Solicitous Histrionics

Open a dictionary. Pick a word. Now close it.

Open it again.  Pick another word.  Close it.

Now, write a poem using those two words.

This is a fun little game taught to me by my favorite local poet, Justin Karcher.  Back in January, I discovered he would be doing a workshop at the Just Buffalo Literary Center, and my mother was kind enough to purchase me a ticket.  It was in May, so it was a long wait.  There were only 9 or 10 of us, but it was great…to me at least, who had never been to a writing workshop of any kind. 

One of the first questions he posed was what poetry meant to us.  It’s a simple concept, I suppose, but if you don’t have a grasp of what your craft means to you, then what are you even doing? I responded to this question with a poem of my own, naturally:

Poetry
By Brigid Hannon

Poetry is my voice, 
louder in word than in action.
My pen on paper. 
or my mouth and teeth and tongue,
no different from each other.
Each meter should lift darkness into light. 
Each verse should move a heart to break, 
each stanza another gasp from muted lips-
poetry is power and 
opinion and 
might-
the never ceasing beat 
of our living hearts.

Now, a lot of Justin’s stuff has to do with our shared home of Buffalo, NY, which may be why I love it so much.  I have long held a hope to write a collection of just Buffalo poems, so when he said we would be writing poems about “home” in some fashion, I was delighted.  I started free writing some thoughts down, and eventually I took those bones and pieced them together into a skeleton of a poem, which I took home with me to work on further.  I knew it wasn’t the sort I could pound out in an hour-long class.  I did, however, write this little guy as well, which I have no intention of doing anything with, so I might as well share it with you here:
Safe Shoes
Also by Brigid Hannon

No flip-flops today;
no sandals.
Sneakers?  But no...
laces come untied.
Little ones, so scared,
and yet prepared,
and I cannot choose a shoe.

An adult counterpart,
I've no active training.
"Where's the exit," I ask myself,
looking to the black sturdy Sketchers
I picked out,
with rubber soles and no laces-
shoes that keep me safe,
like I keep little souls who find me,
willing to sacrifice for such.

She tells me she likes her school;
she feels safe:
"We hardly ever have a lockdown." 
Hardly.
Look to the ground to keep from crying, 
seeing only sturdy safe shoes-
shoes that make me RUN.

Anyway, the workshop was lovely.  I went home and worked on my main poem for a bit, and when it was done, I emailed it to Justin to show him.  A few days later, he got back to me and asked if he could publish it in the June edition of Ghost City Press, which is the mag where I published my first poem, so, I mean…yeah, dude.  Of course.
So, in honor of that, I made a TikTok for it, which I will share at the end of this post.  It is a poem about my city, but also about my grandparents.  We were supposed to write about what home means to us, and my city is my home, where I would not live were it not for my grandparents, who gave me this wonderful home without even realizing it.  
Finally, I tried to write a poem using the dictionary game, and I tell you, friend-I have failed.  I have been drowning in the words “solicitous histrionics” for weeks now, because those are the two words that noodled their way out of the book and into my brain.  Eventually, I will write that poem-it will probably be a weird one.
So, that’s all for today, I think.  Happy Monday!

Retroactive Reunion

Saturday night was my high school reunion.  I was prepared to go.  I got dressed, even put on makeup, and was driving down Harlem Rd.  I came to the 33, and instead of going straight as planned, I hooked a right and went elsewhere.  I blew it off.

Many moons ago, my friend Chelsea and I made a pact to attend this reunion, our 20 year…well, 21, given Covid.  However, Chels was out of town.  I messaged Jaime, and neither of us seemed to know if we were going until it was time to go.  I’m still not sure if she did.  I do know that I did not.

First of all, most of my friends from high school are scattered now, and people that I would like to see are out of state or country.  Sure, I’d be happy to see other girls from school, but my core group of friends really wasn’t going to be represented.  Secondly, while the school held an all-class bash that I also did not attend, the reunion itself was at a bar and I wasn’t in the mood.  I would have preferred something at the school, or perhaps outdoors.  I don’t really drink, and I’m not about to spend a ridiculous amount of money on food or something, and I generally do not enjoy a bar atmosphere anymore.  So, the whole idea of going just seemed oppressive.

Still, I wanted to, which I why I got ready and started driving.  But then, my anxiety woke up.

It already wasn’t a stellar day, but when my chest tightened as I drove down Harlem, I knew a mistake was being made.  See, high school was no high point for me, and traumatic memories came flooding back as I drove, making me feel like I am not as healed as I thought I was.  So, I turned right, got on the 90, and headed towards Carey’s house. 

Evening found me sitting on her porch overlooking the Niagara River with my husband and friends, and feeling happy.  Much happier, and much more myself, than I would have felt at that reunion.

Save my close friends, those girls don’t know me.  Many of them barely tried when I was right in front of their face, so why should anyone try now?  I used to worry about reunions because of my lack of successes.  My graduating class is something of a powerhouse, and I have always felt subpar in comparison to them.  But then I became an author, and that stopped mattering.  Now, apparently, the only thing keeping me from reuniting is bad memories. 

Anyway, I think I’m going to ask Chelsea and Jaime if they want to get dinner sometime soon, and perhaps a couple of the other girls that I do wish to see, because I did have good friends that I miss.  Still, it is hard for me to separate the good part of my high school experience from the bad part.  Perhaps I need another 20 years.

It’s My Party, And I Will Cry If I Want To.

Today is my birthday, and I am trying to be positive but it isn’t working out.

Mom has been in the hospital for over a month, but what she is supposed to be doing right now is taking me out for pancakes.  So far, every moment of the morning has been permeated by the thought that my mother isn’t present.  It is depressing me, and the fact that I got a free iced coffee this morning for no good reason is, so far, the high point of my day.

Bernie is baking me a cake, and if it doesn’t rain this evening, we are going to some sort of hippie congregation at the park.  But what I’m not doing is having a barbecue with my mother’s cucumber salad.  See?  Every happy thing seems to be getting cancelled out by a sad thing. 

I’m going to see Mom this afternoon, so that is something to look forward to.  Bern claims that she said my name the other day, so I’m going to see if I can get any noises out of her.  Then I’m going to stop by my Gram’s house and see her, which always cheers me up, so hopefully by the time Bern shows up with cake, I will be in a better mood. 

But right now, my iced coffee is gone and my hand keeps falling asleep as I type, so…bye.

Auditory

I guess you can thank my friend Carey for my summer project.

See, school ends after this week’s Saturday program, so I am in pursuit of something to do over the summer.  I did score a nice gig as a theater teacher for a kid’s summer camp, but that’s only for a week.  I took it mainly to pay for my trip to Salem this Autumn.  That leaves several more weeks with little to do.  I intend to find a few more jobs to make a little extra cash…maybe babysitting or home care or something.  But my big project for this summer is the seed that Carey planted.

Carey is my self-proclaimed biggest fan, in that she would still like my stuff even if she didn’t know me.  And she LOVES when I share videos on TikTok.  One night, after reading my book, she came over and said that she wanted me to read it to her someday.  She said that the poems are good on their own, but spectacular when I bring them to life with my voice.  I simply took this as a lovely compliment and moved on with my life, and didn’t think much more of it…until I got similar compliments from other people.  I also was coming of the high of a good open mic night, and the wheels started to turn.

See, I have a background as an actor.  In fact, if there is a job to be done in the theater, I have done it.  So, when I read my poems, I’m not just reading them, I’m performing them, and that makes a lot of difference, apparently. Then I read this article about using Audible for publishing audio books, and pieces slide into place.

It’s not too hard, and it’s not too pricey, and it’s a great way to expand on what I already have with A Lovely Wreckage.  So, I called in the troops…Sahar came to the rescue by donating funds to buy equipment needed, and Kevin will be directing and recording.  A lot of articles say not to voice your own book…I don’t care about that.  I’m not just a writer; I can hack it.  Also, narration is the biggest cost in the process, so I am cutting that one right out, right away. 

I annotated the book, and will be offering this special edition only through Audible.  It shall also contain an extra poem or two, written since its release, as bonus material.  I don’t expect to make a lot of money, but I do hope that my friends and family give it a listen, as it has, in my opinion, more depth and interest with the annotations…but then, I am a sucker for annotated poetry.  I guess I’m hoping you are, too.

So, that is my plan for the summer months, to turn my words on paper into a song for the ears. I hope you will enjoy it…I know Carey will.

Happy Thursday!

Algorithmic Blues

I’m forcing myself to write right now, because I haven’t had the urge too much lately.  That’s not quite true actually, I have had the desire but not the means…simply no time.  This morning I have a moment or two, but really, I am so tired I would rather be curled on the sofa watching Grace and Frankie.  Alas, it is Monday, a fresh week, so here I sit.

I wrote a poem called Uvalde, and I made a video for it, which I posted on Facebook and TikTok and also here in my blog.  It did well on Facebook…not so much on TikTok.  So, I had to look around as to why.  All my friends on that platform loved it, but then I realized…It was only reaching my friends. It only got 30-something views over the course of several days.  Then, almost on accident, I stumbled across an article about the TikTok algorithm.

There is a feature on TikTok where you can add captions to your video.  I always do this, not just for the hearing impaired and those sneakily watching at work, but also because I am a writer and my words are my strength-so of course I want you to see them.

What I came to find out, however, is that if you add captions to your video, sometimes you may use words that TikTok doesn’t approve of.  If they find such words in your captions, they don’t promote your video to For You pages.  So, naturally, I used the word “gun” a few times in my poem about gun control…apparently, I should have used an emoji.  I also used “dead,” for which the article tells me I must write “unalive.”

Are you fucking kidding me?

I know a lot of kids use TikTok so I’m guessing that’s where this algorithmic rule comes into play, but most kids over the age of 6 can make out most words-I’m saying they know how to read.  And what’s more, they can HEAR me say whatever I want-so whether I put an emoji or the word “gun” in the captions…kid just heard me.  It’s stupid, beyond measure.

I joined TikTok because I thought it would be a cool way to share some of my work, and it is, but I’m a little peeved that if I write certain words, it will be censored. If you want to keep kids safe or whatever, kick them off the site.  Probably shouldn’t be here anyway.  Or, make all videos need approval.  Go big or go home, essentially, don’t walk a tightrope between free speech and censorship.

So, I took the captions out of my video and waited 24 hours and lookie here! 300 views.  Yes, I did totally screw myself in the algorithm…but I shouldn’t have, because it’s ridiculous and shouldn’t exist.

That’s my gripe for today, folks.  I wish I had a little more to say, but I do not.  As previously stated, the sofa has been calling my name this morning, and I still have four more projects I need to work on, so I will cut this one a little short.   Do have a happy Monday!

Salt in the Wound

How is it that I am back here after only 2 weeks to write about another massacre?  Oh, that’s right…I live in America.

Whenever I go to the grocery store now, and probably for the rest of my life, I will think of the ten people who lost their lives on Jefferson Ave.  I know many of my fellow Buffalonians can echo that sentiment.  And now, whenever I go to work, I will think of the dozens dead or injured in Uvalde.  And I know my fellow educators feel the same way.

Listen…no teacher is out there receiving combat pay, so stop acting like they are the first line of defense.  I saw a meme yesterday that said not to even suggest arming teachers, because apparently y’all can’t even trust them to choose books.

When I graduated high school, I was told there would be a teaching shortage right about now, and there is.  There were many incentives in place at the time for those who wanted to pursue education, such as reduced tuitions and 5-year Master’s programs. Naturally, I jumped at this, as I had wanted to work with children and teaching seemed to be the obvious answer.

Ooooh boy am I glad I dropped out of college now!

As if teaching through a pandemic wouldn’t have been hard enough, you finally get back into the school setting and now you have to worry about “active shooters.”  No, thank you.  Yet…I look at these kids I teach and the crazy thing about it is that they know what to do in the event of a gunman, better than I do.  I’ve had no training; they’ve been doing it since pre-k.  So while I am the one expected to lay my life on the line for a child, they are the ones more likely to save me.  I have a better chance following a third-grader’s directions than they would have following mine and ouch…I think I just found a blind spot in our program.

Last Saturday, I took a CPR and First Aid course.  It’s required for work, but it’s also something I like to have.  It’s a skill I have thankfully never had to use, but I am prepared in case it happens, and I guess that’s how we are spinning shooter drills to the kids.  Except it seems more and more of them assume they are preparing for “when” it happens, not “if.”

Listen, I hate guns, and if you’ve read a lot of my stuff, you probably already know that.  However, I am pro-choice on pretty much all topics…so if you like guns or own one, whatever…that’s your right.  HOWEVER, I do think we should have common sense gun laws.  I mean, why do you need a AR15?  Explain it to me like I’m a child, and don’t use the words “target practice.”  Oh, and as soon as you mention killing humans, even if in defense, you are proving my point.  I don’t care about your shotgun, your handgun, your hunting rifle; I care about your semi-automatic assault rifle.  ASSAULT is right there in the name!

Anyway…I wrote a poem, video below, about the events in Uvalde.  Too much to process, and far too soon.

Performance Anxiety

Back in 2019, I went to an open mic night with my friend Beth at my side for moral support and fought my inner doubter-I shared my work.  I continued to attend this monthly soiree until March 2020, when Covid came and shut us all down.  It moved to a virtual format for a bit, which then kind of morphed into its own thing.  I was sad…I liked poetry night at my local bookstore.

Every time I was in there, I asked the proprietor if the event would return, and he would tell me it would, sometime in the future.  I waited.

Then one night my father asks if I follow a guy he knows on Facebook.  I say no and inquire, and he tells me this man will be picking up where we left off with poetry night, bringing it back better than ever.  This delighted me, and so I marked my calendar for the first meeting in two years. 

I didn’t know anyone there, just like I didn’t know anyone when I went back in 2019.  However, my circumstances had changed…I had once been so hesitant to share my work, but I have grown past that now.  What really struck me that night was a woman named Mary, who was sharing her poetry for the first time.  And reader, it was lovely, and absolutely relatable for me.  She seemed so nervous, and brought friends for support, just as I had, and though I did not know her, when she was done reading I wanted to run up and hug her, because I was proud of her the way I had once been proud of myself for having the courage to share my work. 

There have been two meetings since the first.  Mary has been there both times, prepared with poetry, and I can see her bravery expand each time she reads.  It’s a pretty awesome transformation to witness, actually. 

Anyhoo…Tim, who runs the show, mentioned that he was still looking for features to fill out the year.  I don’t know where my anxiety was, perhaps asleep at the wheel, but I proceeded to message him and ask if he would like me to be one of those readers, to which I received a solid “yes.”

So now, in October, I will be the featured reader at my poetry open mic night.  The 2019 version of me has no idea how this happened…that I would have the audacity…the sheer BALLS, to just asked for what I wanted?  Who the hell is that person??

As always, I stand here with more confidence than I have any right to have.  I literally just said this to Kevin: “I was a fat, four-eyed, balding middle schooler; I have no business feeling this fabulous.”

But honestly, I’m not who I was that first night I read.  I have always been comfortable on a stage, mind you…this was about my writing, not my performance technique (another thing I have ridiculous confidence in,)  The “stage fright” is gone now, though…there is no anxiety about my words.  I have shared them, and they have resonated.  I have been told by friends and fans that my poetry is something special, and I hope that is true.  All I know is that I am more comfortable with it today than I was yesterday, and it can only get better from here.

Happy Monday, folks.

Church on Sunday

“Going to Church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.” – G.K Chesterton. 

I was raised Catholic, as the seasoned reader may already know, and spent about fifteen years in Catholic school, going to church every Sunday with my family and every other Friday with my classmates.  Around age 25, I completely dropped the “act” I’d been running since I was fifteen and first saw the quote above.  I’m not saying that one quote changed my outlook on things…it just gave voice to an opinion I could not find words for. 

I remember being young and telling my Aunt Ka, a Sister of Mercy, that I wanted to get married at the Botanical Gardens because it was the most beautiful place I’ve ever been.  She told me that I couldn’t, that I was Catholic and therefore had to have a wedding inside a church…I could have the reception outdoors, though, she claimed.

This concept was a hard no for my ten-year-old brain that wanted what it wanted when it wanted it.  I had been taught, almost daily, that God was in every living thing, including trees and grass and sunshine.  So why on earth did I need to CELEBRATE in front of statues of dead people, under a roof made by man?  It was nonsense then; it’s nonsense now.

I had a friend get married a while back and a priest came and did the vows, outdoors.  But it wasn’t an “official” wedding, according to the church.  The priest was just blessing them.  I thought maybe someday I could do something similar to appease my Catholic family…I was not yet telling my mother I was done with the whole shebang.

By the time I did get married, she was well aware of my opinions on the Church, and we butted heads a little.  She wanted some Christianity in the ceremony, and I had to keep reminding her that my husband was not a Christian, and all that would be weird for him.  Not to mention, I wasn’t feeling it either.  In the end, I got married in a little gazebo, outdoors.  The readings were all literary, the music was secular, and the officiant was my uncle who got a license online.  My mother won in the sense that I allowed her to say a prayer before the meal.  I was cool with her doing that because she mentioned Ka, who had passed by that time.  But that was it: one prayer.  That’s all the God I invited.,

But he was there, you see.He was in the trees and sun and grass and breeze.  Nature, that is where I believe God lives.

On Saturday…in the beforetime…I caught a giant fish in the Buffalo Creek.  It was a smallmouth, but there was nothing small about it.  I don’t have a picture.  Mark snapped one, but I accidentally deleted it.  Just believe me when I tell you it was a monster.  I fought the thing, hard…I’ve never really fought my fish before; usually I am far stronger. This guy gave me a run for my money.  When I finally flopped him onto shore, I felt immense pride.  Mark helped me unhook him, and I thanked him for the challenge and sent him back on his way in the stream.  Then I went home, and the world changed.

So, on Sunday, after the events, I was getting a hankering for prayer.  I’ve been arguing with my ancestor’s spirits as of late, over this mess with my mother. One of my favorite authors, Paulo Coelho, said that “Praying is talking to the Universe. Meditation is listening to it.”  So, I figured, why not try a little listening?  I’ve ben talking so damn much.

I went back to where I caught the big fish.  All I caught that day was a pumpkinseed, but it was still worth it to sit there and look and listen.  I saw God all around me, from the fish in the water to the no-see-ums buzzing about to the big tree with all the fishing line and old bobbers caught up in it.  I watched the water of the creek lap upon the rocks and focused on the word “Peace.”  I needed peace.

On the way home, I remembered it was Sunday and thought of church.  I had the same feeling then that I had when I was a child leaving Mass.  Yes, when I was small, I was relieved that the sitting still and being quiet portion of the day was over, but I also always felt that feeling you get when you visit am old friend.  Also, I always kind of felt it hearkened the start of a new, fresh week.  A clean slate.

That’s when I realized: I go to church ALL THE TIME.

Fishing is church for me.  That might sound ridiculous, but where else would I rather be on a Sunday morning? And every time I go, every time, I think of God.  I didn’t even realize it until I examined my thought pattern closely this past week.  I tend to remind myself of God in nature whenever I fish.

Now, no, I no longer believe in a stereotypical Christian God in the sky…I think God is more of a universal fabric, with an understanding that we have not yet evolved to know.  Yet…I find God in the sky, because I find him in the earth, too.

Where do you find God?

Anyway…that’s just the thoughts running around in my head right now.  That’s all for today.  Happy Thursday!

Buffalo Strong

I had a plan, you see.  I was going to write today about the Bans Off Our Bodies rally I attended on Saturday morning.  Then, for Thursday, I was going to post about how I caught my biggest fish yet, and how nature has replaced church for me. 

But then, after fishing, I stopped at the Tops on Harlem real quick to get some milk, and then I headed home and curled up with my phone…y’know, to check my socials and messages and such.  I saw a Facebook post from a friend about the local hospital, and suddenly the world crashed down and the fish, and even the rally, seemed insignificant.

On Saturday afternoon, 13 people we shot and 10 people died at the Tops on Jefferson, fifteen minutes from my house, because a self-proclaimed 18-year-old white supremacist decided that was the place in the state of New York where he could murder the most black people.

That is a lot to unpack, and I don’t know how much I will get to in just one post.

I had just walked out of a Tops.  I texted Jaime…she had just walked out of a Wegmans.  How many of us went grocery shopping on Saturday afternoon? It may seem silly, but knowing that I was doing the same thing as my neighbors on the east side of town when they were gunned down…it just turned my stomach.

As details came out, we learned the shooter had posted a manifesto online, as well as livestreamed the attack on Twitch.  We discovered that he had selected the Tops on Jefferson because that zip code has the highest black population in the state.  Our elected officials made it very clear that he was an “outsider.”

Cute.

Listen, I love my city, deeply.  But we have a racism problem…deeply.  We are on the list of the most segregated cities in the nation, and even a tourist can tell, folks.  Have you EVER taken a visiting friend to the east side for any reason, white Buffalonian reading this?  Ok, actually, I have done this…I took a friend there because they wanted to get some weed.  That’s the reputation the east side has in white Buffalo.  Drugs, crime…and black people. 

Now, I’m not saying there aren’t white folks on the east side, because there are certainly black people in my mostly white south side neighborhood as well, There’s just less.  Everyone who lives here knows: the whites live in North and South Buffalo, the blacks live on the east side, and the Hispanics are to the west.  All of this sounds super racist, and it is.  It’s also a fact. 

My neighborhood is strongly Irish, and therefore mostly white.  We live within ten minutes of 6 grocery stores…3 of them are Tops.  The Masten neighborhood is mostly black, and they have one.  Wegmans won’t set foot over there.  There’s an Aldi’s not too far away, but you would definitely need a car to get there, and Masten is a lower income neighborhood, so that’s not an option for everyone.  People in that area live with food insecurity everyday…I don’t.  I might feel like it lately, while money is very tight and I can’t get the things I want, but I do have enough food in my cupboard to survive.  I’m not worried about where my next meal is coming from.

And I’m not worried about being shot at my grocery store, either.  Probably should be, but I’m not, at least not by a Nazi.  I am never worried about being attacked by a hate group, because I am a white woman, and no one wants a dead white girl on their hands.  Generally, I don’t worry about gun violence at all…because I am privileged.  The people in that grocery store are more worried about it than I am, because someone gets hurt on that side of town from gun violence nearly every day.  My point here is that I worry about neither guns nor white supremacy, because I live in a “safe” (read: white) neighborhood.  I put “safe” in quotes, because it isn’t, exactly.  We have crime, too.  We have our low-income section, and we have folks who just don’t give a crap sometimes, also.  Overall, though, my neighborhood is definitely considered “better” than theirs, here in Western New York.

Anyway, like I was saying, mayor Byron Brown was adamant that the terrorist came from outside the community.  Here’s the thing…I know more than one person who was betting on which suburb this asshole came out of, because we all automatically assumed he was a WNYer.  EVERYBODY knows we have a racism problem in the area.  We had a crapton of arrests in Erie County related to Jan. 6th.  I remember seeing tour buses carrying folks down to DC.  Yes, my city is mostly democratic, but the outlying areas are abundant with MAGA republicans.  And while Buffalo itself tends to vote blue, we do have a fairly dodgy police force to contend with, along with the basic segregated setup of the city.  I mean, my first thought when I heard about this shooting was: we need to check on our black friends.  Might sound racist because I was thinking about their skin color, but the truth of it is that they all use that grocery store, because they all live on the east side.

Me, I went to that Tops once at 8am to use the bathroom on the way home from a doctor’s appointment.  I have never had any reason to be there, other than that.  I only ever go to that particular neighborhood if I am visiting the Science Museum there.  I have often wanted to…they have a big park with an amazing splash pad that my kids would have loved in their youth.  Alas…we never went. 

Racism is a huge problem in my city and if you don’t believe that then you either don’t live here or you’re a racist.  It’s as plain as day to anyone with a conscience that we need to change the way we do things around here.  Because that murderer wasn’t from here…but he could have been.  He oh-so-easily could have been.

Buffalo is known as the City of Good Neighbors, and it is.  One time my car got stuck in a snowbank on the east side, and four very large black men approached.  I would be lying if I said I wasn’t slightly nervous (of course, their gender trumped their skin color in my mind, but still.)  These gentlemen pushed me out of the snowbank and got me on my way.  I was exceedingly grateful.  Yeah, maybe it’s true that nobody wants a dead white girl on their hands, but I’d also like to believe that nobody in this city wants anyone to be in trouble if they can help.  Do you have any idea how many snowbanks a stranger has pushed me out of, or how many times a neighbor mowed my lawn just to be nice, or helped shovel the sidewalk?  Tons and tons and tons.  All we do is help each other, which is why I have no doubt that we as a community will make it through this crisis.

So sadly, I can’t tell you about how great the rally was, or how big the fish was.  Maybe I will save those for later this week, but they have become afterthoughts in my mind.  And I’m nowhere close to being done talking about what happened in my city, because I am a firm believer that if you want change you have to stay and fight for it.  All I know right now is that my heart hurts for this place I love so dearly.  I only hope we can all find a way to heal.

My Tiniest Bestie

I didn’t write this week, except a piece for my Patreon, because I was too stressed out to settle my head into any sort of space to get work done.  Even now, a part of me doesn’t want to sit here at the desk and peck out my words, but I am because if I fall off too hard, I won’t get back up.  So, here’s some words about my tiniest bestie.

Last night I was feeling down, so after work I went over to my Gram’s house because on Fridays there’s always folks over for dinner.  It was just her, two of my aunts, and my 12-year-old cousin, G.  I was going there solely to get a hug from my Gram, because Gram hugs are the best hugs, but I ended up with a solid gold 10-out-of-10 hug the moment I walked in, and it came from G.  They are short, so they wrapped their arms around my waist and squeezed and said they were happy to see me.  This filled me with joy and made me feel instantly less crappy.  G has a way of doing this, though, and has been doing it for over a decade.

I remember the Easter when my aunt Mary told me she was pregnant and I was so excited, and then the following Thanksgiving they burst on the scene, a miracle baby made from love and science!  By the end of June, my yet-to-be husband was living in their house, and I was seeing them every day.  They would toddle over in the morning and take my empty coffee cup and climb onto the sofa beside me and watch the news while pretending to drink from my cup.  Mark would play blocks with them and read them stories.  They would holler out the window at us when we were in the yard, baby-speaking to us as though we  could understand them.  “Skibidee,” or “Skibs,” remains Mark’s favorite nickname for them-those were the noises they would make when they were in deep conversation with us, before they learned their words.

After Mark moved out, I didn’t see tbem as much, but we still had playdates often and family events where we would hang…and that’s when I realized-we hang.  They have always thrown down with me the exact same way an adult would.  They has always been considerate and kind with me, never bossy or manipulative or begging or the million other things kids can be when they are kids.  They show great maturity when with me, so in turn, I have always spoken with them as though they are my peer.  G isn’t just my little cousin, or a friend of my kids, they are my friend.

So yesterday, when I needed a friend, I walked into the door of my grandmother’s house and found one.  They ran up to hug me and instantly took away my rain clouds.  We sat across from each other at dinner and they had conversations with me and Gram and my aunts, and it was lovely.  They also drew me a picture of a cat, which I shall keep because I personally also think they’re a brilliant artist.  The moral of the story is that I went home smiling and now it’s morning and I’m thinking about them and I’m still smiling.  So what if they’re 12?  That’s a good friend that can make you do that.

G’s first Christmas.