Here’s the 411!

9/5/11

Bitterness
and frustrations sometime get the better of me and while I do not often court
disappointment and anger for anger’s sake… I do confess that yesterday I felt
caught within the turbulence of my own life. Shifting winds that do not bank
enough to get you to the safety of another shoreline sometimes blow just hard
enough to set you out to sea and then depart… leaving you stranded amongst
the anarchy of your own thoughts with no segue back to harbor.

I do not do well in those times between the
rush of information and the calm seas of stagnation. Too much uncertainty fills
this small vessel and I am wont of solid and quantifiable chaos. Shall I
apologize for such ripples of discontent as was displayed so publicly just a
few hours ago? I think naught… I am but human too and though I desperately
need the help of those who have passed, I cannot place them on higher pedestal than
myself as we strive to achieve the same when all is said and done.

But here is
another curiosity that may play out to defend or deny me and you shall be privy
to both its inception and its final declaration.

Rain is
sacred for me and this season even more so. With heady schedules of recent
past, I was in dire need of solitude and sequestering these three short days,
but as yesterday was the eve of summer’s last holiday…company was the order
of the day. While I enjoy camaraderie, I am much better suited to myself while
under such dark clouds as rolled above and within me and so joy felt more like
intrusion.  Writing is always the remedy-
no matter the joy or pain, no matter the season– but with opportunity for such
removed by proximity of people…I did the next best thing. I escaped to the
out of doors, built a fire on the beach and enjoyed the burled edges of
charcoaled skies as they hid my angst under the guise of their own rumblings.

When
conversation turned to hearth and home, I uncharacteristically announced we had
entertained purchasing another place not far from where we sat. Intrigued my
company asked to review and without hesitation we unmoored the boat and took
leave of the beach. Minutes later we pulled along side the dock, latched onto
the rusted cleats and chugged our way up the long set of stairs to the deck in
the drizzling rain. Peering like small children into the caverness insides of
the structure, I tried to secure unfettered view of my potential space from any
angle possible.

In the back
of my mind I shuffled chairs and tables, sofas and love seats—hung paintings
and adjusted lighting to enhance. I marked firewood caches and imagined how the
unfiltered light would hit my private treasures. What hues and shadows might be
cast by their choreography through every season? The rain picked up and a stout
wind nipped at my bare neck and then without ceremony, I turned abruptly upon
my heels to catch the view from where I would place my writing desk. Small
whitecaps rimmed the edges of a swell and my heart sailed out to sea with the
open expanse of water that churned beneath.
I saw it all… tender summer sunsets, spring and autumn storms and magical
flurries of snow capped tears… all captured frame by frame by lovely frame of
a room that housed nothing but air and glass. In that instant I remembered the
feather and ran to the front of the house where it still lay tucked inside its
metal cocoon and I smiled.

I had not
been forgotten.

Yesterday
before company had arrived and I had blasted the cyber airwaves with my
mounting frustrations, I had rewritten an area of the book which dealt with the
death of my mother, her past and a play once outlined- but never written. It was
a piece about my mother; conceived just prior to her death and meant for
therapy in the days and weeks just after. It is apiece I have yet the courage
to write and while I must continue with Charley and finish this journey as
designed… I will write it. One day when the moment is right… when the heart
is stronger and the confusion over my true loss is capable of being defined.
This is an excerpt from the book, The Coffee Pot Conspiracy by TAP (Copyright 2009)

*******

 

“What
the Hell? I had gotten everything else so far, why couldn’t I get this?
Mentally I rummaged through every family photo I could recall in my head and
got nothing for my troubles. “Why don’t I know what this means? I should know
what this means…” I answered flatly. “If I had only known this was going to
be on the test,” I joked “I would have studied harder last night.”

Rachael
laughed and immediately my mind went to an outline of a play I never finished
called “Final Exam.” It was about a long line of newly dead people standing
before the pearly gates and as they reached Saint Peter, he would ask them a
bizarre question and they would all have to respond- no matter what the
question was… “But…nobody told me that was going to be on the test!” Then
each person would have to go back to the end of the line and start all over
again to study for the test. The entire play would be nothing but the
conversations between the eager souls trying to cram for their final entrance
exam, which was pointless because Saint Peter never asked the same question
twice!

“T.A.?”
she prompted. “You ok?”

“Yes.
Sorry, no. I mean, I don’t know. I don’t recognize a purple shirt. I’m sorry. I
was just remembering something else… about a play I once thought to write.”

“Does
that have something to do with the purple shirt?” she innocently asked.

“No…”
I whispered.

“She
is proud of your accomplishments… she’s asking about another play. Something
about a house? Do you understand?’

I
winced. “I know exactly what she is talking about. I have not written it yet,”
I humbly confessed.

“She
tells me you should… it will be cathartic.”

I
wipe a tear and tell her the outline. “The play was going to be called, ‘For Sale by Owner’ and it was
going to be about my mother’s life. My therapy piece, to get over the loss” I
added and sighed. “Not over it yet… not written yet.” I vomit without shame.

She
by-passed the therapy comment and plowed through. “And the house? How did that
figure into it?”

“It
was about a woman writer who had lost her mother…me, I guess. Anyway… the
house is the one her mother grew up in. I mean the character’s house… my
mother’s character. You see, the writer goes back to her mother’s childhood
home wanting to learn everything she could about her mother’s past, because she
died and never got to know the truth about her youth- she’s seeking closure.
When she arrives, she finds it has become a boarding house that is slated to be
torn down in a few months to make way for a new office building. Depressed that
she has lost a tangible connection to her mother, she explains to the old lady
who owns it why she has traveled so far. The woman offers to rent her a room
for a few weeks so she can explore the town and other landmarks mentioned in
her mother’s teenage diary.”

“Was
this diary real?” She left the question hanging in the air for me as bait to
follow her lead.

“Yes”
I answer.  “Well, it’s more of a photo
album, but it had entries and photos of her favorite hangouts. Including a menu
from the little diner she used to meet my father at- pictures of the lake where
she vacationed… childhood stuff.” I volunteered.

“Go
on…” she prompted.

“Anyway…
the writer spends each day going to local haunts and interviewing people,
trying to get to know what her mother was like as a child- a young woman, what
her family was really like, how she lived… At night she would come back to her room and
write about what she’d learned.”

How
does the house figure into the story?”

“In
each of the other apartments, there is a female character at various ages. As
she begins to interact with the other tenants in the building, she begins to
build relationships with them. The first is a young teenage girl who is the
victim of abuse by an alcoholic parent. The writer finds her crying under the
stairwell one night while on her way to do laundry in the basement. The second
is a young married woman who is pregnant with her first child and frightened of
becoming a mother. The third an older woman who has raised several children and
is renting while her retirement home is being constructed. The last is the
elderly woman who owns the home and has offered her retreat while discovering
her mother’s past.”

“I
can feel the build… what’s the catch here?” she queries.

“The
catch? Each of the female characters she meets is her mother at different
stages in her life. When all is said and done, the writer has inadvertently learned
everything about her mother she needed to learn, but does not realize it until
the final moment of the play when the rumbling of a train provides the
fulfillment of a promise they made to one another before she died.”

“Can
I ask what that promise was?” she asked gingerly, sensing the weight of the
moment.

“I
asked her…” and began to sniffle. “I asked if when she… when she got to the
other side.” I struggled openly. “I asked her to knock over my favorite picture
of her- a high school photo- so I would know she had not…” The last two words
lodged in my throat and I could not breathe.

“So
you would know…what?” she prompted.

“Forgotten
me.” I whimpered.

The title of
the play is, “For Sale by Owner” (Copyright 2006)
and it wasn’t until this morning that I realized that my mother, with gentle
hand and consummate compassion had not only not forgotten me… indeed she had
graciously led me to my potential new hearth and home. As I stood yesterday staring out
across the water towards the bridge and beyond, she must have stood quietly beside me as
I appraised from outside the yellow clapboard the life I might live within it.

The decking ran the entire length of the house, just above a huge yellow sign that read:

FOR SALE BY OWNER

Today I
wrote a letter of proposal and to my surprise found my mother holding the pen.

Dear Sir,

 

First
and foremost, thank you for the kindness of consideration and your generous
offer to preview the home this past Saturday, September 3, 2011. The following
is a letter of proposal on the property located at
________________________________currently listed as “For Sale by Owner.”

 

 

What you do
not know is…

I have
always wanted to live in a yellow house with a huge stone fireplace. I wanted
to be able to see a lighthouse somewhere within my view…and it needed to have
lots of book shelves for my books. I wanted a wide expanse of windows to look
out over deep green waters that lap against a rocky shoreline that can be seen
from my writing desk. This house is yellow and has every requirement desired…
including the lighthouse which sounds extravagant; except the lighthouse is
within the view on the wallpaper inside! I can live with that. But
wait…there’s more to this than just paint and wishing.

The address? I will not tell you all for personal
reasons, but stop for just a moment and think aloud with me. You read the
portion of the book I was working on yesterday; now remember what yesterday’s
blog was about? Why was I so frustrated?

Because I wanted more information!

The house
numbers on this cottage?

411

The numbers
411 stand for information!

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