Tuesday, November 9, 2010

'Ku Quartet

Red leaves tumble
Through cerulean glass skies
Bright gems on the ground

Ruby leaves crunching
Like chips at a party
Fiesta of Fall

Spartan branches reach
Hooked fingers snag the clouds to
Hide their nakedness

A whistling wind waits
For my unbuttoned jacket
To chasten my pride

Friday, October 1, 2010

Faith and Preservation

Faith: An enormous, encompassing and varied concept is captured in a word of so few letters. For me it means saying out loud and with particular conviction, “I have no idea what is going on, but I know it’s purposeful!”  Yes, the exclamation point is required.

Three months ago opportunity came knocking on my door.  This was an unsought opportunity and so it seemed a bit more like a ninja creeping through the window in the night luring me with a car salesman smile “Hey, wanna go for a spin?“  In my family we didn’t turn opportunity away.  To do so would have brought about drought, famine and certain death; the Universe doesn’t smile kindly upon those ungrateful wretches who eschew her gifts.  I am programmed to invite it in, open the door and see where it takes me.  My natural response is excitement at the prospects complete with dreaming, wishing and hoping.

Dreaming, in and of itself, is a very good thing.  I adore dreaming.  It’s the mystical cocktail party at which my subconscious and conscious states mingle over mixed nuts and fancy drinks.  What’s not to love about that?  But this ‘other dreaming’, where one conjures up desires which are wholly dependent upon others?  Well, that kind of dreaming is the kind that can get you in trouble.

Opportunity showed up in the form of a new job prospect.  Not just any job mind you, this was the Audi R8 version of my dream job and the salesman-ninja knew there was no way I would let this chance roll by.  I hate it when the ninjas are right.

I pursued the new opportunity with frightening precision.  The compiled arsenal of validation to prove my worthiness was ready for submittal and the dreams escalated in to full-blown “nearly-real” scenarios.  I walked in and around them, creating as I went.  I could see myself working in town in a nice office for a real salary.  I imagined trendy professional lunches on the downtown mall, meeting my husband for a slice of New York style pizza.  I could even taste the cheese on the pizza accented with the faint petrol waft of the trolley car going by. My bank account was fat.  We had enough money to build on to the house and buy a better vehicle.  My debt was paid off and not only would the worry of buying food be a thing of the past, but I could afford to get my hair done when it needed.  We were putting in the pool and landscaping the yard.  I would be working for a real salary and it would be nothing but good.

My interview went really well, I was armed with a killer resume and letters of recommendation that could land me a job at the White House.  After the interview, I received several bits of insider information that led me to feel I was a top candidate.  My husband and I began to think this might really happen; dreams really can come true.

I was coasting along on a wave of inevitability amped up with desire and a huge perpetual pep talk.  “You can do this.  The job description was written for you.  It’s like they plucked it out of your “dream job diary” while you weren’t looking.  The kids are old enough now. Twelve hour days for both parents, we can handle it.  We’ll all pull together for the common good and it will be swell.”

I psychically held my breath, and occasionally, I physically held my breath, as well.  I paced and chewed my nails.  I pictured the way it would be, crafting my reality with a carefully written script.  I willed God to make things happen in just the right way to have it all come together – just so.

While all this was going on inside, I maintained the appearance of a perfectly sane working mother.  I did everything I was supposed to do including the usual back to school purchases, doctors’ appointments and open houses.  Three sons, three sets of “getting ready for school” was on my to-do list. 

My middle school aged son, Chaz, was slated to start sixth-grade. There had been some question about this as the fifth-grade attempt to move into the public school system from his one-room private school was a miserable failure.  Chaz is the most unique child with a brilliant mind, wicked sense of humor, kind heart and a huge social phobia. Some have said that he is a lot like Einstein in this combination of personality traits.  I wonder how they know.

As the start of the school year drew near, Chaz was insistent; he would go to Middle School.  He would do it just as good as his older brother and I needn’t worry (his words).  I set aside my maternal misgivings and dedicated myself to setting up the best chance for his success.  If it’s middle school he wants then, middle school it is.

The first day of school dawned on a Monday and we cheerily got up and greeted the new year with anticipation.  Off they went, bright-faced and excited with new backpacks and pencils, armed with peanut butter sandwiches and Capri-Sun drink pouches.  I left for work and felt good that the school year had begun and the hectic summer would wind down into the fast but regular pace of fall. 

I got to my office an opened my email.  There was a short note from someone from the company in whose employ I expected to be within weeks.  It was good news!  Another tidbit of insider information; I was the favorite of the team.

I went through my day with my stomach in knots but a secret happiness propelled my step.  I found myself responding to new projects with vague, non-committal language, “Yeah that could be a good idea.  Let me think a little more about it and I’ll get back to you.” or “I’m pretty sure I can’t take that on right now, maybe you should run it by so-and-so.”  I thought about who could do my job and how quickly could they get up to speed.  I planned packing my office.

Toward the end of the day, I checked my email again.  There it was. The one I was waiting for.  As I read the seven or eight sentences that extolled my apparent skills and then simply informed me that I was no longer being considered for my dream job I couldn’t have been more shocked.  The shock gradually eased to a dull echo of its initial slap in the face intensity.  Outrage raised its head and was followed closely by a despair chaser.  Somehow, I managed to pen a gracious and professional letter to my would-be, if-they-had-any-friggin-sense employer, thanking them for their consideration and for their keeping my resume in the “active” file.  The consolation prize, I guess.

Not being particularly interested in consolation, I closed up early and drove around for a while.  I cranked the music up very loud venting the emotions that were at war inside me as I yelled into the wind.  Then I picked up my kids, managed to stuff my self-absorbed suffering long enough to ask how the first day of school went, cooked dinner and finally gave up the charade of normalcy.  I wasn’t fit for company.  I wasn’t even fit for Facebook.  I settled for iTunes and surfing loud punk music for my iPod.  It suited my mood.  I was ready to get a new tattoo, mow my head into a Mohawk and find a good mosh-pit to thrash around in for a while.  Broken dreams, dashed hopes, banged-up ego; it’s a potent cocktail served exclusively at pity parties the world over.

I wanted to enjoy the pity-party cocktail buzz didn’t care to worry about the possible massive hangover known as depression.  It was a good sulk and I let myself enjoy it.  I deserved it.  After two months of dreaming, pacing and holding my psychic breath the let down was squashing me like a bug on the windscreen of an Audi R8.  May as well let it run its course.  I languished.  I pined.  I screamed inside at the unfairness of it all.

In the midst of this drama there was a moment of grace that breezed in.  It was then that I heard it.

Somewhere inside there is an undisturbed and changeless part of me that has a voice and holds the reigns of reason.  This sensible, motherly and wise piece of consciousness had compassion for this situation while simultaneously saying, “I don’t know what’s going on here, but I know it’s purposeful!”  I would like to say that I only had to hear it once, but it took a good hour of this being my mantra repeated with increasing vigor for it to sink in and for me to turn to the embracing depth of Faith.  Eventually I told myself, and believed with all my heart, that I was being preserved for something different.  That my course would not be where I thought best, but where I was needed most; and I would just wait to see what that was.

I girded myself to tell my parents about the turn of events on Tuesday morning but was derailed by a vomiting Chaz who needed to be picked up from school – the second day of school – due to anxiety on the bus.  I tended to my young and pushed all other concerns away. Admittedly, I did have a small conniption upon first getting the call. My attempt to settle the situation was to inform Chaz that he needed to get his head on straight, breathe deep and try to imagine that everyone was just as naked under their clothes as he was.  This did not elicit enough confidence for Chaz go to class and may have actually made him more nervous.  I thought about it and in retrospect Chaz’ particular brand of social phobia would never be comfortable in a roomful of people in their underwear.  Oh well.  Not all parenting moments are winners.

On Wednesday we tried a new tactic; distraction.  Chaz would get ready for school and then spend the remaining time playing X-box so as not to obsess and therefore not to puke, have heart palpitations or hyperventilate.  This was not to be.  A full on anxiety/panic attack on an eleven year old boy is frightening to behold.  He didn’t even make it to the bus stop.  I looked on with increasing concern.  What were we to do?  Chaz looked at me with one big question in his eyes, “Am I okay?”
I hugged him a lot and smiled reassuringly.  I told him that we would find a way and work it out.  I didn’t know how exactly, but we would.

By Thursday morning Chaz and I both had our answer.

After a long parental summit and multiple consultations with grandparents it was decided.  We would launch ourselves into the world of home-schooling--a plan I had been contemplating months before but had shelved in the face of Chaz’s desire to try school.  We weren’t sure how, or even if, I could restructure my job to allow me to continue working.  I am so grateful that we have found a way that I can meet all my obligations; a possibility that could not have existed had I gotten the job.  I am now a telecommuting professional and concurrent learning coach (that‘s what they call us educators who aren‘t actually ‘teachers‘).  Being a learning coach is a brand new, full-time job integrated into my other jobs, and it is by far the best one I have.  Sixth grade science, math and English are fun.  Spending one on one time with Chaz mapping the volcanoes of the Pacific Rim is delightful as I get to know him better.

Chaz’s expression is open and relaxed, relieved and happy.  He looks at me with hero-worship eyes, and I am humbled.  He has been rescued from the most terrifying experience of his young life because I was preserved for his benefit – and mine.

What are broken dreams and a bruised ego compared to that?  I may not know whats going on most times but it doesn’t matter.  I just need to remember:  it’s always purposeful.  I keep the Faith.

Bright Blessings!

Here is the R8 - in case you are wondering how bad the temptation to distraction was...

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Hummingbird Review

For any of you interested...
Here is my first officially published piece of poetry.  It feels lovely.


There are a lot of great writers contributing to this Review. If you have a care to, check 'em out!

Love, Cass

Rest and Reflection

Even a hummingbird sits down
Once in a while
For a split second; when no one is looking.
She pauses turquoise and lapis wings that
and dart
and dare
To rest a tiny moment
On the arc of an ivy
And studies a flower’s petal.
Not sipping the spicy-sweet nectar
She gazes deeply into the deep
Of the blue-violet petunia
And seeks her reflection there.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Mourning II

Would I ever really know
The layers of
The tendrils and pathways
Of intertwined consciousness
That we share
Until the grief of loss
Illumines them
Etched upon my soul?

Would I ever plunge
Into the depths of
Unless to find the rend, the tear
where you
Slipped through
And left a hole
Taking some parts of me
Leaving a trail of your passing
For me to savor
To trace with familiar longing.

I ride the swells of grief
One moment riding high
On the breast of communal memory
The next, plunged alone into
A dark and pointless place
My compass askew
The magnet missing
My North – disappeared.

We walked this life hand in hand
Now my hands are still
And the journey carries on
With only one set of footsteps
It is more intense
More sharp without your camaraderie
I am super-sensitized to the scene
It cuts me deeply where I find not only
The pain of loneliness,
But that I am full
Of appreciation and gratitude
Of Love

The gift of what was given,
Can never be taken away;
I am altered completely;
Carved like a canyon
By the river of your being.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sadie Marabou - two chapters

This is the first part of one of the novels I am working on. Yes, there is more to come. With any luck and some simmering down of this crazy schedule. The good thing is, the ideas just keep percolating getting stronger and better with time. It's all good. I hope you enjoy Sadie. I sure do. She makes me smile while writing her.

Saide Marabou's Flamboyant Revival

Sadie Marubou’s Flamboyant Revival

Did you ever get the feeling that things just weren’t going your way?  And they would keep on not going your way unless something drastic happened?   
How was it that in spite of all my best efforts to avoid it, I had become my mother?  Now mind you, there is nothing wrong with Delilah Marabou unless you want to count the fact that she survived most of her life with the aid of good vodka and Valium.

I don't really drink, much.  Okay, so I’ve been known to tip a martini now and then, but it's all in fun.  I generally choose to exercise away my daily stresses instead of sending myself into a Stolys induced stupor.  The fact that I had to go to such lengths to merely endure my days or my own dreary company, says something to me.  I had become the poster child for the run-down and run-over, but that was all behind me now.  There was no going back.  I had spent years living a life that wasn’t mine and now that I had broken those short tethers . . .  well I just couldn’t go back to the same choking existence.
As I sat there in the county jail examining my chipped pink nail polish, that small sane part of me that sold out and allowed a couple of decades of my life to spin out in a cocoon of beige and taupe is yelling at the top of its lungs.  YOU FOOL!  You’ve done it, you’ve really done it!  In my mind it's even kind of dramatic like when Charlton Heston finds the Statue of Liberty in Planet of the Apes and is writhing in agony on the sand.
Somewhere along the line, my inner Bohemian – the vessel of intuition, inspiration and wonder – had succumbed to the corporate pressures of my husband's job and to the maternal demands of raising a son and a pair of twin daughters. Between paying bills, doctors, dentists, dealing with coaches, teen dating and taking the supporting-wife role in my husband's life, I had lost myself.  My whole life had become dedicated to helping them achieve their dreams of success. 
I wondered about my mother’s inner Bohemian and if she even had one.  I assumed she did, and the vodka and little yellow pills kept it quietly sedated in a dark corner for all these years.  I wondered if she ever let her out.  Probably not.

Mom obviously had chosen a better bohemian management plan, than I had.  This morning, when I woke up, so did that other part of my being . . . and she was pissed off. 
“She-bo” as I have named my inner Bohemian (weird maybe, but oh well) took over my brain, and colored my vision like magic glasses illuminating all the murky and dubious truths of what my life had become.  After a long look around, I am sad to say that I have spent twenty-four years creating a Petri dish for the growth of ho-hum mediocrity.  My own special brand.  Talk about depressing!
Don't get me wrong, I'm not depressed or something.  It's more like a general sort of deflation, disillusionment and reticent acceptance of what I had morphed into.  
My kids are great and I really do love them, but they are grown and gone.  Off to better themselves and the world.  Rich, Jr., is a junior at Yale, and the twins Alexandra and Evelyn are both sophomores at Notre Dame.  They send me postcards and emails from college to let me know they are still on the planet and at least pretending to pay attention in class.  This reassures me that I'm a good Mom.  I never doubted it, but they tell me anyway.  I mean how can a person who gives up all the best parts of themselves for the sake of their young be anything but a Good Mom.

As for Richard, my ex-husband, well he was okay for a controlling egotistical jerk.   Okay I didn’t always feel like that, but the shine wore off right after the warranty was out of date – two months after our first child was born.  It wasn't even like he was mean or nasty.  Arguing with him was like dancing with Jell-O; just as I thought I might actually make a valid point, he would evade and maneuver so that I was left with nothing and felt sticky and befuddled by the encounter.  He never hit me, he never yelled, he never lost his temper and he didn’t succumb to spontaneity.  That’s simply not how Richard Winchester Jell-O behaves.  Instead, he made a clear list of demands backed up with completely reasonable arguments, punctuated by the fact that the household was being run on all his money, and then he would leave – for days and weeks at a time.  It was always understood that even though he was absent, the home and all it contained (including me and the children), were his.  
Richard's profession as VP in charge of acquisitions and mergers kept him on the move.  We didn’t see a lot of each other in the twenty-three and a half years of our so-called-marriage.  I guess it must have taken its toll, because Richard left me for a younger woman who worked in the London office.  Apparently, she “gets him”.  As far as I'm concerned, she can have him.

What’s sadder to me than the divorce is the fact that I didn’t really care.  A quarter century invested in a life with a person I no longer gave a fig about.  We didn’t have much in common other than a physical attraction that melted the paint off the bedroom walls.  He liked golf, corporate outings at country clubs, tennis and the wall street journal.  I prefer Eric Clapton, CSN & Y, hiking anywhere as long as it’s going up, and reading anything controversial.  (Not that I ever got to do those things, but I still preferred them.)  Richard held disdain for other people and I held hope for their well being.  Yeah, I must have been blinded by the sex, because we didn’t have it going on anywhere else.
So this morning when She-bo woke up and took a long look at the mess I had made of my life, she went a little ballistic. 
It started off peacefully enough with me removing all the nick-nacks and pictures from the living room wall just to de-clutter and freshen up the room a little.  Then before I knew it, it had escalated into a Jackson Pollack re-decorating extravaganza.  Caught up in flash-flood of pent up resentment and general “What the hell have I been doing all this time?”  I pried open every can of left over paint I could find in the garage and threw it at the wall.  With impressive force I might add.  She-bo was thrilled, spurred on by the way the sunlight glinted off the bright yellow paint that sailed through the air in a wide arc and landed against the wall with a satisfying splat.  Somewhere in my mind I remembered that Richard had expressly chosen that color for the twins’ room and then the thought of him was gone as the yellow mixed sharply with a sage green. 
We were inspired, She-bo and I, to do more.  To break out of the Petri dish of mediocrity and reclaim some ground for caged Bohemians everywhere.

And so I ran to the garage and rummaged around banging open cupboards and rifling through tool boxes in search of the perfect tool to sever the umbilical of corporate wife “yes-dom.”  A hedge trimmer shone like a beacon amidst the various tools in spite of a thick coating of grease and dust.  It felt good in my hand.  I pushed in the choke, primed the engine a few times and pulled the cord.  The engine sputtered to life with a puff of smoke. 
I scanned the area looking for just the right inspiration, and spying my target, revved the hedge trimmer and went to work.  The eight-foot tall privet hedge that separates my yard from Mr. Peterson's had long been a source of derision for me.  It stole the sun and sucked the very warmth from the air.  Mr. Peterson, my neighbor, was old and crotchety when we moved in, now he was ancient and mean.  And he loved his hedge.  I hated the hedge.  I couldn’t see the sunset because of his friggin’ hedge. 
It was a bit of luck that the old bird is mostly deaf and didn’t notice I was desecrating his holy hedge until I had already finished carving the word "love" out of the center.  I was just finishing a little heart shape at the end when he came out to get his mail.  There were six or eight google-eyed on-lookers licking their lips at the prospect of a fight between a middle-aged crazy woman covered in paint and mean old Mr. Peterson.  I'm pretty sure they were making book on the outcome.
Mr. Peterson stalked over with his mouth working furiously and his face a color that made me think of eggplant.  I stood my ground next to the tall leafy letters, my hedge-trimmer purring like a large cat in my hand. 
"What in the sam-hell do you think you’re doing?!"

I just smiled beatifically at his sunken in denture-less mouth and finished cutting out the heart with a flourish.  I shut off the trimmer and made a deep bow to my impromptu audience.  They applauded and Mr. Peterson glared at them then he spat on the ground and went into the house.
I thought maybe he was going to be more reasonable than he ever had been before. Maybe having the word "love" in carved in six foot letters out the middle of his hedge inspired him to unprecedented heights of kindness.  I was elated!  I had broken free of my cage and it seemed that I might even be helping poor Mr. Peterson find something besides misery in his life.
I decided to help liberate Mr. Peterson a little more by picking the peaches off his tree and handing them out to the people standing on the sidewalk.  It was no secret the Mr. Peterson had the best peaches in Maryland, but he never ate them and he never shared.  It always bothered me that the beautiful ripe fruit would fall and rot with no one to enjoy the bounty of sweet fruity goodness.

I was really getting into the act and had climbed up into the tree to reach the sun kissed peaches at the top when I heard the sirens.  I looked out between the leaves with a peach in my mouth and one in each hand.  The patrol car rolled to a stop in front of Mr. Peterson's house.  The siren stopped suddenly and out stepped a deputy.
So much for Mr. Peterson’s new kindness.  He appeared outside his front door and stood looking from the mountains of greenery of the erstwhile hedge to the deputy.  I couldn’t help but be reminded of a bulldog with his back up and his jowls quivering with righteous indignation.
“What's the problem Mr. Peterson?” Asked the deputy as he stepped into the yard.  He must have been to Mr. Peterson’s house before, there was a hint of annoyed tolerance in his voice.  Could be good for me.
“You got eyes, dontcha?  Look what that damn woman did to my hedge!  And now she’s stealing peaches!  I want her arrested.  I intend to press full charges for trespassing, vandalism and burglary.”
She-bo was not pleased.
“You mean old snake!  Why don't you try being friendly for a change.  Let the kids eat these peaches that are just going to rot.  And as for the "hedge from hell", well, I'm not sorry one bit!  It blocked all the sunlight from my yard.  I could hardly grow hostas let alone sun flowers.  And besides now you have positive message to share with the neighborhood. Right deputy?” I asked trying to win some support for my side.  “How can making love with a hedge be a crime?”
The deputy's eyes widened in surprise and I could swear he bit his lip trying not to laugh. 

It took a second before the double entendre dawned on me. “Oh! Woa! I didn’t mean it like that.  I meant..."
He stopped me with a wave of his hand.
“Yeah, I know what you meant.  What is your name?” He pulled a small notebook from his shirt pocket as I scrambled down from the branches of the tree.  He lent me a hand and I landed like an outlandish tropical bird right in front of him.
I must have been quite a sight with multiple colors of paint spattered from head to toe, bleeding red scratches from the hedge billboard of love project, peach juice dripping off my chin and an inch worm who seemed very interested in making its way down between my breasts.  The deputy, I noticed his name on his badge said J. Donahue, was still trying hard not to laugh and somehow remained professional in the face on wanton Bohemianism.  I was proud to be a taxpayer providing a salary to J. Donahue.
“Sadie. Sadie Marabou.”  I said hoping I sounded just a little suave, like James Bond.  I was having fun and J. Donohue was cute.  No wedding ring, either.  Hooray for me. 
“Spell that please.”
I did.  He wrote it down.  He wrote neatly in his little notebook and I wondered what other information he kept in there.
“Unusual name -- Marabou.”

"It's my maiden name.  I took it back after my divorce.  A marabou is some African bird.  Like a stork.  It's famous for its soft white underside."  Jeez!  Why not ask him to just go for it in the yard?
“Really?  I'll have to remember that.  Date of birth?”  He was still trying to control his amusement at me and the whole situation.
“Oh gosh, really?”
“Yes, Ms. Marabou, really.  This is an official matter and I have to follow through.”
“August 17, 1963.  And I thought you were one of the good guys.”
“I'm good."
He continued with one inane question after another but I hardly noticed.  I was busy checking him out.  Nice buns.  Nice biceps.  Nice face.  Yep, he was nothing but nice, nice, nice.  I kinda wanted to nibble on his ear just to see what he would do.  About that time Groucho Peterson appeared, walking toward us with his wheelbarrow, the handles of some garden tools sticking out of it.
“She's gonna clean up this mess!  I'm not doing it, I tell ya.”
Mr. Peterson plucked a metal rake out of the collection and thrust it at me.  I backed away.
“No way!  This is art!  And I'm not changing one thing!”

“You're cleaning up my yard!”
“No!  I’ll pay my fine and you can clean your own stinking yard!”  I knew it wasn’t entirely reasonable, but I was in the full control of She-bo and She-bo doesn't do raking.  Who knew?
Mr. Peterson pushed me with the rake and I pushed him back, not hard, but the old geezer lost his balance and fell into his wheelbarrow.  He struggled there like a turtle on his shell until J. Donohue gave him a hand out.
“Assault!  I want to add assault to the list of crimes against me!  This woman is a menace!  She pushed me!”
“Me?  You're the one shoving rakes in people's faces!”
“Okay, okay.  That's enough.  Mr. Peterson, are you all right?” J. Donohue interceded in a wonderfully police-like manner.  I felt safe from mean Mr. Peterson and his rusty tools.
“No!  I’ll have to see my osteopath and my internist.  I don't feel good at all!  Get her off my property!” He looked fine to me, even if he was a bit frothy around the mouth.
“Ms. Marabou I will need you come with me to the station where I can file the report.  Mr. Peterson, do you require medical assistance to be called in?”
“Sure!”  I answered; happy to anywhere with J is for Justice Donohue.

“I’ll call my doctor myself.  I don't trust nobody else.”  The old goat grumbled under his breath and then blew his nose loudly into a large white handkerchief.
“If you’re sure.  I’ll come by later to get your side of the story, Mr. Peterson.”
“I’ll be here.”  And with that the old geezer crabbed back into the house leaving the wheelbarrow and tools sitting amidst the mountains of severed privet limbs.
“My house is right here.  Can I change my clothes and get my purse, please?”
“I’ll come with you.  Make it fast, okay.  Dispatch doesn’t like it when we are away from the radio for too long.”
I left J is for Justice in the paint splattered living room with his mouth hanging open in an unnatural manner.  I don't suppose he ever met anyone who intentionally threw paint all over the walls.  I have to say it was rather awe inspiring, still dripping in places and pooling in kaleidoscopic puddles on the floor.  The energy that had propelled the act was still present in that room.  It was She-bo's room.  And when J is for Justice stood there, mouth agape, I knew he felt the presence of She-bo and she talked to part of him.

I peeled off my painted clothing pulled on jeans and a soft tee shirt with a low-cut neck.  Red.  My favorite color - it always had been - but Richard said it was vulgar to wear red and so I didn’t own much of it.  I teased a few leaves out of my hair with my fingers and let it go at that.  I washed the peach juice and sweat from my face indulgently considered taking two minutes to put on some mascara and decided not to push it.  I laced up my Keds wishing they were Sketchers or Rocket Dogs or anything young, hip and cool.  I needed Bohemian foot wear.  I would stop at the mall on the way home from the station.
J. Donohue had made the rounds downstairs.  I could tell, because he wasn’t in the living room any more, and he looked at me as if I might actually be normal after all.  Ah, the power of illusion.  The rest of the house looked like a sane and reasonable person lived there.  Only to me did it look like a prison, created by me, for me. 
The family that had lived here had all gone on to bigger and better things.  All that was left were the decorator drapes, carefully chosen objects d’art to display a sense of competent serenity, and a sad empty feeling.  Portraits of the kids taken in a studio hung in designer frames atop designer wall treatments.  Richard had entertained here some and he had very particular needs when it came to wooing clients or schmoozing with the boss.  The kids had spent most of their free time at friends’ houses.  Ours wasn’t the fun hang-out.  It was all fake.  Kid’s know fake when they see it, they have built-in bull-shit meters and when the B.S. gets too deep, well, they blow you off.

I would have rather had homemade afghans thrown over antique furniture surrounded by art the kids had made.  Their pictures would be the ones from Fourth of July picnics where they are covered in watermelon and looking dazed in wonder at the night sky full of fireworks.  I like real.  I like messy.  I like the sticky watermelon moments in life.
“You ready?”  Justice was pulling open the front door and I noticed the yummy way his muscles moved in his arms.  Oh man, I hadn’t had a yummy guy in my bed in years.  Yes, years!  It’s wrong, I tell you, wrong!
“Let's go. Do I ride with you or can I take my car?  I want to go shopping later.”
“You need to ride with me, I have to bring you in formally. You’ll be held until a judge can hear the charges.”
“Held?  As in ‘jail’?”
A tiny muscle moved on the side of his mouth.  He was still trying not to laugh at me.
 “It’s more of a holding area.  You’ll be booked with whatever charges are appropriate to the incident.  Then you stay in custody until the judge hears the charges and decides what to do with the case.  It only takes a few hours.  It’s like Night Court.  You remember that show?  In and out.”

“Oh well.  I don’t really have anything better to do today.  I can go see how the other side lives.”  I followed him to his cruiser where he opened the back door and I slid in.  It was the worst seat I had ever sat on.  Hard plastic with nothing to hold onto.  He shut my door and let himself in the car.  He cranked the engine over and adjusted his mirror so he could see me easily.
“The other side is not pretty Ms. Marabou.” He advised me looking at me in the rearview mirror.  “You really should be more careful about breaking laws.”
“I appreciate the advice.  But I simply had to cut down that damnable hedge!”
“Did you ever think of getting the city to tell Mr. Peterson to lower it?”
“No.  I was too much of a conformist.”
He snorted in disbelief. I had to give him that one considering that what he knew of me was anything but conforming.
“Until today.  Before today I was completely predictable, normal and boring as hell.  I’m not sure what happened, but today something just snapped and I had to break out.”
“The new paint in the living room part of your ‘coming out’?”
Breaking out.  It’s not like I’m telling the world I’m gay or something.  Not that I am.  And not that I have anything against it or anything.  And if I was, it wouldn’t be bad.  I’m not homophobic or anything.” I added quickly.”  Oh crap!  Why couldn’t I ever shut my mouth?  Runaway trains had nothing on me.

I’m sure he’d heard similar ‘I just snapped’ stories from people who committed arson, murder and all manner of hideous crimes.  I wasn’t sure where chopping down old Mr. Peterson’s hedge of doom fit into the scale of justice, but I was hopeful that I would get off light.
“Is being normal all that bad?”  He looked at me in the mirror.  I could have gone diving in the Cayman Island blue of his eyes.  Bohemians simply adore pretty eyes.
“I don’t know, I was numb for most of it.  Can I ask you a question?”
He nodded.
“What does the J stand for?”
“I was close.  And to answer your question, yes.  Painting that wall marked the beginning of a whole new world for me.  I love Jackson Pollack.  He found beauty in chaos and harmony in diversity.  That’s my new credo.”
“I hope you’ll be careful.  I’d hate to see a nice lady like you end up in trouble simply out of boredom.”
“I’m not looking for entertainment, Deputy Justin; it’s so much more than that.”


So, that’s how I ended up contemplating the quality of my manicure and likewise the quality of my life in a shabby little holding cell waiting for the judge to have time to see about my case. 
The urgency with which I had acted had cooled off some, and in its place I found myself mentally defending my actions to everyone.
My mother would probably be convinced that I had suffered a psychotic break and would insist I see her therapist.  I didn’t want therapy.  I didn’t want to be pushed into a neatly labeled mold again.  I had been there, and I didn’t like it.  I had endured, done my job, raised my kids, supported my husband through his years of philandering and corporate ladder climbing, and you know what?  I hadn’t had a good time. 
I never got to make any decisions.  Richard did all that.  Where we lived, who we associated with, how the children were disciplined, where we vacationed, how we invested.  Everything.  Even what we ate for dinner -- even if he wasn’t in town!  How the hell had I become so spineless?  I wasn’t merely a doormat, I was the large woven mat with the word “Welcome” in ornate hand-stitched letters.  Something about me invited people to just run willy-nilly all over me while I just laid there. What a loser!

But that couldn’t be the real me.  The real me, way down deep inside had a lot to say.  The real ‘me’ had told Mr. Peterson to clean up his own yard!  I had totally checked out a hunky policeman and I had chopped down the Great Barrier Hedge with power tools.  I had Jackson Pollacked my living room for Christ's sake! I was an emancipated woman, right?
The fact was, I was totally freaked out.  My whole world had turned on its ear.  Every single star by which I navigated had gone super nova leaving me in the dark, alone and wishing I had a compass to steer myself to a hopefully friendly shore.
Then came She-bo.  I liked the idea of She-bo showing up.  She was the pure concentrated essence of all I hold dear, distilled and aged in a secret place in my heart for years.  Potent and powerful, she blasted onto the scene like nitro-glycerin forever changing the landscape of my life.  It was better this way, doing it all at once.  I didn’t have time to let my true self come creeping out in little bits and pieces.  I had to blast away the old rutted patterns, get my butt in gear and live the way I wanted to.

I leaned against the cinder block wall and closed my eyes.  I imagined Richard or the kids getting the news that I had been hauled to the police station.  Part of me cringed in habitual homage to impenetrable walls of disapproval and general lack of understanding I would be met with.  Richard would never in a million years understand the need to break free.  Why would he?  He made all the rules for everyone.  As for the kids well, they’re kids; they would be more resilient than their father, and would hopefully forgive the shock I had delivered them.  They would be unique in the fact that they were in Ivy League schools and were probably the only ones whose mother had a rap sheet, albeit a short one.
I took strange comfort in the fact that I would have a rap sheet, like I had something going for me in the long journey to reclaim my life.  I figured if I have enough guts to break the civil law, surely I could break the laws imposed by Richard Wandering Dick.  It was a wonderful irony that being thrown in jail had become essential to freeing me.
Justin Justice came by the cell and nodded at me, a dark lock of hair swooped down over one brow making him look even yummier and a little dangerous.  He smiled at me, not so much with his lips, but with his eyes, pointed to his watch and indicated that it would be a short wait by holding his finger and thumb about an inch apart.  He walked away tapping a folder against his thigh.  The man sure had a nice rear view.

After what I considered to be way too long to contemplate the heavy nature of my thoughts, I got to see the judge.  But I went into the court room with Justin Justice by my side and I was feeling pretty good about that.  I mean technically, he was the enemy, but I really looked at him as one of my co-liberators.  I know, I’m weird.  Yeah, he’s also hot.  Sue me.
Mr. Peterson had given his report and it was read.  I sounded very villainous in that context.  I felt like I should have a piece hidden in my underwear or something just to live up to the menacing description of my deeds.
Justice submitted his report and I tried not to look at him like I was a cat and he was a bowl of cream.  I don’t think I was successful because the judge kept looking from him to me with one eyebrow cocked.
She was a nice looking lady, the judge.  She was a little older than I and had kept herself up.  She asked good questions and listened with an attentive air that made me think of a television news interviewer.  When she finally turned her attention to me for my side of the story, I felt like I could trust her with the truth.
“Ms. Marabou, will you please explain to me what you were doing on Mr. Peterson’s property.”
“Your Honor, I was cutting down a hedge that had blocked the sun from my yard for years now.  Mr. Peterson had steadfastly refused to lower the hedge, in fact he let it get taller.  In retrospect, I should have gotten the city to make Mr. Peterson lower it.  But I have to admit it felt good to cut it down myself.”

“Well, you didn’t cut it down, Ms. Marabou.  You carved the word ‘love’ in it.  Correct?”
“Well, yes.  I just wanted sunlight and beauty in the front yard.  It seemed like the thing to do.  What better thing to take down a barrier than love, right?”
“A very interesting philosophy Ms. Marabou, and while I may agree with you on certain aspects of it, your behavior, being at odds with the law, demands that I penalize you.  The charges are trespassing and vandalism.  Since this your first offense and I venture it will be your last, I will be lenient with you.  I understand the hedge is still viable and that the peach tree suffered no damage, therefore the sentence is a five hundred dollar fine, and twenty hours of community service.  You can start by cleaning up the mess you made in Mr. Peterson’s yard.  Do you have any questions?”
“No Ma’am. I understand. Thank you, Your Honor.”
A quick strike with the gavel and it was over. I walked out of the court room with Justice by my side.  I stole a look at him from under my lashes and hummed to myself.
“Ms. Marabou, if you’ll pay the court, I’ll escort you home.  My shift is over and I would hate to see you take a taxi all that way.”

‘All that way’ was fifteen miles, not a bank breaker in a taxi cab, but I thought why not hang out with the cute cop with bulges in all the right places?
“Thanks, Justice”
“I mean Justin.  Sorry.  You sort of acquired a nickname while you weren’t looking.”
He laughed at that.  He had a smile like warm syrup on waffles. 
“I like it.  Justice.”  He repeated the name slowly like he was trying it on.  “But it’s our little secret, huh? The guys around here would tear me up if they found out.”
“Just between you and me.” I nodded with a conspiratorial wink.
I paid my fine at a plexiglass window that had lettering in peeling gold and black paint.  At one time it had said Rockbridge Maryland Circuit Court.  Now it was missing enough letters to be a challenging puzzle on The Wheel of Fortune.  I wondered if any of my five hundred bucks would go to repainting the window.  I hoped so. The idea of it forever remaining such a pathetic version of its true self saddened me.

That’s the thing with Bohemians.  We want to improve and beautify everything, helping it live up to its most lovely potential.  Each leaf, blade of grass, cup of coffee, the grease-covered guy at the Quick-Lube . . . everything should reverberate with beauty, love and passion.  Even the window at the court needed to show its best side.
“Ready?”  Justice asked.  He had disappeared while I signed my credit card slip and slid it through the cut-out window.  He must have gone to his locker in the attached police station and changed into civilian clothes.  If he looked hot in a uniform, he was walking lava-man in faded blue jeans and tight black tee shirt.
“Oh yeah.”  Ready wasn’t the half of it.

Justice had a ‘68 Camaro that sat like a dragonfly, glistening metallic blue in the late afternoon sun ready to spring into flight.  It was an instant turn-on, a car guaranteed to get Justice a fair collection of wet panties if he wanted them.
He held open the door for me and I slid in the interior of the car and looked around.  You can tell a lot about a person by their car.  The tachometer on the dash and the Hurst shifter thrust up through the floorboards screamed things like, dangerous and speed demon.  The exquisite care taken in executing every detail of the vehicle showed the careful controlled side of my new pal, Justice.  Leather stretched in seamless gray across the seats, tucked and rolled expertly on the edges.  This car was his baby, his woman, his hobby and his friend.  I couldn’t help wondering if he would treat a girlfriend with such regard or if that special treatment was reserved for classic autos only.
He eased in behind the wheel and cranked over the engine.  I thought I would die right there.  There were about a million horsepower under that hood and they were all clamoring to go somewhere in a hurry.  The throaty power of the pistons pumping vibrated the seats and sent the blood coursing through my veins.
I must have looked like an awestruck kid at her first fireworks ‘cause Justice was watching me with a very amused look in his eye.

“You like it?”
“What do you think?  I’m dying here! Let’s go!’
“You got it, Jackson.”
It took me a moment to realize what he said and when it did dawn on me that he had nicknamed me after my new painting style, and perhaps even life-style philosopher, I laughed out loud.  The sound of my amusement being swallowed up in the roar and growl of the Camaro.
Justice took me for a ride.  He hit the interstate and put his foot in the accelerator.  I was flattened against the seat as the ponies under the hood hurtled us down the road like a rocket.  After a few miles of dodging slower traffic he veered down an off ramp so fast that my stomach flipped as we caught sick air.  We wound our way down one of the many rural roads that leached out into the countryside from the city’s center.  We roared past farms and fields, over streams and around tight curves.  We listened to ZZ Top...loud.  The wind whipped my hair into a frizzy mess and I couldn’t stop grinning.  I felt twenty years younger.  This was as good as sex and way the hell better than chocolate.
We swung into a gravel spot on the side of the road where logging and cattle trucks turn around.  Dust swirled up around us as he stopped the car and killed the motor.
“Can I ask you something, Jackson?”
“Yeah, sure,” I managed a bit breathlessly
“I was just wondering if you really believe in what you did today.  I mean, why?”
I laughed lightly belying the seriousness of both the question and my answer.  The sun was beginning to go down and the light was turning that sweet soft shade of lavender when it seems the mysteries of the universe are right there on the periphery of our sight.  I have never been quick enough to see them, but I know they are there.
“With all my heart I believe in what I did today.  I was on a recovery mission, Justin.  A mission to recover my life.  It’s probably not something you’d ever really understand, being the type of person you are.  And that’s a good thing . . .”  I added quickly when a flicker of defensiveness rippled across his features. “Somewhere, some years back, I lost track of myself.  I want to meet up with the real me again and get to know her.  I might actually like her.”
“You sound a little schizo there, Jackson.”
“I’m perfectly integrated, thank you.  It’s just easier to explain it that way.”
“You mean what you said to the judge.  About love taking down barriers?”

“Absolutely.  Where there is love, I mean real love, there can’t be any walls.  That I know for a fact, I heard it on Dr. Phil.”  Well, I had heard it somewhere, maybe it was a book -- but it seemed like the sort of thing Dr. Phil wouldn’t mind being credited with.
“What was so hard about your life that you didn’t stand up for yourself?”
Now that was a damn good question.  What indeed had made me into the boneless, ever-accommodating person I had become?
“I was in the wrong life and didn’t know how to get out of it, so I just kept plugging along doing what I was ‘supposed’ to do and hoping it would be enough.  Turned out it wasn’t.  It never is if you don’t love who you’re with and what you’re doing.  I settled for mediocre and called it fine and I tried to make myself believe that ‘okay’ was ‘great’.  I was the plain vanilla, beige woman lurking around in the background.”
“I wouldn’t say anything about you is beige or vanilla today.”
“No, I think I=m off to a good start.”
“You still want to go to the mall?”
I had forgotten my idea of shopping for shoes.  Somehow it didn’t seem so urgent now.
“Nah, you can take me home, Justice.  Thanks.”

“You’ve been checking me out all day, Jackson.” It was a statement of fact and he seemed to be pretty okay with it.  “Just thought you should know that I’ve had my eye on you, too.”  He paused and ran a hand carelessly through his hair.  “I know it seems quick and all, but I wondered if you want to go out Friday night.”
“Oh,” was all I managed to squeak out.  I hadn’t thought of that.  Not even once.  How odd that it never crossed my mind that he might think something of me.  I couldn’t have conjured a finer testament to my doormat vision of myself.  I must have looked like I needed an explanation, because Justice gave me one.  And I have to say it was a pretty good one, too.
“It’s not every day I run into someone who’s fearlessly breaking with the established way of doing things. Especially a pretty woman.  The girls I meet are all stuck on themselves and pretty much stupid with make-up and fashion.  But you’re different.  You, have more...”
“I am older,” I cut him off.  “I may not have lived my life the way I wanted for way too many years, but I tell you what, I know what I like.  I know what I want, and now there’s no one to stop me from getting it.”
“What do you want?”
My mother always said actions speak louder than words. 
I kissed him. 

Yes, I just took his tanned chiseled face in my hands and kissed him.  For a second he was slow to respond and I thought I had freaked him out or something, but then his hands came around my shoulders and pulled me close.  His lips were like velvet and they moved with a roving ease that left me warm in all the right places.
When we broke apart, I just smiled devilishly at him and sat back in my seat.
“Take me home, Justice.  It’s been a busy day for us both.  We don’t want to overdo it.  What time on Friday?”
I stood in my driveway watching as Justin and his Camaro moved down the road like a growling panther amidst a pearlescent-gold herd of Lexuses, Beemers and Mercedes that made up the car pool in our neighborhood.  It was a perfect illustration of the obvious truth.  I was just like that, a hot-rod Camaro trying to fit in with beige luxury cars.  The whole thing really had been destined to fail -- my marriage and career as a housewife and stay-in-her-place Mom.  Eventually the racing stripes and headers would show themselves.

I wanted to leave and never come back.  I could feel the very ground sucking the life and color out of me.  I would sell out and never come back to this stuck-up neighborhood again.  Mr. Peterson could grow his stinking hedge to the moon and it wouldn’t matter.  I would be gone; nothing but taillights.
I went to the garage and found a quaint yard sale sign that Richard had approved as being not too tacky and could therefore be displayed in his front yard.  It was freestanding on a tall wooden post and had the words “Yard Sale Today” printed on a slate board that hung from little chains.  We had periodically sold off children’s furniture and toys, the gleanings from the closets and outdated kitchen appliances.  I would tag each item that he had decided to cull from our inventory and place the little sign on the sidewalk next to the mailbox.  God that man had his controlling, meddling fingers in every darned pie. 
Well, no more!
I found a cardboard box and cut it into squares that would fit over the slate pieces and wrote ‘HOUSE FOR SALE’ with a large black marker on both pieces then I taped them into place.  It would do until I could call a real estate agent and list the house properly.  I just felt better knowing that the house was ‘on the market’ before I actually set a foot inside it once again.

I rummaged around in the refrigerator for some food and finally came up with a not too wilted salad and some cheese cubes.  A few Triscuits on the side and it was dinner.  I opened a bottle of red wine and flopped in front of the TV.  I had had a very busy day and it was catching up with me.  I sipped my wine and surfed the channels looking for something empowering to watch.  Thelma and Louise was on one of the movie channels and I had never seen it.  Heard about it plenty, but never had seen it.
Just as it was getting really interesting, (I LOVE the Thunderbird she drives in that movie) my mom called.
“Hello sweetheart.  How are you today?”
She had taken it upon herself to make sure I was not withering away after Richard’s departure.  No matter how much I told her I was fine, she still called and fretted and worried and offered unsolicited advice to the point of me wanting to run stark naked around the house with a flame thrower just so she could be justifiably worried. 
Now that I thought about it, it wasn’t all that far from what had actually happened.  Trade hedge trimmers for the flame thrower and even if I was clothed, I was definitely exposing myself.  Hey, maybe mom was onto something here.
“I have had a busy day, Mom.”

“Oh?”  She asked in that way that made it seem like I couldn’t have possibly done anything worth talking about let alone classified it as busy.  It ticked me off enough that I decided to let her have it right between the eyes.
“Well let’s see Ma, I repainted the living room, I cut down Mr. Peterson’s hedge from hell, stole some peaches, got hauled to jail by a hunky cop, was found guilty of trespassing and vandalism, paid a fine and went driving with said hunky cop in his hot-rod, got kissed, and put my house on the market, I’m about three quarters of the way through a bottle of Merlot and I’m thinking about the Ben & Jerry’s in the freezer.”
“Stay right where you are.  I’m coming over.”  The phone went dead and I knew that my own dear mother was probably throwing herself into a powder blue jogging suit and was half-way here before I even hung up the phone. 
She-bo giggled a little bit at the thought of Delilah Marabou speeding through the night to reach her daughter, who, in Delilah’s mind, probably needed a straight jacket and heavy sedation.

I love my mother, I truly do, and her intentions are the best.  She loves me, but I think she harbors great regret at many years of misunderstanding in our relationship.  And now we only have each other to cling to through life’s maelstrom.  Dad had died three years earlier, the victim of too many rich meals and a high stress career.  Mom was now a lonely rich widow living off the interest of his careful investments.  I have no siblings, Mom and Dad didn’t want to over complicate their lives, over commit on their emotional availability (go figure), or let too many things get between them.  As I look at it now, I think Dad was just selfish, and Mom just went along with it.  Just like me, riding the current, pulled along in the wake of our men.  Doormat syndrome seemed to be hereditary.
I heard the screech of Mom’s tires as she slammed on her brakes in the driveway.  She lived about four miles away in a posh gated community where limousines cruise the area like sharks. 
I poured a second glass of wine and refilled my own and sat back waiting for Miss Delilah to descend upon me.
“Sadie!  Sadie, where are you?”
“Living room, Mom.”
I heard the pat-pat-pat of her Reebok walking shoes on the wood floor then she came in.  I didn’t look up immediately.  I wanted to let her catch sight of the wall first and then she could light into me.
Her stunned silence was dramatic, topped only by the verbal tirade that followed it.

“What on earth have you done to the wall, Sadie?  Have you lost your ever lovin’ mind?”  Mother was Southern, (pronounced suuthun) and the more upset she became the more suuthun she sounded.
“Why Mother.  How good to see you.  Would you like a glass of Merlot while you admire my humble tribute to the late great Jackson Pollack?”
“Why would anyone want to honor that mo-ron?  He was such a strange man, Sadie.  What were you thinking?”
“Sit down, Mom and I’ll tell you.  But first you have to have a glass of wine.”
“Is it that bad, sugah?”
“No, it’s not that bad.  But it does require a looser frame of mind than you usually operate from.”
“Oh Lord.”
“See what I mean.  I might not say anything to you until you have two glasses if you keep that up.”
“I won’t be able to drive home.  Sadie Marabou, you tell me what the devil is going on around here right this minute.”  ‘Here’ was ‘heeyah’, very suuthun.  Mom was agitated, big time, and her Alabama was showing in all over the place. 
“Have a sip?”
“Oh, all right.  You can start with that painting and just work your way through that list that gave me fits all the way here.”  She stated this with a flourish of long french-manicured fingers bedecked in gold and diamonds.

She took the glass I offered her and sank back on the sofa all the while watching me like a sniper with the target in her sights.  I wasn’t intimidated.  I was used to Mother’s antics.  She was a whole lot of bluster and not one bit of bite.
“The simple truth is I found this room, this house, to be boring beyond words.  Besides which, nothing in here is mine.  So I started with this wall.  It’s a small start in the reclamation project.”
“Don’t be foolish, it’s all yours.  The courts awarded you with it.”
“It’s not an award it’s a goddamned prison sentence.  This place is my very own cell, cleverly disguised as a home.”
“Watch your language, Sadie.” she said out of habitual practice.  “Tell me what you mean by that.”
She was in a psychoanalyzing mood.  Oh goodie.
“I mean that every piece of furniture, every single thing in this house was picked out by Richard.  He chose it, he paid for it and he told me where to put it.  Point to anything, Mother, go ahead.”
She looked around the room and smugly pointed to the kid’s pictures.
“Richard’s photographer friend took the pictures.  Richard chose the backdrops, and while he didn’t actually shop for the outfits, he emailed me what he wanted them to wear.”
“I don’t believe it.  Why on earth would a man carry on like that?”

“Do you really mean you don’t believe me, or are you being dramatic?  ‘Cause if you don’t believe me, then there’s no point in going on with this whole discussion.  The whole thing is based on that.”
“Based on the pictures?”
“Really, Mom.  You’re giving me a headache.”
“Well, I never!”  But, there was too much of my story yet untold for Delilah to give up in a huff and so she took a long swallow of Merlot and composed herself.  “I’m sorry, darling.  Just start from the beginning and I’ll try to be a diligent listener.”
“Thanks.”  I sipped my own wine and reached for a handful of salted almonds.  “So, I took a look around this house today and I was thoroughly disgusted with it and my life.  Nothing about my life reflects who I am.  I like Jackson Pollack, so I did a humble homage to his Bohemian spirit, and in turn it fueled mine.”
“Your what?”  She looked startled and took another long sip of wine.  I would say she slugged it, but Delilah Marabou never slugs, she drinks with enthusiasm.
“My Bohemian spirit.  Pay attention.”
“What is a Bohemian spirit, may I ask?”

“It’s the wild untamed part of a soul, the part that speaks Truth, lives in Love and is Fearless.  Everyone has one.  Most people just keep theirs shut up inside.”
“And I suppose, yours is, er, out?”
“A little, yeah.”
So that’s what spurred this flurry today?”
“Yes.  After I painted the wall, I felt so exuberant that I had to keep moving toward the fresh air that had begun to filter into my consciousness.  I found the hedge trimmers and without any real thought -- moving purely on impulse -- I carved the word ‘love’ out of Mr. Peterson’s hedge.”
“Oh Lord.”  She took a long sip of wine and refilled her glass.
“I even decorated it with a little heart.  He called the cops on me.”
“What on earth were you thinking, Sadie?”
“I told you I wasn’t really thinking.  I just went with it.”
“Are you going to be a serial criminal now?”
“Only with hedge trimmers.  I don’t go in for the heavy stuff.  No chainsaws or axes.” 
Mother laughed at the joke but she was still confused by the whole thing.  I could see the bafflement in her eyes as she tried in vain to grasp the idea of vandalizing a hedge by carving the word ‘love’.  It was beyond her, but at least she had laughed.

“Well, that’s a relief at least.  So what happened after the police showed up?”
I didn’t want to go into all of it about Justice, he was my private yummy secret, but I had to share the bare bones about the encounter.  I did, and Mom wasn’t satisfied.
“You said he was hunky.  How hunky?”
“Mom, he would make the angels weep.”
“Oh Lord.”
I hadn’t heard this many “Oh Lords” out of her since Wandering Dick went off to London.  It was a good story, and she’d be dying to share it with the bridge group.  Of course she would never mention that it was me.  The names would be changed to protect the family honor.  All the ladies would know anyhow, but they could pretend that everything was fine with their friend all the while giving advice and admonition in equal doses to the nameless unfortunate in Delilah’s story.
“He came to the house with me and let me change my clothes.  He saw my painting and liked it.  I went to the police station, answered some questions and went and saw a judge after a few hours in a holding cell.”
“You were in jail all afternoon?  Why didn’t you call me?”  She looked like I had betrayed her.
“Mom, it wasn’t necessary.  I was in and out of there.  And besides, if I had called you, I wouldn’t have gotten to ride in Justin’s Camaro.”
“Who is Justin?”
“Oh, right.  The hunky cop, Officer Justin Donahue.  He gave me a ride home since his shift was over and he kinda likes me.  We went for a little ride in the country.  I kissed him and he then brought me home.”
“Oh LORD!  You kissed a stranger?  Have you lost your ever-lovin’ mind?”
“Yes, I did.  And I’m going out with him Friday.”
“You are going out on a date with the police officer who hauled you to jail?”
“Yep.”  I had been wondering if he might bring his handcuffs on the date.  Bad, Sadie!
“Sadie, I think you are becoming unbalanced.  You should see my therapist.  He really can help.”
I had been to Joel Lowenstein before and I had not found any comfort in his office.  He spent the whole session trying not to look at my breasts.  I guess he got a little excited at the idea that I was a wealthy divorcee and might therefore be available for dates.

“No thank you, Mom.  I feel great.  Better than I have in a long time.  I put the house on the market and I feel that the whole world is opening up for me.”
“You’re selling the house?  Your only source of security and tax shelter?”
I cut her off as she took a breath to continue.
“Before you ask me if I have lost my ever loving mind again, I will tell you that I haven’t.  I simply do not want to live here any longer.  This house holds things that aren’t mine and is full of memories of me being a slave to Richard.”
“What about the children?  Where will they come to when they are off for Christmas break and summers?”
“I’ll get another place.  It’s going to be fine, Mom, really.  I may have acted drastically, but it’s all good.”
“If you say so.  I’m not so sure, and I hope I am wrong.”
I patted her hand and we sat together with Thelma and Louise filling the silence while we sipped wine.  We were both stunned when the girls clasped hands and floored the gas barreling headlong into the open maw of the Grand Canyon.
“Sadie, what kind of movie are you watching?  Those girls just killed themselves.”
“I think they would rather be dead and free than mixed up with that posse after them.”
“Freedom is a powerful motivator, I suppose.”
Delilah may act like she’s all proper and conservative, but she understands the nature of a wild heart more than even she realizes.