’s seat and picking up a gun. You walked into the gas station raised the gun and demanded money. When the attendant said no, you shot him once right in the face. You walked around the counter and emptied the cash register.”

I’m confused. I closed my eyes so tight that it hurts, I’m trying to remember.

“I didn’t shoot anyone, Michael did,” I said.

“There is no Michael, you are on video back at the gas station. You shot that attendant in the face, that’s a fact.” The patrolman grabbed me with both hands around my arm and sat me up.

I’m trying to remember, and all I see is Michael holding the gun with both hands as he pulled the trigger. It made my ears ring it was so loud. Michael did it, I’m sure of it.

“Lady, you are going away for the rest of your life. You better enjoy this scenery while you have the chance because all you’re going to see in a little while is a jail cell.” He jerked me to my feet.

“I’m wondering where Michael Hobbs could be. I should have jumped out of the car when I had the chance.”

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Writer’s Block and How Neil Young Has Helped Me

I have been playing tug-of-war in my mind the past couple of months. Entirely nothing has come to me I felt was presentable enough to share with you on Wilby’s Writer’s Diner. Plain and simple, I have struggled with writer’s block.

I know all the writer’s block tricks. I’ve written about them here in Wilby’s Diner. I realize that sometimes it’s about the struggles that make me a better writer. There’s always something just on the edge of my sub-conscience that never lets me get too far away from a new story.

So today I sit here writing for the sake of writing while listening to Neil Young songs, and I might tell you that the music is cranked up pretty loud. Music at times can lead me into a creative place, so I try and go there when I’m hitting a writer’s block wall.

I have written a couple of short stories, but I just can’t get excited about them, so they sit in a warming oven for another day. Perhaps one day while listening to my music something will click, and one of those half-baked stories can be rewritten and be somewhat entertaining enough for me to publish it.

I have been working off and on for many months with a new story that I have fallen in and out of love with, the title is simply, “Norma Rose.” This is a character I have been developing, truth to be told, I have written sixteen chapters, but they still need additional editing. Norma Rose takes me to place I have not explored in developing characters before, at least as the lead protagonist.

If you read my long, short story, “Secrets Behind A Wedding Cake,” here on Wilby’s Diner, you would have met two of my characters, Detectives, Max Drake and Sarah McFadden. I have brought them into my new story, “Norma Rose.”

I have this habit of falling in love with some of my characters. As with “real” people I meet, character development to me as a writer is very real. Instead of shaking someone’s hand and trying to remember their name while making small talk, characters or story actors as I call them bounce around in my head trying to get out so they can tell their story. As with any of my real friends I look forward to seeing them again.

This month I hope to publish the prologue of my story, “Norma Rose.” I still do not know where or how it ends so stay tuned. I will reveal more in the next month or so about Norma Rose.

For now, I will carry on listening to Neil Young singing, “Cinnamon Girl.”

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Broken Promises Under The Influence Of Blue Agave Chapter 7

It sounded like a good idea to come home and visit with my parents. Rebecka and Gracie were all excited to get out of school for a couple of days and, on top of that, flying on an airplane. That’s all I heard about for two weeks before we left.

As a side note, I contacted my former husband, Joel after I spoke to you last. I explained to him what I had done and how the girls reacted. He was surprised and was more receptive to coming to see his daughters. This is me keeping my fingers crossed.

We have been at my parent’s home for two days, and both my dad and mom are doting over the girls. I watched them from the kitchen window. Yesterday grandpa set up the old croquet set, and mom and the girls played croquet with him. That is a dream come true for my dad. He bought the set many years ago as a family gift one Christmas. We three girls and mom, looked dumbfounded, like are you still high from the sixties, dad? Croquet? All these years later I get to secretly sit here and watch them laugh and play. I have not seen smiles on my girl’s faces like this in a long time.

I have a glass of water in front of me, and as I watch the game in the backyard, my mind wonders if I can actually find Marshall. I tried an old phonebook my dad had in the closet…he never throws anything away. I found Marshall’s old phone number and called it. Of course, it’s not his number anymore. I have this fear I may not ever be able to find him.

*****

Another busy day has risen. This morning after breakfast, my sweet father decides we need to go to the pet rescue center and walk the dogs. It is something I guess he does on a regular basis. I mentioned that perhaps he should just get a dog and be done with it. He looked at me with a confused look on his face. I stood there wide-eyed, “what?” I said. He just shook his head and walked away.

Then it dawned on me–he likes going to the rescue center. A dog at home is only one, at the center dad could spread out his love. Damn Hippie, he never will change. I laugh because now he has Rebecka and Gracie hounding me, no pun intended and made me promise we would get a puppy when we get back home. As much as I don’t like that idea, it probably is a good idea.

This afternoon mom is taking a nap and dad set out with the girls on a fishing trip to a pond not far from home. All I saw was an arm full of fishing poles, gear, string and two girls hopping and circling grandpa as he is gathering the fishing gear. It is non-stop girl chatter, and what’s really funny, I think my dad loves it. Reminds him of my sisters and me when we did cool stuff together. The old Hippy is in his element, and the girls are as excited as I’ve ever seen them. This is a happy day for me too.

*****

I got a text message back from one of my girlfriends, Lynn. I probably should bring it up, but her nickname was “Seven.” I probably shouldn’t drag up why we called her Seven, but it had to do with guys and high school. Well, Lynn has a sister that still lives here. Lynn said she knows Marshall still lives in town. They are not friends but know each other enough to say hello in passing.

That message gives me hope. I have so much to say to him, and I really need to find him. I quickly answer the text and within a couple of minutes Lynn’s sister, Nikki sends a text back to both of us, she knows someone that works with Marshall. She will call the guy and see if he has a phone number. Now I am nervous.

*****

Okay, that is a surprise. I’m working in my garage, and my cell phone rings. I wipe my hands on a towel, and with one finger I hit the button on the phone. It’s a strange number, and no one seems to be there. I’m thinking it is another one of those damn marketing people that sounds all bubbly and apologizes while messing with their headset. I reach out to hang up the call when I hear a voice.

“Is this Marshall?”

“Yeah, who’s this?” I sound kind of like an asshole since I still think it’s a marketing call. I’m preparing to blow this person up when I hear, . . .”

“Marshall, It’s Crosby.”

Dead silence. I am shocked and can’t even find words to mumble back. My mind is racing, in my head, I’m thinking, “say something, you idiot.”

“Crosby, is this really you?” I finally said.

“Yes, it’s me, Marshall.”

“I don’t know what to say, Crosby. Where are you?”

“I’m in town at my parent’s house with my two girls. I was hoping maybe if you aren’t too busy I could meet you and visit for a while.”

“It’s been a long time Crosby. I mean I’m willing to meet with you, but why now?” I pinched my eyes together, I thought to myself, “of course I would meet with her.”

“Marshall, I have never forgotten you, and I have spent all these years feeling horrible for how I treated you. I would like to apologize and maybe catch up and if possible establish our old friendship. Life has not been the same without you being a part of it.”

“Of course, I will meet with you anytime any place. You name it, and I’m there. I feel the same way as you do Crosby. So, what time is good for you? Marshall said.

“Are you married, Marshall?”

“No, I’ve never married.”

“Really?” Crosby said.

“Nope. That’s part of my story we need to catch up on. What about you? You mentioned you had two girls.”

“Rebecka and Gracie. Rebecka is fifteen and Gracie she’s thirteen.”

“You married?” Marshall asked.

“No, divorced.”

“Would you be comfortable enough to come over to my house?” Marshall said.

Crosby laughed out loud. “I would love to. I could make tacos, and we could catch up on each other’s lives.”

“I would love to catch up,” Marshall said. “Crosby, I have missed you.”

There was a long silence, “You can’t imagine how much I wished I would have stayed and we could have talked about what happened that night and why. I should have never left because we broke our promise to not have a sexual relationship. Best friends do not abandon each other, and I did that to us, Marshall. I walked away, I never returned your phone calls and completely disappeared from our relationship. I am so sorry.” Crosby’s voice began to break, and Marshall could tell she was crying.

“I’ve missed you a lot, Marshall. We have a lot to talk about, so how about it, tacos’?

“Absolutely! Only. . .” Marshall hesitated.

“I know what you are going to say. Let’s leave the Blue Agave in the cupboard.” Crosby smiled through her tear streaked face.

 

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Broken Promises Under The Influence Of Blue Agave Chapter 6

I’m listening to Cat Stevens song, “How Can I Tell You.” I’ve poured a double shot of tequila and reflecting on my conversation with Rebecka and Gracie about their father. That is one of the hardest things I’ve had to do thus far in my life. I’m mentally exhausted, and I have to be up early to get the girls off to school before I go to work.

Joel has been non-existent and is bothering me more all the time. I sit here at the table staring at my fingers gingerly moving the full shot glass in small circles. I am thinking about contacting Joel again and telling him I finally told his daughter’s about why we split up. Maybe it’s time he steps up and faces his daughters like a man and interact with them. Help them understand and love them the way a father should.

So, I sit here wondering ‘what if’ how much my life would be different if I had not gotten out of bed that one early morning after Marshall and I broke our promise and had sex. Maybe we could have talked through the one-time compromise. On the other hand, if life had turned out differently for him and me, I would not have Rebecka or Gracie.

I listen to Cat Stevens poetic words, and they sink deep into my soul,

“How can I tell you
That I love you

I love you
But I can’t think of right words to say

I long to tell you
That I’m always thinking of you
I’m always thinking of you
But my words just blow away
Just blow away.”

My path is set, and I cannot get Marshall out of my mind tonight. Choices we all make determines whether our memories are good or bad. Sometimes a poor choice leads to long-term guilt that never goes away. The only way is to confront the situation that causes the guilt or live with it for the rest of your life. I can’t live with this for the rest of my life, just like I could not continue protecting Joel’s leaving us and not telling the girls. Tonight, that stress is gone. So now I need to find Marshall and apologize to my best friend for being an idiot and dropping him out of my life in one quick decision. Sitting here listening to Cat Steven’s song I start to cry. His song is digging at my soul, and every word is my life. Then it dawned on me I did the exact same thing to Marshall as Joel did us, his family.

*****

Sunday nights are the worst for me. Everyone I know is at home with their wives and getting kids ready for another week of school. I being single become trapped in my home with nothing but silence, so the television becomes my family. I flip through stations trying to take up time. I stop at a station long enough if something catches my interest. It’s a way of numbing my mind to my loneliness.

I flip the television over to the internet, and I turn on Pandora. One of my favorite stations is set up as a Neil Young station. I click on that one and one of my favorite songs, starts to play, “Heart of Gold.” I identify with this song like my life, I’m always searching for a “Heart of Gold,” but actually I’m searching for a woman that will love me, a family. I want to be like all my friends. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, I am lost.

I think about the past few years. Girlfriends have come and gone. The last one, Noemi I thought after a year of dating we would take the next step, and I was prepared to ask her to marry me. I tried working up the nerve one night at her house, and then I didn’t do it. I suspect that Noemi would have said yes, at least that is what I tell myself now.

*****

Now that I sit here and I can admit to myself that Joel has done the same thing to his family as I did to Marshall. That changes a lot in my mind. I feel horrible now as I think about it. Maybe I should try harder to find him. I don’t know if he would even talk to me, but it would be an attempt to apologize to him.

I’ve had a couple of offers for dates, but so far I cannot say yes. Our divorce was final six months ago, so I am single. Now I sit here and wonder if maybe now is the right time to start dating. How would it affect my daughters? Perhaps in light of what I shared with them about their father being gay and in love with a man this evening it might not be the right timing to bring a new man into their lives. I probably need to wait and see if Joel does decide to be a part of his daughter’s lives and makes contact with the girls first. Yet, I sit here by myself and lonely and my spirit slipping into a deeper depression. I’m afraid if I’m not careful I might not come out of it into the sunshine. I am beginning to hate me.

*****

Noemi, when I close my eyes and listen to Neil Young, I see her smile. I can remember our trip to the beach. Her blonde hair floated in the sea breeze and with her green cotton dress moving in the wind. I watched her arms outstretched and barefooted in the sand. She was free if it were only for a few minutes.

I sat on the sand propping myself up with my arms, and my legs stretched out and crossed over each other I watched her move in the breeze. I was happy. She twirled in circles and then ran into the sea, and the small waves tugged at the bottom of her dress. I cannot forget her it is more than a memory for me now. When I close my eyes, I see every moment as clear as if I were there on that sandy beach with her. I wished I could be as free as she was that day on the beach.

Noemi loved me, and I loved her. It was her smile. Oh, I loved her smile. Her eyes were full of life, and she told me how much she loved me just with those eyes.

So, I sit her on the couch by myself on Sunday evening trying to wait out tonight so at least I can go back to work. Work is my sanctuary and the only reprieve I have from the dead silence that screams at me when I’m alone.

*****

It dawned on me I have not seen my parents in quite a while. Maybe I should take Rebecka and Gracie to see them. They are getting older, and my dad’s health is not the best. I think tomorrow I will book a flight for us and go home for a week. The girls are in school, but I can take them out for a few days. A trip home could do all of us a lot of good. Maybe I can slip away and see if I can find Marshall if he is still there.

*****

How could I ever know that just a week later after our few days at the beach it would be the last time Noemi or I would share any more memories together. Noemi was in a terrible car accident. Some drunk asshole plowed into her car.

I sat in the hospital with her day and night holding her hand whispering to her, hoping she could hear me. Begging her to come back to me. Her lovely hair just a week ago, dancing in the breeze was shaved off, and a bandage replaced it. Staples and removing part of her skull to relieve the swelling brain.

I promised her if she came back to me I would ask her to marry me. All I heard were the monitors working non-stop to keep her alive. I could only hope, she would wake up and say, “I will marry you.” The doctors were optimistic at least for the family. I prayed, oh I prayed a lot. I cried and played music she loved. I promised her of more trips to the beach.

Nothing could be done except wait. Noemi slipped away from us on the fourth day after the accident. I know she fought, but her injuries were too much. I held her hand it was 2:30 in the morning and her mother and father left to get some sleep, and I said I would stay until they got back. She took a deep breath, and there was no more.

I can only hope if there is a God somewhere that He has given Noemi a beach to dance in the waves for all eternity.

 

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Broken Promises Under The Influence Of Blue Agave Chapter 5

Sunday evening dinner is kind of a tradition for Rebecka, Gracie and me. It’s something I have insisted on for the past couple of years since their father left. It actually is something both girls are starting to look forward to each Sunday.

I try and make something a little different. We try a lot of ethnic foods from various countries. As we finish our dinner with the dishes still on the table and the mess to be cleaned up, we take our map of the world, and we pick a Country for next Sunday. One of the three of us studies that countries food, and by Wednesday we plan for next Sunday’s dinner.

I can’t say it always turns out great, or we care about the food or the flavors, but the experience of working together and making the meal is a great bonding time. It has helped with all that we three girls have gone through the past couple of years.

Tonight, working on dinner together started out with typical girl chatter. It wasn’t until we finished dinner that I had this overwhelming thought now was the time to talk to them. I had no intentions of ending our Sunday night with this conversation. It just happened that way.

I got both Rebecka’s and Gracie’s attention. I told them I wanted to talk to them about their father. They both got quiet and sat back in their chairs. You could have heard a pin drop it was so quiet. How to start?

I told them that something seemed out of place about two years before he left. I felt it, but ignored it or perhaps denied it to myself. Maybe a little background first.

I married Joel McBride after college. Joel and I met about a year after Marshall and I parted company. I was in college and Joel had recently opened an accounting firm. He was 5 years older than I. He was stable, good looking and we dated all of my senior year of college.

We got married a year later and had Rebecka almost immediately. I’m pretty sure we got pregnant on our honeymoon. We had talked about children before we married and we both decided we would wait a couple of years after marriage to make sure we had a stable home.

When I told Joel I was pregnant he seemed surprised, and gradually he became more distant. At first, I didn’t think anything of it. When Rebecka was born Joel stepped up and became a real dad. He doted over Rebecka, and it seemed like we were finally becoming a real family.

Gracie came along two years later, and Joel changed. His attention was on the business, and he spent less time at home with we girls. Some days I felt like a single parent. I was so busy and only during the quiet times when the girls were sleeping did I have the time to reflect on our relationship. I had this feeling that perhaps Joel was having an affair. He was gone so much of the time.

I shook off those thoughts and concentrated on making a good home that would make Joel want to be home with his family. The harder I worked at our home life the more he seemed to distance himself from me in particular. I asked him once if he was not attracted to me anymore. He shook his head back and forth and said how could he not love me I was the most beautiful woman he had ever met and the mother of his children. He melted my heart, but it didn’t change anything.

Our lifestyle continued the same way as before. I resigned myself to raising our daughters. Joel worked a lot, and I took care of the home. It wasn’t until Rebecka’s thirteenth birthday party that I finally had the answer what was really wrong with our marriage. This is where I started with my girls that Sunday night after our special dinner.

I started out by asking them if they wanted to talk about their father and in fact did they want to know why he left us. Of course, they both said yes vehemently. This is what they both had been bugging me about, and right now I felt it was the right time to discuss it. I went through our history and how much he loved them. I told them that their dad finally made it clear what I had suspected all along. It was on Rebecka’s thirteenth birthday party. Joel was about forty-five minutes late. I figured he was gearing up for a house full of thirteen-year-old girls and the drama associated with a party of that nature. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Joel came in, the house was decorated in pinks and purples, Rebecka’s favorite colors, there were ten of Rebecka’s girlfriends there with three other mothers to help me with the party. Joel came in with one of his employees. His name was Oliver Sharp. He was working as a personal secretary for Joel. They came in the house holding hands.

I stood there with my apron on holding a bowl of cut fruit. Joel didn’t say anything. What was there to say it was evident he was having an affair. The part I somehow missed, he was having an affair with a man.

From that day forward after lengthy discussions and many, many tears Joel made it clear he was in love with Oliver and had known for many years he was attracted to men. My natural question was then why get married to a woman and why have children? He had no answer except he buried his true feelings in denial, and now he could no longer live with the guilt.

So here I sit and finish this story to my daughters. There were no tears. Rebecka put her head down and folded her hands in her lap. I again said the same words I had used a million times before that their father loved them very much.

Now Rebecka and Gracie knew the truth. At first, neither of them said anything. Finally, I felt a sense of relief and in a small way freedom from hiding behind my own embarrassment and guilt. Now for the first time in a long time, I can admit to myself I wasn’t at fault or a bad wife to Joel. There was nothing I did wrong. I cried.

*****

The kitchen is clean, the girls are up in their rooms and Sunday evening dinner has turned into a deathly quiet thick fog of depression as I sit by myself second guessing that I had done the right thing. Now I have to figure out how to raise my girls with the knowledge their father is gay, and I need to somehow get Joel back in their lives. I sit here and doubt myself if I’m capable of teaching them about acceptance without judgment.

I got up from the living room and went into the kitchen. I reached into the cupboard and pulled out the Blue Agave Tequila and one shot glass. I sat at the kitchen table, and I poured one shot and threw it back. Here is to you Marshall where ever you are.

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Broken Promises Under The Influence Of Blue Agave Chapter 4

I’m assuming most people have favorite songs that bring back memories. Those songs that you can remember where you were and who you were with when that song became embedded in your brain. So, before I can switch off the engine in my truck, “the” song came on a SiriusXM station. Of course, the emotional person that I am I sit back and listen to the song that triggers a time in my past, a happy time, a time I remember as good. This is the song Crosby and I found as our song. It reached both of us, and when we heard it on the radio or played on a cassette tape, we both sang out loud. Our eyes full of fun, our eyes full of love for one another. We knew every word and sang it to each other. A bonding moment that is lasting a life time for me.

*****

My legs are pulled under me, and I am holding my glass of Fence Post Winery Chardonnay when it happened. The song came on while listening to SiriusXM Radio. I close my eyes and go back many years to when Marshall and I made this song ours. It was funny how we came to making this song ‘our song.’

“Wake up Maggie, I think I’ve got something to say to you

It’s late September, and I really should be back at school

I know I keep you amused

But I feel I’m being used

Oh, Maggie, I couldn’t have tried any more

You led me away from home

Just to save you from being alone

You stole my heart, and that’s what really hurts.”

Maggie May was written and sung by Rod Stewart. I can still see the title of the record, “Every Picture Tells A Story.” That song still gets to me when I hear it. I either laugh while I’m singing with Rod or tears fill my eyes while thinking about my best friend and how I abandoned him after our one-night doing shots of Blue Agave Tequila and then making love. Our friendship bond broke into so many pieces I did not believe they could be put back together again. I ran away from him without even a good bye.

Marshall called me a million times, but I couldn’t answer the phone. I changed my number, changed colleges and moved a thousand miles away. So now I sit here and I listen to Maggie May, tears fall from my eyes and roll down my cheeks. I wipe at my face to brush the emptiness away. I want to turn off the song, but I can’t. I’m frozen in a time warp. I have never forgiven myself for what I chose to do to him. Now when I hear our song, especially the first verse, I wonder, I really wonder how he is doing.

A year ago, I looked for him on Facebook, but I could not find him. I don’t even know if he is still alive.

*****

Our song ends, and I get out of my truck and walk through the garage into my house. I stand there for a few seconds in the dark. I feel as empty as the blackness surrounding me in my own home. I switch on the light in the kitchen. Everything as it should be, just the way I left it. It crosses my mind that I’m hungry and I don’t feel like cooking, besides I stink. I’m sweaty, dirty and tired. I have no motivation right now. A shower will decide what I will do with the rest of my evening.

*****

The end of Maggie May plays out, and I take a sip of my wine. All I’m thinking about now is the night Marshall and I got together, and I made tacos. We both ate and drank beers–I remember that well. We sat at the table and talked about our friends, jobs, and dreams. I can close my eyes and see his face. He was always smiling. That smile was pure and one of the big reasons I became attracted to him. I don’t remember how we decided we could be best friends without getting involved sexually. I’ve thought a lot about it and self-analyzed our relationship to death and finally came to the conclusion we both were looking for a safe place where life didn’t have to get complicated. Trust was king between us, and we made it work for a long time.

I can honestly say, even though we never actually talked about our celibate friendship, I’m pretty sure in the dark recesses of our minds we wanted each other. So, I take another sip of my wine, and I think about that night. I am guilty of suggesting that we get the tequila out and have a shot. A full stomach, beers and a best friend made my suggestion sound like a good idea.

We continued our conversation over several shots, I don’t remember how many. The warmth of the evening gave way to the Blue Agave whispering in my ear. I remember battling in my mind and secretly saying no several times as we visited with each other. Then in one defenseless instant, I could not say no. I wanted him, and I took him.

*****

I showered and sat down at the kitchen table and with my head resting in my hand. I’m wondering what I should eat for dinner. Then without another thought, I got up and reached into the cupboard and pulled out the Blue Agave Tequila and two shot glasses. I poured the tequila in each one and slid one across the table to the empty chair. Still thinking about our song, I imagined what it would be like today all these years later if Crosby were sitting there. I held up my shot, and in a single man’s toast I tossed the liquid back and swallowed it slowly. It burned, and I felt it settle in my stomach. I poured another shot, then another.

*****

Kissing Marshall for the first time while sitting on his lap opened up feelings I had no idea were buried inside me. Marshall responded in kind. We kissed each other, and he held me close to him. I remember brushing my fingers through his hair and smiling at him while staring into his eyes. We kissed several more times, I mean deep, meaningful kisses. There was no stopping us.

We got undressed and fell into his bed. I never have felt so out of control, yet in control. It was an experience I had not felt before or honestly, I have not felt to this day. It was natural for both of us. We made love without saying one word. There was nothing we could say anyway. It was the immunity the Blue Agave gave us from our promises to each other. There was no consequences or thoughts of the morning or what next. Just that moment.

I woke up first in the morning. I lay still because I did not want to move and wake up Marshall. With a sheet covering my nakedness and Marshall’s quiet breathing, I had to make a decision.

Laying there with a slight headache I thought about last night and slowly but surely reality set in. I contemplated all the words we could say to each other when he woke up. I wondered if we could go back to just being friends. The longer I laid there, the more I understood that a promise had been broken and there was no going back. I quietly got up and got dressed and left Marshall sleeping.

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Broken Promises Under The Influence Of Blue Agave Chapter 3

While I’m raising my girls, Rebecka and Gracie to be honest and truthful in all things. I cannot help but point the finger at myself. I have not been fair to myself or with my daughters. This bothers me off and on when I stop long enough to think about it.

I struggle with my life’s choices when waking up at 1:30 in the morning. I have two wonderful girls that are quickly turning into young women. I am proud to be their mother. Yet I have this underlying issue that I need to address with them.

Both Rebecka and Gracie deserve a truthful answer to why my husband abandoned us a short two years ago. I know it has affected both girls and especially Rebecka. She is growing up in a world that I sometimes do not understand. She slips between being a happy teenager to a lost soul. She has periods of self-doubt that she would never admit to me. She has deep seated anger issues that I know stem from the abandonment of her father.

I have tried to put all the blame on myself. Like it was my fault and telling Rebecka and Gracie it was personal between their dad and me. I made sure they heard me say it enough that it his abandonment was not their fault. I hoped that would suffice and silence their questions. It hasn’t. Although I cuddle with them and run my fingers through their hair and give them mommy kisses and repeat over and over again, their daddy does love them very much. I have no actual answers as to why he never writes, calls or even sends them something. He totally has dropped out of our lives.

I’m going to gather my courage, sit them down and tell them the whole story soon. I feel guilty, and I need to explain the entire truth to the girls.

*****

I’m tired tonight, the construction business is booming, and right now I’m working seven days a week. I pull into my driveway of my home after another long day on the construction site. My truck sits idling while I reach up and hit the remote button to the garage door. I watch as the door opens slowly exposing the insides of my home. At that very second, I have this epiphany that saddens me because it is an accurate reflection of my life. I have it all closed up, and I hide behind my outward persona ignoring the deepest of my feelings. As the garage door stops at the top and I stare into the semi-darkness at all my shit, I start to cry.

*****

Gracie is in her room studying for next Monday’s quiz. She is not the procrastinator that I am. I mean, come on it’s Friday afternoon. I would be trying to find a way out of the house and escape from my parents and two sisters. My sisters are all older, so I learned how to play the game from them. Deep down I’m pretty sure my parents knew exactly what we three girls were up to. But they never let on. They let things play out.

So, I am sitting here in the living room drinking a glass of excellent Fence Post Winery Chardonnay and glad I didn’t have to work today. Playing some of my favorite music and sipping the wine I am thinking about what I am going to make for dinner. Being an adult sometimes sucks.

*****

“Come on Marshall; it’s just a frigging song. I say out loud, “Why am I sobbing?” I don’t know about anybody else but when my inner feelings rise to the surface, and I try my damnedest to shove them back into the recesses of my internal garage. It’s at that moment a song will play that is rooted deep in my past experience, and I will admit it to myself I get goose-bumps. Well sitting here in my truck this song started the water works to flow down my three-day old beard. I listen to the song and wipe my tears. I love the song, even swaying like a willow tree on a windy day. I don’t know why either, crying yet loving the song. I am mouthing the words to the song. I’m an idiot, stop it!

*****

I need another glass of wine before Gracie comes downstairs and asks me what’s for dinner. I’ll probably tell her a ‘TV Dinner,’ she will cock her head and frown trying to figure out what that means. I will laugh at her and tell her how many of those dinners we ate on Saturday nights while we three girls sat and watched old episodes of some dumb show called Hee Haw that my father looked forward to every week. Somewhere in his head he thought it was a great family night with TV Dinner’s and watching ’his’ show. We girls rolled our eyes and every week we begged daddy to watch something different, anything, but no it was TV Dinners and Hee Haw. Secretly I think it was Roy Clark and Buck Owens country cornball music he loved.

My sister’s Mary, Marilyn and me, Carly or should I say, Crosby? Dad loved my mother dearly and all three of us kids. My father is a bit of a recluse now that he is getting older. Mom told me that Dad was a real hippie. Lived the life even owned an old-school bus. He lived in a commune for a year and a half, met my mother there. He met Wavy Gravy once He still brags about that. I had to research out who the heck was Wavy Gravy?

We were raised Catholic. Hence, Mary for Mother Mary, Marilyn that is easy, Marilyn Monroe and of course me Crosby for Crosby, Stills, and Nash. My dad, in my opinion, is slightly bent from those “free hippy years.”

“So now I am sitting here sipping my wine with all these memories going through my head when it happened. The song!

 

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Broken Promises Under The Influence Of Blue Agave Chapter 2

Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night–not just an hour before I would normally wake up–no, it’s one-thirty in the morning. My eyes pop open, and within seconds my mind starts working. I lay there forcing myself to only think of the color black in hopes if I can concentrate long enough on “go to black” I will fall back to sleep. Thinking of the color black and nothing else rarely works for me, and my mind wanders all over the place, and I toss and turn.

Tonight I have found myself laying there in my warm bed, and I start to think about my life. My life has been rewarding and mostly pleasant, but at times I feel like I have walked through the valley of death with a heavy dose of discouragement. There has been a lot of disappointment in my life, but I have two beautiful children from it.

My oldest is Rebecka, she is fifteen years old and a firecracker. I was under the impression first borns were much easier to raise. Maybe I have another child somewhere I’m not aware of because Rebecka is the opposite of a saint. She loves to do just the reverse of what she is asked to do. Nothing is more important than her texting friends that may or may not be in reality. How would I know?

My youngest child, Gracie, she is thirteen and as close to a saint as a thirteen-year-old child can be. She actually listens to me. She will load the dishwasher after dinner. She is soft spoken and has a heart of gold. Unlike Rebecka, Gracie still loves to curl up with me and share a bowl of popcorn while watching old movies.

So as a single mother I have raised these two girls virtually by myself. I think I have done a pretty good job despite Rebecka’s attitude at times. Overall they are both wonderful, and I am lucky to have them, (more about that later).  I am proud of both of my girls that soon enough will become women.

I lay in bed, eyes wide open and my brain grinding disconnected thoughts like a mill grinding wheat into flour. I am again reflecting back over my life before parenthood and jobs became such a priority.

Many years ago, I had a boyfriend, he was a true friend. His name was Marshall. In those days all close friends had nick names. My nickname is Crosby. I got it early on from my father. When I was younger, I always thought that was my real name. I called Marshall, Marshmallow. Don’t get me wrong this guy was not soft, mushy or even losing his hair. He worked construction installing windows and doors. He was attractive and as fit as any man I ever knew.

The connection we had in those days as best friends made it easy to be close. We had an agreement not to become sexual but stay as best friends. Boyfriend and girlfriend in the most innocent way. It worked for us even though my friends and Marshall’s “dudes” all laughed at us saying it could never work. Through sheer determination and grinding teeth persistence,  we did, in fact, make it work. Maybe now that I think about it that is where Rebecka gets her stubborn obstinance which at times drives me crazy. Must be in her DNA.

Marshall and I got together several times a month. We were both single, and we spent our time eating dinner, watching movies, things that best friends always do. We were really close in those days. As I recall we hung out for about three years. Never once during that time did we discuss or even tempt ourselves with stepping into a sexual relationship. What we had was special, and it was a safe place from the pressures of our friends all groping one another at bars and parties. We watched friends meet, hang out and then date, sometimes moving in together. Inevitably they broke up and left Marshall and me to wonder where we stood with two good friends now hating each other.

I think about that part of my life sometimes, and I still smile at those amazing innocent days without all the complicated life that was to come. I have wondered at times what it would have been like if Marshall and I did have a love relationship and perhaps marriage. I silently sneak thoughts of what my life would be like if we had married and had children.

I think about my husband who has disappeared from my life and his daughter’s lives. It has been hard to keep referring to him in any kind of positive manner when attempting to answer my daughter’s constant questions of why their father left us. The most difficult question for me is how I did not see it coming, how did I not recognize the signs? It breaks my heart to think about how to answer that question honestly. I have dodged it by slipping the subject or distracting Rebecka and Gracie with anything else I could think of. Rebecka no longer is buying my deflections, and one of these days I will have to get real and tell her and Gracie the truth.

But tonight or should I say morning–1:37 a.m.–I’m awake and between thoughts reminding myself to only think of the color black, nothing else. Then thoughts, no black! I am frustrating myself, and my discipline is not strong enough. I am squeezing my eyes closed so tight it almost hurts, maybe I can go to sleep. Damn thinking only of the color black never works.