Tag Archives: love

No. 10 – The Currency of Night

1 Mar

I made a fire on the beach and settled down close to it. The warmth held me where you should have, but couldn’t. No longer did you have any arms, so it wasn’t as though this was your fault. Your choice.

Except it was. I was lying to myself again, pretending. When someone you love dies, you must re-learn to pretend, the way you did when you were four and six and eight, but rarely thirteen. It is a survival tactic. It came back naturally to me, or I had never lost the ability.

I said you had no arms, but you did have hands. I saw them. Your hands were frantically reaching toward the orange crest of every golden flame. Just the shadow of those ten fingers I remember every detail of, every line, every crease. Ten fingers that have touched every part of me, held our babies, traced out our initials into the freshly poured concrete of the foundation of our first home. Your shadow hands were frantic, shooting up toward the stars, attempting to materialize, but leaving only a faint trail of smoke at the tip of every finger.

Keep trying, I whisper softly. The air tastes like salt and carries my voice toward the Gulf of Mexico. I watch the phosphorous glow in lime green ectoplasmic jewels, swirling in the moonlight on the skin of the water. I thought if you stared long enough, it would seem as though the night sky had fallen straight into the gulf and that space was water and the water was all of space, crashing over on itself, unsure of this new choreography.

Little gifts of fish and pretty shells got left on the sand, refugees confused by the new dry land. Gasping for air the way I did when the phone call came that said you were gone. I couldn’t get the sound of that ringing telephone out of my ears for months afterward, no matter how many pills the doctors gave me. It was worse than Hitchcock. It was real life.

The waves bring in more fish, more jewels, and then take some away. Back home.

That’s where they kept telling me you went. Back home. Oh, the scars well-meaning people can leave on your heart. Of course you weren’t home. I expected you home every morning when I woke up in a panic and saw only the emptiness of your side of the bed. You weren’t home and you weren’t coming home.

It wasn’t just a nightmare, it was my life. So real it was pouring blood.

There was no trace of you on the porch, either where we used to sit on summer nights and talk about plans for our future. Our beautiful future.

I didn’t know then that there was no future, but you must have. You knew that every day was a bright miracle and there were only so many nights ahead. I could never appreciate things the way you did. If every night was a coin to be spent, I spent every blasted one as carelessly as a child expecting there would always be more pouring into my greedy little hand. I never knew night was currency and like currency there was an end to it. Once it’s spent, it’s gone.

It’s gone. Which is why I’m here on this beach making a woman-sized dent in this brown sugar sand, being held by the warmth of a fire I have created instead of by my darling husband’s arms. I am hypnotized by the shadow of the ghost of your hands. I add more driftwood, reasoning that if you only had enough fuel…you would appear.

I miss you, I whispered. The flames flicker. Not good enough.

I miss you! I cried. A little better. The flames bend and laugh and stretch.

I want him back! I scream out toward the water, imagining my words are a ribbon coiled into a glass bottle that would hurl itself as either a threat or even half a prayer toward whatever god existed out there in all that blackness.

When the fire dies you go with it. Another coin, another night gone, and I deeply feel the end of it. I leave the fish alone, but shove a few shells into my pocket.

Shells are currency, too except there is no end to them. The water brings more and more and deposits them onto the sand forever. They are real and hard and feel cold and smooth in my hands. They’ll sit on my desk as a reminder of the night I tried to conjure you. A memory, but also a gift. A gift of the knowledge that not everything ends. And even if it does, maybe it’s not really an end. New souls crash onto the shore every minute, realizing all this chaos.

 

© Ashley Noelle, 2012. All rights reserved.

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i love you

14 Feb

Inspiration File – vintage, tribal, africa

21 Jan

A couple of my favorite belongings. An antique hanger from the Roosevelt Hotel that my mom gave me, and a necklace from/handmade in Africa. Inspiration for my current jewelry designs at Bored Alice Finery.

So many memories contained in this necklace…from my previous life as a medical case manager for people living with HIV/AIDS. Several clients I had the pleasure of working for were from various parts of Africa. What they taught me about their cultures, their lives, and the world itself, I will honestly never forget. I miss the work so much, but I know I’ll be able to help others and be helped by others in my future endeavors, too…and continue to learn about…well…love, actually.

 

Real Vintage

11 Jan

I am in love with all things vintage, as you may have noticed. What I love most are photos of regular people as they lead their lives, as opposed to vintage photos of actresses or models in magazines (though those are nice, too!) I would like to share some photos from my family of extraordinary (but not famous) people in vintage photos full of glamour and vintagey goodness. Oh, the stories contained in these…I will leave you to dream a little  🙂

This is my grandmother, Greta as she participates in the Apple Blossom Queen beauty pageant sometime in the late 1940’s or early 1950’s. She tells me she pinned those flowers on her dress, they are real. Greta also tells me another girl won first prize in this contest because she winked and flirted with the judges…! Cute, cute, cute. This photograph was taken by my great-grandmother, Leta. Printed in the 1950’s on that adorable paper with the little scalloped edges they used to use. Lovely and a definite treasure!

This is my grandpa, Dean. He was in the US Air Force during the 1950’s and stationed here in Germany. Isn’t he handsome?

This is my grandfather’s handwriting on the back of the photo of him in his Air Force uniform. He sent this (and several other photos) to my grandmother, Greta via air mail from Germany. One thing I hold most dear in my life is the handwriting of those I love. That may sound strange to some, but if you are nostalgic like me, it will make perfect sense. My grandfather’s handwriting is instantly recognizable to me and brings about warm, happy memories. I love my family very much.

(photos watermarked, please do not use without permission)

No. 3 – the way mothers do

4 Jan

Violet was the prettiest waitress at the truck stop cafe. You may not think that is saying very much, but trust me, Violet had an angel’s face. She stood out partly because she was the only one who ever smiled. Violet smiled through the foggy haze of the smoking section, emptying ash-trays and taking orders. She smiled as she scrubbed extra hard at tables sticky with maple syrup. She even smiled as she ran the carpet sweeper with its rhythmic zip, zip, zip, erasing cracker crumbs crushed into the floor by the chubby little fists of toddlers in high chairs.

Violet didn’t have any children, but she loved them. It was easy to tell she loved all her customers, too. There was never a request Violet did not at the very least try her hardest to fulfill and always with those beaming cheeks of fresh pink rose.

The truck stop was located on the edge of a town where the census three years prior had recorded that only 423 people were living there. It was 1955 and Violet was one of those 423, living in a small two-bedroom house along with her mother and her mother’s dachshund, Marty who the census did not count even though he was just as spoiled as any child you ever saw. Violet’s mother was a widow who stayed at home and did all the cooking. Violet wasn’t fond of cooking meals after having to serve them all day on tired feet, so she was grateful to her mother for her willingness to slave over a hot stove night after night, the way mothers do.

Everyone in town loved Violet. Even those who were prone to gossip only spoke of her to say it was a wonder she hadn’t married yet, a girl of twenty-six and so pretty the way she was. Such a hard worker, too, they’d say. Eventually they’d grow tired of gossip and start chattering about what their own children were up to, bringing out brag books and photographs to show off, the way mothers do.

One Saturday night at the little truck stop cafe, among the usual patrons of truck drivers who always ordered coffee and tipsy high school kids who never left tips, Violet saw an unusual sight: a baby all alone in a high chair in the corner, wrapped in a pale green afghan blanket. As Violet crossed the room toward him, he reached toward her with tiny fingers the color of seashells.

“Where is your mother?” Violet asked the baby. Her words were formed within a gasp. The baby just looked up at her with sweet blue eyes. He didn’t have an answer. Violet put her index finger in his little outstretched fist and he clasped it and shook it a bit. As the baby boy shook Violet’s finger his blanket fell down from his shoulders. This uncovered a note attached to his tiny shirt with a diaper pin. Violet handled the note and the pin carefully, her slender fingers holding just the edges of the scalloped paper as she read.

Violet’s eyes looked sad for the first time maybe since her Pa died. The baby–Charlie began to cry and she scooped him from his seat. Though she wasn’t a mother, Violet instinctively snuggled him close to her shoulder and patted his back with her right hand, swaying back and forth in place the way mothers do.

“It’s okay, little one,” Violet whispered and kissed the baby’s sweet smelling hair. “I’ll take care of you.”

Charlie’s mother watched through the big front window of the truck stop cafe as the waitress held her little son, rocking him from side to side.  She had driven two hours from the next town that night to give him up. Violet had the face of an angel and Charlie’s mother knew the moment she saw her that she would be the one to pick him up and that she would be good to him.

The only comfort she felt as she walked away into the tear-streaked, blurry-eyed night was a tiny voice in the back of her mind that insisted this was the right thing to do. Violet would give little Charlie things she never could. She would sing to him, read bedtime stories, and bandage scraped knees. Violet would raise him to be gentle, kind, and honest. She would always smile that lovely smile when she looked at him, the way mothers do.

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