High Tail Pig Tail

I saw a girl this morning walking all by herself down the street. She couldn’t have been more than seven years old. With a large but empty-looking purple rectangular backpack, I assumed she was on her way to school. I was wondering where her mother was, or why she was walking all by herself. She didn’t look lost or distraught, as it reminded me of when I would walk to school all by myself at that age and loved it. She was dressed in a typical schoolgirl kind of way. Her twisted pigtails were styled in an up-do, and it looked like it was put together in a rush. One pigtail sagged a little lower than the other. The stray hair strands splayed all over created a faint halo around her head.

I imagined that her mother was a busy career woman who didn’t have time to take her child to school and rushed her out the door before she herself went on her own way to work.

I kept looking at the schoolgirl as she waited for the light to change before crossing the busy boulevard along with all the adults that surrounded her. I followed her with my eyes as she crossed the boulevard with confidence and little hesitation. No one noticed her but me, it seemed.

Summer Evening in Town

I was walking home tonight at sunset, and found a new path that I’ve never noticed before. I passed it, then turned around and decided to explore. I didn’t know how long it was, or if it was just a dead end. It was a nice path, and I felt relaxed enough to take off my mask. I could smell the blooming flowers. I didn’t know they had a fragrance! I then turned the corner after the path ended. I passed by a high school where some boys were laughing and slapping each other’s backs. They went running home to the complex right next to their school.

I kept walking and saw some high school girls laughing as they were walking into a selfie photo studio. One girl ran past me so fast as she was trying to get her tutoring shuttle. Buses were stopping and bundles of people were getting off while this poor girl in slippers tried to get her shuttle before it drove off without her. These drivers don’t wait around!

On one side of the street, there were students on their way to their extra classes, and on the other side was a row of pubs where the after-work crowd was drinking outside in an alley at plastic tables while their dinners of chicken and bbq were being served. Even though they were right next to each other, there was a clear distinction between them, and neither crossed that line. I would imagine that children would be curious about what the adults were doing, but either they already knew that they were forbidden to go near them, or they were too engrossed in their own world.

The sun was setting, and the diners were done with their chicken but not their beer. They sat at their tables in the dim twilight, lingering and laughing, reluctant to return home. Even though it was becoming difficult to see before the streetlights flickered on, it wasn’t uncomfortable enough to leave, since this was what summer evenings were for.

How I Learned About Watergate

When I was growing up, I always heard the term Watergate, but I didn’t know exactly what it was. It would be mentioned on the news, it would be referenced in adult conversations that I would overhear, it would come up in comedy sketches and jokes on late night talk shows, but it was something that we never really learned in school.

Until it finally came up during a history lesson. I was in ninth grade and the history teacher touched upon Watergate, but never really got into describing it. So I tapped Scott’s shoulder, the classmate sitting in front of me, and asked him, “What’s Watergate?” I didn’t even know if it was a person or what. Scott was a know-it-all so I knew he would know what it was.

He then leaned back and covered his mouth and whispered in a sentence or two what had actually happened.

My response was, “Is that it?”

Me And The Goats

Island Goats!

I am so grateful that I came back with only a few scratches on my arms and legs from walking through that trail, that abandoned trail filled with spider webs. The spider webs that had spread out across the trail told me that no one had used it. Stray patches of grass had sprung up in the middle of what was otherwise a well cleared path. This route, for some reason, had been abandoned. Why doesn’t anyone use this path? I had thought. It was a mystery to me.

An eerie feeling swept over me from the moment I had arrived. I immediately sensed how strange everything felt, how all of the buildings at the dock were locked up and abandoned, and how the people from the ferry scurried off so quickly and disappeared instantly. I found myself alone on the cracked and faded sidewalk right after I had finished using the bathroom, with the brightness of the sun making it hard for me to see beyond the scattered buildings and the unkempt lawns, the silence that was only broken by the sound of the gentle waves and the faint horns from the ships off in the distance.

I looked at the cartoon drawing of a map that they gave me at the tourist center. According to the map, I was on the northern end of the island. It seemed that there was a beach along the eastern side with a lighthouse at the southern end. I checked my GPS on my phone, and turned in the direction that indicated south, then started walking. I didn’t see the beach that I was looking for right away, but I saw a worn wooden sign that pointed to a trail. The vegetation was dense, filled with thorny branches. It was supposed to thunderstorm, so I had brought my rain boots. Wanting to protect my feet and legs from the woodsy trail, I took off my sandals and put the boots on, which ended right below my thin cloth shorts.

Then I heard the goats. Goats?!? Yes, I saw a herd of goats on the rocky beach, because obviously, they are the ones that have the skills to walk over the rocks! I didn’t even see any birds, and I’m not counting the dead one that I saw, probably died from trying to walk over the stony terrain. I tried talking to the goats to keep me company, but they were not interested. As soon as I opened my mouth, they ran away. I first heard the bleating when I was still along the heavily wooded trail. I couldn’t believe my ears. I was anticipating hearing people’s voices, or birds chirping. But then I heard “baaaa, baaa, bleep.”

“Do I hear goats?” I began talking to myself out loud, hoping if there was anyone else around, they would make their presence known once they heard my voice. Then, as I continued to walk through the thorny trail, I kept trying to follow the bleating of the goats. I saw a clearing, which was blocked by a huge patch of grass waist high. As I barreled through that patch of dry straw-like pile of grass that scratched against my rain boots, I was partially blinded by the bright intense noontime sun. I also made enough noise stumbling through the rocks that I startled the goats. I spotted them with the left side of my peripheral vision. They were standing together on the rocky beach in the heat of the sun. They were by the bushes at the edge of the beach, grazing. I had never seen goats on a beach! How did they get there? Was there a goatherd? I was expecting to see a human among the goats tending to them, like the goats that graze in pastures, but they were alone, as if they were abandoned. There hadn’t been a single soul that I had seen on this abandoned island, as I used the abandoned trail, and the only living beings I found were these small black goats. There must have been about a dozen of them, but I couldn’t exactly tell, since as soon as I moved toward them to take a good look at them, they ran into the woods. “Hey! Hey! Wait!” I shouted. I have never been this desperate to be near a farm animal before. They weren’t even the kind of annoying animal that hung around you when you wanted them to go away. I had never met such jittery goats that got spooked so easily before. Probably because they hadn’t ever seen a human!

I looked down at my cartoon map again. It had a drawing of a beach umbrella and a lighthouse on the bottom edge. I couldn’t have been more than twenty minutes away, but walking on a beach filled with rocks sort of hindered the speed in which I could walk. I took off my rain boots when I got to the clearing, but little did I know that I would need them to trudge through a field of rocks. So I took off my beach slippers again and pulled them over my sweaty calves. I stumbled over the smooth and slippery rocks, then I looked at the water and thought, Hey, why don’t I just walk in the water? I have my rain boots and all. As I stumbled toward the water’s edge, I then realized that there were rocks there too, submerged along the edge. As I stumbled over the rocks, the waves moved in and out. I realized that walking in the water was even worse. I then proceeded back toward the cliff, where it was a little easier to walk over the rocks. Twenty minutes of this, with the sun beating down my neck, and no beach umbrellas or lighthouse within sight, I decided to walk a little farther, I just want to see what’s around the bend over there, I thought. I was determined. When I reached the bend and found nothing, I turned right back. I didn’t want to take the chance and miss the only ferry back that day.

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Spring Anthem

call out the history

call out your friends

call out the misery

the back of your hands

nothing left to lose

but the weakness and fear

call them again

and hear them cheer

cheer for the neighbors

cheer for the brethren

make amends to those that are near

the sun is out

the air is clear

never let them see your tears

Easter in Baegot

It’s been awhile since I’ve been to church. Mostly because of Covid, but also because I wouldn’t have understood it. A couple of days ago, on Good Friday, on my way back home, I walked past an imposing Catholic church on the street corner called Catholic Way. It was about 3 in the afternoon, but the parking lot was full. I saw a woman enter the church, and after a few weeks of finding myself the need to pray in a quiet public space- and not being able to find a church with an open sanctuary- I followed her inside.

Sure enough, the sanctuary was full. They were in the middle of chanting- I’m not Catholic, so I just stood there and faced the direction that they were facing. They were all facing the 8:00 direction, and I think they were chanting the same thing to each picture that was hanging on the two sidewalls. There were about six pictures on each wall, so when I got there, they were less than half way done. Even though I couldn’t join in, and no one could notice since we were all masked up, I felt a calm and a presence there. By the time they were about two thirds of the way done, I slipped out, slipped a bill in the offering box, used the bathroom and left.

There are several churches in my neighborhood, and I have been stopping by to see if their sanctuaries were ever open during the week. Each time I visited, however, they were closed. Since it was Easter Sunday, I thought to at least stop in to observe an actual service. I chose Good Church because it was near the library and the closest one from home. It took a little over twenty minutes to walk there, and from right outside the church entrance, I could hear the praise music. I thought I could quietly sneak in and try to get as much as I could from the service, but I was quickly grabbed by the arm by one of the greeters. She was middle-aged, taller than me, and wore a bright yellow blazer. She was talking quickly, but I really didn’t understand anything that she was saying. She tried to shuffle me off from one person after another to see if any one of them knew English. Each one politely nodded, but none of them spoke any English. She finally handed me off to an usher and left. I nodded to the usher, he nodded back, and found a spot in one of the back pews.

I tried to enjoy the service as much as I could and followed everybody else’s lead. When they bowed their heads, I would bow my head. When they stood and clapped, I would do the same. They had communion, but instead of matzo, they distributed little squares of spongecake- it was really sweet. And the little cups they gave out were filled with actual wine- not grape juice or even the watered down kind of wine.

I realized the service was over when I saw people get up from their seats and leave one by one. As I was leaving my seat, the same lady from before quickly grabbed me again, and indicated that they were serving lunch upstairs. I didn’t know if she would have taken no for an answer, as she had a pretty strong grip around my arm. She dragged me through the huge crowd that quickly gathered around us and greeted every person that we passed by. I couldn’t stop grinning to myself. This wasn’t my usual Easter Sunday church visit! As she was pulling me through the crowd, she kept turning back to me to give me one gift bag after another, one of which contained two brown hard boiled eggs. No chocolate Easter bunny today! Another gift bag was filled with masks. One gift bag had a greeting card with fancy lettering and packets of vitamin C and hand sanitizer.

After climbing up an endless number of stairs, we finally got to the fourth floor gymnasium and sat in a circle for lunch. She found someone who knew a little English to sit next to me. He was with his two kids. He joyfully pointed to his little son’s face and said “Same.” “Yes,” I replied back. “You look exactly the same!” Both of them wore the same friendly grin on their faces.

After I was done eating, I explained that I had to go to the library now. I pointed to the laptop bag that was slung over my shoulder the whole time. They understood and insisted that I must come back. The whole encounter was like visiting long lost relatives. People I’ve never met.

Cherry Blossoms

Yesterday I went to town to see the cherry blossoms. It was like the city was covered in a sheen of pink. It felt like every cherry blossom tree released all their flowers in unison, because everywhere you looked, there were pink flowers in view. This is the only time of year that this happens, when a distinguishable type of flower covers the landscape all over the world, only to disappear and to be replaced by a common green, with leaves that look so ordinary that it is hard to believe that they are the same trees.

Everywhere you turned, you had to say, look! how pretty are the cherry blossoms!

A feeling of celebration when everywhere you turn, it’s not because of something constructed by man, but by nature, but it looks as though it would have been constructed by man. It is a celebration of springtime and the coming out of the cold dark winter, nature telling us of the warmer and longer days ahead.

Mom

I noticed this morning that the date on my watch was wrong- February only has 28 days. As I was turning it to today’s date, I realized that it’s my mom’s birthday. I haven’t been responding to her emails because it’s too difficult right now to respond to them. It’s sad that I can’t have the relationship that I want with her because of my dad. I’ve tried all my life, but I just couldn’t do it anymore.

When I realized how old she is, I was in shock. She’s actually in her seventies now. I’ve been under a lot of stress lately, and I’ve been holding it in. My co-worker told me the other day that if she were in my shoes, she would be crying by now. Well, when I figured out how old my mom is now, I couldn’t hold it in anymore. I started sobbing uncontrollably. It was in that moment that I realized that I don’t have any feelings towards anyone else but her- my stepmother, the only mother I’ve ever known, and how sad and tragic it is that I can’t reach out to her, that it’s my blood relatives that are keeping me from her.

It’s been so long since I have seen her or talked to her- I still picture her as a youthful joyful person who likes to laugh and act silly. I just can’t imagine this person as someone in her seventies, someone old and frail. I don’t know how she is like now, but I also don’t want to retain a false picture of her.

So I just needed to say this- Happy Birthday, Mom.