In Motion: Bellingham, Poetry, San Juan Islands, Ted Talks


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Road Fury

1978 Chrysler Fury Magazine Commercial
A few days ago I received a text from my daughter: "I drove myself home!" 
My daughter just recently earned her drivers license and drove herself home from college for the first time. She sounded so happy! For various reasons she didn't get her license until her second year of college. Now, a whole time zone away from me, she is driving. I wished I was there to help her celebrate!

In my home growing up, dad was the designated driving instructor. He was well qualified for two reasons. 1- Experience. At different parts of his life he had many driving jobs such as milkman, ambulance driver, and mailman, and 2- he was dad. Throughout the seasons dad taught me how to drive in rainy weather, mud, snow, high winds and ice. Living in the Pacific Northwest these are important skills to have. You could experience all those road conditions in one outing.

I couldn't wait to drive!  The first weekend I had my learners permit, I begged my dad to take me driving. He chose to give me lessons in our family's used metallic green 78' Plymouth Fury. It was 1983 but the Fury was retro before retro. This "boat on wheels" was bad ass! It had a killer stereo and could fit at least seven to eight people in it, six with seat belts, two could sit comfortably on the back floor; the leg room was outrageous. My brother and I often joked we could carry livestock in it!  My ego was being fed by the shovel full as my hand reached down to adjust the massive 6 foot long front seat forward so I could reach the pedals. I was pretty positive the seat had never been that far forward. I felt invincible in that tank!

On that first day, permit in hand, dad taught me a lesson I'll never forget. As we approached a sharp right turn behind a strip mall off Highway 99, my overconfidence got the best of me. A mischievous grin stretched ear to ear across my face when I read the yellow arrow sign "SLOW 25 mph". I took my foot off the gas and let the cars momentum slow itself down from 35 to 25 in less than a block, cranking the wheel to the right once the speedometer hit "25 mph." The large chrome "bumper-o-fury" crossed the solid yellow line into on-coming traffic, just missing another car. I was proud of myself, and my stunt driver type moves, but I was the only one who was.

Now my dad was a quiet man, full of patience. There were few times growing up when I saw him get angry or yell, just a few, but when he did the heavens shook!


The sound waves of his shouting reverberated through my bones, out the left side of my body and out  the Fury's door, my long black hair blowing straight back in the invisible waves!  The steel door vibrated at such a frequency, amplifying each word to unnatural levels that I imagined all insects, small mammals and children under 10 within line of sight of that sound wave instantly dropped to the ground unconscious, stunned!

After I pulled over into the library parking lot per instructions, dad's lecture put the fear of God in me and the seriousness of my actions were made clear. Being the driver of a vehicle is a privilege not a right, and this privilege comes with responsibility. It wasn't a ride at a fair.

My daughter learned how to drive through a drivers class at college. She did it all herself. I'd have to guess that they talk about statistics and gave a ten point lecture on how to drive defensively. I'm sure she is going to make a fine driver, but I must confess, when the roads get hairy and I'm surrounded by idiot drivers, the first thing I think about is respect.  Respect for the rules of the road as I drive my 4000 pounds of metal and the other drivers sitting in theirs.  Without that things could get... well... furious!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Hold On

Today marks the third week living at my new place. While unpacking boxes of stuff I discovered a box of odd things from my past that included: a pen and ink drawing from 8th grade art class on "Abstract Art", 10 soccer & softball trophies, my letters earned from school sports, two teeth pulled, and some ribbons from 4th grade field day. These were all in a box, tucked away for no one to see. Perhaps you have had a similar experience when moving; finding sentimental items that seem too valuable for the landfill but not important enough to frame or display?  Every time we move, we move boxes that almost never get opened. WHAT should we do with them?

Tree growing out of a punk head and a green fish- 1982 by me
Webster defines memorabilia as either (1) things that are remarkable and worthy of remembrance, or (2) things that stir recollection or are valued or collected for their association with a particular field or interest. Thanks Webster but I'm looking for an "items in a box that you have not touched in over 12 months that should be given to charity or thrown away" answer. You are not helping.

Now, if I had a den my personal mementos might work well in there framed next to my baby picture, but I have limited space, so if I could get rid of this box of useless items it would be nice. However, all these things do represent happy moments from my past. Looking through this box is an instant cure for sentimental moments that usually apear after a few glasses of wine, or when I've moved and open it because I forgot what heck is in there.  I should toss them!  I mean would I ever say to a friend visiting, "Oh my goodness, I'm so glad you came over! Want to see the letter I earned from high school soccer?" Never! Also, how weird would it be to go to someone’s house and find their eight grade art framed above the couch? Unless it was exceptional work it would be strange.

Although I do not need the visual aides to help prove certain moments in time existed, I just do not know what value my teeth pulled when I was 12 will have for my grandchildren after I've passed.  Regardless, I have to say mementos are important.

Some moments and events in our timeline help to define our identity, tell us who we are, challenge us and put new dimensions into our person. Are they touchstones of our character? If so, then there are some items missing. I wish I had a jar of sand from the first beach I built a sandcastle on, a recording of my family singing songs in the back of the green pick-up on our way to go camping, or a box of those summer evenings sleeping out on the grass in our backyard watching the milky way slowly twist itself across the sky.

Memorabilia: warm reminders of who we were and where we come from. Perhaps one day these items will end up in a landfill of lost memories, but for now I'll keep them close to my heart, in a box at the bottom of the coat closet.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Poetry: Him


When she thinks of him she smiles

When he stands in front of her 
She sees him as an old man
Still standing there
That look in his eyes
In front of her, smiling

“Could he stay there, with me, that long?
Could I know him ‘till he goes gray?”

Sometimes I wish I could tell him “I love you”
But it’s still too early, only SUMMER
Instead I say “I was thinking of you”
Everyone wants to be thought of

I want to sleep with you!
The bed warm
I want to wake with you!
The next morning
Like the couple I think we could be
Is it too early to feel this?
Yes, it’s only FALL

Time continues hearts come closer
As the snow hugs the earth
Conversation over a meal
Sitting quietly watching a movie
Lying next to you listening to you breathe
It’s only WINTER and this life imagined…

In a year I’ll try to say “I love you”
Like a woman tries on a blouse
Like a young bird trying its wings
Like a child stacking blocks
Building a house, needing a home

…and I’ll tell you in the SPRING