The Unbridgeable Distance Between Natchez and Oxford

The worst part is that I knew.

Too much time had passed.  I pushed the thought from my head.

No time.  No time for that.

I was so close.  So fucking close.

Yet I didn’t go.  Too busy visiting, too busy with the minutia.

I couldn’t make time.

She was disappointed.

I explained.  She was still disappointed.

Who was she to me?  No one.  No one really.

No one but a kind old woman.  No one but kin.

Now she’s gone.  Just like that.  One Facebook message and she gone.

I am ashamed.

Tears don’t diminish regret.

Time is an illusion.  There is no such thing.

Do what you must and do it now.

Death waits for no one.

Not even the busy.

Not even me.IMGP5846

 

 

S. Conde

 

 

The Buyers

Dear Buyers,

There is a small but prolific vine that pops up all over the flower bed in front of the house.  I left her alone at first because she was lovely and bore tiny flowers.  She managed to choke and kill one of the lavender plants while I wasn’t paying attention last year, and nearly took out one of the delphinium as well.  So now I pull her out as soon as I spot her murderous little tendrils.  I yanked her from four locations just this morning.

There are three varieties of roses climbing up the side of the house.  One of them, I found (thought it was a weed) growing wild in the backyard.  She was tiny when I pulled her out and replanted her in the bed with the others.  At first I didn’t think she’d survive.  Now, she’s the biggest of them all, and covered in buds.  I hope we get to see her bloom one last time before we go.

It’s been an odd Spring.  The tulips, peonies, ferns, lilies, and bleeding hearts all came up at about the same time.  The irises came too soon, and were hit with another blast of arctic temperatures, stopping them in their tracks.  It was a long and bitter winter.  Only one iris managed to flower at all.

Happily, the strawberries, blueberries and grapes were undaunted and are already taking shape.  I do hope you enjoy them.  Take care to protect the grapes or you’ll never taste them.  The birds around here are quick and shameless.

About the house.  I vacuum the wood floors instead of sweeping as it keeps the dust down.  Once every couple of weeks a good vinegar and water mop brings out their shine.  Take care to mop then dry immediately in sections.

I add a few drops of essential oil to my dust rag, varying the scent from room to room.  I like eucalyptus or tea tree in the bathrooms, lemon or lime in the kitchen, geranium throughout most of the house, lavender in the bedrooms, and a combination of cinnamon and patchouli in the master.  …for obvious reasons.  Of course, these are just my preferences.  It’s your house now.

I’ve cooked many a wonderful meal in the kitchen.  I love that kitchen.  We remodeled it ourselves.  It was hard work, but well worth the effort.  I wish you could have seen it before.  Oh and the oven!  A Blue Star, made in Texas.  May she be as good to you as she’s been to me. The refrigerator is a beast, a Traulsen.  We had to remove a section of cabinetry just to fit her in; a decision we’ve never regretted.  It will glide you through pre and post preparation of all your holiday meals.  She housed enough food to keep two enormous teenage boys, a grown man, a beautiful young woman and myself well fed.

The three upstairs bedrooms were our children’s rooms.  After our eldest moved into his own apartment, there was an immediate shuffling of bedrooms.  The smallest, originally our daughter’s, became the guest bedroom.  The room at the back is ours, it’s always been ours.

Our neighborhood is safe, I mean, as safe as a neighborhood can be.  We have fallen asleep with the sliding doors open.  Gardenia and lilac floating in on the breeze.  We’re well within walking distance of the library, movies at The Pickwick, restaurants, and the train station. Affresco is our favorite local restaurant, the ingredients are fresh, simple and made with love.  The owner, Sergio, is a kind and lovely man.  He’ll make you feel at home.

I will miss it here.  We will all miss it here.  This move is bittersweet.  You see we made a life here, we raised a family, we created a home, and while four of us prepare to leave, one of us will stay.  Though I know it’s time to let go, I am struggling.

Please love this home.  Please care for the plants.  Please know that we did not leave this place easily.  We have filled this house with our love, be good to her, keep her filled with your own.

Wishing you all the best in our home, that is to say, your home.

S

 

Will Power

When I was a girl, I knew an old woman.

She had a magic.

A way of knowing.

The strength of a person’s will.

She was quiet.  She watched.  She listened.  She smiled.

Privately, she would give me summation.

Weak willed.  Strong willed.  Willful.  With or without will power.

I would like to say she didn’t judge.  It sounds nicer.  But she did.

She didn’t dismiss the weak of will, but she did not trust them.

They had not the power to assert sheer force of will in their own lives.

How would they behave in hers?

Without honor.

I loved her but thought this mean spirited.

I told her so.

I told her everything.

“I ain’t scared a you.”

She loved to hear me say that.

It was our joke.

She adored me.

She trained me.

“The worst thing you can do to a child is break their will.”

She was right.  Of course.

Once stolen, no one can give it back to you.

Build yours again.

Have courage.

Be who you are.

Or better still…

Be who you want to be.

 

Manipura : Chakra Healing

Activate Your Manipura Chakra : Activate Your Will

 

S. Conde

 

 

 

 

 

Speaking In The Vernacular

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She had a cadence to her voice.  A pattern to her speech. Sublimely Southern in her delivery.

Rarely did she volunteer her opinion.  When asked, she chose her words with care.  She spoke in a kind of code. Responding indirectly,  answering questions not yet asked.

She could cut you down, lift you up, make all clear in a phrase.  You’d remember what she said, because you’d feel it, everywhere, all at once.  Her words had a way of traveling through your ear, bypassing your brain and attaching themselves to your soul.  …or maybe that was just me.

Revealed by her words was a peacefulness which came from the country.  Swinging slowly with the breeze.  Sipping tea.  Rocking in a chair on the porch.  Friends with time.  At one with the natural rhythms of life.  …or maybe that was just her.

She made me feel calm.  Safe.  Loved.  Scratching my back softly she’d sing to me.  Sometimes just repeating two words over and over.  “Purty baby, purty baby…”

She wasn’t perfect.  She had a short temper, like me.  No patience for ignorance, like me.  Once she decided she didn’t like you, chances are she never would.  Like me.

On my stepmother:  “MeeMaw, I don’t think she likes you.”  “That’s ok baby, better people ‘n her don’t like me.”

On my ex husband: “MeeMaw, what do you think of him?”  “I don’t know.”  “What do you mean you don’t know? I’ve been married to him for five years.”  “I mean, I don’t know.  He never says anything more to me ‘n what I wanna hear.”

On me, while married to my ex husband:  “What the hell happened to you?  You didn’t used to be afraid of nuthin’.”

On my husband who’d cornered her at a family gathering after she’d been diagnosed with bone cancer:  “Your husband gave me a sermon today.”  “He did?”  “He told me I was being selfish for not letting you come and see me…and that every time you get off the phone with me you cry.  Like I don’t know you.  …but don’t tell him I told you, or he won’t talk to me that way anymore.”

On cigarettes:  “I guess I shouldn’t have smoked, but I did so enjoy it.”

On dying: “MeeMaw, are you scared?”  “I’ve never done this before baby.  Should I be?”

I listened closely when she chose to speak.  For as she was fond of saying, it is not a babbling brook, but still water, which runs deep.