Shouldering the World

Sculpture of Atlas, taken at the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli by yours truly.

Sculpture of Atlas, blurry photo taken by yours truly at the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli.

I would never get my mom Life Alert.

For one thing, she probably wouldn’t wear it. For another thing, if she ever fell down and broke her hip, I am confident that she would hoist herself up and hobble over to the kitchen to complete the crossword puzzle.

What’s a three-letter word for “stubborn”?

You just can’t keep a good woman down. Trust me. I’ve tried.

Ye gods, how I’ve tried.

The last day of our beach vacation, Mom, while boogieboarding, fell in the sand and was twisted around by a vicious wave, knocking her knee out of place. This means that ever since we’ve been back, the numbers on my vivofit (the Garmin version of a fitbit) have been spinning wildly as I chase Mom down with an ice pack, begging her to sit down for a few minutes.

Let me tell you, convincing my mother to relax is exhausting.

The closest thing to a crutch we’ve been able to get her to use is the vacuum cleaner.

Even Hercules, who reportedly possessed an impressive amount of both brawn and brain, which he used to trick, tame, or kill the most intelligent and fearsome creatures ancient storytellers could invent, wouldn’t be able to pin down my mom, despite her twisted knee and dislocated rotator cuff.

Not that I meant to compare Mom to a legendary monster. Although I do think that she resembles a mythological being who was tricked by Hercules: Atlas.

I suppose there’s something inside a mother that calls for her to stand on twisted knees and hoist our world on an aching back. They uphold the cosmos with their inexhaustible strength. They keep our celestial spheres spinning with their tremendous energy – mostly in the form of boundless worry and love.

Of course, even Atlas – the “Titan of Strength” – got a short break while Hercules shouldered the universe for him.

And if this metaphor makes me a demigoddess, then I accept that.

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When You Don’t Say a Thing

Sunrises

Running on the beach is one of my favorite things to do.

But, sometimes, it’s also one of the hardest things to do.

And I don’t mean physically.

It seems almost sacrilegious to run past a glittering horizon, earphones shoved into my ears while it chases after me, calls to me, begs me to notice it, to photograph it, to write about it.

Every morning, I find myself rising earlier to get to the beach, to see the sunrise, to have time to capture the peace that the beach invites.

My bare feet noiselessly pound on the coarse sand, rubbing the balls of my feet and the tip on my toes. I always start running toward theshelledit sun, watching it timidly peek over the horizon. After shocking itself with its beautiful reflection in the waves, it serenely floats to the top of the sky in a bright blaze of pink and golden glory. Then I turn my back to it and run away from the wind, immediately breaking out in a hard sweat.

When I turn around again, the sun is a scarlet ball of flame, blinding me with its radiance. I shuffle and kick my feet in the water, collecting shells, navigating the cloud of translucent jellyfish that washed up on shore, and slowly meander about a mile and a half to the weathered, wooden door that separates the beach from the line of beach houses.

Door2Yesterday, as I walked back to the villa, I kept listening to Allison Kraus, “When You Say Nothing at All.” It fits the peaceful, loving feeling I get from being near the ocean. This is where the people I love the most come together. It’s not just a place. It is a silent witness to squealing children, running into crashing waves. It taught us that sometimes we may run headfirst into where dangers abound and find the greatest beauty and joy we could ever imagine.

Really, it’s like a cosmic love letter, sent to every corner of the world.

Try as I may I could never explain

What I hear when you don’t say a thing…

Summer of Yesteryears

(L-R) Cousin Luke, me, sister Mackenzie pose in our pioneer get-up.

(L-R) cousin Luke, me, and sister Mackenzie pose in our pioneer get-up (circa 2008)

I started my first summer job last week.

Now, don’t misunderstand – this isn’t my first job. I started working when I was 16, tutoring elementary and middle school students. Then I worked as a news reporter. Even at college, I get paid to broadcast the basketball games.

But I’ve always had the summer off.

In yesteryears, I would wake up, put on my bathing suit, and float in the pool, a book in one hand and a frosted lemonade in the other.

If I didn’t take off my bathing suit until bedtime, it was a good day.

My cousins would come over. We’d ride bikes with broken brakes and seats that were too high, exploring the neighborhood, and searching for adventure (because, eventually, stopping my mom’s bike without brakes wasn’t adventure enough.)

We didn’t need to drive because we didn’t need to go anywhere. All the magic we needed was at home.

We dressed like pioneers and frontiersman and paraded about in broad daylight, much to the amusement of our neighbors. We built bonfires and do-si-do’ed, sing-yelling:

OLD DAN TUCKER WAS A FINE OLD MAN!
WASHED HIS FACE IN A FRYING PAN!
COMBED HIS HAIR WITH A WAGON WHEEL!
DIED OF A TOOTHACHE IN HIS HEEL!

It’s funny now, to think of our longing for the adventures of a dangerous past we had never known.

As I sit in a leather desk chair, watching the seconds slowly tick by on a security monitor, all I can think about is the summers of yesteryears.