Bent Words

Bent Words

February 13, 2022

It’s hard not to feel gypped. It’s hard to not to long, yearn, desire, hope, wish and wonder.

I was half my age ago and I knew what I wanted. I saw it. I felt it. I tasted it. I was certain. I was stubborn.

How many things have I been so certain about before or since?

Roller Skating. But wooden floors waxed to shine like the top of the Chrysler building. Captain Morgan – though he’s a bit too rough for me now. Dark bars. Occupied or not. Car music loud, singing louder. Motorcycles. All sorts. Books. Old books, new books, historical fiction, biographies and maybe a bit of smut to round things out. New destinations. Next door or next oceanic crossing. Brand new notebooks heaving with anticipation for a spot of ink.


I now know the look upon his face. The pipe he holds to his mouth, the set jaw, the distant eyes. The wonder. The tears. Lying in a hammock beneath the stars of another sky, the mosquito net enveloping him almost as snuggly as the beer he’d consumed on the Mexico beach. Holding an Army-issued tarp over his face with one finger pointing up on some rain-soaked sidewalk in some foreign city that was bombed to hell. The sugar cane shot down will bullets in the field he’d crawled through his only meal that day.

What if he had stayed? Anywhere but here?

Isolated. Old. Routine-bound. Obligation-ladled. Shovel the snow. Mow the grass. Sleep, wake, repeat.

An anchor for your soul when you most want to set sail.

He’d forgotten he was still there, in our living room. Instead he was squinting at the sun, the salt breeze mingling with the sweat of the day and the white birds were coasting above him in the sky, their ocean song clear and distinct. Their beaks pointed toward the sand where someone was sure to leave a crumb behind.

I said, “But you wouldn’t have me.”

“I wouldn’t have you,” he replied sadly with a disingenuous smile.

And I understand that now.

How precious you are when you’re responsible for just you. How much less disappointment there is to go around. How much levity you have when you’re not imbalanced and off guard for every minor crisis that deigns to slash at you like a million little cuts ready to do their damage, catch you off balance, play you the fool.

How much you do you regret of what you are and how much do you miss who you were? You can’t quantify it. Because there is not a choice now. There is not an almost or kind of. There is or there is not. You’re the family or you are broken. You’re the mother or you’re the dissenter.

You’d have you, yes. You’d still have you. But you wouldn’t be the same. You wouldn’t be in the thick of the chaos or in the respected role you agreed to. You’d be something else entirely and, no matter how much you miss you now, you’d miss them more. For they need to know what you now know.

They all need you and you made your choice.

The Tennessee hills on horseback. A drive down La Cienega Boulevard. A slow ride through Oregon. Italy. Australia.

You might still get to see it one day and you know you want to but will it be as beautiful through your eyes now that you know better? Not now it won’t. Not now. Not yet. Maybe not ever.

You’ll be in your living room, sitting on the floor by the fireplace, taking your time because getting up off the floor now takes time and you’ll look off into a distance haze of autonomy and you’ll remember exactly what it is you always wanted and you’ll know exactly what it is that you have and you’ll wonder why you didn’t do this or didn’t do that.

But either way, it’s getting late and we’ll worry about that tomorrow.

Written at 7:26 p.m.