The Small Honda

I slide out of the brisk evening air and into the passenger seat of his small old Honda, a car far too small for his football player frame. He sticks the key into the ignition, the engine coming to life. A layer of ice and snow occupies the windshield, he waits a few minutes for it to defrost. Faint clouds float from our mouths with each breath, remaining only for a few moments before fading away into the cold air of the car.

He pulls puts the car into reverse and pulls out of the lot, windshield still slightly foggy. They say that a reckless driver is safer than a scared driver, a sentiment I didn’t believe until the first time he drove me somewhere. He turns onto the main road, only half of one hand gracing the freezing surface of steering wheel. Yet, I still feel perfectly safe.

A CD plays in the background–EDM music that we both enjoy despite knowing that it is less artful than other genres. We have bits and pieces of a conversation, keeping it casual, but it feels more meaningful than typical small talk. We don’t force conversations; silence between us doesn’t have undertones of awkwardness like it does with other people I interact with. I catch glimpses of the outline of his face and his features highlighted by streetlamps and stoplights, but otherwise keep my gaze fixed on the passing scenery, though I’ve seen it hundreds of times. Part of me wonders if he’s stealing glances at me too, if he wonders what my face looks like in the fleeting sources of dim light.

We’re about halfway home when he pushes the eject button on the CD player, the radio immediately blaring a Top 100 song in response. He pulls the CD out of the slot and flips down the visor, revealing a holder housing ten or so plain CDs that he made himself. He slides the CD into an empty slot, pulls out a different one with no hesitation and slips it into the player. “No One” by Alicia Keys fills the small Honda.

We sing along, like we always do when music plays. He isn’t the best singer and he knows it, but never shies away from the high notes. I always turn and grin at him when he tries and fails to match the artist’s pitch and he always grins back and says, “Sorry, I’m done,” but he never stops and I’m glad he doesn’t.

We sing with Alicia Keys to the best of our abilities. It’s fun, like it always is–casual, no pressure. I don’t turn to him when his voice cracks on the high notes though, I keep my eyes on the houses that glide by, bullied into shyness by the thought that there could be significance behind his music choice.

“Beautiful Soul” by Jesse McCartney comes on next and we sing. I have to remind myself that this is normal, this is what we do. I smile at the familiarity, at the song that my friends and I loved back in middle school, but also at us in his small Honda singing as we cruise through the night.

He pulls into my driveway. I thank him for the ride. He smiles and says he’ll see me tomorrow. I watch as the pair of headlights veer around the corner and out of sight. I walk into my house, humming to myself because the songs are stuck in my head.

 

Every morning, I go to the same coffee shop

Every morning, I go to the same coffee shop I have since my walk was an uncoordinated waddle

Not the kind of coffee shop that has one location every ten miles and

attracts the people who ache for that burst of caffeine to give them

just enough energy to crawl through the jobs that they complain about

But the kind of coffee shop with chipped paint and wooden chairs that

creak when you let them bear your weight and warmth baked into the grooves of the red brick walls

 

The kind of coffee shop with devout customers passing through the door every morning

An elderly man with wire-rimmed glasses who never orders anything and just sits where the

window meets the wall and stares at picture frames housing photos of families he pretends are his own

A little girl with curly blonde pigtails tied off with pink ribbons that bounce when she comes

skipping through the door with her starving artist of a mother who sips black coffee and

stares at white paper while the girl scribbles on napkins with the same two crayons

A guy fresh out of college with a girlfriend who lives a few hundred miles from here

He sends her pictures of his breakfast so they can at least come close to sharing meals

 

I try not to count down the days before

The guy’s girlfriend becomes more pixels on a screen than she is human

The little girl wears down her crayons and her starving artist of a mother

isn’t able to buy her new ones

The elderly man meets his fate like the rest of his family

The warmth is mistaken for age and the chairs are seen as a safety concern and

the paint chips to the point of decrepitude

 

I try not to count down the days before

I am shoved into an unforgiving plastic seat surrounded by the type of heels that squish toes

and blazers with too much padding at the shoulder and the type of sincerity

that needs rehearsing and people who are nothing without something to complain about

 

I try not to count down the days before

I skip my morning coffee because

I would rather have no coffee  than coffee that is cold

in every sense of the word

The World from a Writer

It’s a strange thing

seeing the world as a writer

for we see things

miles beneath the surface

The girl with blonde hair

has a waterfall of

sunbeams dripping down

her back

but she doesn’t know it

Sadness brings surges of

tsunami waves and hurricanes with

sheets of rain and

every type of natural disaster

imaginable

Hot chocolate isn’t just good

(and God forbid you would use

such a bland word)

it comes in waves of

decadent chocolate so

sweet and then a snap of

cinnamon that dances around

your taste buds

It’s a strange thing

seeing the world as a writer

but I couldn’t imagine how lifeless

a world without sunbeam hair and

tsunami waves of sadness and

dancing cinnamon

would be

What does moonlight sound like?

I feel the gentle vibration of my phone in my back pocket. The small LED screen comes to life with text.

I’m in your driveway

Ready when you are

I slip into a sweater before scrawling a quick note for my parents in case they come back from their monthly dinner date to an empty house. I grab my wallet and house key and step out of the house into the amber-streaked outside world, locking the door behind me.

Cole waves at me from the driver’s seat. I pull open the passenger seat door and he smiles back before giving me a surprise kiss on the forehead.

“Where are we going?” I sign.

“You’ll see,” he signs back, hazel eyes gleaming.

The past year with Cole had been a mix of unplanned excursions and spontaneity–a welcome change of pace to my usual overly protective lifestyle my parents provided me for most of my life. My parents approve Cole, though; I think they were pretty much sold after he started signing along with us when we had him over for dinner one night. He’d practiced for months.

Car rides are always without conversation for the sake of Cole not being able to take his eyes off of the road or his hands off of the steering wheel. The lack of conversation is comforting, though; the two of us have become close enough that there’s no need to fill the air with small talk every moment. His presence is all I need most of the time.

Instead I lose myself in the scenery that rolls by. I watch shadows of trees elongate and the sky fades from amber to rose to violet. I watch as the populated suburbs morph into rolling hills and mysterious forests and green everywhere I look.

The sky is on the verge of navy blue as Cole eases on the break pedal and pulls into a gravel lot big enough for only two or three cars. We bounce around in our seats with the uneven ground.

“We’re here,” he signs.

I’m not exactly sure where “here” is other than a vast empty field covered with unkempt grass dotted with patches of dainty wildflowers. The green seems to extend for miles before it meets the dark blue sky.

We step outside and the cool summer night air brushes across my bare skin. Cole pulls a plaid blanket out from the trunk. He walks toward me and laces the fingers of his free hand with mine. We walk across the grass until the car fades into a blurry red dot.

Cole grabs two corners of the blanket and lets the breeze unfold the rest before laying it down on the grass. We sit with is arm around my shoulder. I run my fingertips over the blanket, age only making it softer. The sky is now on the verge of blackness with stars beginning to poke through the dark. Cole gives my shoulder a gentle squeeze. I turn toward him and he points somewhere to my right to get me to look.

And there it is; a perfect circle with smooth edges and a color that is neither white nor grey, but somewhere in between. It’s glowing and I can’t tear my eyes away. I’ve seen the moon outside my bedroom window, but it was always jabbed with tree branches or rooftops. Here, there is nothing in the way.

He squeezes my shoulder again to interrupt my gaze.

“Full moon tonight,” he says with his hands as he smiles.

The moon illuminates our faces as we shift to face it.

“What does moonlight sound like?” I sign to him. He cocks his head to one side and looks at me, apprehensive.

“What do you think it sounds like?” he signs back at me without a hint of condescension, despite the fact he has functioning ears and is fully aware what the moon actually sounds like.

I consider this for a moment.

“I think it sounds like what a hug feels like,” I sign, “Safe and comforting.”

Cole huddles closer, eyes steady on me and my hands, ready to absorb what I sign next.

“Or maybe it sounds more like the smell of cinnamon,” I continue. “Sweet at first, but also vivacious with a certain sharpness that doesn’t stick out, but blends in. Maybe it sounds like the color blue, calm and tranquil. Maybe it’s more like the taste of apple pie. Home.”

I lower my hands and stare at them and consider what I just said. I slowly raise my head and meet Cole’s gaze, expecting him to look at me like I’m crazy for thinking that moonlight sounds like all of these things. But he doesn’t. He just wears a smile soaked with endearment and I can’t help but smile in return.

I rest my head in the curve where his neck fades into his shoulder. We sit there gazing at the moon, at its magic and mystery and elegance and I wonder how a single sound can capture such a thing.

Then, I figure it out.

“I know,” I sign. “The moonlight sounds like your voice when you speak.”

He smiles at that and I watch his lips move as he says something in his moonlight-sounding voice.

“I love you too,” I sign back to him.

(inspired by a prompt from whynot41: “what does moonlight sound like?”)

Why College Scares Me

I have trouble deciding what

flavor ice cream to get because

what if I take one bite of

the mint chocolate chip and realize

that I would’ve much preferred

pistachio when really

I can get ice cream whenever I want so

it shouldn’t be that big of a deal

But I’m 17 years old now and

I need to think about college and

what I want to do with my life

But if I can’t decide between

mint chocolate chip and pistachio how

am I supposed to decide my future?

What if, fifteen years down the road

I’m a neurosurgeon who’s

destined to write a best-seller

but doesn’t know it

Or what if I’m a freelance writer

who can’t pay for neurosurgery at all

They say applying for college is

“an exciting time”

but I hardly agree because

changing careers is a lot more

complicated than simply

getting more ice cream

Happy Birthday

Happy birthday to the newborn

screaming and crying

draped on his mother’s chest

unaware of the momentous occasion

focused only on surviving

 

Happy birthday to the six-year-old

excited and laughing

surrounded by party decorations

eager for cake and presents

basking in the attention

 

Happy birthday to the sixteen-year-old

distant and rebellious

waiting in the DMV

ready to have some freedom

embarrassed when people sing to her

 

Happy birthday to the twenty-one-year-old

wild and wasted

in a bar with some friends

feeling like she can conquer the world

losing control for just one night

 

Happy birthday to the thirty-year-old

lost and afraid

alone in her apartment

scared of what lies ahead of her

wishing she was a kid again

 

Happy birthday to the fifty-year-old

content and secure

celebrating at her favorite restaurant

with her partner and kids

thankful for all that she has

 

Happy birthday to the eighty-year-old

reflective and thoughtful

perched in a rocking chair

wondering where all her years went

wondering if she spent them well

 

(p.s. it’s my birthday today ^.^)

Pride

Photo source: The Huffington Post

“Sometimes, there are days like this when that slow, steady effort is rewarded with justice that arrives like a thunderbolt.” -President Barack Obama on the marriage equality Supreme Court decision

What a proud day to be an American.

Today, in a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage throughout the United States.

I couldn’t be happier.

I don’t identify as gay; I don’t really know what I identify as, honestly. But it’s comforting to know that whether I fall in love with a man or a woman, I will be able to marry them.

And not just me, but everyone. Everyone will be able to marry the person they love.

It goes even farther than that though. It’s change like this that make it that much easier for future generations to accept themselves for who they are and to be proud of who they are regardless of sexual orientation. This legalization shows people that it’s okay if they love someone who happens to be the same gender that they are.

This is the type of change we need.

I think what’s most amazing is seeing people throughout the nation celebrating. Celebrating the Supreme Court ruling. Celebrating the fact that they can marry whoever they want. Celebrating the progression.

Celebrating themselves.

What a proud day to be an American.

What a proud day to be yourself.