Monday, May 24, 2010

Murphy and Me XXII

It takes a little while to get used to walking on two feet again, especially after three weeks of no weight. The air cast had come off under the instruction that I wear my RocketSock instead, because they liked it better. Least I could stash the crutches in the back of my closet, hopefully not to be seen again for quite some time.

When I got to the top of four floors worth of stairs, that is.

Not gonna lie, I was limpin' a little. But I hadn't put any weight on my left ankle and foot for nearly a month. Was nearly like the time I broke it in seventh grade and was in a no water, no weight cast for four weeks. The day I got it off was also the day of my friend's thirteenth birthday party and I almost face-planted more than once on the steep steps (wood, with a glossy finish and slicker 'an shit) to her downstairs.

Going up four floors was going to be no different.

And it was no use stopping at the fishbowl on three since it was the middle of the afternoon and Murph was in class. Then he went from class to the fieldhouse (that's where the football locker rooms are) and then to practice. Both he and Dev wouldn't be back in our building until after dinner. And while I might see them at the dining hall, we usually sat with our respective teams during the season.

Didn't mean we couldn't text, though.

It took me a bit longer than normal to get to my door, and I grinned when I saw the erasable board sticky-tacked to said door. He - they, actually - had erased my "currently" status (it was a week and a half old, anyway) and written The crutches are gone! (Our shins are safe!), signed Murph and Dev, respectively. Murph had left a P.S. saying he'd be downstairs around eight-thirty, and that he'd probably see me at dinner.

Still grinning, I opened the door and arranged the crutches as far back in the closet and out of sight as possible. I had about an hour to kill before practice (the only I could do was run - at Mac's discretion), and no desire to do anything academic. What I should do is the physics homework. What I did instead? Popped in Star Trek. Hello scruffy, Southern-accented Karl Urban, nice to meet you.

The cankle was more than ready to part company with the rest of the body - had even gone so far as to find a lawyer and draw up divorce papers. All that was left to do was have the foot serve the shin, with Mac as the unbribable judge. Thankfully they both chilled their heels in the whirlpool, and I didn't even care that the thing was a balmy fifty-six degrees.

Actually, it felt really good. My ankle had gone numb about two minutes ago.

I was debating the merits of going thigh deep vs waist deep when Sasha came in. She didn't usually whirlpool.

"There room in the pool?" she asked, climbing up onto the padded bench that ringed the industrial metal tub.

"Plenty." I bunched the bottoms of my shorts into my spandex and stood mid-thigh in the water with a hiss.

Mac looked over from Benny's desk. Benny was the trainer for the sports teams that Mac wasn't. No idea which ones Mac didn't cover. "Need more fishies?"

"Why not," Sasha said, sliding both feet in and then standing. The water was only up to her knees. "How are you?"

That simple statement was all I needed to hear to remember that it had been a while - a long while - since we had talked or had a girls night in. And we both knew it.

"I'm good. No more crutches."

She smirked. Mac appeared with a pail of ice from the machine in the back. The "fishies" had arrived. He dumped them unceremoniously into the churning water. The grin was not necessary.

"How are things on the hill?" I asked. The question not explicitly mentioned was how is rooming with your girlfriend?

"Interesting." Sasha bumped some of the floating ice from her left knee.

"In what way?"

"She knows we're in season, Ollie, and that it's hard for us to do things together on weeknights - any nights, really - and I think she's feeling a little neglected." She rubbed her forehead. "And I'm not sure what to do. And she really wants me to dance with her this year."

"In Koshare?" That's the student-run, student-choreographed, student dance collective. There were all kinds of talent in it each year. All skill levels, too - those who were dance majors and minors danced with and alongside those who had never danced before. Sasha was on the fence about whether to double major English and dance, or make one into a minor.

"Yeah. She's an awesome choreographer, so whatever she does is gonna be sick."

I glanced at Mac; he pretended to be engrossed in a rowing magazine.

"But?" I prompted.

"What if we're still playing then, during auditions?" Sasha submerged her kneecaps. "I don't want to promise her that I can do it when I don't know if I can."

And there was the chance that we would still be playing into the middle of November, even December. It depended on us making post-season play, but we'd gone the previous year, with much success. And then it depended on where the Final Four was (usually someplace nice and warm).

"Did you tell her that?"

Sasha looked at the churning water. "Yeah, but she comes to every home game - even when she has to come from class."

Better than Murph's game day attendance. Then again, he was a football player with a schedule about as complicated as mine. We didn't hold it against each other when one of us couldn't make a game.

Then again, Murph was a boy and Cara was a girl. And I only had experience dating boys.

"Are things strained?" Because if that happened, things were going to get incredibly complicated. I might wind up with a temporary floor-sleeper. Or other sleeping arrangements might need to be had. Or...things could just get ridiculously complicated.

Sasha shrugged. "Not yet."

"I think the two of you are done. You've been in there for about twenty minutes and I refuse to deal with frostbite."

We looked sheepishly at Mac, and then dutifully climbed out. Sasha turned the knob to stop the whirlpool. We dried off and chucked the towels in the bin to be laundered.

"What are you doing tomorrow?" It would be Friday. Murph had mentioned doing something on Saturday, so my Friday night was clear.

"Nothing. And Cara's got plans with Chelsea and Danielle."

Which wasn't a great sign.

"Girls night in, then," I said, hellbent on getting out the door before -



I pulled a u-turn and hopped onto one of the beds, half my calf and down hanging dutifully off the end. Mac started prodding and I was really glad the thing was mostly numb because he was ruthless. He made me do some exercises and finally said I could continue running tomorrow.

"But I want a few more days of that before we think about giving you a ball, let alone letting you into any competitive play." Mac's word was law. And there had been no mention of tackling, either.

"Okay." What else was I going to say? No? Like that would fly.

"Get outta here," he said, going back to the empty whirlpool.

Didn't have to tell me twice. Sasha was by the cubbies in the hall. It didn't take me long to stuff my feet in my sneakers (sans socks) and out the door we went.

Right into the middle of parading football men heading for food. Sasha gave me a look as I went with the flow.

"You're not gonna wait for Murph?" she asked, fairly incredulous.

"Not standing between men and food." And was digging in my bag for my phone. The thing was buzzing when my fingers found it.

where r u?

I looked around at the sea of blue shorts. by #s 87 & 13

He sent back noah & john v. we're ahead of u.

ok. "They're ahead of us."

Sasha gave me a look as we continued walking; we had gone only a few more steps with the crowd when a large body sidled up next to mine. I'd know that shoulder anywhere. "Hey, Murph."

"Hey." He snaked his arm around my waist for a quick half-hug and then settled a hand on the small of my back. Possessively. In front of his teammates. Which clearly said multiple things without a word, one of which being a very loud, this is my girlfriend. Respect that and respect her. Or you answer to me.

I had to wait until we were in line to enter the dining hall to do introductions. "Murphy, this my best friend, Sasha. Sasha, my boyfriend, Murphy."

"Nice to meet you, Sasha."

"Nice to meet you, too." She was doing her level best (at least what looked liked it) to break his fingers with her grip while doing the hurt-her-and-they-won't-find-your-body stare. Murph, to his credit, acknowledged and accepted it.

Wasn't aware I was holding my breath until I let it out in a rather relieved manner.

"How's the ankle holdin' up?" he asked; I was occupied digging for my Vera and my ID.

"Fine," I answered as Sasha chimed in, "She's running but might try to do too much, too soon."

"Most athletes try to do that," he agreed.

Oh, hell no. Boyfriend and best friend do not get to double team. "Said athlete is right here."

He chuckled, squeezing my hip. I handed my ID to Rhonda, the dining hall worker, to swipe me in. Murph moved past me with one last touch to my lower back and went to sit with the football boys. Sasha and I headed for the soccer girls, who had chosen to share a table with the men's team. I was tempted to turn around, grab Sasha, Murph, possibly Liam if I could find him, and third tier it.

But no, there were seats. Two. Just for us. Goody.

I dropped my Vera by Gilly and went for some food. My best bet tonight would be salad. Which was fairly ridiculous. There was, however, only so much penne pasta I could comfortably choke down.

Salad it was.

And the table was who knew what when I sat back down. Gilly nudged me. "Salad?"

"Not much else for me to eat tonight." Really. There wasn't.

"Allergies?" Nate asked from across the table.

I kicked Sasha in the foot before she could open her mouth. "Sorta." The boys were looking at me; the girls knew the deal. "There are things that I can and can't eat, but I'm not allergic. I just end up with lots of pain." There were days when the swelling would have been preferred.

Nate had a look of understanding; Kevin, sitting on Nate's right, kept chewing thoughtfully. I dug my phone out. how's your dinner company?

There was more conversation that honestly went in one ear and out the other before the little black box buzzed.

my twin, my roommate, and various teammates. they talk about girls. and hate on me cuz my gf is awesome.

I smiled. The warm fuzzies were creeping in. i have no idea what we're talking about and i'm okay with it. The salad disappeared fairly quickly and not only did I need to take my after dinner meds, I needed some painkillers.

The phone buzzed. i'm gonna head back. u want me 2 wait and walk with u?

yes. I took a deep breath. "See you guys later."

Gilly and Sasha I would see tomorrow; the boys waved vaguely, and I couldn't get out of the damn dining hall fast enough. Murph was leaning against the wall by the doors and I twisted our fingers together as soon as we were outside.

"How is the ankle?" he asked.

"Hurts." There was no way to lie to Murph without doing it badly and obviously. Might as well not even try. "I have Tylenol in the room." He squeezed my fingers. "And I'm tired."

Murph slipped his hand from mine and slid it around my waist. "Have you...Do you lock your door at night?"

If I hadn't been suckered to his side I would have froze and stopped completely. "What? Why?"

"You check your email today?"

"No." Too much to do.

"There were three safety notices. Two from today, and one from last night. Whoever it is got pretty bold."

"And you want me to lock my door." Sometimes I didn't, in case Jo needed something or anything.

"Please." He was worried.


He used his keys to let us in, and then followed me up to the fourth floor. We rounded the corner to my end of the floor; he poked just under my ribs when we were in front of my door. "Did you like our message?"

"I did. Very much." It was nice to know that they knew it was my day to get off crutches. Not that they would have forgot. Still, it was really nice of them.

Murph looked down at me. "You need anything you let me know. I mean anything, Ollie. My phone'll be on all night."

I had no idea what he thought was going to happen and I didn't want to know. All I could do was nod dumbly. He kissed my mouth as tenderly as he did my forehead and waited until I was in the room before heading downstairs.

As tired as I was, I had every intention of taking my meds, some painkillers, and crawling into bed. What sidetracked me was homework, the rest of my movie, and before I knew it, the clock had flipped from pm to am. Once the pajamas were on, the door locked (for Murph), the lights shut off (and I forewent my usual nightly activity of sending Murph a good night text, because it was so late) and I had crawled into bed, a dorm mattress had never felt so comfortable. Curling around Edgar was the icing on the proverbial cake.

There's this gray area between sleeping and totally awake and with it, and I was there, waiting for my brain to shut itself off to reboot.

The door jiggled.

I froze, heart thudding madly. What. The. Hell.

It jiggled again, thumping. I'd heard that noise before - had been the cause of it, actually - and it only happens when the door is locked and someone tries to open it from the outside.

Which freaked. Me. Out.

Enough to roll over as quietly as possible, fumbled for the phone, and send a text to Murph that said, someone just tried to the door.

He was asleep probably. It was late. He'd gone to bed.

The phone buzzed unnaturally loud on the sheet-covered mattress. dont move. i b rte thre.

And I had no intentions of moving until there was a thump and a half-scream from Maggie's - the girl who lived next door - side of the wall we shared. I scrambled gracelessly off the bed, not caring what state I was in, and not even thinking that whoever had tried to get into my room might very well still be in hers. It didn't even register as I yanked on the door, almost mowing over my own toes, and slapped my left foot on the tile hard enough to make the ankle throb.

"Maggie!" Kelly, Maggie's best friend who lived at the other end of the hallway, careened around the corner and we nearly took each other out. I grabbed the door frame to steady myself; Kelly stumbled into the room to stand by Maggie's bed. Both girls stood looking down at the floor - and what I was assuming to be dirty clothes - Maggie looking decidedly like they were going to bite her.

"Maggie?" Kelly's voice was soft.

"Did - Did you two see anyone?"

I shook my head; Kelly did the same.

"Someone was in my room," Maggie said, arms wrapped around her middle. My stomach fled to my kneecaps. "And they looked through my clothes."

There weren't any dresser drawers open, so it was safe to assume that the clothes she meant were the ones on the floor. The dirty ones. At least, I piled my dirty clothes on the floor, under the bed.

"Did you see him?" Kelly asked. "Is that him?" She pointed behind me.

I jumped, ready to whack whoever it was with my elbow. It was Murph, barefoot with messy hair.

"No." Maggie shook her head. "That's not him. I didn't see him."

"Well, who is that? And why is he here?"

My hackles rose. "That's my boyfriend, Murphy." Who was not a creeper.

"Oh." Kelly continued to stare hard at him; Murph retreated to my room when there was no apology forthcoming. Which, considering that the three of us were probably freaking out, I could understand. It wasn't an excuse to treat someone who had nothing to do with this in this way, but I could see where Maggie was probably leery to be around a guy - even one as sweet as Murph - at the moment. I would be, too, if someone had gone through my dirty clothes.

Well, since Kelly was with Maggie, there wasn't much for me to do except stand there and keep my own impending freak out carefully hidden. Then there was the question of whether or not I was going to be able to go back to sleep in my own bed with the knowledge that Maggie's situation could have easily been mine. Or worse.

Yeah. Like I was going to sleep tonight.

Murph was leaning against my bed when I pushed the door open, holding a gray, over-sized t-shirt. It was then that I realized - and more accurately cared - that I had no shirt on. My pajamas were a pair of soccer shorts and my sports bra. Murph kept his eyes on my desk as he handed me the shirt and until it was over my head.

"You gonna be able to sleep?" he asked.

I took a deep breath. Then another. My mind did great worst-case scenarios for giggles, and it was working overtime.

There was the chance I might puke.

"No," I mumbled, not bothering to find shoes while he grabbed my Vera off its hook by the desk. He locked the room. Campus security was coming up the other set of stairs as we went down the ones closest to my room to the third floor. The fishbowl was dark, for the most part. Dev's desk light was on as he read in bed, propped against the wall. He didn't say anything, though I knew he wanted to. Murph must have torn out of the room like something was burning, and he'd come back with me.

I really started to shiver once I was under the red plaid comforter, Smokey in a death grip as Murph slid in beside me, bracketing me between his furnace-like warmth and the cool wall. The what-ifs circled endlessly in my brain. Maybe he should have moved the trashcan by the bed, though how I was going to vault him to get to it was a bit of mystery....

"You're safe," he whispered.

Pretty sure if Smokey were alive, he'd have been dead from asphyxiation.

He rolled partially away from me. "Dev? Will you lock the door?" There was some rustling, the snick of the lock button as it went in, and Murph rolled back to me, tugging me closer. "Anything - anyone - who might even think about getting you has to get through a locked door, Dev, and me before they can get to you."

Smokey was sandwiched awkwardly between us as I pressed my face to his neck, breathing in his scent. There was probably no reason for me to be afraid. Still I was wired - too wired to be tired.

"You're safe." He started rubbing circles on my back - a sure fire way to relax me.

Which wasn't working.

"Ol. I got you. You're safe."

My mind refused to quit. Which wasn't good.

"Talk to me."

Well, that was different. "And say what?" If we were going to attempt to talk about how a creeper had made me feel practically violated when he hadn't even been in my room I was sleeping on the couch across the hall for the rest of the night.

"Talk about anything. Colby says you have a physics test coming up."

"I do." Really. That was one of those things that I tried not to focus on until absolutely necessary.

"How do you think it's going to go?" His cheek rested on the top of my head.

"It's not." I snorted. Then froze. Almost forgot that Dev might be trying to do something constructive - or maybe sleeping. "I'm not physics minded." Truthfully, I was more chem minded than anything. It was prompting some thinking, mostly about my major. And changing it.

"You'll do fine." He splayed his palm into the small of my back. "What time is your first class tomorrow?"

"Nine-oh-five." Organic chem.

"Goin' to breakfast?"

"Yeah." The warmth of that broad palm was finally seeping in. So was the feeling of being safe. One of my arms detached from Smokey to wrap around his side, fingers tangling in his t-shirt. I tried to burrow closer. He curled his big body more around my smaller one. That palm pulled me closer. "M'tired."

"Go sleep." He nuzzled the top of my head. "I'll wake you up."

I was warm, I was tired, and I could apparently follow directions, even at o'dark-thirty in the morning.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Murphy and Me XXI

[I don't wanna hear nothin' from nobody about how long it took me to get this out of my head and onto paper. It's here, and the next part should come fairly shortly. Comments other than that are wonderfully appreciated.]

"Thank you so much," I said over my shoulder to Jo. She was carrying my clothes basket of socks behind me. My backpack was on my back - I was more or less stuck down there until I had washed and dried what I needed to. Jo would get a text when I was done to come back and get the basket.

And the reason I had not told Murph where I was was due to the fact that I had thrown some underwear into the basket, too. The boy was my boyfriend, but I was not ready to share my underpants with him. Didn't matter that I wasn't wearing them - not that I wasn't currently wearing a pair - just...not going to go there.

I flopped into the chair and propped my cankle on the overturned basket once I had everything started. The Tudors made another appearance. The only thing I had forgotten was my mp3 player. Maybe Devan would get it for me.

Wait. What?

When the hell had Devan come in? How had I missed this?

He had an armful of wet jeans and t-shirts. "Hey, Ollie."

"Dev." Articulate as ever, that was me. "Laundry."

"Yeah. Murph and I do laundry every other Thursday." He shrugged. "Generally. Otherwise the room starts to reek."

Which is logical. If I left my soccer stuff too long it was disgusting beyond words. I made a sound of garbled distress in the back of my throat, the Tudors momentarily forgotten.

Murph entered as though on cue from the universe. He detoured on his way to the washer to kiss my cheek. Pretty sure I was in a mild form of shock. Not shock, really, but...with my luck (or lack thereof) this was sure to happen. He had an armful of wet clothes - everything mixed in together as most college kids did. My mama trained me well, though - I separated my clothes.

Were those clouds on that pair of boxers?

And I thought my underpants were interesting.

He got them in the drier and started, and leaned against the machine to look at me. I stared dumbly back.

"You need some help getting stuff out?"

Obvious answer? Yes. Ollie's freaking-out answer? A garbled, indistinguishable sound that threatened to appear.

"Everything okay?"

Pretty sure I blushed scarlet from my collar to the tips of my ears. "It's not just jeans." There weren't any jeans in that load at all. It was only underwear and socks. Mostly socks, but still some underpants.

And mine didn't have clouds on them, either. Not. Even. Close.

If I'd missed Dev arriving, I'd missed him leaving, too. Normally I'm a little more observant.

"Ollie?" Murph stuffed his hands in his pockets as color crept up his neck. "It's underwear, isn't it?"

Damn that boy and his ability to read me. Then again, that might be a good thing.

"Yeah." I drew out the word and trailed off with a sigh. "But I am going to need some help." I couldn't carry a basket on crutches; I had enough issues crutching in a straight line, thank you very much.

"How about if you put them in the basket - I won't look - and I'll carry it over to the drier. Won't look. Promise."

I knew Murph - if he promised he wouldn't look, he wouldn't. Still blushing furiously, I nodded.

When the washer was done, I hopped over; Murph moved and got the basket. He looked at the ceiling as I filled it, and he walked - slowly and carefully while dutifully counting the dimples in the ceiling tiles - to the driers. He continued to stare upwards while I unloaded the basket, looking at me only when he heard the machine kick on. He smiled, taking my hand to lace our fingers together.

"Did you ever watch Boy Meets World?" he asked, that gleam in his eye that warned me something fairly funny or ridiculous was about to come my way.

"Yeah." Truthfully, I absolutely love that show. And if he was going to do what I think he was going to do, in reference to the episode I was thinking, I was already fighting not to laugh.

Murph leaned in with a grin, pointed to the drier I had started and said, "Underpants," much like Cory had that particular episode.

Couldn't help it - I cracked up.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wordful Wednesday

This is an integral part of home. The furball. Also known affectionately as Pepper. [Who's tail is currently thumping on the keyboard, some hour and a half after these were taken.] (Yeah, Wednesday was yesterday, and I had some other things to do and non-cooperating connections, so yeah, this what you get.)

Why are you waking me up?

Pictures? Oh....

Well, you should get my left side...

And my right side.....

But this is the me that you really want.

Catch Up

Okay. Probably the last time that you checked in with me - if you checked at all - I was still in Jackson but getting ready for the last push and definitely ready to come home. Well, I came home exactly a week ago, and it's been an interesting week. I think I probably need to start with last Monday.

Last Monday - in the middle of finals - my parents were supposed to come and pick up the big stuff - bike, fridge, stuff like that. Only, after going to the wound clinic (my dad had burnt himself in late April, a few days before I left for Toronto - pretty badly, I might add) they were shuffled (my mom who had taken my dad to said clinic) over the emergency room at the hospital (not our local one, but the one about forty-five minutes to an hour away - it's bigger [and also the one I was born in]) where he was later admitted. So, things didn't really go according to the plan that we had expected. Which is okay, because mom showed up on Wednesday with my grandmother's van (which is bittersweet, because it reminds me a lot of the man - a grandfather in every way but by blood - who the family had lost in late January) and we packed that (my car was already packed, which, my mother complimented on) and home we went. Then it was off to the hospital to visit dad. We were thinking, originally, that he was going to come home on that Saturday. Erm...he ended up staying until Monday. In the meantime, back on Wednesday, I had a sightseeing cruise to do, and then the following day was a lunch cruise. So it was back to work for me, which, I was (and still kind of am) really excited about. So he comes home on Monday; I play some soccer with the U-19 girls for fun on that same day (which turns into a joint practice with the U-14 boys because the girls only had three show up to practice, plus me and a friend who also plays [only he plays for the U-19 boys, somewhere]) and from said friend - who is also my boss's son - I have a wonderful bruise on my lower leg/backside of my shin. It's probably not going to get very colorful (I don't really bruise pretty colors unless it's been something fairly major) but it's faintly blue, I think you'll appreciate how big it is. It was made when his knee ran through the ball, and I left my left leg - and my bad left ankle - hanging out to hopefully do something constructive, and got nailed for it. He didn't do it on purpose; he's not that type of guy.

Is he fairly good-looking? Yes, yes he is. Ask my sister, and she'll probably say something else there because she's seen him, and she knows me, but I'm trying to keep this fairly general because I'm not entirely sure who's reading.

Monday was also the day that I started working out again. Which explains why if I stop moving for any length of time, I get really, really stiff muscles and it's almost comical to watch me try to move. It hurts so much that I laugh. That's what happens with me - when I'm physically hurting so badly that most people cry, I laugh instead. It's the oh-my-God-what-the-hell-friggin'-OW! kind of laugh, but still. It's a laugh.

Now, I love irony about as much as the next person, and I'm not lying when I say there are days when I'm first in line to be Mrs. Murphy, step on up and have the good go vaguely off-kilter (because things don't ever go really wrong, only partially). It's starts with my soccer buddy and gets better from there. Namely, the guy that I was pseudo-dating (this were slightly more than a little complicated that summer, before I went to college) and/or seeing (there was also another one, at the same time [don't freakin' look at me like that, as there was nothing concrete with either of them and you should know me by now to know that I don't do shit like that]) is now my coworker. I went to work today, saw someone heading with a shirt like mine (the type I wear to work) and thought, you have got to be kidding me and then decided that somebody Upstairs really enjoys getting a laugh out of the life and times of one Molly Louise. It's fine. I mean, things were a little rough around the edges because I made a choice I thought I had to make - sorry, but I'm seeing someone else -which wasn't quite true in the sense that I would have liked (and I'm still the back up option, which I'm not only quite aware of, but I know that I don't have to be the back up option for anyone) and then went away for college. Well, two weeks of preseason, and then classes and medical shtuff (the h in that phrase is on purpose) and in the end, everything more or less turned out okay. Really, it did.

Well, okay, maybe there's some residual stuff floating around in my head from soccer a year ago, and the whole boys thing, and some more soccer, and some other stuff, but it's no worse than usual. And, on the bright side, I'll work through it. In one way or another - via the blog, the book, or the journal (yeah, I keep one of those) - I'll get through it and everything will eventually (hopefully) make some sort of sense. In the meantime, he's just my coworker (soccer buddy included, because he's also employed there) and I'm still just me. A college junior (now) who enjoys waitressing because she's people-friendly (fairly) and really, genuinely likes going to work.

Needless to say, it's going to be an interesting summer. At the least.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

You. Yeah, You. With the Hair.

[A fairly short letter to my fifteen-year-old self. This is not beyond you.]


Hey kid. It's been a rough year, hasn't it? But if I'm writing to you, and I'm twenty, and you're fifteen, means you made it through it, didn't ya? Yeah, yeah, I can see that little half-smile, the one we wear when we're like, yeah, I'm good like that. You keep that smile. I wanna see it every day, at least once in the mirror. Even when you don't think you have anything to smile about, I wanna see it.

I know you feel twenty kinds of busted right now. I remember that. Wasn't a good time for us - lots of tears, lots of other emotion, and the fact that Ryan was going to go away to college was seriously freaking us out on the inside. Not that we let anybody see how much that bugged us. But you did good things, too. And good things happened. Remember, you got the highest score out of the freshman on that Language Arts Olympiad thingy? You got a medal, and were all smiley because most of the family was there to see it, too. And it felt like things were looking up again, like things were going right. win that again. As a senior. You can probably tell that you like English and writing a lot. Well, you more or less kick ass about it.

Another thing you kick ass about? You write one hell of a narration paper your junior year. And you read it in front of the class, and you shed a tear or two because it more or less feels a lot like healing. Takes you two drafts to figure out how to say everything without giving anything away to the only boy sitting in the room - who has an oblique reference in the narration - and you rock out with it. As only you can. Coincidentally, it's the same year that you really get a love of movies and write some pretty good stuff in creative writing. Both of which have appeared on the blog (this blog) and one that appears on a literary site on the internet (you get privileges back, don't worry) where people read and comment. They like it. Some are confused by it, others just roll with it.

You do really well ignoring the politics of high school as best you can. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. You do well in the end. You graduate our lucky number.

Remember how we go off and on about every other year with being really sick? get sick. And nobody really knows what's wrong because our body is awesome like that. But the friends that you make in college - and I'm not telling you where, because I don't want to bias you in any way - are amazing. They buy you the twelve scooper from Friendly's because you went without dairy for two weeks.

There's a few more scars than you're used to. Some physical - you have three on your belly - and some are emotional - Ben - but you get through them. You take a shine to Ben and Jerry's ice cream and you do well. Granted, things have gotten rough the past couple of semesters, but you hang tough. You hang in there. Iron-Man soccer only with real life. Breathe. Sometimes you forget to do that.

You're a good person. You've got your moments - your days - when things don't go well, and you can't help but voice that opinion very loudly. That's okay. People listen (you've found the right ones!) and you have a blog with which to outlet yourself. This is your blog. This is part of your writing. Part of your personality that you share with people who won't know you in the world not made of the internet, and that's okay. Through your writing they know you. And that's how it should be.

You're still working on the novel. Six years later, and you're still working on it. Jack's dad's had three name changes. No pressure.

You get your ear pierced again. And by ear, I mean your cartilage on your right side. Mom and dad are pretty much okay with that. She's a little disappointed that you didn't tell her, but it's nothing like when you got the tattoo. I'm not joking. And they're okay with that, too. And believe me - you know this, too - it feels so much better not to keep anything from mama.

The hair. We have this philosophy that hair grows back. Okay. It just takes a really long time.

Eventually, you get a car. You will love this car. You will adore this car. You will name this car "Fred." You will park Fred next to a bunch of newer, more expensive cars when you go to college. And you will chuckle at this.

You're a special person to a special someone. She's three feet tall at the moment, is you incarnate at that age, and absolutely loves you. You stomped in the mud with her.

Heather. Feels like she's far away, huh? She's not. Not really. You have one summer when you get close - like you're three years apart instead of twelve - and it just grows from there. She's your sister. She's been there, done most of it, and lived to tell the tale. Trust her. And she makes these really good things called Monster Cookies - she will bribe you for writing with them - and she loves you. She'll always be your big sister, and you can't - and won't - ever forget that.

Not only do you have a job, you like it. Really. You've been there three years. And you'll hopefully be there three more.

There are a ton more things I could say about us - about our good stuff and our bad. The important part is this: even though it feels like the world is going to end, and things can't possibly get worse (you practically married Murphy, therefore you know things can always get worse) you lived through it. You grew stronger. More you. More us. And I'm proud of that. I'm proud of the person you're - we're - going to become, even if the way there was heavily under construction in places, and filled with gaping sinkhole craters masquerading as potholes in others. We did it. And that's all that matters.

Well done, Molls. Well done.



I'm not quite sure how many of you listen to as much country music as I do - and on a regular basis, too - but there's this song titled The House That Built Me by Miranda Lambert. And I've heard it a couple of times. There are some wonderful lines in there, and while some of them don't really mesh with life for me (I can't play guitar, and probably will never learn - I'd rather learn piano first) they still conjure a potent image. A specific potent image.

A little green house - that used to be brown, and still is, on the second floor in the front - that sits beside a stone driveway. Stone meaning rather uniformly sized large gravel that's kind of sharp in the summertime when you walk down the driveway barefoot. Walking barefoot anywhere within a hundred yard radius is pretty much a given between the end of May and the beginning (if the weather cooperates) of October, anyway.

So there's this little green house in a place called Townsend. Ask me where I'm from and you're going to get that response, even if we don't have a post office, don't have a traffic light (but we do have a stop sign) and everybody has a back yard in varying degrees of largeness. This little green house sits across from what used to be the stereotypical country store where if it was dinnertime, and there was nothing to eat, it became a great night for cheeseburgers on the gas grill, and Louise, go get some buns from the store across the road.

The school bus stopped at the little green house from kindergarten all the way through junior year.

One of the song lyrics is, If I could just come in I swear I'll leave/Won't take nothin' but a memory/Of that house that built me.

The little green house built me.

It was a place where I learned to run before I walked (which is, rather ironically, still true of many things). Where I took naps on the floor (and more or less slept there at night, too). Did my homework curled up on the right end of the couch and usually had a cat lying over the textbook I was trying to read. Which still happens, now that I'm in college. I used to practice my soccer juggling skills in the living room. The shade for the overhead light has never been the same. And the ball was a bit flat at the time.

The house that built me was the house my grandfather grew up in. Where my parents had lived for thirty or so years of their marriage. Where I lived for seventeen years. Where I started my novel, on the back porch in August after the world more or less tipped, tilted, and slid off its axis for a little while. Where I wrote most of the book I'm still working on, six years later. Where, during breakfast, I used to watch that one spastic little fawn run from one side of the upper yard to the other while his mother looked on, thoughtfully chewing on an apple from one of the little trees.

The turkeys. Oh, the turkeys.

Actually, more like a flock of forty turkeys and one brave (stupid) gray, black, and white cat who thought he was invincible. And wound up making new friends that he couldn't catch off a bird feeder.

The apple tree that was basically scorched on one side hand in hand with the barrels dad used to bring home from work, and that first fire in the them. Be thankful if it didn't blow up in your face. Literally.

Some are more funny than others. That's true of life. The main point - that house and the people in it, built me. Much the same way that Miranda was built by the house she lived in. My roots are buried in the back yard, near the "stream" (use the term loosely) and the apple tree that's only half-living (and how it hasn't died yet completely I don't know) with a view of the sun settin' behind those western rolling hills. I'm not being poetic - that's just the way things are around here. The hills roll (my friend from Massachusetts called them "mountains" the first time she saw them, mostly because where we go to school is much more flat than a mere thirty-five mils south) the grass grows (exponentially from the first hard rainfall and warm spell, and good luck getting a handle on it) and the peepers hardly shut their mouths. Rain-clean earth is one of the sweetest smells there is - along with molten asphalt, and summer-breeze-dried clothes from the line - and an endless sky above makes you feel very, very tiny in the grand scheme of things. Very tiny and very much alive.

And if that doesn't work, jumping in the lake certainly will, as that hardly reaches comfortable temperature even in the middle of August.

Part of the house that built me is hearing the current hooligans (or people with much, much nicer cars than I drive - not newer; some are nearly twice my age, along with their drivers) going around the track. You get good enough to start recognizing the time of year (Porsche, BMW, or NASCAR) and the type of vehicle (Porsche, BMW, stock car) by sound. That and the type of people you start seeing in town. Wine Festival? Go the old way.

We're all built by different things, events, people, and places into who and what we are today. I was built mostly by a little green house in a place that not many have heard of - and partly by the house across the road, and those six months of inhabiting the same space as certain family members again, oh, yeah, and have I mentioned that we've been living here four years and only recently (November) got curtains for upstairs - and the people I share it with. There's a bit left in the building process. That's okay, though. I'd think I'd rather have it that way than not.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Ahem. I knew this was coming, but more or less shuffled it on the back burner in favor of everything else that was going on. So I was more or less aware that April 24 was the One Year Anniversary of The Wandering Sagittarius.

Which, in some ways, still blows my mind when I think about it. I've been blogging for a year. You people out there have put up with my smart ass remarks, comments, off-the-wall posts, odd colloquialisms, and whatever else I decided to fling your way for an entire sequence of 365 days.

Pardon me while I get somewhat nostalgic. If I remember correctly - and some days we all know that's a stretch - when I first started this, whatever this is, I had a grand total of three followers and they were all related to me. One of them was myself. A year later? I'm up to ten, which might not seem like much to anybody else (especially those who have serious double-digits behind them) but it makes me very happy, and very thankful that I could pick up seven more people who enjoy (I'm guessing) what I like to write and the viewpoint that I bring. I have no idea if they read for anything more than a laugh at the slightly spastic college kid, and I'm going to say that I'm okay with that. Must be doin' somethin' right, and I'm not going to question it.

This is incredibly more impromptu on my part that it usually is, and I'm actually floundering for what to write.

Oh. I know.

Well...scratch that. I'm not entirely sure.

But what I will say is this.

If you could all kindly raise your coffee cups - here's to The Wandering Sagittarius, her beloved readers and followers, and that slightly crazy chick from Upstate New York, addicted to coffee, good desserts, and making people lose their Focus only a semi-regular basis. Cheers.
"The difference between life and the movies is that a script has to make sense, and life doesn't."

-Joseph L. Mankiewicz