This page is for those little snapshots, moments without narrative, which grab me and will not let go until I’ve sorted them into words and set them down to be remembered.
This one is filed under Things I Would Tell Her (my mother)
“You can’t just pat it down and expect it to stay,” your mother used to quip, in the days of a curling iron from the stove and the smell of burnt hair. Oh, what would she say now? I have product: when my long hair went as a braid to children who can’t grow any, the fabulous boys I worked with brought me a salon’s worth of the tried-and-true: gels, creams, waxes, and paste. Not only can I just pat it down and expect it to stay, I can spike it up and expect it to stand at attention. You’ve shared your hair with me, and probably your mother’s as well. What difference would it have made to each of us, as adolescents, awkward and insecure, confident only that our hair was all wrong, to have had this measure of control? Even now, backing into middle-age, it does me good to look past the laugh-lines and crows’ feet, which arrive unbidden and stay unwelcomed despite another salon’s worth of creams, potions, lotions, and unguents, and be able to just pat/poke/push my bad hair into submission, be happy with it, and march out into the world.
Just another airport, awash in auditory pollution, and I was standing in an eddy of scratchy PA announcements, jarring electronic tones, family squabbles, and wailing infants. “They’re boarding rows 15 and back.” It was molasses, a snug leather boot, a velvet curtain ten feet tall, a bite of Sunday roast to ears subsisting on stale mints. When it stopped there was a void, which was rapidly filled with the din as before, but uglier and more jangling in the wake of such deep beauty. If only that voice would come forth again. It was a balm, a sustenance, a strong shelter from the rain of broken glass blowing invisibly against one and all. But the voice had nothing else to say, only to wait along with other passengers, to be corralled down the gangway and into the metal tube, to lie dormant and unrecognized in the 35,000 foot roar. Housed within a pleasantly average cocoon of flesh and bone, this sonic gem will be carried into the City, again and always to be the unexpected benediction to the weary and frayed, high strung and tightly wound.